|Chapter Number||First Period: XX -|
|Newspaper Title||The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)|
|Trove Title||The Moonstone|
BY WILKIE COLLINS. Author of "The Woman in White," "No Name," etc.
THOSE in front had spread the news of the suicide before us. Wefound the servants in a state of panic. As we passed my lady's door it was thrown open violently from the inner side.
If j mistress came oat among us (with Mr. Franklin following and trying vainly to com pose her), quite beside herself with the horror the thing. "You are answerable for this!" she cried out, threatening the sergeant wildly with her hand. " Gabriel! give that wretch his money —and release me from the sight of him!" The sergeant was the only one among ns who was fit to cope with her—being the only one amoag as who was in possession of himself. " I am no more answerable for this distress ing calamity, my lady, than you are," he said. «' If, in half an hour from thiß, you still insist on my leaving the house, I will accept your lady ship's dismissal, but not your ladyship's money." It was spoken very respectfully, but very firmly at the same time—and it had its effect an my mistress as well as on me. She suffered Mr. Franklin to lead her back into the room. As the door closed on the two the sergeant, looking about among the women-servants in his observant way, noticed that, while all the rest were merely frightened, Penelope was in tears. "When your father has changed his wet clothes," he said to her, " come and speak to us in your father's room." Before the half-hour was out I had got my dry clothes on, and had lent Sergeant Cuff such change of dress as he required. Penelope came in to us to hear what the sergeant wanted with her. I don't Hhink I ever felt what a good dutiful daughter I had so strongly as I felt it at that moment. I took her and sat her on my knee—and I prayed God bless her. She hid her head on my bosom, and put her arms round my neck—and we waited a little while in silence. The poor dead girl must hare been at the bottom of it, I think, with my daughter and with me. The sergeant went to the window and stood there looking out. I thought it right to thank him for considering as both in this way—and I did. People in high life have all the luxuries to themselves —among others the luxury of indulg ing their feelings. People in low life have no «uch privilege. Necessity, which spares our betters, has no pity on us. We learn to put our back into ourselves, and to jog on with our duties as patiently as may be. I don't com plain of this—l only notice it. Penelope and I were ready for the sergeant as soon as the ser geant was ready on his side. Asked if she knew what had led her fellow-servant to destroy her self, my daughter answered (as you will foresee) that it was for love of Mr. Franklin Blake. Asked next if she had mentioned this notion of hers to any other person, Penelope answered, " I have not mentioned it, for Bosanna's sake." I felt it necessary to add a word to this. I •aid, " And for Mr. Franklin's sake, my dear, v welL If Bosanna has died for love of him, it is not with his knowledge or by bis fault, let him leave the house to-day, if he does leave it, without the useless pain of knowing the truth." Sergeant Cuff said, " Quite right," and fell sileot again; comparing Penelope's notion (as it seemed to me) with some other notion of bis own which he kept to himself. At the end of the half-hour my mistress' bell nag. On my way to answer it I met Mr. Franklin coming out of his aunt's sitting-room. He men tioned that her ladyship was ready to see Ser geant Cuff—in my presence as before—and he added that he himself wanted to say two words to the sergeant first. On our way back to my room he stopped and looked at the railway time-table in the hall. "Are you really going to leave us, sir?" I asked. "Miss Bachel will surely come right again, if you only give her time." "She will come right again," answered Mr. Franklin, " when she hears that I have gone away, and that she will see me no more." I thought he spoke in resentment of my young lady's treatment of him. But it was not so. My mistress had noticed, from the time when the police first came into the house, that the bare mention ot him was enough to set Miss —Bachel's temper in a flame, fle had been too fond of his cousin to like to confess this to him self, until the truth had been forced on him when she drove off to her aunt's. His eyes once opened in that cruel way which you know of, Mr. Franklin had taken his resolution—the one resolution which a man of any spirit could take—to leave the house. What he had to say to the sergeant was spoken in my presence. He described her ladyship as willing to acknowledge that she had spoken over-hastily. And he asked if Sergeant Cuff would consent—in that case—to accept bis fee, and to leave the matter of the diamond where the matter stood now. The sergeant answered, "No, sir. My fee is paid me for doing my duty. I decline to take it until my duty is done." "I don't understand you," says Mr. Franklin. •Til explain myself, sir," says the sergeant. "When I came here I undertook to throw the necessary light on the matter of the missing dia mond. lam now ready, and waiting, to redeem my pledge. When I have stated the case to Lady Verinder as the case now stands, and when I have told her plainly what course of action to take for the recovery of the Moonstone, the re •sponsibility will be off my shoulders. Let her ladyship decide, after that, whether she does, or does not, allow me to go on. I shall then have done what I undertook to do—and I'll take mv fee." * In those words Sergeant Cuff reminded us that, even in the detective police, a man may have a reputation to lose. The view he took was so plainly the right one that there was no more to be said. As I rose to conduct hut to my lady's room he asked if Mr. Franklin wished to be present. Mr. Franklin answered, " Not unless Lady Verinder desires it." He added, in a whisper to me, as I was following the sergeant out, " I know what that man is going to say about Bachel^^nd I am too fond of her to hear it and keep\jny temper. Leave me by myself." \ I left him, miserable enough, leaning on the sill of my window, with his face hidden in his hands—and Penelope peeping through the door, longing to comfort him. In Mr. Franklin's place, I should have called her in. When you are ill-used by one woman there is great com fort in telling it to another—bejause, ninetimes
