"I can't tell you what tricks they performed, or how they did it."
Harper & Bros. house illustrators.
14.8 cm high by 11.3 cm wide
Third illustration for Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone: A Romance in Harper's Weekly (1 February 1868), upper right, page 69. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]
Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
[You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]
Illustrations courtesy of the E. J. Pratt Fine Arts Library, University of Toronto, and the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, University of British Columbia.
I had just ranged the decanters in a row before old Mr. Ablewhite (who represented the master of the house), when there came a sound from the terrace which, startled me out of my company manners on the instant. Mr. Franklin and I looked at each other; it was the sound of the Indian drum. As I live by bread, here were the jugglers returning to us with the return of the Moonstone to the house!
As they rounded the corner of the terrace, and came in sight, I hobbled out to warn them off. But, as ill-luck would have it, the two Bouncers were beforehand with me. They whizzed out on to the terrace like a couple of skyrockets, wild to see the Indians exhibit their tricks. The other ladies followed; the gentlemen came out on their side. Before you could say, "Lord bless us!" the rogues were making their salaams; and the Bouncers were kissing the pretty little boy.
Mr. Franklin got on one side of Miss Rachel, and I put myself behind her. If our suspicions were right, there she stood, innocent of all knowledge of the truth, showing the Indians the Diamond in the bosom of her dress!
I can't tell you what tricks they performed, or how they did it. What with the vexation about the dinner, and what with the provocation of the rogues coming back just in the nick of time to see the jewel with their own eyes, I own I lost my head. The first thing that I remember noticing was the sudden appearance on the scene of the Indian traveller, Mr. Murthwaite. Skirting the half-circle in which the gentlefolks stood or sat, he came quietly behind the jugglers and spoke to them on a sudden in the language of their own country.
If he had pricked them with a bayonet, I doubt if the Indians could have started and turned on him with a more tigerish quickness than they did, on hearing the first words that passed his lips. The next moment they were bowing and salaaming to him in their most polite and snaky way. After a few words in the unknown tongue had passed on either side, Mr. Murthwaite withdrew as quietly as he had approached. The chief Indian, who acted as interpreter, thereupon wheeled about again towards the gentlefolks. I noticed that the fellow's coffee-coloured face had turned grey since Mr. Murthwaite had spoken to him. He bowed to my lady, and informed her that the exhibition was over. The Bouncers, indescribably disappointed, burst out with a loud "O!" directed against Mr. Murthwaite for stopping the performance. The chief Indian laid his hand humbly on his breast, and said a second time that the juggling was over. The little boy went round with the hat. The ladies withdrew to the drawing-room; and the gentlemen (excepting Mr. Franklin and Mr. Murthwaite) returned to their wine. I and the footman followed the Indians, and saw them safe off the premises. — Harper's Weekly, vol. XII. — No. 577. "First Period: The Loss of the Diamond (1848)," Chapter 10, p. 70.
Clearly Collins has introduced the Indian traveller, Mr. Murthwaite, who in disguise has penetrated locales utterly unknown to Europeans, in order to generate suspense as he seems about to unmask the socially inferior "jugglers" or acrobats as high-caste Brahmins. The illustration entitled "I can't tell you what tricks they performed, or how they did it" foregrounds the white-clad, exotic foreigners, only one of whom, however, is actually performing with the hoops as their clairvoyant, blonde-haired boy passes a hat around to solicit contributions from the assembled dinner guests, who from left to right are Gabriel Betteredge, Franklin Blake, Rachel Verinder, perhaps Lady Julia Verinder at her side, Miss Clack, Godfrey Ablewhite and his sisters, and probably Dr. Candy and "old Mr. Ablewhite (who represented the master of the house)" (70), all assembled on the terrace in response to the sound of an Indian drum (not evident in the plate). Presumably by the pillars of the portico several senior servants are observing the situation.
- The Moonstone and British India (1857, 1868, and 1876)
- Detection and Disruption inside and outside the 'quiet English home' in The Moonstone
- Illustrations by F. A. Fraser for Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone: A Romance (1890)
- Illustrations by John Sloan for Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone: A Romance (1908)
- Illustrations by Alfred Pearse for The Moonstone: A Romance (1910)
- The 1944 illustrations by William Sharp for The Moonstone (1946).
Last updated 14 August 2016