@@@@@@@@Character List

Esther Summerson The narrator and protagonist. Esther, an orphan, becomes the housekeeper at Bleak House when she, Ada, and Richard are taken in by Mr. Jarndyce. Everyone loves Esther, who is selfless and nurturing, and she becomes the confidante of several young women. Although she eventually does find her mother, circumstances prevent them from developing a relationship. At first a hesitant, insecure narrator, Esther's confidence in her storytelling grows, and she controls the narrative skillfully.
Mr. John Jarndyce Esther's guardian and master of Bleak House. Mr. Jarndyce becomes the guardian of the orphans Ada and Richard and takes Esther in as a companion for Ada. Generous but uncomfortable with others' gratitude, Mr. Jarndyce provides a warm, happy home for the three young people. When Esther is an adult, he proposes marriage, but he eventually rescinds his offer when he realizes she's in love with someone else. Mr. Jarndyce has sworn off any involvement whatsoever with the Jarndyce and Jarndyce lawsuit.
Ada Clare A ward of Jarndyce. Kind, sweet, and naive, Ada becomes Esther's closest confidante and greatest source of happiness. She falls in love with Richard, and although they eventually marry and have a baby, she never finds full happiness with him because of his obsession with the Jarndyce and Jarndyce lawsuit.
Richard Carstone A ward of Jarndyce. Affable but lazy, Richard can't decide on a career and seems to have no passion for a particular field. Eventually, he becomes obsessed with Jarndyce and Jarndyce and ultimately sacrifices his life for the lawsuit. He pursues the suit for Ada's sake but never succeeds in providing a real home for her.
Lady Dedlock Mistress of Chesney Wold, married to Sir Leicester, and Esther's mother. Lady Dedlock, revered and wealthy, has kept the secret of her illegitimate child throughout her life, believing the child died at birth. She reveals her true identity to Esther but is wary of pursuing a relationship because she believes Sir Leicester's reputation will suffer.
Sir Leicester Dedlock Master of Chesney Wold. Sir Leicester is a strong, respected man who ultimately withers and weakens because of Lady Dedlock's disappearance. Fully willing to forgive her, Sir Leicester does his best to find her.
Mr. Tulkinghorn A lawyer involved in the Jarndyce and Jarndyce lawsuit. Mr. Tulkinghorn shares Lady Dedlock's secret and threatens to reveal it.
Harold Skimpole A friend of Mr. Jarndyce, who calls himself a gchildh and claims to have no idea about time or money. Mr. Skimpole borrows money liberally with no thought of repaying it. He eventually betrays Mr. Jarndyce by telling Inspector Bucket that Jo is in the stable at Bleak House.
Mr. Snagsby A lawstationer. Mr. Snagsby gets inadvertently caught up in everyone else's secrets, although he pays Jo not to tell anyone a secret of his own. He sneaks around to avoid his wife's prying eyes.




PREFACE

Chapter I--In Chancery
Chapter II--In Fashion
Chapter III--A Progress
Chapter IV--Telescopic Philanthropy
Chapter V--A Morning Adventure
Chapter VI--Quite at Home
Chapter VII--The Ghost's Walk
Chapter VIII--Covering a Multitude of Sins
Chapter IX--Signs and Tokens
Chapter X--The Law-Writer
Chapter XI--Our Dear Brother
Chapter XII--On the Watch
Chapter XIII--Esther's Narrative
Chapter XIV--Deportment
Chapter XV--Bell Yard
Chapter XVI--Tom-all-Alone's
Chapter XVII--Esther's Narrative
Chapter XVIII--Lady Dedlock
Chapter XIX--Moving On
Chapter XX--A New Lodger
Chapter XXI--The Smallweed Family
Chapter XXII--Mr Bucket
Chapter XXIII--Esther's Narrative
Chapter XXIV--An Appeal Case
Chapter XXV--Mrs Snagsby Sees It All
Chapter XXVI--Sharpshooters
Chapter XXVIII--The Ironmaster
Chapter XXIX--The Young Man
Chapter XXX--Esther's Narrative
Chapter XXXI--Nurse and Patient
Chapter XXXIII--Interlopers
Chapter XXXIV--A Turn of the Screw
CHAPTER XXXV--Esther's Narrative
CHAPTER XXXVI--Chesney Wold
Chapter XXXVII--Jarndyce and Jarndyce
Chapter XXXVIII--A Struggle
Chapter XXXIX--Attorney and Client
Chapter XL--National and Domestic
Chapter XLI--In Mr Tulkinghorn's Room
CHAPTER XLII--In Mr Tulkinghorn's Chambers
CHAPTER XLIII--Esther's Narrative
CHAPTER XLIV--The Letter and the Answer
CHAPTER XLV--In Trust
CHAPTER XLVI--Stop Him!
CHAPTER XLVII--Jo's Will
CHAPTER XLVII--Closing in
CHAPTER XLIX--Dutiful Friendship
CHAPTER L--Esther's Narrative
CHAPTER LI--Enlightened
CHAPTER LII--Obstinacy
CHAPTER LIII--The Track
CHAPTER LIV--Springing a Mine
CHAPTER LV--Flight
CHAPTER LVI--Pursuit
CHAPTER LVII--Esther's Narrative
CHAPTER LVIII--A Wintry Day and Night
CHAPTER LIX--Esther's Narrative
CHAPTER LX--Perspective
CHAPTER LXI--A Discovery
CHAPTER LXII--Another Discovery
CHAPTER LXIII--Steel and Iron
CHAPTER LXIV--Esther's Narrative
CHAPTER LXV--Beginning the World
CHAPTER LXVI--Down in Lincolnshire
CHAPTER LXVII--The Close of Esther's Narrative



PREFACE



A Chancery judge once had the kindness to inform me, as one of a
company of
some hundred and fifty men and women not labouring
under any suspicions of lunacy
, that the Court of Chancery, though
the shining subject of much popular prejudice (at which point I
thought the judge's eye had a cast in my direction)
, was almost
immaculate. There had been, he admitted,
a trivial blemish or so in its
rate of progress, but this was exaggerated and had been entirely owing
to the eparsimony of the public,' which guilty public, it appeared, had
been until lately bent in the most determined manner on by no means
enlarging the number of Chancery judges appointed--
I believe by
Richard the Second, but any other king will do as well
.

This seemed to me too profound a joke to be inserted in the body of
this book
or I should have restored it to Conversation Kenge or to Mr
Vholes, with one or other of whom I think it must have originated. In
such mouths I might have coupled it with an apt quotation from one
of Shakespeare's sonnets:

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@eMy nature is subdued
@@@@@@To what it works in, like the dyer's hand:
@@@@@@Pity@me, then, and wish I were renewed!'

But as it is wholesome that the parsimonious public should know
what has been doing
, and still is doing, in this connexion, I mention
here that everything set forth in these pages concerning the Court of
Chancery is substantially true, and within the truth. The case of
Gridley is in no essential altered from one of actual occurrence, made
public by a disinterested person who was professionally acquainted
with the whole of the monstrous wrong from beginning to end. At the
present moment (August, 1853) there is a suit before the court which
was commenced nearly twenty years ago, in which from thirty to forty
counsel have been known to appear at one time, in which costs have
been incurred to the amount of seventy thousand pounds, which is A
FRIENDLY SUIT, and which is (I am assured) no nearer to its termi-
nation now than when it was begun. There is another wellknown suit
in Chancery, not yet decided, which was commenced before the close
of the last century and in which more than double the amount of sev-
enty thousand pounds has been swallowed up in costs.
If I wanted
other authorities for Jarndyce and Jarndyce, I could rain them on
these pages, to the shame of--a parsimonious public.

There is only one other point on which I offer a word of remark. The
possibility of what is called spontaneous combustion has been denied
since the death of Mr Krook; and my good friend Mr Lewes (quite
mistaken, as he soon found, in supposing the thing to have been
abandoned by all authorities) published some ingenious letters to me
at the time when that event was chronicled, arguing that spontaneous
combustion could not possibly be.
I have no need to observe that I do
not wilfully or negligently mislead my readers and that before I wrote
that description I took pains to investigate the subject. There are
about thirty cases on record, of which the most famous, that of the
Countess Cornelia de Baudi Cesenate, was minutely investigated and
described by Giuseppe Bianchini, a prebendary of Verona, otherwise
distinguished in letters, who published an account of it at Verona in
1731, which he afterwards republished at Rome. The appearances,
beyond all rational doubt, observed in that case are the appearances
observed in Mr Krook's case. The next most famous instance
happened at Rheims six years earlier, and the historian in that case is
Le Cat, one of the most renowned surgeons produced by France. The
subject was a woman, whose husband was ignorantly convicted of
having murdered her; but on solemn appeal to a higher court, he was
acquitted because it was shown upon the evidence that she had died
the death of which this name of spontaneous combustion is given. I do
not think it necessary to add to these notable facts, and that general
reference to the authorities which will be found at page 30, vol. ii.,*
the recorded opinions and experiences of distinguished medical
professors, French, English, and Scotch, in more modern days,
contenting myself with observing that I shall not abandon the facts
until there shall have been a considerable spontaneous combustion of
the testimony on which human occurrences are usually received.

In Bleak House I have purposely dwelt upon the romantic side of
familiar things.


1853



Chapter I--In Chancery



London. Michaelmas1 term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting
in Lincoln's Inn Hall.Implacable November weather.
As much mud in
the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the
earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty
feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill.
2
Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle,
with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snowflakes--gone into
mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun. Dogs, undis-
tinguishable in mire. Horses, scarcely better; splashed to their very
blinkers. Foot passengers, jostling one another's umbrellas in a gen-
eral infection of ill temper, and losing their foot-hold at streetcorners,
where tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping
and sliding since the day broke (if this day ever broke), adding new
deposits to the crust upon crust of mud, sticking at those points
tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest.


Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits3 and
meadows; fog down the river, where it
rolls defiled among the tiers of
shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city
. Fog
on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into
the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards and hovering
in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges
and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich
pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem
and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his
close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering
little 'prentice boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over
the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if
they were up in a balloon and hanging in the misty clouds.


Gas looming through the fog in divers places in the streets, much
as the sun may, from the spongey fields, be seen to loom by hus-
bandman and ploughboy. Most of the shops lighted two hours before
their time--as the gas seems to know, for it has a haggard and
unwilling look.

The raw afternoon is rawest, and the dense fog is densest, and the
muddy streets are muddiest near that leaden-headed old obstruction,
appropriate ornament for the threshold of a leaden-headed old
corporation, Temple Bar. And hard by Temple Bar, in Lincoln's Inn
Hall, at the very heart of the fog, sits the Lord High Chancellor in his
High Court of Chancery.


Never can there come fog too thick, never can there come mud and
mire too deep, to assort with the groping and floundering condition
which this High Court of Chancery, most pestilent of hoary sinners,
holds this day in the sight of heaven and earth.


On such an afternoon, if ever, the Lord High Chancellor ought to be
sitting here--as here he is--with
a foggy glory round his head, softly
fenced in with crimson cloth
and curtains, addressed by a large
advocate with great whiskers, a little voice, and an interminable brief,
and outwardly directing his contemplation to the lantern in the roof,
where he can see nothing but fog. On such an afternoon some score of
members of the High Court of Chancery bar ought to be--as here they
are--mistily engaged in one of the ten thousand stages of an endless
cause, tripping one another up on slippery precedents, groping kneedeep
in technicalities, running their goat-hair and horsehair warded
heads against walls of words and making a pretence of equity
with
serious faces, as players might. On such an afternoon the various
solicitors in the cause, some two or three of whom have inherited it
from their fathers, who made a fortune by it, ought to be--as are they
not?--
ranged in a line, in a long matted well (but you might look in
vain for truth at the bottom of it)
between the registrar's red table and
the silk gowns, with bills, cross-bills, answers, rejoinders, injunctions,
affidavits, issues, references to masters, masters' reports,
mountains
of
costly nonsense, piled before them. Well may the court be dim, with
wasting candles here and there; well may the fog hang heavy in it, as
if it would never get out; well may the stained-glass windows lose their
colour and admit no light of day into the place; well may the
uninitiated from the streets, who peep in through the glass panes in
the door, be deterred from entrance by its
owlish aspect and by the
drawl, languidly echoing to the roof from the padded dais where the
Lord High Chancellor looks into the lantern that has no light in it and
where the attendant
wigs are all stuck in a fog-bank! This is the Court
of Chancery, which has its
decaying houses and its blighted lands in
every shire
, which has its worn-out lunatic in every madhouse and its
dead in every churchyard, which has its ruined suitor with his slipshod
heels and threadbare dress borrowing and begging through the round
of every man's acquaintance, which gives to monied might the means
abundantly of wearying out the right, which so exhausts finances, pa-
tience, courage, hope, so overthrows the brain and breaks the heart,
that there is not an honourable man among its practitioners who would
not give--who does not often give--the warning,
eSuffer any wrong
that can be done you rather than come here!'


Who happen to be in the Lord Chancellor's court this murky afternoon
besides the Lord Chancellor, the counsel in the cause, two or three
counsel who are never in any cause, and the well of solicitors before
mentioned? There is the registrar below the judge, in wig and gown;
and there are two or three maces, or petty-bags, or privy purses, or
whatever they may be, in legal court suits.
These are all yawning, for
no crumb of amusement ever falls from Jarndyce and Jarndyce (the
cause in hand), which was squeezed dry years upon years ago.
The
short-hand writers, the reporters of the court, and the reporters of
the newspapers invariably decamp with the rest of the regulars when
Jarndyce and Jarndyce comes on. Their places are a blank. Standing
on a seat at the side of the hall, the better to peer into the curtained
sanctuary, is
a little mad old woman in a squeezed bonnet who is
always in court, from its sitting to its rising, and always expecting
some incomprehensible judgment to be given in her favour. Some say
she really is, or was, a party to a suit, but no one knows for certain
because no one cares. She carries
some small litter in a reticule which
she calls her documents, principally consisting of paper matches and
dry lavender. A sallow prisoner has come up, in custody, for the half-
dozenth time to make a personal application eto purge himself of his
contempt,'
which, being a solitary surviving executor who has fallen
into a state of conglomeration about accounts of which it is not
pretended that he had ever any knowledge, he is not at all likely ever
to do.
In the meantime his prospects in life are ended. Another ruined
suitor
, who periodically appears from Shropshire and breaks out into
efforts to address the Chancellor at the close of the day's business and
who can by no means be made to understand that the Chancellor is
legally ignorant of his existence after making it desolate for a quarter

of a century, plants himself in a good place and keeps an eye on the
judge, ready to call out eMy Lord!' in a voice of sonorous complaint on
the instant of his rising. A few lawyers' clerks and others who know
this suitor by sight linger on the chance of his furnishing some fun
and enlivening the dismal weather a little.


Jarndyce and Jarndyce drones on. This scarecrow of a suit has, in
course of time, become so complicated that no man alive knows
what it means.
The parties to it understand it least, but it has been
observed that no two Chancery lawyers can talk about it for five
minutes without coming to a total disagreement as to all the premises.
Innumerable children have been born into the cause; innumerable
young people have married into it; innumerable old people have died
out of it. Scores of persons have deliriously found themselves made
parties in Jarndyce and Jarndyce without knowing how or why; whole
families have inherited legendary hatreds with the suit. The little
plaintiff or defendant who was promised a new rocking-horse when
Jarndyce and Jarndyce should be settled has grown up, possessed
himself of a real horse, and trotted away into the other world.
Fair
wards of court have faded into mothers and grandmothers; a long
procession of Chancellors has come in and gone out; the legion of bills
in the suit have been transformed into mere bills of mortality; there
are not three Jarndyces left upon the earth perhaps since old Tom
Jarndyce in despair blew his brains out at a coffee-house in Chancery
Lane; but Jarndyce and Jarndyce still drags its dreary length before
the court, perennially hopeless.


Jarndyce and Jarndyce has passed into a joke. That is the only good
that has ever come of it. It has been death to many, but it is a joke in
the profession.
Every master in Chancery has had a reference out of
it. Every Chancellor was ein it,' for somebody or other, when he was
counsel at the bar. Good things have been said about it by bluenosed,
bulbous-shoed old benchers in select port-wine committee after din-
ner in hall. Articled clerks have been in the habit of fleshing their le-
gal wit upon it.
The last Lord Chancellor handled it neatly, when, cor-
recting Mr Blowers, the eminent silk gown who said that such a thing
might happen when the sky rained potatoes, he observed, eor when
we get through Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Mr Blowers'--a pleasantry
that particularly tickled the maces, bags, and purses.


How many people out of the suit Jarndyce and Jarndyce has stretched
forth its unwholesome hand to spoil and corrupt would be a very wide
question. From the master upon whose impaling files reams of dusty
warrants in Jarndyce and Jarndyce have grimly writhed into many
shapes, down to the copying-clerk in the Six Clerks' Office who has
copied his tens of thousands of Chancery folio-pages under that
eternal heading, no man's nature has been made better by it.
In
trickery, evasion, procrastination, spoliation, botheration, under false
pretences of all sorts, there are influences that can never come to
good. The very solicitors' boys who have kept the wretched suitors
at bay, by protesting time out of mind that Mr Chizzle, Mizzle, or o-
therwise was particularly engaged and had appointments until dinner,

may have got an extra moral twist and shuffle into themselves out
of Jarndyce and Jarndyce. The receiver in the cause has acquired
a goodly sum of money by it but has acquired too a distrust of his
own mother and a contempt for his own kind. Chizzle, Mizzle, and
otherwise have lapsed into a habit of vaguely promising themselves
that they will look into that outstanding little matter and see what can
be done for Drizzle--who was not well used--when Jarndyce and
Jarndyce shall be got out of the office.
Shirking and sharking in all
their many varieties have been sown broadcast by the ill-fated cause;
and even those who have contemplated its history from the outermost
circle of such evil have been insensibly tempted into a loose way of
letting bad things alone to take their own bad course, and a loose
belief that if the world go wrong it was in some off-hand manner never
meant to go right.


Thus, in the midst of the mud and at the heart of the fog, sits the
Lord High Chancellor in his High Court of Chancery.

eMr Tangle,' says the Lord High Chancellor, latterly something restless
under the eloquence of that learned gentleman.


eMlud,' says Mr Tangle. Mr Tangle knows more of Jarndyce and
Jarndyce than anybody. He is famous for it--supposed never to have
read anything else since he left school.


eHave you nearly concluded your argument?'

eMlud, no--variety of points--feel it my duty tsubmit--ludship,' is the
reply that slides out of Mr Tangle.

eSeveral members of the bar are still to be heard, I believe?' says the
Chancellor with a slight smile.


Eighteen of Mr Tangle's learned friends, each armed with a little
summary of eighteen hundred sheets, bob up like eighteen hammers
in a pianoforte, make eighteen bows, and drop into their eighteen
places of obscurity.


eWe will proceed with the hearing on Wednesday fortnight,' says the
Chancellor. For the question at issue is only a question of costs, a
mere bud on the forest tree of the parent suit, and really will come to
a settlement one of these days.


The Chancellor rises; the bar rises; the prisoner is brought forward in
a hurry; the man from Shropshire cries, eMy lord!' Maces, bags, and
purses indignantly proclaim silence and frown at the man from
Shropshire.


eIn reference,' proceeds the Chancellor, still on Jarndyce and
Jarndyce, eto the young girl--'

eBegludship's pardon--boy,' says Mr Tangle prematurely.

eIn reference,'proceeds the Chancellor with extra distinctness, eto
the young girl and boy, the two young people'--Mr Tangle crushed--
ewhom I directed to be in attendance to-day and who are now in my
private room, I will see them and satisfy myself as to the expediency
of making the order for their residing with their uncle.'

Mr Tangle on his legs again. eBegludship's pardon--dead.'

eWith their'--Chancellor looking through his double eye-glass at the
papers on his desk--'grandfather.'

eBegludship's pardon--victim of rash action--brains.'


Suddenly a very little counsel with a terrific bass voice arises, fully
inflated, in the back settlements of the fog,
and says, eWill your
lordship allow me? I appear for him. He is a cousin, several times
removed. I am not at the moment prepared to inform the court in
what exact remove he is a cousin, but he is a cousin.'

Leaving this address (delivered like a sepulchral message) ringing in
the rafters of the roof, the very little counsel drops, and the fog knows
him no more. Everybody looks for him. Nobody can see him.


eI will speak with both the young people,' says the Chancellor anew,
eand satisfy myself on the subject of their residing with their cousin. I
will mention the matter tomorrow morning when I take my seat.'

The Chancellor is about to bow to the bar when the prisoner is pre-
sented. Nothing can possibly come of the prisoner's conglomeration
but his being sent back to prison, which is soon done. The man from
Shropshire ventures another remonstrative eMy lord!' but the Chan-
cellor, being aware of him, has dexterously vanished. Everybody else
quickly vanishes too. A battery of blue bags is loaded with heavy
charges of papers and carried off by clerks; the little mad old woman
marches off with her documents; the empty court is locked up. If all
the injustice it has committed and all the misery it has caused could
only be locked up with it, and the whole burnt away in a great funeral
pyre--why so much the better for other parties than the parties in
Jarndyce and Jarndyce!




Chapter II--In Fashion



It is but a glimpse of the world of fashion that we want on this same
miry afternoon. It is not so unlike the Court of Chancery but that we
may pass from the one scene to the other, as the crow flies.
Both the
world of fashion and the Court of Chancery are things of precedent
and usage: oversleeping Rip Van Winkles who have played at strange
games through a deal of thundery weather; sleeping beauties whom
the knight will wake one day, when all the stopped spits in the kitchen
shall begin to turn prodigiously!

It is not a large world. Relatively even to this world of ours, which has
its limits too (as your Highness shall find when you have made the
tour of it and are come to the brink of the void beyond), it is a very
little speck. There is much good in it; there are many good and true
people in it; it has its appointed place.
But the evil of it is that it is a
world wrapped up in too much jeweller's cotton and fine wool, and
cannot hear the rushing of the larger worlds, and cannot see them as
they circle round the sun. It is a deadened world, and its growth is
sometimes unhealthy for want of air.


My Lady Dedlock has returned to her house in town for a few days
previous to her departure for Paris,
where her ladyship intends to
stay some weeks, after which her movements are uncertain. The
fashionable intelligence says so for the comfort of the Parisians, and
it knows all fashionable things. To know things otherwise were to be
unfashionable. My Lady Dedlock has been down at what she calls, in
familiar conversation, her eplace' in Lincolnshire. The waters are out
in Lincolnshire. An arch of the bridge in the park has been sapped and
sopped away. The adjacent low-lying ground for half a mile in breadth
is a stagnant river with melancholy trees for islands in it and a
surface punctured all over, all day long, with falling rain.
My Lady
Dedlock's place has been extremely dreary. The weather for many a
day and night has been
so wet that the trees seem wet through, and
the soft loppings and prunings of the woodman's axe can make no
crash or crackle as they fall. The deer, looking soaked, leave quag-
mires where they pass. The shot of a rifle loses its sharpness in
the moist air, and its smoke moves in a tardy little cloud towards the
green rise, coppice-topped, that makes a background for the falling
rain. The view from my Lady Dedlock's own windows is alternately a
lead-coloured view and a view in Indian ink.
The vases on the stone
terrace in the foreground catch the rain all day; and the heavy drops
fall--drip, drip, drip--upon the broad flagged pavement, called from old
time the Ghost's Walk, all night. On Sundays the little church in the
park is mouldy; the oaken pulpit breaks out into a cold sweat; and
there is a general smell and taste as of the ancient Dedlocks in their
graves. My Lady Dedlock (who is childless), looking out in the early
twilight from her boudoir at a keeper's lodge and seeing the light of
a fire upon the latticed panes, and smoke rising from the chimney, and
a child, chased by a woman, running out into the rain to meet the
shining figure of a wrapped-up man coming through the gate, has
been put quite out of temper.
My Lady Dedlock says she has been
ebored to death.'


Therefore my Lady Dedlock has come away from the place in Lin-
colnshire and has left it to the rain, and the crows, and the rabbits,
and the deer, and the partridges and pheasants. The pictures of the
Dedlocks past and gone have seemed to vanish into the damp walls in
mere lowness of spirits, as the housekeeper has passed along the old
rooms shutting up the shutters. And when they will next come forth
again,
the fashionable intelligence--which, like the fiend, is omniscient
of the past and present, but not the future
--cannot yet undertake to
say.


Sir Leicester Dedlock is only a baronet, but there is no mightier
baronet than he. His family is as old as the hills, and infinitely more
respectable. He has a general opinion that the world might get on
without hills but would be done up without Dedlocks.
He would on
the whole admit nature to be a good idea (a little low, perhaps, when
not enclosed with a park-fence)
, but an idea dependent for its
execution on your great county families. He is a gentleman of strict
conscience, disdainful of all littleness and meanness and ready on the
shortest notice to die any death you may please to mention rather
than give occasion for the least impeachment of his integrity.
He is an
honourable, obstinate, truthful, high-spirited, intensely prejudiced,
perfectly unreasonable man.


Sir Leicester is twenty years, full measure, older than my Lady. He will
never see sixty-five again, nor perhaps sixty-six, nor yet sixty-seven.
He has a twist of the gout now and then and walks a little stiffly. He
is of a worthy presence, with his light-grey hair and whiskers, his fine
shirt-frill, his pure-white waistcoat, and his blue coat with bright
buttons always buttoned. He is ceremonious, stately, most polite on
every occasion to my Lady, and holds her personal attractions in the
highest estimation. His gallantry to my Lady, which has never changed
since he courted her, is the one little touch of romantic fancy
in him.

Indeed, he married her for love. A whisper still goes about that she
had not even family; howbeit, Sir Leicester had so much family that
perhaps he had enough and could dispense with any more. But
she
had beauty, pride, ambition, insolent resolve, and sense enough to
portion out a legion of fine ladies.
Wealth and station, added to these,
soon floated her upward, and for years now my Lady Dedlock has
been at the centre of the fashionable intelligence and at the top of
the fashionable tree.


How Alexander wept when he had no more worlds to conquer,
everybody knows--or has some reason to know by this time, the
matter having been rather frequently mentioned.
My Lady Dedlock,
having conquered her world, fell not into the melting, but rather into
the freezing, mood. An exhausted composure, a worn-out placidity, an
equanimity of fatigue not to be ruffled by interest or satisfaction, are
the trophies of her victory. She is perfectly well-bred. If she could be
translated to heaven tomorrow, she might be expected to ascend with-
out any rapture.

She has beauty still, and if it be not in its heyday, it is not yet in its
autumn. She has a fine face--originally of a character that would be
rather called very pretty than handsome, but improved into classicality
by the acquired expression of her fashionable state. Her figure is ele-
gant and has the effect of being tall. Not that she is so, but that ethe
most is made,' as the Honourable Bob Stables has frequently asserted
upon oath, eof all her points.' The same authority observes that she
is perfectly got up and remarks in commendation of her hair especially
that she is the best-groomed woman in the whole stud.


With all her perfections on her head, my Lady Dedlock has come up
from her place in Lincolnshire (hotly pursued by the fashionable
intelligence) to pass a few days at her house in town previous to her
departure for Paris, where her ladyship intends to stay some weeks,
after which her movements are uncertain. And at her house in town,
upon this muddy, murky afternoon, presents himself an oldfashioned
old gentleman, attorney-at-law and eke solicitor of the High Court
of Chancery, who has the honour of acting as legal adviser of@the
Dedlocks and has as many cast-iron boxes in his office with that
name outside as if the present baronet were the coin of the conjuror's
trick and were constantly being juggled through the whole set. Across
the hall, and up the stairs, and along the passages, and through the
rooms, which are very brilliant in the season and very dismal out of it-
-fairy-land to visit, but a desert to live in--the old gentleman is
conducted by a Mercury in powder to my Lady's presence.


The old gentleman is rusty to look at, but is reputed to have made
good thrift out of aristocratic marriage settlements and aristocratic
wills, and to be very rich. He is surrounded by a mysterious halo of
family confidences, of which he is known to be the silent depository.
There are noble mausoleums rooted for centuries in retired glades of
parks among the growing timber and the fern, which perhaps hold
fewer noble secrets than walk abroad among men, shut up in the
breast of Mr Tulkinghorn.
He is of what is called the old school--a
phrase generally meaning any school that seems never to have been
young--and wears knee-breeches tied with ribbons, and gaiters or
stockings.
One peculiarity of his black clothes and of his black
stockings, be they silk or worsted, is that they never shine. Mute,
close, irresponsive to any glancing light, his dress is like himself. He
never converses when not professionally consulted. He is found
sometimes, speechless but quite at home, at corners of dinner-tables
in great country houses and near doors of drawing-rooms, concerning
which the fashionable intelligence is eloquent, where everybody knows
him and where half the Peerage stops to say eHow do you do, Mr
Tulkinghorn?' He receives these salutations with gravity and buries
them along with the rest of his knowledge.


Sir Leicester Dedlock is with my Lady and is happy to see Mr Tulking-
horn. There is an air of prescription about him which is always agree-
able to Sir Leicester; he receives it as a kind of tribute. He likes Mr
Tulkinghorn's dress; there is a kind of tribute in that too. It is eminent-
ly respectable, and likewise, in a general way, retainer-like. It express-
es, as it were, the steward of the legal mysteries, the butler of the le-
gal cellar, of the Dedlocks.


Has Mr Tulkinghorn any idea of this himself? It may be so, or it may
not, but there is this remarkable circumstance to be noted in every-
thing associated with my Lady Dedlock as one of a class--as one
of the leaders and representatives of her little world. She supposes
herself to be an inscrutable Being, quite out of the reach and ken of
ordinary mortals--seeing herself in her glass, where indeed she looks
so. Yet every dim little star revolving about her, from her maid to the
manager of the Italian Opera, knows her weaknesses, prejudices,
follies, haughtinesses, and caprices and lives upon as accurate a
calculation and as nice a measure of her moral nature as her
dressmaker takes of her physical proportions. Is a new dress, a new
custom, a new singer, a new dancer, a new form of jewellery, a new
dwarf or giant, a new chapel, a new anything, to be set up? There are
deferential people in a dozen callings whom my Lady Dedlock suspects
of nothing but prostration before her, who can tell you how to manage
her as if she were a baby, who do nothing but nurse her all their lives,
who, humbly affecting to follow with profound subservience, lead her
and her whole troop after them; who, in hooking one, hook all and
bear them off as Lemuel Gulliver bore away the stately fleet of the
majestic Lilliput.
eIf you want to address our people, sir,' say Blaze and
Sparkle, the jewellers--meaning by our people Lady Dedlock and the
rest--'you must remember that you are not dealing with the general
public; you must hit our people in their weakest place, and their
weakest place is such a place.' eTo make this article go down,
gentlemen,' say Sheen and Gloss, the mercers, to their friends the
manufacturers, eyou must come to us, because we know where to
have the fashionable people, and we can make it fashionable.' eIf you
want to get this print upon the tables of my high connexion, sir,' says
Mr Sladdery, the librarian, eor if you want to get this dwarf or giant
into the houses of my high connexion, sir, or if you want to secure to
this entertainment the patronage of my high connexion, sir, you must
leave it, if you please, to me, for I have been accustomed to study the
leaders of my high connexion, sir, and I may tell you without vanity
that I can turn them round my finger'
--in which Mr Sladdery, who is
an honest man, does not exaggerate at all.

Therefore, while Mr Tulkinghorn may not know what is passing in the
Dedlock mind at present, it is very possible that he may.

eMy Lady's cause has been again before the Chancellor, has it, Mr
Tulkinghorn?' says Sir Leicester, giving him his hand.

eYes. It has been on again to-day,' Mr Tulkinghorn replies, making one
of his quiet bows to my Lady, who is on a sofa near the fire, shading
her face with a hand-screen.


eIt would be useless to ask,' says my Lady with the dreariness of the
place in Lincolnshire still upon her, ewhether anything has been done.'

eNothing that you would call anything has been done today,' replies
Mr Tulkinghorn.

eNor ever will be,' says my Lady.


Sir Leicester has no objection to an interminable Chancery suit. It is a
slow, expensive, British, constitutional kind of thing. To be sure, he
has not a vital interest in the suit in question, her part in which was
the only property my Lady brought him; and he has a shadowy
impression that for his name--the name of Dedlock--to be in a cause,
and not in the title of that cause, is a most ridiculous accident. But he
regards the Court of Chancery, even if it should involve an occasional
delay of justice and a trifling amount of confusion, as a something
devised in conjunction with a variety of other somethings by the
perfection of human wisdom for the eternal settlement (humanly
speaking) of everything. And he is upon the whole of a fixed opinion
that to give the sanction of his countenance to any complaints
respecting it would be to encourage some person in the lower classes
to rise up somewhere--like Wat Tyler.


eAs a few fresh affidavits have been put upon the file,' says Mr
Tulkinghorn, eand as they are short, and as I proceed upon the
troublesome principle of begging leave to possess my clients with any
new proceedings in a cause'--cautious man Mr Tulkinghorn, taking no
more responsibility than necessary--'and further, as I see you are
going to Paris, I have brought them in my pocket.'

(Sir Leicester was going to Paris too, by the by, but the delight of
the fashionable intelligence was in his Lady.)

Mr Tulkinghorn takes out his papers, asks permission to place them
on a golden talisman of a table at my Lady's elbow, puts on his
spectacles, and begins to read by the light of a shaded lamp.

e'In Chancery. Between John Jarndyce--'e

My Lady interrupts, requesting him to miss as many of the formal
horrors as he can.


Mr Tulkinghorn glances over his spectacles and begins again lower
down.
My Lady carelessly and scornfully abstracts her attention. Sir
Leicester in a great chair looks at the file and appears to have a stately
liking for the legal repetitions and prolixities as ranging among the
national bulwarks.
It happens that the fire is hot where my Lady sits
and that the hand-screen is more beautiful than useful, being price-
less but small. My Lady, changing her position, sees the papers on
the table--looks at them nearer--looks at them nearer still--asks
impulsively, eWho copied that?'


Mr Tulkinghorn stops short, surprised by my Lady's animation and
her unusual tone.


eIs it what you people call law-hand?' she asks, looking full at him in
her careless way again and toying with her screen.

eNot quite. Probably'--Mr Tulkinghorn examines it as he speaks--ethe
legal character which it has was acquired after the original hand was
formed. Why do you ask?'

eAnything to vary this detestable monotony. Oh, go on, do!'

Mr Tulkinghorn reads again. The heat is greater; my Lady screens her
face. Sir Leicester dozes, starts up suddenly, and cries, eEh? What do
you say?'

eI say I am afraid,' says Mr Tulkinghorn, who had risen hastily, ethat
Lady Dedlock is ill.'

eFaint,' my Lady murmurs with white lips, eonly that; but it is like the
faintness of death. Don't speak to me. Ring, and take me to my room!'
Mr Tulkinghorn retires into another chamber; bells ring, feet shuffle
and patter, silence ensues. Mercury at last begs Mr Tulkinghorn to
return.


eBetter now,' quoth Sir Leicester, motioning the lawyer to sit down
and read to him alone. eI have been quite alarmed. I never knew my
Lady swoon before. But the weather is extremely trying, and she
really has been bored to death down at our place in Lincolnshire.'



Chapter III--A Progress



I have a great deal of difficulty in beginning to write my portion of
these pages, for I know I am not clever. I always knew that. I can
remember, when I was a very little girl indeed, I used to say to my doll
when we were alone together, eNow, Dolly, I am not clever, you know
very well, and you must be patient with me, like a dear!' And so she
used to sit propped up in a great arm-chair, with her beautiful
complexion and rosy lips, staring at me--or not so much at me, I
think, as at nothing--while I busily stitched away and told her every
one of my secrets.


My dear old doll! I was such a shy little thing that I seldom dared to
open my lips, and never dared to open my heart, to anybody else. It
almost makes me cry to think what a relief it used to be to me when I
came home from school of a day to run upstairs to my room and say,
eOh, you dear faithful Dolly, I knew you would be expecting me!' and
then to sit down on the floor, leaning on the elbow of her great chair,
and tell her all I had noticed since we parted.
I had always rather a
noticing way--not a quick way, oh, no!--a silent way of noticing what
passed before me and thinking I should like to understand it better. I
have not by any means a quick understanding. When I love a person
very tenderly indeed, it seems to brighten.
But even that may be my
vanity.


I was brought up, from my earliest remembrance--like some of the
princesses in the fairy stories, only I was not charming--by my
godmother. At least, I only knew her as such. She was a good, good
woman! She went to church three times every Sunday, and to
morning prayers on Wednesdays and Fridays, and to lectures
whenever there were lectures; and never missed. She was handsome;
and if she had ever smiled, would have been (I used to think) like an
angel--but she never smiled. She was always grave and strict.
She was
so very good herself, I thought, that the badness of other people made
her frown all her life. I felt so different from her, even making every
allowance for the differences between a child and a woman; I felt so
poor, so trifling, and so far off that I never could be unrestrained with
her--no, could never even love her as I wished. It made me very sorry
to consider how good she was and how unworthy of her I was, and I
used ardently to hope that I might have a better heart; and I talked it
over very often with the dear old doll, but I never loved my godmother
as I ought to have loved her and as I felt I must have loved her if I had
been a better girl.


This made me, I dare say, more timid and retiring than I naturally was
and cast me upon Dolly as the only friend with whom I felt at ease.
But something happened when I was still quite a little thing that
helped it very much.

I had never heard my mama spoken of. I had never heard of my papa
either, but I felt more interested about my mama. I had never worn a
black frock, that I could recollect. I had never been shown my mama's
grave. I had never been told where it was. Yet I had never been taught
to pray for any relation but my godmother. I had more than once
approached this subject of my thoughts with Mrs Rachael, our only
servant, who took my light away when I was in bed (another very good
woman, but austere to me), and she had only said, eEsther, good
night!' and gone away and left me.


Although there were seven girls at the neighbouring school where I
was a day boarder, and although they called me little Esther Sum-
merson, I knew none of them at home. All of them were older than
I, to be sure (I was the youngest there by a good deal), but there
seemed to be some other separation between us besides that, and
besides their being far more clever than I was and knowing much
more than I did. One of them in the first week of my going to the
school (I remember it very well) invited me home to a little party, to
my great joy. But my godmother wrote a stiff letter declining for me,
and I never went. I never went out at all.


It was my birthday. There were holidays at school on other birthdays--
none on mine. There were rejoicings at home on other birthdays, as I
knew from what I heard the girls relate to one another--there were
none on mine.
My birthday was the most melancholy day at home in
the whole year.


I have mentioned that unless my vanity should deceive me (as I know
it may, for I may be very vain without suspecting it, though indeed I
don't), my comprehension is quickened when my affection is
. My
disposition is very affectionate, and perhaps I might still feel such a
wound if such a wound could be received more than once with the
quickness of that birthday.


Dinner was over, and my godmother and I were sitting at the table
before the fire.
The clock ticked, the fire clicked; not another sound
had been heard in the room or in the house for I don't know how long.

I happened to look timidly up from my stitching, across the table at
my godmother, and I saw in her face, looking gloomily at me, eIt would
have been far better, little Esther, that you had had no birthday, that
you had never been born!'

I broke out crying and sobbing, and I said, eOh, dear godmother, tell
me, pray do tell me, did Mama die on my birthday?'

eNo,' she returned. eAsk me no more, child!'

eOh, do pray tell me something of her. Do now, at last, dear
godmother, if you please! What did I do to her? How did I lose her?
Why am I so different from other children, and why is it my fault, dear
godmother? No, no, no, don't go away. Oh, speak to me!'

I was in a kind of fright beyond my grief, and I caught hold of her
dress and was kneeling to her. She had been saying all the while, eLet
me go!' But now she stood still.

Her darkened face had such power over me that it stopped me in the
midst of my vehemence. I put up my trembling little hand to clasp
hers or to beg her pardon with what earnestness I might, but
withdrew it as she looked at me, and laid it on my fluttering heart.

She raised me, sat in her chair, and standing me before her, said
slowly in a cold, low voice--I see her knitted brow and pointed finger--
'Your mother, Esther, is your disgrace, and you were hers. The time
will come--and soon enough--when you will understand this better
and will feel it too, as no one save a woman can. I have forgiven her'--
but her face did not relent--'the wrong she did to me, and I say no
more of it, though it was greater than you will ever know--than any
one will ever know but I, the sufferer.
For yourself, unfortunate girl,
orphaned and degraded from the first of these evil anniversaries, pray
daily that the sins of others be not visited upon your head,
according
to what is written. Forget your mother and leave all other people to
forget her who will do her unhappy child that greatest kindness. Now,
go!'

She checked me, however, as I was about to depart from her--so
frozen as I was!--and added this,
eSubmission, self-denial, diligent
work, are the preparations for a life begun with such a shadow on it.
You are different from other children, Esther, because you were not
born, like them, in common sinfulness and wrath. You are set apart.'


I went up to my room, and crept to bed, and laid my doll's cheek
against mine wet with tears, and holding that solitary friend upon my
bosom, cried myself to sleep. Imperfect as my understanding of my
sorrow was,
I knew that I had brought no joy at any time to anybody's
heart and that I was to no one upon earth what Dolly was to me.


Dear, dear, to think how much time we passed alone together
afterwards, and how often I repeated to the doll the story of my
birthday and confided to her that
I would try as hard as ever I could to
repair the fault I had been born with (of which I confessedly felt guilty
and yet innocent)
and would strive as I grew up to be industrious,
contented, and kind-hearted and to do some good to some one, and
win some love to myself if I could. I hope it is not self-indulgent to
shed these tears as I think of it. I am very thankful, I am very
cheerful, but I cannot quite help their coming to my eyes.


There! I have wiped them away now and can go on again properly.

I felt the distance between my godmother and myself so much more
after the birthday, and
felt so sensible of filling a place in her house
which ought to have been empty
, that I found her more difficult of
approach, though I was fervently grateful to her in my heart, than
ever.
I felt in the same way towards my school companions; I felt in
the same way towards Mrs Rachael, who was a widow; and oh,
towards her daughter, of whom she was proud, who came to see her
once a fortnight! I was very retired and quiet, and tried to be very
diligent.

One sunny afternoon when I had come home from school with my
books and portfolio, watching my long shadow at my side, and as I
was gliding upstairs to my room as usual, my godmother looked out of
the parlour-door and called me back. Sitting with her, I found--which
was very unusual indeed--a stranger. A portly, important-looking
gentleman, dressed all in black, with a white cravat, large gold watch
seals, a pair of gold eye-glasses, and a large seal-ring upon his little
finger.

eThis,' said my godmother in an undertone, eis the child.' Then she
said in her naturally stern way of speaking, eThis is Esther, sir.'

The gentleman put up his eye-glasses to look at me and said, eCome
here, my dear!' He shook hands with me and asked me to take off my
bonnet, looking at me all the while. When I had complied, he said,
eAh!' and afterwards eYes!' And then, taking off his eye-glasses and
folding them in a red case, and leaning back in his arm-chair, turning
the case about in his two hands, he gave my godmother a nod. Upon
that, my godmother said, eYou may go upstairs, Esther!' And I made
him my curtsy and left him.

It must have been two years afterwards, and I was almost fourteen,
when one dreadful night my godmother and I sat at the fireside. I was
reading aloud, and she was listening. I had come down at nine o'clock
as I always did to read the Bible to her, and was reading from St. John
how our Saviour stooped down, writing with his finger in the dust,
when they brought the sinful woman to him.


eSo when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself and said
unto them, 'He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a
stone at her!'e

I was stopped by my godmother's rising, putting her hand to her head,
and crying out in an awful voice from quite another part of the book,
e'Watch ye, therefore, lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And
what I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch!'e

In an instant, while she stood before me repeating these words, she
fell down on the floor. I had no need to cry out; her voice had sounded
through the house and been heard in the street.

She was laid upon her bed. For more than a week she lay there, little
altered outwardly, with her old handsome resolute frown that I so well
knew carved upon her face. Many and many a time, in the day and in
the night, with my head upon the pillow by her that my whispers
might be plainer to her, I kissed her, thanked her, prayed for her,
asked her for her blessing and forgiveness, entreated her to give me
the least sign that she knew or heard me. No, no, no. Her face was
immovable. To the very last, and even afterwards, her frown remained
unsoftened.


On the day after my poor good godmother was buried, the gentleman
in black with the white neckcloth reappeared. I was sent for by Mrs
Rachael, and found him in the same place, as if he had never gone
away.


eMy name is Kenge,' he said; eyou may remember it, my child; Kenge
and Carboy, Lincoln's Inn.'

I replied that I remembered to have seen him once before.

ePray be seated--here near me. Don't distress yourself; it's of no use.
Mrs Rachael, I needn't inform you who were acquainted with the late
Miss Barbary's affairs, that her means die with her and that this young
lady, now her aunt is dead--'

eMy aunt, sir!'

eIt is really of no use carrying on a deception when no object is to be
gained by it,' said Mr Kenge smoothly, eAunt in fact, though not in law.
Don't distress yourself! Don't weep! Don't tremble!
Mrs Rachael, our
young friend has no doubt heard of--the--a--Jarndyce and Jarndyce.'

eNever,' said Mrs Rachael.

eIs it possible,' pursued Mr Kenge, putting up his eye-glasses, ethat our
young friend--I beg you won't distress yourself!--never heard of
Jarndyce and Jarndyce!'

I shook my head, wondering even what it was.

eNot of Jarndyce and Jarndyce?' said Mr Kenge, looking over his
glasses at me and softly turning the case about and about as if he
were petting something. eNot of one of the greatest Chancery suits
known? Not of Jarndyce and Jarndyce--the--a--in itself a monument
of Chancery practice. In which (I would say) every difficulty, every
contingency, every masterly fiction, every form of procedure known in
that court, is represented over and over again? It is a cause that could
not exist out of this free and great country. I should say that the
aggregate of costs in Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Mrs Rachael'--I was
afraid he addressed himself to her because I appeared inattentive'--
amounts at the present hour to from SIX-ty to SEVEN-ty THOUSAND
POUNDS!' said Mr Kenge, leaning back in his chair.


I felt very ignorant, but what could I do? I was so entirely unacquaint-
ed with the subject that I understood nothing about it even then.

eAnd she really never heard of the cause!' said Mr Kenge. eSurprising!'

eMiss Barbary, sir,' returned Mrs Rachael, ewho is now among the
Seraphim--'

eI hope so, I am sure,' said Mr Kenge politely.

e--Wished Esther only to know what would be serviceable to her. And
she knows, from any teaching she has had here, nothing more.'


eWell!' said Mr Kenge. eUpon the whole, very proper. Now to the point,'
addressing me. eMiss Barbary, your sole relation (in fact that is, for I
am bound to observe that in law you had none) being deceased and it
naturally not being to be expected that Mrs Rachael--'

eOh, dear no!' said Mrs Rachael quickly.


eQuite so,' assented Mr Kenge; e--that Mrs Rachael should charge
herself with your maintenance and support (I beg you won't distress
yourself), you are in a position to receive the renewal of an offer which
I was instructed to make to Miss Barbary some two years ago and
which, though rejected then, was understood to be renewable under
the lamentable circumstances that have since occurred. Now, if I avow
that I represent, in Jarndyce and Jarndyce and otherwise, a highly
humane, but at the same time singular, man, shall I compromise
myself by any stretch of my professional caution?' said Mr Kenge,
leaning back in his chair again and looking calmly at us both.


He appeared to enjoy beyond everything the sound of his own voice.
I couldn't wonder at that, for it was mellow and full and gave great
importance to every word he uttered. He listened to himself with
obvious satisfaction and sometimes gently beat time to his own music
with his head or rounded a sentence with his hand.
I was very much
impressed by him--even then, before I knew that he formed himself
on the model of a great lord who was his client and that he was gen-
erally called Conversation Kenge.


eMr Jarndyce,' he pursued, ebeing aware of the--I would say, des-
olate--position of our young friend, offers to place her at a first-
rate establishment where her education shall be completed, where
her comfort shall be secured, where her reasonable wants shall be
anticipated, where she shall be eminently qualified to discharge her
duty in that station of life unto which it has pleased--shall I say
Providence?--to call her.'

My heart was filled so full, both by what he said and by his affecting
manner of saying it, that I was not able to speak, though I tried.


eMr Jarndyce,' he went on, emakes no condition beyond expressing
his expectation that our young friend will not at any time remove
herself from the establishment in question without his knowledge and
concurrence. That she will faithfully apply herself to the acquisition
of those accomplishments, upon the exercise of which she will be
ultimately dependent. That she will tread in the paths of virtue and
honour, and--the--a--so forth.'

I was still less able to speak than before.

eNow, what does our young friend say?' proceeded Mr Kenge. eTake
time, take time! I pause for her reply. But take time!'


What the destitute subject of such an offer tried to say, I need not
repeat. What she did say, I could more easily tell, if it were worth the
telling. What she felt, and will feel to her dying hour, I could never
relate.


This interview took place at Windsor, where I had passed (as far as I
knew) my whole life. On that day week, amply provided with all
necessaries, I left it, inside the stagecoach, for Reading.


Mrs Rachael was too good to feel any emotion at parting, but I was not
so good, and wept bitterly. I thought that I ought to have known her
better after so many years and ought to have made myself enough of a
favourite with her to make her sorry then. When she gave me one cold
parting kiss upon my forehead, like a thaw-drop from the stone porch-
-it was a very frosty day--I felt so miserable and self-reproachful that I
clung to her and told her it was my fault, I knew, that she could say
good-bye so easily!

eNo, Esther!' she returned. eIt is your misfortune!'


The coach was at the little lawn-gate--we had not come out until we
heard the wheels--and thus I left her, with a sorrowful heart. She went
in before my boxes were lifted to the coach-roof and shut the door. As
long as I could see the house, I looked back at it from the window
through my tears. My godmother had left Mrs Rachael all the little
property she possessed; and there was to be a sale; and an old hearthrug
with roses on it, which always seemed to me the first thing in the
world I had ever seen, was hanging outside in the frost and snow. A
day or two before, I had wrapped the dear old doll in her own shawl
and quietly laid her--I am half ashamed to tell it--in the garden-earth
under the tree that shaded my old window. I had no companion left
but my bird, and him I carried with me in his cage.


When the house was out of sight, I sat, with my bird-cage in the straw
at my feet, forward on the low seat to look out of the high window,
watching
the frosty trees, that were like beautiful pieces of spar, and
the fields all smooth and white with last night's snow, and the sun, so
red but yielding so little heat, and the ice, dark like metal where the
skaters and sliders had brushed the snow away.
There was a
gentleman in the coach who sat on the opposite seat and looked very
large in a quantity of wrappings, but he sat gazing out of the other
window and took no notice of me.


I thought of my dead godmother, of the night when I read to her, of
her frowning so fixedly and sternly in her bed, of the strange place I
was going to, of the people I should find there, and what they would
be like, and what they would say to me, when a voice in the coach
gave me a terrible start.

It said, eWhat the de-vil are you crying for?'

I was so frightened that I lost my voice and could only answer in a
whisper, eMe, sir?' For of course I knew it must have been the
gentleman in the quantity of wrappings, though he was still looking
out of his window.

eYes, you,' he said, turning round.

eI didn't know I was crying, sir,' I faltered.

eBut you are!' said the gentleman. eLook here!' He came quite opposite
to me from the other corner of the coach, brushed one of his large
furry cuffs across my eyes (but without hurting me), and showed me
that it was wet.

eThere! Now you know you are,' he said. eDon't you?'

eYes, sir,' I said. eAnd what are you crying for?' said the gentleman,
eDon't you want to go there?'

eWhere, sir?'

eWhere? Why, wherever you are going,' said the gentleman.

eI am very glad to go there, sir,' I answered.

eWell, then! Look glad!' said the gentleman.

I thought he was very strange, or at least that what I could see of him
was very strange, for he was wrapped up to the chin, and his face was
almost hidden in a fur cap with broad fur straps at the side of his
head fastened under his chin; but I was composed again, and not
afraid of him. So I told him that I thought I must have been crying
because of my godmother's death and because of Mrs Rachael's not
being sorry to part with me.

eConfound Mrs Rachael!' said the gentleman. eLet her fly away in a
high wind on a broomstick!'

I began to be really afraid of him now and looked at him with the
greatest astonishment. But I thought that he had pleasant eyes,
although he kept on muttering to himself in an angry manner and
calling Mrs Rachael names.


After a little while he opened his outer wrapper, which appeared to me
large enough to wrap up the whole coach, and put his arm down into
a deep pocket in the side.

eNow, look here!' he said. eIn this paper,' which was nicely folded, eis a
piece of the best plum-cake that can be got for money--sugar on the
outside an inch thick, like fat on mutton chops. Here's a little pie (a
gem this is, both for size and quality), made in France. And what do
you suppose it's made of? Livers of fat geese. There's a pie! Now let's
see you eat 'em.'

eThank you, sir,' I replied; ethank you very much indeed, but I hope
you won't be offended--they are too rich for me.'

eFloored again!' said the gentleman, which I didn't at all understand,
and threw them both out of window.


He did not speak to me any more until he got out of the coach a little
way short of Reading, when he advised me to be a good girl and to be
studious, and shook hands with me. I must say I was relieved by his
departure.
We left him at a milestone. I often walked past it afterwards,
and never for a long time without thinking of him and half expecting
to meet him. But I never did; and so, as time went on, he passed out
of my mind.

When the coach stopped, a very neat lady looked up at the window
and said, eMiss Donny.'

eNo, ma'am, Esther Summerson.'

eThat is quite right,' said the lady, eMiss Donny.'

I now understood that she introduced herself by that name, and
begged Miss Donny's pardon for my mistake, and pointed out my
boxes at her request. Under the direction of a very neat maid, they
were put outside a very small green carriage; and then Miss Donny,
the maid, and I got inside and were driven away.


eEverything is ready for you, Esther,' said Miss Donny, eand the
scheme of your pursuits has been arranged in exact accordance with
the wishes of your guardian, Mr Jarndyce.'

eOf--did you say, ma'am?'

eOf your guardian, Mr Jarndyce,' said Miss Donny.

I was so bewildered that Miss Donny thought the cold had been too
severe for me and lent me her smelling-bottle.

eDo you know my--guardian, Mr Jarndyce, ma'am?' I asked after a
good deal of hesitation.

eNot personally, Esther,' said Miss Donny; emerely through his
solicitors, Messrs. Kenge and Carboy, of London. A very superior
gentleman, Mr Kenge. Truly eloquent indeed. Some of his periods
quite majestic!'

I felt this to be very true but was too confused to attend to it. Our
speedy arrival at our destination, before I had time to recover myself,
increased my confusion, and I never shall forget the uncertain and the
unreal air of everything at Greenleaf (Miss Donny's house) that
afternoon!

But I soon became used to it. I was so adapted to the routine of
Greenleaf before long that I seemed to have been there a great while
and almost to have dreamed rather than really lived my old life at my
godmother's. Nothing could be more precise, exact, and orderly than
Greenleaf. There was a time for everything all round the dial of the
clock, and everything was done at its appointed moment.


We were twelve boarders, and there were two Miss Donnys, twins.
It was understood that I would have to depend, by and by, on my
qualifications as a governess, and I was not only instructed in ev-
erything that was taught at Greenleaf, but was very soon engaged in
helping to instruct others. Although I was treated in every other
respect like the rest of the school, this single difference was made in
my case from the first.
As I began to know more, I taught more, and so
in course of time I had plenty to do, which I was very fond of doing
because it made the dear girls fond of me. At last, whenever a new
pupil came who was a little downcast and unhappy, she was so sure--
indeed I don't know why--to make a friend of me that all new-comers
were confided to my care. They said I was so gentle, but I am sure
THEY were! I often thought of the resolution I had made on my
birthday to try to be industrious, contented, and true-hearted and to
do some good to some one and win some love if I could; and indeed,
indeed, I felt almost ashamed to have done so little and have won so
much.


I passed at Greenleaf six happy, quiet years. I never saw in any face
there, thank heaven, on my birthday, that it would have been better if
I had never been born. When the day came round, it brought me so
many tokens of affectionate remembrance that my room was beautiful
with them from New Year's Day to Christmas.


In those six years I had never been away except on visits at holiday
time in the neighbourhood. After the first six months or so I had taken
Miss Donny's advice in reference to the propriety of writing to Mr
Kenge to say that I was happy and grateful, and with her approval I
had written such a letter. I had received a formal answer acknow-
ledging its receipt and saying, eWe note the contents thereof, which
shall be duly communicated to our client.'
After that I sometimes
heard Miss Donny and her sister mention how regular my accounts
were paid, and about twice a year I ventured to write a similar let-
ter. I always received by return of post exactly the same answer
in the same round hand, with the signature of Kenge and Carboy
in another writing, which I supposed to be Mr Kenge's.

It seems so curious to me to be obliged to write all this about myself!
As if this narrative were the narrative of MY life! But my little body
will soon fall into the background now.


Six quiet years (I find I am saying it for the second time) I had passed
at Greenleaf, seeing in those around me, as it might be in a looking-
glass, every stage of my own growth and change there, when, one
November morning, I received this letter. I omit the date.

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ @Old Square, Lincoln's Inn
@@Madam,
@@@@@@@@@@@@@@Jarndyce and Jarndyce

@@Our clt Mr Jarndyce being abt to rece into his house, under an Order
of the Ct of Chy, a Ward of the Ct in this cause, for whom he wishes to
secure an elgble compn, directs us to inform you that he will be glad
of your serces in the afsd capacity.
@@We have arrngd for your being forded, carriage free, pr eight o'clock
coach from Reading, on Monday morning next, to White Horse Cellar,
Piccadilly, London, where one of our clks will be in waiting to convey
you to our offe as above.

We are, Madam, Your obedt Servts,

Kenge and Carboy

Miss Esther Summerson

Oh, never, never, never shall I forget the emotion this letter caused in
the house! It was so tender in them to care so much for me, it was so
gracious in that father who had not forgotten me to have made my
orphan way so smooth and easy and to have inclined so many
youthful natures towards me, that I could hardly bear it. Not that I
would have had them less sorry--I am afraid not; but the pleasure of
it, and the pain of it, and the pride and joy of it, and the humble
regret of it were so blended that my heart seemed almost breaking
while it was full of rapture.


The letter gave me only five days' notice of my removal. When every
minute added to the proofs of love and kindness that were given me in
those five days, and when at last the morning came and when they
took me through all the rooms that I might see them for the last time,
and when some cried, eEsther, dear, say good-bye to me here at my
bedside, where you first spoke so kindly to me!' and when others
asked me only to write their names, eWith Esther's love,' and when
they all surrounded me with their parting presents and clung to me
weeping and cried, eWhat shall we do when dear, dear Esther's gone!'
and when I tried to tell them how forbearing and how good they had
all been to me and how I blessed and thanked them every one, what a
heart I had!


And when the two Miss Donnys grieved as much to part with me as
the least among them, and when the maids said, eBless you, miss,
wherever you go!' and when the ugly lame old gardener, who I thought
had hardly noticed me in all those years, came panting after the coach
to give me a little nosegay of geraniums and told me I had been the
light of his eyes--indeed the old man said so!--what a heart I had
then!


And could I help it if with all this, and the coming to the little school,
and the unexpected sight of the poor children outside waving their
hats and bonnets to me, and of a grey-haired gentleman and lady
whose daughter I had helped to teach and at whose house I had
visited (who were said to be the proudest people in all that country),
caring for nothing but calling out, eGood-bye, Esther. May you be very
happy!'--could I help it if I was quite bowed down in the coach by
myself and said eOh, I am so thankful, I am so thankful!' many times
over!

But of course I soon considered that I must not take tears where I was
going after all that had been done for me. Therefore, of course, I made
myself sob less and persuaded myself to be quiet by saying very often,
eEsther, now you really must! This WILL NOT do!' I cheered myself up
pretty well at last, though I am afraid I was longer about it than I
ought to have been; and when I had cooled my eyes with lavender
water, it was time to watch for London.


I was quite persuaded that we were there when we were ten miles
off, and when we really were there, that we should never get there.
However, when we began to jolt upon a stone pavement, and partic-
ularly when every other conveyance seemed to be running into us,
and we seemed to be running into every other conveyance, I began
to believe that we really were approaching the end of our journey.
Very soon afterwards we stopped.

A young gentleman who had inked himself by accident addressed me
from the pavement and said, eI am from Kenge and Carboy's, miss, of
Lincoln's Inn.'

eIf you please, sir,' said I.

He was very obliging, and as he handed me into a fly after superin-
tending the removal of my boxes, I asked him whether there was a
great fire anywhere? For the streets were so full of dense brown
smoke that scarcely anything was to be seen.

eOh, dear no, miss,' he said. eThis is a London particular.'

I had never heard of such a thing.

eA fog, miss,' said the young gentleman.

eOh, indeed!' said I.


We drove slowly through the dirtiest and darkest streets that ever
were seen in the world (I thought) and in such a distracting state of
confusion that I wondered how the people kept their senses, until we
passed into sudden quietude under an old gateway and drove on
through a silent square until we came to an odd nook in a corner,
where there was an entrance up a steep, broad flight of stairs, like an
entrance to a church. And there really was a churchyard outside
under some cloisters, for I saw the gravestones from the staircase
window.


This was Kenge and Carboy's. The young gentleman showed me
through an outer office into Mr Kenge's room--there was no one in it--
and politely put an arm-chair for me by the fire. He then called my
attention to a little looking-glass hanging from a nail on one side of
the chimney-piece.

eIn case you should wish to look at yourself, miss, after the journey, as
you're going before the Chancellor. Not that it's requisite, I am sure,'
said the young gentleman civilly.

eGoing before the Chancellor?' I said, startled for a moment.

eOnly a matter of form, miss,' returned the young gentleman. eMr
Kenge is in court now. He left his compliments, and would you
partake of some refreshment'--there were biscuits and a decanter of
wine on a small table--'and look over the paper,' which the young
gentleman gave me as he spoke.
He then stirred the fire and left me.
Everything was so strange--the stranger from its being night in the
day-time, the candles burning with a white flame, and looking raw
and cold
--that I read the words in the newspaper without knowing
what they meant and found myself reading the same words
repeatedly. As it was of no use going on in that way, I put the paper
down,
took a peep at my bonnet in the glass to see if it was neat, and
looked at the room, which was not half lighted, and at the shabby,
dusty tables, and at the piles of writings, and at a bookcase full of the
most inexpressive-looking books that ever had anything to say for
themselves. Then I went on, thinking, thinking, thinking; and the fire
went on, burning, burning, burning; and the candles went on
flickering and guttering, and there were no snuffers
--until the young
gentleman by and by brought a very dirty pair--for two hours.


At last Mr Kenge came. He was not altered, but he was surprised to
see how altered I was and appeared quite pleased.
eAs you are going to
be the companion of the young lady who is now in the Chancellor's
private room, Miss Summerson,' he said, ewe thought it well that you
should be in attendance also. You will not be discomposed by the Lord
Chancellor, I dare say?' eNo, sir,' I said, eI don't think I shall,' really
not seeing on consideration why I should be.

So Mr Kenge gave me his arm and we went round the corner, under a
colonnade, and in at a side door. And so we came, along a passage,
into a comfortable sort of room where a young lady and a young
gentleman were standing near a great, loud-roaring fire. A screen was
interposed between them and it, and they were leaning on the screen,
talking.

They both looked up when I came in, and
I saw in the young lady,
with the fire shining upon her, such a beautiful girl! With such rich
golden hair, such soft blue eyes, and such a bright, innocent, trusting
face!


eMiss Ada,' said Mr Kenge, ethis is Miss Summerson.'

She came to meet me with a smile of welcome and her hand extended,
but seemed to change her mind in a moment and kissed me. In short,
she had such a natural, captivating, winning manner that in a few
minutes we were sitting in the window-seat, with the light of the fire
upon us, talking together as free and happy as could be.

What a load off my mind! It was so delightful to know that she could
confide in me and like me! It was so good of her, and so encouraging
to me!


The young gentleman was her distant cousin, she told me, and his
name Richard Carstone.
He was a handsome youth with an ingenuous
face and a most engaging laugh; and after she had called him up to
where we sat, he stood by us, in the light of the fire, talking gaily, like
a light-hearted boy.
He was very young, not more than nineteen then,
if quite so much, but nearly two years older than she was. They were
both orphans and (what was very unexpected and curious to me) had
never met before that day. Our all three coming together for the first
time in such an unusual place was a thing to talk about, and we
talked about it; and
the fire, which had left off roaring, winked its red
eyes at us--as Richard said--like a drowsy old Chancery lion.


We conversed in a low tone because a full-dressed gentleman in a bag
wig frequently came in and out, and when he did so, we could hear a
drawling sound in the distance,
which he said was one of the counsel
in our case addressing the Lord Chancellor. He told Mr Kenge that the
Chancellor would be up in five minutes; and presently we heard a
bustle and a tread of feet, and Mr Kenge said that the Court had risen
and his lordship was in the next room.

The gentleman in the bag wig opened the door almost directly and
requested Mr Kenge to come in. Upon that, we all went into the next
room, Mr Kenge first, with my darling--it is so natural to me now that
I can't help writing it; and there, plainly dressed in black and sitting
in an arm-chair at a table near the fire, was his lordship, whose robe,
trimmed with beautiful gold lace, was thrown upon another chair.
He
gave us a searching look as we entered, but his manner was both
courtly and kind.

The gentleman in the bag wig laid bundles of papers on his lordship's
table, and his lordship silently selected one and turned over the
leaves.

eMiss Clare,' said the Lord Chancellor. eMiss Ada Clare?'

Mr Kenge presented her, and his lordship begged her to sit down near
him. That he admired her and was interested by her even I could see
in a moment.
It touched me that the home of such a beautiful young
creature should be represented by that dry, official place. The Lord
High Chancellor, at his best, appeared so poor a substitute for the
love and pride of parents.


eThe Jarndyce in question,' said the Lord Chancellor, still turning over
leaves, eis Jarndyce of Bleak House.'


eJarndyce of Bleak House, my lord,' said Mr Kenge.

eA dreary name,' said the Lord Chancellor.

eBut not a dreary place at present, my lord,' said Mr Kenge.


eAnd Bleak House,' said his lordship, eis in--'

eHertfordshire, my lord.'

eMr Jarndyce of Bleak House is not married?' said his lordship.

eHe is not, my lord,' said Mr Kenge.

A pause.

eYoung Mr Richard Carstone is present?' said the Lord Chancellor,
glancing towards him.

Richard bowed and stepped forward.

eHum!' said the Lord Chancellor, turning over more leaves.

eMr Jarndyce of Bleak House, my lord,' Mr Kenge observed in a low
voice, eif I may venture to remind your lordship, provides a suitable
companion for--'

eFor Mr Richard Carstone?' I thought (but I am not quite sure) I heard
his lordship say in an equally low voice and with a smile.

eFor Miss Ada Clare. This is the young lady. Miss Summerson.'

His lordship gave me an indulgent look and acknowledged my curtsy
very graciously.


eMiss Summerson is not related to any party in the cause, I think?'

eNo, my lord.'

Mr Kenge leant over before it was quite said and whispered. His
lordship, with his eyes upon his papers, listened, nodded twice or
thrice, turned over more leaves, and did not look towards me again
until we were going away.


Mr Kenge now retired, and Richard with him, to where I was, near the
door, leaving my pet (it is so natural to me that again I can't help it!)
sitting near the Lord Chancellor, with whom his lordship spoke a little
part, asking her, as she told me afterwards, whether she had well
reflected on the proposed arrangement, and if she thought she would
be happy under the roof of Mr Jarndyce of Bleak House, and why she
thought so? Presently he rose courteously and released her, and then
he spoke for a minute or two with Richard Carstone, not seated, but
standing, and
altogether with more ease and less ceremony, as if he
still knew, though he WAS Lord Chancellor, how to go straight to the
candour of a boy.


eVery well!' said his lordship aloud. eI shall make the order. Mr
Jarndyce of Bleak House has chosen, so far as I may judge,' and this
was when he looked at me, ea very good companion for the young lady,
and the arrangement altogether seems the best of which the circum-
stances admit.'

He dismissed us pleasantly, and we all went out, very much obliged to
him for being so affable and polite, by which he had certainly lost no
dignity but seemed to us to have gained some.

When we got under the colonnade, Mr Kenge remembered that he
must go back for a moment to ask a question and left us in the fog,
with the Lord Chancellor's carriage and servants waiting for him to
come out.

eWell!' said Richard Carstone. eTHAT'S over! And where do we go next,
Miss Summerson?'

eDon't you know?' I said.

eNot in the least,' said he.

eAnd don't YOU know, my love?' I asked Ada.

eNo!' said she. eDon't you?'

eNot at all!' said I.


We looked at one another, half laughing at our being like the children
in the wood, when a curious little old woman in a squeezed bonnet
and carrying a reticule came curtsying and smiling up to us with an
air of great ceremony.

eOh!' said she. eThe wards in Jarndyce! Ve-ry happy, I am sure, to have
the honour! It is a good omen for youth, and hope, and beauty when
they find themselves in this place, and don't know what's to come of
it.'

eMad!' whispered Richard, not thinking she could hear him.


eRight! Mad, young gentleman,' she returned so quickly that he was
quite abashed. eI was a ward myself. I was not mad at that time,'
curtsying low and smiling between every little sentence. eI had youth
and hope. I believe, beauty. It matters very little now. Neither of the
three served or saved me. I have the honour to attend court regularly.
With my documents. I expect a judgment. Shortly. On the Day of
Judgment. I have discovered that the sixth seal mentioned in the
Revelations is the Great Seal. It has been open a long time! Pray
accept my blessing.'

As Ada was a little frightened, I said, to humour the poor old lady,
that we were much obliged to her.

eYe-es!' she said mincingly. eI imagine so. And here is Conversation
Kenge. With HIS documents! How does your honourable worship do?'

eQuite well, quite well! Now don't be troublesome, that's a good soul!'
said Mr Kenge, leading the way back.

eBy no means,' said the poor old lady, keeping up with Ada and me.
eAnything but troublesome. I shall confer estates on both--which is not
being troublesome, I trust? I expect a judgment. Shortly. On the Day
of Judgment. This is a good omen for you. Accept my blessing!'


She stopped at the bottom of the steep, broad flight of stairs; but we
looked back as we went up, and she was still there, saying, still with a
curtsy and a smile between every little sentence, eYouth. And hope.
And beauty. And Chancery. And Conversation Kenge! Ha! Pray accept
my blessing!'




Chapter IV--Telescopic Philanthropy



We were to pass the night, Mr Kenge told us when we arrived in his
room, at Mrs Jellyby's; and then he turned to me and said he took it
for granted I knew who Mrs Jellyby was.

eI really don't, sir,' I returned. ePerhaps Mr Carstone--or Miss Clare--'

But no, they knew nothing whatever about Mrs Jellyby.

eIn-deed! Mrs Jellyby,' said Mr Kenge, standing with his back to the
fire and casting his eyes over the dusty hearth-rug as if it were Mrs
Jellyby's biography, eis a lady of very remarkable strength of character
who devotes herself entirely to the public. She has devoted herself to
an extensive variety of public subjects at various times and
is at pre-
sent (until something else attracts her) devoted to the subject of Afri-
ca, with a view to the general cultivation of the coffee berry--AND the
natives--and the happy settlement, on the banks of the African rivers,
of our superabundant home population.
Mr Jarndyce, who is desirous
to aid any work that is considered likely to be a good work and who is
much sought after by philanthropists, has, I believe, a very high
opinion of Mrs Jellyby.'

Mr Kenge, adjusting his cravat, then looked at us.

eAnd Mr Jellyby, sir?' suggested Richard.

eAh! Mr Jellyby,' said Mr Kenge, eis--a--I don't know that I can
describe him to you better than by saying that he is the husband of
Mrs Jellyby.'

eA nonentity, sir?' said Richard with a droll look.

eI don't say that,' returned Mr Kenge gravely. eI can't say that, indeed,
for I know nothing whatever of Mr Jellyby. I never, to my knowledge,
had the pleasure of seeing Mr Jellyby.
He may be a very superior man,
but he is, so to speak, merged--merged--in the more shining qualities
of his wife.'
Mr Kenge proceeded to tell us that as the road to Bleak
House would have been very long, dark, and tedious on such an eve-
ning, and as we had been travelling already, Mr Jarndyce had himself
proposed this arrangement.
A carriage would be at Mrs Jellyby's to
convey us out of town early in the forenoon of tomorrow.

He then rang a little bell, and the young gentleman came in. Ad-
dressing him by the name of Guppy, Mr Kenge inquired whether
Miss Summerson's boxes and the rest of the baggage had been esent
round.' Mr Guppy said yes, they had been sent round, and a coach
was waiting to take us round too as soon as we pleased.

eThen it only remains,' said Mr Kenge, shaking hands with us, efor
me to express my lively satisfaction in (good day, Miss Clare!) the
arrangement this day concluded and my (GOOD-bye to you, Miss
Summerson!) lively hope that it will conduce to the happiness, the
(glad to have had the honour of making your acquaintance, Mr
Carstone!) welfare, the advantage in all points of view, of all
concerned! Guppy, see the party safely there.'


eWhere is 'there,' Mr Guppy?' said Richard as we went downstairs.

eNo distance,' said Mr Guppy; eround in Thavies Inn, you know.'

eI can't say I know where it is, for I come from Winchester and am
strange in London.'

eOnly round the corner,' said Mr Guppy. eWe just twist up Chancery
Lane, and cut along Holborn, and there we are in four minutes' time,
as near as a toucher.
This is about a London particular now, ain't it,
miss?' He seemed quite delighted with it on my account.

eThe fog is very dense indeed!' said I.

eNot that it affects you, though, I'm sure,' said Mr Guppy, putting up
the steps. eOn the contrary, it seems to do you good, miss, judging
from your appearance.'

I knew he meant well in paying me this compliment, so I laughed at
myself for blushing at it when he had shut the door and got upon the
box; and we all three laughed and chatted about our inexperience and
the strangeness of London until we turned up under an archway to
our destination--
a narrow street of high houses like an oblong cistern
to hold the fog.
There was a confused little crowd of people, principally
children, gathered about the house at which we stopped, which had a
tarnished brass plate on the door with the inscription JELLYBY.


eDon't be frightened!' said Mr Guppy, looking in at the coach-window.
eOne of the young Jellybys been and got his head through the area
railings!'

eOh, poor child,' said I; elet me out, if you please!'

ePray be careful of yourself, miss. The young Jellybys are always up to
something,' said Mr Guppy.

I made my way to the poor child, who was
one of the dirtiest little
unfortunates I ever saw
, and found him very hot and frightened and
crying loudly, fixed by the neck between two iron railings, while
a
milkman and a beadle, with the kindest intentions possible, were
endeavouring to drag him back by the legs, under a general impres-
sion that his skull was compressible by those means.
As I found
(after pacifying him) that he was a little boy with a naturally large
head, I thought that perhaps where his head could go, his body
could follow, and mentioned that the best mode of extrication might
be to push him forward. This was so favourably received by the
milkman and beadle that he would immediately have been pushed
into the area if I had not held his pinafore while Richard and Mr
Guppy ran down through the kitchen to catch him when he should be
released. At last he was happily got down without any accident, and
then he began to beat Mr Guppy with a hoop-stick in quite a frantic
manner.


Nobody had appeared belonging to the house except a person in
pattens, who had been poking at the child from below with a broom; I
don't know with what object, and I don't think she did. I therefore
supposed that Mrs Jellyby was not at home, and was quite surprised
when the person appeared in the passage without the pattens, and
going up to the back room on the first floor before Ada and me,
announced us as, eThem two young ladies, Missis Jellyby!'
We passed
several more children on the way up, whom it was difficult to avoid
treading on in the dark; and as we came into Mrs Jellyby's presence,
one of the poor little things fell downstairs--down a whole flight (as it
sounded to me), with a great noise.

Mrs Jellyby, whose face reflected none of the uneasiness which we
could not help showing in our own faces as the dear child's head
recorded its passage with a bump on every stair--Richard afterwards
said he counted seven, besides one for the landing--received us with
perfect equanimity. She was a pretty, very diminutive, plump woman
of from forty to fifty, with handsome eyes, though they had a curious
habit of seeming to look a long way off. As if--I am quoting Richard
again--they could see nothing nearer than Africa!


eI am very glad indeed,' said Mrs Jellyby in an agreeable voice, eto have
the pleasure of receiving you. I have a great respect for Mr Jarndyce,
and no one in whom he is interested can be an object of indifference
to me.'


We expressed our acknowledgments and sat down behind the door,
where there was a lame invalid of a sofa.
Mrs Jellyby had very good
hair but was too much occupied with her African duties to brush it.
The shawl in which she had been loosely muffled dropped onto her
chair when she advanced to us; and as she turned to resume her seat,
we could not help noticing that her dress didn't nearly meet up the
back and that the open space was railed across with a lattice-work of
stay-lace--like a summer-house.

The room, which was strewn with papers and nearly filled by a great
writing-table covered with similar litter, was, I must say,
not only ve-
ry untidy but very dirty. We were obliged to take notice of that with our
sense of sight, even while, with our sense of hearing, we followed the
poor child who had tumbled downstairs: I think into the back kitchen,
where somebody seemed to stifle him.

But what principally struck us was a jaded and unhealthy-looking
though by no means plain girl at the writing-table, who sat biting the
feather of her pen and staring at us. I suppose nobody ever was in
such a state of ink. And from her tumbled hair to her pretty feet,
which were disfigured with frayed and broken satin slippers trodden
down at heel, she really seemed to have no article of dress upon her,
from a pin upwards, that was in its proper condition or its right place.


eYou find me, my dears,' said Mrs Jellyby, snuffing the two great office
candles in tin candlesticks, which made the room taste strongly of hot
tallow (the fire had gone out, and there was nothing in the grate but
ashes, a bundle of wood, and a poker), eyou find me, my dears, as
usual, very busy; but that you will excuse. The African project at
present employs my whole time. It involves me in correspondence with
public bodies and with private individuals anxious for the welfare of
their species all over the country. I am happy to say it is advancing.
We hope by this time next year to have from a hundred and fifty to
two hundred healthy families cultivating coffee and educating the
natives of Borrioboola-Gha, on the left bank of the Niger.'

As Ada said nothing, but looked at me, I said it must be very
gratifying.

eIt is gratifying,' said Mrs Jellyby. eIt involves the devotion of all my
energies, such as they are; but that is nothing, so that it succeeds;
and I am more confident of success every day. Do you know, Miss
Summerson, I almost wonder that YOU never turned your thoughts to
Africa.'


This application of the subject was really so unexpected to me that I
was quite at a loss how to receive it. I hinted that the climate--

eThe finest climate in the world!' said Mrs Jellyby.

eIndeed, ma'am?'

eCertainly. With precaution,' said Mrs Jellyby. eYou may go into
Holborn, without precaution, and be run over. You may go into
Holborn, with precaution, and never be run over. Just so with Africa.'


I said, eNo doubt.' I meant as to Holborn.

eIf you would like,' said Mrs Jellyby, putting a number of papers to-
wards us, eto look over some remarks on that head, and on the gen-
eral subject, which have been extensively circulated, while I finish
a letter I am now dictating to my eldest daughter, who is my amanu-
ensis--'

The girl at the table left off biting her pen and made a return to our
recognition, which was half bashful and half sulky.

e--I shall then have finished for the present,' proceeded Mrs Jellyby
with a sweet smile, ethough my work is never done. Where are you,
Caddy?'

e'Presents her compliments to Mr Swallow, and begs--'e said Caddy.

e'And begs,'e said Mrs Jellyby, dictating, e'to inform him, in reference
to his letter of inquiry on the African project--' No, Peepy! Not on
my account!'

Peepy (so self-named) was the unfortunate child who had fallen
downstairs, who now interrupted the correspondence by presenting
himself, with a strip of plaster on his forehead, to exhibit his wounded
knees, in which Ada and I did not know which to pity most--the
bruises or the dirt. Mrs Jellyby merely added, with the serene
composure with which she said everything, eGo along, you naughty
Peepy!' and fixed her fine eyes on Africa again.

However, as she at once proceeded with her dictation, and as I
interrupted nothing by doing it, I ventured quietly to stop poor Peepy
as he was going out and to take him up to nurse. He looked very
much astonished at it and at Ada's kissing him, but soon fell fast
asleep in my arms, sobbing at longer and longer intervals, until he
was quiet. I was so occupied with Peepy that I lost the letter in detail,
though I derived such a general impression from it of the momentous
importance of Africa, and the utter insignificance of all other places
and things, that I felt quite ashamed to have thought so little about it.

eSix o'clock!' said Mrs Jellyby. eAnd our dinner hour is nominally (for
we dine at all hours) five! Caddy, show Miss Clare and Miss
Summerson their rooms. You will like to make some change, perhaps?
You will excuse me, I know, being so much occupied. Oh, that very
bad child! Pray put him down, Miss Summerson!'

I begged permission to retain him, truly saying that he was not at all
troublesome, and carried him upstairs and laid him on my bed. Ada
and I had two upper rooms with a door of communication between.
They were excessively bare and disorderly, and the curtain to my
window was fastened up with a fork.

eYou would like some hot water, wouldn't you?' said Miss Jellyby,
looking round for a jug with a handle to it, but looking in vain.

eIf it is not being troublesome,' said we.

eOh, it's not the trouble,' returned Miss Jellyby; ethe question is, if
there IS any.'

The evening was so very cold and the rooms had such a marshy smell
that I must confess it was a little miserable,
and Ada was half crying.
We soon laughed, however, and were busily unpacking when Miss
Jellyby came back to say that she was sorry there was no hot water,
but they couldn't find the kettle, and the boiler was out of order.

We begged her not to mention it and made all the haste we could to
get down to the fire again. But all the little children had come up to
the landing outside to look at the phenomenon of Peepy lying on my
bed, and
our attention was distracted by the constant apparition of
noses and fingers in situations of danger between the hinges of the
doors.
It was impossible to shut the door of either room, for my lock,
with no knob to it, looked as if it wanted to be wound up; and though
the handle of Ada's went round and round with the greatest smooth-
ness, it was attended with no effect whatever on the door. Therefore
I proposed to the children that they should come in and be very good
at my table, and I would tell them the story of Little Red Riding Hood
while I dressed; which they did, and were as quiet as mice, including
Peepy, who awoke opportunely before the appearance of the wolf.


When we went downstairs we found a mug with eA Present from
Tunbridge Wells' on it lighted up in the staircase window with a
floating wick, and
a young woman, with a swelled face bound up in a
flannel bandage blowing the fire of the drawing-room (now connected
by an open door with Mrs Jellyby's room) and choking dreadfully. It
smoked to that degree, in short, that we all sat coughing and crying
with the windows open for half an hour, during which Mrs Jellyby,
with the same sweetness of temper, directed letters about Africa
. Her
being so employed was, I must say, a great relief to me, for Richard
told us that he had washed his hands in a pie-dish and that they had
found the kettle on his dressing-table, and he made Ada laugh so that
they made me laugh in the most ridiculous manner.


Soon after seven o'clock we went down to dinner, carefully, by Mrs
Jellyby's advice, for the stair-carpets, besides being very deficient in
stair-wires, were so torn as to be absolute traps.
We had a fine cod-
fish, a piece of roast beef, a dish of cutlets, and a pudding; an excel-
lent dinner, if it had had any cooking to speak of, but it was almost
raw. The young woman with the flannel bandage waited, and dropped
everything on the table wherever it happened to go
, and never moved
it again until she put it on the stairs. The person I had seen in pattens,
who I suppose to have been the cook, frequently came and skirmished
with her at the door, and there appeared to be ill will between them.


All through dinner--which was long, in consequence of such acci-
dents as the dish of potatoes being mislaid in the coal skuttle and the
handle of the corkscrew coming off and striking the young woman in
the chin
--Mrs Jellyby preserved the evenness of her disposition. She
told us a great deal that was interesting about Borrioboola-Gha and
the natives, and
received so many letters that Richard, who sat by
her, saw four envelopes in the gravy at once.
Some of the letters were
proceedings of ladies' committees or resolutions of ladies' meetings,
which she read to us; others were applications from people excited in
various ways about the cultivation of coffee, and natives; others
required answers, and these she sent her eldest daughter from the
table three or four times to write. She was full of business and
undoubtedly was, as she had told us, devoted to the cause.


I was a little curious to know who a mild bald gentleman in spectacles
was, who dropped into a vacant chair (there was no top or bottom in
particular)
after the fish was taken away and seemed passively to
submit himself to Borrioboola-Gha
but not to be actively interested
in that settlement. As he never spoke a word, he might have been a
native but for his complexion. It was not until we left the table and
he remained alone with Richard that the possibility of his being Mr
Jellyby ever entered my head. But he was Mr Jellyby; and a loqua-
cious young man called Mr Quale, with large shining knobs for temp-
les and his hair all brushed to the back of his head, who came in
the evening, and told Ada he was a philanthropist, also informed her
that
he called the matrimonial alliance of Mrs Jellyby with Mr Jellyby
the union of mind and matter.


This young man, besides having a great deal to say for himself about
Africa and a project of his for teaching the coffee colonists to teach
the natives to turn piano-forte legs and establish an export trade,
delighted in drawing Mrs Jellyby out by saving, eI believe now, Mrs
Jellyby, you have received as many as from one hundred and fifty to
two hundred letters respecting Africa in a single day, have you not?'
or, eIf my memory does not deceive me, Mrs Jellyby, you once men-
tioned that you had sent off five thousand circulars from one post-
office at one time?'--always repeating Mrs Jellyby's answer to us
like an interpreter. During the whole evening,
Mr Jellyby sat in a
corner with his head against the wall as if he were subject to low
spirits. It seemed that he had several times opened his mouth when
alone with Richard after dinner, as if he had something on his mind,
but had always shut it again
, to Richard's extreme confusion, without
saying anything.

Mrs Jellyby, sitting in quite a nest of waste paper, drank coffee all the
evening and dictated at intervals to her eldest daughter. She also held
a discussion with Mr Quale, of which the subject seemed to be--if I
understood it--the brotherhood of humanity, and gave utterance to
some beautiful sentiments.
I was not so attentive an auditor as I
might have wished to be, however, for Peepy and the other children
came flocking about Ada and me in a corner of the drawing-room to
ask for another story; so we sat down among them and told them in
whispers ePuss in Boots' and I don't know what else until Mrs Jellyby,
accidentally remembering them, sent them to bed. As Peepy cried for
me to take him to bed, I carried him upstairs, where
the young woman
with the flannel bandage charged into the midst of the little family like
a dragon and overturned them into cribs.


After that I occupied myself in making our room a little tidy and in
coaxing a very cross fire that had been lighted to burn, which at last it
did, quite brightly.
On my return downstairs, I felt that Mrs Jellyby
looked down upon me rather for being so frivolous, and I was sorry for
it, though at the same time I knew that I had no higher pretensions.

It was nearly midnight before we found an opportunity of going to bed,
and even then we left Mrs Jellyby among her papers drinking coffee
and Miss Jellyby biting the feather of her pen.

eWhat a strange house!' said Ada when we got upstairs. eHow curious
of my cousin Jarndyce to send us here!'

eMy love,' said I, eit quite confuses me. I want to understand it, and I
can't understand it at all.'

eWhat?' asked Ada with her pretty smile.

eAll this, my dear,' said I. eIt must be very good of Mrs Jellyby to take
such pains about a scheme for the benefit of natives--and yet--Peepy
and the housekeeping!'

Ada laughed and put her arm about my neck as I stood looking at the
fire, and told me I was a quiet, dear, good creature and had won her
heart. eYou are so thoughtful, Esther,' she said, eand yet so cheerful!
And you do so much, so unpretendingly! You would make a home out
of even this house.'

My simple darling! She was quite unconscious that she only praised
herself and that it was in the goodness of her own heart that she
made so much of me!


eMay I ask you a question?' said I when we had sat before the fire a
little while.

eFive hundred,' said Ada.

eYour cousin, Mr Jarndyce. I owe so much to him. Would you mind
describing him to me?'

Shaking her golden hair, Ada turned her eyes upon me with such
laughing wonder that I was full of wonder too, partly at her beauty,
partly at her surprise.

eEsther!' she cried.

eMy dear!'

eYou want a description of my cousin Jarndyce?'

eMy dear, I never saw him.'

eAnd I never saw him!' returned Ada.


Well, to be sure!

No, she had never seen him. Young as she was when her mama died,
she remembered how the tears would come into her eyes when she
spoke of him and of the noble generosity of his character, which she
had said was to be trusted above all earthly things; and Ada trusted it.
Her cousin Jarndyce had written to her a few months ago--'a plain,
honest letter,' Ada said--proposing the arrangement we were now to
enter on and telling her that ein time it might heal some of the wounds
made by the miserable Chancery suit.' She had replied, gratefully
accepting his proposal. Richard had received a similar letter and had
made a similar response.
He had seen Mr Jarndyce once, but only
once, five years ago, at Winchester school. He had told Ada, when they
were leaning on the screen before the fire where I found them, that he
recollected him as
ea bluff, rosy fellow.' This was the utmost
description Ada could give me.

It set me thinking so that when Ada was asleep, I still remained before
the fire, wondering and wondering about Bleak House, and wondering
and wondering that yesterday morning should seem so long ago. I
don't know where my thoughts had wandered when they were recalled
by a tap at the door.

I opened it softly and found Miss Jellyby shivering there with a broken
candle in a broken candlestick in one hand and an egg-cup in the
other. eGood night!' she said very sulkily.

eGood night!' said I.

eMay I come in?' she shortly and unexpectedly asked me in the same
sulky way.

eCertainly,' said I. eDon't wake Miss Clare.'

She would not sit down, but stood by the fire dipping her inky middle
finger in the egg-cup, which contained vinegar, and smearing it over
the ink stains on her face, frowning the whole time and looking very
gloomy.

eI wish Africa was dead!' she said on a sudden
.

I was going to remonstrate.

eI do!' she said eDon't talk to me, Miss Summerson.
I hate it and detest
it. It's a beast!'


I told her she was tired, and I was sorry. I put my hand upon her
head, and touched her forehead, and said it was hot now but would
be cool tomorrow. She still stood pouting and frowning at me, but
presently put down her egg-cup and turned softly towards the bed
where Ada lay.

eShe is very pretty!' she said with the same knitted brow and in the
same uncivil manner.


I assented with a smile.

eAn orphan. Ain't she?'

eYes.'

eBut knows a quantity, I suppose? Can dance, and play music, and
sing? She can talk French, I suppose, and do geography, and globes,
and needlework, and everything?'


eNo doubt,' said I.

eI can't,' she returned. eI can't do anything hardly, except write. I'm
always writing for Ma. I wonder you two were not ashamed of your-
selves to come in this afternoon and see me able to do nothing else.
It was like your ill nature. Yet you think yourselves very fine, I dare
say!'

I could see that the poor girl was near crying, and I resumed my chair
without speaking and looked at her (I hope) as mildly as I felt towards
her.

eIt's disgraceful,' she said. eYou know it is. The whole house is
disgraceful. The children are disgraceful. I'M disgraceful. Pa's
miserable, and no wonder! Priscilla drinks--she's always drinking. It's
a great shame and a great story of you if you say you didn't smell her
to-day. It was as bad as a public-house, waiting at dinner; you know it
was!'


eMy dear, I don't know it,' said I.

eYou do,' she said very shortly. eYou shan't say you don't. You do!'

eOh, my dear!' said I. eIf you won't let me speak--'

eYou're speaking now. You know you are. Don't tell stories, Miss
Summerson.'

eMy dear,' said I, eas long as you won't hear me out--'

eI don't want to hear you out.'

eOh, yes, I think you do,' said I, ebecause that would be so very
unreasonable. I did not know what you tell me because the servant
did not come near me at dinner; but I don't doubt what you tell me,
and I am sorry to hear it.'

eYou needn't make a merit of that,' said she.

eNo, my dear,' said I. eThat would be very foolish.'

She was still standing by the bed, and now stooped down (but still
with the same discontented face) and kissed Ada. That done, she came
softly back and stood by the side of my chair. Her bosom was heaving
in a distressful manner that I greatly pitied
, but I thought it better not
to speak.

eI wish I was dead!' she broke out. eI wish we were all dead. It would be
a great deal better for us.'

In a moment afterwards, she knelt on the ground at my side, hid her
face in my dress, passionately begged my pardon, and wept. I com-
forted her and would have raised her, but she cried no, no; she
wanted to stay there!

eYou used to teach girls,' she said, eIf you could only have taught me,
I could have learnt from you! I am so very miserable, and I like you so
much!'

I could not persuade her to sit by me or to do anything but move a
ragged stool to where she was kneeling, and take that, and still hold
my dress in the same manner. By degrees the poor tired girl fell a-
sleep, and then I contrived to raise her head so that it should rest on
my lap, and to cover us both with shawls. The fire went out, and all
night long she slumbered thus before the ashy grate. At first I was
painfully awake and vainly tried to lose myself, with my eyes closed,
among the scenes of the day. At length, by slow degrees, they became
indistinct and mingled. I began to lose the identity of the sleeper
resting on me. Now it was Ada, now one of my old Reading friends
from whom I could not believe I had so recently parted. Now it was the
little mad woman worn out with curtsying and smiling, now some one
in authority at Bleak House. Lastly, it was no one, and I was no one.

The purblind day was feebly struggling with the fog when I opened my
eyes to encounter those of a dirty-faced little spectre fixed upon me.
Peepy had scaled his crib, and crept down in his bed-gown and cap,
and was so cold that his teeth were chattering as if he had cut them
all.




Chapter V--A Morning Adventure



Although the morning was raw, and although the fog still seemed
heavy--I say seemed, for
the windows were so encrusted with dirt that
they would have made midsummer sunshine dim
--I was sufficiently
forewarned of the discomfort within doors at that early hour and
sufficiently curious about London to think it a good idea on the part of
Miss Jellyby when she proposed that we should go out for a walk.


eMa won't be down for ever so long,' she said, eand then it's a chance
if breakfast's ready for an hour afterwards, they dawdle so. As to Pa, he
gets what he can and goes to the office.
He never has what you would
call a regular breakfast. Priscilla leaves him out the loaf and some
milk, when there is any, overnight. Sometimes there isn't any milk,
and sometimes the cat drinks it. But I'm afraid you must be tired,
Miss Summerson, and perhaps you would rather go to bed.'

eI am not at all tired, my dear,' said I, eand would much prefer to go
out.'

eIf you're sure you would,' returned Miss Jellyby, eI'll get my things on.'

