Vignette: Gooseberry, Cuff, and Blake find Godfrey Ablewhite dead — uncaptioned vignette for the "The Story. Second Period." — forty-second illustration in the Doubleday (New York) 1946 edition of The Moonstone, p. 421. 6.5 x 10.5 cm. [Having followed the Indian sailor rather Mr. Luker, Gooseberry has tracked the man with the package (presumably containing the Moonstone) to the somewhat disreputable area of Tower Wharf, to a public-house named "The Wheel of Fortune" in Lower Thames Street. Sergeant Cuff fetches Franklin Blake and with Gooseberry in tow arrives just in time to observe the landlord have the local carpenter force the door as the man inside has not responded. However, they are too late: the Indians have entered the garret from a skylight, and have smothered the disguised Godfrey Ablewhite.] 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

At the moment when I crossed the threshold of the door, I heard Sergeant Cuff's voice, asking where I was. He met me, as I returned into the room, and forced me to go back with him to the bedside.

"Mr. Blake!" he said. "Look at the man's face. It is a face disguised — and here’s a proof of it!"

He traced with his finger a thin line of livid white, running backward from the dead man’s forehead, between the swarthy complexion, and the slightly-disturbed black hair. “Let’s see what is under this,” said the Sergeant, suddenly seizing the black hair, with a firm grip of his hand.

My nerves were not strong enough to bear it. I turned away again from the bed.

The first sight that met my eyes, at the other end of the room, was the irrepressible Gooseberry, perched on a chair, and looking with breathless interest, over the heads of his elders, at the Sergeant's proceedings.

"He's pulling off his wig!" whispered Gooseberry, compassionating my position, as the only person in the room who could see nothing.

There was a pause — and then a cry of astonishment among the people round the bed.

"He's pulled off his beard!" cried Gooseberry.

There was another pause — Sergeant Cuff asked for something. The landlord went to the wash-hand-stand, and returned to the bed with a basin of water and a towel.

Gooseberry danced with excitement on the chair. "Come up here, along with me, sir! He's washing off his complexion now!"

The Sergeant suddenly burst his way through the people about him, and came, with horror in his face, straight to the place where I was standing.

"Come back to the bed, sir!" he began. He looked at me closer, and checked himself "No!" he resumed. "Open the sealed letter first — the letter I gave you this morning."

I opened the letter.

"Read the name, Mr. Blake, that I have written inside."

I read the name that he had written. It was — Godfrey Ablewhite.

"Now," said the Sergeant, "come with me, and look at the man on the bed."

I went with him, and looked at the man on the bed.

GODFREY ABLEWHITE! — "The Story. Second Period. Fifth Narrative. The Story resumed by Franklin Blake," Chapter 1, p. 421-422.


The tall, dark-skinned sailor who has abandoned his nationality and social status to void detection is none other than the arch-hypocrite Godfrey Ablewhite, thought to be on the Continent. He has been clever enough to avoid detection by Mr. Bruff's men, but Gooseberry had seen the package passed from Luker to the sailor in the bank, and had quickly pursued the tall, East Indian sailor to a public house on Lower Thames Street, where he rented a garret room for the night. His mistake was underestimating the powers of detection and the resourcefulness of the "jugglers," the three Brahmins entrusted with the sacred mission of regaining custody of the Moonstone and returning it to the Temple of the Hindu Moon God at Somnath in India. Western greed has at last been defeated by eastern patience and religious dedication.

Since the solution of the mystery and the unmasking (literally in this case) of the criminal are the climax and dénouement of the crime-and-detection novel, the illustrator has been careful to focus on the reactions of the landlord (right, identified by his keys), the poker-faced Sergeant Cuff (centre, now holding a countryman's full-brimmed hat and walking-stick, and wearing a shooting jacket), and the bemused Franklin Blake (left), with the goggle-eyed Gooseberry, between the two, staring at the dead man. All we can see of the murder victim, however, is his clenched hands, perhaps suggestive of his determination to retain the Moonstone until he can have it cut up into multiple gems in Antwerp. The reader cannot judge the identity of the murdered man merely from studying the picture. The Harper's illustrator took a different approach, foregrounding Cuff as a kind of presenter, and depicting Godfrey so effectively disguised that the reader cannot guess the victim's identity from his appearance. With his stiff, wiry beard (a very good forgery, like Ablewhite himself) the dead man in no way resembles the suave confidence man of previous illustrations. William Jewett's handling of his materials is masterful as he associates the death of the hypocrite and thief with the working class stratum of society who fill the spartan room with its cracked plaster and peeling paint. Sharp merely sketches in the skylight above Gooseberry and suggests a few others in the room: the barmaid (peeping around the portly publican (right), a man without a hat (perhaps the carpenter) and four men with hats.

The relevant wood-engraving from the 1868 Edition: The upper room at The Wheel of Fortune.

Above: The highly effective climactic wood-engraving in the original serial in Harper's of the moment just before "The Discovery of the Truth," "Look at the man's face. It is a face disguised — and here's proof of it!" (1 August 1868). [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

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.

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 1 October 2016