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The Moonstone

4
I am truly sorry to detain you over me and my beehive chair. A sleepy old man, in
a sunny back yard, is not an interesting object, I am well aware. But things must
be put down in their places, as things actually happened--and you must please to
jog on a little while longer with me, in expectation of Mr. Franklin Blake's arrival
later in the day.
Before I had time to doze off again, after my daughter Penelope had left me, I
was disturbed by a rattling of plates and dishes in the servants' hall, which meant
that dinner was ready. Taking my own meals in my own sitting-room, I had
nothing to do with the servants' dinner, except to wish them a good stomach to it
all round, previous to composing myself once more in my chair. I was just
stretching my legs, when out bounced another woman on me. Not my daughter
again; only Nancy, the kitchen-maid, this time. I was straight in her way out; and I
observed, as she asked me to let her by, that she had a sulky face--a thing
which, as head of the servants, I never allow, on principle, to pass me without
inquiry.
"What are you turning your back on your dinner for?" I asked. "What's wrong
now, Nancy?"
Nancy tried to push by, without answering; upon which I rose up, and took her by
the ear. She is a nice plump young lass, and it is customary with me to adopt that
manner of showing that I personally approve of a girl.
"What's wrong now?" I said once more.
"Rosanna's late again for dinner," says Nancy. "And I'm sent to fetch her in. All
the hard work falls on my shoulders in this house. Let me alone, Mr. Betteredge!"
The person here mentioned as Rosanna was our second housemaid. Having a
kind of pity for our second housemaid (why, you shall presently know), and
seeing in Nancy's face, that she would fetch her fellow-servant in with more hard
words than might be needful under the circumstances, it struck me that I had
nothing particular to do, and that I might as well fetch Rosanna myself; giving her
a hint to be punctual in future, which I knew she would take kindly from ME.
"Where is Rosanna?" I inquired.
"At the sands, of course!" says Nancy, with a toss of her head. "She had another
of her fainting fits this morning, and she asked to go out and get a breath of fresh
air. I have no patience with her!"
"Go back to your dinner, my girl," I said. "I have patience with her, and I'll fetch
her in."
Nancy (who has a fine appetite) looked pleased. When she looks pleased, she
looks nice. When she looks nice, I chuck her under the chin. It isn't immorality--
it's only habit.
Well, I took my stick, and set off for the sands.
No! it won't do to set off yet. I am sorry again to detain you; but you really must
hear the story of the sands, and the story of Rosanna-- for this reason, that the
 
 
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