FIRST PERIOD: THE LOSS OF THE DIAMOND (1848)
1. CHAPTER I
"We have certain events to relate," Mr. Franklin proceeded;
"and we have certain persons concerned in those events who are
capable of relating them. Starting from these plain facts, the idea
is that we should all write the story of the Moonstone in turn--
as far as our own personal experience extends, and no farther.
We must begin by showing how the Diamond first fell into the hands
of my uncle Herncastle, when he was serving in India fifty years since.
This prefatory narrative I have already got by me in the form of an old
family paper, which relates the necessary particulars on the authority
of an eye-witness. The next thing to do is to tell how the Diamond
found its way into my aunt's house in Yorkshire, two years ago,
and how it came to be lost in little more than twelve hours afterwards.
Nobody knows as much as you do, Betteredge, about what went on in
the house at that time. So you must take the pen in hand, and start
In those terms I was informed of what my personal concern was
with the matter of the Diamond. If you are curious to know
what course I took under the circumstances, I beg to inform
you that I did what you would probably have done in my place.
I modestly declared myself to be quite unequal to the task
imposed upon me--and I privately felt, all the time,
that I was quite clever enough to perform it, if I only gave
my own abilities a fair chance. Mr. Franklin, I imagine,
must have seen my private sentiments in my face. He declined
to believe in my modesty; and he insisted on giving my abilities
a fair chance.
Two hours have passed since Mr. Franklin left me. As soon as his
back was turned, I went to my writing desk to start the story.
There I have sat helpless (in spite of my abilities) ever since;
seeing what Robinson Crusoe saw, as quoted above--namely, the folly
of beginning a work before we count the cost, and before we judge
rightly of our own strength to go through with it. Please to remember,
I opened the book by accident, at that bit, only the day before I
rashly undertook the business now in hand; and, allow me to ask--
if THAT isn't prophecy, what is?