FIRST PERIOD: THE LOSS OF THE DIAMOND (1848)
15. CHAPTER XV
The Sergeant remained silent, thinking his own thoughts, till we
entered the plantation of firs which led to the quicksand.
There he roused himself, like a man whose mind was made up,
and spoke to me again.
"Mr. Betteredge," he said, "as you have honoured me by taking an oar
in my boat, and as you may, I think, be of some assistance to me before
the evening is out, I see no use in our mystifying one another any longer,
and I propose to set you an example of plain speaking on my side. You are
determined to give me no information to the prejudice of Rosanna Spearman,
because she has been a good girl to YOU, and because you pity her heartily.
Those humane considerations do you a world of credit, but they happen
in this instance to be humane considerations clean thrown away.
Rosanna Spearman is not in the slightest danger of getting into trouble--
no, not if I fix her with being concerned in the disappearance of the Diamond,
on evidence which is as plain as the nose on your face!"
"Do you mean that my lady won't prosecute?" I asked.
"I mean that your lady CAN'T prosecute," said the Sergeant.
"Rosanna Spearman is simply an instrument in the hands
of another person, and Rosanna Spearman will be held harmless
for that other person's sake."
He spoke like a man in earnest--there was no denying that.
Still, I felt something stirring uneasily against him in my mind.
"Can't you give that other person a name?" I said.
"Can't you, Mr. Betteredge?"
Sergeant Cuff stood stock still, and surveyed me with a look
of melancholy interest.
"It's always a pleasure to me to be tender towards human infirmity,"
he said. "I feel particularly tender at the present moment,
Mr. Betteredge, towards you. And you, with the same excellent motive,
feel particularly tender towards Rosanna Spearman, don't you?
Do you happen to know whether she has had a new outfit of