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It's the spring of 1849, and Franklin Blake is traveling around Eastern Europe and Asia.
This is way before the days of cell phones and email, so for people in England to get in touch with him while he's traveling, they have to know more or less where he's going to be, and send letters to the English consul in foreign cities for Franklin to pick up when he arrives there.
It's a very inefficient system, particularly since Franklin keeps changing his travel plans.
He ends up having to send his servant to pick up the letters from a foreign city, since he decided at the last minute not to travel there after all.
Then his servant gets held up while traveling, so Franklin gets the letters waaaay later than he should have.
One of the letters tells Franklin that his father has died, and that he has inherited all of his father's wealth.
Of course, this means that Franklin has to return to England, even though he still isn't over his disappointment about Rachel.
He's relieved to hear that Rachel has broken off her marriage engagement with Godfrey Ablewhite.
Rachel is now living with her aunt, Mrs. Merridew, who is the sister of Rachel's dead father.
Franklin immediately heads over to visit Rachel, but the servant who answers the door says that she's out.
He tries again later, and again, he's told that she's not at home.
Rachel clearly doesn't want to have anything to do with him.
Franklin has no idea why, and she won't tell him.
He figures it's because she's still angry, for some reason, that he helped the investigation after the disappearance of the Moonstone.
Franklin tells Mr. Bruff that he's going to find the thief who stole the Moonstone, and set Rachel's mind at rest that way.
He resolves to go to Yorkshire, to the Verinders' country house where the Moonstone was stolen.