Ada said she would go too, and was soon astir. I made a proposal to
Peepy, in default of being able to do anything better for him, that he
should
let me wash him and afterwards lay him down on my bed
again. To this he submitted with the best grace possible, staring at me
during the whole operation as if he never had been, and never could
again be, so astonished in his life
--looking very miserable also, cer-
tainly, but making no complaint, and going snugly to sleep as soon
as it was over. At first I was in two minds about taking such a liberty,
but I soon reflected that nobody in the house was likely to notice it.

What with the bustle of dispatching Peepy and the bustle of getting
myself ready and helping Ada, I was soon quite in a glow.
We found
Miss Jellyby trying to warm herself at the fire in the writing-room,
which Priscilla was then
lighting with a smutty parlour candlestick,
throwing the candle in to make it burn better.
Everything was just as
we had left it last night and was evidently intended to remain so.
Below-stairs the dinner-cloth had not been taken away, but had been

left ready for breakfast. Crumbs, dust, and waste-paper were all over
the house. Some pewter pots and a milk-can hung on the area
railings; the door stood open; and we met the cook round the corner
coming out of a public-house, wiping her mouth. She mentioned, as
she passed us, that she had been to see what o'clock it was.


But before we met the cook, we met Richard, who was dancing up
and down Thavies Inn to warm his feet. He was agreeably surprised
to see us stirring so soon and said he would gladly share our walk.
So he took care of Ada, and Miss Jellyby and I went first. I may
mention that Miss Jellyby had relapsed into her sulky manner and
that I really should not have thought she liked me much unless she
had told me so.


eWhere would you wish to go?' she asked.

eAnywhere, my dear,' I replied.

eAnywhere's nowhere,' said Miss Jellyby, stopping perversely.

eLet us go somewhere at any rate,' said I.

She then walked me on very fast.

eI don't care!' she said. eNow, you are my witness, Miss Summerson, I
say I don't care--but
if he was to come to our house with his great,
shining, lumpy forehead night after night till he was as old as
Methuselah, I wouldn't have anything to say to him.
Such ASSES as
he and Ma make of themselves!'

eMy dear!' I remonstrated, in allusion to the epithet and the vigorous
emphasis Miss Jellyby set upon it. eYour duty as a child--'

eOh! Don't talk of duty as a child, Miss Summerson; where's Ma's duty
as a parent? All made over to the public and Africa, I suppose! Then
let the public and Africa show duty as a child; it's much more their
affair than mine. You are shocked, I dare say! Very well, so am I
shocked too; so we are both shocked, and there's an end of it!'

She walked me on faster yet.

eBut for all that, I say again, he may come, and come, and come, and I
won't have anything to say to him.
I can't bear him. If there's any stuff
in the world that I hate and detest, it's the stuff he and Ma talk. I
wonder the very paving-stones opposite our house can have the
patience to stay there and be a witness of such inconsistencies and
contradictions as all that sounding nonsense, and Ma's management!'


I could not but understand her to refer to Mr Quale, the young
gentleman who had appeared after dinner yesterday. I was saved the
disagreeable necessity of pursuing the subject by Richard and Ada
coming up at a round pace, laughing and asking us if we meant to
run a race. Thus interrupted, Miss Jellyby became silent and walked
moodily on at my side while I admired the long successions and var-
ieties of streets, the quantity of people already going to and fro, the
number of vehicles passing and repassing, the busy preparations in the
setting forth of shop windows and the sweeping out of shops, and
the
extraordinary creatures in rags secretly groping among the sweptout
rubbish for pins and other refuse.

eSo, cousin,' said the cheerful voice of Richard to Ada behind me. eWe
are never to get out of Chancery! We have come by another way to our
place of meeting yesterday, and--by the Great Seal, here's the old lady
again!'

Truly, there she was, immediately in front of us, curtsying, and smiling,
and saying with her yesterday's air of patronage, eThe wards in Jarn-
dyce! Ve-ry happy, I am sure!'

eYou are out early, ma'am,' said I as she curtsied to me.

eYe-es! I usually walk here early. Before the court sits. It's retired. I
collect my thoughts here for the business of the day,' said the old lady
mincingly. eThe business of the day requires a great deal of thought.
Chancery justice is so ve-ry difficult to follow.'

eWho's this, Miss Summerson?' whispered Miss Jellyby, drawing my
arm tighter through her own.

The little old lady's hearing was remarkably quick. She answered for
herself directly.

eA suitor, my child. At your service. I have the honour to attend court
regularly. With my documents. Have I the pleasure of addressing ano-
ther of the youthful parties in Jarndyce?' said the old lady, recovering
herself, with her head on one side, from a very low curtsy.

Richard, anxious to atone for his thoughtlessness of yesterday, good-
naturedly explained that Miss Jellyby was not connected with the suit.
eHa!' said the old lady. eShe does not expect a judgment? She will still
grow old. But not so old. Oh, dear, no! This is the garden of Lincoln's
Inn. I call it my garden. It is quite a bower in the summer-time. Where
the birds sing melodiously. I pass the greater part of the long vacation
here. In contemplation.
You find the long vacation exceedingly long,
don't you?'

We said yes, as she seemed to expect us to say so.

eWhen the leaves are falling from the trees and there are no more
flowers in bloom to make up into nosegays for the Lord Chancellor's
court,' said the old lady, ethe vacation is fulfilled and the sixth seal,
mentioned in the Revelations, again prevails.
Pray come and see my
lodging. It will be a good omen for me. Youth, and hope, and beauty
are very seldom there. It is a long, long time since I had a visit from
either.'

She had taken my hand, and leading me and Miss Jellyby away, beck-
oned Richard and Ada to come too. I did not know how to excuse
myself and looked to Richard for aid. As he was half amused and half
curious and all in doubt how to get rid of the old lady without offence,
she continued to lead us away, and he and Ada continued to follow,
our strange conductress informing us all the time, with much smiling
condescension, that she lived close by.

It was quite true, as it soon appeared. She lived so close by that we
had not time to have done humouring her for a few moments before
she was at home. Slipping us out at a little side gate, the old lady
stopped most unexpectedly in a narrow back street, part of some
courts and lanes immediately outside the wall of the inn, and said,
eThis is my lodging. Pray walk up!'


She had stopped at a shop over which was written KROOK, RAG AND
BOTTLE WAREHOUSE. Also, in long thin letters, KROOK, DEALER IN
MARINE STORES. In one part of the window was a picture of a red
paper mill at which a cart was unloading a quantity of sacks of old
rags. In another was the inscription BONES BOUGHT. In another,
KITCHEN-STUFF BOUGHT. In another, OLD IRON BOUGHT. In
another, WASTE-PAPER BOUGHT. In another, LADIES' AND
GENTLEMEN'S WARDROBES BOUGHT.
Everything seemed to be
bought and nothing to be sold
there. In all parts of the window were
quantities of dirty bottles--blacking bottles, medicine bottles, ginger-
beer and soda-water bottles, pickle bottles, wine bottles, ink bottles;
I am reminded by mentioning the latter that the shop had in several
little particulars the air of being in a legal neighbourhood and of
being, as it were, a dirty hanger-on and disowned relation of the law.
There were a great many ink bottles. There was a little tottering bench
of shabby old volumes outside the door, labelled eLaw Books, all at 9d.'

Some of the inscriptions I have enumerated were written in law-hand,
like the papers I had seen in Kenge and Carboy's office and the letters
I had so long received from the firm. Among them was one, in the
same writing, having nothing to do with the business of the shop, but
announcing that a respectable man aged forty-five wanted engrossing
or copying to execute with neatness and dispatch: Address to Nemo,
care of Mr Krook, within. There were several second-hand bags, blue
and red, hanging up.
A little way within the shop-door lay heaps of old
crackled parchment scrolls and discoloured and dog's-eared lawpapers.
I could have fancied that all the rusty keys, of which there must have
been hundreds huddled together as old iron, had once belonged to
doors of rooms or strong chests in lawyers' offices. The litter of rags
tumbled partly into and partly out of a one-legged wooden scale, hang-
ing without any counterpoise from a beam, might have been counsel-
lors' bands and gowns torn up. One had only to fancy, as Richard
whispered to Ada and me while we all stood looking in, that yonder
bones in a corner, piled together and picked very clean, were the
bones of clients, to make the picture complete.


As it was still foggy and dark, and as the shop was blinded besides by
the wall of Lincoln's Inn, intercepting the light within a couple of
yards, we should not have seen so much but for a lighted lantern that
an old man in spectacles and a hairy cap was carrying about in the
shop. Turning towards the door, he now caught sight of us.
He was
short, cadaverous, and withered, with his head sunk sideways between
his shoulders and the breath issuing in visible smoke from his mouth
as if he were on fire within. His throat, chin, and eyebrows were so
frosted with white hairs and so gnarled with veins and puckered skin
that he looked from his breast upward like some old root in a fall of
snow.


eHi, hi!' said the old man, coming to the door. eHave you anything to
sell?'

We naturally drew back and glanced at our conductress, who had been
trying to open the house-door with a key she had taken from her poc-
ket, and to whom Richard now said that as we had had the pleasure
of seeing where she lived, we would leave her, being pressed for time.
But she was not to be so easily left.
She became so fantastically and
pressingly earnest in her entreaties that we would walk up and see her
apartment for an instant, and was so bent, in her harmless way, on lead-
ing me in, as part of the good omen she desired
, that I (whatever the
others might do) saw nothing for it but to comply. I suppose we were
all more or less curious; at any rate, when the old man added his per-
suasions to hers and said, eAye, aye! Please her! It won't take a min-
ute! Come in, come in! Come in through the shop if t'other door's out
of order!' we all went in, stimulated by Richard's laughing encourage-
ment and relying on his protection.


eMy landlord, Krook,' said the little old lady, condescending to him
from her lofty station
as she presented him to us. eHe is called among
the neighbours the Lord Chancellor. His shop is called the Court of
Chancery.
He is a very eccentric person. He is very odd. Oh, I assure
you he is very odd!'

She shook her head a great many times and tapped her forehead with
her finger to express to us that we must have the goodness to excuse
him, eFor he is a little--you know--M!' said the old lady with great
stateliness.
The old man overheard, and laughed.

eIt's true enough,' he said, going before us with the lantern, ethat they
call me the Lord Chancellor and call my shop Chancery. And why do
you think they call me the Lord Chancellor and my shop Chancery?'

eI don't know, I am sure!' said Richard rather carelessly.

eYou see,' said the old man, stopping and turning round, ethey--Hi!
Here's lovely hair! I have got three sacks of ladies' hair below, but
none so beautiful and fine as this. What colour, and what texture!'

eThat'll do, my good friend!' said Richard, strongly disapproving of his
having drawn one of Ada's tresses through his yellow hand. eYou can
admire as the rest of us do without taking that liberty.'


The old man darted at him a sudden look which even called my
attention from
Ada, who, startled and blushing, was so remarkably
beautiful that she seemed to fix the wandering attention of the little
old lady herself. But as Ada interposed and laughingly said she could
only feel proud of such genuine admiration, Mr Krook shrunk into his
former self as suddenly as he had leaped out of it.


eYou see, I have so many things here,' he resumed, holding up the
lantern, eof so many kinds, and all as the neighbours think (but they
know nothing),
wasting away and going to rack and ruin, that that's
why they have given me and my place a christening. And
I have so
many old parchmentses and papers in my stock. And I have a liking
for rust and must and cobwebs. And all's fish that comes to my net.
And I can't abear
to part with anything I once lay hold of (or so my
neighbours think, but what do they know?) or to alter anything, or
to
have any sweeping, nor scouring, nor cleaning, nor repairing
going on
about me. That's the way I've got the ill name of Chancery. I don't
mind. I go to see my noble and learned brother pretty well every day,
when he sits in the Inn. He don't notice me, but I notice him.
There's
no great odds betwixt us. We both grub on in a muddle.
Hi, Lady Jane!'

A large grey cat leaped from some neighbouring shelf on his shoulder
and startled us all.


eHi! Show 'em how you scratch. Hi! Tear, my lady!' said her master.

The cat leaped down and ripped at a bundle of rags with her tigerish
claws, with a sound that it set my teeth on edge to hear.


eShe'd do as much for any one I was to set her on,' said the old man. eI
deal in cat-skins among other general matters, and hers was offered to
me. It's a very fine skin, as you may see, but I didn't have it stripped
off! That warn't like Chancery practice though, says you!'

He had by this time led us across the shop, and now opened a door in
the back part of it, leading to the house-entry. As he stood with his
hand upon the lock, the little old lady graciously observed to him
before passing out, eThat will do, Krook. You mean well, but are
tiresome. My young friends are pressed for time. I have none to spare
myself,
having to attend court very soon. My young friends are the
wards in Jarndyce.'

eJarndyce!' said the old man with a start.

eJarndyce and Jarndyce. The great suit, Krook,' returned his lodger.

eHi!' exclaimed the old man in a tone of thoughtful amazement and
with a wider stare than before. eThink of it!'

He seemed so rapt all in a moment and looked so curiously at us that
Richard said, eWhy, you appear to trouble yourself a good deal about
the causes before your noble and learned brother, the other
Chancellor!'

eYes,' said the old man abstractedly. eSure! YOUR name now will be--'

eRichard Carstone.'

eCarstone,' he repeated, slowly checking off that name upon his
forefinger; and each of the others he went on to mention upon a
separate finger. eYes. There was the name of Barbary, and the name of
Clare, and the name of Dedlock, too, I think.'

eHe knows as much of the cause as the real salaried Chancellor!' said
Richard, quite astonished, to Ada and me.

eAye!' said the old man, coming slowly out of his abstraction. eYes! Tom
Jarndyce--you'll excuse me, being related; but he was never known
about court by any other name, and was as well known there as--she
is now,' nodding slightly at his lodger. eTom Jarndyce was often in
here. He got into a restless habit of strolling about when the cause
was on, or expected, talking to the little shopkeepers and telling 'em to
keep out of Chancery, whatever they did.
'For,' says he, 'it's being
ground to bits in a slow mill; it's being roasted at a slow fire; it's being
stung to death by single bees; it's being drowned by drops; it's going
mad by grains.'
He was as near making away with himself, just where
the young lady stands, as near could be.'

We listened with horror.


eHe come in at the door,' said the old man, slowly pointing an imagi-
nary track along the shop, eon the day he did it--the whole neighb-
ourhood had said for months before that he would do it, of a
certainty sooner or later--he come in at the door that day, and walked
along there, and sat himself on a bench that stood there, and asked
me (you'll judge I was a mortal sight younger then) to fetch him a pint
of wine. 'For,' says he, 'Krook, I am much depressed; my cause is on
again, and I think I'm nearer judgment than I ever was.' I hadn't a
mind to leave him alone; and I persuaded him to go to the tavern over
the way there, t'other side my lane (I mean Chancery Lane); and I
followed and looked in at the window, and saw him, comfortable as I
thought, in the arm-chair by the fire, and company with him. I hadn't
hardly got back here when I heard a shot go echoing and rattling right
away into the inn. I ran out--neighbours ran out--twenty of us cried at
once, 'Tom Jarndyce!'e

The old man stopped, looked hard at us, looked down into the lantern,
blew the light out, and shut the lantern up.

eWe were right, I needn't tell the present hearers. Hi! To be sure, how
the neighbourhood poured into court that afternoon while the cause
was on!
How my noble and learned brother, and all the rest of 'em,
grubbed and muddled away as usual
and tried to look as if they
hadn't heard a word of the last fact in the case or as if they had--Oh,
dear me!--nothing at all to do with it if they had heard of it by any
chance!'


Ada's colour had entirely left her, and Richard was scarcely less pale.
Nor could I wonder, judging even from my emotions, and I was no
party in the suit, that to hearts so untried and fresh it was a shock to
come into the inheritance of a protracted misery, attended in the
minds of many people with such dreadful recollections.
I had another
uneasiness, in the application of the painful story to the poor halfwitted
creature who had brought us there; but, to my surprise, she
seemed perfectly unconscious of that and only led the way upstairs
again, informing us with the toleration of a superior creature for the
infirmities of a common mortal that her landlord was ea little M, you
know!'

She lived at the top of the house, in a pretty large room, from which
she had a glimpse of Lincoln's Inn Hall. This seemed to have been her
principal inducement, originally, for taking up her residence there.

She could look at it, she said, in the night, especially in the
moonshine. Her room was clean, but very, very bare. I noticed the
scantiest necessaries in the way of furniture; a few old prints from
books, of Chancellors and barristers, wafered against the wall; and
some half-dozen reticles and work-bags, econtaining documents,' as
she informed us. There were neither coals nor ashes in the grate, and
I saw no articles of clothing anywhere, nor any kind of food. Upon a
shelf in an open cupboard were a plate or two, a cup or two, and so
forth, but all dry and empty. There was a more affecting meaning in
her pinched appearance, I thought as I looked round, than I had
understood before.


eExtremely honoured, I am sure,' said our poor hostess with the
greatest suavity, eby this visit from the wards in Jarndyce. And very
much indebted for the omen. It is a retired situation. Considering. I
am limited as to situation. In consequence of the necessity of
attending on the Chancellor. I have lived here many years. I pass my
days in court, my evenings and my nights here.
I find the nights long,
for I sleep but little and think much. That is, of course, unavoidable,
being in Chancery. I am sorry I cannot offer chocolate. I expect a
judgment shortly and shall then place my establishment on a superior
footing. At present, I don't mind confessing to the wards in Jarndyce
(in strict confidence) that I sometimes find it difficult to keep up a
genteel appearance. I have felt the cold here. I have felt something
sharper than cold. It matters very little. Pray excuse the introduction
of such mean topics.'

She partly drew aside the curtain of the long, low garret window and
called our attention to a number of bird-cages hanging there, some
containing several birds. There were larks, linnets, and goldfinches--I
should think at least twenty.

eI began to keep the little creatures,' she said, ewith an object that the
wards will readily comprehend. With the intention of restoring them to
liberty. When my judgment should be given. Ye-es! They die in prison,
though. Their lives, poor silly things, are so short in comparison with
Chancery proceedings that, one by one, the whole collection has died
over and over again. I doubt, do you know, whether one of these,
though they are all young, will live to be free! Ve-ry mortifying, is it
not?'

Although she sometimes asked a question, she never seemed to expect
a reply, but rambled on as if she were in the habit of doing so when no
one but herself was present.


eIndeed,' she pursued, eI positively doubt sometimes, I do assure you,
whether while matters are still unsettled, and the sixth or Great Seal
still prevails, I may not one day be found lying stark and senseless
here, as I have found so many birds!'


Richard, answering what he saw in Ada's compassionate eyes, took
the opportunity of laying some money, softly and unobserved, on the
chimney-piece. We all drew nearer to the cages, feigning to examine
the birds.


eI can't allow them to sing much,' said the little old lady, efor (you'll
think this curious) I find my mind confused by the idea that they are
singing while I am following the arguments in court. And my mind
requires to be so very clear, you know! Another time, I'll tell you their
names. Not at present. On a day of such good omen, they shall sing as
much as they like. In honour of youth,' a smile and curtsy, ehope,' a
smile and curtsy, eand beauty,' a smile and curtsy. eThere! We'll let in
the full light.'

The birds began to stir and chirp.

eI cannot admit the air freely,' said the little old lady--the room was
close, and would have been the better for it--'because the cat you saw
downstairs, called Lady Jane, is greedy for their lives. She crouches
on the parapet outside for hours and hours. I have discovered,'
whispering mysteriously, ethat her natural cruelty is sharpened by a
jealous fear of their regaining their liberty. In consequence of the
judgment I expect being shortly given. She is sly and full of malice. I
half believe, sometimes, that she is no cat, but the wolf of the old
saying.
It is so very difficult to keep her from the door.'

Some neighbouring bells, reminding the poor soul that it was halfpast
nine, did more for us in the way of bringing our visit to an end
than we could easily have done for ourselves. She hurriedly took up
her little bag of documents,
which she had laid upon the table on
coming in, and asked if we were also going into court. On our
answering no, and that we would on no account detain her, she
opened the door to attend us downstairs.

eWith such an omen, it is even more necessary than usual that I
should be there before the Chancellor comes in,' said she, efor he
might mention my case the first thing. I have a presentiment that he
will mention it the first thing this morning.'

She stopped to tell us in a whisper as we were going down that the
whole house was filled with strange lumber which her landlord had
bought piecemeal and had no wish to sell, in consequence of being a
little M.
This was on the first floor. But she had made a previous
stoppage on the second floor and had silently pointed at a dark door
there.

eThe only other lodger,' she now whispered in explanation, ea law-
writer. The children in the lanes here say he has sold himself to the
devil. I don't know what he can have done with the money. Hush!'
She appeared to mistrust that the lodger might hear her even there,
and repeating eHush!' went before us on tiptoe as though even the
sound of her footsteps might reveal to him what she had said.


Passing through the shop on our way out, as we had passed through
it on our way in, we found the old man storing a quantity of packets of
waste-paper in a kind of well in the floor. He seemed to be working
hard, with the perspiration standing on his forehead, and had a piece
of chalk by him, with which, as he put each separate package or
bundle down, he made a crooked mark on the panelling of the wall.

Richard and Ada, and Miss Jellyby, and the little old lady had gone by
him, and I was going when he touched me on the arm to stay me, and
chalked the letter J upon the wall--in a very curious manner,

beginning with the end of the letter and shaping it backward. It was a
capital letter, not a printed one, but just such a letter as any clerk in
Messrs. Kenge and Carboy's office would have made.

eCan you read it?' he asked me with a keen glance.

eSurely,' said I. eIt's very plain.'

eWhat is it?'

eJ.'

With another glance at me, and a glance at the door, he rubbed it out
and turned an ea' in its place (not a capital letter this time), and said,
eWhat's that?'

I told him. He then rubbed that out and turned the letter er,' and
asked me the same question. He went on quickly until he had formed
in the same curious manner, beginning at the ends and bottoms of
the letters, the word Jarndyce, without once leaving two letters on the
wall together.

eWhat does that spell?' he asked me.

When I told him, he laughed. In the same odd way, yet with the same
rapidity, he then produced singly, and rubbed out singly, the letters
forming the words Bleak House. These, in some astonishment, I also
read; and he laughed again.

eHi!' said the old man, laying aside the chalk. eI have a turn for copying
from memory, you see, miss, though I can neither read nor write.'

He looked so disagreeable and his cat looked so wickedly at me, as if I
were a blood-relation of the birds upstairs, that I was quite relieved by
Richard's appearing at the door
and saying, eMiss Summerson, I hope
you are not bargaining for the sale of your hair. Don't be tempted.
Three sacks below are quite enough for Mr Krook!'

I lost no time in wishing Mr Krook good morning and joining my
friends outside, where we parted with the little old lady, who gave us
her blessing with great ceremony and renewed her assurance of
yesterday in reference to her intention of settling estates on Ada and
me. Before we finally turned out of those lanes, we looked back and
saw Mr Krook standing at his shop-door, in his spectacles, looking
after us, with his cat upon his shoulder, and her tail sticking up on
one side of his hairy cap like a tall feather.


eQuite an adventure for a morning in London!' said Richard with a
sigh. eAh, cousin, cousin, it's a weary word this Chancery!'

eIt is to me, and has been ever since I can remember,' returned Ada. eI
am grieved that I should be the enemy--as I suppose I am --of a great
number of relations and others, and that they should be my enemies--
as I suppose they are--and that we should all be ruining one another
without knowing how or why and be in constant doubt and discord all
our lives. It seems very strange, as there must be right somewhere,
that an honest judge in real earnest has not been able to find out
through all these years where it is.'

eAh, cousin!' said Richard. eStrange, indeed! All this wasteful, wanton
chess-playing is very strange. To see that composed court yesterday
jogging on so serenely and to think of the wretchedness of the pieces
on the board gave me the headache and the heartache both together.
My head ached with wondering how it happened, if men were neither
fools nor rascals; and my heart ached to think they could possibly be
either.
But at all events, Ada--I may call you Ada?'

eOf course you may, cousin Richard.'

eAt all events, Chancery will work none of its bad influences on us. We
have happily been brought together, thanks to our good kinsman, and
it can't divide us now!'

eNever, I hope, cousin Richard!' said Ada gently.

Miss Jellyby gave my arm a squeeze and me a very significant look. I
smiled in return, and we made the rest of the way back very pleasantly.

In half an hour after our arrival, Mrs Jellyby appeared; and in the
course of an hour the various things necessary for breakfast straggled
one by one into the dining-room. I do not doubt that Mrs Jellyby had
gone to bed and got up in the usual manner, but she presented no
appearance of having changed her dress. She was greatly occupied
during breakfast, for the morning's post brought a heavy correspon-
dence relative to Borrioboola-Gha, which would occasion her (she
said) to pass a busy day.
The children tumbled about, and notched
memoranda of their accidents in their legs, which were perfect little
calendars of distress;
and Peepy was lost for an hour and a half, and
brought home from Newgate market by a policeman. The equable
manner in which Mrs Jellyby sustained both his absence and his
restoration to the family circle surprised us all.

She was by that time perseveringly dictating to Caddy, and Caddy was
fast relapsing into the inky condition in which we had found her. At
one o'clock an open carriage arrived for us, and a cart for our luggage.
Mrs Jellyby charged us with many remembrances to her good friend
Mr Jarndyce; Caddy left her desk to see us depart, kissed me in the
passage, and stood biting her pen and sobbing on the steps; Peepy, I
am happy to say, was asleep and spared the pain of separation (I was
not without misgivings that he had gone to Newgate market in search
of me); and all the other children got up behind the barouche and fell
off, and we saw them, with great concern, scattered over the surface of
Thavies Inn as we rolled out of its precincts.



Chapter VI--Quite at Home



The day had brightened very much, and still brightened as we went
westward. We went our way through the sunshine and the fresh air,
wondering more and more at the extent of the streets, the brilliancy
of the shops, the great traffic, and the crowds of people whom the
pleasanter weather seemed to have brought out like many-coloured
flowers. By and by we began to leave the wonderful city and to pro-
ceed through suburbs which, of themselves, would have made a pret-
ty large town in my eyes; and at last we got into a real country road
again, with windmills, rick-yards,
1 milestones, farmers' waggons, scents
of old hay, swinging signs, and horse troughs: trees, fields, and hedge-
rows. It was delightful to see the green landscape before us and the
immense metropolis behind; and when a waggon with a train of beau-
tiful horses, furnished with red trappings and clear-sounding bells,
came by us with its music, I believe we could all three have sung
to the bells, so cheerful were the influences around.


eThe whole road has been reminding me of my namesake Whittington,'
said Richard, eand that waggon is the finishing touch. Halloa! What's
the matter?'

We had stopped, and the waggon had stopped too. Its music changed
as the horses came to a stand, and subsided to a gentle tinkling,
except when a horse tossed his head or shook himself and sprinkled
off a little shower of bell-ringing.


eOur postilion is looking after the waggoner,' said Richard, eand the
waggoner is coming back after us. Good day, friend!' The waggoner
was at our coach-door. eWhy, here's an extraordinary thing!' added
Richard, looking closely at the man. eHe has got your name, Ada, in
his hat!'

He had all our names in his hat. Tucked within the band were three
small notes--one addressed to Ada, one to Richard, one to me. These
the waggoner delivered to each of us respectively, reading the name
aloud first. In answer to Richard's inquiry from whom they came, he
briefly answered, eMaster, sir, if you please'; and putting on his hat
again (which was like a soft bowl), cracked his whip, re-awakened his
music, and went melodiously away.


eIs that Mr Jarndyce's waggon?' said Richard, calling to our post-boy.

eYes, sir,' he replied. eGoing to London.'

We opened the notes. Each was a counterpart of the other and
contained these words in a solid, plain hand.

eI look forward, my dear, to our meeting easily and without constraint
on either side. I therefore have to propose that we meet as old friends
and take the past for granted. It will be a relief to you possibly, and to
me certainly, and so my love to you.

eJohn Jarndyce'

I had perhaps less reason to be surprised than either of my compan-
ions, having never yet enjoyed an opportunity of thanking one who
had been my benefactor and sole earthly dependence through so
many years. I had not considered how I could thank him, my grati-
tude lying too deep in my heart for that; but I now began to con-
sider how I could meet him without thanking him, and felt it would
be very difficult indeed.

The notes revived in Richard and Ada a general impression that they
both had, without quite knowing how they came by it, that their
cousin Jarndyce could never bear acknowledgments for any kindness
he performed and that sooner than receive any he would resort to the
most singular expedients and evasions or would even run away. Ada
dimly remembered to have heard her mother tell, when she was a very
little child, that he had once done her an act of uncommon generosity
and that on her going to his house to thank him, he happened to see
her through a window coming to the door, and immediately escaped
by the back gate, and was not heard of for three months.
This
discourse led to a great deal more on the same theme, and indeed it
lasted us all day, and we talked of scarcely anything else. If we did by
any chance diverge into another subject, we soon returned to this,
and wondered what the house would be like, and when we should get
there, and whether we should see Mr Jarndyce as soon as we arrived
or after a delay, and what he would say to us, and what we should say
to him. All of which we wondered about, over and over again.

The roads were very heavy for the horses, but the pathway was
generally good, so we alighted and walked up all the hills, and liked it
so well that we prolonged our walk on the level ground when we got to
the top.
At Barnet there were other horses waiting for us, but as they
had only just been fed, we had to wait for them too, and got a long
fresh walk over a common and an old battlefield before the carriage
came up. These delays so protracted the journey that the short day
was spent and the long night had closed in before we came to St.
Albans, near to which town Bleak House was, we knew.

By that time we were so anxious and nervous that even Richard con-
fessed, as we rattled over the stones of the old street, to feeling an
irrational desire to drive back again. As to Ada and me, whom he had
wrapped up with great care, the night being sharp and frosty, we
trembled from head to foot. When we turned out of the town, round a
corner, and Richard told us that the post-boy, who had for a long time
sympathized with our heightened expectation, was looking back and
nodding, we both stood up in the carriage (Richard holding Ada lest
she should be jolted down) and gazed round upon the open country
and the starlight night for our destination. There was a light sparkling
on the top of a hill before us, and the driver, pointing to it with his
whip and crying, eThat's Bleak House!' put his horses into a canter
and took us forward at such a rate, uphill though it was, that the
wheels sent the road drift flying about our heads like spray from a
water-mill. Presently we lost the light, presently saw it, presently lost
it, presently saw it, and turned into an avenue of trees and cantered
up towards where it was beaming brightly. It was in a window of what
seemed to be an old-fashioned house with three peaks in the roof in
front and a circular sweep leading to the porch.
A bell was rung as we
drew up, and amidst the sound of its deep voice in the still air, and
the distant barking of some dogs, and a gush of light from the opened
door, and the smoking and steaming of the heated horses, and the
quickened beating of our own hearts, we alighted in no inconsiderable
confusion.


eAda, my love, Esther, my dear, you are welcome. I rejoice to see you!
Rick, if I had a hand to spare at present, I would give it you!'

The gentleman who said these words in a clear, bright, hospitable
voice had one of his arms round Ada's waist and the other round
mine, and kissed us both in a fatherly way, and bore us across the
hall into a ruddy little room, all in a glow with a blazing fire. Here he
kissed us again, and opening his arms, made us sit down side by side
on a sofa ready drawn out near the hearth. I felt that if we had been at
all demonstrative, he would have run away in a moment.

eNow, Rick!' said he. eI have a hand at liberty. A word in earnest is as
good as a speech. I am heartily glad to see you. You are at home.
Warm yourself!'


Richard shook him by both hands with an intuitive mixture of respect
and frankness, and only saying (though with an earnestness that
rather alarmed me, I was so afraid of Mr Jarndyce's suddenly
disappearing), eYou are very kind, sir! We are very much obliged to
you!'
laid aside his hat and coat and came up to the fire.

eAnd how did you like the ride? And how did you like Mrs Jellyby, my
dear?' said Mr Jarndyce to Ada.

While Ada was speaking to him in reply, I glanced (I need not say with
how much interest) at his face.
It was a handsome, lively, quick face,
full of change and motion; and his hair was a silvered iron-grey. I took
him to be nearer sixty than fifty, but he was upright, hearty, and robust.

From the moment of his first speaking to us his voice had connected
itself with an association in my mind that I could not define; but now,
all at once, a something sudden in his manner and a pleasant express-
ion in his eyes recalled the gentleman in the stagecoach six years ago
on the memorable day of my journey to Reading. I was certain it was
he. I never was so frightened in my life as when I made the discovery,
for he caught my glance, and appearing to read my thoughts, gave
such a look at the door that I thought we had lost him.


However, I am happy to say he remained where he was, and asked me
what I thought of Mrs Jellyby.

eShe exerts herself very much for Africa, sir,' I said.

eNobly!' returned Mr Jarndyce. eBut you answer like Ada.' Whom I had
not heard. eYou all think something else, I see.'

eWe rather thought,' said I, glancing at Richard and Ada, who
entreated me with their eyes to speak, ethat perhaps she was a little
unmindful of her home.'

eFloored!' cried Mr Jarndyce.

I was rather alarmed again.

eWell! I want to know your real thoughts, my dear. I may have sent
you there on purpose.'

eWe thought that, perhaps,' said I, hesitating, eit is right to begin with
the obligations of home, sir; and that, perhaps, while those are
overlooked and neglected, no other duties can possibly be substituted
for them.'

eThe little Jellybys,' said Richard, coming to my relief, eare really--I
can't help expressing myself strongly, sir--in a devil of a state.'

eShe means well,' said Mr Jarndyce hastily. eThe wind's in the east.'

eIt was in the north, sir, as we came down,' observed Richard.

eMy dear Rick,' said Mr Jarndyce, poking the fire, eI'll take an oath
it's either in the east or going to be. I am always conscious of an
uncomfortable sensation now and then when the wind is blowing in
the east.'

eRheumatism, sir?' said Richard.

eI dare say it is, Rick. I believe it is. And so the little Jell --I had my
doubts about 'em--are in a--oh, Lord, yes, it's easterly!' said Mr
Jarndyce.

He had taken two or three undecided turns up and down while utter-
ing these broken sentences, retaining the poker in one hand and
rubbing his hair with the other, with a good-natured vexation at once
so whimsical and so lovable
that I am sure we were more delighted
with him than we could possibly have expressed in any words. He
gave an arm to Ada and an arm to me, and bidding Richard bring a
candle, was leading the way out when he suddenly turned us all back
again.

eThose little Jellybys. Couldn't you--didn't you--now, if it had rained
sugar-plums, or three-cornered raspberry tarts, or anything of that
sort!' said Mr Jarndyce.

eOh, cousin--' Ada hastily began.

eGood, my pretty pet. I like cousin. Cousin John, perhaps, is better.'

eThen, cousin John--' Ada laughingly began again.

eHa, ha! Very good indeed!' said Mr Jarndyce with great enjoyment.

eSounds uncommonly natural. Yes, my dear?'

eIt did better than that. It rained Esther.'

eAye?' said Mr Jarndyce. eWhat did Esther do?'

eWhy, cousin John,' said Ada, clasping her hands upon his arm and
shaking her head at me across him--for I wanted her to be quiet--
eEsther was their friend directly. Esther nursed them, coaxed them to
sleep, washed and dressed them, told them stories, kept them quiet,
bought them keepsakes'--My dear girl! I had only gone out with Peepy
after he was found and given him a little, tiny horse!--eand, cousin
John, she softened poor Caroline, the eldest one, so much and was so
thoughtful for me and so amiable! No, no, I won't be contradicted,
Esther dear! You know, you know, it's true!'


The warm-hearted darling leaned across her cousin John and kissed
me, and then looking up in his face, boldly said, eAt all events, cousin
John, I will thank you for the companion you have given me.'
I felt
as if she challenged him to run away. But he didn't.

eWhere did you say the wind was, Rick?' asked Mr Jarndyce.

eIn the north as we came down, sir.' eYou are right. There's no east
in it. A mistake of mine. Come, girls, come and see your home!'

It was one of those delightfully irregular houses where you go up and
down steps out of one room into another, and where you come upon
more rooms when you think you have seen all there are, and where
there is a bountiful provision of little halls and passages, and where
you find still older cottage-rooms in unexpected places with lattice
windows and green growth pressing through them. Mine, which we
entered first, was of this kind, with an up-and-down roof that had
more corners in it than I ever counted afterwards and
a chimney
(there was a wood fire on the hearth) paved all around with pure white
tiles, in every one of which a bright miniature of the fire was blazing.

Out of this room, you went down two steps into a charming little
sitting-room looking down upon a flower-garden, which room was
henceforth to belong to Ada and me. Out of this you went up three
steps into Ada's bedroom, which had a fine broad window command-
ing a beautiful view (we saw a great expanse of darkness lying un-
derneath the stars), to which there was a hollow window-seat, in
which, with a spring-lock, three dear Adas might have been lost at
once. Out of this room you passed into a little gallery, with which the
other best rooms (only two) communicated, and so, by a little staircase
of shallow steps with a number of corner stairs in it, considering its
length, down into the hall. But if instead of going out at Ada's door
you came back into my room, and went out at the door by which you
had entered it, and turned up a few crooked steps that branched off in
an unexpected manner from the stairs,
you lost yourself in passages,
with mangles in them, and three-cornered tables, and a native Hindu
chair, which was also a sofa, a box, and a bedstead, and looked in
every form something between a bamboo skeleton and a great bird-
cage,
and had been brought from India nobody knew by whom or when.
From these you came on Richard's room, which was part library, part
sitting-room, part bedroom, and seemed indeed a comfortable com-
pound of many rooms. Out of that you went straight, with a little
interval of passage, to the plain room where Mr Jarndyce slept, all
the year round, with his window open, his bedstead without any fur-
niture standing in the middle of the floor for more air, and his cold
bath gaping for him in a smaller room adjoining. Out of that you came
into another passage, where there were back-stairs and where you
could hear the horses being rubbed down outside the stable and be-
ing told to eHold up' and eGet over,' as they slipped about very much
on the uneven stones.
Or you might, if you came out at another door
(every room had at least two doors), go straight down to the hall again
by half-a-dozen steps and a low archway, wondering how you got back
there or had ever got out of it.

The furniture, old-fashioned rather than old, like the house, was as
pleasantly irregular. Ada's sleeping-room was all flowers--in chintz
and paper, in velvet, in needlework, in the brocade of two stiff court-
ly chairs which stood, each attended by a little page of a stool for
greater state, on either side of the fire-place. Our sitting-room was
green and had
framed and glazed upon the walls numbers of surprising
and surprised birds, staring out of pictures at a real trout in a case,
as brown and shining as if it had been served with gravy;
at the death
of Captain Cook; and at the whole process of preparing tea in China,
as depicted by Chinese artists. In my room there were oval engravings
of the months--ladies haymaking in short waists and large hats tied
under the chin, for June; smooth-legged noblemen pointing with cocked-
hats to village steeples, for October. Half-length portraits in cray-
ons abounded all through the house, but were so dispersed that I found
the brother of a youthful officer of mine in the china-closet and the
grey old age of my pretty young bride, with a flower in her bodice,
in the breakfast-room. As substitutes,
I had four angels, of Queen
Anne's reign, taking a complacent gentleman to heaven, in festoons,
with some difficulty; and a composition in needlework representing
fruit, a kettle, and an alphabet. All the movables, from the wardrobes
to the chairs and tables, hangings, glasses, even to the pincushions
and scent-bottles on the dressing-tables, displayed the same quaint
variety. They agreed in nothing but their perfect neatness, their dis-
play of the whitest linen, and their storing-up, wheresoever the exist-
ence of a drawer, small or large, rendered it possible, of quantities
of rose-leaves and sweet lavender. Such, with its illuminated windows,
softened here and there by shadows of curtains, shining out upon the
starlight night; with its light, and warmth, and comfort; with its
hospitable jingle, at a distance, of preparations for dinner; with the
face of its generous master brightening everything we saw; and just
wind enough without to sound a low accompaniment to everything we
heard, were our first impressions of Bleak House.


I am glad you like it,' said Mr Jarndyce when he had brought us round
again to Ada's sitting-room. eIt makes no pretensions, but it is a
comfortable little place, I hope, and will be more so with such bright
young looks in it. You have barely half an hour before dinner. There's
no one here but the finest creature upon earth--a child.'

eMore children, Esther!' said Ada.

I don't mean literally a child,' pursued Mr Jarndyce; enot a child in
years. He is grown up--he is at least as old as I am--but
in simplicity,
and freshness, and enthusiasm, and a fine guileless inaptitude for all
worldly affairs, he is a perfect child.'


We felt that he must be very interesting.

He knows Mrs Jellyby,' said Mr Jarndyce. eHe is a musical man, an
amateur, but might have been a professional. He is an artist too, an
amateur, but might have been a professional. He is a man of attain-
ments and of captivating manners. He has been unfortunate in his af-
fairs, and unfortunate in his pursuits, and unfortunate in his family;
but he don't care--he's a child!'

eDid you imply that he has children of his own, sir?' inquired Richard.

Yes, Rick! Half-a-dozen. More! Nearer a dozen, I should think. But he
has never looked after them. How could he? He wanted somebody to
look after HIM. He is a child, you know!' said Mr Jarndyce.

And have the children looked after themselves at all, sir?' inquired
Richard.

Why, just as you may suppose,' said Mr Jarndyce,
his countenance
suddenly falling. eIt is said that the children of the very poor are not
brought up, but dragged up. Harold Skimpole's children have tumbled
up somehow or other.
The wind's getting round again, I am afraid. I
feel it rather!'

Richard observed that the situation was exposed on a sharp night.
It IS exposed,' said Mr Jarndyce. eNo doubt that's the cause. Bleak
House has an exposed sound. But you are coming my way. Come
along!'


Our luggage having arrived and being all at hand, I was dressed in a
few minutes and engaged in putting my worldly goods away when a
maid (not the one in attendance upon Ada, but another, whom I had
not seen) brought a basket into my room with two bunches of keys in
it, all labelled.

For you, miss, if you please,' said she.

For me?' said I.

The housekeeping keys, miss.'

I showed my surprise, for she added with some little surprise on her
own part, eI was told to bring them as soon as you was alone, miss.
Miss Summerson, if I don't deceive myself?'

eYes,' said I. eThat is my name.'

eThe large bunch is the housekeeping, and the little bunch is the
cellars, miss. Any time you was pleased to appoint tomorrow morn-
ing, I was to show you the presses and things they belong to.'

I said I would be ready at half-past six, and after she was gone,
stood looking at the basket, quite lost in the magnitude of my trust.
Ada found me thus and had such a delightful confidence in me when I
showed her the keys and told her about them that it would have been
insensibility and ingratitude not to feel encouraged. I knew, to be
sure, that it was the dear girl's kindness, but I liked to be so
pleasantly cheated.


When we went downstairs, we were presented to Mr Skimpole, who
was standing before the fire telling Richard how fond he used to be,
in his school-time, of football.
He was a little bright creature with a
rather large head, but a delicate face and a sweet voice, and there
was a perfect charm in him. All he said was so free from effort and
spontaneous and was said with such a captivating gaiety that it was
fascinating to hear him talk.
Being of a more slender figure than Mr
Jarndyce and having a richer complexion, with browner hair, he look-
ed younger. Indeed,
he had more the appearance in all respects of
a damaged young man than a well-preserved elderly one. There was
an easy negligence in his manner
and even in his dress (his hair
carelessly disposed, and his neckkerchief loose and flowing, as I have
seen artists paint their own portraits)
which I could not separate from
the idea of a romantic youth who had undergone some unique process
of depreciation. It struck me as being not at all like the manner or
appearance of a man who had advanced in life by the usual road of
years, cares, and experiences.


I gathered from the conversation that Mr Skimpole had been educat-
ed for the medical profession and had once lived, in his professional
capacity, in the household of a German prince. He told us, however,
that
as he had always been a mere child in point of weights and
measures and had never known anything about them (except that
they disgusted him),
he had never been able to prescribe with the
requisite accuracy of detail. In fact, he said, he had no head for detail.
And he told us, with great humour, that when he was wanted to bleed
the prince or physic any of his people, he was generally found lying on
his back in bed, reading the newspapers or making fancy-sketches in
pencil, and couldn't come. The prince, at last, objecting to this, ein
which,' said Mr Skimpole, in the frankest manner, ehe was perfectly
right,' the engagement terminated, and
Mr Skimpole having (as he
added with delightful gaiety) enothing to live upon but love, fell in love,
and married, and surrounded himself with rosy cheeks.' His good
friend Jarndyce and some other of his good friends then helped him,
in quicker or slower succession, to several openings in life, but to no
purpose, for he must confess to two of the oldest infirmities in the
world: one was that he had no idea of time, the other that he had no
idea of money. In consequence of which he never kept an appoint-
ment, never could transact any business, and never knew the val-
ue of anything! Well! So he had got on in life, and here he was!
He was very fond of reading the papers, very fond of making fancy
sketches with a pencil, very fond of nature, very fond of art. All he
asked of society was to let him live. THAT wasn't much. His wants
were few. Give him the papers, conversation, music, mutton, coffee,
landscape, fruit in the season, a few sheets of Bristol-board, and a
little claret, and he asked no more. He was a mere child in the world,
but he didn't cry for the moon. He said to the world, eGo your several
ways in peace! Wear red coats, blue coats, lawn sleeves; put pens
behind your ears, wear aprons; go after glory, holiness, commerce,
trade, any object you prefer; only--let Harold Skimpole live!'


All this and a great deal more he told us, not only with the utmost
brilliancy and enjoyment, but with a certain vivacious candour--
speaking of himself as if he were not at all his own affair, as if
Skimpole were a third person, as if he knew that Skimpole had his
singularities but still had his claims too,
which were the general
business of the community and must not be slighted. He was quite
enchanting. If I felt at all confused at that early time in endeavouring
to reconcile anything he said with anything I had thought about the
duties and accountabilities of life (which I am far from sure of), I was
confused by not exactly understanding why he was free of them. That
he was free of them, I scarcely doubted; he was so very clear about it
himself.

eI covet nothing,' said Mr Skimpole in the same light way. ePossession
is nothing to me. Here is my friend Jarndyce's excellent house. I feel
obliged to him for possessing it. I can sketch it and alter it. I can set it
to music.
When I am here, I have sufficient possession of it and have
neither trouble, cost, nor responsibility. My steward's name, in short,
is Jarndyce, and he can't cheat me. We have been mentioning Mrs
Jellyby. There is a bright-eyed woman, of a strong will and immense
power of business detail, who throws herself into objects with
surprising ardour! I don't regret that I have not a strong will and an
immense power of business detail to throw myself into objects with
surprising ardour. I can admire her without envy.
I can sympathize
with the objects. I can dream of them. I can lie down on the grass--
in fine weather--and float along an African river, embracing all the
natives I meet, as sensible of the deep silence and sketching the dense
overhanging tropical growth as accurately as if I were there. I don't
know that it's of any direct use my doing so, but it's all I can do, and I
do it thoroughly. Then, for heaven's sake, having Harold Skimpole, a
confiding child, petitioning you, the world, an agglomeration of practical
people of business habits, to let him live and admire the human family,
do it somehow or other, like good souls, and suffer him to ride his
rocking-horse!'


It was plain enough that Mr Jarndyce had not been neglectful of the
adjuration.
Mr Skimpole's general position there would have rendered
it so without the addition of what he presently said.

eIt's only you, the generous creatures, whom I envy,' said Mr Skimpole,
addressing us, his new friends, in an impersonal manner. eI envy you
your power of doing what you do. It is what I should revel in myself. I
don't feel any vulgar gratitude to you. I almost feel as if you ought to
be grateful to me for giving you the opportunity of enjoying the luxury
of generosity. I know you like it. For anything I can tell, I may have
come into the world expressly for the purpose of increasing your stock
of happiness. I may have been born to be a benefactor to you by
sometimes giving you an opportunity of assisting me in my little
perplexities. Why should I regret my incapacity for details and worldly
affairs when it leads to such pleasant consequences? I don't regret it
therefore.'

Of all his playful speeches (playful, yet always fully meaning what they
expressed) none seemed to be more to the taste of Mr Jarndyce than
this. I had often new temptations, afterwards, to wonder whether it
was really singular, or only singular to me, that he, who was probably
the most grateful of mankind upon the least occasion, should so
desire to escape the gratitude of others.


We were all enchanted. I felt it a merited tribute to the engaging
qualities of Ada and Richard that Mr Skimpole, seeing them for the
first time, should be so unreserved and should lay himself out to be
so exquisitely agreeable. They (and especially Richard) were naturally
pleased, for similar reasons, and considered it no common privilege
to be so freely confided in by such an attractive man. The more we
listened, the more gaily Mr Skimpole talked. And what with his fine
hilarious manner and his engaging candour and his genial way of
lightly tossing his own weaknesses about, as if he had said, eI am a
child, you know! You are designing people compared with me' (he
really made me consider myself in that light) ebut I am gay and
innocent; forget your worldly arts and play with me!' the effect was
absolutely dazzling.

He was so full of feeling too and had such a delicate sentiment for
what was beautiful or tender that he could have won a heart by that
alone. In the evening, when I was preparing to make tea and Ada was
touching the piano in the adjoining room and softly humming a tune
to her cousin Richard, which they had happened to mention, he came
and sat down on the sofa near me and so spoke of Ada that I almost
loved him.


eShe is like the morning,' he said. eWith that golden hair, those blue
eyes, and that fresh bloom on her cheek, she is like the summer morn-
ing. The birds here will mistake her for it. We will not call such a love-
ly young creature as that, who is a joy to all mankind, an orphan. She
is the child of the universe.'


Mr Jarndyce, I found, was standing near us with his hands behind
him and an attentive smile upon his face.

eThe universe,' he observed, emakes rather an indifferent parent, I am
afraid.'


eOh! I don't know!' cried Mr Skimpole buoyantly.

eI think I do know,' said Mr Jarndyce.

eWell!' cried Mr Skimpole. eYou know the world (which in your sense is
the universe), and I know nothing of it, so you shall have your way.
But if I had mine,' glancing at the cousins, ethere should be no
brambles of sordid realities in such a path as that. It should be strewn
with roses; it should lie through bowers, where there was no spring,
autumn, nor winter, but perpetual summer. Age or change should
never wither it. The base word money should never be breathed near
it!'


Mr Jarndyce patted him on the head with a smile, as if he had been
really a child, and passing a step or two on, and stopping a moment,
glanced at the young cousins. His look was thoughtful, but had a
benignant expression in it which I often (how often!) saw again, which
has long been engraven on my heart. The room in which they were,
communicating with that in which he stood, was only lighted by the
fire. Ada sat at the piano; Richard stood beside her, bending down.

Upon the wall, their shadows blended together, surrounded by strange
forms, not without a ghostly motion caught from the unsteady fire,
though reflecting from motionless objects. Ada touched the notes so
softly and sang so low that the wind, sighing away to the distant hills,
was as audible as the music. The mystery of the future and the little
clue afforded to it by the voice of the present seemed expressed in the
whole picture.


But it is not to recall this fancy, well as I remember it, that I recall the
scene. First, I was not quite unconscious of the contrast in respect of
meaning and intention between the silent look directed that way and
the flow of words that had preceded it. Secondly, though Mr
Jarndyce's glance as he withdrew it rested for but a moment on me, I
felt as if in that moment he confided to me--and knew that he
confided to me and that I received the confidence --his hope that Ada
and Richard might one day enter on a dearer relationship.

Mr Skimpole could play on the piano and the violoncello, and he was a
composer--had composed half an opera once, but got tired of it--and
played what he composed with taste. After tea we had quite a little
concert, in which Richard--who was enthralled by Ada's singing and
told me that she seemed to know all the songs that ever were written--

and Mr Jarndyce, and I were the audience. After a little while I missed
first Mr Skimpole and afterwards Richard, and while I was thinking
how could Richard stay away so long and lose so much, the maid who
had given me the keys looked in at the door, saying, eIf you please,
miss, could you spare a minute?'

When I was shut out with her in the hall, she said, holding up her
hands, eOh, if you please, miss, Mr Carstone says would you come
upstairs to Mr Skimpole's room. He has been took, miss!'

eTook?' said I.

eTook, miss. Sudden,' said the maid.

I was apprehensive that his illness might be of a dangerous kind,
but
of course I begged her to be quiet and not disturb any one and
collected myself, as I followed her quickly upstairs, sufficiently to
consider what were the best remedies to be applied if it should prove
to be a fit.
She threw open a door and I went into a chamber, where,
to my unspeakable surprise, instead of finding Mr Skimpole stretched
upon the bed or prostrate on the floor, I found him standing before the
fire smiling at Richard, while Richard, with a face of great
embarrassment, looked at a person on the sofa, in a white great-coat,
with smooth hair upon his head and not much of it, which he was
wiping smoother and making less of with a pocket-handkerchief.

eMiss Summerson,' said Richard hurriedly, eI am glad you are come.
You will be able to advise us. Our friend Mr Skimpole--don't be
alarmed!--is arrested for debt.'

eAnd really, my dear Miss Summerson,'
said Mr Skimpole with his
agreeable candour, eI never was in a situation in which that excellent
sense and quiet habit of method and usefulness, which anybody must
observe in you who has the happiness of being a quarter of an hour in
your society, was more needed.'


The person on the sofa, who appeared to have a cold in his head, gave
such a very loud snort that he startled me.

eAre you arrested for much, sir?' I inquired of Mr Skimpole.

eMy dear Miss Summerson,' said he, shaking his head pleasantly, eI
don't know. Some pounds, odd shillings, and halfpence, I think, were
mentioned.'

eIt's twenty-four pound, sixteen, and sevenpence ha'penny,' observed
the stranger. eThat's wot it is.'

eAnd it sounds--somehow it sounds,' said Mr Skimpole, elike a small
sum?'


The strange man said nothing but made another snort. It was such a
powerful one that it seemed quite to lift him out of his seat.


eMr Skimpole,' said Richard to me, ehas a delicacy in applying to my
cousin Jarndyce because he has lately--I think, sir, I understood you
that you had lately--'

eOh, yes!' returned Mr Skimpole, smiling. eThough I forgot how much
it was and when it was. Jarndyce would readily do it again, but
I have
the epicure-like feeling that I would prefer a novelty in help, that I
would rather,' and he looked at Richard and me, edevelop generosity
in a new soil and in a new form of flower.'

eWhat do you think will be best, Miss Summerson?' said Richard,
aside.

I ventured to inquire, generally, before replying, what would happen if
the money were not produced.

eJail,' said the strange man, coolly putting his handkerchief into his
hat, which was on the floor at his feet. eOr Coavinses.'

eMay I ask, sir, what is--'

eCoavinses?' said the strange man. eA 'ouse.'


Richard and I looked at one another again. It was a most singular
thing that the arrest was our embarrassment and not Mr Skimpole's.

He observed us with a genial interest, but there seemed, if I may
venture on such a contradiction, nothing selfish in it. He had entirely
washed his hands of the difficulty, and it had become ours.


eI thought,' he suggested, as if good-naturedly to help us out, ethat
being parties in a Chancery suit concerning (as people say) a large
amount of property, Mr Richard or his beautiful cousin, or both, could
sign something, or make over something, or give some sort of under-
taking, or pledge, or bond? I don't know what the business name of it
may be, but I suppose there is some instrument within their power
that would settle this?'

eNot a bit on it,' said the strange man.

eReally?' returned Mr Skimpole.
eThat seems odd, now, to one who is
no judge of these things!'

eOdd or even,' said the stranger gruffly, eI tell you, not a bit on it!'

eKeep your temper, my good fellow, keep your temper!' Mr Skimpole
gently reasoned with him as he made a little drawing of his head on
the fly-leaf of a book. eDon't be ruffled by your occupation. We can
separate you from your office; we can separate the individual from the
pursuit. We are not so prejudiced as to suppose that in private life you
are otherwise than a very estimable man, with a great deal of poetry in
your nature, of which you may not be conscious.'

The stranger only answered with another violent snort, whether in
acceptance of the poetry-tribute or in disdainful rejection of it, he did
not express to me.

eNow, my dear Miss Summerson, and my dear Mr Richard,' said Mr
Skimpole gaily, innocently, and confidingly as he looked at his draw-
ing with his head on one side, ehere you see me utterly incapable
of helping myself, and entirely in your hands! I only ask to be free.
The butterflies are free. Mankind will surely not deny to Harold
Skimpole what it concedes to the butterflies!'


eMy dear Miss Summerson,' said Richard in a whisper, eI have ten
pounds that I received from Mr Kenge. I must try what that will do.'

I possessed fifteen pounds, odd shillings, which I had saved from my
quarterly allowance during several years. I had always thought that
some accident might happen which would throw me suddenly,
without any relation or any property, on the world and had always
tried to keep some little money by me that I might not be quite
penniless. I told Richard of my having this little store and having no
present need of it, and
I asked him delicately to inform Mr Skimpole,
while I should be gone to fetch it, that we would have the pleasure of
paying his debt.


When I came back, Mr Skimpole kissed my hand and seemed quite touch-
ed. Not on his own account (I was again aware of that perplexing and ex-
traordinary contradiction), but on ours, as if personal considerations
were impossible with him and the contemplation of our happiness alone
affected him. Richard, begging me, for the greater grace of the trans-
action, as he said, to settle with Coavinses (as Mr Skimpole now jocu-
larly called him), I counted out the money and received the necessary
acknowledgment. This, too, delighted Mr Skimpole.

His compliments were so delicately administered that I blushed less
than I might have done and settled with the stranger in the white coat
without making any mistakes. He put the money in his pocket and
shortly said, eWell, then, I'll wish you a good evening, miss.'

eMy friend,' said Mr Skimpole, standing with his back to the fire after
giving up the sketch when it was half finished, eI should like to ask
you something, without offence.'

I think the reply was, eCut away, then!'

eDid you know this morning, now, that you were coming out on this
errand?' said Mr Skimpole.

eKnow'd it yes'day aft'noon at tea-time,' said Coavinses.

eIt didn't affect your appetite? Didn't make you at all uneasy?'

eNot a bit,' said Coavinses. eI know'd if you wos missed to-day, you
wouldn't be missed tomorrow. A day makes no such odds.'


eBut when you came down here,' proceeded Mr Skimpole, eit was a fine
day. The sun was shining, the wind was blowing, the lights and
shadows were passing across the fields, the birds were singing.'

eNobody said they warn't, in my hearing,' returned Coavinses.

eNo,' observed Mr Skimpole. eBut what did you think upon the road?'

eWot do you mean?' growled Coavinses with an appearance of strong
resentment. eThink! I've got enough to do, and little enough to get for it
without thinking. Thinking!' (with profound contempt).

eThen you didn't think, at all events,' proceeded Mr Skimpole, eto this
effect: 'Harold Skimpole loves to see the sun shine, loves to hear the
wind blow, loves to watch the changing lights and shadows, loves to
hear the birds, those choristers in Nature's great cathedral. And does
it seem to me that I am about to deprive Harold Skimpole of his share
in such possessions, which are his only birthright!' You thought
nothing to that effect?'

eI--certainly--did--NOT,' said Coavinses, whose doggedness in utterly
renouncing the idea was of that intense kind that he could only give
adequate expression to it by putting a long interval between each word,
and accompanying the last with a jerk that might have dislocated his
neck.


eVery odd and very curious, the mental process is, in you men of
business!' said Mr Skimpole thoughtfully. eThank you, my friend.
Good night.'


As our absence had been long enough already to seem strange
downstairs, I returned at once and found Ada sitting at work by the
fireside talking to her cousin John. Mr Skimpole presently appeared,
and Richard shortly after him. I was sufficiently engaged during the
remainder of the evening in taking my first lesson in backgammon
from Mr Jarndyce, who was very fond of the game and from whom I
wished of course to learn it as quickly as I could in order that I might
be of the very small use of being able to play when he had no better
adversary. But I thought, occasionally, when Mr Skimpole played
some fragments of his own compositions or when, both at the piano
and the violoncello, and at our table, he preserved with an absence of
all effort his delightful spirits and his easy flow of conversation, that
Richard and I seemed to retain the transferred impression of having
been arrested since dinner and that it was very curious altogether.
It was late before we separated, for when Ada was going at eleven
o'clock,
Mr Skimpole went to the piano and rattled hilariously that the
best of all ways to lengthen our days was to steal a few hours from
night, my dear! It was past twelve before he took his candle and his
radiant face out of the room,
and I think he might have kept us there,
if he had seen fit, until daybreak. Ada and Richard were lingering for a
few moments by the fire, wondering whether Mrs Jellyby had yet
finished her dictation for the day, when Mr Jarndyce, who had been
out of the room, returned.

eOh, dear me, what's this, what's this!' he said, rubbing his head and
walking about with his good-humoured vexation. eWhat's this they tell
me?
Rick, my boy, Esther, my dear, what have you been doing? Why
did you do it? How could you do it? How much apiece was it? The
wind's round again. I feel it all over me!'


We neither of us quite knew what to answer.

eCome, Rick, come! I must settle this before I sleep. How much are
you out of pocket? You two made the money up, you know! Why did
you? How could you? Oh, Lord, yes, it's due east--must be!'

eReally, sir,' said Richard, eI don't think it would be honourable in me
to tell you. Mr Skimpole relied upon us--'

eLord bless you, my dear boy! He relies upon everybody!' said Mr
Jarndyce, giving his head a great rub and stopping short.

eIndeed, sir?'

eEverybody! And he'll be in the same scrape again next week!' said Mr
Jarndyce, walking again at a great pace, with a candle in his hand
that had gone out. eHe's always in the same scrape. He was born in
the same scrape.
I verily believe that the announcement in the
newspapers when his mother was confined was 'On Tuesday last, at
her residence in Botheration Buildings, Mrs Skimpole of a son in
difficulties.'e


Richard laughed heartily but added, eStill, sir, I don't want to shake
his confidence or to break his confidence, and if I submit to your
better knowledge again, that I ought to keep his secret, I hope you will
consider before you press me any more. Of course, if you do press me,
sir, I shall know I am wrong and will tell you.'

eWell!' cried Mr Jarndyce, stopping again, and making several absent
endeavours to put his candlestick in his pocket. eI--here! Take it away,
my dear. I don't know what I am about with it; it's all the wind--
invariably has that effect--I won't press you, Rick; you may be right.
But really--to get hold of you and Esther--and to squeeze you like a
couple of tender young Saint Michael's oranges! It'll blow a gale in the
course of the night!'

He was now alternately putting his hands into his pockets as if he
were going to keep them there a long time, and taking them out again
and vehemently rubbing them all over his head.

I ventured to take this opportunity of hinting that Mr Skimpole, being
in all such matters quite a child--

eEh, my dear?' said Mr Jarndyce, catching at the word.

eBeing quite a child, sir,' said I, eand so different from other people--'

eYou are right!' said Mr Jarndyce, brightening. eYour woman's wit hits
the mark. He is a child--an absolute child. I told you he was a child,
you know, when I first mentioned him.'

Certainly! Certainly! we said.

eAnd he is a child. Now, isn't he?' asked Mr Jarndyce, brightening
more and more.

He was indeed, we said.

eWhen you come to think of it, it's the height of childishness in you--I
mean me--' said Mr Jarndyce, eto regard him for a moment as a man.
You can't make him responsible. The idea of Harold Skimpole with
designs or plans, or knowledge of consequences! Ha, ha, ha!'


It was so delicious to see the clouds about his bright face clearing,
and to see him so heartily pleased, and to know, as it was impossible
not to know, that the source of his pleasure was the goodness which
was tortured by condemning, or mistrusting, or secretly accusing any
one, that I saw the tears in Ada's eyes, while she echoed his laugh,
and felt them in my own.

eWhy, what a cod's head and shoulders I am,' said Mr Jarndyce, eto
require reminding of it!
The whole business shows the child from
beginning to end. Nobody but a child would have thought of singling
YOU two out for parties in the affair! Nobody but a child would have
thought of YOUR having the money! If it had been a thousand pounds,
it would have been just the same!' said Mr Jarndyce with his whole
face in a glow.


We all confirmed it from our night's experience.

eTo be sure, to be sure!' said Mr Jarndyce. eHowever, Rick, Esther, and
you too, Ada, for I don't know that even your little purse is safe from
his inexperience--I must have a promise all round that nothing of this
sort shall ever be done any more. No advances! Not even sixpences.'
We all promised faithfully, Richard with a merry glance at me touching
his pocket as if to remind me that there was no danger of our trans-
gressing.

eAs to Skimpole,' said Mr Jarndyce, ea habitable doll's house with good
board and a few tin people to get into debt with and borrow money of
would set the boy up in life.
He is in a child's sleep by this time, I
suppose; it's time I should take my craftier head to my more worldly
pillow. Good night, my dears. God bless you!'


He peeped in again, with a smiling face, before we had lighted our
candles, and said, eOh! I have been looking at the weather-cock. I find
it was a false alarm about the wind. It's in the south!' And went away
singing to himself.

Ada and I agreed, as we talked together for a little while upstairs,
that
this caprice about the wind was a fiction and that he used the
pretence to account for any disappointment he could not conceal,
rather than he would blame the real cause of it or disparage or de-
preciate any one. We thought this very characteristic of his eccen-
tric gentleness and of the difference between him and those petulant
people who make the weather and the winds (particularly that unlucky
wind which he had chosen for such a different purpose) the stalking-
horses of their splenetic and gloomy humours.


Indeed, so much affection for him had been added in this one eve-
ning to my gratitude that I hoped I already began to understand him
through that mingled feeling. Any seeming inconsistencies in Mr Skim-
pole or in Mrs Jellyby I could not expect to be able to reconcile, hav-
ing so little experience or practical knowledge. Neither did I try, for
my thoughts were busy when I was alone, with Ada and Richard and
with the confidence I had seemed to receive concerning them.
My
fancy, made a little wild by the wind perhaps
, would not consent to be
all unselfish, either, though I would have persuaded it to be so if I
could. It
wandered back to my godmother's house and came along the
intervening track, raising up shadowy speculations which had some-
times trembled there in the dark
as to what knowledge Mr Jarndyce
had of my earliest history--even as to the possibility of his being
my father, though that idle dream was quite gone now.

It was all gone now, I remembered, getting up from the fire.
It was not
for me to muse over bygones, but to act with a cheerful spirit and a
grateful heart. So I said to myself, eEsther, Esther, Esther! Duty, my
dear!' and gave my little basket of housekeeping keys such a shake
that they sounded like little bells and rang me hopefully to bed.




Chapter VII--The Ghost's Walk



While Esther sleeps, and while Esther wakes, it is still wet weather
down at the place in Lincolnshire. The rain is ever falling--drip, drip,
drip--by day and night upon the broad flagged terrace-pavement, the
Ghost's Walk. The weather is so very bad down in Lincolnshire that
the liveliest imagination can scarcely apprehend its ever being fine
again. Not that there is any superabundant life of imagination on the
spot, for Sir Leicester is not here (and, truly, even if he were, would
not do much for it in that particular), but is in Paris with my Lady;
and solitude, with dusky wings, sits brooding upon Chesney Wold.

There may be some motions of fancy among the lower animals at
Chesney Wold. The horses in the stables--the long stables in a barren,
red-brick court-yard, where there is a great bell in a turret, and a
clock with a large face, which the pigeons who live near it and who
love to perch upon its shoulders seem to be always consulting--THEY
may contemplate some mental pictures of fine weather on occasions,
and may be better artists at them than the grooms. The old roan,
1 so
famous for cross-country work, turning his large eyeball to the grated
window near his rack, may remember the fresh leaves that glisten
there at other times and the scents that stream in, and may have a
fine run with the hounds,
while the human helper, clearing out the
next stall, never stirs beyond his pitchfork and birch-broom. The grey,
whose place is opposite the door and who with an impatient rattle of
his halter pricks his ears and turns his head so wistfully when it is
opened, and to whom the opener says, eWoa grey, then, steady!
Noabody wants you to-day!' may know it quite as well as the man.
The whole seemingly monotonous and uncompanionable half-dozen,
stabled together, may pass the long wet hours when the door is shut
in livelier communication than is held in the servants' hall or at the
Dedlock Arms, or may even beguile the time by improving (perhaps
corrupting) the pony in the loose-box in the corner.

So the mastiff, dozing in his kennel in the court-yard with his large
head on his paws, may think of the hot sunshine when the shadows of
the stable-buildings tire his patience out by changing and leave him at
one time of the day no broader refuge than the shadow of his own
house, where he sits on end, panting and growling short, and very
much wanting something to worry besides himself and his chain.
So
now, half-waking and all-winking, he may recall the house full of
company, the coach-houses full of vehicles, the stables full of horses,
and the out-buildings full of attendants upon horses, until he is
undecided about the present and comes forth to see how it is. Then,
with that impatient shake of himself, he may growl in the spirit, eRain,
rain, rain! Nothing but rain--and no family here!' as he goes in again
and lies down with a gloomy yawn.

So with the dogs in the kennel-buildings across the park, who have
their restless fits and whose doleful voices when the wind has been
very obstinate have even made it known in the house itself--upstairs,
downstairs, and in my Lady's chamber.
They may hunt the whole
country-side, while the raindrops are pattering round their inactivity.
So the rabbits with their self-betraying tails, frisking in and out of
holes at roots of trees, may be lively with ideas of the breezy days
when their ears are blown about or of those seasons of interest when
there are sweet young plants to gnaw. The turkey in the poultry-yard,
always troubled with a class-grievance (probably Christmas), may be
reminiscent of that summer morning wrongfully taken from him when
he got into the lane among the felled trees, where there was a barn
and barley. The discontented goose, who stoops to pass under the old
gateway, twenty feet high, may gabble out, if we only knew it, a
waddling preference for weather when the gateway casts its shadow
on the ground.

Be this as it may, there is not much fancy otherwise stirring at
Chesney Wold. If there be a little at any odd moment,
it goes, like a
little noise in that old echoing place, a long way and usually leads off
to ghosts and mystery.


It has rained so hard and rained so long down in Lincolnshire that
Mrs Rouncewell, the old housekeeper at Chesney Wold, has several
times taken off her spectacles and cleaned them to make certain that
the drops were not upon the glasses. Mrs Rouncewell might have been
sufficiently assured by hearing the rain, but that she is rather deaf,
which nothing will induce her to believe.
She is a fine old lady,
handsome, stately, wonderfully neat, and has such a back and such a
stomacher that if her stays should turn out when she dies to have
been a broad old-fashioned family fire-grate, nobody who knows her
would have cause to be surprised.
Weather affects Mrs Rouncewell
little. The house is there in all weathers, and the house, as she
expresses it, eis what she looks at.' She sits in her room (in a side
passage on the ground floor, with an arched window commanding a
smooth quadrangle, adorned at regular intervals with smooth round
trees and smooth round blocks of stone, as if the trees were going to
play at bowls with the stones),
and the whole house reposes on her
mind. She can open it on occasion and be busy and fluttered, but it is
shut up now and lies on the breadth of Mrs Rouncewell's iron-bound
bosom in a majestic sleep.


It is the next difficult thing to an impossibility to imagine Chesney
Wold without Mrs Rouncewell, but she has only been here fifty years.
Ask her how long, this rainy day, and she shall answer efifty year,
three months, and a fortnight, by the blessing of heaven, if I live till
Tuesday.'
Mr Rouncewell died some time before the decease of the
pretty fashion of pig-tails, and modestly hid his own (if he took it with
him) in a corner of the churchyard in the park near the mouldy porch.

He was born in the market-town, and so was his young widow. Her
progress in the family began in the time of the last Sir Leicester and
originated in the still-room.


The present representative of the Dedlocks is an excellent master.
He supposes all his dependents to be utterly bereft of individual
characters, intentions, or opinions, and is persuaded that he was born
to supersede the necessity of their having any. If he were to make a
discovery to the contrary, he would be simply stunned--would never
recover himself, most likely, except to gasp and die.
But he is an
excellent master still, holding it a part of his state to be so. He has a
great liking for Mrs Rouncewell; he says she is a most respectable,
creditable woman. He always shakes hands with her when he comes
down to Chesney Wold and when he goes away; and if he were very ill,
or if he were knocked down by accident, or run over, or placed in any
situation expressive of a Dedlock at a disadvantage, he would say if he
could speak, eLeave me, and send Mrs Rouncewell here!' feeling his
dignity, at such a pass, safer with her than with anybody else
.

Mrs Rouncewell has known trouble. She has had two sons, of whom
the younger ran wild, and went for a soldier, and never came back.
Even to this hour, Mrs Rouncewell's calm hands lose their compo-
sure when she speaks of him, and unfolding themselves from her
stomacher, hover about her in an agitated manner as she says what a
likely lad, what a fine lad, what a gay, good-humoured, clever lad he
was!
Her second son would have been provided for at Chesney Wold
and would have been made steward in due season, but
he took, when
he was a schoolboy, to constructing steam-engines out of saucepans
and setting birds to draw their own water with the least possible a-
mount of labour, so assisting them with artful contrivance of hy-
draulic pressure that a thirsty canary had only, in a literal sense, to
put his shoulder to the wheel and the job was done.
This propensity
gave Mrs Rouncewell great uneasiness. She felt it with a mother's
anguish to be a move in the Wat Tyler direction, well knowing that Sir
Leicester had that general impression of an aptitude for any art to
which smoke and a tall chimney might be considered essential.
But
the doomed young rebel (otherwise a mild youth, and very perse-
vering), showing no sign of grace as he got older but, on the con-
trary,
constructing a model of a power-loom, she was fain, with
many tears, to mention his backslidings to the baronet.
eMrs Rounce-
well,' said Sir Leicester, eI can never consent to argue, as you
know, with any one on any subject. You had better get rid of your boy;
you had better get him into some Works.
The iron country farther
north is, I suppose, the congenial direction for a boy with these
tendencies.'
Farther north he went, and farther north he grew up; and
if Sir Leicester Dedlock ever saw him when he came to Chesney Wold
to visit his mother, or ever thought of him afterwards, it is certain
that
he only regarded him as one of a body of some odd thousand
conspirators, swarthy and grim, who were in the habit of turning out
by torchlight two or three nights in the week for unlawful purposes.


Nevertheless, Mrs Rouncewell's son has, in the course of nature and
art, grown up, and established himself, and married, and called unto
him Mrs Rouncewell's grandson, who, being out of his apprenticeship,
and home from a journey in far countries, whither he was sent to
enlarge his knowledge and complete his preparations for the venture
of this life, stands leaning against the chimney-piece this very day in
Mrs Rouncewell's room at Chesney Wold.


eAnd, again and again, I am glad to see you, Watt! And, once again, I
am glad to see you, Watt!' says Mrs Rouncewell. eYou are a fine young
fellow. You are like your poor uncle George. Ah!' Mrs Rouncewell's
hands unquiet, as usual, on this reference.

eThey say I am like my father, grandmother.'

eLike him, also, my dear--but most like your poor uncle George! And
your dear father.' Mrs Rouncewell folds her hands again. eHe is well?'
eThriving, grandmother, in every way.'

eI am thankful!' Mrs Rouncewell is fond of her son but has a plaintive
feeling towards him, much as if he were a very honourable soldier who
had gone over to the enemy.

eHe is quite happy?' says she.

eQuite.'

eI am thankful! So he has brought you up to follow in his ways and
has sent you into foreign countries and the like? Well, he knows best.
There may be a world beyond Chesney Wold that I don't understand.
Though I am not young, either. And I have seen a quantity of good
company too!'

eGrandmother,' says the young man, changing the subject, ewhat a
very pretty girl that was I found with you just now. You called her
Rosa?'

eYes, child. She is daughter of a widow in the village. Maids are so
hard to teach, now-a-days, that I have put her about me young. She's
an apt scholar and will do well. She shows the house already, very
pretty. She lives with me at my table here.'

eI hope I have not driven her away?'

eShe supposes we have family affairs to speak about, I dare say. She is
very modest. It is a fine quality in a young woman. And scarcer,' says
Mrs Rouncewell, expanding her stomacher to its utmost limits, ethan it
formerly was!'

The young man inclines his head in acknowledgment of the precepts
of experience. Mrs Rouncewell listens.

eWheels!' says she. They have long been audible to the younger ears
of her companion. eWhat wheels on such a day as this, for gracious
sake?'

After a short interval, a tap at the door. eCome in!'
A dark-eyed, dark-
haired, shy, village beauty comes in--so fresh in her rosy and yet
delicate bloom that the drops of rain which have beaten on her hair
look like the dew upon a flower fresh gathered.


eWhat company is this, Rosa?' says Mrs Rouncewell.

eIt's two young men in a gig, ma'am, who want to see the house--yes,
and if you please, I told them so!' in quick reply to a gesture of dissent
from the housekeeper. eI went to the hall-door and told them it was
the wrong day and the wrong hour, but the young man who was
driving took off his hat in the wet and begged me to bring this card to
you.'


eRead it, my dear Watt,' says the housekeeper.

Rosa is so shy as she gives it to him that they drop it between them
and almost knock their foreheads together as they pick it up. Rosa is
shyer than before.

eMr Guppy' is all the information the card yields.


eGuppy!' repeats Mrs Rouncewell, eMR Guppy! Nonsense, I never heard
of him!'

eIf you please, he told me that!' says Rosa. eBut he said that he and
the other young gentleman came from London only last night by the
mail, on business at the magistrates' meeting, ten miles off, this
morning, and that as their business was soon over, and they had
heard a great deal said of Chesney Wold, and really didn't know what
to do with themselves, they had come through the wet to see it. They
are lawyers. He says he is not in Mr Tulkinghorn's office, but he is
sure he may make use of Mr Tulkinghorn's name if necessary.'
Finding, now she leaves off, that she has been making quite a long
speech, Rosa is shyer than ever.

Now, Mr Tulkinghorn is, in a manner, part and parcel of the place,
and besides, is supposed to have made Mrs Rouncewell's will. The old
lady relaxes, consents to the admission of the visitors as a favour, and
dismisses Rosa. The grandson, however, being smitten by a sudden
wish to see the house himself, proposes to join the party. The
grandmother, who is pleased that he should have that interest,
accompanies him--though to do him justice, he is exceedingly
unwilling to trouble her.

eMuch obliged to you, ma'am!' says Mr Guppy, divesting himself of his
wet dreadnought in the hall. eUs London lawyers don't often get an
out, and when we do, we like to make the most of it, you know.'

The old housekeeper, with a gracious severity of deportment, waves
her hand towards the great staircase. Mr Guppy and his friend follow
Rosa; Mrs Rouncewell and her grandson follow them; a young
gardener goes before to open the shutters.

As is usually the case with people who go over houses, Mr Guppy and
his friend are dead beat before they have well begun.
They straggle
about in wrong places, look at wrong things, don't care for the right
things, gape when more rooms are opened, exhibit profound
depression of spirits, and are clearly knocked up.
In each successive
chamber that they enter, Mrs Rouncewell, who is as upright as the
house itself, rests apart in a window-seat or other such nook and
listens
with stately approval to Rosa's exposition. Her grandson is so
attentive to it that Rosa is shyer than ever--and prettier. Thus they
pass on from room to room, raising the pictured Dedlocks for a few
brief minutes as the young gardener admits the light, and reconsign-
ing them to their graves as he shuts it out again. It appears to the
afflicted Mr Guppy and his inconsolable friend that there is no end
to the Dedlocks, whose family greatness seems to consist in their
never having done anything to distinguish themselves for seven
hundred years.

Even the long drawing-room of Chesney Wold cannot revive Mr
Guppy's spirits. He is so low that he droops on the threshold and has
hardly strength of mind to enter. But a portrait over the chimneypiece,
painted by the fashionable artist of the day, acts upon him like
a charm. He recovers in a moment. He stares at it with uncommon
interest; he seems to be fixed and fascinated by it.

eDear me!' says Mr Guppy. eWho's that?'

eThe picture over the fire-place,' says Rosa, eis the portrait of the
present Lady Dedlock. It is considered a perfect likeness, and the best
work of the master.'

eBlest,' says Mr Guppy, staring in a kind of dismay at his friend, eif I
can ever have seen her. Yet I know her! Has the picture been
engraved, miss?'

eThe picture has never been engraved. Sir Leicester has always refused
permission.'

eWell!' says Mr Guppy in a low voice. eI'll be shot if it ain't very curious
how well I know that picture! So that's Lady Dedlock, is it!'


eThe picture on the right is the present Sir Leicester Dedlock. The
picture on the left is his father, the late Sir Leicester.'

Mr Guppy has no eyes for either of these magnates. eIt's unac-
countable to me,' he says, still staring at the portrait, ehow well I
know that picture! I'm dashed,' adds Mr Guppy, looking round, eif I
don't think I must have had a dream of that picture, you know!'


As no one present takes any especial interest in Mr Guppy's dreams,
the probability is not pursued. But he still remains so absorbed by the
portrait that he stands immovable before it until the young gardener
has closed the shutters, when he comes out of the room in a dazed
state that is an odd though a sufficient substitute for interest and
follows into the succeeding rooms with a confused stare, as if he
were looking everywhere for Lady Dedlock again.

He sees no more of her. He sees her rooms, which are the last shown,
as being very elegant, and he looks out of the windows from which she
looked out, not long ago, upon the weather that bored her to death. All
things have an end, even houses that people take infinite pains to see
and are tired of before they begin to see them. He has come to the end
of the sight, and the fresh village beauty to the end of her description;
which is always this: eThe terrace below is much admired. It is called,
from an old story in the family, the Ghost's Walk.'

eNo?' says Mr Guppy, greedily curious. eWhat's the story, miss? Is it
anything about a picture?'


ePray tell us the story,' says Watt in a half whisper.

eI don't know it, sir.' Rosa is shyer than ever.

eIt is not related to visitors; it is almost forgotten,' says the
housekeeper, advancing. eIt has never been more than a family
anecdote.'

eYou'll excuse my asking again if it has anything to do with a picture,
ma'am,' observes Mr Guppy, ebecause I do assure you that the more
I think of that picture the better I know it, without knowing how I know
it!'


The story has nothing to do with a picture; the housekeeper can
guarantee that. Mr Guppy is obliged to her for the information and is,
moreover, generally obliged. He retires with his friend, guided down
another staircase by the young gardener, and presently is heard to
drive away. It is now dusk. Mrs Rouncewell can trust to the discretion
of her two young hearers and may tell them how the terrace came to
have that ghostly name.

She seats herself in a large chair by the fast-darkening window and
tells them: eIn the wicked days, my dears, of King Charles the First--
I mean, of course, in the wicked days of the rebels who leagued
themselves against that excellent king--Sir Morbury Dedlock was the
owner of Chesney Wold. Whether there was any account of a ghost in
the family before those days, I can't say. I should think it very likely
indeed.'


Mrs Rouncewell holds this opinion because she considers that a
family of such antiquity and importance has a right to a ghost. She
regards a ghost as one of the privileges of the upper classes,
a genteel
distinction to which the common people have no claim.

eSir Morbury Dedlock,' says Mrs Rouncewell, ewas, I have no occasion
to say, on the side of the blessed martyr. But it is supposed that his
Lady, who had none of the family blood in her veins, favoured the bad
cause. It is said that she had relations among King Charles's enemies,
that she was in correspondence with them, and that she gave them
information. When any of the country gentlemen who followed his
Majesty's cause met here, it is said that my Lady was always nearer to
the door of their council-room than they supposed. Do you hear a
sound like a footstep passing along the terrace, Watt?'

Rosa draws nearer to the housekeeper.

eI hear the rain-drip on the stones,' replies the young man, eand I hear
a curious echo--I suppose an echo--which is very like a halting step.'

The housekeeper gravely nods and continues:
ePartly on account of
this division between them, and partly on other accounts, Sir Morbury
and his Lady led a troubled life. She was a lady of a haughty temper.
They were not well suited to each other in age or character, and they
had no children to moderate between them. After her favourite bro-
ther, a young gentleman, was killed in the civil wars (by Sir Morbury's
near kinsman), her feeling was so violent that she hated the race
into which she had married. When the Dedlocks were about to ride
out from Chesney Wold in the king's cause, she is supposed to have
more than once stolen down into the stables in the dead of night
and lamed their horses; and the story is that once at such an hour,
her husband saw her gliding down the stairs and followed her into the
stall where his own favourite horse stood. There he seized her by the
wrist, and in a struggle or in a fall or through the horse being
frightened and lashing out, she was lamed in the hip and from that
hour began to pine away.'


The housekeeper has dropped her voice to a little more than a
whisper.


eShe had been a lady of a handsome figure and a noble carriage. She
never complained of the change; she never spoke to any one of being
crippled or of being in pain, but day by day she tried to walk upon the
terrace, and with the help of the stone balustrade, went up and down,
up and down, up and down, in sun and shadow, with greater difficulty
every day. At last, one afternoon her husband (to whom she had
never, on any persuasion, opened her lips since that night), standing
at the great south window,
saw her drop upon the pavement. He
hastened down to raise her, but she repulsed him as he bent over her,
and looking at him fixedly and coldly, said, 'I will die here where I
have walked. And I will walk here, though I am in my grave. I will walk
here until the pride of this house is humbled. And when calamity or
when disgrace is coming to it, let the Dedlocks listen for my step!'e


Watt looks at Rosa. Rosa in the deepening gloom looks down upon the
ground, half frightened and half shy.

eThere and then she died. And from those days,' says Mrs Rouncewell,
ethe name has come down--the Ghost's Walk. If the tread is an echo, it
is an echo that is only heard after dark, and is often unheard for a
long while together. But it comes back from time to time; and so sure
as there is sickness or death in the family, it will be heard then.'


eAnd disgrace, grandmother--' says Watt.

eDisgrace never comes to Chesney Wold,' returns the housekeeper.

Her grandson apologizes with eTrue. True.'

eThat is the story. Whatever the sound is, it is a worrying sound,'
says Mrs Rouncewell, getting up from her chair; eand what is to be
noticed in it is that it must be heard. My Lady, who is afraid of nothing,
admits that when
it is there, it must be heard. You cannot shut it out.
Watt, there is a tall French clock behind you (placed there, 'a purpose)
that has a loud beat when it is in motion and can play music. You
understand how those things are managed?'

ePretty well, grandmother, I think.'

eSet it a-going.'

Watt sets it a-going--music and all.

eNow, come hither,' says the housekeeper. eHither, child, towards my
Lady's pillow. I am not sure that it is dark enough yet, but listen! Can
you hear the sound upon the terrace, through the music, and the
beat, and everything?'

eI certainly can!'

eSo my Lady says.'




Chapter VIII--Covering a Multitude of Sins



It was interesting when I dressed before daylight to peep out of
window, where my candles were reflected in the black panes like two
beacons, and finding all beyond still enshrouded in the indistinctness
of last night, to watch how it turned out when the day came on. As the
prospect gradually revealed itself and disclosed the scene over which
the wind had wandered in the dark, like my memory over my life, I
had a pleasure in discovering the unknown objects that had been
around me in my sleep. At first they were faintly discernible in the
mist, and above them the later stars still glimmered. That pale interval
over, the picture began to enlarge and fill up so fast that at every new
peep I could have found enough to look at for an hour. Imperceptibly
my candles became the only incongruous part of the morning, the
dark places in my room all melted away, and the day shone bright
upon a cheerful landscape, prominent in which the old Abbey Church,
with its massive tower, threw a softer train of shadow on the view
than seemed compatible with its rugged character. But so from rough
outsides (I hope I have learnt), serene and gentle influences often
proceed.


Every part of the house was in such order, and every one was so
attentive to me, that I had no trouble with my two bunches of keys,
though what with trying to remember the contents of each little store-
room drawer and cupboard; and what with making notes on a slate
about jams, and pickles, and preserves, and bottles, and glass, and
china, and a great many other things; and what with being generally a
methodical, old-maidish sort of foolish little person, I was so busy that
I could not believe it was breakfast-time when I heard the bell ring.
Away I ran, however, and made tea, as I had already been installed
into the responsibility of the tea-pot; and then, as they were all rather
late and nobody was down yet, I thought I would take a peep at the
garden and get some knowledge of that too. I found it quite a delight-
ful place--in front, the pretty avenue and drive by which we had
approached (and where, by the by, we had cut up the gravel so terribly
with our wheels that I asked the gardener to roll it); at the back, the
flower-garden, with my darling at her window up there, throwing it
open to smile out at me, as if she would have kissed me from that
distance. Beyond the flower-garden was a kitchen-garden, and then
a paddock, and then a snug little rick-yard, and then a dear little farm-
yard. As to the house itself, with its three peaks in the roof;
its var-
ious-shaped windows, some so large, some so small, and all so pretty;
its trellis-work, against the southfront for roses and honeysuckle,
and its homely, comfortable, welcoming look
--it was, as Ada said
when she came out to meet me with her arm through that of its
master, worthy of her cousin John, a bold thing to say, though he
only pinched her dear cheek for it.


Mr Skimpole was as agreeable at breakfast as he had been overnight.
There was honey on the table, and it led him into a discourse about
bees. He had no objection to honey, he said (and I should think he
had not, for he seemed to like it), but he protested against the
overweening assumptions of bees. He didn't at all see why the busy
bee should be proposed as a model to him; he supposed the bee liked
to make honey, or he wouldn't do it--nobody asked him. It was not
necessary for the bee to make such a merit of his tastes. If every
confectioner went buzzing about the world banging against everything
that came in his way and egotistically calling upon everybody to take
notice that he was going to his work and must not be interrupted, the
world would be quite an unsupportable place.
Then, after all, it was a
ridiculous position to be smoked out of your fortune with brimstone
as soon as you had made it. You would have a very mean opinion of a
Manchester man if he spun cotton for no other purpose. He must say
he thought a drone the embodiment of a pleasanter and wiser idea.
The drone said unaffectedly, eYou will excuse me; I really cannot
attend to the shop! I find myself in a world in which there is so much
to see and so short a time to see it in that I must take the liberty of
looking about me and begging to be provided for by somebody who
doesn't want to look about him.' This appeared to Mr Skimpole to be
the drone philosophy, and he thought it a very good philosophy, al-
ways supposing the drone to be willing to be on good terms with the
bee, which, so far as he knew, the easy fellow always was, if the
consequential creature would only let him, and not be so conceited
about his honey!

He pursued this fancy with the lightest foot over a variety of ground
and made us all merry,
though again he seemed to have as serious a
meaning in what he said as he was capable of having. I left them still
listening to him when I withdrew to attend to my new duties. They
had occupied me for some time, and I was passing through the
passages on my return with my basket of keys on my arm when Mr
Jarndyce called me into a small room next his bed-chamber, which I
found to be in part a little library of books and papers and in part
quite a little museum of his boots and shoes and hat-boxes.

eSit down, my dear,' said Mr Jarndyce.
eThis, you must know, is the
growlery. When I am out of humour, I come and growl here.'


eYou must be here very seldom, sir,' said I.

eOh, you don't know me!' he returned. eWhen I am deceived or dis-
appointed in--the wind, and it's easterly, I take refuge here. The
growlery is the best-used room in the house. You are not aware of
half my humours yet. My dear, how you are trembling!'

I could not help it; I tried very hard, but being alone with that ben-
evolent presence, and meeting his kind eyes, and feeling so happy
and so honoured there, and my heart so full--

I kissed his hand. I don't know what I said, or even that I spoke. He
was disconcerted and walked to the window; I almost believed with an
intention of jumping out, until he turned and I was reassured by see-
ing in his eyes what he had gone there to hide. He gently patted me
on the head, and I sat down.

eThere! There!' he said. eThat's over. Pooh! Don't be foolish.'

eIt shall not happen again, sir,' I returned, ebut at first it is difficult--'

eNonsense!' he said. eIt's easy, easy. Why not? I hear of a good little
orphan girl without a protector, and I take it into my head to be that
protector. She grows up, and more than justifies my good opinion, and
I remain her guardian and her friend. What is there in all this? So, so!
Now, we have cleared off old scores, and I have before me thy plea-
sant, trusting, trusty face again.'

I said to myself, eEsther, my dear, you surprise me! This really is not
what I expected of you!' And it had such a good effect that I folded
my hands upon my basket and quite recovered myself. Mr Jarndyce,
expressing his approval in his face,
began to talk to me as confiden-
tially as if I had been in the habit of conversing with him every morn-
ing for I don't know how long. I almost felt as if I had.

eOf course, Esther,' he said, eyou don't understand this Chancery
business?'


And of course I shook my head.

eI don't know who does,' he returned. eThe lawyers have twisted it
into such a state of bedevilment that the original merits of the case
have long disappeared from the face of the earth. It's about a will and
the trusts under a will--or it was once. It's about nothing but costs
now. We are always appearing, and disappearing, and swearing, and
interrogating, and filing, and cross-filing, and arguing, and sealing,
and motioning, and referring, and reporting, and revolving about the
Lord Chancellor and all his satellites, and equitably waltzing ourselves
off to dusty death, about costs. That's the great question. All the rest,
by some extraordinary means, has melted away.'


eBut it was, sir,' said I, to bring him back, for he began to rub his
head, eabout a will?'

eWhy, yes, it was about a will when it was about anything,' he
returned. eA certain Jarndyce, in an evil hour, made a great fortune,
and made a great will. In the question how the trusts under that will
are to be administered, the fortune left by the will is squandered away;
the legatees under the will are reduced to such a miserable condition
that they would be sufficiently punished if they had committed an
enormous crime in having money left them, and the will itself is made
a dead letter. All through the deplorable cause, everything that
everybody in it, except one man, knows already is referred to that only
one man who don't know, it to find out--
all through the deplorable
cause, everybody must have copies, over and over again, of everything
that has accumulated about it in the way of cartloads of papers (or
must pay for them without having them, which is the usual course,
for nobody wants them) and must go down the middle and up again
through such an infernal country-dance of costs and fees and
nonsense and corruption as was never dreamed of in the wildest
visions of a witch's Sabbath. Equity sends questions to law, law sends
questions back to equity; law finds it can't do this, equity finds it can't
do that; neither can so much as say it can't do anything, without this
solicitor instructing and this counsel appearing for A, and that
solicitor instructing and that counsel appearing for B; and so on
through the whole alphabet, like the history of the apple pie.
And
thus, through years and years, and lives and lives, everything goes on,
constantly beginning over and over again, and nothing ever ends. And
we can't get out of the suit on any terms, for we are made parties to it,
and must be parties to it, whether we like it or not. But it won't do to
think of it!
When my great uncle, poor Tom Jarndyce, began to think
of it, it was the beginning of the end!'

eThe Mr Jarndyce, sir, whose story I have heard?'

He nodded gravely. eI was his heir, and this was his house, Esther.
When I came here, it was bleak indeed. He had left the signs of his
misery upon it.'

eHow changed it must be now!' I said.

eIt had been called, before his time, the Peaks. He gave it its present
name and lived here shut up, day and night poring over the wicked
heaps of papers in the suit and hoping against hope to disentangle it
from its mystification and bring it to a close. In the meantime, the
place became dilapidated, the wind whistled through the cracked
walls, the rain fell through the broken roof, the weeds choked the
passage to the rotting door. When I brought what remained of him
home here, the brains seemed to me to have been blown out of the
house too, it was so shattered and ruined.'


