A Dramatic Story, in Three Acts.
Altered from the Novel for Performance on the Stage.
PERSONS OF THE DRAMA
A Policeman in Plain Clothes.
PERIOD: THE PRESENT TIME.
The action of the drama extends over twenty-four hours, and passes entirely in the inner hall of MISS VERINDER'S country-house. At the back of the hall is a long gallery, approached by a flight of stairs, and supposed to lead to the bedchambers of the house. The stairs must be so built that persons can pass backwards and forwards behind them, in the part of the hall which is situated under the gallery. Two of the bedchamber doors, leading respectively into the rooms occupied by FRANKLIN BLAKE and GODFREY ABLEWHITE, are visible to the audience. The other rooms are supposed to be continued off the stage on the left. The entrances are three in number. One, under the gallery, at the back, supposed to lead to the staircase in the outer hall and to the house door. One on the left, at the front of the stage, supposed to lead to RACHEL'S boudoir and bedroom. And one opposite, formed by a large window, which opens to the floor, and which is supposed to lead into a rose-garden. The fireplace is on the left, just above the door leading into RACHEL'S room. The stage directions refer throughout to the right and left of the actors as they front the audience.
At the rise of the curtain, the lamps hanging from the ceiling are lit in the hall. The time is between eight and nine o'clock in the evening. BETTEREDGE is discovered arranging cold refreshments on a table at the back. He leaves the table and takes a telegram out of his pocket.
Betteredge. There is one great misfortune in the lives of young ladies in general--they have nothing to do. As a natural consequence, their minds shift about like a weathercock; and every change in the wind blows a new botheration in the way of their unfortunate servants. (He opens a telegram.) Here is a proof of it! A week ago, my young mistress telegraphed to me as follows: (He reads the telegram.) "Miss Rachel Verinder, London, to Gabriel Betteredge, House Steward, Crowmarsh Hall, Kent. I have made up my mind to pass the rest of the year in town. Cover up the furniture, and set the painters at work." (He speaks.) Very good. I covered up the furniture, and I set the painters to work. (He folds up the telegram, and produces another.) An hour ago comes another telegram. "Miss Rachel Verinder," as before, "to Gabriel Betteredge," as before. "Uncover the furniture, and turn the painters out. I have made up my mind to pass the rest of the year in the country. Expect me by the seven-forty train from London. I shall bring Miss Clack, and my cousin, Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite. Send to Mr. Candy, and ask him to sup with us." (He folds up the second telegram.) Turn out the painters? All very well! Can I turn out the stink the painters have left behind them? There (he points to an open space under the cabinet) are their pots and brushes not cleared away yet. "Invite Mr. Candy?" Well, there's some sense in inviting him. He's the doctor at our town here--and he'll be nice and handy when the smell of the paint has given the whole party the colic. I've sent for Mr. Candy! (PENELOPE hurries in excitedly by the hall door. She is smartly dressed, with gay cap ribbons.) Here's a whirlwind in petticoats! What's wrong now, Penelope?
Penelope (breathlessly). Oh, father, such news! A fly has just driven up to the door--and who do you think has come in it? Mr. Franklin Blake!
Betteredge. Mr. Franklin Blake? I remember Master Franklin, the nicest boy that ever spun a top or broke a window. Nonsense, Penelope! It's too good to be true! (FRANKLIN'S voice is heard outside.)
Betteredge. That's his voice, sure enough. This way, Mr. Franklin, this way! (FRANKLIN BLAKE enters by the hall door.)
Franklin. Dear old Betteredge, give me your hand! You don't look a day older since I borrowed seven and sixpence of you the last time I was home for the holidays--
Betteredge. Which seven and sixpence you never have paid me back, Master Franklin, and never will. Welcome home, sir, from foreign parts!
Franklin (noticing PENELOPE). Who's this? Not Penelope?
Penelope (simpering). I thought you didn't remember me, sir.
Franklin. Remember you! You promised to be a pretty girl when I remember you, and you have kept your promise. Virtue claims its own reward. (He kisses her.) Betteredge, I am devoured by anxiety. I left the Dover train at Tunbridge on the chance that my cousin Rachel might be here. Have I made a mistake? Is she in London?
Betteredge. You have fallen on your legs, sir. Miss Rachel is coming here to-night.
Franklin. One more question, and my mind will be at ease again. Rachel isn't married yet, is she?
Penelope (answering before her father can speak). Oh no, sir.
Franklin. Do you think she is waiting for my return? I am much obliged to you, Penelope. You encourage me. (He kisses her again. BETTEREDGE shakes his head.) Don't look sour, Betteredge. It's only a way I have of expressing my gratitude.
Betteredge. There's a limit to everything, sir. My girl has got as much of your gratitude as is good for her. Penelope, go and get Mr. Franklin Blake's room ready for him. (PENELOPE curtsies to FRANKLIN, ascends the stairs to the gallery, and enters one of the bedrooms.) Your old room, sir--up in the gallery. What have they done with your luggage?
Franklin. One of the servants took my portmanteau. By-the-bye, has a foreign letter been received here, addressed to Rachel?
Betteredge. Yes, sir: only two days since.
Franklin. Did you forward it to London?
Betteredge. Miss Rachel has been veering about in her own mind, sir, betwixt staying in London and staying in the country. I was told to forward no letters until further orders. (He opens a table drawer, takes out some letters waiting for RACHEL, and chooses one.) Is this the letter you mean, sir?
Franklin (looking at the post-mark). That's it!--an official letter from the consul at Rome, informing Rachel of a legacy coming to her from foreign parts. (He returns the letter to BETTEREDGE.) A legacy of ten thousand pounds, Betteredge--and I've got it here in my pocket. (He touches his breast-pocket.)
Betteredge. Mercy preserve us! In bank-notes, sir?
Franklin (producing a jeweller's box). No; in this. The ten thousand pounds, Betteredge, is the estimated value of a prodigious diamond. (BETTEREDGE holds up his hands in amazement.) And the prodigious diamond is a legacy left to Rachel by her uncle the Colonel.
Betteredge (in alarm). Not the Moonstone?
Franklin. Yes, the Moonstone. (He hands the box to BETTEREDGE, who receives it with marked aversion, and refuses to open it.) Don't be afraid. It isn't an infernal machine--it won't blow your brains out.
Betteredge (sternly). This is no joking matter, Master Franklin. The wicked Colonel sent you on a wicked errand when he sent you here with his diamond. Is he really dead, sir?
Franklin. Dead and buried--at Rome. I was with him in his last moments. In my judgment, the worst thing you could say about him was that he was mad. What did he do, Betteredge, to be called "the wicked Colonel"?
Betteredge. Do? I shouldn't get through the catalogue of the Colonel's misdeeds if I was to talk till to-morrow. My late lady, Miss Rachel's mother, was (as you know) the Colonel's sister. She refused to see him or to speak to him. She held him, rightly, to be a disgrace to the family. He was as proud as Lucifer, and his sister wounded him in his one tender place. "You have publicly shut your door in my face," he wrote to her. "Sooner or later I'll be even with you for doing that." Here (he holds up the box) is the proof that he was as good as his word. He knew by his own bitter experience that the Moonstone carried a curse with it; and he has left it to Miss Rachel in revenge.
Franklin. I wish I had offended the Colonel.
Betteredge. If you knew how he got this diamond, sir, you would wish nothing of the sort! It was in the Indian wars. The Moonstone was an ornament on one of their heathen images in those parts. The last place they defended against the English troops was their temple. The Colonel was the first of the storming party to get in. He killed the two priests who defended their idol, and he cut the diamond out of the wooden head of the image with his sword. "Loot" they call it in the army; I call it murder and robbery. And the curse of murder and robbery goes with the diamond. You are almost as fond of Miss Rachel, sir, as I am. While we have the chance, let's go out into the yard and chuck the Moonstone into the well!
Franklin. Stop a minute, Betteredge! Have you got ten thousand pounds anywhere about you?
Betteredge. I, Master Franklin!
Franklin. We can't afford the luxury of drowning the Moonstone. Say no more about it. It's Rachel's property. Give it back to me. (He takes the box from BETTEREDGE, puts it back in his pocket, and looks round him.) Ah! here's the great hall looking just as splendid as ever! Time that makes changes everywhere else makes no changes here. (He notices an old cabinet placed near the foot of the gallery stairs.) What have they been doing with this cabinet? It's shamefully neglected. It ought to be varnished.
Betteredge. It is to be varnished, sir. But Miss Rachel's sudden arrival has stopped the painters' work till further orders.
Franklin (noticing the painters' utensils). I see! Here are their pots and brushes. What's this? (He takes up a tin pot with a label on it.)
Betteredge. Don't you touch those things, sir! I'll take them out of the way.
Franklin (stopping him). Wait a minute. (He reads the label.) "The original Dutch polish. Restores old furniture, and is warranted to dry in five hours." This is the varnish! Betteredge, I have nothing to do till Rachel comes; I'll varnish the cabinet. (He pulls off his coat and chooses a brush.)
Betteredge. Mercy on us, Master Franklin! You don't mean it, do you? Think of the wet varnish and the ladies' dresses, sir, when the company come.
Franklin. The varnish dries in five hours. (He looks at the clock.) It's nine o'clock now. By two in the morning the cabinet will be as dry as a bone. (He begins to varnish.) You talked of company coming here. Who does Rachel bring with her?
Betteredge. She brings Miss Clack, sir, for one.
Franklin (varnishing). What! my old enemy? She will never forgive me. I once called her a Rampant Spinster. Does Miss Clack still go about the world reforming everybody? And when she is particularly spiteful does she open her bag and say: "Permit me to offer you a tract"?
Betteredge (dryly). Come, come, Master Franklin! Do the lady justice. She has a pretty taste in wine. Likes her champagne dry--and plenty of it.
Franklin (varnishing).Who else is expected?
Betteredge. Your other cousin, sir, Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite.
Franklin (varnishing). Worse and worse! A professional philanthropist and a ladies' man, both in one! Officially attached to half the female Societies in London. Wherever there is a table with a council of ladies sitting round it, there is Mr. Treasurer Ablewhite keeping the accounts of the committee, and leading the dear creatures along the thorny ways of business hat in hand! (He suddenly leaves off varnishing and looks round at BETTEREDGE.) I say, Betteredge! has Godfrey Ablewhite any particular motive for coming here? You don't think he is after Rachel, do you?
Betteredge. He has been after her, sir, and he's just the man to try it again at the first opportunity. Don't be alarmed! Miss Rachel has said "No" to him once, and now you're here she'll say "No" again.
Franklin (returning to his varnishing). Dear good girl, how I enjoy varnishing her cabinet! She wouldn't give me a definite answer, Betteredge, when I asked her to marry me before I left England. Do you think she has any serious objection to me?
Betteredge. You have been all your life in debts and difficulties, sir, and you take it as easy as if you had paid your way honestly from your birth upwards. Miss Rachel objects to that. In her way of thinking, a man who doesn't pay his creditors commits a dishonourable action. Be a little more careful in money matters, and Miss Rachel's objections to you will melt away like snow off a dyke. (He starts.) What's that I hear? Carriage wheels outside? (The door bell rings.) There's Miss Rachel! Leave it to me, Master Franklin, I'll tell her you're here! (He goes out by the hall door.)
Franklin (looking about him). Where's my coat? (He hurriedly puts on his coat.) Do I smell of varnish, I wonder? Is there time to get to my room and brush myself up? (RACHEL enters by the hall door, followed by MISS CLACK, carrying her black bag of tracts, and by GODFREY ABLEWHITE. MISS CLACK looks about her at the different objects in the hall, with an over-acted appearance of humility and admiration.)
Rachel (heartily). My dear Franklin! this is a pleasure I never hoped for. (FRANKLIN advances as if to kiss her. After a momentary hesitation, she offers him her cheek.) Oh, yes--you are my cousin--you may kiss me. Turn to the light, Franklin. Do you know that you are not looking at all well? What is the matter with you?
Franklin. I have given up smoking, Rachel, and I have not had a good night's rest since I left off my cigars.
Rachel. Why have you given up smoking?
Franklin (whispering). You dislike tobacco. I have given up smoking to please you. (GODFREY jealously approaches, as if to interrupt them, and speaks aside with RACHEL. She listens to him for a moment, and then turns away to take off her hat and cloak. FRANKLIN notices GODFREY'S jealousy when he approaches RACHEL, and speaks aside). Jealous of my whispering to Rachel! Mercenary humbug! (He addresses GODFREY coldly.) How do you do, Godfrey?
Godfrey (with excessive cordiality). Delighted to see you again, dear Franklin! (Aside.) He has designs on Rachel! Fortune-hunting vagabond!
Rachel (returning). Where is Miss Clack? (Aside to FRANKLIN). I am obliged to have a chaperon, and I have taken poor Miss Clack. Do be civil to her! (She looks round, and discovers MISS CLACK.) My dear Drusilla! what are you looking at so very attentively?
Miss Clack (mournfully). I am renewing my acquaintance, Rachel, with the objects of beauty in this luxurious house. Wealth always has a dazzling effect on me at first. I shall soon get used to it, dear. You will excuse a poor relation, I am sure. (She notices FRANKLIN, and speaks to him with spiteful humility.) Mr. Franklin Blake, I believe? I beg your pardon, sir, for not having spoken to you before.
Franklin. Miss Clack, your politeness overwhelms me. How many tracts have you scattered, and how many obdurate persons have you converted, since I saw you last?
Miss Clack (innocently). Am I expected to laugh? Dearest Rachel, is this what the world calls wit? It is quite thrown away, Mr. Blake, on poor me. You don't offend me, sir, by sneering at my humble efforts in the good cause. (FRANKLIN looks at RACHEL with a smile. MISS CLACK observes him.) I can even put up with your openly disbelieving what I say. (She turns to GODFREY.) Dear Mr. Godfrey?
Godfrey. Dear Miss Clack!
Miss Clack. You are our charitable hero. Will you tell Mr. Blake that it is quite useless to attempt to offend us?
Godfrey (returning the compliment).You are our Dorcas of modern times! Will Mr. Blake believe me, if he won't believe Dorcas? (MISS CLACK opens her bag of tracts.)
Franklin (eyeing the bag). I'll do anything to be agreeable to Dorcas and the hero--I'll even accept a tract!
Miss Clack (changing her mind). We will wait, Mr. Blake, till you are in a fitter frame of mind. Dear Rachel has remarked on the state of your health. On the first occasion when sickness lays you low--if the place is within an easy railway fare of my residence at the time--you will find me at your bedside with a choice of tracts. (With sudden spitefulness.) And may those tracts sound like a blast of trumpets in your obdurate ears!
Rachel (interfering). Come, come! there is a time for everything. It's supper-time now. Drusilla, take off your travelling-wraps, and be comfortable after your journey.
Miss Clack. My room is upstairs, Rachel, is it not?
Rachel. Nonsense! You needn't go all the way upstairs to take off your hat and cloak. Come into my room here.
Miss Clack. Thank you, dearest. Always so thoughtful in temporal matters! Well, well; the higher thoughtfulness will follow. (She puts her hand to her head.) My poor head!
Rachel. Have you still got the headache? Try my smelling-bottle.
Miss Clack. Thank you, dear. Oh, how nice! What might be the value of this object of luxury, Rachel?
Rachel (impatiently). Five shillings--ten shillings. How should I know?
Miss Clack (amazed). Ten shillings! (She mentally calculates on her fingers.) Forty basins of charitable soup--twelve basketfuls of missionary buns--all locked up in this futile little thing! (She shows it to GODFREY with a groan.) Oh, Mr. Godfrey!
Godfrey. Oh, Miss Clack!
Miss Clack. Take it back, Rachel. Your smelling-bottle saddens me. After you, dear--after you.
Franklin. Don't be long, Rachel. (RACHEL and MISS CLACK go out on the left.)
Godfrey. You don't like being left, Franklin, in such poor company as I am?
Franklin. Nonsense, Godfrey! How are you getting on with your ladies and their charities--maternal societies for doctoring poor women; Magdalen societies for rescuing poor women; strong-minded societies for putting poor women into poor men's places, and leaving the men to shift for themselves--are they all flourishing under your sympathetic superintendence?
Godfrey (aside). He is as insolent as ever! (to FRANKLIN.) Thank you for your kind inquiries, Franklin. You speak flippantly, but I daresay you mean well. And how are you prospering?
Franklin. Prospering! I don't know which way to turn next for want of money. I say, Godfrey! Is your father still head partner at the bank in the neighbouring town here?
Godfrey. Certainly! I shall go to Frizinghall tomorrow to see my father.
Franklin. Ah, yes! Frizinghall--that's the name of the town. I have been so long away I had almost forgotten it. Do me a service, Godfrey--ask your father to lend me two hundred pounds.
Godfrey. Oh, Franklin!
Franklin. Nobody else will lend me a farthing. My credit is at an end--even with old Luker himself.
Godfrey (innocently). Who is Mr. Luker?
Franklin. Enchanting innocence! Did you really never hear of the famous London money-lender--Luker, of Clement's Inn? (GODFREY shakes his head.) Such is fame! Look here, Godfrey, if I write to your father, will you take the letter?
Godfrey. Quite useless, Franklin. I once asked my dear father for a loan of five pounds. He buttoned up his pockets, and he said: "Do as I did at your age--go and earn it!"
Franklin. I should have answered that. I should have said: "Do as I do at my age--come and spend it!" Forgive me for boring you with my affairs. I daresay you're worried enough about money matters yourself.
Godfrey (surprised). What do you mean?
Franklin. As treasurer to those charitable societies of yours, do you never have hard work of it to make both ends meet?
Godfrey (relieved). Ah! yes, yes! Quite true, Franklin--quite true! (RACHEL appears at the door on the left; neither FRANKLIN nor GODFREY observes her.)
Franklin (continuing). Speaking generally, my debts don't trouble me the least in the world. But there's one of my creditors who won't be pacified--a little hunchbacked Frenchman who keeps a restaurant in Paris. (He goes on more and more carelessly--laughing as he speaks.) His wife is in bed, and his child has got the whooping-cough, and little crook-back wants his money. I only borrowed two hundred pounds of him, and he writes furious letters to me, and calls me a thief!
