Chapter 20319964

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Chapter NumberFirst Period: XV - XVI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article20319964
Full Date1868-08-15
Page Number2
Corrections0
Word Count8999
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)
Trove TitleThe Moonstone
article text

The Novelist.

THE MOONSTONE.

CHAPTER XV.

BY WILKIE COLLINS. Author of "The Woman in White," "No Name," etc.

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 honored me by taking an oar in my boat, and as you may, I think, bo of some assistance to me before the evening is out, I see no use in our mys tifying one another any longer, and I propose to set yon an example of plain-speaking on my side. You are determined to give me no information to the prejudice of Bosanna Spearman, because she has been a good girl to you, and because you pity her heartily. Those humare considerations do you a world of credit, but they happen in this instance to be humane considerations clean thrown away. Boßanna Spearman is not in the slightest danger of getting into trouble—no, not if I fix her with being concerned in the disap pearance of the diamond, on evidence which is as plain as the nose on your face!" "Do you mean that my lady won't prose cute ?" I asked. "I mean that your lady can't prosecute," said the Sergeant. "Bosanna Spearman is simply an instrument in the hands of another person, and Bosanna 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 ?" "No." Sergeant Cuff stood stock-still, and surveyed me with a look of melancholy interest. " It's always a pleasure to me to be tender to ward human infirmity," he (aid. " I feel par ticularly tender at the present moment, Mr. Betteredge, toward you. And you, with the same excellent motive, feel particularly tender toward Bosanna Spearman, don't you ? Do you happen to know whether she has had anew out fit of linen lately ?" What he meant by slipping in this extraor dinary question unawares I was at a total loss to imagine. Seeing no possible injury to Bo sanna 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 con duct), had given her a new outfit not a fortnight since. "This is a miserable world," says the ser geant " 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 night-gown or petticoat among Bosanna'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 dis coveries two of them made outside Bosanna's door. Surely yqu 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 11, on Thursday morning, Superintendent See grave (who is a mass of human infirmity) points out to all the women servants the smear on the door. Bosaana has her own reasons for sus pecting 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 night-gown, 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 eyening to your fishing village, and to one par- Jicular cottage which we may possibly have to visit before we go back. Bhe 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 northward along the coast, after leaving the cottage. Is j our sea-shore here con sidered a fine specimen of marine landscape Mr. Betteredge ?" I answered, " Yes," as shortly as might be. " Tastes differ," says Sergeant Cuff. " Look ing 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 Bosanna 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 be tween 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 foot-steps—is one of tho best detective officers I know. If we don't meet with Bosanna Spearman by coming round on her 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 sug gesting 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. 3ergeant Cuff went on between the hillocks of sand, down to the beach. I followed him (with my heart in my mouth) ; and wailed at a little dis tance for what was to happen next. As it turned out, I found myself standing nearly in the same place where Bosanna Spear man and I had been talking together when Mr. FranbKn suddenly appeared before us, on arriv ing 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 Bosanna and me. I declare I almost felt the poor thing slip her hand again into mine, and give it a little grate ful 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 rhe 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 sand-bank 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 ti ue 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 to me. " A treacherous place, Mr. Betteredge," he said; " and no signs of Eosanna Spearman any where 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 north ward along the shore, from Cobb's Hole," said the sergeant. " Consequently, she must have been walking toward 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," says 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 toward Cobb's Hole, when Ser geant Cuff suddenly went down on his knees on the beach, to all appearauce 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 Eosanna's footsteps, until we find evidence to the contrary that we can't resist. Very confused footsteps, you will please to ob- Berve —purposely confused, I should say. Ah, poor si>ul, 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 foot step going from Cobb's Hole ; and here is an other 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 Bo- Banna is sly. It looks as if she bad 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 leit ? 