Part 3 out of 12
Here we were, then, at a dead-lock about Miss Rachel--
and at a dead-lock about the Moonstone. In the first case,
my lady was powerless to help us. In the second (as you shall
presently judge), Mr. Seegrave was fast approaching the condition
of a superintendent at his wits' end.
Having ferreted about all over the "boudoir," without making
any discoveries among the furniture, our experienced officer
applied to me to know, whether the servants in general were
or were not acquainted with the place in which the Diamond
had been put for the night.
"I knew where it was put, sir," I said, "to begin with.
Samuel, the footman, knew also--for he was present in the hall,
when they were talking about where the Diamond was to be kept
that night. My daughter knew, as she has already told you.
She or Samuel may have mentioned the thing to the other servants--
or the other servants may have heard the talk for themselves,
through the side-door of the hall, which might have
been open to the back staircase. For all I can tell,
everybody in the house may have known where the jewel was,
My answer presenting rather a wide field for Mr. Superintendent's
suspicions to range over, he tried to narrow it by asking about
the servants' characters next.
I thought directly of Rosanna Spearman. But it was neither
my place nor my wish to direct suspicion against a poor girl,
whose honesty had been above all doubt as long as I had known her.
The matron at the Reformatory had reported her to my lady
as a sincerely penitent and thoroughly trustworthy girl.
It was the Superintendent's business to discover reason for
suspecting her first--and then, and not till then, it would
be my duty to tell him how she came into my lady's service.
"All our people have excellent characters," I said. "And all
have deserved the trust their mistress has placed in them."
After that, there was but one thing left for Mr. Seegrave
to do--namely, to set to work, and tackle the servants'
One after another, they were examined. One after another, they proved
to have nothing to say--and said it (so far as the women were concerned)
at great length, and with a very angry sense of the embargo laid on their
bed-rooms. The rest of them being sent back to their places downstairs,
Penelope was then summoned, and examined separately a second time.
My daughter's little outbreak of temper in the "boudoir,"
and her readiness to think herself suspected, appeared to have
produced an unfavourable impression on Superintendent Seegrave.
It seemed also to dwell a little on his mind, that she
had been the last person who saw the Diamond at night.
When the second questioning was over, my girl came back
to me in a frenzy. There was no doubt of it any longer--
the police-officer had almost as good as told her she was the thief!
I could scarcely believe him (taking Mr. Franklin's view)
to be quite such an ass as that. But, though he said nothing,
the eye with which he looked at my daughter was not a very pleasant
eye to see. I laughed it off with poor Penelope, as something
too ridiculous to be treated seriously--which it certainly was.
Secretly, I am afraid I was foolish enough to be angry too.
It was a little trying--it was, indeed. My girl sat down in a corner,
with her apron over her head, quite broken-hearted. Foolish
of her, you will say. she might have waited till he openly
accused her. Well, being a man of just an equal temper,
I admit that. Still Mr. Superintendent might have remembered--
never mind what he might have remembered. The devil
The next and last step in the investigation brought matters, as they say,
to a crisis. The officer had an interview (at which I was present)
with my lady. After informing her that the Diamond must have been taken
by somebody in the house, he requested permission for himself and his men
to search the servants' rooms and boxes on the spot. My good mistress,
like the generous high-bred woman she was, refused to let us be treated
like thieves. "I will never consent to make such a return as that,"
she said, "for all I owe to the faithful servants who are employed in
Mr. Superintendent made his bow, with a look in my direction,
which said plainly, "Why employ me, if you are to tie my hands
in this way?" As head of the servants, I felt directly that we
were bound, in justice to all parties, not to profit by our
mistress's generosity. "We gratefully thank your ladyship," I said;
"but we ask your permission to do what is right in this matter
by giving up our keys. When Gabriel Betteredge sets the example,"
says I, stopping Superintendent Seegrave at the door, "the rest
of the servants will follow, I promise you. There are my keys,
to begin with!" My lady took me by the hand, and thanked me
with the tears in her eyes. Lord! what would I not have given,
at that moment, for the privilege of knocking Superintendent
As I had promised for them, the other servants followed my lead,
sorely against the grain, of course, but all taking the view that I took.
The women were a sight to see, while the police-officers were rummaging among
their things. The cook looked as if she could grill Mr. Superintendent
alive on a furnace, and the other women looked as if they could eat him
when he was done.
The search over, and no Diamond or sign of a Diamond being found,
of course, anywhere, Superintendent Seegrave retired to my
little room to consider with himself what he was to do next.
He and his men had now been hours in the house, and had not
advanced us one inch towards a discovery of how the Moonstone had
been taken, or of whom we were to suspect as the thief.
While the police-officer was still pondering in solitude,
I was sent for to see Mr. Franklin in the library.
To my unutterable astonishment, just as my hand was on the door,
it was suddenly opened from the inside, and out walked
After the library had been swept and cleaned in the morning,
neither first nor second housemaid had any business in that room
at any later period of the day. I stopped Rosanna Spearman,
and charged her with a breach of domestic discipline on
"What might you want in the library at this time of day?"
"Mr. Franklin Blake dropped one of his rings up-stairs,"
says Rosanna; "and I have been into the library to give it to him."
The girl's face was all in a flush as she made me that answer;
and she walked away with a toss of her head and a look of
self-importance which I was quite at a loss to account for.
The proceedings in the house had doubtless upset all the
women-servants more or less; but none of them had gone clean
out of their natural characters, as Rosanna, to all appearance,
had now gone out of hers.
I found Mr. Franklin writing at the library-table. He asked for a
conveyance to the railway station the moment I entered the room.
The first sound of his voice informed me that we now had the resolute
side of him uppermost once more. The man made of cotton had disappeared;
and the man made of iron sat before me again.
"Going to London, sir?" I asked.
"Going to telegraph to London," says Mr. Franklin. "I have convinced my aunt
that we must have a cleverer head than Superintendent Seegrave's to help us;
and I have got her permission to despatch a telegram to my father.
He knows the Chief Commissioner of Police, and the Commissioner can
lay his hand on the right man to solve the mystery of the Diamond.
Talking of mysteries, by-the-bye," says Mr. Franklin, dropping his voice,
"I have another word to say to you before you go to the stables.
Don't breathe a word of it to anybody as yet; but either Rosanna Spearman's
head is not quite right, or I am afraid she knows more about the Moonstone
than she ought to know."
I can hardly tell whether I was more startled or distressed at hearing
him say that. If I had been younger, I might have confessed as much
to Mr. Franklin. But when you are old, you acquire one excellent habit.
In cases where you don't see your way clearly, you hold your tongue.
"She came in here with a ring I dropped in my bed-room,"
Mr. Franklin went on. "When I had thanked her, of course
I expected her to go. Instead of that, she stood opposite
to me at the table, looking at me in the oddest manner--
half frightened, and half familiar--I couldn't make it out.
'This is a strange thing about the Diamond, sir,' she said,
in a curiously sudden, headlong way. I said, 'Yes, it was,'
and wondered what was coming next. Upon my honour, Betteredge,
I think she must be wrong in the head! She said, 'They will never
find the Diamond, sir, will they? No! nor the person who took it--
I'll answer for that.' She actually nodded and smiled at me!
Before I could ask her what she meant, we heard your step outside.
I suppose she was afraid of your catching her here.
At any rate, she changed colour, and left the room.
What on earth does it mean?
I could not bring myself to tell him the girl's story, even then.
It would have been almost as good as telling him that she was
the thief. Besides, even if I had made a clean breast of it,
and even supposing she was the thief, the reason why she should let
out her secret to Mr. Franklin, of all the people in the world,
would have been still as far to seek as ever.
"I can't bear the idea of getting the poor girl into a scrape,
merely because she has a flighty way with her, and talks very strangely,"
Mr. Franklin went on. "And yet if she had said to, the Superintendent
what she said to me, fool as he is, I'm afraid----" He stopped there,
and left the rest unspoken.
"The best way, sir," I said, "will be for me to say two words
privately to my mistress about it at the first opportunity.
My lady has a very friendly interest in Rosanna; and the girl
may only have been forward and foolish, after all.
When there's a mess of any kind in a house, sir, the women-servants
like to look at the gloomy side--it gives the poor wretches
a kind of importance in their own eyes. If there's anybody ill,
trust the women for prophesying that the person will die.
If it's a jewel lost, trust them for prophesying that it will
never be found again."
This view (which I am bound to say, I thought a probable view myself,
on reflection) seemed to relieve Mr. Franklin mightily:
he folded up his telegram, and dismissed the subject.
On my way to the stables, to order the pony-chaise, I looked
in at the servants' hall, where they were at dinner.
Rosanna Spearman was not among them. On inquiry, I found that she
had been suddenly taken ill, and had gone up-stairs to her own room
to lie down.
"Curious! She looked well enough when I saw her last,"
Penelope followed me out. "Don't talk in that way before the rest
of them, father," she said. "You only make them harder on Rosanna than ever.
The poor thing is breaking her heart about Mr. Franklin Blake."
Here was another view of the girl's conduct. If it was possible for
Penelope to be right, the explanation of Rosanna's strange language and
behaviour might have been all in this--that she didn't care what she said,
so long as she could surprise Mr. Franklin into speaking to her.
Granting that to be the right reading of the riddle, it accounted, perhaps,
for her flighty, self-conceited manner when she passed me in the hall.
Though he had only said three words, still she had carried her point,
and Mr. Franklin had spoken to her.
I saw the pony harnessed myself. In the infernal network of mysteries
and uncertainties that now surrounded us, I declare it was a relief
to observe how well the buckles and straps understood each other!
When you had seen the pony backed into the shafts of the chaise,
you had seen something there was no doubt about. And that,
let me tell you, was becoming a treat of the rarest kind in
Going round with the chaise to the front door, I found not only Mr. Franklin,
but Mr. Godfrey and Superintendent Seegrave also waiting for me on the steps.
Mr. Superintendent's reflections (after failing to find
the Diamond in the servants' rooms or boxes) had led him,
it appeared, to an entirely new conclusion. Still sticking
to his first text, namely, that somebody in the house had
stolen the jewel, our experienced officer was now of opinion
that the thief (he was wise enough not to name poor Penelope,
whatever he might privately think of her!) had been acting
in concert with the Indians; and he accordingly proposed shifting
his inquiries to the jugglers in the prison at Frizinghall.
