FIRST PERIOD: THE LOSS OF THE DIAMOND (1848)
21. CHAPTER XXI
That answer pointed as straight to Miss Rachel as straight could be.
A silence dropped on us which I thought would never come to an end.
Lord! how the wind howled, and how the rain drove at the window, as I sat
there waiting for one or other of them to speak again!
"Be so good as to express yourself plainly," said my lady.
"Do you refer to my daughter?"
"I do," said Sergeant Cuff, in so many words.
My mistress had her cheque-book on the table when we entered the room--
no doubt to pay the Sergeant his fee. She now put it back in the drawer.
It went to my heart to see how her poor hand trembled--the hand that
had loaded her old servant with benefits; the hand that, I pray God,
may take mine, when my time comes, and I leave my place for ever!
"I had hoped," said my lady, very slowly and quietly, "to have recompensed
your services, and to have parted with you without Miss Verinder's name
having been openly mentioned between us as it has been mentioned now.
My nephew has probably said something of this, before you came into
"Mr. Blake gave his message, my lady. And I gave Mr. Blake a reason----"
"It is needless to tell me your reason. After what you have just said,
you know as well as I do that you have gone too far to go back.
I owe it to myself, and I owe it to my child, to insist on your
remaining here, and to insist on your speaking out."
The Sergeant looked at his watch.
"If there had been time, my lady," he answered, "I should have preferred
writing my report, instead of communicating it by word of mouth. But, if this
inquiry is to go on, time is of too much importance to be wasted in writing.
I am ready to go into the matter at once. It is a very painful matter for me
to speak of, and for you to hear