The Moonstone (Chapter 1, page 1 of 3)


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Chapter 1

One of the wildest of these stories related to a Yellow Diamond--a
famous gem in the native annals of India.

The earliest known traditions describe the stone as having been set in
the forehead of the four-handed Indian god who typifies the Moon. Partly
from its peculiar colour, partly from a superstition which represented
it as feeling the influence of the deity whom it adorned, and growing
and lessening in lustre with the waxing and waning of the moon, it
first gained the name by which it continues to be known in India to
this day--the name of THE MOONSTONE. A similar superstition was once
prevalent, as I have heard, in ancient Greece and Rome; not applying,
however (as in India), to a diamond devoted to the service of a god, but
to a semi-transparent stone of the inferior order of gems, supposed to
be affected by the lunar influences--the moon, in this latter case also,
giving the name by which the stone is still known to collectors in our
own time.

The adventures of the Yellow Diamond begin with the eleventh century of
the Christian era.

At that date, the Mohammedan conqueror, Mahmoud of Ghizni, crossed
India; seized on the holy city of Somnauth; and stripped of its
treasures the famous temple, which had stood for centuries--the shrine
of Hindoo pilgrimage, and the wonder of the Eastern world.

Of all the deities worshipped in the temple, the moon-god alone escaped
the rapacity of the conquering Mohammedans. Preserved by three Brahmins,
the inviolate deity, bearing the Yellow Diamond in its forehead, was
removed by night, and was transported to the second of the sacred cities
of India--the city of Benares.

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