Hearing of this new move, Mr. Franklin had volunteered
to take the Superintendent back to the town, from which
he could telegraph to London as easily as from our station.
Mr. Godfrey, still devoutly believing in Mr. Seegrave, and greatly
interested in witnessing the examination of the Indians,
had begged leave to accompany the officer to Frizinghall.
One of the two inferior policemen was to be left at the house,
in case anything happened. The other was to go back with the
Superintendent to the town. So the four places in the pony-chaise
were just filled.
Before he took the reins to drive off, Mr. Franklin walked me away
a few steps out of hearing of the others.
"I will wait to telegraph to London," he said, "till I see what comes
of our examination of the Indians. My own conviction is, that this
muddle-headed local police-officer is as much in the dark as ever,
and is simply trying to gain time. The idea of any of the servants being
in league with the Indians is a preposterous absurdity, in my opinion.
Keep about the house, Betteredge, till I come back, and try what you
can make of Rosanna Spearman. I don't ask you to do anything degrading
to your own self-respect, or anything cruel towards the girl.
I only ask you to exercise your observation more carefully than usual.
We will make as light of it as we can before my aunt--but this is a more
important matter than you may suppose."
"It is a matter of twenty thousand pounds, sir," I said,
thinking of the value of the Diamond.
"It's a matter of quieting Rachel's mind," answered Mr. Franklin gravely.
"I am very uneasy about her."
He left me suddenly; as if he desired to cut short any further talk
between us. I thought I understood why. Further talk might have let
me into the secret of what Miss Rachel had said to him on the terrace.
So they drove away to Frizinghall. I was ready enough, in the girl's
own interest, to have a little talk with Rosanna in private.
But the needful opportunity failed to present itself.
She only came downstairs again at tea-time. When she did appear,
she was flighty and excited, had what they call an hysterical attack,
took a dose of sal-volatile by my lady's order, and was sent back to
The day wore on to its end drearily and miserably enough,
I can tell you. Miss Rachel still kept her room,
declaring that she was too ill to come down to dinner that day.
My lady was in such low spirits about her daughter, that I
could not bring myself to make her additionally anxious,
by reporting what Rosanna Spearman had said to Mr. Franklin.
Penelope persisted in believing that she was to be forthwith
tried, sentenced, and transported for theft. The other women
took to their Bibles and hymn-books, and looked as sour as
verjuice over their reading--a result, which I have observed,
in my sphere of life, to follow generally on the performance
of acts of piety at unaccustomed periods of the day.
As for me, I hadn't even heart enough to open my ROBINSON CRUSOE.
I went out into the yard, and, being hard up for a little
cheerful society, set my chair by the kennels, and talked to
Half an hour before dinner-time, the two gentlemen came back from Frizinghall,
having arranged with Superintendent Seegrave that he was to return to us
the next day. They had called on Mr. Murthwaite, the Indian traveller,
at his present residence, near the town. At Mr. Franklin's request,
he had kindly given them the benefit of his knowledge of the language,
in dealing with those two, out of the three Indians, who knew nothing
of English. The examination, conducted carefully, and at great length,
had ended in nothing; not the shadow of a reason being discovered for
suspecting the jugglers of having tampered with any of our servants.
On reaching that conclusion, Mr. Franklin had sent his telegraphic message
to London, and there the matter now rested till to-morrow came.
So much for the history of the day that followed the birthday.
Not a glimmer of light had broken in on us, so far.
A day or two after, however, the darkness lifted a little.
How, and with what result, you shall presently see.
The Thursday night passed, and nothing happened. With the Friday
morning came two pieces of news.
Item the first: the baker's man declared he had met Rosanna
Spearman, on the previous afternoon, with a thick veil on,
walking towards Frizinghall by the foot-path way over the moor.
It seemed strange that anybody should be mistaken about Rosanna,
whose shoulder marked her out pretty plainly, poor thing--
but mistaken the man must have been; for Rosanna, as you know,
had been all the Thursday afternoon ill up-stairs in her room.
Item the second came through the postman. Worthy Mr. Candy
had said one more of his many unlucky things, when he drove off
in the rain on the birthday night, and told me that a doctor's skin
was waterproof. In spite of his skin, the wet had got through him.
He had caught a chill that night, and was now down with a fever.
The last accounts, brought by the postman, represented him
to be light-headed--talking nonsense as glibly, poor man,
in his delirium as he often talked it in his sober senses.
We were all sorry for the little doctor; but Mr. Franklin appeared
to regret his illness, chiefly on Miss Rachel's account.
From what he said to my lady, while I was in the room
at breakfast-time, he appeared to think that Miss Rachel--
if the suspense about the Moonstone was not soon set at rest--
might stand in urgent need of the best medical advice at
Breakfast had not been over long, when a telegram from Mr. Blake,
the elder, arrived, in answer to his son. It informed us
that he had laid hands (by help of his friend, the Commissioner)
on the right man to help us. The name of him was Sergeant Cuff;
and the arrival of him from London might be expected by the
At reading the name of the new police-officer, Mr. Franklin gave a start.
It seems that he had heard some curious anecdotes about Sergeant Cuff,
from his father's lawyer, during his stay in London.
"I begin to hope we are seeing the end of our anxieties already," he said.
"If half the stories I have heard are true, when it comes to unravelling
a mystery, there isn't the equal in England of Sergeant Cuff!"
We all got excited and impatient as the time drew near
for the appearance of this renowned and capable character.
Superintendent Seegrave, returning to us at his appointed time,
and hearing that the Sergeant was expected, instantly shut
himself up in a room, with pen, ink, and paper, to make notes
of the Report which would be certainly expected from him.
I should have liked to have gone to the station myself,
to fetch the Sergeant. But my lady's carriage and horses
were not to be thought of, even for the celebrated Cuff;
and the pony-chaise was required later for Mr. Godfrey.
He deeply regretted being obliged to leave his aunt at such
an anxious time; and he kindly put off the hour of his departure
till as late as the last train, for the purpose of hearing
what the clever London police-officer thought of the case.
But on Friday night he must be in town, having a Ladies'
Charity, in difficulties, waiting to consult him on Saturday
When the time came for the Sergeant's arrival, I went down to the gate
to look out for him.
A fly from the railway drove up as I reached the lodge; and out got
a grizzled, elderly man, so miserably lean that he looked as if
he had not got an ounce of flesh on his bones in any part of him.
He was dressed all in decent black, with a white cravat round his neck.
His face was as sharp as a hatchet, and the skin of it was as yellow
and dry and withered as an autumn leaf. His eyes, of a steely light grey,
had a very disconcerting trick, when they encountered your eyes, of looking
as if they expected something more from you than you were aware of yourself.
His walk was soft; his voice was melancholy; his long lanky fingers
were hooked like claws. He might have been a parson, or an undertaker--
or anything else you like, except what he really was. A more complete
opposite to Superintendent Seegrave than Sergeant Cuff, and a less comforting
officer to look at, for a family in distress, I defy you to discover,
search where you may.
"Is this Lady Verinder's?" he asked.
"I am Sergeant Cuff."
"This way, sir, if you please."
On our road to the house, I mentioned my name and position
in the family, to satisfy him that he might speak to me
about the business on which my lady was to employ him.
Not a word did he say about the business, however, for all that.
He admired the grounds, and remarked that he felt the sea
air very brisk and refreshing. I privately wondered,
on my side, how the celebrated Cuff had got his reputation.
We reached the house, in the temper of two strange dogs,
coupled up together for the first time in their lives by the
Asking for my lady, and hearing that she was in one of the conservatories,
we went round to the gardens at the back, and sent a servant to seek her.
While we were waiting, Sergeant Cuff looked through the evergreen
arch on our left, spied out our rosery, and walked straight in,
with the first appearance of anything like interest that he had shown yet.
To the gardener's astonishment, and to my disgust, this celebrated
policeman proved to be quite a mine of learning on the trumpery subject of
"Ah, you've got the right exposure here to the south and sou'-west,"
says the Sergeant, with a wag of his grizzled head, and a streak
of pleasure in his melancholy voice. "This is the shape for a rosery--
nothing like a circle set in a square. Yes, yes; with walks
between all the beds. But they oughtn't to be gravel walks
like these. Grass, Mr. Gardener--grass walks between your roses;
gravel's too hard for them. That's a sweet pretty bed of white
roses and blush roses. They always mix well together, don't they?
Here's the white musk rose, Mr. Betteredge--our old English rose
holding up its head along with the best and the newest of them.
Pretty dear!" says the Sergeant, fondling the Musk Rose with
his lanky fingers, and speaking to it as if he was speaking to
This was a nice sort of man to recover Miss Rachel's Diamond,
and to find out the thief who stole it!
"You seem to be fond of roses, Sergeant?" I remarked.
"I haven't much time to be fond of anything, 'says Sergeant Cuff.
"But when I HAVE a moment's fondness to bestow, most times,
Mr. Betteredge, the roses get it. I began my life among them
in my father's nursery garden, and I shall end my life among them,
if I can. Yes. One of these days (please God) I shall retire
from catching thieves, and try my hand at growing roses.
There will be grass walks, Mr. Gardener, between my beds,"
says the Sergeant, on whose mind the gravel paths of our rosery seemed
to dwell unpleasantly.
"It seems an odd taste, sir," I ventured to say, "for a man
in your line of life."
"If you will look about you (which most people won't do),"
says Sergeant Cuff, "you will see that the nature of a man's
tastes is, most times, as opposite as possible to the nature
of a man's business. Show me any two things more opposite
one from the other than a rose and a thief; and I'll correct
my tastes accordingly--if it isn't too late at my time of life.
You find the damask rose a goodish stock for most of the tender sorts,
don't you, Mr. Gardener? Ah! I thought so. Here's a lady coming.
Is it Lady Verinder?"
He had seen her before either I or the gardener had seen her,
though we knew which way to look, and he didn't. I began
to think him rather a quicker man than he appeared to be at
The Sergeant's appearance, or the Sergeant's errand--
one or both--seemed to cause my lady some little embarrassment.
She was, for the first time in all my experience of her,
at a loss what to say at an interview with a stranger.
Sergeant Cuff put her at her ease directly. He asked if any other
person had been employed about the robbery before we sent for him;
and hearing that another person had been called in, and was now
in the house, begged leave to speak to him before anything else
My lady led the way back. Before he followed her, the Sergeant relieved his
mind on the subject of the gravel walks by a parting word to the gardener.
