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Literature Study GuidesThe MoonstoneSecond Period Third Narrative Chapters 3 4 Summary

The Moonstone | Study Guide

Wilkie Collins

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The Moonstone | Second Period, Third Narrative, Chapters 3–4 : The Discovery of the Truth (1848–1849) | Summary



Third Narrative, Chapter 3

Franklin Blake and Gabriel Betteredge set off the next morning for Cobb's Hole. Limping Lucy Yolland comes into the kitchen upon hearing Blake's name. She returns with the letter and leads Blake down to the beach.

Lucy angrily asks him if he feels any remorse. Confused, he answers that he does not. She shoves the letter at him and marches away. Blake opens the letter, which tells him to follow the directions listed for an explanation of Rosanna Spearman's strange behavior.

The directions lead Blake to the Shivering Sand and a hiding spot on South Spit. Following the instructions, he pulls up the chain and the box attached. When he opens the box, he finds a letter and a linen nightgown. The nightgown has a paint smear on it. When Blake examines the gown to see who it belongs to, he "found the mark, and read—MY OWN NAME."

Third Narrative, Chapter 4

Blake has no memory of taking the Moonstone. Hoping for a clue as to what happened, he and Betteredge continue reading Rosanna's letter.

Rosanna admits she was in love with Blake. She fell in love with him the first time she saw him near the Shivering Sand. She hated Rachel Verinder because Blake loved her.

On the day Seegrave came to investigate the stone's disappearance, Rosanna was cleaning Blake's room. She folded his nightgown and noticed the paint smear. To protect Blake, Rosanna made a duplicate nightgown and replaced it the next day. When she heard the details of the investigation, she realized Blake must have been in Rachel's room to steal the Diamond. Feeling kinship with another thief, she went to speak with him in the library but was interrupted by Gabriel Betteredge.

Betteredge pauses his reading to ask Blake if he remembers anything about that night. Blake still has no recollection of taking the Moonstone. They are interrupted by Mr. Candy's assistant, Ezra Jennings, with a list for Betteredge. The doctor never recovered from his illness after Rachel's birthday dinner. Jennings handles all of his patients now.


Rosanna Spearman's letter reveals in Chapter 3 that it was Franklin Blake's nightgown that had the paint smear, which means he must have been the one that stole the Moonstone. That provides the answer to the question of who took it, but not an answer to the how. Rosanna's letter raises almost as many questions as it answers, for Blake has no memory of taking it. Readers do not doubt the authenticity of his narrative, for all of the other narrators have been scrupulously honest in their relaying of the facts, despite their personal beliefs. For all of Miss Drusilla Clack's faults, she kept good notes.

This chapter also furthers Sergeant Cuff as the more adept detective. He was more interested in reconstructing the how of the theft, and less interested in the who, unlike Superintendent Seegrave. Now that the answer is revealed, readers are still left with the questions of what happened to it and how can Blake not remember taking it. The central mystery is solved, but not to any satisfying conclusion.

Rosanna's strange behavior toward Blake is explained by her knowledge of Blake's misdeed. She'd developed feelings for him, but it was unheard of for a servant (especially one with a criminal past) to expect happiness with a gentleman. But if Blake was a criminal, and her, a thief—didn't that mean they were not so very different? With the knowledge of his crime, Rosanna tries to ignore the difference in their social classes, hoping Blake will likewise do. However, Blake is very much a being of his social class and barely notices Rosanna's efforts. In fact, he initially seeks to use the girl as a scapegoat in order to protect Rachel Verinder from suspicion. It is only Sergeant Cuff's compassion for the girl and distrust of Rachel that forces Blake to remain silent.

The Shivering Sand makes a reappearance. It is a secret-keeper, its false face hiding something true beneath its surface. Blake discovers the truth of the Moonstone's theft in what Rosanna hid there. In this case, it is the reverse of something pleasant hiding something sinister beneath its surface. The horrible, deadly face of the quicksand actually holds the answers everyone has been seeking.

Ezra Jennings is introduced briefly. Blake is fascinated by the man. Jennings interrupts the reading of Rosanna's letter at a key point. The timing of his entrance into the narrative is deliberate—Jennings is going to be an essential puzzle piece. He will play an important part in the resolution of the mystery very shortly.

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