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as if I had got the plague, and went into the
house.*

*NOTE; by Franklin Blake.—The writer is
entirely mistaken, poor creature. I never noticed her.
My intention was certainly to have taken a turn in
the shrubbery. But, remembering at the same
moment that my aunt might wish to see me, after my
return from the railway, I altered my mind, and
went into the house.

"I made the best of my way indoors again
returning by the servants' entrance. There was
nobody in the laundry-room at that time; and
I sat down there alone. I have told you already
of the thoughts which the Shivering Sand put
into my head. Those thoughts came back to
me now. I wondered in myself which it would
be hardest to do, if things went on in this way
to bear Mr. Franklin Blake's indifference to
me, or to jump into the quicksand and end it
for ever in that way?

"It's useless to ask me to account for my
own conduct, at this time. I tryand I can't
understand it myself.

"Why didn't I stop you, when you avoided
me in that cruel manner? Why didn't I call
out, 'Mr. Franklin, I have got something to
say to you; it concerns yourself, and you must,
and shall, hear it'? You were at my mercyI
had got the whip-hand of you, as they say. And
better than that, I had the means (if I could
only make you trust me) of being useful to you
in the future. Of course, I never supposed
that youa gentlemanhad stolen the Diamond
for the mere pleasure of stealing it. No. Penelope
had heard Miss Rachel, and I had heard
Mr. Betteredge, talk about your extravagance
and your debts. It was plain enough to me
that you had taken the Diamond to sell it, or
pledge it, and so to get the money of which you
stood in need. Well! I could have told you of
a man in London who would have advanced a
good large sum on the jewel, and who would
have asked no awkward questions about it
either.

"Why didn't I speak to you! why didn't I
speak to you!

"I wonder whether the risks and difficulties
of keeping the nightgown were as much as I
could manage, without having other risks and
difficulties added to them? This might have
been the case with some womenbut how could
it be the case with me? In the days when I
was a thief, I had run fifty times greater risks,
and found my way out of difficulties to which
this difficulty was mere child's play. I had
been apprenticed, as you may say, to frauds and
deceptionssome of them on such a grand scale,
and managed so cleverly, that they became
famous, and appeared in the newspapers. Was
such a little thing as the keeping of the nightgown
likely to weigh on my spirits, and to set
my heart sinking within me, at the time when I
ought to have spoken to you? What nonsense
to ask the question! the thing couldn't be.

"Where is the use of my dwelling in this way
on my own folly? The plain truth is plain
enough, surely? Behind your back, I loved
you with all my heart and soul. Before your
facethere's no denying itI was frightened
of you; frightened of making you angry with
me; frightened of what you might say to me
(though you had taken the Diamond) if I
presumed to tell you that I had found it out. I
had gone as near to it as I dared when I spoke
to you in the library. You had not turned
your back on me then. You had not started
away from me as if I had got the plague. I
tried to provoke myself into feeling angry with
you, and to rouse up my courage in that way.
No! I couldn't feel anything but the misery and
the mortification of it. 'You're a plain girl;
you have got a crooked shoulder; you're only a
housemaidwhat do you mean by attempting
to speak to Me?' You never uttered a word of
that, Mr. Franklin; but you said it all to me,
nevertheless! Is such madness as this to be
accounted for? No. There is nothing to be
done but to confess it, and let it be.

"I ask your pardon, once more, for this
wandering of my pen. There is no fear of its
happening again. I am close at the end now.

"The first person who disturbed me by
coming into the empty room was Penelope.
She had found out my secret long since, and
she had done her best to bring me to my senses
and done it kindly too.

"'Ah!' she said, 'I know why you're sitting
here, and fretting, all by yourself. The best
thing that can happen for your advantage,
Rosanna, will be for Mr. Franklin's visit here to
come to an end. It's my belief that he won't
be long now before he leaves the house.'

"In all my thoughts of you I had never
thought of your going away. I couldn't speak
to Penelope. I could only look at her.

"I've just left Miss Rachel,' Penelope went
on. 'And a hard matter I have had of it to
put up with her temper. She says the house
is unbearable to her with the police in it; and
she's determined to speak to my lady this
evening, and to go to her Aunt Ablewhite
to-morrow. If she does that, Mr. Franklin will
be the next to find a reason for going away,
you may depend on it!'

"I recovered the use of my tongue at that.
'Do you mean to say Mr. Franklin will go with
her?' I asked.

"'Only too gladly, if she would let him;
but she won't. He has been made to feel her
temper; he is in her black books tooand that
after having done all he can to help her, poor
fellow! No, no! If they don't make it up
before to-morrow, you will see Miss Rachel
go one way, and Mr. Franklin another. Where
he may betake himself to I can't say. But he
will never stay here, Rosanna, after Miss Rachel
has left us.'

"I managed to master the despair I felt at
the prospect of your going away. To own the
truth, I saw a little glimpse of hope for myself
if there was really a serious disagreement
between Miss Rachel and you. 'Do you know,
I asked, 'what the quarrel is between them?'

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