FIRST PERIOD: THE LOSS OF THE DIAMOND (1848)
23. CHAPTER XXIII
I had kept the pony chaise ready, in case Mr. Franklin persisted
in leaving us by the train that night. The appearance of the luggage,
followed downstairs by Mr. Franklin himself, informed me plainly
enough that he had held firm to a resolution for once in his life.
"So you have really made up your mind, sir?" I said, as we met in the hall.
"Why not wait a day or two longer, and give Miss Rachel another chance?"
The foreign varnish appeared to have all worn off Mr. Franklin,
now that the time had come for saying good-bye. Instead of replying
to me in words, he put the letter which her ladyship had addressed
to him into my hand. The greater part of it said over again what
had been said already in the other communication received by me.
But there was a bit about Miss Rachel added at the end, which will
account for the steadiness of Mr. Franklin's determination, if it
accounts for nothing else.
"You will wonder, I dare say" (her ladyship wrote), "at my
allowing my own daughter to keep me perfectly in the dark.
A Diamond worth twenty thousand pounds has been lost--and I am
left to infer that the mystery of its disappearance is no mystery
to Rachel, and that some incomprehensible obligation of silence
has been laid on her, by some person or persons utterly unknown
to me, with some object in view at which I cannot even guess.
Is it conceivable that I should allow myself to be trifled with in
this way? It is quite conceivable, in Rachel's present state.
She is in a condition of nervous agitation pitiable to see.
I dare not approach the subject of the Moonstone again until
time has done something to quiet her. To help this end,
I have not hesitated to dismiss the police-officer. The
mystery which baffles us, baffles him too. This is not a
matter in which any stranger can help us. He adds to what I
have to suffer; and he maddens Rachel if she only hears