Sergeant Cuff looked attentively at our second housemaid — at her face, when she came in; at her crooked shoulder, when she went out — second illustration for the Harper's Weekly serialisation of The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (22 February 1868; eighth weekly instalment), Chapter 13 in "First Period. The Loss of the Diamond (1848), The Events related by Gabriel Betteredge," p. 117. 9 x 15.1 cm. [Sergeant Cuff, concluding that the theft of the diamond after Rachel Verinder's birthday dinner on 21 June 1848 is associated with a paint-smeared nightgown, now interviews the second house-maid, Rosanna Spearman, to study her reaction when he requests the great house's washing-book. Cuff, Betteredge (extreme left), and Lady Julia Verinder (a severe Victorian matron in appearance) study the servant as she leaves. Rosanna looks in this illustration not so much "pale and haggard" as ashamed. And well she might — for if Cuff remembers her as a prison inmate, she is almost certainly aware that the police officer knows her sordid history. The illustrator shows Rosanna as lost in her thoughts and depressed, perhaps preparing the reader for her suicide. The passage occurs immediately above the illustration referenced, on p. 117, and the illustration, in the lower right-hand quadrant of the page, occupies columns two through four in an instalment only 7.5 columns in length. Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL.]

Illustrations courtesy of the E. J. Pratt Fine Arts Library, University of Toronto, and the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, University of British Columbia.

Passage Illustrated

"I beg your ladyship's pardon," said Sergeant Cuff. "Before we begin, I should like, if convenient, to have the washing-book. The stained article of dress may be an article of linen. If the search leads to nothing, I want to be able to account next for all the linen in the house, and for all the linen sent to the wash. If there is an article missing, there will be at least a presumption that it has got the paint-stain on it, and that it has been purposely made away with, yesterday or to-day, by the person owning it. Superintendent Seegrave," added the Sergeant, turning to me, "pointed the attention of the women-servants to the smear, when they all crowded into the room on Thursday morning. That may turn out, Mr. Betteredge, to have been one more of Superintendent Seegrave's many mistakes."

My lady desired me to ring the bell, and order the washing-book. She remained with us until it was produced, in case Sergeant Cuff had any further request to make of her after looking at it.

The washing-book was brought in by Rosanna Spearman. The girl had come down to breakfast that morning miserably pale and haggard, but sufficiently recovered from her illness of the previous day to do her usual work. Sergeant Cuff looked attentively at our second housemaid — at her face, when she came in; at her crooked shoulder, when she went out.

"Have you anything more to say to me?" asked my lady, still as eager as ever to be out of the Sergeant's society.

The great Cuff opened the washing-book, understood it perfectly in half a minute, and shut it up again. "I venture to trouble your ladyship with one last question," he said. "Has the young woman who brought us this book been in your employment as long as the other servants?"

"Why do you ask?" said my lady.

"The last time I saw her," answered the Sergeant, "she was in prison for theft."

After that, there was no help for it, but to tell him the truth. My mistress dwelt strongly on Rosanna's good conduct in her service, and on the high opinion entertained of her by the matron at the reformatory. "You don't suspect her, I hope?" my lady added, in conclusion, very earnestly.

"I have already told your ladyship that I don't suspect any person in the house of thieving — up to the present time."​— Harper's Weekly, Vol. XII, No. 579, 8 February 1868: First Period: The Loss of the Diamond (1848)," Chapter 13, p. 117.

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Last updated 31 August 2016