FIRST PERIOD: THE LOSS OF THE DIAMOND (1848)
10. CHAPTER X
One on the top of the other the rest of the company followed
the Ablewhites, till we had the whole tale of them complete.
Including the family, they were twenty-four in all.
It was a noble sight to see, when they were settled in their
places round the dinner-table, and the Rector of Frizinghall
(with beautiful elocution) rose and said grace.
There is no need to worry you with a list of the guests.
You will meet none of them a second time--in my part of the story,
at any rate--with the exception of two.
Those two sat on either side of Miss Rachel, who, as queen
of the day, was naturally the great attraction of the party.
On this occasion she was more particularly the centre-point
towards which everybody's eyes were directed; for (to my lady's
secret annoyance) she wore her wonderful birthday present,
which eclipsed all the rest--the Moonstone. It was
without any setting when it had been placed in her hands;
but that universal genius, Mr. Franklin, had contrived,
with the help of his neat fingers and a little bit of silver wire,
to fix it as a brooch in the bosom of her white dress.
Everybody wondered at the prodigious size and beauty of the Diamond,
as a matter of course. But the only two of the company who said
anything out of the common way about it were those two guests
I have mentioned, who sat by Miss Rachel on her right hand and
The guest on her left was Mr. Candy, our doctor at Frizinghall.
This was a pleasant, companionable little man, with the drawback, however,
I must own, of being too fond, in season and out of season, of his joke,
and of his plunging in rather a headlong manner into talk with strangers,
without waiting to feel his way first. In society he was constantly
making mistakes, and setting people unintentionally by the ears together.
In his medical practice he was a more prudent man; picking up his discretion
(as his enemies said) by a kind of instinct, and proving to be generally right
where more carefully conducted doctors turned out to be wrong.