Rachel (advancing). Godfrey!
Franklin (speaking aside). She has heard me!
Godfrey (approaching her). Yes, dear Rachel?
Rachel. Leave me with Franklin for five minutes. (FRANKLIN draws back, and looks guiltily at RACHEL.)
Godfrey (aside). In five minutes he may make her an offer! I'll put an obstacle in his way. (He whispers to RACHEL.) One word in private, dear Rachel. Beware of Franklin if he tries to borrow money of you. His debts have utterly degraded him. (He goes out by the hall door.)
Rachel (to FRANKLIN very earnestly). Franklin, I heard what you said to Godfrey a moment since. Have you no principle? Have you no feeling?
Franklin. My dear Rachel--!
Rachel. A poor struggling man who has trusted you--and who finds in the hour of his distress that your promise to pay him back his money is a mockery and a delusion! And you speak of it lightly! In your place, I would have sold the watch out of my pocket, and the rings off my fingers, rather than be dishonoured as you are dishonoured now.
Franklin. Strong language, Rachel!
Rachel. I speak strongly, because I feel strongly. I have a true interest in you--I hope great things from you in the future. If you begin with this shocking carelessness about obligations which you have bound yourself to respect, how will you end? Who can say to what degradation you may not descend the next time you want money, and the next, and the next?
Franklin. May I say a word in my own defence?
Rachel. No. You may occupy your time in doing better than that. This poor man with his sick wife and child--I can't bear to think of it! Wait, Franklin. I have something more to say to you. Wait! (She goes to the writing-table and writes a cheque. FRANKLIN speaks to himself.)
Franklin (aside). She feels a "true interest in me!" Is that interest strong enough to stand my friend, if I own that I love her--if I ask her to be my wife? She is prettier than ever; and I am fonder of her than ever; and she refused Godfrey the last time he asked her. I think I'll risk it!
Rachel (rising, and giving FRANKLIN the cheque). Send that to my bankers, with your creditor's address in Paris. I am your creditor now. (FRANKLIN attempts to speak.) No! I want no thanks. I want amendment; I want you--oh, Franklin, I do really want you to be worthy of yourself!
Franklin (earnestly). It is in your power, Rachel, to make me all that you could wish.
Rachel (relenting). I don't understand you.
Franklin. I have loved you for years. (RACHEL tries to interrupt him.) Absence has only made you dearer to me than ever. Grant me the one aspiration of my life! I will answer for living worthily, if I may only live to be worthy of you.
Rachel (aside). He is making love to me! (To FRANKLIN). How dare you make love to me, when I am so angry with you?
Franklin (taking her hand). I have travelled night and day; I have returned to England only to see you. Don't I deserve a little indulgence? Am I not worthy of one kind look?
Rachel (aside). What a contemptible creature I am! Why don't I tell him to leave the room? (To FRANKLIN.) Have you got my hand?
Franklin. Yes, I've got your hand.
Rachel. Let go of it!
Franklin (kissing her hand). Say you forgive me.
Rachel (yielding). Oh, where is Miss Clack? where is Miss Clack?
Franklin. I am truly penitent, I am honestly desirous of being worthy of you. Don't cast me off! Say: "Franklin, you may hope."
Rachel. Will you let me go, if I do?
Franklin (still holding her hand). Yes, I will even make that sacrifice.
Rachel (yielding). "Franklin, you may hope."
Franklin (as before). May I hope that you love me?
Rachel (in a whisper). Yes!
Franklin. My darling Rachel. (He is on the point of taking her into his arms. The door on the left opens. MISS CLACK appears.) The devil take her!
Miss Clack. Oh, dear! dear! Have I come in at the wrong time? Shall I go back again, Rachel, and wait till you ring?
Rachel. Drusilla, you are perfectly insufferable! Don't stand there talking nonsense. Come and have some supper. (GODFREY enters by the hall door.)
Godfrey. I am not in the way, Rachel, am I?
Rachel. Good heavens! here is another modest person who is afraid of disturbing me! Make yourself of some use, Godfrey; open that bottle of wine. Betteredge seems to have deserted us. Franklin, ring the bell. (FRANKLIN rings. GODFREY and RACHEL busy themselves at the table. MISS CLACK approaches FRANKLIN with an expression of extreme penitence.)
Miss Clack. I am so sorry. I came in at the wrong time. It must be so unpleasant to be caught in a ridiculous position, with your arms like this. (She imitates FRANKLIN'S attempt to embrace RACHEL. FRANKLIN turns away angrily, and withdraws to the back, jealously watching GODFREY and RACHEL at the supper-table. BETTEREDGE enters by the hall door, answering the bell.)
Rachel (to BETTEREDGE). Where is Mr. Candy? I told you to invite him to sup with us.
Betteredge. The doctor has just arrived, miss. (He draws back from the hall door, and announces the doctor's name as he enters.) Mr. Candy! (As MR. CANDY approaches RACHEL, ANDREW enters by the hall door with a bottle of champagne. BETTEREDGE takes it from him, and points to the painters' utensils under the cabinet. ANDREW collects them and carries them out. BETTEREDGE opens the bottle of champagne, takes a glass, and approaches MISS CLACK, while RACHEL and MR. CANDY are speaking.)
Rachel (advancing to shake hands with him). I am glad to see you, Mr. Candy. Have you any news for me? How are you getting on in the neighbourhood?
Mr. Candy. Much as usual, Miss Rachel. The population employs the doctor freely, and only hesitates when it comes to the questions of paying him. (He notices GODFREY.) Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite! (MR. CANDY and GODFREY shake hands cordially. They remain in conversation with RACHEL.)
Betteredge (to MISS CLACK, speaking after MR. CANDY). I think you like it dry, miss? (Aside, looking at the bottle in his hand.) And plenty of it!
Miss Clack (modestly). I am so little used to luxuries, Mr. Betteredge. Do you really think it will do me good?
Betteredge (confidentially). That is my deliberate opinion, miss. (He fills the glass. MISS CLACK receives it with humble gratitude, takes a sip, discovers that it is really dry, and finishes the glass at a draught. GODFREY, leaving MR. CANDY and RACHEL, approaches BETTEREDGE and takes the bottle from him. BETTEREDGE relieves MISS CLACK of her empty glass.)
Godfrey. We will help ourselves, my good Betteredge. Don't you think you had better get another bottle?
Betteredge (looking at MISS CLACK'S empty glass). Yes, sir, I think I had. (He goes out by the hall door. GODFREY escorts MISS CLACK to the supper-table, where they join RACHEL. MR. CANDY discovers FRANKLIN and greets him cordially.)
Mr. Candy. Mr. Franklin Blake! Delighted to see you again, sir, after your long absence in foreign parts. (Shaking hands.) Excuse a professional remark. How feverish your hand is!
Franklin. I have been travelling a good deal lately, and I haven't recovered it yet.
Rachel (overhearing them). He has given up his cigars, Mr. Candy, and he has not had a good night's rest since. Is it because he has left off smoking?
Mr. Candy (speaking seriously). Unquestionably, Miss Rachel. (To FRANKLIN.) You should have dropped your cigars gradually, Mr. Blake. It's a serious trial to a man's nervous system to give up the habitual use of tobacco at a moment's notice. Take care what you eat and drink, sir, in the present state of your health. (He turns away to the supper-table.)
Franklin (to RACHEL). A medical consultation for nothing! (RACHEL goes to the supper-table. FRANKLIN speaks to himself.) I suspect he is right about my nerves. (He looks at his hand as he holds it out.) It trembles like the hand of an old man!
Rachel. Come and have some supper, Franklin! The doctor doesn't condemn you to absolute starvation, I am sure. (She addresses MR. CANDY.) Let me prescribe for him, Mr. Candy. Give Mr. Blake some of that game pie.
Franklin. Thank you, Rachel, I never eat supper.
Rachel. It's never too late to mend, Franklin. Begin now.
Mr. Candy (passing a plate with some pie on it to FRANKLIN, and speaking to him in a whisper.) Take my advice, don't eat it.
Franklin (looking at MR. CANDY, who is enjoying his pie). You eat it yourself! (He examines the pie.) It looks delicious. How softly the truffles repose on their gamy bed! How persuasively they say: "Why don't you eat us?" (He tastes the pie. GODFREY has attended to RACHEL and MISS CLACK in the meantime. MISS CLACK addresses MR. CANDY. As the conversation proceeds, FRANKLIN finishes his pie, and helps himself to wine.)
Miss Clack (severely). Mr. Candy!
Mr. Candy. Yes, Miss Clack?
Miss Clack. Miss Rachel was speaking of the neighbourhood just now. I have my doubts of the neighbourhood. (Taking up her glass.) I thought I saw a beer-shop on our way from the station.
Mr. Candy (filling his glass). If you had known where to look, you might have seen a dozen.
Miss Clack (finishing her champagne). How unspeakably dreadful! Rachel! Do you hear that? A neighbourhood of beer-drinkers all round this beautiful house. And that neighbourhood your property!
Rachel. What am I to do?
Miss Clack (with enthusiasm). Establish branch connections with our London institutions. Grapple with beer-drinking in its domestic results! Set up a Mothers'-Small-Clothes-Conversion-Society! (RACHEL, FRANKLIN, and MR. CANDY look at each other.)
Godfrey (softly rattling his knife-handle on the table). Hear! hear!
Franklin (looking up from his plate). What does the Society do, Miss Clack?
Miss Clack (severely). The Mothers'-Small-Clothes-Conversion-Society, sir, rescues unredeemed fathers' trousers from the pawnbroker, and prevents their resumption on the part of the irreclaimable parent, by abridging them to suit the proportions of the innocent son. (GODFREY applauds again with his knife-handle.)
Franklin. What becomes of the trouserless fathers, Miss Clack?
Miss Clack (sternly). A properly-constituted mind doesn't dwell, Mr. Blake, on a trouserless father. Dear Mr. Godfrey, use your eloquence to persuade Rachel! The Mothers'-Small-Clothes is particularly rich in material just now. I may truly describe our struggling sisterhood as being quite overwhelmed with trousers!
Godfrey (pathetically).Too true! too true!
Rachel. My dear Drusilla, I don't understand these things. If you like to start the institution, you have my full permission to do so.
Miss Clack (clapping her hands). Oh, thank you, dearest! Oh, how happy you have made me! (BETTEREDGE enters with the second bottle of champagne, and makes straight for MISS CLACK.) Yes, Mr. Betteredge. One more little glass to drink success to the new institution.
Betteredge (confidentially). Dry, as before, miss. (He fills her glass, and then fills the glasses of the rest of the company.)
Miss Clack. May I propose a toast? May I, without impropriety, place myself, for one little moment, in a public position? Success to the Branch-Mothers'-Small-Clothes-Conversion-Society!
Franklin (repeating the toast). Success to the Branch-Mothers'-Small-Clothes-Conversion-Society! (aside.) And may the wind be tempered to the shorn fathers! (BETTEREDGE, who has been waiting his opportunity of speaking to FRANKLIN, now approaches him, and speaks confidentially.)
Betteredge. I say, Mr. Franklin, when are you going to show Miss Rachel the Moonstone?
Franklin (starting). Good heavens, I had completely forgotten it! Rachel! (RACHEL approaches him.) Prepare yourself for a great surprise. You have heard of your uncle, the Colonel?
Rachel. I have some vague remembrance of his behaving badly to my poor mother, and of his being celebrated as the possessor of a famous diamond.
Franklin. The Colonel is dead, Rachel, and the famous Moonstone is left to you by his will. The official announcement of it is among your letters in that drawer. And here is the diamond itself. (He offers the box to RACHEL.)
Betteredge (very earnestly, aside to RACHEL). Don't take it, miss!
Rachel (taking the jewel-box from FRANKLIN). Not take it? (To FRANKLIN.) What does he mean?
Franklin. Betteredge is superstitious--
Betteredge (indignantly interrupting him). I'm nothing of the sort, Mr. Franklin! I only say the wicked Colonel's diamond will bring ill-luck to Miss Rachel and to everybody in the house. Is that superstition? It's nothing of the sort--it's reason founded on experience! (They all laugh. RACHEL opens the box. GODFREY, MISS CLACK, and MR. CANDY all look at the diamond.)
Rachel. Oh, heavens! the lovely thing!
Godfrey (softly). Exquisite! exquisite!
Miss Clack. Vanity! vanity!
Mr. Candy. Carbon--mere carbon!
Rachel. How shall I have it set? As a bracelet or as a brooch? Look at the wonderful light in it--the lovely radiant glow, like the light of the harvest moon!
Franklin (showing her how to hold it). It takes its name from that light, Rachel. Bring it here, into the dark corner, and hold it as I tell you, and the glow will be brighter still.
Rachel (delighted). Come, Drusilla! Betteredge, you may see it too. (RACHEL and MISS CLACK follow FRANKLIN to the back of the hall.)
Betteredge (alone, in front). I am much obliged to you, miss. A little of that unlucky jewel goes a long way with me! (In a lower tone.) I'll mark it on my almanac. The wicked Colenel's vengeance begins tonight. (He goes out.) (MR. CANDY and GODFREY are left together in front. MR. CANDY looks at his watch. GODFREY observes him.)
Godfrey. You are not going yet?
Mr. Candy. I must go soon. I have an interesting case in the town. A London doctor has heard of it, and is coming to see the patient by the night express.
Godfrey. Is the malady serious? (Shrinking from MR. CANDY.) Nothing infectious, I hope?
Mr. Candy. Make your mind easy. It's a case of somnambulism. A lad, who has never been known before to walk in his sleep, has surprised everybody by turning sleep-walker at the age of seventeen.
Godfrey. Very remarkable! Have you discovered the cause?
Mr. Candy. I think so. Like Mr. Blake there, my patient was not accustomed to eating supper, and he was tempted to try the experiment by some friends. He eat heartily, and he afterwards drank spirits, which he was not in the habit of doing either. There was no drunkenness, mind! After one glass of grog each the party rose from table, and adjourned to another room for a little music. The lad followed them, and sang too. Some strangers were present at the concert. He was introduced to them, and made his bow with perfect politeness. Conversation followed the music. Our young fellow joined in, and began to talk in an odd, absent way, mixing up his own affairs with the subject under discussion. Most of the party thought the poor wretch must be a little tipsy. One of them, rougher than the rest, gave him a shake, by way of sobering him, I suppose. He jumped up with a scream of terror, and looked about him in the wildest confusion. In plain English, he woke!
Godfrey. What! had he been asleep all the time?
Mr. Candy. Fast asleep and dreaming, with his eyes open!
Godfrey. After only eating supper?
Mr. Candy. No! no! after eating when he was not accustomed to eat, and drinking what he was not accustomed to drink. That makes all the difference. When he recovered his composure, he was asked if he remembered singing with the company, and being presented to the strangers. He stared in astonishment; he no more knew what he had been doing than you did before I told you of the circumstances.
Godfrey. You astonish me!
Mr. Candy. Oh! the thing has happened before. A case of sleepwalking, under similar circumstances, occurred in the last century--the case of Dr. Blacklock, the poet. A morbid condition of the stomach produced in Dr. Blacklock. A morbid condition of the stomach produced in my young man. The brain affected by it in both cases. There's the explanation, to my mind! We shall hear what the London doctor says. If you'll excuse me, I'll just tell them to put my horse to in the gig. (He goes out by the hall door. RACHEL leads the way back to the front of the stage, followed by FRANKLIN. MISS CLACK stops at the library-table, and takes up an illustrated newspaper.)
Rachel (to GODFREY). Oh Godfrey! you don't know what you have missed! A perfectly unearthly light shines out of the diamond in the dark! (She turns to FRANKLIN.) What shall I do with it? (She looks round.) I'll put it in the cabinet.
Franklin. Don't go near the cabinet! I have been varnishing it, and it's not dry yet.
Rachel. You put it away for me. (She gives the diamond to FRANKLIN. GODFREY retires, and talks with MISS CLACK at the library-table.)
Franklin (going to the cabinet). I wonder whether the door locks? (He tries the key.) Like all old cabinets, the lock is out of order, of course. Rachel! the lock's rusty, and won't act.
Rachel. What does that matter?
Franklin. Are you aware that the Moonstone is valued at ten thousand pounds? Seriously, Rachel, am I to put such a valuable jewel as this in a place that won't lock up?
Rachel. You won't find a place that does lock up, belonging to me. I hate the worry of keeping keys! What use are they here? Is my house an hotel? Are my faithful old servants thieves? Don't make a fuss about nothing! Do as I tell you!
Franklin (opening the drawer in the cabinet). There it is, in the third drawer from the top. (Aside.) I must find a safer place for it than this--Betteredge will help me. (He closes the drawer and shuts the door of the cabinet, then examines the varnish carefully.) I haven't smeared the varnish, have I? No! The surface is as smooth as glass, and the effect will be beautiful to-morrow. (MR. CANDY re-enters.)
Rachel. Have you been ordering your gig, Mr. Candy? You are not going already?
Mr. Candy. It's late, Miss Rachel.
Rachel (looking at her watch). So it is! (calling to MISS CLACK). Drusilla, shall we say good-night?
Miss Clack. Certainly, Rachel. (She takes leave of GODFREY, who remains at the library-table, looking over an album of photographs. RACHEL shakes hands with FRANKLIN and MR. CANDY. At the same time BETTEREDGE enters with a kettle and a spirit-lamp. He is followed by PENELOPE with the bedroom candles. PENELOPE lights the candles at a side-table.)
Rachel (shaking hands with MR. CANDY). Mr. Candy, take something before you go.
Mr. Candy. Thank you, Miss Rachel. Good-night, Miss Clack.
Miss Clack. Good-night, Mr. Candy. I shall be at the town the first thing to-morrow, to start the new institution. (MR. CANDY goes to the supper-table and stands there mixing and sipping his grog. PENELOPE hands MISS CLACK her candle. MISS CLACK fixes her eyes sternly on PENELOPE'S smart cap ribbons.) Thank you, Penelope. Don't suppose I am admiring your cap ribbons--far from it! (She turns to RACHEL.) Good-night, love. (She kisses RACHEL, who wishes her good-night, and enters her room on the left. PENELOPE has previously gone out at the back, offended by MISS CLACK'S remarks on her ribbons. MISS CLACK, with a dignified bend of her head to FRANKLIN, ascends the stairs which lead to the gallery.)
