FIRST PERIOD: THE LOSS OF THE DIAMOND (1848)
13. CHAPTER XIII
"I have already formed an opinion on this case, says Sergeant Cuff,
"which I beg your ladyship's permission to keep to myself for the present.
My business now is to mention what I have discovered up-stairs in Miss
Verinder's sitting-room, and what I have decided (with your ladyship's leave)
on doing next."
He then went into the matter of the smear on the paint, and stated
the conclusions he drew from it--just as he had stated them
(only with greater respect of language) to Superintendent Seegrave.
"One thing," he said, in conclusion, "is certain. The Diamond is missing
out of the drawer in the cabinet. Another thing is next to certain.
The marks from the smear on the door must be on some article of dress
belonging to somebody in this house. We must discover that article of
dress before we go a step further."
"And that discovery," remarked my mistress, "implies, I presume,
the discovery of the thief?"
"I beg your ladyship's pardon--I don't say the Diamond is stolen.
I only say, at present, that the Diamond is missing. The discovery
of the stained dress may lead the way to finding it."
Her ladyship looked at me. "Do you understand this?" she said.
"Sergeant Cuff understands it, my lady," I answered.
"How do you propose to discover the stained dress?" inquired my mistress,
addressing herself once more to the Sergeant. "My good servants,
who have been with me for years, have, I am ashamed to say, had their
boxes and rooms searched already by the other officer. I can't and won't
permit them to be insulted in that way a second time!"
(There was a mistress to serve! There was a woman in ten thousand,
if you like!)