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as it seems now, will tumble to pieces, if we
can only break through Rachel's inveterate
reserve, and prevail upon her to speak out."

"That is a very comforting opinion for me,"
I said. "I own I should like to know—"

"You would like to know how I can justify
it," interposed Mr. Bruff. "I can tell you in
two minutes. Understand, in the first place,
that I look at this matter from a lawyer's point
of view. It's a question of evidence, with me.
Very well. The evidence breaks down, at the
outset, on one important point."

"On what point?"

"You shall hear. I admit that the mark of
the name proves the nightgown to be your's. I
admit that the mark of the paint proves the
nightgown to have made the smear on Rachel's
door. But what evidence is there, before you
or before me, to prove that you are the person
who wore the nightgown?"

The objection electrified me. It had never
occurred to my mind until that moment.

"As to this," pursued the lawyer, taking up
Rosanna Spearman's confession, "I can
understand that the letter is a distressing one to you,
I can understand that you may hesitate to
analyse it from a purely impartial point of view.
But  I am not in your position. I can bring my
professional experience to bear on this
document, just as I should bring it to bear on any
other. Without alluding to the woman's career
as a thief, I will merely remark that her letter
proves her to have been an adept at deception,
on her own showing; and I argue from that,
that I am justified in suspecting her of not
having told the whole truth. I won't start any
theory, at present, as to what she may or may
not have done. I will only say that, if Rachel
has suspected you on the evidence of the nightgown
only, the chances are ninety-nine to a
hundred that Rosanna Spearman was the person
who showed it to her. In that case, there is
the woman's letter, confessing that she was
jealous of Rachel, confessing that she changed
the roses, confessing that she saw a glimpse of
hope for herself, in the prospect of a quarrel
between Rachel and you. I don't stop to ask
who took the Moonstone (as a means to her
end, Rosanna Spearman would have taken fifty
Moonstones)—I only say that the disappearance
of the jewel gave this reclaimed thief who
was in love with you, an opportunity of setting
you and Rachel at variance for the rest of your
lives. She had not decided on destroying
herself, then, remember; and, having the opportunity,
I distinctly assert that it was in her character,
and in her position at the time, to take
it. What do you say to that?"

"Some such suspicion," I answered, "crossed
my own mind, as soon as I opened the letter."

"Exactly! And when you had read the
letter, you pitied the poor creature, and couldn't
find it in your heart to suspect her. Does you
credit, my dear sirdoes you credit!"

"But suppose it turns out that I did wear
the nightgown? What then?"

"I don't see how that fact is to be proved,"
said Mr. Bruff. "But assuming the proof to
be possible, the vindication of your innocence
would be no easy matter. We won't go into
that, now. Let us wait and see whether Rachel
hasn't suspected you on the evidence of the
nightgown only."

"Good God, how coolly you talk of Rachel
suspecting me!" I broke out. "What right has
she to suspect Me, on any evidence, of being a
thief?"

"A very sensible question, my dear sir.
Rather hotly putbut well worth considering
for all that. What puzzles you, puzzles me too.
Search your memory, and tell me this. Did
anything happen while you were staying at the
housenot, of course, to shake Rachel's belief
in your honourbut, let us say, to shake her
belief (no matter with how little reason) in your
principles generally?"

I started, in ungovernable agitation, to my
feet. The lawyer's question reminded me, for
the first time since I had left England, that
something had happened.

In the eighth chapter of Betteredge's Narrative,
an allusion will be found to the arrival of
a foreigner and a stranger at my aunt's house,
who came to see me on business. The nature
of his business was this.

I had been foolish enough (being, as usual,
straightened for money at the time) to accept a
loan from the keeper of a small restaurant in
Paris, to whom I was well known as a customer.
A time was settled between us for paying the
money back; and when the time came, I found
it (as thousands of other honest men have found
it) impossible to keep my engagement. I sent
the man a bill. My name was unfortunately
too well known on such documents: he failed
to negotiate it. His affairs had fallen into
disorder, in the interval since I had borrowed of
him; bankruptcy stared him in the face; and a
relative of his, a French lawyer, came to
England to find me, and to insist on the payment of
my debt. He was a man of violent temper; and
he took the wrong way with me. High words
passed on both sides; and my aunt and Rachel
were unfortunately in the next room, and heard
us. Lady Verinder came in, and insisted on
knowing what was the matter. The Frenchman
produced his credentials, and declared me to be
responsible for the ruin of a poor man, who had
trusted in my honour. My aunt instantly paid
him the money, and sent him off. She knew me
better of course than to take the Frenchman's
view of the transaction. But she was shocked
at my carelessness, and justly angry with me for
placing myself in a position, which, but for her
interference, might have become a very
disgraceful one. Either her mother told her, or
Rachel heard what passedI can't say which.
She took her own romantic, high-flown view of
the matter. I was "heartless"; I was
"dishonourable"; I had "no principle"; there was
"no knowing what I might do next"—in short,
she said some of the severest things to me
which I had ever heard from a young lady's
lips. The breach between us lasted for the

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