Study Guide

The Moonstone Second Period, Narrative 4, Chapter 1

By Wilkie Collins

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Second Period, Narrative 4, Chapter 1

Narrative 4: Extracted from the Journal of Ezra Jennings

  • Another new narrator! This time it's Ezra Jennings, but since the narrative is pulled out of his journal, the format is a little different: it goes by date, instead of by chapter.
  • June 15, 1849: Jennings sent off a letter to Rachel Verinder, explaining his theory about the opium and asking her permission to use the house for an experimental reenactment of the events of the night the Moonstone disappeared.
  • June 16, 1849: Jennings had to take a lot of opium to manage the pain of his disease, and he ended up having freaky opium dreams.
  • He goes to check on Franklin Blake.
  • Franklin also had a crummy night, but not because of opium – he can't sleep because he quit smoking again.
  • Franklin tells him that Gabriel Betteredge thinks that the idea of the experiment is silly.
  • Ezra Jennings likes Franklin – he appreciates Franklin's kindness to him, especially since everyone else is so cold and distrustful.
  • June 17, 1849: Mr. Candy is going away to stay with some friends in the south, which is nice because Jennings won't be distracted by having to take care of him.
  • Rachel writes back to Jennings – she's personally already convinced that Franklin is innocent, based on Jennings's theory.
  • She strongly supports the idea of the experiment, though, and wants to be present for it herself.
  • But Jennings doesn't want Franklin to see her before the experiment, because it might change the result by agitating him.
  • Jennings writes back to suggest that she come to the house privately the evening of the experiment, and not let Franklin know that she's there until afterward.
  • June 18, 1849: Mr. Bruff has written back to Franklin.
  • Like Gabriel Betteredge, he's skeptical about the experiment.
  • Jennings meets with Betteredge to give him instructions for how the house should be set up for the night of the experiment.
  • All the furniture needs to be arranged exactly as it was the year before.
  • Mr. Betteredge makes it clear that he thinks the whole thing is a waste of time, but he's willing to do his job.
  • June 19, 1849: Rachel writes back to Jennings, agreeing to arrive in secret and not to talk to Franklin until after the experiment is over.
  • Her aunt, Mrs. Merridew, also writes to Mr. Jennings, complaining that she doesn't want to have to accompany her niece all the way to Yorkshire.
  • Of course, Mrs. Merridew's objections aren't really Jennings's problem, so he just writes her back and politely says that he's sorry for the inconvenience.
  • June 20th, 1849: Franklin is still sleeping terribly, and Jennings's own illness is still getting worse.
  • Franklin hears from Sergeant Cuff – the detective will be back in England in about a week, and says that he'll come and help if they need him.
  • Franklin writes to invite Cuff to be a witness at the experiment.
  • June 21, 1849: Franklin is doing worse than ever – he hasn't slept in days.
  • Jennings is doing terribly, too.
  • June 22, 1849: Today is Friday, and the experiment will take place Monday night.
  • Everything is almost ready.
  • June 23, 1849: Jennings is getting weaker, but he's determined to survive long enough to see the experiment through to the end.
  • He really wants to help Franklin – after all, he knows what it's like to be falsely accused of a crime and to have a bad reputation as a result.
  • June 24, 1849: It's Sunday, so they have a quiet day around the house.
  • June 25, 1849: It's the day of the experiment!
  • Franklin is edgy and tired from lack of sleep – perfect, it's just like he was last year.
  • Sergeant Cuff isn't going to make it in time to be a witness to the experiment.
  • So the witnesses will be Mr. Bruff, Betteredge, Jennings, and Rachel (although Franklin won't know she's there – she'll be hiding in her bedroom, peeping out, just as she did before).
  • Before Franklin goes to bed, Jennings gives him some opium in his brandy, just as had been done before.
  • Then he sits up and chats with him for a while – he wants to make sure that Franklin is thinking about the diamond as he falls asleep, since that's probably what happened last time.
  • Rachel meets Jennings in the hallway, and is so sweet and grateful that Jennings is almost embarrassed.
  • He's not used to people being nice to him.
  • Mrs. Merridew doesn't really know what's going on – she just knows there's going to be a scientific experiment, and she thinks that means there's going to be an explosion.
  • She's very nervous, and asks to go to bed.
  • No problem! Better to have her out of the way, anyway.
  • At 2am, Jennings goes back to his journal to describe the result of the experiment:
  • Rachel had put a piece of crystal, which was supposed to represent the Moonstone, in her cabinet where it was last year.
  • Then she hid herself away in her bedroom, with the door to the boudoir ajar so that she could see.
  • Mr. Bruff and Betteredge stationed themselves in Franklin's room, where they can see him but not disturb him.
  • Jennings waited with them, chatting with Franklin about various things, and eventually leading the conversation to the Moonstone.
  • Then Franklin fell into a deep sleep.
  • After a while, the opium started to take effect: Franklin sat up in bed and stood up.
  • He mumbled that he wished he'd put the diamond in the bank, where it would be safe.
  • He then mumbled that the Indians could be hiding in the house at that instant, waiting to steal the diamond from Rachel.
  • Then he walked out of the room, holding the candle.
  • Bruff, Betteredge, and Jennings followed him.
  • Franklin walked down the hall to Rachel's boudoir.
  • He paused for a moment, and then opened the cabinet and pulled out the fake diamond.
  • But then, instead of leaving the room, he collapsed on the sofa in the middle of the room and fell into a sound sleep. (Thus ends the experiment.)
  • The opium didn't work exactly as it did before, because the amount was not precisely the same.
  • So they still don't know what happened to the diamond after Franklin Blake took it, but at least they know that he took it without being conscious of it and without the intention of stealing it.
  • Franklin is passed out on the sofa, so they just let him stay there for the night.
  • Jennings is sitting in the boudoir to keep an eye on him, and Rachel is sitting up, too, gazing adoringly at Franklin as he sleeps.
  • Betteredge and Bruff apologize for having been skeptical.

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