1. CHAPTER I
I am indebted to my dear parents (both now in heaven) for having had habits
of order and regularity instilled into me at a very early age.
In that happy bygone time, I was taught to keep my hair tidy
at all hours of the day and night, and to fold up every article
of my clothing carefully, in the same order, on the same chair,
in the same place at the foot of the bed, before retiring
to rest. An entry of the day's events in my little diary
invariably preceded the folding up. The "Evening Hymn"
(repeated in bed) invariably followed the folding up.
And the sweet sleep of childhood invariably followed the
In later life (alas!) the Hymn has been succeeded by sad and
bitter meditations; and the sweet sleep has been but ill exchanged
for the broken slumbers which haunt the uneasy pillow of care.
On the other hand, I have continued to fold my clothes,
and to keep my little diary. The former habit links me to my
happy childhood--before papa was ruined. The latter habit--
hitherto mainly useful in helping me to discipline the fallen
nature which we all inherit from Adam--has unexpectedly proved
important to my humble interests in quite another way.
It has enabled poor Me to serve the caprice of a wealthy member
of the family into which my late uncle married. I am fortunate
enough to be useful to Mr. Franklin Blake.
I have been cut off from all news of my relatives by marriage
for some time past. When we are isolated and poor, we are not
infrequently forgotten. I am now living, for economy's sake,
in a little town in Brittany, inhabited by a select circle
of serious English friends, and possessed of the inestimable
advantages of a Protestant clergyman and a cheap market.
In this retirement--a Patmos amid the howling ocean of popery
that surrounds us--a letter from England has reached me at last.
I find my insignificant existence suddenly remembered by
Mr. Franklin Blake. My wealthy relative--would that I could add
my spiritually-wealthy relative!--writes, without even an attempt
at disguising that he wants something of me. The whim has
seized him to stir up the deplorable scandal of the Moonstone:
and I am to help him by writing the account of what I myself
witnessed while visiting at Aunt Verinder's house in London.
Pecuniary remuneration is offered to me--with the want
of feeling peculiar to the rich. I am to re-open wounds
that Time has barely closed; I am to recall the most intensely
painful remembrances--and this done, I am to feel myself compensated
by a new laceration, in the shape of Mr. Blake's cheque.
My nature is weak. It cost me a hard struggle, before Christian
humility conquered sinful pride, and self-denial accepted