Literature Study GuidesThe MoonstoneSecond Period Second Narrative Chapters 1 3 Summary

The Moonstone | Study Guide

Wilkie Collins

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The Moonstone | Second Period, Second Narrative, Chapters 1–3 : The Discovery of the Truth (1848–1849) | Summary

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Summary

Second Narrative, Chapter 1

The Second Narrative is subtitled "Contributed by Mathew Bruff, Solicitor, of Gray's Inn Square." Mr. Bruff, Lady Julia Verinder's lawyer, takes up the tale. He begins with Rachel Verinder's broken engagement to Godfrey Ablewhite. Shortly after Lady Verinder's death, a law firm requested to see the will. Bruff did some investigating and discovered the firm was hired by Godfrey Ablewhite. Bruff states that provisions were put in place to protect Rachel from fortune hunters. He travels to Brighton to tell Rachel of his discovery and Ablewhite's likely motives. Rachel decides to break the engagement. She returns to London with Mr. Bruff.

Second Narrative, Chapter 2

Mr. Bruff next receives a suspicious visit from an Indian man, sent to him by Septimus Luker, the moneylender. Bruff suspects this man is one of the Indians hunting the Moonstone, though he is impressed with his "grave and graceful politeness of manner." The man offers him a jeweled box as collateral on a loan. Bruff denies him a loan. Before he leaves, the Indian asks him a question: If Bruff had lent him the money, how long would he have had to repay it? Bruff tells him one year.

Mr. Bruff visits the moneylender. Luker tells him of his own visit with the Indian. Luker believes him to be one of the three Indians that attacked him earlier in the summer. Luker refused to lend him money and offered Mr. Bruff's name. Luker was also asked about a repayment deadline.

Second Narrative, Chapter 3

That same evening, Mr. Bruff attends a dinner party where he speaks with Mr. Murthwaite. The two men discuss the events of the Moonstone. Murthwaite suggests the three Indians must be the successors of the men who followed John Herncastle from India. He then sums up the data they have on the "Indian conspiracy."

Bruff realizes the Indians think the Moonstone has been used as collateral, and their questions on repayment times help determine when they can try for the Moonstone again. Murthwaite warns, "The Indians have been defeated twice running, Mr. Bruff. It's my firm belief that they won't be defeated a third time." Bruff makes a note of the date, then ends his narration.

Analysis

Mr. Mathew Bruff's narrative functions to fill in the gaps evident in Miss Drusilla Clack's own entries. Most importantly, readers find out why Rachel Verinder broke off her engagement to Godfrey Ablewhite. Where Miss Clack attempted to paint a picture of a "Christian Hero," Mr. Bruff has no such compunction. He sees Rachel as a daughter—much like Gabriel Betteredge does—and wants to see her happy and protected. To that end, he works tirelessly on her behalf to ensure she does not tie herself to an unscrupulous man like Ablewhite.

From Bruff's narrative, readers know that Ablewhite is interested only in Rachel's money. When he learns he will be unable to touch it because of the recently added provision in the will, he immediately sets out to break the engagement. Again, readers get the appearance of someone versus his reality: he wasn't lying to Miss Clack when he said he planned to break off his engagement to Rachel first, he just wasn't being truthful about the reason behind it. This further cements his status as a prime suspect.

The Indians also return in Bruff's narrative. They are still interested in the Moonstone but have been unable to apprehend it directly because it is secured in a bank vault. When the chief Indian calls on Bruff, Bruff seems well-disposed to his visitor despite the sinister nature of the Indian's endeavor. But when Bruff meets with Septimus Luker, his attitude is markedly different. Bruff is affronted by the moneylender, finding him coarse and vulgar. This brings up an interesting idea of Wilkie Collins's feelings about British Imperialism, and the colonization and plundering of other countries. Readers expect Bruff to be more inclined toward Luker simply on account of his being an Englishman, but it seems behavior and appearance count for more. Brahmins are considered one of the highest castes in India, and they presumably carry themselves similar to nobility. Bruff could be recognizing the nobility within a foreign guest rather than treating him as a class of lesser status.

In Chapter 3 Mr. Murthwaite steps into the role of amateur detective. When he meets Bruff at dinner, he's able to explain some of the Indians' strange behaviors. Here, he's also fulfilling his role as translator (both literal and figurative), the person who straddles the two cultures at play within the novel. The Brahmins are but the latest in a long line of priests who have been tracking the Moonstone since it was originally stolen from the statue of the moon-god 700 years earlier. There is nothing mystical about their presence or the way they track the Diamond. The letter Murthwaite translated was from a contact of the Indians in London telling them via coded message that the gem had arrived in the city. Murthwaite reveals the reality surrounding the Indians: they may be sinister, but they are not supernatural.

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