Poems & Short Stories: 4,271
Forum Members: 70,634
Forum Posts: 1,033,546
And over 2 million unique readers monthly!
Nothing happened in the night; and (I am happy to add) no attempt at
communication between Miss Rachel and Rosanna rewarded the vigilance of
I had expected the Sergeant to set off for Frizinghall the first thing
in the morning. He waited about, however, as if he had something else
to do first. I left him to his own devices; and going into the grounds
shortly after, met Mr. Franklin on his favourite walk by the shrubbery
Before we had exchanged two words, the Sergeant unexpectedly joined
us. He made up to Mr. Franklin, who received him, I must own, haughtily
enough. "Have you anything to say to me?" was all the return he got for
politely wishing Mr. Franklin good morning.
"I have something to say to you, sir," answered the Sergeant, "on the
subject of the inquiry I am conducting here. You detected the turn
that inquiry was really taking, yesterday. Naturally enough, in your
position, you are shocked and distressed. Naturally enough, also, you
visit your own angry sense of your own family scandal upon Me."
"What do you want?" Mr. Franklin broke in, sharply enough.
"I want to remind you, sir, that I have at any rate, thus far, not been
PROVED to be wrong. Bearing that in mind, be pleased to remember, at
the same time, that I am an officer of the law acting here under the
sanction of the mistress of the house. Under these circumstances, is it,
or is it not, your duty as a good citizen, to assist me with any special
information which you may happen to possess?"
"I possess no special information," says Mr. Franklin.
Sergeant Cuff put that answer by him, as if no answer had been made.
"You may save my time, sir, from being wasted on an inquiry at a
distance," he went on, "if you choose to understand me and speak out."
"I don't understand you," answered Mr. Franklin; "and I have nothing to
"One of the female servants (I won't mention names) spoke to you
privately, sir, last night."
Once more Mr. Franklin cut him short; once more Mr. Franklin answered,
"I have nothing to say."
Standing by in silence, I thought of the movement in the swing-door
on the previous evening, and of the coat-tails which I had seen
disappearing down the passage. Sergeant Cuff had, no doubt, just heard
enough, before I interrupted him, to make him suspect that Rosanna had
relieved her mind by confessing something to Mr. Franklin Blake.
This notion had barely struck me--when who should appear at the end of
the shrubbery walk but Rosanna Spearman in her own proper person! She
was followed by Penelope, who was evidently trying to make her retrace
her steps to the house. Seeing that Mr. Franklin was not alone, Rosanna
came to a standstill, evidently in great perplexity what to do next.
Penelope waited behind her. Mr. Franklin saw the girls as soon as I
saw them. The Sergeant, with his devilish cunning, took on not to have
noticed them at all. All this happened in an instant. Before either Mr.
Franklin or I could say a word, Sergeant Cuff struck in smoothly, with
an appearance of continuing the previous conversation.
"You needn't be afraid of harming the girl, sir," he said to Mr.
Franklin, speaking in a loud voice, so that Rosanna might hear him. "On
the contrary, I recommend you to honour me with your confidence, if you
feel any interest in Rosanna Spearman."
Mr. Franklin instantly took on not to have noticed the girls either. He
answered, speaking loudly on his side:
"I take no interest whatever in Rosanna Spearman."
I looked towards the end of the walk. All I saw at the distance was
that Rosanna suddenly turned round, the moment Mr. Franklin had spoken.
Instead of resisting Penelope, as she had done the moment before, she
now let my daughter take her by the arm and lead her back to the house.
The breakfast-bell rang as the two girls disappeared--and even Sergeant
Cuff was now obliged to give it up as a bad job! He said to me quietly,
"I shall go to Frizinghall, Mr. Betteredge; and I shall be back before
two." He went his way without a word more--and for some few hours we
were well rid of him.
"You must make it right with Rosanna," Mr. Franklin said to me, when we
were alone. "I seem to be fated to say or do something awkward, before
that unlucky girl. You must have seen yourself that Sergeant Cuff laid
a trap for both of us. If he could confuse ME, or irritate HER into
breaking out, either she or I might have said something which would
answer his purpose. On the spur of the moment, I saw no better way out
of it than the way I took. It stopped the girl from saying anything,
and it showed the Sergeant that I saw through him. He was evidently
listening, Betteredge, when I was speaking to you last night."
He had done worse than listen, as I privately thought to myself. He had
remembered my telling him that the girl was in love with Mr. Franklin;
and he had calculated on THAT, when he appealed to Mr. Franklin's
interest in Rosanna--in Rosanna's hearing.
