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                THE MOONSTONE.


                  TRUTH. (1848–1849.)

                    FOURTH NARRATIVE.
      Extracted from the Journal of Ezra Jennings.

1849.-- June 15th. . . . With some interruption
from patients, and some interruption from
pain, I finished my letter to Miss Verinder in
time for to-day's post. I failed to make it as
short a letter as I could have wished. But I
think I have made it plain. It leaves her
entirely mistress of her own decision. If she
consents to assist the experiment, she consents
of her own free will, and not as a favour to Mr.
Franklin Blake or to me.

June 16th.-- Rose late, after a dreadful
night; the vengeance of yesterday's opium,
pursuing me through a series of frightful
dreams. At one time, I was whirling through
empty space with the phantoms of the dead,
friends and enemies together. At another, the
one beloved face which I shall never see again,
rose at my bedside, hideously phosphorescent
in the black darkness, and glared and grinned
at me. A slight return of the old pain, at the
usual time in the early morning, was welcome
as a change. It dispelled the visions- and it
was bearable because it did that.

My bad night made it late in the morning,
before I could get to Mr. Franklin Blake. I
found him stretched on the sofa, breakfasting
on brandy and soda water, and a dry biscuit.

"I am beginning, as well as you could
possibly wish," he said. " A miserable, restless
night; and a total failure of appetite this morning.
Exactly what happened last year, when I
gave up my cigars. The sooner I am ready for
my second dose of laudanum, the better I shall
be pleased."

"You shall have it on the earliest possible
day," I answered. " In the meantime, we must
be as careful of your health as we can. If we
allow you to become exhausted, we shall fail in
that way. You must get an appetite for your
dinner. In other words, you must get a ride or
a walk this morning, in the fresh air."

"I will ride, if they can find me a horse here.
By-the-bye, I wrote to Mr. Bruff yesterday.
Have you written to Miss Verinder?"

"Yesby last night's post."

"Very good. We shall have some news
worth hearing, to tell each other to-morrow.
Don't go yet! I have a word to say to you.
You appeared to think, yesterday, that our
experiment with the opium was not likely to be
viewed very favourably by some of my friends.
You were quite right. I call old Gabriel
Betteredge one of my friends; and you will be
amused to hear that he protested strongly when
I saw him yesterday. ' You have done a
wonderful number of foolish things in the course
of your life, Mr. Franklin; but this tops them
all!' There is Betteredge's opinion! You will
make allowance for his prejudices, I am sure,
if you and he happen to meet."

I left Mr. Blake, to go my rounds among
my patients; feeling the better and the happier
even for the short interview that I had had
with him.

What is this secret of the attraction that
there is for me in this man? Does it only mean
that I feel the contrast between the frankly
kind manner in which he has allowed me to
become acquainted with him, and the merciless
dislike and distrust with which I am met by
other people? Or is there really something in
him which answers to the yearning that I have
for a little human sympathythe yearning,
which has survived the solitude and persecution
of many years; which seems to grow keener
and keener, as the time comes nearer and nearer
when I shall endure and feel no more? How
useless to ask these questions! Mr. Blake has
given me a new interest in life. Let that be
enough, without seeking to know what the new
interest is.

June 17th.—Before breakfast, this morning,
Mr. Candy informed me that he was going away
for a fortnight, on a visit to a friend in the
south of England. He gave me as many special
directions, poor fellow, about the patients, as
if he still had the large practice which he
possessed before he was taken ill. The practice is
worth little enough now! Other doctors have
superseded him; and nobody who can help it
will employ me.

It is perhaps fortunate that he is to be away
just at this time. He would have been mortified