out of ten, the other always takes your side. Perhaps, when my back was turned, he did call her in! In that case it is only doing my daughter justice to declare that she would stick at nothing in the way of comforting Mr. Franklin Blake. In the meantime Sergeant Cuff and I pro ceeded to my lady's room. At the last conference we had held with her we had found her not overwilling to lift her eyes from the book which she had on the table. On this occasion there was a change for the better. She met the sergeant's eye with an eye that was as steady as his own. The family spirit showed itself in every line of her face; and I knew that Sergeant Cuff would meet his match when a woman like my mistress was strung up to hear the worst he could say to her. The firßt words, when we had taken our seats, were spoken by my lady. " Sergeant Cuff," she said," there was perhaps some excuse for the inconsiderate manner in which I spoke to you half an hour since. I have no wish, however, to claim that excuse. I say, with perfect sincerity, that I regret it, if I wronged you. Tell me what you think of the case now." He thereupon passed the whole of Bosanna's proceedings under review. You are already as well acquainted with those proceedings as I am; and you will understand how unanswerably this part of his report fixed the guilt of being concerned in the disappearance of the Moon stone on the memory of the poor dead girl. Even my mistress was daunted by what he said now. She made him no answer when he had done. It didn't seem to matter to the sergeant whether he was answered or not. On he went (devil take him!) just as steady as ever. "Having stated the whole case as I under stand it," he said, " I have only to tell your ladyship now, what I propose to do next. I see two ways of bringing this inquiry success fully to an end. One of those ways I look upon as a certainty. The other, I admit, is a bold experiment, and nothing more. Your ladyship shall decide. Shall we take the certainty first ?'* My mistress made him a sign to take his own way, and choose for himself. " Thank you," said the sergeant. " We'll be gin with the certainty, as your ladyship is to good as to leave it to me. Whether Miss Verinder remains at Frizinghall, or whether she returns here, I propose, in either case, to keep a j careful watch on all her proceedings—on the people she sees, on the rides or walks she may take, and on the letters she may write or re ceive." " What next ?" asked my mistress. "I shall next," answered the sergeant, "re quest your ladyship's leave to introduce into the house, as a servant in the place of Bosanna Spearman, a woman accustomed to private in quiries of this sort, for whose discretion I can answer." "What next?" repeated my mistress. " Next," 'proceeded the sergeant, " and hut, I propose to send one of my brother-officers to make an arrangement with that money-lender in London, whom I mentioned as formerly acquainted with Bosanna Spearman—and whose name and address, your ladyship may rely on it, have been communicated by Bosanna to Miss Vorinder. I don't deny that the course of action I am now suggesting will cost money and con sume time. But the result is certain. We run a line round the Moonstone, and we draw that line closer and closer till we find it in Miss Verin der's possession, supposing she decides to keep it. If her debts press, and I feel certain she has contracted such, and she decides on send ing it away, then we have our man ready, and we meet the Moonstone on its arrival in Lon don." To hear her own daughter spoken of thus and made the subject to such a proposal as this stung my mistress into speaking angrily for the first time. "Consider your proposal declined, in every particular," she said. "And go on to your other way of bringing the inquiry to an end." "My other way," said the sergeant, going on as easy as ever, " is to try that bold experiment to which I have alluded. I think I have formed a pretty correct estimate of Miss Verinder's temperament. She is quite capable (according to my belief) of committing a daring fraud. But she is too hot and impetuous in temper, and too little accustomed to deceit as a habit, to act the hypocrite in small things, and to restrain herself under all provocations. Her feelings, in this case, have repeatedly got beyond her control, at the rerj time when it was plainly her interest to conceal them. It is on this pecu liarity in her character that I now propose to act I want to give her a great shock suddenly, under circumstances which will touch her to the quick. In plain English, I want to tell Miss Verinder, without a word of warning of Bo senna's death, on the chance that her own bettor feelings will hurry her into making a clean breast of it. Does your ladyship accept that alternative?" My mistress astonished me beyond all power of expression. She answered him on the in stant: "Yes; I do." " The pony-chaise is ready," said the sergeant. " I wish your ladyship good-morning." My lady held up her hand, and stopped him at the door. " My daughter's better feelings shall be ap pealed to, as you propose," she said. « But I claim the right, as her mother, of putting her to the test myself. You will remain here if you please; and I will go to Frizinghall." For once in his life the great Cuff stood speechless with amazement, like an ordinary man. My mistress rang the bell and ordered her waterproof things. It was still pouring with rain; and the close carriage had gone, as you know, with Miss Bachel to Frizinghall. I tried to dissuade her ladyship from facing the severity of the weather. Quite useless! I asked leave to go with her, and hold the umbrella. She wouldn't hear of it. The pony-chaise came round, with the groom in charge. " You may rely on two things," she said to Sergeant Cuff, in the hall. " I will try the experiment on Miss Verinder as boldly as you could try it yourself. And 1 will inform you of the result, either per sonally or by letter, before the last train leaves for London to-night." With that she stepped into the chaise, and, taking the reins herself, drove off to Frizinghall. Chapter XXI. My mistress having left us I had leisure to of Sergeant Cuff. I found him sitting in aNsnug corner of the hall consulting his memo randum book, and curling up viciously at the corner&of the lips. " Mating notes of the case ?" I asked. "No," e*id the sergeant. "Looking to see what my next professional engagement is."
