FIRST PERIOD: THE LOSS OF THE DIAMOND (1848)
17. CHAPTER XVII
She echoed me, not like a living woman, but like a creature
moved by machinery. She went on sweeping all the time.
I took away the broom as gently and as kindly as I could.
"Come, come, my girl!" I said, "this is not like yourself.
You have got something on your mind. I'm your friend--
and I'll stand your friend, even if you have done wrong.
Make a clean breast of it, Rosanna--make a clean breast
The time had been, when my speaking to her in that way would
have brought the tears into her eyes. I could see no change
in them now.
"Yes," she said, "I'll make a clean breast of it."
"To my lady?" I asked.
"To Mr. Franklin?"
"Yes; to Mr. Franklin."
I hardly knew what to say to that. She was in no condition
to understand the caution against speaking to him in private,
which Mr. Franklin had directed me to give her. Feeling my way,
little by little, I only told her Mr. Franklin had gone out for
"It doesn't matter," she answered. "I shan't trouble Mr. Franklin, to-day."
"Why not speak to my lady?" I said. "The way to relieve your mind
is to speak to the merciful and Christian mistress who has always
been kind to you."
She looked at me for a moment with a grave and steady attention,
as if she was fixing what I said in her mind. Then she took
the broom out of my hands and moved off with it slowly,
a little way down the corridor.
"No," she said, going on with her sweeping, and speaking to herself;
"I know a better way of relieving my mind than that."