|Chapter Number||Second period. Third narrative: VII-(Continued)|
|Newspaper Title||The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)|
|Trove Title||The Moonstone|
Contributed by Franklin Blake.
CHAPTER VII— (Continued).
BY WILKIE COLLINS. Author of "The Woman in White," "No Name," etc.
THE revelation which burst upon me in those words, the overthrow which they instantly ac- complished of the whole view of the case on which Mr. Bruff had relied, struck me helpless.
Innocent as I was, I stood before her in silence. To her eyes, to any eyes, I must have looked like a man overwhelmed by the discovery of his own guilt. She drew back from the spectacle of my hu- miliation, and of her triumph. The sudden silence that had fallen upon me seemed to frighten her. " I spared you, at the time," she said. " I would have spared you now, if you had not forced me to speak." She moved away as if to leave the room —and hesitated before she got to the door. " Why did you come here to humiliate yourself?" she asked. " Why did you come here to humiliate me ?" She went on a few steps, and paused once more. " For God's sake, say something!" she exclaimed, pas- sionately. "If you have any mercy left, don't let me degrade myself in this way! Say some- thing—and drive me out of the room!" I advanced towards her, hardly conscious of what I was doing. I had possibly some con- fused idea of detaining her until she had told me more. From the moment when I knew that the evidence on which I stood condemned in Rachel's mind, was the evidence of her own eyes, nothing—not even my conviction of my own innocence—was clear in my mind. I took her by the hand ; I tried to speak firmly and to the purpose. All I could say was, " Rachel, you once loved me." She shuddered, and looked away from me. Her hand lay powerless and trembling in mine. " Let go of it," she said faintly. My touch seemed to have the same effect on her which the sound of my voice had produced when I first entered the room. After she had said the word which called me a coward, after she had made the avowal which branded me as a thief—while her hand lay in mine I was her master still! I drew her gently back into the middle of the room. I seated her by the side of me. " Rachel," I said, " I can't explain the contra- diction in what I am going to tell you. I can only speak the truth as you have spoken it. You saw me—with your own eyes you saw me take the diamond. Before God who hears us, I declare that I now know I took it for the first time! Do you doubt me still ?" She had neither heeded nor heard me. " Let go of my hand," she repeated faintly. That was her only answer. Her head sank on my shoulder ; and her hand unconsciously closed on mine, at the moment when she asked me to release it. I refrained from pressing the question. But there my forbearance stopped. My chance of ever holding up my head again among honest men depended on my chance of inducing her to make her disclosure complete. The one hope left for me was the hope that she might have overlooked something in the chain of evidence —some mere trifle, perhaps, which might never- theless, under careful investigation, be made the means of vindicating my innocence in the end. I own I kept possession of her hand. I own I spoke to her with all that I could sum- mon back of the sympathy and the confidence of the bygone time. " I want to ask you something," I said. " I want yon to tell me everything that happened, from the time when we wished each other good night, to the time when you saw me take the diamond." She lifted her head from my shoulder, and made an effort to release her hand. " Oh, why go back to it ?" she said. " Why go back to it ?" "I will tell you why, Rachel. You are the victim, and I am the victim, of some monstrous delusion which has worn the mask of truth. If we look at what happened on the night of your birthday together, we may end in understanding each other yet." Her head dropped back on my shoulder. The tears gathered in her eyes, and fell slowly over her cheeks. " Oh!" she said, " have I never had that hope ? Have I not tried to see it, as you are trying now ?" " You have tried by yourself," I answered. "You have not tried with me to help you." Those words seemed to awaken in her some- thing of the hope which I felt myself when I uttered them. She replied to my questions with more than docility—she exerted her intel- ligence ; she willingly opened her whole mind to me. "Let us begin," I said, " with what happened after we had wished each other goodnight. Did you go to bed ? or did you sit up ?" "I went to bed." " Did you notice the time ? Was it late ?'' " Not very. About 12 o'clock, I think." "Did you fell asleep?" " No. I couldn't sleep that night." " You were restless ?" " I was thinking of you." The answer almost unmanned me. Some- thing in the tone, even more than in the words, went straight to my heart. It was only after pausing a little first that I was able to go on. " Had you any light in your room ?" I asked. " None—until I got up again, and lit my candle." "How long was that, after you had gone to bed?" " About an hour after, I think. About 1 o'clock." " Did you leave your bedroom ?" " I was going to leave it. I had put on my dressing-gown ; and I was going into my sit- ting-room to get a book—" " Had you opened your bedroom door ?" " I had just opened it." "But you had not gone into the sitting room ?" " No—I was stopped from going into it." "What stopped you?" "I saw a light under the door ; and I heard footsteps approaching it." " Were you frightened ?" " Not then. I knew my poor mother was a bad sleeper ; and I remembered that she had tried hard, that evening, to persuade me to let her take charge of my diamond. She was un- reasonably anxious about it, as I thought ; and I fancied she was coming to me to see if I was in bed, and to speak to me about the diamond again, if she found that I was up." "What did you do?" " I blew out my candle, so that she might think I was in bed. I was unreasonable, on my side—I was determined to keep my diamond in the place of my own choosing." " After blowing the candle out, did you go back to bed?" "I had no time to go back. At the moment when I blew the candle out, the sitting-room door opened, and I saw—" "You saw?" "You." "Dressed as usual ?" "No." " In my nightgown ?" "In your nightgown—with your bedroom candle in your hand." "Alone?" " Alone." " Could you see my face ?" "Yes." "Plainly?" "Quite plainly. The candle in your hand showed it to me." " Were my eyes open ?" "Yes." " Did you notice anything strange in them ? Anything like a fixed, vacant expression?" "Nothing of the sort. Your eyes were bright—brighter than usual. You looked about in the room, as if you knew you were where you ought not to be, and as if you were afraid of being found out." " Did you observe one thing when I came into the room—did you observe how I walked ?" " You walked as you always do. You came in as far as the middle of the room—and then you stopped and looked about you."