"Oh!" I said. "You think it's mil over, then, here?" "I think," answered Sergeant Caff, "that Lady Verinder is one of the cleverest women in England. I also think a rose much better worth looking at than a diamond. Where is the gardener, Mr. Bettoredge?" There was no getting a word more oat of him >on the matter of the Moonstone. He had lost all interest in his own inquiry; and he would persist in looking for the gardener. An hour afterward I heard them at high words in the conservatory, with the dog-rose once more at the bottom of the dispute. In the meantime it was my business to find out whether Mr. Franklin persisted in his reso lution to leave us by the afternoon train. After having been informed of the conference in my I lady's room, and of how it had ended, he imme diately decided on waiting to hear the news from Frizinghall. This very natural alteration in his plans—which, with ordinary people, would have led to nothing in particular—proved, in Mr. Franklin's case, to have one objectionable result. It left him unsettled, with a legacy of idle time on his hands, and in so doing it let out all the foreign sides of his character, one on the top of another, like rats out of a bag. Don't suppose, however, that I was quit of Mr. Franklin on such easy terms as these. Drifting out of the morning-room, into the ; hall he found his way to the offices next, smelt I my pipe, and was instantly reminded that he had been simple enough to give up smoking for Miss Rachel'yake. In the twinkling of an eye he burst in on me with his cigar-case, and came out strong on the one everlasting subject in his neat, witty, unbelieving, French way. " Give |me a light, Betteredge. Is it conceivable that a man can have smoked as long as I have, with out discovering that there is a complete system for the treatment of women at the bottom of a cigar-case ? Follow me carefully, and I'll prove it in two words. You choose a cigar, you try it, and it disappoints you. What do you do upon that ? You throw it away and try an other. Now observe the application! You choose a woman, you try her, and she breaks your heart. Fool* take a lesson from your cigar-case. Throw her away and try another!" I shook my head at that. Wonderfully clever, I dare say, but my own experience was dead against it. "In the time of the late Mrs. Bet teredge," I said, «I felt pretty often inclined to try your philosophy, Mr. Franklin. But the law insists on your smoking your cigar, sir, when you have once chosen it." I pointed that observation with a wink. Mr. Franklin burst out laughing—and we were as merry as crickets, until the next new side of his character turned up in due course. So things went on with my young master and me; and so (while the ser geant and the gardener were wrangling over the roses) we two spent the interval before the news came back from FrizinghalL The pony-chase returned a good half-hour before I had ventured to expect it. My lady had decided to remain, for the present, at her sister's house. The groom brought two letters from his mistress ; one addressed to Mr. Frank lin, and the other to me. Mr. Franklin's letter I sent to him in the library—into which refuge his driftings had now taken him for the second time. My own letter I read in my own room. A oheque, which dropped out when I opened it, informed me (before I had mastered the contents) that Ser geant Cuff's dismissal from the inquiry after the Moonstone was now a settled thing. I sent to the conservatory to say that I wished to speak to the sergeant directly. He appeared, with his mind full of the gardener and the dog rose, declaring that the equal of Mr. Begbie for obstinacy never had existed yet, and never would exist again. I requested him to dismiss such wretched trifling as this from our conversation, and to give his best attention to a really serious matter. Upon that he exerted himself suffi ciently to notice the letter in my hand. " Ah!" he said in a weary way, "you have heard from her ladyship. Have I anything to do with it, Mr. Betteredge ?" " You shall judge for yourself, sergeant." I I thereupon read him the letter (with my best emphasis and discretion), in the following words: "My good Gabbiel,—-I request you will in form Sergeant Cuff that I have performed the promise I made to him; with this result, so far as Bosanna Spearman is concerned. Miss Ve rinder solemnly declares that she has never spoken a word in private to Bosanna, since that unhappy woman first entered my home. They never met, even accidently, on the night when the diamond was lost; and no communication of any sort whatever took place between them, from the Thursday morning when the alarm was first raised in the house, to this present Saturday afternoon, when Miss Verinder left us. After telling my daughter, suddenly and in so many words, of Bosanna Spearman's suicide tliis is what come of it." Having reached that point, I looked up and asked Sergeant Cuff what he thought of the letter, so far ? " I should only offend you if I expressed my opinion," answered the sergeant. "Go on, Mr. Betteredge," he said, with the most exasperating 1 resignation; "go on." When I remembered that this man had had the audacity to complain of our gardener's ob stinacy, my tongue itched to " go on " in other words than my mistress'. This time, however, my Christianity