Those in front had spread the news before us. We found the servants in a state
of panic. As we passed my lady's door, it was thrown open violently from the
inner side. My mistress came out among us (with Mr. Franklin following, and
trying vainly to compose her), quite beside herself with the horror of the thing.
"You are answerable for this!" she cried out, threatening the Sergeant wildly with
her hand. "Gabriel! give that wretch his money--and release me from the sight of
The Sergeant was the only one among us who was fit to cope with her-- being
the only one among us who was in possession of himself.
"I am no more answerable for this distressing calamity, my lady, than you are,"
he said. "If, in half an hour from this, you still insist on my leaving the house, I will
accept your ladyship's dismissal, but not your ladyship's money."
It was spoken very respectfully, but very firmly at the same time-- and it had its
effect on my mistress as well as on me. She suffered Mr. Franklin to lead her
back into the room. As the door closed on the two, the Sergeant, looking about
among the women-servants in his observant way, noticed that while all the rest
were merely frightened, Penelope was in tears. "When your father has changed
his wet clothes," he said to her, "come and speak to us, in your father's room."
Before the half-hour was out, I had got my dry clothes on, and had lent Sergeant
Cuff such change of dress as he required. Penelope came in to us to hear what
the Sergeant wanted with her. I don't think I ever felt what a good dutiful daughter
I had, so strongly as I felt it at that moment. I took her and sat her on my knee
and I prayed God bless her. She hid her head on my bosom, and put her arms
round my neck--and we waited a little while in silence. The poor dead girl must
have been at the bottom of it, I think, with my daughter and with me. The
Sergeant went to the window, and stood there looking out. I thought it right to
thank him for considering us both in this way-- and I did.
People in high life have all the luxuries to themselves-- among others, the luxury
of indulging their feelings. People in low life have no such privilege. Necessity,
which spares our betters, has no pity on us. We learn to put our feelings back
into ourselves, and to jog on with our duties as patiently as may be. I don't
complain of this--I only notice it. Penelope and I were ready for the Sergeant, as
soon as the Sergeant was ready on his side. Asked if she knew what had led her
fellow-servant to destroy herself, my daughter answered (as you will foresee) that
it was for love of Mr. Franklin Blake. Asked next, if she had mentioned this notion
of hers to any other person, Penelope answered, "I have not mentioned it, for
Rosanna's sake." I felt it necessary to add a word to this. I said, "And for Mr.
Franklin's sake, my dear, as well. If Rosanna HAS died for love of him, it is not
with his knowledge or by his fault. Let him leave the house to-day, if he does
leave it, without the useless pain of knowing the truth." Sergeant Cuff said, "Quite