Franklin. Good-night, Miss Clack! (Speaking to himself.) Oh, dear, how tired I am! (He drops wearily into an arm-chair on the right near the back of the stage, and calls to BETTEREDGE.) Betteredge, I want to speak to you.
Betteredge (approaching FRANKLIN). Yes, sir.
Franklin. Rachel insisted on my putting the diamond in the cabinet-drawer. It isn't safe there; the doors won't lock.
Miss Clack (stopping at the top of the gallery stairs). Mr. Betteredge!
Betteredge (aside, taking the bottle). More champagne? (He steps out, so as to be seen by MISS CLACK from the gallery.) Yes, miss!
Miss Clack. Tell Penelope I have a tract for her on vanity in dress. She is to read it to-morrow. You may mention the title--"A Word with You on Your Cap Ribbons." (She goes out by the gallery on the left.)
Betteredge. Thank you, miss! (To himself, as he returns to FRANKLIN.) My daughter's cap ribbons will be smarter than ever to-morrow! (To FRANKLIN.) Excuse me for remarking it, sir, you're a cup too low: you want rousing a bit. Try a drop of grog.
Franklin. I never tasted spirits in my life.
Betteredge. Lord, sir! what a pleasure you have got to come!
Mr. Candy. Mr. Blake, a little while since I warned you not to eat supper when you were not used to it.
Franklin. And I eat the supper, nevertheless.
Mr. Candy. I warn you again. In the present state of your health, don't drink grog if you are not used to it.
Franklin. More advice gratis! With a glass of grog in his own hand all the time! (Enter ANDREW by the hall door.)
Andrew (to MR. CANDY).Your gig is ready, sir.
Mr. Candy. Good-night, Mr. Blake, and don't forget my advice, though it is gratis! I have a patient in the town who never took supper and never tasted spirits, like you. He has reason now to regret having tried the experiment. Ask Mr. Ablewhite. (He turns to GODFREY.) Good-night, Mr. Ablewhite! (He takes leave of GODFREY, who is still occupied with the photographs at the library-table, and goes out, followed by ANDREW.)
Franklin. Mr. Candy is a little too fond of his profession. Why can't he leave it with his hat in the hall? Betteredge, you are the best doctor of the two. I feel wretchedly uncomfortable. Mix me some grog.
Betteredge. That's right, sir! Stick to your brandy-and-water, and never mind about the Moonstone! (He mixes the grog.)
Franklin (impatiently). But I do mind about the Moonstone! Other people put their jewels in the strong room at their banker's. Why shouldn't Rachel? (He calls.) Godfrey! (GODFREY rises and approaches FRANKLIN.) You are going to Frizinghall in the morning to see your father. I'm uneasy about the safety of the diamond. Take the Moonstone to-morrow to your father's bank.
Godfrey. With pleasure, dear Franklin, if Rachel will allow it.
Franklin. I will undertake to get Rachel's permission.
Betteredge (to FRANKLIN). Here is your nightcap, sir.
Franklin (drinking, and setting down his glass). Grog is an acquired taste, I suppose? I don't much like it.
Betteredge. Try again, sir, and you will find it grow on you. Shall I give you your candle?
Franklin. Thank you. (He rises.) My head feels heavy. I really believe I shall sleep to-night.
Godfrey. If you are in want of anything that I can do for you, don't forget there's a door of communication between your room and mine.
Franklin. All right. We will leave the door open, and talk if I can't sleep. (He looks back at the cabinet.) I don't like leaving the Moonstone there even for one night. (He turns away, and follows GODFREY up the gallery stairs. BETTEREDGE goes to the hall door and calls ANDREW.)
Betteredge. Now then, Andrew. Clear away, and put out the lamps. (ANDREW enters and begins to clear the supper-table. BETTEREDGE watches him. FRANKLIN and GODFREY shake hands as they part at their bedroom doors. BETTEREDGE looks up at them.) There they go to their beds! I shan't be sorry when I follow their example. (He seats himself wearily, and speaks, partly to himself, partly to ANDREW, while the man goes on clearing the supper-table.) Which of the two is the man for Miss Rachel? All things considered, I back Mr. Franklin. Andrew! have you noticed our two young gentlemen? Which of them should you say has the best chance of taking Miss Rachel's fancy?
Andrew. I should say Mr. Godfrey, sir. He has such a beautiful head of hair.
Betteredge (gravely). There's something in that. And he's a public character too. Such a speaker, Andrew, at charitable meetings! The last time I was in London, my young lady gave me two treats. She sent me to the theatre to see a dancing woman who was all the rage; and she sent me to Exeter Hall to hear Mr. Godfrey. The lady did it with a band of music. The gentleman did it with a white handkerchief and a glass of water. Crowds at the performance with the legs. Ditto at the performance with the tongue. And which of the two charmed most money out of the pockets of the public is more than I can say. Have you cleared the table, Andrew? Now put out the lamps, my man; and then come along with me, and lock up for the night. (ANDREW gets the steps to put out the lamps hanging from the ceiling. BETTEREDGE rises, and looks at the cabinet disapprovingly.) Ah, you're a shiny cabinet enough to look at, now you're varnished. Not a speck or smear on you anywhere. (ANDREW begins to put out the lamps.) Who would think you had got the devil himself inside you, in the shape of the Moonstone? Who knows what turn the Colonel's vengeance will take before another day is over our heads? Gently, Andrew, gently. A fine lamp is like a fine lady. They both of them want delicate handling. (He leads the way to the door at the back.) Come away! Time to lock up! Time to lock up! (He goes out, followed by ANDREW, and is heard to lock the hall door. A pause, marked by low music. The solitary hall is dimly lit by the last red embers of the fire. BETTEREDGE is just heard, speaking outside.)
Betteredge. Have you locked up in the outer hall?
Andrew (outside). Yes, sir.
Betteredge. Fasten the back door next.
Andrew. All right, sir! (Another pause. RACHEL'S door opens. She appears in her dressing-gown.)
Rachel. I am so restless, the limits of my own room won't hold me! I feel as if I should never sleep again. What sort of night is it? (She crosses to the window and draws one of the curtains. The high window, reaching to the cornice, is seen protected by a broad iron-sheathed shutter, which covers two-thirds of it from the floor upwards. Through the uncovered glass at the top, the moon appears. Its light streams into the room over the place occupied by the cabinet.) Oh, the beautiful moonlight! How peaceful! how pure! What does my wakefulness mean? Am I thinking of the diamond? or thinking of Franklin? (She glances at the cabinet.) No! I won't look at the Moonstone. There's something evil in the unearthly light that shines out of it in the dark. Ridiculous! I am as superstitious as poor old Betteredge himself! (She pauses, lost in thought.) Franklin! I wish he hadn't spoken in that cruel way of the poor deformed man who lent him the money in Paris. It wouldn't matter if I didn't love him. But I do love him--dearly! And I can't bear to feel that he has disappointed me. I almost doubt him! (Another pause.) I won't think any more of Franklin--at least, not to-night! I'll get a book, and read myself to sleep. (She approaches the bookcase. The door of FRANKLIN'S room opens. She hears it and looks up. FRANKLIN appears, in his dressing-gown and slippers. RACHEL starts, and makes for her own door.) What does he want? Why is he out of his bed? Is he sleepless, too? Is he coming down for a book? (FRANKLIN slowly descends the stairs.) I can't let him find me here alone, at this time of night! (She hurriedly enters her room, then looks out again cautiously into the hall, keeping the door in her hand. FRANKLIN descends the stairs, with slow measured steps. RACHEL watches him, ready to enter her room if he moves her way. Arrived near the cabinet, he pauses in the slanting ray of the moonlight, not looking towards RACHEL, but looking straight before him. RACHEL speaks to herself.) What is he waiting for? Is he listening? Is he frightened? What does it mean? (FRANKLIN slowly approaches the cabinet; he mutters to himself.)
Franklin (in low vacant tones). It's not safe in the cabinet. What's to be done with the Moonstone?
Rachel (barely hearing the last word). I can't hear what he says. Did he speak of the Moonstone? (FRANKLIN opens the doors of the cabinet and pauses, looking round him suspiciously. RACHEL watches him, hiding herself behind her half-opened door.) What is he doing? He seems afraid of being discovered! (FRANKLIN opens the drawer in which the diamond is placed, and looks round him again. RACHEL lifts her hands in horror.) Is he going to take the diamond? By stealth? In the dead of night? (She turns her head away, shuddering.) Is Godfrey right? Have his debts utterly degraded him? (She looks at him again. FRANKLIN takes the diamond out of the drawer, and turns to re-ascend the stairs.) He has taken the diamond! (She calls to him faintly.) Franklin! (She shudders, and takes a step to re-enter her room.) Oh, I can't speak to him! I can't look at him! A thief! a thief! (RACHEL'S voice sinks to a whisper. She hurries back horror-stricken to her room. FRANKLIN reaches his own door, opens it, enters, and closes it after him.
The First Act ends without the fall of the curtain. During the whole interval between the First and Second Acts, the stage is left empty in the view of the audience. Low music from the orchestra marks the lapse of time until the action of the piece is renewed. Changes also occur in the aspect of the scene. The moonlight gradually fades and disappears. The fire next dies away by degrees. There is pitch-darkness in the hall. A long pause follows, after which the faint light of dawn just begins to show itself through the uncovered top of the window, strengthens, and leads to the sunrise of the new day. The music in the orchestra modulates to a brighter melody while these changes proceed. The Second Act begins.
Footsteps and voices of servants, followed by the unbarring of the house door, are audible outside. BETTEREDGE is next heard to unlock the hall door. He enters, followed by ANDREW, and by two housemaids. Under BETTEREDGE'S direction, ANDREW folds back the shutters, and lets the full daylight into the hall through the window. The women begin to put the hall tidy. PENELOPE enters next, and offers her morning greeting to her father. BETTEREDGE speaks as he kisses her.
Betteredge. Good-morning, my dear! Are you going to wake Miss Rachel?
Penelope. Yes, father. I had Miss Rachel's orders to wake her early this morning. (She crosses to RACHEL'S door, knocks, and enters. BETTEREDGE observes the cabinet, and approaches it.)
Betteredge. I may as well see that the Moonstone's safe before I go to Mr. Franklin's room. (He opens the drawer, and starts back.) Nothing in it! Have I mistaken the drawer? (He opens all the other drawers.) Lord bless us and save us!--the Moonstone's gone! (ANDREW and the HOUSEMAIDS hurry to BETTEREDGE, exclaiming together. "GONE")
Betteredge. Down with you on your knees, you young ones, and see if the diamond has dropped behind the cabinet, or on the floor! It's in a jeweller's box--a little white card-box. Well, have you found it?
Andrew and the Servants. No, sir!
Betteredge (bewildered). Gone! A diamond worth ten thousand pounds, gone! This is the most dreadful thing that has happened in my time. Who can have taken it? We are all honest people in this house.
Andrew (to BETTEREDGE). Will the servants be suspected, sir?
Betteredge (still bewildered). The servants? I locked the hall door last night, and took the key into my own room. Don't bother me with questions--I want time to think. (To himself). Only yesterday I marked it down on my almanac: "The wicked Colonel's vengeance begins tonight." The morning comes, and I find myself a true prophet! (He pauses, and looks about him in perplexity.) What is it my duty to do?
The Housemaids (hearing him). To speak up for the servants' characters!
Betteredge. Hold your tongues! (Recovering himself.) My duty is plain. I must report what has happened to Miss Rachel, and I must send to Frizinghall for the police. (He crosses to RACHEL'S room door and knocks. PENELOPE appears.) Penelope, is Miss Rachel up?
Penelope (observing his agitation). Lord bless us, father! what's the matter?
Betteredge (impatiently). Answer my question! Is Miss Rachel up?
Penelope. Up and dressed, before I knocked at her door. I don't know what has happened to her. She looks shockingly ill this morning.
Betteredge. Ill or well, I must see her directly. (He enters. PENELOPE follows him, closing the door. ANDREW and the HOUSEMAIDS are left alone on the stage.)
First Housemaid (speaking firmly). I'm glad he means to send for the police. The police will clear our characters.
Andrew. That's true, miss. I quite agree with you.
Second Housemaid (timidly). Will the police search our boxes?
First Housemaid. We are innocent people--what does it matter if they do? (BETTEREDGE reappears with a note in his hand.)
Betteredge (to ANDREW). The groom is to ride to the police-station at Frizinghall, and he is to give that note to the Inspector. (ANDREW hurries out with the note. BETTEREDGE reflects.) I don't know what to make of Miss Rachel. She flatly refused to let me send for the police. I was all but obliged to go on my knees before I could get her consent. I suppose I'd better tell Mr. Franklin about it next. Go on with your work, you girls--go on with your work. (He ascends to FRANKLIN'S room.)
Second Housemaid. I'm in such a flutter, I don't know what my work is.
First Housemaid. If you stand shivering and shaking like that, you'll be suspected of the robbery. Pull yourself together and sweep the carpet.
Second Housemaid (taking the broom). Oh, my poor nerves!
First Housemaid (dusting a chair). Your nerves, indeed! If I chose to give way like you, I should go into hysterics in this chair. (FRANKLIN appears in morning dress and speaks as he descends the stairs, followed by BETTEREDGE. The HOUSEMAIDS seeing him, go out with their brooms and dusters.)
Franklin. It's no use appealing to me, Betteredge; I am as completely puzzled as you are. I can't realise it. I can't believe it. No doors have been forced open. Nobody has broken into the house. Who can have taken the diamond? is it stolen, or is it only lost? The mystery is simply impenetrable; I can't find the slightest clue to it, think as I may.
Betteredge. Let's hope the police will enlighten us, sir.
Franklin (abruptly). What police?
Betteredge. The police from Frizinghall.
Franklin. They will be of no use! The case is beyond the reach of the local police. We shall only lose time and have to send to London after all. (He pauses and considers.) I have it! I know the very man who will help us. Give me a form, I'll telegraph to London at once!
Betteredge (giving him the form). What for, sir?
Franklin. For the famous detective, Sergeant Cuff.
Betteredge. That's a good notion, Mr. Franklin. Shall I tell Miss Rachel?
Franklin (writing). No, no! I'll tell Rachel myself. (ANDREW enters by the hall door.)
Andrew (to BETTEREDGE). Where am I to lay the breakfast, sir?
Betteredge. Lord bless me, I forgot the breakfast! Not in here; we may have the police in here. In the morning room, Andrew. (ANDREW turns to go out.)
Franklin (finishing his telegram). Stop! send this to the railway station directly.
Andrew. Yes, sir. (He goes out with the telegram.)
Betteredge. When will Sergeant Cuff be here, sir?
Franklin. He will start the instant he gets my telegram. How long is the railway journey from London?
Betteredge. Barely an hour by a quick train. (GODFREY appears at his room door. BETTEREDGE looks up.) Here's Mr. Godfrey, sir. Perhaps he's got something to propose?
Franklin (while GODFREY descends the stairs). Not he! When did you ever know a ladies' man who was of any use in an emergency?
Godfrey. Well, dear Franklin, what have you done about this dreadful business?
Franklin. I've done the best I can--I have telegraphed for Sergeant Cuff.
Godfrey (starting). The famous detective?
Franklin. Yes; and just the man we want to find the diamond.
Godfrey. You know him?
Franklin. Perfectly well. The last time I was in town I had a look at the vagabond side of London life--the tramps and thieves, you know--and Sergeant Cuff was my guide. The queerest fellow you ever saw. Looks more like a Methodist parson than a detective. Has a taste for flowers, absolutely dotes on roses. Think of that for a policeman!
Godfrey. Does Rachel know you have sent for this man?
Franklin. I am going to tell her the moment she comes out of her room. (ANDREW appears at the door.)
Andrew. Breakfast, gentlemen!
Franklin (taking GODFREY'S arm). Come along, Godfrey! (He stops as they pass the cabinet.) If Rachel hadn't forced me to put the diamond in that infernal cabinet--let's go to breakfast! (They go out.)
Betteredge (alone). Aye! aye! go to your coffee and cutlets. Whatever happens in a house, whether it's robbery or murder, you must have your breakfast! (PENELOPE enters from RACHEL'S room.) Well, Penelope? What news of Miss Rachel?
Penelope. You will see for yourself, father. Miss Rachel is coming to speak to you. Do you know if Miss Clack has gone out yet?
Betteredge. Half-an-hour ago. I met her coming down the back staircase on her way to the town, to worry everybody about that new "Beer-and-Breeches-Society." What do you want with her, Penelope?
Penelope. Miss Clack had the impudence to give me a tract about my cap ribbons when I woke her this morning! I shall give it to her back again at the first opportunity. (She goes out by the hall door.)
Betteredge (alone). I should chuck it into the fire and think no more about it. There's the difference between a man and a woman! (He looks towards RACHEL'S door.) What does Miss Rachel want with me, I wonder? (RACHEL enters suddenly from her room.)
Rachel (in great agitation). Betteredge! have you sent for the police?
Betteredge. Yes, miss.
Rachel. Send directly and countermand the order. I won't have the police in the house!
Betteredge. For the servants' sakes--for my sake, miss, don't say that! The police must be sent for. Ask Mr. Franklin (RACHEL starts), if you won't believe me.
Rachel (with a sudden change). Where is Mr. Franklin?
Betteredge. At breakfast, miss. Do you wish to see him?
Rachel (in confusion). Yes--no--go away! (BETTEREDGE turns to go out.) Stop! Tell Mr. Franklin Blake I want to speak to him.
Betteredge (speaking aside, puzzled and alarmed). What on earth is the matter with Miss Rachel? (He goes out by the hall door.)
