Limping Lucy delivers Rosanna Spearman's letter to Franklin Blake in the Yolland cottage — uncaptioned vignette for the "The Story. Second Period, Third Narrative," Chapter 3 — twenty-eighth illustration in the Doubleday (New York) 1946 edition of The Moonstone, p. 285. 8.0 cm by 10.5 cm. [Distraught by her friend's suicide and suspicious of Franklin Blake's motivations, Lucy Yolland at last delivers Rosanna's letter.] 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.]

Passage Illustrated

Before I could find an answer to this immensely comprehensive question, an apparition advanced towards me, out of a dark corner of the kitchen. A wan, wild, haggard girl, with remarkably beautiful hair, and with a fierce keenness in her eyes, came limping up on a crutch to the table at which I was sitting, and looked at me as if I was an object of mingled interest and horror, which it quite fascinated her to see.

"Mr. Betteredge," she said, without taking her eyes off me, "mention his name again, if you please."

This gentleman's name," answered Betteredge (with a strong emphasis on < >gentleman), "is Mr. Franklin Blake."

The girl turned her back on me, and suddenly left the room. Good Mrs. Yolland — as I believe — made some apologies for her daughter's odd behaviour, and Betteredge (probably) translated them into polite English. I speak of this in complete uncertainty. My attention was absorbed in following the sound of the girl's crutch. Thump-thump, up the wooden stairs; thump-thump across the room above our heads; thump-thump down the stairs again—and there stood the apparition at the open door, with a letter in its hand, beckoning me out!

I left more apologies in course of delivery behind me, and followed this strange creature — limping on before me, faster and faster — down the slope of the beach. She led me behind some boats, out of sight and hearing of the few people in the fishing-village, and then stopped, and faced me for the first time.

"Stand there," she said, "I want to look at you."

There was no mistaking the expression on her face. I inspired her with the strongest emotions of abhorrence and disgust. Let me not be vain enough to say that no woman had ever looked at me in this manner before. I will only venture on the more modest assertion that no woman had ever let me perceive it yet. There is a limit to the length of the inspection which a man can endure, under certain circumstances. I attempted to direct Limping Lucy’s attention to some less revolting object than my face.

"I think you have got a letter to give me," I began. "Is it the letter there, in your hand?"

"Say that again," was the only answer I received. —​"Second Period, Third Narrative," in "The Discovery of the Truth (1848-1849). Contributed by Franklin Blake," Chapter 3, p. 284-286.


Finally the reader will learn the contents of the letter that Rosanna Spearman left with Limping Lucy, to be given directly into the hands of Franklin Blake. Thus, Collins has kept readers in suspense ever since the conclusion of Betteredge's narrative when, encountering Limping Lucy in the gardens of the Verinder estate, the genial, old steward learns of its existence. The scene is the Yolland cottage at Cobb's Hole, the small fishing village near the Shivering Sand. The delivery of the letter sets the stage for Franklin Blake's retrieving Rosanna's japanned tin box and his discovering that he in fact is the one who took the Moonstone from Rachel Verinder's Indian cabinet. Sharp's illustration captures well the fiery mood of the anti-aristocratic and possibly Lesbian Lucy Yolland, decidedly a rank outsider by virtue of her disability and class, a social rebel who simply cannot see any redeeming features in the gentleman, let alone the cause of her friend Rosanna's infatuation. Although the illustration suggests that Lucy is about to hand over the letter in the cottage, in fact she refuses to part with it until she and Franklin Blake have had a private conversation outside.

