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BLEAK HOUSE


by Charles Dickens


PREFACE


A Chancery judge once had the kindness to inform meas one of a
company of some hundred and fifty men and women not labouring under
any suspicions of lunacythat the Court of Chancerythough 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 beenhe admitteda trivial blemish or so in its rate of
progressbut this was exaggerated and had been entirely owing to
the "parsimony 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:


My nature is subdued
To what it works inlike the dyer's hand:
Pity methenand wish I were renewed!"


But as it is wholesome that the parsimonious public should know
what has been doingand still is doingin this connexionI
mention here that everything set forth in these pages concerning
the Court of Chancery is substantially trueand within the truth.
The case of Gridley is in no essential altered from one of actual
occurrencemade public by a disinterested person who was
professionally acquainted with the whole of the monstrous wrong
from beginning to end. At the present moment (August1853) there
is a suit before the court which was commenced nearly twenty years
agoin which from thirty to forty counsel have been known to
appear at one timein which costs have been incurred to the amount
of seventy thousand poundswhich is A FRIENDLY SUITand which is
(I am assured) no nearer to its termination now than when it was
begun. There is another well-known suit in Chancerynot yet
decidedwhich was commenced before the close of the last century
and in which more than double the amount of seventy thousand pounds
has been swallowed up in costs. If I wanted other authorities for
Jarndyce and JarndyceI could rain them on these pagesto 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 mistakenas he soon foundin supposing the thing to have
been abandoned by all authorities) published some ingenious letters
to me at the time when that event was chronicledarguing 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 famousthat of the Countess Cornelia de Baudi
Cesenatewas minutely investigated and described by Giuseppe
Bianchinia prebendary of Veronaotherwise distinguished in
letterswho published an account of it at Verona in 1731which he
afterwards republished at Rome. The appearancesbeyond all
rational doubtobserved in that case are the appearances observed
in Mr. Krook's case. The next most famous instance happened at
Rheims six years earlierand the historian in that case is Le Cat
one of the most renowned surgeons produced by France. The subject
was a womanwhose husband was ignorantly convicted of having
murdered her; but on solemn appeal to a higher courthe 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 factsand that
general reference to the authorities which will be found at page
30vol. ii.* the recorded opinions and experiences of
distinguished medical professorsFrenchEnglishand Scotchin
more modern dayscontenting 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

* Another casevery clearly described by a dentistoccurred at
the town of Columbusin the United States of Americaquite
recently. The subject was a German who kept a liquor-shop aud was
an inveterate drunkard.
CHAPTER I

In Chancery

London. Michaelmas term lately overand 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 earthand it would not be wonderful to meet a
Megalosaurusforty feet long or sowaddling like an elephantine
lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots
making a soft black drizzlewith flakes of soot in it as big as
full-grown snowflakes--gone into mourningone might imaginefor
the death of the sun. Dogsundistinguishable in mire. Horses
scarcely better; splashed to their very blinkers. Foot passengers
jostling one another's umbrellas in a general infection of ill
temperand losing their foot-hold at street-cornerswhere 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 mudsticking at those points
tenaciously to the pavementand accumulating at compound interest.

Fog everywhere. Fog up the riverwhere it flows among green aits
and meadows; fog down the riverwhere it rolls deified among the
tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and
dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshesfog 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 pensionerswheezing by the firesides
of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of
the wrathful skipperdown 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 fogwith fog all round themas if they were up in a
balloon and hanging in the misty clouds.

Gas looming through the fog in divers places in the streetsmuch
as the sun mayfrom the spongey fieldsbe seen to loom by
husbandman and ploughboy. Most of the shops lighted two hours
before their time--as the gas seems to knowfor it has a haggard
and unwilling look.

The raw afternoon is rawestand the dense fog is densestand the
muddy streets are muddiest near that leaden-headed old obstruction
appropriate ornament for the threshold of a leaden-headed old
corporationTemple Bar. And hard by Temple Barin Lincoln's Inn
Hallat the very heart of the fogsits the Lord High Chancellor
in his High Court of Chancery.

Never can there come fog too thicknever can there come mud and
mire too deepto assort with the groping and floundering condition
which this High Court of Chancerymost pestilent of hoary sinners
holds this day in the sight of heaven and earth.