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 pre rent 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 some thing is!" At this proposal my detective-fever sud denly cooled. " You don't want me," I said. " What good can I do ?" II 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 Igo alone to the cottage the peo ple's tongues will be tied at the first question I put to them. If Igo with you Igo introduced by a justly respected neighbor, and a flow of conversation is the nece»sary result. It strikes me in that light; how does it strike you ?" Not having an answer of the needful smart ness as ready as I could have wished, I tried to gain time by asking him what cottage he wanted to go to. On the serge nt describing the place I recog nised 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 Bosanna Spearman to your notice, I have des cribed 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 neighborhood. Eosanna'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. Any way, the Ycllands and Eosanna 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 enquiries in quite a new light. Eosanna 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 that 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 foot steps 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 Limp ing Lucy, always weak and weary, was resting on her bed up stairs. Good Mrs. Yolland received us alone in her kitchen. When she beard 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 Eosauna Spearman. His usual roundabout manner of going to work proved, on this occa sion, 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 th« Eoyal 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 spiteful ness of our first house-maid, and the hard behaviour of the women-servants generally toward Eosanna Spearman. Having reached his subject in this fashion, he described himself as making his enquiries about the lost diamond, partly with a view to find it, and partly for the purpose of clearing Eosanna 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 Eosanna's best friend, and was pressing Sergeant Cuff to comfort his stomach and revive his Bpirits out of the Dutch bottle. Being firmly persuaded that the sergeant was wasting bis breath to no purpose on Mrs. Yol land, 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 Eosanna's credit, nothing to Eosanna's preju dice—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 taking leave. " I shall now wish you good night, ma'am," says the sergeant. " And I shall only say, at parting, that Bosanna Spearman has a sincere well-wisher in myself, your obedient servant. But, oh dear me! she will never get on in her present place j and my advice to her ie—leave it." " Blesß your heart alive! she is going to leave it!" cries Mrs. Yolland. (Nota Bene—l trans late Mr*. Yolland out of the Yorkshire language into th 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.) Bosanna 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 busi ness to mystify an honest woman by wrapping her round in a net-work of lies; but it was my duty to hare 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 last little drop of com fort 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. Yol land. " 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 the peeping of the servants up *t the house.' Who the letter was written to I can't tell you: it must hare 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 Bosanna Spear man," 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 re minds me," says the wearisome woman, sud denly beginning to feel in her pocket, "of something I've got it on my mind to Bay about Roeanna and her money. Are you either of you likely to see her when you go back to the house?" " 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 Eo sanna, 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 even ing—and moneys 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 Eosanna Spearman's money when he conies 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 pocket agan." "Come along!" I said. "I can't wait any longer; I mu9t 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, I'm sure ?" "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. 1 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 bj bread, not a half-penny 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 Kosanna 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 re pented having been the medium of introduction between Mrs. Yolland and Sergeant Cuff. " That will do," I said. "We reaMy must go-" Without paying the least attention to me Mrs. Yolland took another dive into the rub bish, 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 chains?' says I. 'If I join them together they'll go 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 humored her. Three and sixpence. On the word of an honest woman, three and sixpence, Mr. Cuff!" " 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 her self. " The tin case and* the dog chains were all she bought, and all she took away. One and ninepence and three and sixpence—total, fire 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 her self." " 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 up wonderfully. " 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 those words she appeared to lose all com mand over herself j 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 Tillage I heard the Ser geant behind me. " Thank you for your introduction, Mr. Bet teredge," he said. "I am indebted to the fish erman's wife for an entirely new sensation. Mrs. Yolland has puzzled me." It was on the tip of my tongue to have given him a sharp answer, for no better reason than this—tbat I was out of temper with him, because I was out of temper with myself. But when he owned to being puzzled, a comforting doubt crossed my mind whether any great harm had been done after all. I waited in discreet