Relevant illustrations in the Harper's Weekly serial involving Betteredge's earlier confrontation with Limping Lucy on the Verinder estate, "She limped a step nearer to me, and looked as if she could have eaten me alive" (28 March 1868) and the Uncaptioned heanote vignette for 30 May 1868 showing Franklin Blake looking at the paint-smeared nightgown from the japanned box just recovered, an illustration that was perhaps the basis for John Sloan's "I took it up from the sand, and looked for the mark" (1908). Ironically, Sharp has already provided the subsequent moment in which Blake pulls up the japanned tin box, disrupting the narrative sequence by forcing a proleptic reading of the illustration of the key moment, but thereby increasing the suspense surrounding the missing box and what it contains, in Franklin Blake retrieves Rosanna Spearman's japanned tin box from the Shivering Sand (uncaptioned) (facing p. 252). By the end of the Second World War War, readers were probably more sympathetic to Limping Lucy, both for her physical disability and for her socialistic notions.

Relevant Illustrations Involving Limping Lucy and the Returned Franklin Blake from the 1868 Serial and the 1908 Scribner's Edition.

Left: The serial illustration of the proposal in the 28 March 1868 issue of Harper's Weekly, "She limped a step nearer to me, and looked as if she could have eaten me alive" (page 197). Centre: Franklin Blake's examining the paint-smeared night-gown, Uncaptioned heanote vignette (30 May 1868, p. 341). Right: John Sloan's realisation of Blake's finding his own name on the night-gown in the japanned tin box, "I took it up from the sand, and looked for the mark." in the Charles Scribner's Sons Edition (1908). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]


Related Materials


Collins, Wilkie. The Moonstone: A Romance. with sixty-six illustrations. Harper's Weekly: A Journal of Civilization. Vol. 12 (1868), 4 January through 8 August, pp. 5-503.

Collins, Wilkie. The Moonstone: A Romance. All the Year Round. 1 January-8 August 1868.

_________. The Moonstone: A Novel. With many illustrations. First edition. New York: Harper and Brothers, [July] 1868.

_________. The Moonstone: A Novel. With 19 illustrations. Second edition. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1874.

_________. The Moonstone: A Romance. Illustrated by George Du Maurier and F. A. Fraser. London: Chatto and Windus, 1890.

_________. The Moonstone. With 19 illustrations. The Works of Wilkie Collins. New York: Peter Fenelon Collier, 1900. Volumes 6 and 7.

_________. The Moonstone: A Romance. With four illustrations by John Sloan. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1908.

_________. The Moonstone: A Romance. Illustrated by A. S. Pearse. London & Glasgow: Collins, 1910, rpt. 1930.

_________. The Moonstone. Illustrated by William Sharp. New York: Doubleday, 1946.

_________. The Moonstone: A Romance. With nine illustrations by Edwin La Dell. London: Folio Society, 1951.

Karl, Frederick R. "Introduction." Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone. Scarborough, Ontario: Signet, 1984. Pp. 1-21.

Leighton, Mary Elizabeth, and Lisa Surridge. "The Transatlantic Moonstone: A Study of the Illustrated Serial in Harper's Weekly." Victorian Periodicals Review Volume 42, Number 3 (Fall 2009): pp. 207-243. Accessed 1 July 2016.

Nayder, Lillian. Unequal Partners: Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, & Victorian Authorship. London and Ithaca, NY: Cornll U. P., 2001.

Peters, Catherine. The King of the Inventors: A Life of Wilkie Collins. London: Minerva, 1991.

Reed, John R. "English Imperialism and the Unacknowledged crime of The Moonstone." Clio 2, 3 (June, 1973): 281-290.

Richardson, Betty. "Prisons and Prison Reform." Victorian Britain: An Encyclopedia, ed. Sally Mitchell. London and New York: Garland, 1988. Pp. 638-640.

Stewart, J. I. M. "Introduction." Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1966, rpt. 1973. Pp. 7-24.

Stewart, J. I. M. "A Note on Sources." Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1966, rpt. 1973. Pp. 527-8.

Vann, J. Don. "The Moonstone in All the Year Round, 4 January-8 1868." Victorian Novels in Serial. New York: Modern Language Association, 1985. Pp. 48-50.

Winter, William. "Wilkie Collins." Old Friends: Being Literary Recollections of Other Days. New York: Moffat, Yard, & Co., 1909. Pp. 203-219.

Last updated 25 October 2016