He walked a little to and fro after saying this to himself with a
shudder, and then looked at me, and brightened, and came and sat
down again with his hands in his pockets.

eI told you this was the growlery, my dear. Where was I?'

I reminded him, at the hopeful change he had made in Bleak House.

eBleak House; true. There is, in that city of London there, some
property of ours which is much at this day what Bleak House was
then; I say property of ours, meaning of the suit's, but
I ought to call it
the property of costs, for costs is the only power on earth that will ever
get anything out of it now or will ever know it for anything but an
eyesore and a heartsore. It is a street of perishing blind houses, with
their eyes stoned out, without a pane of glass, without so much as a
window-frame, with the bare blank shutters tumbling from their
hinges and falling asunder, the iron rails peeling away in flakes of
rust, the chimneys sinking in, the stone steps to every door (and every
door might be death's door) turning stagnant green, the very crutches
on which the ruins are propped decaying.
Although Bleak House was
not in Chancery, its master was, and it was stamped with the same
seal. These are the Great Seal's impressions, my dear, all over
England--the children know them!'


eHow changed it is!' I said again.

eWhy, so it is,' he answered much more cheerfully; eand it is wisdom
in you to keep me to the bright side of the picture.' (The idea of my
wisdom!) eThese are things I never talk about or even think about,
excepting in the growlery here.
If you consider it right to mention them
to Rick and Ada,' looking seriously at me, eyou can. I leave it to your
discretion, Esther.'

eI hope, sir--' said I.

eI think you had better call me guardian, my dear.'

I felt that I was choking again--I taxed myself with it, eEsther, now,
you know you are!'--when he feigned to say this slightly, as if it were a
whim instead of a thoughtful tenderness. But I gave the housekeeping
keys the least shake in the world as a reminder to myself, and folding
my hands in a still more determined manner on the basket, looked at
him quietly.

eI hope, guardian,' said I, ethat you may not trust too much to my
discretion.
I hope you may not mistake me. I am afraid it will be a
disappointment to you to know that I am not clever, but it really is
the truth, and you would soon find it out if I had not the honesty to
confess it.'

He did not seem at all disappointed; quite the contrary. He told me,
with a smile all over his face, that he knew me very well indeed and
that I was quite clever enough for him.

eI hope I may turn out so,' said I, ebut I am much afraid of it,
guardian.'


eYou are clever enough to be the good little woman of our lives here,
my dear,' he returned playfully; ethe little old woman of the child's (I
don't mean Skimpole's) rhyme:

@@@@@@e'Little old woman, and whither so high?'
@@@@@@'To sweep the cobwebs out of the sky.'

eYou will sweep them so neatly out of OUR sky in the course of your
housekeeping, Esther, that one of these days we shall have to
abandon the growlery and nail up the door.'


This was the beginning of my being called Old Woman, and Little Old
Woman, and Cobweb, and Mrs Shipton, and Mother Hubbard, and
Dame Durden, and so many names of that sort that my own name
soon became quite lost among them.

eHowever,' said Mr Jarndyce, eto return to our gossip. Here's Rick, a
fine young fellow full of promise. What's to be done with him?'


Oh, my goodness, the idea of asking my advice on such a point!

eHere he is, Esther,' said Mr Jarndyce, comfortably putting his hands
into his pockets and stretching out his legs. eHe must have a
profession; he must make some choice for himself. There will be a
world more wiglomeration about it, I suppose, but it must be done.'

eMore what, guardian?' said I.


eMore wiglomeration,' said he. eIt's the only name I know for the
thing.@He is a ward in Chancery, my dear. Kenge and Carboy will have
something to say about it; Master Somebody--a sort of ridiculous
sexton, digging graves for the merits of causes in a back room at the
end of Quality Court, Chancery Lane
--will have something to say
about it; counsel will have something to say about it; the Chancellor
will have something to say about it; the satellites will have something
to say about it;
they will all have to be handsomely fed, all round,
about it; the whole thing will be vastly ceremonious, wordy,@un[
satisfactory, and expensive, and I call it, in general, wiglomeration.
How mankind ever came to be afflicted with wiglomeration, or for
whose sins these young people ever fell into a pit of it, I don't know;
so it is.'


He began to rub his head again and to hint that he felt the wind. But
it was a delightful instance of his kindness towards me that whether
he rubbed his head, or walked about, or did both, his face was sure to
recover its benignant expression as it looked at mine; and he was sure
to turn comfortable again and put his hands in his pockets and stretch
out his legs.

ePerhaps it would be best, first of all,' said I, eto ask Mr Richard what
he inclines to himself.'

eExactly so,' he returned. eThat's what I mean! You know, just ac-
custom yourself to talk it over, with your tact and in your quiet way,
with him and Ada, and see what you all make of it. We are sure to
come at the heart of the matter by your means, little woman.'

I really was frightened at the thought of the importance I was at-
taining and the number of things that were being confided to me. I
had not meant this at all; I had meant that he should speak to Rich-
ard. But of course I said nothing in reply except that I would do
my best, though I feared (I realty felt it necessary to repeat this)
that he thought me much more sagacious than I was. At which my
guardian only laughed the pleasantest laugh I ever heard.

eCome!' he said, rising and pushing back his chair. eI think we may
have done with the growlery for one day!
Only a concluding word.
Esther, my dear, do you wish to ask me anything?'

He looked so attentively at me that I looked attentively at him and felt
sure I understood him.

eAbout myself, sir?' said I.

eYes.'

eGuardian,' said I, venturing to put my hand, which was suddenly
colder than I could have wished, in his, enothing! I am quite sure that
if there were anything I ought to know or had any need to know, I
should not have to ask you to tell it to me. If my whole reliance and
confidence were not placed in you, I must have a hard heart indeed. I
have nothing to ask you, nothing in the world.'

He drew my hand through his arm and we went away to look for Ada.
From that hour I felt quite easy with him, quite unreserved, quite
content to know no more, quite happy.


We lived, at first, rather a busy life at Bleak House, for we had to
become acquainted with many residents in and out of the neigh-
bourhood who knew Mr Jarndyce. It seemed to Ada and me that
everybody knew him who wanted to do anything with anybody else's
money. It amazed us when we began to sort his letters and to answer
some of them for him in the growlery of a morning to find how the
great object of the lives of nearly all his correspondents appeared to
be to form themselves into committees for getting in and laying out
money. The ladies were as desperate as the gentlemen; indeed, I think
they were even more so.
They threw themselves into committees in
the most impassioned manner and collected subscriptions with a
vehemence quite extraordinary. It appeared to us that some of them
must pass their whole lives in dealing out subscription-cards to the
whole post-office directory--shilling cards, half-crown cards, half-
sovereign cards, penny cards. They wanted everything. They wanted
wearing apparel, they wanted linen rags, they wanted money, they
wanted coals, they wanted soup, they wanted interest, they wanted
autographs, they wanted flannel, they wanted whatever Mr Jarndyce
had--or had not.
Their objects were as various as their demands. They
were going to raise new buildings, they were going to pay off debts on
old buildings, they were going to establish in a picturesque building
(engraving of proposed west elevation attached) the Sisterhood of
Mediaeval Marys, they were going to give a testimonial to Mrs Jellyby,
they were going to have their secretary's portrait painted and pre-
sented to his mother-in-law, whose deep devotion to him was well
known, they were going to get up everything, I really believe, from five
hundred thousand tracts to an annuity and from a marble monument
to a silver tea-pot.
They took a multitude of titles. They were the
Women of England, the Daughters of Britain, the Sisters of all the
cardinal virtues separately, the Females of America, the Ladies of a
hundred denominations.
They appeared to be always excited about
canvassing and electing. They seemed to our poor wits, and according
to their own accounts, to be constantly polling people by tens of
thousands, yet never bringing their candidates in for anything. It
made our heads ache to think, on the whole, what feverish lives
they must lead.


Among the ladies who were most distinguished for this rapacious
benevolence (if I may use the expression) was a Mrs Pardiggle
, who
seemed, as I judged from the number of her letters to Mr Jarndyce, to
be almost as powerful a correspondent as Mrs Jellyby herself. We
observed that the wind always changed when Mrs Pardiggle became
the subject of conversation and that it invariably interrupted Mr
Jarndyce and prevented his going any farther, when he had remarked
that there were
two classes of charitable people; one, the people who
did a little and made a great deal of noise; the other, the people who
did a great deal and made no noise at all.
We were therefore curious
to see Mrs Pardiggle, suspecting her to be a type of the former class,
and@were glad when she called one day with her five young sons.


She was a formidable style of lady with spectacles, a prominent nose,
and a loud voice, who had the effect of wanting a great deal of room.
And she really did, for she knocked down little chairs with her skirts
that were quite a great way off. As only Ada and I were at home, we
received her timidly, for she seemed to come in like cold weather and
to make the little Pardiggles blue as they followed.

eThese, young ladies,' said Mrs Pardiggle with great volubility after the
first salutations, eare my five boys. You may have seen their names in
a printed subscription list (perhaps more than one) in the possession
of our esteemed friend Mr Jarndyce. Egbert, my eldest (twelve), is the
boy who sent out his pocket-money, to the amount of five and
threepence, to the Tockahoopo Indians. Oswald, my second (ten and a
half), is the child who contributed two and nine-pence to the Great
National Smithers Testimonial. Francis, my third (nine), one and
sixpence halfpenny; Felix, my fourth (seven), eightpence to the
Superannuated Widows; Alfred, my youngest (five), has voluntarily
enrolled himself in the Infant Bonds of Joy, and is pledged never,
through life, to use tobacco in any form.'

We had never seen such dissatisfied children. It was not merely that
they were weazened and shrivelled--though they were certainly that
too--but they looked absolutely ferocious with discontent. At the
mention of the Tockahoopo Indians, I could really have supposed
Egbert to be one of the most baleful members of that tribe, he gave me
such a savage frown. The face of each child, as the amount of his
contribution was mentioned, darkened in a peculiarly vindictive
manner, but his was by far the worst. I must except, however, the
little recruit into the Infant Bonds of Joy, who was stolidly and evenly
miserable.


eYou have been visiting, I understand,' said Mrs Pardiggle, eat Mrs
Jellyby's?'

We said yes, we had passed one night there.


eMrs Jellyby,' pursued the lady, always speaking in the same demon-
strative, loud, hard tone, so that her voice impressed my fancy as if
it had a sort of spectacles on too--and I may take the opportunity
of remarking that her spectacles were made the less engaging by her
eyes being what Ada called echoking eyes,' meaning very prominent--

'Mrs Jellyby is a benefactor to society and deserves a helping hand.
My boys have contributed to the African project--Egbert, one and six,
being the entire allowance of nine weeks; Oswald, one and a penny
halfpenny, being the same; the rest, according to their little means.
Nevertheless, I do not go with Mrs Jellyby in all things. I do not go
with Mrs Jellyby in her treatment of her young family. It has been
noticed. It has been observed that her young family are excluded from
participation in the objects to which she is devoted. She may be right,
she may be wrong; but, right or wrong, this is not my course with my
young family. I take them everywhere.'


I was afterwards convinced (and so was Ada) that from the ill-condi-
tioned eldest child, these words extorted a sharp yell. He turned
it off into a yawn, but it began as a yell.


eThey attend matins with me (very prettily done) at half-past six
o'clock in the morning all the year round, including of course the
depth of winter,' said Mrs Pardiggle rapidly, eand they are with me
during the revolving duties of the day. I am a School lady, I am a
Visiting lady, I am a Reading lady, I am a Distributing lady; I am on
the local Linen Box Committee and many general committees; and my
canvassing alone is very extensive--perhaps no one's more so. But
they are my companions everywhere; and by these means
they ac-
quire that knowledge of the poor, and that capacity of doing charita-
ble business in general--in short, that taste for the sort of thing--
which will render them in after life a service to their neighbours and
a satisfaction to themselves. My young family are not frivolous; they
expend the entire amount of their allowance in subscriptions, under
my direction; and they have attended as many public meetings and
listened to as many lectures, orations, and discussions as generally
fall to the lot of few grown people. Alfred (five), who, as I mentioned,
has of his own election joined the Infant Bonds of Joy, was one of the
very few children who manifested consciousness on that occasion
after a fervid address of two hours from the chairman of the evening.'

Alfred glowered at us as if he never could, or would, forgive the injury
of that night.


eYou may have observed, Miss Summerson,' said Mrs Pardiggle, ein
some of the lists to which I have referred, in the possession of our
esteemed friend Mr Jarndyce, that the names of my young family are
concluded with the name of O. A. Pardiggle, F.R.S., one pound. That is
their father. We usually observe the same routine. I put down my mite
first; then my young family enrol their contributions, according to
their ages and their little means; and then Mr Pardiggle brings up the
rear. Mr Pardiggle is happy to throw in his limited donation, under my
direction; and thus things are made not only pleasant to ourselves,
but, we trust, improving to others.'

Suppose Mr Pardiggle were to dine with Mr Jellyby, and suppose Mr
Jellyby were to relieve his mind after dinner to Mr Pardiggle, would Mr
Pardiggle, in return, make any confidential communication to Mr Jellyby?
I was quite confused to find myself thinking this, but it came into my
head.


eYou are very pleasantly situated here!' said Mrs Pardiggle.

We were glad to change the subject, and going to the window, pointed
out the beauties of the prospect, on which the spectacles appeared to
me to rest with curious indifference.

eYou know Mr Gusher?' said our visitor.

We were obliged to say that we had not the pleasure of Mr Gusher's
acquaintance.

eThe loss is yours, I assure you,' said Mrs Pardiggle with her
commanding deportment. eHe is a very fervid, impassioned speaker--
full of fire! Stationed in a waggon on this lawn, now, which, from the
shape of the land, is naturally adapted to a public meeting, he would
improve almost any occasion you could mention for hours and hours!
By this time, young ladies,' said Mrs Pardiggle, moving back to her
chair and overturning, as if by invisible agency, a little round table at
a considerable distance with my work-basket on it, eby this time you
have found me out, I dare say?'


This was really such a confusing question that Ada looked at me in
perfect dismay. As to the guilty nature of my own consciousness after
what I had been thinking, it must have been expressed in the colour
of my cheeks.

eFound out, I mean,' said Mrs Pardiggle, ethe prominent point in my
character. I am aware that it is so prominent as to be discoverable
immediately. I lay myself open to detection, I know. Well! I freely
admit, I am a woman of business. I love hard work; I enjoy hard work.
The excitement does me good.
I am so accustomed and inured to hard
work that I don't know what fatigue is.'


We murmured that it was very astonishing and very gratifying, or
something to that effect.
I don't think we knew what it was either, but
this is what our politeness expressed.

eI do not understand what it is to be tired; you cannot tire me if you
try!' said Mrs Pardiggle. eThe quantity of exertion (which is no exertion
to me), the amount of business (which I regard as nothing), that I go
through sometimes astonishes myself. I have seen my young family,
and Mr Pardiggle, quite worn out with witnessing it, when I may truly
say I have been as fresh as a lark!'


If that dark-visaged eldest boy could look more malicious than he had
already looked, this was the time when he did it. I observed that
he
doubled his right fist and delivered a secret blow into the crown of his
cap
, which was under his left arm.

eThis gives me a great advantage when I am making my rounds,' said
Mrs Pardiggle. eIf I find a person unwilling to hear what I have to say, I
tell that person directly,
'I am incapable of fatigue, my good friend, I
am never tired, and I mean to go on until I have done.' It answers
admirably!
Miss Summerson, I hope I shall have your assistance in
my visiting rounds immediately, and Miss Clare's very soon.'

At first I tried to excuse myself for the present on the general ground
of having occupations to attend to which I must not neglect. But as
this was an ineffectual protest, I then said, more particularly, that I
was not sure of my qualifications.
That I was inexperienced in the
art of adapting my mind to minds very differently situated, and add-
ressing them from suitable points of view. That I had not that
delicate knowledge of the heart which must be essential to such a
work. That I had much to learn, myself, before I could teach others,
and that I could not confide in my good intentions alone.
For these
reasons I thought it best to be as useful as I could, and to render what
kind services I could to those immediately about me, and to try to let
that circle of duty gradually and naturally expand itself. All this I said
with anything but confidence, because Mrs Pardiggle was much older
than I, and had great experience, and was so very military in her
manners.


eYou are wrong, Miss Summerson,' said she, ebut perhaps you are not
equal to hard work or the excitement of it, and that makes a vast
difference.
If you would like to see how I go through my work, I am
now about--with my young family--to visit a brickmaker in the
neighbourhood (a very bad character) and shall be glad to take you
with me. Miss Clare also, if she will do me the favour.'

Ada and I interchanged looks, and as we were going out in any case,
accepted the offer. When we hastily returned from putting on our
bonnets, we found the young family languishing in a corner and Mrs
Pardiggle sweeping about the room, knocking down nearly all the light
objects it contained. Mrs Pardiggle took possession of Ada, and I
followed with the family.

Ada told me afterwards that Mrs Pardiggle talked in the same loud
tone (that, indeed, I overheard) all the way to the brickmaker's about
an exciting contest which she had for two or three years waged
against another lady relative to the bringing in of their rival cand-
idates for a pension somewhere.
There had been a quantity of
printing, and promising, and proxying, and polling, and it appeared
to have imparted great liveliness to all concerned, except the
pensioners
--who were not elected yet.

I am very fond of being confided in by children and am happy in being
usually favoured in that respect, but on this occasion it gave me great
uneasiness. As soon as we were out of doors,
Egbert, with the manner
of a little footpad, demanded a shilling of me on the ground that his
pocket-money was eboned' from him.
On my pointing out the great
impropriety of the word, especially in connexion with his parent (for
he added sulkily eBy her!'), he pinched me and said, eOh, then! Now!
Who are you! You wouldn't like it, I think?
What does she make a
sham for, and pretend to give me money, and take it away again? Why
do you call it my allowance, and never let me spend it?' These
exasperating questions so inflamed his mind and the minds of Oswald
and Francis that they all pinched me at once
, and in a dreadfully
expert way--screwing up such little pieces of my arms that I could
hardly forbear crying out. Felix, at the same time, stamped upon my
toes. And the Bond of Joy, who on account of always having the whole
of his little income anticipated stood in fact pledged to abstain from
cakes as well as tobacco, so swelled with grief and rage when we
passed a pastry-cook's shop that he terrified me by becoming purple. I
never underwent so much, both in body and mind, in the course of a
walk with young people as from these unnaturally constrained
children when they paid me the compliment of being natural.


I was glad when we came to the brickmaker's house, though it was
one of a cluster of wretched hovels in a brick-field, with pigsties close
to the broken windows and miserable little gardens before the doors
growing nothing but stagnant pools. Here and there an old tub was
put to catch the droppings of rain-water from a roof, or they were
banked up with mud into a little pond like a large dirt-pie. At the
doors and windows some men and women lounged or prowled about,
and took little notice of us except to laugh to one another or to say
something as we passed about gentlefolks minding their own business
and not troubling their heads and muddying their shoes with coming
to look after other people's.


Mrs Pardiggle, leading the way with a great show of moral deter-
mination and talking with much volubility about the untidy habits of
the people
(though I doubted if the best of us could have been tidy
in such a place), conducted us into a cottage at the farthest cor-
ner, the ground-floor room of which we nearly filled. Besides our-
selves,
there were in this damp, offensive room a woman with a
black eye, nursing a poor little gasping baby by the fire; a man, all
stained with clay and mud and looking very dissipated
, lying at full
length on the ground, smoking a pipe; a powerful young man fas-
tening a collar on a dog;
and a bold girl doing some kind of washing
in very dirty water.
They all looked up at us as we came in, and the
woman seemed to turn her face towards the fire as if to hide her
bruised eye; nobody gave us any welcome.


eWell, my friends,' said Mrs Pardiggle, but her voice had not a friendly
sound, I thought; it was much too business-like and systematic.
eHow
do you do, all of you? I am here again. I told you, you couldn't tire me,
you know. I am fond of hard work, and am true to my word.'

eThere an't,' growled the man on the floor, whose head rested on his
hand as he stared at us, eany more on you to come in, is there?'

eNo, my friend,' said Mrs Pardiggle, seating herself on one stool and
knocking down another. eWe are all here.'

eBecause I thought there warn't enough of you, perhaps?' said the
man, with his pipe between his lips as he looked round upon us.

The young man and the girl both laughed. Two friends of the young
man, whom we had attracted to the doorway and who stood there with
their hands in their pockets, echoed the laugh noisily.


eYou can't tire me, good people,' said Mrs Pardiggle to these latter. eI
enjoy hard work, and the harder you make mine, the better I like it.'


eThen make it easy for her!' growled the man upon the floor. eI wants
it done, and over. I wants a end of these liberties took with my place.
I wants an end of being drawed like a badger. Now you're a-going to
poll-pry and question according to custom--I know what you're agoing
to be up to. Well! You haven't got no occasion to be up to it. I'll
save you the trouble. Is my daughter a-washin? Yes, she IS a-washin.
Look at the water. Smell it! That's wot we drinks. How do you like it,
and what do you think of gin instead! An't my place dirty? Yes, it is
dirty--it's nat'rally dirty, and it's nat'rally onwholesome; and we've
had five dirty and onwholesome children, as is all dead infants, and so
much the better for them, and for us besides.
Have I read the little
book wot you left? No, I an't read the little book wot you left. There
an't nobody here as knows how to read it; and if there wos, it wouldn't
be suitable to me.
It's a book fit for a babby, and I'm not a babby. If
you was to leave me a doll, I shouldn't nuss it.
How have I been
conducting of myself? Why, I've been drunk for three days; and I'da
been drunk four if I'da had the money. Don't I never mean for to go to
church? No, I don't never mean for to go to church. I shouldn't be
expected there, if I did; the beadle's too gen-teel for me. And how did
my wife get that black eye? Why, I give it her; and if she says I didn't,
she's a lie!'


He had pulled his pipe out of his mouth to say all this, and he now
turned over on his other side and smoked again. Mrs Pardiggle, who
had been
regarding him through her spectacles with a forcible
composure, calculated, I could not help thinking, to increase his
antagonism
, pulled out a good book as if it were a constable's staff
and took the whole family into custody.
I mean into religious custody,
of course; but she really did it as if she were an inexorable moral
policeman carrying them all off to a station-house.


Ada and I were very uncomfortable. We both felt intrusive and out of
place, and we both thought that Mrs Pardiggle would have got on
infinitely better if she had not had such a mechanical way of taking
possession of people. The children sulked and stared; the family took
no notice of us whatever, except when the young man made the dog
bark, which he usually did when Mrs Pardiggle was most emphatic.
We both felt painfully sensible that between us and these people there
was an iron barrier which could not be removed by our new friend. By
whom or how it could be removed, we did not know, but we knew
that. Even what she read and said seemed to us to be ill-chosen for
such auditors, if it had been imparted ever so modestly and with ever
so much tact. As to the little book to which the man on the floor had
referred, we acquired a knowledge of it afterwards, and Mr Jarndyce
said he doubted if Robinson Crusoe could have read it, though he had
had no other on his desolate island.


We were much relieved, under these circumstances, when Mrs
Pardiggle left off.

The man on the floor, then turning his head round again, said
morosely, eWell! You've done, have you?'

eFor to-day, I have, my friend. But I am never fatigued. I shall come
to you again in your regular order,' returned Mrs Pardiggle with dem-
onstrative cheerfulness.

eSo long as you goes now,' said he, folding his arms and shutting his
eyes with an oath, eyou may do wot you like!'

Mrs Pardiggle accordingly rose and made a little vortex in the confined
room from which the pipe itself very narrowly escaped.
Taking one of
her young family in each hand, and telling the others to follow closely,
and expressing her hope that the brickmaker and all his house would
be improved when she saw them next, she then proceeded to another
cottage. I hope it is not unkind in me to say that she certainly did
make, in this as in everything else, a show that was not conciliatory of
doing charity by wholesale and of dealing in it to a large extent.

She supposed that we were following her, but as soon as the space
was left clear, we approached the woman sitting by the fire to ask if
the baby were ill.

She only looked at it as it lay on her lap. We had observed before that
when she looked at it she covered her discoloured eye with her hand,
as though she wished to separate any association with noise and
violence and ill treatment from the poor little child.

Ada, whose gentle heart was moved by its appearance, bent down to
touch its little face. As she did so, I saw what happened and drew her
back. The child died.


eOh, Esther!' cried Ada, sinking on her knees beside it. eLook here!
Oh,
Esther, my love, the little thing! The suffering, quiet, pretty little thing!

I am so sorry for it. I am so sorry for the mother. I never saw a sight so
pitiful as this before! Oh, baby, baby!'

Such compassion, such gentleness, as that with which she bent down
weeping and put her hand upon the mother's might have softened any
mother's heart that ever beat. The woman at first gazed at her in
astonishment and then burst into tears.

Presently I took the light burden from her lap, did what I could to
make the baby's rest the prettier and gentler, laid it on a shelf, and
covered it with my own handkerchief. We tried to comfort the mother,
and we whispered to her what Our Saviour said of children. She
answered nothing, but sat weeping--weeping very much.


When I turned, I found that the young man had taken out the dog and
was standing at the door looking in upon us with dry eyes, but quiet.
The girl was quiet too and sat in a corner looking on the ground. The
man had risen. He still smoked his pipe with an air of defiance, but he
was silent.

An ugly woman, very poorly clothed, hurried in while I was glancing at
them, and coming straight up to the mother, said, eJenny! Jenny!' The
mother rose on being so addressed and fell upon the woman's neck.

She also had upon her face and arms the marks of ill usage. She had
no kind of grace about her, but the grace of sympathy; but when she
condoled with the woman, and her own tears fell, she wanted no
beauty.
I say condoled, but her only words were eJenny! Jenny!' All the
rest was in the tone in which she said them.


I thought it very touching to see these two women, coarse and shabby
and beaten, so united; to see what they could be to one another; to
see how they felt for one another, how the heart of each to each was
softened by the hard trials of their lives. I think the best side of such
people is almost hidden from us. What the poor are to the poor is little
known, excepting to themselves and God.


We felt it better to withdraw and leave them uninterrupted. We stole
out quietly and without notice from any one except the man. He was
leaning against the wall near the door, and finding that there was
scarcely room for us to pass, went out before us. He seemed to want
to hide that he did this on our account, but we perceived that he did,
and thanked him. He made no answer.

Ada was so full of grief all the way home, and Richard, whom we
found at home, was so distressed to see her in tears (though he said
to me, when she was not present, how beautiful it was too!), that we
arranged to return at night with some little comforts and repeat our
visit at the brick-maker's house.
We said as little as we could to Mr
Jarndyce, but the wind changed directly.

Richard accompanied us at night to the scene of our morning
expedition. On our way there, we had to pass a noisy drinking-house,
where a number of men were flocking about the door. Among them,
and prominent in some dispute, was the father of the little child. At a
short distance, we passed the young man and the dog, in congenial
company. The sister was standing laughing and talking with some
other young women at the corner of the row of cottages, but she
seemed ashamed and turned away as we went by.


We left our escort within sight of the brickmaker's dwelling and
proceeded by ourselves. When we came to the door, we found the
woman who had brought such consolation with her standing there
looking anxiously out.

eIt's you, young ladies, is it?' she said in a whisper. eI'm a-watching
for my master. My heart's in my mouth. If he was to catch me away
from home, he'd pretty near murder me.'

eDo you mean your husband?' said I.

eYes, miss, my master. Jenny's asleep, quite worn out. She's scarcely
had the child off her lap, poor thing, these seven days and nights,
except when I've been able to take it for a minute or two.'

As she gave way for us, she went softly in and put what we had
brought near the miserable bed on which the mother slept.
No effort
had been made to clean the room--it seemed in its nature almost
hopeless of being clean; but the small waxen form from which so
much solemnity diffused itself had been composed afresh, and
washed, and neatly dressed in some fragments of white linen; and on
my handkerchief, which still covered the poor baby, a little bunch of
sweet herbs had been laid by the same rough, scarred hands, so
lightly, so tenderly!


eMay heaven reward you!' we said to her. eYou are a good woman.'

eMe, young ladies?' she returned with surprise. eHush! Jenny, Jenny!'


The mother had moaned in her sleep and moved. The sound of the
familiar voice seemed to calm her again. She was quiet once more.

How little I thought, when I raised my handkerchief to look upon the
tiny sleeper underneath and seemed to see a halo shine around the
child through Ada's drooping hair as her pity bent her head--how
little I thought in whose unquiet bosom that handkerchief would come
to lie after covering the motionless and peaceful breast! I only thought
that perhaps the Angel of the child might not be all unconscious of the
woman who replaced it with so compassionate a hand; not all uncon-
scious of her presently, when we had taken leave, and left her at
the door, by turns looking, and listening in terror for herself, and
saying in her old soothing manner, eJenny, Jenny!'




Chapter IX--Signs and Tokens



I don't know how it is I seem to be always writing about myself. I
mean all the time to write about other people, and I try to think about
myself as little as possible, and I am sure, when I find myself coming
into the story again, I am really vexed and say, eDear, dear, you
tiresome little creature, I wish you wouldn't!' but it is all of no use. I
hope any one who may read what I write will understand that if these
pages contain a great deal about me, I can only suppose it must be
because I have really something to do with them and can't be kept
out.

My darling and I read together, and worked, and practised, and
found so much employment for our time that the winter days flew by
us like bright-winged birds.
Generally in the afternoons, and always in
the evenings, Richard gave us his company. Although he was one of
the most restless creatures in the world, he certainly was very fond of
our society.


He was very, very, very fond of Ada. I mean it, and I had better say it
at once. I had never seen any young people falling in love before, but I
found them out quite soon. I could not say so, of course, or show that
I knew anything about it. On the contrary, I was so demure and used
to seem so unconscious that sometimes I considered within myself
while I was sitting at work whether I was not growing quite deceitful.

But there was no help for it. All I had to do was to be quiet, and I was
as quiet as a mouse. They were as quiet as mice too, so far as any
words were concerned, but the innocent manner in which they relied
more and more upon me as they took more and more to one another
was so charming that I had great difficulty in not showing how it
interested me.

eOur dear little old woman is such a capital old woman,' Richard
would say, coming up to meet me in the garden early, with his plea-
sant laugh and perhaps the least tinge of a blush, ethat I can't get
on without her. Before I begin my harum-scarum day--grinding away
at those books and instruments and then galloping up hill and down
dale, all the country round, like a highwayman--it does me so much
good to come and have a steady walk with our comfortable friend,
that here I am again!'

eYou know, Dame Durden, dear,' Ada would say at night, with her
head upon my shoulder and the firelight shining in her thoughtful
eyes, eI don't want to talk when we come upstairs here. Only to sit a
little while thinking, with your dear face for company, and to hear the
wind and remember the poor sailors at sea--'

Ah! Perhaps Richard was going to be a sailor. We had talked it over
very often now, and there was some talk of gratifying the inclination
of his childhood for the sea.
Mr Jarndyce had written to a relation of
the family, a great Sir Leicester Dedlock, for his interest in Richard's
favour, generally; and Sir Leicester had replied in a gracious manner
that he would be happy to advance the prospects of the young
gentleman if it should ever prove to be within his power, which was
not at all probable, and that my Lady sent her compliments to the
young gentleman (to whom she perfectly remembered that she was
allied by remote consanguinity) and trusted that he would ever do his
duty in any honourable profession to which he might devote himself.

eSo I apprehend it's pretty clear,' said Richard to me, ethat I shall have
to work my own way. Never mind! Plenty of people have had to do that
before now, and have done it. I only wish I had the command of a
clipping privateer to begin with and could carry off the Chancellor and
keep him on short allowance until he gave judgment in our cause.
He'd find himself growing thin, if he didn't look sharp!'

With a buoyancy and hopefulness and a gaiety that hardly ever
flagged, Richard had a carelessness in his character that quite
perplexed me, principally because he mistook it, in such a very odd
way, for prudence. It entered into all his calculations about money in
a singular manner
which I don't think I can better explain than by
reverting for a moment to our loan to Mr Skimpole.

Mr Jarndyce had ascertained the amount, either from Mr Skimpole
himself or from Coavinses, and had placed the money in my hands
with instructions to me to retain my own part of it and hand the rest
to Richard. The number of little acts of thoughtless expenditure which
Richard justified by the recovery of his ten pounds, and the number of
times he talked to me as if he had saved or realized that amount,
would form a sum in simple addition.

eMy prudent Mother Hubbard, why not?' he said to me when he
wanted, without the least consideration, to bestow five pounds on the
brickmaker. eI made ten pounds, clear, out of Coavinses' business.'

eHow was that?' said I.

eWhy, I got rid of ten pounds which I was quite content to get rid of
and never expected to see any more. You don't deny that?'

eNo,' said I.

eVery well! Then I came into possession of ten pounds--'

eThe same ten pounds,' I hinted.

eThat has nothing to do with it!' returned Richard. eI have got ten
pounds more than I expected to have, and consequently I can afford to
spend it without being particular.'

In exactly the same way, when he was persuaded out of the sacrifice
of these five pounds by being convinced that it would do no good, he
carried that sum to his credit and drew upon it.


eLet me see!' he would say. eI saved five pounds out of the brick-
maker's affair, so if I have a good rattle to London and back in a post-
chaise and put that down at four pounds, I shall have saved one. And
it's a very good thing to save one, let me tell you: a penny saved is a
penny got!'


I believe Richard's was as frank and generous a nature as there
possibly can be. He was ardent and brave, and in the midst of all his
wild restlessness, was so gentle that I knew him like a brother in a few
weeks. His gentleness was natural to him and would have shown itself
abundantly even without Ada's influence; but with it, he became one
of the most winning of companions, always so ready to be interested
and always so happy, sanguine, and light-hearted. I am sure that I,
sitting with them, and walking with them, and talking with them, and
noticing from day to day how they went on, falling deeper and deeper
in love, and saying nothing about it, and each shyly thinking that this
love was the greatest of secrets, perhaps not yet suspected even by the
other--I am sure that I was scarcely less enchanted than they were
and scarcely less pleased with the pretty dream.

We were going on in this way, when one morning at breakfast Mr
Jarndyce received a letter, and looking at the superscription, said,
eFrom Boythorn? Aye, aye!' and opened and read it with evident
pleasure,
announcing to us in a parenthesis when he was about half-
way through, that Boythorn was ecoming down' on a visit. Now who
was Boythorn, we all thought. And I dare say we all thought too--I
am sure I did, for one--would Boythorn at all interfere with what
was going forward?

eI went to school with this fellow, Lawrence Boythorn,' said Mr
Jarndyce, tapping the letter as he laid it on the table, emore than
five and forty years ago. He was then the most impetuous boy in
the world, and he is now the most impetuous man. He was then the
loudest boy in the world, and he is now the loudest man. He was
then the heartiest and sturdiest boy in the world, and he is now the
heartiest and sturdiest man. He is a tremendous fellow.'

eIn stature, sir?' asked Richard.

ePretty well, Rick, in that respect,' said Mr Jarndyce; ebeing some ten
years older than I and a couple of inches taller, with his head thrown
back like an old soldier, his stalwart chest squared, his hands like a
clean blacksmith's, and his lungs! There's no simile for his lungs.
Talking, laughing, or snoring, they make the beams of the house
shake.'


As Mr Jarndyce sat enjoying the image of his friend Boythorn, we
observed the favourable omen that there was not the least indication
of any change in the wind.

eBut it's the inside of the man, the warm heart of the man, the pass-
ion of the man, the fresh blood of the man, Rick--and Ada, and little
Cobweb too, for you are all interested in a visitor--that I speak of,'
he pursued. eHis language is as sounding as his voice. He is always in
extremes, perpetually in the superlative degree.
In his condemnation
he is all ferocity. You might suppose him to be an ogre from what he
says, and I believe he has the reputation of one with some people.
There! I tell you no more of him beforehand. You must not be
surprised to see him take me under his protection, for he has never
forgotten that I was a low boy at school and that our friendship began
in his knocking two of my head tyrant's teeth out (he says six) before
breakfast. Boythorn and his man,' to me, ewill be here this afternoon,
my dear.'


I took care that the necessary preparations were made for Mr Boy-
thorn's reception, and we looked forward to his arrival with some
curiosity. The afternoon wore away, however, and he did not appear.
The dinner-hour arrived, and still he did not appear. The dinner was
put back an hour, and we were sitting round the fire with no light
but the blaze when
the hall-door suddenly burst open and the hall
resounded with these words, uttered with the greatest vehemence and
in a stentorian tone: eWe have been misdirected, Jarndyce, by a most
abandoned ruffian, who told us to take the turning to the right instead
of to the left. He is the most intolerable scoundrel on the face of the
earth.
His father must have been a most consummate villain, ever to
have such a son. I would have had that fellow shot without the least
remorse!'

eDid he do it on purpose?' Mr Jarndyce inquired.

eI have not the slightest doubt that the scoundrel has passed his
whole existence in misdirecting travellers!' returned the other. eBy my
soul, I thought him the worst-looking dog I had ever beheld when he
was telling me to take the turning to the right.
And yet I stood before
that fellow face to face and didn't knock his brains out!'

eTeeth, you mean?' said Mr Jarndyce.

eHa, ha, ha!' laughed Mr Lawrence Boythorn, really making the whole
house vibrate. eWhat, you have not forgotten it yet! Ha, ha, ha! And
that was another most consummate vagabond!
By my soul, the count-
enance of that fellow when he was a boy was the blackest image of
perfidy, cowardice, and cruelty ever set up as a scarecrow in a field
of scoundrels. If I were to meet that most unparalleled despot in the
streets tomorrow, I would fell him like a rotten tree!'


eI have no doubt of it,' said Mr Jarndyce. eNow, will you come
upstairs?'

eBy my soul, Jarndyce,' returned his guest, who seemed to refer to his
watch, eif you had been married, I would have turned back
at the
garden-gate and gone away to the remotest summits of the Himalaya
Mountains sooner than I would have presented myself at this
unseasonable hour.'

eNot quite so far, I hope?' said Mr Jarndyce.

eBy my life and honour, yes!' cried the visitor. eI wouldn't be guilty of
the audacious insolence of keeping a lady of the house waiting all this
time for any earthly consideration. I would infinitely rather destroy
myself--infinitely rather!'

Talking thus, they went upstairs, and presently we heard him in his
bedroom thundering eHa, ha, ha!' and again eHa, ha, ha!' until the
flattest echo in the neighbourhood seemed to catch the contagion and
to laugh as enjoyingly as he did or as we did when we heard him
laugh.


We all conceived a prepossession in his favour, for there was a ster-
ling quality in this laugh, and in his vigorous, healthy voice, and in the
roundness and fullness with which he uttered every word he spoke,
and in the very fury of his superlatives, which seemed to go off like
blank cannons and hurt nothing.
But we were hardly prepared to
have it so confirmed by his appearance when Mr Jarndyce presented
him. He was not only a very handsome old gentleman--upright and
stalwart as he had been described to us--with a massive grey head, a
fine composure of face when silent, a figure that might have become
corpulent but for his being so continually in earnest that he gave it no
rest, and a chin that might have subsided into a double chin but for
the vehement emphasis in which it was constantly required to assist;
but he was such a true gentleman in his manner, so chivalrously
polite, his face was lighted by a smile of so much sweetness and
tenderness, and it seemed so plain that he had nothing to hide, but
showed himself exactly as he was--incapable, as Richard said, of
anything on a limited scale, and firing away with those blank great
guns because he carried no small arms whatever--that really I could
not help looking at him with equal pleasure as he sat at dinner,
whether he smilingly conversed with Ada and me, or was led by Mr
Jarndyce into some great volley of superlatives, or threw up his head
like a bloodhound and gave out that tremendous eHa, ha, ha!'


eYou have brought your bird with you, I suppose?' said Mr Jarndyce.

eBy heaven, he is the most astonishing bird in Europe!' replied the
other. eHe IS the most wonderful creature! I wouldn't take ten
thousand guineas for that bird. I have left an annuity for his sole
support in case he should outlive me.
He is, in sense and attachment,
a phenomenon. And his father before him was one of the most
astonishing birds that ever lived!'


The subject of this laudation was a very little canary, who was so tame
that he was brought down by Mr Boythorn's man, on his forefinger,
and
after taking a gentle flight round the room, alighted on his
master's head. To hear Mr Boythorn presently expressing the most
implacable and passionate sentiments, with this fragile mite of a
creature quietly perched on his forehead, was to have a good
illustration of his character, I thought.


eBy my soul, Jarndyce,' he said, very gently holding up a bit of bread
to the canary to peck at, eif I were in your place I would seize every
master in Chancery by the throat tomorrow morning and shake him
until his money rolled out of his pockets and his bones rattled in his
skin. I would have a settlement out of somebody, by fair means or by
foul. If you would empower me to do it, I would do it for you with the
greatest satisfaction!' (All this time the very small canary was eating
out of his hand.)


eI thank you, Lawrence, but the suit is hardly at such a point at
present,' returned Mr Jarndyce, laughing, ethat it would be greatly
advanced even by the legal process of shaking the bench and the
whole bar.
'

eThere never was such an infernal cauldron as that Chancery on the
face of the earth!' said Mr Boythorn. eNothing but a mine below it on a
busy day in term time, with all its records, rules, and precedents
collected in it and every functionary belonging to it also, high and low,
upward and downward, from its son the Accountant-General to its
father the Devil, and the whole blown to atoms with ten thousand
hundredweight of gunpowder, would reform it in the least!'


It was impossible not to laugh at the energetic gravity with which he
recommended this strong measure of reform. When we laughed, he
threw up his head and shook his broad chest, and again the whole
country seemed to echo to his eHa, ha, ha!' It had not the least effect
in disturbing the bird, whose sense of security was complete and who
hopped about the table with its quick head now on this side and now
on that, turning its bright sudden eye on its master as if he were no
more than another bird.


eBut how do you and your neighbour get on about the disputed right
of way?' said Mr Jarndyce. eYou are not free from the toils of the law
yourself!'

eThe fellow has brought actions against ME for trespass, and I have
brought actions against HIM for trespass,' returned Mr Boythorn. eBy
heaven, he is the proudest fellow breathing. It is morally impossible
that his name can be Sir Leicester. It must be Sir Lucifer.'

eComplimentary to our distant relation!' said my guardian laughingly
to Ada and Richard.

eI would beg Miss Clare's pardon and Mr Carstone's pardon,' resumed
our visitor, eif I were not reassured by seeing in the fair face of the lady
and the smile of the gentleman that it is quite unnecessary and that
they keep their distant relation at a comfortable distance.'

eOr he keeps us,' suggested Richard.


eBy my soul,' exclaimed Mr Boythorn, suddenly firing another volley,
ethat fellow is, and his father was, and his grandfather was, the most
stiff-necked, arrogant imbecile, pig-headed numskull, ever, by some
inexplicable mistake of Nature, born in any station of life but a
walking-stick's! The whole of that family are the most solemnly
conceited and consummate blockheads! But it's no matter;
he should
not shut up my path if he were fifty baronets melted into one and
living in a hundred Chesney Wolds, one within another, like the ivory
balls in a Chinese carving.
The fellow, by his agent, or secretary, or
somebody, writes to me 'Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet, presents his
compliments to Mr Lawrence Boythorn, and has to call his attention
to the fact that the green pathway by the old parsonage-house, now
the property of Mr Lawrence Boythorn, is Sir Leicester's right of way,
being in fact a portion of the park of chesney Wold, and that Sir Lei-
cester finds it convenient to close up the same.' I write to the fellow,

'Mr Lawrence Boythorn presents his compliments to Sir Leicester
Dedlock, Baronet, and has to call his attention to the fact that he
totally denies the whole of Sir Leicester Dedlock's positions on every
possible subject and has to add, in reference to closing up the path-
way, that he will be glad to see the man who may undertake to do
it.' The fellow sends a most abandoned villain with one eye to con-
struct a gateway. I play upon that execrable scoundrel with a fire-
engine until the breath is nearly driven out of his body. The fellow
erects a gate in the night. I chop it down and burn it in the morning.
He sends his myrmidons to come over the fence and pass and repass.
I catch them in humane man traps, fire split peas at their legs, play
upon them with the engine--resolve to free mankind from the insup-
portable burden of the existence of those lurking ruffians. He brings
actions for trespass; I bring actions for trespass. He brings actions
for assault and battery; I defend them and continue to assault and
batter. Ha, ha, ha!'


To hear him say all this with unimaginable energy, one might have
thought him the angriest of mankind. To see him at the very same
time, looking at the bird now perched upon his thumb and softly
smoothing its feathers with his forefinger, one might have thought him
the gentlest. To hear him laugh and see the broad good nature of his
face then, one might have supposed that he had not a care in the
world, or a dispute, or a dislike, but that his whole existence was a
summer joke.


eNo, no,' he said, eno closing up of my paths by any Dedlock! Though
I willingly confess,' here he softened in a moment, ethat Lady Ded-
lock is the most accomplished lady in the world, to whom I would do
any homage that a plain gentleman, and no baronet with a head seven
hundred years thick, may. A man who joined his regiment at twenty
and within a week challenged the most imperious and presumptuous
coxcomb of a commanding officer that ever drew the breath of life
through a tight waist--and got broke for it--is not the man to be
walked over by all the Sir Lucifers, dead or alive, locked or unlocked.
Ha, ha, ha!'


eNor the man to allow his junior to be walked over either?' said my
guardian.

eMost assuredly not!' said Mr Boythorn, clapping him on the shoulder
with an air of protection that had something serious in it, though he
laughed. eHe will stand by the low boy, always. Jarndyce, you may rely
upon him! But speaking of this trespass--with apologies to Miss Clare
and Miss Summerson for the length at which I have pursued so dry a
subject--is there nothing for me from your men Kenge and Carboy?'

eI think not, Esther?' said Mr Jarndyce.

eNothing, guardian.'

eMuch obliged!' said Mr Boythorn. eHad no need to ask, after even my
slight experience of Miss Summerson's forethought for every one
about her.'
(They all encouraged me; they were determined to do it.) eI
inquired because, coming from Lincolnshire, I of course have not yet
been in town, and I thought some letters might have been sent down
here. I dare say they will report progress tomorrow morning.'

I saw him so often in the course of the evening, which passed very
pleasantly, contemplate Richard and Ada with an interest and a
satisfaction that made his fine face remarkably agreeable as he sat at
a little distance from the piano listening to the music--and he had
small occasion to tell us that he was passionately fond of music, for
his face showed it
--that I asked my guardian as we sat at the
backgammon board whether Mr Boythorn had ever been married.

eNo,' said he. eNo.'

eBut he meant to be!' said I.

eHow did you find out that?' he returned with a smile.

eWhy, guardian,'I explained, not without reddening a little at hazarding
what was in my thoughts, ethere is something so tender in his manner,
after all, and he is so very courtly and gentle to us, and --'


Mr Jarndyce directed his eyes to where he was sitting as I have just
described him.

I said no more.

eYou are right, little woman,' he answered. eHe was all but married
once. Long ago. And once.'

eDid the lady die?'

eNo--but she died to him. That time has had its influence on all his
later life. Would you suppose him to have a head and a heart full of
romance yet?'


eI think, guardian, I might have supposed so. But it is easy to say that
when you have told me so.'

eHe has never since been what he might have been,' said Mr Jarndyce,
eand now you see him in his age with no one near him but his servant
and his little yellow friend.
It's your throw, my dear!'

I felt, from my guardian's manner, that beyond this point I could not
pursue the subject without changing the wind. I therefore forbore to
ask any further questions. I was interested, but not curious. I thought
a little while about this old love story in the night, when I was
awakened by Mr Boythorn's lusty snoring; and I tried to do that very
difficult thing, imagine old people young again and invested with the
graces of youth. But I fell asleep before I had succeeded, and dreamed
of the days when I lived in my godmother's house. I am not sufficiently
acquainted with such subjects to know whether it is at all remarkable
that I almost always dreamed of that period of my life.
With the morn-
ing there came a letter from Messrs. Kenge and Carboy to Mr Boy-
thorn informing him that one of their clerks would wait upon him at
noon. As it was the day of the week on which I paid the bills, and
added up my books, and made all the household affairs as compact
as possible, I remained at home while Mr Jarndyce, Ada, and Richard
took advantage of a very fine day to make a little excursion, Mr Boy-
thorn was to wait for Kenge and Carboy's clerk and then was to go
on foot to meet them on their return.

Well! I was full of business, examining tradesmen's books, adding up
columns, paying money, filing receipts, and I dare say making a great
bustle about it when Mr Guppy was announced and shown in. I had
had some idea that the clerk who was to be sent down might be the
young gentleman who had met me at the coach-office, and I was glad
to see him, because he was associated with my present happiness.

I scarcely knew him again, he was so uncommonly smart. He had an
entirely new suit of glossy clothes on, a shining hat, lilac-kid gloves, a
neckerchief of a variety of colours, a large hot-house flower in his
button-hole, and a thick gold ring on his little finger. Besides which,
he quite scented the dining-room with bear's-grease and other
perfumery. He looked at me with an attention that quite confused me
when I begged him to take a seat until the servant should return; and
as he sat there crossing and uncrossing his legs in a corner, and I
asked him if he had had a pleasant ride, and hoped that Mr Kenge
was well, I never looked at him, but I found him looking at me in the
same scrutinizing and curious way.


When the request was brought to him that he would go upstairs to Mr
Boythorn's room, I mentioned that he would find lunch prepared for
him when he came down, of which Mr Jarndyce hoped he would
partake. He said with some embarrassment, holding the handle of the
door, eShall I have the honour of finding you here, miss?' I replied
yes, I should be there; and he went out with a bow and another look.

I thought him only awkward and shy, for he was evidently much em-
barrassed; and I fancied that the best thing I could do would be to
wait until I saw that he had everything he wanted and then to leave
him to himself. The lunch was soon brought, but it remained for some
time on the table. The interview with Mr Boythorn was a long one, and
a stormy one too, I should think, for although his room was at some
distance I heard his loud voice rising every now and then like a high
wind, and evidently blowing perfect broadsides of denunciation.

At last Mr Guppy came back, looking something the worse for the
conference. eMy eye, miss,' he said in a low voice, ehe's a Tartar!'


ePray take some refreshment, sir,' said I.

Mr Guppy sat down at the table and began nervously sharpening the
carving-knife on the carving-fork, still looking at me (as I felt quite
sure without looking at him) in the same unusual manner. The sharp-
ening lasted so long that at last I felt a kind of obligation on me to
raise my eyes in order that I might break the spell under which he
seemed to labour, of not being able to leave off.

He immediately looked at the dish and began to carve.

eWhat will you take yourself, miss? You'll take a morsel of something?'

eNo, thank you,' said I.

eShan't I give you a piece of anything at all, miss?' said Mr Guppy,
hurriedly drinking off a glass of wine.

eNothing, thank you,' said I. eI have only waited to see that you have
everything you want. Is there anything I can order for you?'

eNo, I am much obliged to you, miss, I'm sure. I've everything that I
can require to make me comfortable--at least I--not comfortable--I'm
never that.' He drank off two more glasses of wine, one after another.

I thought I had better go.

eI beg your pardon, miss!' said Mr Guppy, rising when he saw me rise.

eBut would you allow me the favour of a minute's private conversation?'

Not knowing what to say, I sat down again.

eWhat follows is without prejudice, miss?' said Mr Guppy, anxiously
bringing a chair towards my table.

eI don't understand what you mean,' said I, wondering.

eIt's one of our law terms, miss. You won't make any use of it to my
detriment at Kenge and Carboy's or elsewhere. If our conversation
shouldn't lead to anything, I am to be as I was and am not to be
prejudiced in my situation or worldly prospects. In short, it's in total
confidence.'

eI am at a loss, sir,' said I, eto imagine what you can have to com-
municate in total confidence to me, whom you have never seen but
once; but I should be very sorry to do you any injury.'

eThank you, miss. I'm sure of it--that's quite sufficient.' All this time
Mr Guppy was either planing his forehead with his handkerchief or tigh-
tly rubbing the palm of his left hand with the palm of his right. eIf
you would excuse my taking another glass of wine, miss, I think it
might assist me in getting on without a continual choke that cannot
fail to be mutually unpleasant.'

He did so, and came back again. I took the opportunity of moving well
behind my table.

eYou wouldn't allow me to offer you one, would you miss?' said Mr
Guppy, apparently refreshed.

eNot any,' said I.

eNot half a glass?' said Mr Guppy. eQuarter? No! Then, to proceed.
My present salary, Miss Summerson, at Kenge and Carboy's, is two
pound a week. When I first had the happiness of looking upon you, it
was one fifteen, and had stood at that figure for a lengthened peri-
od. A rise of five has since taken place, and a further rise of five is
guaranteed at the expiration of a term not exceeding twelve months
from the present date. My mother has a little property, which takes
the form of a small life annuity, upon which she lives in an indepen-
dent though unassuming manner in the Old Street Road. She is emi-
nently calculated for a mother-in-law. She never interferes, is all
for peace, and her disposition easy. She has her failings--as who has
not?--but I never knew her do it when company was present, at which
time you may freely trust her with wines, spirits, or malt liquors. My
own abode is lodgings at Penton Place, Pentonville.
It is lowly, but
airy, open at the back, and considered one of the 'ealthiest outlets.

Miss Summerson! In the mildest language, I adore you. Would you be
so kind as to allow me (as I may say) to file a declaration--to make an
offer!'

Mr Guppy went down on his knees. I was well behind my table and
not much frightened. I said, eGet up from that ridiculous position
immediately, sir, or you will oblige me to break my implied promise
and ring the bell!'

eHear me out, miss!' said Mr Guppy, folding his hands.

eI cannot consent to hear another word, sir,' I returned, eUnless you
get up from the carpet directly and go and sit down at the table as you
ought to do if you have any sense at all.'


He looked piteously, but slowly rose and did so.

eYet what a mockery it is, miss,' he said with his hand upon his heart
and shaking his head at me in a melancholy manner over the tray, eto
be stationed behind food at such a moment. The soul recoils from food
at such a moment, miss.'


eI beg you to conclude,' said I; eyou have asked me to hear you out,
and I beg you to conclude.'

eI will, miss,' said Mr Guppy.
eAs I love and honour, so likewise I obey.
Would that I could make thee the subject of that vow before the
shrine!'


eThat is quite impossible,' said I, eand entirely out of the question.'

eI am aware,' said Mr Guppy, leaning forward over the tray and
regarding me, as I again strangely felt, though my eyes were not
directed to him, with his late intent look, eI am aware that in a worldly
point of view, according to all appearances, my offer is a poor one.
But, Miss Summerson!
Angel! No, don't ring--I have been brought up
in a sharp school and am accustomed to a variety of general practice.
Though a young man, I have ferreted out evidence, got up cases, and
seen lots of life.
Blest with your hand, what means might I not find of
advancing your interests and pushing your fortunes! What might I not
get to know, nearly concerning you? I know nothing now, certainly;
but what might I not if I had your confidence, and you set me on?'

I told him that he addressed my interest or what he supposed to be
my interest quite as unsuccessfully as he addressed my inclination
,
and he would now understand that I requested him, if he pleased, to
go away immediately.


eCruel miss,' said Mr Guppy, ehear but another word! I think you must
have seen that I was struck with those charms on the day when I
waited at the Whytorseller. I think you must have remarked that
I
could not forbear a tribute to those charms when I put up the steps of
the 'ackney-coach. It was a feeble tribute to thee, but it was well
meant. Thy image has ever since been fixed in my breast. I have
walked up and down of an evening opposite Jellyby's house only to
look upon the bricks that once contained thee. This out of to-day,
quite an unnecessary out so far as the attendance, which was its
pretended object, went, was planned by me alone for thee alone. If I
speak of interest, it is only to recommend myself and my respectful
wretchedness. Love was before it, and is before it.'


eI should be pained, Mr Guppy,' said I, rising and putting my hand
upon the bell-rope, eto do you or any one who was sincere the injus-
tice of slighting any honest feeling, however disagreeably expressed.
If you have really meant to give me a proof of your good opinion,
though illtimed and misplaced, I feel that I ought to thank you. I have
very little reason to be proud, and I am not proud.
I hope,' I think I
added, without very well knowing what I said, ethat you will now go
away as if you had never been so exceedingly foolish and attend to
Messrs. Kenge and Carboy's business.'

eHalf a minute, miss!' cried Mr Guppy, checking me as I was about to
ring. eThis has been without prejudice?'

eI will never mention it,' said I, eunless you should give me future
occasion to do so.'

eA quarter of a minute, miss! In case you should think better at any
time, however distant--that's no consequence, for my feelings can
never alter--of anything I have said, particularly what might I not do,
Mr William Guppy, eighty-seven, Penton Place, or if removed, or dead
(of blighted hopes or anything of that sort), care of Mrs Guppy, three
hundred and two, Old Street Road, will be sufficient.'

I rang the bell, the servant came, and Mr Guppy, laying his written
card upon the table and making a dejected bow, departed. Raising my
eyes as he went out, I once more saw him looking at me after he had
passed the door.


I sat there for another hour or more, finishing my books and pay-
ments and getting through plenty of business. Then I arranged my
desk, and put everything away, and was so composed and cheerful
that I thought I had quite dismissed this unexpected incident. But,
when I went upstairs to my own room,
I surprised myself by beginning
to laugh about it and then surprised myself still more by beginning to
cry about it. In short, I was in a flutter for a little while and felt as if
an old chord had been more coarsely touched than it ever had been
since the days of the dear old doll, long buried in the garden.




Chapter X--The Law-Writer



On the eastern borders of Chancery Lane, that is to say, more par-
ticularly in Cook's Court, Cursitor Street, Mr Snagsby, lawstationer,
pursues his lawful calling. In the shade of Cook's Court, at most
times a shady place,
Mr Snagsby has dealt in all sorts of blank
forms of legal process; in skins and rolls of parchment; in paper--
foolscap, brief, draft, brown, white, whitey-brown, and blotting; in
stamps; in office-quills, pens, ink, India-rubber, pounce, pins,
pencils, sealing-wax, and wafers; in red tape and green ferret; in
pocket-books, almanacs, diaries, and law lists; in string boxes, rulers,
inkstands--glass and leaden--pen-knives, scissors, bodkins, and other
small office-cutlery
; in short, in articles too numerous to mention,
ever since he was out of his time and went into partnership with
Peffer. On that occasion, Cook's Court was in a manner revolution-
ized by the new inscription in fresh paint, PEFFER AND SNAGSBY,
displacing the time-honoured and not easily to be deciphered legend
PEFFER only.
For smoke, which is the London ivy, had so wreathed
itself round Peffer's name and clung to his dwelling-place that the
affectionate parasite quite overpowered the parent tree.


Peffer is never seen in Cook's Court now. He is not expected there,
for
he has been recumbent this quarter of a century in the church-
yard of St. Andrews, Holborn, with the waggons and hackney-coaches
roaring past him all the day and half the night like one great dragon.
If he ever steal forth when the dragon is at rest to air himself again
in Cook's Court until admonished to return by the crowing of the
sanguine cock in the cellar at the little dairy in Cursitor Street, whose
ideas of daylight it would be curious to ascertain, since he knows from
his personal observation next to nothing about it--if Peffer ever do
revisit the pale glimpses of Cook's Court
, which no law-stationer in
the trade can positively deny, he comes invisibly, and no one is the
worse or wiser.

In his lifetime, and likewise in the period of Snagsby's etime' of se-
ven long years, there dwelt with Peffer in the same law-stationer-
ing premises a niece--
a short, shrewd niece, something too violen-
tly compressed about the waist, and with a sharp nose like a sharp
autumn evening, inclining to be frosty towards the end. The Cook's
Courtiers had a rumour flying among them that the mother of this
niece did, in her daughter's childhood, moved by too jealous a
solicitude that her figure should approach perfection, lace her up
every morning with her maternal foot against the bed-post for a
stronger hold and purchase; and further, that she exhibited internally
pints of vinegar and lemon-juice, which acids, they held, had mounted
to the nose and temper of the patient.
With whichsoever of the many
tongues of Rumour this frothy report originated, it either never
reached or never influenced the ears of young Snagsby, who, having
wooed and won its fair subject on his arrival at man's estate, entered
into two partnerships at once.
So now, in Cook's Court, Cursitor
Street, Mr Snagsby and the niece are one; and the niece still cherishes
her figure, which, however tastes may differ, is unquestionably so far
precious that there is mighty little of it.

Mr and Mrs Snagsby are not only one bone and one flesh, but, to the
neighbours' thinking, one voice too. That voice, appearing to proceed
from Mrs Snagsby alone, is heard in Cook's Court very often. Mr
Snagsby, otherwise than as he finds expression through these dulcet
tones, is rarely heard. He is a mild, bald, timid man with a shining
head and a scrubby clump of black hair sticking out at the back. He
tends to meekness and obesity.
As he stands at his door in Cook's
Court in his grey shop-coat and black calico sleeves, looking up at the
clouds, or stands behind a desk in his dark shop with a heavy flat
ruler, snipping and slicing at sheepskin in company with his two
'prentices, he is emphatically a retiring and unassuming man. From
beneath his feet, at such times, as from a shrill ghost unquiet in its
grave, there frequently arise complainings and lamentations in the
voice already mentioned; and haply, on some occasions when these
reach a sharper pitch than usual, Mr Snagsby mentions to the
'prentices, eI think my little woman is a-giving it to Guster!'


This proper name, so used by Mr Snagsby, has before now sharpened
the wit of the Cook's Courtiers to remark that it ought to be the name
of Mrs Snagsby, seeing that she might with great force and expression
be termed a Guster, in compliment to her stormy character. It is,
however, the possession, and the only possession except fifty shillings
per annum and a very small box indifferently filled with clothing, of a
lean young woman from a workhouse (by some supposed to have been
christened Augusta) who, although she was farmed or contracted for
during her growing time by an amiable benefactor of his species
resident at Tooting, and cannot fail to have been developed under the
most favourable circumstances, ehas fits,' which the parish can't
account for.


Guster, really aged three or four and twenty, but looking a round ten
years older, goes cheap with this unaccountable drawback of fits, and
is so apprehensive of being returned on the hands of her patron saint
that
except when she is found with her head in the pail, or the sink,
or the copper, or the dinner, or anything else that happens to be near
her at the time of her seizure, she is always at work. She is a sat-
isfaction to the parents and guardians of the 'prentices, who feel
that there is little danger of her inspiring tender emotions in the
breast of youth; she is a satisfaction to Mrs Snagsby, who can always
find fault with her; she is a satisfaction to Mr Snagsby, who thinks it a
charity to keep her. The law-stationer's establishment is, in Guster's
eyes, a temple of plenty and splendour. She believes the little drawing-
room upstairs, always kept, as one may say, with its hair in papers
and its pinafore on, to be the most elegant apartment in Christendom.

The view it commands of Cook's Court at one end (not to mention a
squint into Cursitor Street) and of Coavinses' the sheriff's officer's
backyard at the other she regards as a prospect of unequalled beauty.
The portraits it displays in oil--and plenty of it too--of Mr Snagsby
looking at Mrs Snagsby and of Mrs Snagsby looking at Mr Snagsby are
in her eyes as achievements of Raphael or Titian. Guster has some
recompenses for her many privations.

Mr Snagsby refers everything not in the practical mysteries of the
business to Mrs Snagsby. She manages the money, reproaches the
tax-gatherers, appoints the times and places of devotion on Sundays,
licenses Mr Snagsby's entertainments, and acknowledges no respon-
sibility as to what she thinks fit to provide for dinner, insomuch
that she is the high standard of comparison among the neighbouring
wives a long way down Chancery Lane on both sides, and even out in
Holborn, who in any domestic passages of arms habitually call upon
their husbands to look at the difference between their (the wives')
position and Mrs Snagsby's, and their (the husbands') behaviour and
Mr Snagsby's.
Rumour, always flying bat-like about Cook's Court and
skimming in and out at everybody's windows, does say that Mrs
Snagsby is jealous and inquisitive and that Mr Snagsby is sometimes
worried out of house and home, and that if he had the spirit of a
mouse he wouldn't stand it. It is even observed that the wives who
quote him to their self-willed husbands as a shining example in re-
ality look down upon him and that nobody does so with greater
superciliousness than one particular lady whose lord is more than
suspected of laying his umbrella on her as an instrument of cor-
rection. But these vague whisperings may arise from Mr Snagsby's
being in his way rather a meditative and poetical man, loving to walk
in Staple Inn in the summer-time and to observe how countrified the
sparrows and the leaves are
, also to lounge about the Rolls Yard of a
Sunday afternoon and to remark (if in good spirits) that there were old
times once and that you'd find a stone coffin or two now under that
chapel, he'll be bound, if you was to dig for it.
He solaces his im-
agination, too, by thinking of the many Chancellors and Vices, and
Masters of the Rolls who are deceased; and he gets such a flavour of
the country out of telling the two 'prentices how he has heard say
that a brook eas clear as crystial' once ran right down the middle of
Holborn, when Turnstile really was a turnstile, leading slap away into
the meadows--gets such a flavour of the country out of this that he
never wants to go there.


The day is closing in and the gas is lighted, but is not yet fully ef-
fective, for it is not quite dark.
Mr Snagsby standing at his shopdoor
looking up at the clouds sees a crow who is out late skim westward
over the slice of sky belonging to Cook's Court.
The crow flies
straight across Chancery Lane and Lincoln's Inn Garden into Lin-
coln's Inn Fields.

Here, in a large house, formerly a house of state, lives Mr Tulking-
horn.
It is let off in sets of chambers now, and in those shrunken
fragments of its greatness, lawyers lie like maggots in nuts. But its
roomy staircases, passages, and antechambers still remain; and even
its painted ceilings, where Allegory, in Roman helmet and celestial
linen, sprawls among balustrades and pillars, flowers, clouds, and big-
legged boys, and makes the head ache--as would seem to be Alle-
gory's object always, more or less. Here, among his many boxes
labelled with transcendent names, lives Mr Tulkinghorn, when not
speechlessly at home in country-houses where the great ones of
the earth are bored to death. Here he is to-day, quiet at his table.
An oyster of the old school whom nobody can open.


Like as he is to look at, so is his apartment in the dusk of the pre-
sent afternoon. Rusty, out of date, withdrawing from attention, able
to afford it. Heavy, broad-backed, old-fashioned, mahogany-and-horse-
hair chairs, not easily lifted; obsolete tables with spindle-legs and
dusty baize covers; presentation prints of the holders of great
titles in the last generation or the last but one, environ him. A thick
and dingy Turkey-carpet muffles the floor where he sits, attended by
two candles in old-fashioned silver candlesticks that give a very
insufficient light to his large room.
The titles on the backs of his books
have retired into the binding
; everything that can have a lock has got
one; no key is visible. Very few loose papers are about. He has some
manuscript near him, but is not referring to it. With the round top of
an inkstand and two broken bits of sealing-wax he is silently and
slowly working out whatever train of indecision is in his mind.
Now
the inkstand top is in the middle, now the red bit of sealing-wax, now
the black bit. That's not it. Mr Tulkinghorn must gather them all up
and begin again.

Here, beneath the painted ceiling, with foreshortened Allegory star-
ing down at his intrusion as if it meant to swoop upon him, and he
cutting it dead, Mr Tulkinghorn has at once his house and office. He
keeps no staff, only one middle-aged man, usually a little out at el-
bows, who sits in a high pew in the hall and is rarely overburdened
with business. Mr Tulkinghorn is not in a common way. He wants no
clerks. He is a great reservoir of confidences, not to be so tapped.
His clients want HIM; he is all in all.
Drafts that he requires to be
drawn are drawn by special-pleaders in the temple on mysterious
instructions; fair copies that he requires to be made are made at the
stationers', expense being no consideration. The middle-aged man in
the pew knows scarcely more of the affairs of the peerage than any
crossing-sweeper in Holborn.

The red bit, the black bit, the inkstand top, the other inkstand top,
the little sand-box. So! You to the middle, you to the right, you to the
left. This train of indecision must surely be worked out now or never.
Now! Mr Tulkinghorn gets up, adjusts his spectacles, puts on his hat,
puts the manuscript in his pocket, goes out, tells the middle-aged
man out at elbows, eI shall be back presently.' Very rarely tells him
anything more explicit.

Mr Tulkinghorn goes, as the crow came--not quite so straight, but
nearly
--to Cook's Court, Cursitor Street. To Snagsby's, Law-Stationer's,
Deeds engrossed and copied, Law-Writing executed in all
its branches, &c., &c., &c.

It is somewhere about five or six o'clock in the afternoon, and a balmy
fragrance of warm tea hovers in Cook's Court. It hovers about Snag-
sby's door. The hours are early there: dinner at half-past one and
supper at half-past nine. Mr Snagsby was about to descend into the
subterranean regions to take tea when he looked out of his door just
now and saw the crow who was out late.


eMaster at home?'

Guster is minding the shop, for the 'prentices take tea in the kitchen
with Mr and Mrs Snagsby; consequently, the robemaker's two daughters,
combing their curls at the two glasses in the two second-floor windows
of the opposite house, are not driving the two 'prentices to distraction
as they fondly suppose, but are merely awakening the unprofitable ad-
miration of Guster, whose hair won't grow, and never would, and it is
confidently thought, never will.

eMaster at home?' says Mr Tulkinghorn.

Master is at home, and Guster will fetch him. Guster disappears, glad
to get out of the shop, which
she regards with mingled dread and ven-
eration as a storehouse of awful implements of the great torture of
the law
--a place not to be entered after the gas is turned off.

Mr Snagsby appears, greasy, warm, herbaceous, and chewing. Bolts a
bit of bread and butter. Says, eBless my soul, sir! Mr Tulkinghorn!'

eI want half a word with you, Snagsby.'

eCertainly, sir! Dear me, sir, why didn't you send your young man
round for me? Pray walk into the back shop, sir.' Snagsby has
brightened in a moment.


The confined room, strong of parchment-grease, is warehouse,
counting-house, and copying-office. Mr Tulkinghorn sits, facing
round, on a stool at the desk.

eJarndyce and Jarndyce, Snagsby.'

eYes, sir.' Mr Snagsby
turns up the gas and coughs behind his hand,
modestly anticipating profit
. Mr Snagsby, as a timid man, is accustom-
ed to cough with a variety of expressions, and so to save words.


eYou copied some affidavits in that cause for me lately.'

eYes, sir, we did.'

eThere was one of them,' says Mr Tulkinghorn, carelessly feeling--
tight, unopenable oyster of the old school!--in the wrong coat-pocket,
ethe handwriting of which is peculiar, and I rather like.
As I happened
to be passing, and thought I had it about me, I looked in to ask you--
but I haven't got it. No matter, any other time will do. Ah! here it is! I
looked in to ask you who copied this.'

eWho copied this, sir?' says Mr Snagsby, taking it, laying it flat on the
desk, and separating all the sheets at once with a twirl and a twist of
the left hand peculiar to lawstationers.
eWe gave this out, sir. We were
giving out rather a large quantity of work just at that time. I can tell
you in a moment who copied it, sir, by referring to my book.'

Mr Snagsby takes his book down from the safe, makes another bolt of
the bit of bread and butter which seemed to have stopped short, eyes
the affidavit aside, and brings his right forefinger travelling down a
page of the book, eJewby--Packer--Jarndyce.'


eJarndyce! Here we are, sir,' says Mr Snagsby. eTo be sure! I might
have remembered it. This was given out, sir, to a writer who lodges
just over on the opposite side of the lane.'

Mr Tulkinghorn has seen the entry, found it before the law-stationer,
read it while the forefinger was coming down the hill.

eWhat do you call him? Nemo?' says Mr Tulkinghorn.

eNemo, sir. Here it is. Forty-two folio. Given out on the Wednesday
night at eight o'clock, brought in on the Thursday morning at half after
nine.'

eNemo!' repeats Mr Tulkinghorn. eNemo is Latin for no one.'

eIt must be English for some one, sir, I think,' Mr Snagsby submits
with his deferential cough. eIt is a person's name.
Here it is, you see,
sir! Forty-two folio. Given out Wednesday night, eight o'clock; brought
in Thursday morning, half after nine.'

The tail of Mr Snagsby's eye becomes conscious of the head of Mrs
Snagsby looking in at the shop-door to know what he means by
deserting his tea.
Mr Snagsby addresses an explanatory cough to Mrs
Snagsby, as who should say, eMy dear, a customer!'


eHalf after nine, sir,' repeats Mr Snagsby. eOur law-writers, who live by
job-work, are a queer lot; and this may not be his name, but it's the
name he goes by.
I remember now, sir, that he gives it in a written
advertisement he sticks up down at the Rule Office, and the King's
Bench Office, and the Judges' Chambers, and so forth. You know the
kind of document, sir--wanting employ?'

Mr Tulkinghorn glances through the little window at the back of
Coavinses', the sheriff's officer's, where lights shine in Coavinses'
windows. Coavinses' coffee-room is at the back, and the shadows of
several gentlemen under a cloud loom cloudily upon the blinds. Mr
Snagsby takes the opportunity of slightly turning his head to glance
over his shoulder at his little woman and to make apologetic motions
with his mouth to this effect: eTul-king-horn--rich--in-flu-en-tial!'

eHave you given this man work before?' asks Mr Tulkinghorn.

eOh, dear, yes, sir! Work of yours.'

eThinking of more important matters, I forget where you said he lived?'

eAcross the lane, sir. In fact, he lodges at a--' Mr Snagsby makes
another bolt, as if the bit of bread and buffer were insurmountable e--
at a rag and bottle shop.'

eCan you show me the place as I go back?'

eWith the greatest pleasure, sir!'

Mr Snagsby pulls off his sleeves and his grey coat, pulls on his black
coat, takes his hat from its peg. eOh! Here is my little woman!' he says
aloud. eMy dear, will you be so kind as to tell one of the lads to look
after the shop while I step across the lane with Mr Tulkinghorn? Mrs
Snagsby, sir--I shan't be two minutes, my love!'

Mrs Snagsby bends to the lawyer, retires behind the counter, peeps at
them through the window-blind, goes softly into the back office, refers
to the entries in the book still lying open. Is evidently curious.

eYou will find that the place is rough, sir,' says Mr Snagsby, walking
deferentially in the road and leaving the narrow pavement to the
lawyer; eand the party is very rough. But they're a wild lot in general,
sir. The advantage of this particular man is that he never wants sleep.
He'll go at it right on end if you want him to, as long as ever you like.'

It is quite dark now, and the gas-lamps have acquired their full effect.
Jostling against clerks going to post the day's letters, and against
counsel and attorneys going home to dinner, and against plaintiffs
and defendants and suitors of all sorts, and against
the general
crowd, in whose way the forensic wisdom of ages has interposed a
million of obstacles to the transaction of the commonest business of
life; diving through law and equity, and through that kindred mystery,
the street mud, which is made of nobody knows what and collects
about us nobody knows whence or how--we only knowing in general
that when there is too much of it we find it necessary to shovel it
away
--the lawyer and the law-stationer come to a rag and bottle shop
and general emporium of much disregarded merchandise, lying and
being in the shadow of the wall of Lincoln's Inn, and kept, as is
announced in paint, to all whom it may concern, by one Krook.

eThis is where he lives, sir,' says the law-stationer.

eThis is where he lives, is it?' says the lawyer unconcernedly. eThank
you.'

eAre you not going in, sir?'

eNo, thank you, no; I am going on to the Fields at present. Good
evening. Thank you!' Mr Snagsby lifts his hat and returns to his little
woman and his tea.

But Mr Tulkinghorn does not go on to the Fields at present. He goes a
short way, turns back, comes again to the shop of Mr Krook, and
enters it straight. It is dim enough, with a blot-headed candle or so in
the windows, and an old man and a cat sitting in the back part by a
fire. The old man rises and comes forward, with another blot-headed
candle in his hand.

ePray is your lodger within?'

eMale or female, sir?' says Mr Krook.

eMale. The person who does copying.'

Mr Krook has eyed his man narrowly. Knows him by sight. Has an
indistinct impression of his aristocratic repute.


eDid you wish to see him, sir?'

eYes.'

eIt's what I seldom do myself,' says Mr Krook with a grin. eShall I call
him down? But it's a weak chance if he'd come, sir!'


eI'll go up to him, then,' says Mr Tulkinghorn.

eSecond floor, sir. Take the candle. Up there!' Mr Krook, with his cat
beside him, stands at the bottom of the staircase, looking after Mr
Tulkinghorn. eHi-hi!' he says when Mr Tulkinghorn has nearly
disappeared. The lawyer looks down over the hand-rail.
The cat
expands her wicked mouth and snarls at him.


eOrder, Lady Jane! Behave yourself to visitors, my lady! You know
what they say of my lodger?' whispers Krook, going up a step or two.

eWhat do they say of him?'

eThey say he has sold himself to the enemy, but you and I know
better--he don't buy. I'll tell you what, though;
my lodger is so black-
humoured and gloomy that I believe he'd as soon make that bargain

as any other. Don't put him out, sir. That's my advice!'

Mr Tulkinghorn with a nod goes on his way. He comes to the dark
door on the second floor. He knocks, receives no answer, opens it, and
accidentally extinguishes his candle in doing so.


The air of the room is almost bad enough to have extinguished it if he
had not. It is a small room, nearly black with soot, and grease, and
dirt. In the rusty skeleton of a grate, pinched at the middle as if
poverty had gripped it, a red coke fire burns low.
In the corner by the
chimney stand a deal table and a broken desk,
a wilderness marked
with a rain of ink
. In another corner a ragged old portmanteau on one
of the two chairs serves for cabinet or wardrobe; no larger one is
needed, for
it collapses like the cheeks of a starved man. The floor is
bare, except that one old mat, trodden to shreds of rope-yarn, lies
perishing upon the hearth. No curtain veils the darkness of the night,
but the discoloured shutters are drawn together, and through the two
gaunt holes pierced in them, famine might be staring in--the banshee
of the man upon the bed.

For, on a low bed opposite the fire, a confusion of dirty patchwork,
lean-ribbed ticking, and coarse sacking
, the lawyer, hesitating just
within the doorway, sees a man. He lies there, dressed in shirt and
trousers, with bare feet. He has a yellow look in the spectral darkness
of a candle that has guttered down until the whole length of its wick
(still burning) has doubled over and left a tower of winding-sheet
above it. His hair is ragged, mingling with his whiskers and his beard-
-the latter, ragged too, and grown, like the scum and mist around
him, in neglect. Foul and filthy as the room is, foul and filthy as the
air is, it is not easy to perceive what fumes those are which most
oppress the senses in it; but through the general sickliness and
faintness, and the odour of stale tobacco, there comes into the
lawyer's mouth the bitter, vapid taste of opium.


eHallo, my friend!' he cries, and strikes his iron candlestick against the
door.


He thinks he has awakened his friend. He lies a little turned away, but
his eyes are surely open.

eHallo, my friend!' he cries again. eHallo! Hallo!'

As he rattles on the door, the candle which has drooped so long goes
out and leaves him in the dark, with the gaunt eyes in the shutters
staring down upon the bed.




Chapter XI--Our Dear Brother



A touch on the lawyer's wrinkled hand as he stands in the dark room,
irresolute, makes him start
and say, eWhat's that?'

eIt's me,' returns the old man of the house,
whose breath is in his ear.

eCan't you wake him?'

eNo.'

eWhat have you done with your candle?'

eIt's gone out. Here it is.'

Krook takes it, goes to the fire, stoops over the red embers, and tries
to get a light. The dying ashes have no light to spare
, and his endea-
vours are vain. Muttering, after an ineffectual call to his lodger, that
he will go downstairs and bring a lighted candle from the shop, the
old man departs. Mr Tulkinghorn, for some new reason that he has,
does not await his return in the room, but on the stairs outside.

The welcome light soon shines upon the wall, as Krook comes slowly
up with his green-eyed cat following at his heels
. eDoes the man
generally sleep like this?' inquired the lawyer in a low voice. eHi! I don't
know,' says Krook, shaking his head and lifting his eyebrows. eI know
next to nothing of his habits except that he keeps himself very close.'

Thus whispering, they both go in together.
As the light goes in, the
great eyes in the shutters, darkening, seem to close. Not so the eyes
upon the bed.

eGod save us!' exclaims Mr Tulkinghorn. eHe is dead!' Krook drops the
heavy hand he has taken up so suddenly that the arm swings over the
bedside.

They look at one another for a moment.

eSend for some doctor! Call for Miss Flite up the stairs, sir.
Here's
poison by the bed! Call out for Flite, will you?' says Krook, with his
lean hands spread out above the body like a vampire's wings.


Mr Tulkinghorn hurries to the landing and calls, eMiss Flite! Flite!
Make haste, here, whoever you are! Flite!' Krook follows him with his
eyes, and while he is calling, finds opportunity to steal to the old
portmanteau and steal back again.

eRun, Flite, run! The nearest doctor! Run!' So Mr Krook addresses a
crazy little woman who is his female lodger, who appears and vanishes
in a breath, who soon returns accompanied by a testy medical man
brought from his dinner, with a broad, snuffy upper lip and a broad
Scotch tongue.

eEy! Bless the hearts o' ye,' says the medical man, looking up at them
after a moment's examination. eHe's just as dead as Phairy!'

Mr Tulkinghorn (standing by the old portmanteau) inquires if he has
been dead any time.

eAny time, sir?' says the medical gentleman. eIt's probable he wull have
been dead aboot three hours.'

eAbout that time, I should say,' observes a dark young man on the
other side of the bed.

eAir you in the maydickle prayfession yourself, sir?' inquires the first.
The dark young man says yes.

eThen I'll just tak' my depairture,' replies the other, efor I'm nae gude
here!' With which remark he finishes his brief attendance and returns
to finish his dinner.


The dark young surgeon passes the candle across and across the face
and carefully examines the law-writer, who has established his
pretensions to his name by becoming indeed No one.

eI knew this person by sight very well,' says he. eHe has purchased
opium of me for the last year and a half. Was anybody present related
to him?' glancing round upon the three bystanders.

eI was his landlord,' grimly answers Krook, taking the candle from the
surgeon's outstretched hand. eHe told me once I was the nearest
relation he had.'

eHe has died,' says the surgeon, eof an over-dose of opium, there is no
doubt. The room is strongly flavoured with it. There is enough here
now,' taking an old tea-pot from Mr Krook, eto kill a dozen people.'

eDo you think he did it on purpose?' asks Krook.

eTook the over-dose?'


eYes!' Krook almost smacks his lips with the unction of a horrible
interest.


eI can't say. I should think it unlikely, as he has been in the habit of
taking so much. But nobody can tell. He was very poor, I suppose?'

eI suppose he was. His room--don't look rich,' says Krook, who might
have changed eyes with his cat, as he casts his sharp glance around.


eBut I have never been in it since he had it, and he was too close to
name his circumstances to me.'

eDid he owe you any rent?'

eSix weeks.'

eHe will never pay it!' says the young man, resuming his examination.
eIt is beyond a doubt that
he is indeed as dead as Pharaoh; and to
judge from his appearance and condition, I should think it a happy
release. Yet he must have been a good figure when a youth, and I dare
say, good-looking.' He says this, not unfeelingly, while sitting on the
bedstead's edge with his face towards that other face and his hand
upon the region of the heart. eI recollect once thinking there was
something in his manner, uncouth as it was, that denoted a fall in life.
Was that so?' he continues, looking round.

Krook replies, eYou might as well ask me to describe the ladies whose
heads of hair I have got in sacks downstairs.
Than that he was my
lodger for a year and a half and lived--or didn't live--by law-writing, I
know no more of him.'

During this dialogue Mr Tulkinghorn has stood aloof by the old
portmanteau, with his hands behind him,
equally removed, to all
appearance, from all three kinds of interest exhibited near the bed--
from the young surgeon's professional interest in death, noticeable as
being quite apart from his remarks on the deceased as an individual;
from the old man's unction; and the little crazy woman's awe. His
imperturbable face has been as inexpressive as his rusty clothes.
One
could not even say he has been thinking all this while. He has shown

neither patience nor impatience, nor attention nor abstraction. He has
shown nothing but his shell. As easily might the tone of a delicate
musical instrument be inferred from its case, as the tone of Mr
Tulkinghorn from his case.


He now interposes, addressing the young surgeon in his unmoved,
professional way.

eI looked in here,' he observes, ejust before you, with the intention of
giving this deceased man, whom I never saw alive, some employment
at his trade of copying. I had heard of him from my stationer--Snagsby
of Cook's Court. Since no one here knows anything about him, it
might be as well to send for Snagsby. Ah!' to the little crazy woman,
who has often seen him in court, and whom he has often seen, and
who proposes, in frightened dumb-show, to go for the law-stationer.
eSuppose you do!'

While she is gone, the surgeon abandons his hopeless investigation
and covers its subject with the patchwork counterpane. Mr Krook and
he interchange a word or two. Mr Tulkinghorn says nothing, but
stands, ever, near the old portmanteau.

Mr Snagsby arrives hastily in his grey coat and his black sleeves.
eDear me, dear me,' he says; eand it has come to this, has it! Bless my
soul!'

eCan you give the person of the house any information about this
unfortunate creature, Snagsby?' inquires Mr Tulkinghorn. eHe was in
arrears with his rent, it seems. And he must be buried, you know.'
eWell, sir,' says Mr Snagsby, coughing his apologetic cough behind his
hand, eI really don't know what advice I could offer, except sending for
the beadle.'

eI don't speak of advice,' returns Mr Tulkinghorn. eI could advise--'
eNo one better, sir, I am sure,' says Mr Snagsby, with his deferential
cough.

eI speak of affording some clue to his connexions, or to where he came
from, or to anything concerning him.'

eI assure you, sir,' says Mr Snagsby after prefacing his reply with his
cough of general propitiation, ethat I no more know where he came
from than I know--'

eWhere he has gone to, perhaps,' suggests the surgeon to help him
out.


A pause. Mr Tulkinghorn looking at the law-stationer. Mr Krook, with
his mouth open, looking for somebody to speak next.

eAs to his connexions, sir,' says Mr Snagsby, eif a person was to say
to me, 'Snagsby, here's twenty thousand pound down, ready for you in
the Bank of England if you'll only name one of 'em,' I couldn't do it,
sir! About a year and a half ago--to the best of my belief, at the time
when he first came to lodge at the present rag and bottle shop--'

eThat was the time!' says Krook with a nod.

eAbout a year and a half ago,' says Mr Snagsby, strengthened, ehe
came into our place one morning after breakfast, and finding my little
woman (which I name Mrs Snagsby when I use that appellation) in
our shop, produced a specimen of his handwriting and gave her to
understand that he was in want of copying work to do and was, not to
put too fine a point upon it,' a favourite apology for plain speaking
with Mr Snagsby, which he always offers with a sort of argumentative
frankness, ehard up! My little woman is not in general partial to
strangers, particular--not to put too fine a point upon it--when they
want anything. But she was rather took by something about this
person, whether by his being unshaved, or by his hair being in want
of attention, or by what other ladies' reasons, I leave you to judge; and
she accepted of the specimen, and likewise of the address. My little
woman hasn't a good ear for names,' proceeds Mr Snagsby after
consulting his cough of consideration behind his hand, eand she
considered Nemo equally the same as Nimrod.
In consequence of
which, she got into a habit of saying to me at meals, 'Mr Snagsby, you
haven't found Nimrod any work yet!' or 'Mr Snagsby, why didn't you
give that eight and thirty Chancery folio in Jarndyce to Nimrod?' or
such like. And that is the way he gradually fell into job-work at our
place; and that is the most I know of him except that he was a quick
hand, and a hand not sparing of night-work, and that if you gave him
out, say, five and forty folio on the Wednesday night, you would have
it brought in on the Thursday morning. All of which--' Mr Snagsby
concludes by politely motioning with his hat towards the bed, as
much as to add, eI have no doubt my honourable friend would confirm
if he were in a condition to do it.'

eHadn't you better see,' says Mr Tulkinghorn to Krook, ewhether he
had any papers that may enlighten you? There will be an inquest, and
you will be asked the question. You can read?'

eNo, I can't,' returns the old man with a sudden grin.

eSnagsby,' says Mr Tulkinghorn, elook over the room for him. He will
get into some trouble or difficulty otherwise. Being here, I'll wait if you
make haste, and then I can testify on his behalf, if it should ever be
necessary, that all was fair and right.
If you will hold the candle for Mr
Snagsby, my friend, he'll soon see whether there is anything to help
you.'

eIn the first place, here's an old portmanteau, sir,' says Snagsby.

Ah, to be sure, so there is! Mr Tulkinghorn does not appear to have
seen it before, though he is standing so close to it, and though there is
very little else, heaven knows.

The marine-store merchant holds the light, and the law-stationer
conducts the search. The surgeon leans against the corner of the
chimney-piece;
Miss Flite peeps and trembles just within the door.
The apt old scholar of the old school, with his dull black breeches tied
with ribbons at the knees, his large black waistcoat, his long-sleeved
black coat, and his wisp of limp white neckerchief tied in the bow the
peerage knows so well, stands in exactly the same place and attitude.

There are some worthless articles of clothing in the old portmanteau;
there is a bundle of pawnbrokers' duplicates, those turnpike tickets
on the road of poverty; there is a crumpled paper, smelling of opium,

on which are scrawled rough memoranda--as, took, such a day, so
many grains; took, such another day, so many more--begun some
time ago, as if with the intention of being regularly continued, but
soon left off. There are a few dirty scraps of newspapers, all refer-
ring to coroners' inquests; there is nothing else. They search the
cupboard and the drawer of the ink-splashed table. There is not a
morsel of an old letter or of any other writing in either. The young
surgeon examines the dress on the law-writer. A knife and some
odd halfpence are all he finds. Mr Snagsby's suggestion is the prac-
tical suggestion after all, and the beadle must be called in.

So the little crazy lodger goes for the beadle, and the rest come out
of the room.
eDon't leave the cat there!' says the surgeon; ethat
won't do!'Mr Krook therefore drives her out before him, and she
goes furtively downstairs, winding her lithe tail and licking her lips.


eGood night!' says Mr Tulkinghorn, and goes home to Allegory and
meditation.


By this time the news has got into the court. Groups of its inhabi-
tants assemble to discuss the thing, and the outposts of the army
of observation (principally boys) are pushed forward to Mr Krook's
window, which they closely invest. A policeman has already walked up
to the room, and walked down again to the door, where he stands like
a tower, only condescending to see the boys at his base occasionally;
but whenever he does see them, they quail and fall back. Mrs Perkins,
who has not been for some weeks on speaking terms with Mrs Piper in
consequence for an unpleasantness originating in young Perkins' hav-
ing efetched' young Piper ea crack,' renews her friendly intercourse
on this auspicious occasion. The potboy at the corner, who is a priv-
ileged amateur, as possessing official knowledge of life and having
to deal with drunken men occasionally, exchanges confidential com-
munications with the policeman and has the appearance of an im-
pregnable youth, unassailable by truncheons and unconfinable in
station-houses.
People talk across the court out of window, and
bareheaded scouts come hurrying in from Chancery Lane to know
what's the matter. The general feeling seems to be that it's a bless-
ing Mr Krook warn't made away with first, mingled with a little natural
disappointment that he was not. In the midst of this sensation, the
beadle arrives.

The beadle,1 though generally understood in the neighbourhood to
be a ridiculous institution, is not without a certain popularity for the
moment, if it were only as a man who is going to see the body.
The
policeman considers him an imbecile civilian, a remnant of the
barbarous watchmen times, but gives him admission as something
that must be borne with until government shall abolish him.
The
sensation is heightened as the tidings spread from mouth to mouth
that the beadle is on the ground and has gone in.

By and by the beadle comes out, once more intensifying the sensation,
which has rather languished in the interval. He is understood to be in
want of witnesses for the inquest tomorrow who can tell the coroner
and jury anything whatever respecting the deceased. Is immediately
referred to innumerable people who can tell nothing whatever. Is made
more imbecile by being constantly informed that Mrs Green's son ewas
a law-writer his-self and knowed him better than anybody,' which son
of Mrs Green's appears, on inquiry, to be at the present time aboard a
vessel bound for China, three months out, but considered accessible
by telegraph on application to the Lords of the Admiralty. Beadle goes
into various shops and parlours, examining the inhabitants, always
shutting the door first, and by exclusion, delay, and general idiotcy
exasperating the public. Policeman seen to smile to potboy. Public
loses interest and undergoes reaction.
Taunts the beadle in shrill
youthful voices with having boiled a boy, choruses fragments of a
popular song to that effect and importing that the boy was made into
soup for the workhouse.
Policeman at last finds it necessary to
support the law and seize a vocalist, who is released upon the flight of
the rest on condition of his getting out of this then, come, and cutting
it--a condition he immediately observes. So the sensation dies off for
the time; and the unmoved policeman (to whom a little opium, more or
less, is nothing), with his shining hat, stiff stock, inflexible great-coat,
stout belt and bracelet, and all things fitting, pursues his lounging
way with a heavy tread, beating the palms of his white gloves one
against the other and stopping now and then at a street-corner to look
casually about for anything between a lost child and a murder.


Under cover of the night, the feeble-minded beadle comes flitting
about Chancery Lane with his summonses, in which every juror's
name is wrongly spelt, and nothing rightly spelt but the beadle's own
name, which nobody can read or wants to know.
The summonses
served and his witnesses forewarned, the beadle goes to Mr Krook's
to keep a small appointment he has made with certain paupers, who,
presently arriving, are conducted upstairs, where
they leave the great
eyes in the shutter something new to stare at, in that last shape
which earthly lodgings take for No one--and for Every one.

And all that night the coffin stands ready by the old portmanteau; and
the lonely figure on the bed, whose path in life has lain through five
and forty years, lies there with no more track behind him that any one
can trace than a deserted infant.


Next day the court is all alive--is like a fair, as Mrs Perkins, more than
reconciled to Mrs Piper, says in amicable conversation with that
excellent woman. The coroner is to sit in the first-floor room at the
Sol's Arms, where the Harmonic Meetings take place twice a week and
where the chair is filled by a gentleman of professional celebrity, faced
by Little Swills, the comic vocalist, who hopes (according to the bill in
the window) that his friends will rally round him and support first-rate
talent. The Sol's Arms does a brisk stroke of business all the morning.
Even children so require sustaining under the general excitement that
a pieman who has established himself for the occasion at the corner of
the court says his brandy-balls go off like smoke. What time the
beadle, hovering between the door of Mr Krook's establishment and
the door of the Sol's Arms, shows the curiosity in his keeping to a few
discreet spirits and accepts the compliment of a glass of ale or so in
return.

