Going down to the front door, I met the Sergeant on the steps.
It went against the grain with me, after what had passed between us, to show
him that I felt any sort of interest in his proceedings. In spite of myself, however, I
felt an interest that there was no resisting. My sense of dignity sank from under
me, and out came the words: "What news from Frizinghall?"
"I have seen the Indians," answered Sergeant Cuff. "And I have found out what
Rosanna bought privately in the town, on Thursday last. The Indians will be set
free on Wednesday in next week. There isn't a doubt on my mind, and there isn't
a doubt on Mr. Murthwaite's mind, that they came to this place to steal the
Moonstone. Their calculations were all thrown out, of course, by what happened
in the house on Wednesday night; and they have no more to do with the actual
loss of the jewel than you have. But I can tell you one thing, Mr. Betteredge-- if
WE don't find the Moonstone, THEY will. You have not heard the last of the three
Mr. Franklin came back from his walk as the Sergeant said those startling words.
Governing his curiosity better than I had governed mine, he passed us without a
word, and went on into the house.
As for me, having already dropped my dignity, I determined to have the whole
benefit of the sacrifice. "So much for the Indians," I said. "What about Rosanna
Sergeant Cuff shook his head.
"The mystery in that quarter is thicker than ever," he said. "I have traced her to a
shop at Frizinghall, kept by a linen draper named Maltby. She bought nothing
whatever at any of the other drapers' shops, or at any milliners' or tailors' shops;
and she bought nothing at Maltby's but a piece of long cloth. She was very
particular in choosing a certain quality. As to quantity, she bought enough to
make a nightgown."
"Whose nightgown?" I asked.
"Her own, to be sure. Between twelve and three, on the Thursday morning, she
must have slipped down to your young lady's room, to settle the hiding of the
Moonstone while all the rest of you were in bed. In going back to her own room,
her nightgown must have brushed the wet paint on the door. She couldn't wash
out the stain; and she couldn't safely destroy the night-gown without first
providing another like it, to make the inventory of her linen complete."
"What proves that it was Rosanna's nightgown?" I objected.
"The material she bought for making the substitute dress," answered the
Sergeant. "If it had been Miss Verinder's nightgown, she would have had to buy
lace, and frilling, and Lord knows what besides; and she wouldn't have had time
to make it in one night. Plain long cloth means a plain servant's nightgown. No,
no, Mr. Betteredge--all that is clear enough. The pinch of the question is--why,
after having provided the substitute dress, does she hide the smeared