FIRST PERIOD: THE LOSS OF THE DIAMOND (1848)
23. CHAPTER XXIII
I followed him down the steps. It was very miserable to see him leaving
the old place, where he had spent the happiest years of his life,
in this way. Penelope (sadly upset by all that had happened in the house)
came round crying, to bid him good-bye. Mr. Franklin kissed her.
I waved my hand as much as to say, "You're heartily welcome, sir." Some of
the other female servants appeared, peeping after him round the corner.
He was one of those men whom the women all like. At the last moment,
I stopped the pony chaise, and begged as a favour that he would let
us hear from him by letter. He didn't seem to heed what I said--
he was looking round from one thing to another, taking a sort of farewell
of the old house and grounds. "Tell us where you are going to, sir!"
I said, holding on by the chaise, and trying to get at his future plans
in that way. Mr. Franklin pulled his hat down suddenly over his eyes.
"Going?" says he, echoing the word after me. "I am going to the devil!"
The pony started at the word, as if he had felt a Christian horror of it.
"God bless you, sir, go where you may!" was all I had time to say,
before he was out of sight and hearing. A sweet and pleasant gentleman!
With all his faults and follies, a sweet and pleasant gentleman! He left a
sad gap behind him, when he left my lady's house.
It was dull and dreary enough, when the long summer evening closed in,
on that Saturday night.
I kept my spirits from sinking by sticking fast to my pipe
and my ROBINSON CRUSOE. The women (excepting Penelope)
beguiled the time by talking of Rosanna's suicide. They were all
obstinately of opinion that the poor girl had stolen the Moonstone,
and that she had destroyed herself in terror of being found out.
My daughter, of course, privately held fast to what she had
said all along. Her notion of the motive which was really
at the bottom of the suicide failed, oddly enough, just where
my young lady's assertion of her innocence failed also.
It left Rosanna's secret journey to Frizinghall, and Rosanna's
proceedings in the matter of the nightgown entirely unaccounted for.
There was no use in pointing this out to Penelope; the objection
made about as much impression on her as a shower of rain
on a waterproof coat. The truth is, my daughter inherits my
superiority to reason--and, in respect to that accomplishment,
has got a long way ahead of her own father.