The Moonstone (Chapter 4, page 1 of 2)


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Chapter 4

In the first part of ROBINSON CRUSOE, at page one hundred and
twenty-nine, you will find it thus written: "Now I saw, though too late, the Folly of beginning a Work before we
count the Cost, and before we judge rightly of our own Strength to go
through with it."

Only yesterday, I opened my ROBINSON CRUSOE at that place. Only this
morning (May twenty-first, Eighteen hundred and fifty), came my lady's
nephew, Mr. Franklin Blake, and held a short conversation with me, as
follows:-"Betteredge," says Mr. Franklin, "I have been to the lawyer's about some
family matters; and, among other things, we have been talking of the
loss of the Indian Diamond, in my aunt's house in Yorkshire, two years
since. Mr. Bruff thinks as I think, that the whole story ought, in the
interests of truth, to be placed on record in writing--and the sooner
the better."

Not perceiving his drift yet, and thinking it always desirable for the
sake of peace and quietness to be on the lawyer's side, I said I thought
so too. Mr. Franklin went on.

"In this matter of the Diamond," he said, "the characters of innocent
people have suffered under suspicion already--as you know. The memories
of innocent people may suffer, hereafter, for want of a record of the
facts to which those who come after us can appeal. There can be no doubt
that this strange family story of ours ought to be told. And I think,
Betteredge, Mr. Bruff and I together have hit on the right way of
telling it."

Very satisfactory to both of them, no doubt. But I failed to see what I
myself had to do with it, so far.

"We have certain events to relate," Mr. Franklin proceeded; "and we have
certain persons concerned in those events who are capable of relating
them. Starting from these plain facts, the idea is that we should all
write the story of the Moonstone in turn--as far as our own personal
experience extends, and no farther. We must begin by showing how the
Diamond first fell into the hands of my uncle Herncastle, when he was
serving in India fifty years since. This prefatory narrative I have
already got by me in the form of an old family paper, which relates the
necessary particulars on the authority of an eye-witness. The next thing
to do is to tell how the Diamond found its way into my aunt's house in
Yorkshire, two years ago, and how it came to be lost in little more than
twelve hours afterwards. Nobody knows as much as you do, Betteredge,
about what went on in the house at that time. So you must take the pen
in hand, and start the story."

In those terms I was informed of what my personal concern was with the
matter of the Diamond. If you are curious to know what course I took
under the circumstances, I beg to inform you that I did what you would
probably have done in my place. I modestly declared myself to be quite
unequal to the task imposed upon me--and I privately felt, all the time,
that I was quite clever enough to perform it, if I only gave my own
abilities a fair chance. Mr. Franklin, I imagine, must have seen my
private sentiments in my face. He declined to believe in my modesty; and
he insisted on giving my abilities a fair chance.

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