held firm. I proceeded steadily with her ladyship's letter : "Having appealed to Miss Verinder in the manner which the officer thought most desir able, I spoke to her next in the manner which I myself thought most likely to impress her. On two different occarions, before my daughter left my roof, I privately warned her that she was exposing herself to suspicion of the most unen durable and most degrading kind. I have now told her, in the plainest terms, that my appre hensions have been realised. " Her asswer to this, on her own solemn affirmation, is as plain as words can be. In the first place, she owes no money privately to any living creature. In the second place, the dia mond is not now, and never has been, in her possession, since she put it into her cabinet on Wednesday night. "The confidence which my daughter has placed in me goes no farther than this. She maintains an obstinate silence when I ask her if she can explain the disappearance of the dia mond. She refuses, with tears, when I appeal to her to speak out for my sake. • The day will come when you will know why I am careless about being suspected, and why I am silent even to you. I have done much to make my mother pity me—nothing to make my mother blush for me.* Those are my daughter's own words. " After what has passed between the officer and me, I think—strange* as he is—that he should be made acquainted with what Miss Ve rinder has said as well as you. Read my letter to him, and taen place in his hands the cheque which I inclose. In resigning all further claim on his services, I have only to say that I am convinced of his honesty and his intelligence; but I am more firmly persuaded than ever that the circumstances, in this case, have fatally mis led him." There the letter ended. Before presenting the eheque, I asked Sergeant Cuff if he had any re mark to make.
"Ift no. part of my duty, Mr. Betteredge/' he answered, " to make remarks on a case when I have done with it." I tossed the cheque across the table to him "Do you believe in that part of her ladyship's letter ?" I said, indignantly. The sergeant looked at the cheque, and lifted his dismal eyebrows in acknowledgment of her ladyship's liberality. "This is such a generous estimate of the value of my time," he said, " that I feel bound to make some return for it. Til bear in mind the amount in this cheque, Mr. Betteredge, when the time comes round for remembering it." " What do you mean ?" I asked. "Her ladyship has smoothed matters over for the present very cleverly," said the ser geant. " Bat this family scandal is of the sort that bursts up again when you least expect it. We shall have more detective business on our hands, sir, before the Moonstone is many months older." If those words meant anything, and if the manner in which he spoke them meant anything —it came to this. My mistress' letter had proved, to his mind, that Miss Bachel was hardened enough to resist the strongest appeal that could be addressed to her, and that she had deceived her own^xnother (good God, under what circumstances?) by a series of abominable lies. How other people, in my place, might have re plied to the sergeant I don't know. I answered what he had said in these plain terms: "Sergeant Cuff, I consider your last observa tion as an insult to my lady and her daughter!" " Mr. Betteredge, consider it as a warning to yourself, and you will be nearer the mark." Hot and angry aB I was, the infernal confi dence with which he gave me that answer closed my lips. I walked to the window to compose myself. The rain had given over; and, who should I see in the court-yard but Mr. Begbie, the gardener., waiting outside to continue the dog-rose con troversy with Sergeant Cuff. "My compliments to the sairgent," said Mr. Begbie, the moment he set eyes on me. "If he's minded to walk to the station I'm agreeable to go with him." " What!" cries the sergeant, behind me, " are yon not convinced yet ?" "The deil a bit I'm convinced!" answered Mr. Begbie. "Then I'll walk to the station!" says the sergeant. "Then M meet you at the gate!" says Mr. Begbie. • I was angry enough, as you know—but how was any man's anger to hold out against such an interruption as this ? Sergeant Cuff noticed the change in me, 'and encouraged it by a word in season. " Come! come!" he said, " why not treat my view of the case as her ladyship treats it? Why not say, the circumstances have fatally misled me " To take anything as her ladyship took it was a privilege worth enjoying—even with the dis advantage of its having been offered to me by Sergeant Cuff. I cooled slowly down to my customary level. I regarded any other opinion of Miss Bachel than my lady's opinion or mine with a lofty contempt. The only thing I could not do was to keep off the subject of the Moon atone! My own good sense ought to have warned me, I know, to let the matter rest—but, there! the virtues which distinguish the present generation were not invented in my time. Sergeant Cuff had hit me on the raw, and though I did look down upon him with con tempt, the tender place still tingled for all that. The end of it was that I perversely led him back to the subject of her ladyship's letter. "I am quite satisfied myself," I said. " But never mind that! Go on as if I waa still open to con viction. You think Miss Bachel is not to be