FIRST PERIOD: THE LOSS OF THE DIAMOND (1848)
19. CHAPTER XIX
The news of Rosanna's disappearance had, as it appeared,
spread among the out-of-door servants. They too had made
their inquiries; and they had just laid hands on a quick
little imp, nicknamed "Duffy"--who was occasionally employed
in weeding the garden, and who had seen Rosanna Spearman as
lately as half-an-hour since. Duffy was certain that the girl
had passed him in the fir-plantation, not walking, but RUNNING,
in the direction of the sea-shore.
"Does this boy know the coast hereabouts?" asked Sergeant Cuff.
"He has been born and bred on the coast," I answered.
"Duffy!" says the Sergeant, "do you want to earn a shilling?
If you do, come along with me. Keep the pony-chaise ready,
Mr. Betteredge, till I come back."
He started for the Shivering Sand, at a rate that my legs
(though well enough preserved for my time of life) had no hope
of matching. Little Duffy, as the way is with the young savages
in our parts when they are in high spirits, gave a howl,
and trotted off at the Sergeant's heels.
Here again, I find it impossible to give anything like a clear account
of the state of my mind in the interval after Sergeant Cuff had left us.
A curious and stupefying restlessness got possession of me. I did a dozen
different needless things in and out of the house, not one of which I can
now remember. I don't even know how long it was after the Sergeant had
gone to the sands, when Duffy came running back with a message for me.
Sergeant Cuff had given the boy a leaf torn out of his pocket-book, on
which was written in pencil, "Send me one of Rosanna Spearman's boots,
and be quick about it."
I despatched the first woman-servant I could find to Rosanna's room;
and I sent the boy back to say that I myself would follow him with