Study Guide

The Moonstone Second Period, Narrative 2, Chapter 1

By Wilkie Collins

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Second Period, Narrative 2, Chapter 1

Narrative 2: Contributed by Mathew Bruff, Solicitor, of Gray's Inn Square

  • Mr. Bruff begins by explaining why he is contributing a narrative.
  • It's because, first, he met with an Indian stranger who was probably the chief of the three Indians we've met before. Secondly, he met with Mr. Murthwaite later that same week and they discussed the Moonstone.
  • Mr. Bruff continues with a flashback to the late Sir John Verinder's will:
  • Sir John had decided to leave everything to his wife, Lady Verinder.
  • This was unusual at the time, because most women were considered to be incapable of handling the management of large properties without a man to guide them.
  • But Lady Verinder was considered an exception, so Mr. Bruff didn't argue with Sir John and drew up the will.
  • When he died, Lady Verinder immediately made up her own will in order to provide for the welfare of Rachel, who was just a little girl at that point.
  • Many years later, when Lady Verinder learned that she was terminally ill, she called on Mr. Bruff to look over the will again and to add a few codicils (postscripts) to the will.
  • After Lady Verinder died, but before the will had been fully put into effect, Mr. Bruff learns from a friend of his at a public office that someone has asked to examine Lady Verinder's will.
  • (Historical Context Note! It was legal for anyone to ask to see the will of any dead person – the will was considered to be a public document. They just had to pay a minimal fee at a public office.)
  • But Mr. Bruff thinks it's strange, even though it's legal.
  • Who would want to examine her will? There is nothing strange or out of the ordinary about it, and who would be interested?
  • Mr. Bruff's friend tells him that it is a lawyer from the firm Skipp and Smalley.
  • Mr. Bruff probably shouldn't enquire further, but he's worried that it has something to do with Rachel's welfare, and he cares about her.
  • He also has some influence over Mr. Smalley, since he's helped Skipp and Smalley out of some problems in the past.
  • So he asks Mr. Smalley who wanted to see the will, and Mr. Smalley feels compelled to tell him.
  • It was Godfrey Ablewhite.
  • Mr. Bruff is concerned – after all, Godfrey is engaged to Rachel.
  • And here's the only slightly unusual thing about Lady Verinder's will: Rachel will inherit the house in Yorkshire and the house in London, but she won't be able to mortgage them. In other words, she won't be able to raise money on them if she needs a huge amount of money all at once. She'd own the houses, and be able to have a large income, but she won't be able to get a huge sum of money, all at once, by mortgaging or selling one of the houses.
  • And, of course, neither will anyone she marries.
  • Lady Verinder set up her will this way so that no one would be able to marry Rachel and then squander her property.
  • So it looks like Godfrey was trying to ascertain how much money he'd get by marrying Rachel when he examined the will.
  • Mr. Bruff decides he should tell Rachel that Godfrey had examined the will.
  • When he tells her on their walk (the day Miss Clack wanted her to go to a second church service), Rachel resolves to break off the engagement, but not to tell Godfrey the reason why.
  • When Mr. Bruff hears that Godfrey accepted the break-up without any argument, he assumes that it's because Godfrey needed to raise a large sum of money in a short period of time, which Lady Verinder's will makes impossible.
  • After the blow-up with Mr. Ablewhite, Rachel stays with Mr. Bruff and his family for quite a while.
  • After the executors choose a new guardian for her, Rachel moves away from the Bruffs', full of friendly gratitude.

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