The Moonstone

by: Wilkie Collins

Second Period, First Narrative, Chapters VI–VIII

Summary Second Period, First Narrative, Chapters VI–VIII

Miss Clack continues to try to convert Rachel, with the aim being trusted with all of Rachel's secrets. Miss Clack selects passages from Life, Letters, and Labours of Miss Jane Ann Stamper for Rachel to read.

The next day, Mr. Ablewhite arrives, followed by Mr. Bruff. Mr. Ablewhite is not pleased to see Mr. Bruff, with whom he has just met in London the day before to discuss Rachel's breaking off of the engagement. Mr. Ablewhite begins to question Rachel about the broken engagement and eventually loses his temper with her when she declines to be specific about what Godfrey has done to warrant the breaking of the engagement. Miss Clack breaks in to offer to read a passage from Jane Stamper on "Peace in Families," but Mr. Ablewhite curses at her. Miss Clack gives him a pamphlet on the evils of swearing.

Rachel stands up for Miss Clack as a guest in the house and Mr. Ablewhite reminds her that it is his house and asks Rachel to leave it. Rachel prepares to leave, and Mr. Bruff offers to take over guardianship of her. Rachel accepts and agrees to come to his house. Miss Clack bursts in and fervently asks to be Rachel's guardian instead, to make a Christian out of her, as she had tried to do for Lady Verinder. Miss Clack reveals that Lady Verinder had known she was terminally ill and states her belief that Lady Verinder died unsaved. Rachel and the others are horrified and leave the room.

Miss Clack would never see Rachel again. She has prepared to leave Rachel the copy of Jane Stamper in her will. This ends Miss Clack's diary.

Analysis

Franklin's editorial presence again becomes apparent in Chapter VI of Miss Clack's narrative. Franklin takes a derogatory and condescending tone with Miss Clack in his letters to her, and this overriding, guiding voice continues to affect our feelings toward Miss Clack. Miss Clack's letters touch upon one of the interesting features of the narratives that make up The Moonstone—each person is asked to narrate the events surrounding their interaction with the Verinders or the diamond in the way that he or she felt at the time and with only the information that he or she had at the time. In this way, the method of the crime and the criminal are concealed from us, as each narrator tries to reproduce all details as equally important, instead of privileging only the subject matter that turns out to be relevant. Miss Clack is the first narrator to point out the difficulty of this task, and indeed, she is unable to finish her narrative without alluding to future events. She thus remarks in Chapter VIII that her opinion of Godfrey has not changed and alludes to future events that would put that good opinion to the test. She remarks, "I write with the tears in my eyes, burning to say more. But no—I am cruelly limited to my actual experience of persons and things."

The tone of the correspondence between Miss Clack and Franklin, in which Miss Clack takes a position of subservience, also serves to remind us that Miss Clack is writing this narrative for money. This detail, stressed more than once within Miss Clack's narratives, points to the satirical fact that worldly things such as money or gossip serve to motivate Miss Clack more often that the charity she preaches. Thus Miss Clack's solicitous care of Lady Verinder's spiritual state before her death is in part related to Miss Clack's hope of receiving a small legacy. When Lady Verinder died, Miss Clack protested that she thought of Lady Verinder's unsaved spiritual state first and her failure to give Miss Clack her legacy only later. But this protestation only serves to drive home to us (who have already been encouraged to read Miss Clack's narrative for what it represses) that the legacy and the spiritual health were of at least equal importance to her. Similarly, Miss Clack's persistent hanging on Rachel is easily attributed to her interest in Rachel's apparent secrets (and perhaps Rachel's wealth as an heiress) rather than her interest in Rachel's spiritual well being. In fact, Miss Clack equates these two things in her mind in Chapter VIII: "When I had converted her, she would, as a matter of course, have no concealments from Me."