believed on her word; and you say we shall hear of the Moonstone again. Back your opinion, sergeant," I concluded, in an airy way. " Back your opinion." Instead of taking offence, Sergeant Cuff seized my hand and shook it till my fingers ached again. "I declare to Heaven," says this strange officer, solemnly, "I would take to domestic service to-morrow, Mr. Betteredge, if I had a chance of being employed along with you! To say you are as transparent as a child, sir, is to pay the children a compliment which nine out of ten of them don't deserve. There! there! we won't begin to dispute again. You shall have it out of me on easier terms than that. I won't say a word more about her ladyship or about Miss Verinder—l'll only turn prophet, for once in a way, and for your* sake. I have warned you already that you haven't done with the Moonstone yet Very well. Now I'll tell you, at parting, of three things which will hap pen in the future, and whioh, I believe, will force themselves on your attention, whether you like it or not." "Go on!" I said, quite unabashed, and just as airy as ever. "First," said the sergeant, "you will hear something from the Yollands—when the post man delivers Bosanna's letter at Cobb's Hole on Monday next." If he had thrown a bucket of cold water over me, I doubt if I could have felt it much more unpleasantly than I felt those words. Miss Baohel's assertion of her innocence had left Bosanna's conduct—the making the new night gown, the hiding the smeared night-gown, and all the rest of it—entirely without explanation. And this bad never occurred to me till Sergeant Cuff forced it on my mind all in a moment! "In the second place," proceeded the sergeant, "you will hear of the three Indians again. You will hear of them in the neighborhood, if Miss Bachel remains in the neighborhood. You will hear of them in London, if Miss Bachel goes to London." Having lost all interest in the three jugglers, aud having thoroughly convinced myself of my young lady's innocence, I took this second prophecy easily enough. "So much for two of the three things that are going to happen," I said. " Now for the third!" "Third, and last!" said Sergeant Cuff, "you will, sooner or later, hear something of that money-lender in London, whom I have twice taken the liberty of mentioning already. Give me your pocket-book, aud I'll make a note for you of his name and address—so that there may be no mistake about it if the thing really happens." He wrote accordingly on a blank leaf: " Mr. Septimus Luker, Middlesex Place, Lambeth, London." "There," he said, pointing to the address, " are the last words, on the subject of the Moon- ' stone, which I shall trouble you with for the i present. Time will Bhow whether lam right or wrong. In the meanwhile, sir, I carry away with me a sincere personal liking for you, which I think does honor to both of us. If we don't meet again before my professional retirement takes place, I hope you will come and see me in
a little hooae near London, which I hare got my eye on. There will be grass walks, Mr. Better edge, I promise you, in my garden. And as for the white moss-rose—" "The deil a bit ye'll get the white moss-rose to grow, unless ye bud him on the dogue-rose first," cried a Toioe at the window. We both turned round. There was the ever lasting Mr. Begbie, too eager for the controversy to wait any longer at the gate. The sergeant wrung my hand and darted out into the court yard, hotter still on his side. " Ask him about the moBB-rose, when he comes back, and see if I have left him a leg to stand on!" cried the great Cuff, hailing me through the window in his turn. " Gentlemen both," I answered, mod erating them again as I had moderated them once already, " in the matter of the moss-rose there is a great deal to be said on both sides." I might as well (as the Irish say) have whistled jigs to a mill-stone. Away they went, together, fighting the battle of the roses without asking or giving quarter on either side. The last I saw of them Mr. Begbie was shaking his obstinate head, and Sergeant Cuff had got him by the arm like a prisoner in charge. Ah, well! well! I own I couldn't help liking the sergeant—though I hated him all the time. Explain that state of mind if you can. You will soon be rid now of me and my contradic tions. When I have reported Mr. Franklin's departure, the history of the Saturday's events will be finished at last. And when I have next described certain strange things that happened in the course of the new week, I shall have done my part of the story, and shall hand over the pen to the person who is appointed to follow my lead. If you are as tired of reading this narra tive as I am of writing it—Lord, how we shall enjoy ourselves on both sides a few pages fur ther on! Chapter YYTT. Ok the next day (Sunday), the close carriage, which had.been kept at Mr. Ablewhite's, came back to us empty. The coachman brought a I message for me, and written instructions for my lady's own maid and for Penelope. The message informed me that my mistress had determined to take Miss Bachel to her house in London on the Monday. The written instructions informed the two maids of the j clothing that was wanted, and directed them to meet their mistresses in town at a given hour. I Most of the other servants were to follow. My lady had found