“The Moonstone is a page-turner”, writes Carolyn Heilbrun. “It catches one up and unfolds its amazing story through the recountings of its several narrators, all of them enticing and singular.” Wilkie Collins’s spellbinding tale of romance, theft, and murder inspired a hugely popular genre–the detective mystery. Hinging on the theft of an enormous diamond originally stolen from an Indian shrine, this riveting novel features the innovative Sergeant Cuff, the hilarious house steward Gabriel Betteridge, a lovesick housemaid, and a mysterious band of Indian jugglers.
This Modern Library Paperback Classic is set from the definitive 1871 edition.
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
This morning (May 21st 1850), my lady’s nephew, Mr Franklin Blake, said to me: ‘Betteredge, I’ve seen Mr Bruff, our lawyer, and we talked about the loss of the diamond two years ago. He thinks a complete record of the facts ought to be put down in writing. And I agree with him. The story should be told and I believe we’ve found a way to do it. Everyone will tell their part of the story in turn, beginning at the beginning. I have a letter telling how my uncle got hold of the diamond in India. Next we must tell how the stone reached my aunt’s house in Yorkshire two years ago; and then, of course, how it was lost twelve hours after it was given to Rachel. Nobody knows more than you, dear Betteredge, about what went on in the house during that time. So your narrative must be the first.’
I have a clear memory for a man of over seventy. However, I did what you probably would have done: I modestly declared that I was incapable of such a task. But young Mr Franklin insisted, and here I am at my desk two hours later, realizing I may have bitten off more than I can chew. Oh, well, here goes…
I worked for Lord Herncastle, and after he died, when Miss Julia, his youngest daughter, married Sir John Verinder, I came with her to Sir John’s house here in Yorkshire. I married a local girl, but five years later she died, poor soul, leaving me with my little girl, Penelope. Soon afterwards,
Sir John died and my lady was left with her only child, Miss Rachel. My lady made sure that Penelope was educated, and when she was old enough she became Miss Rachel’s maid.
My lady promoted me. I became manager of her farms in Yorkshire and carried on this work until, on Christmas Day 1847, my lady invited me to tea. ‘Gabriel,’ she said, ‘It is time to work less. From today you will give up the outdoor work and simply look after the servants here in the house.’ I protested, but looking out over the cold grey hills I knew she was right…