"Get her ladyship to try grass," he said, with a sour look at the paths.
"No gravel! no gravel!"
Why Superintendent Seegrave should have appeared to be several
sizes smaller than life, on being presented to Sergeant Cuff,
I can't undertake to explain. I can only state the fact.
They retired together; and remained a weary long time shut up
from all mortal intrusion. When they came out, Mr. Superintendent
was excited, and Mr. Sergeant was yawning.
"The Sergeant wishes to see Miss Verinder's sitting-room,"
says Mr. Seegrave, addressing me with great pomp and eagerness.
"The Sergeant may have some questions to ask. Attend the Sergeant,
if you please!"
While I was being ordered about in this way, I looked at the great Cuff.
The great Cuff, on his side, looked at Superintendent Seegrave
in that quietly expecting way which I have already noticed.
I can't affirm that he was on the watch for his brother officer's
speedy appearance in the character of an Ass--I can only say that I
strongly suspected it.
I led the way up-stairs. The Sergeant went softly all over
the Indian cabinet and all round the "boudoir;" asking questions
(occasionally only of Mr. Superintendent, and continually of me),
the drift of which I believe to have been equally unintelligible
to both of us. In due time, his course brought him to the door,
and put him face to face with the decorative painting that you know of.
He laid one lean inquiring finger on the small smear, just under
the lock, which Superintendent Seegrave had already noticed,
when he reproved the women-servants for all crowding together into
"That's a pity," says Sergeant Cuff. "How did it happen?"
He put the question to me. I answered that the women-servants had crowded
into the room on the previous morning, and that some of their petticoats had
done the mischief, "Superintendent Seegrave ordered them out, sir," I added,
"before they did any more harm."
"Right!" says Mr. Superintendent in his military way. "I ordered them out.
The petticoats did it, Sergeant--the petticoats did it."
"Did you notice which petticoat did it?" asked Sergeant Cuff,
still addressing himself, not to his brother-officer, but to me.
He turned to Superintendent Seegrave upon that, and said, "You noticed,
Mr. Superintendent looked a little taken aback; but he made the best of it.
"I can't charge my memory, Sergeant," he said, "a mere trifle--a mere trifle."
Sergeant Cuff looked at Mr. Seegrave, as he had looked at the gravel
walks in the rosery, and gave us, in his melancholy way, the first taste
of his quality which we had had yet.
"I made a private inquiry last week, Mr. Superintendent," he said.
"At one end of the inquiry there was a murder, and at the other end
there was a spot of ink on a table cloth that nobody could account for.
In all my experience along the dirtiest ways of this dirty little world,
I have never met with such a thing as a trifle yet. Before we go a step
further in this business we must see the petticoat that made the smear,
and we must know for certain when that paint was wet."
Mr. Superintendent--taking his set-down rather sulkily--
asked if he should summon the women. Sergeant Cuff,
after considering a minute, sighed, and shook his head.
"No," he said, "we'll take the matter of the paint first.
It's a question of Yes or No with the paint--which is short.
It's a question of petticoats with the women--which is long.
What o'clock was it when the servants were in this room
yesterday morning? Eleven o'clock--eh? Is there anybody in
the house who knows whether that paint was wet or dry, at eleven
"Her ladyship's nephew, Mr. Franklin Blake, knows," I said.
"Is the gentleman in the house?"
Mr. Franklin was as close at hand as could be--waiting for his first chance
of being introduced to the great Cuff. In half a minute he was in the room,
and was giving his evidence as follows:
"That door, Sergeant," he said, "has been painted by Miss Verinder,
under my inspection, with my help, and in a vehicle of my own composition.
The vehicle dries whatever colours may be used with it, in twelve hours."
"Do you remember when the smeared bit was done, sir?" asked the Sergeant.
"Perfectly," answered Mr. Franklin. "That was the last morsel of the door
to be finished. We wanted to get it done, on Wednesday last--and I myself
completed it by three in the afternoon, or soon after."
"To-day is Friday," said Sergeant Cuff, addressing himself to
Superintendent Seegrave. "Let us reckon back, sir. At three on
the Wednesday afternoon, that bit of the painting was completed.
The vehicle dried it in twelve hours--that is to say, dried it
by three o'clock on Thursday morning. At eleven on Thursday
morning you held your inquiry here. Take three from eleven,
and eight remains. That paint had been EIGHT HOURS DRY,
Mr. Superintendent, when you supposed that the women-servants'
petticoats smeared it."
First knock-down blow for Mr. Seegrave! If he had not suspected
poor Penelope, I should have pitied him.
Having settled the question of the paint, Sergeant Cuff,
from that moment, gave his brother-officer up as a bad job--
and addressed himself to Mr. Franklin, as the more promising
assistant of the two.
"It's quite on the cards, sir," he said, "that you have put
the clue into our hands."
As the words passed his lips, the bedroom door opened, and Miss Rachel
came out among us suddenly.
She addressed herself to the Sergeant, without appearing to notice
(or to heed) that he was a perfect stranger to her.
"Did you say," she asked, pointing to Mr. Franklin, "that HE
had put the clue into your hands?"
("This is Miss Verinder," I whispered, behind the Sergeant.)
"That gentleman, miss," says the Sergeant--with his steely-grey
eyes carefully studying my young lady's face--"has possibly put
the clue into our hands."
She turned for one moment, and tried to look at Mr. Franklin.
I say, tried, for she suddenly looked away again before their eyes met.
There seemed to be some strange disturbance in her mind.
She coloured up, and then she turned pale again. With the paleness,
there came a new look into her face--a look which it startled me
"Having answered your question, miss," says the Sergeant,
"I beg leave to make an inquiry in my turn. There is a smear
on the painting of your door, here. Do you happen to know
when it was done? or who did it?"
Instead of making any reply, Miss Rachel went on with her questions,
as if he had not spoken, or as if she had not heard him.
"Are you another police-officer?" she asked.
"I am Sergeant Cuff, miss, of the Detective Police."
"Do you think a young lady's advice worth having?"
"I shall be glad to hear it, miss."
"Do your duty by yourself--and don't allow Mr Franklin Blake to help you!"
She said those words so spitefully, so savagely, with such
an extraordinary outbreak of ill-will towards Mr. Franklin,
in her voice and in her look, that--though I had known her from
a baby, though I loved and honoured her next to my lady herself--
I was ashamed of Miss Rachel for the first time in my life.
Sergeant Cuff's immovable eyes never stirred from off her face.
"Thank you, miss," he said. "Do you happen to know anything about
the smear? Might you have done it by accident yourself?"
"I know nothing about the smear."
With that answer, she turned away, and shut herself up again in her
bed-room. This time, I heard her--as Penelope had heard her before--
burst out crying as soon as she was alone again.
I couldn't bring myself to look at the Sergeant--I looked at Mr. Franklin,
who stood nearest to me. He seemed to be even more sorely distressed at what
had passed than I was.
"I told you I was uneasy about her," he said. "And now you see why."
"Miss Verinder appears to be a little out of temper about the loss
of her Diamond," remarked the Sergeant. "It's a valuable jewel.
Natural enough! natural enough!"
Here was the excuse that I had made for her (when she forgot
herself before Superintendent Seegrave, on the previous day)
being made for her over again, by a man who couldn't have had
MY interest in making it--for he was a perfect stranger!
A kind of cold shudder ran through me, which I couldn't
account for at the time. I know, now, that I must have got my
first suspicion, at that moment, of a new light (and horrid light)
having suddenly fallen on the case, in the mind of Sergeant Cuff--
purely and entirely in consequence of what he had seen in
Miss Rachel, and heard from Miss Rachel, at that first interview
"A young lady's tongue is a privileged member, sir," says the Sergeant
to Mr. Franklin. "Let us forget what has passed, and go straight on
with this business. Thanks to you, we know when the paint was dry.
The next thing to discover is when the paint was last seen without
that smear. YOU have got a head on your shoulders--and you understand
what I mean."
Mr. Franklin composed himself, and came back with an effort from Miss
Rachel to the matter in hand.
"I think I do understand," he said. "The more we narrow the question of time,
the more we also narrow the field of inquiry."
"That's it, sir," said the Sergeant. "Did you notice your work here,
on the Wednesday afternoon, after you had done it?"
Mr. Franklin shook his head, and answered, "I can't say I did."
"Did you?" inquired Sergeant Cuff, turning to me.
"I can't say I did either, sir."
"Who was the last person in the room, the last thing on Wednesday night?"
"Miss Rachel, I suppose, sir."
Mr. Franklin struck in there, "Or possibly your daughter, Betteredge."
He turned to Sergeant Cuff, and explained that my daughter was Miss
"Mr. Betteredge, ask your daughter to step up. Stop!" says the Sergeant,
taking me away to the window, out of earshot, "Your Superintendent here,"
he went on, in a whisper, "has made a pretty full report to me
of the manner in which he has managed this case. Among other things,
he has, by his own confession, set the servants' backs up. It's very
important to smooth them down again. Tell your daughter, and tell
the rest of them, these two things, with my compliments: First, that I
have no evidence before me, yet, that the Diamond has been stolen;
I only know that the Diamond has been lost. Second, that my business
here with the servants is simply to ask them to lay their heads together
and help me to find it."
My experience of the women-servants, when Superintendent Seegrave
laid his embargo on their rooms, came in handy here.
"May I make so bold, Sergeant, as to tell the women a third thing?"
I asked. "Are they free (with your compliments) to fidget up
and downstairs, and whisk in and out of their bed-rooms, if the fit
"Perfectly free," said the Sergeant.
"THAT will smooth them down, sir," I remarked, "from the cook
to the scullion."
"Go, and do it at once, Mr. Betteredge."
I did it in less than five minutes. There was only one difficulty when I
came to the bit about the bed-rooms. It took a pretty stiff exertion
of my authority, as chief, to prevent the whole of the female household
from following me and Penelope up-stairs, in the character of volunteer
witnesses in a burning fever of anxiety to help Sergeant Cuff.
The Sergeant seemed to approve of Penelope. He became a trifle less dreary;
and he looked much as he had looked when he noticed the white musk rose
in the flower-garden. Here is my daughter's evidence, as drawn off from
her by the Sergeant. She gave it, I think, very prettily--but, there! she
is my child all over: nothing of her mother in her; Lord bless you,
nothing of her mother in her!