"What did you do, on first seeing me?" "I could do nothing. I was petrified. I couldn't speak, I couldn't call out, I couldn't even move to shut my door." " Could I see you, where you stood ?" " You might certainly have seen me. But you never looked towards me. It's useless to ask the question. I am sure you never saw me." " How are you sure ?" " Would you have taken the diamond ? would you have acted as you did afterwards ? would you be here now—if you had seen that I was awake and looking at you ? Don't make me talk of that part of it! I want to answer you quietly. Help me to keep ass calm as I can. Go on to something else." She was right—in every way, right. I went on to other things. " What did I do, after I had got to the middle of the room, and had stopped there ?" " You turned away, and went straight to the corner near the window —where my Indian cabinet stands." " When I was at the cabinet, my back must have been turned towards you. How did you see what I was doing ?" " When you moved, I moved." "So as to see what I was about with my hands ?" " There are three glasses in my sitting-room. As you stood there, I saw all that you did, reflected in one of them." "What did you see?" "You put your candle on the top of the cabinet. You opened and shut one drawer after another, until you came to the drawer in which I had put my diamond. You looked at the open drawer for a moment. And then you put your hand in, and took the diamond out." " How do you know I took the diamond out?" " I saw your hand go into the drawer. And I saw the gleam of the stone, between your finger and thumb, when you took your hand out." " Did my hand approach the drawer again— to close it, for instance ?" " No. You had the diamond in your tight hand ; and you took the candle from the top of the cabinet with your left hand." " Did I look about me again, after that ?" "No." " Did I leave the room immediately ?" " No. You stood quite still, for what seemed a long time. I saw your face sideways in the glass. You looked like a man thinking, and dissatisfied with his own thoughts." " What happened next ?" " You roused yourself on a sudden, and you went straight out of the room." " Did I close the door after me ?" " No. You passed out quickly into the pas- sage, and left the door open." " And then ?" "Then, your light disappeared, and the sound of your steps died away, and I was left alone in the dark." "Did nothing happen—from that time, to the time when the whole house knew that the diamond was lost ?" " Nothing." " Are you sure of that ? Might you not have been asleep a part of the time ?" " I never slept. I never went back to my bed. Nothing happened until Penelope came in, at the usual time in the morning." I dropped her hand, and rose, and took a turn in the room. Every question that I could put had been answered. Every detail that I could desire to know had been placed before me. I had even reverted to the idea of sleep walking, and the idea of intoxication ; and, again, the worthlessness of the one theory and the other had been proved—on the authority, this time, of the witness who had seen me. What was to be said next? what was to be done next ? There rose the horrible fact of the theft—the one visible, tangible object that con- fronted me, in the midst of the impenetrable darkness which enveloped all besides! Not a glimpse of light to guide me, when I had pos- sessed myself of Rosanna Spearman's secret at the Shivering Sand. And not a glimpse of light now, when I had appealed to Rachel her- self, and had heard the hateful story of the night from her own lips. She was the first, this time, to break the silence. "Well?" she said, "you have asked, and I have answered. You have made me hope some- thing from all this, because you hoped some- thing from it. What have you to say now ?" The tone in which she spoke warned me that my influence over her was a lost influence once more. " We were to look at what happened on my birthday night, together," she went on ; " and we were then to understand each other. Have we done that ?" She waited pitilessly for my reply. In answer- ing her I committed a fatal error—I let the ex- asperating helplessness of my situation get the better of my self-control. Rashly and uselessly, I reproached her for the silence which had kept me until that moment in ignorance of the truth. " If you had spoken when you ought to have spoken," I began; "if you had done me the common justice to explain yourself " She broke in on me with a cry of fury. The few words I had said seemed to have lashed her on the instant into a frenzy of rage. "Explain myself!" she repeated. "Oh! is there another man like this in the world? I spare him, when my heart is breaking ; I screen him when my own character is at stake ; and he—of all human beings, he—turns on me now, and tells me that I ought to have explained myself! After believing in him as I did, after loving, him as I did, after thinking of him by day, and dreaming of him by night—he wonders why I didn't charge him with his disgrace the first time we met : 'My heart's darling, you are a thief! My hero whom I love and honor, you have crept into my room under cover of the night, and stolen my diamond!' That is what I ought to have said. You villain, you mean, mean, mean villain, I would have lost fifty dia- monds, rather than see your face lying to me, as I see it lying now!" I took up my hat. In mercy to her—yes! I can honestly say it—in mercy to her, I turned away without a word, and opened the door by which I had entered the room. She followed, and snatched the door out of my hand ; she closed it, and pointed back to the place that I had left. "No!" she said. "Not yet! It seems that I owe a justification of my conduct to you. You shall stay and hear it. Or you shall stoop to the lowest infamy of all, and force your way out." It wrung my heart to see her ; it wrung my heart to hear it. I answered by a sign—it was all I could do—that I submitted myself to her will. The crimson flush of anger began to fade out of her face, as I went back, and took my chair in silence. She waited a little, and steadied herself. When she went on, but one sign of feeling was discernible in her. She spoke with- out looking at me. Her hands were fast clasped in her lap, and her eyes were fixed on the ground. "I ought to have done you the common justice to explain myself," she said, repeating my own words. " You shall see whether I did try to do you justice, or not. I told you just now that I never slept, and never returned to my bed, after you had left my sitting room. It's useless to trouble you by dwelling on what I thought—you wouldn't understand my thoughts—I will only tell you what I did, when time enough had passed to help me to recover myself. I refrained from alarming the house, and telling everybody what had happened—as I ought to have done. In spite of what I had seen, I was fond enough of you to believe—no matter what!—any impossibility, rather than admit it to my own mind that you were delibe- rately a thief. I thought and thought—and I ended in writing to you." " I never received the letter." "I know you never received it. Wait a little, and you shall hear why. My letter would have told you nothing openly. It would not have ruined you for life, if it had fallen into some other person's hands. It would only have said—in a manner which you yourself could not possibly have mistaken—that I had reason to know you were in debt, and that it was in my experience and in my mother's experience of you, that you were not very discreet, or very scrupulous about how you got money when you wanted it. You would have remembered the
