My 1 object is to explain the motive which has induced
me 1 to refuse the right hand of friendship to ,
John Herncastle 7 .
The reserve which
I 1 have hitherto maintained in this matter has been misinterpreted by
whose good opinion
can not consent to forfeit 5
I 1 request
them 5 to suspend
their 5 decision until
they 5 have read
my 1 narrative .
I 1 declare , on
my 1 word of honour , that what
I 1 am now about to write is , strictly and literally , the truth .
The private difference between and
me 1 took its rise in a great public event in which
we 8 were both concerned -- the storming of
Seringapatam 0 , under
General Baird 9 , on the 4th of May , 1799 .
In order that the circumstances may be clearly understood ,
I 1 must revert for a moment to the period before the assault , and to the stories current in of the treasure in jewels and gold stored up in
the Palace of Seringapatam 12 .
II One of the wildest of these stories related to a Yellow Diamond -- a famous gem in the native annals of
India 2 .
The earliest known traditions describe the stone as having been set in the forehead of
the four-handed Indian god who typifies the Moon 13 .
Partly from its peculiar colour , partly from a superstition which represented it as feeling the influence of
the deity whom it adorned 13 , and growing and lessening in lustre with the waxing and waning of the moon , it first gained the name by which it continues to be known in
India 2 to this day -- the name of THE MOONSTONE .
A similar superstition was once prevalent , as
I 1 have heard , in
ancient Greece 14 and
Rome 15 ; not applying , however ( as in
India 2 ) , to a diamond devoted to the service of
a god 16 , but to a semi-transparent stone of the inferior order of gems , supposed to be affected by the lunar influences -- the moon , in this latter case also , giving the name by which the stone is still known to
collectors 17 in
our 18 own time .
The adventures of the Yellow Diamond begin with the eleventh century of the Christian era .
At that date ,
the Mohammedan conqueror 69 ,
Mahmoud of Ghizni 66 , crossed
India 2 ; seized on
the holy city of Somnauth 19 ; and stripped of
its 19 treasures
the famous temple , which had stood for centuries 20 -- the shrine of Hindoo pilgrimage , and the wonder of
the Eastern world 21 .
all the deities worshipped in
the temple 20 22
the moon-god 13 alone escaped the rapacity of
the conquering Mohammedans 23 .
three Brahmins 24 ,
, was removed by night , and was transported to
the inviolate deity , bearing the Yellow Diamond in
the second of
the sacred cities of
India 2 26
the city of Benares 70 .
Here , in a new shrine -- in
a hall inlaid with precious stones 27 , under a roof supported by pillars of gold --
the moon-god 13 was set up and worshipped .
Here 27 , on the night when the shrine was completed ,
the Preserver 28 appeared to
the three Brahmins 24 in a dream .
The deity 28 breathed the breath of
his 28 divinity on the Diamond in the forehead of
the god 13 .
the Brahmins 24 knelt and hid
their 24 faces in
their 24 robes .
The deity 28 commanded that the Moonstone should be watched , from that time forth , by
three priests 29 in turn , night and day , to the end of the generations of
men 30 .
the Brahmins 24 heard , and bowed before
his 28 will .
The deity 28 predicted certain disaster to
the presumptuous mortal who laid hands on the sacred gem 31 , and to all of and name who received it after
him 31 .
the Brahmins 24 caused the prophecy to be written over the gates of the shrine in letters of gold .
One age followed another -- and still , generation after generation ,
the successors of
the three Brahmins 24 33
their 33 priceless Moonstone , night and day .
One age followed another until the first years of the eighteenth Christian century saw the reign of
Aurungzebe 34 ,
the Moguls 35 71
his 34 command havoc and rapine were let loose once more among the temples of the worship of Brahmah .
The shrine of
the four-handed god 13 was polluted by the slaughter of sacred animals ; the images of
the deities 36 were broken in pieces ; and the Moonstone was seized by
an officer of rank in
the army of
Aurungzebe 34 38
Powerless to recover
their 39 lost treasure by open force ,
the three guardian priests 39 followed and watched it in disguise .
The generations succeeded each other ;
the warrior who had committed the sacrilege 37 perished miserably ; the Moonstone passed ( carrying its curse with it ) from one lawless Mohammedan hand to another ; and still , through all chances and changes ,
the successors of
the three guardian priests 24 40
their 40 watch , waiting the day when the will of
the Preserver 28 should restore to
their 40 sacred gem .
Time rolled on from the first to the last years of the eighteenth Christian century .
The Diamond fell into the possession of
Tippoo 41 ,
, who caused it to be placed as an ornament in the handle of a dagger , and who commanded it to be kept among the choicest treasures of
Seringapatam 0 68
his 41 armoury .
Even then -- in
the palace of
the Sultan 41
himself 41 42
the three guardian priests 43 still kept
their 43 watch in secret .
three officers of
’s household 43
, who had won ’s confidence by conforming , or appearing to conform , to the Mussulman faith ; and to
the rest 44 72
those three men 43 report pointed as
the three priests in disguise 43 .