silence to hear more. " Yes," says the Sergeant, as if he was actu ally reading my thoughts in the dark. " Instead of putting me on the scent, it may console you to know, Mr. Betteredge (with your interest in Rosanna), that you have been the means of throwing me off. What the girl has done to night is clear enough, of course. She has joined the two chains, and has fastened them to the hasp in the tin case. She has sunk the case in the water or in the quicksand. She has made the loose end of the chain fast to some place under the rocks, known only to herself. And she will leave the case secure at its anchor age till the present proceedings have come to an end; after which she can privately pull it up again out of its hiding place, at her own leisure and convenience. All perfectly plain, so far. But," says the sergeant, with the first tone of impatience in his voice that I had heard yet, " the mystery is—what the devil has she hidden in the tin case ?" I thought to myself, "The Moonstone!" But I only said to Sergeant Cuff, " Can't you guess?" "It's not the diamond," says the sergeant. " The whole experience of my life is at fault if Rosanna Spearman has got the diamond." On hearing those words the infernal detective fever began, I suppose, to burn in me again. At any rate I forgot myself in the interest of guessing this new riddle. I said rashly, " The stained dress!" Sergeant Cuff stopped short in the dark, and laid his hand on my harm. " Is anything thrown into that-quicksand of yours ever thrown up on the surface again ?" he asked. "Never," I answered. "Light or heavy, whatever goes into the Shivering Sand is sucked down and seen no more." " Does Rosanna Spearman know that ?" " She knows it as well as I do." " Then," says the Sergeant,-" what on earth has she got to do but to tie up a bit of stone in the stained dress, and throw it into the quick sand ? There isn't the shadow of a reason why she should have hidden it —and yet she must have hidden it. Query," says the sergeant, walking on again, " is the paint-stained dress a petticoat or a nightgown ? or is it something else which there is a reason for preserving at any risk ? Mr. Betteredge, if nothing occurs to pre vent it, I must go to Frizinghall to-morrow, and discover what she bought in the town, when she privately got the materials for making the sub-

stitute dress. It's a risk to leave the house as ' things are now—but it's a worse risk still to stir another step in. this matter in the dark. Excuse my being a little out of temper. I'm degraded in my own estimation—l have let Rosanna Spearman puule me." When we got back the servants were at sup per. The first person we saw in the outer yard was the policeman whom Superintendent See grave had left at the sergeant's disposal. The sergeant asked if Roaanna Spearman had re turned. Yes. When ? Nearly an hour since. What had she done? She had gone up stairs to take off her bonnet and cloak—and she was now at supper quietly with the rest. Without making any remark Sergeant Cuff walked on, sinking lower and lower in his own estimation, to the back of the house. Missing the entrance in the dark he went on (in spite of my calling to him) till he was stopped by a wicket-gate which led into the garden. When I joined him to bring him back by the right way I found that he was looking up attentively at one particular window, on the bedroom floor, at the back of the house. Looking up in my turn I discovered that the object of his contemplation was the window of Miss Rachel's room, and that lights were pass ing backward and forward there as if something unusual was going on. " Isn't that Miss Verinder's room ?" asked Sergeant Cuff. I replied that it was, and invited him to gam with me to supper. The sergeant remained in his place, and said something about enjoying the smell of the garden at night. I left him to his enjoyment. Just as I was turning in at the door I heard The Last Rose of Summer at the wicket-gate. Sergeant Cuff had made another discovery. And my young lady's window was at the bottom of it this time! That latter reflection took me book again to the sergeant, with a polite intimation that I could not find it in my heart to leave him by himself. "Is there anything you don't under stand up there?" I added, pointing to Miss Rachel's window. Judging by his voice, Sergeant Cuff had sud denly risen again to the right place in his own estimation. " You are great people for betting in Yorkshire are you not ?" he asked. " Well ?" I said. " Suppose we are ?" " If I was a Yorkshireman," proceeded the sergeant taking my arm, " I would lay you an even sovereign, Mr. Betteredge, that your young lady has suddenly resolved to leave the house. If I won on that event, I should offer to lay an other sovereign that the idea has occurredjto her within the last hour." The first of the sergeant's guesses Btartled me. The second mixed itself up somehow in my head with the report we had heard from the police man, that Rosanna Spearman had returned from the lands within the last hour. The two toge ther had a curious effect on me as we went into supper. I shook off Sergeant Cuff's arm, and forgetting my manners, pushed by him through the door to make my own enquiries for myself. Samuel, the footman, was the first person I met in the passage. " Her ladyship is waiting to see you and Ser geant Cuff," he said, before I could put any questions to him. "How long has she been waiting?" asked the sergeant's voice behind me. " For the last hour, sir." There it was again! Rosanna had come back j Miss Rachel had taken some resolution out of the common; and my lady had been waiting to see the Bergeant—all