FIRST PERIOD: THE LOSS OF THE DIAMOND (1848)
12. CHAPTER XII
We all got excited and impatient as the time drew near
for the appearance of this renowned and capable character.
Superintendent Seegrave, returning to us at his appointed time,
and hearing that the Sergeant was expected, instantly shut
himself up in a room, with pen, ink, and paper, to make notes
of the Report which would be certainly expected from him.
I should have liked to have gone to the station myself,
to fetch the Sergeant. But my lady's carriage and horses
were not to be thought of, even for the celebrated Cuff;
and the pony-chaise was required later for Mr. Godfrey.
He deeply regretted being obliged to leave his aunt at such
an anxious time; and he kindly put off the hour of his departure
till as late as the last train, for the purpose of hearing
what the clever London police-officer thought of the case.
But on Friday night he must be in town, having a Ladies'
Charity, in difficulties, waiting to consult him on Saturday
When the time came for the Sergeant's arrival, I went down to the gate
to look out for him.
A fly from the railway drove up as I reached the lodge; and out got
a grizzled, elderly man, so miserably lean that he looked as if
he had not got an ounce of flesh on his bones in any part of him.
He was dressed all in decent black, with a white cravat round his neck.
His face was as sharp as a hatchet, and the skin of it was as yellow
and dry and withered as an autumn leaf. His eyes, of a steely light grey,
had a very disconcerting trick, when they encountered your eyes, of looking
as if they expected something more from you than you were aware of yourself.
His walk was soft; his voice was melancholy; his long lanky fingers
were hooked like claws. He might have been a parson, or an undertaker--
or anything else you like, except what he really was. A more complete
opposite to Superintendent Seegrave than Sergeant Cuff, and a less comforting
officer to look at, for a family in distress, I defy you to discover,
search where you may.
"Is this Lady Verinder's?" he asked.
"I am Sergeant Cuff."