Study Guide

The Moonstone Second Period, Narrative 1, Chapter 4

By Wilkie Collins

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Second Period, Narrative 1, Chapter 4

  • Signing the will doesn't take very long and, as soon as the business is through, Miss Clack is left alone with Lady Verinder.
  • Lady Verinder tells Miss Clack not to be offended that she wasn't in the will; she intends to give Miss Clack something personally.
  • Miss Clack interrupts her, saying that if Lady Verinder would just look through these religious books and tracts, that will be gift enough.
  • The books and tracts all have titles like, "Satan in the Hairbrush," "Satan behind the Looking Glass," etc.
  • But Lady Verinder says that the doctor has told her that she should read only light, amusing books.
  • Miss Clack thinks the doctor is terribly wrong, and probably an atheist, but she doesn't say so.
  • Instead, she insists that Lady Verinder keep a book in case she feels up to reading it later on.
  • Then Miss Clack goes through the house, depositing books and religious tracts in every room, hoping that Lady Verinder will happen to find them.
  • She even leaves a book in the pocket of Lady Verinder's bathrobe in the bathroom!
  • Miss Clack goes home feeling like she's done everything in her power to save Lady Verinder's soul from hellfire.
  • The next morning, Samuel, one of Lady Verinder's servants, arrives with a package and a letter.
  • Miss Clack asks him a few questions about the family – she seems surprised to learn that Godfrey Ablewhite is spending so much time with them, given how behind he is at his charitable work.
  • After Samuel leaves, she opens the package and the letter – it's all her books! The letter is from Lady Verinder, explaining that the doctor doesn't want her reading heavy literature like that.
  • But Miss Clack won't be put off. Instead, she takes all the most important passages from the religious tracts and books, and writes them down in little notes and letters to be delivered to Lady Verinder.
  • She even gets some of her friends from the charitable groups to write some notes, too, even though they don't know Lady Verinder.
  • The next day, Miss Clack arrives at Lady Verinder's house.
  • The servant asks her to wait in the library, downstairs, for Lady Verinder to come down.
  • She goes to the drawing room, upstairs, to deposit a few notes there.
  • Then she hears a knock at the front door.
  • Instead of going back to the library, where she is supposed to be waiting, she stays frozen in the drawing room.
  • After all, Lady Verinder doesn't see guests because of her bad health.
  • Then she hears steps coming up the stairs, and the servant saying "this way, sir."
  • She assumes that it's the doctor, and that he will be asked to wait for a few minutes in the drawing room before being taken to Lady Verinder's room to see her.
  • Miss Clack doesn't want to meet him there – partly because she's probably embarrassed to be found in the wrong room, and partly because she's still mad that the doctor rejected her religious books.
  • So she hides behind some curtains at the far end of the room before the man enters the drawing room.
  • When he's in there, he begins to pace.
  • He says to himself, "I'll do it today!"
  • She recognizes the voice – it's Godfrey Ablewhite.

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