The nearest way to the garden, on going out of my lady's sitting-room, was by the
shrubbery path, which you already know of. For the sake of your better
understanding of what is now to come, I may add to this, that the shrubbery path
was Mr. Franklin's favourite walk. When he was out in the grounds, and when we
failed to find him anywhere else, we generally found him here.
I am afraid I must own that I am rather an obstinate old man. The more firmly
Sergeant Cuff kept his thoughts shut up from me, the more firmly I persisted in
trying to look in at them. As we turned into the shrubbery path, I attempted to
circumvent him in another way.
"As things are now," I said, "if I was in your place, I should be at my wits' end."
"If you were in my place," answered the Sergeant, "you would have formed an
opinion--and, as things are now, any doubt you might previously have felt about
your own conclusions would be completely set at rest. Never mind for the present
what those conclusions are, Mr. Betteredge. I haven't brought you out here to
draw me like a badger; I have brought you out here to ask for some information.
You might have given it to me no doubt, in the house, instead of out of it. But
doors and listeners have a knack of getting together; and, in my line of life, we
cultivate a healthy taste for the open air."
Who was to circumvent THIS man? I gave in--and waited as patiently as I could
to hear what was coming next.
"We won't enter into your young lady's motives," the Sergeant went on; "we will
only say it's a pity she declines to assist me, because, by so doing, she makes
this investigation more difficult than it might otherwise have been. We must now
try to solve the mystery of the smear on the door--which, you may take my word
for it, means the mystery of the Diamond also--in some other way. I have decided
to see the servants, and to search their thoughts and actions, Mr. Betteredge,
instead of searching their wardrobes. Before I begin, however, I want to ask you
a question or two. You are an observant man--did you notice anything strange in
any of the servants (making due allowance, of course, for fright and fluster), after
the loss of the Diamond was found out? Any particular quarrel among them? Any
one of them not in his or her usual spirits? Unexpectedly out of temper, for
instance? or unexpectedly taken ill?"
I had just time to think of Rosanna Spearman's sudden illness at yesterday's
dinner--but not time to make any answer--when I saw Sergeant Cuff's eyes
suddenly turn aside towards the shrubbery; and I heard him say softly to himself,
"What's the matter?" I asked.
"A touch of the rheumatics in my back," said the Sergeant, in a loud voice, as if
he wanted some third person to hear us. "We shall have a change in the weather