visit of the French lawyer, and you would have known what I referred to. If you had read on with some interest after that, you would have come to an offer I had to make to you—the offer, privately (not a word, mind, to be said openly about it between us!), of the loan of as large a sum of money as I could get.—And I would have got it!" she exclaimed, her color beginning to rise again, and her eyes looking up at me once more. " I would have pledged the diamond myself, if I could have got the money in no other way! In those words, I wrote to you. Wait! I did more than that. I arranged with Penelope to give you the letter when nobody was near. I planned to shut myself into my bedroom, and to have the sitting-room left open and empty all the morning. And I hoped—with all my heart and soul I hoped!—that you would take the opportunity, and put the diamond back secretly in the drawer." I attempted to speak. She lifted her hand impatiently, and stopped me. In the rapid alternations of her temper, her anger was be- ginning to rise again. She got up from her chair, and approached me. " I know what you are going to say," she went on. " You are going to remind me again that you never received my letter. I can tell you why. I tore it up." " For what reason ?" I asked. " For the best of reasons. I preferred tear- ing it up to throwing it away upon such a man as you! What was the first news that reached me in the morning ? Just as my little plan was complete, what did I hear ? I heard that you—you!!!—were the foremost person in the house in fetching the police. You were the active man ; you were the leader ; you were working harder than any of them to recover the jewel! You even carried your audacity far enough to ask to speak to me about the loss of the diamond —the diamond which you yourself had stolen ; the diamond which was all the time in your own hands! After that proof of your horrible falseness and cunning I tore up my letter. But even then—even when I was mad- dened by the searching and questioning of the policeman, whom you had sent in—even then, there was some infatuation in my mind which wouldn't let me give you up. I said to myself, ' He has played his vile farce before everybody else in the house. Let me try if he can play it before me.' Somebody told me you were on the terrace. I went down to the terrace. I forced myself to look at you ; I forced myself to speak to you. Have you forgotten what I said?" I might have answered that I remembered every word of it. But what purpose, at that moment, would the answer have served ? How could I tell her that what she had said had astonished me, had distressed me, had suggested to me that she was in a state of dangerous nervous excitement, had even roused a moment's doubt in my mind whether the loss of the jewel was as much a mystery to her as to the rest of us—but had never once given me so much as a glimpse at the truth ? With out the shadow of a proof to produce in vindication of my innocence, how could I per- suade her that I knew no more than the veriest stranger could have known of what was really in her thoughts when she spoke to me on the terrace ? "It may suit your convenience to forget ; it suits my convenience to remember," she went on. " I know what I said—for I considered it with myself, before I said it. I gave you one opportunity after another of owning the truth. I left nothing unsaid that I could say—short of actually telling you that I knew you had com- mitted the theft. And all the return you made, was to look at me with your vile pretence of astonishment, and your false face of innocence —just as you have looked at me to-day ; just as you are looking at me now! I left you, that morning, knowing you at last for what you were —for what you are—as base a wretch as ever walked the earth!" " If you had spoken out at the time, you might have left me, Rachel, knowing that you had cruelly wronged an innocent man." "If I had spoken out before the people," she retorted, with another burst of indignation, "you would have been disgraced for life! If I had spoken out to no ears but yours, you would have denied it, as you are denying it now! Do you think I should have believed you ? Would a man hesitate at a lie, who had done what I saw you do—who had behaved about it afterwards, as I saw you behave ? I tell you again, I shrank from the horror of hearing you lie, after the horror of seeing you thieve. You talk as if this was a misunderstanding which a few words might have set right! Well! the misunderstanding is at an end. Is the thing set right ? No! the thing is just where it was. I don't believe you bow ! I don't believe you found the nightgown. I don't believe in Rosanna Spearman's letter, and I don't believe a word you have said. You stole it—I saw you! You affected to help the police—I saw you! You pledged the diamond to the money lender in London—I am sure of it! You cast the suspicion of your disgrace (thanks to my base silence!) on an innocent man! You fled to the continent with your plunder the next morning! After all that vileness, there was but one thing more you could do. You could come here, with a last falsehood on your lips—you could come here, and tell me that I have wronged you!" If I had stayed a moment more, I know not what words might have escaped me which. I should have remembered with vain repentance and regret. I passed by her, and opened the door for the second time. For the second time —with the frantic perversity of a roused woman —she caught me by the arm, and barred my way out. " Let me go, Rachel," I said. "It will be better for both of us. Let me go." The hysterical passion swelled in her bosom —her quickened convulsive breathing almost beat on my face, as she held me back at the door. " Why did you come here ?" she persisted, desperately. " I ask you again—why did you come here? Are you afraid I shall expose you ? Now you are a rich man, now you have got a place in the world, now you may marry the best lady in the land—are you afraid I shall say the words which I have never said yet to anybody but you? I can't say the words! I can't expose you! I am worse, if worse can be, than you are yourself." Sobs and tears burst from her. She struggled with them fiercely ; she held me more and more firmly. " I can't tear you out of my heart," she said, "even now! You may trust in the shameful, shameful weakness which can only struggle against you in this way!" She sud- denly let go of me—she threw up her hands, and wrung them frantically in the air. " Any other woman living would shrink from the dis- grace of touching him!" she exclaimed. " Oh, God! I despise myself even more heartily than I despise him!" The tears were forcing their way into my eyes, in spite of me—the horror of it was to be endured no longer. " You shall know that you have wronged me, yet," I said. "Or you shall never see me again!" With those words, I left her. She started up from the chair on which she had dropped the moment before : she started up—the noble creature! —and followed me across the outer room, with a last merciful word at parting. " Franklin !" she said " I forgive you! Oh, Franklin! Franklin ! we shall never meet again. Say you forgive me!" I turned, so as to let my face show her that I was past speaking—I turned, and waved my hand, and saw her dimly, as in a vision, through the tears that had conquered me at last. The next moment, the worst bitterness of it was over. I was out in the garden again. I saw her, and heard her, no more. _________ CHAPTER VIII. Late that evening, I was surprised at my lodgings by a visit from Mr. Bruff. There was a noticeable change in the lawyer's manner. It had lost its usual confidence and spirit. He shook hands with me, for the first time in his life, in silence. "Are you going back to Hampstead?" I asked, by way of saying something. "I have just left Hampstead," he answered. " I know, Mr. Franklin, that you have got at the truth at last. But, I tell you plainly, if I could have foreseen the price that was to be paid for it, I should have preferred leaving you in the dark." " You have seen Rachel?"
