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"'It's all on Miss Rachel's side,' Penelope
said. 'And, for anything I know to the contrary,
it's all Miss Rachel's temper, and nothing else. I
am loath to distress you, Rosanna; but don't
run away with the notion that Mr. Franklin is
ever likely to quarrel with her. He's a great
deal too fond of her for that!'

"She had only just spoken those cruel words
when there came a call to us from Mr. Betteredge.
All the indoor servants were to assemble
in the hall. And then we were to go in, one
by one, and be questioned in Mr. Betteredge's
room by Sergeant Cuff.

"It came to my turn to go in, after her
ladyship's maid and the upper housemaid had
been questioned first. Sergeant Cuff's
inquiriesthough he wrapped them up very
cunninglysoon showed me that those two
women (the bitterest enemies I had in the
house) had made their discoveries outside my
door, on the Thursday afternoon, and again on
the Thursday night. They had told the
Sergeant enough to open his eyes to some part of
the truth. He rightly believed me to have
made a new nightgown secretly, but he wrongly
believed the paint-stained nightgown to be mine.
I felt satisfied of another thing, from what he
said, which it puzzled me to understand. He
suspected me, of course, of being concerned in
the disappearance of the Diamond. But, at
the same time, he let me seepurposely, as I
thoughtthat he did not consider me as the
person chiefly answerable for the loss of the
jewel. He appeared to think that I had been
acting under the direction of somebody else.
Who that person might be, I couldn't guess
then, and can't guess now.

"In this uncertainty, one thing was plain
that Sergeant Cuff was miles away from knowing
the whole truth. You were safe as long as
the nightgown was safeand not a moment
longer.

"I quite despair of making you understand
the distress and terror which pressed upon me
now. It was impossible for me to risk wearing
your nightgown any longer. I might find
myself taken off, at a moment's notice, to the
police court at Frizinghall, to be charged on
suspicion, and searched accordingly. While
Sergeant Cuff still left me free, I had to choose
and that at oncebetween destroying the
nightgown, or hiding it in some safe place, at
some safe distance from the house.

"If I had only been a little less fond of you,
I think I should have destroyed it. But, oh!
how could I destroy the only thing I had
which proved that I had saved you from
discovery? If we did come to an explanation
together, and if you suspected me of having
some bad motive, and denied it all, how could
I win upon you to trust me, unless I had the
nightgown to produce? Was it wronging you
to believe, as I did, and do still, that you might
hesitate to let a poor girl like me be the sharer
of your secret, and your accomplice in the theft
which your money-troubles had tempted you to
commit? Think of your cold behaviour to me,
sir, and you will hardly wonder at my
unwillingness to destroy the only claim on your
confidence and your gratitude which it was my
fortune to possess.

"I determined to hide it; and the place I
fixed on was the place I knew bestthe Shivering
Sand.

"As soon as the questioning was over, I
made the first excuse that came into my head,
and got leave to go out for a breath of fresh air.
I went straight to Cobb's Hole, to Mr. Yolland's
cottage. His wife and daughter were
the best friends I had. Don't suppose I
trusted them with your secretI have trusted
nobody. All I wanted was to write this letter
to you, and to have a safe opportunity of
taking the nightgown off me. Suspected as I
was, I could do neither of those things, with
any sort of security, up at the house.

"And now I have nearly got through my
long letter, writing it alone in Lucy
Yolland's bedroom. When it is done I shall go
down-stairs with the nightgown rolled up, and
hidden under my cloak. I shall find the means
I want for keeping it safe and dry in its
hiding-place, among the litter of old things in
Mrs. Yolland's kitchen. And then I shall go
to the Shivering Sanddon't be afraid of my
letting my footmarks betray me!—and hide the
nightgown down in the sand, where no living
creature can find it without being first let into
the secret by myself.

"And, when that is done, what then?

"Then, Mr. Franklin, I shall have two
reasons for making another attempt to say the
words to you which I have not said yet. If
you leave the house, as Penelope believes you
will leave it, and if I haven't spoken to you
before that, I shall lose my opportunity for
ever. That is one reason. Then, again, there
is the comforting knowledgeif my speaking
does make you angrythat I have got the
nightgown ready to plead my cause for me as
nothing else can. That is my other reason. If
these two together don't harden my heart
against the coldness which has hitherto frozen
it up (I mean the coldness of your treatment of
me), there will be the end of my effortsand
the end of my life.

"Yes. If I miss my next opportunityif
you are as cruel as ever, and if I feel it again
as I have felt it alreadygood-bye to the
world which has grudged me the happiness that
it gives to others. Good-bye to life, which
nohing but a little kindness from you can ever
make pleasurable to me again. Don't blame
yourself, sir, if it ends in this way. But try
do tryto feel some forgiving sorrow for me!
I shall take care that you find out what I have
done for you, when I am past telling you of it
myself. Will you say something kind of me
thenin the same gentle way that you have
when you speak to Miss Rachel? If you do
that, and if there are such things as ghosts, I
believe my ghost will hear it, and tremble with
the pleasure of it.

"It's time I left off. I am making myself

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