I found my lady in her own sitting room. She started and looked annoyed when I
mentioned that Sergeant Cuff wished to speak to her.
"MUST I see him?" she asked. "Can't you represent me, Gabriel?"
I felt at a loss to understand this, and showed it plainly, I suppose, in my face. My
lady was so good as to explain herself.
"I am afraid my nerves are a little shaken," she said. "There is something in that
police-officer from London which I recoil from--I don't know why. I have a
presentiment that he is bringing trouble and misery with him into the house. Very
foolish, and very unlike ME--but so it is."
I hardly knew what to say to this. The more I saw of Sergeant Cuff, the better I
liked him. My lady rallied a little after having opened her heart to me--being,
naturally, a woman of a high courage, as I have already told you.
"If I must see him, I must," she said. "But I can't prevail on myself to see him
alone. Bring him in, Gabriel, and stay here as long as he stays."
This was the first attack of the megrims that I remembered in my mistress since
the time when she was a young girl. I went back to the "boudoir." Mr. Franklin
strolled out into the garden, and joined Mr. Godfrey, whose time for departure
was now drawing near. Sergeant Cuff and I went straight to my mistress's room.
I declare my lady turned a shade paler at the sight of him! She commanded
herself, however, in other respects, and asked the Sergeant if he had any
objection to my being present. She was so good as to add, that I was her trusted
adviser, as well as her old servant, and that in anything which related to the
household I was the person whom it might be most profitable to consult. The
Sergeant politely answered that he would take my presence as a favour, having
something to say about the servants in general, and having found my experience
in that quarter already of some use to him. My lady pointed to two chairs, and we
set in for our conference immediately.
"I have already formed an opinion on this case, says Sergeant Cuff, "which I beg
your ladyship's permission to keep to myself for the present. My business now is
to mention what I have discovered up-stairs in Miss Verinder's sitting-room, and
what I have decided (with your ladyship's leave) on doing next."
He then went into the matter of the smear on the paint, and stated the
conclusions he drew from it--just as he had stated them (only with greater
respect of language) to Superintendent Seegrave. "One thing," he said, in
conclusion, "is certain. The Diamond is missing out of the drawer in the cabinet.
Another thing is next to certain. The marks from the smear on the door must be
on some article of dress belonging to somebody in this house. We must discover
that article of dress before we go a step further."
"And that discovery," remarked my mistress, "implies, I presume, the discovery of