On such an afternoonif everthe Lord High Chancellor ought to be
sitting her--as here he is--with a foggy glory round his head
softly fenced in with crimson cloth and curtainsaddressed by a
large advocate with great whiskersa little voiceand an
interminable briefand outwardly directing his contemplation to
the lantern in the roofwhere 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 causetripping one another up on
slippery precedentsgroping knee-deep in technicalitiesrunning
their goat-hair and horsehair warded heads against walls of words
and making a pretence of equity with serious facesas players
might. On such an afternoon the various solicitors in the cause
some two or three of whom have inherited it from their fatherswho
made a fortune by itought to be--as are they not?--ranged in a
linein 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
gownswith billscross-billsanswersrejoindersinjunctions
affidavitsissuesreferences to mastersmasters' reports
mountains of costly nonsensepiled before them. Well may the
court be dimwith wasting candles here and there; well may the fog
hang heavy in itas 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 streetswho peep
in through the glass panes in the doorbe deterred from entrance
by its owlish aspect and by the drawllanguidly 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 Chancerywhich
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 churchyardwhich has its ruined suitor with his slipshod
heels and threadbare dress borrowing and begging through the round
of every man's acquaintancewhich gives to monied might the means
abundantly of wearying out the rightwhich so exhausts finances
patiencecouragehopeso overthrows the brain and breaks the


heartthat there is not an honourable man among its practitioners
who would not give--who does not often give--the warningSuffer
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 Chancellorthe counsel in the cause
two or three counsel who are never in any causeand the well of
solicitors before mentioned? There is the registrar below the
judgein wig and gown; and there are two or three macesor petty-
bagsor privy pursesor whatever they may bein legal court
suits. These are all yawningfor 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 writersthe reporters of
the courtand 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
hallthe better to peer into the curtained sanctuaryis a little
mad old woman in a squeezed bonnet who is always in courtfrom its
sitting to its risingand always expecting some incomprehensible
judgment to be given in her favour. Some say she really isor
wasa party to a suitbut no one knows for certain because no one
cares. She carries some small litter in a reticule which she calls
her documentsprincipally consisting of paper matches and dry
lavender. A sallow prisoner has come upin custodyfor the half-
dozenth time to make a personal application "to 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
My 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 hasin
course of timebecome so complicated that no man alive knows what
it means. The parties to it understand it leastbut 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 uppossessed himself of a real horseand 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 manybut it


is a joke in the profession. Every master in Chancery has had a
reference out of it. Every Chancellor was "in it for somebody or
other, when he was counsel at the bar. Good things have been said
about it by blue-nosed, bulbous-shoed old benchers in select port-
wine committee after dinner in hall. Articled clerks have been in
the habit of fleshing their legal wit upon it. The last Lord
Chancellor handled it neatly, when, correcting Mr. Blowers, the
eminent silk gown who said that such a thing might happen when the
sky rained potatoes, he observed, or when we get through Jarndyce
and JarndyceMr. Blowers"--a pleasantry that particularly tickled
the macesbagsand 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 shapesdown to the copying-clerk in the Six Clerks' Office
who has copied his tens of thousands of Chancery folio-pages under
that eternal headingno man's nature has been made better by it.
In trickeryevasionprocrastinationspoliationbotheration
under false pretences of all sortsthere are influences that can
never come to good. The very solicitors' boys who have kept the
wretched suitors at bayby protesting time out of mind that Mr.
ChizzleMizzleor otherwise was particularly engaged and had
appointments until dinnermay 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. ChizzleMizzleand 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 courseand a loose belief that if the
world go wrong it was in some off-hand manner never meant to go
right.

Thusin the midst of the mud and at the heart of the fogsits the
Lord High Chancellor in his High Court of Chancery.

Mr. Tangle,says the Lord High Chancellorlatterly something
restless under the eloquence of that learned gentleman.

Mlud,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.

Have you nearly concluded your argument?

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

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

Eighteen of Mr. Tangle's learned friendseach armed with a little
summary of eighteen hundred sheetsbob up like eighteen hammers in
a pianofortemake eighteen bowsand drop into their eighteen
places of obscurity.

We 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 suitand 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 criesMy lord!
Macesbagsand purses indignantly proclaim silence and frown at
the man from Shropshire.

In reference,proceeds the Chancellorstill on Jarndyce and
Jarndyceto the young girl--

Begludship's pardon--boy,says Mr. Tangle prematurely. "In
reference proceeds the Chancellor with extra distinctness, to
the young girl and boythe two young people"--Mr. Tangle crushed-"
whom I directed to be in attendance to-day and who are now in my
private roomI 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. "Begludship's pardon--dead."

With their--Chancellor looking through his double eyeglass at the
papers on his desk--"grandfather."