At the appointed hour arrives the coroner, for whom the jurymen are
waiting and who is received with a salute of skittles from the good dry
skittle-ground attached to the Sol's Arms.
The coroner frequents more
public-houses than any man alive. The smell of sawdust, beer,
tobacco-smoke, and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death
in its most awful shapes.
He is conducted by the beadle and the
landlord to the Harmonic Meeting Room, where he puts his hat on the
piano and
takes a Windsor-chair at the head of a long table formed of
several short tables put together and ornamented with glutinous rings
in endless involutions, made by pots and glasses.
As many of the jury
as can crowd together at the table sit there. The rest get among the
spittoons and pipes or lean against the piano. Over the coroner's head
is a small iron garland, the pendant handle of a bell, which rather
gives the majesty of the court the appearance of going to be hanged
presently.


Call over and swear the jury! While the ceremony is in progress,
sensation is created by the entrance of a chubby little man in a large
shirt-collar, with a moist eye and an inflamed nose, who modestly
takes a position near the door as one of the general public, but seems
familiar with the room too. A whisper circulates that this is Little
Swills. It is considered not unlikely that he will get up an imitation of
the coroner and make it the principal feature of the Harmonic Meeting
in the evening.


eWell, gentlemen--' the coroner begins.

eSilence there, will you!' says the beadle. Not to the coroner, though it
might appear so.

eWell, gentlemen,' resumes the coroner. eYou are impanelled here to
inquire into the death of a certain man. Evidence will be given before
you as to the circumstances attending that death, and you will give
your verdict according to the--skittles; they must be stopped, you
know, beadle!--evidence, and not according to anything else. The first
thing to be done is to view the body.'


eMake way there!' cries the beadle.

So they go out in a loose procession, something after the manner of a
straggling funeral, and make their inspection in Mr Krook's back
second floor, from which
a few of the jurymen retire pale and
precipitately
. The beadle is very careful that two gentlemen not very
neat about the cuffs and buttons (for whose accommodation he has
provided a special little table near the coroner in the Harmonic
Meeting Room) should see all that is to be seen. For they are the
public chroniclers of such inquiries by the line; and
he is not superior
to the universal human infirmity, but hopes to read in print what
eMooney, the active and intelligent beadle of the district,' said and did
and even aspires to see the name of Mooney as familiarly and
patronizingly mentioned as the name of the hangman is,
according to
the latest examples.

Little Swills is waiting for the coroner and jury on their return. Mr
Tulkinghorn, also. Mr Tulkinghorn is received with distinction and
seated near the coroner between that high judicial officer, a bagatelle-
board, and the coal-box. The inquiry proceeds. The jury learn how the
subject of their inquiry died, and learn no more about him. eA very
eminent solicitor is in attendance, gentlemen,' says the coroner, ewho,
I am informed, was accidentally present when discovery of the death
was made, but he could only repeat the evidence you have already
heard from the surgeon, the landlord, the lodger, and the lawstationer,
and it is not necessary to trouble him. Is anybody in
attendance who
knows anything more?'

Mrs Piper pushed forward by Mrs Perkins. Mrs Piper sworn.

Anastasia Piper, gentlemen. Married woman. Now, Mrs Piper, what
have you got to say about this?

Why, Mrs Piper has a good deal to say, chiefly in parentheses and
without punctuation, but not much to tell. Mrs Piper lives in the court
(which her husband is a cabinet-maker), and it has long been well
known among the neighbours (counting from the day next but one
before the half-baptizing of Alexander James Piper aged eighteen
months and four days old on accounts of not being expected to live
such was the sufferings gentlemen of that child in his gums)
as the
plaintive--so Mrs Piper insists on calling the deceased--was reported
to have sold himself. Thinks it was the plaintive's air in which that
report originatinin. See the plaintive often and considered as his air
was feariocious and not to be allowed to go about some children being
timid (and if doubted hoping Mrs Perkins may be brought forard for
she is here and will do credit to her husband and herself and family).
Has seen the plaintive wexed and worrited by the children (for
children they will ever be and you cannot expect them specially if of
playful dispositions to be Methoozellers which you was not yourself).
On accounts of this and his dark looks has often dreamed as she see
him take a pick-axe from his pocket and split Johnny's head (which
the child knows not fear and has repeatually called after him close at
his eels). Never however see the plaintive take a pick-axe or any other
wepping far from it. Has seen him hurry away when run and called
after as if not partial to children and never see him speak to neither
child nor grown person at any time (excepting the boy that sweeps the
crossing down the lane over the way round the corner which if he was
here would tell you that he has been seen a-speaking to him frequent).


Says the coroner, is that boy here? Says the beadle, no, sir, he is not
here. Says the coroner, go and fetch him then. In the absence of the
active and intelligent, the coroner converses with Mr Tulkinghorn.

Oh! Here's the boy, gentlemen!

Here he is, very muddy, very hoarse, very ragged. Now, boy! But stop a
minute. Caution. This boy must be put through a few preliminary
paces.

Name, Jo. Nothing else that he knows on. Don't know that everybody
has two names. Never heerd of sich a think. Don't know that Jo is
short for a longer name. Thinks it long enough for him. He don't find
no fault with it.
Spell it? No. He can't spell it. No father, no mother, no
friends. Never been to school. What's home?
Knows a broom's a
broom, and knows it's wicked to tell a lie.
Don't recollect who told him
about the broom or about the lie, but knows both. Can't exactly say
what'll be done to him arter he's dead if he tells a lie to the gentlemen
here, but believes it'll be something wery bad to punish him, and serve
him right--and so he'll tell the truth.


eThis won't do, gentlemen!' says the coroner with a melancholy shake
of the head.


eDon't you think you can receive his evidence, sir?' asks an attentive
juryman.

eOut of the question,' says the coroner. eYou have heard the boy.
'Can't exactly say' won't do, you know. We can't take that in a court
of justice, gentlemen. It's terrible depravity. Put the boy aside.'

Boy put aside, to the great edification of the audience, especially of
Little Swills, the comic vocalist.


Now. Is there any other witness? No other witness.

Very well, gentlemen! Here's a man unknown, proved to have been in
the habit of taking opium in large quantities for a year and a half,
found dead of too much opium. If you think you have any evidence to
lead you to the conclusion that he committed suicide, you will come to
that conclusion. If you think it is a case of accidental death, you will
find a verdict accordingly.

Verdict accordingly. Accidental death. No doubt. Gentlemen, you are
discharged. Good afternoon.

While the coroner buttons his great-coat, Mr Tulkinghorn and he give
private audience to the rejected witness in a corner.


That graceless creature only knows that the dead man (whom he
recognized just now by his yellow face and black hair) was sometimes
hooted and pursued about the streets. That one cold winter night
when he, the boy, was shivering in a doorway near his crossing, the
man turned to look at him, and came back, and having questioned
him and found that he had not a friend in the world, said, eNeither
have I. Not one!' and gave him the price of a supper and a night's
lodging. That the man had often spoken to him since and asked him
whether he slept sound at night, and how he bore cold and hunger,
and whether he ever wished to die, and similar strange questions.
That when the man had no money, he would say in passing, eI am as
poor as you to-day, Jo,' but that when he had any, he had always (as
the boy most heartily believes) been glad to give him some.


eHe was wery good to me,' says the boy, wiping his eyes with his
wretched sleeve. eWen I see him a-layin' so stritched out just now, I
wished he could have heerd me tell him so. He wos wery good to me,
he wos!
'

As he shuffles downstairs, Mr Snagsby, lying in wait for him, puts a
half-crown in his hand. eIf you ever see me coming past your crossing
with my little woman--I mean a lady--' says Mr Snagsby with his
finger on his nose, edon't allude to it!'

For some little time the jurymen hang about the Sol's Arms
colloquially. In the sequel, half-a-dozen are caught up in a cloud of
pipe-smoke that pervades the parlour of the Sol's Arms; two stroll to
Hampstead; and four engage to go half-price to the play at night, and
top up with oysters. Little Swills is treated on several hands. Being
asked what he thinks of the proceedings, characterizes them (his
strength lying in a slangular direction) as ea rummy start.' The
landlord of the Sol's Arms, finding Little Swills so popular, commends
him highly to the jurymen and public, observing that for a song in
character he don't know his equal and that that man's character-
wardrobe would fill a cart.


Thus, gradually the Sol's Arms melts into the shadowy night and then
flares out of it strong in gas.
The Harmonic Meeting hour arriving, the
gentleman of professional celebrity takes the chair, is faced (red-faced)
by Little Swills; their friends rally round them and support first-rate
talent. In the zenith of the evening, Little Swills says, eGentlemen, if
you'll permit me, I'll attempt a short description of a scene of real life
that came off here to-day.' Is much applauded and encouraged; goes
out of the room as Swills; comes in as the coroner (not the least in the
world like him); describes the inquest, with recreative intervals of
piano-forte accompaniment, to the refrain: With his (the coroner's)
tippy tol li doll, tippy tol lo doll, tippy tol li doll, Dee!

The jingling piano at last is silent, and the Harmonic friends rally
round their pillows. Then there is rest around the lonely figure, now
laid in its last earthly habitation; and it is watched by the gaunt eyes
in the shutters through some quiet hours of night. If this forlorn man
could have been prophetically seen lying here by the mother at whose
breast he nestled, a little child, with eyes upraised to her loving face,
and soft hand scarcely knowing how to close upon the neck to which
it crept, what an impossibility the vision would have seemed! Oh, if in
brighter days the now-extinguished fire within him ever burned for
one woman who held him in her heart, where is she, while these
ashes are above the ground!


It is anything but a night of rest at Mr Snagsby's, in Cook's Court,
where Guster murders sleep by going, as Mr Snagsby himself allows--
not to put too fine a point upon it--out of one fit into twenty. The
occasion of this seizure is that Guster has a tender heart and a
susceptible something that possibly might have been imagination, but
for Tooting and her patron saint. Be it what it may, now, it was so
direfully impressed at tea-time by Mr Snagsby's account of the inquiry
at which he had assisted that at supper-time she projected herself
into the kitchen, preceded by a flying Dutch cheese, and fell into a fit
of unusual duration, which she only came out of to go into another,
and another, and so on through a chain of fits, with short intervals
between, of which she has pathetically availed herself by consuming
them in entreaties to Mrs Snagsby not to give her warning ewhen she
quite comes to,' and also in appeals to the whole establishment to lay
her down on the stones and go to bed. Hence,
Mr Snagsby, at last
hearing the cock at the little dairy in Cursitor Street go into that
disinterested ecstasy of his on the subject of daylight, says, drawing a
long breath, though the most patient of men, eI thought you was dead,
I am sure!'


What question this enthusiastic fowl supposes he settles when he
strains himself to such an extent, or why he should thus crow (so men
crow on various triumphant public occasions, however) about what
cannot be of any moment to him, is his affair. It is enough that
daylight comes, morning comes, noon comes.


Then the active and intelligent, who has got into the morning papers
as such, comes with his pauper company to Mr Krook's and bears off
the body of our dear brother here departed to a hemmed-in church-
yard, pestiferous and obscene, whence malignant diseases are com-
municated to the bodies of our dear brothers and sisters who have
not departed, while our dear brothers and sisters who hang about
official back-stairs--would to heaven they had departed!--are very
complacent and agreeable. Into a beastly scrap of ground which a
Turk would reject as a savage abomination and a Caffre would
shudder at, they bring our dear brother here departed to receive
Christian burial.

With houses looking on, on every side, save where a reeking little
tunnel of a court gives access to the iron gate--with every villainy of
life in action close on death, and every poisonous element of death in
action close on life--here they lower our dear brother down a foot or
two, here sow him in corruption, to be raised in corruption: an
avenging ghost at many a sick-bedside, a shameful testimony to
future ages how civilization and barbarism walked this boastful island
together.

Come night, come darkness, for you cannot come too soon or stay too
long by such a place as this! Come, straggling lights into the windows
of the ugly houses; and you who do iniquity therein, do it at least with
this dread scene shut out! Come, flame of gas, burning so sullenly
above the iron gate, on which the poisoned air deposits its witchointment
slimy to the touch! It is well that you should call to every
passerby, eLook here!'


With the night comes a slouching figure through the tunnel-court to
the outside of the iron gate. It holds the gate with its hands and looks
in between the bars, stands looking in for a little while.

It then, with an old broom it carries, softly sweeps the step and makes
the archway clean. It does so very busily and trimly, looks in again a
little while, and so departs.


Jo, is it thou? Well, well! Though a rejected witness, who ecan't exactly
say' what will be done to him in greater hands than men's, thou art
not quite in outer darkness. There is something like a distant ray of
light in thy muttered reason for this: eHe wos wery good to me, he
wos!'




Chapter XII--On the Watch



It has left off raining down in Lincolnshire at last, and Chesney Wold
has taken heart. Mrs Rouncewell is full of hospitable cares, for Sir
Leicester and my Lady are coming home from Paris. The fashionable
intelligence has found it out and communicates the glad tidings to
benighted England. It has also found out that they will entertain a
brilliant and distinguished circle of the elite of the beau monde
(the fashionable intelligence is weak in English, but a giant refreshed
in French)
at the ancient and hospitable family seat in Lincolnshire.

For the greater honour of the brilliant and distinguished circle, and of
Chesney Wold into the bargain, the broken arch of the bridge in the
park is mended; and the water, now retired within its proper limits
and again spanned gracefully, makes a figure in the prospect from the
house. The clear, cold sunshine glances into the brittle woods and
approvingly beholds the sharp wind scattering the leaves and drying
the moss. It glides over the park after the moving shadows of the
clouds, and chases them, and never catches them, all day. It looks in
at the windows and touches the ancestral portraits with bars and
patches of brightness never contemplated by the painters. Athwart the
picture of my Lady, over the great chimney-piece, it throws a broad
bend-sinister of light that strikes down crookedly into the hearth and
seems to rend it.


Through the same cold sunshine and the same sharp wind, my Lady
and Sir Leicester, in their travelling chariot (my Lady's woman and Sir
Leicester's man affectionate in the rumble), start for home. With a
considerable amount of jingling and whip-cracking, and many plunging
demonstrations on the part of two bare-backed horses and two cen-
taurs with glazed hats, jack-boots, and flowing manes and tails, they
rattle out of the yard of the Hotel Bristol in the Place Vendome and
canter between the sun-and-shadow-chequered colonnade of the
Rue de Rivoli and the garden of the ill-fated palace of a headless
king and queen, off by the Place of Concord, and the Elysian Fields,
and the Gate of the Star, out of Paris.

Sooth to say, they cannot go away too fast, for even here my Lady
Dedlock has been bored to death. Concert, assembly, opera, theatre,
drive, nothing is new to my Lady under the worn-out heavens.
Only
last Sunday, when poor wretches were gay--within the walls playing
with children among the clipped trees and the statues in the Palace
Garden; walking, a score abreast, in the Elysian Fields, made more
Elysian by performing dogs and wooden horses;
between whiles fil-
tering (a few) through the gloomy Cathedral of Our Lady to say a
word or two at the base of a pillar within flare of a rusty little gridiron-
full of gusty little tapers; without the walls encompassing Paris with
dancing, love-making, wine-drinking, tobacco-smoking, tomb-visiting,
billiard card and domino playing, quack-doctoring, and much murder-
ous refuse, animate and inanimate--only last Sunday, my Lady, in
the desolation of Boredom and the clutch of Giant Despair, almost
hated her own maid for being in spirits.


She cannot, therefore, go too fast from Paris. Weariness of soul lies
before her, as it lies behind--her Ariel has put a girdle of it round the
whole earth, and it cannot be unclasped
--but the imperfect remedy is
always to fly from the last place where it has been experienced.
Fling
Paris back into the distance, then, exchanging it for endless avenues
and cross-avenues of wintry trees! And, when next beheld, let it be
some leagues away, with the Gate of the Star a white speck glittering
in the sun, and the city a mere mound in a plain--two dark square
towers rising out of it, and light and shadow descending on it aslant,
like the angels in Jacob's dream!


Sir Leicester is generally in a complacent state, and rarely bored.
When he has nothing else to do,
he can always contemplate his own
greatness. It is a considerable advantage to a man to have so inex-
haustible a subject.
After reading his letters, he leans back in his
corner of the carriage and generally reviews his importance to socie-
ty.


eYou have an unusual amount of correspondence this morning?' says
my Lady after a long time. She is fatigued with reading. Has almost
read a page in twenty miles.

eNothing in it, though. Nothing whatever.'

eI saw one of Mr Tulkinghorn's long effusions, I think?'

eYou see everything,' says Sir Leicester with admiration.

eHa!' sighs my Lady. eHe is the most tiresome of men!'

eHe sends--I really beg your pardon--he sends,' says Sir Leicester,
selecting the letter and unfolding it, ea message to you. Our stopping
to change horses as I came to his postscript drove it out of my
memory. I beg you'll excuse me. He says--' Sir Leicester is so long in
taking out his eye-glass and adjusting it that my Lady looks a little
irritated. eHe says 'In the matter of the right of way--' I beg your
pardon, that's not the place. He says--yes! Here I have it! He says, 'I
beg my respectful compliments to my Lady, who, I hope, has benefited
by the change. Will you do me the favour to mention (as it may
interest her) that I have something to tell her on her return in
reference to the person who copied the affidavit in the Chancery suit,
which so powerfully stimulated her curiosity. I have seen him.'e


My Lady, leaning forward, looks out of her window. eThat's the mes-
sage,' observes Sir Leicester.

eI should like to walk a little,' says my Lady, still looking out of her
window.

eWalk?' repeats Sir Leicester in a tone of surprise.

eI should like to walk a little,' says my Lady with unmistakable
distinctness. ePlease to stop the carriage.'

The carriage is stopped, the affectionate man alights from the rumble,
opens the door, and lets down the steps, obedient to an impatient
motion of my Lady's hand. My Lady alights so quickly and walks away
so quickly that Sir Leicester, for all his scrupulous politeness, is
unable to assist her, and is left behind. A space of a minute or two
has elapsed before he comes up with her. She smiles, looks very
handsome, takes his arm, lounges with him for a quarter of a mile, is
very much bored, and resumes her seat in the carriage.


The rattle and clatter continue through the greater part of three days,
with more or less of bell-jingling and whip-cracking, and more or less
plunging of centaurs and bare-backed horses. Their courtly politeness
to each other at the hotels where they tarry is the theme of general
admiration. Though my Lord is a little aged for my Lady, says Madame,
the hostess of the Golden Ape, and though he might be her amiable
father, one can see at a glance that they love each other. One ob-
serves my Lord with his white hair, standing, hat in hand, to help
my Lady to and from the carriage.
One observes my Lady, how
recognisant of my Lord's politeness, with an inclination of her
gracious head and the concession of her so-genteel fingers! It is
ravishing!

The sea has no appreciation of great men, but knocks them about
like the small fry. It is habitually hard upon Sir Leicester, whose
countenance it greenly mottles in the manner of sage-cheese and
in whose aristocratic system it effects a dismal revolution. It is the
Radical of Nature to him.
Nevertheless, his dignity gets over it after
stopping to refit, and he goes on with my Lady for Chesney Wold, ly-
ing only one night in London on the way to Lincolnshire.


Through the same cold sunlight, colder as the day declines, and
through the same sharp wind, sharper as the separate shadows of
bare trees gloom together in the woods, and as the Ghost's Walk,
touched at the western corner by a pile of fire in the sky, resigns itself
to coming night, they drive into the park. The rooks, swinging in their
lofty houses in the elm-tree avenue, seem to discuss the question of
the occupancy of the carriage as it passes underneath, some agreeing
that Sir Leicester and my Lady are come down, some arguing with
malcontents who won't admit it, now all consenting to consider the
question disposed of, now all breaking out again in violent debate,
incited by one obstinate and drowsy bird who will persist in putting in
a last contradictory croak. Leaving them to swing and caw, the
travelling chariot rolls on to the house, where fires gleam warmly
through some of the windows, though not through so many as to give
an inhabited expression to the darkening mass of front. But the
brilliant and distinguished circle will soon do that.


Mrs Rouncewell is in attendance and receives Sir Leicester's
customary shake of the hand with a profound curtsy.

eHow do you do, Mrs Rouncewell? I am glad to see you.'

eI hope I have the honour of welcoming you in good health, Sir
Leicester?'

eIn excellent health, Mrs Rouncewell.'

eMy Lady is looking charmingly well,' says Mrs Rouncewell with
another curtsy.

My Lady signifies, without profuse expenditure of words, that she is as
wearily well as she can hope to be.

But Rosa is in the distance, behind the housekeeper; and my Lady,
who has not subdued the quickness of her observation, whatever else
she may have conquered, asks, eWho is that girl?'

eA young scholar of mine, my Lady. Rosa.'

eCome here, Rosa!' Lady Dedlock beckons her, with even an appear-
ance of interest. eWhy, do you know how pretty you are, child?' she
says, touching her shoulder with her two forefingers.

Rosa, very much abashed, says,
eNo, if you please, my Lady!' and
glances up, and glances down, and don't know where to look, but
looks all the prettier.


eHow old are you?'

eNineteen, my Lady.'

eNineteen,' repeats my Lady thoughtfully. eTake care they don't spoil
you by flattery.'

eYes, my Lady.'

My Lady taps her dimpled cheek with the same delicate gloved fingers
and goes on to the foot of the oak staircase, where Sir Leicester
pauses for her as her knightly escort. A staring old Dedlock in a panel,
as large as life and as dull, looks as if he didn't know what to make of
it, which was probably his general state of mind in the days of Queen
Elizabeth.

That evening, in the housekeeper's room, Rosa can do nothing but
murmur Lady Dedlock's praises.
She is so affable, so graceful, so
beautiful, so elegant; has such a sweet voice and such a thrilling
touch that Rosa can feel it yet!
Mrs Rouncewell confirms all this, not
without personal pride, reserving only the one point of affability. Mrs
Rouncewell is not quite sure as to that. Heaven forbid that she should
say a syllable in dispraise of any member of that excellent family,
above all, of my Lady, whom the whole world admires; but if my Lady
would only be ea little more free,' not quite so cold and distant, Mrs
Rouncewell thinks she would be more affable.

e'Tis almost a pity,' Mrs Rouncewell adds--only ealmost' because it
borders on impiety to suppose that anything could be better than it is,
in such an express dispensation as the Dedlock affairs--'that my Lady
has no family.
If she had had a daughter now, a grown young lady, to
interest her, I think she would have had the only kind of excellence
she wants.'


eMight not that have made her still more proud, grandmother?' says
Watt, who has been home and come back again, he is such a good
grandson.

eMore and most, my dear,' returns the housekeeper with dignity, eare
words it's not my place to use--nor so much as to hear--applied to any
drawback on my Lady.'

eI beg your pardon, grandmother. But she is proud, is she not?'

eIf she is, she has reason to be. The Dedlock family have always reason
to be.'

eWell,' says Watt,
eit's to be hoped they line out of their prayer-books a
certain passage for the common people about pride and vainglory.


Forgive me, grandmother! Only a joke!'

eSir Leicester and Lady Dedlock, my dear, are not fit subjects for
joking.'

eSir Leicester is no joke by any means,' says Watt, eand I humbly ask
his pardon.
I suppose, grandmother, that even with the family and their
guests down here, there is no objection to my prolonging my stay
at the Dedlock Arms for a day or two, as any other traveller might?'

eSurely, none in the world, child.'

eI am glad of that,' says Watt, ebecause I have an inexpressible desire
to extend my knowledge of this beautiful neighbourhood.'

He happens to glance at Rosa, who looks down and is very shy indeed.
But according to the old superstition, it should be Rosa's ears that
burn, and not her fresh bright cheeks, for my Lady's maid is holding
forth about her at this moment with surpassing energy.

My Lady's maid is a Frenchwoman of two and thirty, from somewhere
in the southern country about Avignon and Marseilles, a large-eyed
brown woman with black hair who would be handsome but for
a
certain feline mouth and general uncomfortable tightness of face,
rendering the jaws too eager and the skull too prominent. There is
something indefinably keen and wan about her anatomy, and she has
a watchful way of looking out of the corners of her eyes without
turning her head which could be pleasantly dispensed with, especially
when she is in an ill humour and near knives. Through all the good
taste of her dress and little adornments, these objections so express
themselves that she seems to go about like a very neat she-wolf
imperfectly tamed. Besides being accomplished in all the knowledge
appertaining to her post, she is almost an Englishwoman in her
acquaintance with the language; consequently, she is in no want of
words to shower upon Rosa for having attracted my Lady's attention,
and she pours them out with such grim ridicule as she sits at dinner
that her companion, the affectionate man, is rather relieved when she
arrives at the spoon stage of that performance.


Ha, ha, ha! She, Hortense, been in my Lady's service since five years
and always kept at the distance, and this doll, this puppet, caressed--
absolutely caressed--by my Lady on the moment of her arriving at the
house! Ha, ha, ha! eAnd do you know how pretty you are, child?' eNo,
my Lady.' You are right there! eAnd how old are you, child! And take
care they do not spoil you by flattery, child!' Oh, how droll! It is the
best thing altogether.


In short, it is such an admirable thing that Mademoiselle Hortense
can't forget it; but at meals for days afterwards, even among her
countrywomen and others attached in like capacity to the troop of
visitors, relapses into silent enjoyment of the joke--an enjoyment
expressed, in her own convivial manner, by
an additional tightness of
face, thin elongation of compressed lips, and sidewise look, which
intense appreciation of humour is frequently reflected in my Lady's
mirrors when my Lady is not among them.

All the mirrors in the house are brought into action now, many of
them after a long blank. They reflect handsome faces, simpering faces,
youthful faces, faces of threescore and ten that will not submit to be
old;
the entire collection of faces that have come to pass a January
week or two at Chesney Wold, and which the fashionable intelligence,
a mighty hunter before the Lord, hunts with a keen scent, from their
breaking cover at the Court of St. James's to their being run down to
death. The place in Lincolnshire is all alive. By day guns and voices
are heard ringing in the woods, horsemen and carriages enliven the
park roads, servants and hangers-on pervade the village and the
Dedlock Arms. Seen by night from distant openings in the trees, the
row of windows in the long drawing-room, where my Lady's picture
hangs over the great chimney-piece, is like a row of jewels set in a
black frame. On Sunday the chill little church is almost warmed by so
much gallant company, and the general flavour of the Dedlock dust is
quenched in delicate perfumes.

The brilliant and distinguished circle comprehends within it no
contracted amount of education, sense, courage, honour, beauty, and
virtue.
Yet there is something a little wrong about it in despite of its
immense advantages. What can it be?

Dandyism? There is no King George the Fourth now (more the pity)
to set the dandy fashion; there are no clear-starched jack-towel
neckcloths, no short-waisted coats, no false calves, no stays.
There
are no caricatures, now, of effeminate exquisites so arrayed, swooning
in opera boxes with excess of delight and being revived by other dainty
creatures poking long-necked scent-bottles at their noses. There is no
beau whom it takes four men at once to shake into his buckskins, or
who goes to see all the executions, or who is troubled with the self-
reproach of having once consumed a pea.
But is there dandyism in
the brilliant and distinguished circle notwithstanding,
dandyism of a
more mischievous sort, that has got below the surface and is doing
less harmless things than jack-towelling itself and stopping its own
digestion
, to which no rational person need particularly object?

Why, yes. It cannot be disguised. There are at Chesney Wold this
January week some ladies and gentlemen of the newest fashion, who
have set up a dandyism--in religion, for instance. Who in mere
lackadaisical want of an emotion have agreed upon a little dandy talk
about the vulgar wanting faith in things in general, meaning in the
things that have been tried and found wanting, as though a low fellow
should unaccountably lose faith in a bad shilling after finding it out!
Who would make the vulgar very picturesque and faithful by putting
back the hands upon the clock of time and cancelling a few hundred
years of history.


There are also ladies and gentlemen of another fashion, not so new,
but very elegant, who have agreed to put a smooth glaze on the world
and to keep down all its realities. For whom everything must be
languid and pretty. Who have found out the perpetual stoppage. Who
are to rejoice at nothing and be sorry for nothing. Who are not to be
disturbed by ideas. On whom even the fine arts, attending in powder
and walking backward like the Lord Chamberlain, must array
themselves in the milliners' and tailors' patterns of past generations
and be particularly careful not to be in earnest or to receive any
impress from the moving age.


Then there is my Lord Boodle, of considerable reputation with his
party, who has known what office is and who tells Sir Leicester
Dedlock with much gravity, after dinner, that he really does not see to
what the present age is tending. A debate is not what a debate used to
be; the House is not what the House used to be; even a Cabinet is not
what it formerly was. He perceives with astonishment that supposing
the present government to be overthrown, the limited choice of the
Crown, in the formation of a new ministry, would lie between Lord
Coodle and Sir Thomas Doodle--supposing it to be impossible for the
Duke of Foodle to act with Goodle, which may be assumed to be the
case in consequence of the breach arising out of that affair with
Hoodle. Then, giving the Home Department and the leadership of the
House of Commons to Joodle, the Exchequer to Koodle, the Colonies
to Loodle, and the Foreign Office to Moodle, what are you to do with
Noodle? You can't offer him the Presidency of the Council; that is
reserved for Poodle. You can't put him in the Woods and Forests; that
is hardly good enough for Quoodle. What follows? That the country is
shipwrecked, lost, and gone to pieces (as is made manifest to the
patriotism of Sir Leicester Dedlock) because you can't provide for
Noodle!

On the other hand, the Right Honourable William Buffy, M.P., con-
tends across the table with some one else that the shipwreck of
the country--about which there is no doubt; it is only the manner of it
that is in question--is attributable to Cuffy.
If you had done with Cuffy
what you ought to have done when he first came into Parliament, and
had prevented him from going over to Duffy, you would have got him
into alliance with Fuffy, you would have had with you the weight
attaching as a smart debater to Guffy, you would have brought to bear
upon the elections the wealth of Huffy, you would have got in for three
counties Juffy, Kuffy, and Luffy, and you would have strengthened
your administration by the official knowledge and the business habits
of Muffy. All this, instead of being as you now are, dependent on the
mere caprice of Puffy!

As to this point, and as to some minor topics, there are differences
of opinion; but it is perfectly clear to the brilliant and distinguished
circle, all round, that nobody is in question but Boodle and his ret-
inue, and Buffy and HIS retinue. These are the great actors for
whom the stage is reserved. A People there are, no doubt--a cer-
tain large number of supernumeraries, who are to be occasionally
addressed, and relied upon for shouts and choruses, as on the
theatrical stage;
but Boodle and Buffy, their followers and families,
their heirs, executors, administrators, and assigns, are the born first-
actors, managers, and leaders, and no others can appear upon the
scene for ever and ever.

In this, too, there is perhaps more dandyism at Chesney Wold than
the brilliant and distinguished circle will find good for itself in the long
run. For it is,
even with the stillest and politest circles, as with the
circle the necromancer draws around him--very strange appearances
may be seen in active motion outside. With this difference, that being
realities and not phantoms, there is the greater danger of their
breaking in.


Chesney Wold is quite full anyhow, so full that a burning sense of
injury arises in the breasts of ill-lodged ladies'-maids, and is not to be
extinguished.
Only one room is empty. It is a turret chamber of the
third order of merit, plainly but comfortably furnished and having an
old-fashioned business air. It is Mr Tulkinghorn's room, and is never
bestowed on anybody else, for he may come at any time. He is not
come yet. It is his quiet habit to walk across the park from the village
in fine weather, to drop into this room as if he had never been out of
it since he was last seen there, to request a servant to inform Sir
Leicester that he is arrived in case he should be wanted, and to
appear ten minutes before dinner in the shadow of the library-door.
He sleeps in his turret with a complaining flag-staff over his head,
and has some leads outside on which, any fine morning when he is
down here,
his black figure may be seen walking before breakfast like
a larger species of rook.


Every day before dinner, my Lady looks for him in the dusk of the
library, but he is not there. Every day at dinner, my Lady glances
down the table for the vacant place that would be waiting to receive
him
if he had just arrived, but there is no vacant place. Every night
my Lady casually asks her maid, eIs Mr Tulkinghorn come?'

Every night the answer is, eNo, my Lady, not yet.'

One night, while having her hair undressed, my Lady loses herself in
deep thought after this reply until
she sees her own brooding face in
the opposite glass, and a pair of black eyes curiously observing her.

eBe so good as to attend,' says my Lady then, addressing the reflection
of Hortense, eto your business. You can contemplate your beauty at
another time.'

ePardon! It was your Ladyship's beauty.'

eThat,' says my Lady, eyou needn't contemplate at all.'


At length, one afternoon a little before sunset, when the bright groups
of figures which have for the last hour or two enlivened the Ghost's
Walk are all dispersed and only Sir Leicester and my Lady remain
upon the terrace, Mr Tulkinghorn appears. He comes towards them at
his usual methodical pace, which is never quickened, never slackened.
He wears his usual expressionless mask--if it be a mask--and carries
family secrets in every limb of his body and every crease of his dress.
Whether his whole soul is devoted to the great or whether he yields
them nothing beyond the services he sells is his personal secret.
He
keeps it, as he keeps the secrets of his clients; he is his own client
in that matter, and will never betray himself.


eHow do you do, Mr Tulkinghorn?' says Sir Leicester, giving him his
hand.

Mr Tulkinghorn is quite well. Sir Leicester is quite well. My Lady is
quite well. All highly satisfactory. The lawyer, with his hands behind
him, walks at Sir Leicester's side along the terrace. My Lady walks
upon the other side.

eWe expected you before,' says Sir Leicester. A gracious observation.
As much as to say, eMr Tulkinghorn,
we remember your existence
when you are not here to remind us of it by your presence. We bestow
a fragment of our minds upon you
, sir, you see!'

Mr Tulkinghorn, comprehending it, inclines his head and says he is
much obliged.

eI should have come down sooner,' he explains, ebut that I have been
much engaged with those matters in the several suits between
yourself and Boythorn.'

eA man of a very ill-regulated mind,' observes Sir Leicester with
severity. eAn extremely dangerous person in any community. A man of
a very low character of mind.'

eHe is obstinate,' says Mr Tulkinghorn.

eIt is natural to such a man to be so,' says Sir Leicester, looking most
profoundly obstinate himself. eI am not at all surprised to hear it.'

eThe only question is,' pursues the lawyer, ewhether you will give up
anything.'

eNo, sir,' replies Sir Leicester. eNothing. I give up?'

eI don't mean anything of importance. That, of course, I know you
would not abandon. I mean any minor point.'

eMr Tulkinghorn,' returns Sir Leicester, ethere can be no minor point
between myself and Mr Boythorn. If I go farther, and observe that I
cannot readily conceive how any right of mine can be a minor point
, I
speak not so much in reference to myself as an individual as in
reference to the family position I have it in charge to maintain.'

Mr Tulkinghorn inclines his head again. eI have now my instructions,'
he says. eMr Boythorn will give us a good deal of trouble--'

eIt is the character of such a mind, Mr Tulkinghorn,' Sir Leicester
interrupts him, eto give trouble. An exceedingly ill-conditioned,
levelling person. A person who, fifty years ago, would probably have
been tried at the Old Bailey for some demagogue proceeding, and
severely punished--if not,' adds Sir Leicester after a moment's pause,
eif not hanged, drawn, and quartered.'

Sir Leicester appears to discharge his stately breast of a burden in
passing this capital sentence, as if it were the next satisfactory thing
to having the sentence executed.


eBut night is coming on,' says he, eand my Lady will take cold. My
dear, let us go in.'

As they turn towards the hall-door, Lady Dedlock addresses Mr
Tulkinghorn for the first time.

eYou sent me a message respecting the person whose writing I hap-
pened to inquire about. It was like you to remember the circumstance;
I had quite forgotten it. Your message reminded me of it again. I can't
imagine what association I had with a hand like that, but I surely had
some.'

eYou had some?' Mr Tulkinghorn repeats.

eOh, yes!' returns my Lady carelessly. eI think I must have had some.
And did you really take the trouble to find out the writer of that actual
thing--what is it!--affidavit?'


eYes.'

eHow very odd!'


They pass into a sombre breakfast-room on the ground floor, lighted
in the day by two deep windows. It is now twilight. The fire glows
brightly on the panelled wall and palely on the window-glass, where,
through the cold reflection of the blaze, the colder landscape shudders
in the wind and a grey mist creeps along, the only traveller besides the
waste of clouds.


My Lady lounges in a great chair in the chimney-corner, and Sir
Leicester takes another great chair opposite. The lawyer stands before
the fire with his hand out at arm's length, shading his face. He looks
across his arm at my Lady.

eYes,' he says, eI inquired about the man, and found him. And, what is
very strange, I found him--'

eNot to be any out-of-the-way person, I am afraid!' Lady Dedlock
languidly anticipates.


eI found him dead.'

eOh, dear me!' remonstrated Sir Leicester. Not so much shocked by the
fact as by the fact of the fact being mentioned.

eI was directed to his lodging--a miserable, poverty-stricken place --
and I found him dead.'

eYou will excuse me, Mr Tulkinghorn,' observes Sir Leicester. eI think
the less said--'

ePray, Sir Leicester, let me hear the story out' (it is my Lady speaking).
eIt is quite a story for twilight. How very shocking! Dead?'

Mr Tulkinghorn re-asserts it by another inclination of his head.
eWhether by his own hand--'

eUpon my honour!' cries Sir Leicester. eReally!'

eDo let me hear the story!' says my Lady.

eWhatever you desire, my dear. But, I must say--'

eNo, you mustn't say! Go on, Mr Tulkinghorn.'

Sir Leicester's gallantry concedes the point, though he still feels that
to bring this sort of squalor among the upper classes is really--really--


eI was about to say,' resumes the lawyer with undisturbed calmness,
ethat whether he had died by his own hand or not, it was beyond my
power to tell you. I should amend that phrase, however, by saying that
he had unquestionably died of his own act, though whether by his
own deliberate intention or by mischance can never certainly be
known. The coroner's jury found that he took the poison accide
ntally.'

eAnd what kind of man,' my Lady asks, ewas this deplorable creature?'

eVery difficult to say,' returns the lawyer, shaking his head.
eHe had
lived so wretchedly and was so neglected, with his gipsy colour and
his wild black hair and beard, that I should have considered him the
commonest of the common. The surgeon had a notion that he had
once been something better, both in appearance and condition.'


eWhat did they call the wretched being?'

eThey called him what he had called himself, but no one knew his
name.'

eNot even any one who had attended on him?'

eNo one had attended on him. He was found dead. In fact, I found
him.'


eWithout any clue to anything more?'

eWithout any; there was,' says the lawyer meditatively, ean old
portmanteau, but--No, there were no papers.'

During the utterance of every word of this short dialogue, Lady
Dedlock and Mr Tulkinghorn, without any other alteration in their
customary deportment, have looked very steadily at one another--as
was natural, perhaps, in the discussion of so unusual a subject. Sir
Leicester has looked at the fire, with the general expression of the
Dedlock on the staircase. The story being told, he renews his stately
protest, saying that as it is quite clear that no association in my
Lady's mind can possibly be traceable to this poor wretch (unless he
was a begging-letter writer), he trusts to hear no more about a subject
so far removed from my Lady's station.

eCertainly, a collection of horrors,' says my Lady, gathering up her
mantles and furs, ebut they interest one for the moment!
Have the
kindness, Mr Tulkinghorn, to open the door for me.'


Mr Tulkinghorn does so with deference and holds it open while she
passes out.
She passes close to him, with her usual fatigued manner
and insolent grace.
They meet again at dinner--again, next day--
again, for many days in succession.
Lady Dedlock is always the same
exhausted deity, surrounded by worshippers, and terribly liable to be
bored to death, even while presiding at her own shrine.
Mr Tulking-
horn is always the same speechless repository of noble confidences,
so oddly but of place and yet so perfectly at home. They appear to
take as little note of one another as any two people enclosed with-
in the same walls could. But whether each evermore watches and
suspects the other, evermore mistrustful of some great reservation;
whether each is evermore prepared at all points for the other, and
never to be taken unawares; what each would give to know how much
the other knows--all this is hidden, for the time, in their own hearts.



Chapter XIII--Esther's Narrative



We held many consultations about what Richard was to be, first
without Mr Jarndyce, as he had requested, and afterwards with him,
but it was a long time before we seemed to make progress. Richard
said he was ready for anything. When Mr Jarndyce doubted whether
he might not already be too old to enter the Navy, Richard said he had
thought of that, and perhaps he was. When Mr Jarndyce asked him
what he thought of the Army, Richard said he had thought of that,
too, and it wasn't a bad idea. When Mr Jarndyce advised him to try
and decide within himself whether his old preference for the sea was
an ordinary boyish inclination or a strong impulse, Richard answered,
Well he really had tried very often, and he couldn't make out.

eHow much of this indecision of character,' Mr Jarndyce said to me,
eis chargeable on that incomprehensible heap of uncertainty and
procrastination on which he has been thrown from his birth
, I don't
pretend to say; but that Chancery, among its other sins, is responsible
for some of it, I can plainly see. It has engendered or confirmed in him
a habit of putting off--and trusting to this, that, and the other chance,
without knowing what chance--and dismissing everything as unsettled,
uncertain, and confused. The character of much older and steadier
people may be even changed by the circumstances surrounding them.
It would be too much to expect that a boy's, in its formation, should
be the subject of such influences and escape them.'


I felt this to be true; though if I may venture to mention what I
thought besides, I thought it much to be regretted that Richard's
education had not counteracted those influences or directed his
character. He had been eight years at a public school and had learnt,
I understood, to make Latin verses of several sorts in the most
admirable manner. But I never heard that it had been anybody's
business to find out what his natural bent was, or where his failings
lay, or
to adapt any kind of knowledge to him. He had been adapted
to the verses and had learnt the art of making them to such perfection
that if he had remained at school until he was of age, I suppose he
could only have gone on making them over and over again unless he
had enlarged his education by forgetting how to do it
. Still, although I
had no doubt that they were very beautiful, and very improving, and
very sufficient for a great many purposes of life, and always re-
membered all through life, I did doubt whether Richard would not
have profited by some one studying him a little, instead of his
studying them quite so much.


To be sure, I knew nothing of the subject and do not even now know
whether the young gentlemen of classic Rome or Greece made verses
to the same extent--or whether the young gentlemen of any country
ever did.

eI haven't the least idea,' said Richard, musing, ewhat I had better be.
Except that I am quite sure I don't want to go into the Church, it's a
toss-up.'

eYou have no inclination in Mr Kenge's way?' suggested Mr Jarndyce.

eI don't know that, sir!' replied Richard. eI am fond of boating. Articled
clerks go a good deal on the water. It's a capital profession!'

eSurgeon--' suggested Mr Jarndyce.

eThat's the thing, sir!' cried Richard.

I doubt if he had ever once thought of it before.

eThat's the thing, sir,' repeated Richard with the greatest enthusiasm.

eWe have got it at last. M.R.C.S.!'

He was not to be laughed out of it, though he laughed at it heartily.
He said he had chosen his profession, and the more he thought of it,
the more he felt that his destiny was clear; the art of healing was the
art of all others for him. Mistrusting that he only came to this
conclusion because, having never had much chance of finding out for
himself what he was fitted for and having never been guided to the
discovery, he was taken by the newest idea and was glad to get rid of
the trouble of consideration
, I wondered whether the Latin verses
often ended in this or whether Richard's was a solitary case.
Mr Jarndyce took great pains to talk with him seriously and to put it
to his good sense not to deceive himself in so important a matter.
Richard was a little grave after these interviews, but invariably told
Ada and me that it was all right, and then began to talk about
something else.

eBy heaven!' cried Mr Boythorn, who interested himself strongly in
the subject--though I need not say that, for he could do nothing weak-
ly; eI rejoice to find a young gentleman of spirit and gallantry devoting
himself to that noble profession! The more spirit there is in it, the
better for mankind and the worse for those mercenary task-masters
and low tricksters who delight in putting that illustrious art at a dis-
advantage in the world. By all that is base and despicable,' cried Mr
Boythorn, ethe treatment of surgeons aboard ship is such that I would
submit the legs--both legs--of every member of the Admiralty Board to
a compound fracture and render it a transportable offence in any qua-
lified practitioner to set them if the system were not wholly changed
in eight and forty hours!'

eWouldn't you give them a week?' asked Mr Jarndyce.

eNo!' cried Mr Boythorn firmly. eNot on any consideration! Eight and
forty hours! As to corporations, parishes, vestry-boards, and similar
gatherings of jolter-headed clods who assemble to exchange such
speeches that, by heaven, they ought to be worked in quicksilver
mines for the short remainder of their miserable existence, if it were
only to prevent their detestable English from contaminating a lang-
uage spoken in the presence of the sun
--as to those fellows, who
meanly take advantage of the ardour of gentlemen in the pursuit of
knowledge to recompense the inestimable services of the best years
of their lives, their long study, and their expensive education with
pittances too small for the acceptance of clerks,
I would have the
necks of every one of them wrung and their skulls arranged in Sur-
geons' Hall for the contemplation of the whole profession in order
that its younger members might understand from actual measurement,
in early life, how thick skulls may become!'


He wound up this vehement declaration by looking round upon us
with a most agreeable smile and suddenly thundering, eHa, ha, ha!'
over and over again, until anybody else might have been expected to
be quite subdued by the exertion.


As Richard still continued to say that he was fixed in his choice af-
ter repeated periods for consideration had been recommended by Mr
Jarndyce and had expired, and he still continued to assure Ada and
me in the same final manner that it was eall right,' it became advisa-
ble to take Mr Kenge into council. Mr Kenge, therefore, came down
to dinner one day, and leaned back in his chair, and turned his eye-
glasses over and over, and spoke in a sonorous voice, and did exactly
what I remembered to have seen him do when I was a little girl.

eAh!' said Mr Kenge. eYes. Well! A very good profession, Mr Jarn-
dyce, a very good profession.'

eThe course of study and preparation requires to be diligently
pursued,' observed my guardian with a glance at Richard.

eOh, no doubt,' said Mr Kenge. eDiligently.'


eBut that being the case, more or less, with all pursuits that are worth
much,' said Mr Jarndyce, eit is not a special consideration which
another choice would be likely to escape.'

eTruly,' said Mr Kenge. eAnd Mr Richard Carstone, who has so mer-
itoriously acquitted himself in the--shall I say the classic shades?-
-in which his youth had been passed, will, no doubt, apply the habits,
if not the principles and practice, of versification in that tongue in
which a poet was said (unless I mistake) to be born, not made, to the
more eminently practical field of action on which he enters.'

eYou may rely upon it,' said Richard in his off-hand manner, ethat I
shall go at it and do my best.'


eVery well, Mr Jarndyce!' said Mr Kenge, gently nodding his head.

eReally, when we are assured by Mr Richard that he means to go at
it and to do his best,' nodding feelingly and smoothly over those
expressions, eI would submit to you that we have only to inquire into
the best mode of carrying out the object of his ambition.
Now, with
reference to placing Mr Richard with some sufficiently eminent
practitioner. Is there any one in view at present?'

eNo one, Rick, I think?' said my guardian.

eNo one, sir,' said Richard.

eQuite so!' observed Mr Kenge. eAs to situation, now. Is there any
particular feeling on that head?'

eN--no,' said Richard.

eQuite so!' observed Mr Kenge again.

eI should like a little variety,' said Richard; eI mean a good range of
experience.'

eVery requisite, no doubt,' returned Mr Kenge. eI think this may be
easily arranged, Mr Jarndyce? We have only, in the first place, to
discover a sufficiently eligible practitioner; and as soon as we make
our want--and shall I add, our ability to pay a premium?--known, our
only difficulty will be in the selection of one from a large number. We
have only, in the second place, to observe those little formalities which
are rendered necessary by our time of life and our being under the
guardianship of the court. We shall soon be--shall I say, in Mr Rich-
ard's own light-hearted manner, 'going at it'--to our heart's content.
It is a coincidence,' said Mr Kenge with a tinge of melancholy in his
smile, eone of those coincidences which may or may not require
an explanation beyond our present limited faculties, that I have a
cousin in the medical profession. He might be deemed eligible by you
and might be disposed to respond to this proposal. I can answer for
him as little as for you, but he might!
'

As this was an opening in the prospect, it was arranged that Mr Kenge
should see his cousin. And as Mr Jarndyce had before proposed to
take us to London for a few weeks, it was settled next day that we
should make our visit at once and combine Richard's business with it.

Mr Boythorn leaving us within a week, we took up our abode at a
cheerful lodging near Oxford Street over an upholsterer's shop. Lon-
don was a great wonder to us, and we were out for hours and hours
at a time, seeing the sights, which appeared to be less capable
of exhaustion than we were. We made the round of the principal
theatres, too, with great delight, and saw all the plays that were worth
seeing. I mention this because it was at the theatre that I began to
be made uncomfortable again by Mr Guppy.


I was sitting in front of the box one night with Ada, and Richard was
in the place he liked best, behind Ada's chair, when, happening to
look down into the pit, I saw Mr Guppy, with his hair flattened down
upon his head and woe depicted in his face
, looking up at me. I felt
all through the performance that he never looked at the actors but
constantly looked at me, and always with
a carefully prepared ex-
pression of the deepest misery and the profoundest dejection
.

It quite spoiled my pleasure for that night because it was so very
embarrassing and so very ridiculous. But from that time forth, we
never went to the play without my seeing Mr Guppy in the pit, always
with his hair straight and flat, his shirt-collar turned down, and
a
general feebleness about him
. If he were not there when we went in,
and I began to hope he would not come and yielded myself for a little
while to the interest of the scene, I was certain to encounter
his
languishing eyes
when I least expected it and, from that time, to be
quite sure that they were fixed upon me all the evening.


I really cannot express how uneasy this made me. If he would only
have brushed up his hair or turned up his collar, it would have been
bad enough; but to know that that absurd figure was always gazing at
me, and always in
that demonstrative state of despondency, put such
a constraint upon me that I did not like to laugh at the play, or to cry
at it, or to move, or to speak. I seemed able to do nothing naturally. As
to escaping Mr Guppy by going to the back of the box, I could not bear
to do that because I knew Richard and Ada relied on having me next
them and that they could never have talked together so happily if
anybody else had been in my place. So there I sat, not knowing where
to look--for wherever I looked, I knew Mr Guppy's eyes were following
me--and thinking of the dreadful expense to which this young man
was putting himself on my account.


Sometimes I thought of telling Mr Jarndyce. Then I feared that the
young man would lose his situation and that I might ruin him. Some-
times I thought of confiding in Richard, but was deterred by the
possibility of his fighting Mr Guppy and giving him black eyes. Some-
times I thought, should I frown at him or shake my head. Then I
felt I could not do it. Sometimes I considered whether I should write
to his mother, but that ended in my being convinced that to open a
correspondence would be to make the matter worse. I always came to
the conclusion, finally, that I could do nothing. Mr Guppy's persever-
ance, all this time, not only produced him regularly at any theatre to
which we went, but caused him to appear in the crowd as we were
coming out, and even to get up behind our fly--where I am sure I
saw him, two or three times, struggling among the most dreadful
spikes.
After we got home, he haunted a post opposite our house.
The upholsterer's where we lodged being at the corner of two
streets, and my bedroom window being opposite the post, I was afraid
to go near the window when I went upstairs, lest I should see him
(as I did one moonlight night) leaning against the post and evidently
catching cold. If Mr Guppy had not been, fortunately for me, engaged
in the daytime, I really should have had no rest from him.

While we were making this round of gaieties, in which Mr Guppy so
extraordinarily participated, the business which had helped to bring
us to town was not neglected. Mr Kenge's cousin was a Mr Bayham
Badger, who had a good practice at Chelsea and attended a large
public institution besides. He was quite willing to receive Richard into
his house and to superintend his studies, and as it seemed that those
could be pursued advantageously under Mr Badger's roof, and Mr
Badger liked Richard, and as Richard said he liked Mr Badger ewell
enough,' an agreement was made, the Lord Chancellor's consent was
obtained, and it was all settled.


On the day when matters were concluded between Richard and Mr
Badger, we were all under engagement to dine at Mr Badger's house.
We were to be emerely a family party,' Mrs Badger's note said; and we
found no lady there but Mrs Badger herself. She was surrounded in
the drawing-room by various objects, indicative of her painting a little,
playing the piano a little, playing the guitar a little, playing the harp a
little, singing a little, working a little, reading a little, writing poetry a
little, and botanizing a little. She was a lady of about fifty, I should
think, youthfully dressed, and of a very fine complexion. If I add to the
little list of her accomplishments that she rouged a little, I do not
mean that there was any harm in it.


Mr Bayham Badger himself was a pink, fresh-faced, crisp-looking
gentleman with a weak voice, white teeth, light hair, and surprised
eyes,
some years younger, I should say, than Mrs Bayham Badger. He
admired her exceedingly, but principally, and to begin with, on the
curious ground (as it seemed to us) of her having had three husbands.
We had barely taken our seats when he said to Mr Jarndyce quite
triumphantly, eYou would hardly suppose that I am Mrs Bayham
Badger's third!'


eIndeed?' said Mr Jarndyce.

eHer third!' said Mr Badger. eMrs Bayham Badger has not the
appearance, Miss Summerson, of a lady who has had two former
husbands?'

I said eNot at all!'

eAnd most remarkable men!' said Mr Badger in a tone of confidence.
eCaptain Swosser of the Royal Navy, who was Mrs Badger's first
husband, was a very distinguished officer indeed. The name of
Professor Dingo, my immediate predecessor, is one of European
reputation.'

Mrs Badger overheard him and smiled.

eYes, my dear!' Mr Badger replied to the smile, eI was observing to
Mr Jarndyce and Miss Summerson that you had had two former
husbands--both very distinguished men. And they found it, as people
generally do, difficult to believe.'


eI was barely twenty,' said Mrs Badger, ewhen I married Captain
Swosser of the Royal Navy. I was in the Mediterranean with him; I am
quite a sailor. On the twelfth anniversary of my wedding-day, I became
the wife of Professor Dingo.'

eOf European reputation,' added Mr Badger in an undertone.

eAnd when Mr Badger and myself were married,' pursued Mrs Badger,
ewe were married on the same day of the year. I had become attached
to the day.'

eSo that Mrs Badger has been married to three husbands--two of them
highly distinguished men,' said Mr Badger, summing up the facts,
eand each time upon the twenty-first of March at eleven in the
forenoon!'

We all expressed our admiration.

eBut for Mr Badger's modesty,' said Mr Jarndyce, eI would take leave
to correct him and say three distinguished men.'

eThank you, Mr Jarndyce! What I always tell him!' observed Mrs
Badger.

eAnd, my dear,' said Mr Badger, ewhat do I always tell you? That
without any affectation of disparaging such professional distinction as
I may have attained (which our friend Mr Carstone will have many
opportunities of estimating), I am not so weak--no, really,' said Mr
Badger to us generally, eso unreasonable--as to put my reputation
on the same footing with such first-rate men as Captain Swosser
and Professor Dingo.
Perhaps you may be interested, Mr Jarndyce,'
continued Mr Bayham Badger, leading the way into the next drawing-
room, ein this portrait of Captain Swosser. It was taken on his return
home from the African station, where he had suffered from the fever
of the country. Mrs Badger considers it too yellow. But it's a very fine
head. A very fine head!
'

We all echoed, eA very fine head!'

eI feel when I look at it,' said Mr Badger, e'That's a man I should like
to have seen!' It strikingly bespeaks the first-class man that Captain
Swosser pre-eminently was. On the other side, Professor Dingo. I
knew him well--attended him in his last illness--a speaking likeness!
Over the piano, Mrs Bayham Badger when Mrs Swosser. Over the
sofa, Mrs Bayham Badger when Mrs Dingo. Of Mrs Bayham Badger in
esse
, I possess the original and have no copy.'


Dinner was now announced, and we went downstairs. It was a very
genteel entertainment, very handsomely served. But the captain and
the professor still ran in Mr Badger's head, and as Ada and I had the
honour of being under his particular care, we had the full benefit of
them.

eWater, Miss Summerson? Allow me! Not in that tumbler, pray. Bring
me the professor's goblet, James!'


Ada very much admired some artificial flowers under a glass.

eAstonishing how they keep!' said Mr Badger. eThey were presented to
Mrs Bayham Badger when she was in the Mediterranean.'

He invited Mr Jarndyce to take a glass of claret.

eNot that claret!' he said. eExcuse me! This is an occasion, and on an
occasion I produce some very special claret I happen to have. (James,
Captain Swosser's wine!) Mr Jarndyce, this is a wine that was import-
ed by the captain, we will not say how many years ago. You will find
it very curious. My dear, I shall he happy to take some of this wine
with you. (Captain Swosser's claret to your mistress, James!) My
love, your health!'

After dinner, when we ladies retired, we took Mrs Badger's first and
second husband with us. Mrs Badger gave us in the drawing-room a
biographical sketch of the life and services of Captain Swosser before
his marriage and a more minute account of him dating from the time
when he fell in love with her at a ball on board the Crippler, given to
the officers of that ship when she lay in Plymouth Harbour.

eThe dear old Crippler!' said Mrs Badger, shaking her head. eShe was a
noble vessel. Trim, ship-shape, all a taunto, as Captain Swosser used
to say. You must excuse me if I occasionally introduce a nautical
expression; I was quite a sailor once. Captain Swosser loved that craft
for my sake. When she was no longer in commission,
he frequently
said that if he were rich enough to buy her old hulk, he would have an
inscription let into the timbers of the quarter-deck where we stood as
partners in the dance to mark the spot where he fell--raked fore and
aft (Captain Swosser used to say) by the fire from my tops. It was his
naval way of mentioning my eyes.'


Mrs Badger shook her head, sighed, and looked in the glass.

eIt was a great change from Captain Swosser to Professor Dingo,' she
resumed with a plaintive smile. eI felt it a good deal at first.
Such an
entire revolution in my mode of life! But custom, combined with sci-
ence--particularly science--inured me to it. Being the professor's
sole companion in his botanical excursions, I almost forgot that I had
ever been afloat
, and became quite learned. It is singular that the
professor was the antipodes of Captain Swosser and that Mr Badger
is not in the least like either!'


We then passed into a narrative of the deaths of Captain Swosser and
Professor Dingo, both of whom seem to have had very bad complaints.
In the course of it, Mrs Badger signified to us that she had never
madly loved but once and that the object of that wild affection, never
to be recalled in its fresh enthusiasm, was Captain Swosser. The
professor was yet dying by inches in the most dismal manner, and
Mrs Badger was giving us imitations of his way of saying, with great
difficulty, eWhere is Laura? Let Laura give me my toast and water!'
when the entrance of the gentlemen consigned him to the tomb.

Now, I observed that evening, as I had observed for some days past,
that Ada and Richard were more than ever attached to each other's
society, which was but natural, seeing that they were going to be
separated so soon. I was therefore not very much surprised when we
got home, and Ada and I retired upstairs, to find Ada more silent than
usual, though I was not quite prepared for her coming into my arms
and beginning to speak to me, with her face hidden.


eMy darling Esther!' murmured Ada. eI have a great secret to tell you!'

A mighty secret, my pretty one, no doubt!

eWhat is it, Ada?'

eOh, Esther, you would never guess!'

eShall I try to guess?' said I.

eOh, no! Don't! Pray don't!' cried Ada, very much startled by the idea of
my doing so.

eNow, I wonder who it can be about?' said I, pretending to consider.

eIt's about--' said Ada in a whisper. eIt's about--my cousin Richard!'

eWell, my own!' said I, kissing her bright hair, which was all I could
see. eAnd what about him?'

eOh, Esther, you would never guess!'

It was so pretty to have her clinging to me in that way, hiding her face,
and to know that she was not crying in sorrow but in a little glow of
joy, and pride, and hope
, that I would not help her just yet.

eHe says--I know it's very foolish, we are both so young--but he says,'
with a burst of tears, ethat he loves me dearly, Esther.'

eDoes he indeed?' said I. eI never heard of such a thing! Why, my pet of
pets, I could have told you that weeks and weeks ago!'

To see Ada lift up her flushed face in joyful surprise, and hold me
round the neck, and laugh, and cry, and blush, was so pleasant!

eWhy, my darling,' said I, ewhat a goose you must take me for! Your
cousin Richard has been loving you as plainly as he could for I don't
know how long!'


eAnd yet you never said a word about it!' cried Ada, kissing me.

eNo, my love,' said I. eI waited to be told.'

eBut now I have told you, you don't think it wrong of me, do you?'
returned Ada. She might have coaxed me to say no if I had been the
hardest-hearted duenna in the world. Not being that yet, I said no
very freely.

eAnd now,' said I, eI know the worst of it.'

eOh, that's not quite the worst of it, Esther dear!' cried Ada, holding
me tighter and laying down her face again upon my breast.

eNo?' said I. eNot even that?'

eNo, not even that!' said Ada, shaking her head.

eWhy, you never mean to say--' I was beginning in joke.

But Ada, looking up and smiling through her tear's, cried, eYes, I do!
You know, you know I do!' And then sobbed out, eWith all my heart I
do! With all my whole heart, Esther!'


I told her, laughing, why I had known that, too, just as well as I had
known the other! And we sat before the fire, and I had all the talking
to myself for a little while (though there was not much of it); and Ada
was soon quiet and happy.

eDo you think my cousin John knows, dear Dame Durden?' she asked.

eUnless my cousin John is blind, my pet,' said I, eI should think my
cousin John knows pretty well as much as we know.'

eWe want to speak to him before Richard goes,' said Ada timidly, eand
we wanted you to advise us, and to tell him so. Perhaps you wouldn't
mind Richard's coming in, Dame Durden?'

eOh! Richard is outside, is he, my dear?' said I.

eI am not quite certain,' returned Ada with a bashful simplicity that
would have won my heart if she had not won it long before, ebut I
think he's waiting at the door.'

There he was, of course. They brought a chair on either side of me,
and put me between them, and really seemed to have fallen in love
with me instead of one another, they were so confiding, and so
trustful, and so fond of me. They went on in their own wild way for a
little while--I never stopped them; I enjoyed it too much myself--and
then we gradually fell to considering how young they were, and how
there must be a lapse of several years before this early love could
come to anything, and how it could come to happiness only if it were
real and lasting and inspired them with a steady resolution to do their
duty to each other, with constancy, fortitude, and perseverance, each
always for the other's sake. Well! Richard said that he would work his
fingers to the bone for Ada, and Ada said that she would work her
fingers to the bone for Richard, and they called me all sorts of
endearing and sensible names, and we sat there, advising and talking,
half the night. Finally, before we parted, I gave them my promise to
speak to their cousin John tomorrow.


So, when tomorrow came, I went to my guardian after breakfast, in
the room that was our town-substitute for the growlery, and told him
that I had it in trust to tell him something.

eWell, little woman,' said he, shutting up his book, eif you have
accepted the trust, there can be no harm in it.'

eI hope not, guardian,' said I. eI can guarantee that there is no secrecy
in it. For it only happened yesterday.'

eAye? And what is it, Esther?'

eGuardian,' said I, eyou remember the happy night when first we came
down to Bleak House? When Ada was singing in the dark room?'

I wished to call to his remembrance the look he had given me then.
Unless I am much mistaken, I saw that I did so.


eBecause--' said I with a little hesitation.

eYes, my dear!' said he. eDon't hurry.'

eBecause,' said I, eAda and Richard have fallen in love. And have told
each other so.'

eAlready!' cried my guardian, quite astonished.

eYes!' said I. eAnd to tell you the truth, guardian, I rather expected it.'

eThe deuce you did!' said he.

He sat considering for a minute or two, with his smile, at once so
handsome and so kind, upon his changing face, and then requested
me to let them know that he wished to see them. When they came, he
encircled Ada with one arm in his fatherly way and addressed himself
to Richard with a cheerful gravity.

eRick,' said Mr Jarndyce, eI am glad to have won your confidence. I
hope to preserve it. When I contemplated these relations between us
four which have so brightened my life and so invested it with new
interests and pleasures, I certainly did contemplate, afar off, the
possibility of you and your pretty cousin here (don't be shy, Ada, don't
be shy, my dear!) being in a mind to go through life together. I saw,
and do see, many reasons to make it desirable. But that was afar off,
Rick, afar off!'

eWe look afar off, sir,' returned Richard.


eWell!' said Mr Jarndyce. eThat's rational. Now, hear me, my dears! I
might tell you that you don't know your own minds yet, that a thou-
sand things may happen to divert you from one another,
that it is well
this chain of flowers you have taken up is very easily broken, or it
might become a chain of lead
. But I will not do that. Such wisdom will
come soon enough, I dare say, if it is to come at all. I will assume that
a few years hence you will be in your hearts to one another what you
are to-day. All I say before speaking to you according to that assump-
tion is, if you do change--if you do come to find that you are more
commonplace cousins to each other as man and woman than you were
as boy and girl (your manhood will excuse me, Rick!)--don't be ashamed
still to confide in me, for there will be nothing monstrous or uncommon
in it. I am only your friend and distant kinsman. I have no power over
you whatever. But I wish and hope to retain your confidence if I do
nothing to forfeit it.'


eI am very sure, sir,' returned Richard, ethat I speak for Ada too when I
say that
you have the strongest power over us both--rooted in respect,
gratitude, and affection--strengthening every day.'

eDear cousin John,' said Ada, on his shoulder, emy father's place can
never be empty again. All the love and duty I could ever have rendered
to him is transferred to you.'

eCome!' said Mr Jarndyce. eNow for our assumption. Now we lift our
eyes up and look hopefully at the distance! Rick, the world is before
you; and it is most probable that as you enter it, so it will receive you.
Trust in nothing but in Providence and your own efforts. Never
separate the two, like the heathen waggoner. Constancy in love is a
good thing, but it means nothing, and is nothing, without constancy
in every kind of effort. If you had the abilities of all the great men, past
and present, you could do nothing well without sincerely meaning it
and setting about it. If you entertain the supposition that any real
success, in great things or in small, ever was or could be, ever will or
can be, wrested from Fortune by fits and starts, leave that wrong idea
here or leave your cousin Ada here.'


eI will leave it here, sir,' replied Richard smiling, eif I brought it here
just now (but I hope I did not), and will work my way on to my cousin
Ada in the hopeful distance.'


eRight!' said Mr Jarndyce. eIf you are not to make her happy, why
should you pursue her?'


eI wouldn't make her unhappy--no, not even for her love,' retorted
Richard proudly.

eWell said!' cried Mr Jarndyce. eThat's well said! She remains here, in
her home with me. Love her, Rick, in your active life, no less than in
her home when you revisit it, and all will go well. Otherwise, all will go
ill.
That's the end of my preaching. I think you and Ada had better
take a walk.'

Ada tenderly embraced him, and Richard heartily shook hands with
him, and then the cousins went out of the room, looking back again
directly, though, to say that they would wait for me.

The door stood open, and
we both followed them with our eyes as they
passed down the adjoining room, on which the sun was shining, and
out at its farther end. Richard with his head bent, and her hand
drawn through his arm, was talking to her very earnestly; and she
looked up in his face, listening, and seemed to see nothing else. So
young, so beautiful, so full of hope and promise, they went on lightly
through the sunlight as their own happy thoughts might then be
traversing the years to come and making them all years of brightness.
So they passed away into the shadow and were gone. It was only a
burst of light that had been so radiant. The room darkened as they
went out, and the sun was clouded over.


eAm I right, Esther?' said my guardian when they were gone.

He was so good and wise to ask me whether he was right!


eRick may gain, out of this, the quality he wants. Wants, at the core of
so much that is good!'
said Mr Jarndyce, shaking his head. eI have
said nothing to Ada, Esther. She has her friend and counsellor always
near.' And he laid his hand lovingly upon my head.

I could not help showing that I was a little moved, though I did all I
could to conceal it.

eTut tut!' said he. eBut we must take care, too, that our little woman's
life is not all consumed in care for others.'

eCare? My dear guardian, I believe I am the happiest creature in the
world!'

eI believe so, too,' said he. eBut some one may find out what Esther
never will--that the little woman is to be held in remembrance above
all other people!'

I have omitted to mention in its place that there was some one else at
the family dinner party. It was not a lady. It was a gentleman. It was a
gentleman of a dark complexion--a young surgeon. He was rather
reserved, but I thought him very sensible and agreeable. At least, Ada
asked me if I did not, and I said yes.




Chapter XIV--Deportment



Richard left us on the very next evening to begin his new career, and
committed Ada to my charge with great love for her and great trust in
me. It touched me then to reflect, and it touches me now, more nearly,
to remember (having what I have to tell) how they both thought of me,
even at that engrossing time. I was a part of all their plans, for the
present and the future. I was to write Richard once a week, making
my faithful report of Ada, who was to write to him every alternate day.
I was to be informed, under his own hand, of all his labours and suc-
cesses; I was to observe how resolute and persevering he would be;
I was to be Ada's bridesmaid when they were married; I was to live
with them afterwards; I was to keep all the keys of their house; I was
to be made happy for ever and a day.

eAnd if the suit should make us rich, Esther--which it may, you
know!' said Richard to crown all.

A shade crossed Ada's face.

eMy dearest Ada,' asked Richard, ewhy not?'

eIt had better declare us poor at once,' said Ada.

eOh! I don't know about that,' returned Richard, ebut at all events, it
won't declare anything at once.
It hasn't declared anything in heaven
knows how many years.'

eToo true,' said Ada.

eYes, but,' urged Richard, answering what her look suggested rather
than her words, ethe longer it goes on, dear cousin, the nearer it must
be to a settlement one way or other. Now, is not that reasonable?'


eYou know best, Richard. But I am afraid if we trust to it, it will make
us unhappy.'

eBut, my Ada, we are not going to trust to it!' cried Richard gaily. eWe
know it better than to trust to it. We only say that if it should make
us rich, we have no constitutional objection to being rich.
The court
is, by solemn settlement of law, our grim old guardian,
and we are to
suppose that what it gives us (when it gives us anything) is our right.
It is not necessary to quarrel with our right.'

eNo,' Said Ada, ebut it may be better to forget all about it.'

eWell, well,' cried Richard, ethen we will forget all about it! We consign
the whole thing to oblivion. Dame Durden puts on her approving face,
and it's done!'

eDame Durden's approving face,' said I, looking out of the box in which
I was packing his books, ewas not very visible when you called it by
that name; but it does approve, and she thinks you can't do better.'

So, Richard said there was an end of it, and immediately began, on no
other foundation, to build as many castles in the air as would man the
Great Wall of China. He went away in high spirits. Ada and I, prepared
to miss him very much, commenced our quieter career.


On our arrival in London, we had called with Mr Jarndyce at Mrs
Jellyby's but had not been so fortunate as to find her at home. It
appeared that she had gone somewhere to a tea-drinking and had
taken Miss Jellyby with her. Besides the tea-drinking, there was to be
some considerable speech-making and letter-writing on the general
merits of the cultivation of coffee, conjointly with natives, at the
Settlement of Borrioboola-Gha. All this involved, no doubt, sufficient
active exercise of pen and ink to make her daughter's part in the
proceedings anything but a holiday.

It being now beyond the time appointed for Mrs Jellyby's return, we
called again. She was in town, but not at home, having gone to Mile
End directly after breakfast on some Borrioboolan business, arising
out of a society called the East London Branch Aid Ramification. As I
had not seen Peepy on the occasion of our last call (when he was not
to be found anywhere, and when the cook rather thought he must
have strolled away with the dustman's cart), I now inquired for him
again. The oyster shells he had been building a house with were still
in the passage, but he was nowhere discoverable, and the cook
supposed that he had egone after the sheep.' When we repeated, with
some surprise, eThe sheep?' she said, Oh, yes, on market days he
sometimes followed them quite out of town and came back in such a
state as never was!

I was sitting at the window with my guardian on the following
morning, and Ada was busy writing--of course to Richard--when Miss
Jellyby was announced, and entered, leading the identical Peepy,
whom
she had made some endeavours to render presentable by
wiping the dirt into corners of his face and hands and making his hair
very wet and then violently frizzling it with her fingers. Everything the
dear child wore was either too large for him or too small. Among his
other contradictory decorations he had the hat of a bishop and the
little gloves of a baby. His boots were, on a small scale, the boots of a
ploughman, while his legs, so crossed and recrossed with scratches
that they looked like maps
, were bare below a very short pair of plaid
drawers finished off with two frills of perfectly different patterns. The
deficient buttons on his plaid frock had evidently been supplied from
one of Mr Jellyby's coats, they were so extremely brazen and so much
too large. Most extraordinary specimens of needlework appeared on
several parts of his dress, where it had been hastily mended, and I
recognized the same hand on Miss Jellyby's. She was, however,
unaccountably improved in her appearance and looked very pretty.
She was conscious of poor little Peepy being but a failure after all her
trouble, and she showed it as she came in by the way in which she
glanced first at him and then at us.


eOh, dear me!' said my guardian. eDue east!'

Ada and I gave her a cordial welcome and presented her to Mr
Jarndyce, to whom she said as she sat down, eMa's compliments, and
she hopes you'll excuse her, because she's correcting proofs of the
plan. She's going to put out five thousand new circulars, and she
knows you'll be interested to hear that. I have brought one of them
with me. Ma's compliments.' With which she presented it sulkily
enough.

eThank you,' said my guardian. eI am much obliged to Mrs Jellyby. Oh,
dear me! This is a very trying wind!'

We were busy with Peepy, taking off his clerical hat, asking him if he
remembered us, and so on. Peepy retired behind his elbow at first, but
relented at the sight of sponge-cake and allowed me to take him on my
lap, where he sat munching quietly. Mr Jarndyce then withdrawing
into the temporary growlery, Miss Jellyby opened a conversation with
her usual abruptness.

eWe are going on just as bad as ever in Thavies Inn,' said she. eI have
no peace of my life. Talk of Africa! I couldn't be worse off if I was a
what's-his-name--man and a brother!'


I tried to say something soothing.

eOh, it's of no use, Miss Summerson,' exclaimed Miss Jellyby, ethough
I thank you for the kind intention all the same. I know how I am used,
and I am not to be talked over. You wouldn't be talked over if you
were used so.
Peepy, go and play at Wild Beasts under the piano!'

eI shan't!' said Peepy.

eVery well, you ungrateful, naughty, hard-hearted boy!' returned Miss
Jellyby with tears in her eyes. eI'll never take pains to dress you any
more.'

eYes, I will go, Caddy!' cried Peepy, who was really a good child and
who was so moved by his sister's vexation that he went at once.

eIt seems a little thing to cry about,' said poor Miss Jellyby
apologetically, ebut I am quite worn out. I was directing the new
circulars till two this morning. I detest the whole thing so that that
alone makes my head ache till I can't see out of my eyes. And look at
that poor unfortunate child! Was there ever such a fright as he is!'
Peepy, happily unconscious of the defects in his appearance, sat on
the carpet behind one of the legs of the piano, looking calmly out of
his den at us while he ate his cake.


eI have sent him to the other end of the room,' observed Miss Jellyby,
drawing her chair nearer ours, ebecause I don't want him to hear the
conversation. Those little things are so sharp! I was going to say, we
really are going on worse than ever. Pa will be a bankrupt before long,
and then I hope Ma will be satisfied. There'll he nobody but Ma to
thank for it.'


We said we hoped Mr Jellyby's affairs were not in so bad a state as
that.

eIt's of no use hoping, though it's very kind of you,' returned Miss
Jellyby, shaking her head. ePa told me only yesterday morning (and
dreadfully unhappy he is) that he couldn't weather the storm. I should
be surprised if he could. When all our tradesmen send into our house
any stuff they like, and the servants do what they like with it, and I
have no time to improve things if I knew how, and Ma don't care about
anything, I should like to make out how Pa is to weather the storm. I
declare if I was Pa, I'd run away.'

eMy dear!' said I, smiling. eYour papa, no doubt, considers his family.'

eOh, yes, his family is all very fine, Miss Summerson,' replied Miss
Jellyby; ebut what comfort is his family to him?
His family is nothing
but bills, dirt, waste, noise, tumbles downstairs, confusion, and wretch-
edness. His scrambling home, from week's end to week's end, is like
one great washing-day--only nothing's washed!'


Miss Jellyby tapped her foot upon the floor and wiped her eyes.

eI am sure I pity Pa to that degree,' she said, eand am so angry with Ma
that I can't find words to express myself! However, I am not going to
bear it, I am determined. I won't be a slave all my life, and I won't
submit to be proposed to by Mr Quale. A pretty thing, indeed, to
marry a philanthropist. As if I hadn't had enough of that!' said poor
Miss Jellyby.

I must confess that I could not help feeling rather angry with Mrs
Jellyby myself, seeing and hearing this neglected girl and knowing
how much of bitterly satirical truth there was in what she said.


eIf it wasn't that we had been intimate when you stopped at our
house,' pursued Miss Jellyby, eI should have been ashamed to come
here to-day, for I know what a figure I must seem to you two. But as it
is, I made up my mind to call, especially as I am not likely to see you
again the next time you come to town.'

She said this with such great significance that Ada and I glanced at
one another, foreseeing something more.

eNo!' said Miss Jellyby, shaking her head. eNot at all likely! I know I
may trust you two. I am sure you won't betray me. I am engaged.'

eWithout their knowledge at home?' said I.

eWhy, good gracious me, Miss Summerson,' she returned, justifying
herself in a fretful but not angry manner, ehow can it be otherwise?
You know what Ma is--and I needn't make poor Pa more miserable by
telling him.'

eBut would it not he adding to his unhappiness to marry without his
knowledge or consent, my dear?' said I.

eNo,' said Miss Jellyby, softening. eI hope not. I should try to make him
happy and comfortable when he came to see me, and Peepy and the
others should take it in turns to come and stay with me, and they
should have some care taken of them then.'


There was a good deal of affection in poor Caddy. She softened more
and more while saying this and cried so much over the unwonted little
home-picture she had raised in her mind that Peepy, in his cave
under the piano, was touched, and turned himself over on his back
with loud lamentations. It was not until I had brought him to kiss his
sister, and had restored him to his place on my lap, and had shown
him that Caddy was laughing (she laughed expressly for the purpose),
that we could recall his peace of mind; even then it was for some time
conditional on his taking us in turns by the chin and smoothing our
faces all over with his hand.
At last, as his spirits were not equal to
the piano, we put him on a chair to look out of window; and Miss
Jellyby, holding him by one leg, resumed her confidence.

eIt began in your coming to our house,' she said.

We naturally asked how.

eI felt I was so awkward,' she replied, ethat I made up my mind to be
improved in that respect at all events and to learn to dance. I told Ma I
was ashamed of myself, and I must be taught to dance. Ma looked at
me in that provoking way of hers as if I wasn't in sight, but I was quite
determined to be taught to dance, and so I went to Mr Turveydrop's
Academy in Newman Street.'

eAnd was it there, my dear--' I began.

eYes, it was there,' said Caddy, eand I am engaged to Mr Turveydrop.
There are two Mr Turveydrops, father and son. My Mr Turveydrop is
the son, of course. I only wish I had been better brought up and was
likely to make him a better wife, for I am very fond of him.'

eI am sorry to hear this,' said I, eI must confess.'

eI don't know why you should be sorry,' she retorted a little anxiously,
ebut I am engaged to Mr Turveydrop, whether or no, and he is very
fond of me. It's a secret as yet, even on his side, because old Mr
Turveydrop has a share in the connexion and it might break his heart
or give him some other shock if he was told of it abruptly. Old Mr
Turveydrop is a very gentlemanly man indeed--very gentlemanly.'


eDoes his wife know of it?' asked Ada.

eOld Mr Turveydrop's wife, Miss Clare?' returned Miss Jellyby, opening
her eyes. eThere's no such person. He is a widower.'

We were here interrupted by Peepy, whose leg had undergone so much
on account of his sister's unconsciously jerking it like a bell-rope
whenever she was emphatic that the afflicted child now bemoaned his
sufferings with a very low-spirited noise.
As he appealed to me for
compassion, and as I was only a listener, I undertook to hold him.
Miss Jellyby proceeded, after begging Peepy's pardon with a kiss and
assuring him that she hadn't meant to do it.


eThat's the state of the case,' said Caddy. eIf I ever blame myself, I still
think it's Ma's fault. We are to be married whenever we can, and then
I shall go to Pa at the office and write to Ma. It won't much agitate Ma;
I am only pen and ink to HER. One great comfort is,' said Caddy with
a sob, ethat I shall never hear of Africa after I am married. Young Mr
Turveydrop hates it for my sake, and if old Mr Turveydrop knows
there is such a place, it's as much as he does.'


eIt was he who was very gentlemanly, I think!' said I.

eVery gentlemanly indeed,' said Caddy. eHe is celebrated almost
everywhere for his deportment.'

eDoes he teach?' asked Ada.

eNo, he don't teach anything in particular,' replied Caddy. eBut his
deportment is beautiful.'


Caddy went on to say with considerable hesitation and reluctance that
there was one thing more she wished us to know, and felt we ought to
know, and which she hoped would not offend us. It was that she had
improved her acquaintance with Miss Flite, the little crazy old lady,

and that she frequently went there early in the morning and met her
lover for a few minutes before breakfast--only for a few minutes. eI go
there at other times,' said Caddy, ebut Prince does not come then.
Young Mr Turveydrop's name is Prince; I wish it wasn't, because it
sounds like a dog, but of course he didn't christen himself. Old Mr
Turveydrop had him christened Prince in remembrance of the Prince
Regent. Old Mr Turveydrop adored the Prince Regent on account of his
deportment.
I hope you won't think the worse of me for having made
these little appointments at Miss Flite's, where I first went with you,
because I like the poor thing for her own sake and I believe she likes
me. If you could see young Mr Turveydrop, I am sure you would think
well of him--at least, I am sure you couldn't possibly think any ill of
him. I am going there now for my lesson. I couldn't ask you to go with
me, Miss Summerson; but if you would,' said Caddy, who had said all
this earnestly and tremblingly, eI should be very glad--very glad.'


It happened that we had arranged with my guardian to go to Miss
Flite's that day. We had told him of our former visit, and our account
had interested him; but something had always happened to prevent
our going there again. As I trusted that I might have sufficient
influence with Miss Jellyby to prevent her taking any very rash step if
I fully accepted the confidence she was so willing to place in me, poor
girl, I proposed that she and I and Peepy should go to the academy
and afterwards meet my guardian and Ada at Miss Flite's, whose
name I now learnt for the first time. This was on condition that Miss
Jellyby and Peepy should come back with us to dinner. The last article
of the agreement being joyfully acceded to by both, we smartened
Peepy up a little with the assistance of a few pins, some soap and
water, and a hair-brush, and went out, bending our steps towards
Newman Street, which was very near.

I found the academy established in a sufficiently dingy house at the
corner of an archway, with busts in all the staircase windows. In the
same house there were also established, as I gathered from the plates
on the door, a drawing-master, a coal-merchant (there was, certainly,
no room for his coals), and a lithographic artist. On the plate which,
in size and situation, took precedence of all the rest, I read, MR
TURVEYDROP. The door was open, and the hall was blocked up by a
grand piano, a harp, and several other musical instruments in cases,
all in progress of removal, and all looking rakish in the daylight.
Miss
Jellyby informed me that the academy had been lent, last night, for a
concert.

We went upstairs--it had been quite a fine house once, when it was
anybody's business to keep it clean and fresh, and nobody's business
to smoke in it all day
--and into Mr Turveydrop's great room, which
was built out into a mews at the back and was lighted by a skylight.
It
was a bare, resounding room smelling of stables, with cane forms
along the walls, and the walls ornamented at regular intervals with
painted lyres and little cut-glass branches for candles, which seemed
to be shedding their old-fashioned drops as other branches might
shed autumn leaves
. Several young lady pupils, ranging from thirteen
or fourteen years of age to two or three and twenty, were assembled;
and I was looking among them for their instructor when Caddy,
pinching my arm, repeated the ceremony of introduction. eMiss
Summerson, Mr Prince Turveydrop!'

I curtsied to a little blue-eyed fair man of youthful appearance with
flaxen hair parted in the middle and curling at the ends all round his
head.
He had a little fiddle, which we used to call at school a kit,
under his left arm, and its little bow in the same hand.
His little
dancing-shoes were particularly diminutive, and he had a little
innocent, feminine manner which not only appealed to me in an
amiable way, but made this singular effect upon me, that I received
the impression that he was like his mother and that his mother had
not been much considered or well used.


eI am very happy to see Miss Jellyby's friend,' he said, bowing low
to me. eI began to fear,' with timid tenderness, eas it was past the
usual time, that Miss Jellyby was not coming.'

eI beg you will have the goodness to attribute that to me, who have
detained her, and to receive my excuses, sir,' said I.


eOh, dear!' said he.

eAnd pray,' I entreated, edo not allow me to be the cause of any more
delay.'

With that apology I withdrew to a seat between Peepy (who, being well
used to it, had already climbed into a corner place) and an old lady of
a censorious countenance whose two nieces were in the class and who
was very indignant with Peepy's boots. Prince Turveydrop then tinkled
the strings of his kit with his fingers, and the young ladies stood up to
dance. Just then there appeared from a side-door
old Mr Turveydrop,
in the full lustre of his deportment.

He was a fat old gentleman with a false complexion, false teeth, false
whiskers, and a wig. He had a fur collar, and he had a padded breast
to his coat, which only wanted a star or a broad blue ribbon to be
complete. He was pinched in, and swelled out, and got up, and strap-
ped down, as much as he could possibly bear. He had such a neck-
cloth on (puffing his very eyes out of their natural shape), and his
chin and even his ears so sunk into it, that it seemed as though he
must inevitably double up if it were cast loose. He had under his arm
a hat of great size and weight, shelving downward from the crown to
the brim, and in his hand a pair of white gloves with which he flapped
it as he stood poised on one leg in a high-shouldered, round-elbowed
state of elegance not to be surpassed. He had a cane, he had an eye-
glass, he had a snuff-box, he had rings, he had wristbands, he had ev-
erything but any touch of nature; he was not like youth, he was not
like age, he was not like anything in the world but a model of deport-
ment.


eFather! A visitor. Miss Jellyby's friend, Miss Summerson.'

eDistinguished,' said Mr Turveydrop, eby Miss Summerson's presence.'
As he bowed to me in that tight state, I almost believe I saw creases
come into the whites of his eyes.


eMy father,' said the son, aside, to me with quite an affecting belief
in him, eis a celebrated character. My father is greatly admired.'

eGo on, Prince! Go on!' said Mr Turveydrop, standing with his back to
the fire and waving his gloves condescendingly. eGo on, my son!'

At this command, or by this gracious permission, the lesson went on.
Prince Turveydrop sometimes played the kit, dancing; sometimes
played the piano, standing; sometimes hummed the tune with what
little breath he could spare, while he set a pupil right; always con-
scientiously moved with the least proficient through every step and
every part of the figure; and never rested for an instant. His dis-
tinguished father did nothing whatever but stand before the fire, a
model of deportment.


eAnd he never does anything else,' said the old lady of the censorious
countenance. eYet would you believe that it's his name on the door-
plate?'

eHis son's name is the same, you know,' said I.

eHe wouldn't let his son have any name if he could take it from him,'
returned the old lady. eLook at the son's dress!' It certainly was plain--
threadbare--almost shabby. eYet the father must be garnished and
tricked out,' said the old lady, ebecause of his deportment. I'd deport
him! Transport him would be better!'


I felt curious to know more concerning this person. I asked, eDoes he
give lessons in deportment now?'

eNow!' returned the old lady shortly. eNever did.'

After a moment's consideration, I suggested that perhaps fencing had
been his accomplishment.

eI don't believe he can fence at all, ma'am,' said the old lady.

I looked surprised and inquisitive. The old lady, becoming more and
more incensed against the master of deportment as she dwelt upon
the subject, gave me some particulars of his career, with strong
assurances that they were mildly stated.


He had married a meek little dancing-mistress, with a tolerable con-
nexion (having never in his life before done anything but deport
himself), and had worked her to death, or had, at the best, suffered
her to work herself to death, to maintain him in those expenses which
were indispensable to his position. At once to exhibit his deportment
to the best models and to keep the best models constantly before
himself, he had found it necessary to frequent all public places of
fashionable and lounging resort, to be seen at Brighton and elsewhere
at fashionable times, and to lead an idle life in the very best clothes.
To enable him to do this, the affectionate little dancing-mistress had
toiled and laboured and would have toiled and laboured to that hour if
her strength had lasted so long. For the mainspring of the story was
that in spite of the man's absorbing selfishness, his wife (overpowered
by his deportment) had, to the last, believed in him and had, on her
death-bed, in the most moving terms, confided him to their son as one
who had an inextinguishable claim upon him and whom he could
never regard with too much pride and deference. The son, inheriting
his mother's belief, and having the deportment always before him, had
lived and grown in the same faith, and now, at thirty years of age,
worked for his father twelve hours a day and looked up to him with
veneration on the old imaginary pinnacle.


eThe airs the fellow gives himself!' said my informant, shaking her
head at old Mr Turveydrop with speechless indignation as he drew on
his tight gloves, of course unconscious of the homage she was
rendering. eHe fully believes he is one of the aristocracy! And he is so
condescending to the son he so egregiously deludes that you might
suppose him the most virtuous of parents. Oh!' said the old lady,
apostrophizing him with infinite vehemence. eI could bite you!'


I could not help being amused, though I heard the old lady out with
feelings of real concern. It was difficult to doubt her with the father
and son before me. What I might have thought of them without the old
lady's account, or what I might have thought of the old lady's account
without them, I cannot say. There was a fitness of things in the whole
that carried conviction with it.


My eyes were yet wandering, from young Mr Turveydrop working so
hard, to old Mr Turveydrop deporting himself so beautifully, when the
latter came ambling up to me and entered into conversation.

He asked me, first of all, whether I conferred a charm and a distinc-
tion on London by residing in it? I did not think it necessary to reply
that I was perfectly aware I should not do that, in any case, but mere-
ly told him where I did reside.

eA lady so graceful and accomplished,' he said, kissing his right glove
and afterwards extending it towards the pupils, ewill look leniently on
the deficiencies here. We do our best to polish--polish--polish!'


He sat down beside me, taking some pains to sit on the form, I
thought, in imitation of the print of his illustrious model on the sofa.
And really he did look very like it.

eTo polish--polish--polish!' he repeated, taking a pinch of snuff and
gently fluttering his fingers.
eBut we are not, if I may say so to one
formed to be graceful both by Nature and Art--' with the highshould-
ered bow, which it seemed impossible for him to make without lifting
up his eyebrows and shutting his eyes e--we are not what we used
to be in point of deportment.'

eAre we not, sir?' said I.


eWe have degenerated,' he returned, shaking his head, which he
could do to a very limited extent in his cravat. eA levelling age is not
favourable to deportment. It develops vulgarity. Perhaps I speak with
some little partiality. It may not be for me to say that I have been
called, for some years now, Gentleman Turveydrop, or that his Royal
Highness the Prince Regent did me the honour to inquire, on my
removing my hat as he drove out of the Pavilion at Brighton (that fine
building), 'Who is he? Who the devil is he? Why don't I know him?
Why hasn't he thirty thousand a year?'
But these are little matters of
anecdote--the general property, ma'am--still repeated occasionally
among the upper classes.'

eIndeed?' said I.

He replied with the high-shouldered bow. eWhere what is left among
us of deportment,' he added, estill lingers. England--alas, my country!-
-has degenerated very much, and is degenerating every day. She has
not many gentlemen left. We are few. I see nothing to succeed us but a
race of weavers.'


eOne might hope that the race of gentlemen would be perpetuated
here,' said I.

eYou are very good.' He smiled with a high-shouldered bow again. eYou
flatter me. But, no--no!
I have never been able to imbue my poor boy
with that part of his art.
Heaven forbid that I should disparage my dear
child, but he has--no deportment.'

eHe appears to be an excellent master,' I observed.

eUnderstand me, my dear madam, he is an excellent master. All that
can be acquired, he has acquired.
All that can be imparted, he can
impart. But there are things--' He took another pinch of snuff and
made the bow again, as if to add, eThis kind of thing, for instance.'
I glanced towards the centre of the room, where Miss Jellyby's lover,
now engaged with single pupils, was undergoing greater drudgery
than ever.


eMy amiable child,' murmured Mr Turveydrop, adjusting his cravat.

eYour son is indefatigable,' said I.

eIt is my reward,' said Mr Turveydrop, eto hear you say so. In some
respects, he treads in the footsteps of his sainted mother. She was a
devoted creature.
But wooman, lovely wooman,' said Mr Turveydrop
with very disagreeable gallantry, ewhat a sex you are!'


I rose and joined Miss Jellyby, who was by this time putting on her
bonnet. The time allotted to a lesson having fully elapsed, there was a
general putting on of bonnets. When Miss Jellyby and the unfortunate
Prince found an opportunity to become betrothed I don't know, but
they certainly found none on this occasion to exchange a dozen words.

eMy dear,' said Mr Turveydrop benignly to his son, edo you know the
hour?'

eNo, father.' The son had no watch. The father had a handsome gold
one, which he pulled out with an air that was an example to mankind.

eMy son,' said he, eit's two o'clock. Recollect your school at Kensington
at three.'

eThat's time enough for me, father,' said Prince. eI can take a morsel of
dinner standing and be off.'

eMy dear boy,' returned his father, eyou must be very quick. You will
find the cold mutton on the table.'

eThank you, father. Are you off now, father?'

eYes, my dear. I suppose,' said Mr Turveydrop, shutting his eyes and
lifting up his shoulders with modest consciousness, ethat I must show
myself, as usual, about town.'

eYou had better dine out comfortably somewhere,' said his son.

eMy dear child, I intend to. I shall take my little meal, I think, at the
French house, in the Opera Colonnade.'


eThat's right. Good-bye, father!' said Prince, shaking hands.

eGood-bye, my son. Bless you!'

Mr Turveydrop said this in quite a pious manner
, and it seemed to do
his son good, who, in parting from him, was so pleased with him, so
dutiful to him, and so proud of him that I almost felt as if it were an
unkindness to the younger man not to be able to believe implicitly in
the elder. The few moments that were occupied by Prince in taking
leave of us (and particularly of one of us, as I saw, being in the secret),
enhanced my favourable impression of his almost childish character. I
felt a liking for him and a compassion for him as he put his little kit in
his pocket--and with it his desire to stay a little while with Caddy--and
went away good-humouredly to his cold mutton and his school at
Kensington, that made me scarcely less irate with his father than the
censorious old lady.

The father opened the room door for us and bowed us out in a
manner, I must acknowledge, worthy of his shining original. In the
same style he presently passed us on the other side of the street, on
his way to the aristocratic part of the town, where he was going to
show himself among the few other gentlemen left.
For some moments,
I was so lost in reconsidering what I had heard and seen in Newman
Street that I was quite unable to talk to Caddy or even to fix my
attention on what she said to me, especially when I began to inquire
in my mind whether there were, or ever had been, any other gentle-
men, not in the dancing profession, who lived and founded a repu-
tation entirely on their deportment. This became so bewildering
and suggested the possibility of so many Mr Turveydrops that I said,
eEsther, you must make up your mind to abandon this subject alto-
gether and attend to Caddy.' I accordingly did so, and we chatted
all the rest of the way to Lincoln's Inn.


