xxx xxx

[Attorney Bruff's confidential agent, Gooseberry, accosts him at the London railway terminal] — Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone: A Romance: "Second Period, Fifth Narrative,​ The Story Resumed by Franklin Blake," uncaptioned headnote vignette, the twenty-sixth such vignette. The thirty-first instalment in Harper's Weekly (1 August 1868), page 485. Wood-engraving, 8.9 x 5.9 cm., located towards the beginning of the fifth narrative in the volume edition (p. 207), outlining events that occurred when Franklin Blake and Mathew Bruff returned to London to apprehend the real thief, after the laudanum experiment had vindicated Blake and implicated his cousin, Godfrey Ablewhite.

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Passages suggested by the Headnote Vignette for the Thirty-first Instalment

On our arrival in London, Mr. Bruff was accosted at the terminus by a small boy, dressed in a jacket and trousers of threadbare black cloth, and personally remarkable in virtue of the extraordinary prominence of his eyes. They projected so far, and they rolled about so loosely, that you wondered uneasily why they remained in their sockets. After listening to the boy, Mr. Bruff asked the ladies whether they would excuse our accompanying them back to Portland Place. I had barely time to promise Rachel that I would return, and tell her everything that had happened, before Mr. Bruff seized me by the arm, and hurried me into a cab. The boy with the ill-secured eyes took his place on the box by the driver, and the driver was directed to go to Lombard Street.

"News from the bank?" I asked, as we started.

"News of Mr. Luker," said Mr. Bruff. "An hour ago, he was seen to leave his house at Lambeth, in a cab, accompanied by two men, who were recognised by my men as police officers in plain clothes. If Mr. Luker's dread of the Indians is at the bottom of this precaution, the inference is plain enough. He is going to take the Diamond out of the bank."

"And we are going to the bank to see what comes of it?"

"Yes — or to hear what has come of it, if it is all over by this time. Did you notice my boy — on the box, there?"

"I noticed his eyes."

Mr. Bruff laughed. "They call the poor little wretch 'Gooseberry' at the office," he said. "I employ him to go on errands — and I only wish my clerks who have nick-named him were as thoroughly to be depended on as he is. Gooseberry is one of the sharpest boys in London, Mr. Blake, in spite of his eyes."

It was twenty minutes to five when we drew up before the bank in Lombard Street. Gooseberry looked longingly at his master, as he opened the cab door.

"Do you want to come in too?" asked Mr. Bruff kindly. "Come in then, and keep at my heels till further orders. He's as quick as lightning," pursued Mr. Bruff, addressing me in a whisper. "Two words will do with Gooseberry, where twenty would be wanted with another boy." — "Second period. The Discovery of the Truth. (1848-1849.) Fifth Narrative. The Story resumed by Franklin Blake," Ch. 1, p. 485.


The serial instalment for 1 August 1868 uses the headnote vignette and the main illustration (lower right) to mark the conclusion of Luker's role in the story. As Sergeant Cuff had predicted, as pawnbroker and fence is about to return the diamond to the person who purloined it and is now redeeming it. The vignette hints at the return of the now-retired London police detective Sergeant Cuff, who does in fact suddenly arrive from Ireland just as the party are following a lead. Here, as soon as Blake and party arrive back in London by train from Yorkshire, attorney Bruff converses with a street boy whom he occasionally hires to provide surveillance. Along with a number of Bruff's men, the astute Gooseberry, a forerunner of Sherlock Holmes' Baker Street Irregulars, has been watching the house in Lambeth where Luker lives and the bank in Lombard Street where the diamond has been on deposit. The party will now proceed by cab to the bank where the fence is about to retrieve the Moonstone just before the 5:00 P. M. closing. In the subsequent, full-sized illustration ("Look at the man's face. it is a face disguised — and here's proof of it!") the detective and Blake appear together after the discovery of Godfrey Ablewhite's corpse. Disguised as a sailor to facilitate his slipping back to the Continent unobserved by the Indians and perhaps the police, he has been smothered to death by the Brahmins, who now must have custody of the Moonstone at last. The vignette gives nothing away, although the boy's expression and gesture suggest some urgency.

Relevant Illustrations by William Sharp for the Doubleday Edition (1946)

Left: William Sharp's realisation of street-detective Gooseberry as a headnote vignette, Headnote vignette, Fifth Narrative: Gooseberry in London (uncaptioned, 1944). Centre: Sharp's realisation of how Ablewhite acquired the Moonstone in the first place, Godfrey Ablewhite taking the Moonstone from Franklin Blake (uncaptioned, 1944). Right: Sharp's illustration of the scene in which Cuff and Blake find Ablewhite dead in the garret, Gooseberry, Cuff, and Blake find Godfrey Ablewhite dead (uncaptioned, 1944). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

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Last updated 1 December 2016