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Uncaptioned headnote vignette for "First Period: The Loss of the Diamond (1848), The Events related by Gabriel Betteredge, house-steward in the service of Julia, Lady Verinder." Chapter 4 — initial illustration for the second instalment in Harper's Weekly (11 January 1868), p. 21. Wood-engraving 8.9 x 5.7 cm. [The second headnote vignette underscores the importance of the Verinders' house-steward, Gabriel Betteredge, in the delivery of the narrative, as his predilections and biases colour the reader's perception of characters and events. Here, Betteredge's attitudes towards the young female servants are exemplified in his interactions with Nancy, the kitchen-maid.]

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL.]

Illustrations courtesy of the E. J. Pratt Fine Arts Library, University of Toronto, and the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, University of British Columbia.

Passage Introduced by the Headnote Vignette for the Second Instalment

I am truly sorry to detain you over me and my beehive chair. A sleepy old man, in a sunny back yard, is not an interesting object, I am well aware. But things must be put down in their places, as things actually happened—and you must please to jog on a little while longer with me, in expectation of Mr. Franklin Blake's arrival later in the day.

Before I had time to doze off again, after my daughter Penelope had left me, I was disturbed by a rattling of plates and dishes in the servants' hall, which meant that dinner was ready. Taking my own meals in my own sitting-room, I had nothing to do with the servants' dinner, except to wish them a good stomach to it all round, previous to composing myself once more in my chair. I was just stretching my legs, when out bounced another woman on me. Not my daughter again; only Nancy, the kitchen-maid, this time. I was straight in her way out; and I observed, as she asked me to let her by, that she had a sulky face — a thing which, as head of the servants, I never allow, on principle, to pass me without inquiry.

"What are you turning your back on your dinner for?" I asked. "What's wrong now, Nancy?"

Nancy tried to push by, without answering; upon which I rose up, and took her by the ear. She is a nice plump young lass, and it is customary with me to adopt that manner of showing that I personally approve of a girl.

"What's wrong now?" I said once more.

"Rosanna's late again for dinner," says Nancy. "And I'm sent to fetch her in. All the hard work falls on my shoulders in this house. Let me alone, Mr. Betteredge!" — "First Period: The Loss of the Diamond (1848), The Events related by Gabriel Betteredge, house-steward in the service of Julia, Lady Verinder." Chapter 4, page 21.

Commentary for the Headnote Vignette: 11 January 1868

Although the intent behind the illustration would seem to be to establish Betteredge's character, Collins utilizes various housemaids' reports to advance Betteredge's understanding of the events surrounding the theft of the diamond. Here, although to modern readers it may seem suggestive of misogyny, Betteredge's dialogue with Nancy enables the Collinsian narrator to introduce both a significant character, Rosanna Spearman, and an important physical setting, the Shivering Sands.

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Last updated 22 November 2016