Miss Bachel so unwilling to re turn to the house, after what had happened in it, that she had decided on going to London direct from Friringhall. I was to remain in the country, until further orders, to look after things indoors and out. The servants left with me were to be put on board wages. How the Monday affected the rest of the house hold I don't know. The Monday gave me a good shake up. The first of Sergeant Cuff's pro phecies of what was to happen—namely, that I should hear from the Tollands—came true on that day. I had seen Penelope and my lady's maid off in the railway with the luggage for London, and was pottering about the grounds when I heard my name called. Turning round I found my self face to face with the fisherman's daughter, Limping Lucy. Bating her lame foot and her leanness (this last a horrid drawback to a wo man, in my opinion), the girl had some pleasing qualities in the eye of a man. A dark, keen, clever face, and a nice clear voice, and a beauti ful brown head of hair counted among her merits. A crutch appeared in the list of her misfortunes. And a temper reckoned high in the sum total of her defects. II Well, my dear," I said, " what do you want with me ?" " Where's the man you call Franklin Blake?" says the girl, fixing me with a fierce look as she rested herself on her crutch. " That's not a respectful way to speak of any gentleman," I answered. "If you wish to in quire for my lady's nephew, you will please men tion him as Mr. Franklin Blake." She limped a step nearer to me, and looked as if she could have eaten me alive. "Mr. Franklin Blake?" she repeated after me. "Mur derer Franklin Blake would be a fitter name for him." My practice with the late Mra.Betteredge came in handy here. Whenever a woman tries to put you out of temper turn the tables, and put her out of temper instead. They are generally pre pared for every effort you can make in your own defense but that. One word does it as well as a hundred ; and one word did it with Limping Lucy. I looked her pleasantly in the face; and I said—"Pooh!" The girl's temper flamed out directly. She poißed herself Qn her sound foot, and she took her crutch and beat it furiously three times on the ground. "He's a murderer! he's a mur derer ! he's a murderer! He has been the death of Bosanna Spearman!" She screamed that answer out at the top of her voice. One or two of the people at work in the grounds near us looked up—saw -it was Limping Lucy—knew what to expect from that quarter—and looked away again. "He has been the death of Bosanna Spear man ?" I repeated. " What makes you say that, Lucy?" " What do you care ? What does any man care ? Oh !if she had only thought of the men as I think, she might have been living now !" "She always thought kindly of me, poor soul," I said; " and, to the best of my ability, I always tried to act kindly by her." I spoke those words in as comforting a man ner as I could. The truth is, I hadn't the heart to irritate the girl by another of my smart re plies. I had only noticed her temper at first. I noticed her wretchedness now—and wretched ness is not uncommonly insolent, you will find, in humble life. My answer melted Limping Lucy. She bent her head down, and laid it on the top of her orutch. " I loved her," the girl said softly. " She had lived a miserable life, Mr. Betteredge—vile people had ill-treated her and led her wrong but it hadn't spoiled her sweet temper. She was an angel. She might have been happy with me. I had a plan for our going to London together like sisters, and living by our needles, That man came here, and spoiled it all- He bewitched her. Don't tell me he didn't mean it, and didn't know it. He ought to have known it. He ought to have taken pity on her. ' I can't live without him—and, oh Lucy, he never even looks at me.' That's what she said. Cruel, cruel, cruel! I said, 'No man is worth fretting for in that way.' And she said, ' There are men worth dying for, Lucy, and he is one of them.' I had saved up a little money. I had settled things with father and mother. I meant to take her away from the mortification she was Buffering here. We should have had a little lodging in London, and lived together like sis ters. She had a good education, sir, as you know, and she wrote a good hand. She was
quick at her needle. I have a good education, and I write a good hand. lam not as quick at my needle as she was—but I could have done. We might hare got our living nicely. And, oh! what happens this morning ? what happen* this morning ? Her letter comes, and tells me she has done with the burden of her life. Her letter comes, and bids me good-by forever. Where is he ?" cries the girl, lifting her head from the crutch, and flaming out again through her tears. " Where's this gentleman that I musn't speak of except with respect ? Ha, Mr. Betteredge, the day is not far off when the poor will rise against the rich. I pray Heaven they may begin with him. I pray Heaven they may begin with him." Here was another of your average good Christians, and here was the usual break-down, consequent upon that same average Christianity being pushed too far! The parson himself (though I own this is saying a great deal) could hardly have lectured the girl in the state she was in now. All I ventured to do was to keep her to the point—in the hope of something turning up which might be worth hearing. "What do you waat with Mr. Franklin Blake?" I asked. " I want to see him." " For anything particular ?" 