Caddy told me that her lover's education had been so neglected that
it was not always easy to read his notes. She said if he were not so
anxious about his spelling and took less pains to make it clear, he
would do better; but
he put so many unnecessary letters into short
words that they sometimes quite lost their English appearance
. eHe
does it with the best intention,' observed Caddy, ebut it hasn't the
effect he means, poor fellow!' Caddy then went on to reason, how
could he be expected to be a scholar when he had passed his whole
life in the dancing-school and had done nothing but teach and fag, fag
and teach, morning, noon, and night! And what did it matter? She
could write letters enough for both, as she knew to her cost, and it
was far better for him to be amiable than learned. eBesides, it's not as
if I was an accomplished girl who had any right to give herself airs,'
said Caddy. eI know little enough, I am sure, thanks to Ma!


eThere's another thing I want to tell you, now we are alone,' continued
Caddy, ewhich I should not have liked to mention unless you had seen
Prince, Miss Summerson. You know what a house ours is. It's of no
use my trying to learn anything that it would be useful for Prince's
wife to know in our house. We live in such a state of muddle that it's
impossible, and I have only been more disheartened whenever I have
tried. So
I get a little practice with--who do you think? Poor Miss Flite!
Early in the morning I help her to tidy her room and clean her birds,
and I make her cup of coffee for her (of course she taught me), and I
have learnt to make it so well that Prince says it's the very best coffee
he ever tasted, and would quite delight old Mr Turveydrop, who is very
particular indeed about his coffee. I can make little puddings too; and
I know how to buy neck of mutton, and tea, and sugar, and butter,
and a good many housekeeping things. I am not clever at my needle,
yet,' said Caddy, glancing at the repairs on Peepy's frock, ebut perhaps
I shall improve, and since I have been engaged to Prince and have
been doing all this, I have felt better-tempered, I hope, and more
forgiving to Ma.
It rather put me out at first this morning to see you
and Miss Clare looking so neat and pretty and to feel ashamed of
Peepy and myself too, but on the whole I hope I am better-tempered
than I was and more forgiving to Ma.'

The poor girl, trying so hard, said it from her heart, and touched mine.
eCaddy, my love,' I replied, eI begin to have a great affection for
you, and I hope we shall become friends.'

eOh, do you?' cried Caddy. eHow happy that would make me!'

eMy dear Caddy,' said I, elet us be friends from this time, and let us
often have a chat about these matters and try to find the right way
through them.' Caddy was overjoyed. I said everything I could in my
old-fashioned way to comfort and encourage her
, and I would not have
objected to old Mr Turveydrop that day for any smaller consideration
than a settlement on his daughter-in-law.

By this time we were come to Mr Krook's, whose private door stood
open. There was a bill, pasted on the door-post, announcing a room to
let on the second floor. It reminded Caddy to tell me as we proceeded
upstairs that there had been a sudden death there and an inquest
and that our little friend had been ill of the fright. The door and
window of the vacant room being open, we looked in. It was the room
with the dark door to which Miss Flite had secretly directed my
attention when I was last in the house.
A sad and desolate place it
was, a gloomy, sorrowful place that gave me a strange sensation of
mournfulness and even dread.
eYou look pale,' said Caddy when we
came out, eand cold!' I felt as if the room had chilled me.


We had walked slowly while we were talking, and my guardian and
Ada were here before us. We found them in Miss Flite's garret. They
were looking at the birds, while a medical gentleman who was so good
as to attend Miss Flite with much solicitude and compassion spoke
with her cheerfully by the fire.


eI have finished my professional visit,' he said, coming forward. eMiss
Flite is much better and may appear in court (as her mind is set upon
it) tomorrow. She has been greatly missed there, I understand.'

Miss Flite received the compliment with complacency and dropped a
general curtsy to us.

eHonoured, indeed,' said she, eby another visit from the wards in
Jarndyce! Ve-ry happy to receive Jarndyce of Bleak House beneath my
humble roof!' with a special curtsy. eFitz-Jarndyce, my dear'--she had
bestowed that name on Caddy, it appeared, and always called her by
it--'a double welcome!'

eHas she been very ill?' asked Mr Jarndyce of the gentleman whom we
had found in attendance on her. She answered for herself directly,
though he had put the question in a whisper.


eOh, decidedly unwell! Oh, very unwell indeed,' she said confidenti-
ally. eNot pain, you know--trouble. Not bodily so much as nervous,
nervous! The truth is,' in a subdued voice and trembling, ewe have had
death here. There was poison in the house. I am very susceptible to
such horrid things. It frightened me. Only Mr Woodcourt knows how
much.
My physician, Mr Woodcourt!' with great stateliness. eThe
wards in Jarndyce--Jarndyce of Bleak House--Fitz-Jarndyce!'

eMiss Flite,' said Mr Woodcourt in a grave kind of voice, as if he were
appealing to her while speaking to us, and laying his hand gently on
her arm, eMiss Flite describes her illness with her usual accuracy. She
was alarmed by an occurrence in the house which might have
alarmed a stronger person, and was made ill by the distress and
agitation. She brought me here in the first hurry of the discovery,
though too late for me to be of any use to the unfortunate man. I have
compensated myself for that disappointment by coming here since
and being of some small use to her.'


eThe kindest physician in the college,' whispered Miss Flite to me. eI
expect a judgment. On the day of judgment. And shall then confer
estates.'

eShe will be as well in a day or two,' said Mr Woodcourt, looking at her
with an observant smile, eas she ever will be. In other words, quite well
of course. Have you heard of her good fortune?'

eMost extraordinary!' said Miss Flite, smiling brightly. eYou never heard
of such a thing, my dear! Every Saturday, Conversation Kenge or Guppy
(clerk to Conversation K.) places in my hand a paper of shillings. Shill-
ings. I assure you! Always the same number in the paper. Always one
for every day in the week. Now you know, really! So well-timed, is it
not? Ye-es! From whence do these papers come, you say? That is
the great question. Naturally. Shall I tell you what I think? I think,'
said Miss Flite, drawing herself back with a very shrewd look and
shaking her right forefinger in a most significant manner, ethat the
Lord Chancellor, aware of the length of time during which the Great
Seal has been open (for it has been open a long time!), forwards
them. Until the judgment I expect is given. Now that's very credit-
able, you know. To confess in that way that he IS a little slow for
human life. So delicate! Attending court the other day--I attend it
regularly, with my documents--I taxed him with it, and he almost
confessed. That is, I smiled at him from my bench, and HE smiled
at me from his bench. But it's great good fortune, is it not? And
Fitz-Jarndyce lays the money out for me to great advantage. Oh, I
assure you to the greatest advantage!'


I congratulated her (as she addressed herself to me) upon this
fortunate addition to her income and wished her a long continuance of
it. I did not speculate upon the source from which it came or wonder
whose humanity was so considerate. My guardian stood before me,
contemplating the birds, and I had no need to look beyond him.


eAnd what do you call these little fellows, ma'am?' said he in his
pleasant voice. eHave they any names?'

eI can answer for Miss Flite that they have,' said I, efor she promised to
tell us what they were. Ada remembers?'

Ada remembered very well.

eDid I?' said Miss Flite. eWho's that at my door? What are you listening
at my door for, Krook?'

The old man of the house, pushing it open before him, appeared there
with his fur cap in his hand and his cat at his heels.

eI warn't listening, Miss Flite,' he said, eI was going to give a rap with
my knuckles, only you're so quick!'

eMake your cat go down. Drive her away!' the old lady angrily
exclaimed.

eBah, bah! There ain't no danger, gentlefolks,' said Mr Krook, looking
slowly and sharply from one to another until he had looked at all of
us; eshe'd never offer at the birds when I was here unless I told her to
it.'

eYou will excuse my landlord,' said the old lady with a dignified air. eM,
quite M! What do you want, Krook, when I have company?'

eHi!' said the old man. eYou know I am the Chancellor.'

eWell?' returned Miss Elite. eWhat of that?'

eFor the Chancellor,' said the old man with a chuckle, enot to be
acquainted with a Jarndyce is queer, ain't it, Miss Flite? Mightn't I
take the liberty? Your servant, sir. I know Jarndyce and Jarndyce
a'most as well as you do, sir. I knowed old Squire Tom, sir. I never to
my knowledge see you afore though, not even in court. Yet, I go there
a mortal sight of times in the course of the year, taking one day with
another.'

eI never go there,' said Mr Jarndyce (which he never did on any
consideration). eI would sooner go--somewhere else.'

eWould you though?' returned Krook, grinning. eYou're bearing hard
upon my noble and learned brother in your meaning, sir, though
perhaps it is but nat'ral in a Jarndyce. The burnt child, sir! What,
you're looking at my lodger's birds, Mr Jarndyce?' The old man had
come by little and little into the room until he now touched my
guardian with his elbow and looked close up into his face with his
spectacled eyes. eIt's one of her strange ways that she'll never tell the
names of these birds if she can help it, though she named 'em all.'
This was in a whisper. eShall I run 'em over, Flite?' he asked aloud,
winking at us and pointing at her as she turned away, affecting to
sweep the grate.

eIf you like,' she answered hurriedly.

The old man, looking up at the cages after another look at us, went
through the list.


eHope, Joy, Youth, Peace, Rest, Life, Dust, Ashes, Waste, Want, Ruin,
Despair, Madness, Death, Cunning, Folly, Words, Wigs, Rags, Sheepskin,
Plunder, Precedent, Jargon, Gammon,
1 and Spinach. That's the whole
collection,' said the old man, eall cooped up together, by my noble
and learned brother.'


eThis is a bitter wind!' muttered my guardian.

eWhen my noble and learned brother gives his judgment, they're to be
let go free,' said Krook, winking at us again. eAnd then,' he added,
whispering and grinning, eif that ever was to happen--which it won't--
the birds that have never been caged would kill 'em.'

eIf ever the wind was in the east,' said my guardian, pretending to
look out of the window for a weathercock, eI think it's there today!'

We found it very difficult to get away from the house. It was not Miss
Flite who detained us; she was as reasonable a little creature in con-
sulting the convenience of others as there possibly could be. It was
Mr Krook. He seemed unable to detach himself from Mr Jarndyce. If
he had been linked to him, he could hardly have attended him more
closely. He proposed to show us his Court of Chancery and all the
strange medley it contained; during the whole of our inspection
(prolonged by himself) he kept close to Mr Jarndyce and sometimes
detained him under one pretence or other until we had passed on, as
if he were tormented by an inclination to enter upon some secret
subject which he could not make up his mind to approach. I cannot
imagine a countenance and manner more singularly expressive of
caution and indecision, and a perpetual impulse to do something he
could not resolve to venture on, than Mr Krook's was that day.
His
watchfulness of my guardian was incessant. He rarely removed his
eyes from his face. If he went on beside him, he observed him with the
slyness of an old white fox. If he went before, he looked back. When
we stood still, he got opposite to him, and drawing his hand across
and across his open mouth with a curious expression of a sense of
power, and turning up his eyes, and lowering his grey eyebrows until
they appeared to be shut, seemed to scan every lineament of his face.


At last, having been (always attended by the cat) all over the house
and having seen the whole stock of miscellaneous lumber, which was
certainly curious, we came into the back part of the shop. Here on the
head of an empty barrel stood on end were an ink-bottle, some old
stumps of pens, and some dirty playbills; and against the wall were
pasted several large printed alphabets in several plain hands.

eWhat are you doing here?' asked my guardian.

eTrying to learn myself to read and write,' said Krook.

eAnd how do you get on?'

eSlow. Bad,' returned the old man impatiently. eIt's hard at my time of
life.'

eIt would be easier to be taught by some one,' said my guardian.


eAye, but they might teach me wrong!' returned the old man with a
wonderfully suspicious flash of his eye. eI don't know what I may have
lost by not being learned afore. I wouldn't like to lose anything by
being learned wrong now.'


eWrong?' said my guardian with his good-humoured smile. eWho do
you suppose would teach you wrong?'

eI don't know, Mr Jarndyce of Bleak House!' replied the old man,
turning up his spectacles on his forehead and rubbing his hands. eI
don't suppose as anybody would, but I'd rather trust my own self than
another!'

These answers and his manner were strange enough to cause my
guardian to inquire of Mr Woodcourt, as we all walked across
Lincoln's Inn together, whether Mr Krook were really, as his lodger
represented him, deranged. The young surgeon replied, no, he had
seen no reason to think so.
He was exceedingly distrustful, as
ignorance usually was, and he was always more or less under the
influence of raw gin, of which he drank great quantities and of which
he and his back-shop, as we might have observed, smelt strongly; but
he did not think him mad as yet.


On our way home, I so conciliated Peepy's affections by buying him a
windmill and two flour-sacks that he would suffer nobody else to take
off his hat and gloves and would sit nowhere at dinner but at my side.
Caddy sat upon the other side of me, next to Ada, to whom we
imparted the whole history of the engagement as soon as we got back.
We made much of Caddy, and Peepy too; and Caddy brightened
exceedingly; and my guardian was as merry as we were
; and we were
all very happy indeed until Caddy went home at night in a hackney-
coach, with Peepy fast asleep, but holding tight to the windmill.

I have forgotten to mention--at least I have not mentioned--that Mr
Woodcourt was the same dark young surgeon whom we had met at Mr
Badger's. Or that Mr Jarndyce invited him to dinner that day. Or that
he came. Or that when they were all gone and I said to Ada, eNow, my
darling, let us have a little talk about Richard!' Ada laughed and said--

But I don't think it matters what my darling said. She was always
merry.



Chapter XV--Bell Yard



While we were in London Mr Jarndyce was constantly beset by the
crowd of excitable ladies and gentlemen whose proceedings had so
much astonished us. Mr Quale, who presented himself soon after our
arrival, was in all such excitements.
He seemed to project those two
shining knobs of temples of his into everything that went on and to
brush his hair farther and farther back, until the very roots were
almost ready to fly out of his head in inappeasable philanthropy. All
objects were alike to him, but he was always particularly ready for
anything in the way of a testimonial to any one. His great power
seemed to be his power of indiscriminate admiration. He would sit for
any length of time, with the utmost enjoyment, bathing his temples in
the light of any order of luminary.
Having first seen him perfectly
swallowed up in admiration of Mrs Jellyby, I had supposed her to be
the absorbing object of his devotion. I soon discovered my mistake and
found him to be train-bearer and organ-blower to a whole procession
of people.


Mrs Pardiggle came one day for a subscription to something, and with
her, Mr Quale. Whatever Mrs Pardiggle said, Mr Quale repeated to us;
and just as he had drawn Mrs Jellyby out, he drew Mrs Pardiggle out.
Mrs Pardiggle wrote a letter of introduction to my guardian in behalf
of her eloquent friend Mr Gusher. With Mr Gusher appeared Mr Quale
again.
Mr Gusher, being a flabby gentleman with a moist surface and
eyes so much too small for his moon of a face that they seemed to
have been originally made for somebody else, was not at first sight
prepossessing; yet he was scarcely seated before Mr Quale asked Ada
and me, not inaudibly, whether he was not a great creature--which he
certainly was, flabbily speaking, though Mr Quale meant in intellectual
beauty--and whether we were not struck by his massive configura-
tion of brow.
In short, we heard of a great many missions of various
sorts among this set of people, but nothing respecting them was half
so clear to us as that it was Mr Quale's mission to be in ecstasies
with everybody else's mission and that it was the most popular miss-
ion of all.

Mr Jarndyce had fallen into this company in the tenderness of his
heart and his earnest desire to do all the good in his power; but that
he felt it to be too often an unsatisfactory company,
where bene-
volence took spasmodic forms, where charity was assumed as a
regular uniform by loud professors and speculators in cheap not-
oriety, vehement in profession, restless and vain in action, servile
in the last degree of meanness to the great, adulatory of one another,
and intolerable to those who were anxious quietly to help the weak
from failing rather than with a great deal of bluster and self-laudation
to raise them up a little way when they were down
, he plainly told us.
When a testimonial was originated to Mr Quale by Mr Gusher (who had
already got one, originated by Mr Quale), and when Mr Gusher spoke
for an hour and a half on the subject to a meeting, including two
charity schools of small boys and girls, who were specially reminded
of the widow's mite, and requested to come forward with halfpence
and be acceptable sacrifices, I think the wind was in the east for
three whole weeks.


I mention this because I am coming to Mr Skimpole again. It seemed
to me that his off-hand professions of childishness and carelessness
were a great relief to my guardian, by contrast with such things, and
were the more readily believed in since to find one perfectly
undesigning and candid man among many opposites could not fail to
give him pleasure.
I should be sorry to imply that Mr Skimpole divined
this and was politic; I really never understood him well enough to
know. What he was to my guardian, he certainly was to the rest of the
world.

He had not been very well; and thus, though he lived in London, we
had seen nothing of him until now. He appeared one morning in his
usual agreeable way and as full of pleasant spirits as ever.


Well, he said, here he was! He had been bilious, but rich men were
often bilious, and therefore he had been persuading himself that he
was a man of property.
So he was, in a certain point of view--in his
expansive intentions. He had been enriching his medical attendant in
the most lavish manner. He had always doubled, and sometimes
quadrupled, his fees. He had said to the doctor,
eNow, my dear doctor,
it is quite a delusion on your part to suppose that you attend me for
nothing. I am overwhelming you with money--in my expansive
intentions--if you only knew it!' And really (he said) he meant it to that
degree that he thought it much the same as doing it. If he had had
those bits of metal or thin paper to which mankind attached so much
importance to put in the doctor's hand, he would have put them in the
doctor's hand. Not having them, he substituted the will for the deed.

Very well! If he really meant it--if his will were genuine and real, which
it was--it appeared to him that it was the same as coin, and cancelled
the obligation.


eIt may be, partly, because I know nothing of the value of money,' said
Mr Skimpole, ebut I often feel this. It seems so reasonable! My butcher
says to me he wants that little bill. It's a part of the pleasant uncon-
scious poetry of the man's nature that he always calls it a 'little'
bill--to make the payment appear easy to both of us. I reply to the
butcher, 'My good friend, if you knew it, you are paid. You haven't had
the trouble of coming to ask for the little bill. You are paid. I mean it.'e


eBut, suppose,' said my guardian, laughing, ehe had meant the meat in
the bill, instead of providing it?'

eMy dear Jarndyce,' he returned, eyou surprise me. You take the
butcher's position. A butcher I once dealt with occupied that very
ground.
Says he, 'Sir, why did you eat spring lamb at eighteen pence a
pound?' 'Why did I eat spring lamb at eighteen pence a pound, my
honest friend?' said I, naturally amazed by the question. 'I like spring
lamb!' This was so far convincing. 'Well, sir,' says he, 'I wish I had
meant the lamb as you mean the money!' 'My good fellow,' said I, 'pray
let us reason like intellectual beings. How could that be? It was
impossible. You had got the lamb, and I have not got the money.
You couldn't really mean the lamb without sending it in, whereas I
can, and do, really mean the money without paying it!'
He had not a
word. There was an end of the subject.'

eDid he take no legal proceedings?' inquired my guardian.

eYes, he took legal proceedings,' said Mr Skimpole. eBut in that he
was influenced by passion, not by reason. Passion reminds me of
Boythorn.
He writes me that you and the ladies have promised him a
short visit at his bachelor-house in Lincolnshire.'

eHe is a great favourite with my girls,' said Mr Jarndyce, eand I have
promised for them.'

eNature forgot to shade him off, I think,' observed Mr Skimpole to Ada
and me. eA little too boisterous--like the sea. A little too vehement--like
a bull who has made up his mind to consider every colour scarlet. But
I grant a sledge-hammering sort of merit in him!'


I should have been surprised if those two could have thought very
highly of one another, Mr Boythorn attaching so much importance to
many things and Mr Skimpole caring so little for anything. Besides
which, I had noticed Mr Boythorn more than once on the point of
breaking out into some strong opinion when Mr Skimpole was referred
to. Of course I merely joined Ada in saying that we had been greatly
pleased with him.

eHe has invited me,' said Mr Skimpole; eand
if a child may trust
himself in such hands--which the present child is encouraged to do,
with the united tenderness of two angels to guard him
--I shall go. He
proposes to frank me down and back again. I suppose it will cost
money? Shillings perhaps? Or pounds? Or something of that sort? By
the by, Coavinses. You remember our friend Coavinses, Miss
Summerson?'

He asked me as the subject arose in his mind, in his graceful, lighthearted
manner and without the least embarrassment.

eOh, yes!' said I.

eCoavinses has been arrested by the Great Bailiff,' said Mr Skimpole.
eHe will never do violence to the sunshine any more.'

It quite shocked me to hear it, for I had already recalled with anything
but a serious association the image of the man sitting on the sofa that
night wiping his head.


eHis successor informed me of it yesterday,' said Mr Skimpole. eHis
successor is in my house now--in possession, I think he calls it. He
came yesterday, on my blue-eyed daughter's birthday. I put it to him,
'This is unreasonable and inconvenient. If you had a blue-eyed
daughter you wouldn't like me to come, uninvited, on her birthday?'
But he stayed.'

Mr Skimpole laughed at the pleasant absurdity and lightly touched
the piano by which he was seated.

eAnd he told me,' he said, playing little chords where I shall put full
stops, eThe Coavinses had left. Three children. No mother. And that
Coavinses' profession. Being unpopular. The rising Coavinses. Were at
a considerable disadvantage.'


Mr Jarndyce got up, rubbing his head, and began to walk about. Mr
Skimpole played the melody of one of Ada's favourite songs. Ada and I
both looked at Mr Jarndyce, thinking that we knew what was passing
in his mind.

After walking and stopping, and several times leaving off rubbing his
head, and beginning again, my guardian put his hand upon the keys
and stopped Mr Skimpole's playing. eI don't like this, Skimpole,' he
said thoughtfully.

Mr Skimpole, who had quite forgotten the subject, looked up surprised.

eThe man was necessary,' pursued my guardian, walking backward
and forward in the very short space between the piano and the end of
the room and rubbing his hair up from the back of his head as if a
high east wind had blown it into that form. eIf we make such men
necessary by our faults and follies, or by our want of worldly
knowledge, or by our misfortunes, we must not revenge ourselves
upon them. There was no harm in his trade. He maintained his
children. One would like to know more about this.'

eOh! Coavinses?' cried Mr Skimpole, at length perceiving what he
meant. eNothing easier. A walk to Coavinses' headquarters, and you
can know what you will.'

Mr Jarndyce nodded to us, who were only waiting for the signal.
eCome! We will walk that way, my dears. Why not that way as soon as
another!' We were quickly ready and went out. Mr Skimpole went with
us and quite enjoyed the expedition. It was so new and so refreshing,
he said, for him to want Coavinses instead of Coavinses wanting him!

He took us, first, to Cursitor Street, Chancery Lane, where there was a
house with barred windows, which he called Coavinses' Castle. On our
going into the entry and ringing a bell, a very hideous boy came out of
a sort of office and looked at us over a spiked wicket.

eWho did you want?' said the boy, fitting two of the spikes into his
chin.


eThere was a follower, or an officer, or something, here,' said Mr
Jarndyce, ewho is dead.'

eYes?' said the boy. eWell?'

eI want to know his name, if you please?'

eName of Neckett,' said the boy.

eAnd his address?'

eBell Yard,' said the boy. eChandler's shop, left hand side, name of
Blinder.'

eWas he--I don't know how to shape the question--' murmured my
guardian, eindustrious?'

eWas Neckett?' said the boy. eYes, wery much so. He was never tired of
watching. He'd set upon a post at a street corner eight or ten hours at
a stretch if he undertook to do it.'

eHe might have done worse,' I heard my guardian soliloquize. eHe
might have undertaken to do it and not done it. Thank you. That's all
I want.'


We left the boy, with his head on one side and his arms on the gate,
fondling and sucking the spikes
, and went back to Lincoln's Inn,
where Mr Skimpole, who had not cared to remain nearer Coavinses,
awaited us. Then we all went to Bell Yard, a narrow alley at a very
short distance. We soon found the chandler's shop. In it was a good-
natured-looking old woman with a dropsy, or an asthma, or perhaps
both.

eNeckett's children?' said she in reply to my inquiry. eYes, Surely,
miss. Three pair, if you please. Door right opposite the stairs.' And she
handed me the key across the counter.

I glanced at the key and glanced at her, but she took it for granted
that I knew what to do with it. As it could only be intended for the
children's door, I came out without asking any more questions and led
the way up the dark stairs. We went as quietly as we could, but four
of us made some noise on the aged boards, and when we came to the
second story we found we had disturbed a man who was standing
there looking out of his room.

eIs it Gridley that's wanted?' he said, fixing his eyes on me with an
angry stare.

eNo, sir,' said I; eI am going higher up.'

He looked at Ada, and at Mr Jarndyce, and at Mr Skimpole, fixing the
same angry stare on each in succession as they passed and followed
me. Mr Jarndyce gave him good day. eGood day!' he said abruptly and
fiercely.
He was a tall, sallow man with a careworn head on which but
little hair remained, a deeply lined face, and prominent eyes.
He had a
combative look and a chafing, irritable manner which, associated with
his figure--still large and powerful, though evidently in its decline--
rather alarmed me. He had a pen in his hand, and in the glimpse I
caught of his room in passing, I saw that it was covered with a litter
of papers.


Leaving him standing there, we went up to the top room. I tapped at
the door, and a little shrill voice inside said, eWe are locked in. Mrs
Blinder's got the key!'

I applied the key on hearing this and opened the door. In a poor room
with a sloping ceiling and containing very little furniture was a mite of
a boy, some five or six years old, nursing and hushing a heavy child of
eighteen months. There was no fire, though the weather was cold;
both children were wrapped in some poor shawls and tippets as a
substitute. Their clothing was not so warm, however, but that their
noses looked red and pinched and their small figures shrunken
as the
boy walked up and down nursing and hushing the child with its head
on his shoulder.

eWho has locked you up here alone?' we naturally asked.

eCharley,' said the boy, standing still to gaze at us.

eIs Charley your brother?'

eNo. She's my sister, Charlotte. Father called her Charley.'

eAre there any more of you besides Charley?'

eMe,' said the boy, eand Emma,' patting the limp bonnet of the child he
was nursing. eAnd Charley.'

eWhere is Charley now?'

eOut a-washing,' said the boy, beginning to walk up and down again
and taking the nankeen bonnet much too near the bedstead by trying
to gaze at us at the same time.

We were looking at one another and at these two children when there
came into the room
a very little girl, childish in figure but shrewd and
older-looking in the face--pretty-faced too--wearing a womanly sort of
bonnet much too large for her and drying her bare arms on a womanly
sort of apron. Her fingers were white and wrinkled with washing, and
the soap-suds were yet smoking which she wiped off her arms.
But for
this, she might have been a child playing at washing and imitating a
poor working-woman with a quick observation of the truth.

She had come running from some place in the neighbourhood and
had made all the haste she could. Consequently, though she was very
light, she was out of breath and could not speak at first, as she stood
panting, and wiping her arms, and looking quietly at us.

eOh, here's Charley!' said the boy.

The child he was nursing stretched forth its arms and cried out to be
taken by Charley. The little girl took it, in a womanly sort of manner
belonging to the apron and the bonnet, and stood looking at us over
the burden that clung to her most affectionately.

eIs it possible,' whispered my guardian as we put a chair for the little
creature and got her to sit down with her load, the boy keeping close
to her, holding to her apron, ethat this child works for the rest? Look
at this! For God's sake, look at this!'


It was a thing to look at. The three children close together, and two of
them relying solely on the third, and the third so young and yet with
an air of age and steadiness that sat so strangely on the childish
figure.


eCharley, Charley!' said my guardian. eHow old are you?'

eOver thirteen, sir,' replied the child.

eOh! What a great age,' said my guardian. eWhat a great age, Charley!'

I cannot describe the tenderness with which he spoke to her, half
playfully yet all the more compassionately and mournfully.

eAnd do you live alone here with these babies, Charley?' said my
guardian.

eYes, sir,' returned the child, looking up into his face with perfect
confidence, esince father died.'

eAnd how do you live, Charley? Oh! Charley,' said my guardian,
turning his face away for a moment, ehow do you live?'

eSince father died, sir, I've gone out to work. I'm out washing to-day.'

eGod help you, Charley!' said my guardian. eYou're not tall enough to
reach the tub!'

eIn pattens I am, sir,' she said quickly. eI've got a high pair as belonged
to mother.'

eAnd when did mother die? Poor mother!'

eMother died just after Emma was born,' said the child, glancing at the
face upon her bosom. eThen father said I was to be as good a mother
to her as I could. And so I tried. And so I worked at home and did
cleaning and nursing and washing for a long time before I began to
go out. And that's how I know how; don't you see, sir?'

eAnd do you often go out?'

eAs often as I can,' said Charley, opening her eyes and smiling,
ebecause of earning sixpences and shillings!'

eAnd do you always lock the babies up when you go out?'

eTo keep 'em safe, sir, don't you see?'
said Charley. eMrs Blinder comes
up now and then, and Mr Gridley comes up sometimes, and perhaps I
can run in sometimes, and they can play you know, and Tom an't
afraid of being locked up, are you, Tom?'

eNo-o!' said Tom stoutly.

eWhen it comes on dark, the lamps are lighted down in the court, and
they show up here quite bright--almost quite bright. Don't they, Tom?'

eYes, Charley,' said Tom, ealmost quite bright.'

eThen he's as good as gold,' said the little creature--Oh, in such a
motherly, womanly way! eAnd when Emma's tired, he puts her to bed.
And when he's tired he goes to bed himself. And when I come home
and light the candle and has a bit of supper, he sits up again and has
it with me. Don't you, Tom?'

eOh, yes, Charley!' said Tom. eThat I do!'
And either in this glimpse of
the great pleasure of his life or in gratitude and love for Charley, who
was all in all to him, he laid his face among the scanty folds of her
frock and passed from laughing into crying.


It was the first time since our entry that a tear had been shed among
these children. The little orphan girl had spoken of their father and
their mother as if all that sorrow were subdued by the necessity of
taking courage, and by her childish importance in being able to work,
and by her bustling busy way. But now, when Tom cried, although
she sat quite tranquil, looking quietly at us, and did not by any move-
ment disturb a hair of the head of either of her little charges, I saw
two silent tears fall down her face.


I stood at the window with Ada, pretending to look at the housetops,
and the blackened stack of chimneys, and the poor plants, and the
birds in little cages belonging to the neighbours, when I found that
Mrs Blinder, from the shop below, had come in (perhaps it had taken
her all this time to get upstairs) and was talking to my guardian.

eIt's not much to forgive 'em the rent, sir,' she said; ewho could take it
from them!'

eWell, well!' said my guardian to us two. eIt is enough that the time will
come when this good woman will find that it was much, and that
forasmuch as she did it unto the least of these--This child,' he added
after a few moments, ecould she possibly continue this?'

eReally, sir, I think she might,' said Mrs Blinder, getting her heavy
breath by painful degrees. eShe's as handy as it's possible to be. Bless
you, sir, the way she tended them two children after the mother died
was the talk of the yard! And it was a wonder to see her with him after
he was took ill, it really was! 'Mrs Blinder,' he said to me the very last
he spoke--he was lying there --'Mrs Blinder, whatever my calling may
have been, I see a angel sitting in this room last night along with my
child, and I trust her to Our Father!'e


eHe had no other calling?' said my guardian.

eNo, sir,' returned Mrs Blinder, ehe was nothing but a follerers.1 When
he first came to lodge here, I didn't know what he was, and I confess
that when I found out I gave him notice. It wasn't liked in the yard. It
wasn't approved by the other lodgers. It is not a genteel calling,' said
Mrs Blinder, eand most people do object to it. Mr Gridley objected to it
very strong, and he is a good lodger, though his temper has been hard
tried.'

eSo you gave him notice?' said my guardian.

eSo I gave him notice,' said Mrs Blinder. eBut really when the time
came, and I knew no other ill of him, I was in doubts. He was punc-
tual and diligent; he did what he had to do, sir,' said Mrs Blinder,
unconsciously fixing Mr Skimpole with her eye, eand it's something in
this world even to do that.'

eSo you kept him after all?'

eWhy, I said that if he could arrange with Mr Gridley, I could arrange it
with the other lodgers and should not so much mind its being liked or
disliked in the yard. Mr Gridley gave his consent gruff--but gave it. He
was always gruff with him, but he has been kind to the children since.
A person is never known till a person is proved.'

eHave many people been kind to the children?' asked Mr Jarndyce.


eUpon the whole, not so bad, sir,' said Mrs Blinder; ebut certainly not
so many as would have been if their father's calling had been
different. Mr Coavins gave a guinea, and the follerers made up a little
purse. Some neighbours in the yard that had always joked and tapped
their shoulders when he went by came forward with a little
subscription, and--in general--not so bad. Similarly with Charlotte.
Some people won't employ her because she was a follerer's child; some
people that do employ her cast it at her; some make a merit of having
her to work for them, with that and all her draw-backs upon her, and
perhaps pay her less and put upon her more. But she's patienter than
others would be, and is clever too, and always willing, up to the full
mark of her strength and over.
So I should say, in general, not so bad,
sir, but might be better.'


Mrs Blinder sat down to give herself a more favourable opportunity of
recovering her breath, exhausted anew by so much talking before it
was fully restored.
Mr Jarndyce was turning to speak to us when his
attention was attracted by the abrupt entrance into the room of the
Mr Gridley who had been mentioned and whom we had seen on our
way up.

eI don't know what you may be doing here, ladies and gentlemen,' he
said, as if he resented our presence, ebut you'll excuse my coming in. I
don't come in to stare about me. Well, Charley! Well, Tom! Well, little
one! How is it with us all to-day?'


He bent over the group in a caressing way and clearly was regarded as
a friend by the children, though his face retained its stern character
and his manner to us was as rude as it could be. My guardian noticed
it and respected it.


eNo one, surely, would come here to stare about him,' he said mildly.

eMay be so, sir, may be so,' returned the other, taking Tom upon his
knee and waving him off impatiently. eI don't want to argue with ladies
and gentlemen. I have had enough of arguing to last one man his life.'


eYou have sufficient reason, I dare say,' said Mr Jarndyce, efor being
chafed and irritated--'

eThere again!' exclaimed the man, becoming violently angry. eI am of a
quarrelsome temper. I am irascible. I am not polite!'

eNot very, I think.'

eSir,' said Gridley, putting down the child and going up to him as if he
meant to strike him, edo you know anything of Courts of Equity?'

ePerhaps I do, to my sorrow.'

eTo your sorrow?' said the man, pausing in his wrath, eif so, I beg your
pardon. I am not polite, I know. I beg your pardon! Sir,' with renewed
violence, eI have been dragged for five and twenty years over burning
iron, and I have lost the habit of treading upon velvet.
Go into the
Court of Chancery yonder and ask what is one of the standing jokes
that brighten up their business sometimes, and they will tell you that
the best joke they have is the man from Shropshire. I,' he said,
beating one hand on the other passionately, eam the man from
Shropshire.'

eI believe I and my family have also had the honour of furnishing some
entertainment in the same grave place,' said my guardian composedly.
eYou may have heard my name--Jarndyce
.'

eMr Jarndyce,' said Gridley with a rough sort of salutation, eyou bear
your wrongs more quietly than I can bear mine. More than that, I tell
you--and I tell this gentleman, and these young ladies, if they are
friends of yours--that if I took my wrongs in any other way, I should
be driven mad! It is only by resenting them, and by revenging them in
my mind, and by angrily demanding the justice I never get, that I am
able to keep my wits together. It is only that!' he said, speaking in a
homely, rustic way and with great vehemence. eYou may tell me that I
over-excite myself. I answer that it's in my nature to do it, under
wrong, and I must do it. There's nothing between doing it, and sinking
into the smiling state of the poor little mad woman that haunts the
court. If I was once to sit down under it, I should become imbecile.'
The passion and heat in which he was, and the manner in which his
face worked, and the violent gestures with which he accompanied
what he said, were most painful to see.


eMr Jarndyce,' he said, econsider my case. As true as there is a hea-
ven above us, this is my case. I am one of two brothers. My father (a
farmer) made a will and left his farm and stock and so forth to my
mother for her life. After my mother's death, all was to come to me
except a legacy of three hundred pounds that I was then to pay my
brother. My mother died. My brother some time afterwards claimed
his legacy. I and some of my relations said that he had had a part of it
already in board and lodging and some other things. Now mind! That
was the question, and nothing else. No one disputed the will; no one
disputed anything but whether part of that three hundred pounds had
been already paid or not. To settle that question, my brother filing a
bill, I was obliged to go into this accursed Chancery; I was forced there
because the law forced me and would let me go nowhere else.
Seventeen people were made defendants to that simple suit! It first
came on after two years. It was then stopped for another two years
while the master (may his head rot off!) inquired whether I was my
father's son, about which there was no dispute at all with any mortal
creature. He then found out that there were not defendants enough--
remember, there were only seventeen as yet!--but that we must have
another who had been left out and must begin all over again.
The
costs at that time--before the thing was begun!--were three times
the legacy. My brother would have given up the legacy, and joyful, to
escape more costs. My whole estate, left to me in that will of my
father's, has gone in costs. The suit, still undecided, has fallen into
rack, and ruin, and despair, with everything else--and here I stand,
this day! Now, Mr Jarndyce, in your suit there are thousands and
thousands involved, where in mine there are hundreds. Is mine less
hard to bear or is it harder to bear, when my whole living was in it
and has been thus shamefully sucked away?'


Mr Jarndyce said that he condoled with him with all his heart and
that he set up no monopoly himself in being unjustly treated by this
monstrous system.

eThere again!' said Mr Gridley with no diminution of his rage. eThe
system! I am told on all hands, it's the system. I mustn't look to
individuals. It's the system. I mustn't go into court and say, 'My Lord,
I beg to know this from you--is this right or wrong? Have you the face
to tell me I have received justice and therefore am dismissed?' My Lord
knows nothing of it. He sits there to administer the system. I mustn't
go to Mr Tulkinghorn, the solicitor in Lincoln's Inn Fields, and say to
him when he makes me furious by being so cool and satisfied--as they
all do, for I know they gain by it while I lose, don't I?--I mustn't say to
him, 'I will have something out of some one for my ruin, by fair means
or foul!'
He is not responsible. It's the system. But, if I do no violence
to any of them, here--I may! I don't know what may happen if I am
carried beyond myself at last!
I will accuse the individual workers of
that system against me, face to face, before the great eternal bar!'
His passion was fearful. I could not have believed in such rage without
seeing it.


eI have done!' he said, sitting down and wiping his face. eMr Jarndyce,
I have done! I am violent, I know. I ought to know it.
I have been in
prison for contempt of court. I have been in prison for threatening the
solicitor. I have been in this trouble, and that trouble, and shall be
again. I am the man from Shropshire, and I sometimes go beyond
amusing them, though they have found it amusing, too, to see me
committed into custody
and brought up in custody and all that. It
would be better for me, they tell me, if I restrained myself. I tell them
that if I did restrain myself I should become imbecile. I was a good-e-
nough-tempered man once, I believe. People in my part of the
country say they remember me so, but now
I must have this vent
under my sense of injury or nothing could hold my wits together
. 'It
would be far better for you, Mr Gridley,' the Lord Chancellor told me
last week, 'not to waste your time here, and to stay, usefully
employed, down in Shropshire.' 'My Lord, my Lord, I know it would,'
said I to him, 'and it would have been far better for me never to have
heard the name of your high office, but unhappily for me, I can't undo
the past, and the past drives me here!' Besides,' he added, breaking
fiercely out, eI'll shame them. To the last, I'll show myself in that court
to its shame. If I knew when I was going to die, and could be carried
there, and had a voice to speak with, I would die there, saying, 'You
have brought me here and sent me from here many and many a time.
Now send me out feet foremost!'e

His countenance had, perhaps for years, become so set in its
contentious expression that it did not soften, even now when he was
quiet.

eI came to take these babies down to my room for an hour,' he said,
going to them again, eand let them play about. I didn't mean to say all
this, but it don't much signify. You're not afraid of me, Tom, are you?'

eNo!' said Tom. eYou ain't angry with me.'


eYou are right, my child. You're going back, Charley? Aye? Come then,
little one!' He took the youngest child on his arm, where she was wil-
ling enough to be carried. eI shouldn't wonder if we found a gingerbread
soldier downstairs. Let's go and look for him!'

He made his former rough salutation, which was not deficient in a
certain respect, to Mr Jarndyce, and bowing slightly to us, went
downstairs to his room.

Upon that, Mr Skimpole began to talk, for the first time since our
arrival, in his usual gay strain. He said,
Well, it was really very
pleasant to see how things lazily adapted themselves to purposes.
Here was this Mr Gridley, a man of a robust will and surprising
energy--intellectually speaking, a sort of inharmonious blacksmith--
and he could easily imagine that there Gridley was, years ago,
wandering about in life for something to expend his superfluous
combativeness upon--a sort of Young Love among the thorns--when
the Court of Chancery came in his way and accommodated him with
the exact thing he wanted. There they were, matched, ever afterwards!
Otherwise he might have been a great general, blowing up all sorts of
towns, or he might have been a great politician, dealing in all sorts of
parliamentary rhetoric
; but as it was, he and the Court of Chancery
had fallen upon each other in the pleasantest way, and nobody was
much the worse, and Gridley was, so to speak, from that hour pro-
vided for. Then look at Coavinses! How delightfully poor Coavinses
(father of these charming children) illustrated the same principle! He,
Mr Skimpole, himself, had sometimes repined at the existence of
Coavinses. He had found Coavinses in his way. He could had dis-
pensed with Coavinses. There had been times when, if he had been
a sultan, and his grand vizier had said one morning, eWhat does the
Commander of the Faithful require at the hands of his slave?' he
might have even gone so far as to reply, eThe head of Coavinses!' But
what turned out to be the case? That, all that time, he had been giving
employment to a most deserving man, that he had been a benefactor
to Coavinses, that he had actually been enabling Coavinses to bring
up these charming children in this agreeable way, developing these
social virtues! Insomuch that his heart had just now swelled and the
tears had come into his eyes when he had looked round the room and
thought, eI was the great patron of Coavinses, and his little comforts
were my work!'

There was something so captivating in his light way of touching these
fantastic strings, and he was such a mirthful child by the side of the
graver childhood we had seen, that he made my guardian smile
even
as he turned towards us from a little private talk with Mrs Blinder.
We
kissed Charley, and took her downstairs with us, and stopped outside
the house to see her run away to her work. I don't know where she
was going, but we saw her run, such a little, little creature in her
womanly bonnet and apron, through a covered way at the bottom of
the court and melt into the city's strife and sound like a dewdrop in
an ocean.




Chapter XVI--Tom-all-Alone's



My Lady Dedlock is restless, very restless. The astonished fashionable
intelligence hardly knows where to have her. To-day she is at Chesney
Wold; yesterday she was at her house in town; tomorrow she may be
abroad, for anything the fashionable intelligence can with confidence
predict. Even Sir Leicester's gallantry has some trouble to keep pace
with her. It would have more but that his other faithful ally, for better
and for worse--the gout--darts into the old oak bed-chamber at
Chesney Wold and grips him by both legs.


Sir Leicester receives the gout as a troublesome demon, but still a
demon of the patrician order. All the Dedlocks, in the direct male line,
through a course of time during and beyond which the memory of
man goeth not to the contrary, have had the gout. It can be proved,
sir. Other men's fathers may have died of the rheumatism or may
have taken base contagion from the tainted blood of the sick vulgar,
but the Dedlock family have communicated something exclusive even
to the levelling process of dying by dying of their own family gout. It
has come down through the illustrious line like the plate, or the
pictures, or the place in Lincolnshire. It is among their dignities. Sir
Leicester is perhaps not wholly without an impression, though he has
never resolved it into words, that the angel of death in the discharge of
his necessary duties may observe to the shades of the aristocracy, eMy
lords and gentlemen, I have the honour to present to you another
Dedlock certified to have arrived per the family gout.'

Hence Sir Leicester yields up his family legs to the family disorder as if
he held his name and fortune on that feudal tenure. He feels that for a
Dedlock to be laid upon his back and spasmodically twitched and
stabbed in his extremities is a liberty taken somewhere, but he thinks,
eWe have all yielded to this; it belongs to us; it has for some hundreds
of years been understood that we are not to make the vaults in the
park interesting on more ignoble terms; and I submit myself to the
compromise.'

And a goodly show he makes, lying in a flush of crimson and gold in
the midst of the great drawing-room before his favourite picture of my
Lady, with broad strips of sunlight shining in, down the long
perspective, through the long line of windows, and alternating with
soft reliefs of shadow. Outside, the stately oaks, rooted for ages in the
green ground which has never known ploughshare, but was still a
chase when kings rode to battle with sword and shield and rode ahunting
with bow and arrow, bear witness to his greatness. Inside, his
forefathers, looking on him from the walls, say, eEach of us was a
passing reality here and left this coloured shadow of himself and
melted into remembrance as dreamy as the distant voices of the rooks
now lulling you to rest,' and hear their testimony to his greatness too.

And he is very great this day. And woe to Boythorn or other daring
wight who shall presumptuously contest an inch with him!


My Lady is at present represented, near Sir Leicester, by her portrait.
She has flitted away to town, with no intention of remaining there,
and will soon flit hither again, to the confusion of the fashionable
intelligence. The house in town is not prepared for her reception. It is
muffled and dreary. Only one Mercury in powder gapes disconsolate at
the hall-window; and he mentioned last night to another Mercury of
his acquaintance, also accustomed to good society, that if that sort of
thing was to last--which it couldn't, for a man of his spirits couldn't
bear it, and a man of his figure couldn't be expected to bear it--there
would be no resource for him, upon his honour, but to cut his throat!
What connexion can there be between the place in Lincolnshire, the
house in town, the Mercury in powder, and the whereabout of Jo the
outlaw with the broom, who had that distant ray of light upon him
when he swept the churchyard-step? What connexion can there have
been between many people in the innumerable histories of this world
who from opposite sides of great gulfs have, nevertheless, been very
curiously brought together!

Jo sweeps his crossing all day long, unconscious of the link, if any
link there be.
He sums up his mental condition when asked a
question by replying that he edon't know nothink.' He knows that it's
hard to keep the mud off the crossing in dirty weather, and harder
still to live by doing it.
Nobody taught him even that much; he found it
out.


Jo lives--that is to say, Jo has not yet died--in a ruinous placeknown
to the like of him by the name of Tom-all-Alone's. It is a black,
dilapidated street, avoided by all decent people, where the crazy
houses were seized upon, when their decay was far advanced, by some
bold vagrants who after establishing their own possession took to
letting them out in lodgings. Now, these tumbling tenements contain,
by night, a swarm of misery. As on the ruined human wretch vermin
parasites appear, so these ruined shelters have bred a crowd of foul
existence that crawls in and out of gaps in walls and boards; and coils
itself to sleep, in maggot numbers, where the rain drips in; and comes
and goes, fetching and carrying fever and sowing more evil in its every
footprint than Lord Coodle, and Sir Thomas Doodle, and the Duke of
Foodle, and all the fine gentlemen in office, down to Zoodle, shall set
right in five hundred years--though born expressly to do it.

Twice lately there has been a crash and a cloud of dust
, like the
springing of a mine, in Tom-all-Alone's; and each time a house has
fallen. These accidents have made a paragraph in the newspapers and
have filled a bed or two in the nearest hospital.
The gaps remain, and
there are not unpopular lodgings among the rubbish.
As several more
houses are nearly ready to go, the next crash in Tom-all-Alone's may
be expected to be a good one.


This desirable property is in Chancery, of course. It would be an insult
to the discernment of any man with half an eye to tell him so. Whether
eTom' is the popular representative of the original plaintiff or defend-
ant in Jarndyce and Jarndyce, or whether Tom lived here when the
suit had laid the street waste, all alone, until other settlers came
to join him, or whether the traditional title is a comprehensive name
for a retreat cut off from honest company and put out of the pale of
hope, perhaps nobody knows. Certainly Jo don't know.

eFor I don't,' says Jo, eI don't know nothink.'


It must be a strange state to be like Jo! To shuffle through the streets,
unfamiliar with the shapes, and in utter darkness as to the meaning,
of those mysterious symbols, so abundant over the shops, and at the
corners of streets, and on the doors, and in the windows! To see
people read, and to see people write, and to see the postmen deliver
letters, and not to have the least idea of all that language--to be, to
every scrap of it, stone blind and dumb! It must be very puzzling to
see the good company going to the churches on Sundays, with their
books in their hands, and to think (for perhaps Jo does think at odd
times) what does it all mean, and if it means anything to anybody,
how comes it that it means nothing to me? To be hustled, and jostled,
and moved on; and really to feel that it would appear to be perfectly
true that I have no business here, or there, or anywhere; and yet to be
perplexed by the consideration that I AM here somehow, too, and
everybody overlooked me until I became the creature that I am! It
must be a strange state, not merely to be told that I am scarcely
human (as in the case of my offering myself for a witness), but to feel
it of my own knowledge all my life! To see the horses, dogs, and cattle
go by me and to know that in ignorance I belong to them and not to
the superior beings in my shape, whose delicacy I offend!
Jo's ideas of
a criminal trial, or a judge, or a bishop, or a government, or that
inestimable jewel to him (if he only knew it) the Constitution, should
be strange! His whole material and immaterial life is wonderfully
strange; his death, the strangest thing of all.


Jo comes out of Tom-all-Alone's, meeting the tardy morning which is
always late in getting down there, and munches his dirty bit of bread
as he comes along. His way lying through many streets, and the
houses not yet being open, he sits down to breakfast on the door-step
of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts and
gives it a brush when he has finished as an acknowledgment of the
accommodation. He admires the size of the edifice and wonders what
it's all about. He has no idea, poor wretch, of the spiritual destitution
of a coral reef in the Pacific or what it costs to look up the precious
souls among the coco-nuts and bread-fruit.

He goes to his crossing and begins to lay it out for the day. The town
awakes; the great tee-totum is set up for its daily spin and whirl; all
that unaccountable reading and writing, which has been suspended
for a few hours, recommences. Jo and the other lower animals get on
in the unintelligible mess as they can. It is market-day. The blinded
oxen, over-goaded, over-driven, never guided, run into wrong places
and are beaten out, and plunge red-eyed and foaming at stone walls,
and often sorely hurt the innocent, and often sorely hurt themselves.
Very like Jo and his order; very, very like!


A band of music comes and plays. Jo listens to it. So does a dog --a
drover's dog, waiting for his master outside a butcher's shop, and
evidently thinking about those sheep he has had upon his mind for
some hours and is happily rid of. He seems perplexed respecting three
or four, can't remember where he left them, looks up and down the
street as half expecting to see them astray, suddenly pricks up his
ears and remembers all about it. A thoroughly vagabond dog, accus-
tomed to low company and public-houses; a terrific dog to sheep,
ready at a whistle to scamper over their backs and tear out mouth-
fuls of their wool; but an educated, improved, developed dog who
has been taught his duties and knows how to discharge them. He
and Jo listen to the music, probably with much the same amount of
animal satisfaction; likewise as to awakened association, aspiration,
or regret, melancholy or joyful reference to things beyond the senses,
they are probably upon a par. But, otherwise, how far above the
human listener is the brute!


Turn that dog's descendants wild, like Jo, and in a very few years they
will so degenerate that they will lose even their bark--but not their
bite.

The day changes as it wears itself away and becomes dark and drizzly.
Jo fights it out at his crossing among the mud and wheels, the horses,
whips, and umbrellas, and gets but a scanty sum to pay for the
unsavoury shelter of Tom-all-Alone's. Twilight comes on; gas begins to
start up in the shops; the lamplighter, with his ladder, runs along the
margin of the pavement. A wretched evening is beginning to close in.


In his chambers Mr Tulkinghorn sits meditating an application to the
nearest magistrate tomorrow morning for a warrant. Gridley, a
disappointed suitor, has been here to-day and has been alarming. We
are not to be put in bodily fear, and that ill-conditioned fellow shall be
held to bail again. From the ceiling, foreshortened Allegory, in the
person of one impossible Roman upside down, points with the arm of
Samson (out of joint, and an odd one) obtrusively toward the window.

Why should Mr Tulkinghorn, for such no reason, look out of window?
Is the hand not always pointing there? So he does not look out of
window.

And if he did, what would it be to see a woman going by? There are
women enough in the world, Mr Tulkinghorn thinks--too many; they
are at the bottom of all that goes wrong in it, though, for the matter
of that, they create business for lawyers.
What would it be to see a
woman going by, even though she were going secretly? They are all
secret. Mr Tulkinghorn knows that very well.

But they are not all like the woman who now leaves him and his
house behind, between whose plain dress and her refined manner
there is something exceedingly inconsistent. She should be an upper
servant by her attire, yet in her air and step, though both are hurried
and assumed--as far as she can assume in the muddy streets, which
she treads with an unaccustomed foot--she is a lady. Her face is
veiled, and still she sufficiently betrays herself to make more than
one of those who pass her look round sharply.


She never turns her head. Lady or servant, she has a purpose in her
and can follow it. She never turns her head until she comes to the
crossing where Jo plies with his broom. He crosses with her and begs.
Still, she does not turn her head until she has landed on the other
side. Then she slightly beckons to him and says, eCome here!'

Jo follows her a pace or two into a quiet court.

eAre you the boy I've read of in the papers?' she asked behind her veil.

eI don't know,' says Jo, staring moodily at the veil, enothink about no
papers. I don't know nothink about nothink at all.'

eWere you examined at an inquest?'

eI don't know nothink about no--where I was took by the beadle, do
you mean?' says Jo.

eWas the boy's name at the inkwhich Jo?'

eYes.'

eThat's me!' says Jo.

eCome farther up.'

eYou mean about the man?' says Jo, following. eHim as wos dead?'

eHush! Speak in a whisper! Yes. Did he look, when he was living, so
very ill and poor?'

eOh, jist!' says Jo.

eDid he look like--not like you?' says the woman with abhorrence.

eOh, not so bad as me,' says Jo. eI'm a reg'lar one I am! You didn't
know him, did you?'

eHow dare you ask me if I knew him?'

eNo offence, my lady,' says Jo with much humility, for even he has got
at the suspicion of her being a lady.

eI am not a lady. I am a servant.'

eYou are a jolly servant!' says Jo without the least idea of saying
anything offensive, merely as a tribute of admiration.

eListen and be silent. Don't talk to me, and stand farther from me! Can
you show me all those places that were spoken of in the account I
read? The place he wrote for, the place he died at, the place where you
were taken to, and the place where he was buried? Do you know the
place where he was buried?'

Jo answers with a nod, having also nodded as each other place was
mentioned.


eGo before me and show me all those dreadful places. Stop opposite to
each, and don't speak to me unless I speak to you. Don't look back.
Do what I want, and I will pay you well.'

Jo attends closely while the words are being spoken; tells them off on
his broom-handle, finding them rather hard; pauses to consider their
meaning; considers it satisfactory; and nods his ragged head.

eI'm fly,' says Jo. eBut fen larks, you know. Stow hooking it!'

eWhat does the horrible creature mean?' exclaims the servant,
recoiling from him.

eStow cutting away, you know!' says Jo.

eI don't understand you. Go on before! I will give you more money than
you ever had in your life.'

Jo screws up his mouth into a whistle, gives his ragged head a rub,
takes his broom under his arm, and leads the way, passing deftly with
his bare feet over the hard stones and through the mud and mire.


Cook's Court. Jo stops. A pause.

eWho lives here?'

eHim wot give him his writing and give me half a bull,' says Jo in a
whisper without looking over his shoulder.

eGo on to the next.'

Krook's house. Jo stops again. A longer pause.

eWho lives here?'

eHe lived here,' Jo answers as before.

After a silence he is asked, eIn which room?'

eIn the back room up there. You can see the winder from this corner.
Up there! That's where I see him stritched out. This is the public-ouse
where I was took to.'

eGo on to the next!'

It is a longer walk to the next, but Jo, relieved of his first suspicions,
sticks to the forms imposed upon him and does not look round.
By
many devious ways, reeking with offence of many kinds
, they come to
the little tunnel of a court, and to the gas-lamp (lighted now), and to
the iron gate.

eHe was put there,' says Jo, holding to the bars and looking in.


eWhere? Oh, what a scene of horror!'

eThere!' says Jo, pointing. eOver yinder. Among them piles of bones,

and close to that there kitchin winder! They put him wery nigh the
top. They was obliged to stamp upon it to git it in. I could unkiver it
for you with my broom if the gate was open. That's why they locks it,
I s'pose,' giving it a shake. eIt's always locked.
Look at the rat!' cries
Jo, excited. eHi! Look! There he goes! Ho! Into the ground!'

The servant shrinks into a corner, into a corner of that hideous
archway, with its deadly stains contaminating her dress; and putting
out her two hands and passionately telling him to keep away from her,
for he is loathsome to her,
so remains for some moments. Jo stands
staring and is still staring when she recovers herself.


eIs this place of abomination consecrated ground?'

eI don't know nothink of consequential ground,' says Jo, still staring.

eIs it blessed?'

eWhich?' says Jo, in the last degree amazed.

eIs it blessed?'

eI'm blest if I know,' says Jo, staring more than ever; ebut I shouldn't
think it warn't. Blest?' repeats Jo, something troubled in his mind. eIt
an't done it much good if it is. Blest? I should think it was t'othered
myself.
But I don't know nothink!'

The servant takes as little heed of what he says as she seems to take
of what she has said herself. She draws off her glove to get some
money from her purse. Jo silently notices how white and small her
hand is and what a jolly servant she must be to wear such sparkling
rings.

She drops a piece of money in his hand without touching it, and
shuddering as their hands approach. eNow,' she adds, eshow me the
spot again!'

Jo thrusts the handle of his broom between the bars of the gate, and
with his utmost power of elaboration, points it out. At length, looking
aside to see if he has made himself intelligible, he finds that he is
alone.

His first proceeding is to hold the piece of money to the gas-light and
to be overpowered at finding that it is yellow--gold. His next is to give
it a one-sided bite at the edge as a test of its quality. His next, to put it
in his mouth for safety and to sweep the step and passage with great
care. His job done, he sets off for Tom-all-Alone's, stopping in the light
of innumerable gas-lamps to produce the piece of gold and give it
another one-sided bite as a reassurance of its being genuine.

The Mercury in powder is in no want of society to-night, for my Lady
goes to a grand dinner and three or four balls. Sir Leicester is fidgety
down at Chesney Wold, with no better company than the goat; he
complains to Mrs Rouncewell that the rain makes such a monotonous
pattering on the terrace that he can't read the paper even by the
fireside in his own snug dressing-room.

eSir Leicester would have done better to try the other side of the
house, my dear,' says Mrs Rouncewell to Rosa. eHis dressing-room is
on my Lady's side. And in all these years I never heard the step upon
the Ghost's Walk more distinct than it is to-night!'




Chapter XVII--Esther's Narrative



Richard very often came to see us while we remained in London
(though he soon failed in his letter-writing), and with his quick
abilities, his good spirits, his good temper, his gaiety and freshness,
was always delightful. But though I liked him more and more the
better I knew him, I still felt more and more how much it was to be
regretted that he had been educated in no habits of application and
concentration. The system which had addressed him in exactly the
same manner as it had addressed hundreds of other boys, all varying
in character and capacity, had enabled him to dash through his tasks,
always with fair credit and often with distinction, but in a fitful,
dazzling way that had confirmed his reliance on those very qualities in
himself which it had been most desirable to direct and train. They
were good qualities, without which no high place can be meritoriously
won, but like fire and water, though excellent servants, they were very
bad masters.
If they had been under Richard's direction, they would
have been his friends; but Richard being under their direction, they
became his enemies.


I write down these opinions not because I believe that this or any
other thing was so because I thought so, but only because I did think
so and I want to be quite candid about all I thought and did. These
were my thoughts about Richard. I thought I often observed besides
how right my guardian was in what he had said, and that the
uncertainties and delays of the Chancery suit had imparted to his
nature something of the careless spirit of a gamester who felt that he
was part of a great gaming system.


Mr and Mrs Bayham Badger coming one afternoon when my guardian
was not at home, in the course of conversation I naturally inquired
after Richard.

eWhy, Mr Carstone,' said Mrs Badger, eis very well and is, I assure you,
a great acquisition to our society. Captain Swosser used to say of me
that
I was always better than land a-head and a breeze a-starn to the
midshipmen's mess when the purser's junk had become as tough as
the fore-topsel weather earings.
It was his naval way of mentioning
generally that I was an acquisition to any society. I may render the
same tribute, I am sure, to Mr Carstone. But I--you won't think me
premature if I mention it?'

I said no, as Mrs Badger's insinuating tone seemed to require such an
answer.


eNor Miss Clare?' said Mrs Bayham Badger sweetly.

Ada said no, too, and looked uneasy.

eWhy, you see, my dears,' said Mrs Badger, e--you'll excuse me calling
you my dears?'

We entreated Mrs Badger not to mention it.

eBecause you really are, if I may take the liberty of saying so,' pursued
Mrs Badger, eso perfectly charming.
You see, my dears, that although I
am still young--or Mr Bayham Badger pays me the compliment of
saying so--'

eNo,' Mr Badger called out like some one contradicting at a public
meeting. eNot at all!'

eVery well,' smiled Mrs Badger, ewe will say still young.'

eUndoubtedly,' said Mr Badger.

eMy dears, though still young, I have had many opportunities of
observing young men. There were many such on board the dear old
Crippler, I assure you. After that, when I was with Captain Swosser in
the Mediterranean, I embraced every opportunity of knowing and
befriending the midshipmen under Captain Swosser's command. You
never heard them called the young gentlemen, my dears, and probably
would not understand allusions to their pipe-claying their weekly
accounts, but it is otherwise with me, for blue water has been a
second home to me, and I have been quite a sailor. Again, with
Professor Dingo.'


eA man of European reputation,' murmured Mr Badger.

eWhen I lost my dear first and became the wife of my dear second,'
said Mrs Badger, speaking of her former husbands as if they were
parts of a charade, eI still enjoyed opportunities of observing youth.
The class attendant on Professor Dingo's lectures was a large one, and
it became my pride, as the wife of an eminent scientific man seeking
herself in science the utmost consolation it could impart
, to throw our
house open to the students as a kind of Scientific Exchange. Every
Tuesday evening there was lemonade and a mixed biscuit for all who
chose to partake of those refreshments. And there was science to an
unlimited extent.'


eRemarkable assemblies those, Miss Summerson,' said Mr Badger
reverentially.
eThere must have been great intellectual friction going on
there under the auspices of such a man!'


eAnd now,' pursued Mrs Badger, enow that I am the wife of my dear
third, Mr Badger, I still pursue those habits of observation which were
formed during the lifetime of Captain Swosser and adapted to new and
unexpected purposes during the lifetime of Professor Dingo. I therefore
have not come to the consideration of Mr Carstone as a neophyte. And
yet I am very much of the opinion, my dears, that he has not chosen
his profession advisedly.'

Ada looked so very anxious now that I asked Mrs Badger on what she
founded her supposition.


eMy dear Miss Summerson,' she replied, eon Mr Carstone's character
and conduct. He is of such a very easy disposition that probably he
would never think it worth-while to mention how he really feels, but
he feels languid about the profession. He has not that positive interest
in it which makes it his vocation. If he has any decided impression in
reference to it, I should say it was that it is a tiresome pursuit. Now,
this is not promising. Young men like Mr Allan Woodcourt who take it
from a strong interest in all that it can do will find some reward in it
through a great deal of work for a very little money and through years
of considerable endurance and disappointment. But I am quite
convinced that this would never be the case with Mr Carstone.'

eDoes Mr Badger think so too?' asked Ada timidly.

eWhy,' said Mr Badger, eto tell the truth, Miss Clare, this view of the
matter had not occurred to me until Mrs Badger mentioned it.
But
when Mrs Badger put it in that light, I naturally gave great consid-
eration to it, knowing that Mrs Badger's mind, in addition to its
natural advantages, has had the rare advantage of being formed by
two such very distinguished (I will even say illustrious) public men
as Captain Swosser of the Royal Navy and Professor Dingo. The
conclusion at which I have arrived is--in short, is Mrs Badger's
conclusion.'

eIt was a maxim of Captain Swosser's,' said Mrs Badger, espeaking in
his figurative naval manner, that when you make pitch hot, you
cannot make it too hot; and that if you only have to swab a plank, you
should swab it as if Davy Jones were after you. It appears to me that
this maxim is applicable to the medical as well as to the nautical
profession.

eTo all professions,' observed Mr Badger. eIt was admirably said by
Captain Swosser. Beautifully said.'

ePeople objected to Professor Dingo when we were staying in the north
of Devon after our marriage,' said Mrs Badger,
ethat he disfigured
some of the houses and other buildings by chipping off fragments of
those edifices with his little geological hammer. But the professor
replied that he knew of no building save the Temple of Science.
The
principle is the same, I think?'


ePrecisely the same,' said Mr Badger. eFinely expressed! The profess-
or made the same remark, Miss Summerson, in his last illness, when
(his mind wandering)
he insisted on keeping his little hammer under
the pillow and chipping at the countenances of the attendants. The
ruling passion!'


Although we could have dispensed with the length at which Mr and
Mrs Badger pursued the conversation, we both felt that it was
disinterested in them to express the opinion they had communicated
to us and that there was a great probability of its being sound.
We
agreed to say nothing to Mr Jarndyce until we had spoken to Richard;
and as he was coming next evening, we resolved to have a very serious
talk with him.

So after he had been a little while with Ada, I went in and found my
darling (as I knew she would be) prepared to consider him thoroughly
right in whatever he said.

eAnd how do you get on, Richard?' said I. I always sat down on the
other side of him. He made quite a sister of me.

eOh! Well enough!' said Richard.

eHe can't say better than that, Esther, can he?' cried my pet
triumphantly.

I tried to look at my pet in the wisest manner, but of course I couldn't.

eWell enough?' I repeated.

eYes,' said Richard, ewell enough.
It's rather jog-trotty and humdrum.
But it'll do as well as anything else!'

eOh! My dear Richard!' I remonstrated.

eWhat's the matter?' said Richard.

eDo as well as anything else!'

eI don't think there's any harm in that, Dame Durden,' said Ada, look-
ing so confidingly at me across him; ebecause if it will do as well as
anything else, it will do very well, I hope.'

eOh, yes, I hope so,' returned Richard, carelessly tossing his hair from
his forehead. eAfter all, it may be only a kind of probation till our suit
is--I forgot though. I am not to mention the suit. Forbidden ground!
Oh, yes, it's all right enough. Let us talk about something else.'

Ada would have done so willingly, and with a full persuasion that we
had brought the question to a most satisfactory state. But I thought it
would be useless to stop there, so I began again.

eNo, but Richard,' said I, eand my dear Ada! Consider how important it
is to you both, and what a point of honour it is towards your cousin,
that you, Richard, should be quite in earnest without any reservation.
I think we had better talk about this, really, Ada. It will be too late
very soon.'

eOh, yes! We must talk about it!' said Ada. eBut I think Richard is
right.'

What was the use of my trying to look wise when she was so pretty,
and so engaging, and so fond of him!

eMr and Mrs Badger were here yesterday, Richard,' said I, eand they
seemed disposed to think that you had no great liking for the profess-
ion.'

eDid they though?' said Richard. eOh! Well, that rather alters the case,
because I had no idea that they thought so, and I should not have
liked to disappoint or inconvenience them. The fact is, I don't care
much about it. But, oh, it don't matter! It'll do as well as anything
else!'

eYou hear him, Ada!' said I.

eThe fact is,' Richard proceeded, half thoughtfully and half jocosely, eit
is not quite in my way. I don't take to it. And I get too much of Mrs
Bayham Badger's first and second.'


eI am sure that's very natural!' cried Ada, quite delighted. eThe very
thing we both said yesterday, Esther!'

eThen,' pursued Richard, eit's monotonous, and to-day is too like
yesterday, and tomorrow is too like to-day.'

eBut I am afraid,' said I, ethis is an objection to all kinds of application-
-to life itself, except under some very uncommon circumstances.'

eDo you think so?' returned Richard, still considering. ePerhaps! Ha!
Why, then, you know,' he added, suddenly becoming gay again, ewe
travel outside a circle to what I said just now. It'll do as well as
anything else. Oh, it's all right enough! Let us talk about something
else.'

But even Ada, with her loving face--and if it had seemed innocent and
trusting when I first saw it in that memorable November fog, how
much more did it seem now when I knew her innocent and trusting
heart--even Ada shook her head at this and looked serious. So I
thought it a good opportunity to hint to Richard that if he were
sometimes a little careless of himself, I was very sure he never meant
to be careless of Ada, and that it was a part of his affectionate
consideration for her not to slight the importance of a step that might
influence both their lives. This made him almost grave.

eMy dear Mother Hubbard,' he said, ethat's the very thing! I have
thought of that several times and have been quite angry with myself
for meaning to be so much in earnest and--somehow--not exactly
being so. I don't know how it is; I seem to want something or other to
stand by. Even you have no idea how fond I am of Ada (my darling
cousin, I love you, so much!), but I don't settle down to constancy in
other things. It's such uphill work, and it takes such a time!' said
Richard with an air of vexation.


eThat may be,' I suggested, ebecause you don't like what you have
chosen.'

ePoor fellow!' said Ada. eI am sure I don't wonder at it!'

No. It was not of the least use my trying to look wise. I tried again, but
how could I do it, or how could it have any effect if I could, while Ada
rested her clasped hands upon his shoulder and while he looked at
her tender blue eyes, and while they looked at him!

eYou see, my precious girl,' said Richard, passing her golden curls
through and through his hand, eI was a little hasty perhaps; or I
misunderstood my own inclinations perhaps. They don't seem to lie in
that direction. I couldn't tell till I tried. Now the question is whether
it's worth-while to undo all that has been done. It seems like making a
great disturbance about nothing particular.'


eMy dear Richard,' said I, ehow can you say about nothing particular?'

eI don't mean absolutely that,' he returned. eI mean that it may be
nothing particular because I may never want it.'

Both Ada and I urged, in reply, not only that it was decidedly worthwhile
to undo what had been done, but that it must be undone. I then
asked Richard whether he had thought of any more congenial pursuit.

eThere, my dear Mrs Shipton,' said Richard, eyou touch me home. Yes,
I have. I have been thinking that the law is the boy for me.'

eThe law!' repeated Ada as if she were afraid of the name.

eIf I went into Kenge's office,' said Richard, eand if I were placed under
articles to Kenge, I should have my eye on the--hum!--the forbidden
ground--and should be able to study it, and master it, and to satisfy
myself that it was not neglected and was being properly conducted. I
should be able to look after Ada's interests and my own interests (the
same thing!); and I should peg away at Blackstone and all those
fellows with the most tremendous ardour.'

I was not by any means so sure of that, and I saw how his hankering
after the vague things yet to come of those long-deferred hopes cast
a shade on Ada's face. But I thought it best to encourage him in any
project of continuous exertion, and only advised him to be quite sure
that his mind was made up now.

eMy dear Minerva,' said Richard, eI am as steady as you are. I made a
mistake; we are all liable to mistakes; I won't do so any more, and I'll
become such a lawyer as is not often seen. That is, you know,' said
Richard, relapsing into doubt, eif it really is worth-while, after all, to
make such a disturbance about nothing particular!'


This led to our saying again, with a great deal of gravity, all that we
had said already and to our coming to much the same conclusion
afterwards. But we so strongly advised Richard to be frank and open
with Mr Jarndyce, without a moment's delay, and his disposition was
naturally so opposed to concealment that he sought him out at once
(taking us with him) and made a full avowal. eRick,' said my guardian,
after hearing him attentively, ewe can retreat with honour, and we will.

But we must be careful--for our cousin's sake, Rick, for our cousin's
sake--that we make no more such mistakes. Therefore, in the matter
of the law, we will have a good trial before we decide. We will look
before we leap, and take plenty of time about it.'

Richard's energy was of such an impatient and fitful kind that he
would have liked nothing better than to have gone to Mr Kenge's office
in that hour and to have entered into articles with him on the spot.
Submitting, however, with a good grace to the caution that we had
shown to be so necessary, he contented himself with sitting down
among us in his lightest spirits and talking as if his one unvarying
purpose in life from childhood had been that one which now held
possession of him. My guardian was very kind and cordial with him,
but rather grave, enough so to cause Ada, when he had departed and
we were going upstairs to bed, to say, eCousin John, I hope you don't
think the worse of Richard?'


eNo, my love,' said he.

eBecause it was very natural that Richard should be mistaken in such
a difficult case. It is not uncommon.'

eNo, no, my love,' said he. eDon't look unhappy.'

eOh, I am not unhappy, cousin John!' said Ada, smiling cheerfully,
with her hand upon his shoulder, where she had put it in bidding him
good night. eBut I should be a little so if you thought at all the worse
of Richard.'

eMy dear,' said Mr Jarndyce, eI should think the worse of him only if
you were ever in the least unhappy through his means. I should be
more disposed to quarrel with myself even then, than with poor Rick,
for I brought you together. But, tut, all this is nothing! He has time
before him, and the race to run. I think the worse of him? Not I, my
loving cousin! And not you, I swear!'


eNo, indeed, cousin John,' said Ada, eI am sure I could not--I am sure
I would not--think any ill of Richard if the whole world did. I could, and
I would, think better of him then than at any other time!'

So quietly and honestly she said it, with her hands upon his shoulders--
both hands now--and looking up into his face, like the picture of truth!

eI think,' said my guardian, thoughtfully regarding her, eI think it must
be somewhere written that the virtues of the mothers shall occasionally
be visited on the children, as well as the sins of the father. Good night,
my rosebud. Good night, little woman. Pleasant slumbers! Happy dreams!'

This was the first time I ever saw him follow Ada with his eyes with
something of a shadow on their benevolent expression. I well
remembered the look with which he had contemplated her and
Richard when she was singing in the firelight; it was but a very little
while since he had watched them passing down the room in which the
sun was shining, and away into the shade; but his glance was
changed, and even the silent look of confidence in me which now
followed it once more was not quite so hopeful and untroubled as it
had originally been.


Ada praised Richard more to me that night than ever she had praised
him yet. She went to sleep with a little bracelet he had given her
clasped upon her arm. I fancied she was dreaming of him when I
kissed her cheek after she had slept an hour and saw how tranquil
and happy she looked.

For I was so little inclined to sleep myself that night that I sat up
working. It would not be worth mentioning for its own sake, but I was
wakeful and rather low-spirited. I don't know why. At least I don't
think I know why. At least, perhaps I do, but I don't think it matters.

At any rate, I made up my mind to be so dreadfully industrious that I
would leave myself not a moment's leisure to be low-spirited. For I
naturally said, eEsther! You to be low-spirited. YOU!' And it really was
time to say so, for I--yes, I really did see myself in the glass, almost
crying. eAs if you had anything to make you unhappy, instead of
everything to make you happy, you ungrateful heart!' said I.


If I could have made myself go to sleep, I would have done it directly,
but not being able to do that, I took out of my basket some ornamen-
tal work for our house (I mean Bleak House) that I was busy with at
that time and sat down to it with great determination. It was neces-
sary to count all the stitches in that work, and I resolved to go on
with it until I couldn't keep my eyes open, and then to go to bed.

I soon found myself very busy. But I had left some silk downstairs in a
work-table drawer in the temporary growlery, and coming to a stop for
want of it, I took my candle and went softly down to get it. To my great
surprise, on going in
I found my guardian still there, and sitting
looking at the ashes. He was lost in thought, his book lay unheeded
by his side, his silvered iron-grey hair was scattered confusedly upon
his forehead as though his hand had been wandering among it while
his thoughts were elsewhere, and his face looked worn.
Almost
frightened by coming upon him so unexpectedly, I stood still for a
moment and should have retired without speaking had he not, in
again passing his hand abstractedly through his hair, seen me and
started.

eEsther!'

I told him what I had come for.

eAt work so late, my dear?'

eI am working late to-night,' said I, ebecause I couldn't sleep and
wished to tire myself. But, dear guardian, you are late too, and look
weary. You have no trouble, I hope, to keep you waking?'

eNone, little woman, that you would readily understand,' said he.

He spoke in a regretful tone so new to me that I inwardly repeated,
as if that would help me to his meaning, eThat I could readily under-
stand!'

eRemain a moment, Esther,' said he, eYou were in my thoughts.'

eI hope I was not the trouble, guardian?'


He slightly waved his hand and fell into his usual manner. The change
was so remarkable, and he appeared to make it by dint of so much
self-command, that I found myself again inwardly repeating, eNone
that I could understand!'


eLittle woman,' said my guardian, eI was thinking--that is, I have been
thinking since I have been sitting here--that you ought to know of
your own history all I know. It is very little. Next to nothing.'

eDear guardian,' I replied, ewhen you spoke to me before on that
subject--'

eBut since then,' he gravely interposed, anticipating what I meant to
say, eI have reflected that your having anything to ask me, and my
having anything to tell you, are different considerations, Esther. It is
perhaps my duty to impart to you the little I know.'

eIf you think so, guardian, it is right.'

eI think so,' he returned very gently, and kindly, and very distinctly.
eMy dear, I think so now. If any real disadvantage can attach to your
position in the mind of any man or woman worth a thought,
it is right
that you at least of all the world should not magnify it to yourself by
having vague impressions of its nature.'


I sat down and said after a little effort to be as calm as I ought to be,
eOne of my earliest remembrances, guardian, is of these words: 'Your
mother, Esther, is your disgrace, and you were hers. The time will
come, and soon enough, when you will understand this better, and
will feel it too, as no one save a woman can.'e
I had covered my face
with my hands in repeating the words, but I took them away now with
a better kind of shame,
I hope, and told him that to him I owed the
blessing that I had from my childhood to that hour never, never, never
felt it. He put up his hand as if to stop me. I well knew that he was
never to be thanked, and said no more.

eNine years, my dear,' he said after thinking for a little while, ehave
passed since
I received a letter from a lady living in seclusion, written
with a stern passion and power that rendered it unlike all other letters

I have ever read. It was written to me (as it told me in so many words),
perhaps because it was the writer's idiosyncrasy to put that trust in
me, perhaps because it was mine to justify it. It told me of a child, an
orphan girl then twelve years old,
in some such cruel words as those
which live in your remembrance. It told me that the writer had bred
her in secrecy from her birth, had blotted out all trace of her exist-
ence, and that if the writer were to die before the child became a
woman, she would be left entirely friendless, nameless, and unknown.

It asked me to consider if I would, in that case, finish what the writer
had begun.'

I listened in silence and looked attentively at him.


eYour early recollection, my dear, will supply the gloomy medium
through which all this was seen and expressed by the writer, and the
distorted religion which clouded her mind with impressions of the
need there was for the child to expiate an offence of which she was
quite innocent. I felt concerned for the little creature, in her darkened
life, and replied to the letter.'


I took his hand and kissed it.

eIt laid the injunction on me that I should never propose to see the
writer, who had long been estranged from all intercourse with the
world, but who would see a confidential agent if I would appoint one. I
accredited Mr Kenge. The lady said, of her own accord and not of his
seeking, that her name was an assumed one. That she was, if there
were any ties of blood in such a case, the child's aunt. That more than
this she would never (and he was well persuaded of the steadfastness
of her resolution) for any human consideration disclose.
My dear, I
have told you all.'

I held his hand for a little while in mine.

eI saw my ward oftener than she saw me,' he added, cheerily making
light of it, eand
I always knew she was beloved, useful, and happy. She
repays me twenty-thousandfold, and twenty more to that, every hour
in every day!'

eAnd oftener still,' said I, eshe blesses the guardian who is a father to
her!'

At the word father, I saw his former trouble come into his face. He
subdued it as before, and it was gone in an instant; but it had been
there and it had come so swiftly upon my words that I felt as if they
had given him a shock.
I again inwardly repeated, wondering, eThat I
could readily understand. None that I could readily understand!' No, it
was true. I did not understand it. Not for many and many a day.

eTake a fatherly good night, my dear,' said he, kissing me on the
forehead, eand so to rest. These are late hours for working and
thinking. You do that for all of us, all day long, little housekeeper!'

I neither worked nor thought any more that night.
I opened my
grateful heart to heaven in thankfulness for its providence to me and
its care of me, and fell asleep.


We had a visitor next day. Mr Allan Woodcourt came. He came to take
leave of us; he had settled to do so beforehand. He was going to China
and to India as a surgeon on board ship. He was to be away a long,
long time.

I believe--at least I know--that he was not rich. All his widowed
mother could spare had been spent in qualifying him for his profess-
ion. It was not lucrative to a young practitioner, with very little
influence in London; and
although he was, night and day, at the
service of numbers of poor people and did wonders of gentleness and
skill for them, he gained very little by it in money
. He was seven years
older than I. Not that I need mention it, for it hardly seems to belong
to anything.

I think--I mean, he told us--that he had been in practice three or four
years and that if he could have hoped to contend through three or
four more, he would not have made the voyage on which he was
bound. But he had no fortune or private means, and so he was going
away. He had been to see us several times altogether. We thought it a
pity he should go away. Because he was distinguished in his art
among those who knew it best, and some of the greatest men
belonging to it had a high opinion of him.

When he came to bid us good-bye, he brought his mother with him for
the first time. She was a pretty old lady, with bright black eyes, but
she seemed proud. She came from Wales and had had, a long time
ago, an eminent person for an ancestor, of the name of Morgan ap
Kerrig--of some place that sounded like Gimlet--who was the most
illustrious person that ever was known and all of whose relations were
a sort of royal family. He appeared to have passed his life in always
getting up into mountains and fighting somebody; and a bard whose
name sounded like Crumlinwallinwer had sung his praises in a piece
which was called, as nearly as I could catch it, Mewlinnwillinwodd.

Mrs Woodcourt, after expatiating to us on the fame of her great
kinsman, said that no doubt wherever her son Allan went he would
remember his pedigree and would on no account form an alliance
below it. She told him that there were many handsome English ladies
in India who went out on speculation, and that there were some to be
picked up with property, but that neither charms nor wealth would
suffice for the descendant from such a line without birth, which must
ever be the first consideration. She talked so much about birth that
for a moment I half fancied, and with pain--But what an idle fancy to
suppose that she could think or care what mine was!

Mr Woodcourt seemed a little distressed by her prolixity, but he was
too considerate to let her see it and contrived delicately to bring the
conversation round to making his acknowledgments to my guardian
for his hospitality and for the very happy hours--he called them the
very happy hours--he had passed with us. The recollection of them,
he said, would go with him wherever he went and would be always
treasured.
And so we gave him our hands, one after another--at least,
they did--and I did; and so he put his lips to Ada's hand--and to mine;
and so he went away upon his long, long voyage!

I was very busy indeed all day and wrote directions home to the
servants, and wrote notes for my guardian, and dusted his books and
papers, and jingled my housekeeping keys a good deal, one way and
another. I was still busy between the lights, singing and working by
the window, when who should come in but Caddy, whom I had no
expectation of seeing!

eWhy, Caddy, my dear,' said I, ewhat beautiful flowers!'

She had such an exquisite little nosegay in her hand.

eIndeed, I think so, Esther,' replied Caddy. eThey are the loveliest I
ever saw.'

ePrince, my dear?' said I in a whisper.

eNo,' answered Caddy, shaking her head and holding them to me to
smell. eNot Prince.'

eWell, to be sure, Caddy!' said I. eYou must have two lovers!'

eWhat? Do they look like that sort of thing?' said Caddy.

eDo they look like that sort of thing?' I repeated, pinching her cheek.
Caddy only laughed in return
, and telling me that she had come for
half an hour, at the expiration of which time Prince would be waiting
for her at the corner, sat chatting with me and Ada in the window,
every now and then handing me the flowers again or trying how they
looked against my hair. At last, when she was going, she took me into
my room and put them in my dress.

eFor me?' said I, surprised.

eFor you,' said Caddy with a kiss. eThey were left behind by somebody.'

eLeft behind?'

eAt poor Miss Flite's,' said Caddy.
eSomebody who has been very good
to her was hurrying away an hour ago to join a ship and left these
flowers behind. No, no! Don't take them out. Let the pretty little things
lie here,' said Caddy, adjusting them with a careful hand, ebecause I
was present myself, and I shouldn't wonder if somebody left them on
purpose!'

eDo they look like that sort of thing?' said Ada, coming laughingly
behind me and clasping me merrily round the waist. eOh, yes, indeed
they do, Dame Durden! They look very, very like that sort of thing. Oh,
very like it indeed, my dear!'




Chapter XVIII--Lady Dedlock



It was not so easy as it had appeared at first to arrange for Richard's
making a trial of Mr Kenge's office. Richard himself was the chief
impediment. As soon as he had it in his power to leave Mr Badger at
any moment, he began to doubt whether he wanted to leave him at all.
He didn't know, he said, really. It wasn't a bad profession; he couldn't
assert that he disliked it; perhaps he liked it as well as he liked any
other--suppose he gave it one more chance! Upon that, he shut
himself up for a few weeks with some books and some bones and
seemed to acquire a considerable fund of information with great
rapidity. His fervour, after lasting about a month, began to cool, and
when it was quite cooled, began to grow warm again. His vacillations
between law and medicine lasted so long that midsummer arrived
before he finally separated from Mr Badger and entered on an ex-
perimental course of Messrs. Kenge and Carboy. For all his way-
wardness, he took great credit to himself as being determined to
be in earnest ethis time.' And he was so good-natured throughout,
and in such high spirits, and so fond of Ada, that it was very difficult
indeed to be otherwise than pleased with him.


eAs to Mr Jarndyce,' who, I may mention, found the wind much given,
during this period, to stick in the east; eAs to Mr Jarndyce,' Richard
would say to me, ehe is the finest fellow in the world, Esther! I must be
particularly careful, if it were only for his satisfaction, to take myself
well to task and have a regular wind-up of this business now.'

The idea of his taking himself well to task, with that laughing face and
heedless manner and with a fancy that everything could catch and
nothing could hold, was ludicrously anomalous. However, he told us
between-whiles that he was doing it to such an extent that he
wondered his hair didn't turn grey.
His regular wind-up of the
business was (as I have said) that he went to Mr Kenge's about
midsummer to try how he liked it.

All this time he was, in money affairs, what I have described him in
a former illustration--generous, profuse, wildly careless, but fully
persuaded that he was rather calculating and prudent. I happened to
say to Ada, in his presence, half jestingly, half seriously, about the
time of his going to Mr Kenge's, that he needed to have Fortunatus'
purse, he made so light of money, which he answered in this way, eMy
jewel of a dear cousin, you hear this old woman! Why does she say
that? Because I gave eight pounds odd (or whatever it was) for a
certain neat waistcoat and buttons a few days ago. Now, if I had
stayed at Badger's I should have been obliged to spend twelve pounds
at a blow for some heart-breaking lecture-fees. So I make four
pounds--in a lump--by the transaction!'


It was a question much discussed between him and my guardian what
arrangements should be made for his living in London while he exper-
imented on the law, for we had long since gone back to Bleak House,
and it was too far off to admit of his coming there oftener than
once a week. My guardian told me that if Richard were to settle down
at Mr Kenge's he would take some apartments or chambers where we
too could occasionally stay for a few days at a time; ebut, little woman,'
he added, rubbing his head very significantly, ehe hasn't settled down
there yet!' The discussions ended in our hiring for him, by the month,
a neat little furnished lodging in a quiet old house near Queen Square.
He immediately began to spend all the money he had in buying the
oddest little ornaments and luxuries for this lodging; and so often as
Ada and I dissuaded him from making any purchase that he had in
contemplation which was particularly unnecessary and expensive, he
took credit for what it would have cost and made out that to spend
anything less on something else was to save the difference.

While these affairs were in abeyance, our visit to Mr Boythorn's was
postponed. At length, Richard having taken possession of his lodging,
there was nothing to prevent our departure. He could have gone with
us at that time of the year very well, but he was in the full novelty of
his new position and was making most energetic attempts to unravel
the mysteries of the fatal suit.
Consequently we went without him,
and my darling was delighted to praise him for being so busy.

We made a pleasant journey down into Lincolnshire by the coach and
had an entertaining companion in Mr Skimpole. His furniture had been
all cleared off, it appeared, by the person who took possession of it
on his blue-eyed daughter's birthday, but he seemed quite relieved
to think that it was gone.
Chairs and table, he said, were wearisome
objects; they were monotonous ideas, they had no variety of expres-
sion, they looked you out of countenance, and you looked them out
of countenance. How pleasant, then, to be bound to no particular
chairs and tables, but to sport like a butterfly among all the furniture
on hire, and to flit from rosewood to mahogany, and from mahogany
to walnut, and from this shape to that, as the humour took one!

eThe oddity of the thing is,' said Mr Skimpole with a quickened sense
of the ludicrous, ethat my chairs and tables were not paid for, and yet
my landlord walks off with them as composedly as possible. Now, that
seems droll! There is something grotesque in it.
The chair and table
merchant never engaged to pay my landlord my rent. Why should my
landlord quarrel with him? If I have a pimple on my nose which is
disagreeable to my landlord's peculiar ideas of beauty, my landlord
has no business to scratch my chair and table merchant's nose, which
has no pimple on it.
His reasoning seems defective!'

eWell,' said my guardian good-humouredly, eit's pretty clear that
whoever became security for those chairs and tables will have to pay
for them.'

eExactly!' returned Mr Skimpole. eThat's the crowning point of
unreason in the business! I said to my landlord, 'My good man, you
are not aware that my excellent friend Jarndyce will have to pay for
those things that you are sweeping off in that indelicate manner. Have
you no consideration for his property?' He hadn't the least.'


eAnd refused all proposals,' said my guardian.

eRefused all proposals,' returned Mr Skimpole. eI made him business
proposals. I had him into my room. I said, 'You are a man of business,
I believe?' He replied, 'I am,' 'Very well,' said I, 'now let us be business-
like. Here is an inkstand, here are pens and paper, here are wafers.
What do you want? I have occupied your house for a considerable
period, I believe to our mutual satisfaction until this unpleasant
misunderstanding arose; let us be at once friendly and business-like.
What do you want?' In reply to this, he made use of the figurative
expression--which has something Eastern about it--that he had never
seen the colour of my money. 'My amiable friend,' said I, 'I never have
any money. I never know anything about money.' 'Well, sir,' said he,
'what do you offer if I give you time?' 'My good fellow,' said I, 'I have no
idea of time; but you say you are a man of business, and whatever you
can suggest to be done in a business-like way with pen, and ink, and
paper--and wafers--I am ready to do. Don't pay yourself at another
man's expense (which is foolish), but be business-like!' However, he
wouldn't be, and there was an end of it.'

If these were some of the inconveniences of Mr Skimpole's childhood,
it assuredly possessed its advantages too. On the journey he had a
very good appetite for such refreshment as came in our way (including
a basket of choice hothouse peaches), but never thought of paying for
anything. So when the coachman came round for his fee, he
pleasantly asked him what he considered a very good fee indeed, now-
-a liberal one--and on his replying half a crown for a single passenger,
said it was little enough too, all things considered, and left Mr
Jarndyce to give it him.


It was delightful weather. The green corn waved so beautifully, the
larks sang so joyfully, the hedges were so full of wild flowers, the trees
were so thickly out in leaf, the bean-fields, with a light wind blowing
over them, filled the air with such a delicious fragrance! Late in the
afternoon we came to the market-town where we were to alight from
the coach--a dull little town with a church-spire, and a marketplace,
and a market-cross, and one intensely sunny street, and a pond with
an old horse cooling his legs in it, and a very few men sleepily lying
and standing about in narrow little bits of shade. After the rustling of
the leaves and the waving of the corn all along the road, it looked as
still, as hot, as motionless a little town as England could produce.


At the inn we found Mr Boythorn on horseback, waiting with an open
carriage to take us to his house, which was a few miles off. He was
overjoyed to see us and dismounted with great alacrity.

eBy heaven!' said he after giving us a courteous greeting. eThis a most
infamous coach. It is the most flagrant example of an abominable public
vehicle that ever encumbered the face of the earth. It is twentyfive
minutes after its time this afternoon. The coachman ought to be
put to death!'


eIs he after his time?' said Mr Skimpole, to whom he happened to
address himself. eYou know my infirmity.'

eTwenty-five minutes! Twenty-six minutes!' replied Mr Boythorn,
referring to his watch.
eWith two ladies in the coach, this scoundrel
has deliberately delayed his arrival six and twenty minutes. Delib-
erately! It is impossible that it can be accidental! But his father--
and his uncle--were the most profligate coachmen that ever sat
upon a box.'

While he said this in tones of the greatest indignation, he handed us
into the little phaeton with the utmost gentleness and was all smiles
and pleasure.


eI am sorry, ladies,' he said, standing bare-headed at the carriage-door
when all was ready, ethat I am obliged to conduct you nearly two miles
out of the way. But our direct road lies through Sir Leicester Dedlock's
park, and in that fellow's property I have sworn never to set foot of
mine, or horse's foot of mine, pending the present relations between
us, while I breathe the breath of life!' And here, catching my guardian's
eye, he broke into one of his tremendous laughs, which seemed to
shake even the motionless little market-town.


eAre the Dedlocks down here, Lawrence?' said my guardian as we
drove along and Mr Boythorn trotted on the green turf by the
roadside.

eSir Arrogant Numskull is here,' replied Mr Boythorn. eHa ha ha! Sir
Arrogant is here, and I am glad to say, has been laid by the heels here.
My Lady,' in naming whom he always made a courtly gesture as if
particularly to exclude her from any part in the quarrel, eis expected, I
believe, daily. I am not in the least surprised that she postpones her
appearance as long as possible.
Whatever can have induced that
transcendent woman to marry that effigy and figure-head of a baronet
is one of the most impenetrable mysteries that ever baffled human
inquiry. Ha ha ha ha!'


eI suppose,' said my guardian, laughing, eWE may set foot in the park
while we are here? The prohibition does not extend to us, does it?'

eI can lay no prohibition on my guests,' he said, bending his head to
Ada and me with the smiling politeness which sat so gracefully upon
him, eexcept in the matter of their departure. I am only sorry that I
cannot have the happiness of being their escort about Chesney Wold,
which is a very fine place! But by the light of this summer day,
Jarndyce, if you call upon the owner while you stay with me, you are
likely to have but a cool reception.
He carries himself like an eight-day
clock at all times, like one of a race of eight-day clocks in gorgeous
cases that never go and never went
--Ha ha ha!--but he will have some
extra stiffness, I can promise you, for the friends of his friend and
neighbour Boythorn!'

eI shall not put him to the proof,' said my guardian. eHe is as
indifferent to the honour of knowing me, I dare say, as I am to the
honour of knowing him. The air of the grounds and perhaps such a
view of the house as any other sightseer might get are quite enough
for me.'

eWell!' said Mr Boythorn. eI am glad of it on the whole. It's in better
keeping.
I am looked upon about here as a second Ajax defying the
lightning. Ha ha ha ha! When I go into our little church on a Sunday,
a considerable part of the inconsiderable congregation expect to see
me drop, scorched and withered, on the pavement under the Dedlock
displeasure.
Ha ha ha ha! I have no doubt he is surprised that I don't.
For
he is, by heaven, the most self-satisfied, and the shallowest, and
the most coxcombical and utterly brainless ass!'


