‘Moonfleet’ by Meade Falkner

Moonfleet is a smuggling adventure set in the south of England in the eighteenth century. Young John Trenchard’s life changes when he discovers a secret passage under the church in the village of Moonfleet. He discovers a room at the end of the passage filled with the coffins of the dead Mohune family. He hides behind one of the coffins when he hears voices, and discovers that his friends, Ratsey and Elzevir, are smugglers. When the smugglers have gone, John realises that he has been hiding behind the coffin of ‘Blackbeard’, whose ghost is said to haunt the village, looking for a lost diamond.

John takes an envelope from the dead man’s hand and puts it in his pocket. Later, he becomes a smuggler with Ratsey and Elzevir. One night, while they are bringing wine from a ship onto Moonfleet beach, they are surprised by policemen. The policemen shoot at the smugglers, wounding John and accidentally killing a rich man called Maskew. Everyone thinks that Elzevir has killed Maskew (who had earlier killed Elzevir’s son) in revenge. Elzevir and John hide in a cave where John discovers, from the note he took from Blackbeard’s coffin, the whereabouts of the lost diamond. John and Elzevir try to sell it to a dealer who steals it from them and has them arrested for trying to rob him. After many years in prison, Elzevir and John are taken onto a prison ship, but they escape when the ship sinks. Elzevir drowns, and John returns to Moonfleet.

To his surprise, he discovers that he is rich. The old Dutch dealer has died, and has left him all his money! With the money, John builds a hospital and schools, marries his childhood sweetheart and lives happily ever after.

Reviewed by Shaheen Mehak S.

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