" I have come here after taking her back to Portland Place ; it was impossible to let her return in the carriage by herself. I can hardly hold you responsible—considering that you saw her in my house and by my permission—for the shock that this unlucky interview has inflicted on her. All I can do is to provide against a repetition of the mischief. She is young—she has a resolute spirit—she will get over this, with time and rest to help her. I want to be assured that you will do nothing to hinder her recovery. May I depend on your making no second attempt to see her—except with my sanction and approval?" " After what she has suffered, and after what I have suffered," I said, "you may rely on me." " I have your promise ?" " You have my promise." Mr. Bruff looked relieved. He put down his hat, and drew his chair nearer to mine. " That's settled!" he said. " Now, about the future—your future, I mean. To my mind, the result of the extraordinary turn which the matter has now taken is briefly this. In the first place, we are sure that Rachel has told you the whole truth, as plainly as words can tell it. In the second place —though we know that there must be some dreadful mistake some- where—we can hardly blame her for believing you to be guilty, on the evidence of her own senses ; backed, as that evidence has been, by circumstances which appear, on the face of them, to tell dead against you." There I interposed. " I don't blame Rachel," I said. " I only regret that she could not pre- vail on herself to speak more plainly to me at the time." " You might as well regret that Rachel is not somebody else," rejoined Mr. Bruff. "And, even then, I doubt if a girl of any delicacy, whose heart had been set on marrying you, could have brought herself to charge you to your face with being a thief. Anyhow, it was not in Rachel's nature to do it. In a very different matter to this matter of yours—which placed her, however, in a position not altogether unlike her position towards you—I happen to know that she was influenced by a similar motive to the motive which actuated her conduct in your case. Besides, as she told me herself, on our way to town this evening, if she had spoken plainly, she would no more have believed your denial then than she believes it now. What answer can you make to that? There is no answer to be made to it. Come! come! Mr. Franklin, my view of the case has been proved to be all wrong, I admit—but, as things are now, my advice may be worth having for all that. I tell you plainly, we shall be wasting our time, and cudgelling our brains to no pur- pose, if we attempt to try back, and unravel this frightful complication from the beginning. Let us close our minds resolutely to all that hap- pened last year at Lady Verinder's country house ; and let us look to what we can discover in the future, instead of to what we can not discover in the past." " Surely you forget," I said, " that the whole thing is essentially a matter of the past —so far as I am concerned ?" " Answer me this," retorted Mr. Bruff. "Is the Moonstone at the bottom of all the mis- chief—or is it not?" " It is—of course." " Very good. What do we believe was done with the Moonstone, when it was taken to Lon- don?" "It was pledged to Mr. Luker." " We know that you are not the person who pledged it. Do we know who did ?" "No." " Where do we believe the Moonstone to be now?" "Deposited in the keeping of Mr. Luker's bankers." "Exactly. Now observe. We are already in the month of June. Towards the end of the month (I can't be particular to a day) a year will have elapsed from the time when we believe the jewel to have been pledged. There is a chance —to say the least—that the person who pawned it, may be prepared to redeem it when the year's time has expired. If he redeems it, Mr. Luker must himself—according to the terms of his own arrangement—take the diamond out of his bankers' hands. Under these circumstances, I propose setting a watch at the bank, as the present month draws to an end, and discovering who the person is to whom Mr. Luker restores the Moonstone. Do you see it now ?" I admitted (a little unwillingly) that the idea was a new one, at any rate. " It's Mr. Murthwaite's idea quite as much as mine," said Mr. Bruff. "It might have never entered my head, but for a conversation we had together some time since. If Mr. Murthwaite is right, the Indians are likely to be on the lookout at the bank, towards the end of the month too—and something serious may come of it. What comes of it doesn't matter to you and me—except as it may help us to lay our hands on the mysterious somebody who pawned the diamond. That person, you may rely on it, is responsible (I don't pretend to know how) for the position in which you stand at this mo- ment ; and that person alone can set you right in Rachel's estimation." " I can't deny," I said, " that the plan you propose meets the difficulty in a way that is very daring, and very ingenious, and very new. But—" " But you have an objection to make ?" " Yes. My objection is, that your proposal obliges us to wait." " Granted. As I reckon the time, it requires you to wait about a fortnight—more or less. Is that so very long ?" " It's a lifetime, Mr. Bruff, in such a situa- tion as mine. My existence will be simply un- endurable to me, unless I do something towards clearing my character at once." " Well, well, I understand that. Have you thought yet of what you can do ?" " I have thought of consulting Sergeant Cuff." "He has retired from the police. It's use- less to expect the sergeant to help you." " I know where to find him ; and I can but try." "Try," said Mr. Bruff, after a moment's con- sideration. "The case has assumed such an extraordinary aspect since Sergeant Cuff's time, that you may revive his interest in the inquiry. Try, and let me hear the result. In the mean- while," he continued, rising, " if you make no discoveries between this and the end of the month, am I free to try, on my side, what can be done by keeping a lookout at the bank ?" "Certainly," I answered—"unless I relieve you of all necessity for trying the experiment in the interval." Mr. Bruff smiled, and took up his hat. " Tell Sergeant Cuff," he rejoined, " that I say the discovery of the truth depends on the discovery of the person who pawned the dia- mond. And let me hear what the sergeant's experience says to that." So we parted, for that night. Early the next morning, I set forth for the little town of Dorking—the place of Sergeant Cuff's retirement, as indicated to me by Better- edge. Inquiring at the hotel, I received the neces- sary directions for finding the sergeant's cottage. It was approached by a