Our coming to the ridge of a hill we had been ascending enabled our
friend to point out Chesney Wold itself to us and diverted his attention
from its master.

It was a picturesque old house in a fine park richly wooded. Among
the trees and not far from the residence he pointed out the spire of
the little church of which he had spoken.
Oh, the solemn woods over
which the light and shadow travelled swiftly, as if heavenly wings were
sweeping on benignant errands through the summer air; the smooth
green slopes, the glittering water, the garden where the flowers were
so symmetrically arranged in clusters of the richest colours, how
beautiful they looked! The house, with gable and chimney, and tower,
and turret, and dark doorway, and broad terrace-walk, twining among
the balustrades of which, and lying heaped upon the vases, there was
one great flush of roses, seemed scarcely real in its light solidity and
in the serene and peaceful hush that rested on all around it. To Ada
and to me, that above all appeared the pervading influence. On
everything, house, garden, terrace, green slopes, water, old oaks, fern,
moss, woods again, and far away across the openings in the prospect
to the distance lying wide before us with a purple bloom upon it, there
seemed to be such undisturbed repose.


When we came into the little village and passed a small inn with the
sign of the Dedlock Arms swinging over the road in front, Mr Boythorn
interchanged greetings with a young gentleman sitting on a bench
outside the inn-door who had some fishing-tackle lying beside him.

eThat's the housekeeper's grandson, Mr Rouncewell by name,' said,
he, eand he is in love with a pretty girl up at the house. Lady Dedlock
has taken a fancy to the pretty girl and is going to keep her about her
own fair person--an honour which my young friend himself does not
at all appreciate. However, he can't marry just yet, even if his Rosebud
were willing; so he is fain to make the best of it. In the meanwhile, he
comes here pretty often for a day or two at a time to--fish. Ha ha ha
ha!'

eAre he and the pretty girl engaged, Mr Boythorn?' asked Ada.

eWhy, my dear Miss Clare,' he returned, eI think they may perhaps
understand each other; but you will see them soon, I dare say, and I
must learn from you on such a point--not you from me.'

Ada blushed, and Mr Boythorn, trotting forward on his comely grey
horse, dismounted at his own door and stood ready with extended
arm and uncovered head to welcome us when we arrived.


He lived in a pretty house, formerly the parsonage house, with a lawn
in front, a bright flower-garden at the side, and a well-stocked
orchard and kitchen-garden in the rear, enclosed with a venerable
wall that had of itself a ripened ruddy look. But, indeed, everything
about the place wore an aspect of maturity and abundance. The old
lime-tree walk was like green cloisters, the very shadows of the cherry-
trees and apple-trees were heavy with fruit, the gooseberry-bushes
were so laden that their branches arched and rested on the earth, the
strawberries and raspberries grew in like profusion, and the peaches
basked by the hundred on the wall. Tumbled about among the spread
nets and the glass frames sparkling and winking in the sun there were
such heaps of drooping pods, and marrows, and cucumbers, that
every foot of ground appeared a vegetable treasury, while the smell of
sweet herbs and all kinds of wholesome growth (to say nothing of the
neighbouring meadows where the hay was carrying) made the whole
air a great nosegay.
Such stillness and composure reigned within the
orderly precincts of the old red wall that even the feathers hung in
garlands to scare the birds hardly stirred; and
the wall had such a
ripening influence that where, here and there high up, a disused nail
and scrap of list still clung to it, it was easy to fancy that they had
mellowed with the changing seasons and that they had rusted and
decayed according to the common fate.


The house, though a little disorderly in comparison with the garden,
was a real old house with settles in the chimney of the brick-floored
kitchen and great beams across the ceilings. On one side of it was the
terrible piece of ground in dispute, where Mr Boythorn maintained a
sentry in a smock-frock day and night, whose duty was supposed to
be, in cases of aggression, immediately to ring a large bell hung up
there for the purpose, to unchain a great bull-dog established in a
kennel as his ally, and generally to deal destruction on the enemy. Not
content with these precautions, Mr Boythorn had himself composed
and posted there, on painted boards to which his name was attached
in large letters, the following solemn warnings: eBeware of the bulldog.
He is most ferocious. Lawrence Boythorn.' eThe blunderbus is
loaded with slugs. Lawrence Boythorn.' eMan-traps and spring-guns
are set here at all times of the day and night. Lawrence Boythorn.'

eTake notice. That any person or persons audaciously presuming to
trespass on this property will be punished with the utmost severity of
private chastisement and prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the
law. Lawrence Boythorn.'
These he showed us from the drawing-room
window, while his bird was hopping about his head, and he laughed,
eHa ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha!' to that extent as he pointed them out that
I really thought he would have hurt himself.


eBut this is taking a good deal of trouble,' said Mr Skimpole in his light
way, ewhen you are not in earnest after all.'

eNot in earnest!' returned Mr Boythorn with unspeakable warmth. eNot
in earnest! If I could have hoped to train him, I would have bought a
lion instead of that dog and would have turned him loose upon the
first intolerable robber who should dare to make an encroachment on
my rights. Let Sir Leicester Dedlock consent to come out and decide
this question by single combat, and I will meet him with any weapon
known to mankind in any age or country. I am that much in earnest.
Not more!'


We arrived at his house on a Saturday. On the Sunday morning we all
set forth to walk to the little church in the park. Entering the park,
almost immediately by the disputed ground, we pursued a pleasant
footpath winding among the verdant turf and the beautiful trees until
it brought us to the church-porch.


The congregation was extremely small and quite a rustic one with the
exception of a large muster of servants from the house, some of whom
were already in their seats, while others were yet dropping in. There
were some stately footmen, and there was
a perfect picture of an old
coachman, who looked as if he were the official representative of all
the pomps and vanities that had ever been put into his coach.
There
was a very pretty show of young women, and above them, the
handsome old face and fine responsible portly figure of the
housekeeper towered pre-eminent. The pretty girl of whom Mr
Boythorn had told us was close by her. She was so very pretty that I
might have known her by her beauty even if I had not seen how
blushingly conscious she was of the eyes of the young fisherman,
whom I discovered not far off. One face, and not an agreeable one,
though it was handsome, seemed maliciously watchful of this pretty
girl, and indeed of every one and everything there. It was a
Frenchwoman's.

As the bell was yet ringing and the great people were not yet come, I
had leisure to glance over the church, which smelt as earthy as a
grave, and to think what a shady, ancient, solemn little church it was.
The windows, heavily shaded by trees, admitted a subdued light that
made the faces around me pale, and darkened the old brasses in the
pavement and the time and damp-worn monuments, and rendered the
sunshine in the little porch, where a monotonous ringer was working
at the bell, inestimably bright. But a stir in that direction, a gathering
of reverential awe in the rustic faces, and a blandly ferocious assum-
ption on the part of Mr Boythorn of being resolutely unconscious of
somebody's existence
forewarned me that the great people were
come and that the service was going to begin.

e'Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord, for in thy sight--'e


Shall I ever forget the rapid beating at my heart, occasioned by the
look I met as I stood up! Shall I ever forget the manner in which those
handsome proud eyes seemed to spring out of their languor and to
hold mine! It was only a moment before I cast mine down--released
again, if I may say so--on my book; but I knew the beautiful face quite
well in that short space of time.


And, very strangely, there was something quickened within me,
associated with the lonely days at my godmother's; yes, away even to
the days when I had stood on tiptoe to dress myself at my little glass
after dressing my doll. And this, although I had never seen this lady's
face before in all my life--I was quite sure of it--absolutely certain.


It was easy to know that the ceremonious, gouty, grey-haired gent-
leman, the only other occupant of the great pew, was Sir Leicester
Dedlock, and that the lady was Lady Dedlock. But why her face
should be, in a confused way, like a broken glass to me, in which I
saw scraps of old remembrances, and why I should be so fluttered
and troubled (for I was still) by having casually met her eyes, I could
not think.


I felt it to be an unmeaning weakness in me and tried to overcome it
by attending to the words I heard. Then, very strangely, I seemed to
hear them, not in the reader's voice, but in the well-remembered voice
of my godmother. This made me think, did Lady Dedlock's face
accidentally resemble my godmother's? It might be that it did, a little;
but the expression was so different, and
the stern decision which had
worn into my godmother's face, like weather into rocks, was so
completely wanting in the face before me that it could not be that
resemblance which had struck me. Neither did I know the loftiness
and haughtiness of Lady Dedlock's face, at all, in any one. And yet I--
I, little Esther Summerson, the child who lived a life apart and on
whose birthday there was no rejoicing--seemed to arise before my own
eyes, evoked out of the past by some power in this fashionable lady,

whom I not only entertained no fancy that I had ever seen, but whom I
perfectly well knew I had never seen until that hour.

It made me tremble so to be thrown into this unaccountable agitation
that I was conscious of being distressed even by the observation of the
French maid, though I knew she had been looking watchfully here,
and there, and everywhere, from the moment of her coming into the
church. By degrees, though very slowly, I at last overcame my strange
emotion. After a long time, I looked towards Lady Dedlock again. It
was while they were preparing to sing, before the sermon. She took no
heed of me, and the beating at my heart was gone. Neither did it revive
for more than a few moments when she once or twice afterwards
glanced at Ada or at me through her glass.


The service being concluded, Sir Leicester gave his arm with much
taste and gallantry to Lady Dedlock--though he was obliged to walk by
the help of a thick stick--and escorted her out of church to the pony
carriage in which they had come. The servants then dispersed, and so
did the congregation, whom Sir Leicester had contemplated all along
(Mr Skimpole said to Mr Boythorn's infinite delight) as if he were a
considerable landed proprietor in heaven.


eHe believes he is!' said Mr Boythorn. eHe firmly believes it. So did
his father, and his grandfather, and his great-grandfather!'

eDo you know,' pursued Mr Skimpole very unexpectedly to Mr
Boythorn, eit's agreeable to me to see a man of that sort.'

eIs it!' said Mr Boythorn.

eSay that he wants to patronize me,' pursued Mr Skimpole. eVery well!
I don't object.'

eI do,' said Mr Boythorn with great vigour.

eDo you really?' returned Mr Skimpole in his easy light vein. eBut
that's taking trouble, surely. And why should you take trouble?
Here
am I, content to receive things childishly as they fall out, and I never
take trouble! I come down here, for instance, and I find a mighty
potentate exacting homage. Very well! I say 'Mighty potentate, here IS
my homage! It's easier to give it than to withhold it. Here it is. If you
have anything of an agreeable nature to show me, I shall be happy to
see it; if you have anything of an agreeable nature to give me, I shall
be happy to accept it.' Mighty potentate replies in effect, 'This is a
sensible fellow. I find him accord with my digestion and my bilious
system. He doesn't impose upon me the necessity of rolling myself up
like a hedgehog with my points outward. I expand, I open, I turn my
silver lining outward like Milton's cloud
, and it's more agreeable to
both of us.' That's my view of such things, speaking as a child!'

eBut suppose you went down somewhere else tomorrow,' said Mr
Boythorn, ewhere there was the opposite of that fellow--or of this
fellow. How then?'

eHow then?' said Mr Skimpole with an appearance of the utmost sim-
plicity and candour. eJust the same then! I should say, 'My esteemed
Boythorn'--to make you the personification of our imaginary friend--
'my esteemed Boythorn, you object to the mighty potentate? Very
good. So do I. I take it that my business in the social system is to
be agreeable; I take it that everybody's business in the social system is
to be agreeable. It's a system of harmony, in short. Therefore if you
object, I object. Now, excellent Boythorn, let us go to dinner!'e

eBut excellent Boythorn might say,' returned our host,
swelling and
growing very red
, eI'll be--'

eI understand,' said Mr Skimpole. eVery likely he would.'


e--if I will go to dinner!' cried Mr Boythorn in a violent burst and
stopping to strike his stick upon the ground. eAnd he would probably
add, 'Is there such a thing as principle, Mr Harold Skimpole?'e

eTo which Harold Skimpole would reply, you know,' he returned in his
gayest manner and with his most ingenuous smile, e'Upon my life I
have not the least idea! I don't know what it is you call by that name,
or where it is, or who possesses it. If you possess it and find it
comfortable, I am quite delighted and congratulate you heartily. But I
know nothing about it, I assure you; for I am a mere child, and I lay
no claim to it, and I don't want it!'
So, you see, excellent Boythorn and
I would go to dinner after all!'

This was one of many little dialogues between them which I always
expected to end, and which I dare say would have ended under other
circumstances, in some violent explosion on the part of our host. But
he had so high a sense of his hospitable and responsible position as
our entertainer, and
my guardian laughed so sincerely at and with Mr
Skimpole, as a child who blew bubbles and broke them all day long,
that matters never went beyond this point. Mr Skimpole, who always
seemed quite unconscious of having been on delicate ground, then
betook himself to beginning some sketch in the park which he never
finished, or to playing fragments of airs on the piano, or to singing
scraps of songs, or to lying down on his back under a tree and looking
at the sky
--which he couldn't help thinking, he said, was what he was
meant for; it suited him so exactly.


eEnterprise and effort,' he would say to us (on his back), eare delightful
to me. I believe I am truly cosmopolitan. I have the deepest sympathy
with them. I lie in a shady place like this and think of adventurous
spirits going to the North Pole or penetrating to the heart of the Torrid
Zone with admiration. Mercenary creatures ask, 'What is the use of a
man's going to the North Pole? What good does it do?' I can't say; but,
for anything I CAN say, he may go for the purpose--though he don't
know it--of employing my thoughts as I lie here. Take an extreme case.
Take the case of the slaves on American plantations. I dare say they
are worked hard, I dare say they don't altogether like it. I dare say
theirs is an unpleasant experience on the whole; but they people the
landscape for me, they give it a poetry for me, and perhaps that is one
of the pleasanter objects of their existence.
I am very sensible of it, if it
be, and I shouldn't wonder if it were!'

I always wondered on these occasions whether he ever thought of Mrs
Skimpole and the children, and in what point of view they presented
themselves to his cosmopolitan mind. So far as I could understand,
they rarely presented themselves at all.

The week had gone round to the Saturday following that beating of my
heart in the church; and every day had been so bright and blue that
to ramble in the woods, and to see the light striking down among the
transparent leaves and sparkling in the beautiful interlacings of the
shadows of the trees, while the birds poured out their songs and the
air was drowsy with the hum of insects, had been most delightful. We
had one favourite spot, deep in moss and last year's leaves, where
there were some felled trees from which the bark was all stripped off.
Seated among these, we looked through a green vista supported by
thousands of natural columns, the whitened stems of trees, upon a
distant prospect made so radiant by its contrast with the shade in
which we sat and made so precious by the arched perspective through
which we saw it that it was like a glimpse of the better land.
Upon the
Saturday we sat here, Mr Jarndyce, Ada, and I, until we heard thunder
muttering in the distance and felt the large raindrops rattle through
the leaves.

The weather had been all the week extremely sultry, but the storm
broke so suddenly--upon us, at least, in that sheltered spot--that
before we reached the outskirts of the wood the thunder and lightning
were frequent and the rain came plunging through the leaves as if
every drop were a great leaden bead.
As it was not a time for standing
among trees, we ran out of the wood, and up and down the mossgrown
steps which crossed the plantation-fence like two broad-staved
ladders placed back to back, and made for a keeper's lodge which was
close at hand. We had often noticed
the dark beauty of this lodge
standing in a deep twilight of trees, and how the ivy clustered over it,
and how there was a steep hollow near, where we had once seen the
keeper's dog dive down into the fern as if it were water.


The lodge was so dark within, now the sky was overcast, that we only
clearly saw the man who came to the door when we took shelter there
and put two chairs for Ada and me. The lattice-windows were all
thrown open, and we sat just within the doorway watching the storm.

It was grand to see how the wind awoke, and bent the trees, and drove
the rain before it like a cloud of smoke; and to hear the solemn
thunder and to see the lightning; and while thinking with awe of the
tremendous powers by which our little lives are encompassed, to
consider how beneficent they are and how upon the smallest flower
and leaf there was already a freshness poured from all this seeming
rage which seemed to make creation new again.


eIs it not dangerous to sit in so exposed a place?'

eOh, no, Esther dear!' said Ada quietly.

Ada said it to me, but I had not spoken.

The beating of my heart came back again. I had never heard the voice,
as I had never seen the face, but it affected me in the same strange
way. Again, in a moment, there arose before my mind innumerable
pictures of myself.

Lady Dedlock had taken shelter in the lodge before our arrival there
and had come out of the gloom within. She stood behind my chair
with her hand upon it. I saw her with her hand close to my shoulder
when I turned my head.

eI have frightened you?' she said.

No. It was not fright. Why should I be frightened!


eI believe,' said Lady Dedlock to my guardian, eI have the pleasure of
speaking to Mr Jarndyce.'

eYour remembrance does me more honour than I had supposed it
would, Lady Dedlock,' he returned.

eI recognized you in church on Sunday. I am sorry that any local
disputes of Sir Leicester's--they are not of his seeking, however, I
believe--should render it a matter of some absurd difficulty to show
you any attention here.'

eI am aware of the circumstances,' returned my guardian with a smile,
eand am sufficiently obliged.'

She had given him her hand in an indifferent way that seemed
habitual to her and spoke in a correspondingly indifferent manner,
though in a very pleasant voice. She was as graceful as she was
beautiful, perfectly self-possessed, and had the air, I thought, of being
able to attract and interest any one if she had thought it worth her
while.
The keeper had brought her a chair on which she sat in the
middle of the porch between us.

eIs the young gentleman disposed of whom you wrote to Sir Leicester
about and whose wishes Sir Leicester was sorry not to have it in his
power to advance in any way?' she said over her shoulder to my
guardian.

eI hope so,' said he.

She seemed to respect him and even to wish to conciliate him. There
was something very winning in her haughty manner, and it became
more familiar--I was going to say more easy, but that could hardly be-
-as she spoke to him over her shoulder.

eI presume this is your other ward, Miss Clare?'

He presented Ada, in form.

eYou will lose the disinterested part of your Don Quixote character,'
said Lady Dedlock to Mr Jarndyce over her shoulder again, eif you only
redress the wrongs of beauty like this.
But present me,' and she
turned full upon me, eto this young lady too!'


eMiss Summerson really is my ward,' said Mr Jarndyce. eI am
responsible to no Lord Chancellor in her case.'

eHas Miss Summerson lost both her parents?' said my Lady.

eYes.'

eShe is very fortunate in her guardian.'

Lady Dedlock looked at me, and I looked at her and said I was indeed.
All at once she turned from me with a hasty air, almost expressive of
displeasure or dislike, and spoke to him over her shoulder again.


eAges have passed since we were in the habit of meeting, Mr Jarndyce.'

eA long time. At least I thought it was a long time, until I saw you last
Sunday,' he returned.

eWhat! Even you are a courtier, or think it necessary to become one to
me!' she said with some disdain. eI have achieved that reputation, I
suppose.'

eYou have achieved so much, Lady Dedlock,' said my guardian, ethat
you pay some little penalty, I dare say. But none to me.'


eSo much!' she repeated, slightly laughing. eYes!'

With her air of superiority, and power, and fascination, and I know
not what, she seemed to regard Ada and me as little more than
children. So, as she slightly laughed and afterwards sat looking at the
rain, she was as self-possessed and as free to occupy herself with her
own thoughts as if she had been alone.


eI think you knew my sister when we were abroad together better than
you know me?' she said, looking at him again.

eYes, we happened to meet oftener,' he returned.

eWe went our several ways,' said Lady Dedlock, eand had little in
common even before we agreed to differ. It is to be regretted, I
suppose, but it could not be helped.'

Lady Dedlock again sat looking at the rain. The storm soon began to
pass upon its way. The shower greatly abated, the lightning ceased,
the thunder rolled among the distant hills, and the sun began to
glisten on the wet leaves and the falling rain. As we sat there, silently,
we saw
a little pony phaeton coming towards us at a merry pace.

eThe messenger is coming back, my Lady,' said the keeper, ewith the
carriage.'

As it drove up, we saw that there were two people inside. There
alighted from it, with some cloaks and wrappers, first the French-
woman whom I had seen in church, and secondly the pretty
girl, the Frenchwoman with a defiant confidence, the pretty girl
confused and hesitating.

eWhat now?' said Lady Dedlock. eTwo!'

eI am your maid, my Lady, at the present,' said the Frenchwoman.
eThe message was for the attendant.'

eI was afraid you might mean me, my Lady,' said the pretty girl.

eI did mean you, child,' replied her mistress calmly. ePut that shawl on
me.'

She slightly stooped her shoulders to receive it, and
the pretty girl
lightly dropped it in its place. The Frenchwoman stood unnoticed,
looking on with her lips very tightly set.


eI am sorry,' said Lady Dedlock to Mr Jarndyce, ethat we are not likely
to renew our former acquaintance. You will allow me to send the
carriage back for your two wards. It shall be here directly.'

But as he would on no account accept this offer, she took a graceful
leave of Ada--none of me--and put her hand upon his proffered arm,
and got into the carriage, which was a little, low, park carriage with a
hood.

eCome in, child,' she said to the pretty girl; eI shall want you. Go on!'
The carriage rolled away, and the Frenchwoman, with the wrappers
she had brought hanging over her arm, remained standing where she
had alighted.


I suppose there is nothing pride can so little bear with as pride itself,
and that she was punished for her imperious manner. Her retaliation
was the most singular I could have imagined.
She remained perfectly
still until the carriage had turned into the drive, and then, without the
least discomposure of countenance,
slipped off her shoes, left them on
the ground, and walked deliberately in the same direction through the
wettest of the wet grass.


eIs that young woman mad?' said my guardian.

eOh, no, sir!' said the keeper, who, with his wife, was looking after her.
eHortense is not one of that sort. She has as good a head-piece as the
best.
But she's mortal high and passionate--powerful high and
passionate;
and what with having notice to leave, and having others
put above her, she don't take kindly to it.'

eBut why should she walk shoeless through all that water?' said my
guardian.


eWhy, indeed, sir, unless it is to cool her down!' said the man.

eOr unless she fancies it's blood,' said the woman. eShe'd as soon walk
through that as anything else, I think, when her own's up!'


We passed not far from the house a few minutes afterwards. Peaceful
as it had looked when we first saw it, it looked even more so now, with
a diamond spray glittering all about it, a light wind blowing, the birds
no longer hushed but singing strongly, everything refreshed by the
late rain, and the little carriage shining at the doorway like a fairy
carriage made of silver. Still, very steadfastly and quietly walking
towards it, a peaceful figure too in the landscape, went Mademoiselle
Hortense, shoeless, through the wet grass.




Chapter XIX--Moving On



It is the long vacation in the regions of Chancery Lane. The good ships
Law and Equity, those teak-built, copper-bottomed, iron-fastened,
brazen-faced, and not by any means fast-sailing clippers are laid up
in ordinary. The Flying Dutchman, with a crew of ghostly clients im-
ploring all whom they may encounter to peruse their papers, has drift-
ed
, for the time being, heaven knows where. The courts are all shut
up;
the public offices lie in a hot sleep. Westminster Hall itself is
a shady solitude where nightingales might sing, and a tenderer class
of suitors than is usually found there, walk.


The Temple, Chancery Lane, Serjeants' Inn, and Lincoln's Inn even
unto the Fields are like
tidal harbours at low water, where stranded
proceedings, offices at anchor, idle clerks lounging on lop-sided stools
that will not recover their perpendicular until the current of Term sets
in, lie high and dry upon the ooze of the long vacation.
Outer doors of
chambers are shut up by the score, messages and parcels are to be
left at the Porter's Lodge by the bushel. A crop of grass would grow in
the chinks of the stone pavement outside Lincoln's Inn Hall, but that
the ticket-porters, who have nothing to do beyond sitting in the shade
there, with their white aprons over their heads to keep the flies off,
grub it up and eat it thoughtfully.


There is only one judge in town. Even he only comes twice a week to
sit in chambers. If the country folks of those assize towns on his
circuit could see him now!
No full-bottomed wig, no red petticoats, no
fur, no javelin-men, no white wands. Merely a close-shaved gentleman
in white trousers and a white hat, with sea-bronze on the judicial
countenance, and a strip of bark peeled by the solar rays from the
judicial nose, who calls in at the shell-fish shop as he comes along
and drinks iced ginger-beer!

The bar of England is scattered over the face of the earth. How
England can get on through four long summer months without its bar
--which is its acknowledged refuge in adversity and its only legitimate
triumph in prosperity--is beside the question; assuredly that shield
and buckler of Britannia are not in present wear. The learned gen-
tleman who is always so tremendously indignant at the unprece-
dented outrage committed on the feelings of his client by the
opposite party that he never seems likely to recover it is doing
infinitely better than might be expected in Switzerland.
The learned
gentleman who does the withering business and who blights all
opponents with his gloomy sarcasm is as merry as a grig at a French
watering-place. The learned gentleman who weeps by the pint on the
smallest provocation has not shed a tear these six weeks. The very
learned gentleman who has cooled the natural heat of his gingery
complexion in pools and fountains of law until he has become great
in knotty arguments for term-time, when he poses the drowsy bench
with legal 'chaff,' inexplicable to the uninitiated and to most of
the initiated too, is roaming, with a characteristic delight in aridity
and dust, about Constantinople. Other dispersed fragments of the same
great palladium are to be found on the canals of Venice, at the second
cataract of the Nile, in the baths of Germany, and sprinkled on the
sea-sand all over the English coast.
Scarcely one is to be encountered
in the deserted region of Chancery Lane. If such a lonely member of
the bar do flit across the waste and come upon a prowling suitor who
is unable to leave off haunting the scenes of his anxiety, they frigh-
ten one another and retreat into opposite shades.


It is the hottest long vacation known for many years. All the young
clerks are madly in love, and according to their various degrees, pine
for bliss with the beloved object, at Margate, Ramsgate, or Gravesend.
All the middle-aged clerks think their families too large.
All the
unowned dogs who stray into the Inns of Court and pant about stair-
cases and other dry places seeking water give short howls of aggra-
vation. All the blind men's dogs in the streets draw their masters
against pumps or trip them over buckets.
A shop with a sun-blind,
and a watered pavement, and a bowl of gold and silver fish in the
window, is a sanctuary. Temple Bar gets so hot that it is, to the
adjacent Strand and Fleet Street, what a heater is in an urn, and
keeps them simmering all night.


There are offices about the Inns of Court in which a man might be
cool, if any coolness were worth purchasing at such a price in
dullness; but the little thoroughfares immediately outside those
retirements seem to blaze. In Mr Krook's court, it is so hot that
the people turn their houses inside out
and sit in chairs upon the
pavement--Mr Krook included, who there pursues his studies, with
his cat (who never is too hot) by his side. The Sol's Arms has
discontinued the Harmonic Meetings for the season, and Little Swills
is engaged at the Pastoral Gardens down the river, where he comes
out in quite an innocent manner and sings comic ditties of a juvenile
complexion calculated (as the bill says) not to wound the feelings of
the most fastidious mind.

Over all the legal neighbourhood there hangs, like some great veil
of rust or gigantic cobweb, the idleness and pensiveness
of the long
vacation. Mr Snagsby, law-stationer of Cook's Court, Cursitor Street,
is sensible of the influence not only in his mind as a sympathetic
and contemplative man, but also in his business as a law-stationer
aforesaid. He has more leisure for musing in Staple Inn and in the
Rolls Yard during the long vacation than at other seasons, and he
says to the two 'prentices, what a thing it is in such hot weather to
think that you live in an island with the sea a-rolling and a-bowling
right round you.


Guster is busy in the little drawing-room on this present afternoon
in the long vacation, when Mr and Mrs Snagsby have it in contempla-
tion to receive company. The expected guests are rather select than
numerous, being Mr and Mrs Chadband and no more. From Mr Chadband's
being much given to describe himself, both verbally and in writing,
as a vessel, he is occasionally mistaken by strangers for a gentle-
man connected with navigation, but he is, as he expresses it, 'in
the ministry.' Mr Chadband is attached to no particular denomination
and is considered by his persecutors to have nothing so very
remarkable to say on the greatest of subjects as to render his
volunteering, on his own account, at all incumbent on his conscience;
but he has his followers, and Mrs Snagsby is of the number.
Mrs
Snagsby has but recently taken a passage upward by the vessel,
Chadband; and her attention was attracted to that Bark A 1, when
she was something flushed by the hot weather.

'My little woman,' says Mr Snagsby to the sparrows in Staple Inn,
'likes to have her religion rather sharp, you see!'

So Guster, much impressed by regarding herself for the time as the
handmaid of Chadband, whom she knows to be endowed with the gift
of holding forth for four hours at a stretch, prepares the little
drawingroom for tea. All the furniture is shaken and dusted, the
portraits of Mr and Mrs Snagsby are touched up with a wet cloth,
the best teaservice is set forth, and
there is excellent provision
made of dainty new bread, crusty twists, cool fresh butter, thin
slices of ham, tongue, and German sausage, and delicate little
rows of anchovies nestling in parsley, not to mention new-laid
eggs, to be brought up warm in a napkin, and hot buttered toast.
For Chadband is rather a consuming vessel--the persecutors say a
gorging vessel--and can wield such weapons of the flesh as a knife
and fork remarkably well.


Mr Snagsby in his best coat, looking at all the preparations when
they are completed and coughing his cough of deference behind his
hand,
says to Mrs Snagsby, 'At what time did you expect Mr and Mrs
Chadband, my love?'


'At six,' says Mrs Snagsby.

Mr Snagsby observes in a mild and casual way that 'it's gone that.'

'Perhaps you'd like to begin without them,' is Mrs Snagsby's
reproachful remark.

Mr Snagsby does look as if he would like it very much, but he says,
with his cough of mildness, 'No, my dear, no. I merely named the
time.'

'What's time,' says Mrs Snagsby, 'to eternity?'

'Very true, my dear,' says Mr Snagsby. 'Only when a person lays in
victuals for tea, a person does it with a view--perhaps--more to time.
And when a time is named for having tea, it's better to come up to it.'

'To come up to it!' Mrs Snagsby repeats with severity. 'Up to it! As if
Mr Chadband was a fighter!'


'Not at all, my dear,' says Mr Snagsby.

Here, Guster, who had been looking out of the bedroom window,
comes rustling and scratching down the little staircase like a popular
ghost, and falling flushed into the drawing-room,
announces that Mr
and Mrs Chadband have appeared in the court. The bell at the inner
door in the passage immediately thereafter tinkling, she is
admonished by Mrs Snagsby, on pain of instant reconsignment to her
patron saint, not to omit the ceremony of announcement. Much
discomposed in her nerves (which were previously in the best order)
by this threat,
she so fearfully mutilates that point of state as to
announce 'Mr and Mrs Cheeseming, least which, Imeantersay,
whatsername!' and retires conscience-stricken from the presence.

Mr Chadband is a large yellow man with a fat smile and a general
appearance of having a good deal of train oil in his system. Mrs
Chadband is a stern, severe-looking, silent woman. Mr Chadband
moves softly and cumbrously, not unlike a bear who has been taught
to walk upright. He is very much embarrassed about the arms, as if
they were inconvenient to him and he wanted to grovel,
is very much
in a perspiration about the head, and never speaks without first
putting up his great hand, as delivering a token to his hearers that
he is going to edify them.


'My friends,' says Mr Chadband, 'peace be on this house! On the
master thereof, on the mistress thereof, on the young maidens, and on
the young men! My friends, why do I wish for peace? What is peace? Is
it war? No. Is it strife? No. Is it lovely, and gentle, and beautiful,
and pleasant, and serene, and joyful? Oh, yes! Therefore, my friends,
I wish for peace, upon you and upon yours.'

In consequence of Mrs Snagsby looking deeply edified, Mr Snagsby
thinks it expedient on the whole to say amen,
which is well received.

'Now, my friends,' proceeds Mr Chadband, 'since I am upon this
theme--'

Guster presents herself.
Mrs Snagsby, in a spectral bass voice and
without removing her eyes from Chadband, says with dreadful
distinctness, 'Go away!'


'Now, my friends,' says Chadband, 'since I am upon this theme, and in
my lowly path improving it--'

Guster is heard unaccountably to murmur 'one thousing seven
hundred and eighty-two.' The spectral voice repeats more solemnly,
'Go away!'


'Now, my friends,' says Mr Chadband, 'we will inquire in a spirit of
love--'

Still Guster reiterates 'one thousing seven hundred and eighty-two.'

Mr Chadband, pausing with the resignation of a man accustomed to
be persecuted and languidly folding up his chin into his fat smile,
says, 'Let us hear the maiden! Speak, maiden!'

'One thousing seven hundred and eighty-two, if you please, sir. Which
he wish to know what the shilling ware for,' says Guster, breathless.

'For?' returns Mrs Chadband. 'For his fare!'

Guster replied that 'he insistes on one and eightpence or on
summonsizzing the party.' Mrs Snagsby and Mrs Chadband are
proceeding to grow shrill in indignation when Mr Chadband quiets the
tumult by lifting up his hand.

'My friends,' says he, 'I remember a duty unfulfilled yesterday. It is
right that I should be chastened in some penalty. I ought not to
murmur. Rachael, pay the eightpence!'

While Mrs Snagsby, drawing her breath, looks hard at Mr Snagsby, as
who should say, 'You hear this apostle!' and
while Mr Chadband glows
with humility and train oil, Mrs Chadband pays the money. It is Mr
Chadband's habit--it is the head and front of his pretensions indeed--
to keep this sort of debtor and creditor account in the smallest items
and to post it publicly on the most trivial occasions.


'My friends,' says Chadband, 'eightpence is not much; it might justly
have been one and fourpence; it might justly have been half a crown.

O let us be joyful, joyful! O let us be joyful!'

With which remark, which appears from its sound to be an extract in
verse, Mr Chadband stalks to the table, and before taking a chair, lifts
up his admonitory hand.


'My friends,' says he, 'what is this which we now behold as being
spread before us? Refreshment. Do we need refreshment then, my
friends? We do. And why do we need refreshment, my friends?
Because we are but mortal, because we are but sinful, because we are
but of the earth, because we are not of the air. Can we fly, my friends?
We cannot. Why can we not fly, my friends?'


Mr Snagsby, presuming on the success of his last point, ventures to
observe in a cheerful and rather knowing tone,
'No wings.' But is
immediately frowned down by Mrs Snagsby.


'I say, my friends,' pursues Mr Chadband, utterly rejecting and
obliterating Mr Snagsby's suggestion, 'why can we not fly? Is it
because we are calculated to walk? It is. Could we walk, my friends,
without strength? We could not. What should we do without strength,
my friends? Our legs would refuse to bear us, our knees would double
up, our ankles would turn over, and we should come to the ground.

Then from whence, my friends, in a human point of view, do we derive
the strength that is necessary to our limbs? Is it,' says Chadband,
glancing over the table, 'from bread in various forms, from butter
which is churned from the milk which is yielded unto us by the cow,
from the eggs which are laid by the fowl, from ham, from tongue, from
sausage, and from such like? It is. Then let us partake of the good
things which are set before us!'

The persecutors denied that there was any particular gift in Mr
Chadband's piling verbose flights of stairs, one upon another
, after
this fashion. But this can only be received as a proof of their
determination to persecute, since it must be within everybody's
experience that the Chadband style of oratory is widely received and
much admired.

Mr Chadband, however, having concluded for the present, sits down
at Mr Snagsby's table and lays about him prodigiously.
The conversion
of nutriment of any sort into oil of the quality already mentioned a-
ppears to be a process so inseparable from the constitution of this
exemplary vessel that in beginning to eat and drink, he may be de-
scribed as always becoming a kind of considerable oil mills or other
large factory for the production of that article on a wholesale scale.

On the present evening of the long vacation, in Cook's Court, Cur-
sitor Street, he does such a powerful stroke of business that the
warehouse appears to be quite full when the works cease.


At this period of the entertainment, Guster, who has never recovered
her first failure, but has neglected no possible or impossible means of
bringing the establishment and herself into contempt--among which
may be briefly enumerated her unexpectedly performing clashing
military music on Mr Chadband's head with plates, and afterwards
crowning that gentleman with muffins
--at which period of the
entertainment, Guster whispers Mr Snagsby that he is wanted.

'And being wanted in the--not to put too fine a point upon it--in
the shop,' says Mr Snagsby, rising, 'perhaps this good company will
excuse me for half a minute.'

Mr Snagsby descends and finds the two 'prentices intently contem-
plating a police constable, who holds a ragged boy by the arm.

'Why, bless my heart,' says Mr Snagsby, 'what's the matter!'

'This boy,' says the constable, 'although he's repeatedly told to, won't
move on--'

'I'm always a-moving on, sar,' cries the boy, wiping away his grimy
tears with his arm. 'I've always been a-moving and a-moving on, ever
since I was born. Where can I possibly move to, sir, more nor I do
move!
'

'He won't move on,' says the constable calmly, with a slight profess-
ional hitch of his neck involving its better settlement in his stiff
stock, 'although he has been repeatedly cautioned, and therefore I am
obliged to take him into custody. He's as obstinate a young gonoph as
I know. He won't move on.'

'Oh, my eye! Where can I move to!' cries the boy, clutching quite
desperately at his hair and beating his bare feet upon the floor
of Mr
Snagsby's passage.

'Don't you come none of that or I shall make blessed short work of
you!' says the constable, giving him a passionless shake. 'My in-
structions are that you are to move on. I have told you so five
hundred times.'

'But where?' cries the boy.


'Well! Really, constable, you know,' says Mr Snagsby wistfully, and
coughing behind his hand his cough of great perplexity and doubt,
'really, that does seem a question. Where, you know?'

'My instructions don't go to that,' replies the constable. 'My
instructions are that this boy is to move on.'


Do you hear, Jo? It is nothing to you or to any one else that the great
lights of the parliamentary sky have failed for some few years in this
business to set you the example of moving on. The one grand recipe
remains for you--the profound philosophical prescription--the be-all
and the end-all of your strange existence upon earth. Move on!
You
are by no means to move off, Jo, for the great lights can't at all agree
about that. Move on!

Mr Snagsby says nothing to this effect, says nothing at all indeed, but
coughs his forlornest cough, expressive of no thoroughfare in any
direction.
By this time Mr and Mrs Chadband and Mrs Snagsby,
hearing the altercation, have appeared upon the stairs. Guster having
never left the end of the passage, the whole household are assembled.


eThe simple question is, sir,' says the constable, ewhether you know
this boy. He says you do.'

Mrs Snagsby, from her elevation, instantly cries out, eNo he don't!'

eMy lit-tle woman!' says Mr Snagsby, looking up the staircase. eMy
love, permit me! Pray have a moment's patience, my dear. I do know
something of this lad, and in what I know of him, I can't say that
there's any harm; perhaps on the contrary, constable.' To whom the
law-stationer
relates his Joful and woeful experience, suppressing the
half-crown fact.


eWell!' says the constable, eso far, it seems, he had grounds for what
he said. When I took him into custody up in Holborn, he said you
knew him. Upon that, a young man who was in the crowd said he was
acquainted with you, and you were a respectable housekeeper, and if
I'd call and make the inquiry, he'd appear.
The young man don't seem
inclined to keep his word, but--Oh! Here is the young man!'

Enter Mr Guppy, who nods to Mr Snagsby and touches his hat with
the chivalry of clerkship to the ladies on the stairs.

eI was strolling away from the office just now when I found this row
going on,' says Mr Guppy to the law-stationer, eand as your name was
mentioned, I thought it was right the thing should be looked into.'

eIt was very good-natured of you, sir,' says Mr Snagsby, eand I am
obliged to you.' And Mr Snagsby again relates his experience, again
suppressing the half-crown fact.

eNow, I know where you live,' says the constable, then, to Jo. eYou live
down in Tom-all-Alone's. That's a nice innocent place to live in, ain't
it?'

eI can't go and live in no nicer place, sir,' replies Jo. eThey wouldn't
have nothink to say to me if I wos to go to a nice innocent place fur to
live. Who ud go and let a nice innocent lodging to such a reg'lar one as
me!'


eYou are very poor, ain't you?' says the constable.

eYes, I am indeed, sir, wery poor in gin'ral,' replies Jo.


eI leave you to judge now! I shook these two half-crowns out of him,'
says the constable, producing them to the company, ein only putting
my hand upon him!'

eThey're wot's left, Mr Snagsby,' says Jo, eout of a sov-ring as wos give
me by a lady in a wale as sed she wos a servant and as come to my
crossin one night and asked to be showd this 'ere ouse and the ouse
wot him as you giv the writin to died at, and the berrin-ground wot
he's berrid in. She ses to me she ses 'are you the boy at the inkwhich?'
she ses. I ses 'yes' I ses. She ses to me she ses 'can you show me all
them places?' I ses 'yes I can' I ses. And she ses to me 'do it' and I dun
it and she giv me a sov'ring and hooked it. And I an't had much of the
sov'ring neither,' says Jo, with dirty tears, efur I had to pay five bob,
down in Tom-all-Alone's, afore they'd square it fur to give me change,
and then a young man he thieved another five while I was asleep and
another boy he thieved ninepence and the landlord he stood drains
round with a lot more on it.'

eYou don't expect anybody to believe this, about the lady and the
sovereign, do you?' says the constable, eyeing him aside with ineffable
disdain.

eI don't know as I do, sir,' replies Jo. eI don't expect nothink at all, sir,
much, but that's the true hist'ry on it.'


eYou see what he is!' the constable observes to the audience. eWell, Mr
Snagsby, if I don't lock him up this time, will you engage for his moving
on?'

eNo!' cries Mrs Snagsby from the stairs.

eMy little woman!' pleads her husband. eConstable, I have no doubt
he'll move on. You know you really must do it,' says Mr Snagsby.

eI'm everyways agreeable, sir,' says the hapless Jo.

eDo it, then,' observes the constable. eYou know what you have got to
do. Do it! And recollect you won't get off so easy next time. Catch hold
of your money. Now, the sooner you're five mile off, the better for all
parties.'


With this farewell hint and pointing generally to the setting sun as a
likely place to move on to, the constable bids his auditors good
afternoon and makes the echoes of Cook's Court perform slow music
for him as he walks away on the shady side, carrying his iron-bound
hat in his hand for a little ventilation.


Now, Jo's improbable story concerning the lady and the sovereign has
awakened more or less the curiosity of all the company. Mr Guppy,
who has an inquiring mind in matters of evidence and who has been
suffering severely from the lassitude of the long vacation, takes that
interest in the case that he enters on a regular cross-examination of
the witness, which is found so interesting by the ladies that Mrs
Snagsby politely invites him to step upstairs and drink a cup of tea, if
he will excuse the disarranged state of the tea-table, consequent on
their previous exertions. Mr Guppy yielding his assent to this
proposal, Jo is requested to follow into the drawing-room doorway,
where
Mr Guppy takes him in hand as a witness, patting him into this
shape, that shape, and the other shape like a butterman dealing with
so much butter, and worrying him according to the best models. Nor
is the examination unlike many such model displays, both in respect
of its eliciting nothing and of its being lengthy
, for Mr Guppy is
sensible of his talent, and Mrs Snagsby feels not only that it gratifies
her inquisitive disposition, but that it lifts her husband's
establishment higher up in the law. During the progress of this keen
encounter, the vessel Chadband, being merely engaged in the oil
trade, gets aground and waits to be floated off.

eWell!' says Mr Guppy. eEither this boy sticks to it like cobbler's-wax
or there is something out of the common here that beats anything that
ever came into my way at Kenge and Carboy's.'

Mrs Chadband whispers Mrs Snagsby, who exclaims, eYou don't say
so!'

eFor years!' replied Mrs Chadband.

eHas known Kenge and Carboy's office for years,' Mrs Snagsby
triumphantly explains to Mr Guppy. eMrs Chadband--this gentleman's
wife--Reverend Mr Chadband.'

eOh, indeed!' says Mr Guppy.

eBefore I married my present husband,' says Mrs Chadband.

eWas you a party in anything, ma'am?' says Mr Guppy, transferring
his cross-examination.

eNo.'

eNot a party in anything, ma'am?' says Mr Guppy. Mrs Chadband shakes
her head.

ePerhaps you were acquainted with somebody who was a party in
something, ma'am?' says Mr Guppy, who likes nothing better than to
model his conversation on forensic principles.

eNot exactly that, either,' replies Mrs Chadband, humouring the joke
with a hard-favoured smile.


eNot exactly that, either!' repeats Mr Guppy. eVery good. Pray, ma'am,
was it a lady of your acquaintance who had some transactions (we will
not at present say what transactions) with Kenge and Carboy's office,
or was it a gentleman of your acquaintance? Take time, ma'am. We
shall come to it presently. Man or woman, ma'am?'


eNeither,' says Mrs Chadband as before.

eOh! A child!' says Mr Guppy, throwing on the admiring Mrs Snagsby
the regular acute professional eye which is thrown on British jurymen.
eNow, ma'am, perhaps you'll have the kindness to tell us what child.'

eYou have got it at last, sir,' says Mrs Chadband with another hard-
favoured smile. eWell, sir, it was before your time, most likely, judging
from your appearance. I was left in charge of a child named Esther
Summerson, who was put out in life by Messrs. Kenge and Carboy.'

eMiss Summerson, ma'am!' cries Mr Guppy, excited.

eI call her Esther Summerson,' says Mrs Chadband with austerity.
eThere was no Miss-ing of the girl in my time. It was Esther. 'Esther,
do this! Esther, do that!' and she was made to do it.'


eMy dear ma'am,' returns Mr Guppy, moving across the small
apartment, ethe humble individual who now addresses you received
that young lady in London when she first came here from the
establishment to which you have alluded. Allow me to have the
pleasure of taking you by the hand.'

Mr Chadband, at last seeing his opportunity, makes his accustomed
signal and rises with a smoking head, which he dabs with his pocket-
handkerchief. Mrs Snagsby whispers eHush!'

eMy friends,' says Chadband, ewe have partaken in moderation' (which
was certainly not the case so far as he was concerned) eof the comforts
which have been provided for us.
May this house live upon the fatness
of the land; may corn and wine be plentiful therein; may it grow, may
it thrive, may it prosper, may it advance, may it proceed, may it press
forward!
But, my friends, have we partaken of anything else? We have.
My friends, of what else have we partaken? Of spiritual profit? Yes.
From whence have we derived that spiritual profit? My young friend,
stand forth!'

Jo, thus apostrophized, gives a slouch backward, and another slouch
forward, and another slouch to each side, and confronts the eloquent
Chadband with evident doubts of his intentions.

eMy young friend,' says Chadband, eyou are to us a pearl, you are to us
a diamond, you are to us a gem, you are to us a jewel. And why, my
young friend?'

eI don't know,' replies Jo. eI don't know nothink.'

eMy young friend,' says Chadband, eit is because you know nothing
that you are to us a gem and jewel. For what are you, my young
friend? Are you a beast of the field? No. A bird of the air? No. A fish of
the sea or river? No. You are a human boy, my young friend. A human
boy. O glorious to be a human boy! And why glorious, my young
friend? Because you are capable of receiving the lessons of wisdom,
because you are capable of profiting by this discourse which I now
deliver for your good, because you are not a stick, or a staff, or a
stock, or a stone, or a post, or a pillar.

@@@@@@@@@@O running stream of sparkling joy
@@@@@@@@@@To be a soaring human boy!

eAnd do you cool yourself in that stream now, my young friend? No.
Why do you not cool yourself in that stream now? Because you are in
a state of darkness, because you are in a state of obscurity, because
you are in a state of sinfulness, because you are in a state of bondage.
My young friend, what is bondage? Let us, in a spirit of love, inquire.'

At this threatening stage of the discourse, Jo, who seems to have been
gradually going out of his mind, smears his right arm over his face
and gives a terrible yawn. Mrs Snagsby indignantly expresses her
belief that he is a limb of the arch-fiend.


eMy friends,' says Mr Chadband with his persecuted chin folding itself
into its fat smile again as he looks round, eit is right that I should be
humbled, it is right that I should be tried, it is right that I should be
mortified, it is right that I should be corrected. I stumbled, on Sabbath
last, when I thought with pride of my three hours' improving. The
account is now favourably balanced: my creditor has accepted a
composition. O let us be joyful, joyful! O let us be joyful!'

Great sensation on the part of Mrs Snagsby.

eMy friends,' says Chadband, looking round him in conclusion, eI will
not proceed with my young friend now. Will you come tomorrow, my
young friend, and inquire of this good lady where I am to be found to
deliver a discourse unto you, and
will you come like the thirsty
swallow upon the next day, and upon the day after that, and upon the
day after that, and upon many pleasant days, to hear discourses?'
(This with a cow-like lightness.)


Jo, whose immediate object seems to be to get away on any terms,
gives a shuffling nod. Mr Guppy then throws him a penny, and Mrs
Snagsby calls to Guster to see him safely out of the house. But before
he goes downstairs, Mr Snagsby loads him with some broken meats
from the table, which he carries away, hugging in his arms.

So, Mr Chadband--of whom the persecutors say that it is no wonder
he should go on for any length of time uttering such abominable
nonsense, but that the wonder rather is that he should ever leave off,
having once the audacity to begin--retires into private life until he
invests a little capital of supper in the oil-trade.
Jo moves on, through
the long vacation, down to Blackfriars Bridge, where he finds a baking
stony corner wherein to settle to his repast.

And there he sits, munching and gnawing, and looking up at the great
cross on the summit of St. Paul's Cathedral, glittering above a red-and-
violet-tinted cloud of smoke. From the boy's face one might suppose
that sacred emblem to be, in his eyes, the crowning confusion of the
great, confused city--so golden, so high up, so far out of his reach.
There he sits, the sun going down, the river running fast, the crowd
flowing by him in two streams--everything moving on to some purpose
and to one end--until he is stirred up and told to emove on' too.




Chapter XX--A New Lodger



The long vacation saunters on towards term-time like an idle river
very leisurely strolling down a flat country to the sea. Mr Guppy
saunters along with it congenially. He has blunted the blade of his
penknife and broken the point off by sticking that instrument into his
desk in every direction. Not that he bears the desk any ill will, but he
must do something, and it must be something of an unexciting
nature, which will lay neither his physical nor his intellectual energies
under too heavy contribution. He finds that nothing agrees with him
so well as to make little gyrations on one leg of his stool, and stab his
desk, and gape.


Kenge and Carboy are out of town, and the articled clerk has taken
out a shooting license and gone down to his father's, and Mr Guppy's
two fellow-stipendiaries are away on leave. Mr Guppy and Mr Richard
Carstone divide the dignity of the office. But Mr Carstone is for the
time being established in Kenge's room, whereat Mr Guppy chafes. So
exceedingly that he with biting sarcasm informs his mother, in the
confidential moments when he sups with her off a lobster and lettuce
in the Old Street Road, that he is afraid the office is hardly good
enough for swells, and that if he had known there was a swell coming,
he would have got it painted.

Mr Guppy suspects everybody who enters on the occupation of a stool
in Kenge and Carboy's office of entertaining, as a matter of course,
sinister designs upon him. He is clear that every such person wants to
depose him. If he be ever asked how, why, when, or wherefore, he
shuts up one eye and shakes his head. On the strength of these
profound views, he in the most ingenious manner takes infinite pains
to counterplot when there is no plot, and plays the deepest games of
chess without any adversary.


It is a source of much gratification to Mr Guppy, therefore, to find the
new-comer constantly poring over the papers in Jarndyce and
Jarndyce, for he well knows that nothing but confusion and failure
can come of that.
His satisfaction communicates itself to a third
saunterer through the long vacation in Kenge and Carboy's office, to
wit, Young Smallweed.

Whether Young Smallweed (metaphorically called Small and eke Chick
Weed, as it were jocularly to express a fledgling) was ever a boy is
much doubted in Lincoln's Inn. He is now something under fifteen
and an old limb of the law. He is facetiously understood to entertain a
passion for a lady at a cigar-shop
in the neighbourhood of Chancery
Lane and for her sake to have broken off a contract with another lady,
to whom he had been engaged some years. He is a town-made article,
of small stature and weazen features, but may be perceived from a
considerable distance by means of his very tall hat. To become a
Guppy is the object of his ambition. He dresses at that gentleman (by
whom he is patronized), talks at him, walks at him, founds himself
entirely on him. He is honoured with Mr Guppy's particular
confidence and occasionally advises him, from the deep wells of his
experience, on difficult points in private life.

Mr Guppy has been lolling out of window all the morning after trying
all the stools in succession and finding none of them easy, and after
several times putting his head into the iron safe with a notion of
cooling it. Mr Smallweed has been twice dispatched for effervescent
drinks, and has twice mixed them in the two official tumblers and
stirred them up with the ruler. Mr Guppy propounds for Mr Small-
weed's consideration the paradox that the more you drink the thir-
stier you are and reclines his head upon the window-sill in a state
of hopeless languor.


While thus looking out into the shade of Old Square, Lincoln's Inn,
surveying the intolerable bricks and mortar, Mr Guppy becomes
conscious of a manly whisker emerging from the cloistered walk below
and turning itself up in the direction of his face. At the same time, a
low whistle is wafted through the Inn and a suppressed voice cries,
eHip! Gup-py!'

eWhy, you don't mean it!' says Mr Guppy, aroused. eSmall! Here's
Jobling!' Small's head looks out of window too and nods to Jobling.

eWhere have you sprung up from?' inquires Mr Guppy.

eFrom the market-gardens down by Deptford. I can't stand it any
longer. I must enlist. I say! I wish you'd lend me half a crown. Upon
my soul, I'm hungry.'

Jobling looks hungry and also has the appearance of having run to
seed in the market-gardens down by Deptford.

eI say! Just throw out half a crown if you have got one to spare. I want
to get some dinner.'

eWill you come and dine with me?' says Mr Guppy, throwing out the
coin, which Mr Jobling catches neatly.


eHow long should I have to hold out?' says Jobling.

eNot half an hour. I am only waiting here till the enemy goes,' returns
Mr Guppy, butting inward with his head.

eWhat enemy?'

eA new one. Going to be articled.
Will you wait?'

eCan you give a fellow anything to read in the meantime?' says Mr
Jobling.

Smallweed suggests the law list. But Mr Jobling declares with much
earnestness that he ecan't stand it.'

eYou shall have the paper,' says Mr Guppy. eHe shall bring it down.
But you had better not be seen about here. Sit on our staircase and
read. It's a quiet place.'

Jobling nods intelligence and acquiescence. The sagacious Smallweed
supplies him with the newspaper and occasionally drops his eye upon
him from the landing as a precaution against his becoming disgusted
with waiting and making an untimely departure. At last the enemy
retreats, and then Smallweed fetches Mr Jobling up.

eWell, and how are you?' says Mr Guppy, shaking hands with him.

eSo, so. How are you?'

Mr Guppy replying that he is not much to boast of, Mr Jobling
ventures on the question, eHow is she?' This Mr Guppy resents as a
liberty, retorting,
eJobling, there are chords in the human mind--'
Jobling begs pardon.

eAny subject but that!'
says Mr Guppy with a gloomy enjoyment of his
injury. eFor there are chords, Jobling--
'

Mr Jobling begs pardon again.

During this short colloquy, the active Smallweed, who is of the dinner
party, has written in legal characters on a slip of paper, eReturn
immediately.' This notification to all whom it may concern, he inserts
in the letter-box, and then putting on the tall hat at the angle of
inclination at which Mr Guppy wears his, informs his patron that they
may now make themselves scarce.

Accordingly they betake themselves to a neighbouring dining-house, of
the class known among its frequenters by the denomination slapbang,
where the waitress, a bouncing young female of forty, is supposed to
have made some impression on the susceptible
Smallweed, of whom it
may be remarked that he is a weird changeling to whom years are no-
thing. He stands precociously possessed of centuries of owlish wis-
dom. If he ever lay in a cradle, it seems as if he must have lain there
in a tail-coat. He has an old, old eye, has Smallweed; and he drinks
and smokes in a monkeyish way; and his neck is stiff in his collar;
and he is never to be taken in; and he knows all about it, whatever
it is. In short, in his bringing up he has been so nursed by Law and
Equity that he has become a kind of fossil imp, to account for whose
terrestrial existence it is reported at the public offices that his father
was John Doe and his mother the only female member of the Roe
family,
also that his first long-clothes were made from a blue bag.

Into the dining-house, unaffected by the seductive show in the window
of artificially whitened cauliflowers and poultry, verdant baskets of
peas, coolly blooming cucumbers, and joints ready for the spit,
Mr
Smallweed leads the way. They know him there and defer to him. He
has his favourite box, he bespeaks all the papers, he is down upon
bald patriarchs, who keep them more than ten minutes afterwards.
It
is of no use trying him with anything less than a full-sized ebread' or
proposing to him any joint in cut unless it is in the very best cut. In
the matter of gravy he is adamant.

Conscious of his elfin power and submitting to his dread experience,

Mr Guppy consults him in the choice of that day's banquet, turning
an appealing look towards him as the waitress repeats the catalogue
of viands and saying eWhat do you take, Chick?'
Chick, out of the
profundity of his artfulness, preferring eveal and ham and French
beans--and don't you forget the stuffing, Polly' (with an unearthly cock
of his venerable eye),
Mr Guppy and Mr Jobling give the like order.
Three pint pots of half-and-half are superadded. Quickly the waitress
returns bearing what is apparently a model of the Tower of Babel but
what is really a pile of plates and flat tin dish-covers. Mr Smallweed,
approving of what is set before him, conveys intelligent benignity into
his ancient eye and winks upon her. Then, amid a constant coming in,
and going out, and running about, and a clatter of crockery, and a
rumbling up and down of the machine which brings the nice cuts
from the kitchen, and a shrill crying for more nice cuts down the
speaking-pipe, and a shrill reckoning of the cost of nice cuts that have
been disposed of, and a general flush and steam of hot joints, cut and
uncut, and a considerably heated atmosphere in which the soiled
knives and tablecloths seem to break out spontaneously into
eruptions of grease and blotches of beer, the legal triumvirate appease
their appetites.

Mr Jobling is buttoned up closer than mere adornment might require.
His hat presents at the rims
a peculiar appearance of a glistening
nature, as if it had been a favourite snail-promenade.
The same
phenomenon is visible on some parts of his coat, and particularly at
the seams. He has the faded appearance of a gentleman in
embarrassed circumstances;
even his light whiskers droop with
something of a shabby air.


His appetite is so vigorous that it suggests spare living for some little
time back. He makes such a speedy end of his plate of veal and ham,
bringing it to a close while his companions are yet midway in theirs,
that Mr Guppy proposes another. eThank you, Guppy,' says Mr
Jobling, eI really don't know but what I will take another.'

Another being brought, he falls to with great goodwill.

Mr Guppy takes silent notice of him at intervals until he is half way
through this second plate and stops to take an enjoying pull at his
pint pot of half-and-half (also renewed) and stretches out his legs and
rubs his hands.
Beholding him in which glow of contentment, Mr
Guppy says, eYou are a man again, Tony!'

eWell, not quite yet,' says Mr Jobling. eSay, just born.'


eWill you take any other vegetables? Grass? Peas? Summer cabbage?'

eThank you, Guppy,' says Mr Jobling. eI really don't know but what I
will take summer cabbage.'

Order given; with the sarcastic addition (from Mr Smallweed) of
eWithout slugs, Polly!' And cabbage produced.


eI am growing up, Guppy,' says Mr Jobling, plying his knife and fork
with a relishing steadiness.


eGlad to hear it.'

eIn fact, I have just turned into my teens,' says Mr Jobling.


He says no more until he has performed his task, which he achieves
as Messrs. Guppy and Smallweed finish theirs, thus getting over the
ground in excellent style and beating those two gentlemen easily by a
veal and ham and a cabbage.

eNow, Small,' says Mr Guppy, ewhat would you recommend about
pastry?'

eMarrow puddings,' says Mr Smallweed instantly.


eAye, aye!' cries Mr Jobling with an arch look. eYou're there, are
you? Thank you, Mr Guppy, I don't know but what I will take a marrow
pudding.'

Three marrow puddings being produced, Mr Jobling adds in a pleasant
humour that he is coming of age fast. To these succeed, by command
of Mr Smallweed, ethree Cheshires,' and to those ethree small rums.'
This apex of the entertainment happily reached, Mr Jobling puts up his
legs on the carpeted seat (having his own side of the box to himself),
leans against the wall, and says, eI am grown up now, Guppy. I have
arrived at maturity.'


eWhat do you think, now,' says Mr Guppy, eabout--you don't mind
Smallweed?'

eNot the least in the worid. I have the pleasure of drinking his good
health.'

eSir, to you!' says Mr Smallweed.

eI was saying, what do you think now,' pursues Mr Guppy, eof
enlisting?'

eWhy, what I may think after dinner,' returns Mr Jobling, eis one thing,
my dear Guppy, and what I may think before dinner is another thing.
Still, even after dinner, I ask myself the question, What am I to do?
How am I to live? Ill fo manger, you know,' says Mr Jobling, pronoun-
cing that word as if he meant a necessary fixture in an English stable.
eIll fo manger. That's the French saying, and mangering is as necessary
to me as it is to a Frenchman. Or more so.'


Mr Smallweed is decidedly of opinion emuch more so.'

eIf any man had told me,' pursues Jobling, eeven so lately as when you
and I had the frisk down in Lincolnshire, Guppy, and drove over to see
that house at Castle Wold--'

Mr Smallweed corrects him--Chesney Wold.

eChesney Wold. (I thank my honourable friend for that cheer.) If any
man had told me then that I should be as hard up at the present time
as I literally find myself, I should have--well, I should have pitched
into him,' says Mr Jobling, taking a little rum-and-water with an air of
desperate resignation; eI should have let fly at his head.'

eStill, Tony, you were on the wrong side of the post then,' remonstrates
Mr Guppy. eYou were talking about nothing else in the gig.'

eGuppy,' says Mr Jobling, eI will not deny it. I was on the wrong side of
the post. But I trusted to things coming round.'

That very popular trust in flat things coming round! Not in their being
beaten round, or worked round, but in their ecoming' round! As
though a lunatic should trust in the world's ecoming' triangular!


eI had confident expectations that things would come round and be all
square,' says Mr Jobling with some vagueness of expression and
perhaps of meaning too. eBut I was disappointed. They never did. And
when it came to creditors making rows at the office and to people that
the office dealt with
making complaints about dirty trifles of borrowed
money
, why there was an end of that connexion. And of any new
professional connexion too, for if I was to give a reference tomorrow,
it would be mentioned and would sew me up. Then what's a fellow to
do? I have been keeping out of the way and living cheap down about
the market-gardens, but what's the use of living cheap when you have
got no money? You might as well live dear.'


eBetter,' Mr Smallweed thinks.

eCertainly. It's the fashionable way; and fashion and whiskers have
been my weaknesses, and I don't care who knows it,' says Mr Jobling.

eThey are great weaknesses--Damme, sir, they are great. Well,'
proceeds Mr Jobling after a defiant visit to his rum-and-water, ewhat
can a fellow do, I ask you, but enlist?'


Mr Guppy comes more fully into the conversation to state what, in his
opinion, a fellow can do. His manner is the gravely impressive manner
of a man who has not committed himself in life otherwise than as he
has become the victim of a tender sorrow of the heart.


eJobling,' says Mr Guppy, emyself and our mutual friend Smallweed--'

Mr Smallweed modestly observes, eGentlemen both!' and drinks.

e--Have had a little conversation on this matter more than once since
you--'

eSay, got the sack!' cries Mr Jobling bitterly. eSay it, Guppy. You mean
it.'

eNo-o-o! Left the Inn,' Mr Smallweed delicately suggests.


eSince you left the Inn, Jobling,' says Mr Guppy; eand I have
mentioned to our mutual friend Smallweed a plan I have lately
thought of proposing. You know Snagsby the stationer?'

eI know there is such a stationer,' returns Mr Jobling. eHe was not
ours, and I am not acquainted with him.'

eHe is ours, Jobling, and I am acquainted with him,' Mr Guppy
retorts. eWell, sir! I have lately become better acquainted with him
through some accidental circumstances that have made me a visitor
of his in private life. Those circumstances it is not necessary to
offer in argument.
They may--or they may not--have some reference
to a subject which may--or may not--have cast its shadow on my
existence.'

As it is Mr Guppy's perplexing way with boastful misery to tempt his
particular friends into this subject, and the moment they touch it, to
turn on them with that trenchant severity about the chords in the
human mind, both Mr Jobling and Mr Smallweed decline the pitfall by
remaining silent.


eSuch things may be,' repeats Mr Guppy, eor they may not be. They
are no part of the case.
It is enough to mention that both Mr and Mrs
Snagsby are very willing to oblige me and that Snagsby has, in busy
times, a good deal of copying work to give out. He has all Tulkinghorn's,
and an excellent business besides. I believe if our mutual friend Small-
weed were put into the box, he could prove this?'

Mr Smallweed nods and appears greedy to be sworn.

eNow, gentlemen of the jury,' says Mr Guppy, e--I mean, now, Jobling--
you may say this is a poor prospect of a living. Granted. But it's better
than nothing, and better than enlistment.
You want time. There must
be time for these late affairs to blow over. You might live through it on
much worse terms than by writing for Snagsby.'

Mr Jobling is about to interrupt when the sagacious Smallweed
checks him with a dry cough and the words, eHem! Shakspeare!'


eThere are two branches to this subject, Jobling,' says Mr Guppy.

eThat is the first. I come to the second. You know Krook, the
Chancellor, across the lane. Come, Jobling,' says Mr Guppy in his
encouraging cross-examination-tone, eI think you know Krook, the
Chancellor, across the lane?'

eI know him by sight,' says Mr Jobling.

eYou know him by sight. Very well. And you know little Flite?'

eEverybody knows her,' says Mr Jobling.

eEverybody knows her. Very well. Now it has been one of my duties of
late to pay Flite a certain weekly allowance, deducting from it the
amount of her weekly rent, which I have paid (in consequence of
instructions I have received) to Krook himself, regularly in her
presence. This has brought me into communication with Krook and
into a knowledge of his house and his habits. I know he has a room to
let. You may live there at a very low charge under any name you like,
as quietly as if you were a hundred miles off. He'll ask no questions and
would accept you as a tenant at a word from me--before the clock
strikes, if you chose. And I tell you another thing, Jobling,' says Mr
Guppy, who has suddenly lowered his voice and become familiar
again, ehe's an extraordinary old chap--always rummaging among a
litter of papers and grubbing away at teaching himself to read and
write, without getting on a bit, as it seems to me. He is a most
extraordinary old chap, sir. I don't know but what it might be worth a
fellow's while to look him up a bit.'


eYou don't mean--' Mr Jobling begins.

eI mean,' returns Mr Guppy, shrugging his shoulders with becoming
modesty, ethat I can't make him out. I appeal to our mutual friend
Smallweed whether he has or has not heard me remark that I can't
make him out.'


Mr Smallweed bears the concise testimony, eA few!'

eI have seen something of the profession and something of life, Tony,'
says Mr Guppy, eand it's seldom I can't make a man out, more or less.
But such an old card as this, so deep, so sly, and secret (though I
don't believe he is ever sober), I never came across. Now, he must be
precious old, you know, and he has not a soul about him, and he is
reported to be immensely rich; and whether he is a smuggler, or a
receiver, or an unlicensed pawnbroker, or a money-lender--all of
which I have thought likely at different times--it might pay you to
knock up a sort of knowledge of him. I don't see why you shouldn't go
in for it, when everything else suits.'

Mr Jobling, Mr Guppy, and Mr Smallweed all lean their elbows on the
table and their chins upon their hands, and look at the ceiling. After a
time, they all drink, slowly lean back, put their hands in their pockets,
and look at one another.

eIf I had the energy I once possessed, Tony!' says Mr Guppy with a
sigh. eBut there are chords in the human mind--'

Expressing the remainder of the desolate sentiment in rum-and-water,

Mr Guppy concludes by resigning the adventure to Tony Jobling and
informing him that during the vacation and while things are slack, his
purse, eas far as three or four or even five pound goes,'will be at his
disposal. eFor never shall it be said,' Mr Guppy adds with emphasis,
ethat William Guppy turned his back upon his friend!'

The latter part of the proposal is so directly to the purpose that Mr
Jobling says with emotion, eGuppy, my trump, your fist!' Mr Guppy
presents it, saying, eJobling, my boy, there it is!' Mr Jobling returns,
eGuppy, we have been pals now for some years!' Mr Guppy replies,
eJobling, we have.'

They then shake hands, and Mr Jobling adds in a feeling manner,
eThank you, Guppy, I don't know but what I will take another glass
for old acquaintance sake.'


eKrook's last lodger died there,' observes Mr Guppy in an incidental
way.

eDid he though!' says Mr Jobling.

eThere was a verdict. Accidental death. You don't mind that?'

eNo,' says Mr Jobling, eI don't mind it; but he might as well have died
somewhere else. It's devilish odd that he need go and die at my place!'
Mr Jobling quite resents this liberty, several times returning to it with
such remarks as, eThere are places enough to die in, I should think!'
or, eHe wouldn't have liked my dying at his place, I dare say!'

However, the compact being virtually made, Mr Guppy proposes to
dispatch the trusty Smallweed to ascertain if Mr Krook is at home, as
in that case they may complete the negotiation without delay. Mr
Jobling approving, Smallweed puts himself under the tall hat and
conveys it out of the dining-rooms in the Guppy manner.
He soon
returns with the intelligence that Mr Krook is at home and that he has
seen him through the shop-door, sitting in the back premises,
sleeping elike one o'clock.'

eThen I'll pay,' says Mr Guppy, eand we'll go and see him. Small, what
will it be?'

Mr Smallweed, compelling the attendance of the waitress with one
hitch of his eyelash, instantly replies as follows: eFour veals and hams
is three, and four potatoes is three and four, and one summer
cabbage is three and six, and three marrows is four and six, and six
breads is five, and three Cheshires is five and three, and four halfpints
of half-and-half is six and three, and four small rums is eight
and three, and three Pollys is eight and six. Eight and six in half a
sovereign, Polly, and eighteenpence out!'


Not at all excited by these stupendous calculations, Smallweed
dismisses his friends with a cool nod and remains behind to take a
little admiring notice of Polly, as opportunity may serve, and to read
the daily papers, which are so very large in proportion to himself,
shorn of his hat, that when he holds up the Times to run his eye over
the columns, he seems to have retired for the night and to have
disappeared under the bedclothes.

Mr Guppy and Mr Jobling repair to the rag and bottle shop, where
they find Krook still sleeping like one o'clock, that is to say, breathing
stertorously with his chin upon his breast and quite insensible to any
external sounds or even to gentle shaking. On the table beside him,
among the usual lumber, stand an empty gin-bottle and a glass.
The
unwholesome air is so stained with this liquor that even the green
eyes of the cat upon her shelf, as they open and shut and glimmer on
the visitors, look drunk.


eHold up here!' says Mr Guppy, giving the relaxed figure of the old man
another shake. eMr Krook! Halloa, sir!'

But it would seem as easy to wake a bundle of old clothes with a
spirituous heat smouldering in it. eDid you ever see such a stupor as
he falls into, between drink and sleep?' says Mr Guppy.

eIf this is his regular sleep,' returns Jobling, rather alarmed, eit'll last a
long time one of these days, I am thinking.'

eIt's always more like a fit than a nap,' says Mr Guppy, shaking him
again. eHalloa, your lordship! Why, he might be robbed fifty times over!
Open your eyes!'

After much ado, he opens them, but without appearing to see his
visitors or any other objects. Though he crosses one leg on another,
and folds his hands, and several times closes and opens his parched
lips, he seems to all intents and purposes as insensible as before.


eHe is alive, at any rate,' says Mr Guppy. eHow are you, my Lord
Chancellor. I have brought a friend of mine, sir, on a little matter of
business.'

The old man still sits, often smacking his dry lips without the least
consciousness. After some minutes he makes an attempt to rise. They
help him up, and he staggers against the wall and stares at them.


eHow do you do, Mr Krook?' says Mr Guppy in some discomfiture.

eHow do you do, sir? You are looking charming, Mr Krook. I hope you
are pretty well?'

The old man, in aiming a purposeless blow at Mr Guppy, or at nothing,
feebly swings himself round and comes with his face against the wall.
So he remains for a minute or two, heaped up against it, and then
staggers down the shop to the front door. The air, the movement
in the court, the lapse of time, or the combination of these things
recovers him. He comes back pretty steadily, adjusting his fur cap on
his head and looking keenly at them.

eYour servant, gentlemen; I've been dozing. Hi! I am hard to wake, odd
times.'


eRather so, indeed, sir,' responds Mr Guppy.

eWhat? You've been a-trying to do it, have you?' says the suspicious
Krook.

eOnly a little,' Mr Guppy explains.

The old man's eye resting on the empty bottle, he takes it up,
examines it, and slowly tilts it upside down.

eI say!' he cries like the hobgoblin in the story. eSomebody's been
making free here!'

eI assure you we found it so,' says Mr Guppy. eWould you allow me to
get it filled for you?'

eYes, certainly I would!' cries Krook in high glee. eCertainly I would!
Don't mention it! Get it filled next door--Sol's Arms--the Lord
Chancellor's fourteenpenny. Bless you, they know ME!'

He so presses the empty bottle upon Mr Guppy that that gentleman,
with a nod to his friend, accepts the trust and hurries out and hurries
in again with the bottle filled. The old man receives it in his arms like
a beloved grandchild and pats it tenderly.

eBut, I say,' he whispers, with his eyes screwed up, after tasting it,
ethis ain't the Lord Chancellor's fourteenpenny. This is eighteenpenny!'


eI thought you might like that better,' says Mr Guppy.

eYou're a nobleman, sir,' returns Krook with another taste, and his hot
breath seems to come towards them like a flame. eYou're a baron of
the land.'


Taking advantage of this auspicious moment, Mr Guppy presents his
friend under the impromptu name of Mr Weevle and states the object
of their visit. Krook, with his bottle under his arm (he never gets
beyond a certain point of either drunkenness or sobriety), takes time
to survey his proposed lodger and seems to approve of him. eYou'd like
to see the room, young man?' he says. eAh! It's a good room! Been
whitewashed. Been cleaned down with soft soap and soda. Hi! It's
worth twice the rent, letting alone my company when you want it and
such a cat to keep the mice away.'

Commending the room after this manner, the old man takes them
upstairs, where indeed they do find it cleaner than it used to be and
also containing some old articles of furniture which he has dug up
from his inexhaustible stores.
The terms are easily concluded--for
the Lord Chancellor cannot be hard on Mr Guppy, associated as he is
with Kenge and Carboy, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, and other famous
claims on his professional consideration--and it is agreed that Mr
Weevle shall take possession on the morrow. Mr Weevle and Mr
Guppy then repair to Cook's Court, Cursitor Street, where the
personal introduction of the former to Mr Snagsby is effected and
(more important) the vote and interest of Mrs Snagsby are secured.
They then report progress to the eminent Smallweed, waiting at the
office in his tall hat for that purpose, and separate, Mr Guppy
explaining that he would terminate his little entertainment by
standing treat at the play but that there are chords in the human
mind which would render it a hollow mockery.

On the morrow, in the dusk of evening, Mr Weevle modestly appears
at Krook's, by no means incommoded with luggage, and establishes
himself in his new lodging, where the two eyes in the shutters stare at
him in his sleep, as if they were full of wonder. On the following day
Mr Weevle, who is a handy good-for-nothing kind of young fellow,
borrows a needle and thread of Miss Flite and a hammer of his
landlord and goes to work devising apologies for window-curtains, and
knocking up apologies for shelves, and hanging up his two teacups,
milkpot, and crockery sundries on a pennyworth of little hooks, like a
shipwrecked sailor making the best of it.


But what Mr Weevle prizes most of all his few possessions (next after
his light whiskers, for which he has an attachment that only whiskers
can awaken in the breast of man) is a choice collection of copper-plate
impressions from that truly national work
The Divinities of Albion, or
Galaxy Gallery of British Beauty, representing ladies of title and fash-
ion in every variety of smirk that art, combined with capital, is capable
of producing. With these magnificent portraits, unworthily confined in
a band-box during his seclusion among the marketgardens, he decorates
his apartment; and as the Galaxy Gallery of British Beauty wears every
variety of fancy dress, plays every variety of musical instrument, fond-
les every variety of dog, ogles every variety of prospect, and is backed
up by every variety of flower-pot and balustrade, the result is very
imposing.


But fashion is Mr Weevle's, as it was Tony Jobling's, weakness. To
borrow yesterday's paper from the Sol's Arms of an evening and
read
about the brilliant and distinguished meteors that are shooting across
the fashionable sky in every direction is unspeakable consolation to
him. To know what member of what brilliant and distinguished circle
accomplished the brilliant and distinguished feat of joining it yeste-
rday or contemplates the no less brilliant and distinguished feat
of leaving it tomorrow gives him a thrill of joy
. To be informed what
the Galaxy Gallery of British Beauty is about, and means to be about,
and what Galaxy marriages are on the tapis, and what Galaxy
rumours are in circulation, is to become acquainted with the most
glorious destinies of mankind. Mr Weevle reverts from this intelligence
to the Galaxy portraits implicated, and seems to know the originals,
and to be known of them.

For the rest he is a quiet lodger, full of handy shifts and devices as
before mentioned, able to cook and clean for himself as well as to
carpenter, and developing social inclinations after the shades of
evening have fallen on the court. At those times, when he is not visited
by Mr Guppy or
by a small light in his likeness quenched in a dark
hat, he comes out of his dull room--where he has inherited the deal
wilderness of desk bespattered with a rain of ink
--and talks to Krook
or is every free,' as they call it in the court, commendingly, with any
one disposed for conversation. Wherefore, Mrs Piper, who leads the
court, is impelled to offer two remarks to Mrs Perkins: firstly, that if
her Johnny was to have whiskers, she could wish 'em to be identically
like that young man's; and secondly, eMark my words, Mrs Perkins,
ma'am, and don't you be surprised, Lord bless you, if that young man
comes in at last for old Krook's money!'




Chapter XXI--The Smallweed Family



In a rather ill-favoured and ill-savoured neighbourhood, though one of
its rising grounds bears the name of Mount Pleasant, the Elfin
Smallweed, christened Bartholomew and known on the domestic
hearth as Bart, passes that limited portion of his time on which the
office and its contingencies have no claim.
He dwells in a little narrow
street, always solitary, shady, and sad, closely bricked in on all sides
like a tomb, but where there yet lingers the stump of an old forest tree
whose flavour is about as fresh and natural as the Smallweed smack
of youth.


There has been only one child in the Smallweed family for several
generations. Little old men and women there have been, but no child,
until
Mr Smallweed's grandmother, now living, became weak in her
intellect and fell (for the first time) into a childish state. With such
infantine graces as a total want of observation, memory, understand-
ing, and interest, and an eternal disposition to fall asleep over the
fire and into it, Mr Smallweed's grandmother has undoubtedly bright-
ened the family.


Mr Smallweed's grandfather is likewise of the party. He is in a helpless
condition as to his lower, and nearly so as to his upper, limbs, but his
mind is unimpaired.
It holds, as well as it ever held, the first four
rules of arithmetic and a certain small collection of the hardest facts.
In respect of ideality, reverence, wonder, and other such phrenological
attributes, it is no worse off than it used to be. Everything that Mr
Smallweed's grandfather ever put away in his mind was a grub at
first, and is a grub at last. In all his life he has never bred a single
butterfly.

The father of this pleasant grandfather, of the neighbourhood of
Mount Pleasant, was a horny-skinned, two-legged, money-getting
species of spider who spun webs to catch unwary flies and retired into
holes until they were entrapped. The name of this old pagan's god was
Compound Interest. He lived for it, married it, died of it.
Meeting with
a heavy loss in an honest little enterprise in which all the loss was
intended to have been on the other side, he broke something--
something necessary to his existence, therefore it couldn't have been
his heart--and made an end of his career. As his character was not
good, and he had been bred at a charity school in a complete course,
according to question and answer, of those ancient people the
Amorites and Hittites, he was frequently quoted as an example of the
failure of education.


His spirit shone through his son, to whom he had always preached
of egoing out' early in life and whom he made a clerk in a sharp
scrivener's office at twelve years old. There
the young gentleman
improved his mind, which was of a lean and anxious character
, and
developing the family gifts, gradually elevated himself into the
discounting profession. Going out early in life and marrying late, as
his father had done before him,
he too begat a lean and anxious-
minded son
, who in his turn, going out early in life and marrying late,
became the father of Bartholomew and Judith Smallweed, twins.

During the whole time consumed in the slow growth of this family
tree, the house of Smallweed, always early to go out and late to marry,
has strengthened itself in its practical character, has discarded all
amusements, discountenanced all story-books, fairy-tales, fictions,
and fables, and banished all levities whatsoever. Hence the gratifying
fact that it has had no child born to it and that the complete little men
and women whom it has produced have been observed to bear a
likeness to old monkeys with something depressing on their minds.


At the present time, in the dark little parlour certain feet below the
level of the street--
a grim, hard, uncouth parlour, only ornamented
with the coarsest of baize table-covers, and the hardest of sheet-iron
tea-trays, and offering in its decorative character no bad allegorical
representation of Grandfather Smallweed's mind--seated in two black
horsehair porter's chairs, one on each side of the fire-place, the
superannuated Mr and Mrs Smallweed while away the rosy hours. On
the stove are a couple of trivets
1 for the pots and kettles which it is
Grandfather Smallweed's usual occupation to watch, and projecting
from the chimney-piece between them is a sort of brass gallows for
roasting
, which he also superintends when it is in action. Under the
venerable Mr Smallweed's seat and guarded by his spindle legs is a
drawer in his chair, reported to contain property to a fabulous
amount. Beside him is a spare cushion with which he is always
provided in order that he may have something to throw at the
venerable partner of his respected age whenever she makes an
allusion to money--a subject on which he is particularly sensitive.


eAnd where's Bart?' Grandfather Smallweed inquires of Judy, Bart's
twin sister.

eHe an't come in yet,' says Judy.

eIt's his tea-time, isn't it?'

eNo.'

eHow much do you mean to say it wants then?'

eTen minutes.'

eHey?' eTen minutes.' (Loud on the part of Judy.)

eHo!' says Grandfather Smallweed. eTen minutes.'


Grandmother Smallweed, who has been mumbling and shaking her
head at the trivets, hearing figures mentioned, connects them with
money and screeches like a horrible old parrot without any plumage,
eTen ten-pound notes!'


Grandfather Smallweed immediately throws the cushion at her.
eDrat you, be quiet!' says the good old man.


The effect of this act of jaculation is twofold. It not only doubles up
Mrs Smallweed's head against the side of her porter's chair and
causes her to present, when extricated by her granddaughter, a highly
unbecoming state of cap, but the necessary exertion recoils on Mr
Smallweed himself, whom it throws back into HIS porter's chair like a
broken puppet. The excellent old gentleman being at these times a
mere clothes-bag with a black skull-cap on the top of it, does not
present a very animated appearance until he has undergone the two
operations at the hands of his granddaughter of being shaken up like
a great bottle and poked and punched like a great bolster. Some
indication of a neck being developed in him by these means, he and
the sharer of his life's evening again fronting one another in their two
porter's chairs, like a couple of sentinels long forgotten on their post
by the Black Serjeant, Death.


Judy the twin is worthy company for these associates. She is so
indubitably sister to Mr Smallweed the younger that
the two kneaded
into one would hardly make a young person of average proportions,
while she so happily exemplifies the before-mentioned family likeness
to the monkey tribe that attired in a spangled robe and cap she might
walk about the table-land on the top of a barrel-organ without
exciting much remark as an unusual specimen. Under existing
circumstances, however, she is dressed in a plain, spare gown of
brown stuff.


Judy never owned a doll, never heard of Cinderella, never played at
any game. She once or twice fell into children's company when she
was about ten years old, but the children couldn't get on with Judy,
and Judy couldn't get on with them. She seemed like an animal of
another species, and there was instinctive repugnance on both sides.
It is very doubtful whether Judy knows how to laugh. She has so
rarely seen the thing done that the probabilities are strong the other
way. Of anything like a youthful laugh, she certainly can have no
conception. If she were to try one, she would find her teeth in her way,
modelling that action of her face, as she has unconsciously modelled
all its other expressions, on her pattern of sordid age.
Such is Judy.

And her twin brother couldn't wind up a top for his life. He knows no
more of Jack the Giant Killer or of Sinbad the Sailor than he knows of
the people in the stars.
He could as soon play at leap-frog or at
cricket as change into a cricket or a frog himself. But he is so much
the better off than his sister that on his narrow world of fact an
opening has dawned into such broader regions as lie within the ken of
Mr Guppy. Hence his admiration and his emulation of that shining
enchanter.


Judy, with a gong-like clash and clatter, sets one of the sheet-iron
tea-trays on the table and arranges cups and saucers. The bread she
puts on in an iron basket, and the butter (and not much of it) in a
small pewter plate. Grandfather Smallweed looks hard after the tea as
it is served out and asks Judy where the girl is.


eCharley, do you mean?' says Judy.

eHey?' from Grandfather Smallweed.

eCharley, do you mean?'

This touches a spring in Grandmother Smallweed, who, chuckling as
usual at the trivets, cries, eOver the water! Charley over the water,
Charley over the water, over the water to Charley, Charley over the
water, over the water to Charley!' and becomes quite energetic about
it. Grandfather looks at the cushion but has not sufficiently recovered
his late exertion.


eHa!' he says when there is silence. eIf that's her name. She eats a deal.
It would be better to allow her for her keep.'

Judy, with her brother's wink, shakes her head and purses up her
mouth into no without saying it.

eNo?' returns the old man. eWhy not?'

eShe'd want sixpence a day, and we can do it for less,' says Judy.

eSure?'

Judy answers with a nod of deepest meaning and calls, as she scrapes
the butter on the loaf with every precaution against waste and cuts it
into slices, eYou, Charley, where are you?' Timidly obedient to the
summons, a little girl in a rough apron and a large bonnet, with her
hands covered with soap and water and a scrubbing brush in one of
them, appears, and curtsys.

eWhat work are you about now?' says Judy, making an ancient snap
at her like a very sharp old beldame.
2

eI'm a-cleaning the upstairs back room, miss,' replies Charley.

eMind you do it thoroughly, and don't loiter. Shirking won't do for me.
Make haste! Go along!' cries Judy with a stamp upon the ground. eYou
girls are more trouble than you're worth, by half.'

On this severe matron, as she returns to her task of scraping the
butter and cutting the bread, falls the shadow of her brother, looking
in at the window. For whom, knife and loaf in hand, she opens the
street-door.


eAye, aye, Bart!' says Grandfather Smallweed. eHere you are, hey?'

eHere I am,' says Bart.

eBeen along with your friend again, Bart?'

Small nods.

eDining at his expense, Bart?'

Small nods again.

eThat's right. Live at his expense as much as you can, and take
warning by his foolish example. That's the use of such a friend. The
only use you can put him to,'
says the venerable sage.

His grandson, without receiving this good counsel as dutifully as he
might, honours it with all such acceptance as may lie in a slight wink
and a nod and takes a chair at the tea-table.
The four old faces then
hover over teacups like a company of ghastly cherubim,
Mrs Small-
weed perpetually twitching her head and chattering at the trivets
and Mr Smallweed requiring to be repeatedly shaken up like a large
black draught.

eYes, yes,' says the good old gentleman, reverting to his lesson of
wisdom. eThat's such advice as your father would have given you,
Bart. You never saw your father. More's the pity. He was my true son.'
Whether it is intended to be conveyed that he was particularly
pleasant to look at, on that account, does not appear.

eHe was my true son,' repeats the old gentleman, folding his bread and
butter on his knee, ea good accountant, and died fifteen years ago.'

Mrs Smallweed, following her usual instinct, breaks out with eFifteen
hundred pound. Fifteen hundred pound in a black box, fifteen
hundred pound locked up, fifteen hundred pound put away and hid!'
Her worthy husband, setting aside his bread and butter, immediately

discharges the cushion at her, crushes her against the side of her
chair, and falls back in his own, overpowered. His appearance, after
visiting Mrs Smallweed with one of these admonitions, is particularly
impressive and not wholly prepossessing, firstly because
the exertion
generally twists his black skull-cap over one eye and gives him an air
of goblin rakishness, secondly because he mutters violent
imprecations against Mrs Smallweed, and thirdly because the contrast
between those powerful expressions and his powerless figure is
suggestive of a baleful old malignant who would be very wicked if he
could.
All this, however, is so common in the Smallweed family circle
that it produces no impression. The old gentleman is merely shaken
and has his internal feathers beaten up, the cushion is restored to its
usual place beside him, and the old lady, perhaps with her cap
adjusted and perhaps not, is planted in her chair again, ready to be
bowled down like a ninepin.

Some time elapses in the present instance before the old gentleman is
sufficiently cool to resume his discourse, and even then he mixes it up
with several edifying expletives addressed to the unconscious partner
of his bosom, who holds communication with nothing on earth but the
trivets. As thus: eIf your father, Bart, had lived longer, he might have
been worth a deal of money--
you brimstone chatterer!--but just as he
was beginning to build up the house that he had been making the
foundations for, through many a year--
you jade of a magpie, jackdaw,
and poll-parrot,
what do you mean!--he took ill and died of a low fever,
always being a sparing and a spare man, full of business care--
I
should like to throw a cat at you instead of a cushion,
and I will too if
you make such a confounded fool of yourself!--and your mother, who
was
a prudent woman as dry as a chip, just dwindled away like
touchwood after you and Judy were born--you are an old pig. You are
a brimstone pig. You're a head of swine!'

Judy, not interested in what she has often heard, begins to collect in a
basin various tributary streams of tea, from the bottoms of cups and
saucers and from the bottom of the tea-pot for the little charwoman's
evening meal. In like manner she gets together, in the iron breadbasket,
as many outside fragments and worn-down heels of loaves as
the rigid economy of the house has left in existence.


eBut your father and me were partners, Bart,' says the old gentleman,
eand when I am gone, you and Judy will have all there is. It's rare for
you both that you went out early in life--Judy to the flower business,
and you to the law. You won't want to spend it. You'll get your living
without it, and put more to it. When I am gone, Judy will go back to
the flower business and you'll still stick to the law.'


One might infer from Judy's appearance that her business rather lay
with the thorns than the flowers
, but she has in her time been
apprenticed to the art and mystery of artificial flower-making.
A close
observer might perhaps detect both in her eye and her brother's, when
their venerable grandsire anticipates his being gone, some little
impatience to know when he may be going, and some resentful
opinion that it is time he went.


eNow, if everybody has done,' says Judy, completing her preparations,
eI'll have that girl in to her tea. She would never leave off if she took it
by herself in the kitchen.'


Charley is accordingly introduced, and under a heavy fire of eyes, sits
down to her basin and a Druidical ruin of bread and butter. In the
active superintendence of this young person, Judy Smallweed appears
to attain a perfectly geological age and to date from the remotest
periods. Her systematic manner of flying at her and pouncing on her,

with or without pretence, whether or no, is wonderful, evincing an
accomplishment in the art of girl-driving seldom reached by the oldest
practitioners.

eNow, don't stare about you all the afternoon,' cries Judy, shaking her
head and stamping her foot as she happens to catch the glance which
has been previously sounding the basin of tea, ebut take your victuals
and get back to your work.'

eYes, miss,' says Charley.

eDon't say yes,' returns Miss Smallweed, efor I know what you girls are.
Do it without saying it, and then I may begin to believe you.'

Charley swallows a great gulp of tea in token of submission and so
disperses the Druidical ruins that Miss Smallweed charges her not to
gormandize, which ein you girls,' she observes, is disgusting.
Charley
might find some more difficulty in meeting her views on the general
subject of girls but for a knock at the door.

eSee who it is, and don't chew when you open it!' cries Judy.

The object of her attentions withdrawing for the purpose,
Miss
Smallweed takes that opportunity of jumbling the remainder of the
bread and butter together and launching two or three dirty tea-cups
into the ebb-tide of the basin of tea as a hint that she considers
the eating and drinking terminated.


eNow! Who is it, and what's wanted?' says the snappish Judy.

It is one Mr George, it appears. Without other announcement or
ceremony, Mr George walks in.

eWhew!' says Mr George. eYou are hot here. Always a fire, eh? Well!
Perhaps you do right to get used to one.' Mr George makes the latter
remark to himself as he nods to Grandfather Smallweed.

eHo! It's you!' cries the old gentleman. eHow de do? How de do?'

eMiddling,' replies Mr George, taking a chair.
eYour granddaughter I
have had the honour of seeing before; my service to you, miss.'

eThis is my grandson,' says Grandfather Smallweed. eYou ha'n't seen
him before. He is in the law and not much at home.'

eMy service to him, too! He is like his sister. He is very like his sister.
He is devilish like his sister,' says Mr George, laying a great and not
altogether complimentary stress on his last adjective.

eAnd how does the world use you, Mr George?' Grandfather Smallweed
inquires, slowly rubbing his legs.

ePretty much as usual. Like a football.'


He is a swarthy brown man of fifty, well made, and good looking, with
crisp dark hair, bright eyes, and a broad chest. His sinewy and
powerful hands, as sunburnt as his face, have evidently been used to
a pretty rough life.
What is curious about him is that he sits forward
on his chair as if he were, from long habit, allowing space for some
dress or accoutrements that he has altogether laid aside. His step too
is measured and heavy and would go well with a weighty clash and
jingle of spurs. He is close-shaved now, but his mouth is set as if his
upper lip had been for years familiar with a great moustache; and his
manner of occasionally laying the open palm of his broad brown hand
upon it is to the same effect.
Altogether one might guess Mr George to
have been a trooper once upon a time.