Rachel (alone).The meanness of this detestable theft--the longer I think, the more keenly I feel the revolting meanness of it! He daren't make away with the diamond on the journey to England--the consul's letter to me would have pointed at him as the thief. No, he waits till the Moonstone is safe in my house! He can calculate on my poor servants being suspected of the theft; he can sell the jewel abroad, and cheat me as he has cheated his creditors! And this is the man I love? This is the hero of my secret thoughts, for years past? (She pauses and reflects.) What am I to say to him? Now I have sent for him, what am I to say? Can I tell him, in plain words, what I saw last night? (Recoiling from the idea.) Oh, no! no! I degrade myself, if I degrade him. Only yesterday I owned that I loved him. Can I tell him, after that, that he is a thief? Oh, never! never! I should die under the shame of it! (She pauses again.) Is it possible that I have judged him rashly? Am I hard on him, poor fellow? He may have been almost beside himself last night with his debts and difficulties. If I only give him a hint, and then leave him here by himself, he may take the opportunity; he may put the diamond back in the drawer. Shall I try it? I will! (FRANKLIN enters by the hall door. RACHEL starts, and composes herself.)
Franklin (in his usual manner). Betteredge says you wish to see me, Rachel.
Rachel (trying to assume indifference). How did you sleep last night, Franklin?
Franklin (aside). Is that all she wants me for? (To RACHEL.) I had a perfect night's rest; I never once woke till the sun looked in at my window. Pardon me for remarking it, Rachel--you don't look well this morning.
Rachel (confusedly). I was restless last night. (She again eyes FRANKLIN attentively.) I was walking about--here, in the hall.
Franklin (with sudden interest). After everybody was in bed?
Rachel (with her eye on him). Why are you so anxious to know?
Franklin. To get information for the police, to be sure. Did you look at your diamond? Did you see it safe in the drawer?
Rachel (aside, disgusted by his apparent duplicity). He speaks of it first! (to FRANKLIN.) I did not look at the diamond. (She pauses, and suddenly makes up her mind what to say next.) I had a dream about it.
Franklin (quietly). A dream that it was stolen?
Rachel (aside--with a burst of indignation). Oh! (To FRANKLIN) Stolen--and restored. I dreamed that the thief repented, and privately put the diamond back in its place, and trusted the rest to my mercy. (She timidly places her hand on FRANKLIN'S arm, and speaks with great tenderness.) And I made allowances for the temptation, Franklin; I forgave him with all my heart!
Franklin (smiling). Your dream won't help us to find the diamond, Rachel. Suppose we get back to realities? I have something to say to you about the police.
Rachel (turning away from him indignantly). I don't want to hear it! (She approaches the window on the right.)
Franklin (looking after her in amazement). What have I done to offend her?
Rachel (to herself). If I stay here a moment longer, I shall accuse him of the theft. And what would he do if I did accuse him? Lie to me again, as he has lied to me already. (She advances nearer to the window.)
Franklin (following her a step and stopping). Are you going into the rose-garden?
Rachel (still pursuing her own thoughts). And he knows that I would forgive him. He knows that his shameful secret is safe with me!
Franklin (approaching her). May I go with you, Rachel?
Rachel (furiously). No! (She goes out on the right.)
Franklin (alone, looking after her in extreme astonishment). In all my experience of women, I never met with the like of this. Her manner to me is absolutely insulting! It almost looks as if the loss of the Moonstone had turned her brain. (GODFREY and MR. CANDY enter by the hall door. MR. CANDY has a book under his arm.)
Godfrey. Franklin! Mr. Candy has called to inquire after you.
Mr. Candy. Good-morning, Mr. Blake. How did the experiment of the supper and the grog succeed last night?
Franklin. Wonderfully well. I haven't had such a night's sleep for weeks past. (MR. CANDY looks astonished.) I evidently surprise you?
Mr. Candy. You agreeably surprise me, sir. Any news yet of the lost diamond?
Franklin. No news.
Mr. Candy. Sorry to hear it. (To GODFREY.) Tell Miss Rachel I have brought back the book I borrowed from the library some time since.
Godfrey (looking at the book). Ah, yes. Combe's famous work on Phrenology. Some curious things in that book.
Mr. Candy. Very curious. (He goes to the bookcase to put the volume away.)
Godfrey (to FRANKLIN). I am going to Frizinghall. I suppose I can be of no use here?
Franklin (impatiently). Use? We are all in the dark together.
Godfrey. My dear Franklin, you talk as if there was no hope. The local police have arrived (BETTEREDGE appears at the hall door), and the Inspector has begun his inquiries.
Betteredge (speaking at the hall door).The Inspector has made a complete mess of it already.
Franklin. What is he doing?
Betteredge (approaching FRANKLIN). He has set up the backs of all the women servants in the house. Talks of examining their bedrooms. The cook looks as if she could grill him alive, and the rest of the women are ready to eat him afterwards--underdone. (GODFREY laughs, and joins MR. CANDY at the bookcase.)
Franklin. Just what I feared. We'll dismiss the Inspector before he does any more mischief. Come along. (He goes out with BETTEREDGE by the hall door.)
Godfrey (returning to the front with MR. CANDY).What news of your sleep-walking patient, Mr. Candy? What does the London doctor say?
Mr. Candy. The London doctor, after hearing my opinion, put it to the proof on a plan of his own--and the proof disappointed us both. I'll tell you about it when I have a little more time. (He looks at his watch.) My patients are waiting, and my only errand here was to inquire after Mr. Blake.
Godfrey (confidentially). I doubt if Mr. Blake passed quite so quiet a night as he supposes. I thought I heard him moving.
Mr. Candy. Quite likely. In his state of health he must have been restless after that supper last night. He had dreams, you may rely on it.
Godfrey. He seems to have entirely forgotten his dreams.
Mr. Candy. There is nothing wonderful in that. Recollect what my patient in the town did when he was asleep and dreaming, and how absolutely unconscious of it he was when he woke. My respects to Miss Rachel, and I hope she will soon recover the diamond. Good-morning.
Godfrey. Good-morning. (MR. CANDY goes out by the hall door. GODFREY looks at the clock on the mantelpiece, and speaks a little anxiously.) I have some time to spare. Shall I risk proposing to Rachel while I have the chance? I should like to feel sure of my charming cousin before I leave her--with Franklin in the house! She was in the rose-garden when I last heard of her. (He approaches the window, and is met by SERGEANT CUFF, entering from the garden.)
Cuff. Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite, I believe?
Godfrey (a little surprised). You know me?
Cuff. Everybody knows you, sir.
Godfrey (rather suspiciously). May I ask to whom I have the pleasure of speaking? (CUFF takes a card out of his pocket-book, and silently hands it to GODFREY. GODFREY starts as he reads the name.) "Sergeant Cuff, Detective Police Force." (He turns to CUFF, speaking rather confusedly). How is it, Sergeant, that you--I mean, why are you left to find your way in here, without a servant to announce you?
Cuff. It's a habit of mine, in cases of theft, to slip in quietly, and take the place, as it were, by surprise.
Godfrey (recovering himself). You have taken us all by surprise, Sergeant. We never expected to see you so soon.
Cuff (with his eye on GODFREY). I met the servant at the station here, sir, and got my telegram before it went to London.
Godfrey. A strange coincidence! What brought you to the station here?
Cuff. Another case, sir, confided to my care. I left it to one of my colleagues, and came on here directly I read Mr. Blake's message.
Godfrey. May I venture to ask what interested you so greatly in Mr. Blake's message?
Cuff (as before). I think it must have been the dulness of the other case, sir, and the hope of meeting with something pleasanter to my feelings here. The other case, you see, was so dreadfully common. (Watching GODFREY'S face.) The old story! False entries detected in a cash-book; a sum of money embezzled; private inquiries into the lives and habits of the persons suspected, and nothing positive discovered up to this time. (He walks back to the window, and stands with his hands in his pockets, looking through it.)
Godfrey. Ah, indeed? Just so--just so! To return to our case here. (He follows CUFF. The Sergeant keeps his back turned on GODFREY, as if absorbed in the view from the window.) As a practical man, what is your opinion--?
Cuff (indignantly). Just look at that rose-garden! (He points through the window, still keeping his back turned on GODFREY.)
Godfrey (persisting). What is your opinion of the loss of the diamond?
Cuff (as before, pretending not to hear him). Just look at it! I should like to punch the head of the man who laid that garden out! The walks between the rose-beds are made of gravel. It's enough to turn one sick to look at them! (Suddenly addressing GODFREY.) Grass walks between your roses, Mr. Ablewhite! nice, soft, velvety grass walks! Gravel's too hard for them, pretty creatures! (He turns away again up the stage on the right, and notices the roses ranged between the window and the back of the hall.)
Godfrey (aside, distrustfully). He has got on his favourite subject already. Is that an excuse for not answering me?
Cuff (admiring the roses). Ah, here's something worth looking at, if you like! Here's a sweet pretty lot of white and blush roses! They always mix well together, don't they? Here's the white musk-rose, Mr. Ablewhite--our old English rose--holding up its head along with the best and the newest of them. Pretty dear! (He fondles the rose with his hand.)
Godfrey (looking at him distrustfully). A taste for flowers, Sergeant, is rather a strange taste for a man in your line of life.
Cuff. If you will look about you, sir--which most people won't do--you will see that the nature of a man's taste is, nine times out often, as opposite as possible from the nature of a man's business. I began my life among the roses in my father's nursery-garden, and I shall end my life among them if I can. Yes; one of these days I shall retire from catching thieves, and try my hand at growing roses. There will be grass walks in my rose-garden, Mr. Ablewhite--no gravel! no gravel! (Suddenly changing his tone.) Can I see Mr. Franklin Blake, sir?
Godfrey. Mr. Blake is engaged, at present, with the Inspector of police at our town here.
Cuff. Mr. Blake may dismiss the Inspector whenever he wishes. It's another of my queer tastes to prefer working single-handed. Who first discovered the loss of the jewel?
Godfrey. Mr. Betteredge, the house steward. A most intelligent man--a most reliable witness. You will wish to examine Betteredge, of course? Allow me to ring the bell! (He goes to the fireplace and rings the bell.)
Cuff (to himself). Allow him to ring the bell! The most obliging gentleman I ever met with. (He takes a turn in the room and whistles to himself softly the first few notes of "The Last Rose of Summer.")
Godfrey (looking after him in surprise). Somebody whistling?
Cuff. I beg your pardon, sir. It's a bad habit of mine to whistle when I'm in good spirits--when I see my way, you know, to something pleasant and encouraging. You won't find my whistling much of a nuisance--I only know one tune.
Godfrey. And that is, "The Last Rose of Summer"?
Cuff. Yes, sir. It must be something about the roses, or it wouldn't do for me. (He looks towards the hall door. ANDREW appears.) Here's the servant, sir.
Godfrey (to ANDREW). Send Mr. Betteredge here directly. Stop! (He turns to CUFF.) A point for your consideration, Sergeant. The Inspector is attended by a policeman in plain clothes. In small matters of detail now--matters that are beneath your notice--the policeman might perhaps be of use to you.
Cuff (aside). First he rings the bell, and now he provides me with a policeman! (To GODFREY.) I'll try the man, sir, out of respect for your opinion.
Godfrey (to ANDREW). Send the policeman here with Mr. Betteredge! (ANDREW goes out. GODFREY continues to CUFF.) I am going this morning to Frizinghall, our town here.
Cuff. Shall you be long away, sir?
Godfrey. Only a few hours. If you decide to search the house before I come back (he points to his room), there is my room entirely at your service.
Cuff (aside). Another delicate attention! Here's his room at my service, now! (He looks towards the hall door.) There's somebody at the door, sir.
Godfrey (turning). This way, Betteredge--this way. (BETTEREDGE enters, followed by the policeman in plain clothes. GODFREY presents BETTEREDGE.) Betteredge, this is Sergeant Cuff. Sergeant, this is the policeman.
Cuff. Take a seat, Mr. Policeman. (He turns to BETTEREDGE.) Proud to be introduced, sir, to the witness who discovered the loss of the diamond.
Betteredge. Your most obedient servant, Sergeant. (They shake hands. GODFREY looks at his watch.)
Godfrey. Betteredge, is Miss Rachel still in the garden?
Rachel (entering by the window). Miss Rachel is here. (CUFF joins the policeman at the back, without being noticed by RACHEL, speaks to him in dumb show, and then watches GODFREY while he and RACHEL are speaking. BETTEREDGE crosses to the fireplace on the left and makes up the fire. RACHEL continues to GODFREY.) Not gone yet! Mind, I expect you back before dinner-time.
Godfrey (tenderly, in an undertone). Do you really feel any interest in my return?
Rachel (to GODFREY). Your father will be wondering what has become of you? Go to Frizinghall!
Godfrey. Have you forgotten what I said to you the last time we were together?
Rachel. My memory is not to be trusted, Godfrey! (She turns aside to the roses. GODFREY tries vainly to persuade her to listen to him. CUFF speaks to the policeman in a low tone.)
Cuff. Now, do what I told you! Now is your time. (The policeman goes out by the hall door. GODFREY speaks to RACHEL.)
Godfrey (kissing her hand). Rachel! my faithful heart still worships you, and still hopes!
Rachel (leaving him). Go to Frizinghall!
Godfrey (aside). I'll try her again, when I come back! (To CUFF.) Good-morning, Sergeant. (He checks himself as he goes out, and looks round the room.) Where is the policeman?
Cuff. I've found him useful already, sir. I've sent him on a little errand. (GODFREY goes out by the hall door. RACHEL looks suspiciously at CUFF.)
Rachel. Betteredge, who is that?
Betteredge. Sergeant Cuff, miss, of the detective police.
Rachel (aside). The very sight of a policeman is hateful to me! (She approaches her own room. CUFF advances to stop her.)
Cuff. Be so very good, miss, as not to leave the room. I may have some questions to ask you.
Rachel (contemptuously). I decline to answer your questions.
Betteredge (scandalised by RACHEL'S want of politeness). In the interest of the servants' characters, Miss Rachel, don't treat the Sergeant so harshly. I am your old servant, and I ask it as a favour.
Rachel (frankly offering him her hand). More than my old servant--my old friend! (BETTEREDGE kisses her hand.) I will wait, Betteredge, to please you. (She seats herself, turning her back on CUFF, and takes up a newspaper.)
Betteredge (aside, with immense relief). Ah, now I know Miss Rachel again! (He turns a little pompously to CUFF, proud of RACHEL'S compliment to him.) Ask your questions, Mr. Sergeant; ask your questions.
Cuff. When the diamond was put away for the night, where was it put?
Betteredge (pointing to the cabinet). In that drawer.
Cuff (examining the cabinet). Were the cabinet doors locked? (He tries the lock.) I see! The lock won't act. (He looks again at the cabinet, and puts his nose to it.) Has this cabinet been varnished lately? (RACHEL suddenly puts down the paper and listens.)
Betteredge. Varnished by Mr. Franklin Blake no later than yesterday evening.
Cuff (still examining the cabinet). Where is Mr. Blake?
Betteredge. He heard you had come, Sergeant, and like the rest of us, he didn't know where to find you. When last I saw him he was off to the stables to question the man who drove you.
Cuff (pointing to a place at the lower part of the cabinet). Hullo! here's a smear on the varnish!
Betteredge. Lord bless us, so there is! I saw no smear there when I locked up the house close on twelve o'clock last night.
Cuff (looking at the smear through a magnifying glass). Was the varnish dry then?
Betteredge. No, sir. Mr. Franklin told me it would not be dry before two in the morning.
Cuff (to himself). Aha! (He looks again through the magnifying glass, and, while he looks, whistles the first notes of his favourite air.)
Betteredge (to himself).What's he whistling for?
Cuff (hearing him). Do you never whistle yourself, Mr. Betteredge?
Betteredge. I have done such a thing, sir, when I had reason to feel particularly well pleased with myself.
Cuff. My case exactly! I whistle when I think I've got the clue in my hand. I think I've got it now.
Cuff (pointing). Here! The clue to the missing diamond begins at this smear on the varnish.
Betteredge (To RACHEL). Do you hear that, Miss Rachel?
Rachel (coldly). No. I am reading the newspaper.
Cuff (continuing). To the best of my judgment, the smear has been made by a loose article of dress that has swept over the wet varnish.
Betteredge. Do you mean a woman's petticoat, sergeant?
Cuff. Yes. Or, may be, the tail of a man's dressing-gown. (RACHEL starts. The newspaper drops from her hand, CUFF observes her.) Anything wrong, miss?
Rachel (coldly). I don't understand you.
Cuff (aside). She knows something about it! (to RACHEL.) Sorry to trouble you, miss. After what I have discovered on this cabinet, I must examine the things for the wash.
Betteredge (admiring CUFF). Wonderful man! He's going to find the thief in the dirty-linen bag.
Cuff (to RACHEL, continuing). You see, miss, the reason's plain enough. If it's a petticoat that has made the smear, the woman that petticoat belongs to must be able to tell me what she was doing here between midnight and two in the morning. If it's a dressing-gown--
Rachel (impatiently).What do you want?
Cuff. Your authority, miss, to give my orders to the laundry-maid.
Rachel (as before). Give your orders.
Cuff. Now, Mr. Betteredge. Introduce me to the laundry-maid.
Betteredge. With pleasure, Mr. Sergeant. (He whispers in CUFF'S ear.) She's a nice plump young girl--you couldn't begin with a better one. (They go out at the hall door.)
Rachel (springing to her feet). He wore his dressing-gown last night! His room will be searched--the stain will be discovered--he will be exposed as a thief before every creature in the house! (She walks distractedly to and fro.) After all I have suffered, to see him publicly disgraced--ruined, ruined for life! It's maddening to think of it! (She pauses, reflecting.) The dressing-gown may be in his room at this moment; the one chance of saving him is to destroy it before the search begins! (She looks round her.) Franklin is at the stables--I heard Betteredge say so. Miss Clack has not returned yet. There is nobody to see me. Can I--dare I--risk it? Oh, Franklin! Franklin! (She rushes up the stairs. As she enters FRANKLIN'S room, MISS CLACK appears below at the hall door, with her bag on her arm, returning from the town.)
