Literature Study GuidesThe MoonstoneFirst Period Chapters 21 23 Summary

The Moonstone | Study Guide

Wilkie Collins

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The Moonstone | First Period, Chapters 21–23 : The Loss of the Diamond (1848) | Summary



Chapter 21

Sergeant Cuff tells Lady Julia Verinder of his suspicions that Rachel Verinder took the Diamond, suggesting she has debts that the sale of the Moonstone will alleviate. He also believes Rosanna Spearman served as her accomplice in the selling of the stone through contacts from her past as a thief. Lady Verinder does not believe him.

Cuff proposes he travel to Frizinghall to tell Rachel, in person, of the manner of Rosanna's death to see what effect it has on her. Lady Verinder agrees but insists she be the one to give Rachel the news. She leaves for Frizinghall.

Chapter 22

Lady Verinder's carriage returns with two letters: one for Franklin Blake and one for Gabriel Betteredge, Lady Verinder having decided to stay in Frizinghall. In the letter she writes that Rachel did not react to the news of Rosanna's death. Rachel also said she carries no debt and does not have the Diamond. Lady Verinder tells Betteredge to give Cuff the enclosed check and dismiss him from the case.

As Cuff prepares to return to London, he predicts three things: that Betteredge will hear from the Yollands once they receive the letter from Rosanna; that he will hear of the Indians again, as they will follow wherever Rachel goes; and that he will hear of the moneylender who knew Rosanna Spearman, Septimus Luker.

Chapter 23

Blake is ready to return to London. He shows Betteredge his letter from Lady Verinder. He guesses Rachel's anger with him stems from Blake's assistance with the investigation of the Moonstone. Blake leaves.

The next day Betteredge receives the news that Lady Verinder is taking Rachel to their London house. Penelope Betteredge and another maid are to meet them there.

Limping Lucy Yolland arrives on Monday at the house, looking for Franklin Blake. She blames him for Rosanna's death. She has a letter for Blake from Rosanna but will not mail it to him in London. Instead, she must give it to him personally. "If he wants the letter, he must come back here, and get it from Me."

Betteredge next receives a newspaper from Sergeant Cuff. An article mentions the moneylender, Septimus Luker, being harassed by three Indians. In the article Luker said he feared they plan to rob him, as he holds many antique gems. Cuff's predictions have all come true.


Sergeant Cuff mentions Rachel Verinder's unpaid debts in Chapter 21 as a motive for her stealing the Moonstone. While this proves not to be true in Rachel's case, debts will become important later in the novel. Wilkie Collins is sowing possible motives for the theft, though not in relation to the proper person.

The mention of the debt also reinforces the British idea of the Moonstone as commodity in contrast to the Indians' more spiritual view of it. To the Indians it is an artifact of their culture, which must be restored to their god. To the British who stole it, it is simply a diamond of great price that can be used as collateral to pay off existing debts. Like Mr. Murthwaite, the Moonstone straddles both worlds; this time, those of the sacred and profane (the interests of a group versus the interests of an individual).

Cuff's prowess as a detective is also reinforced when all three of his predictions come true by Chapter 23. While Cuff was wrong about Rachel taking the Moonstone, his conclusions are correct on some of the other mysteries surrounding the Diamond. Cuff may be fallible, but he is still a more successful detective than any of his counterparts in the novel.

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