+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error




I AM truly sorry to detain you over me and
my beehive chair. A sleepy old man, in a
sunny back yard, is not an interesting object, I
am well aware. But things must be put down
in their places, as things actually happened
and you must please to jog on a little while
longer with me, in expectation of Mr. Franklin
Blake's arrival later in the day.

Before I had time to doze off again, after
my daughter Penelope had left me, I was
disturbed by a rattling of plates and dishes in the
servants' hall, which meant that dinner was
ready. Taking my own meals in my own
sitting-room, I had nothing to do with the servants'
dinner, except to wish them a good stomach to
it all round, previous to composing myself once
more in my chair. I was just stretching my
legs, when out bounced another woman on
me. Not my daughter again; only Nancy,
the kitchen-maid, this time. I was straight in
her way out; and I observed, as she asked
me to let her by, that she had a sulky facea
thing which, as head of the servants, I never
allow, on principle, to pass me without

"What are you turning your back on your
dinner for?" I asked. " What's wrong now,

Nancy tried to push by, without answering;
upon which I rose up, and took her by the
ear. She is a nice plump young lass, and it
is customary with me to adopt that manner
of showing that I personally approve of a

"What's wrong now?" I said once more.

"Rosanna's late again for dinner," says
Nancy. "And I'm sent to fetch her in. All
the hard work falls on my shoulders in this
house. Let me alone, Mr. Betteredge!"

The person here mentioned as Rosanna was
our second housemaid. Having a kind of pity
for our second housemaid (why, you shall
presently know), and seeing in Nancy's face that
she would fetch her fellow-servant in with more
hard words than might be needful under the
circumstances, it struck me that I had nothing
particular to do, and that I might as well fetch
Rosanna myself; giving her a hint to be punctual
in future, which I knew she would take
kindly from me.

"Where is Rosanna?" I inquired.

"At the sands, of course!" says Nancy, with
a toss of her head. " She had another of her
fainting-fits this morning, and she asked to go
out and get a breath of fresh air. I have no
patience with her!"

"Go back to your dinner, my girl," I said.
"I have patience with her, and I'll fetch
her in."

Nancy (who has a fine appetite) looked
pleased. When she looks pleased, she looks
nice. When she looks nice, I chuck her
under the chin. It isn't immoralityit's only

Well, I took my stick, and set off for the

No! it won't do to set off yet. I am sorry
again to detain you; but you really must hear
the story of the sands, and the story of Rosanna
for this reason, that the matter of the
Diamond touches them both nearly. How hard I
try to get on with my statement without
stopping by the way, and how badly I succeed!
But, there!—Persons and Things do turn up
so vexatiously in this life, and will in a manner
insist on being noticed. Let us take it easy,
and let us take it short; we shall be in
the thick of the mystery soon, I promise

Rosanna (to put the Person before the
Thing, which is but common politeness) was
the only new servant in our house. About
four months before the time I am writing of,
my lady had been in London, and had gone
over a Reformatory, intended to save forlorn
women from drifting back into bad ways, after
they had got released from prison. The
matron, seeing my lady took an interest
in the place, pointed out a girl to her,
named Rosanna Spearman, and told her
a most miserable story, which I haven't the
heart to repeat here; for I don't like to be
made wretched without any use, and no more
do you. The upshot of it was, that Rosanna
Spearman had been a thief, and not being of
the sort that get up Companies in the City,
and rob from thousands, instead of only
robbing from one, the law laid hold of her, and