Literature Study GuidesThe MoonstoneFirst Period Chapters 11 12 Summary

The Moonstone | Study Guide

Wilkie Collins

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The Moonstone | First Period, Chapters 11–12 : The Loss of the Diamond (1848) | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 11

Rachel Verinder and Lady Julia Verinder discuss where to best keep the Moonstone. Rachel insists on keeping the stone in her Indian cabinet, even after her mother protests that it does not lock. Everyone retires for the night. Godfrey Ablewhite urges Franklin Blake to take the brandy-and-water nightcap Gabriel Betteredge offered to him to help him sleep. Blake eventually agrees to have it sent to his room.

Penelope Betteredge rouses Gabriel Betteredge the next morning with news that the Moonstone is gone. Blake goes to Frizinghall to report the theft, fetch the police, and order the arrest of the Indians. Upon his return to Lady Verinder's, he informs everyone the Indians are innocent because they have an alibi—they spent the night in jail over a minor offense.

Superintendent Seegrave arrives. He orders all the servants downstairs for questioning, berating them for smearing some of the paint on the door. Rachel refuses to speak to him.

Seegrave interviews the servants once again, further angering them. Blake tells Betteredge he is leaving for Frizinghall to request a better investigator. He mentions Rosanna Spearman has been acting strangely around him and thinks she might have something to do with the missing Diamond.

Chapter 12

The next morning Betteredge hears gossip that the baker's man saw Rosanna walking toward Frizinghall. He dismisses this because she was sick in her room. He is also told Mr. Candy has fallen ill after driving home in the rain.

Sergeant Cuff, a respected police officer, arrives from London to help with the case. Betteredge doesn't have high hopes for Cuff's skills based on the man's appearance and manner, but he amends his opinion after seeing the sergeant in action.

Cuff begins his inquiry into the loss of the Diamond. He notices the smear in the paint on the door and realizes immediately this is an important clue. With Blake's help, Cuff is able to narrow down the time period when the paint was smeared. His next order of business is to see if there is an article of clothing in the house with a paint smear on it. Once he finds whoever owns the garment with the paint on it, he hopes to discover why the person was in Rachel's room between midnight and 3 a.m.

Cuff dismisses Seegrave. He then asserts "NOBODY HAS STOLEN THE DIAMOND," surprising both Betteredge and Blake. He asks them to wait for the rest of the puzzle to reveal itself.

Analysis

These chapters give two conflicting styles of detective work in the forms of Superintendent Seegrave and Sergeant Cuff. Seegrave focuses on where the Moonstone might be currently, while Cuff is more interested in how the Moonstone was taken. The narrative diverges between these two questions, the latter being the more compelling and greater mystery.

To drive home the difference between the two investigators, readers can rely on Gabriel Betteredge's narration. He first has great confidence in Seegrave, basing his opinion on the man's appearance and manner alone. When he first meets Cuff, Betteredge is concerned for the man's ability to do the job based on his appearance and his interest in the roses in Lady Julia Verinder's garden. Again, based on earlier chapters, readers know to treat Betteredge's opinions dubiously at best. It is only after Seegrave's incompetence botches the investigation and Cuff steps in with explanations of why he is pursuing specific lines of inquiry that Betteredge begins to amend his opinion.

Cuff's character also functions as the blueprint for other famous literary detectives, most especially Sherlock Holmes. The Moonstone is widely considered to be the first modern detective novel. Cuff's strange assortment of personal quirks—his love of roses, his whistling a particular song, his somewhat melancholy air—serves as a template for later detectives.

Rosanna Spearman emerges as a suspicious character, not only because of her criminal past but also by her current actions. She locks herself away in her room; later, she's seen in town. Coupled with her strange behavior and her growing antagonism toward Rachel Verinder, it is possible she took the Moonstone. Despite this, Betteredge still determines to protect her. Because the objectivity of his narrative is questionable, her innocence is also thrown in doubt.

Rosanna also mirrors Rachel in certain ways within these chapters. Rachel had words with Franklin Blake before locking herself in her room. Rosanna attempts to speak to Blake in the library but is interrupted by Betteredge. She locks herself in her room again. Both young women implicate themselves in the loss of the Moonstone by their actions. They also both love Blake, and—as readers will later learn—both will do a great deal to protect him.

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