quiet bye-road, a little way out of the town, and it stood snugly in the middle of its own plot of garden ground, pro- tected by a good brick wall at the back and the sides, and by a high quickset hedge in front. The gate, ornamented at the upper part by smartly-painted trellis-work, was locked. After ringing at the bell, I peered through the trellis work, and saw the great Cuff's favorite flower everywhere ; blooming in his garden, clustering over his door, looking in at his windows. Far from the crimes and the mysteries of the great city, the illustrious thief-taker was placidly liv- ing out the last Sybarite years of his life, smothered in roses! A decent elderly woman opened the gate to me, and at once annihilated all the hopes I had built on securing the assistance of Sergeant Cuff. He had started, only the day before, on a journey to Ireland. " Has he gone there on business ?" I asked. The woman smiled. "He has only one busi- ness now, sir," she said ; "and that's roses. Some great man's gardener in Ireland has found out something new in the growing of roses— and Mr. Cuff's away to inquire into it." " Do you know when he will be back ?" " It's quite uncertain, sir. Mr. Cuff said he should come back directly, or be away some time, just according as he found the new dis-
covery worth nothing, or worth looking into. If you have any message to leave for him, I'll take care, sir, that he gets it." I gave her my card, having first written on it in pencil: " I have something to say about the Moonstone. Let me hear from you as soon as you get back." That done, there was nothing left but to submit to circumstances, and return to London. In the irritable condition of my mind at the time of which I am now writing, the abortive result of my journey to the sergeant's cottage simply aggravated the restless impulse in me to be doing something. On the day of my return from Dorking, I determined that the next morn- ing should find me bent on a new effort at forc- ing my way, through all obstacles, from the darkness to the light. What form was my next experiment to take ? If the excellent Betteredge had been present while I was considering that question, and if he had been let into the secret of my thoughts, he would, no doubt, have declared that the German side of me was, on this occasion, my uppermost side. To speak seriously, it is perhaps possible that my German training was in some degree responsible for the labyrinth of useless specula- tion in which I now involved myself. For the greater part of the night, I sat smoking, and building up theories, one more profoundly im- probable than another. When I did get to sleep, my waking fancies pursued me in dreams. I rose the next morning, with objective-subjec- tive and subjective-objective inextricably en- tangled together in my mind ; and I began the day which was to witness my next effort at practical action of some kind, by doubting whether I had any sort of right (on purely philosophical grounds) to consider any sort of thing (the diamond included) as existing at all. How long I might have remained lost in the mist of my own metaphysics, if I had been left to extricate myself, it is impossible for me to say. As the event proved, accident came to my rescue, and happily delivered me. I happened to wear, that morning, the same coat which I had worn on the day of my interview with Rachel. Searching for something else in one of the pockets, I came upon a crumpled piece of paper, and, taking it out, found Betteredge's forgotten letter in my hand. It seemed hard on my good old friend to leave him without a reply. I went to my writing table, and read his letter again. A letter which has nothing of the slightest importance in it, is not always an easy letter to answer. Betteredge's present efforts at corres- ponding with me came within this category. Mr. Candy's assistant, otherwise Ezra Jennings, had told his master that he had seen me ; and Mr. Candy, in his turn, wanted to see me and say something to me, when I was next in the neighborhood of Frizinghall. What was to be said in answer to that, which would be worth the paper it was written on ? I sat idly draw- ing likenesses from memory of Mr. Candy's re- markable-looking assistant, on the sheet of paper which I had vowed to dedicate to Betteredge — until it suddenly occurred to me that here was the irrepressible Ezra Jennings getting in my way again! I threw a dozen portraits, at least, of the man with the piebald hair (the hair in every case, remarkably like), into the waste paper basket—and then and there, wrote my answer to Betteredge, It was a perfectly com- mon-place letter—but it had one excellent effect on me. The effort of writing a few sentences, in plain English, completely cleared my mind of the cloudy nonsense which had filled it since the previous day. Devoting myself once more to the elucidation of the impenetrable puzzle which my own posi- tion presented to me, I now tried to meet the difficulty by investigating it from a plainly prac- tical point of view. The events of the memor- able night being still unintelligible to me, I looked a little farther back, and searched my memory of the earlier hours of the birthday for any incident—which might prove of some as- sistance to me in finding the clue. Had anything happened while Rachel and I were finishing the painted door ? or, later, when I rode over to Frizinghall ? or afterwards, when I went back with Godfrey Ablewhite and his sisters? or, latter again, when I put the Moon- stone into Rachel's hands ? or, later still, when the company came, and we all assembled round the dinner-table? My memory disposed of that string of questions readily enough, until I came to the last. Looking back at the social events of the birthday dinner, I found myself brought to a standstill at the outset of the in- quiry. I was not even capable of accurately remembering the number of the guests who had sat at the same table with me. To feel myself completely at fault here, and to conclude, thereupon, that the incidents of the dinner might especially repay the trouble of investigating them, formed parts of the same mental process, in my case. I believe other people, in a similar situation, would have reasoned as I did. When the pursuit of our own interests causes us to become objects of inquiry to ourselves, we are naturally suspicious of what we don't know. Once in possession of the names of the persons who had been present at the dinner, I resolved —as a means of enrich- ing the deficient resources of my own memory —to appeal to the memories of the rest of the guests ; to write down all that they could re- collect of the social events of the