within the last hour! It was not pleasant to find these very different per sons and things linking themselves together in this way. I went on up stairs, without looking at Sergeant Cuff or speaking to him. My hand took a sudden fit of trembling as I lifted it to knock at my mistress' door. "I shouldn't be surprised," whispered the sergeant over my shoulder, "if a scandal was to burst up in the house to-night. Don't be alarmed! I have put the muzzle on worse family difficulties than this in my time." As he said the words I heard my mis'reee' voice calling to us to come in. Chapter XVI. Wb found my lady with no light in the room but the reading lamp. The shade was screwed down so as to overshadow her face. Instead of looking up at us in her usual straightforward way, she sat close at the table, and kept her eyes fixed obstinately on an op«n book. "Officer," she said, "is it important to the inquiry you are conducting to know beforehand if any person now in this house wishes to leave it?" "'Most important, my lady." " I have to tell you, then, that Miss Verinder proposes going to stay with her aunt, Mrs. Able white, of Frizinghall. She has arranged to leave us the first thing to-morrow morning." Sergeant Cuff looked at me. I made a step forward to speak to my mistress—and, feeling my heart fail me (if I must own it), took a step back again, and said nothing. " May I ask your ladyship when Miss Verin der first thought of going to her aunt's ?" in quired the sergeant. " About an hour since," answered my mis tress. Sergeant Cuff looked at me once more. They say old people's hearts are not very easily moved. My heart couldn't have thumped much harder than it did now, if I had been five-and-twenty again! " I have no claim, my lady," says the sergeant, "to control Miss Verinder's actions. All I can ask you to do is to put off her departure, it" possible, till later in the day. I must go to Frizingball myself to-morrow morning—and I shall be back by 2 o'clock, if not before. If Miss Verinder can be kept here till that time, I should wish to say two words to her—unex pectedly —before she goes." Mj lady directed me to give the coachman her orders that the caraiage was not to come for Miss Rachel until 2 o'clock. " Have you more to say ?" she aßked of the sergeant, when this had been done. "Only one thing, your ladyship. If Miss Verinder is surprised at this change in the ar rangements, please not to mention me as being the cause of putting off her journey." My mistress lifted her head suddenly from her book aa if she was going to pay something —checked herself by a great effort—and, look ing back again at the open page, dismissed us with a sign of her hand. " That's a wonderful woman," said Sergeant Cuff, when we were out in the hall again. " But for her Belf-control the mystery that puzzles you, Mr. Betteredge would have been at an end to night." At those words the truth rushed at last into my stupid old head. For the moment I suppose I must have gone clean out of my senses. I seized the sergeant by the collar of his coat and pinned him against the wall.

"Damn you!!' I cried out, «there?*, some thing wrong^absut Miss Rachel—and you hare been hiding it from me all this time!" Sergeant Cuff looked up at me—flat against the wall—without stirring a hand or moving a muscle of his-melancholy face. " Ah," he said, " you've guessed it at last'" My hand dropped from his collar*, and my head sunk on my breast. Please to remember, as some erouse for my breaking out as I did, that I had served the family for fifty year*. Miss EacheL had climbed upon my. knees, and pulled my whiskers, manyand many a.time when she was a.cfaild. Miss Rachel with all her faults, had been, to my mind, the dearest and prettiest and best young mistress that ever an old servant waited on, and loved. I begged Sergeaat Cuff's pardon, but I am afraid I did it with watery eyes, and not in a very becoming way. "Don't distress yourself, Mr. Betteredge," say* tine sergeant, with more kindness than I had any right to expect from. him. "In my liae of life, if we were quick at taking offence we shouldn't be worth salt to our por ridge. If it's any comfort to. you collar me again. You don't in the least, know how to do it i. but I'll overlook your awkwardness in con sideration of your feelings." He curled up at the corner* of his lips, and, in his own dreary way, seemed to think h« had delivered himself of a very, good joke. I led him into my own littds sitting-room and closed the door. " Tell me the truth, sergeant," I said. " What do you suspect ? It's no. kindness to hide it from me now." " I don't suspect," said Sergeant Cuff. " I know." My unlucky temper began to get the better of me again. "Do you mean to tell me in plain English,'' I said, " that Miss Rachel has stolen her own diamond ?" " Yes," says the sergeant j " that U what I mean to tell you in so many words. Miss Verinder has beea in secret possession of the Moonstone from Srst to last; and she has taken Rosanna Spearman into her confidence became she ha» calculated on our suspecting Kosanna Spearman of the theft. There is the whole case in a nut-shell. Collar me again, Mr. Betteredge. If it's any vent to your feelings, collar me again." God help me! my feelings were not to be re lieved in that way. " Give me your reasons!" That was all I could say to him. " You shall hear my reasons to-morrow," said the sergeant. "If Miss Verinder refuses to put off her visit to her aunt (which you will find Miss Verinder will do), I shall be obliged to lay the whole case before your mistress to-morrow. And as L don't know what may come of it, I •hall request you to be present and to hear