Begludship's pardon--victim of rash action--brains.

Suddenly a very little counsel with a terrific bass voice arises
fully inflatedin the back settlements of the fogand saysWill
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.

I will speak with both the young people says the Chancellor
anew, and satisfy myself on the subject of their residing with
their cousin. I will mention the matter to-morrow morning when I
take my seat."

The Chancellor is about to bow to the bar when the prisoner is
presented. Nothing can possibly come of the prisoner's
conglomeration but his being sent back to prisonwhich is soon
done. The man from Shropshire ventures another remonstrative "My
lord!" but the Chancellorbeing aware of himhas 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 itand 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 otheras 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 daywhen 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 wooland cannot hear the rushing of the
larger worldsand cannot see them as they circle round the sun.
It is a deadened worldand 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 Pariswhere her ladyship intends to
stay some weeksafter 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
callsin familiar conversationher "place" 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 overall 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 throughand the soft loppings and prunings of
the woodman's axe can make no crash or crackle as they fall. The
deerlooking soakedleave quagmires where they pass. The shot of
a rifle loses its sharpness in the moist airand its smoke moves
in a tardy little cloud towards the green risecoppice-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
dripdrip--upon the broad flagged pavementcalled from old time
the Ghost's Walkall 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 panesand smoke rising from
the chimneyand a childchased by a womanrunning out into the
rain to meet the shining figure of a wrapped-up man coming through
the gatehas been put quite out of temper. My Lady Dedlock says
she has been "bored to death."

Therefore my Lady Dedlock has come away from the place in
Lincolnshire and has left it to the rainand the crowsand the
rabbitsand the deerand the partridges and pheasants. The
pictures of the Dedlocks past and gone have seemed to vanish into
the damp walls in mere lowness of spiritsas the housekeeper has
passed along the old rooms shutting up the shutters. And when they
will next come forth againthe fashionable intelligence--which
like the fiendis omniscient of the past and presentbut not the
future--cannot yet undertake to say.


Sir Leicester Dedlock is only a baronetbut there is no mightier
baronet than he. His family is as old as the hillsand 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
perhapswhen not enclosed with a park-fence)but an idea
dependent for its execution on your great county families. He is a
gentleman of strict consciencedisdainful 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 honourableobstinate
truthfulhigh-spiritedintensely prejudicedperfectly
unreasonable man.

Sir Leicester is twenty yearsfull measureolder than my Lady.
He will never see sixty-five againnor perhaps sixty-sixnor yet
sixty-seven. He has a twist of the gout now and then and walks a
little stiffly. He is of a worthy presencewith his light-grey
hair and whiskershis fine shirt-frillhis pure-white waistcoat
and his blue coat with bright buttons always buttoned. He is
ceremoniousstatelymost polite on every occasion to my Ladyand
holds her personal attractions in the highest estimation. His
gallantry to my Ladywhich has never changed since he courted her
is the one little touch of romantic fancy in him.

Indeedhe married her for love. A whisper still goes about that
she had not even family; howbeitSir Leicester had so much family
that perhaps he had enough and could dispense with any more. But
she had beautyprideambitioninsolent resolveand sense enough
to portion out a legion of fine ladies. Wealth and stationadded
to thesesoon floated her upwardand 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 conquereverybody
knows--or has some reason to know by this timethe matter having
been rather frequently mentioned. My Lady Dedlockhaving
conquered HER worldfell not into the meltingbut rather into the
freezingmood. An exhausted composurea worn-out placidityan
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 to-morrowshe might be
expected to ascend without any rapture.

She has beauty stilland if it be not in its heydayit is not yet
in its autumn. She has a fine face--originally of a character that
would be rather called very pretty than handsomebut improved into
classicality by the acquired expression of her fashionable state.
Her figure is elegant and has the effect of being tall. Not that
she is sobut that "the most is made as the Honourable Bob
Stables has frequently asserted upon oath, of 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 headmy 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 Pariswhere her ladyship intends to stay some
weeksafter which her movements are uncertain. And at her house
in townupon this muddymurky afternoonpresents himself an old-
fashioned old gentlemanattorney-at-law and eke solicitor of the
High Court of Chancerywho 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 halland up the stairsand
along the passagesand through the roomswhich are very brilliant
in the season and very dismal out of it--fairy-land to visitbut 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 atbut is reputed to have made
good thrift out of aristocratic marriage settlements and
aristocratic willsand to be very rich. He is surrounded by a
mysterious halo of family confidencesof 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 fernwhich perhaps hold fewer noble secrets than walk abroad
among menshut 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 ribbonsand gaiters or stockings. One peculiarity of his
black clothes and of his black stockingsbe they silk or worsted
is that they never shine. Mutecloseirresponsive to any
glancing lighthis dress is like himself. He never converses when
not professionaly consulted. He is found sometimesspeechless but
quite at homeat corners of dinner-tables in great country houses
and near doors of drawing-roomsconcerning which the fashionable
intelligence is eloquentwhere everybody knows him and where half
the Peerage stops to say "How do you doMr. 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.
Tulkinghorn. There is an air of prescription about him which is
always agreeable 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 eminently respectableand likewisein
a general wayretainer-like. It expressesas it werethe
steward of the legal mysteriesthe butler of the legal cellarof
the Dedlocks.