Penelope examined: Took a lively interest in the painting
on the door, having helped to mix the colours. Noticed the bit
of work under the lock, because it was the last bit done.
Had seen it, some hours afterwards, without a smear.
Had left it, as late as twelve at night, without a smear.
Had, at that hour, wished her young lady good night in the bedroom;
had heard the clock strike in the "boudoir"; had her hand
at the time on the handle of the painted door; knew the paint
was wet (having helped to mix the colours, as aforesaid);
took particular pains not to touch it; could swear that she
held up the skirts of her dress, and that there was no smear
on the paint then; could not swear that her dress mightn't
have touched it accidentally in going out; remembered the dress
she had on, because it was new, a present from Miss Rachel;
her father remembered, and could speak to it, too; could, and would,
and did fetch it; dress recognised by her father as the dress
she wore that night; skirts examined, a long job from the size
of them; not the ghost of a paint-stain discovered anywhere.
End of Penelope's evidence--and very pretty and convincing, too.
Signed, Gabriel Betteredge.
The Sergeant's next proceeding was to question me about any
large dogs in the house who might have got into the room,
and done the mischief with a whisk of their tails.
Hearing that this was impossible, he next sent for a
magnifying-glass, and tried how the smear looked, seen that way.
No skin-mark (as of a human hand) printed off on the paint.
All the signs visible--signs which told that the paint had been
smeared by some loose article of somebody's dress touching
it in going by. That somebody (putting together Penelope's
evidence and Mr. Franklin's evidence) must have been in the room,
and done the mischief, between midnight and three o'clock
on the Thursday morning.
Having brought his investigation to this point, Sergeant Cuff discovered
that such a person as Superintendent Seegrave was still left in the room,
upon which he summed up the proceedings for his brother-officer's benefit,
"This trifle of yours, Mr. Superintendent," says the Sergeant,
pointing to the place on the door, "has grown a little in importance
since you noticed it last. At the present stage of the inquiry there are,
as I take it, three discoveries to make, starting from that smear.
Find out (first) whether there is any article of dress in this house with
the smear of the paint on it. Find out (second) who that dress belongs to.
Find out (third) how the person can account for having been in this room,
and smeared the paint, between midnight and three in the morning.
If the person can't satisfy you, you haven't far to look for the hand that
has got the Diamond. I'll work this by myself, if you please, and detain
you no longer-from your regular business in the town. You have got one
of your men here, I see. Leave him here at my disposal, in case I want him--
and allow me to wish you good morning."
Superintendent Seegrave's respect for the Sergeant was great;
but his respect for himself was greater still. Hit hard by the
celebrated Cuff, he hit back smartly, to the best of his ability,
on leaving the room.
"I have abstained from expressing any opinion, so far,"
says Mr. Superintendent, with his military voice still
in good working order. "I have now only one remark to
offer on leaving this case in your hands. There IS such
a thing, Sergeant, as making a mountain out of a molehill.
"There is also such a thing as making nothing out of a molehill,
in consequence of your head being too high to see it."
Having returned his brother-officer's compliments in those terms,
Sergeant Cuff wheeled about, and walked away to the window
Mr. Franklin and I waited to see what was coming next.
The Sergeant stood at the window with his hands in his pockets,
looking out, and whistling the tune of "The Last Rose of Summer"
softly to himself. Later in the proceedings, I discovered
that he only forgot his manners so far as to whistle, when his
mind was hard at work, seeing its way inch by inch to its own
private ends, on which occasions "The Last Rose of Summer"
evidently helped and encouraged him. I suppose it fitted
in somehow with his character. It reminded him, you see, of his
favourite roses, and, as HE whistled it, it was the most melancholy
Turning from the window, after a minute or two, the Sergeant
walked into the middle of the room, and stopped there,
deep in thought, with his eyes on Miss Rachel's bed-room door.
After a little he roused himself, nodded his head, as much
as to say, "That will do," and, addressing me, asked for
ten minutes' conversation with my mistress, at her ladyship's
Leaving the room with this message, I heard Mr. Franklin ask the Sergeant
a question, and stopped to hear the answer also at the threshold of the door.
"Can you guess yet," inquired Mr. Franklin, "who has stolen the Diamond?"
"NOBODY HAS STOLEN THE DIAMOND," answered Sergeant Cuff.
We both started at that extraordinary view of the case,
and both earnestly begged him to tell us what he meant.
"Wait a little," said the Sergeant. "The pieces of the puzzle
are not all put together yet."
I found my lady in her own sitting room. She started and looked
annoyed when I mentioned that Sergeant Cuff wished to speak to her.
"MUST I see him?" she asked. "Can't you represent me, Gabriel?"
I felt at a loss to understand this, and showed it plainly, I suppose,
in my face. My lady was so good as to explain herself.
"I am afraid my nerves are a little shaken," she said.
"There is something in that police-officer from London which I
recoil from--I don't know why. I have a presentiment that
he is bringing trouble and misery with him into the house.
Very foolish, and very unlike ME--but so it is."
I hardly knew what to say to this. The more I saw of Sergeant Cuff,
the better I liked him. My lady rallied a little after having opened
her heart to me--being, naturally, a woman of a high courage, as I have
already told you.
"If I must see him, I must," she said. "But I can't prevail on myself
to see him alone. Bring him in, Gabriel, and stay here as long as he stays."
This was the first attack of the megrims that I remembered
in my mistress since the time when she was a young girl.
I went back to the "boudoir." Mr. Franklin strolled out into
the garden, and joined Mr. Godfrey, whose time for departure
was now drawing near. Sergeant Cuff and I went straight to my
I declare my lady turned a shade paler at the sight of him!
She commanded herself, however, in other respects, and asked
the Sergeant if he had any objection to my being present.
She was so good as to add, that I was her trusted adviser,
as well as her old servant, and that in anything which related
to the household I was the person whom it might be most
profitable to consult. The Sergeant politely answered
that he would take my presence as a favour, having something
to say about the servants in general, and having found
my experience in that quarter already of some use to him.
My lady pointed to two chairs, and we set in for our
"I have already formed an opinion on this case, says Sergeant Cuff,
"which I beg your ladyship's permission to keep to myself for the present.
My business now is to mention what I have discovered up-stairs in Miss
Verinder's sitting-room, and what I have decided (with your ladyship's leave)
on doing next."
He then went into the matter of the smear on the paint, and stated
the conclusions he drew from it--just as he had stated them
(only with greater respect of language) to Superintendent Seegrave.
"One thing," he said, in conclusion, "is certain. The Diamond is missing
out of the drawer in the cabinet. Another thing is next to certain.
The marks from the smear on the door must be on some article of dress
belonging to somebody in this house. We must discover that article of
dress before we go a step further."
"And that discovery," remarked my mistress, "implies, I presume,
the discovery of the thief?"
"I beg your ladyship's pardon--I don't say the Diamond is stolen.
I only say, at present, that the Diamond is missing. The discovery
of the stained dress may lead the way to finding it."
Her ladyship looked at me. "Do you understand this?" she said.
"Sergeant Cuff understands it, my lady," I answered.
"How do you propose to discover the stained dress?" inquired my mistress,
addressing herself once more to the Sergeant. "My good servants,
who have been with me for years, have, I am ashamed to say, had their
boxes and rooms searched already by the other officer. I can't and won't
permit them to be insulted in that way a second time!"
(There was a mistress to serve! There was a woman in ten thousand,
if you like!)
"That is the very point I was about to put to your ladyship,"
said the Sergeant. "The other officer has done a world of harm
to this inquiry, by letting the servants see that he suspected them.
If I give them cause to think themselves suspected a second time,
there's no knowing what obstacles they may not throw in my way--
the women especially. At the same time, their boxes must be
searched again--for this plain reason, that the first investigation
only looked for the Diamond, and that the second investigation
must look for the stained dress. I quite agree with you,
my lady, that the servants' feelings ought to be consulted.
But I am equally clear that the servants' wardrobes ought to
This looked very like a dead-lock. My lady said so, in choicer language
"I have got a plan to meet the difficulty," said Sergeant Cuff,
"if your ladyship will consent to it. I propose explaining the case
to the servants."
"The women will think themselves suspected directly, I said,
"The women won't, Mr. Betteredge," answered the Sergeant, "if I
can tell them I am going to examine the wardrobes of EVERYBODY--
from her ladyship downwards--who slept in the house on Wednesday night.
It's a mere formality," he added, with a side look at my mistress;
"but the servants will accept it as even dealing between them
and their betters; and, instead of hindering the investigation,
they will make a point of honour of assisting it."
I saw the truth of that. My lady, after her first surprise was over,
saw the truth of it also.
"You are certain the investigation is necessary?" she said.
"It's the shortest way that I can see, my lady, to the end we have in view."
My mistress rose to ring the bell for her maid. "You shall speak
to the servants," she said, "with the keys of my wardrobe in your hand."
Sergeant Cuff stopped her by a very unexpected question.
"Hadn't we better make sure first," he asked, "that the other ladies
and gentlemen in the house will consent, too?"
"The only other lady in the house is Miss Verinder," answered my mistress,
with a look of surprise. "The only gentlemen are my nephews, Mr. Blake
and Mr. Ablewhite. There is not the least fear of a refusal from any of
I reminded my lady here that Mr. Godfrey was going away.
As I said the words, Mr. Godfrey himself knocked at the door to say
good-bye, and was followed in by Mr. Franklin, who was going
with him to the station. My lady explained the difficulty.
Mr. Godfrey settled it directly. He called to Samuel,
through the window, to take his portmanteau up-stairs again,
and he then put the key himself into Sergeant Cuff's hand.
"My luggage can follow me to London," he said, "when the inquiry
is over." The Sergeant received the key with a becoming apology.
"I am sorry to put you to any inconvenience, sir, for a
mere formality; but the example of their betters will do wonders
in reconciling the servants to this inquiry." Mr. Godfrey,
after taking leave of my lady, in a most sympathising manner?
left a farewell message for Miss Rachel, the terms of which made
it clear to my mind that he had not taken No for an answer,
and that he meant to put the marriage question to her once more,
at the next opportunity. Mr. Franklin, on following his
cousin out, informed the Sergeant that all his clothes were open
to examination, and that nothing he possessed was kept under
lock and key. Sergeant Cuff made his best acknowledgments.
