FIRST PERIOD: THE LOSS OF THE DIAMOND (1848)
14. CHAPTER XIV
I had just time to think of Rosanna Spearman's sudden illness
at yesterday's dinner--but not time to make any answer--when I saw
Sergeant Cuff's eyes suddenly turn aside towards the shrubbery;
and I heard him say softly to himself, "Hullo!"
"What's the matter?" I asked.
"A touch of the rheumatics in my back," said the Sergeant,
in a loud voice, as if he wanted some third person to hear us.
"We shall have a change in the weather before long."
A few steps further brought us to the corner of the house.
Turning off sharp to the right, we entered on the terrace,
and went down, by the steps in the middle, into the garden below.
Sergeant Cuff stopped there, in the open space, where we could see
round us on every side.
"About that young person, Rosanna Spearman?" he said.
"It isn't very likely, with her personal appearance, that she
has got a lover. But, for the girl's own sake, I must ask you
at once whether SHE has provided herself with a sweetheart,
poor wretch, like the rest of them?"
What on earth did he mean, under present circumstances,
by putting such a question to me as that? I stared at him,
instead of answering him.
"I saw Rosanna Spearman hiding in the shrubbery as we went by,"
said the Sergeant.
"When you said 'Hullo'?"
"Yes--when I said 'Hullo!' If there's a sweetheart in the case,
the hiding doesn't much matter. If there isn't--as things are
in this house--the hiding is a highly suspicious circumstance,
and it will be my painful duty to act on it accordingly."