what passes on both sides. Let the matter rest for to-night. No, Mr. Betteredge, you don't get a word more on the subject of the Moonstone out of me. There is your table spread for supper. That's one of the many human infirmities which I always treat tenderly. If you will ring the bell, I'll say grace. «For what we are going to receive—'" " I wish you a good appetite to it, sergeant," I said. "My appetite is gone. I'll wait and see you served, and then I'll ask you to excuse me if I go away and try to get the better of this by myself." I saw him served with the best of everything —and I shouldn't have been sorry if the best of everything had choked him. The head gar dener (Mr. Begbie) came in at the same time with bis weekly account. The sergeant got on the subject of roses and the merits of grass walks and gravel walks immediately. I left the two together, and went out with a heavy heart. This was the first trouble I remember for many a long year which wasn't to be blown off by a whiff of tobacco, and which was even beyond the reach of Robinson Crusoe. Being restless and miserable, and having no particular room to go to, I took a turn on the terrace, and thought it over in peace and quiet ness by myself. It doesn't much matter what my thoughts were. I felt wretchedly old, and worn out, and unfit for my place—and began to wonder, for the first time in my life, when it would please God to take me. With all this I held firm, notwithstanding, to my belief in Miss Rachel. If Sergeant Cuff had been Soloman in all his glory, and had told me that my young lady had mixed herself up in a mean and guilty plot, I should have had but one answer for Solo man, wise as he was: " You don't know her, and I do." My meditations were interrupted by Samuel. He brought me a written message from my mis tresß. Going into the house to get a light to read it by, Samuel remarked that there seemed a change coming in the weather. My troubled mind had prevented me from noticing it before. But, now my attention was roused, I heard the dogs uneasy, and the wind moaning low. Look ing up at the sky, I saw the rack of clouds getting blacker and blacker, and hurrying faster and faster over a watery moon. Wild weather coming—Samuel was right, wild weather com ing. The message from my lady informed me that the magistrate at Frizißghall had written to re mind her about the three Indians. Early in the coming week the rogues must needs be released, and left free to follow their own devices. If we had any more questions to ask them, there was no time to lose. Having forgotten to mention this when she had last seen Sergeant Cuff, my mistress now desired me to supply the omission. The Indians had gone clean out of my head (as they have, no doubt, gone clean out of yours). I didn't see much use in stirring that subject again. However, I obeyed my orders on the spot, as a matter of course. I found Sergeant Cuff and the gardener, with a bottle of Scotch whisky between them, head over ears in an argument on the growing of roses. The sergeant was so deeply interested that he held up his hand, and signed to me not to interrupt the discussion, when I came in. As far as I could understand it, the question be tween them was, whether the white moss-rose did, or did not, require to be budded on the dog-rose to make it grow well. Mr. Begbie said, Yes ; and Sergeant Cuff said, No. They appealed to me as hotly as a couple of boys. j Knowing nothing whatever of the growing of roses, I steered a middle course—just as Her Majesty's judges do, when the scales of justice bother them by hanging, even to a hair. " Gen tlemen," I remarked, " there is much to be said on both sides." In the temporary lull produced by that impartial sentence I laid roy lady's written message on the table under the eyes of Sergeant Cuff. I had got by this time as nearly as might be to hate the sergeant. But truth compels me to acknowledge that, in respect of readiness of mind, he was a wonderful man. In half a minute after he had read the mes-

sage he had looked back into his memory {<* Superintendent Seegrave's report, had picked, out that part of it in which the Indian, were concerned; and was ready with his an.wr. A. certain great traveller, who understood the. In. dans and their language, had figured in Mr Seegrave's report, hadn't he? Very welk Did I know the gentleman's name and address? Very well again. Would I write them,<m the back of my lady's message? Much obliged. to me. Sergeant Cuff would look that gentleman up when be went to Frizingball in the morning. "Do you expect anything to come out ofit - I asked. " Superintendent Seegrave found the Indians as innocent as the babe unborn." "Superintendent Seegrave has been proved wrong, up to this time, in all his conclusiens," answered the sergeant. "It may be worth while to find out to-morrow whether Superintendent Seegrave was wrong about the Indians-as-well." With that he turned to Mr. Begbie, and teok up the argument again exactly at the place-where it had left off. » This question between us ia a question of soils and seasons, and patience and pains, Mr. Gardener. Now let me put it to you from another point of view. You, take your white moss-rose—" By that time I had closed the doo» on them, and was out of hearing of the rest o£ the di«« pute. In the passage I met Penelope haaging about, and asked what she was waiting: for. She was waiting for her young lady's bell, when her young lady chose to oall her back to go on with the packing for the next day's jour ney. Further inquiry revealed to me that Miss Rachel had given it as a reason, for wanting to go to her aunt at Frizinghall that the house wu