Betteredge determines to follow his daughter Penelope’s suggestion and recount the story of the diamond’s theft day by day, with her own journal entries as an aid.
Betteredge now turns to the loss of the Moonstone, which to the reader is a foretold conclusion—by Betteredge’s introduction as well as by the Prologue, which argues that the Moonstone is cursed. Betteredge’s day-by-day narration points to the contradictory kind of evidence—comprehensive, and yet limited by personal perspective—that detective work demands.
Betteredge begins on May 24, 1848, when Lady Julia informed him that Franklin Blake would be coming for a month after his return from Europe. Betteredge was astonished, as he had not seen Blake since his childhood. While Betteredge remembers Blake as kind, Miss Rachel remembers him as cruel and unempathetic. Blake spent so long out of England because his father spent years trying fruitlessly to prove himself the rightful heir to a Dukedom. With his wife and two of his children dead, the elder Blake decided he could no longer trust Britain, and so sent Franklin to be educated in Germany. Betteredge announces he is delighted to have this part of the story over with.
Betteredge’s description of Blake initially recalls the character of Herncastle, and suggests that Blake may be a villainous figure, or bring trouble. His return foreshadows the Moonstone’s arrival, both because of this character comparison and because his mysteriousness is tied to his apparent foreignness. And his father’s attempt to prove his birthright points to the contradictory nature of class in this novel: class rigidly defines people’s social status, but it is an amorphous category that people can enter and leave depending on what evidence and perception they can cultivate, even though it is supposed to be grounded in the black-and-white principle of birth and nobility.
Franklin Blake, after all, is the reason the Diamond came around in the first place. While he was away, he wrote home frequently, but usually to ask Betteredge for money, which he never repaid. Franklin went to France and Italy after Germany and proved himself “a sort of universal genius,” trying out a variety of trades that he funded by greedily borrowing from whoever would give him money. At 25, he finally returned to England. On this day, Betteredge first encountered three Indians with drums and a “delicate-looking light-haired English boy” behind them. Envious of the Indians’ good manners, Betteredge determined not to let them in, and then fell asleep in his chair.
Franklin’s debts and recklessness with money suggest a tension between his apparent class status—as someone who is supposed to be nobility, and at the least has wealthy, landed relatives—and his personal habits and character. At the same time, it is unsurprising that the British upper classes are reckless with money, something they never learn to think of as scarce. The appearance of the Indians directly recalls the Prologue, and specifically the three Brahmins (religious leaders like priests) charged to defend the Moonstone “to the end of generations of men.”
Penelope then wakes up her father Betteredge and insists they lodge the three Indians. She had watched them argue and ask the young English boy to “hold out [his] hand,” lest they send him back to his old life, homeless on the streets of London. They poured ink on his hand and asked him questions about “the English gentleman from foreign parts.” In some sort of hypnotic daze, the boy answered, confirming that the man would travel here and had “It,” but he was unable to tell whether the man would arrive at the Verinder estate by nightfall. The men then went off. Betteredge tells Penelope that the men are rehearsing their scam: they plan to pretend to “foretell Franklin’s arrival by magic.” Penelope disagrees and wonders what “It” is; Betteredge insists they wait and ask Franklin himself. Ultimately, to Betteredge’s surprise, Franklin also takes the men seriously: he thinks “It” is the Moonstone.
The homeless boy exemplifies the new kind of urban poverty that arose in Victorian Britain, and the Indians’ apparent exploitation of him by mystical means plays into the British public’s stereotypes about India (the sinister otherworldly magic of the East, dishonest tricks to make money, and Indians’ alleged desire to enact brutal revenge on their colonial masters). Collins’s contemporary reader would likely therefore connect this scene to the Prologue’s discussion of the Moonstone’s Hindu curse, while Betteredge interprets what appears to be magic as a perfectly innocuous, rationally explicable scam.