When the last of the guests had driven away, I went back into the inner hall and
found Samuel at the side-table, presiding over the brandy and soda-water. My
lady and Miss Rachel came out of the drawing-room, followed by the two
gentlemen. Mr. Godfrey had some brandy and soda-water, Mr. Franklin took
nothing. He sat down, looking dead tired; the talking on this birthday occasion
had, I suppose, been too much for him.
My lady, turning round to wish them good-night, looked hard at the wicked
Colonel's legacy shining in her daughter's dress.
"Rachel," she asked, "where are you going to put your Diamond to-night?"
Miss Rachel was in high good spirits, just in that humour for talking nonsense,
and perversely persisting in it as if it was sense, which you may sometimes have
observed in young girls, when they are highly wrought up, at the end of an
exciting day. First, she declared she didn't know where to put the Diamond. Then
she said, "on her dressing-table, of course, along with her other things." Then
she remembered that the Diamond might take to shining of itself, with its awful
moony light in the dark--and that would terrify her in the dead of night. Then she
bethought herself of an Indian cabinet which stood in her sitting-room; and
instantly made up her mind to put the Indian diamond in the Indian cabinet, for
the purpose of permitting two beautiful native productions to admire each other.
Having let her little flow of nonsense run on as far as that point, her mother
interposed and stopped her.
"My dear! your Indian cabinet has no lock to it," says my lady.
"Good Heavens, mamma!" cried Miss Rachel, "is this an hotel? Are there thieves
in the house?"
Without taking notice of this fantastic way of talking, my lady wished the
gentlemen good-night. She next turned to Miss Rachel, and kissed her. "Why not
let ME keep the Diamond for you to-night?" she asked.
Miss Rachel received that proposal as she might, ten years since, have received
a proposal to part her from a new doll. My lady saw there was no reasoning with
her that night. "Come into my room, Rachel, the first thing to-morrow morning,"
she said. "I shall have something to say to you." With those last words she left us
slowly; thinking her own thoughts, and, to all appearance, not best pleased with
the way by which they were leading her.
Miss Rachel was the next to say good-night. She shook hands first with Mr.
Godfrey, who was standing at the other end of the hall, looking at a picture. Then
she turned back to Mr. Franklin, still sitting weary and silent in a corner.
What words passed between them I can't say. But standing near the old oak
frame which holds our large looking-glass, I saw her reflected in it, slyly slipping
the locket which Mr. Franklin had given to her, out of the bosom of her dress, and
showing it to him for a moment, with a smile which certainly meant something out
of the common, before she tripped off to bed. This incident staggered me a little