birthday ; and to test the result, thus obtained, by the light of what had happened afterwards when the com- pany had left the house. This last and newest of my many contem- plated experiments in the art of inquiry—which Betteredge would probably have attributed to the clear-headed, or French, side of me being uppermost for the moment—may fairly claim record here, on its own merits. Unlikely as it may seem, I had now actually groped my way to the root of the matter at last. All I wanted was a hint to guide me in the right direction at starting. Before another day had passed over my head, that hint was given me by one of the company who had been present at the birthday feast! With the plan of proceeding which I now had in view, it was first necessary to possess the complete list of the guests. This I could easily obtain from Gabriel Betteredge. I determined to go back to Yorkshire on that day, and to begin my contemplated investigation the next morning. It was just too late to start by the train which left London before noon. There was no alter- native but to wait, nearly three hours, for the departure of the next train. Was there any thing I could do in London, which might use- fully occupy this interval of time ? My thoughts went back again obstinately to the birthday dinner. Though I had forgotten the numbers, and, in many cases, the names of the guests, I remem- bered readily enough that by far the larger pro- portion of them came from Frizinghall, or from its neighborhood. But the larger proportion was not all. Some few of us were not regular residents in the county. I myself was one of the few. Mr. Murthwaite was another. God- frey Ablewhite was a third. Mr. Bruff—no : I called to mind that business had prevented Mr. Bruff from making one of the party. Had any ladies been present, whose usual residence was in London? I could only remember Miss Clack as coming within this latter category. However, here were three of the guests, at any rate, whom it was clearly advisable for me to see before I left town. I drove off at once to Mr. Bruff's office ; not knowing the addresses of the persons of whom I was in search, and thinking it probable that he might put me in the way of finding them. Mr. Bruff proved to be too busy to give me more than a minute of his valuable time. In that minute, however, he contrived to dispose —in the most discouraging manner—of all the questions I had to put to him. In the first place, he considered my newly discovered method of finding a clue to the mystery as something too purely fanciful to be seriously discussed. In the second, third, and fourth places, Mr. Murthwaite was now on his way back to the scene of his past adventures ; Miss Clack had suffered losses, and had settled, from motives of economy, in France ; Mr. God- frey Ablewhite might, or might not, be dis- coverable somewhere in London. Suppose I inquired at his club ? And suppose I excused Mr. Bruff, if he went back to his business and wished me good morning ? The field of inquiry in London, being now so narrowed as only to include the one necessity of discovering Godfrey's address, I took the lawyer's hint, and drove to his club. In the hall I met with one of the members,
who was an old friend of my cousin's, and who was also an acquaintance of my own. This gentleman, after enlightening me on the sub- ject of Godfrey's address, told me of two recent events in his life, which were of some importance in themselves, and which had not previously reached my ears. It appeared that Godfrey, far from being dis- couraged by Rachel's withdrawal from her en- gagement to him, had made matrimonial ad- vances soon afterwards to another young lady, reputed to be a great heiress. His suit had prospered, and his marriage had been considered as a settled and certain thing. But here again the engagement had been suddenly and unex- pectedly broken off—owing, it was said, on this occasion, to a serious difference of opinion be- tween the bridegroom and the lady's father, on the question of settlements. As some compensation for this second matri- monial disaster, Godfrey had soon afterwards found himself the object of fond pecuniary re- memberance, on the part of one of his many ad- mirers. A rich old lady—highly respected at the Mothers-Small-Clothes-Conversion-Society, and a great friend of Miss Clack's (to whom she had left nothing but a mourning ring)—had be- queathed to the admirable and meritorious God- frey a legacy of five thousand pounds. After receiving this handsome addition to his own modest pecuniary resources, he had been heard to say that he felt the necessity of getting a little respite from his charitable labors, and that his doctor prescribed " a run on the continent, as likely to be productive of much future benefit to his health." If I wanted to see him it would be advisable to lose no time in paying my con- templated visit. I went, then and there, to pay my visit. The same fatality which had made me just one day too late in calling on Sergeant Cuff, made me again one day too late in calling on Godfrey. He had left London, on the previous morning, by the tidal train for Dover. He was to cross to Ostend ; and his servant be- lieved he was going on to Brussels. The time of his return was a little uncertain ; but I might be sure that he would be away at least three months. I went back to my lodgings a little depressed in spirits. Three of the guests at the birthday dinner—and those three all exceptionally in- telligent people—were out of my reach, at the very time when it was most important to be able to communicate with them. My last hopes now rested on Betteredge, and on the friends of the late Lady Verinder whom I might still find living in the neighborhood of Rachel's country house. On this occasion I travelled straight to Fri- zinghall—the town being now the central point in my field of inquiry. I arrived too late in the evening to be able to communicate with Better- edge. The next morning I sent a messenger with a letter, requesting him to join me at the hotel, at his earliest convenience. Having taken the precaution—partly to save time, partly to accommodate Betteredge—of send- ing my messenger in a fly, I had a reasonable prospect, if no delays occurred, of seeing the old man within less than two hours from the time when I had sent for him. During this in- terval, I arranged to employ myself in opening my contemplated inquiry, among the guests pre- sent at the birthday dinner who were personally known to me, and who were easily within my reach. These were my relatives, the Able- whites, and Mr. Candy. The doctor had ex- pressed a special wish to see me, and the doctor lived in the