III So , as told in , ran the fanciful story of the Moonstone .
It made no serious impression on any of
us 11 except -- whose love of the marvellous induced
him 7 to believe it .
On the night before the assault on
Seringapatam 0 ,
he 7 was absurdly angry with
me 1 , and with
others 45 , for treating the whole thing as a fable .
A foolish wrangle followed ; and
Herncastle 7 ’s unlucky temper got the better of
him 7 .
He 7 declared , in
his 7 boastful way , that
we 11 should see the Diamond on
his 7 finger , if
the English army 46 took
Seringapatam 0 .
The sally was saluted by a roar of laughter , and there , as
we 11 all thought that night , the thing ended .
me 1 now take
you 47 on to the day of the assault .
I 1 were separated at the outset .
I 1 never saw
him 7 when
we 11 forded
the river 48 ; when
we 11 planted the English flag in the first breach ; when
we 11 crossed the ditch beyond ; and , fighting every inch of
our 11 way , entered
the town 0 .
It was only at dusk , when
the place 0 was ours , and after
General Baird 9
himself 9 had found the dead body of
Tippoo 41 under a heap of
the slain 49 , that
Herncastle 7 and
I 1 met .
We 8 were each attached to
a party sent out by
the general 9
’s orders to prevent the plunder and confusion which followed
The camp-followers 51 committed deplorable excesses ; and , worse still ,
the soldiers 52 found
their 52 way , by a guarded door , into the treasury of
the Palace 12 , and loaded
themselves 52 with gold and jewels .
It was in
the court outside
the treasury 54 53
I 1 met , to enforce the laws of discipline on .
Herncastle 7 ’s fiery temper had been , as
I 1 could plainly see , exasperated to a kind of frenzy by the terrible slaughter through which
we 8 had passed .
He 7 was very unfit , in
my 1 opinion , to perform the duty that had been entrusted to
him 7 .
There was riot and confusion enough in
the treasury 54 , but no violence that
I 1 saw .
The men 52 ( if
I 1 may use such an expression ) disgraced
themselves 52 good-humouredly .
All sorts of rough jests and catchwords were bandied about among
them 52 ; and the story of the Diamond turned up again unexpectedly , in the form of a mischievous joke .
“ Who ’s got the Moonstone ? ” was the rallying cry which perpetually caused the plundering , as soon as it was stopped in one place , to break out in another .
I 1 was still vainly trying to establish order ,
I 1 heard a frightful yelling on the other side of
the courtyard 53 , and at once ran towards the cries , in dread of finding some new outbreak of the pillage in that direction .
I 1 got to an open door , and saw the bodies of
two Indians 56 ( by
their 56 dress , as
I 1 guessed ,
officers of the palace 56 ) lying across the entrance , dead .
A cry inside hurried
me 1 into
a room , which appeared to serve as
an armoury 57 57
A third Indian , mortally wounded 58 , was sinking at the feet of
a man whose back was towards
me 1 7
The man 7 turned at the instant when
I 1 came in , and
I 1 saw
John Herncastle 7 , with a torch in one hand , and a dagger dripping with blood in the other .
A stone , set like a pommel , in the end of the dagger ’s handle , flashed in the torchlight , as
he 7 turned on
me 1 , like a gleam of fire .
The dying Indian 58 sank to
his 58 knees , pointed to the dagger in
Herncastle 7 ’s hand , and said , in
his 58 native language -- “ The Moonstone will have its vengeance yet on
you 7 and
yours 59 ! ”
He 58 spoke those words , and fell dead on the floor .
I 1 could stir in the matter ,
crowded in .
the men who had followed
the courtyard 53 60
rushed to meet
them 60 , like
a madman 7 .
the room 57 ! ”
he 7 shouted to
me 1 , “ and set
a guard 61 on the door ! ”
The men 60 fell back as
he 7 threw
himself 7 on
them 60 with
his 7 torch and
his 7 dagger .
I 1 put , on whom
I 1 could rely , to keep the door .
Through the remainder of the night ,
I 1 saw no more of .
Early in the morning , the plunder still going on ,
General Baird 9 announced publicly by beat of drum , that
any thief detected in the fact 64 , be
he 64 whom
he 64 might , should be hung .
The provost-marshal 65 was in attendance , to prove that
the General 9 was in earnest ; and in the throng that followed the proclamation ,
Herncastle 7 and
I 1 met again .
He 7 held out
his 7 hand , as usual , and said , “ Good morning . ”
I 1 waited before
I 1 gave
my 1 hand in return .
me 1 first , ”
I 1 said , “ how
the Indian in
the armoury 57 58
his 58 death , and what those last words meant , when
he 58 pointed to the dagger in
your 7 hand . ”
The Indian 58 met
his 58 death , as
I 7 suppose , by a mortal wound , ” said
Herncastle 7 .
his 58 last words meant
I 7 know no more than
you 1 do . ”