"Yes? and what then?"
"It is possible, Mr. Blake - I dare not say more - that your idea of preserving the Diamond led, by a natural sequence, to the idea of hiding the Diamond, and that the place in which you hid it was somewhere in your bedroom. In that event, the case of the Irish porter may be your case. You may remember, under the influence of the second dose of opium, the place in which you hid the Diamond under the influence of the first."
It was my turn, now, to enlighten Ezra Jennings. I stopped him, before he could say any more.
"You are speculating," I said, "on a result which cannot possibly take place. The Diamond is, at this moment, in London."
He started, and looked at me in great surprise.
"In London?" he repeated. "How did it get to London from Lady Verinder's house?"
"You removed it with your own hand from Miss Verinder's room. How was it taken out of your keeping?"
"I have no idea how it was taken out of my keeping."
"Did you see it, when you woke in the morning?"
"Has Miss Verinder recovered possession of it?"
"Mr. Blake! there seems to be something here which wants clearing up. May I ask how you know that the Diamond is, at this moment, in London?"
I had put precisely the same question to Mr. Bruff when I made my first inquiries about the Moonstone, on my return to England. In answering Ezra Jennings, I accordingly repeated what I had myself heard from the lawyer's own lips - and what is already familiar to the readers of these pages.
He showed plainly that he was not satisfied with my reply.
"With all deference to you," he said, "and with all deference to your legal adviser, I maintain the opinion which I expressed just now. It rests, I am well aware, on a mere assumption. Pardon me for reminding you, that your opinion also rests on a mere assumption as well."
The view he took of the matter was entirely new to me. I waited anxiously to hear how he would defend it.
"I assume," pursued Ezra Jennings, "that the influence of the opium - after impelling you to possess yourself of the Diamond, with the purpose of securing its safety - might also impel you, acting under the same influence and the same motive, to hide it somewhere in your own room. YOU assume that the Hindoo conspirators could by no possibility commit a mistake. The Indians went to Mr. Luker's house after the Diamond - and, therefore, in Mr. Luker's possession the Diamond must be! Have you any evidence to prove that the Moonstone was taken to London at all? You can't even guess how, or by whom, it was removed from Lady Verinder's house! Have you any evidence that the jewel was pledged to Mr. Luker? He declares that he never heard of the Moonstone; and his bankers' receipt acknowledges nothing but the deposit of a valuable of great price. The Indians assume that Mr. Luker is lying - and you assume again that the Indians are right. All I say, in differing with you, is - that my view is possible. What more, Mr. Blake, either logically, or legally, can be said for yours?"
It was put strongly; but there was no denying that it was put truly as well.
"I confess you stagger me," I replied. "Do you object to my writing to Mr. Bruff, and telling him what you have said?"
"On the contrary, I shall be glad if you will write to Mr. Bruff. If we consult his experience, we may see the matter under a new light. For the present, let us return to our experiment with the opium. We have decided that you leave off the habit of smoking from this moment."
"From this moment?"
"That is the first step. The next step is to reproduce, as nearly as we can, the domestic circumstances which surrounded you last year."
How was this to be done? Lady Verinder was dead. Rachel and I, so long as the suspicion of theft rested on me, were parted irrevocably. Godfrey Ablewhite was away travelling on the Continent. It was simply impossible to reassemble the people who had inhabited the house, when I had slept in it last. The statement of this objection did not appear to embarrass Ezra Jennings. He attached very little importance, he said, to reassembling the same people - seeing that it would be vain to expect them to reassume the various positions which they had occupied towards me in the past times. On the other hand, he considered it essential to the success of the experiment, that I should see the same objects about me which had surrounded me when I was last in the house.
"Above all things," he said, "you must sleep in the room which you slept in, on the birthday night, and it must be furnished in the same way. The stairs, the corridors, and Miss Verinder's sitting-room, must also be restored to what they were when you saw them last. It is absolutely necessary, Mr. Blake, to replace every article of furniture in that part of the house which may now be put away. The sacrifice of your cigars will be useless, unless we can get Miss Verinder's permission to do that."
"Who is to apply to her for permission?" I asked.
"Is it not possible for you to apply?"
"Quite out of the question. After what has passed between us on the subject of the lost Diamond, I can neither see her, nor write to her, as things are now."
Ezra Jennings paused, and considered for a moment.
"May I ask you a delicate question?" he said.
I signed to him to go on.
"Am I right, Mr. Blake, in fancying (from one or two things which have dropped from you) that you felt no common interest in Miss Verinder, in former times?"
"Was the feeling returned?"
"Do you think Miss Verinder would be likely to feel a strong interest in the attempt to prove your innocence?"
"I am certain of it."
"In that case, I will write to Miss Verinder - if you will give me leave."
"Telling her of the proposal that you have made to me?"
"Telling her of everything that has passed between us to-day."
It is needless to say that I eagerly accepted the service which he had offered to me.
"I shall have time to write by to-day's post," he said, looking at his watch. "Don't forget to lock up your cigars, when you get back to the hotel! I will call to-morrow morning and hear how you have passed the night."
I rose to take leave of him; and attempted to express the grateful sense of his kindness which I really felt.
He pressed my hand gently. "Remember what I told you on the moor," he answered. "If I can do you this little service, Mr. Blake, I shall feel it like a last gleam of sunshine, falling on the evening of a long and clouded day."
We parted. It was then the fifteenth of June. The events of the next ten days - every one of them more or less directly connected with the experiment of which I was the passive object - are all placed on record, exactly as they happened, in the Journal habitually kept by Mr. Candy's assistant. In the pages of Ezra Jennings nothing is concealed, and nothing is forgotten. Let Ezra Jennings tell how the venture with the opium was tried, and how it ended.