next street. So to Mr. Candy I went first. After what Betteredge had told me, I natu- rally anticipated finding traces in the doctor's face of the severe illness from which he had suffered. But I was utterly unprepared for such a change as I saw in him when he entered the room and shook hands with me. His eyes were dim ; his hair had turned completely grey ; his face was wizen ; his figure had shrunk. I looked at the once lively, rattlepated, humorous little doctor—associated in my remembrance with the perpetration of incorrigible social in- discretions and innumerable boyish jokes —and I saw nothing left of his former self, but the old tendency to vulgar smartness in his dress. The man was a wreck ; but his clothes and his jewellery—in cruel mockery of the change in him—were as gay and gaudy as ever. " I have often thought of you, Mr. Blake," he said; " and I am heartily glad to see you again at last. If there is anything I can do for you, pray command my services, sir—pray command my services !" He said those few common-place words with needless hurry and eagerness, and with a curiosity to know what had brought me to Yorkshire, which he was perfectly—I might say childishly—incapable of concealing from notice. With the object that I had in view, I had of course foreseen the necessity of entering into some sort of personal explanation, before I could hope to interest people, mostly strangers to me, in doing their best to assist my inquiry. On the journey to Frizinghall I had arranged what my explanation was to be—and I seized the opportunity now offered to me of trying the effect of it on Mr. Candy. "I was in Yorkshire, the other day, and I am in Yorkshire again now, on rather a ro- mantic errand," I said. "It is a matter, Mr. Candy, in which the late Lady Verinder's friends all took some interest. You remember the mysterious loss of the Indian diamond, now nearly a year since ? Circumstances have lately happened which lead to the hope that it may yet be found—and I am interesting myself, as one of the family, in recovering it. Among the obstacles in my way, there is the necessity of collecting again all the evidence which was dis- covered at the time, and more if possible. There ere peculiarities in this case which make it desirable to revive my recollection of every thing that happened in the house, on the even- ing of Miss Verinder's birthday. And I venture to appeal to her late mother's friends who were present on that occasion, to lend me the assist- ance of their memories—" I had got as far as that in rehearsing my ex- planatory phrases—when I was suddenly checked by seeing plainly in Mr. Candy's face that my experiment on him was a total failure. The little doctor sat restlessly picking at the points of his fingers all the time I was speaking. His dim watery eyes were fixed on my face with an expression of vacant and wistful inquiry very painful to see. What he was thinking of, it was impossible to divine. The one thing clearly visible was that I had failed, after the first two or three words, in fixing his attention. The only chance of recalling him to himself ap- peared to lie in changing the subject ; I tried a new topic immediately. "So much," I said gaily, " for what brings me to Frizinghall! Now, Mr. Candy, it's your turn. You sent me a message by Gabriel Bet- teredge " He left off picking at his fingers, and suddenly brightened up. "Yes! yes! yes!" he exclaimed eagerly. " That's it! I sent you a message!" " And Betteredge duly communicated it by letter," I went on. " You had something to say to me, the next time I was in your neighbor- hood. Well, Mr. Candy, here I am !" " Here you are!" echoed the doctor. " And Betteredge was quite right. I had something to say to you. That was my message. Better- edge is a wonderful man. What a memory! At his age, what a memory !" He dropped back into silence, and began picking at his fingers again. Recollecting what I had heard from Betteredge about the effect of the fever on his memory, I went on with the conversation, in the hope that I might help him at starting. " It's a long time since we met," I said. " We last saw each other, at the last birthday dinner my poor aunt was ever to give." " That's it!" cried Mr. Candy. " The birth- day dinner!" He started impulsively to his feet, and looked at me. A deep flush suddenly overspread his faded face, and he abruptly sat down again, as if conscious of having betrayed a weakness which he would fain have concealed. It was plain, pitiably plain, that he was aware of his own defect of memory, and that he was bent on hiding it from the observation of his friends. Thus far, he had appealed to my compassion only. But the words he had just said—few as they were —roused my curiosity instantly to the highest pitch. The birthday dinner had al- ready become the one event in the past at which I looked back with strangely mixed feelings of hope and distrust. And here was the birthday
dinner unmistakably proclaiming itself as the subject on which Mr. Candy had something im- portant to say to me! I attempted to help him out once more. But, this time, my own interests were at the bottom of my compassionate motive, and they hurried me on a little too abruptly to the end that I had in view. " It's nearly a year now," I said, " since we sat at that pleasant table. Have you made any memorandum—in your diary, or otherwise—of what you wanted to say to me ?" Mr. Candy understood the suggestion, and showed me that he understood it, as an insult. " I require no memorandums, Mr. Blake," he said, stiffly enough. "I am not such a very old man, yet—and my memory (thank God) is to be thoroughly depended on!" It is needless to say that I declined to under- stand that he was offended with me. " I wish I could say the same of my memory," I answered. " When I try to think of matters that are a year old, I seldom find my remem- brance as vivid an I could wish it to be. Take the dinner at Lady Verinder's for instance—" Mr. Candy brightened up again, the moment the allusion passed my lips. " Ah ! the dinner, the dinner at Lady Ve- rinder's !" he exclaimed more eagerly than ever. "I have got something to say to you about that." His eyes looked at me again with the painful expression of inquiry, so wistful, so vacant, so miserably helpless to see. He was evidently trying hard, and trying in vain, to recover the lost recollection. "It was a very pleasant dinner," he burst out suddenly, with an air of saying exactly what he had wanted to say. " A very pleasant dinner, Mr. Blake, wasn't it?" He nodded and smiled, and appeared to think, poor fellow, that he had succeeded in concealing the total failure of his memory, by