Skip over navigation

The Moonstone

Wilkie Collins

First Period, Chapters XXII–XXIII

First Period, Chapters XVIII–XXI

Second Period, First Narrative, Chapters I and II

Summary

First Period, Chapter XXII

Frustrated at being thwarted by Lady Verinder in every respect, Cuff has lost interest in the investigation and retreats to the garden to discuss roses with the Gardener. Franklin wanders around the house, lamenting and wondering at Rachel's mistreatment of him. He lights up a cigar, lamenting the fact that he ever quit smoking for Rachel.

Lady Verinder's carriage returns from Frizinghall, and the groom brings in a letter for Franklin and a letter for Betteredge. Betteredge's letter reports that news of Rosanna's suicide has no effect on Rachel, who swears she had never had a private conversation with Rosanna. Rachel has also sworn that she owes no debts and that she does not have possession of the diamond. Rachel has said to her mother, "The day will come when you will know why I am careless about being suspected, and why I am silent even to you." Lady Verinder's letter commands Betteredge to give a check to Cuff and dismiss him respectfully from the case. Betteredge reads the letter to Cuff and gives Cuff the generous check.

Cuff prepares to leave for London. Cuff predicts three things to Betteredge: that he will hear from the Yollands after they receive a letter from Rosanna on Monday, that he will hear of the three Indians again in London if Rachel goes to London, and that he will hear something of the London moneylender, Septimus Luker, who had been acquainted with Rosanna. The Gardener and Cuff leave the grounds, still discussing roses.

First Period, Chapter XXIII

Franklin prepares to leave for the station to return to London. He shows Betteredge his letter from Lady Verinder, guessing that Rachel's mistreatment of Franklin is due to Franklin's own assistance in the investigation of the diamond theft. Lady Verinder asks Franklin for patience with Rachel. Franklin expresses his wish that he had never brought the diamond to the Verinder household to create such sadness and disunity. Franklin leaves for the station.

On Sunday, the next day, Rachel's coach arrives back at the house with news that Lady Verinder will take Rachel to her London house. Penelope and Lady Verinder's maid are to meet them in London.

On Monday, Limping Lucy Yolland seeks out Betteredge at the Verinder house. She is looking for Franklin Blake, whom she blames for Rosanna's death. Lucy is first ragingly angry, then distraught. Lucy holds a letter from Rosanna to Franklin but refuses to mail it to Franklin in London. She insists on making Franklin come to Cobb's Hole to get it from her himself. Betteredge tries to convince her to give up the letter, and he even goes to Cobb's Hole to try to convince Mrs. Yolland but cannot. On Tuesday, Betteredge receives a letter from Penelope stating that the Verinder's are settled into London and a letter from Franklin's household stating that Franklin has left England.

Further news from Penelope states that the Rachel has been amusing herself in London, under the doctor's orders. Godfrey Ablewhite has visited often, and Rachel receives him happily. Penelope mentions Miss Clack in a letter, and Betteredge introduces her as the next narrator, warning us not to believe anything derogatory Miss Clack might say of himself.

The last news Betteredge has is a London newspaper sent by Cuff mentioning that the London moneylender of whom Cuff had warned Betteredge had reported being followed and bothered by several Indians. Thus Cuff's three predictions from Chapter XXII have come true.

Betteredge asks our forgiveness for the faults of his informal narrative and leaves the reader with a quotation from his personal bible, Robinson Crusoe.

Analysis

Though Cuff has failed in his general assignment of finding the thief of the diamond (and, in fact, suspects the wrong person), he still remains a prophetic character. In these chapters we see Cuff make three predictions to Betteredge, all of which come true in the span of a week, though for different reasons from the reasons Cuff supposes (as we will see). These are the only further clues in the final chapters of Betteredge's narrative. Plot movement slows down here from the rapid pace of the middle chapters of Betteredge's narrative. Strangely, all two hundred or so pages of the narrative mainly cover the events of slightly more than a week: the Wednesday of Rachel's birthday through the following Sunday, on which Betteredge receives the last of his news from London.

In the final pages of Betteredge's narrative, the plot movement has proceeded to London and left him behind at the Verinder household. As with all of the narratives in The Moonstone, supplementary information comes from documents included within the narration—here Betteredge receives information about London events from letters from Penelope and others. Betteredge explains that we must follow the "devil's dance of the Indian Diamond" to London, leaving him behind in "the country-house," and reluctantly introduces the next narrator, Miss Clack. He also admits that he knows more of the mystery than he can tell us at this time. This commentary reminds us of the non-immediacy of Betteredge's narrative (he is writing of these events more than a year after their actual occurrence), as well as the larger editorial structure within which the narratives are contained.

Betteredge's narrative closes with a quotation from Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. Betteredge has associated himself with this novel throughout his narrative—he treats it as a cure-all and as a prophetic book similar to the Bible. He explained in Chapter I: "such a book as Robinson Crusoe never was written, and never will be written again. I have tried that book for years—generally in combination with a pipe of tobacco—and I have found it my friend in need in all the necessities of this mortal life." Robinson Crusoe, written by Defoe in the eighteenth century, was still an extremely popular book in Collins's time. Betteredge flips back and forth through it, happening upon singular phrases that he takes as miniature predictions, in much the same way that some used bibles. The setting of Robinson Crusoe highlights its connection to early English imperialism, much the same way that the tobacco Betteredge smokes while reading it relates to English tobacco crops in colonies. These themes of imperialism relate back to the history of the Moonstone's theft by John Herncastle, in the beginnings of English domination over India. Thus Betteredge's love for Robinson Crusoe and the tobacco that accompanies it can be read as another subtext gesturing critically toward the history of English imperial domination over other cultures and over the products and people of those cultures.

More Help

Previous Next

Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!

Follow Us