Has Mr. Tulkinghorn any idea of this himself? It may be soor it
may notbut there is this remarkable circumstance to be noted in
everything 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 Beingquite out of the reach
and ken of ordinary mortals--seeing herself in her glasswhere
indeed she looks so. Yet every dim little star revolving about
herfrom her maid to the manager of the Italian Operaknows her
weaknessesprejudicesfollieshaughtinessesand 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 dressa new customa new singera new dancera new
form of jewellerya new dwarf or gianta new chapela new
anythingto be set up? There are deferential people in a dozen
callings whom my Lady Dedlock suspects of nothing but prostration
before herwho can tell you how to manage her as if she were a
babywho do nothing but nurse her all their liveswhohumbly
affecting to follow with profound subserviencelead her and her
whole troop after them; whoin hooking onehook all and bear them
off as Lemuel Gulliver bore away the stately fleet of the majestic
Lilliput. "If you want to address our peoplesir 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 placeand their
weakest place is such a place." "To make this article go down


gentlemen say Sheen and Gloss, the mercers, to their friends the
manufacturers, you must come to usbecause we know where to have
the fashionable peopleand we can make it fashionable." "If you
want to get this print upon the tables of my high connexionsir
says Mr. Sladdery, the librarian, or if you want to get this dwarf
or giant into the houses of my high connexionsiror if you want
to secure to this entertainment the patronage of my high connexion
siryou must leave itif you pleaseto mefor I have been
accustomed to study the leaders of my high connexionsirand I
may tell you without vanity that I can turn them round my finger"-in
which Mr. Sladderywho is an honest mandoes not exaggerate at
all.

Thereforewhile Mr. Tulkinghorn may not know what is passing in
the Dedlock mind at presentit is very possible that he may.

My Lady's cause has been again before the Chancellor, has it, Mr.
Tulkinghorn?says Sir Leicestergiving him his hand.

Yes. It has been on again to-day,Mr. Tulkinghorn replies
making one of his quiet bows to my Ladywho is on a sofa near the
fireshading her face with a hand-screen.

It would be useless to ask,says my Lady with the dreariness of
the place in Lincolnshire still upon herwhether anything has
been done.

Nothing that YOU would call anything has been done to-day,
replies Mr. Tulkinghorn.

Nor ever will be,says my Lady.

Sir Leicester has no objection to an interminable Chancery suit.
It is a slowexpensiveBritishconstitutional kind of thing. To
be surehe has not a vital interest in the suit in questionher
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 causeand not in the title of that causeis a most
ridiculous accident. But he regards the Court of Chanceryeven if
it should involve an occasional delay of justice and a trifling
amount of confusionas 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.

As a few fresh affidavits have been put upon the file,says Mr.
Tulkinghornand 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 furtheras I
see you are going to ParisI have brought them in my pocket."

(Sir Leicester was going to Paris tooby the bybut the delight
of the fashionable intelligence was in his Lady.)

Mr. Tulkinghorn takes out his papersasks permission to place them
on a golden talisman of a table at my Lady's elbowputs on his
spectaclesand begins to read by the light of a shaded lamp.

'In Chancery. Between John Jarndyce--'


My Lady interruptsrequesting 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 usefulbeing priceless but small. My Ladychanging her
positionsees the papers on the table--looks at them nearer--looks
at them nearer still--asks impulsivelyWho copied that?

Mr. Tulkinghorn stops shortsurprised by my Lady's animation and
her unusual tone.

Is it what you people call law-hand?she askslooking full at
him in her careless way again and toying with her screen.

Not quite. Probably--Mr. Tulkinghorn examines it as he speaks-"
the legal character which it has was acquired after the original
hand was formed. Why do you ask?"