His views, you will observe, had been met with the utmost
readiness by my lady, by Mr. Godfrey, and by Mr. Franklin.
There was only Miss. Rachel now wanting to follow their lead,
before we-called the servants together, and began the search for the
My lady's unaccountable objection to the Sergeant seemed to make
our conference more distasteful to her than ever, as soon as we
were left alone again. "If I send you down Miss Verinder's keys,"
she said to him, "I presume I shall have done all you want of me
for the present?"
"I beg your ladyship's pardon," said Sergeant Cuff. "Before we begin,
I should like, if convenient, to have the washing-book. The stained article
of dress may be an article of linen. If the search leads to nothing,
I want to be able to account next for all the linen in the house,
and for all the linen sent to the wash. If there is an article missing,
there will be at least a presumption that it has got the paint-stain on it,
and that it has been purposely made away with, yesterday or to-day,
by the person owning it. Superintendent Seegrave," added the Sergeant,
turning to me, "pointed the attention of the women-servants to the smear,
when they all crowded into the room on Thursday morning. That may turn out,
Mr. Betteredge, to have been one more of Superintendent Seegrave's
My lady desired me to ring the bell, and order the washing-book.
She remained with us until it was produced, in case Sergeant Cuff
had any further request to make of her after looking at it.
The washing-book was brought in by Rosanna Spearman. The girl had come
down to breakfast that morning miserably pale and haggard, but sufficiently
recovered from her illness of the previous day to do her usual work.
Sergeant Cuff looked attentively at our second housemaid--at her face,
when she came in; at her crooked shoulder, when she went out.
"Have you anything more to say to me?" asked my lady, still as eager
as ever to be out of the Sergeant's society.
The great Cuff opened the washing-book, understood it perfectly in half
a minute, and shut it up again. "I venture to trouble your ladyship
with one last question," he said. "Has the young woman who brought us
this book been in your employment as long as the other servants?"
"Why do you ask?" said my lady.
"The last time I saw her," answered the Sergeant, "she was in prison
After that, there was no help for it, but to tell him the truth.
My mistress dwelt strongly on Rosanna's good conduct in her service,
and on the high opinion entertained of her by the matron at the reformatory.
"You don't suspect her, I hope?" my lady added, in conclusion,
"I have already told your ladyship that I don't suspect any person
in the house of thieving--up to the present time."
After that answer, my lady rose to go up-stairs, and ask
for Miss Rachel's keys. The Sergeant was before-hand with me
in opening the door for her. He made a very low bow.
My lady shuddered as she passed him.
We waited, and waited, and no keys appeared. Sergeant Cuff made
no remark to me. He turned his melancholy face to the window;
he put his lanky hands into his pockets; and he whistled "The Last
Rose of Summer" softly to himself.
At last, Samuel came in, not with the keys, but with a morsel of paper
for me. I got at my spectacles, with some fumbling and difficulty,
feeling the Sergeant's dismal eyes fixed on me all the time.
There were two or three lines on the paper, written in pencil by my lady.
They informed me that Miss Rachel flatly refused to have her
wardrobe examined. Asked for her reasons, she had burst out crying.
Asked again, she had said: "I won't, because I won't. I must
yield to force if you use it, but I will yield to nothing else."
I understood my lady's disinclination to face Sergeant Cuff with such
an answer from her daughter as that. If I had not been too old
for the amiable weaknesses of youth, I believe I should have blushed
at the notion of facing him myself.
"Any news of Miss Verinder's keys?" asked the Sergeant.
"My young lady refuses to have her wardrobe examined."
"Ah!" said the Sergeant.
His voice was not quite in such a perfect state of discipline as his face.
When he said "Ah!" he said it in the tone of a man who had heard something
which he expected to hear. He half angered and half frightened me--why, I
couldn't tell, but he did it.
"Must the search be given up?" I asked.
"Yes," said the Sergeant, "the search must be given up,
because your young lady refuses to submit to it like the rest.
We must examine all the wardrobes in the house or none.
Send Mr. Ablewhite's portmanteau to London by the next train,
and return the washing-book, with my compliments and thanks,
to the young woman who brought it in."
He laid the washing-book on the table, and taking out his penknife,
began to trim his nails.
"You don't seem to be much disappointed," I said.
"No," said Sergeant Cuff; "I am not much disappointed."
I tried to make him explain himself.
"Why should Miss Rachel put an obstacle in your way?" I inquired.
"Isn't it her interest to help you?"
"Wait a little, Mr. Betteredge--wait a little."
Cleverer heads than mine might have seen his drift. Or a person
less fond of Miss Rachel than I was, might have seen his drift.
My lady's horror of him might (as I have since thought)
have meant that she saw his drift (as the scripture says)
"in a glass darkly." I didn't see it yet--that's all
"What's to be done next?" I asked.
Sergeant Cuff finished the nail on which he was then at work,
looked at it for a moment with a melancholy interest, and put up
"Come out into the garden," he said " and let's have a look at the roses."
The nearest way to the garden, on going out of my lady's sitting-room,
was by the shrubbery path, which you already know of. For the sake
of your better understanding of what is now to come, I may add to this,
that the shrubbery path was Mr. Franklin's favourite walk. When he was
out in the grounds, and when we failed to find him anywhere else,
we generally found him here.
I am afraid I must own that I am rather an obstinate old man.
The more firmly Sergeant Cuff kept his thoughts shut up from me,
the more firmly I persisted in trying to look in at them.
As we turned into the shrubbery path, I attempted to circumvent
him in another way.
"As things are now," I said, "if I was in your place, I should be at
my wits' end."
"If you were in my place," answered the Sergeant, "you would have formed
an opinion--and, as things are now, any doubt you might previously
have felt about your own conclusions would be completely set at rest.
Never mind for the present what those conclusions are, Mr. Betteredge.
I haven't brought you out here to draw me like a badger; I have brought you
out here to ask for some information. You might have given it to me no doubt,
in the house, instead of out of it. But doors and listeners have a knack
of getting together; and, in my line of life, we cultivate a healthy taste
for the open air."
Who was to circumvent THIS man? I gave in--and waited as patiently
as I could to hear what was coming next.
"We won't enter into your young lady's motives," the Sergeant went on;
"we will only say it's a pity she declines to assist me, because,
by so doing, she makes this investigation more difficult than it
might otherwise have been. We must now try to solve the mystery
of the smear on the door--which, you may take my word for it,
means the mystery of the Diamond also--in some other way.
I have decided to see the servants, and to search their thoughts
and actions, Mr. Betteredge, instead of searching their wardrobes.
Before I begin, however, I want to ask you a question or two.
You are an observant man--did you notice anything strange in any of
the servants (making due allowance, of course, for fright and fluster),
after the loss of the Diamond was found out? Any particular quarrel
among them? Any one of them not in his or her usual spirits?
Unexpectedly out of temper, for instance? or unexpectedly
I had just time to think of Rosanna Spearman's sudden illness
at yesterday's dinner--but not time to make any answer--when I saw
Sergeant Cuff's eyes suddenly turn aside towards the shrubbery;
and I heard him say softly to himself, "Hullo!"
"What's the matter?" I asked.
"A touch of the rheumatics in my back," said the Sergeant,
in a loud voice, as if he wanted some third person to hear us.
"We shall have a change in the weather before long."
A few steps further brought us to the corner of the house.
Turning off sharp to the right, we entered on the terrace,
and went down, by the steps in the middle, into the garden below.
Sergeant Cuff stopped there, in the open space, where we could see
round us on every side.
"About that young person, Rosanna Spearman?" he said.
"It isn't very likely, with her personal appearance, that she
has got a lover. But, for the girl's own sake, I must ask you
at once whether SHE has provided herself with a sweetheart,
poor wretch, like the rest of them?"
What on earth did he mean, under present circumstances,
by putting such a question to me as that? I stared at him,
instead of answering him.
"I saw Rosanna Spearman hiding in the shrubbery as we went by,"
said the Sergeant.
"When you said 'Hullo'?"
"Yes--when I said 'Hullo!' If there's a sweetheart in the case,
the hiding doesn't much matter. If there isn't--as things are
in this house--the hiding is a highly suspicious circumstance,
and it will be my painful duty to act on it accordingly."
What, in God's name, was I to say to him? I knew the shrubbery
was Mr. Franklin's favourite walk; I knew he would most
likely turn that way when he came back from the station;
I knew that Penelope had over and over again caught her
fellow-servant hanging about there, and had always declared to me
that Rosanna's object was to attract Mr. Franklin's attention.
If my daughter was right, she might well have been lying in wait
for Mr. Franklin's return when the Sergeant noticed her.
I was put between the two difficulties of mentioning Penelope's
fanciful notion as if it was mine, or of leaving an unfortunate
creature to suffer the consequences, the very serious consequences,
of exciting the suspicion of Sergeant Cuff. Out of pure pity
for the girl--on my soul and my character, out of pure pity
for the girl--I gave the Sergeant the necessary explanations,
and told him that Rosanna had been mad enough to set her heart on
Mr. Franklin Blake.
Sergeant Cuff never laughed. On the few occasions when anything amused him,
he curled up a little at the corners of the lips, nothing more. He curled
"Hadn't you better say she's mad enough to be an ugly girl and only
a servant?" he asked. "The falling in love with a gentleman of Mr. Franklin
Blake's manners and appearance doesn't seem to me to be the maddest part
of her conduct by any means. However, I'm glad the thing is cleared up:
it relieves one's mind to have things cleared up. Yes, I'll keep it
a secret, Mr. Betteredge. I like to be tender to human infirmity--
though I don't get many chances of exercising that virtue in my line of life.
You think Mr. Franklin Blake hasn't got a suspicion of the girl's fancy
for him? Ah! he would have found it out fast enough if she had been
nice-looking. The ugly women have a bad time of it in this world;
let's hope it will be made up to them in another. You have got a nice
garden here, and a well-kept lawn. See for yourself how much better
the flowers look with grass about them instead of gravel. No, thank you.
I won't take a rose. It goes to my heart to break them off the stem.
Just as it goes to your heart, you know, when there's something wrong
in the servants' hall. Did you notice anything you couldn't account
for in any of the servants when the loss of the Diamond was first
I had got on very fairly well with Sergeant Cuff so far.
