This article illuminates the significance of the “little English boy” who accompanies the Brahmin priests in The Moonstone (1868), demonstrating that he functions as what Neil Cocks would describe as a “peripheral” child within Collins's novel (2014). It shows that close engagement with this child uncovers a complex set of relations at work within The Moonstone—one that illuminates, or conjures up, the kind of child poverty that was becoming increasingly visible at the time(s) when the novel was both published and set. The article also considers the importance of Collins's Gooseberry in this regard and, linked to this, the significance of Arthur Conan Doyle's creation of his Irregulars. It argues that Doyle's and Holmes's “employment” of these street children must be contextualized in relation to the kind of child labor—and exploitation—that was both endemic and increasingly problematic in late-nineteenth-century London. The overall ambition of the article is to demonstrate what is “disrupted,” to use Cocks's term, once we properly register the “peripheral” or “shadowy” children in The Moonstone and The Sign of Four, respectively.

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