FIRST PERIOD: THE LOSS OF THE DIAMOND (1848)
7. CHAPTER VII
After leaving Mr. Franklin and me at the Shivering Sand, Rosanna, it appeared,
had returned to the house in a very unaccountable state of mind.
She had turned (if Penelope was to be believed) all the colours of
the rainbow. She had been merry without reason, and sad without reason.
In one breath she asked hundreds of questions about Mr. Franklin Blake,
and in another breath she had been angry with Penelope for presuming
to suppose that a strange gentleman could possess any interest for her.
She had been surprised, smiling, and scribbling Mr. Franklin's name
inside her workbox. She had been surprised again, crying and looking
at her deformed shoulder in the glass. Had she and Mr. Franklin known
anything of each other before to-day? Quite impossible! Had they heard
anything of each other? Impossible again! I could speak to Mr. Franklin's
astonishment as genuine, when he saw how the girl stared at him.
Penelope could speak to the girl's inquisitiveness as genuine,
when she asked questions about Mr. Franklin. The conference between us,
conducted in this way, was tiresome enough, until my daughter suddenly ended
it by bursting out with what I thought the most monstrous supposition I
had ever heard in my life.
"Father!" says Penelope, quite seriously, "there's only one explanation
of it. Rosanna has fallen in love with Mr. Franklin Blake at first sight!"
You have heard of beautiful young ladies falling in love at first sight,
and have thought it natural enough. But a housemaid out of a reformatory,
with a plain face and a deformed shoulder, falling in love, at first sight,
with a gentleman who comes on a visit to her mistress's house, match me that,
in the way of an absurdity, out of any story-book in Christendom, if you can!
I laughed till the tears rolled down my cheeks. Penelope resented my
merriment, in rather a strange way. "I never knew you cruel before, father,"
she said, very gently, and went out.
My girl's words fell upon me like a splash of cold water.
I was savage with myself, for feeling uneasy in myself the moment
she had spoken them--but so it was. We will change the subject,
if you please. I am sorry I drifted into writing about it;
and not without reason, as you will see when we have gone on together
a little longer.