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                  THE MOONSTONE

                  TRUTH (18481849.)

                    THIRD NARRATIVE


                         CHAPTER VIII

Late that evening, I was surprised at my
lodgings by a visit from Mr. Bruff.

There was a noticeable change in the lawyer's
manner. It had lost its usual confidence and
spirit. He shook hands with me, for the first
time in his life, in silence.

"Are you going back to Hampstead?" I
asked, by way of saying something.

"I have just left Hampstead," he answered.
"I know, Mr. Franklin, that you have got at
the truth at last. But, I tell you plainly, if I
could have foreseen the price that was to be
paid for it, I should have preferred leaving
you in the dark."

"You have seen Rachel?"

"I have come here after taking her back to
Portland Place; it was impossible to let her
return in the carriage by herself. I can hardly
hold you responsibleconsidering that you saw
her in my house and by my permissionfor the
shock that this unlucky interview has inflicted
on her. All I can do is to provide against a
repetition of the mischief. She is youngshe
has a resolute spiritshe will get over this,
with time and rest to help her. I want to be
assured that you will do nothing to hinder her
recovery. May I depend on your making no
second attempt to see herexcept with my
sanction and approval?"

"After what she has suffered, and after what
I have suffered," I said, "you may rely on me."

"I have your promise?"

"You have my promise."

Mr. Bruff looked relieved. He put down his
hat, and drew his chair nearer to mine.

"That's settled!" he said. "Now, about the
futureyour future, I mean. To my mind, the
result of the extraordinary turn which the
matter has now taken is briefly this. In the
first place, we are sure that Rachel has told you
the whole truth, as plainly as words can tell it.
In the second placethough we know that
there must be some dreadful mistake
somewherewe can hardly blame her for believing
you to be guilty, on the evidence of her own
senses; backed, as that evidence has been, by
circumstances which appear, on the face of them,
to tell dead against you."

There I interposed. "I don't blame
Rachel," I said. "I only regret that she could
not prevail on herself to speak more plainly to
me at the time."

"You might as well regret that Rachel is not
somebody else," rejoined Mr. Bruff. "And
even then, I doubt if a girl of any delicacy,
whose heart had been set on marrying you,
could have brought herself to charge you to
your face with being a thief. Anyhow, it was
not in Rachel's nature to do it. In a very
different matter to this matter of yourswhich
placed her, however, in a position not altogether
unlike her position towards youI happen to
know that she was influenced by a similar motive
to the motive which actuated her conduct in your
case. Besides, as she told me herself, on our
way to town this evening, if she had spoken
plainly, she would no more have believed your
denial then than she believes it now. What
answer can you make to that? There is no
answer to be made to it. Come! come! Mr.
Franklin, my view of the case has been proved
to be all wrong, I admitbut, as things are now,
my advice may be worth having for all that. I tell
you plainly, we shall be wasting our time, and
cudgelling our brains to no purpose, if we attempt
to try back, and unravel this frightful complication
from the beginning. Let us close our minds
resolutely to all that happened last year at Lady
Verinder's country house; and let us look to
what we can discover in the future, instead of
to what we can not discover in the past."

"Surely you forget," I said, " that the whole
thing is essentially a matter of the pastso
far as I am concerned?"

"Answer me this," retorted Mr. Bruff. "Is
the Moonstone at the bottom of all the
mischiefor is it not?"

"It is of course."

"Very good. What do we believe was
done with the Moonstone, when it was taken
to London?"

"It was pledged to Mr. Luker."

"We know that you are not the person who
pledged it. Do we know who did?"


"Where do we believe the Moonstone to
be now?"