Miss Clack. In all my experience, I have never met with anything so disheartening to an earnest worker as the worldly tone of mind which pervades this household. Nobody is interested in the progress of the Branch-Mothers'-Small-Clothes-Conversion-Society. They are all absorbed in vain regret for the loss of the diamond. Ah! If we are to mourn, let it be over our obdurate fellow-creatures--our lost human diamonds by the wayside! (She places her bag of tracts on a chair.) How I miss dear Mr. Godfrey's ready sympathy! I fancy his manner has been more than usually affectionate towards me of late. I wonder where he is? (She calls off at the hall door.) Penelope! (PENELOPE enters sulkily.) Has Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite gone out?
Penelope. Yes, miss.
Miss Clack. You don't know when he will return?
Penelope. No, miss. (Aside.) I believe she's sweet on Mr. Godfrey--at her time of life!
Miss Clack. Is Miss Rachel in her room?
Penelope. I suppose so. (Aside.) How many more questions, I wonder!
Miss Clack (eyeing PENELOPE'S cap ribbons). Have you read your tract, Penelope? Are you aware of the enormity of your cap ribbons?
Penelope. No, miss. (She produces the tract.) If this "Word with Me on my Cap Ribbons" is written by a man, he is an impudent fellow, and he knows nothing about it! If it's written by a woman, I know what is going on in her mind--she would be only too glad to wear the ribbons herself! (She offers the tract back.) Please to take it back, miss.
Miss Clack (receiving the tract in her sweetest manner).You will ask me for it again before I have done with you.
Penelope. I shan't!
Miss Clack. Oh, yes, you will. It's no use being impudent to me. The more impudent you are, my poor girl, the more interested I feel in you. (PENELOPE attempts to speak.) No, you young castaway, you don't offend me! You present plenty of obstructive material to work upon.
Penelope. I won't be called names! I'm not an Obstructive Material! I shall complain to my mistress! (She goes out indignantly.)
Miss Clack (alone, in high triumph). A thoroughly bad girl--how very encouraging!--a thoroughly bad girl. (She goes to RACHEL'S door, and knocks.) Rachel! Rachel, dear! (No answer.) Perhaps she is asleep? I'll go in and see. (MISS CLACK opens the door and enters RACHEL'S room. RACHEL appears in the gallery, at FRANKLIN'S door, and sees that the hall is empty, and descends the stairs, with FRANKLIN'S dressing-gown over her arm.)
Rachel. The stain is on his dressing-gown! I have saved from exposure a degraded wretch who is unworthy of my interest--unworthy of my pity. Oh, how ashamed of myself I feel! I never knew how meanly I could behave until now. (She looks at the dressing-gown.) How am I to destroy it! I might burn it when the house is quiet for the night. In the meantime, where can I find a safe place for it? Nobody will venture to search my room--I can hide it there. (She advances to her room, and is met by MISS CLACK coming out.)
Miss Clack. I have been looking for you, dearest. I am just back from my mission in the town. (She notices the dressing-gown, which RACHEL tries vainly to conceal.) Dear me! What have you got hanging over your arm? (CUFF enters by the hall door, and stops, seeing RACHEL in the company of a lady who is a stranger to him. MISS CLACK goes on.) It looks like a dressing-gown!
Cuff (to himself, hearing MISS CLACK'S last words). A dressing-gown?
Rachel (impatiently). Never mind what it looks like! (She tries to pass to her room.) Let me by!
Cuff (to himself, struck by RACHEL'S manner). Hullo!
Miss Clack. I meant no offence, Rachel. It was only natural I should notice the dressing-gown hanging over your arm. Why are you angry with me?
Rachel (pushing by her). Don't talk nonsense! (She enters her room, and closes the door sharply.)
Miss Clack. First insulted by Penelope, and now insulted by Rachel! Two trials to pass through--two offences to forgive. Oh, what a happy day! (She turns, sees CUFF, and starts.) Who is this? (To CUFF.) Are you a clergyman, sir?
Cuff (to himself). There's a compliment! (To MISS CLACK.) I am only a police-officer, ma'am.
Miss Clack (modestly). Not "ma'am," if you please. I am not married--yet.
Cuff. I beg your pardon, miss.
Miss Clack. Are you here about the diamond, sir?
Cuff. Yes, miss. I'm to find out who has stolen the diamond.
Miss Clack (resignedly, speaking to herself). I am quite prepared to be suspected! (To CUFF.) Is there any harm, Mr. Policeman, in my going to take off my bonnet in my own room?
Cuff. Not in the least, miss!
Miss Clack (humbly). Thank you, sir! (She ascends to the gallery, and goes off on the left. CUFF walks thoughtfully to and fro, whistling the first notes of his favourite air. As MISS CLACK disappears, he speaks.)
Cuff. The linen for the wash has wasted my time, and has told me nothing. Thanks to that extraordinary female, I know what article of clothing to examine next. Miss Rachel's own conduct associates the dressing-gown with the smear on the varnish. Why was she so angry when that polite spinster noticed the dressing-gown? And what was she doing with a dressing-gown at this time of day? (FRANKLIN and BETTEREDGE enter by the hall door.)
Betteredge (to CUFF). I have found Mr. Franklin, sir. Here he is!
Franklin. I have been looking for you in all the wrong places, Sergeant. What are you doing here? What about the missing diamond?
Cuff. I have failed to find the diamond, so far, sir; and I came here to ask for a minute's conversation with Miss Rachel.
Franklin. Where is she? In her own room? (He knocks at the door.) Rachel!
Rachel (suddenly opening the door, and speaking eagerly). Franklin's voice! (She sees CUFF and BETTEREDGE, and drawing back, speaks aside.) I thought he had come to confess everything! (To FRANKLIN, sharply.) Why am I disturbed?
Cuff (interposing). It is my duty to inform you, miss, that the examination of the linen has led to nothing. I have made up my mind to look at the servants' wardrobes next.
Rachel. I won't allow it! It's an insult to my honest servants.
Betteredge. Thank you kindly, Miss Rachel! But it had better be done, for all that.
Cuff. I am as anxious to consult the servants' feelings as you are, miss. I propose that you and the gentlefolks staying in the house should set the example, and offer your wardrobes to be examined first.
Franklin. An excellent notion! The servants can't complain if we do that.
Rachel (with a furious look at FRANKLIN). I refuse to let my wardrobe be examined! I refuse to let this shameful farce go on any longer.
Cuff. Please reflect, miss, before you decide. I have undertaken to conduct this inquiry, and I have a duty to perform to my employer here. (He indicates FRANKLIN.)
Rachel (suddenly stepping up to CUFF).Your employer? Do you mean to tell me Mr. Franklin Blake sent for you?
Franklin. Certainly, Rachel, I sent for him.
Rachel. You sent to London for Sergeant Cuff?
Franklin. Why are you angry with me? I have sent for the right man to recover your diamond.
Rachel (with a burst of indignation). Oh! this is more than even my endurance can bear. (She rings the bell furiously. ANDREW appears.) Order the carriage--I am going back to London by the next train. (She takes her garden hat off a table. FRANKLIN looks at her in amazement. CUFF smiles to himself.)
Franklin. My dear Rachel--!
Rachel. Not a word. Don't speak to me--don't look at me! The very air of the house is hateful to me while you are in it!
Franklin. What do you mean, Rachel? Do you know that you are insulting me before these men?
Rachel. Insult you? You? Franklin Blake, you're beneath being insulted, and you know it! (FRANKLIN stands petrified. RACHEL continues, pointing to CUFF.) Betteredge! pay that man his fee, and don't let me find him here when I come back! (She goes out on the right.)
Cuff (looking after her). She knows who took the diamond! (To FRANKLIN.) We've found the clue, sir.
Franklin (in great surprise). Where is the clue?
Cuff (pointing to RACHEL'S room). In that room.
Betteredge (scandalised). Miss Rachel's room! You're not going in there without Miss Rachel's leave?
Cuff. It's my duty to search the room, Mr. Betteredge. And I mean to search it while I have the chance.
Betteredge (furiously). Your duty? Damn you, you have some suspicion of Miss Rachel! (He seizes CUFF by the collar of his coat. CUFF shows no surprise, and makes no resistance.)
Franklin (interfering). Betteredge! (He forces BETTEREDGE to release CUFF.) The Sergeant is right. Rachel's own conduct justifies him. (He retires with a gesture of despair, seats himself at a table, and hides his face in his hands. BETTEREDGE stands petrified by what FRANKLIN has just said to him.)
Cuff (as quietly as usual). If it's any comfort to you, Mr. Betteredge, collar me again. You don't in the least know how to do it. But I'll overlook your awkwardness in consideration of your feelings.
Betteredge (strongly agitated). I ask your pardon, Sergeant. Please to remember as some excuse for me that I've served the family for fifty years. Many and many a time Miss Rachel's climbed on my knees when she was a child-- (His voice fails him--he turns away to hide his tears.)
Cuff. Don't distress yourself, Mr. Betteredge. I've hushed up worse cases than this in my time. (He goes into RACHEL'S room.)
Betteredge (bewildered and distressed). Master Franklin! You have a clear head--you can see farther than I can. What does this mean?
Franklin (without moving). It means that I have done my best to help Rachel to find her diamond, and that she has grossly insulted me in return. It means that Rachel is the one person in the house who refuses to let her wardrobe be examined. Who is to blame Sergeant Cuff if he suspects her after that?
Betteredge (sternly). Suspects her of what, sir?
Franklin. Of knowing who stole the Moonstone, and of concealing the scoundrel who took it for some reason of her own.
Betteredge (indignantly). It's a lie--it's an infernal lie! I wish I had throttled the Sergeant when I had hold of him. (CUFF appears at the door with the dressing-gown in his hand. BETTEREDGE turns on him with renewed anger.) Well! now you've searched her room, what have you got there? (He points to the dressing-gown.)
Cuff (quietly). I've got the thief.
Franklin (starting up and joining them).Who is the thief? (CUFF opens the dressing-gown. FRANKLIN recognises it as his own, and starts back, like a man thunderstruck.)
Cuff (pointing to it). Who wore this dressing-gown last night? Here is the stain of the varnish as plain as can be, to sight and smell. (He looks up and notices FRANKLIN.) Mr. Blake, you know something about this.
Betteredge (also noticing him, in alarm). Master Franklin! Master Franklin! What's come to you? (FRANKLIN tries vainly to speak. His eyes are fixed, horror-struck, on the dressing-gown. CUFF approaches FRANKLIN suspiciously, with the dressing-gown still in his hand.)
Cuff. I rely on your honour, sir, to speak the truth--no matter how painful it may be. (He holds up the dressing-gown.) Whose dressing-gown is this?
Franklin (wildly). Mine!!! (As FRANKLIN gives his answer, RACHEL enters from the garden. She sees the dressing-gown--a faint cry escapes her--she stops, rooted to the spot. The three men all turn, and look at her in silence. BETTEREDGE is the first to speak.)
Betteredge (pointing to the dressing-gown). Miss Rachel! do you know anything about this? (RACHEL remains immovably silent, with her eyes fixed on FRANKLIN.)
Cuff. Innocent people may be suspected, miss, unless you tell us what you know. (RACHEL still keeps silence.)
Franklin (appealing to her in despair). Rachel! Rachel! (RACHEL shudders at his voice. Her head sinks upon her breast. With a motion of her hand she signs sternly to BETTEREDGE and to CUFF, who stand between her and the door of her room, to let her pass. They obey. She slowly crosses the stage to the door. CUFF makes a last appeal to her.)
Cuff. For the last time, miss, have you nothing to tell us?
Rachel (coldly and sternly). I have nothing to tell you.
Betteredge. Oh, Miss Rachel! surely you have something to say?
Rachel (to BETTEREDGE). I have this to say. I supposed my room to be sacred from intrusion, especially while you were here. For the future I shall lock my door. (She enters her room, and is heard to double-lock her door.)
Franklin (wildly). Am I the thief? (BETTEREDGE vainly attempts to compose him.) Do your duty, Sergeant! On my word as an honest man, on my oath as a Christian, I know no more how that stain came on my dressing-gown than you do. I can't expect you to believe me. Do your duty.
Cuff (firmly). Compose yourself, sir. I know my trade a little better than to trust to appearances. (He throws the dressing-gown across a chair.) As matters stand, I grant you, the right reading of the riddle seems hard to guess. Patience, Mr. Blake! Time will do for us what we can't do for ourselves.
Franklin. Patience? There is the dressing-gown accusing me on the plainest evidence of being a thief! Who can be patient under that?
Betteredge (angrily). The dressing-gown's a liar!
Cuff. Gently, Mr. Betteredge. The dressing-gown is only a witness that can't speak. (To FRANKLIN.) There's one awkward difficulty in our way, sir. Miss Rachel has given me my dismissal from the house.
Franklin (passionately). Neither you nor I can leave the house until my innocence is established! In the frightful position in which I am placed I want all your experience to help me. (He walks to and fro excitedly.) Rachel's conduct is simply inhuman! "I have nothing to tell you--" that is all she has to say; with my dressing-gown found in her room, and with my reputation at stake. I will make her explain herself. (He approaches the door on the left. CUFF and BETTEREDGE stop him.)
Cuff. You were good enough to say just now, sir, that you wanted my experience to help you. If you speak a word to Miss Rachel as things are at present, you force me to throw up the case.
Betteredge. Don't do that, Master Franklin! Just let me give you a word of advice. There's a mine of hidden perversity in the best woman that ever lived. (FRANKLIN shows impatience.) Wait a bit, sir; I have something to propose. You keep out of Miss Rachel's way for the present, and let me tell her, when she next inquires after you, that you have left the house.
Cuff (To FRANKLIN). Not a bad notion! What the young lady won't say before your face, she may say behind your back.
Betteredge (scandalised). That's not my notion, Mr. Sergeant! When I set a trap for my young lady, it's baited with love. (to FRANKLIN.) This is what I speculate on, Mr. Franklin! When Miss Rachel thinks that you have left her, take my word for it she will be sorry she treated you so ill. Then show yourself, and catch her unawares, with her heart softened towards you and the tear in her eye!
Cuff. Follow his advice, Mr. Blake. An hour's rest will do you no harm. You're looking sadly upset, sir.
Franklin (giving way). I am broken by this dreadful discovery, and I can't hide it any longer! Take me away, Betteredge.
Betteredge. Come into my little sitting-room, Master Franklin; you will be in safe hiding there. (He puts FRANKLIN'S arm in his, turns to lead him out, sees the dressing-gown thrown on the chair and apostrophises it.) As for you, you scandal-mongering, mischief-making, varnish-stinking, substitute-bed-gown--come along! (He angrily snatches up the dressing-gown with his free hand, and leads FRANKLIN out by the hall door.)
Cuff (alone). Now I have got rid of them I can think a little. Two roads to discovery lie before me: a long road that starts from the dressing-gown, and a short cut that starts from the first suspicion I had in my mind when I entered this house. If I follow the long road I travel in the dark, and lose time by the way. If I try the short cut, I know where that is likely to lead me before the next train takes Miss Rachel to London. My choice: Try the short cut. (He looks at his watch.) Why hasn't the policeman come back from his errand? Why doesn't he send in his report? (He rings the bell, and then glances at RACHEL'S door.) I suppose I have time to make an inquiry before Miss Rachel turns me out of the house! (ANDREW enters by the hall door with a letter in his hand.)
Andrew. A letter for you, sir.
Cuff. Who brought it?
Andrew. The policeman, sir.
Cuff. Is he waiting?
Andrew. Yes, sir. (CUFF leaves ANDREW, so as to turn his back on the servant, and speaks while he reads the letter.)
Cuff. The policeman's written report! After the errand I sent him on, it wouldn't do to risk his being found here in private conversation with me. (He reads the report, and then, looking up, whistles the first notes of his favourite air.) My suspicion has hit the mark! There are one or two people in this house who will be rather surprised when the truth comes out. (He turns towards ANDREW.) Are there any telegraph forms on the writing-table there?
Andrew (producing the forms). Here they are, sir.
Cuff (seating himself at the table). Wait, while I write. (ANDREW waits at the back. CUFF writes his telegram, and reads what he has written, to himself.) "Have you seen or heard anything of a large yellow diamond, now missing from this house? Answer immediately. All expenses paid." That will do! (He seals the telegram in an envelope, writes on the envelope, and hands it to ANDREW.) Give that to the policeman at once. Has he got a fly at the door?
Andrew. Yes, sir--the fly he came in.
Cuff. Tell him to go at a gallop to the station. He is to wait there for the telegram reply, and to bring it to me, as fast as a fresh horse and carriage can take him. (ANDREW goes out with the telegram. CUFF rises, puzzled by his own symptoms.) What's the matter with me? Is my heart beating faster than usual? I declare I am excited for the first time in my life! This will never do! I must compose my mind--I'll have a look at the roses. (He crosses to the flowers.) Ah, my darlings! It takes the dirty taste of a thief out of one's mind only to look at you! (He glances out of the window into the garden.) I can't endure the sight of those gravel walks in the rose-garden. Grass walks among your roses, Miss Rachel--grass walks next time. I beg and pray of you! (He looks round sharply at the hall door, and sees GODFREY entering.) Fine day for a walk, sir. I hope you have enjoyed it.
Godfrey. Any news, Sergeant?
Cuff. No news, sir.
Godfrey (carelessly).What are you going to do next? (He walks to the library table and takes up a newspaper.)
Cuff (aside, looking towards RACHEL'S door.) As things are now, I'd better keep out of Miss Rachel's way till I get my telegram (to GODFREY.) I am going to take a turn in the garden, sir.
Godfrey (satirically). Do you expect to find the Moonstone there?
Cuff (very quietly and emphatically). Perhaps I may surprise you, sir, by finding the Moonstone sooner than you think. (He goes out on the right.)
Godfrey (alone). What does he mean? He is evidently at his wits' end. Sergeant Cuff is a highly overrated man. (He looks towards RACHEL'S door.) Where is my charming cousin, I wonder? (He goes to the door and speaks.) Are you in your room, Rachel?
Rachel (speaking inside). Is that Godfrey?
Godfrey. Yes, dear Rachel!
Rachel (unlocking the door, and appearing). I am glad to see you back again. (Aside.) Oh, what a relief it is to find somebody whom I can still respect! (to GODFREY.) Have you seen anything--? (She stops short.)