But the slyness with which he slipped in that last question
put me on my guard. In plain English, I didn't at all relish
the notion of helping his inquiries, when those inquiries
took him (in the capacity of snake in the grass) among my
"I noticed nothing," I said, "except that we all lost our heads together,
"Oh," says the Sergeant, "that's all you have to tell me,
I answered, with (as I flattered myself) an unmoved countenance,
"That is all."
Sergeant Cuff's dismal eyes looked me hard in the face.
"Mr. Betteredge," he said, "have you any objection to oblige me
by shaking hands? I have taken an extraordinary liking to you."
(Why he should have chosen the exact moment when I was deceiving him
to give me that proof of his good opinion, is beyond all comprehension!
I felt a little proud--I really did feel a little proud of having been one
too many at last for the celebrated Cuff!)
We went back to the house; the Sergeant requesting that I would
give him a room to himself, and then send in the servants
(the indoor servants only), one after another, in the order
of their rank, from first to last.
I showed Sergeant Cuff into my own room, and then called the servants
together in the hall. Rosanna Spearman appeared among them, much as usual.
She was as quick in her way as the Sergeant in his, and I suspect she
had heard what he said to me about the servants in general, just before
he discovered her. There she was, at any rate, looking as if she had
never heard of such a place as the shrubbery in her life.
I sent them in, one by one, as desired. The cook was
the first to enter the Court of Justice, otherwise my room.
She remained but a short time. Report, on coming out:
"Sergeant Cuff is depressed in his spirits; but Sergeant
Cuff is a perfect gentleman." My lady's own maid followed.
Remained much longer. Report, on coming out: "If Sergeant
Cuff doesn't believe a respectable woman, he might keep
his opinion to himself, at any rate!" Penelope went next.
Remained only a moment or two. Report, on coming out:
"Sergeant Cuff is much to be pitied. He must have been
crossed in love, father, when he was a young man."
The first housemaid followed Penelope. Remained, like my
lady's maid, a long time. Report, on coming out: "I didn't
enter her ladyship's service, Mr. Betteredge, to be doubted
to my face by a low police-officer!" Rosanna Spearman went next.
Remained longer than any of them. No report on coming out--
dead silence, and lips as pale as ashes. Samuel, the footman,
followed Rosanna. Remained a minute or two. Report, on coming out:
"Whoever blacks Sergeant Cuff's boots ought to be ashamed
of himself." Nancy, the kitchen-maid, went last. Remained a minute
or two. Report, on coming out: "Sergeant Cuff has a heart;
HE doesn't cut jokes, Mr. Betteredge, with a poor hard-working
Going into the Court of Justice, when it was all over, to hear if there
were any further commands for me, I found the Sergeant at his old trick--
looking out of window, and whistling "The Last Rose of Summer"
"Any discoveries, sir?" I inquired.
"If Rosanna Spearman asks leave to go out," said the Sergeant,
"let the poor thing go; but let me know first."
I might as well have held my tongue about Rosanna and Mr. Franklin!
It was plain enough; the unfortunate girl had fallen under Sergeant
Cuff's suspicions, in spite of all I could do to prevent it.
"I hope you don't think Rosanna is concerned in the loss of the Diamond?"
I ventured to say.
The corners of the Sergeant's melancholy mouth curled up,
and he looked hard in my face, just as he had looked in the garden.
"I think I had better not tell you, Mr. Betteredge," he said.
"You might lose your head, you know, for the second time."
I began to doubt whether I had been one too many for the celebrated Cuff,
after all! It was rather a relief to me that we were interrupted
here by a knock at the door, and a message from the cook.
Rosanna Spearman HAD asked to go out, for the usual reason,
that her head was bad, and she wanted a breath of fresh air.
At a sign from the Sergeant, I said, Yes. "Which is the servants'
way out?" he asked, when the messenger had gone. I showed
him the servants' way out. "Lock the door of your room,"
says the Sergeant; "and if anybody asks for me, say I'm in there,
composing my mind." He curled up again at the corners of the lips,
Left alone, under those circumstances, a devouring curiosity pushed me
on to make some discoveries for myself.
It was plain that Sergeant Cuff's suspicions of Rosanna had been roused
by something that he had found out at his examination of the servants
in my room. Now, the only two servants (excepting Rosanna herself)
who had remained under examination for any length of time, were my lady's own
maid and the first housemaid, those two being also the women who had taken
the lead in persecuting their unfortunate fellow-servant from the first.
Reaching these conclusions, I looked in on them, casually as it might be,
in the servants' hall, and, finding tea going forward, instantly invited
myself to that meal. (For, NOTA BENE, a drop of tea is to a woman's tongue
what a drop of oil is to a wasting lamp.)
My reliance on the tea-pot, as an ally, did not go unrewarded.
In less than half an hour I knew as much as the Sergeant himself.
My lady's maid and the housemaid, had, it appeared, neither of them
believed in Rosanna's illness of the previous day. These two devils--
I ask your pardon; but how else CAN you describe a couple of spiteful women?--
had stolen up-stairs, at intervals during the Thursday afternoon; had tried
Rosanna's door, and found it locked; had knocked, and not been answered;
had listened, and not heard a sound inside. When the girl had come
down to tea, and had been sent up, still out of sorts, to bed again,
the two devils aforesaid had tried her door once more, and found it locked;
had looked at the keyhole, and found it stopped up; had seen a light
under the door at midnight, and had heard the crackling of a fire (a fire
in a servant's bed-room in the month of June!) at four in the morning.
All this they had told Sergeant Cuff, who, in return for their anxiety
to enlighten him, had eyed them with sour and suspicious looks, and had
shown them plainly that he didn't believe either one or the other.
Hence, the unfavourable reports of him which these two women had brought
out with them from the examination. Hence, also (without reckoning
the influence of the tea-pot), their readiness to let their tongues run
to any length on the subject of the Sergeant's ungracious behaviour
Having had some experience of the great Cuff's round-about ways,
and having last seen him evidently bent on following Rosanna
privately when she went out for her walk, it seemed clear to me
that he had thought it unadvisable to let the lady's maid
and the housemaid know how materially they had helped him.
They were just the sort of women, if he had treated their evidence
as trustworthy, to have been puffed up by it, and to have said
or done something which would have put Rosanna Spearman on
I walked out in the fine summer afternoon, very sorry for the poor girl,
and very uneasy in my mind at the turn things had taken.
Drifting towards the shrubbery, some time later, there I met Mr. Franklin.
After returning from seeing his cousin off at the station,
he had been with my lady, holding a long conversation with her.
She had told him of Miss Rachel's unaccountable refusal to let her
wardrobe be examined; and had put him in such low spirits about my
young lady that he seemed to shrink from speaking on the subject.
The family temper appeared in his face that evening, for the first time in
my experience of him.
"Well, Betteredge," he said, "how does the atmosphere of mystery
and suspicion in which we are all living now, agree with you?
Do you remember that morning when I first came here with the Moonstone?
I wish to God we had thrown it into the quicksand!"
After breaking out in that way, he abstained from speaking
again until he had composed himself. We walked silently,
side by side, for a minute or two, and then he asked me
what had become of Sergeant Cuff. It was impossible to put
Mr. Franklin off with the excuse of the Sergeant being in my room,
composing his mind. I told him exactly what had happened,
mentioning particularly what my lady's maid and the house-maid
had said about Rosanna Spearman.
Mr. Franklin's clear head saw the turn the Sergeant's suspicions had taken,
in the twinkling of an eye.
"Didn't you tell me this morning," he said, "that one of the tradespeople
declared he had met Rosanna yesterday, on the footway to Frizinghall,
when we supposed her to be ill in her room?"
"If my aunt's maid and the other woman have spoken the truth,
you may depend upon it the tradesman did meet her.
The girl's attack of illness was a blind to deceive us.
She had some guilty reason for going to the town secretly.
The paint-stained dress is a dress of hers; and the fire heard
crackling in her room at four in the morning was a fire lit
to destroy it. Rosanna Spearman has stolen the Diamond.
I'll go in directly, and tell my aunt the turn things
"Not just yet, if you please, sir," said a melancholy voice behind us.
We both turned about, and found ourselves face to face with Sergeant Cuff.
"Why not just yet?" asked Mr. Franklin.
"Because, sir, if you tell her ladyship, her ladyship will tell
"Suppose she does. What then?" Mr. Franklin said those words with a sudden
heat and vehemence, as if the Sergeant had mortally offended him.
"Do you think it's wise, sir," said Sergeant Cuff, quietly, "to put
such a question as that to me--at such a time as this?"
There was a moment's silence between them: Mr. Franklin walked close
up to the Sergeant. The two looked each other straight in the face.
Mr. Franklin spoke first, dropping his voice as suddenly as he had
"I suppose you know, Mr. Cuff," he said, "that you are treading
on delicate ground?"
"It isn't the first time, by a good many hundreds, that I
find myself treading on delicate ground," answered the other,
as immovable as ever.
"I am to understand that you forbid me to tell my aunt what has happened?"
"You are to understand, if you please, sir, that I throw up the case,
if you tell Lady Verinder, or tell anybody, what has happened, until I
give you leave."
That settled it. Mr. Franklin had no choice but to submit.
He turned away in anger--and left us.
I had stood there listening to them, all in a tremble; not knowing
whom to suspect, or what to think next. In the midst of my confusion,
two things, however, were plain to me. First, that my young lady was,
in some unaccountable manner, at the bottom of the sharp speeches that had
passed between them. Second, that they thoroughly understood each other,
without having previously exchanged a word of explanation on either side.
"Mr. Betteredge," says the Sergeant, "you have done a very foolish thing in
my absence. You have done a little detective business on your own account.
For the future, perhaps you will be so obliging as to do your detective
business along with me."
He took me by the arm, and walked me away with him along the road
by which he had come. I dare say I had deserved his reproof--
but I was not going to help him to set traps for Rosanna Spearman,
for all that. Thief or no thief, legal or not legal, I don't care--
I pitied her.
"What do you want of me?" I asked, shaking him off, and stopping short.
"Only a little information about the country round here,"
said the Sergeant.
I couldn't well object to improve Sergeant Cuff in his geography.
"Is there any path, in that direction, leading to the sea-beach
from this house?" asked the Sergeant. He pointed, as he spoke,
to the fir-plantation which led to the Shivering Sand.
"Yes," I said, "there is a path."
"Show it to me."
Side by side, in the grey of the summer evening, Sergeant Cuff and I
set forth for the Shivering Sand.
