Not a member?     Existing members login below:

The Moonstone

9
June twenty-first, the day of the birthday, was cloudy and unsettled at sunrise,
but towards noon it cleared up bravely.
We, in the servants' hall, began this happy anniversary, as usual, by offering our
little presents to Miss Rachel, with the regular speech delivered annually by me
as the chief. I follow the plan adopted by the Queen in opening Parliament--
namely, the plan of saying much the same thing regularly every year. Before it is
delivered, my speech (like the Queen's) is looked for as eagerly as if nothing of
the kind had ever been heard before. When it is delivered, and turns out not to be
the novelty anticipated, though they grumble a little, they look forward hopefully
to something newer next year. An easy people to govern, in the Parliament and
in the Kitchen-- that's the moral of it. After breakfast, Mr. Franklin and I had a
private conference on the subject of the Moonstone-- the time having now come
for removing it from the bank at Frizinghall, and placing it in Miss Rachel's own
hands.
Whether he had been trying to make love to his cousin again, and had got a
rebuff--or whether his broken rest, night after night, was aggravating the queer
contradictions and uncertainties in his character--I don't know. But certain it is,
that Mr. Franklin failed to show himself at his best on the morning of the birthday.
He was in twenty different minds about the Diamond in as many minutes. For my
part, I stuck fast by the plain facts a we knew them. Nothing had happened to
justify us in alarming my lady on the subject of the jewel; and nothing could alter
the legal obligation that now lay on Mr. Franklin to put it in his cousin's
possession. That was my view of the matter; and, twist and turn it as he might,
he was forced in the end to make it his view too. We arranged that he was to ride
over, after lunch, to Frizinghall, and bring the Diamond back, with Mr. Godfrey
and the two young ladies, in all probability, to keep him company on the way
home again.
This settled, our young gentleman went back to Miss Rachel.
They consumed the whole morning, and part of the afternoon, in the everlasting
business of decorating the door, Penelope standing by to mix the colours, as
directed; and my lady, as luncheon time drew near, going in and out of the room,
with her handkerchief to her nose (for they used a deal of Mr. Franklin's vehicle
that day), and trying vainly to get the two artists away from their work. It was
three o'clock before they took off their aprons, and released Penelope (much the
worse for the vehicle), and cleaned themselves of their mess. But they had done
what they wanted--they had finished the door on the birthday, and proud enough
they were of it. The griffins, cupids, and so on, were, I must own, most beautiful
to behold; though so many in number, so entangled in flowers and devices, and
so topsy-turvy in their actions and attitudes, that you felt them unpleasantly in
your head for hours after you had done with the pleasure of looking at them. If I
add that Penelope ended her part of the morning's work by being sick in the
 
 
Remove