Rachel. Have you seen anything of Franklin?
Godfrey. Nothing. I have only this moment returned.
Rachel (aside). What has become of that miserable wretch?
Godfrey (aside). She's thinking of Franklin. I had better make haste. (to RACHEL.) May I ask a bold question, dear Rachel?
Rachel (absorbed in her own thoughts). I beg your pardon. (She rings the bell.) I want Betteredge for a moment. (BETTEREDGE enters by the hall door.)
Betteredge. Did you ring, miss?
Rachel (speaking to him apart from GODFREY). Where is Mr. Franklin Blake?
Betteredge. Mr. Franklin Blake has left the house, miss. (Aside.) I've told my lie, and now I'm comfortable! (He goes out.)
Rachel (sadly, to herself). Gone! (She turns away to the fireplace, and stands there looking sadly at the bright flame. MISS CLACK appears in the gallery.)
Godfrey (looking at RACHEL from the other side of the stage). Has Franklin proposed? and has she refused him?
Miss Clack (gaily, as she descends the stairs). Mr. Godfrey! I thought you would be back by this time!
Godfrey (to himself). The devil take Miss Clack!
Miss Clack (advancing). Have you been to Frizinghall?
Godfrey (sullenly).Yes, Miss Clack.
Miss Clack. So have I! How unfortunate that we never met! (GODFREY is silent. MISS CLACK looks at him with interest.) Excuse me for remarking it, dear Mr. Godfrey, your walk appears to have fatigued you.
Godfrey (absently).Very likely; I used to be a better walker than I am now. (He glances at RACHEL, still standing thoughtfully by the fire.) There she is, ready to listen to me--if I could only get rid of Miss Clack! (He turns away. MISS CLACK follows him, and tenderly resumes the conversation.)
Miss Clack. I have sometimes thought, Mr. Godfrey, that your charitable business is perhaps a little too much for you. Why not employ a devoted person in the capacity of assistant? (She looks down in modest confusion.) Speaking as a true friend, I sometimes think you might find that devoted person in a wife. (GODFREY starts and looks alarmed.) She is to be found--yes, dear Mr. Godfrey (though you look as if you doubted it), the right woman--the woman worthy of you--is to be found.
Rachel (rousing herself). Godfrey, do you mind inquiring if the carriage is at the door?
Godfrey (eagerly). With the greatest pleasure! (He hurries out at the back. MISS CLACK looks after him as if he had a little disappointed her.)
Miss Clack (to herself). Politeness is certainly a virtue. Mr. Godfrey is perhaps a little too polite. (She looks at RACHEL.) Dearest Rachel, how unhappy you look!
Rachel. I look what I am. Do you know what it is to reproach yourself when reproach comes too late?
Miss Clack (aside). At last she feels the want of Me! (Looking about her.) Where is my bag? (She discovers the bag where she had placed it on entering the room, takes it, and returns to RACHEL, holding up the bag.) Here, dearest, is the remedy for all your sorrows!
Rachel. I daresay you mean well, Drusilla, but your idea of consolation is not mine. Forgive me, I shall be better if I keep quiet till the carriage comes. (She retires to a sofa at the back, and reclines on it with her face turned away on the cushion.)
Miss Clack (in confidence to herself). In all my experience, I never met with a more promising case for tracts! The one question is how to direct her attention to the inestimable blessings in this bag? She must go back to her room to put on her bonnet when the carriage comes. I know what I'll do! When she leaves that sofa, she shall find one of my precious tracts waiting for her in every part of the hall! (MISS CLACK trips softly to and fro, depositing tracts on the different articles of furniture as she names them.) A tract on her favourite chair, if she happens to look that way! Another on her work-table! Another at the fireplace! Another among the roses! And one more pinned to the curtain, to catch her eye if she goes out by the garden. (While MISS CLACK is pinning her tract on the outer side of the window curtain, so that she is hidden by it from the observation of anyone entering the room, GODFREY returns from his errand.)
Godfrey (advancing). I have been to the stables, Rachel. (He looks round him, and continues, aside.) We are alone again!
Rachel (raising herself to a sitting position). Is the carriage ready?
Godfrey. It will be ready in ten minutes. (RACHEL rises, and advances a few steps as if to return to her room to get ready. GODFREY follows, and stops her.) Dearest Rachel! (MISS CLACK, hearing him, suddenly checks herself on the point of returning to the room.)
Miss Clack (aside). "Dearest Rachel"?
Rachel (looking at GODFREY in surprise). What do you want?
Godfrey. One word with you. There is nobody to hear us. We are relieved of the everlasting presence of Miss Clack.
Miss Clack (to herself). My everlasting presence!
Godfrey (continuing). May I speak? (RACHEL understands him. Her head droops on her bosom. GODFREY leads her to her chair. She sees the tract in it, and checks herself.)
Rachel. What is that in the chair?
Godfrey (taking it up). A book of yours? (He reads the title.) "Man the Deceiver, by the author of Woman the Dupe!"
Miss Clack (to herself). How perfectly appropriate!
Godfrey (throwing the tract aside). Miss Clack and her ridiculous tracts!
Miss Clack (to herself). My ridiculous tracts!
Godfrey. Be seated, dear Rachel. Your charming kindness since I have been here has once more emboldened me to hope. Am I mad to dream of some future day when your heart may soften to me? (He places his hand on the table while he speaks, and knocks off the tract which MISS CLACK has put there. It falls on RACHEL'S lap. She takes it up.)
Rachel. Another book that doesn't belong to me? (She reads.) "Soft Soap. By a Converted Laundress."
Miss Clack (to herself). Mr. Godfrey's own language, exactly described!
Godfrey (continuing). I have lost every interest in life, Rachel, but my interest in you. My charitable business has become an unendurable nuisance to me. When I see a ladies' committee, I wish them all at the uttermost ends of the earth!
Miss Clack (to herself). The "Mothers'-Small-Clothes" a nuisance! He wishes us all at the uttermost ends of the earth! (She shakes her fist at GODFREY.) Apostate! (In her anger she has spoken the last word just loud enough for RACHEL to hear her voice, while GODFREY is still pleading with her.)
Rachel (starting). Is there somebody at the window? (GODFREY turns towards the window. MISS CLACK sees him, and instantly feigns to be entering the room, after a walk in the garden.)
Miss Clack (innocently). You can't imagine how delightful the air is in the garden! (She looks round her.) Oh, dear! Have I come in again at the wrong time? I'll go back to the garden directly!
Godfrey (with formal politeness). You will excuse me, I am sure, Miss Clack, if I own that I have something to say in confidence to Rachel.
Miss Clack (spitefully). Ah, Mr. Godfrey, I can guess what it is! You good man! You are trying to interest Rachel in that charitable business which is the delight of your life. You are bent on persuading her to join those ladies' committees to which you are so unselfishly and so devotedly attached. Forgive my innocent intrusion. Good-morning! (She goes out again on the right, angrily tearing away the tract pinned to the curtain as she passes.)
Godfrey (aside). Has she been listening? (He returns to RACHEL, who has remained absorbed in her own thoughts during the dialogue between MISS CLACK and GODFREY.) Rachel, you are not annoyed by this trifling interruption? Will you recall what I have said to you? Will you favour me, dearest, with a word of reply?
Rachel (sadly). You have made your confession, Godfrey. Would it cure you of your unhappy attachment to me if I made mine? I am the wretchedest woman living.
Godfrey. Rachel! Rachel!
Rachel. What greater wretchedness can there be than to live degraded in your own estimation? After what you have said, Godfrey, I owe it to you to speak as plainly as I can. Forget for a moment your favourable opinion of me. Suppose you were in love with some other woman?
Rachel. Suppose you discovered the woman to be utterly unworthy of you--a false, shameless, degraded creature. And suppose your faithful heart still clung, in spite of you, to that first object of your love? Suppose--(She stops, despairing of herself.) Oh, how can I make a man understand that a feeling which horrifies me at myself can be a feeling which fascinates me at the same time? Godfrey, it's the breath of my life, and it's the poison that kills me--both in one! Don't ask me any more. I will never see him again--let that be enough. Oh, my heart! my heart! I feel as if I was stifling for want of breath! (She tries to speak lightly.) Is there a form of hysterics, Godfrey, that bursts into words instead of tears? What does it matter? You will get over your love for me now. I have dropped to my right place in your estimation, haven't I? (The hysterical passion returns and overpowers her.) Don't notice me! don't pity me! For God's sake, go! (She bursts into tears.)
Godfrey (to himself). Franklin Blake!--I see my way. (He drops on one knee, and takes RACHEL'S hand.) Rachel, you have spoken of your place in my estimation. Judge what that place is, when I implore you on my knees to let the cure of your poor wounded heart be my care!
Rachel (looking at him in amazement). You can't have listened to what I said to you.
Godfrey. Not a word of it has been lost on me!
Rachel (sadly). You are speaking under a generous impulse. I am generous enough, on my side, not to take advantage of it.
Godfrey. I am speaking in the full possession of my reason. Rachel, it is your duty to yourself to forget this ill-placed attachment. At your age, and with your attractions, can you sentence yourself to a single life? Impossible! You may marry some other man some years hence. Or you may marry the man who now pleads with you, and who asks of heaven no purer joy than to make you his wife.
Rachel (struggling against herself). Say no more! You are trying to reconcile me to reasons which have been in my mind already. When I have tried to find my way back to my own self-respect, I confess I have thought of another marriage. I confess I have remembered your expressions of attachment to me. (GODFREY attempts to speak.) Don't tempt me, Godfrey! I am wretched enough and reckless enough, if you press me, to marry you on your own terms. Take the warning, and say no more!
Godfrey. I won't rise from my knees until you have said "Yes."
Rachel (beginning to yield). You will repent, and I shall repent, when it is too late.
Godfrey. We shall both bless the day when I pressed and you yielded.
Rachel (still yielding).You won't hurry me, Godfrey?
Godfrey. My time shall be yours.
Rachel. You won't ask me for more than I can give.
Godfrey. My angel! I only ask you to give me yourself.
Rachel (faintly). Take me! (Her head drops. GODFREY puts his arm round her. She submits for a moment, then draws back with a start.) Leave me for a little while. I am dreadfully agitated. Let me compose myself.
Godfrey. When may I see you again?
Rachel. Wait for me in the garden. I will join you in a few minutes.
Godfrey. Till then-- (He kisses his hand to her, turns away to the window with an air of relief, and speaks aside.) The best day's work I ever did in my life! (He goes out on the right.)
Rachel (confusedly). Have I given him my promise? Am I engaged to be his wife? Why not? What have I done that is not wise and right? He is a good man--he is a true man; he will help me forget. (She pauses thoughtfully. BETTEREDGE appears at the hall door and looks in.)
Betteredge (in a whisper to himself). Nobody with her! Now for Mr. Franklin! (He disappears again. RACHEL continues.)
Rachel (pursuing her thoughts). I don't expect to be happy, but surely I ought to feel contented, at least? Who could wish for truer devotion than Godfrey's? (She pauses again, and suddenly starts to her feet.) Franklin! I'm thinking of Franklin again! Oh, how base I am--how hatefully, shamefully weak! Will nothing shake that man's fatal influence over me? (FRANKLIN appears at the hall door. RACHEL, standing with her back turned on him, walks angrily to the right.) I will forget him! I will be true to Godfrey, if I break my heart in doing it! (She turns to walk back again and sees FRANKLIN. She stops instantly, in dead silence, rooted to the spot. FRANKLIN, in silence on his side, slowly advances a few steps towards her and pauses. They look at each other.)
Franklin (softly). Rachel!
Rachel (rousing herself, and looking at him with contemptuous surprise). Another lie? More treachery?
Franklin (louder). Rachel!
Rachel (with bitter deliberation).You have even degraded my honest old servant. Betteredge told me you had left the house. And now you steal your way in here, when I am alone. (She speaks her next words, not angrily but with contemptuous calmness.) You coward. You mean, miserable, heartless coward.
Franklin (controlling himself). I remember the time, Rachel, when you could have told me that I had offended you in a worthier way than that. I regret that I permitted Betteredge to deceive you. I ask your pardon.
Rachel (with ironical humility). I suppose I ought to ask your pardon? Perhaps there is some excuse for me. After what you have done, it does seem a cowardly action to try the experiment of taking me by surprise. But that is only a woman's view. I should have done better if I had controlled myself, and said nothing.
Franklin (stung by her tone). If my honour were not in your hands, I would leave you this instant, and never see you again. (He pauses, overcome by his agitation, and supports himself by resting his hand on a chair; then continues, in faint, sad tones.) I am weak and ill; I am not able to control myself as I ought. Be just to me, Rachel; I only ask you to be just. You speak of what I have done. What have I done?
Rachel (with rising anger).You ask that question of me?
Franklin. I ask more. I ask why you insulted me before Betteredge and the police-officer. I ask what was in your mind when you said: "Franklin Blake, you are beneath being insulted, and you know it."
Rachel (pointing to the door). Leave the room!
Franklin. Not until you have answered me!
Rachel. You refuse?
Franklin. I refuse!
Rachel (in violent exasperation). There is one last degradation left for you--you shall be turned out by the servants. (She approaches the table on which the bell is placed. FRANKLIN takes her by the hand, as she tries to touch the bell.)
Franklin (firmly). Look at me!
Rachel (feeling the influence of his eye and his touch). Let me go!
Franklin (tenderly, still holding her hand). Rachel, you once loved me.
Rachel (struggling more and more feebly against his influence over her). Let me go!
Franklin (more and more tenderly). Remember the happy old times when we were children together. Let the memory of your mother plead for me. I was her favourite; she could hardly have been fonder of me if I had been her own son!
Rachel (melting into tears). Don't speak of it, Franklin! You break my heart! Why do you come here to humiliate yourself? Why do you come here to humiliate me? Are you afraid I shall expose you? Have you not seen for yourself that I can't expose you? I can't tear you out of my heart! No matter how falsely I may be suspected, no matter how vilely I may be wronged, the secret of your infamy is safe in my keeping! (FRANKLIN draws back from her slowly, overwhelmed by her last words.)
Franklin (in low tones of horror). My infamy?
Rachel (with a sudden outbreak of despair). Be content with the confession that you have wrung from me. Go!
Franklin (as before). My infamy?
Rachel (drawing back from him on her side). He looks as if I had injured him! (She turns again, appealing to him for the last time.) I gave you one opportunity after another of owning the truth, or of making reparation in secret. I left unsaid nothing that I could say; I left undone nothing that I could do. (Her anger begins to rise.) And all the return you made was to look at me with your heartless pretence of innocence, as you are looking now!
Franklin (suddenly rising to indignation on his side). Of what infamy do you believe me guilty? Say it in plain words, or I will ring the bell, and call every soul in the house to judge between you and me!
Rachel (roused to passion). Oh! is there another man like this in the world? After seeing his dressing-gown in the policeman's hands! After hearing me refuse to give any explanation, for his sake! You villain, you mean villain, I would rather have lost fifty diamonds, than see your face lying to me as it lies now!
Franklin (passionately). What do you mean?
Rachel (more passionately on her side). What I say!
Franklin (staggering back). You believe that I stole the diamond?
Rachel (following him up furiously). Believe? I saw you steal the diamond with my own eyes!!! (FRANKLIN throws up his hands with a faint cry, and drops in a swoon at her feet. RACHEL starts back with a cry of horror.) Oh God! have I killed him? Help! help! (BETTEREDGE and CUFF enter together by the hall door. RACHEL appeals to them distractedly.) Look! oh, look at him!
Betteredge (kneeling by FRANKLIN, raising his head, and feeling his heart). Compose yourself, Miss Rachel. It's only a fainting-fit. (While BETTEREDGE is speaking, CUFF goes to a side-table, on which a bottle of water and some tumblers are placed, and returns to BETTEREDGE with a glass of water. RACHEL, at the same moment, pushes BETTEREDGE aside, and takes his place by FRANKLIN.)
Rachel (answering BETTEREDGE). Leave him to Me! Nobody shall touch him but Me! (She kneels over FRANKLIN, resting his head on her knee, and sprinkling his forehead with water from the tumbler which BETTEREDGE receives from CUFF, and holds for her.) Oh Betteredge, he doesn't move, his colour doesn't come back! (ANDREW appears at the hall door, followed by the POLICEMAN with a telegram in his hand.)
Andrew (entering the room). The carriage is at the door, miss.
Rachel. Send the carriage to the town for the doctor. Instantly! Instantly!
Andrew. Yes, miss! (He hurries out. RACHEL resumes her efforts to revive FRANKLIN. BETTEREDGE remains with her. CUFF notices the telegram in the POLICEMAN'S hands.)
Cuff (to the POLICEMAN). For me?
The Policeman. For you. (He hands the telegram to CUFF, and waits.)
Cuff (snapping his fingers in triumph, after a glance at the telegram). I've found the Moonstone! (The curtain falls.)
Scene: as before. Time: evening, on the same day. The lamps are lit again, and the curtains are drawn over the window on the right, as in Act I. At the rise of the curtain, FRANKLIN, BETTEREDGE, and MR. CANDY are discovered. FRANKLIN is seated at a table, hiding his face in his hands. MR. CANDY stands on one side of him, and BETTEREDGE on the other.
Mr. Candy. Are you quite sure of the facts, Mr. Blake? You have not long recovered from a fainting fit, and your mind may still be a little confused.
Franklin. My mind is perfectly clear. Put me to the test in any way you like.
Mr. Candy. Repeat what you said to me about Miss Rachel just now.
Franklin (repeating it). Rachel told me, with her own lips, that she saw me take the diamond out of the cabinet drawer. And my dressing-gown has the stain of the wet varnish on it to prove that she spoke the truth.
Mr. Candy. And you know absolutely nothing about it yourself?
Franklin. Absolutely nothing. (MR. CANDY pauses and considers with himself. BETTEREDGE addresses him.)
Betteredge. What do you say to that, sir? Solomon himself would be at a loss to put the pieces of the puzzle together!
Mr. Candy (to BETTEREDGE). Was Mr. Blake at all anxious about the safe keeping of the diamond before he went to bed?
