HomeLiterature Study GuidesThe MoonstoneFirst Period Chapters 9 10 Summary

The Moonstone | Study Guide

Wilkie Collins

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The Moonstone | First Period, Chapters 9–10 : The Loss of the Diamond (1848) | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 9

The day of Rachel Verinder's birthday, June 21, arrives. Gabriel Betteredge and Franklin Blake speak one last time about the Diamond. Blake wavers in his decision to give Rachel the Moonstone, but Betteredge tells him he must do as the will instructs.

Rachel and Blake finish painting her door around three in the afternoon, and Blake leaves to retrieve the Diamond from the bank. Blake gives Rachel the Moonstone, and Lady Julia Verinder, the will. Rachel shows the Diamond to Betteredge, who says "It seemed unfathomable; this jewel ... seemed unfathomable as the heavens themselves," while Godfrey Ablewhite calls it, "Carbon Betteredge. Mere carbon." Lady Verinder believes John Herncastle meant them ill by giving them the stone, and she wants to get it away from Rachel as soon as possible.

A short time later Penelope happily reports that Ablewhite proposed to Rachel, but that she refused him. The guests arrive and Betteredge leaves to greet them.

Chapter 10

A doctor, Mr. Candy, and Mr. Murthwaite, an adventurer who has traveled frequently to India, join them for dinner. As the evening progresses, Betteredge notes the awkwardness. Blake and Mr. Candy argue over the best course of treatment for Blake's poor sleeping habits, before separating.

After dinner the Indians arrive with music and juggling. Mr. Murthwaite speaks to them in their native tongue, shocking them. They leave quickly. Murthwaite tells Blake and Betteredge the Indians were three high-caste Brahmins pretending to be common jugglers. Blake and Murthwaite agree these men likely abandoned their caste to search and retrieve the Diamond. Murthwaite warns that these priests are serious in their quest to retrieve the Moonstone for their god.

It begins to rain, and the guests take their leave. Mr. Candy departs in an open carriage, despite Betteredge's protests.

Analysis

The Moonstone brings with it to the household a sense of the exotic. It is called a "yellow Diamond," and when they "shut the light out of the room ... it shone awfully out of the depths of its own brightness, with a moony gleam, in the dark." The sinister mood associated with the Moonstone is compounded by Lady Julia Verinder's conviction that John Herncastle gave Rachel Verinder the Diamond to punish her. Her guilt and fear make her want to get the Diamond away from Rachel as soon as possible. Only Godfrey Ablewhite seems unaffected by the gem, calling it carbon. He seems remarkably immune to the fervor, both good and bad, that the stone elicits in most people. Gabriel Betteredge seems to think it a commendable state, but readers know he is not a reliable judge of character.

The dinner itself is an awkward affair, made more so by the fact that Rachel just refused Ablewhite's proposal of marriage. Arguments break out between various folks, most notably between Mr. Candy and Franklin Blake over the efficacy of medicine. There is some debate over doctors prescribing opiates for ailments, which seems unimportant, but this is another clue. Betteredge notes the disastrous dinner conversations, and readers are meant to wonder if the influence of the Moonstone, which Rachel wears as a brooch at dinner, might be at least partially to blame for the strangeness.

Mr. Murthwaite straddles the world of the Moonstone and that of English society. He's explored and sought adventure in India on numerous occasions and offers his insight on the behavior of the three Indians hunting the Moonstone. It is significant that he's introduced in the same chapter as the Moonstone itself. He functions as a bridge between the two disparate worlds.

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