Wilkie Collins: The Moonstone

1. Contributed by GABRIEL BETTEREDGE (continued)

"With those Thoughts, I considered my new Engagement, that I had a Wife "--(Observe! so had Mr. Franklin!)--"one Child born"--(Observe again! that might yet be Mr. Franklin's case, too!)--"and my Wife then"--What Robinson Crusoe's wife did, or did not do, "then," I felt no desire to discover. I scored the bit about the Child with my pencil, and put a morsel of paper for a mark to keep the place; "Lie you there," I said, "till the marriage of Mr. Franklin and Miss Rachel is some months older--and then we'll see!"

The months passed (more than I had bargained for), and no occasion presented itself for disturbing that mark in the book. It was not till this present month of November, eighteen hundred and fifty, that Mr. Franklin came into my room, in high good spirits, and said, "Betteredge! I have got some news for you! Something is going to happen in the house, before we are many months older."

"Does it concern the family, sir?" I asked.

"It decidedly concerns the family," says Mr. Franklin. "Has your good lady anything to do with it, if you please, sir?"

"She has a great deal to do with it," says Mr. Franklin, beginning to look a little surprised.

"You needn't say a word more, sir," I answered. "God bless you both! I'm heartily glad to hear it."

Mr. Franklin stared like a person thunderstruck. "May I venture to inquire where you got your information?" he asked. "I only got mine (imparted in the strictest secrecy) five minutes since."

Here was an opportunity of producing ROBINSON CRUSOE! Here was a chance of reading that domestic bit about the child which I had marked on the day of Mr. Franklin's marriage! I read those miraculous words with an emphasis which did them justice, and then I looked him severely in the face. "NOW, sir, do you believe in ROBINSON CRUSOE?" I asked, with a solemnity, suitable to the occasion.

"Betteredge!" says Mr. Franklin, with equal solemnity, "I'm convinced at last." He shook hands with me--and I felt that I had converted him.

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