Betteredge. Anxious isn't the word, sir. Bothered is the word. Impossible to persuade him that the diamond was safe in the cabinet drawer.
Mr. Candy (suddenly turning to FRANKLIN). Are you composed enough to hear me patiently, Mr. Blake, if I venture on a bold guess?
Franklin (despondently). Say what you like!
Mr. Candy. I say this. You were dreaming of the Moonstone last night, and you took the diamond while you were walking in your sleep.
Franklin (starting up). Walking in my sleep!!!
Betteredge (indignantly). He never did such a thing in his life!
Mr. Candy (quietly). He did it for the first time last night, Mr. Betteredge. I defy you to explain what has happened in any other way.
Franklin. Have you any reason for what you say?
Mr. Candy. I have three reasons. First, the disordered condition of your nervous system. Second, your supper and your grog. Third, a case of somnambulism in my practice, which is in many respects like your case--as I believe it to be.
Franklin. Suppose you are right. What then?
Mr. Candy. If you will assist me, sir, I think I can prove that I am right.
Franklin. Can you find the lost diamond? Can you prove that I took it without knowing what I was about at the time? I am disgraced for life, and through no fault of mine. Betteredge! pack my portmanteau, I shall leave by the night express.
Betteredge. Don't say that, sir! What's the use of leaving us? Where are you going to?
Franklin (irritably). I am going to the devil!
Betteredge. God bless you, sir, go where you may!
Mr. Candy (to FRANKLIN). Decide nothing rashly, Mr. Blake. Let me say to Miss Rachel what I have just said to you. And let her tell us if she saw anything strange in your looks and your movements last night.
Betteredge. I'll fetch her, Master Franklin! She's only giving some orders in the servants'-hall. (He attempts to go out at the back. FRANKLIN stops him.)
Franklin. Rachel has deliberately charged me with stealing her diamond. Nothing will induce me to see her again until my innocence of the theft is a proved fact.
Betteredge. Leave it to me, sir, to tell her what Mr. Candy has said. Let me be the first to ease my dear young mistress's mind!
Franklin (impatiently). Tell your mistress what I have just said, and tell her anything else you like.
Betteredge. Thank you, sir, thank you. (Aside to MR. CANDY.) Make the most of your time with him before Miss Rachel comes in. (He goes out by the hall door.)
Mr. Candy. Your position is not so hopeless as you seem to think it, sir. Will you hear what I have to say?
Franklin. Tell me one thing first. What am I to expect in the future? Am I never to sleep quietly in my bed for the rest of my life?
Mr. Candy. You have only to recover your health, and I will answer for your sleeping as quietly as any man living. Let us return to the other question, which you put to me just now. You have asked if I can find the lost diamond?
Mr. Candy. You have asked if I can prove your innocence of the theft?
Mr. Candy. I may be able to do both the one and the other, if you will consent to be guided by me. (RACHEL'S voice is heard outside.)
Rachel (speaking in great agitation). I don't want to hear any more! I insist on seeing him!
Franklin (quietly to MR. CANDY). If you wish to speak further with me, you will find me in my room. (He ascends the stairs deliberately, careless whether RACHEL sees him or not.)
Mr. Candy (following and remonstrating with him). Mr. Blake--!
Rachel (outside). Let me go! How dare you stand between me and the door. (She appears at the hall door, hurriedly entering the room). Where is he? (MR. CANDY returns to RACHEL. FRANKLIN reaches the top of the stairs.) Mr. Candy, I must see him! I must ask his pardon on my knees!
Mr. Candy. You can't see him now, Miss Rachel. He has just gone upstairs.
Rachel (seeing FRANKLIN open his bedroom door). To avoid me! (She calls entreatingly.) Franklin! (FRANKLIN enters his room, and closes the door. RACHEL turns in tears to MR. CANDY.) Not a word of answer! Not even a look! I deserve it.
Mr. Candy (surprised). You deserve it?
Rachel (with the keenest self-reproach). I was alone in the hall last night, when the house was shut up, and there was no light but the moon. I saw him take the diamond, and I put the vilest construction on what I saw!
Mr. Candy. My dear young lady, how could you possibly suspect that he was sleeping and dreaming, when you couldn't see him plainly, and when you never heard of such a thing as his walking in his sleep?
Rachel. I don't care! I have treated him cruelly--I who love him with all my heart and soul! Oh Mr. Candy, I have lost him! He will never forgive me--he will never forget what I said to him!
Mr. Candy (earnestly). Miss Rachel, he may yet forgive and forget! He may yet be nearer and dearer to you than ever! (RACHEL starts.) Compose yourself, and tell me one thing. After he had taken the Moonstone, what did he do with it?
Rachel. He took it upstairs with him to his own room.
Mr. Candy. It is at least possible that he has hidden it there in his sleep--dreaming, of course, that he was putting it in a place of safety. You follow me, so far?
Rachel. I don't follow you at all! I want to hear about the happy time you have promised me--the time when Franklin is to be nearer and dearer to me than ever. Get on to that!
Mr. Candy. A moment's patience, Miss Rachel. I am getting to it now. (BETTEREDGE enters by the hall door.)
Rachel (to BETTEREDGE). What do you want? Don't interrupt us! Go away!
Betteredge. I beg your pardon, miss. I have got a message for you, and I must indeed deliver it.
Rachel. Go away!
Mr. Candy (to RACHEL). One moment! (to BETTEREDGE.) Does your message relate to the Moonstone?
Betteredge. Knowing the person who gave me the message, sir, I haven't a doubt of it.
Mr. Candy. Let him speak, Miss Rachel. (RACHEL signs to BETTEREDGE to speak.)
Betteredge. I won't be long, miss. Since you left me I have been having a little talk with a person in the grounds.
Rachel. Who is the person?
Betteredge. You will be angry if I mention his name.
Rachel. Sergeant Cuff?
Betteredge. Right, miss, at the first guess.
Rachel. That man still in the house! What does he mean? What is he doing? What does he want?
Betteredge. That's exactly what I've been trying to tell you, miss, ever since I came into the room. As to what he means, he keeps it to himself. As to what he is doing, he has just had a long private conversation behind the stables with a strange gentleman who came from the railway in a fly. As to what he wants, he wants two minutes' talk immediately, Miss Rachel, with you.
Rachel. I refuse to see him! I insist on his leaving the house. (CUFF appears at the hall door. RACHEL points to him indignantly.) Mr. Candy! Betteredge! do you see that man? This is a downright insult. I appeal to your protection.
Betteredge. Don't be angry, miss. I'll take him away. (He attempts to approach CUFF, and is stopped by MR. CANDY.)
Mr. Candy. Wait a minute! (to CUFF.) You will find pen and ink in the servants' hall. Tell Miss Rachel, in writing, what you want.
Cuff. Might I whisper one word in your ear, sir? (He whispers. MR. CANDY starts back with a cry of astonishment.)
Rachel (observing him). What is it?
Mr. Candy (excitedly). Something that you must hear, Miss Rachel! Something that makes the Sergeant's presence at our conference indispensable. Take a seat, Sergeant Cuff.
Cuff (looking at BETTEREDGE). I have an order to give, sir, to the policeman who is waiting outside. (to RACHEL.) Might I ask Mr. Betteredge to take another message for me?
Rachel. Certainly! Betteredge, take the message!
Betteredge (coming forward unwillingly). Yes, miss. (Aside.) Just as I wanted to hear what they're going to say next! Just as my curiosity is thirsting as it were for a drop more!
Cuff (to BETTEREDGE). You will find the policeman on the drive in front of the house. He is on no account to go back to the town before I have seen him again. The man is hungry and tired, Mr. Betteredge. Will you please see that he has some supper?
Betteredge (aside). I wish his supper may choke him! (He goes out by the hall door.)
Rachel. Now, Mr. Candy, what does this mean?
Mr. Candy. Ask Sergeant Cuff.
Rachel (to CUFF). You wish to speak to me? What do you want?
Cuff (quietly). A little matter of business, miss. I only want to give you back your diamond.
Cuff. There is the Moonstone. (He hands it to RACHEL. RACHEL stands petrified. CUFF, smiling grimly, waits to hear what she will say to him. RACHEL, recovering herself, turns to MR. CANDY, and shows him the diamond.)
Rachel. Can I believe my own eyes!
Cuff (to RACHEL). I won't intrude on you any longer, miss. I'll be off by the next train.
Rachel. Don't talk of going away (suddenly changing to perfect amiability.) I owe you an apology, Mr. Cuff. Pray excuse the hasty words I said to you earlier in the day--and, for Heaven's sake, tell me how the Moonstone found its way into your hands!
Cuff. You will please keep it a secret, miss, from every soul in the house; Mr. Betteredge, in particular, must know nothing about it. That good man is of too liberal a nature to keep anything to himself. (to MR. CANDY.) He told me, sir, of your notion about Mr. Blake, and the diamond, within hearing of all the men at the stables.
Rachel (impatiently). We quite understand you. Go on! go on!
Cuff. Very good, miss. Thus it happened: Earlier in the day I received information of a visit paid by a money-borrowing person, to a money-lending person in London.
Rachel. What are their names?
Cuff. Sorry to disappoint you, miss. For the present, I am not at liberty to mention their names. Having my own reasons for suspecting that I was on the trace of the diamond, I telegraphed to the money-lending person--
Rachel (impatiently). Do give him a name!
Cuff. All right, miss! We will give him a number, as they do in the prisons. We will call the money-lending person Number One. I telegraphed to Number One, inquiring if he had seen or heard anything of the lost Moonstone. His answer informed me that the money-borrowing person--shall we give him a number, miss? Shall we call him Number Two?
Rachel. Yes! yes!
Cuff. The answer informed me that Number Two had this very day offered your diamond as security for a loan.
Rachel (eagerly). How did he get my diamond?
Cuff. That's exactly what I want to find out!
Mr. Candy (eagerly) .You really don't know?
Cuff. I know no more than you do.
Mr. Candy. I may be able to help you.
Cuff (surprised). You, sir!
Rachel (to MR. CANDY). How can you help him?
Mr. Candy. You will hear, when I return to what I was saying, before Betteredge interrupted us. Let the Sergeant finish his story first.
Cuff. My story is done, sir. The money-lending person, otherwise Number One, received my telegram in time to stop the loan. Half-an-hour since, miss, he handed the diamond over to me in your stable-yard. (to MR. CANDY.) Now, sir, about the money-borrowing person, otherwise Number Two? How do you propose to trace the Moonstone into his hands?
Mr. Candy. Just as I proposed to find the Moonstone when I thought it was lost. Has Betteredge told you of my sleep-walking patient in the town?
Cuff. Yes, sir.
Mr. Candy. A London doctor came to consult with me on the case last night. I made the lad eat and drink (at the same hour) exactly what he eat and drank on the night when he walked in his sleep--
Rachel. And what came of it?
Mr. Candy. He never even moved in his chair. The experiment was a complete failure. I don't care--I am not satisfied yet. What fails with one patient succeeds with another. I mean to try the experiment again with Mr. Franklin Blake.
Rachel. Are you speaking seriously? Do you really believe you can make Franklin take the Moonstone in his sleep for the second time?
Mr. Candy. Do people never have the same dream for the second time? It's a common thing in everybody's experience.
Rachel. I admit that. But dreaming is not sleep-walking.
Mr. Candy. I beg your pardon--sleep-walking is simply putting a dream in action, nothing more. (He rises.) I am going to make Mr. Blake repeat the supper to which he is not accustomed, and the drink that he doesn't like, on the chance that last night's cause may once more produce last night's effect. Has his health altered in the interval? His nerves are just as irritable as ever. Does he feel no further anxiety about the diamond? He is more anxious about it than ever. And, to crown it all, he is a far more sensitive subject than my patient in the town. Is there no hope of success, with all these chances in favour?
Rachel. I can't argue with you, Mr. Candy. But I believe you will fail.
Mr. Candy. What do you say, Sergeant?
Cuff. Ditto to Miss Rachel, sir.
Mr. Candy. Public opinion! Nothing is probable unless it appeals to our own trumpery experience. I am driven to my last resources. I must refer to the only unanswerable authority--authority that is printed in a book. (He goes to the bookshelves. RACHEL and CUFF both rise.)
Rachel. What are you about?
Mr. Candy. I have borrowed books enough from this library, Miss Rachel, to know what I am about. (He takes the book which he brought with him in the Second Act, opens it, and hands it to RACHEL.) There is the famous case of the Irish porter, quoted by Mr. Combe, the great phrenologist.
Cuff. Read it out, miss, if you please.
Rachel (reading). "There was a certain Irish porter in a shop in Dublin, who was a little too fond of his native whisky. One day, he was sent to a house with a parcel. He got drunk on the way, and left his parcel at the wrong place. The next morning, when he was sober, he had no idea of where he had left it. In a day or two after, the Irish porter was drunk again. And what did he do? Went back straight to the house that he couldn't remember when he was sober, and got the parcel."
Mr. Candy (with enthusiasm). That is what I call a case in point!
Rachel (contemptuously). An Irish porter!
Mr. Candy. My confidence in the Irish porter is not to be expressed in words! What the drink did with him, I expect the supper and the glass of grog to do with Mr. Blake. I grant you it all depends on his dreaming of the diamond again. Let him only do that--and I believe he will lead us, in his sleep, straight to the person who took the Moonstone to London.
Rachel. I begin to feel interested! When may I order the supper to be sent in?
Cuff (interposing). Not in here, miss, if the doctor will allow me to interfere. (to MR. CANDY.) Let the supper be sent up to Mr. Blake in his room, by the back staircase which is used by the servants only.
Mr. Candy. You have your reasons, I suppose?
Cuff. The hall is open to everybody, sir. If you try your experiment here, suspicion may be excited in a certain quarter, which I won't particularly mention just yet. Tell me what is to be sent upstairs, and I will see that it gets to Mr. Blake without being discovered by anybody.
Mr. Candy. The game pie, Sergeant, the champagne, and the brandy-and-water. We shall see you again, I suppose?
Cuff. Certainly, sir--when I have said one more word to the policeman outside. (He goes out by the hall door. RACHEL approaches MR. CANDY in her most winning manner.)
Rachel. Dear Mr. Candy. Let me go with you when you go to Franklin!
Mr. Candy. Impossible, Miss Rachel!
Rachel. Don't be hard upon me! I am heartbroken about Franklin. Let me go with you?
Mr. Candy (taking her hand gently). I appeal to your own good sense, Miss Rachel. It is of the utmost importance to the success of our experiment that Mr. Blake's mind should be fixed on the Moonstone. By talking on that subject, and no other, we may help him to dream of it for the second time. Judge by your own feelings, how your presence would agitate him now!
Rachel. If I consent to wait, how shall I know when I may see Franklin?
Mr. Candy. I will ring the bell in Mr. Blake's bedroom. Can you hear it down here, or in your own room?
Rachel. Yes, if there is no noise at the time. (She pauses, considers a moment, and speaks to herself.) I will say something to Franklin--somehow! (She takes an ornamental drinking-glass from the curiosities placed on the cheffonier turns it till she sees a flower painted outside near the rim, kisses the rim there, and approaches MR. CANDY.) Please, Mr. Candy, let him have this glass at his supper, and turn it so that he drinks on that side, where the flower is. I hope I have not done anything that looks unladylike in your eyes. It will comfort me to think that I have given him a kiss, even in that way!
Mr. Candy (smiling). He shall take your kiss, Miss Rachel, as certainly as he takes his brandy-and-water. (Aside.) A charming girl! I wish I was Mr. Franklin Blake! (He ascends the stairs, and enters FRANKLIN'S room. RACHEL watches him until he disappears.)
Rachel (alone). He is with Franklin now. He is speaking to Franklin at this moment. And I am left down here by myself! A doctor has no feeling; Mr. Candy is a hateful man! (BETTEREDGE appears at the hall door.)
Betteredge. Miss Rachel--
Rachel. What is it?
Betteredge. Mr. Godfrey's compliments--
Rachel (with a cry of horror). Oh! I had forgotten Godfrey! (She pauses, terror-struck by the remembrance of her engagement to GODFREY. BETTEREDGE approaches her in alarm.)
Betteredge. You're not ill, miss, are you?
Rachel. No! no! (Aside.) Godfrey has my promise! Godfrey is engaged to marry me! It's like a frightful dream. What am I to do?
Betteredge (aside, watching her). Miss Rachel as pale as ashes; Mr. Candy nowhere to be seen; Sergeant Cuff and the policeman whispering together in a corner! There's something serious on foot; and I am kept out of it!
Rachel (rallying her courage, and returning to BETTEREDGE). Where is Mr. Godfrey?
Betteredge. In the morning room. He wants to know when you can conveniently see him.
Rachel (to herself). I can't see him! I daren't see him! Drusilla must speak to him for me. (to BETTEREDGE.) Go up to Miss Clack's room. Knock at the door, and say I want to speak to her instantly.
Betteredge (aside, as he approaches the stairs). Even Miss Clack is in the conspiracy. Everybody but me! (He goes out by the gallery on the left.)
Rachel (alone). Oh, what fools women are! We are always saying what we ought not to say. We are always doing the wrong thing at the wrong time, and then repenting when it is too late! I don't care. If I can't marry Franklin, I will marry nobody else. What right had Godfrey to take advantage of me when I was half mad with misery? Shameful! shameful! Where is Drusilla? (She looks round. MISS CLACK appears in the gallery, followed by BETTEREDGE.) Be quick! You walk as if you were following a funeral. Be quick! (MISS CLACK deliberately descends the stairs. She has a quill-pen behind her ear, and letters and papers in her hand. Her manner towards RACHEL is cold and dignified, as if still resenting the interview which she overheard in the Second Act.)
Miss Clack (aside). I hope I am incapable of using unladylike language. But, if she ventures to speak of her marriage to Mr. Godfrey--! (to RACHEL.) Be as brief as you can, Rachel. I am immersed in correspondence with my Societies. The public interests must not suffer on account of any little personal troubles of yours, my dear.
Rachel (to herself). What have I done to offend her? (to MISS CLACK.) My dear Drusilla, I am going to appeal to your long-tried friendship--(She observes BETTEREDGE listening eagerly, and addresses him sharply.) Go to Mr. Godfrey, and say that I will receive him here in five minutes' time.
