The Moonstone

The Moonstone

The Moonstone

The Moonstone

Excerpt

(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 honor, 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.

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 color, partly from a superstition which represented it as partaking of the nature of the deity whom it adorned, 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 to this day--the name of THE MOONSTONE.

According to the same tradition, in a magnificent shrine in Benares--in a hall inlaid with precious stones, under a roof supported by pillars of gold--the moon-god was set up and worshiped. Here, on the night when the shrine was completed, Vishnu the Preserver appeared to three Brahmans in a dream.

The deity breathed the breath of his divinity on the Diamond in the forehead of the god. And the Brahmans knelt . . .

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