a well-timed exertion of his own presence of mind. It was so distressing that I at once shifted the talk —deeply as I was interested in his recover- ing the lost remembrance—to topics of local interest. Here, he got on glibly enough. Trumpery little scandals and quarrels in the town, some of them as much as a month old, appeared to recur to his memory readily. He chattered on, with something of the smooth gossiping fluency of former times. But there were momenta, even in the full flow of his talkativeness, when he suddenly hesitated—looked at me for a mo- ment with the vacant inquiry once more in his eyes—controlled himself—and went on again. I submitted patiently to my martyrdom (it is surely nothing less than martyrdom, to a man of cosmopolitan sympathies, to absorb in silent resignation the news of a country town ?) until the clock on the chimney-piece told me that my visit had been prolonged beyond half an hour. Having now some right to consider the sacrifice as complete, I rose to take leave. As we shook hands, Mr. Candy reverted to the birthday festival of his own accord. " I am so glad we have met again," he said. " I had it on my mind—I really had it on my mind, Mr. Blake, to speak to you about the dinner at Lady Verinder's, you know. A pleasant dinner—really a pleasant dinner now, wasn't it?" On repeating the phrase, he seemed to feel hardly as certain of having prevented me from suspecting his lapse of memory, as he had felt on the first occasion. The wistful look clouded his face again ; and, after apparently designing to accompany me to the street door, he suddenly changed his mind, rang the bell for the servant, and remained in the drawing-room. I went slowly down the doctor's stairs, feel- ing the disheartening conviction that he really had something to say which it was vitally im- portant to me to hear, and that he was morally incapable of saying it. The effort of remember- ing that he wanted to speak to me was, but too evidently, the only effort that his enfeebled memory was now able to achieve. Just as I had reached the bottom of the stairs, and had turned a corner on my way to the outer hall, a door opened softly somewhere on the ground floor of the house, and a gentle voice said behind me ; — " I am afraid, sir, you find Mr. Candy sadly changed?" I turned round, and found myself face to face with Ezra Jennings. [TO BE CONTINUED.]
MARK TWAIN writes as follows to the San Francisco News: —" Messrs. Editors I was expect- ing to sail to New York in the Pacific Mail Steamship Co.'s steamer of the 18th June, but unforseen circumstances compel a delay of a few days. I cannot sail to the 30th of the month. It is therefore proper that I should give this notice to those friends who have entrusted arti- cles to my care for delivery to their relatives in the Atlantic States, so that they can send by parties who sail on the 18.th such of them as demand expedition. I will give a list of the things I am speaking of, and those which will admit of delay until the 30th can remain in my possession: 1 violin, 1 double-barrelled gun, 1 package of books, 1 ditto sheet music—negro ballads, 1 set castors —vinegar cruet missing, 2 scratch wigs for repair, 1 woman, 7 boxes and 1 barrel ore specimens, 1 amalgating pan for repair, 1 parrot, 1 pup, 1 cage canaries—2 dead, another woman, 18 mining company prospectuses, marked " please circulate," 1 valise—appears to be nothing in it ; 6 pho- tographs consigned to different parties, 1 volume Tennyson, 1 white woman, 1 box salve, 2 accordeons, 1 overcoat, 1 set chessmen, 1 cow, 1 sandalwood fan, 1 rosewood dressing-case, 4 meerschaum pipes, 2 specimen pins, some grass widows, 1 Hoe steam press for repairs, 1 una- bridged dictionary, 3 bandboxes, 1 lunatic for asylum, 1 idiot for Paris, 1 gridiron, 1 baby, 68 letters, 1 package gold coin, 1 ditto greenbacks, 23 trunks, another woman. Besides these articles I have to carry along a valise for myself and a jug, and I may be discommoded unless some of my things go by the steamer of the 18th. The baby is not well, and appears to get worse all the time. I think may be it has got the mumps or the con- sumption, or something of that kind. Those are things I do not know anything about. It must be one of those because I have doc- tored it for fits and measles, and all those things, but still she grows worse. She had better go by the steamer of the 18th. I do not think she will keep for the 30th. To tell the plain truth, I am sorry I agreed to take this baby along. A baby is too troublesome—alto- gether too troublesome. I have had a baby at sea, and I know. Once I had twins on a ship, and I never suffered so much in my life. Please come and get this one and ship it per steamer of the 18th. Most of the other articles had better go at the same time, especially the cow and the idiot. If I were relieved of those I could take some more women and may be another trunk or two." SENSITIVE FLAMES.—We know something of the phenomena of sensitive flames—gas lights which dance and contort themselves in the presence of musical or other sounds. Well, Mr. Barret, who has experimented much with these curiosities, has devised a practical use for them in the shape of an apparatus by which slight noises may be telegraphed to any dis- tance. He takes a long slender flame, which, at the faintest noise, jumps down to a short one of fan-like shape. By its side he mounts a metal bar that will so alter its shape by heat as to bring one end, otherwise free, into contact with a metal rod. From rod and from bar electric wires pass to a battery, and to a bell which may be anywhere within the house or out of it. So long as all is quiet in its neigh- borhood, the flames remain erect and rod-like ; but upon the least noise it falls down, and spreads like a fan. In doing this it meets the metal bar, heats it, and causes it to close the electric circuit, and ring the distant bell. In this way the cry of a child in its cot may be made to announce itself in its parents' room, and the filings and hammering of a burglar to arouse a household. In the principle, too, we may see the germ of a method of registering sounds, a system of phonography, in short. Given a range of sensitive flames, each one of which will respond to a certain note of the gamut, and the brilliant cadence of the singer, or the extemporized melodies of the instru- mentalist, can be made to score themselves upon a sheet of paper. Music will then have an ac- cessory which will be to it what photography is to art, and the fleeting lights and shades of a sound-picture will be perpetuated for study and repetition, just as those of a light-picture now are— Once a Week.