Betteredge. I beg your pardon, miss. As an old servant, may I say a word relative to what is going on in this house--?
Rachel. As an old servant, do what I tell you.
Betteredge (offended). After fifty years' service, miss, it's a little hard to be cut short--
Rachel. Will you go? or must I ring for Andrew?
Betteredge (aside). I shall give warning to leave at the end of the month! (He goes out indignantly by the hall door.)
Rachel. Drusilla! I am in dreadful trouble, and I have no friend to help me but you.
Miss Clack. My humble advice has been offered again and again, and has been repelled again and again in the rudest manner.
Rachel. I beg your pardon, Drusilla--
Miss Clack. Pray don't mention it!
Rachel. I will always take your advice for the future.
Miss Clack. No, Rachel, no! I feel that I took a liberty, in my humble position, when I offered advice to a lady who hires me at a salary--paid by the quarter, I hasten to acknowledge, punctually when it's due.
Rachel (seizing her by the arm). Don't drive me mad! I am half mad already! I am engaged to be married to Godfrey Ablewhite.
Miss Clack (solemnly). May you be happy! Heaven knows I don't expect it!
Rachel (throwing her arms round DRUSILLA'S neck). Oh, you darling! The very thing I wanted you to say! I don't expect it either. I hate Godfrey! When I said "Yes," I meant "No." I would rather throw myself out of the window than marry him. Get me off the engagement, Drusilla, and you will be the dearest friend I ever had in my life.
Miss Clack (eagerly).You really mean it?
Rachel. Yes! yes! yes!
Miss Clack (embracing RACHEL). My beloved Rachel is restored to me! (With a burst of enthusiasm.) I'll give him his dismissal, my dear. Your life shall not be sacrificed to a man who is, to my certain knowledge, quite unworthy of you. He shall find an immovable obstacle in his way. And the name of that obstacle is Drusilla Clack. (Hurrying her to the left.) Go to your room, dearest. Not a word of thanks; this is a labour of love. Go to your room! (She hurries RACHEL into her room, and closes the door on her.)
Miss Clack (alone). Now, Mr. Godfrey, the Mothers'-Small-Clothes-Conversion-Society will be even with you! How do I look? (She goes to the glass.) A pen behind my ear! (She throws it into the fire.) These tiresome papers are of no use! (She throws them into the fire. Then arranges her hair and smooths out her dress.) I should like to put on my best black silk dress, in honour of the occasion. Would it take too long? (GODFREY appears at the hall door.) Yes! Here he is!
Godfrey (to himself). Miss Clack! (He advances and addresses MISS CLACK.) Do you know where Rachel is? I expected to find her here.
Miss Clack (with extreme politeness). Pray take a seat.
Godfrey. I beg your pardon; I have an appointment with Rachel.
Miss Clack (mysteriously). I beg your pardon, Mr. Godfrey. You have an appointment with me. Dear Rachel is not well enough to see you. I am the chosen representative of her views and wishes. Her inmost secrets are lodged in my bosom. Pray sit down.
Godfrey (aside, seating himself). What does this mean?
Miss Clack (seating herself, with the highest relish of the pain she is about to inflict). Mr. Godfrey, as an affectionate well-wisher and friend, as one long accustomed to arouse, convince, prepare, enlighten, and fortify others, permit me to take the liberty of composing your mind.
Godfrey (coldly). Be good enough to state your business with me plainly.
Miss Clack. Quite impossible, without preparing your mind first. My precious friend, I know your sensitive nature--I know how unequal you are to sustain a sudden shock. I have undertaken to scatter all your fondest hopes to the winds, but I have not undertaken to see you rolling on the floor in hysterics at my feet.
Godfrey (rising). You have something to say to me from Rachel. I presume you know that we are engaged to be married?
Miss Clack. Oh, don't! don't! You go through me like a knife! Engaged to be married to Rachel? Poor Mr. Godfrey! poor Mr. Godfrey!
Godfrey (impatiently). Once for all, Miss Clack, will you deprive yourself of the pleasure of hearing your own voice? Will you speak briefly, and speak out?
Miss Clack (irritated into speaking out abruptly, and with the greatest rapidity).Your engagement with Rachel is at an end, Mr. Godfrey. Is that brief enough for you?
Miss Clack (as before). Rachel regrets her rash acceptance of your proposal. Rachel respects, but can never love you. Rachel withdraws her promise, and positively refuses to be your wife. Is that plain enough, Mr. Godfrey?
Godfrey. Miss Clack, I have nothing to say to you. I insist on seeing Rachel immediately. (He approaches RACHEL'S door. MISS CLACK places herself before the door.) Let me pass, if you please.
Miss Clack. Are you prepared, sir, to employ brute force with a woman?
Godfrey (calling). Rachel!
Miss Clack (calling). Don't answer him, dear Rachel! (to GODFREY.) Tear me, by brute force, from the spot I stand on! You don't approach Rachel in any other way.
Godfrey (yielding). Take advantage, Miss Clack, of your privilege as a woman. Sooner or later Rachel must come out. (He returns to his chair.) If I wait all night, here I sit till she leaves her room.
Miss Clack (setting down her chair with a bang). And here I sit, Mr. Godfrey, until I have sat you out! (A momentary silence. A bell is heard to ring outside the hall door from FRANKLIN'S room. RACHEL suddenly opens her door and appears. MISS CLACK and GODFREY both start up together.)
Miss Clack. My dear! why do you leave your room?
Rachel (looking at the gallery). Hush! the bell! (BETTEREDGE enters to answer the bell. MR. CANDY appears in the gallery, closing FRANKLIN'S door behind him.)
Godfrey. Rachel! I must have a word in private with you immediately.
Rachel (impatiently). Not now! Not now! (She draws back from him. He follows, remonstrating with her. BETTEREDGE addresses MR. CANDY from the bottom of the gallery stairs.)
Betteredge. Am I wanted upstairs, sir?
Mr. Candy. Stay where you are. You are wanted in the hall. Turn down the lamps.
Godfrey (hearing him). Turn down the lamps?
Betteredge (aside). Turn down the lamps? Here's the doctor in the secret now! Everybody but me!
Rachel (to BETTEREDGE). Betteredge, do as Mr. Candy tells you.
Betteredge (sulkily). Very well, miss. If you prefer being in the dark, very well. (He gets the steps, and puts out the lamps. The dialogue proceeds.)
Miss Clack (startled). What does this mean, Rachel?
Godfrey (surprised). Why are they darkening the room?
Rachel (drawing back once more from GODFREY). Wait, and you will see. (Aside.) The experiment has succeeded! He is darkening the room to make it the same as last night! (GODFREY is about to follow RACHEL, when MR. CANDY'S voice, still speaking from the gallery, stops him.)
Mr. Candy. Mr. Betteredge, is there a moon tonight?
Betteredge (to himself, still putting out the lamps). The moon is in it, too! (to MR. CANDY.) Yes, sir. (CUFF shows himself at the hall door.)
Mr. Candy. Draw back the curtains from the garden window.
Betteredge (aside).The curtains are in the conspiracy!
Cuff (advancing). Don't hurry yourself, Mr. Betteredge--I'll open the curtains. (He pulls the string that draws back the curtains. The moonlight streams in across the place occupied by the cabinet. The room is also partially lit, as in the First Act, by the firelight. CUFF locks the window, after opening the curtains, and puts the key in his pocket. BETTEREDGE, after putting back the steps, joins CUFF at the window. MR. CANDY watches FRANKLIN'S door. RACHEL, MISS CLACK, and GODFREY all observe MR. CANDY, with the varying emotions which agitate them. During this interval of by-play, GODFREY continues the dialogue.)
Godfrey (calling from the hall). Mr. Candy!
Mr. Candy (turning round). Yes?
Godfrey. Is there anything the matter with Franklin Blake?
Mr. Candy. There is nothing the matter with Franklin Blake.
Godfrey. What do these extraordinary proceedings mean?
Mr. Candy. Hush! (He descends the stairs and approaches RACHEL, to whom he speaks aside.) Mr. Blake is asleep, and stirring in his bed. He is dreaming, if ever I saw a man dreaming yet. Wait a little, and (speaking his next words emphatically) don't forget the case of the Irish porter!
Betteredge (whispering to CUFF). I saw you lock the window. What for?
Cuff (whispering). Use your eyes and ears, and do as I tell you. Stand before the hall door, and let nobody pass out until I give the word. (A pause. BETTEREDGE, completely puzzled, places himself at the hall door. CUFF, after looping up the curtains, joins MR. CANDY, passing from right to left under the gallery. FRANKLIN'S door slowly opens. He appears in his dressing-gown, as in the First Act, pausing before he descends the stairs.)
Rachel (softly to herself). Dear! dear Franklin!
Mr. Candy (taking RACHEL aside). Don't speak to him! Have you got the Moonstone?
Mr. Candy. Put it back in the cabinet drawer. (RACHEL obeys, passing under the gallery. MISS CLACK follows her, in alarm. GODFREY'S attention is riveted on FRANKLIN. FRANKLIN begins to descend the stairs slowly.)
Miss Clack. Rachel! I'm frightened.
Rachel (drawing back under the gallery). Keep with me, and I'll tell you what it means. (She speaks in dumb show to MISS CLACK. BETTEREDGE, behind them, on guard at the hall door, listens eagerly. ANDREW and the other servants are just seen, assembled outside the hall door. MR. CANDY and CUFF are together, having withdrawn under the gallery. GODFREY, left by himself, standing with his back to the audience, opposite the staircase, suddenly turns as FRANKLIN descends the stairs step by step, and shows his face, disturbed by guilty terror. He makes first for the hall door. RACHEL and MISS CLACK draw aside from him.)
Betteredge (to GODFREY in a whisper). You can't pass! (The servants block up the doorway. GODFREY retreats to the window on the right, and tries it.)
Godfrey (to himself in a whisper). Locked! (He draws back again, passing under the gallery. FRANKLIN has by this time advanced into the hall, and stops, looking straight before him, as in the First Act. GODFREY, passing behind him, tries to escape by the gallery stairs. CUFF has placed himself there on guard, at the moment when FRANKLIN advanced into the hall. He signs to GODFREY to stand back. GODFREY retreats, panic-stricken, to the front, between the fireplace and RACHEL'S door, and stands there, watching FRANKLIN, as he slowly moves towards the cabinet, turning his back on GODFREY. At the same time, MR. CANDY joins RACHEL and MISS CLACK under the gallery. FRANKLIN speaks to himself, as he spoke in the First Act.)
Franklin (in his sleep). It's not safe in the cabinet. What's to be done with the Moonstone? (He hesitates, then opens the folding-doors of the cabinet.)
Godfrey (to himself, in a whisper). What is he doing? (He advances a few steps on tip-toe towards the middle of the hall, as if impelled by some irresistible impulse to discover what FRANKLIN is about. FRANKLIN opens the cabinet drawer, takes the Moonstone out of it, turns and approaches GODFREY, holding out the diamond.)
Godfrey (recognising the Moonstone with a start of horror). The diamond! (He slowly retreats towards the fireplace. Step by step FRANKLIN follows him, till GODFREY is brought to a stand-still by the fireplace. The other persons present--CUFF included--all eagerly advance on the right, watching the same. FRANKLIN speaks to GODFREY as he spoke to him towards the close of the First Act.)
Franklin (in his sleep). Godfrey! I'm uneasy about the safety of the diamond. Take the Moonstone to your father's bank. (He hands the diamond to GODFREY. A faint cry of indignation escapes RACHEL--suppressed so that it is just audible, and no more. GODFREY'S hands fall helplessly at his sides. The diamond drops on the carpet at his feet. FRANKLIN turns away, slowly and warily, towards the stairs. Instead of ascending them, as before, he stops, lays his arm on one of the carved pillars by which the balusters of the stairs are terminated on either side, and languidly rests his head on it. The persons present all watch him intently. RACHEL approaches him. MR. CANDY stops her.)
Mr. Candy (whispering). Don't disturb him! His dream is passing away. He feels the approach of the deeper sleep. (MR. CANDY, assisted by RACHEL, wheels an arm-chair towards the middle of the stage. FRANKLIN is placed in the chair, and reclines, sleeping peacefully. MR. CANDY and RACHEL stand on either side of the chair, watching him. GODFREY moves as if to leave the hall. CUFF, followed by BETTEREDGE and MISS CLACK, advances, so as to stand in the way of his departure, and speaks to him.)
Cuff. Stop a minute, sir! We may as well understand each other before you go. Mr. Blake offered you the Moonstone last night, walking in his sleep, just as he has offered it to you now. Last night, you were alone with him upstairs, and you took it. Down here, there are witnesses present, and you let it drop. (He picks up the diamond, and shows it to GODFREY.) Don't you know it again?
Godfrey. I don't understand you.
Cuff. Oh yes, you do! Didn't I tell you of that commonplace case of mine, that I left in London? It was a Charitable Society, sir, that employed me to recover the stolen money, and you, being treasurer, were one of the officers privately reckoned up by the police. I made the necessary inquiries myself. I found out your private villa in the suburbs, and your contraband lady with the carriage and jewels--
Godfrey (taking out his white handkerchief). Oh!!! (He hides his face in his handkerchief. RACHEL and MISS CLACK, both listening, both express indignation and disgust.)
Cuff (pointing to GODFREY). Lord! what virtue there is in a white handkerchief! I was also informed, sir, through your servant, of your visit to Miss Rachel's house. I was on my way here to arrest you on suspicion of embezzlement, when I got Mr. Blake's telegram. The society's audit-day was close at hand, you know; and the Moonstone offered you a chance of replacing the stolen money, if you were really the man who had taken it. I believed you were the man, when I found you so devilish anxious to assist me. It was cleverly intended, sir, but you overdid it. Thanks to your interference, I had the policeman ready to follow you. He traced you from Frizinghall to London; and he followed you to Mr. Luker, the money-lender. The telegraph did the rest. Is it all pretty clear now, sir? Don't you think you had better get away while you have the chance? (GODFREY stands irresolute. CUFF turns to RACHEL, standing behind him, and offers her the Moonstone.) Your diamond, miss. (RACHEL refuses to take it. CUFF offers the diamond to BETTEREDGE next. BETTEREDGE draws back from it in horror. CUFF places the Moonstone on the writing-table.)
Godfrey (turning to RACHEL, with his white handkerchief to his eyes). Rachel! (RACHEL recoils from him in disgust. He appeals next to MISS CLACK.) Miss Clack! (MISS CLACK turns away like RACHEL. GODFREY walks slowly towards the hall door, then turns to say his last words.)
Godfrey (in his oratorical manner). The poet has said: "To err is human, to forgive divine." My defence, ladies and gentlemen, is entirely comprised in that grand line. Properly understood, I am that essentially pardonable person, the victim of circumstances. Farewell!
(He bows and goes out.)
Betteredge (to CUFF). Sergeant, you're not going to let that damned rogue escape scot-free?
Cuff. Don't alarm yourself, Mr. Betteredge. The policeman is outside. (He looks at FRANKLIN sleeping in the chair, with RACHEL and MR. CANDY on either side of him). Still fast asleep, sir?
Mr. Candy. Yes. (CUFF walks away, and takes a last look at the roses near the garden window. MR. CANDY turns to RACHEL.) I will keep watch, Miss Rachel, till he wakes.
Rachel. Nobody shall watch him but me! Leave me, all of you, to be the first who sees him and speaks to him when he opens his eyes. My heart is set on it--pray indulge me! (MR. CANDY and BETTEREDGE approach to take leave of RACHEL. She is absorbed in FRANKLIN, and answers by signs only. CUFF remains near the roses. MISS CLACK goes to the writing-table, lights a candle standing on it, and writes a telegram, very slowly, as if it costs her considerable thought.)
Mr. Candy. Miss Rachel, has the Irish porter justified my confidence in him? (RACHEL gives MR. CANDY her hand--he kisses it.) Accept my congratulations. Good-night! (He goes out by the hall door.)
Betteredge. I have only one remark to make, miss, in wishing you good-night in my turn. As an old servant of the family, you might have let me into the secret a little sooner. My duty to Mr. Franklin when he wakes, and Heaven grant you a speedy marriage! (He follows MR. CANDY.)
Cuff (approaching RACHEL). Might I ask a great favour before I go back to London? Might I take one cutting from the roses there? (RACHEL smiles, and bows her head.) Thank you, miss. (He takes the cutting, and holds it up in triumph.) My rose-garden shall begin with this! And--excuse me, Miss Rachel--there will be grass walks between my flower-beds. No gravel! no gravel! (He follows BETTEREDGE.)
Miss Clack (rising from the table). All blessings attend you, dear Rachel! I have a telegram to send to London the first thing in the morning. May I give it to the servants over-night? (RACHEL assents. MISS CLACK reads her telegram over to herself.) Have I been sufficiently explicit? Let me see. (She reads). "Miss Clack, to the Mothers'-Small-Clothes-Conversion-Society. Beware of Mr. Godfrey. He is perfectly capable of stealing our trousers." (She goes out by the hall door.)
Rachel (alone with FRANKLIN). How peacefully he sleeps! How pale and worn he looks! My love! my love! if ever a woman made a man happy, your life shall be a happy one with me! (She rises, and looks towards the hall door, which is left open). Why have they left the door open? He may feel the draught. (She goes to the hall door and closes it. Returning to him, she passes the writing-table, and notices the gleam of the diamond in the light of the candle which MISS CLACK has left burning.) You hateful Moonstone, you shall never be an ornament of mine! I'll sell you to-morrow; and the money shall be a fund for the afflicted and the poor. (She returns to FRANKLIN, and leans over the back of the chair, looking down at him.) This is my jewel! Shall I disturb him if I kiss him? I must kiss him! (Still standing behind the chair, she stoops over and touches his forehead with her lips. He starts, and opens his eyes.)
Rachel (starting back). Oh, I've woke him!
Franklin (looking up, bewildered). Who is it?
Rachel (bending over him again). Only your wife! (The curtain falls slowly.)
Return to Main Page