111 have got a letter to give him." " From Bosanna Spearman ?" " Yes." " Sent to you in your own letter ?" "Yes." Was the darkness going to lift ? Were all the discoveries that I was dying to make, coming and offering themselves to me of their own accord ? I was obliged to wait a moment. Ser geant Cuff had left his infection behind him. Certain signs and tokens, personal to myself, warned me that the detective-fever was begin* ning to set in again. " You can't see Mr. Franklin," I said. " I must, and will see him." " He went to London last night." Limping Lucy looked me hard in the face, and saw that I was speaking the truth. Without a word more she turned about again instantly to ward Cobb's Hole. "Stop!" I said. "I expect news of Mr. Franklin Blake to-morrow. Give me your letter and I'll send it on to him by the post." Limping Lucy steadied herself on her crutch and looked back at me over her shoulder. "1 am to give it from my hands into his hands," she said. " And lam to give it to him in no other way." " Shall I write and tell him what you have said?" " Tell him I hate him. And you will telUiim | the truth." } " Yes, yes. But about the letter— ?" " If he wants the letter, he must come back here and get it from me." With those words she limped off on the way to Cobb's Hole. The detective-fever burned up all my dignity on the spot. I followed her and tried to make her talk. All in vain. It was my misfortune to be a man—and Limping Luoy enjoyed disappointing me. Later in the day I tried my luck with her mother. Good Mrs. Yolland could only cry, and recommend a drop of comfort out of the Dutch bottle. I found the fisherman on the beach. He said it was "a bad job," and went on mending his net. Neither father nor mother knew more than I knew. The one chance left to try was the chance, which might come with the morning, of writing to Mr. Franklin Blake. I leave you to imagine how I watched for the postman on Tuesday morning. He brought me two letters. One, from Penelope (which I had hardly patience enough to read), announced that my lady and Miss Rachel were safely established in London. The other, from Mr. Jeffco, in formed me that his master's son had left England already. On reaching the metropolis Mr. Franklin had, it appeared, gone straight to his father's residence. He arrived at an awkward time. Mr. Blake, the1 elder, was up to his eyes in the business of the House of Commons, and was amusing himself at home that night with the favorite parliamentary plaything which they call "a private bill." Mr. Jeffco himself showed Mr. Franklin into his father's study. "My dear Franklin! why do you surprise me in this way? Anything wrong?" "Yes; something wrong with Eachel; I am dreadfully distressed about it." " Grieved to hear it. But I can't listen to you now." " When can you listen ?" "My dear boy! I won't deceive you. I can j listen at the end of the Session, not a moment before. Good-night." " Thank you, sir. Good night." Such was the conversation inside the study, as reported to me by Mr. Jeffco. The conver sation outside the study was shorter still. " Jeffco, see what time the tidal train starts to morrow morning." "At six-forty, Mr. Frank lin." " Have me called at 5." " Going abroad, sir?" "Going, Jeffco, wherever the railway chooses to take me." " Shall I tell your father, sir?" "Yes; tell him at the end of the session." The next morning Mr. Franklin had started for foreign parts. To what particular place be was bound nobody (himself included) could pre sume to guess. We might hear of him next in Europe, Asia, Africa, or America. The chances were as equally divided as possible, in Mr. Jeff co's opinion, among the four quarters of the globe. This news —by closing up all prospect of my bringing Limping Lucy and Mr. Franklin to gether—at once stopped any further progress of mine on the way to discovery. Penelope's belief that her fellow-servant had destroyed herself through unrequited love for Mr. Franklin Blake was confirmed—and that was all. Whether the letter which Rosanna had left to be given to him after her death did, or did not, contain the con fession which Mr. Franklin had suspected her of trying to make to him in her lifetime, it was impossible to say. It might be only a farewell word, telling nothing but the secret of her un happy fancy for a person beyond her reach. Or it might own the whole truth about the strange proceedings in which Sergeant Cuff had detected her, from the time when the Moonstone was lost to the time when she rushed to her own destruc tion at the Shivering Sand. A sealed letter il had been placed in Limping Lucy's hands, and a sealed letter it remained to me and to every one about the girl, her own parents included. We all suspected her of having been in the dead woman's confidence; we all tried to make her speak; we all failed. Now one, and now another, of the servants—still holding to the belief that Rosanna had stolen the diamond and had hidden it—peered and poked about the rocks to which she had been traced, and peered and poked in vain. The tide ebbed, and the tide flowed; the summer went on, and the autumn came. And the quicksand, which hid her body, bid her secret too.