The Sergeant remained silent, thinking his own thoughts, till we
entered the plantation of firs which led to the quicksand.
There he roused himself, like a man whose mind was made up,
and spoke to me again.
"Mr. Betteredge," he said, "as you have honoured me by taking an oar
in my boat, and as you may, I think, be of some assistance to me before
the evening is out, I see no use in our mystifying one another any longer,
and I propose to set you an example of plain speaking on my side. You are
determined to give me no information to the prejudice of Rosanna Spearman,
because she has been a good girl to YOU, and because you pity her heartily.
Those humane considerations do you a world of credit, but they happen
in this instance to be humane considerations clean thrown away.
Rosanna Spearman is not in the slightest danger of getting into trouble--
no, not if I fix her with being concerned in the disappearance of the Diamond,
on evidence which is as plain as the nose on your face!"
"Do you mean that my lady won't prosecute?" I asked.
"I mean that your lady CAN'T prosecute," said the Sergeant.
"Rosanna Spearman is simply an instrument in the hands
of another person, and Rosanna Spearman will be held harmless
for that other person's sake."
He spoke like a man in earnest--there was no denying that.
Still, I felt something stirring uneasily against him in my mind.
"Can't you give that other person a name?" I said.
"Can't you, Mr. Betteredge?"
Sergeant Cuff stood stock still, and surveyed me with a look
of melancholy interest.
"It's always a pleasure to me to be tender towards human infirmity,"
he said. "I feel particularly tender at the present moment,
Mr. Betteredge, towards you. And you, with the same excellent motive,
feel particularly tender towards Rosanna Spearman, don't you?
Do you happen to know whether she has had a new outfit of
What he meant by slipping in this extraordinary question unawares,
I was at a total loss to imagine. Seeing no possible injury
to Rosanna if I owned the truth, I answered that the girl had
come to us rather sparely provided with linen, and that my lady,
in recompense for her good conduct (I laid a stress on her good
conduct), had given her a new outfit not a fortnight since.
"This is a miserable world," says the Sergeant. "Human life,
Mr. Betteredge, is a sort of target--misfortune is always firing
at it, and always hitting the mark. But for that outfit,
we should have discovered a new nightgown or petticoat
among Rosanna's things, and have nailed her in that way.
You're not at a loss to follow me, are you? You have examined
the servants yourself, and you know what discoveries two of them
made outside Rosanna's door. Surely you know what the girl
was about yesterday, after she was taken ill? You can't guess?
Oh dear me, it's as plain as that strip of light there,
at the end of the trees. At eleven, on Thursday morning,
Superintendent Seegrave (who is a mass of human infirmity)
points out to all the women servants the smear on the door.
Rosanna has her own reasons for suspecting her own things;
she takes the first opportunity of getting to her room,
finds the paint-stain on her night-gown, or petticoat,
or what not, shams ill and slips away to the town,
gets the materials for making a new petticoat or nightgown,
makes it alone in her room on the Thursday night lights a fire
(not to destroy it; two of her fellow-servants are prying outside
her door, and she knows better than to make a smell of burning,
and to have a lot of tinder to get rid of)--lights a fire, I say,
to dry and iron the substitute dress after wringing it out,
keeps the stained dress hidden (probably ON her), and is at this
moment occupied in making away with it, in some convenient place,
on that lonely bit of beach ahead of us. I have traced her this
evening to your fishing village, and to one particular cottage,
which we may possibly have to visit, before we go back.
She stopped in the cottage for some time, and she came
out with (as I believe) something hidden under her cloak.
A cloak (on a woman's back) is an emblem of charity--
it covers a multitude of sins. I saw her set off northwards
along the coast, after leaving the cottage. Is your sea-shore
here considered a fine specimen of marine landscape,
I answered, "Yes," as shortly as might be.
"Tastes differ," says Sergeant Cuff. "Looking at it from my point
of view, I never saw a marine landscape that I admired less.
If you happen to be following another person along your
sea-coast, and if that person happens to look round, there isn't
a scrap of cover to hide you anywhere. I had to choose
between taking Rosanna in custody on suspicion, or leaving her,
for the time being, with her little game in her own hands.
For reasons which I won't trouble you with, I decided on making
any sacrifice rather than give the alarm as soon as to-night
to a certain person who shall be nameless between us.
I came back to the house to ask you to take me to the north end
of the beach by another way. Sand--in respect of its printing off
people's footsteps--is one of the best detective officers I know.
If we don't meet with Rosanna Spearman by coming round on
her in this way, the sand may tell us what she has been at,
if the light only lasts long enough. Here IS the sand.
If you will excuse my suggesting it--suppose you hold your tongue,
and let me go first?"
If there is such a thing known at the doctor's shop as a DETECTIVE-FEVER,
that disease had now got fast hold of your humble servant. Sergeant Cuff
went on between the hillocks of sand, down to the beach. I followed him
(with my heart in my mouth); and waited at a little distance for what was to
As it turned out, I found myself standing nearly in the same place
where Rosanna Spearman and I had been talking together when Mr. Franklin
suddenly appeared before us, on arriving at our house from London.
While my eyes were watching the Sergeant, my mind wandered away in spite
of me to what had passed, on that former occasion, between Rosanna and me.
I declare I almost felt the poor thing slip her hand again into mine,
and give it a little grateful squeeze to thank me for speaking kindly to her.
I declare I almost heard her voice telling me again that the Shivering
Sand seemed to draw her to it against her own will, whenever she went out--
almost saw her face brighten again, as it brightened when she first set
eyes upon Mr. Franklin coming briskly out on us from among the hillocks.
My spirits fell lower and lower as I thought of these things--and the view
of the lonesome little bay, when I looked about to rouse myself, only served
to make me feel more uneasy still.
The last of the evening light was fading away; and over
all the desolate place there hung a still and awful calm.
The heave of the main ocean on the great sandbank out in the bay,
was a heave that made no sound. The inner sea lay lost and dim,
without a breath of wind to stir it. Patches of nasty
ooze floated, yellow-white, on the dead surface of the water.
Scum and slime shone faintly in certain places, where the last
of the light still caught them on the two great spits of rock
jutting out, north and south, into the sea. It was now the time
of the turn of the tide: and even as I stood there waiting,
the broad brown face of the quicksand began to dimple and quiver--
the only moving thing in all the horrid place.
I saw the Sergeant start as the shiver of the sand caught his eye.
After looking at it for a minute or so, he turned and came back
"A treacherous place, Mr. Betteredge," he said; "and no signs
of Rosanna Spearman anywhere on the beach, look where you may."
He took me down lower on the shore, and I saw for myself that his footsteps
and mine were the only footsteps printed off on the sand.
"How does the fishing village bear, standing where we are now?"
asked Sergeant Cuff.
"Cobb's Hole," I answered (that being the name of the place), "bears
as near as may be, due south."
"I saw the girl this evening, walking northward along the shore,
from Cobb's Hole," said the Sergeant. "Consequently, she must have
been walking towards this place. Is Cobb's Hole on the other side
of that point of land there? And can we get to it--now it's low water--
by the beach?"
I answered, "Yes," to both those questions.
"If you'll excuse my suggesting it, we'll step out briskly,"
said the Sergeant. "I want to find the place where she left
the shore, before it gets dark."
We had walked, I should say, a couple of hundred yards towards Cobb's Hole,
when Sergeant Cuff suddenly went down on his knees on the beach, to all
appearance seized with a sudden frenzy for saying his prayers.
"There's something to be said for your marine landscape here, after all,"
remarked the Sergeant. "Here are a woman's footsteps, Mr. Betteredge!
Let us call them Rosanna's footsteps, until we find evidence to the contrary
that we can't resist. Very confused footsteps, you will please to observe--
purposely confused, I should say. Ah, poor soul, she understands
the detective virtues of sand as well as I do! But hasn't she been
in rather too great a hurry to tread out the marks thoroughly?
I think she has. Here's one footstep going FROM Cobb's Hole;
and here is another going back to it. Isn't that the toe of her
shoe pointing straight to the water's edge? And don't I see two
heel-marks further down the beach, close at the water's edge also?
I don't want to hurt your feelings, but I'm afraid Rosanna is sly.
It looks as if she had determined to get to that place you and I have
just come from, without leaving any marks on the sand to trace her by.
Shall we say that she walked through the water from this point till
she got to that ledge of rocks behind us, and came back the same way,
and then took to the beach again where those two heel marks are
still left? Yes, we'll say that. It seems to fit in with my notion
that she had something under her cloak, when she left the cottage.
No! not something to destroy--for, in that case, where would have been
the need of all these precautions to prevent my tracing the place at
which her walk ended? Something to hide is, I think, the better guess
of the two. Perhaps, if we go on to the cottage, we may find out what that
At this proposal, my detective-fever suddenly cooled. "You don't want me,"
I said. "What good can I do?"
"The longer I know you, Mr. Betteredge," said the Sergeant,
"the more virtues I discover. Modesty--oh dear me, how rare
modesty is in this world! and how much of that rarity you possess!
If I go alone to the cottage, the people's tongues will be
tied at the first question I put to them. If I go with you,
I go introduced by a justly respected neighbour, and a flow of
conversation is the necessary result. It strikes me in that light;
how does it strike you?"
Not having an answer of the needful smartness as ready as I could have wished,
I tried to gain time by asking him what cottage he wanted to go to.
On the Sergeant describing the place, I recognised it
as a cottage inhabited by a fisherman named Yolland,
with his wife and two grown-up children, a son and a daughter.
If you will look back, you will find that, in first presenting
Rosanna Spearman to your notice, I have described her
as occasionally varying her walk to the Shivering Sand,
by a visit to some friends of hers at Cobb's Hole.
Those friends were the Yollands--respectable, worthy people,
a credit to the neighbourhood. Rosanna's acquaintance with them
had begun by means of the daughter, who was afflicted with a
misshapen foot, and who was known in our parts by the name
of Limping Lucy. The two deformed girls had, I suppose,
a kind of fellow-feeling for each other. Anyway, the Yollands
and Rosanna always appeared to get on together, at the few
chances they had of meeting, in a pleasant and friendly manner.
The fact of Sergeant Cuff having traced the girl to THEIR cottage,
set the matter of my helping his inquiries in quite a new light.