"As to listening, sir," I remarked (keeping the other point to myself),
"we shall all be rowing in the same boat if this sort of thing goes
on much longer. Prying, and peeping, and listening are the natural
occupations of people situated as we are. In another day or two, Mr.
Franklin, we shall all be struck dumb together--for this reason, that
we shall all be listening to surprise each other's secrets, and all know
it. Excuse my breaking out, sir. The horrid mystery hanging over us in
this house gets into my head like liquor, and makes me wild. I won't
forget what you have told me. I'll take the first opportunity of making
it right with Rosanna Spearman."
"You haven't said anything to her yet about last night, have you?" Mr.
"Then say nothing now. I had better not invite the girl's confidence,
with the Sergeant on the look-out to surprise us together. My conduct
is not very consistent, Betteredge--is it? I see no way out of this
business, which isn't dreadful to think of, unless the Diamond is traced
to Rosanna. And yet I can't, and won't, help Sergeant Cuff to find the
Unreasonable enough, no doubt. But it was my state of mind as well. I
thoroughly understood him. If you will, for once in your life, remember
that you are mortal, perhaps you will thoroughly understand him too.
The state of things, indoors and out, while Sergeant Cuff was on his way
to Frizinghall, was briefly this:
Miss Rachel waited for the time when the carriage was to take her to
her aunt's, still obstinately shut up in her own room. My lady and Mr.
Franklin breakfasted together. After breakfast, Mr. Franklin took one of
his sudden resolutions, and went out precipitately to quiet his mind
by a long walk. I was the only person who saw him go; and he told me he
should be back before the Sergeant returned. The change in the weather,
foreshadowed overnight, had come. Heavy rain had been followed soon
after dawn, by high wind. It was blowing fresh, as the day got on. But
though the clouds threatened more than once, the rain still held off.
It was not a bad day for a walk, if you were young and strong, and could
breast the great gusts of wind which came sweeping in from the sea.
I attended my lady after breakfast, and assisted her in the settlement
of our household accounts. She only once alluded to the matter of the
Moonstone, and that was in the way of forbidding any present mention of
it between us. "Wait till that man comes back," she said, meaning the
Sergeant. "We MUST speak of it then: we are not obliged to speak of it
After leaving my mistress, I found Penelope waiting for me in my room.
"I wish, father, you would come and speak to Rosanna," she said. "I am
very uneasy about her."
I suspected what was the matter readily enough. But it is a maxim of
mine that men (being superior creatures) are bound to improve women--if
they can. When a woman wants me to do anything (my daughter, or not, it
doesn't matter), I always insist on knowing why. The oftener you make
them rummage their own minds for a reason, the more manageable you
will find them in all the relations of life. It isn't their fault (poor
wretches!) that they act first and think afterwards; it's the fault of
the fools who humour them.
Penelope's reason why, on this occasion, may be given in her own words.
"I am afraid, father," she said, "Mr. Franklin has hurt Rosanna cruelly,
without intending it."
"What took Rosanna into the shrubbery walk?" I asked.
"Her own madness," says Penelope; "I can call it nothing else. She was
bent on speaking to Mr. Franklin, this morning, come what might of it. I
did my best to stop her; you saw that. If I could only have got her away
before she heard those dreadful words----"
"There! there!" I said, "don't lose your head. I can't call to mind that
anything happened to alarm Rosanna."
"Nothing to alarm her, father. But Mr. Franklin said he took no interest
whatever in her--and, oh, he said it in such a cruel voice!"
"He said it to stop the Sergeant's mouth," I answered.
"I told her that," says Penelope. "But you see, father (though Mr.
Franklin isn't to blame), he's been mortifying and disappointing her for
weeks and weeks past; and now this comes on the top of it all! She has
no right, of course, to expect him to take any interest in her. It's
quite monstrous that she should forget herself and her station in
that way. But she seems to have lost pride, and proper feeling, and
everything. She frightened me, father, when Mr. Franklin said those
words. They seemed to turn her into stone. A sudden quiet came over her,
and she has gone about her work, ever since, like a woman in a dream."
I began to feel a little uneasy. There was something in the way Penelope
put it which silenced my superior sense. I called to mind, now my
thoughts were directed that way, what had passed between Mr. Franklin
and Rosanna overnight. She looked cut to the heart on that occasion; and
now, as ill-luck would have it, she had been unavoidably stung again,
poor soul, on the tender place. Sad! sad!--all the more sad because the
girl had no reason to justify her, and no right to feel it.
