FIRST PERIOD: THE LOSS OF THE DIAMOND (1848)
19. CHAPTER XIX
This, I am well aware, was not the quickest way to take
of obeying the directions which I had received. But I was
resolved to see for myself what new mystification was going
on before I trusted Rosanna's boot in the Sergeant's hands.
My old notion of screening the girl, if I could,
seemed to have come back on me again, at the eleventh hour.
This state of feeling (to say nothing of the detective-fever)
hurried me off, as soon as I had got the boot, at the nearest
approach to a run which a man turned seventy can reasonably hope
As I got near the shore, the clouds gathered black, and the rain came down,
drifting in great white sheets of water before the wind. I heard the thunder
of the sea on the sand-bank at the mouth of the bay. A little further on,
I passed the boy crouching for shelter under the lee of the sand hills.
Then I saw the raging sea, and the rollers tumbling in on the sand-bank, and
the driven rain sweeping over the waters like a flying garment, and the yellow
wilderness of the beach with one solitary black figure standing on it--
the figure of Sergeant Cuff.
He waved his hand towards the north, when he first saw me.
"Keep on that side!" he shouted. "And come on down here
I went down to him, choking for breath, with my heart leaping
as if it was like to leap out of me. I was past speaking.
I had a hundred questions to put to him; and not one
of them would pass my lips. His face frightened me.
I saw a look in his eyes which was a look of horror.
He snatched the boot out of my hand, and set it in a footmark
on the sand, bearing south from us as we stood, and pointing
straight towards the rocky ledge called the South Spit.
The mark was not yet blurred out by the rain--and the girl's
boot fitted it to a hair.
The Sergeant pointed to the boot in the footmark, without saying a word.