A special contrast Mr George makes to the Smallweed family. Trooper
was never yet billeted upon a household more unlike him.
It is a
broadsword to an oyster-knife. His developed figure and their stunted
forms, his large manner filling any amount of room and their little
narrow pinched ways, his sounding voice and their sharp spare tones,
are in the strongest and the strangest opposition. As he sits in the
middle of the grim parlour, leaning a little forward, with his hands
upon his thighs and his elbows squared, he looks as though, if he
remained there long, he would absorb into himself the whole family
and the whole four-roomed house, extra little back-kitchen and all.


eDo you rub your legs to rub life into 'em?' he asks of Grandfather
Smallweed after looking round the room.

eWhy, it's partly a habit, Mr George, and--yes--it partly helps the
circulation,' he replies.


eThe cir-cu-la-tion!' repeats Mr George, folding his arms upon his
chest and seeming to become two sizes larger.
eNot much of that, I
should think.'


eTruly I'm old, Mr George,' says Grandfather Smallweed. eBut I can
carry my years. I'm older than her,' nodding at his wife, eand see
what she is? You're a brimstone chatterer!' with a sudden revival of
his late hostility.


eUnlucky old soul!' says Mr George, turning his head in that direction.
eDon't scold the old lady. Look at her here, with her poor cap half off
her head and her poor hair all in a muddle.
Hold up, ma'am. That's
better. There we are! Think of your mother, Mr Smallweed,' says Mr
George, coming back to his seat from assisting her, eif your wife an't
enough.'

eI suppose you were an excellent son, Mr George?' the old man hints
with a leer.

The colour of Mr George's face rather deepens as he replies, eWhy no. I
wasn't.'

eI am astonished at it.'

eSo am I. I ought to have been a good son, and I think I meant to have
been one. But I wasn't. I was a thundering bad son, that's the long and
the short of it, and never was a credit to anybody.'


eSurprising!' cries the old man.

eHowever,' Mr George resumes, ethe less said about it, the better now.
Come! You know the agreement. Always a pipe out of the two months'
interest! (Bosh! It's all correct. You needn't be afraid to order the pipe.
Here's the new bill, and here's the two months' interest-money, and a
devil-and-all of a scrape it is to get it together in my business.)' Mr
George sits, with his arms folded, consuming the family and the
parlour while Grandfather Smallweed is assisted by Judy to two black
leathern cases out of a locked bureau, in one of which he secures the
document he has just received, and from the other takes another
similar document which he hands to Mr George, who twists it up for a
pipelight. As the old man inspects, through his glasses, every upstroke
and down-stroke of both documents before he releases them
from their leathern prison, and as he counts the money three times
over and requires Judy to say every word she utters at least twice, and
is as tremulously slow of speech and action as it is possible to be, this
business is a long time in progress. When it is quite concluded, and
not before, he disengages his ravenous eyes and fingers from it and
answers Mr George's last remark by saying, eAfraid to order the pipe?
We are not so mercenary as that, sir. Judy, see directly to the pipe
and the glass of cold brandy-and-water for Mr George.'


The sportive twins, who have been looking straight before them all this
time except when they have been engrossed by the black leathern
cases, retire together, generally disdainful of the visitor, but leaving
him to the old man as two young cubs might leave a traveller to the
parental bear.

eAnd there you sit, I suppose, all the day long, eh?' says Mr George
with folded arms.

eJust so, just so,' the old man nods.

eAnd don't you occupy yourself at all?'

eI watch the fire--and the boiling and the roasting--'

eWhen there is any,' says Mr George with great expression.

eJust so. When there is any.'

eDon't you read or get read to?'


The old man shakes his head with sharp sly triumph. eNo, no. We
have never been readers in our family. It don't pay. Stuff. Idleness.
Folly. No, no!'


eThere's not much to choose between your two states,' says the visitor
in a key too low for the old man's dull hearing as he looks from him to
the old woman and back again. eI say!' in a louder voice.

eI hear you.'

eYou'll sell me up at last, I suppose, when I am a day in arrear.'

eMy dear friend!' cries Grandfather Smallweed, stretching out both
hands to embrace him. eNever! Never, my dear friend! But my friend in
the city that I got to lend you the money--he might!'

eOh! You can't answer for him?' says Mr George, finishing the inquiry
in his lower key with the words eYou lying old rascal!'

eMy dear friend, he is not to be depended on. I wouldn't trust him. He
will have his bond, my dear friend.'


eDevil doubt him,' says Mr George. Charley appearing with a tray, on
which are the pipe, a small paper of tobacco, and the brandy-an-water,
he asks her, eHow do you come here! You haven't got the family face.'

eI goes out to work, sir,' returns Charley.

The trooper (if trooper he be or have been)
takes her bonnet off, with a
light touch for so strong a hand, and pats her on the head. eYou give
the house almost a wholesome look. It wants a bit of youth as much
as it wants fresh air.'
Then he dismisses her, lights his pipe, and
drinks to Mr Smallweed's friend in the city--the one solitary flight of
that esteemed old gentleman's imagination.

eSo you think he might be hard upon me, eh?'

eI think he might--I am afraid he would. I have known him do it,' says
Grandfather Smallweed incautiously, etwenty times.'


Incautiously, because his stricken better-half, who has been dozing
over the fire for some time, is instantly aroused and jabbers eTwenty
thousand pounds, twenty twenty-pound notes in a money-box, twenty
guineas, twenty million twenty per cent, twenty--'
and is then cut
short by the flying cushion, which the visitor, to whom this singular
experiment appears to be a novelty, snatches from her face as it
crushes her in the usual manner.


eYou're a brimstone idiot. You're a scorpion--a brimstone scorpion!
You're a sweltering toad. You're a chattering clattering broomstick
witch that ought to be burnt!' gasps the old man, prostrate in his
chair. eMy dear friend, will you shake me up a little?'


Mr George, who has been looking first at one of them and then at the
other, as if he were demented,
takes his venerable acquaintance by
the throat on receiving this request, and dragging him upright in his
chair as easily as if he were a doll, appears in two minds whether or
no to shake all future power of cushioning out of him and shake him
into his grave
. Resisting the temptation, but agitating him violently
enough to make his head roll like a harlequin's, he puts him smartly
down in his chair again and adjusts his skull-cap with such a rub
that the old man winks with both eyes for a minute afterwards.

eO Lord!' gasps Mr Smallweed. eThat'll do. Thank you, my dear friend,
that'll do. Oh, dear me, I'm out of breath. O Lord!' And Mr Smallweed
says it not without evident apprehensions of his dear friend, who still
stands over him looming larger than ever.

The alarming presence, however, gradually subsides into its chair and
falls to smoking in long puffs
, consoling itself with the philosophical
reflection, eThe name of your friend in the city begins with a D,
comrade, and you're about right respecting the bond.'


eDid you speak, Mr George?' inquires the old man.

The trooper shakes his head, and leaning forward with his right elbow
on his right knee and his pipe supported in that hand, while his other
hand, resting on his left leg, squares his left elbow in a martial
manner, continues to smoke. Meanwhile he looks at Mr Smallweed
with grave attention and now and then fans the cloud of smoke away
in order that he may see him the more clearly.

eI take it,' he says, making just as much and as little change in his
position as will enable him to reach the glass to his lips with a round,
full action, ethat I am the only man alive (or dead either) that gets the
value of a pipe out of you?'

eWell,' returns the old man, eit's true that I don't see company, Mr
George, and that I don't treat. I can't afford to it. But as you, in your
pleasant way, made your pipe a condition--'

eWhy, it's not for the value of it; that's no great thing. It was a fancy to
get it out of you. To have something in for my money.'

eHa! You're prudent, prudent, sir!' cries Grandfather Smallweed,
rubbing his legs.

eVery. I always was.' Puff. eIt's a sure sign of my prudence that I ever
found the way here.' Puff. eAlso, that I am what I am.' Puff. eI am well
known to be prudent,' says Mr George, composedly smoking. eI rose in
life that way.'


eDon't be down-hearted, sir. You may rise yet.'

Mr George laughs and drinks.

eHa'n't you no relations, now,' asks Grandfather Smallweed with a
twinkle in his eyes, ewho would pay off this little principal or who
would lend you a good name or two that I could persuade my friend in
the city to make you a further advance upon? Two good names would
be sufficient for my friend in the city. Ha'n't you no such relations, Mr
George?'

Mr George, still composedly smoking, replies, eIf I had, I shouldn't
trouble them. I have been trouble enough to my belongings in my day.
It MAY be a very good sort of penitence in a vagabond, who has
wasted the best time of his life, to go back then to decent people that
he never was a credit to and live upon them, but it's not my sort. The
best kind of amends then for having gone away is to keep away, in my
opinion.'


eBut natural affection, Mr George,' hints Grandfather Smallweed.

eFor two good names, hey?' says Mr George, shaking his head and still
composedly smoking. eNo. That's not my sort either.'

Grandfather Smallweed has been gradually sliding down in his chair
since his last adjustment and is now a bundle of clothes with a voice
in it calling for Judy. That houri,3 appearing, shakes him up in the
usual manner and is charged by the old gentleman to remain near
him. For he seems chary of putting his visitor to the trouble of
repeating his late attentions.

eHa!' he observes when he is in trim again. eIf you could have traced
out the captain, Mr George, it would have been the making of you. If
when you first came here, in consequence of our advertisement in the
newspapers--when I say 'our,' I'm alluding to the advertisements of my
friend in the city, and one or two others who embark their capital in
the same way, and are so friendly towards me as sometimes to give me
a lift with my little pittance--if at that time you could have helped us,
Mr George, it would have been the making of you.'

eI was willing enough to be 'made,' as you call it,' says Mr George,
smoking not quite so placidly as before, for since the entrance of Judy
he has been in some measure disturbed by a fascination, not of the
admiring kind, which obliges him to look at her as she stands by her
grandfather's chair, ebut on the whole, I am glad I wasn't now.'

eWhy, Mr George? In the name of--of brimstone, why?'
says
Grandfather Smallweed with a plain appearance of exasperation.
(Brimstone apparently suggested by his eye lighting on Mrs Smallweed
in her slumber.)

eFor two reasons, comrade.'

eAnd what two reasons, Mr George? In the name of the--'

eOf our friend in the city?' suggests Mr George, composedly drinking.

eAye, if you like. What two reasons?'

eIn the first place,' returns Mr George, but still looking at Judy as if
she being so old and so like her grandfather it is indifferent which of
the two he addresses, eyou gentlemen took me in. You advertised that
Mr Hawdon (Captain Hawdon, if you hold to the saying 'Once a captain,
always a captain') was to hear of something to his advantage.'

eWell?' returns the old man shrilly and sharply.

eWell!' says Mr George, smoking on. eIt wouldn't have been much to his
advantage to have been clapped into prison by the whole bill and
judgment trade of London.'

eHow do you know that? Some of his rich relations might have paid his
debts or compounded for 'em. Besides, he had taken us in. He owed
us immense sums all round. I would sooner have strangled him than
had no return. If I sit here thinking of him,' snarls the old man,
holding up his impotent ten fingers, eI want to strangle him now.' And
in a sudden access of fury, he throws the cushion at the unoffending
Mrs Smallweed, but it passes harmlessly on one side of her chair.

eI don't need to be told,' returns the trooper, taking his pipe from his
lips for a moment and carrying his eyes back from following the
progress of the cushion to the pipe-bowl which is burning low, ethat he
carried on heavily and went to ruin. I have been at his right hand
many a day when he was charging upon ruin full-gallop. I was with
him when he was sick and well, rich and poor. I laid this hand upon
him after he had run through everything and broken down everything
beneath him--when he held a pistol to his head.'

eI wish he had let it off,' says the benevolent old man,
eand blown his
head into as many pieces as he owed pounds!'

eThat would have been a smash indeed,' returns the trooper coolly;

eany way, he had been young, hopeful, and handsome in the days
gone by, and I am glad I never found him, when he was neither, to
lead to a result so much to his advantage. That's reason number one.'

eI hope number two's as good?' snarls the old man.

eWhy, no. It's more of a selfish reason. If I had found him, I must have
gone to the other world to look. He was there.'


eHow do you know he was there?'

eHe wasn't here.'

eHow do you know he wasn't here?'

eDon't lose your temper as well as your money,' says Mr George,
calmly knocking the ashes out of his pipe. eHe was drowned long
before. I am convinced of it. He went over a ship's side. Whether
intentionally or accidentally, I don't know. Perhaps your friend in the
city does. Do you know what that tune is, Mr Smallweed?' he adds
after breaking off to whistle one, accompanied on the table with the
empty pipe.

eTune!' replied the old man. eNo. We never have tunes here.'

eThat's the Dead March in Saul. They bury soldiers to it, so it's the
natural end of the subject. Now, if your pretty granddaughter --excuse
me, miss--will condescend to take care of this pipe for two months, we
shall save the cost of one next time. Good evening, Mr Smallweed!'

eMy dear friend!' the old man gives him both his hands.

eSo you think your friend in the city will be hard upon me if I fall in a
payment?' says the trooper, looking down upon him like a giant.

eMy dear friend, I am afraid he will,' returns the old man, looking up at
him like a pygmy.

Mr George laughs, and with a glance at Mr Smallweed and a parting
salutation to the scornful Judy, strides out of the parlour, clashing
imaginary sabres and other metallic appurtenances as he goes.

eYou're a damned rogue,' says the old gentleman, making a hideous
grimace at the door as he shuts it. eBut I'll lime you, you dog, I'll lime
you!'

After this amiable remark, his spirit soars into those enchanting
regions of reflection which its education and pursuits have opened to
it
, and again he and Mrs Smallweed while away the rosy hours, two
unrelieved sentinels forgotten as aforesaid by the Black Serjeant.

While the twain are faithful to their post, Mr George strides through
the streets with a massive kind of swagger and a grave-enough face.

It is eight o'clock now, and the day is fast drawing in. He stops hard
by Waterloo Bridge and reads a playbill, decides to go to Astley's
Theatre. Being there, is much delighted with the horses and the feats
of strength; looks at the weapons with a critical eye; disapproves of
the combats as giving evidences of unskilful swordsmanship; but is
touched home by the sentiments. In the last scene, when the Emperor
of Tartary gets up into a cart and condescends to bless the united
lovers by hovering over them with the Union Jack, his eyelashes are
moistened with emotion.


The theatre over, Mr George comes across the water again and makes
his way to that curious region lying about the Haymarket and Leices-
ter Square which is a centre of attraction to indifferent foreign
hotels and indifferent foreigners, racket-courts, fighting-men,
swordsmen, footguards, old china, gaming-houses, exhibitions, and
a
large medley of shabbiness and shrinking out of sight.
Penetrating to
the heart of this region, he arrives by a court and a long whitewashed
passage at a great brick building composed of bare walls, floors, roof-
rafters, and skylights, on the front of which, if it can be said to have
any front, is painted GEORGE'S SHOOTING GALLERY, &c.


Into George's Shooting Gallery, &c., he goes; and in it there are
gaslights (partly turned off now), and two whitened targets for rifle-
shooting, and archery accommodation, and fencing appliances, and
all necessaries for the British art of boxing. None of these sports or
exercises being pursued in George's Shooting Gallery to-night, which
is so devoid of company that a little grotesque man with a large head
has it all to himself and lies asleep upon the floor.

The little man is dressed something like a gunsmith, in a green-baize
apron and cap; and his face and hands are dirty with gunpowder and
begrimed with the loading of guns. As he lies in the light before a
glaring white target, the black upon him shines again. Not far off is
the strong, rough, primitive table with a vice upon it at which he has
been working.
He is a little man with a face all crushed together, who
appears, from a certain blue and speckled appearance that one of his
cheeks presents, to have been blown up, in the way of business, at
some odd time or times.

ePhil!' says the trooper in a quiet voice.

eAll right!' cries Phil, scrambling to his feet.

eAnything been doing?'

eFlat as ever so much swipes,' says Phil. eFive dozen rifle and a dozen
pistol. As to aim!' Phil gives a howl at the recollection.

eShut up shop, Phil!'

As Phil moves about to execute this order, it appears that he is lame,
though able to move very quickly.
On the speckled side of his face
he has no eyebrow, and on the other side he has a bushy black one,
which want of uniformity gives him a very singular and rather sinister
appearance. Everything seems to have happened to his hands that
could possibly take place consistently with the retention of all the
fingers, for they are notched, and seamed, and crumpled all over.
He
appears to be very strong and lifts heavy benches about as if he had
no idea what weight was. He has a curious way of limping round the
gallery with his shoulder against the wall and tacking off at objects he
wants to lay hold of instead of going straight to them, which has left a
smear all round the four walls, conventionally called ePhil's mark.'

This custodian of George's Gallery in George's absence concludes his
proceedings, when he has locked the great doors and turned out all
the lights but one, which he leaves to glimmer, by dragging out from a
wooden cabin in a corner two mattresses and bedding. These being
drawn to opposite ends of the gallery, the trooper makes his own bed
and Phil makes his.

ePhil!' says the master, walking towards him without his coat and
waistcoat, and looking more soldierly than ever in his braces. eYou
were found in a doorway, weren't you?'

eGutter,' says Phil. eWatchman tumbled over me.'

eThen vagabondizing came natural to you from the beginning.'

eAs nat'ral as possible,' says Phil.

eGood night!'

eGood night, guv'ner.'

Phil cannot even go straight to bed, but finds it necessary to shoulder
round two sides of the gallery and then tack off at his mattress. The
trooper, after taking a turn or two in the rifle-distance and looking up
at the moon now shining through the skylights, strides to his own
mattress by a shorter route and goes to bed too.



Chapter XXII--Mr Bucket



Allegory looks pretty cool in Lincoln's Inn Fields, though the evening is
hot, for both Mr Tulkinghorn's windows are wide open, and
the room
is lofty, gusty, and gloomy.
These may not be desirable characteristics
when November comes with fog and sleet or January with ice and
snow, but they have their merits
in the sultry long vacation weather.
They enable Allegory, though it has cheeks like peaches, and knees
like bunches of blossoms, and rosy swellings for calves to its legs and
muscles to its arms, to look tolerably cool to-night.

Plenty of dust comes in at Mr Tulkinghorn's windows, and plenty
more has generated among his furniture and papers. It lies thick
everywhere. When a breeze from the country that has lost its way
takes fright and makes a blind hurry to rush out again, it flings as
much dust in the eyes of Allegory as the law--or Mr Tulkinghorn, one
of its trustiest representatives--may scatter, on occasion, in the eyes
of the laity.


In his lowering magazine of dust, the universal article into which his
papers and himself, and all his clients, and all things of earth,
animate and inanimate, are resolving, Mr Tulkinghorn sits at one of
the open windows enjoying a bottle of old port. Though a hard-grained
man, close, dry, and silent,
he can enjoy old wine with the best. He
has a priceless bin of port in some artful cellar under the Fields,
which is one of his many secrets. When he dines alone in chambers,
as he has dined to-day, and has his bit of fish and his steak or
chicken brought in from the coffee-house,
he descends with a can-
dle to the echoing regions below the deserted mansion, and heralded
by a remote reverberation of thundering doors, comes gravely back
encircled by an earthy atmosphere and carrying a bottle from which
he pours a radiant nectar, two score and ten years old, that blushes
in the glass to find itself so famous and fills the whole room with the
fragrance of southern grapes.

Mr Tulkinghorn, sitting in the twilight by the open window, enjoys his
wine. As if it whispered to him of its fifty years of silence and
seclusion, it shuts him up the closer. More impenetrable than ever, he
sits, and drinks, and mellows as it were in secrecy, pondering at that
twilight hour on all the mysteries he knows, associated with darken-
ing woods in the country, and vast blank shut-up houses in town,
and
perhaps sparing a thought or two for himself, and his family history,
and his money, and his will--all a mystery to every one--and that one
bachelor friend of his, a man of the same mould and a lawyer too, who
lived the same kind of life until he was seventy-five years old, and
then suddenly conceiving (as it is supposed) an impression that it was
too monotonous, gave his gold watch to his hair-dresser one summer
evening and walked leisurely home to the Temple and hanged himself.

But Mr Tulkinghorn is not alone to-night to ponder at his usual
length. Seated at the same table, though with his chair modestly and
uncomfortably drawn a little way from it, sits
a bald, mild, shining
man
who coughs respectfully behind his hand when the lawyer bids
him fill his glass.


eNow, Snagsby,' says Mr Tulkinghorn, eto go over this odd story again.'

eIf you please, sir.'

eYou told me when you were so good as to step round here last night--'

eFor which I must ask you to excuse me if it was a liberty, sir; but I
remember that you had taken a sort of an interest in that person, and
I thought it possible that you might--just--wish--to--'

Mr Tulkinghorn is not the man to help him to any conclusion or to
admit anything as to any possibility concerning himself. So Mr
Snagsby trails off into saying, with an awkward cough, eI must ask
you to excuse the liberty, sir, I am sure.'

eNot at all,' says Mr Tulkinghorn. eYou told me, Snagsby, that you put
on your hat and came round without mentioning your intention to
your wife. That was prudent I think, because it's not a matter of such
importance that it requires to be mentioned.'

eWell, sir,' returns Mr Snagsby, eyou see,
my little woman is--not
to put too fine a point upon it--inquisitive. She's inquisitive. Poor
little thing, she's liable to spasms,
and it's good for her to have her
mind employed. In consequence of which she employs it--I should say upon
every individual thing she can lay hold of, whether it concerns her or
not--especially not. My little woman has a very active mind, sir.'

Mr Snagsby drinks and murmurs with an admiring cough behind his
hand, eDear me, very fine wine indeed!'


eTherefore you kept your visit to yourself last night?' says Mr
Tulkinghorn.

eAnd to-night too?'

eYes, sir, and to-night, too.
My little woman is at present in--not to
put too fine a point on it--in a pious state, or in what she considers
such, and attends the Evening Exertions
(which is the name they go
by) of a reverend party of the name of Chadband. He has a great deal
of eloquence at his command, undoubtedly, but I am not quite
favourable to his style myself. That's neither here nor there. My lit-
tle woman being engaged in that way made it easier for me to step round
in a quiet manner.'

Mr Tulkinghorn assents. eFill your glass, Snagsby.'

eThank you, sir, I am sure,' returns the stationer with his cough of
deference.
eThis is wonderfully fine wine, sir!'

eIt is a rare wine now,' says Mr Tulkinghorn. eIt is fifty years old.'

eIs it indeed, sir? But I am not surprised to hear it, I am sure. It might
be--any age almost.' After rendering this general tribute to the port,
Mr Snagsby in his modesty coughs an apology behind his hand for
drinking anything so precious.


eWill you run over, once again, what the boy said?' asks Mr
Tulkinghorn, putting his hands into the pockets of his rusty
smallclothes and leaning quietly back in his chair.


eWith pleasure, sir.'

Then, with fidelity, though with some prolixity, the law-stationer
repeats Jo's statement made to the assembled guests at his house. On
coming to the end of his narrative, he gives a great start and breaks
off with, eDear me, sir, I wasn't aware there was any other gentleman
present!'

Mr Snagsby is dismayed to see, standing with an attentive face
between himself and the lawyer at a little distance from the table, a
person with a hat and stick in his hand who was not there when he
himself came in and has not since entered by the door or by either of
the windows. There is a press in the room, but its hinges have not
creaked, nor has a step been audible upon the floor. Yet this third
person stands there with his attentive face, and his hat and stick in
his hands, and his hands behind him, a composed and quiet listener.
He is a stoutly built, steady-looking, sharp-eyed man in black, of
about the middle-age. Except that he looks at Mr Snagsby as if he
were going to take his portrait, there is nothing remarkable about him
at first sight but his ghostly manner of appearing.

eDon't mind this gentleman,' says Mr Tulkinghorn in his quiet way.
eThis is only Mr Bucket.'

eOh, indeed, sir?' returns the stationer, expressing by a cough that he
is quite in the dark as to who Mr Bucket may be.


eI wanted him to hear this story,' says the lawyer, ebecause I have half
a mind (for a reason) to know more of it, and he is very intelligent in
such things. What do you say to this, Bucket?'

eIt's very plain, sir. Since our people have moved this boy on, and
he's not to be found on his old lay, if Mr Snagsby don't object to go
down with me to Tom-all-Alone's and point him out, we can have him
here in less than a couple of hours' time. I can do it without Mr Snagsby,
of course, but this is the shortest way.'

eMr Bucket is a detective officer, Snagsby,' says the lawyer in
explanation.

eIs he indeed, sir?' says Mr Snagsby with a strong tendency in his
clump of hair to stand on end.

eAnd if you have no real objection to accompany Mr Bucket to the
place in question,' pursues the lawyer, eI shall feel obliged to
you if you will do so.'

In a moment's hesitation on the part of Mr Snagsby, Bucket dips
down to the bottom of his mind.

eDon't you be afraid of hurting the boy,' he says. eYou won't do that.
It's all right as far as the boy's concerned. We shall only bring him
here to ask him a question or so I want to put to him, and he'll be
paid for his trouble and sent away again. It'll be a good job for him. I
promise you, as a man, that you shall see the boy sent away all right.
Don't you be afraid of hurting him; you an't going to do that.'

eVery well, Mr Tulkinghorn!' cries Mr Snagsby cheerfully. And
reassured, eSince that's the case--'

eYes! And lookee here, Mr Snagsby,' resumes Bucket, taking him aside
by the arm, tapping him familiarly on the breast, and speaking in a
confidential tone. eYou're a man of the world, you know, and a man of
business, and a man of sense. That's what you are.'

eI am sure I am much obliged to you for your good opinion,' returns
the stationer with his cough of modesty, ebut--'


eThat's what you are, you know,' says Bucket. eNow, it an't necessary
to say to a man like you, engaged in your business, which is a busi-
ness of trust and requires a person to be wide awake and have his
senses about him and his head screwed on tight (I had an uncle in
your business once)--it an't necessary to say to a man like you that
it's the best and wisest way to keep little matters like this quiet. Don't
you see? Quiet!'

eCertainly, certainly,' returns the other.

eI don't mind telling you,' says Bucket with an engaging appearance
of frankness, ethat as far as I can understand it, there seems to be a
doubt whether this dead person wasn't entitled to a little property,
and whether this female hasn't been up to some games respecting
that property, don't you see?'

eOh!' says Mr Snagsby, but not appearing to see quite distinctly.

eNow, what you want,' pursues Bucket, again tapping Mr Snagsby on
the breast in a comfortable and soothing manner, eis that every person
should have their rights according to justice. That's what you want.'


eTo be sure,' returns Mr Snagsby with a nod.

eOn account of which, and at the same time to oblige a--do you call it,
in your business, customer or client? I forget how my uncle used to
call it.'

eWhy, I generally say customer myself,' replies Mr Snagsby.

eYou're right!' returns Mr Bucket, shaking hands with him quite
affectionately. e--On account of which, and at the same time to oblige a
real good customer, you mean to go down with me, in confidence, to
Tom-all-Alone's and to keep the whole thing quiet ever afterwards and
never mention it to any one. That's about your intentions, if I
understand you?'

eYou are right, sir. You are right,' says Mr Snagsby.

eThen here's your hat,' returns his new friend, quite as intimate with it
as if he had made it; eand if you're ready, I am.'

They leave
Mr Tulkinghorn, without a ruffle on the surface of his
unfathomable depths, drinking his old wine,
and go down into the
streets.

eYou don't happen to know a very good sort of person of the name of
Gridley, do you?' says Bucket in friendly converse as they descend the
stairs.

eNo,' says Mr Snagsby, considering, eI don't know anybody of that
name. Why?'

eNothing particular,' says Bucket; eonly having allowed his temper to
get a little the better of him and having been threatening some res-
pectable people, he is keeping out of the way of a warrant I have
got against him--which it's a pity that a man of sense should do.'


As they walk along, Mr Snagsby observes, as a novelty, that how-
ever quick their pace may be, his companion still seems in some
undefinable manner to lurk and lounge; also, that whenever he is
going to turn to the right or left, he pretends to have a fixed purpose
in his mind of going straight ahead, and wheels off, sharply, at the
very last moment.
Now and then, when they pass a police-constable
on his beat, Mr Snagsby notices that both the constable and his guide
fall into a deep abstraction as they come towards each other, and
appear entirely to overlook each other, and to gaze into space. In a few
instances, Mr Bucket, coming behind some under-sized young man
with a shining hat on, and
his sleek hair twisted into one flat curl on
each side of his head, almost without glancing at him touches him
with his stick, upon which the young man, looking round, instantly
evaporates.
For the most part Mr Bucket notices things in general,
with a face as unchanging as the great mourning ring on his little
finger or the brooch, composed of not much diamond and a good deal
of setting, which he wears in his shirt.

When they come at last to Tom-all-Alone's, Mr Bucket stops for a
moment at the corner and takes a lighted bull's-eye from the
constable on duty there, who then accompanies him with his own
particular bull's-eye at his waist. Between his two conductors, Mr

Snagsby passes along the middle of a villainous street, undrained,
unventilated, deep in black mud and corrupt water--though the roads
are dry elsewhere--and reeking with such smells and sights that he,
who has lived in London all his life, can scarce believe his senses.
Branching from this street and its heaps of ruins are other streets and
courts so infamous that Mr Snagsby sickens in body and mind and
feels as if he were going every moment deeper down into the infernal
gulf.


eDraw off a bit here, Mr Snagsby,' says Bucket as a kind of shabby
palanquin is borne towards them, surrounded by a noisy crowd.
eHere's the fever coming up the street!'


As the unseen wretch goes by, the crowd, leaving that object of
attraction, hovers round the three visitors like a dream of horrible
faces and fades away up alleys and into ruins and behind walls, and
with occasional cries and shrill whistles of warning
, thenceforth flits
about them until they leave the place.

eAre those the fever-houses, Darby?' Mr Bucket coolly asks as he
turns his bull's-eye on a line of stinking ruins.

Darby replies that eall them are,' and further that in all,
for months
and months, the people ehave been down by dozens' and have been
carried out dead and dying elike sheep with the rot.'
Bucket observing
to Mr Snagsby as they go on again that he looks a little poorly, Mr
Snagsby answers that he feels as if he couldn't breathe the dreadful
air.


There is inquiry made at various houses for a boy named Jo. As few
people are known in Tom-all-Alone's by any Christian sign, there is
much reference to Mr Snagsby whether he means
Carrots, or the
Colonel, or Gallows, or Young Chisel, or Terrier Tip, or Lanky, or the
Brick
. Mr Snagsby describes over and over again. There are conflicting
opinions respecting the original of his picture. Some think it must be
Carrots, some say the Brick. The Colonel is produced, but is not at
all near the thing. Whenever Mr Snagsby and his conductors are
stationary,
the crowd flows round, and from its squalid depths ob-
sequious advice heaves up to Mr Bucket. Whenever they move, and
the angry bull's-eyes glare, it fades away and flits about them up the
alleys, and in the ruins
, and behind the walls, as before.

At last there is a lair found out where Toughy, or the Tough Subject,
lays him down at night; and it is thought that the Tough Subject may
be Jo. Comparison of notes between Mr Snagsby and the proprietress
of the house--
a drunken face tied up in a black bundle, and flaring
out of a heap of rags on the floor of a dog-hutch which is her private
apartment
--leads to the establishment of this conclusion. Toughy has
gone to the doctor's to get a bottle of stuff for a sick woman but will be
here anon.


eAnd who have we got here to-night?' says Mr Bucket, opening another
door and glaring in with his bull's-eye. eTwo drunken men, eh? And
two women? The men are sound enough,' turning back each sleeper's
arm from his face to look at him. eAre these your good men, my dears?'


eYes, sir,' returns one of the women. eThey are our husbands.'

eBrickmakers, eh?'

eYes, sir.'

eWhat are you doing here? You don't belong to London.'

eNo, sir. We belong to Hertfordshire.'

eWhereabouts in Hertfordshire?'

eSaint Albans.'

eCome up on the tramp?'

eWe walked up yesterday. There's no work down with us at present,
but we have done no good by coming here, and shall do none, I
expect.'

eThat's not the way to do much good,' says Mr Bucket, turning his
head in the direction of the unconscious figures on the ground.

eIt an't indeed,' replies the woman with a sigh. eJenny and me knows it
full well.'

The room, though two or three feet higher than the door, is so low that
the head of the tallest of the visitors would touch the blackened ceiling
if he stood upright. It is offensive to every sense; even the gross candle
burns pale and sickly in the polluted air.
There are a couple of benches
and a higher bench by way of table. The men lie asleep where they
stumbled down, but the women sit by the candle. Lying in the arms of
the woman who has spoken is a very young child.

eWhy, what age do you call that little creature?' says Bucket. eIt looks
as if it was born yesterday.' He is not at all rough about it; and as he
turns his light gently on the infant, Mr Snagsby is strangely reminded
of another infant, encircled with light, that he has seen in pictures.


eHe is not three weeks old yet, sir,' says the woman.


eIs he your child?'

eMine.'

The other woman, who was bending over it when they came in, stoops
down again and kisses it as it lies asleep.

eYou seem as fond of it as if you were the mother yourself,' says Mr
Bucket.

eI was the mother of one like it, master, and it died.'

eAh, Jenny, Jenny!' says the other woman to her. eBetter so. Much
better to think of dead than alive, Jenny! Much better!'

eWhy, you an't such an unnatural woman, I hope,' returns Bucket
sternly, eas to wish your own child dead?'

eGod knows you are right, master,' she returns. eI am not. I'd stand
between it and death with my own life if I could, as true as any pretty
lady.'


eThen don't talk in that wrong manner,' says Mr Bucket, mollified
again. eWhy do you do it?'

eIt's brought into my head, master,' returns the woman, her eyes filling
with tears, ewhen I look down at the child lying so. If it was never to
wake no more, you'd think me mad, I should take on so.
I know that
very well. I was with Jenny when she lost hers--warn't I, Jenny?--and
I know how she grieved. But look around you at this place. Look at
them,' glancing at the sleepers on the ground. eLook at the boy you're
waiting for, who's gone out to do me a good turn. Think of the children
that your business lays with often and often, and that you see grow
up!'


eWell, well,' says Mr Bucket, eyou train him respectable, and he'll be a
comfort to you, and look after you in your old age, you know.'


eI mean to try hard,' she answers, wiping her eyes. eBut I have been
athinking, being over-tired to-night and not well with the ague, of all
the many things that'll come in his way. My master will be against it,
and he'll be beat, and see me beat, and made to fear his home, and
perhaps to stray wild. If I work for him ever so much, and ever so
hard, there's no one to help me; and if he should be turned bad 'spite
of all I could do, and the time should come when I should sit by him
in his sleep, made hard and changed, an't it likely I should think of
him as he lies in my lap now and wish he had died as Jenny's child
died!'


eThere, there!' says Jenny. eLiz, you're tired and ill. Let me take him.'

In doing so, she displaces the mother's dress, but quickly readjusts it
over the wounded and bruised bosom where the baby has been lying.

eIt's my dead child,' says Jenny, walking up and down as she nurses,
ethat makes me love this child so dear, and it's my dead child that
makes her love it so dear too, as even to think of its being taken away
from her now. While she thinks that, I think what fortune would I give
to have my darling back. But we mean the same thing, if we knew how
to say it, us two mothers does in our poor hearts!'

As Mr Snagsby blows his nose and coughs his cough of sympathy, a
step is heard without. Mr Bucket throws his light into the doorway

and says to Mr Snagsby, eNow, what do you say to Toughy? Will he
do?'

eThat's Jo,' says Mr Snagsby.

Jo stands amazed in the disk of light, like a ragged figure in a magic-
lantern, trembling to think that he has offended against the law in not
having moved on far enough.
Mr Snagsby, however, giving him the
consolatory assurance, eIt's only a job you will be paid for, Jo,' he
recovers; and on being taken outside by Mr Bucket for a little private
confabulation, tells his tale satisfactorily, though out of breath.


eI have squared it with the lad,' says Mr Bucket, returning, eand it's all
right. Now, Mr Snagsby, we're ready for you.'

First, Jo has to complete his errand of good nature by handing over
the physic he has been to get, which he delivers with the laconic
verbal direction that eit's to be all took d'rectly.' Secondly, Mr Snagsby
has to lay upon the table half a crown, his usual panacea for an
immense variety of afflictions. Thirdly, Mr Bucket has to take Jo by
the arm a little above the elbow and walk him on before him, without
which observance neither the Tough Subject nor any other Subject
could be professionally conducted to Lincoln's Inn Fields.
These
arrangements completed, they give the women good night and come
out once more into black and foul Tom-all-Alone's.

By the noisome ways through which they descended into that pit,
they gradually emerge from it, the crowd flitting, and whistling, and
skulking about them until they come to the verge, where restoration
of the bull's-eyes is made to Darby. Here the crowd, like a concourse
of imprisoned demons, turns back, yelling, and is seen no more.
Through the clearer and fresher streets, never so clear and fresh to
Mr Snagsby's mind as now, they walk and ride until they come to Mr
Tulkinghorn's gate.


As they ascend the dim stairs (Mr Tulkinghorn's chambers being on
the first floor), Mr Bucket mentions that he has the key of the outer
door in his pocket and that there is no need to ring. For a man so
expert in most things of that kind, Bucket takes time to open the door
and makes some noise too. It may be that he sounds a note of
preparation.

Howbeit, they come at last into the hall, where a lamp is burning, and
so into Mr Tulkinghorn's usual room--the room where he drank his
old wine to-night. He is not there, but his two old-fashioned
candlesticks are, and the room is tolerably light.

Mr Bucket, still having his professional hold of Jo and appearing to
Mr Snagsby to possess an unlimited number of eyes, makes a little
way into this room, when Jo starts and stops.


eWhat's the matter?' says Bucket in a whisper.

eThere she is!' cries Jo.

eWho!'

eThe lady!'

A female figure, closely veiled, stands in the middle of the room, where
the light falls upon it. It is quite still and silent. The front of the figure
is towards them, but it takes no notice of their entrance and remains
like a statue.

eNow, tell me,' says Bucket aloud, ehow you know that to be the lady.'

eI know the wale,' replies Jo, staring, eand the bonnet, and the gownd.'

eBe quite sure of what you say, Tough,' returns Bucket, narrowly
observant of him. eLook again.'

eI am a-looking as hard as ever I can look,' says Jo with starting eyes,
eand that there's the wale, the bonnet, and the gownd.'

eWhat about those rings you told me of?' asks Bucket.

eA-sparkling all over here,' says Jo, rubbing the fingers of his left hand
on the knuckles of his right without taking his eyes from the figure.

The figure removes the right-hand glove and shows the hand.


eNow, what do you say to that?' asks Bucket.

Jo shakes his head. eNot rings a bit like them. Not a hand like that.'

eWhat are you talking of?' says Bucket, evidently pleased though, and
well pleased too.

eHand was a deal whiter, a deal delicater, and a deal smaller,' returns
Jo.

eWhy, you'll tell me I'm my own mother next,' says Mr Bucket. eDo you
recollect the lady's voice?'

eI think I does,' says Jo.

The figure speaks. eWas it at all like this? I will speak as long as you
like if you are not sure. Was it this voice, or at all like this voice?'

Jo looks aghast at Mr Bucket. eNot a bit!'


eThen, what,' retorts that worthy, pointing to the figure, edid you say it
was the lady for?'

eCos,' says Jo with a perplexed stare but without being at all shaken
in his certainty, ecos that there's the wale, the bonnet, and the gownd.
It is her and it an't her. It an't her hand, nor yet her rings, nor yet her
woice. But that there's the wale, the bonnet, and the gownd, and
they're wore the same way wot she wore 'em, and it's her height wot
she wos, and she giv me a sov'ring and hooked it.'

eWell!' says Mr Bucket slightly, ewe haven't got much good out of you.
But, however, here's five shillings for you. Take care how you spend it,
and don't get yourself into trouble.' Bucket stealthily tells the coins
from one hand into the other like counters--which is a way he has, his
principal use of them being in these games of skill--and then puts
them, in a little pile, into the boy's hand and takes him out to the
door, leaving Mr Snagsby, not by any means comfortable under these
mysterious circumstances, alone with the veiled figure. But on Mr
Tulkinghorn's coming into the room, the veil is raised and a
sufficiently good-looking Frenchwoman is revealed, though her
expression is something of the intensest.


eThank you, Mademoiselle Hortense,' says Mr Tulkinghorn with his
usual equanimity. eI will give you no further trouble about this little
wager.'

eYou will do me the kindness to remember, sir, that I am not at
present placed?' says mademoiselle.

eCertainly, certainly!'

eAnd to confer upon me the favour of your distinguished
recommendation?'

eBy all means, Mademoiselle Hortense.'

eA word from Mr Tulkinghorn is so powerful.'

eIt shall not be wanting, mademoiselle.'

eReceive the assurance of my devoted gratitude, dear sir.'


eGood night.'

Mademoiselle goes out with an air of native gentility; and Mr Bucket,
to whom it is, on an emergency, as natural to be groom of the
ceremonies as it is to be anything else, shows her downstairs, not
without gallantry.

eWell, Bucket?' quoth Mr Tulkinghorn on his return.

eIt's all squared, you see, as I squared it myself, sir. There an't a doubt
that it was the other one with this one's dress on. The boy was exact
respecting colours and everything. Mr Snagsby, I promised you as a
man that he should be sent away all right. Don't say it wasn't done!'


eYou have kept your word, sir,' returns the stationer; eand if I can be of
no further use, Mr Tulkinghorn, I think, as my little woman will be
getting anxious--'

eThank you, Snagsby, no further use,' says Mr Tulkinghorn. eI am
quite indebted to you for the trouble you have taken already.'

eNot at all, sir. I wish you good night.'

eYou see, Mr Snagsby,' says Mr Bucket, accompanying him to the door
and shaking hands with him over and over again, ewhat I like in you is
that you're a man it's of no use pumping; that's what you are. When
you know you have done a right thing, you put it away, and it's done
with and gone, and there's an end of it. That's what you do.'

eThat is certainly what I endeavour to do, sir,' returns Mr Snagsby.

eNo, you don't do yourself justice. It an't what you endeavour to do,'
says Mr Bucket, shaking hands with him and blessing him in the
tenderest manner, eit's what you do. That's what I estimate in a man
in your way of business.'

Mr Snagsby makes a suitable response and goes homeward
so con-
fused by the events of the evening that he is doubtful of his being
awake and out--doubtful of the reality of the streets through which he
goes--doubtful of the reality of the moon that shines above him. He is
presently reassured on these subjects by the unchallengeable reality
of Mrs Snagsby, sitting up with her head in a perfect beehive of curl-
papers and night-cap
, who has dispatched Guster to the police-station
with official intelligence of her husband's being made away with, and
who within the last two hours has passed through every stage of
swooning with the greatest decorum. But as the little woman feelingly
says, many thanks she gets for it!




Chapter XXIII--Esther's Narrative



We came home from Mr Boythorn's after six pleasant weeks. We were
often in the park and in the woods and seldom passed the lodge where
we had taken shelter without looking in to speak to the keeper's wife;
but we saw no more of Lady Dedlock, except at church on Sundays.
There was company at Chesney Wold; and
although several beautiful
faces surrounded her, her face retained the same influence on me as
at first. I do not quite know even now whether it was painful or
pleasurable, whether it drew me towards her or made me shrink from
her. I think I admired her with a kind of fear
, and I know that in her
presence my thoughts always wandered back, as they had done at
first, to that old time of my life.

I had a fancy, on more than one of these Sundays, that what this lady
so curiously was to me, I was to her--I mean that I disturbed her
thoughts as she influenced mine, though in some different way. But
when I stole a glance at her and saw her so composed and distant and
unapproachable, I felt this to be a foolish weakness. Indeed, I felt the
whole state of my mind in reference to her to be weak and unreason-
able, and I remonstrated with myself about it as much as I could.


One incident that occurred before we quitted Mr Boythorn's house, I
had better mention in this place.

I was walking in the garden with Ada and when I was told that some
one wished to see me. Going into the breakfast-room where this
person was waiting, I found it to be the French maid who had cast off
her shoes and walked through the wet grass on the day when it
thundered and lightened.

eMademoiselle,' she began, looking fixedly at me with her too-eager
eyes, though otherwise presenting an agreeable appearance and
speaking neither with boldness nor servility, eI have taken a great
liberty in coming here, but you know how to excuse it, being so
amiable, mademoiselle.'

eNo excuse is necessary,' I returned, eif you wish to speak to me.'

eThat is my desire, mademoiselle. A thousand thanks for the permis-
sion. I have your leave to speak. Is it not?' she said in a quick, na-
tural way.

eCertainly,' said I.

eMademoiselle, you are so amiable! Listen then, if you please. I have
left my Lady. We could not agree. My Lady is so high, so very high.
Pardon! Mademoiselle, you are right!' Her quickness anticipated what
I might have said presently but as yet had only thought. eIt is not for
me to come here to complain of my Lady. But I say she is so high, so
very high. I will not say a word more. All the world knows that.'

eGo on, if you please,' said I.

eAssuredly; mademoiselle, I am thankful for your politeness.
Mademoiselle, I have an inexpressible desire to find service with a
young lady who is good, accomplished, beautiful. You are good,
accomplished, and beautiful as an angel. Ah, could I have the honour
of being your domestic!'

eI am sorry--' I began.

eDo not dismiss me so soon, mademoiselle!' she said with an
involuntary contraction of her fine black eyebrows. eLet me hope a
moment! Mademoiselle, I know this service would be more retired
than that which I have quitted. Well! I wish that. I know this service
would be less distinguished than that which I have quitted. Well! I
wish that, I know that I should win less, as to wages here. Good. I am
content.'

eI assure you,' said I, quite embarrassed by the mere idea of having
such an attendant, ethat I keep no maid--'

eAh, mademoiselle, but why not? Why not, when you can have one so
devoted to you! Who would be enchanted to serve you; who would be
so true, so zealous, and so faithful every day! Mademoiselle, I wish
with all my heart to serve you. Do not speak of money at present. Take
me as I am. For nothing!'

She was so singularly earnest that I drew back, almost afraid of her.
Without appearing to notice it, in her ardour she still pressed herself
upon me, speaking in a rapid subdued voice, though always with a
certain grace and propriety.

eMademoiselle, I come from the South country where we are quick and
where we like and dislike very strong. My Lady was too high for me; I
was too high for her. It is done--past--finished! Receive me as your
domestic, and I will serve you well. I will do more for you than you
figure to yourself now. Chut! Mademoiselle, I will--no matter, I will do
my utmost possible in all things. If you accept my service, you will not
repent it. Mademoiselle, you will not repent it, and I will serve you
well. You don't know how well!'


There was a lowering energy in her face as she stood looking at me
while I explained the impossibility of my engaging her (without thinking
it necessary to say how very little I desired to do so),
which seemed
to bring visibly before me some woman from the streets of Paris in
the reign of terror.


She heard me out without interruption and then said with her pretty
accent and in her mildest voice, eHey, mademoiselle, I have received
my answer! I am sorry of it. But I must go elsewhere and seek what I
have not found here.
Will you graciously let me kiss your hand?'

She looked at me more intently as she took it, and seemed to take
note, with her momentary touch, of every vein in it.
eI fear I surprised
you, mademoiselle, on the day of the storm?' she said with a parting
curtsy.

I confessed that she had surprised us all.

eI took an oath, mademoiselle,' she said, smiling, eand I wanted to
stamp it on my mind so that I might keep it faithfully. And I will!

Adieu, mademoiselle!' So ended our conference, which I was very glad
to bring to a close. I supposed she went away from the village, for I
saw her no more; and nothing else occurred to disturb our tranquil
summer pleasures until six weeks were out and we returned home as
I began just now by saying.


At that time, and for a good many weeks after that time, Richard was
constant in his visits. Besides coming every Saturday or Sunday and
remaining with us until Monday morning, he sometimes rode out on
horseback unexpectedly and passed the evening with us and rode
back again early next day. He was as vivacious as ever and told us he
was very industrious, but I was not easy in my mind about him. It
appeared to me that
his industry was all misdirected. I could not find
that it led to anything but the formation of delusive hopes in
connexion with the suit already the pernicious cause of so much
sorrow and ruin. He had got at the core of that mystery now, he told
us, and nothing could be plainer than that the will under which he
and Ada were to take I don't know how many thousands of pounds
must be finally established if there were any sense or justice in the
Court of Chancery--but oh, what a great if that sounded in my ears--

and that this happy conclusion could not be much longer delayed. He
proved this to himself by all the weary arguments on that side he had
read, and every one of them sunk him deeper in the infatuation. He
had even begun to haunt the court. He told us how he saw Miss Flite
there daily, how they talked together, and
how he did her little
kindnesses, and how, while he laughed at her, he pitied her from his
heart. But he never thought--never, my poor, dear, sanguine Richard,
capable of so much happiness then, and with such better things
before him--what a fatal link was riveting between his fresh youth
and her faded age, between his free hopes and her caged birds, and
her hungry garret, and her wandering mind.


Ada loved him too well to mistrust him much in anything he said or
did, and my guardian, though he frequently complained of the east
wind and read more than usual in the growlery, preserved a strict
silence on the subject.
So I thought one day when I went to London to
meet Caddy Jellyby, at her solicitation, I would ask Richard to be in
waiting for me at the coach-office, that we might have a little talk
together. I found him there when I arrived, and we walked away arm
in arm.

eWell, Richard,' said I as soon as I could begin to be grave with him,
eare you beginning to feel more settled now?'

eOh, yes, my dear!' returned Richard. eI'm all right enough.'

eBut settled?' said I.

eHow do you mean, settled?' returned Richard with his gay laugh.

eSettled in the law,' said I.

eOh, aye,' replied Richard, eI'm all right enough.'

eYou said that before, my dear Richard.'

eAnd you don't think it's an answer, eh? Well! Perhaps it's not.
Settled? You mean, do I feel as if I were settling down?'

eYes.'

eWhy, no, I can't say I am settling down,' said Richard, strongly
emphasizing edown,' as if that expressed the difficulty, ebecause one
can't settle down while this business remains in such an unsettled
state. When I say this business, of course I mean the--forbidden
subject.'

eDo you think it will ever be in a settled state?' said I.

eNot the least doubt of it,' answered Richard.

We walked a little way without speaking, and presently Richard
addressed me in his frankest and most feeling manner, thus: eMy dear
Esther, I understand you, and I wish to heaven I were a more constant
sort of fellow. I don't mean constant to Ada, for I love her dearly--
better and better every day--but constant to myself. (Somehow, I mean
something that I can't very well express, but you'll make it out.) If I
were a more constant sort of fellow, I should have held on either to
Badger or to Kenge and Carboy like grim death, and should have
begun to be steady and systematic by this time, and shouldn't be in
debt, and--'

eAre you in debt, Richard?'

eYes,' said Richard, eI am a little so, my dear. Also, I have taken rather
too much to billiards and that sort of thing. Now the murder's out;
you despise me, Esther, don't you?'

eYou know I don't,' said I.

eYou are kinder to me than I often am to myself,' he returned. eMy dear
Esther, I am a very unfortunate dog not to be more settled, but how
can I be more settled? If you lived in an unfinished house, you
couldn't settle down in it; if you were condemned to leave everything
you undertook unfinished, you would find it hard to apply yourself to
anything; and yet that's my unhappy case.
I was born into this
unfinished contention with all its chances and changes, and it began
to unsettle me before I quite knew the difference between a suit at law
and a suit of clothes; and it has gone on unsettling me ever since;
and
here I am now, conscious sometimes that I am but a worthless fellow
to love my confiding cousin Ada.'


We were in a solitary place, and he put his hands before his eyes and
sobbed as he said the words.

eOh, Richard!' said I. eDo not be so moved. You have a noble nature,
and Ada's love may make you worthier every day.'

eI know, my dear,' he replied, pressing my arm, eI know all that. You
mustn't mind my being a little soft now, for I have had all this upon
my mind for a long time, and have often meant to speak to you, and
have sometimes wanted opportunity and sometimes courage. I know
what the thought of Ada ought to do for me, but it doesn't do it. I am
too unsettled even for that. I love her most devotedly, and yet I do her
wrong, in doing myself wrong, every day and hour. But it can't last for
ever. We shall come on for a final hearing and get judgment in our
favour, and then you and Ada shall see what I can really be!'


It had given me a pang to hear him sob and see the tears start out
between his fingers, but that was infinitely less affecting to me than
the hopeful animation with which he said these words.


eI have looked well into the papers, Esther. I have been deep in them
for months,' he continued, recovering his cheerfulness in a moment,
eand you may rely upon it that we shall come out triumphant. As to
years of delay, there has been no want of them, heaven knows! And
there is the greater probability of our bringing the matter to a speedy
close; in fact, it's on the paper now. It will be all right at last, and then
you shall see!'

Recalling how he had just now placed Messrs. Kenge and Carboy in
the same category with Mr Badger, I asked him when he intended to
be articled in Lincoln's Inn.

eThere again! I think not at all, Esther,' he returned with an effort. eI
fancy I have had enough of it. Having worked at Jarndyce and
Jarndyce like a galley slave, I have slaked my thirst for the law and
satisfied myself that I shouldn't like it. Besides, I find it unsettles me
more and more to be so constantly upon the scene of action. So what,'
continued Richard, confident again by this time, edo I naturally turn
my thoughts to?'

eI can't imagine,' said I.

eDon't look so serious,' returned Richard, ebecause it's the best thing
I can do, my dear Esther, I am certain. It's not as if I wanted a profes-
sion for life. These proceedings will come to a termination, and then I
am provided for. No. I look upon it as a pursuit which is in its nature
more or less unsettled, and therefore suited to my temporary condi-
tion--I may say, precisely suited. What is it that I naturally turn my
thoughts to?'

I looked at him and shook my head.

eWhat,' said Richard, in a tone of perfect conviction, ebut the army!'

eThe army?' said I.

eThe army, of course. What I have to do is to get a commission; and--
there I am, you know!' said Richard.

And then he showed me, proved by elaborate calculations in his
pocket-book, that supposing he had contracted, say, two hundred
pounds of debt in six months out of the army; and that he contracted
no debt at all within a corresponding period in the army--as to which
he had quite made up his mind; this step must involve a saving of
four hundred pounds in a year, or two thousand pounds in five years,
which was a considerable sum. And then
he spoke so ingenuously
and sincerely of the sacrifice he made in withdrawing himself for a
time from Ada, and of the earnestness with which he aspired--as in
thought he always did, I know full well--to repay her love, and to
ensure her happiness, and to conquer what was amiss in himself, and
to acquire the very soul of decision, that he made my heart ache
keenly, sorely. For, I thought, how would this end, how could this end,
when so soon and so surely all his manly qualities were touched by
the fatal blight that ruined everything it rested on!


I spoke to Richard with all the earnestness I felt, and all the hope I
could not quite feel then, and implored him for Ada's sake not to put
any trust in Chancery. To all I said, Richard readily assented, riding
over the court and everything else in his easy way and drawing the
brightest pictures of the character he was to settle into--alas, when
the grievous suit should loose its hold upon him! We had a long talk,
but it always came back to that, in substance.


At last we came to Soho Square, where Caddy Jellyby had appointed
to wait for me, as a quiet place in the neighbourhood of Newman
Street. Caddy was in the garden in the centre and hurried out as soon
as I appeared. After a few cheerful words, Richard left us together.

ePrince has a pupil over the way, Esther,' said Caddy, eand got the key
for us. So if you will walk round and round here with me, we can lock
ourselves in and I can tell you comfortably what I wanted to see your
dear good face about.'

eVery well, my dear,' said I. eNothing could be better.' So Caddy, after
affectionately squeezing the dear good face as she called it, locked the
gate, and took my arm, and we began to walk round the garden very
cosily.


eYou see, Esther,' said Caddy, who thoroughly enjoyed a little
confidence, eafter you spoke to me about its being wrong to marry
without Ma's knowledge, or even to keep Ma long in the dark
respecting our engagement--though I don't believe Ma cares much for
me, I must say--I thought it right to mention your opinions to Prince.
In the first place because I want to profit by everything you tell me,
and in the second place because I have no secrets from Prince.'

eI hope he approved, Caddy?'

eOh, my dear! I assure you he would approve of anything you could
say. You have no idea what an opinion he has of you!'

eIndeed!'

eEsther, it's enough to make anybody but me jealous,' said Caddy,
laughing and shaking her head; ebut it only makes me joyful, for you
are the first friend I ever had, and the best friend I ever can have, and
nobody can respect and love you too much to please me.'

eUpon my word, Caddy,' said I, eyou are in the general conspiracy to
keep me in a good humour. Well, my dear?'


eWell! I am going to tell you,' replied Caddy, crossing her hands con-
fidentially upon my arm. eSo we talked a good deal about it, and so
I said to Prince, 'Prince, as Miss Summerson--'e

eI hope you didn't say 'Miss Summerson'?'

eNo. I didn't!' cried Caddy, greatly pleased and with the brightest of
faces. eI said, 'Esther.' I said to Prince, 'As Esther is decidedly of that
opinion, Prince, and has expressed it to me, and always hints it when
she writes those kind notes, which you are so fond of hearing me read
to you, I am prepared to disclose the truth to Ma whenever you think
proper. And I think, Prince,' said I, 'that Esther thinks that I should
be in a better, and truer, and more honourable position altogether if
you did the same to your papa.'e


eYes, my dear,' said I. eEsther certainly does think so.'

eSo I was right, you see!' exclaimed Caddy. eWell! This troubled Prince
a good deal, not because he had the least doubt about it, but because
he is so considerate of the feelings of old Mr Turveydrop; and he had
his apprehensions that old Mr Turveydrop might break his heart, or
faint away, or be very much overcome in some affecting manner or
other if he made such an announcement. He feared old Mr Turveydrop
might consider it undutiful and might receive too great a shock. For
old Mr Turveydrop's deportment is very beautiful, you know, Esther,'
said Caddy, eand his feelings are extremely sensitive.'


eAre they, my dear?'

eOh, extremely sensitive. Prince says so. Now, this has caused my
darling child--I didn't mean to use the expression to you, Esther,'
Caddy apologized, her face suffused with blushes, ebut I generally call
Prince my darling child.'

I laughed; and Caddy laughed and blushed, and went on.

eThis has caused him, Esther--'

eCaused whom, my dear?'

eOh, you tiresome thing!' said Caddy, laughing, with her pretty face
on fire. eMy darling child, if you insist upon it! This has caused him
weeks of uneasiness and has made him delay, from day to day, in a
very anxious manner. At last he said to me, 'Caddy, if Miss Summer-
son, who is a great favourite with my father, could be prevailed upon
to be present when I broke the subject, I think I could do it.'
So I
promised I would ask you. And I made up my mind, besides,' said Cad-
dy, looking at me hopefully but timidly, ethat if you consented, I
would ask you afterwards to come with me to Ma. This is what I
meant when I said in my note that I had a great favour and a great
assistance to beg of you. And if you thought you could grant it,
Esther, we should both be very grateful.'

eLet me see, Caddy,' said I, pretending to consider. eReally, I think I
could do a greater thing than that if the need were pressing. I am at
your service and the darling child's, my dear, whenever you like.'
Caddy was quite transported by this reply of mine, being, I believe, as
susceptible to the least kindness or encouragement as any tender
heart that ever beat in this world; and after another turn or two round
the garden, during which she put on an entirely new pair of gloves
and made herself as resplendent as possible that she might do no
avoidable discredit to the Master of Deportment,
we went to Newman
Street direct.

Prince was teaching, of course. We found him engaged with a not very
hopeful pupil--a stubborn little girl with a sulky forehead, a deep
voice, and an inanimate, dissatisfied mama
--whose case was certainly
not rendered more hopeful by the confusion into which we threw her
preceptor. The lesson at last came to an end, after proceeding as
discordantly as possible; and when the little girl had changed her
shoes and had
had her white muslin extinguished in shawls, she was
taken away.
After a few words of preparation, we then went in search
of Mr Turveydrop, whom we found, grouped with his hat and gloves,
as a model of deportment, on the sofa in his private apartment--the
only comfortable room in the house. He appeared to have dressed at
his leisure in the intervals of a light collation, and his dressing-case,
brushes, and so forth, all of quite an elegant kind, lay about.

eFather, Miss Summerson; Miss Jellyby.'

eCharmed! Enchanted!' said Mr Turveydrop, rising with his highshoul-
dered bow. ePermit me!' Handing chairs. eBe seated!' Kissing the
tips of his left fingers. eOverjoyed!' Shutting his eyes and rolling. eMy
little retreat is made a paradise.' Recomposing himself on the sofa like
the second gentleman in Europe.

eAgain you find us, Miss Summerson,' said he, eusing our little arts to
polish, polish! Again the sex stimulates us and rewards us by the con-
descension of its lovely presence. It is much in these times (and we
have made an awfully degenerating business of it since the days of his
Royal Highness the Prince Regent--my patron, if I may presume to say
so) to experience that deportment is not wholly trodden under foot by
mechanics. That it can yet bask in the smile of beauty, my dear madam.'

I said nothing, which I thought a suitable reply; and he took a pinch
of snuff.

eMy dear son,' said Mr Turveydrop, eyou have four schools this
afternoon. I would recommend a hasty sandwich.'


eThank you, father,' returned Prince, eI will be sure to be punctual. My
dear father, may I beg you to prepare your mind for what I am going to
say?'

eGood heaven!' exclaimed the model, pale and aghast as Prince and
Caddy, hand in hand, bent down before him. eWhat is this? Is this
lunacy! Or what is this?'

eFather,' returned Prince with great submission, eI love this young
lady, and we are engaged.'

eEngaged!' cried Mr Turveydrop, reclining on the sofa and shutting out
the sight with his hand.
eAn arrow launched at my brain by my own
child!'


eWe have been engaged for some time, father,' faltered Prince, eand
Miss Summerson, hearing of it, advised that we should declare the
fact to you and was so very kind as to attend on the present occasion.
Miss Jellyby is a young lady who deeply respects you, father.'


Mr Turveydrop uttered a groan.

eNo, pray don't! Pray don't, father,' urged his son. eMiss Jellyby is a
young lady who deeply respects you, and our first desire is to consider
your comfort.'

Mr Turveydrop sobbed.

eNo, pray don't, father!' cried his son.


eBoy,' said Mr Turveydrop, eit is well that your sainted mother is
spared this pang. Strike deep, and spare not. Strike home, sir, strike
home!'

ePray don't say so, father,' implored Prince, in tears. eIt goes to my
heart.
I do assure you, father, that our first wish and intention is to
consider your comfort. Caroline and I do not forget our duty--what is
my duty is Caroline's, as we have often said together--and with your
approval and consent, father, we will devote ourselves to making your
life agreeable.'

eStrike home,' murmured Mr Turveydrop. eStrike home!' But he
seemed to listen, I thought, too.

eMy dear father,' returned Prince, ewe well know what little comforts
you are accustomed to and have a right to, and it will always be our
study and our pride to provide those before anything. If you will bless
us with your approval and consent, father, we shall not think of being
married until it is quite agreeable to you; and when we ARE married,
we shall always make you--of course--our first consideration. You
must ever be the head and master here, father; and we feel how truly
unnatural it would be in us if we failed to know it or if we failed to
exert ourselves in every possible way to please you.'

Mr Turveydrop underwent a severe internal struggle and came upright
on the sofa again with his cheeks puffing over his stiff cravat, a perfect
model of parental deportment.


eMy son!' said Mr Turveydrop. eMy children! I cannot resist your
prayer. Be happy!'

His benignity as he raised his future daughter-in-law and stretched
out his hand to his son (who kissed it with affectionate respect and
gratitude) was the most confusing sight I ever saw.

eMy children,' said Mr Turveydrop, paternally encircling Caddy with
his left arm as she sat beside him, and putting his right hand
gracefully on his hip. eMy son and daughter, your happiness shall be
my care. I will watch over you. You shall always live with me'--
meaning, of course, I will always live with you--'this house is
henceforth as much yours as mine; consider it your home. May you
long live to share it with me!'


The power of his deportment was such that they really were as much
overcome with thankfulness as if, instead of quartering himself upon
them for the rest of his life, he were making some munificent sacrifice
in their favour.


eFor myself, my children,' said Mr Turveydrop, eI am falling into the
sear and yellow leaf, and it is impossible to say how long the last
feeble traces of gentlemanly deportment may linger in this weaving
and spinning age. But, so long, I will do my duty to society and will
show myself, as usual, about town. My wants are few and simple. My
little apartment here, my few essentials for the toilet, my frugal
morning meal, and my little dinner will suffice. I charge your dutiful
affection with the supply of these requirements, and I charge myself
with all the rest.'


They were overpowered afresh by his uncommon generosity.

eMy son,' said Mr Turveydrop, efor those little points in which you are
deficient--points of deportment, which are born with a man, which
may be improved by cultivation, but can never be originated--you
may still rely on me. I have been faithful to my post since the days of
his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, and I will not desert it now. No,
my son. If you have ever contemplated your father's poor position with
a feeling of pride, you may rest assured that he will do nothing to
tarnish it. For yourself, Prince, whose character is different (we cannot
be all alike, nor is it advisable that we should), work, be industrious,
earn money, and extend the connexion as much as possible.'

eThat you may depend I will do, dear father, with all my heart,' replied
Prince.

eI have no doubt of it,' said Mr Turveydrop.
eYour qualities are not
shining, my dear child, but they are steady and useful. And to both of
you, my children, I would merely observe, in the spirit of a sainted
wooman on whose path I had the happiness of casting, I believe,
some ray of light, take care of the establishment, take care of my
simple wants, and bless you both!'


Old Mr Turveydrop then became so very gallant, in honour of the
occasion, that I told Caddy we must really go to Thavies Inn at once if
we were to go at all that day. So we took our departure after a very
loving farewell between Caddy and her betrothed, and during our walk
she was so happy and so full of old Mr Turveydrop's praises that I
would not have said a word in his disparagement for any consideration.


The house in Thavies Inn had bills in the windows annoucing that it
was to let, and it looked dirtier and gloomier and ghastlier than ever.
The name of poor Mr Jellyby had appeared in the list of bankrupts but
a day or two before, and he was shut up in the dining-room with two
gentlemen and a heap of blue bags, account-books, and papers,
making the most desperate endeavours to understand his affairs.
They appeared to me to be quite beyond his comprehension, for when
Caddy took me into the dining-room by mistake and we came upon Mr
Jellyby in his spectacles, forlornly fenced into a corner by the great
dining-table and the two gentlemen, he seemed to have given up the
whole thing and to be speechless and insensible.


Going upstairs to Mrs Jellyby's room (the children were all screaming
in the kitchen, and there was no servant to be seen), we found that
lady in the midst of a voluminous correspondence, opening, reading,
and sorting letters, with a great accumulation of torn covers on the
floor. She was so preoccupied that at first she did not know me,
though she sat
looking at me with that curious, bright-eyed, far-off
look of hers.


eAh! Miss Summerson!' she said at last. eI was thinking of something
so different! I hope you are well. I am happy to see you. Mr Jarndyce
and Miss Clare quite well?'

I hoped in return that Mr Jellyby was quite well.

eWhy, not quite, my dear,' said Mrs Jellyby in the calmest manner.
eHe has been unfortunate in his affairs and is a little out of spirits.
Happily for me, I am so much engaged that I have no time to think
about it. We have, at the present moment, one hundred and seventy
families, Miss Summerson, averaging five persons in each, either gone
or going to the left bank of the Niger.'

I thought of the one family so near us who were neither gone nor going
to the left bank of the Niger, and wondered how she could be so
placid.

eYou have brought Caddy back, I see,' observed Mrs Jellyby with a
glance at her daughter. eIt has become quite a novelty to see her here.
She has almost deserted her old employment and in fact obliges me to
employ a boy.'

eI am sure, Ma--' began Caddy.

eNow you know, Caddy,' her mother mildly interposed, ethat I do
employ a boy, who is now at his dinner. What is the use of your
contradicting?'

eI was not going to contradict, Ma,' returned Caddy. eI was only going
to say that surely you wouldn't have me be a mere drudge all my life.'

eI believe, my dear,' said Mrs Jellyby, still opening her letters,
casting
her bright eyes smilingly over them
, and sorting them as she spoke,
ethat you have a business example before you in your mother. Besides.
A mere drudge? If you had any sympathy with the destinies of the
human race, it would raise you high above any such idea. But you
have none. I have often told you, Caddy, you have no such sympathy.'

eNot if it's Africa, Ma, I have not.'

eOf course you have not. Now, if I were not happily so much engaged,
Miss Summerson,' said Mrs Jellyby, sweetly casting her eyes for a mo-
ment on me and considering where to put the particular letter she
had just opened, ethis would distress and disappoint me. But I have so
much to think of, in connexion with Borrioboola-Gha and it is so
necessary I should concentrate myself that there is my remedy, you
see.'


As Caddy gave me a glance of entreaty, and as Mrs Jellyby was
looking far away into Africa straight through my bonnet and head
, I
thought it a good opportunity to come to the subject of my visit and to
attract Mrs Jellyby's attention.

ePerhaps,' I began, eyou will wonder what has brought me here to
interrupt you.'


eI am always delighted to see Miss Summerson,' said Mrs Jellyby,
pursuing her employment with a placid smile. eThough I wish,' and
she shook her head, eshe was more interested in the Borrioboolan
project.'

eI have come with Caddy,' said I, ebecause Caddy justly thinks she
ought not to have a secret from her mother and fancies I shall
encourage and aid her (though I am sure I don't know how) in
imparting one.'

eCaddy,' said Mrs Jellyby, pausing for a moment in her occupation
and then serenely pursuing it after shaking her head, eyou are going to
tell me some nonsense.'

Caddy untied the strings of her bonnet, took her bonnet off, and
letting it dangle on the floor by the strings, and crying heartily, said,
eMa, I am engaged.'

eOh, you ridiculous child!' observed Mrs Jellyby with an abstracted air
as she looked over the dispatch last opened; ewhat a goose you are!'

eI am engaged, Ma,' sobbed Caddy, eto young Mr Turveydrop, at the
academy; and old Mr Turveydrop (who is a very gentlemanly man
indeed) has given his consent, and I beg and pray you'll give us yours,
Ma, because I never could be happy without it. I never, never could!'
sobbed Caddy, quite forgetful of her general complainings and of
everything but her natural affection.

eYou see again, Miss Summerson,' observed Mrs Jellyby serenely,
ewhat a happiness it is to be so much occupied as I am and to have
this necessity for self-concentration that I have. Here is Caddy
engaged to a dancing-master's son--mixed up with people who have
no more sympathy with the destinies of the human race than she has
herself! This, too, when Mr Quale, one of the first philanthropists of
our time, has mentioned to me that he was really disposed to be
interested in her!'


eMa, I always hated and detested Mr Quale!' sobbed Caddy.

eCaddy, Caddy!' returned Mrs Jellyby, opening another letter with the
greatest complacency. eI have no doubt you did. How could you do
otherwise, being totally destitute of the sympathies with which he
overflows! Now, if my public duties were not a favourite child to me, if
I were not occupied with large measures on a vast scale, these petty
details might grieve me very much, Miss Summerson. But can I permit
the film of a silly proceeding on the part of Caddy (from whom I expect
nothing else) to interpose between me and the great African continent?

No. No,' repeated Mrs Jellyby in a calm clear voice, and with an
agreeable smile, as she opened more letters and sorted them. eNo,
indeed.'


I was so unprepared for the perfect coolness of this reception, though I
might have expected it, that I did not know what to say. Caddy
seemed equally at a loss. Mrs Jellyby continued to open and sort
letters and to repeat occasionally in quite a charming tone of voice
and with a smile of perfect composure, eNo, indeed.'

eI hope, Ma,' sobbed poor Caddy at last, eyou are not angry?'

eOh, Caddy, you really are an absurd girl,' returned Mrs Jellyby, eto
ask such questions after what I have said of the preoccupation of my
mind.'

eAnd I hope, Ma, you give us your consent and wish us well?' said
Caddy.


eYou are a nonsensical child to have done anything of this kind,' said
Mrs Jellyby; eand a degenerate child, when you might have devoted
yourself to the great public measure.
But the step is taken, and I have
engaged a boy, and there is no more to be said. Now, pray, Caddy,'
said Mrs Jellyby, for Caddy was kissing her, edon't delay me in my
work, but let me clear off this heavy batch of papers before the
afternoon post comes in!'

I thought I could not do better than take my leave; I was detained for a
moment by Caddy's saying, eYou won't object to my bringing him to
see you, Ma?'

eOh, dear me, Caddy,' cried Mrs Jellyby, who had relapsed into that
distant contemplation, ehave you begun again? Bring whom?'

eHim, Ma.'


eCaddy, Caddy!' said Mrs Jellyby, quite weary of such little matters.
eThen you must bring him some evening which is not a Parent Society
night, or a Branch night, or a Ramification night.
You must accommo-
date the visit to the demands upon my time. My dear Miss Summerson,
it was very kind of you to come here to help out this silly chit. Good-
bye! When I tell you that
I have fifty-eight new letters from manufac-
turing families anxious to understand the details of the native and
coffee-cultivation question this morning, I need not apologize for
having very little leisure.'


I was not surprised by Caddy's being in low spirits when we went
downstairs, or by her sobbing afresh on my neck, or by her saying she
would far rather have been scolded than treated with such indiffer-
ence, or by her confiding to me that she was so poor in clothes
that how she was ever to be married creditably she didn't know. I
gradually cheered her up by dwelling on the many things she would
do for her unfortunate father and for Peepy when she had a home of
her own; and finally we went downstairs into the damp dark kitchen,
where Peepy and his little brothers and sisters were grovelling on the
stone floor and where we had such a game of play with them that to
prevent myself from being quite torn to pieces I was obliged to fall
back on my fairy-tales. From time to time I heard loud voices in the
parlour overhead, and occasionally a violent tumbling about of the
furniture. The last effect I am afraid was caused by poor Mr Jellyby's
breaking away from the dining-table and making rushes at the
window with the intention of throwing himself into the area whenever
he made any new attempt to understand his affairs.

As I rode quietly home at night after the day's bustle, I thought a good
deal of Caddy's engagement and felt confirmed in my hopes (in spite of
the elder Mr Turveydrop) that she would be the happier and better for
it. And if there seemed to be but a slender chance of her and her
husband ever finding out what the model of deportment really was,
why that was all for the best too, and who would wish them to be
wiser? I did not wish them to be any wiser and indeed was half
ashamed of not entirely believing in him myself. And I looked up at
the stars, and thought about travellers in distant countries and the
stars they saw, and hoped I might always be so blest and happy as
to be useful to some one in my small way.


They were so glad to see me when I got home, as they always were,
that I could have sat down and cried for joy if that had not been a
method of making myself disagreeable. Everybody in the house, from
the lowest to the highest, showed me such a bright face of welcome,
and spoke so cheerily, and was so happy to do anything for me, that I
suppose there never was such a fortunate little creature in the world.

We got into such a chatty state that night, through Ada and my
guardian drawing me out to tell them all about Caddy, that I went on
prose, prose, prosing for a length of time. At last I got up to my own
room, quite red to think how I had been holding forth, and then I
heard a soft tap at my door. So I said, eCome in!' and there came in a
pretty little girl, neatly dressed in mourning, who dropped a curtsy.
eIf you please, miss,' said the little girl in a soft voice, eI am Charley.'

eWhy, so you are,' said I, stooping down in astonishment and giving
her a kiss. eHow glad am I to see you, Charley!'

eIf you please, miss,' pursued Charley in the same soft voice, eI'm your
maid.'

eCharley?'

eIf you please, miss, I'm a present to you, with Mr Jarndyce's love.'
I sat down with my hand on Charley's neck and looked at Charley.

eAnd oh, miss,' says Charley, clapping her hands, with the tears
starting down her dimpled cheeks, eTom's at school, if you please, and
learning so good! And little Emma, she's with Mrs Blinder, miss, a-being
took such care of!
And Tom, he would have been at school--and
Emma, she would have been left with Mrs Blinder--and me, I should
have been here--all a deal sooner, miss; only Mr Jarndyce thought
that Tom and Emma and me had better get a little used to parting
first, we was so small. Don't cry, if you please, miss!'

eI can't help it, Charley.'


eNo, miss, nor I can't help it,' says Charley. eAnd if you please, miss,
Mr Jarndyce's love, and he thinks you'll like to teach me now and
then. And if you please, Tom and Emma and me is to see each other
once a month.
And I'm so happy and so thankful, miss,' cried Charley
with a heaving heart, eand I'll try to be such a good maid!'

eOh, Charley dear, never forget who did all this!'

eNo, miss, I never will. Nor Tom won't. Nor yet Emma. It was all you,
miss.'

eI have known nothing of it. It was Mr Jarndyce, Charley.'

eYes, miss, but it was all done for the love of you and that you might
be my mistress. If you please, miss, I am a little present with his love,
and it was all done for the love of you.
Me and Tom was to be sure to
remember it.'

Charley dried her eyes and entered on her functions, going in her
matronly little way about and about the room and folding up
everything she could lay her hands upon. Presently Charley came
creeping back to my side and said, eOh, don't cry, if you please, miss.'

And I said again, eI can't help it, Charley.'

And Charley said again, eNo, miss, nor I can't help it.' And so, after all,
I did cry for joy indeed, and so did she.




Chapter XXIV--An Appeal Case



As soon as Richard and I had held the conversation of which I have
given an account, Richard communicated the state of his mind to Mr
Jarndyce. I doubt if my guardian were altogether taken by surprise
when he received the representation, though it caused him much
uneasiness and disappointment. He and Richard were often closeted
together, late at night and early in the morning, and passed whole
days in London, and had innumerable appointments with Mr Kenge,
and laboured through a quantity of disagreeable business. While they
were thus employed, my guardian, though he underwent considerable
inconvenience from the state of the wind and rubbed his head so
constantly that not a single hair upon it ever rested in its right place,
was as genial with Ada and me as at any other time, but maintained a
steady reserve on these matters. And as our utmost endeavours could
only elicit from Richard himself sweeping assurances that everything
was going on capitally and that it really was all right at last, our
anxiety was not much relieved by him.


We learnt, however, as the time went on, that a new application was
made to the Lord Chancellor on Richard's behalf as an infant and a
ward, and I don't know what, and that there was a quantity of talking,
and that the Lord Chancellor
described him in open court as a
vexatious and capricious infant, and that the matter was adjourned
and readjourned, and referred, and reported on, and petitioned about
until Richard began to doubt (as he told us) whether, if he entered the
army at all, it would not be as a veteran of seventy or eighty years of
age
. At last an appointment was made for him to see the Lord
Chancellor again in his private room, and there the Lord Chancellor
very seriously reproved him for trifling with time and not knowing his
mind--'a pretty good joke, I think,' said Richard, efrom that quarter!'--
and at last it was settled that his application should be granted. His
name was entered at the Horse Guards as an applicant for an ensign's
commission; the purchase-money was deposited at an agent's; and
Richard, in his usual characteristic way, plunged into a violent course
of military study and got up at five o'clock every morning to practise
the broadsword exercise.


Thus, vacation succeeded term, and term succeeded vacation. We
sometimes heard of Jarndyce and Jarndyce as being in the paper or
out of the paper, or as being to be mentioned, or as being to be spoken
to; and it came on, and it went off. Richard, who was now in a
professor's house in London, was able to be with us less frequently
than before; my guardian still maintained the same reserve; and so
time passed until the commission was obtained and Richard received
directions with it to join a regiment in Ireland.

He arrived post-haste with the intelligence one evening, and had a
long conference with my guardian. Upwards of an hour elapsed before
my guardian put his head into the room where Ada and I were sitting
and said, eCome in, my dears!' We went in and
found Richard, whom
we had last seen in high spirits, leaning on the chimney-piece looking
mortified and angry.

eRick and I, Ada,' said Mr Jarndyce, eare not quite of one mind. Come,
come, Rick, put a brighter face upon it!'

eYou are very hard with me, sir,' said Richard. eThe harder because
you have been so considerate to me in all other respects
and have
done me kindnesses that I can never acknowledge. I never could have
been set right without you, sir.'


eWell, well!' said Mr Jarndyce. eI want to set you more right yet. I want
to set you more right with yourself.'

eI hope you will excuse my saying, sir,' returned Richard in a fiery way,
but yet respectfully, ethat I think I am the best judge about myself.'

eI hope you will excuse my saying, my dear Rick,' observed Mr
Jarndyce with the sweetest cheerfulness and good humour, ethat it's
quite natural in you to think so, but I don't think so. I must do my
duty, Rick, or you could never care for me in cool blood; and I hope
you will always care for me, cool and hot.'


Ada had turned so pale that he made her sit down in his reading-chair
and sat beside her.


eIt's nothing, my dear,' he said, eit's nothing. Rick and I have only had
a friendly difference, which we must state to you, for you are the
theme. Now you are afraid of what's coming.'

eI am not indeed, cousin John,' replied Ada with a smile, eif it is to
come from you.'

eThank you, my dear. Do you give me a minute's calm attention,
without looking at Rick. And, little woman, do you likewise. My dear
girl,' putting his hand on hers as it lay on the side of the easy-chair,
eyou recollect the talk we had, we four when the little woman told me
of a little love affair?'


eIt is not likely that either Richard or I can ever forget your kindness
that day, cousin John.'

eI can never forget it,' said Richard. eAnd I can never forget it,' said Ada.

eSo much the easier what I have to say, and so much the easier for us
to agree,' returned my guardian, his face irradiated by the gentleness
and honour of his heart. eAda, my bird, you should know that
Rick
has now chosen his profession for the last time. All that he has of
certainty will be expended when he is fully equipped. He has exhaus-
ted his resources and is bound henceforward to the tree he has
planted.'

eQuite true that I have exhausted my present resources, and I am
quite content to know it. But what I have of certainty, sir,' said
Richard, eis not all I have.'

eRick, Rick!' cried my guardian with a sudden terror in his manner,
and in an altered voice, and putting up his hands as if he would have
stopped his ears. eFor the love of God, don't found a hope or
expectation on the family curse! Whatever you do on this side the
grave, never give one lingering glance towards the horrible phantom
that has haunted us so many years. Better to borrow, better to beg,
better to die!'


We were all startled by the fervour of this warning. Richard bit his lip
and held his breath, and glanced at me as if he felt, and knew that I
felt too, how much he needed it.


eAda, my dear,' said Mr Jarndyce, recovering his cheerfulness, ethese
are strong words of advice, but I live in Bleak House and have seen a
sight here. Enough of that. All Richard had to start him in the race of
life is ventured. I recommend to him and you, for his sake and your
own, that he should depart from us with the understanding that there
is no sort of contract between you. I must go further. I will be plain
with you both. You were to confide freely in me, and I will confide
freely in you.
I ask you wholly to relinquish, for the present, any tie
but your relationship.'

eBetter to say at once, sir,' returned Richard, ethat you renounce all
confidence in me and that you advise Ada to do the same.'


eBetter to say nothing of the sort, Rick, because I don't mean it.'

eYou think I have begun ill, sir,' retorted Richard. eI have, I know.'

eHow I hoped you would begin, and how go on, I told you when we
spoke of these things last,' said Mr Jarndyce in a cordial and
encouraging manner. eYou have not made that beginning yet, but
there is a time for all things, and yours is not gone by; rather, it is
just now fully come. Make a clear beginning altogether. You two (ve-
ry young, my dears) are cousins.
As yet, you are nothing more. What
more may come must come of being worked out, Rick, and no sooner.'

eYou are very hard with me, sir,' said Richard. eHarder than I could
have supposed you would be.'

eMy dear boy,' said Mr Jarndyce, eI am harder with myself when I do
anything that gives you pain. You have your remedy in your own
hands.
Ada, it is better for him that he should be free and that there
should be no youthful engagement between you. Rick, it is better for
her, much better; you owe it to her. Come! Each of you will do what is
best for the other, if not what is best for yourselves.'


eWhy is it best, sir?' returned Richard hastily. eIt was not when we
opened our hearts to you. You did not say so then.'

eI have had experience since. I don't blame you, Rick, but I have had
experience since.'

eYou mean of me, sir.'

eWell! Yes, of both of you,' said Mr Jarndyce kindly.
eThe time is not
come for your standing pledged to one another. It is not right, and I
must not recognize it. Come, come, my young cousins, begin afresh!
Bygones shall be bygones, and a new page turned for you to write
your lives in.'

Richard gave an anxious glance at Ada but said nothing.

eI have avoided saying one word to either of you or to Esther,' said Mr
Jarndyce, euntil now, in order that we might be open as the day, and
all on equal terms. I now affectionately advise, I now most earnestly
entreat, you two to part as you came here. Leave all else to time,
truth, and steadfastness. If you do otherwise, you will do wrong, and
you will have made me do wrong in ever bringing you together.'


A long silence succeeded.

eCousin Richard,' said Ada then, raising her blue eyes tenderly to his
face, eafter what our cousin John has said, I think no choice is left us.
Your mind may be quite at ease about me, for you will leave me here
under his care and will be sure that I can have nothing to wish for--
quite sure if I guide myself by his advice. I--I don't doubt, cousin
Richard,' said Ada, a little confused, ethat you are very fond of me, and
I--I don't think you will fall in love with anybody else. But I should like
you to consider well about it too, as I should like you to be in all
things very happy. You may trust in me, cousin Richard. I am not at
all changeable; but I am not unreasonable, and should never blame
you. Even cousins may be sorry to part; and in truth I am very, very
sorry, Richard, though I know it's for your welfare. I shall always
think of you affectionately, and often talk of you with Esther, and--
and perhaps you will sometimes think a little of me, cousin Richard.
So now,' said Ada, going up to him and giving him her trembling
hand, ewe are only cousins again, Richard--for the time perhaps--
and I pray for a blessing on my dear cousin, wherever he goes!'

It was strange to me that Richard should not be able to forgive my
guardian for entertaining the very same opinion of him which he
himself had expressed of himself in much stronger terms to me. But it
was certainly the case. I observed with great regrt that from this hour
he never was as free and open with Mr Jarndyce as he had been
before. He had every reason given him to be so, but he was not; and
solely on his side, an estrangement began to arise between them.


In the business of preparation and equipment he soon lost himself,
and even his grief at parting from Ada, who remained in Hertfordshire
while he, Mr Jarndyce, and I went up to London for a week. He
remembered her by fits and starts, even with bursts of tears, and at
such times would confide to me the heaviest self-reproaches. But in a
few minutes he would recklessly conjure up some undefinable means
by which they were both to be made rich and happy for ever, and
would become as gay as possible.


It was a busy time, and I trotted about with him all day long, buying a
variety of things of which he stood in need. Of the things he would
have bought if he had been left to his own ways I say nothing. He was
perfectly confidential with me, and often talked so sensibly and
feelingly about his faults and his vigorous resolutions, and dwelt so
much upon the encouragement he derived from these conversations
that I could never have been tired if I had tried.

There used, in that week, to come backward and forward to our
lodging to fence with Richard a person who had formerly been a
cavalry soldier; he was a fine bluff-looking man, of a frank free
bearing, with whom Richard had practised for some months.
I heard
so much about him, not only from Richard, but from my guardian too,
that I was purposely in the room with my work one morning after
breakfast when he came.

eGood morning, Mr George,' said my guardian, who happened to be
alone with me. eMr Carstone will be here directly. Meanwhile, Miss
Summerson is very happy to see you, I know. Sit down.'

He sat down, a little disconcerted by my presence, I thought, and
without looking at me, drew his heavy sunburnt hand across and
across his upper lip.

eYou are as punctual as the sun,' said Mr Jarndyce.

eMilitary time, sir,' he replied. eForce of habit. A mere habit in me,
sir. I am not at all business-like.'

eYet you have a large establishment, too, I am told?' said Mr Jarndyce.

eNot much of a one, sir. I keep a shooting gallery, but not much of a
one.'

eAnd what kind of a shot and what kind of a swordsman do you make
of Mr Carstone?' said my guardian.


ePretty good, sir,' he replied, folding his arms upon his broad chest
and looking very large. eIf Mr Carstone was to give his full mind to it,
he would come out very good.'

eBut he don't, I suppose?' said my guardian.

eHe did at first, sir, but not afterwards. Not his full mind. Perhaps he
has something else upon it--some young lady, perhaps.'
His bright
dark eyes glanced at me for the first time.

eHe has not me upon his mind, I assure you, Mr George,' said I,
laughing, ethough you seem to suspect me.'

He reddened a little through his brown and made me a trooper's bow.

eNo offence, I hope, miss. I am one of the roughs.'

eNot at all,' said I. eI take it as a compliment.'

If he had not looked at me before, he looked at me now in three or four
quick successive glances.
eI beg your pardon, sir,' he said to my
guardian with a manly kind of diffidence, ebut you did me the honour
to mention the young lady's name--'


eMiss Summerson.'

eMiss Summerson,' he repeated, and looked at me again.

eDo you know the name?' I asked.

eNo, miss. To my knowledge I never heard it. I thought I had seen you
somewhere.'

eI think not,' I returned, raising my head from my work to look at him;
and there was something so genuine in his speech and manner that I
was glad of the opportunity. eI remember faces very well.'

eSo do I, miss!' he returned,
meeting my look with the fullness of his
dark eyes and broad forehead.
eHumph! What set me off, now, upon
that!'

His once more reddening through his brown and being disconcerted
by his efforts to remember the association brought my guardian to his
relief.


eHave you many pupils, Mr George?'

eThey vary in their number, sir. Mostly they're but a small lot to live
by.'

eAnd what classes of chance people come to practise at your gallery?'

eAll sorts, sir. Natives and foreigners. From gentlemen to 'prentices. I
have had Frenchwomen come, before now, and show themselves dabs
at pistol-shooting. Mad people out of number, of course, but they go
everywhere where the doors stand open.'

ePeople don't come with grudges and schemes of finishing their
practice with live targets, I hope?' said my guardian, smiling.

eNot much of that, sir, though that has happened. Mostly they come
for skill--or idleness. Six of one, and half-a-dozen of the other. I beg
your pardon,' said Mr George, sitting stiffly upright and squaring an
elbow on each knee, ebut I believe you're a Chancery suitor, if I have
heard correct?'

eI am sorry to say I am.'

eI have had one of your compatriots in my time, sir.'

eA Chancery suitor?' returned my guardian. eHow was that?'

eWhy, the man was so badgered and worried and tortured by being
knocked about from post to pillar, and from pillar to post,' said Mr
George, ethat he got out of sorts. I don't believe he had any idea of
taking aim at anybody, but he was in that condition of resentment
and violence that he would come and pay for fifty shots and fire away
till he was red hot. One day I said to him when there was nobody by
and he had been talking to me angrily about his wrongs, 'If this
practice is a safety-valve, comrade, well and good; but I don't
altogether like your being so bent upon it in your present state of
mind; I'd rather you took to something else.' I was on my guard for a
blow, he was that passionate; but he received it in very good part and
left off directly. We shook hands and struck up a sort of friendship.'

eWhat was that man?' asked my guardian in a new tone of interest.

eWhy, he began by being a small Shropshire farmer before they made a
baited bull of him,' said Mr George.

eWas his name Gridley?'

eIt was, sir.'

Mr George directed another succession of quick bright glances at me
as my guardian and I exchanged a word or two of surprise at the
coincidence, and I therefore explained to him how we knew the name.
He made me another of his soldierly bows in acknowledgment of what
he called my condescension.


eI don't know,' he said as he looked at me, ewhat it is that sets me off
again--but--bosh! What's my head running against!' He passed one of
his heavy hands over his crisp dark hair as if to sweep the broken
thoughts out of his mind and sat a little forward, with one arm
akimbo and the other resting on his leg, looking in a brown study at
the ground.


eI am sorry to learn that the same state of mind has got this Gridley
into new troubles and that he is in hiding,' said my guardian
.

eSo I am told, sir,' returned Mr George, still musing and looking on the
ground. eSo I am told.'

eYou don't know where?'

eNo, sir,' returned the trooper, lifting up his eyes and coming out of his
reverie. eI can't say anything about him. He will be worn out soon, I
expect. You may file a strong man's heart away for a good many years,
but it will tell all of a sudden at last.'


Richard's entrance stopped the conversation. Mr George rose, made
me another of his soldierly bows, wished my guardian a good day, and
strode heavily out of the room.

This was the morning of the day appointed for Richard's departure.
We had no more purchases to make now; I had completed all his
packing early in the afternoon; and our time was disengaged until
night, when he was to go to Liverpool for Holyhead. Jarndyce and
Jarndyce being again expected to come on that day, Richard proposed
to me that we should go down to the court and hear what passed. As
it was his last day, and he was eager to go, and I had never been
there, I gave my consent and we walked down to Westminster, where
the court was then sitting. We beguiled the way with arrangements
concerning the letters that Richard was to write to me and the letters
that I was to write to him and with a great many hopeful projects. My
guardian knew where we were going and therefore was not with us.

When we came to the court, there was the Lord Chancellor--the same
whom I had seen in his private room in Lincoln's Inn--sitting in great
state and gravity on the bench, with the mace and seals on a red table
below him and an immense flat nosegay, like a little garden, which
scented the whole court. Below the table, again, was a long row of
solicitors, with bundles of papers on the matting at their feet; and
then there were the gentlemen of the bar in wigs and gowns--some
awake and some asleep, and one talking, and nobody paying much
attention to what he said.
The Lord Chancellor leaned back in his very
easy chair with his elbow on the cushioned arm and his forehead
resting on his hand; some of those who were present dozed; some read
the newspapers; some walked about or whispered in groups: all
seemed perfectly at their ease, by no means in a hurry, very
unconcerned, and extremely comfortable.

To see everything going on so smoothly and to think of the roughness
of the suitors' lives and deaths; to see all that full dress and ce-
remony and to think of the waste, and want, and beggared misery it
represented; to consider that while the sickness of hope deferred was
raging in so many hearts this polite show went calmly on from day to
day, and year to year, in such good order and composure; to behold
the Lord Chancellor and the whole array of practitioners under him
looking at one another and at the spectators as if nobody had ever
heard that all over England the name in which they were assembled
was a bitter jest, was held in universal horror, contempt, and
indignation, was known for something so flagrant and bad that little
short of a miracle could bring any good out of it to any one--this was
so curious and self-contradictory to me, who had no experience of it,
that it was at first incredible, and I could not comprehend it.
I sat
where Richard put me, and tried to listen, and looked about me; but
there seemed to be no reality in the whole scene except poor little Miss
Flite, the madwoman, standing on a bench and nodding at it.

Miss Flite soon espied us and came to where we sat. She gave me a
gracious welcome to her domain and indicated, with much
gratification and pride, its principal attractions. Mr Kenge also came
to speak to us and did the honours of the place in much the same
way, with the bland modesty of a proprietor. It was not a very good
day for a visit, he said; he would have preferred the first day of term;
but it was imposing, it was imposing.


When we had been there half an hour or so, the case in progress--if
I may use a phrase so ridiculous in such a connexion--seemed to die
out of its own vapidity, without coming, or being by anybody expected
to come, to any result. The Lord Chancellor then threw down a bundle
of papers from his desk to the gentlemen below him, and somebody
said, 'Jarndyce and Jarndyce.' Upon this there was a buzz, and a
laugh, and a general withdrawal of the bystanders, and a bringing in
of great heaps, and piles, and bags and bags full of papers.


