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cry. How am I to see my way to the hiding-
place if I let these useless tears come and blind
me?

"Besides, why should I look at the gloomy
side? Why not believe, while I can, that it
will end well after all? I may find you in a
good humour to-nightor, if not, I may
succeed better to-morrow morning. I shan't
improve my poor plain face by frettingshall I?
Who knows but I may have filled all these
weary long pages of paper for nothing? They
will go, for safety's sake (never mind now for
what other reason) into the hiding-place, along
with the nightgown. It has been hard, hard
work writing my letter. Oh! if we only end in
understanding each other, how I shall enjoy
tearing it up!

"I beg to remain, sir, your true lover and
humble servant,

"ROSANNA SPEARMAN."

The reading of the letter was completed by
Betteredge in silence. After carefully putting
it back in the envelope, he sat thinking, with his
head bowed down, and his eyes on the ground.

"Betteredge," I said, "is there any hint to
guide us at the end of the letter?"

He looked up slowly, with a heavy sigh.

"There is nothing to guide you, Mr. Franklin,"
he answered. " If you will take my advice,
you will keep the letter in the cover till
these present anxieties of yours have come to an
end. It will sorely distress you, whenever you
read it. Don't read it now."

I put the letter away in my pocket-book.

A glance back at the sixteenth and
seventeenth chapters of Betteredge's Narrative will
show that there really was a reason for my thus
sparing myself, at a time when my fortitude had
been already cruelly tried. Twice over, the
unhappy woman had made her last attempt to speak
to me. And twice over, it had been my misfortune
(God knows how innocently!) to repel the
advances she had made to me. On the Friday
night, as Betteredge truly describes it, she had
found me alone at the billiard table. Her manner
and her language had suggested to me
and would have suggested to any man, under
the circumstancesthat she was about to
confess a guilty knowledge of the disappearance of
the Diamond. For her own sake, I had
purposely shown no special interest in what was
coming; for her own sake, I had purposely
looked at the billiard balls, instead of looking
at herand what had been the result? I had
sent her away from me, wounded to the heart!
On the Saturday againon the day when she
must have foreseen, after what Penelope had
told her, that my departure was close at hand
the same fatality still pursued us. She had
once more attempted to meet me in the shrubbery
walk, and she had found me there in
company with Betteredge and Sergeant Cuff. In
her hearing, the Sergeant, with his own underhand
object in view, had appealed to my
interest in Rosanna Spearman. Again for the
poor creature's own sake, I had met the police-
officer with a flat denial, and had declared
loudly declared, so that she might hear me too
that I felt "no interest whatever in Rosanna
Spearman." At those words, solely designed
to warn her against attempting to gain my
private ear, she had turned away, and left the
place: cautioned of her danger, as I then
believed; self-doomed to destruction, as I know
now. From that point, I have already traced
the succession of events which led me to the
astounding discovery at the quicksand. The
retrospect is now complete. I may leave the
miserable story of Rosanna Spearmanto which,
even at this distance of time, I cannot revert
without a pang of distressto suggest for itself
all that is here purposely left unsaid. I may pass
from the suicide at the Shivering Sand, with its
strange and terrible influence on my present
position and my future prospects, to interests
which concern the living people of this narrative,
and to events which were already paving
my way for the slow and toilsome journey from
the darkness to the light.

CHAPTER VI.

I WALKED to the railway station accompanied,
it is needless to say, by Gabriel Betteredge.
I had the letter in my pocket, and the
nightgown safely packed in a little bagboth
to be submitted, before I slept that night, to
the investigation of Mr. Bruff.

We left the house in silence. For the first
time in my experience of him, I found old
Betteredge in my company without a word to
say to me. Having something to say on my
side, I opened the conversation as soon as
we were clear of the lodge gates.

"Before I go to London," I began, "I have
two questions to ask you. They relate to
myself, and I believe they will rather surprise
you."

"If they will put that poor creature's letter
out of my head, Mr. Franklin, they may do
anything else they like with me. Please to begin
surprising me, sir, as soon as you can."

"My first question, Betteredge, is this. Was
I drunk on the night of Rachel's birthday?"

"You drunk!" exclaimed the old man.
"Why it's the great defect of your character,
Mr. Franklin, that you only drink with your
dinner, and never touch a drop of liquor
afterwards!"

"But the birthday was a special occasion.
I might have abandoned my regular habits, on
that night of all others."

Betteredge considered for a moment.

"You did go out of your habits, sir," he
said. "And I'll tell you how. You looked
wretchedly illand we persuaded you to have
a drop of brandy and water to cheer you up a
little."

"I am not used to brandy and water. It is
quite possible—"

"Wait a bit, Mr. Franklin. I knew you
were not used, too. I poured you out half a
wine-glass-full of our fifty-year-old Cognac; and
(more shame for me!) I drowned that noble

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