Rosanna had merely gone where she was in the habit of going;
and to show that she had been in company with the fisherman and
his family was as good as to prove that she had been innocently
occupied so far, at any rate. It would be doing the girl
a service, therefore, instead of an injury, if I allowed myself
to be convinced by Sergeant Cuff's logic. I professed myself
convinced by it accordingly.
We went on to Cobb's Hole, seeing the footsteps on the sand,
as long as the light lasted.
On reaching the cottage, the fisherman and his son proved to be out
in the boat; and Limping Lucy, always weak and weary, was resting on
her bed up-stairs. Good Mrs. Yolland received us alone in her kitchen.
When she heard that Sergeant Cuff was a celebrated character in London,
she clapped a bottle of Dutch gin and a couple of clean pipes on the table,
and stared as if she could never see enough of him.
I sat quiet in a corner, waiting to hear how the Sergeant would
find his way to the subject of Rosanna Spearman. His usual
roundabout manner of going to work proved, on this occasion,
to be more roundabout than ever. How he managed it is more
than I could tell at the time, and more than I can tell now.
But this is certain, he began with the Royal Family,
the Primitive Methodists, and the price of fish; and he got from that
(in his dismal, underground way) to the loss of the Moonstone,
the spitefulness of our first house-maid, and the hard behaviour
of the women-servants generally towards Rosanna Spearman.
Having reached his subject in this fashion, he described himself
as making his inquiries about the lost Diamond, partly with a view
to find it, and partly for the purpose of clearing Rosanna
from the unjust suspicions of her enemies in the house.
In about a quarter of an hour from the time when we entered
the kitchen, good Mrs. Yolland was persuaded that she was
talking to Rosanna's best friend, and was pressing Sergeant
Cuff to comfort his stomach and revive his spirits out of the
Being firmly persuaded that the Sergeant was wasting his breath
to no purpose on Mrs. Yolland, I sat enjoying the talk between them,
much as I have sat, in my time, enjoying a stage play.
The great Cuff showed a wonderful patience; trying his luck
drearily this way and that way, and firing shot after shot,
as it were, at random, on the chance of hitting the mark.
Everything to Rosanna's credit, nothing to Rosanna's prejudice--
that was how it ended, try as he might; with Mrs. Yolland
talking nineteen to the dozen, and placing the most entire
confidence in him. His last effort was made, when we had
looked at our watches, and had got on our legs previous to
"I shall now wish you good-night, ma'am," says the Sergeant.
"And I shall only say, at parting, that Rosanna Spearman has
a sincere well-wisher in myself, your obedient servant.
But, oh dear me! she will never get on in her present place;
and my advice to her is--leave it."
"Bless your heart alive! she is GOING to leave it!" cries Mrs. Yolland.
(NOTA BENE--I translate Mrs. Yolland out of the Yorkshire language into
the English language. When I tell you that the all-accomplished Cuff
was every now and then puzzled to understand her until I helped him,
you will draw your own conclusions as to what your state of mind would be if I
reported her in her native tongue.)
Rosanna Spearman going to leave us! I pricked up my ears at that.
It seemed strange, to say the least of it, that she should have
given no warning, in the first place, to my lady or to me.
A certain doubt came up in my mind whether Sergeant Cuff's last random
shot might not have hit the mark. I began to question whether my share
in the proceedings was quite as harmless a one as I had thought it.
It might be all in the way of the Sergeant's business to mystify
an honest woman by wrapping her round in a network of lies
but it was my duty to have remembered, as a good Protestant,
that the father of lies is the Devil--and that mischief and the Devil
are never far apart. Beginning to smell mischief in the air,
I tried to take Sergeant Cuff out. He sat down again instantly,
and asked for a little drop of comfort out of the Dutch bottle.
Mrs Yolland sat down opposite to him, and gave him his nip.
I went on to the door, excessively uncomfortable, and said I thought I
must bid them good-night--and yet I didn't go.
"So she means to leave?" says the Sergeant. "What is she to do when she
does leave? Sad, sad! The poor creature has got no friends in the world,
except you and me."
"Ah, but she has though!" says Mrs. Yolland. "She came in here,
as I told you, this evening; and, after sitting and talking a little
with my girl Lucy and me she asked to go up-stairs by herself,
into Lucy's room. It's the only room in our place where there's
pen and ink. "I want to write a letter to a friend," she says
"and I can't do it for the prying and peeping of the servants up
at the house." Who the letter was written to I can't tell you:
it must have been a mortal long one, judging by the time she stopped
up-stairs over it. I offered her a postage-stamp when she came down.
She hadn't got the letter in her hand, and she didn't accept the stamp.
A little close, poor soul (as you know), about herself and her doings.
But a friend she has got somewhere, I can tell you; and to that friend
you may depend upon it, she will go."
"Soon?" asked the Sergeant.
"As soon as she can." says Mrs. Yolland.
Here I stepped in again from the door. As chief of my lady's establishment,
I couldn't allow this sort of loose talk about a servant of ours going,
or not going, to proceed any longer in my presence, without noticing it.
"You must be mistaken about Rosanna Spearman, I said.
"If she had been going to leave her present situation, she would
have mentioned it, in the first place, to ME.
"Mistaken?" cries Mrs. Yolland. "Why, only an hour ago she bought some things
she wanted for travelling--of my own self, Mr. Betteredge, in this very room.
And that reminds me," says the wearisome woman, suddenly beginning to feel
in her pocket, "of something I have got it on my mind to say about Rosanna
and her money. Are you either of you likely to see her when you go back to
"I'll take a message to the poor thing, with the greatest pleasure,"
answered Sergeant Cuff, before I could put in a word edgewise.
Mrs. Yolland produced out of her pocket, a few shillings and sixpences,
and counted them out with a most particular and exasperating carefulness
in the palm of her hand. She offered the money to the Sergeant,
looking mighty loth to part with it all the while.
"Might I ask you to give this back to Rosanna, with my love
and respects?" says Mrs. Yolland. "She insisted on paying me
for the one or two things she took a fancy to this evening--
and money's welcome enough in our house, I don't deny it.
Still, I m not easy in my mind about taking the poor thing's
little savings. And to tell you the truth, I don't think my man
would like to hear that I had taken Rosanna Spearman's money,
when he comes back to-morrow morning from his work. Please say
she's heartily welcome to the things she bought of me--as a gift.
And don't leave the money on the table," says Mrs. Yolland,
putting it down suddenly before the Sergeant, as if it burnt
her fingers--"don't, there's a good man! For times are hard,
and flesh is weak; and I MIGHT feel tempted to put it back in my
"Come along!" I said, "I can't wait any longer: I must go back
to the house."
"I'll follow you directly," says Sergeant Cuff.
For the second time, I went to the door; and, for the second time,
try as I might, I couldn't cross the threshold.
"It's a delicate matter, ma'am," I heard the Sergeant say,
"giving money back. You charged her cheap for the things,
"Cheap!" says Mrs. Yolland. "Come and judge for yourself."
She took up the candle and led the Sergeant to a corner of the kitchen.
For the life of me, I couldn't help following them. Shaken down in the corner
was a heap of odds and ends (mostly old metal), which the fisherman had picked
up at different times from wrecked ships, and which he hadn't found a market
for yet, to his own mind. Mrs. Yolland dived into this rubbish, and brought
up an old japanned tin case, with a cover to it, and a hasp to hang it up by--
the sort of thing they use, on board ship, for keeping their maps and charts,
and such-like, from the wet.
"There!" says she. "When Rosanna came in this evening, she bought the fellow
to that. 'It will just do,' she says, 'to put my cuffs and collars in,
and keep them from being crumpled in my box.' One and ninepence, Mr. Cuff.
As I live by bread, not a halfpenny more!"
"Dirt cheap!" says the Sergeant, with a heavy sigh.
He weighed the case in his hand. I thought I heard a note or two of "The
Last Rose of Summer" as he looked at it. There was no doubt now!
He had made another discovery to the prejudice of Rosanna Spearman,
in the place of all others where I thought her character was safest,
and all through me! I leave you to imagine what I felt, and how sincerely
I repented having been the medium of introduction between Mrs. Yolland and
"That will do," I said. "We really must go."
Without paying the least attention to me, Mrs. Yolland took
another dive into the rubbish, and came up out of it, this time,
with a dog-chain.
"Weigh it in your hand, sir," she said to the Sergeant.
"We had three of these; and Rosanna has taken two of them.
'What can you want, my dear, with a couple of dog's chains?'
says I. 'If I join them together they'll do round my box nicely,'
says she. 'Rope's cheapest,' says I. 'Chain's surest,'
says she. 'Who ever heard of a box corded with chain,'
says I. 'Oh, Mrs. Yolland, don't make objections!' says she;
'let me have my chains!' A strange girl, Mr. Cuff--
good as gold, and kinder than a sister to my Lucy--but always
a little strange. There! I humoured her. Three and sixpence.
On the word of an honest woman, three and sixpence,
"Each?" says the Sergeant.
"Both together!" says Mrs. Yolland. "Three and sixpence for the two."
"Given away, ma'am," says the Sergeant, shaking his head.
"Clean given away!"
"There's the money," says Mrs. Yolland, getting back sideways to the little
heap of silver on the table, as if it drew her in spite of herself.
"The tin case and the dog chains were all she bought, and all she took away.
One and ninepence and three and sixpence--total, five and three.
With my love and respects--and I can't find it in my conscience to take a poor
girl's savings, when she may want them herself."
"I can't find it in MY conscience, ma'am, to give the money back,"
says Sergeant Cuff. "You have as good as made her a present of the things--
you have indeed."
"Is that your sincere opinion, sir?" says Mrs. Yolland brightening
"There can't be a doubt about it," answered the Sergeant.
"Ask Mr. Betteredge."
It was no use asking ME. All they got out of ME was, "Good-night."
"Bother the money!" says Mrs. Yolland. With these words, she appeared to lose
all command over herself; and, making a sudden snatch at the heap of silver,
put it back, holus-bolus, in her pocket. "It upsets one's temper, it does,
to see it lying there, and nobody taking it," cries this unreasonable woman,
sitting down with a thump, and looking at Sergeant Cuff, as much as to say,
"It's in my pocket again now--get it out if you can!"
This time, I not only went to the door, but went fairly out on the road back.
Explain it how you may, I felt as if one or both of them had mortally
offended me. Before I had taken three steps down the village, I heard
the Sergeant behind me.