I think it came on 'for further directions'--about some bill of
costs, to the best of my understanding, which was confused enough.
But
I counted twenty-three gentlemen in wigs who said they were
'in it,' and none of them appeared to understand it much better
than I. They chatted about it with the Lord Chancellor, and contra-
dicted and explained among themselves, and some of them said it was
this way, and some of them said it was that way, and some of them
jocosely proposed to read huge volumes of affidavits, and there was
more buzzing and laughing, and everybody concerned was in a state of
idle entertainment, and nothing could be made of it by anybody. Af-
ter an hour or so of this, and a good many speeches being begun and
cut short, it was 'referred back for the present,' as Mr Kenge said,
and the papers were bundled up again before the clerks had finished
bringing them in.

I glanced at Richard on the termination of these hopeless proceedings
and was shocked to see the worn look of his handsome young face. 'It
can't last for ever, Dame Durden. Better luck next time!' was all he
said.


I had seen Mr Guppy bringing in papers and arranging them for Mr
Kenge; and he had seen me and made me a forlorn bow, which
rendered me desirous to get out of the court.
Richard had given me
his arm and was taking me away when Mr Guppy came up.

'I beg your pardon, Mr Carstone,' said he in a whisper, 'and Miss
Summerson's also, but there's a lady here, a friend of mine, who
knows her and wishes to have the pleasure of shaking hands.' As he
spoke,
I saw before me, as if she had started into bodily shape from
my remembrance, Mrs Rachael of my godmother's house.


'How do you do, Esther?' said she. 'Do you recollect me?'

I gave her my hand and told her yes and that she was very little
altered.

'I wonder you remember those times, Esther,' she returned with her
old asperity. 'They are changed now. Well! I am glad to see you, and
glad you are not too proud to know me.' But indeed she seemed
disappointed that I was not.

'Proud, Mrs Rachael!' I remonstrated.

'I am married, Esther,' she returned, coldly correcting me, 'and am
Mrs Chadband. Well! I wish you good day, and I hope you'll do well.'


Mr Guppy, who had been attentive to this short dialogue, heaved a
sigh in my ear and elbowed his own and Mrs Rachael's way through
the confused little crowd of people coming in and going out, which we
were in the midst of and which the change in the business had
brought together. Richard and I were making our way through it, and
I was yet in the first chill of the late unexpected recognition when I
saw, coming towards us, but not seeing us, no less a person than Mr
George. He made nothing of the people about him as he tramped on,
staring over their heads into the body of the court.


'George!' said Richard as I called his attention to him.

'You are well met, sir,' he returned. 'And you, miss. Could you
point a person out for me, I want? I don't understand these places.'

Turning as he spoke and making an easy way for us, he stopped when
we were out of the press in a corner behind a great red curtain.

'There's a little cracked old woman,' he began, 'that--'

I put up my finger, for Miss Flite was close by me, having kept be-
side me all the time and having called the attention of several of
her legal acquaintance to me (as I had overheard to my confusion) by
whispering in their ears, 'Hush! Fitz Jarndyce on my left!'

'Hem!' said Mr George. 'You remember, miss, that we passed some
conversation on a certain man this morning? Gridley,' in a low
whisper behind his hand.

'Yes,' said I.

'He is hiding at my place. I couldn't mention it. Hadn't his authority.
He is on his last march, miss, and has a whim to see her. He says
they can feel for one another, and she has been almost as good as a
friend to him here. I came down to look for her, for
when I sat by
Gridley this afternoon, I seemed to hear the roll of the muffled drums.'


'Shall I tell her?' said I.

'Would you be so good?' he returned with a glance of something like
apprehension at Miss Flite. 'It's a providence I met you, miss; I doubt
if I should have known how to get on with that lady.' And he put one
hand in his breast and stood upright in a martial attitude as I informed
little Miss Flite, in her ear, of the purport of his kind errand.

'My angry friend from Shropshire! Almost as celebrated as myself!' she
exclaimed. 'Now really! My dear, I will wait upon him with the greatest
pleasure.'

'He is living concealed at Mr George's,' said I. 'Hush! This is Mr
George.'

'In--deed!' returned Miss Flite. 'Very proud to have the honour! A
military man, my dear. You know, a perfect general!' she whispered to
me.

Poor Miss Flite deemed it necessary to be so courtly and polite, as a
mark of her respect for the army, and to curtsy so very often that it
was no easy matter to get her out of the court. When this was at last
done, and addressing Mr George as 'General,' she gave him her arm,
to the great entertainment of some idlers who were looking on, he was
so discomposed and begged me so respectfully 'not to desert him' that
I could not make up my mind to do it, especially as Miss Flite was
always tractable with me
and as she too said, 'Fitz Jarndyce, my dear,
you will accompany us, of course.' As Richard seemed quite willing,
and even anxious, that we should see them safely to their destination,
we agreed to do so. And as Mr George informed us that Gridley's mind
had run on Mr Jarndyce all the afternoon after hearing of their
interview in the morning, I wrote a hasty note in pencil to my
guardian to say where we were gone and why. Mr George sealed it at a
coffee-house, that it might lead to no discovery, and we sent it off
by a ticket-porter.

We then took a hackney-coach and drove away to the neighbourhood
of Leicester Square. We walked through some narrow courts, for
which Mr George apologized, and soon came to the shooting gallery,
the door of which was closed. As he pulled a bell-handle which hung
by a chain to the door-post, a very respectable old gentleman with
grey hair, wearing spectacles, and dressed in a black spencer and
gaiters and a broad-brimmed hat, and carrying a large gold-beaded
cane, addressed him.

'I ask your pardon, my good friend,' said he, 'but is this George's
Shooting Gallery?'

'It is, sir,' returned Mr George, glancing up at the great letters in
which that inscription was painted on the whitewashed wall.

'Oh! To be sure!' said the old gentleman, following his eyes. 'Thank
you. Have you rung the bell?'

'My name is George, sir, and I have rung the bell.'

'Oh, indeed?' said the old gentleman. 'Your name is George? Then I
am here as soon as you, you see. You came for me, no doubt?'

'No, sir. You have the advantage of me.'

'Oh, indeed?' said the old gentleman. 'Then it was your young man
who came for me. I am a physician and was requested--five minutes
ago--to come and visit a sick man at George's Shooting Gallery.
'
'The muffled drums,' said Mr George, turning to Richard and me and
gravely shaking his head. 'It's quite correct, sir. Will you please to
walk in.'


The door being at that moment opened by a very singular-looking little
man in a green-baize cap and apron, whose face and hands and dress
were blackened all over, we passed along a dreary passage into a large
building with bare brick walls where there were targets, and guns,
and swords, and other things of that kind. When we had all arrived
here,
the physician stopped, and taking off his hat, appeared to
vanish by magic and to leave another and quite a different man in his
place.

'Now lookee here, George,' said the man, turning quickly round upon
him and tapping him on the breast with a large forefinger. 'You know
me, and I know you. You're a man of the world, and I'm a man of the
world. My name's Bucket, as you are aware, and I have got a peace-
warrant against Gridley. You have kept him out of the way a long
time, and you have been artful in it, and it does you credit.'


Mr George, looking hard at him, bit his lip and shook his head.

'Now, George,' said the other, keeping close to him, 'you're a sensible
man and a well-conducted man; that's what you are, beyond a doubt.
And mind you, I don't talk to you as a common character, because
you have served your country and you know that when duty calls we
must obey. Consequently you're very far from wanting to give trouble.
If I required assistance, you'd assist me; that's what you'd do. Phil
Squod, don't you go a-sidling round the gallery like that'--the dirty
little man was shuffling about with his shoulder against the wall, and
his eyes on the intruder, in a manner that looked threatening--
'because I know you and won't have it.
'

'Phil!' said Mr George.

'Yes, guv'ner.'

'Be quiet.' The little man, with a low growl, stood still.

'Ladies and gentlemen,' said Mr Bucket, 'you'll excuse anything that
may appear to be disagreeable in this, for my name's Inspector Bucket
of the Detective, and I have a duty to perform. George, I know where
my man is because I was on the roof last night and saw him through
the skylight, and you along with him. He is in there, you know,'
pointing; 'that's where he is--on a sofy. Now I must see my man, and I
must tell my man to consider himself in custody; but you know me,
and you know I don't want to take any uncomfortable measures. You
give me your word, as from one man to another (and an old soldier,
mind you, likewise), that it's honourable between us two, and I'll
accommodate you to the utmost of my power.'

'I give it,' was the reply. 'But it wasn't handsome in you, Mr Bucket.'

'Gammon, George! Not handsome?' said Mr Bucket, tapping him on
his broad breast again and shaking hands with him. 'I don't say it
wasn't handsome in you to keep my man so close, do I? Be equally
good-tempered to me, old boy! Old William Tell, Old Shaw, the Life
Guardsman! Why, he's a model of the whole British army in himself,
ladies and gentlemen. I'd give a fifty-pun' note to be such a fig-
ure of a man!'


The affair being brought to this head, Mr George, after a little
consideration, proposed to go in first to his comrade (as he called
him), taking Miss Flite with him. Mr Bucket agreeing, they went away
to the further end of the gallery, leaving us sitting and standing by a
table covered with guns. Mr Bucket took this opportunity of entering
into a little light conversation, asking me if I were afraid of fire-
arms, as most young ladies were; asking Richard if he were a good shot;
asking Phil Squod which he considered the best of those rifles and
what it might be worth first-hand, telling him in return that it was a
pity he ever gave way to his temper, for he was naturally so amiable
that he might have been a young woman, and making himself generally
agreeable.

After a time he followed us to the further end of the gallery, and
Richard and I were going quietly away when Mr George came after us.
He said that if we had no objection to see his comrade, he would take
a visit from us very kindly. The words had hardly passed his lips when

the bell was rung and my guardian appeared, 'on the chance,' he
slightly observed, 'of being able to do any little thing for a poor fellow
involved in the same misfortune as himself.' We all four went back
together and went into the place where Gridley was.


It was a bare room, partitioned off from the gallery with unpainted
wood. As the screening was not more than eight or ten feet high and
only enclosed the sides, not the top, the rafters of the high gallery
roof were overhead, and the skylight through which Mr Bucket had loo-
ked down. The sun was low--near setting--and its light came redly in
above, without descending to the ground. Upon a plain canvas-covered
sofa lay the man from Shropshire, dressed much as we had seen him
last, but so changed that at first I recognized no likeness in his
colourless face to what I recollected.

He had been still writing in his hiding-place, and still dwelling on
his grievances, hour after hour. A table and some shelves were cov-
ered with manuscript papers and with worn pens and a medley of such
tokens. Touchingly and awfully drawn together, he and the little mad
woman were side by side and, as it were, alone.
She sat on a chair
holding his hand, and none of us went close to them.


His voice had faded, with the old expression of his face, with his
strength, with his anger, with his resistance to the wrongs that had at
last subdued him. The faintest shadow of an object full of form and
colour is such a picture of it as he was of the man from Shropshire
whom we had spoken with before.


He inclined his head to Richard and me and spoke to my guardian.
'Mr Jarndyce, it is very kind of you to come to see me. I am not long to
be seen, I think.
I am very glad to take your hand, sir. You are a good
man, superior to injustice, and God knows I honour you.'


They shook hands earnestly, and my guardian said some words of
comfort to him.

'It may seem strange to you, sir,' returned Gridley; 'I should not have
liked to see you if this had been the first time of our meeting. But you
know I made a fight for it, you know
I stood up with my single hand
against them all, you know I told them the truth to the last, and told
them what they were, and what they had done to me; so I don't mind
your seeing me, this wreck.'


'You have been courageous with them many and many a time,'
returned my guardian.

'Sir, I have been,' with a faint smile. 'I told you what would come of it
when I ceased to be so, and see here! Look at us--look at us!' He drew
the hand Miss Flite held through her arm and brought her something
nearer to him.


'This ends it. Of all my old associations, of all my old pursuits and
hopes, of all the living and the dead world, this one poor soul alone
comes natural to me, and I am fit for. There is a tie of many suffering
years between us two, and it is the only tie I ever had on earth that
Chancery has not broken.'


'Accept my blessing, Gridley,' said Miss Flite in tears. 'Accept my
blessing!'

'I thought, boastfully, that they never could break my heart, Mr
Jarndyce. I was resolved that they should not. I did believe that I
could, and would, charge them with being the mockery they were until
I died of some bodily disorder. But I am worn out. How long I have
been wearing out, I don't know; I seemed to break down in an hour. I
hope they may never come to hear of it. I hope everybody here will
lead them to believe that I died defying them, consistently and
perseveringly, as I did through so many years.'


Here Mr Bucket, who was sitting in a corner by the door, goodnaturedly
offered such consolation as he could administer.

'Come, come!' he said from his corner. 'Don't go on in that way, Mr
Gridley. You are only a little low. We are all of us a little low
sometimes. I am. Hold up, hold up! You'll lose your temper with the
whole round of 'em, again and again; and I shall take you on a score
of warrants yet, if I have luck.'

He only shook his head.

'Don't shake your head,' said Mr Bucket. 'Nod it; that's what I want to
see you do. Why, Lord bless your soul, what times we have had
together! Haven't I seen you in the Fleet over and over again for
contempt?
Haven't I come into court, twenty afternoons for no other
purpose than to see you pin the Chancellor like a bull-dog?
Don't you
remember when you first began to threaten the lawyers, and the peace
was sworn against you two or three times a week? Ask the little old
lady there; she has been always present. Hold up, Mr Gridley, hold
up, sir!'

'What are you going to do about him?' asked George in a low voice.

'I don't know yet,' said Bucket in the same tone. Then resuming his
encouragement, he pursued aloud: 'Worn out, Mr Gridley? After
dodging me for all these weeks and forcing me to climb the roof here
like a tom cat and to come to see you as a doctor? That ain't like being
worn out. I should think not! Now I tell you what you want. You want
excitement, you know, to keep YOU up; that's what YOU want. You're
used to it, and you can't do without it. I couldn't myself. Very well,
then; here's this warrant got by Mr Tulkinghorn of Lincoln's Inn
Fields, and backed into half-a-dozen counties since. What do you say
to coming along with me, upon this warrant, and having a good angry
argument before the magistrates? It'll do you good; it'll freshen you up
and get you into training for another turn at the Chancellor. Give in?
Why, I am surprised to hear a man of your energy talk of giving in.
You mustn't do that. You're half the fun of the fair in the Court of
Chancery. George, you lend Mr Gridley a hand, and let's see now
whether he won't be better up than down.'


'He is very weak,' said the trooper in a low voice.

'Is he?' returned Bucket anxiously. 'I only want to rouse him. I don't
like to see an old acquaintance giving in like this. It would cheer him
up more than anything if I could make him a little waxy with me. He's
welcome to drop into me, right and left, if he likes. I shall never take
advantage of it.
'

The roof rang with a scream from Miss Flite, which still rings in my
ears.


'Oh, no, Gridley!' she cried as he fell heavily and calmly back from
before her. 'Not without my blessing. After so many years!'


The sun was down, the light had gradually stolen from the roof, and
the shadow had crept upward. But to me the shadow of that pair, one
living and one dead, fell heavier on Richard's departure than the
darkness of the darkest night.
And through Richard's farewell words I
heard it echoed: 'Of all my old associations, of all my old pursuits and
hopes, of all the living and the dead world, this one poor soul alone
comes natural to me, and I am fit for. There is a tie of many suffering
years between us two, and it is the only tie I ever had on earth that
Chancery has not broken!'




Chapter XXV--Mrs Snagsby Sees It All



There is disquietude in Cook's Court, Cursitor Street. Black suspicion
hides in that peaceful region. The mass of Cook's Courtiers are in
their usual state of mind, no better and no worse; but Mr Snagsby is
changed, and his little woman knows it.

For Tom-all-Alone's and Lincoln's Inn Fields persist in harnessing
themselves, a pair of ungovernable coursers, to the chariot of Mr
Snagsby's imagination; and Mr Bucket drives; and the passengers are
Jo and Mr Tulkinghorn; and the complete equipage whirls though the
law-stationery business at wild speed all round the clock. Even in the
little front kitchen where the family meals are taken, it rattles away at
a smoking pace from the dinner-table, when Mr Snagsby pauses in
carving the first slice of the leg of mutton baked with potatoes and
stares at the kitchen wall.


Mr Snagsby cannot make out what it is that he has had to do with.
Something is wrong somewhere, but what something, what may come
of it, to whom, when, and from which unthought of and unheard of
quarter is the puzzle of his life.
His remote impressions of the robes
and coronets, the stars and garters, that sparkle through the surface-
dust of Mr Tulkinghorn's chambers; his veneration for the mysteries
presided over by that best and closest of his customers
, whom all the
Inns of Court, all Chancery Lane, and all the legal neighbourhood
agree to hold in awe; his remembrance of Detective Mr Bucket with
his forefinger and his confidential manner, impossible to be evaded or
declined, persuade him that he is a party to some dangerous secret
without knowing what it is. And it is the fearful peculiarity of this
condition that, at any hour of his daily life, at any opening of the
shop-door, at any pull of the bell, at any entrance of a messenger, or
any delivery of a letter,
the secret may take air and fire, explode, and
blow up
--Mr Bucket only knows whom.

For which reason, whenever a man unknown comes into the shop (as
many men unknown do) and says, 'Is Mr Snagsby in?' or words to that
innocent effect,
Mr Snagsby's heart knocks hard at his guilty breast.
He undergoes so much from such inquiries that when they are made
by boys he revenges himself by flipping at their ears over the counter
and asking the young dogs what they mean by it and why they can't
speak out at once? More impracticable men and boys persist in
walking into Mr Snagsby's sleep and terrifying him with unaccountable
questions, so that often when the cock at the little dairy in Cursitor
Street breaks out in his usual absurd way about the morning, Mr Snag-
sby finds himself in a crisis of nightmare, with his little woman shaking
him and saying 'What's the matter with the man!'

The little woman herself is not the least item in his difficulty. To know
that he is always keeping a secret from her, that
he has under all
circumstances to conceal and hold fast a tender double tooth, which
her sharpness is ever ready to twist out of his head, gives Mr Snagsby,
in her dentistical presence, much of the air of a dog who has a
reservation from his master and will look anywhere rather than meet
his eye.


These various signs and tokens, marked by the little woman, are not
lost upon her. They impel her to say, 'Snagsby has something on his
mind!' And thus suspicion gets into Cook's Court, Cursitor Street.
From suspicion to jealousy, Mrs Snagsby finds the road as natural

and short as from Cook's Court to Chancery Lane. And thus jealousy
gets into Cook's Court, Cursitor Street. Once there (and it was always
lurking thereabout), it is very active and nimble in Mrs Snagsby's
breast
, prompting her to nocturnal examinations of Mr Snagsby's
pockets; to secret perusals of Mr Snagsby's letters; to private
researches in the day book and ledger, till, cash-box, and iron safe; to
watchings at windows, listenings behind doors, and a general putting
of this and that together by the wrong end.


Mrs Snagsby is so perpetually on the alert that the house becomes
ghostly with creaking boards and rustling garments. The 'prentices
think somebody may have been murdered there in bygone times.
Guster holds certain loose atoms of an idea (picked up at Tooting,
where they were found floating among the orphans) that there is
buried money underneath the cellar, guarded by an old man with a
white beard, who cannot get out for seven thousand years because he
said the Lord's Prayer backwards.


'Who was Nimrod?' Mrs Snagsby repeatedly inquires of herself. 'Who
was that lady--that creature? And who is that boy?' Now, Nimrod
being as dead as the mighty hunter whose name Mrs Snagsby has
appropriated, and the lady being unproducible, she directs her mental
eye, for the present, with redoubled vigilance to the boy. 'And who,'
quoth Mrs Snagsby for the thousand and first time, 'is that boy? Who
is that--!' And there Mrs Snagsby is seized with an inspiration.

He has no respect for Mr Chadband. No, to be sure, and he wouldn't
have, of course. Naturally he wouldn't, under those contagious
circumstances. He was invited and appointed by Mr Chadband--why,
Mrs Snagsby heard it herself with her own ears!--to come back, and
be told where he was to go, to be addressed by Mr Chadband; and he
never came! Why did he never come? Because he was told not to
come. Who told him not to come? Who? Ha, ha! Mrs Snagsby sees it
all.

But happily (and Mrs Snagsby tightly shakes her head and tightly
smiles) that boy was met by Mr Chadband yesterday in the streets;
and that boy, as affording a subject which Mr Chadband desires to
improve for the spiritual delight of a select congregation, was seized by
Mr Chadband and threatened
with being delivered over to the police
unless he showed the reverend gentleman where he lived and unless
he entered into, and fulfilled, an undertaking to appear in Cook's
Court tomorrow night, 'to--mor--row--night,' Mrs Snagsby repeats for
mere emphasis with another tight smile and another tight shake of
her head; and tomorrow night that boy will be here, and tomorrow
night Mrs Snagsby will have her eye upon him and upon some one
else; and oh, you may walk a long while in your secret ways (says Mrs
Snagsby with haughtiness and scorn), but you can't blind me!


Mrs Snagsby sounds no timbrel in anybody's ears, but holds her
purpose quietly, and keeps her counsel. tomorrow comes, the
savoury preparations for the Oil Trade come, the evening comes.
Comes Mr Snagsby in his black coat; come the Chadbands; come
(when the gorging vessel is replete) the 'prentices and Guster, to be
edified; comes at last, with his slouching head, and his shuffle
backward, and his shuffle forward, and his shuffle to the right, and
his shuffle to the left, and his bit of fur cap in his muddy hand, which
he picks as if it were some mangy bird he had caught and was
plucking before eating raw, Jo, the very, very tough subject Mr
Chadband is to improve.

Mrs Snagsby screws a watchful glance on Jo as he is brought into the
little drawing-room by Guster. He looks at Mr Snagsby the moment he
comes in. Aha! Why does he look at Mr Snagsby? Mr Snagsby looks at
him. Why should he do that, but that Mrs Snagsby sees it all? Why
else should that look pass between them, why else should Mr Snagsby
be confused and cough a signal cough behind his hand? It is as clear
as crystal that Mr Snagsby is that boy's father.

'Peace, my friends,' says Chadband, rising and wiping the oily
exudations from his reverend visage. 'Peace be with us! My friends,
why with us? Because,' with his fat smile, 'it cannot be against us,
because it must be for us; because it is not hardening, because it is
softening; because it does not make war like the hawk, but comes
home unto us like the dove. Therefore, my friends, peace be with us!
My human boy, come forward!'

Stretching forth his flabby paw, Mr Chadband lays the same on Jo's
arm and considers where to station him. Jo, very doubtful of his
reverend friend's intentions and not at all clear but that something
practical and painful is going to be done to him, mutters, 'You let me
alone. I never said nothink to you. You let me alone.'

'No, my young friend,' says Chadband smoothly, 'I will not let you
alone. And why? Because I am a harvest-labourer, because I am a
toiler and a moiler, because you are delivered over unto me and are
become as a precious instrument in my hands.
My friends, may I so
employ this instrument as to use it to your advantage, to your profit,
to your gain, to your welfare, to your enrichment! My young friend, sit
upon this stool.'

Jo, apparently possessed by an impression that the reverend
gentleman wants to cut his hair, shields his head with both arms and
is got into the required position with great difficulty and every possible
manifestation of reluctance.

When he is at last adjusted like a lay-figure, Mr Chadband, retiring
behind the table, holds up his bear's-paw and says, 'My friends!' This
is the signal for a general settlement of the audience. The 'prentices
giggle internally and nudge each other.
Guster falls into a staring and
vacant state, compounded of a stunned admiration of Mr Chadband
and pity for the friendless outcast whose condition touches her nearly.
Mrs Snagsby silently lays trains of gunpowder. Mrs Chadband composes
herself grimly by the fire and warms her knees, finding that sensation
favourable to the reception of eloquence.


It happens that Mr Chadband has a pulpit habit of fixing some
member of his congregation with his eye and fatly arguing his points
with that particular person, who is understood to be expected to be
moved to
an occasional grunt, groan, gasp, or other audible
expression of inward working, which expression of inward working,
being echoed by some elderly lady in the next pew and so
communicated like a game of forfeits through a circle of the more
fermentable sinners present,
serves the purpose of parliamentary
cheering and gets Mr Chadband's steam up. From mere force of habit,
Mr Chadband in saying eMy friends!' has rested his eye on Mr Snagsby
and proceeds to make that ill-starred stationer, already sufficiently
confused, the immediate recipient of his discourse.

eWe have here among us, my friends,' says Chadband, ea Gentile and a
heathen, a dweller in the tents of Tom-all-Alone's and a mover-on
upon the surface of the earth. We have here among us, my friends,'
and Mr Chadband, untwisting the point with his dirty thumb-nail,
bestows an oily smile on Mr Snagsby, signifying that he will throw him
an argumentative back-fall presently if he be not already down, ea
brother and a boy. Devoid of parents, devoid of relations, devoid of
flocks and herds, devoid of gold and silver and of precious stones.
Now, my friends, why do I say he is devoid of these possessions? Why?
Why is he?' Mr Chadband states the question as if he were
propounding an entirely new riddle of much ingenuity and merit to Mr
Snagsby and entreating him not to give it up.

Mr Snagsby, greatly perplexed by the mysterious look he received just
now from his little woman--at about the period when Mr Chadband
mentioned the word parents--is tempted into modestly remarking, eI
don't know, I'm sure, sir.' On which interruption Mrs Chadband glares
and Mrs Snagsby says, eFor shame!'

eI hear a voice,' says Chadband; eis it a still small voice, my friends? I
fear not, though I fain would hope so--'

eAh--h!' from Mrs Snagsby.

eWhich says, 'I don't know.' Then I will tell you why.
I say this brother
present here among us is devoid of parents, devoid of relations, devoid
of flocks and herds, devoid of gold, of silver, and of precious stones
because he is devoid of the light that shines in upon some of us. What
is that light? What is it? I ask you, what is that light?'


Mr Chadband draws back his head and pauses, but Mr Snagsby is
not to be lured on to his destruction again. Mr Chadband, leaning
forward over the table, pierces what he has got to follow directly into
Mr Snagsby with the thumb-nail already mentioned.


eIt is,' says Chadband, ethe ray of rays, the sun of suns, the moon of
moons, the star of stars.
It is the light of Terewth.'

Mr Chadband draws himself up again and looks triumphantly at Mr
Snagsby as if he would be glad to know how he feels after that.

eOf Terewth,' says Mr Chadband, hitting him again.
eSay not to me
that it is not the lamp of lamps. I say to you it is. I say to you, a
million of times over, it is. It is! I say to you that I will proclaim it to
you, whether you like it or not; nay, that the less you like it, the more
I will proclaim it to you. With a speaking-trumpet! I say to you that if
you rear yourself against it, you shall fall, you shall be bruised, you
shall be battered, you shall be flawed, you shall be smashed.'


The present effect of this flight of oratory--much admired for its
general power by Mr Chadband's followers--being not only to make Mr
Chadband unpleasantly warm, but
to represent the innocent Mr
Snagsby in the light of a determined enemy to virtue, with a forehead
of brass and a heart of adamant
, that unfortunate tradesman
becomes yet more disconcerted and is in a very advanced state of low
spirits and false position when Mr Chadband accidentally finishes
him.

eMy friends,' he resumes after dabbing his fat head for some time--
and it smokes to such an extent that he seems to light his pocket-
handkerchief at it, which smokes, too, after every dab--'to pursue the
subject we are endeavouring with our lowly gifts to improve, let us in a
spirit of love inquire what is that Terewth to which I have alluded.
For,
my young friends,' suddenly addressing the 'prentices and Guster, to
their consternation, eif I am told by the doctor that calomel or castoroil
is good for me, I may naturally ask what is calomel, and what is
castor-oil. I may wish to be informed of that before I dose myself with
either or with both. Now, my young friends, what is this Terewth
then? Firstly (in a spirit of love), what is the common sort of Terewth--
the working clothes--the every-day wear, my young friends? Is it
deception?'

eAh--h!' from Mrs Snagsby.

eIs it suppression?'

A shiver in the negative from Mrs Snagsby.

eIs it reservation?'

A shake of the head from Mrs Snagsby--very long and very tight.

eNo, my friends, it is neither of these. Neither of these names be-
longs to it. When this young heathen now among us--who is now, my
friends,
asleep, the seal of indifference and perdition being set upon
his eyelids; but do not wake him, for it is right that I should have to
wrestle
, and to combat and to struggle, and to conquer, for his sake--
when this young hardened heathen told us a story of a cock, and of a
bull, and of a lady, and of a sovereign, was that the Terewth? No. Or
if it was partly, was it wholly and entirely? No, my friends, no!'


If Mr Snagsby could withstand his little woman's look as it enters at
his eyes, the windows of his soul, and searches the whole tenement,
he were other than the man he is. He cowers and droops.


eOr, my juvenile friends,' says Chadband, descending to the level of
their comprehension with a very obtrusive demonstration in his
greasily meek smile of coming a long way downstairs for the purpose,
eif the master of this house was to go forth into the city and there see
an eel, and was to come back, and was to call unto him the mistress
of this house, and was to say, 'Sarah, rejoice with me, for I have seen
an elephant!' would that be Terewth?'


Mrs Snagsby in tears.

eOr put it, my juvenile friends, that he saw an elephant, and returning
said 'Lo, the city is barren, I have seen but an eel,'
would that be
Terewth?'

Mrs Snagsby sobbing loudly.


eOr put it, my juvenile friends,' said Chadband, stimulated by the
sound, ethat the unnatural parents of this slumbering heathen--for
parents he had, my juvenile friends, beyond a doubt--after casting
him forth to the wolves and the vultures, and the wild dogs and the
young gazelles, and the serpents, went back to their dwellings and
had their pipes, and their pots, and their flutings and their dancings,
and their malt liquors, and their butcher's meat and poultry, would
that be Terewth?'

Mrs Snagsby replies by delivering herself a prey to spasms, not an
unresisting prey, but a crying and a tearing one, so that Cook's Court
re-echoes with her shrieks. Finally, becoming cataleptic, she has to be
carried up the narrow staircase like a grand piano.
After unspeakable
suffering, productive of the utmost consternation, she is pronounced,
by expresses from the bedroom, free from pain, though much
exhausted, in which state of affairs Mr Snagsby, trampled and
crushed in the piano-forte removal, and extremely timid and feeble,
ventures to come out from behind the door in the drawing-room.

All this time Jo has been standing on the spot where he woke up, ever
picking his cap and putting bits of fur in his mouth. He spits them out
with a remorseful air, for he feels that it is in his nature to be an
unimprovable reprobate and that it's no good his trying to keep
awake, for he won't never know nothink
. Though it may be, Jo, that
there is a history so interesting and affecting even to minds as near
the brutes as thine, recording deeds done on this earth for common
men, that if the Chadbands, removing their own persons from the
light, would but show it thee in simple reverence, would but leave it
unimproved, would but regard it as being eloquent enough without
their modest aid--it might hold thee awake, and thou might learn from
it yet!


Jo never heard of any such book. Its compilers and the Reverend
Chadband are all one to him, except that he knows the Reverend
Chadband and would rather run away from him for an hour than hear
him talk for five minutes. eIt an't no good my waiting here no longer,'
thinks Jo. eMr Snagsby an't a-going to say nothink to me to-night.'
And downstairs he shuffles.

But downstairs is the charitable Guster, holding by the handrail of the
kitchen stairs and warding off a fit, as yet doubtfully, the same having
been induced by Mrs Snagsby's screaming. She has her own supper of
bread and cheese to hand to Jo, with whom she ventures to
interchange a word or so for the first time.

eHere's something to eat, poor boy,' says Guster.

eThank'ee, mum,' says Jo.

eAre you hungry?'

eJist!' says Jo.

eWhat's gone of your father and your mother, eh?'


Jo stops in the middle of a bite and looks petrified. For this orphan
charge of the Christian saint whose shrine was at Tooting has patted
him on the shoulder, and it is the first time in his life that any decent
hand has been so laid upon him.

eI never know'd nothink about 'em,' says Jo.


eNo more didn't I of mine,' cries Guster. She is repressing symptoms
favourable to the fit when she seems to take alarm at something and
vanishes down the stairs.

eJo,' whispers the law-stationer softly as the boy lingers on the step.

eHere I am, Mr Snagsby!'

eI didn't know you were gone--there's another half-crown, Jo. It was
quite right of you to say nothing about the lady the other night when
we were out together. It would breed trouble. You can't be too quiet,
Jo.'

eI am fly, master!'

And so, good night.

A ghostly shade, frilled and night-capped, follows the law-stationer to
the room he came from and glides higher up. And henceforth he
begins, go where he will, to be attended by another shadow than his
own, hardly less constant than his own, hardly less quiet than his
own.
And into whatsoever atmosphere of secrecy his own shadow may
pass, let all concerned in the secrecy beware! For the watchful Mrs
Snagsby is there too--bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh, shadow of
his shadow.




Chapter XXVI--Sharpshooters



Wintry morning, looking with dull eyes and sallow face upon the
neighbourhood of Leicester Square, finds its inhabitants unwilling to
get out of bed. Many of them are not early risers at the brightest of
times, being birds of night who roost when the sun is high and are
wide awake and keen for prey when the stars shine out. Behind dingy
blind and curtain, in upper story and garret, skulking more or less
under false names, false hair, false titles, false jewellery, and false
histories, a colony of brigands lie in their first sleep.
Gentlemen of the
green-baize road who could discourse from personal experience of
foreign galleys and home treadmills; spies of strong governments that
eternally quake with weakness and miserable fear, broken traitors,
cowards, bullies, gamesters, shufflers, swindlers, and false witnesses;
some not unmarked by the branding-iron beneath their dirty braid;
all
with more cruelty in them than was in Nero, and more crime than is
in Newgate. For howsoever bad the devil can be in fustian or smock-
frock (and he can be very bad in both), he is a more designing,
callous, and intolerable devil when he sticks a pin in his shirt-front,
calls himself a gentleman, backs a card or colour, plays a game or so
of billiards
, and knows a little about bills and promissory notes than
in any other form he wears. And in such form Mr Bucket shall find
him, when he will, still pervading the tributary channels of Leicester
Square.


But the wintry morning wants him not and wakes him not. It wakes
Mr George of the shooting gallery and his familiar. They arise, roll up
and stow away their mattresses. Mr George, having shaved himself
before a looking-glass of minute proportions, then
marches out, bare-
headed and bare-chested, to the pump in the little yard and anon
comes back shining with yellow soap, friction, drifting rain, and
exceedingly cold water. As he rubs himself upon a large jack-towel,
blowing like a military sort of diver just come up, his hair curling
tighter and tighter on his sunburnt temples the more he rubs it so
that it looks as if it never could be loosened by any less coercive
instrument than an iron rake or a curry-comb--as he rubs, and puffs,
and polishes, and blows, turning his head from side to side the more
conveniently to excoriate his throat, and standing with his body well
bent forward to keep the wet from his martial legs, Phil, on his knees
lighting a fire, looks round as if it were enough washing for him to see
all that done, and sufficient renovation for one day to take in the
superfluous health his master throws off.


When Mr George is dry, he goes to work to brush his head with two
hard brushes at once, to that unmerciful degree that Phil, shouldering
his way round the gallery in the act of sweeping it, winks with
sympathy. This chafing over, the ornamental part of Mr George's toilet
is soon performed. He fills his pipe, lights it, and marches up and down
smoking, as his custom is, while Phil, raising a powerful odour
of hot rolls and coffee, prepares breakfast. He smokes gravely and
marches in slow time. Perhaps this morning's pipe is devoted to the
memory of Gridley in his grave.


eAnd so, Phil,' says George of the shooting gallery after several turns in
silence, eyou were dreaming of the country last night?'

Phil, by the by, said as much in a tone of surprise as he scrambled
out of bed.

eYes, guv'ner.'

eWhat was it like?'

eI hardly know what it was like, guv'ner,' said Phil, considering.

eHow did you know it was the country?'

eOn account of the grass, I think. And the swans upon it,' says Phil
after further consideration.

eWhat were the swans doing on the grass?'

eThey was a-eating of it, I expect,' says Phil.

The master resumes his march, and the man resumes his preparation
of breakfast. It is not necessarily a lengthened preparation, being
limited to the setting forth of very simple breakfast requisites for two
and the broiling of a rasher of bacon at the fire in the rusty grate; but
as Phil has to sidle round a considerable part of the gallery for every
object he wants, and never brings two objects at once, it takes time
under the circumstances. At length the breakfast is ready. Phil an-
nouncing it, Mr George knocks the ashes out of his pipe on the hob,
stands his pipe itself in the chimney corner, and sits down to the
meal. When he has helped himself, Phil follows suit, sitting at the
extreme end of the little oblong table and taking his plate on his
knees. Either in humility, or to hide his blackened hands, or because
it is his natural manner of eating.


eThe country,' says Mr George, plying his knife and fork; ewhy, I
suppose you never clapped your eyes on the country, Phil?'


eI see the marshes once,' says Phil, contentedly eating his breakfast.

eWhat marshes?'

eThe marshes, commander,' returns Phil. eWhere are they?'

eI don't know where they are,' says Phil; ebut I see 'em, guv'ner. They
was flat. And miste.'

Governor and commander are interchangeable terms with Phil, expres-
sive of the same respect and deference and applicable to nobody
but Mr George.


eI was born in the country, Phil.'

eWas you indeed, commander?'

eYes. And bred there.'

Phil elevates his one eyebrow, and after respectfully staring at his
master to express interest, swallows a great gulp of coffee, still staring
at him.

eThere's not a bird's note that I don't know,' says Mr George. eNot
many an English leaf or berry that I couldn't name. Not many a tree
that I couldn't climb yet if I was put to it. I was a real country boy,
once. My good mother lived in the country.'

eShe must have been a fine old lady, guv'ner,' Phil observes.

eAye! And not so old either, five and thirty years ago,' says Mr George.
eBut I'll wager that at ninety she would be near as upright as me, and
near as broad across the shoulders.'

eDid she die at ninety, guv'ner?' inquires Phil.

eNo. Bosh! Let her rest in peace, God bless her!'
says the trooper.
eWhat set me on about country boys, and runaways, and good-for-
nothings? You, to be sure! So you never clapped your eyes upon the
country--marshes and dreams excepted. Eh?'

Phil shakes his head.

eDo you want to see it?'

eN-no, I don't know as I do, particular,' says Phil.

eThe town's enough for you, eh?'

eWhy, you see, commander,' says Phil, eI ain't acquainted with any-
think else, and I doubt if I ain't a-getting too old to take to novelties.'

eHow old are you, Phil?' asks the trooper, pausing as he conveys his
smoking saucer to his lips.

eI'm something with a eight in it,' says Phil. eIt can't be eighty. Nor yet
eighteen. It's betwixt 'em, somewheres.'

Mr George, slowly putting down his saucer without tasting its contents,
is laughingly beginning, eWhy, what the deuce, Phil--' when he stops,
seeing that Phil is counting on his dirty fingers.

eI was just eight,' says Phil, eagreeable to the parish calculation, when
I went with the tinker. I was sent on a errand, and
I see him a-sittin
under a old buildin with a fire all to himself wery comfortable, and he
says, 'Would you like to come along a me, my man?' I says 'Yes,' and
him and me and the fire goes home to Clerkenwell together.
That was
April Fool Day. I was able to count up to ten; and when April Fool Day
come round again, I says to myself, 'Now, old chap, you're one and a
eight in it.' April Fool Day after that, I says, 'Now, old chap, you're two
and a eight in it.' In course of time, I come to ten and a eight in it; two
tens and a eight in it. When it got so high, it got the upper hand of
me, but this is how I always know there's a eight in it.'

eAh!' says Mr George, resuming his breakfast. eAnd where's the tinker?'

eDrink put him in the hospital, guv'ner, and the hospital put him--in
a glass-case, I have heerd,' Phil replies mysteriously.


eBy that means you got promotion? Took the business, Phil?'

eYes, commander, I took the business. Such as it was. It wasn't much
of a beat--round Saffron Hill, Hatton Garden, Clerkenwell, Smiffeld,
and there--poor neighbourhood, where they uses up the kettles till
they're past mending. Most of the tramping tinkers used to come and
lodge at our place; that was the best part of my master's earnings. But
they didn't come to me. I warn't like him. He could sing 'em a good
song. I couldn't!
He could play 'em a tune on any sort of pot you
please, so as it was iron or block tin. I never could do nothing with a
pot but mend it or bile it--never had a note of music in me.
Besides, I
was too ill-looking, and their wives complained of me.'

eThey were mighty particular. You would pass muster in a crowd, Phil!'
says the trooper with a pleasant smile.


eNo, guv'ner,' returns Phil, shaking his head. eNo, I shouldn't. I was
passable enough when I went with the tinker, though nothing to boast
of then; but
what with blowing the fire with my mouth when I was
young, and spileing my complexion, and singeing my hair off, and
swallering the smoke, and what with being nat'rally unfort'nate in the
way of running against hot metal and marking myself by sich means,
and what with having turn-ups with the tinker as I got older, almost
whenever he was too far gone in drink--which was almost always--my
beauty was queer, wery queer, even at that time. As to since, what
with a dozen years in a dark forge where the men was given to larking,
and what with being scorched in a accident at a gas-works, and what
with being blowed out of winder case-filling at the firework business, I
am ugly enough to be made a show on!'


Resigning himself to which condition with a perfectly satisfied manner,
Phil begs the favour of another cup of coffee. While drinking it, he
says, eIt was after the case-filling blow-up when I first see you, com-
mander. You remember?'

eI remember, Phil. You were walking along in the sun.'


eCrawling, guv'ner, again a wall--'

eTrue, Phil--shouldering your way on--'

eIn a night-cap!' exclaims Phil, excited.

eIn a night-cap--'

eAnd hobbling with a couple of sticks!' cries Phil, still more excited.

eWith a couple of sticks. When--'

eWhen you stops, you know,' cries Phil, putting down his cup and
saucer and hastily removing his plate from his knees, eand says to me,
'What, comrade! You have been in the wars!' I didn't say much to you,
commander, then, for
I was took by surprise that a person so strong
and healthy and bold as you was should stop to speak to such a
limping bag of bones as I was. But you says to me, says you, deliv-
ering it out of your chest as hearty as possible, so that it was like
a glass of something hot, 'What accident have you met with? You have
been badly hurt. What's amiss, old boy? Cheer up, and tell us about
it!' Cheer up! I was cheered already!
I says as much to you, you says
more to me, I says more to you, you says more to me, and here I am,
commander! Here I am, commander!' cries Phil, who has started from
his chair and unaccountably begun to sidle away.
eIf a mark's wanted,
or if it will improve the business, let the customers take aim at me.
They can't spoil MY beauty. I'M all right. Come on! If they want a man
to box at, let 'em box at me. Let 'em knock me well about the head. I
don't mind. If they want a light-weight to be throwed for practice,
Cornwall, Devonshire, or Lancashire, let 'em throw me. They won't
hurt me. I have been throwed, all sorts of styles, all my life!'


With this unexpected speech, energetically delivered and accompanied
by action illustrative of the various exercises referred to, Phil Squod
shoulders his way round three sides of the gallery, and abruptly
tacking off at his commander, makes a butt at him with his head,
intended to express devotion to his service. He then begins to clear
away the breakfast.


Mr George, after laughing cheerfully and clapping him on the
shoulder, assists in these arrangements and helps to get the gallery
into business order. That done, he takes a turn at the dumb-bells,
and afterwards weighing himself and opining that he is getting etoo
fleshy,' engages with great gravity in solitary broadsword practice.
Meanwhile Phil has fallen to work at his usual table, where
he screws
and unscrews, and cleans, and files, and whistles into small apertures,
and blackens himself more and more, and seems to do and undo ev-
erything that can be done and undone about a gun.


Master and man are at length disturbed by footsteps in the passage,
where they make an unusual sound, denoting the arrival of unusual
company. These steps, advancing nearer and nearer to the gallery,
bring into it a group at first sight scarcely reconcilable with any day in
the year but the fifth of November.


It consists of a limp and ugly figure carried in a chair by two bearers
and attended by a lean female with a face like a pinched mask, who
might be expected immediately to recite the popular verses
commemorative of the time when they did contrive to blow Old
England up alive but for her keeping her lips tightly and defiantly
closed
as the chair is put down. At which point the figure in it
gasping, eO Lord! Oh, dear me! I am shaken!' adds, eHow de do, my
dear friend, how de do?' Mr George then descries, in the procession,
the venerable Mr Smallweed out for an airing, attended by his
granddaughter Judy as body-guard.

eMr George, my dear friend,' says Grandfather Smallweed, removing
his right arm from the neck of one of his bearers, whom he has nearly
throttled coming along,
ehow de do? You're surprised to see me, my
dear friend.'

eI should hardly have been more surprised to have seen your friend in
the city,' returns Mr George.

eI am very seldom out,' pants Mr Smallweed. eI haven't been out for
many months. It's inconvenient--and it comes expensive. But I longed
so much to see you, my dear Mr George. How de do, sir?'

eI am well enough,' says Mr George. eI hope you are the same.'

eYou can't be too well, my dear friend.' Mr Smallweed takes him by
both hands. eI have brought my granddaughter Judy. I couldn't keep
her away. She longed so much to see you.'

eHum! She bears it calmly!' mutters Mr George.

eSo we got a hackney-cab, and put a chair in it, and just round the
corner they lifted me out of the cab and into the chair, and carried me
here that I might see my dear friend in his own establishment! This,'
says Grandfather Smallweed, alluding to the bearer, who has been in
danger of strangulation and who withdraws adjusting his windpipe, eis
the driver of the cab. He has nothing extra. It is by agreement include-
d in his fare. This person,' the other bearer, ewe engaged in the
street outside for a pint of beer. Which is twopence. Judy, give the
person twopence. I was not sure you had a workman of your own
here, my dear friend, or we needn't have employed this person.
'

Grandfather Smallweed refers to Phil with a glance of considerable
terror and a half-subdued eO Lord! Oh, dear me!' Nor in his
apprehension, on the surface of things, without some reason, for Phil,
who has never beheld the apparition in the black-velvet cap before,
has stopped short with
a gun in his hand with much of the air of a
dead shot intent on picking Mr Smallweed off as an ugly old bird of
the crow species.


eJudy, my child,' says Grandfather Smallweed, egive the person his
twopence. It's a great deal for what he has done.'

The person, who is
one of those extraordinary specimens of human
fungus that spring up spontaneously in the western streets of London,

ready dressed in an old red jacket, with a emission' for holding horses
and calling coaches, received his twopence with anything but transport,
tosses the money into the air, catches it over-handed, and retires.

eMy dear Mr George,' says Grandfather Smallweed, ewould you be so
kind as help to carry me to the fire?
I am accustomed to a fire, and I
am an old man, and I soon chill. Oh, dear me!'

His closing exclamation is jerked out of the venerable gentleman by
the suddenness with which Mr Squod, like a genie, catches him up,
chair and all, and deposits him on the hearth-stone.

eO Lord!' says Mr Smallweed, panting. eOh, dear me! Oh, my stars! My
dear friend, your workman is very strong--and very prompt. O Lord,
he is very prompt! Judy, draw me back a little. I'm being scorched in
the legs,' which indeed is testified to the noses of all present by the
smell of his worsted stockings.


The gentle Judy, having backed her grandfather a little way from the
fire, and having shaken him up as usual, and having released his over-
shadowed eye from its black-ve-lvet extinguisher, Mr Smallweed
again says, eOh, dear me! O Lord!' and looking about and meeting Mr
George's glance, again stretches out both hands.

eMy dear friend! So happy in this meeting! And this is your establish-
ment? It's a delightful place. It's a picture! You never find that any-
thing goes off here accidentally, do you, my dear friend?' adds
Grandfather Smallweed, very ill at ease.

eNo, no. No fear of that.'

eAnd your workman. He--Oh, dear me!--he never lets anything off
without meaning it, does he, my dear friend?'

eHe has never hurt anybody but himself,' says Mr George, smiling.

eBut he might, you know. He seems to have hurt himself a good deal,
and he might hurt somebody else,' the old gentleman returns. eHe
mightn't mean it--or he even might. Mr George, will you order him to
leave his infernal fire-arms alone and go away?'


Obedient to a nod from the trooper, Phil retires, empty-handed, to the
other end of the gallery. Mr Smallweed, reassured, falls to rubbing his
legs.

eAnd you're doing well, Mr George?' he says to the trooper, squarely
standing faced about towards him with his broadsword in his hand.
eYou are prospering, please the Powers?'

Mr George answers with a cool nod, adding, eGo on. You have not
come to say that, I know.'

eYou are so sprightly, Mr George,' returns the venerable grandfather.

eYou are such good company.'

eHa ha! Go on!' says Mr George.

eMy dear friend! But that sword looks awful gleaming and sharp. It
might cut somebody, by accident. It makes me shiver, Mr George.
Curse him!' says the excellent old gentleman apart to Judy as the
trooper takes a step or two away to lay it aside. eHe owes me money,
and might think of paying off old scores in this murdering place. I
wish your brimstone grandmother was here, and he'd shave her head
off.'

Mr George, returning, folds his arms, and looking down at the old
man, sliding every moment lower and lower in his chair, says quietly,
eNow for it!'

eHo!' cries Mr Smallweed, rubbing his hands with an artful chuckle.

eYes. Now for it. Now for what, my dear friend?'

eFor a pipe,' says Mr George, who with great composure sets his chair
in the chimney-corner, takes his pipe from the grate, fills it and lights
it, and falls to smoking peacefully.

This tends to the discomfiture of Mr Smallweed, who finds it so
difficult to resume his object, whatever it may be, that
he becomes
exasperated and secretly claws the air with an impotent vindictiveness
expressive of an intense desire to tear and rend the visage of Mr
George. As the excellent old gentleman's nails are long and leaden,
and his hands lean and veinous, and his eyes green and watery; and,
over and above this, as he continues, while he claws, to slide down in
his chair and to collapse into a shapeless bundle, he becomes such a
ghastly spectacle, even in the accustomed eyes of Judy, that that
young virgin pounces at him with something more than the ardour of
affection and so shakes him up and pats and pokes him in divers
parts of his body, but particularly in that part which the science of
self-defence would call his wind, that in his grievous distress he utters
enforced sounds like a paviour's
1 rammer.

When Judy has by these means set him up again in his chair, with a
white face and a frosty nose (but still clawing), she stretches out her
weazen forefinger and gives Mr George one poke in the back.
The
trooper raising his head, she makes another poke at her esteemed
grandfather, and having thus brought them together, stares rigidly at
the fire.

eAye, aye! Ho, ho! U--u--u--ugh!' chatters Grandfather Smallweed,
swallowing his rage. eMy dear friend!' (still clawing).

eI tell you what,' says Mr George. eIf you want to converse with me,
you must speak out. I am one of the roughs, and I can't go about and
about. I haven't the art to do it. I am not clever enough. It don't suit
me. When you go winding round and round me,' says the trooper,
putting his pipe between his lips again, edamme, if I don't feel as if I
was being smothered!'

And he inflates his broad chest to its utmost extent as if to assure
himself that he is not smothered yet.

eIf you have come to give me a friendly call,' continues Mr George, eI
am obliged to you; how are you? If you have come to see whether
there's any property on the premises, look about you; you are wel-
come. If you want to out with something, out with it!'

The blooming Judy, without removing her gaze from the fire, gives her
grandfather one ghostly poke.

eYou see! It's her opinion too. And why the devil that young woman
won't sit down like a Christian,' says Mr George with his eyes
musingly fixed on Judy, eI can't comprehend.'


eShe keeps at my side to attend to me, sir,' says Grandfather
Smallweed. eI am an old man, my dear Mr George, and I need some
attention. I can carry my years; I am not a brimstone poll-parrot'
(snarling and looking unconsciously for the cushion), ebut I need
attention, my dear friend.'

eWell!' returns the trooper, wheeling his chair to face the old man.
eNow then?'

eMy friend in the city, Mr George, has done a little business with a
pupil of yours.'

eHas he?' says Mr George. eI am sorry to hear it.'

eYes, sir.' Grandfather Smallweed rubs his legs. eHe is a fine young
soldier now, Mr George, by the name of Carstone. Friends came
forward and paid it all up, honourable.'

eDid they?' returns Mr George.

eDo you think your friend in the city would like a piece of advice?'

eI think he would, my dear friend. From you.'

eI advise him, then, to do no more business in that quarter. There's
no more to be got by it. The young gentleman, to my knowledge, is
brought to a dead halt.'

eNo, no, my dear friend. No, no, Mr George. No, no, no, sir,'
remonstrates Grandfather Smallweed, cunningly rubbing his spare
legs. eNot quite a dead halt, I think. He has good friends, and he is
good for his pay, and he is good for the selling price of his
commission, and he is good for his chance in a lawsuit, and he is good
for his chance in a wife, and--oh, do you know, Mr George, I think my
friend would consider the young gentleman good for something yet?'
says Grandfather Smallweed, turning up his velvet cap and scratching
his ear like a monkey.

Mr George, who has put aside his pipe and sits with an arm on his
chair-back, beats a tattoo on the ground with his right foot as if he
were not particularly pleased with the turn the conversation has
taken.

eBut to pass from one subject to another,' resumes Mr Smallweed. e'To
promote the conversation,' as a joker might say. To pass, Mr George,
from the ensign to the captain.'

eWhat are you up to, now?' asks Mr George, pausing with a frown in
stroking the recollection of his moustache. eWhat captain?'

eOur captain. The captain we know of. Captain Hawdon.'

eOh! That's it, is it?' says Mr George with a low whistle as he sees both
grandfather and granddaughter looking hard at him. eYou are there!
Well? What about it? Come, I won't be smothered any more. Speak!'

eMy dear friend,' returns the old man, eI was applied--Judy, shake me
up a little!--I was applied to yesterday about the captain, and my opin-
ion still is that the captain is not dead.'

eBosh!' observes Mr George.

eWhat was your remark, my dear friend?' inquires the old man with
his hand to his ear.

eBosh!'

eHo!' says Grandfather Smallweed. eMr George, of my opinion you can
judge for yourself according to the questions asked of me and the
reasons given for asking 'em. Now, what do you think the lawyer
making the inquiries wants?'

eA job,' says Mr George.

eNothing of the kind!'

eCan't be a lawyer, then,' says Mr George, folding his arms with an air
of confirmed resolution.

eMy dear friend, he is a lawyer, and a famous one. He wants to see
some fragment in Captain Hawdon's writing. He don't want to keep it.
He only wants to see it and compare it with a writing in his possession.'

eWell?'

eWell, Mr George. Happening to remember the advertisement concern-
ing Captain Hawdon and any information that could be given respecting
him, he looked it up and came to me--just as you did, my dear friend.
Will you shake hands? So glad you came that day! I should have miss-
ed forming such a friendship if you hadn't come!'

eWell, Mr Smallweed?' says Mr George again after going through the
ceremony with some stiffness.

eI had no such thing. I have nothing but his signature.
Plague
pestilence and famine, battle murder and sudden death upon him,'
says the old man, making a curse out of one of his few remembrances
of a prayer and squeezing up his velvet cap between his angry hands,

eI have half a million of his signatures, I think! But you,' breathlessly
recovering his mildness of speech as Judy re-adjusts the cap on his
skittle-ball of a head, eyou, my dear Mr George, are likely to have some
letter or paper that would suit the purpose. Anything would suit the
purpose, written in the hand.'

eSome writing in that hand,' says the trooper, pondering; emay be, I
have.'

eMy dearest friend!'

eMay be, I have not.'

eHo!' says Grandfather Smallweed, crest-fallen.

eBut if I had bushels of it, I would not show as much as would make a
cartridge without knowing why.'


eSir, I have told you why. My dear Mr George, I have told you why.'

eNot enough,' says the trooper, shaking his head. eI must know more,
and approve it.'

eThen, will you come to the lawyer? My dear friend, will you come and
see the gentleman?' urges Grandfather Smallweed,
pulling out a lean
old silver watch with hands like the leg of a skeleton.
eI told him it was
probable I might call upon him between ten and eleven this forenoon,
and it's now half after ten. Will you come and see the gentleman, Mr
George?'

eHum!' says he gravely. eI don't mind that. Though why this should
concern you so much, I don't know.'

eEverything concerns me that has a chance in it of bringing anything
to light about him. Didn't he take us all in? Didn't he owe us immense
sums, all round? Concern me? Who can anything about him concern
more than me? Not, my dear friend,' says Grandfather Smallweed, low-
ering his tone, ethat I want you to betray anything. Far from it. Are
you ready to come, my dear friend?'

eAye! I'll come in a moment. I promise nothing, you know.'

eNo, my dear Mr George; no.'

eAnd you mean to say you're going to give me a lift to this place,
wherever it is, without charging for it?' Mr George inquires, getting his
hat and thick wash-leather gloves.

This pleasantry so tickles Mr Smallweed that he laughs, long and low,
before the fire. But ever while he laughs, he glances over his paralytic
shoulder at Mr George
and eagerly watches him as he unlocks the
padlock of a homely cupboard at the distant end of the gallery, looks
here and there upon the higher shelves, and ultimately takes
something out with a rustling of paper, folds it, and puts it in his
breast. Then Judy pokes Mr Smallweed once, and Mr Smallweed
pokes Judy once.

eI am ready,' says the trooper, coming back. ePhil, you can carry this
old gentleman to his coach, and make nothing of him.'

eOh, dear me! O Lord! Stop a moment!' says Mr Smallweed. eHe's so
very prompt! Are you sure you can do it carefully, my worthy man?'

Phil makes no reply, but seizing the chair and its load, sidles away,
tightly hugged by the now speechless Mr Smallweed, and bolts along
the passage as if he had an acceptable commission to carry the old
gentleman to the nearest volcano. His shorter trust, however,
terminating at the cab, he deposits him there; and the fair Judy takes
her place beside him, and the chair embellishes the roof, and Mr
George takes the vacant place upon the box.


Mr George is quite confounded by the spectacle he beholds from time
to time as he peeps into the cab through the window behind him,
where the grim Judy is always motionless, and the old gentleman with
his cap over one eye is always sliding off the seat into the straw and
looking upward at him out of his other eye with a helpless expression
of being jolted in the back.




Chapter XXVII--More Old Soldiers Than One



Mr George has not far to ride with folded arms upon the box, for their
destination is Lincoln's Inn Fields. When the driver stops his horses,
Mr George alights, and looking in at the window, says, 'What, Mr
Tulkinghorn's your man, is he?'

'Yes, my dear friend. Do you know him, Mr George?'

'Why, I have heard of him--seen him too, I think. But I don't know
him, and he don't know me.'

There ensues the carrying of Mr Smallweed upstairs, which is done to
perfection with the trooper's help. He is borne into Mr Tulkinghorn's
great room and deposited on the Turkey rug before the fire. Mr
Tulkinghorn is not within at the present moment but will be back
directly. The occupant of the pew in the hall, having said thus much,
stirs the fire and leaves the triumvirate to warm themselves.

Mr George is mightily curious in respect of the room. He looks up at
the painted ceiling, looks round at the old law-books, contemplates
the portraits of the great clients, reads aloud the names on the boxes.

''Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet,'' Mr George reads thoughtfully. 'Ha!
'Manor of Chesney Wold.' Humph!' Mr George stands looking at these
boxes a long while--as if they were pictures--and comes back to the
fire repeating, 'Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet, and Manor of Chesney
Wold, hey?'

'Worth a mint of money, Mr George!' whispers Grandfather Smallweed,
rubbing his legs. 'Powerfully rich!'


'Who do you mean? This old gentleman, or the Baronet?'

'This gentleman, this gentleman.'

'So I have heard; and knows a thing or two, I'll hold a wager. Not bad
quarters, either,' says Mr George, looking round again. 'See the
strong-box yonder!'

This reply is cut short by Mr Tulkinghorn's arrival. There is no change
in him, of course. Rustily drest, with his spectacles in his hand, and
their very case worn threadbare. In manner, close and dry. In voice,
husky and low. In face, watchful behind a blind; habitually not
uncensorious and contemptuous perhaps. The peerage may have
warmer worshippers and faithfuller believers than Mr Tulkinghorn,
after all, if everything were known.


'Good morning, Mr Smallweed, good morning!' he says as he comes in.
'You have brought the sergeant, I see. Sit down, sergeant.'

As Mr Tulkinghorn takes off his gloves and puts them in his hat, he
looks with half-closed eyes across the room to where the trooper
stands and says within himself perchance, 'You'll do, my friend!'

'Sit down, sergeant,' he repeats as he comes to his table, which is set
on one side of the fire, and takes his easy-chair. 'Cold and raw this
morning, cold and raw!' Mr Tulkinghorn warms before the bars,
alternately, the palms and knuckles of his hands and looks (from
behind that blind which is always down) at the trio sitting in a little
semicircle before him.

'Now, I can feel what I am about' (as perhaps he can in two senses),
'Mr Smallweed.' The old gentleman is newly shaken up by Judy to
bear his part in the conversation. 'You have brought our good friend
the sergeant, I see.'

'Yes, sir,' returns Mr Smallweed, very servile to the lawyer's wealth
and influence.


'And what does the sergeant say about this business?'

'Mr George,' says Grandfather Smallweed with a tremulous wave of his
shrivelled hand, 'this is the gentleman, sir.'

Mr George salutes the gentleman but otherwise sits bolt upright and
profoundly silent--very forward in his chair, as if the full comp-
lement of regulation appendages for a field-day hung about him.
Mr Tulkinghorn proceeds, 'Well, George--I believe your name is
George?'

'It is so, Sir.'

'What do you say, George?'

'I ask your pardon, sir,' returns the trooper, 'but I should wish to
know what you say?'

'Do you mean in point of reward?'

'I mean in point of everything, sir.'

This is so very trying to Mr Smallweed's temper that he suddenly breaks
out with 'You're a brimstone beast!' and as suddenly asks pardon of Mr
Tulkinghorn, excusing himself for this slip of the tongue by saying to
Judy, 'I was thinking of your grandmother, my dear.'


'I supposed, sergeant,' Mr Tulkinghorn resumes as he leans on one
side of his chair and crosses his legs, 'that Mr Smallweed might have
sufficiently explained the matter. It lies in the smallest compass,
however. You served under Captain Hawdon at one time, and were his
attendant in illness, and rendered him many little services, and were
rather in his confidence, I am told. That is so, is it not?'

'Yes, sir, that is so,' says Mr George with military brevity.

'Therefore you may happen to have in your possession something--
anything, no matter what; accounts, instructions, orders, a letter,
anything--in Captain Hawdon's writing. I wish to compare his writing
with some that I have. If you can give me the opportunity, you shall be
rewarded for your trouble. Three, four, five, guineas, you would
consider handsome, I dare say.'

'Noble, my dear friend!' cries Grandfather Smallweed, screwing up his
eyes.


'If not, say how much more, in your conscience as a soldier, you can
demand. There is no need for you to part with the writing, against
your inclination--though I should prefer to have it.'

Mr George sits squared in exactly the same attitude, looks at the
painted ceiling, and says never a word. The irascible Mr Smallweed
scratches the air.


'The question is,' says Mr Tulkinghorn in his methodical, subdued,
uninterested way, 'first, whether you have any of Captain Hawdon's
writing?'

'First, whether I have any of Captain Hawdon's writing, sir,' repeats
Mr George.

'Secondly, what will satisfy you for the trouble of producing it?'

'Secondly, what will satisfy me for the trouble of producing it, sir,'
repeats Mr George.

'Thirdly, you can judge for yourself whether it is at all like that,'
says Mr Tulkinghorn, suddenly handing him some sheets of written paper
tied together.

'Whether it is at all like that, sir. Just so,' repeats Mr George. All
three repetitions Mr George pronounces in a mechanical manner, look-
ing straight at Mr Tulkinghorn; nor does he so much as glance at
the affidavit in Jarndyce and Jarndyce, that has been given to him for
his inspection (though he still holds it in his hand), but continues to
look at the lawyer with an air of troubled meditation.

'Well?' says Mr Tulkinghorn. 'What do you say?'

'Well, sir,' replies Mr George, rising erect and looking immense, 'I
would rather, if you'll excuse me, have nothing to do with this.'


Mr Tulkinghorn, outwardly quite undisturbed, demands, 'Why not?'

'Why, sir,' returns the trooper. 'Except on military compulsion, I am
not a man of business. Among civilians I am what they call in
Scotland a ne'er-do-weel. I have no head for papers, sir. I can stand
any fire better than a fire of cross questions. I mentioned to Mr
Smallweed, only an hour or so ago, that when I come into things of
this kind I feel as if I was being smothered. And that is my sensation,'
says Mr George, looking round upon the company, 'at the present
moment.'

With that, he takes three strides forward to replace the papers on the
lawyer's table and three strides backward to resume his former
station, where he stands perfectly upright, now looking at the ground
and now at the painted ceiling, with his hands behind him as if to
prevent himself from accepting any other document whatever.

Under this provocation, Mr Smallweed's favourite adjective of
disparagement is so close to his tongue that he begins the words 'my
dear friend' with the monosyllable 'brim,' thus converting the
possessive pronoun into brimmy and appearing to have an
impediment in his speech. Once past this difficulty, however, he
exhorts his dear friend in the tenderest manner not to be rash, but to
do what so eminent a gentleman requires, and to do it with a good
grace, confident that it must be unobjectionable as well as profitable.
Mr Tulkinghorn merely utters an occasional sentence, as, 'You are the
best judge of your own interest, sergeant.' 'Take care you do no harm
by this.' 'Please yourself, please yourself.' 'If you know what you mean,
that's quite enough.' These he utters with an appearance of perfect
indifference as he looks over the papers on his table and prepares to
write a letter.

Mr George looks distrustfully from the painted ceiling to the ground,
from the ground to Mr Smallweed, from Mr Smallweed to Mr Tulking-
horn, and from Mr Tulkinghorn to the painted ceiling again, often in
his perplexity changing the leg on which he rests.

'I do assure you, sir,' says Mr George, 'not to say it offensively, that
between you and Mr Smallweed here, I really am being smothered fifty
times over. I really am, sir. I am not a match for you gentlemen. Will
you allow me to ask why you want to see the captain's hand, in the
case that I could find any specimen of it?'


Mr Tulkinghorn quietly shakes his head. 'No. If you were a man of
business, sergeant, you would not need to be informed that there are
confidential reasons, very harmless in themselves, for many such
wants in the profession to which I belong. But if you are afraid of
doing any injury to Captain Hawdon, you may set your mind at rest
about that.'

'Aye! He is dead, sir.'

'Is he?' Mr Tulkinghorn quietly sits down to write.

'Well, sir,' says the trooper, looking into his hat after another dis-
concerted pause, 'I am sorry not to have given you more satis-
faction. If it would be any satisfaction to any one that I should be
confirmed in my judgment that I would rather have nothing to do with
this by a friend of mine who has a better head for business than I
have, and who is an old soldier, I am willing to consult with him. I--I
really am so completely smothered myself at present,' says Mr George,
passing his hand hopelessly across his brow, 'that I don't know but
what it might be a satisfaction to me.'

Mr Smallweed, hearing that this authority is an old soldier, so strong-
ly inculcates the expediency of the trooper's taking counsel with
him, and particularly informing him of its being a question of five
guineas or more, that Mr George engages to go and see him. Mr
Tulkinghorn says nothing either way.

'I'll consult my friend, then, by your leave, sir,' says the trooper, 'and
I'll take the liberty of looking in again with the final answer in the
course of the day. Mr Smallweed, if you wish to be carried downstairs-
-'

'In a moment, my dear friend, in a moment. Will you first let me speak
half a word with this gentleman in private?'


'Certainly, sir. Don't hurry yourself on my account.' The trooper
retires to a distant part of the room and resumes his curious
inspection of the boxes, strong and otherwise.

'If I wasn't as weak as a brimstone baby, sir,' whispers Grandfather
Smallweed, drawing the lawyer down to his level by the lapel of his
coat and
flashing some half-quenched green fire out of his angry eyes,
'I'd tear the writing away from him. He's got it buttoned in his breast.
I saw him put it there. Judy saw him put it there. Speak up, you
crabbed image for the sign of a walking-stick shop, and say you saw
him put it there!'


This vehement conjuration the old gentleman accompanies with such
a thrust at his granddaughter that it is too much for his strength, and
he slips away out of his chair, drawing Mr Tulkinghorn with him, until
he is arrested by Judy, and well shaken.

'Violence will not do for me, my friend,' Mr Tulkinghorn then remarks
coolly.

'No, no, I know, I know, sir.
But it's chafing and galling--it's--it's
worse than your smattering chattering magpie of a grandmother,'
to
the imperturbable Judy, who only looks at the fire, 'to know he has
got what's wanted and won't give it up. He, not to give it up! HE! A
vagabond! But never mind, sir, never mind. At the most, he has only
his own way for a little while. I have him periodically in a vice. I'll twist
him, sir. I'll screw him, sir. If he won't do it with a good grace, I'll
make him do it with a bad one, sir! Now, my dear Mr George,' says
Grandfather Smallweed, winking at the lawyer hideously as he
releases him, 'I am ready for your kind assistance, my excellent
friend!'

Mr Tulkinghorn,
with some shadowy sign of amusement manifesting
itself through his self-possession
, stands on the hearth-rug with his
back to the fire, watching the disappearance of Mr Smallweed and
acknowledging the trooper's parting salute with one slight nod.

It is more difficult to get rid of the old gentleman, Mr George finds,
than to bear a hand in carrying him downstairs, for when he is
replaced in his conveyance, he is so loquacious on the subject of the
guineas and retains such an affectionate hold of his button --having,
in truth, a secret longing to rip his coat open and rob him--that some
degree of force is necessary on the trooper's part to effect a separation.
It is accomplished at last, and he proceeds alone in quest of his
adviser.

By the cloisterly Temple, and by Whitefriars (there, not without a
glance at Hanging-Sword Alley, which would seem to be something in
his way), and by Blackfriars Bridge, and Blackfriars Road, Mr George
sedately marches to a street of little shops lying somewhere in that
ganglion2 of roads from Kent and Surrey, and of streets from the
bridges of London, centring in
the far-famed elephant who has lost his
castle formed of a thousand four-horse coaches to a stronger iron
monster than he, ready to chop him into mince-meat
any day he
dares. To one of the little shops in this street, which is a musician's
shop, having
a few fiddles in the window, and some Pan's pipes and a
tambourine, and a triangle, and certain elongated scraps of music
, Mr
George directs his massive tread. And halting at a few paces from it,
as he sees
a soldierly looking woman, with her outer skirts tucked up,
come forth with a small wooden tub, and in that tub commence a-
whisking and a-splashing on the margin of the pavement
, Mr George
says to himself, 'She's as usual, washing greens. I never saw her,
except upon a baggage-waggon, when she wasn't washing greens!'


The subject of this reflection is at all events so occupied in washing
greens at present that she remains unsuspicious of Mr George's
approach until, lifting up herself and her tub together when she has
poured the water off into the gutter, she finds him standing near her.
Her reception of him is not flattering.


'George, I never see you but I wish you was a hundred mile away!'

The trooper, without remarking on this welcome, follows into the
musical-instrument shop, where the lady places her tub of greens
upon the counter, and having shaken hands with him, rests her arms
upon it.

'I never,' she says, 'George, consider Matthew Bagnet safe a minute
when you're near him. You are that restless and that roving--'

'Yes! I know I am, Mrs Bagnet. I know I am.'


'You know you are!' says Mrs Bagnet. 'What's the use of that? Why
are you?'

'The nature of the animal, I suppose,' returns the trooper goodhumouredly.

'Ah!' cries Mrs Bagnet, something shrilly. 'But what satisfaction will
the nature of the animal be to me when the animal shall have tempted
my Mat away from the musical business to New Zealand or Australey?'


Mrs Bagnet is not at all an ill-looking woman. Rather large-boned, a
little coarse in the grain, and freckled by the sun and wind which have
tanned her hair upon the forehead, but healthy, wholesome, and bright-
eyed. A strong, busy, active, honest-faced woman of from fortyfive
to fifty. Clean, hardy, and so economically dressed (though sub-
stantially) that the only article of ornament of which she stands
possessed appear's to be her wedding-ring, around which her finger
has grown to be so large since it was put on that it will never come off
again until it shall mingle with Mrs Bagnet's dust.

'Mrs Bagnet,' says the trooper, 'I am on my parole with you. Mat will
get no harm from me. You may trust me so far.'

'Well, I think I may. But the very looks of you are unsettling,' Mrs
Bagnet rejoins. 'Ah, George, George! If you had only settled down and
married Joe Pouch's widow when he died in North America, she'd
have combed your hair for you.'

'It was a chance for me, certainly,' returns the trooper half laughingly,
half seriously, 'but I shall never settle down into a respectable man
now. Joe Pouch's widow might have done me good--there was
something in her, and something of her--but I couldn't make up my
mind to it. If I had had the luck to meet with such a wife as Mat
found!'

Mrs Bagnet, who seems in a virtuous way to be under little reserve
with a good sort of fellow, but to be another good sort of fellow herself
for that matter, receives this compliment by flicking Mr George in the
face with a head of greens
and taking her tub into the little room
behind the shop.

'Why, Quebec, my poppet,' says George, following, on invitation, into
that department. 'And little Malta, too!
Come and kiss your Bluffy!'

These young ladies--not supposed to have been actually christened by
the names applied to them, though always so called in the family from
the places of their birth in barracks--are respectively employed on
three-legged stools, the younger (some five or six years old) in learning
her letters out of a penny primer, the elder (eight or nine perhaps) in
teaching her and sewing with great assiduity. Both hail Mr George
with acclamations as an old friend and after some kissing and
romping plant their stools beside him.


'And how's young Woolwich?' says Mr George.

'Ah! There now!' cries Mrs Bagnet, turning about from her saucepans
(for she is cooking dinner) with a bright flush on her face. 'Would you
believe it? Got an engagement at the theayter, with his father, to play
the fife in a military piece.'


'Well done, my godson!' cries Mr George, slapping his thigh.

'I believe you!' says Mrs Bagnet. 'He's a Briton. That's what Woolwich
is. A Briton!'

'And Mat blows away at his bassoon, and you're respectable civilians
one and all,' says Mr George. 'Family people. Children growing up.
Mat's old mother in Scotland, and your old father somewhere else, cor-
responded with, and helped a little, and--well, well! To be sure, I
don't know why I shouldn't be wished a hundred mile away, for I have
not much to do with all this!'


Mr George is becoming thoughtful, sitting before the fire in the
whitewashed room, which has a sanded floor and a barrack smell and
contains nothing superfluous and has not a visible speck of dirt or
dust in it, from the faces of Quebec and Malta to the bright tin pots
and pannikins upon the dresser shelves
--Mr George is becoming
thoughtful, sitting here while Mrs Bagnet is busy, when Mr Bagnet
and young Woolwich opportunely come home. Mr Bagnet is an ex-
artilleryman, tall and upright, with shaggy eyebrows and whiskers like
the fibres of a coco-nut, not a hair upon his head, and a torrid
complexion.
His voice, short, deep, and resonant, is not at all unlike
the tones of the instrument to which he is devoted. Indeed there may
be generally observed in him an unbending, unyielding, brass-bound
air, as if he were himself the bassoon of the human orchestra.
Young
Woolwich is the type and model of a young drummer.


Both father and son salute the trooper heartily. He saying, in due
season, that he has come to advise with Mr Bagnet, Mr Bagnet
hospitably declares that he will hear of no business until after dinner
and that his friend shall not partake of his counsel without first
partaking of boiled pork and greens. The trooper yielding to this
invitation, he and Mr Bagnet, not to embarrass the domestic
preparations, go forth to take a turn up and down the little street,
which they promenade with measured tread and folded arms, as if it
were a rampart.

'George,' says Mr Bagnet. 'You know me. It's my old girl that advises.
She has the head. But I never own to it before her. Discipline must be
maintained. Wait till the greens is off her mind. Then we'll consult.
Whatever the old girl says, do--do it!'

'I intend to, Mat,' replies the other. 'I would sooner take her opinion
than that of a college.'


'College,' returns Mr Bagnet in short sentences, bassoon-like. 'What
college could you leave--in another quarter of the world--with nothing
but a grey cloak and an umbrella--to make its way home to Europe?
The old girl would do it tomorrow. Did it once!'


'You are right,' says Mr George.

'What college,' pursues Bagnet, 'could you set up in life--with two
penn'orth of white lime--a penn'orth of fuller's earth--a ha'porth of
sand--and the rest of the change out of sixpence in money? That's
what the old girl started on. In the present business.'


'I am rejoiced to hear it's thriving, Mat.'

'The old girl,' says Mr Bagnet, acquiescing, 'saves. Has a stocking
somewhere. With money in it. I never saw it. But I know she's got it.
Wait till the greens is off her mind. Then she'll set you up.'

'She is a treasure!' exclaims Mr George.

'She's more. But I never own to it before her. Discipline must be
maintained. It was the old girl that brought out my musical abilities. I
should have been in the artillery now but for the old girl.
Six years I
hammered at the fiddle. Ten at the flute. The old girl said it wouldn't
do; intention good, but want of flexibility; try the bassoon. The old girl
borrowed a bassoon from the bandmaster of the Rifle Regiment. I
practised in the trenches. Got on, got another, get a living by it!'

George remarks that she looks as fresh as a rose and as sound as an
apple.

'The old girl,' says Mr Bagnet in reply, 'is a thoroughly fine woman.
Consequently she is like a thoroughly fine day. Gets finer as she gets
on.
I never saw the old girl's equal. But I never own to it before her.
Discipline must be maintained!'

Proceeding to converse on indifferent matters, they walk up and down
the little street, keeping step and time, until summoned by Quebec
and Malta to do justice to the pork and greens, over which Mrs
Bagnet, like a military chaplain, says a short grace.
In the distribution
of these comestibles, as in every other household duty, Mrs Bagnet
developes an exact system, sitting with every dish before her, allotting
to every portion of pork its own portion of pot-liquor, greens, potatoes,
and even mustard, and serving it out complete.
Having likewise served
out the beer from a can and thus supplied the mess with all things
necessary, Mrs Bagnet proceeds to satisfy her own hunger, which is in
a healthy state.
The kit of the mess, if the table furniture may be so
denominated, is chiefly composed of utensils of horn and tin that have
done duty in several parts of the world. Young Woolwich's knife, in
particular, which is of the oyster kind, with the additional feature of a
strong shutting-up movement which frequently balks the appetite of
that young musician, is mentioned as having gone in various hands
the complete round of foreign service.


The dinner done, Mrs Bagnet, assisted by the younger branches (who
polish their own cups and platters, knives and forks),
makes all the
dinner garniture shine as brightly
as before and puts it all away, first
sweeping the hearth, to the end that Mr Bagnet and the visitor may
not be retarded in the smoking of their pipes.
These household cares
involve much pattening and counter-pattening in the backyard and con-
siderable use of a pail, which is finally so happy as to assist in the
ablutions of Mrs Bagnet herself. That old girl reappearing by and by,
quite fresh
, and sitting down to her needlework, then and only then--
the greens being only then to be considered as entirely off her mind--
Mr Bagnet requests the trooper to state his case.


This Mr George does with great discretion, appearing to address
himself to Mr Bagnet, but having an eye solely on the old girl all the
time, as Bagnet has himself. She, equally discreet, busies herself with
her needlework. The case fully stated, Mr Bagnet resorts to his
standard artifice for the maintenance of discipline.

'That's the whole of it, is it, George?' says he.

'That's the whole of it.'

'You act according to my opinion?'

'I shall be guided,' replies George, 'entirely by it.'

'Old girl,' says Mr Bagnet, 'give him my opinion. You know it. Tell him
what it is.'


It is that he cannot have too little to do with people who are too deep
for him and cannot be too careful of interference with matters he does
not understand--that the plain rule is to do nothing in the dark, to be
a party to nothing underhanded or mysterious, and never to put his
foot where he cannot see the ground.
This, in effect, is Mr Bagnet's
opinion, as delivered through the old girl, and it so relieves Mr
George's mind by confirming his own opinion and banishing his
doubts that he composes himself to smoke another pipe
on that
exceptional occasion and to have a talk over old times with the whole
Bagnet family, according to their various ranges of experience.

Through these means it comes to pass that Mr George does not again
rise to his full height in that parlour until the time is drawing on when
the bassoon and fife are expected by a British public at the theatre;
and as it takes time even then for Mr George, in his domestic
character of Bluffy, to take leave of Quebec and Malta and insinuate a
sponsorial shilling into the pocket of his godson with felicitations on
his success in life, it is dark when Mr George again turns his face
towards Lincoln's Inn Fields.


'A family home,' he ruminates as he marches along, 'however small it
is, makes a man like me look lonely
. But it's well I never made that
evolution of matrimony. I shouldn't have been fit for it.
I am such a
vagabond still, even at my present time of life, that I couldn't hold to
the gallery a month together if it was a regular pursuit or if I
didn't camp there, gipsy fashion. Come! I disgrace nobody and cumber
nobody; that's something.
I have not done that for many a long year!'

So he whistles it off and marches on.

Arrived in Lincoln's Inn Fields and mounting Mr Tulkinghorn's stair,
he finds the outer door closed and the chambers shut, but the trooper
not knowing much about outer doors, and the staircase being dark
besides, he is yet fumbling and groping about, hoping to discover a
bell-handle or to open the door for himself, when Mr Tulkinghorn
comes up the stairs (quietly, of course) and angrily asks, 'Who is
that?

What are you doing there?'

'I ask your pardon, sir. It's George. The sergeant.'

'And couldn't George, the sergeant, see that my door was locked?'

'Why, no, sir, I couldn't. At any rate, I didn't,' says the troop-
er, rather nettled.

'Have you changed your mind? Or are you in the same mind?' Mr
Tulkinghorn demands. But he knows well enough at a glance.

'In the same mind, sir.'

'I thought so. That's sufficient. You can go. So you are the man,' says
Mr Tulkinghorn, opening his door with the key, 'in whose hiding-place
Mr Gridley was found?'

'Yes, I AM the man,' says the trooper, stopping two or three stairs
down. 'What then, sir?'

'What then? I don't like your associates. You should not have seen the
inside of my door this morning if I had thought of your being that
man. Gridley? A threatening, murderous, dangerous fellow.'
With these words, spoken in an unusually high tone for him, the
lawyer goes into his rooms and shuts the door with a thundering
noise.


Mr George takes his dismissal in great dudgeon, the greater because a
clerk coming up the stairs has heard the last words of all and
evidently applies them to him.
'A pretty character to bear,' the trooper
growls with a hasty oath as he strides downstairs. 'A threatening,
murderous, dangerous fellow!' And looking up, he sees the clerk
looking down at him and marking him as he passes a lamp. This so
intensifies his dudgeon that for five minutes he is in an ill humour.

But he whistles that off like the rest of it and marches home to the
shooting gallery.




Chapter XXVIII--The Ironmaster



Sir Leicester Dedlock has got the better, for the time being, of the
family gout and is once more, in a literal no less than in a figurative
point of view, upon his legs. He is at his place in Lincolnshire; but the
waters are out again on the low-lying grounds, and
the cold and damp
steal into Chesney Wold, though well defended, and eke into Sir
Leicester's bones. The blazing fires of faggot and coal--Dedlock timber
and antediluvian forest--that blaze upon the broad wide hearths and
wink in the twilight on the frowning woods, sullen to see how trees are
sacrificed, do not exclude the enemy.
The hot-water pipes that trail
themselves all over the house, the cushioned doors and windows, and
the screens and curtains fail to supply the fires' deficiencies and to
satisfy Sir Leicester's need.
Hence the fashionable intelligence
proclaims one morning to the listening earth that Lady Dedlock is
expected shortly to return to town for a few weeks.

It is a melancholy truth that even great men have their poor relations.
Indeed great men have often more than their fair share of poor
relations, inasmuch as
very red blood of the superior quality, like
inferior blood unlawfully shed, will cry aloud and will be heard. Sir
Leicester's cousins, in the remotest degree, are so many murders in
the respect that they 'will out.' Among whom there are cousins who
are so poor that one might almost dare to think it would have been
the happier for them never to have been plated links upon the Dedlock
chain of gold, but to have been made of common iron at first and done
base service.


Service, however (with a few limited reservations, genteel but not
profitable), they may not do, being of the Dedlock dignity. So they visit
their richer cousins, and get into debt when they can, and live but
shabbily when they can't, and find--the women no husbands, and the
men no wives--and ride in borrowed carriages, and sit at feasts that
are never of their own making, and so go through high life. The rich
family sum has been divided by so many figures, and they are the
something over that nobody knows what to do with.


Everybody on Sir Leicester Dedlock's side of the question and of his
way of thinking would appear to be his cousin more or less. From my
Lord Boodle, through the Duke of Foodle, down to Noodle, Sir
Leicester, like a glorious spider, stretches his threads of relationship
.
But while he is stately in the cousinship of the Everybodys, he is a
kind and generous man, according to his dignified way, in the
cousinship of the Nobodys; and at the present time, in despite of the
damp, he stays out the visit of several such cousins at Chesney Wold
with the constancy of a martyr.

Of these, foremost in the front rank stands Volumnia Dedlock, a
young lady (of sixty) who is doubly highly related, having the honour
to be a poor relation, by the mother's side, to another great family.

Miss Volumnia, displaying in early life a pretty talent for cutting
ornaments out of coloured paper, and also for singing to the guitar in
the Spanish tongue, and propounding French conundrums in country
houses, passed the twenty years of her existence between twenty and
forty in a sufficiently agreeable manner. Lapsing then out of date and
being considered to bore mankind by her vocal performances in the
Spanish language, she retired to Bath, where she lives slenderly on an
annual present from Sir Leicester and whence she makes occasional
resurrections in the country houses of her cousins. She has an
extensive acquaintance at Bath among appalling old gentlemen with
thin legs and nankeen trousers, and is of high standing in that dreary
city. But she is a little dreaded elsewhere in consequence of an
indiscreet profusion in the article of rouge and persistency in an
obsolete pearl necklace like a rosary of little bird's-eggs.


In any country in a wholesome state, Volumnia would be a clear case
for the pension list. Efforts have been made to get her on it, and when
William Buffy came in, it was fully expected that her name would be
put down for a couple of hundred a year. But William Buffy somehow
discovered, contrary to all expectation, that these were not the times
when it could be done, and this was the first clear indication Sir
Leicester Dedlock had conveyed to him that the country was going to
pieces.

There is likewise the Honourable Bob Stables, who can make warm
mashes with the skill of a veterinary surgeon and is a better shot than
most gamekeepers. He has been for some time particularly desirous to
serve his country in a post of good emoluments, unaccompanied by
any trouble or responsibility. In a well-regulated body politic this
natural desire on the part of a spirited young gentleman so highly
connected would be speedily recognized, but somehow William Buffy
found when he came in that these were not times in which he could
manage that little matter either, and this was the second indication
Sir Leicester Dedlock had conveyed to him that the country was going
to pieces.

The rest of the cousins are ladies and gentlemen of various ages and
capacities, the major part amiable and sensible and likely to have
done well enough in life if they could have overcome their cousinship;
as it is, they are almost all a little worsted by it, and lounge in
purposeless and listless paths, and seem to be quite as much at a loss
how to dispose of themselves as anybody else can be how to dispose of
them. In this society, and where not, my Lady Dedlock reigns supreme.
Beautiful, elegant, accomplished, and powerful in her little world (for
the world of fashion does not stretch ALL the way from pole to pole),
her influence in Sir Leicester's house, however haughty and indifferent
her manner, is greatly to improve it and refine it. The cousins, even
those older cousins who were paralysed when Sir Leicester married
her, do her feudal homage; and the Honourable Bob Stables daily
repeats to some chosen person between breakfast and lunch his
favourite original remark, that she is the best-groomed woman in the
whole stud.


Such the guests in the long drawing-room at Chesney Wold this
dismal night when the step on the Ghost's Walk (inaudible here,
however) might be the step of a deceased cousin shut out in the cold.
It is near bed-time. Bedroom fires blaze brightly all over the house,
raising ghosts of grim furniture on wall and ceiling. Bedroom
candlesticks bristle on the distant table by the door, and cousins
yawn on ottomans. Cousins at the piano, cousins at the soda-water
tray, cousins rising from the card-table, cousins gathered round the
fire. Standing on one side of his own peculiar fire (for there are two),
Sir Leicester. On the opposite side of the broad hearth, my Lady at her
table. Volumnia, as one of the more privileged cousins, in a luxurious
chair between them. Sir Leicester glancing, with magnificent
displeasure, at the rouge and the pearl necklace.


'I occasionally meet on my staircase here,' drawls Volumnia, whose
thoughts perhaps are already hopping up it to bed, after a long
evening of very desultory talk, 'one of the prettiest girls, I think,
that I ever saw in my life.'

'A protegee ofemy Lady's,' observes Sir Leicester.


'I thought so. I felt sure that some uncommon eye must have picked
that girl out. She really is a marvel. A dolly sort of beauty perhaps,'
says Miss Volumnia, reserving her own sort, 'but in its way, perfect;
such bloom I never saw!'

Sir Leicester, with his magnificent glance of displeasure at the rouge,
appears to say so too.

'Indeed,' remarks my Lady languidly, 'if there is any uncommon eye in
the case, it is Mrs Rouncewell's, and not mine. Rosa is her discovery.'


'Your maid, I suppose?'

'No. My anything; pet--secretary--messenger--I don't know what.'

'You like to have her about you, as you would like to have a flower, or
a bird, or a picture, or a poodle--no, not a poodle, though--or anything
else that was equally pretty?' says Volumnia, sympathizing. 'Yes, how
charming now! And how well that delightful old soul Mrs Rouncewell
is looking. She must be an immense age, and yet she is as active and
handsome! She is the dearest friend I have, positively!'

Sir Leicester feels it to be right and fitting that the housekeeper of
Chesney Wold should be a remarkable person. Apart from that, he has
a real regard for Mrs Rouncewell and likes to hear her praised.
So he
says, 'You are right, Volumnia,' which Volumnia is extremely glad to
hear.

'She has no daughter of her own, has she?'

'Mrs Rouncewell? No, Volumnia. She has a son. Indeed, she had two.'

My Lady, whose chronic malady of boredom has been sadly aggravated by
Volumnia this evening, glances wearily towards the candlesticks and
heaves a noiseless sigh.

'And it is a remarkable example of the confusion into which the
present age has fallen; of the obliteration of landmarks, the opening of
floodgates, and the uprooting of distinctions,' says Sir Leicester with
stately gloom, 'that I have been informed by Mr Tulkinghorn that Mrs
Rouncewell's son has been invited to go into Parliament.'

Miss Volumnia utters a little sharp scream.

'Yes, indeed,' repeats Sir Leicester. 'Into Parliament.'

'I never heard of such a thing! Good gracious, what is the man?'
exclaims Volumnia.

'He is called, I believe--an--ironmaster.' Sir Leicester says it slowly
and with gravity and doubt, as not being sure but that he is called a
leadmistress or that the right word may be some other word expressive of
some other relationship to some other metal.


Volumnia utters another little scream.

'He has declined the proposal, if my information from Mr Tulkinghorn
be correct, as I have no doubt it is. Mr Tulkinghorn being always
correct and exact; still that does not,' says Sir Leicester, 'that does not
lessen the anomaly, which is fraught with strange considerations--
startling considerations, as it appears to me.'


Miss Volumnia rising with a look candlestick-wards, Sir Leicester
politely performs the grand tour of the drawing-room, brings one, and
lights it at my Lady's shaded lamp.

'I must beg you, my Lady,' he says while doing so, 'to remain a few
moments, for this individual of whom I speak arrived this evening
shortly before dinner and requested in a very becoming note'--Sir
Leicester, with his habitual regard to truth, dwells upon it--'I am
bound to say, in a very becoming and well-expressed note, the favour
of a short interview with yourself and myself on the subject of this
young girl. As it appeared that he wished to depart to-night, I replied
that we would see him before retiring.'

Miss Volumnia with a third little scream takes flight, wishing her
hosts--O Lud!--well rid of the--what is it?--ironmaster!


The other cousins soon disperse, to the last cousin there. Sir Leicester
rings the bell, 'Make my compliments to Mr Rouncewell, in the
housekeeper's apartments, and say I can receive him now.'

My Lady, who has heard all this with slight attention outwardly, looks
towards Mr Rouncewell as he comes in. He is a little over fifty
perhaps, of a good figure, like his mother, and has a clear voice, a
broad forehead from which his dark hair has retired, and a shrewd
though open face. He is a responsible-looking gentleman dressed in
black, portly enough, but strong and active. Has a perfectly natural
and easy air and is not in the least embarrassed by the great presence
into which he comes.


'Sir Leicester and Lady Dedlock, as I have already apologized for
intruding on you, I cannot do better than be very brief. I thank you,
Sir Leicester.'


The head of the Dedlocks has motioned towards a sofa between
himself and my Lady. Mr Rouncewell quietly takes his seat there.

'In these busy times, when so many great undertakings are in
progress, people like myself have so many workmen in so many places
that we are always on the flight.'


Sir Leicester is content enough that the ironmaster should feel that
there is no hurry there; there, in that ancient house, rooted in that
quiet park, where the ivy and the moss have had time to mature, and
the gnarled and warted elms and the umbrageous oaks stand deep in
the fern and leaves of a hundred years; and where the sun-dial on the
terrace has dumbly recorded for centuries that time which was as
much the property of every Dedlock--while he lasted--as the house
and lands. Sir Leicester sits down in an easy-chair, opposing his
repose and that of Chesney Wold to the restless flights of ironmasters.


'Lady Dedlock has been so kind,' proceeds Mr Rouncewell with a
respectful glance and a bow that way, 'as to place near her a young
beauty of the name of Rosa. Now, my son has fallen in love with Rosa
and has asked my consent to his proposing marriage to her and to
their becoming engaged if she will take him--which I suppose she will.
I have never seen Rosa until to-day, but I have some confidence in my
son's good sense--even in love. I find her what he represents her, to
the best of my judgment; and my mother speaks of her with great
commendation.'

'She in all respects deserves it,' says my Lady.

'I am happy, Lady Dedlock, that you say so, and I need not comment
on the value to me of your kind opinion of her.'

'That,' observes Sir Leicester with unspeakable grandeur, for he thinks
the ironmaster a little too glib, 'must be quite unnecessary.'


'Quite unnecessary, Sir Leicester. Now, my son is a very young man,
and Rosa is a very young woman. As I made my way, so my son must
make his; and his being married at present is out of the question. But
supposing I gave my consent to his engaging himself to this pretty girl,
if this pretty girl will engage herself to him, I think it a piece of
candour to say at once--I am