unendurable to her, and that she could bear the odious presence of a policeman under the same roof with herself no longer. On being informed, half-an-hour since, that her departure would be delayed till 2 in the afternoon, she had flown into a violent passion. My lady, present at the time, had severely rebuked her, and then (h*T ing apparently something to say, which mi reserved for her daughter's private ear) had sent Penelope out of the room. My girl was in wretchedly low spirits about the changed state of things in the house. " Nothing goes right, father; nothing is like what it used to be. I feel as if some dreadful misfortune was hanging over us all." That was my feeling too. But I put a good face on it before my daughter. Miss Rachel's bell rang while we were talking. Penelope ran up the back stairs to go on with the packing. I went by the other way to the hall to tee what the glass said about the change in the weather. Just as I approached the swing-door leaduag into the hall from the servants' offices, it wa» violently opened from the other side, and JRo sanna Spearman ran by me, with a miserable look of pain in her face, and one of her *"V"^s pressed hard over her heart, as if the paag wu in that quarter. "What's the matter* my girl?" I asked, stopping her. " Are you ill?" "For God's sake don't speak to me," she answered, and twisted hecself out of my hands, and ran on toward the servant's staircase. I called to the cook (who was within hearing) to look after the poor girl. Two other persons proved to be within hearing as well as the cook. Sergeant Cuff darted softly out of my room, and asked what was the matter. I answered, "Nothing." Mr. Franklin, on the other, side, pulled open the swing-door, and beokoning me into the hall, inquired if I had seen anything of Rosanna Spearman. " She has just passed me, sir, with a very dis turbed face, and in a very odd manner." " I am afraid I am innocently the cause of that disturbance, Betteredge." "You, sir?" " I can't explain it," says Mr. Franklin; " but if the girl is concerned in the loss of the diamond I do really believe she was on the point of confessing everything—to me, of all the people in the world—not two minutes since." Looking toward the swing-door, as he said those last words, I fancied I saw it opened a little way from the inner side. Was there anybody listening ? The door fell to before I could get to it. Looking through, the moment after, I thought I saw the tails of Sergeant Cuff's respectable black coat disappear ing round the corner of the passage. He knew' as well as I did that he could expect no more help from me now that I had discovered the torn which his investigations were really taking. Un der those ciroumctances it was quite in his char* acter to help himself, and to do it by the under ground way.

Yankee Ingenuity—A Bbliabl* Ijtpro- VIBED ALABM.—We believe oar readers will be as much interested and amused as we were on the perusal of the following from a " down east" (Bath, Me.) correspondent:—"l onoe stopped overnight at the house of a friend. It was de sirable that we should take an early train next morning, and notwithstanding the assuranoe of the servant that we should be called bright and early, I felt anxious on retiring lest we should not rise in time ; I therefore beset myself to de vising an alarm. The only ' base of prepara tion ' was my watch. This I opened the face of, exposing the hands, and laid it, back down, on the toilet table. The hour hand only was available to produce the action that should giro the alarm, the minute hand having many re volutions to make ere the appointed hour. A blade at each end of my pocket-knife was opened, and the handle supported on three pennies (piled one on top of the other), so that it should be balanced, and at the same timo have the blades on a line with the face, one blade resting lightly on the figure 4—the minute hand pass ing over it in its revolutions. The object of this arrangement was to cause the hour hand, on arriving a the hour of 4, to come in contact with the blade, and the knife being balanced, the hand would have sufficient power to more on its pivot (the pennies), the opposite end of the knife, of course, having a reverse motion. I next drove a pin into the end of the handle of our hair-brush, and balanced it on the edge of the table, just so that it would topple orer were not the end with the pin mit held down pently by the head of the pin coming under the blade at the end of the kn fe opposite the watch. I had pre viously tied one end of my handkerchief to the handle of the brush, the other end I now se cured to the comb, with which I propped up the heavy lid of a fancy box that set on the table, leaving some ' slack' between the brush and the comb. The machine was now ' set,' and the expected operation was this: The hour hand should push the blade resting on the figure 4; the other blade would have a corresponding motion, and slip off the head of the pin in the brush handle; this would allow the brush, balanced on the edge of the table, to tilt and fall, the slack in the handkerchief allowing it to acquire sufficient momentum in falling to pull out the comb supporting the heavy lid of the fancy box, which should fall ' with a load noise.' These things really came to pass at the appointed hour, and we were roused from oar slumber in time for the early train, and went on our way rejoicing." Thebk is a village out West so healthy that people can't die there, but are obliged to go to the t next town if they are tired of living; and there were two men who lived there " so old? that they did not know who they were, and no body could tell them.