4. CHAPTER IV
"You will be cleared of this, Mr. Franklin, beyond all doubt.
But I hope you won't be cleared in THAT way. See what
the letter says, sir. In justice to the girl's memory,
see what it says."
I felt the earnestness with which he spoke--felt it as a friendly rebuke
to me. "You shall form your own judgment on her letter," I said.
"I will read it out."
I began--and read these lines:
"Sir--I have something to own to you. A confession which means much misery,
may sometimes be made in very few words. This confession can be made in
three words. I love you.
The letter dropped from my hand. I looked at Betteredge.
"In the name of Heaven," I said, "what does it mean?"
He seemed to shrink from answering the question.
"You and Limping Lucy were alone together this morning, sir, he said.
"Did she say nothing about Rosanna Spearman?"
"She never even mentioned Rosanna Spearman's name."
"Please to go back to the letter, Mr. Franklin. I tell you plainly,
I can't find it in my heart to distress you, after what you have had to
bear already. Let her speak for herself, sir. And get on with your grog.
For your own sake, get on with your grog."
I resumed the reading of the letter.
"It would be very disgraceful to me to tell you this, if I was a living woman
when you read it. I shall be dead and gone, sir, when you find my letter.
It is that which makes me bold. Not even my grave will be left to tell
of me. I may own the truth--with the quicksand waiting to hide me when the
words are written.