This is where I come to sit when I cannot bear it any longer in the house,' she said, pointing to a little green-mouldy Grecian temple, leprous and scaling. 'And this is where Diana and I had our quarrel.'
'I never heard you had quarrelled.'
'I should have thought we could have been heard all over the county, at least. It was my fault; I was horrid that day. I had had Mr Bowles to endure all the afternoon, and I felt as though I had been flayed: so I went for a ride as far as Gatacre, and then came back here. But she should not have taunted me with London, and how she could see him whenever she liked, and that he had not gone down to Portsmouth the next day at all. It was unkind, even if I had deserved it. So I told her she was an ill-natured woman, and she called me something worse, and suddenly there we were, calling names and shouting at one another like a couple of fishwives - oh, it is so humiliating to remember. Then she said something so cruel about letters and how she could marry him any moment she chose, but she had no notion of a half-pay captain nor any other woman's leavings that I quite lost my temper, and swore I should thrash her with my riding-crop if she spoke to me like that. I should have, too: but then Mama came, and she was terribly frightened and tried to make us kiss and be friends. But I would not; nor the next day, either. And in the end Diana went away, to Mr Lowndes, that cousin in Dover.'
'I come from Mapes. They told me you were here.'
'Did they tell you of my battle with Sophie?'
'I understood there had been a disagreement.'
'She angered me with her mooning about the lake and her tragic airs - if she had wanted him, why did she not have him when she could? I do loathe and despise want of decision - shilly-shallying. And anyhow, she has a perfectly suitable admirer, an evangelical clergyman full of good works: good connections too, and plenty of money. I dare say he will be a bishop. But upon my word, Maturin, I never knew she had such spirit! She set about me like a tiger, all ablaze; and I had only quizzed her a little about Jack Aubrey. Such a set-to! There we were roaring away by the little stone bridge, with her mare hitched to the post, starting and wincing - oh, I don't know how long - a good fifteen rounds. How you would have laughed. We took ourselves so seriously; and such energy! I was hoarse for a week after. But she was worse than me - as loud as a hog in a gate, and her words tumbling over one another, in a most horrid passion. But I tell you what, Maturin, if you really want to frighten a woman, offer to slash her across the face with your riding whip, and look as if you meant it. I was quite glad when my aunt Williams came up, screeching and hallooing loud enough to drown the both of us. And for her part she was just as glad to send me packing, because she was afraid for the parson; not that I would ever have laid a finger on him, the greasy oaf. So here I am again, a sort of keeper or upper-servant to the Teapot. Will you drink some of his honour's sherry? You are looking quite glum, Maturin. Don't be mumchance, there's a good fellow. I have not said an unkind thing since you appeared: it is your duty to be gay and amusing. Though harking back, I was just as pleased to come away too, with my face intact: it is my fortune, you know...'
" ‘And he gave me these diamonds,' she said, unclasping the necklace and tossing it on the couch, where it blazed and glittered like a phosphorescent wake. 'They were his mother's, and he had them reset. The big one in the middle is called the Begum. I suppose it is disgraceful to admit that they had an influence on me, but they did. Perhaps most women like diamonds.' "
The Fortune of War. Ch 6.
(The necklace) was a splendid bauble, so splendid that its central stone had a name, the Nabob or the Mogul or something of that kind;… suddenly the name of Diana's came to mind: it was the Blue Peter, a pear shaped stone of a most surprising colour, like a pale, pale sapphire but with much more life and fire. An impious sailor had taken it from a temple in the time of Aurangzeb and it had kept the name he gave it ever since, a name that Stephen particularly liked, for not only had it a fine round sound, but it was also that of one of the few flags he could recognise with certainty, the flag that ships flew when they were about to set sail, and it had the pleasing associations of fresh departure, new regions, new creatures of the world, new lives, perhaps new life.
The Surgeon's Mate Ch 3.
" 'You are much attached to those diamonds, Villiers,' [Stephen] said kindly.
'Yes, I am. I truly love them,' she said. 'Above all the Blue Peter.' She detached the pendant stone and put it into his hand, where it lay, strangely heavy, sending out countless prismatic flashes at the slightest movement. 'I don't give a damn where they come from,' she went on, raising her chin. 'I love them passionately. I should not part with them for anything on earth and I shall certainly be buried in them. You will remember that, Stephen? If things don't go well in the autumn, I am to be buried in them. I may rely on you?'
‘Certainly you may.’ "
The Surgeon's Mate Ch 5
"Stephen looked secretly at the stone again: he had rarely seen so true an azure; and the gold rim echoed the golden specks within the stone quite admirably. But a most unwelcome comparison welled up in his mind.
Diana had possessed an extraordinary blue diamond - she was buried with it - a blue of an entirely different nature, of course, but he felt the familiar chill grip him, the sort of frigid indifference to virtually everything; and he welcomed the opening door."
The Hundred Days Ch 7
As we see from the above, when we first meet the riviere of diamonds which Johnson gave Diana the large central stone had an Indian name, but by the next book POB had rechristened it to the much more appropriate Blue Peter. It is appropriate in another way in that the word 'peter' means stone, so quite literally the Blue Peter is 'the Blue Stone'.
Diana has always been able to rely on Stephen - even to honouring her age old wish to be buried with her diamonds...