The news of Mr. Franklin's departure front England on the Sunday morning, and the newi of my lady's arrival in London with Miss Ba chel on the Monday afternoon, had reached me, as you are aware, by the Tuesday's post The Wednesday came, and brought nothing. The Thursday produced a second budget of news from Penelope. My girl's letter informed me that some great London doctor had been consulted about her young lady, and had earned a guinea by remark* »ng that she had better be amused. Flower shows, operas, balls—there was a whole round of gayeties in prospect; and Miss Eachel, to her mother's astonishment, eagerly took to it all. Mr. Godfrey had called; evidently as sweet as ever on his cousin, in spite of the reception he had met with, when he tried his luck on the oc casion of the birthday. To Penelope's great regret, he had been most graciously received, and had added Miss Rachel's name to one of his Ladies' Charities on the spot. My mistress wat reported to be out of spirits, and to hare held two long interviews with her lawyer. Certain speculations followed, referring to a poor re lation of the family—one Miss Claok, whom I have mentioned in my account of the birthday dinner, as sitting next to Mr. Godfrey, and having a pretty taste in Champagne. Penelope was astonished that Miss Clack had not called yet. Surely she would not be long before the fastened herself on my lady as usual!—and so on, and so on, in the way women have of girding at each other, on, and off, paper. This would not have been worth mentioning but for one reason. I hear you are likely to meet with Mits Clack. In that case, don't believe what she say* of me. On Friday nothing happened—except that one of the dogs showed signs of breaking-out behind the ears. I gave him a dose of syrup of buckthorn, and put him on a diet of pot-liquor and vegetables till further orders. Excuse my mentioning this. It has slipped in somehow. Pass it over please. I am fast coming to the end of my offences against your cultivated modern taste. Besides, the dog was a good creature, and deserved a good physicking; he did indeed. Saturday, the last day of the week, is also the last day in my narrative. The morning's post brought me a surprise in the shape of a London newspaper. The hand writing on the direction puzzled me. I com pared it with the money-lender's name and address as recorded in my pooket-book, and identified it at once as the writing of Sergeant Cuff. Looking through the paper eagerly enough, after this discovery, I found an ink>mark drawn round one of the police reports. Here it is at your service. Read it as I read it, and you will set the right value on the sergeant's polite atten tion in sending me the news of the day: " Lambeth.—Shortly before the dosing of the court, Mr. Septimus Luker, the well-known dealer in ancient gems, carvings, intagli, etc, etc., applied to the sitting magistrate for advioe. The applicant stated that he had been annoyed, at intervals throughout the day, by the pro ceedings of some of those strolling Indians who infest the streets. The persons complained of were three in number. After having been sent away by the police, they had returned again and again, and had attempted to enter the house on pretense of asking for charity. Warned off in the front, they had been dis covered again at the back of the premises. Be sides the annoyance complained of, Mr. Luker expressed himself as being under some appre hension that robbery might be contemplated. His collection contained many unique gems, both classical and Oriental, of the highest value. He had only the day before been compelled to dismiss a skilled workman in ivory carving from his employment (a native of India, as we under stood) on suspicion of attempted theft; and he felt by no means sure that this man and the street-jugglers of whom he complained, might not be acting in concert. It might be their ob ject to collect a crowd, and create a disturbance in the street, and, in the confusion thus caused, to obtain access to the house. In reply to the magistrate, Mr. Luker admitted that he had no evidence to produce of any attempt at robbery being in contempla tion. He could speak positively to the annoy ance and interruption caused by the Indians, but not to anything else. The magistrate re marked that, if the annoyance were repeated, the applicant could summon the Indians to that court, where they might easily be dealt with under the Act. As to the valuables in Mr. Luker's possession, Mr. Luke r himself mnst take the best measures for their, safe custody. He would do well perhaps to communicate with the police, and to adopt such additional pre cautions as their experience might suggest. The applicant thanked his worship and with drew." At this place, then, we part for the present, at least—after long journeying together with a companionable feeling, I hope, on both sides. The devil's dance of the Indian diamond hat threaded its way to London; and to London you must go after it, leaving me at the country house. Please to excuse the faults of this com position—my talking so much of myself, and being too familiar, I am afraid, with: you. I mean no harm; and I drink most respectfully (having just done dinner) to your health and prosperity, in a tankard of her .ladyship's ale. May you find in these leaves of my writing what Robinson Crusoe found in his experience on the desert island—namely, " something to comfort yourselves from, and to set in the description of good and evil, on the credit side of the account." —Farewell. THB XND OP TUB 7IBST PBKIOD.
Aybshibb Mnr.—Those who hare been watch> ing the Manchester election will hare notioed the Tery amusing speeches of one who has done service on the side of Jacob Bright. I refer to Mr. Alderman Mackie, who is one of the most sensible, burly, humorous, and best-liked of the public men of Cottonopolis. Thrice has he been the Mayor of that great city, and a splendid portrait of Mr. Mackie has been placed already in the Towh Hall by his grateful and admiriag fellow citizens. Yet he began life as a poor and almost friendless boy at Girran, in Ayrshire, and served an apprenticeship to the mason trade- in Glasgow. When he was Mayor of Manchester he considerably astonished a number of his colleagues with whom he was calling on the Postmaster General in St Martin's-le-Grand. As the deputation were entering the General Post Office, Mr. Mackie called a halt aad asked his friends what they thought of one of the pillars in the splendid vestibule of that edifice. They admired it very much; upon which the worthy Mayor told them that it was chiefly his handiwork, and that as a working mason he had snrreyed the public opening of the building from one of its most elevated points. Mr. Mackie's early life would read like a romance, and he is only one of many Ayrshire men who have risen in England from a lowly position to great wealth and influence. Mr. William Gibb, who, like Mr. Mackie, has been several times Mayor of Manchester, and who has twice contested Stockport, began life m a weaver at Ayr. Mr. W. S. Lindsay, the great shipowner, and formerly M.P. for Sunderland, first sailed from Ayr harbour as a cabin boy. Mr. M'Connel, one of the first of locomotive superintendents in the south, was once a poor boy on Carrick shore. And the story of Mr. Alderman Lusk, M.P. for Finsbury, and like Mr. Mackie, a native of Girvan, is one excelling in romantic interest even that of the famous