I had promised Mr. Franklin to speak to Rosanna, and this seemed the
fittest time for keeping my word.
We found the girl sweeping the corridor outside the bedrooms, pale
and composed, and neat as ever in her modest print dress. I noticed a
curious dimness and dullness in her eyes--not as if she had been crying
but as if she had been looking at something too long. Possibly, it was
a misty something raised by her own thoughts. There was certainly no
object about her to look at which she had not seen already hundreds on
hundreds of times.
"Cheer up, Rosanna!" I said. "You mustn't fret over your own fancies. I
have got something to say to you from Mr. Franklin."
I thereupon put the matter in the right view before her, in the
friendliest and most comforting words I could find. My principles, in
regard to the other sex, are, as you may have noticed, very severe. But
somehow or other, when I come face to face with the women, my practice
(I own) is not conformable.
"Mr. Franklin is very kind and considerate. Please to thank him." That
was all the answer she made me.
My daughter had already noticed that Rosanna went about her work like
a woman in a dream. I now added to this observation, that she also
listened and spoke like a woman in a dream. I doubted if her mind was in
a fit condition to take in what I had said to her.
"Are you quite sure, Rosanna, that you understand me?" I asked.
She echoed me, not like a living woman, but like a creature moved by
machinery. She went on sweeping all the time. I took away the broom as
gently and as kindly as I could.
"Come, come, my girl!" I said, "this is not like yourself. You have got
something on your mind. I'm your friend--and I'll stand your friend,
even if you have done wrong. Make a clean breast of it, Rosanna--make a
clean breast of it!"
The time had been, when my speaking to her in that way would have
brought the tears into her eyes. I could see no change in them now.
"Yes," she said, "I'll make a clean breast of it."
"To my lady?" I asked.
"To Mr. Franklin?"
"Yes; to Mr. Franklin."
I hardly knew what to say to that. She was in no condition to understand
the caution against speaking to him in private, which Mr. Franklin had
directed me to give her. Feeling my way, little by little, I only told
her Mr. Franklin had gone out for a walk.
"It doesn't matter," she answered. "I shan't trouble Mr. Franklin,
"Why not speak to my lady?" I said. "The way to relieve your mind is to
speak to the merciful and Christian mistress who has always been kind to
She looked at me for a moment with a grave and steady attention, as if
she was fixing what I said in her mind. Then she took the broom out of
my hands and moved off with it slowly, a little way down the corridor.
"No," she said, going on with her sweeping, and speaking to herself; "I
know a better way of relieving my mind than that."
"What is it?"
"Please to let me go on with my work."
Penelope followed her, and offered to help her.
She answered, "No. I want to do my work. Thank you, Penelope." She
looked round at me. "Thank you, Mr. Betteredge."
There was no moving her--there was nothing more to be said. I signed
to Penelope to come away with me. We left her, as we had found her,
sweeping the corridor, like a woman in a dream.
"This is a matter for the doctor to look into," I said. "It's beyond
My daughter reminded me of Mr. Candy's illness, owing (as you may
remember) to the chill he had caught on the night of the dinner-party.
His assistant--a certain Mr. Ezra Jennings--was at our disposal, to be
sure. But nobody knew much about him in our parts. He had been engaged
by Mr. Candy under rather peculiar circumstances; and, right or wrong,
we none of us liked him or trusted him. There were other doctors at
Frizinghall. But they were strangers to our house; and Penelope doubted,
in Rosanna's present state, whether strangers might not do her more harm
I thought of speaking to my lady. But, remembering the heavy weight of
anxiety which she already had on her mind, I hesitated to add to all the
other vexations this new trouble. Still, there was a necessity for doing
something. The girl's state was, to my thinking, downright alarming--and
my mistress ought to be informed of it. Unwilling enough, I went to her
sitting-room. No one was there. My lady was shut up with Miss Rachel. It
was impossible for me to see her till she came out again.
I waited in vain till the clock on the front staircase struck the
quarter to two. Five minutes afterwards, I heard my name called, from
the drive outside the house. I knew the voice directly. Sergeant Cuff
had returned from Frizinghall.
|Art of Worldly Wisdom Daily|
In the 1600s, Balthasar Gracian, a jesuit priest wrote 300 aphorisms on living life called "The Art of Worldly Wisdom." Join our newsletter below and read them all, one at a time.
Shakespeare wrote over 150 sonnets! Join our Sonnet-A-Day Newsletter and read them all, one at a time.