The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins - Страница 1 из 713


THE MOONSTONE
A Romance
by Wilkie Collins
PROLOGUE
THE STORMING OF SERINGAPATAM (1799)
Extracted from a Family Paper
I address these lines--written in India--to my relatives in England.
My object is to explain the motive which has induced me to refuse the
right hand of friendship to my cousin, John Herncastle. The reserve
which I have hitherto maintained in this matter has been misinterpreted
by members of my family whose good opinion I cannot consent to forfeit.
I request them to suspend their decision until they have read my
narrative. And I declare, on my word of honour, that what I am now about
to write is, strictly and literally, the truth.
The private difference between my cousin and me took its rise in a
great public event in which we were both concerned--the storming of
Seringapatam, under General Baird, on the 4th of May, 1799.
In order that the circumstances may be clearly understood, I must
revert for a moment to the period before the assault, and to the stories
current in our camp of the treasure in jewels and gold stored up in the
Palace of Seringapatam.
II
One of the wildest of these stories related to a Yellow Diamond--a
famous gem in the native annals of India.
The earliest known traditions describe the stone as having been set in
the forehead of the four-handed Indian god who typifies the Moon. Partly
from its peculiar colour, partly from a superstition which represented
it as feeling the influence of the deity whom it adorned, and growing
and lessening in lustre with the waxing and waning of the moon, it


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