Anything to vary this detestable monotony. Oh, go on, do!

Mr. Tulkinghorn reads again. The heat is greater; my Lady screens
her face. Sir Leicester dozesstarts up suddenlyand criesEh?
What do you say?

I say I am afraid,says Mr. Tulkinghornwho had risen hastily
that Lady Dedlock is ill.

Faint,my Lady murmurs with white lipsonly 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 ringfeet
shuffle and pattersilence ensues. Mercury at last begs Mr.
Tulkinghorn to return.

Better now,quoth Sir Leicestermotioning the lawyer to sit down
and read to him alone. "I have been quite alarmed. I never knew
my Lady swoon before. But the weather is extremely tryingand 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 pagesfor I know I am not clever. I always knew that. I
can rememberwhen I was a very little girl indeedI used to say
to my doll when we were alone togetherNow, 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 lipsstaring at me--or not
so much at meI thinkas 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 lipsand never dared to open my heartto 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 sayOh, you dear faithful Dolly, I knew you would be
expecting me!and then to sit down on the floorleaning on the
elbow of her great chairand tell her all I had noticed since we
parted. I had always rather a noticing way--not a quick wayoh
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 indeedit
seems to brighten. But even that may be my vanity.

I was brought upfrom my earliest remembrance--like some of the
princesses in the fairy storiesonly I was not charming--by my
godmother. At leastI only knew her as such. She was a good
good woman! She went to church three times every Sundayand to
morning prayers on Wednesdays and Fridaysand to lectures whenever
there were lectures; and never missed. She was handsome; and if
she had ever smiledwould have been (I used to think) like an
angel--but she never smiled. She was always grave and strict. She
was so very good herselfI thoughtthat 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 poorso triflingand so far off that I never
could be unrestrained with her--nocould never even love her as I
wished. It made me very sorry to consider how good she was and how
unworthy of her I wasand I used ardently to hope that I might
have a better heart; and I talked it over very often with the dear
old dollbut 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 meI dare saymore 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
eitherbut I felt more interested about my mama. I had never worn
a black frockthat 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 servantwho took my light away when I was in bed (another
very good womanbut austere to me)and she had only said
Esther, good night!and gone away and left me.

Although there were seven girls at the neighbouring school where I
was a day boarderand although they called me little Esther
SummersonI knew none of them at home. All of them were older
than Ito 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 meand 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
birthdaysas 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 mayfor I may be very vain without suspecting itthough indeed
I don't)my comprehension is quickened when my affection is. My
disposition is very affectionateand 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 overand my godmother and I were sitting at the table
before the fire. The clock tickedthe 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 stitchingacross
the table at my godmotherand I saw in her facelooking gloomily
at meIt would have been far better, little Esther, that you had
had no birthday, that you had never been born!

I broke out crying and sobbingand I saidOh, dear godmother,
tell me, pray do tell me, did Mama die on my birthday?

No,she returned. "Ask me no morechild!"

Oh, 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 griefand I caught hold of her
dress and was kneeling to her. She had been saying all the while
Let 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 mightbut
withdrew it as she looked at meand laid it on my fluttering
heart. She raised mesat in her chairand standing me before
hersaid slowly in a coldlow voice--I see her knitted brow and
pointed finger--"Your motherEstheris your disgraceand you
were hers. The time will come--and soon enough--when you will
understand this better and will feel it tooas no one save a woman
can. I have forgiven her"--but her face did not relent--"the wrong
she did to meand I say no more of itthough it was greater than
you will ever know--than any one will ever know but Ithe
sufferer. For yourselfunfortunate girlorphaned and degraded
from the first of these evil anniversariespray daily that the
sins of others be not visited upon your headaccording 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 mehoweveras I was about to depart from her--so
frozen as I was!--and added thisSubmission, 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 roomand crept to bedand laid my doll's cheek
against mine wet with tearsand holding that solitary friend upon
my bosomcried myself to sleep. Imperfect as my understanding of
my sorrow wasI 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.

Deardearto think how much time we passed alone together
afterwardsand 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 industriouscontentedand kind-hearted and to do
some good to some oneand 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 thankfulI am very cheerfulbut 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 birthdayand felt so sensible of filling a place in her
house which ought to have been emptythat I found her more
difficult of approachthough I was fervently grateful to her in my
heartthan ever. I felt in the same way towards my school
companions; I felt in the same way towards Mrs. Rachaelwho was a
widow; and ohtowards her daughterof whom she was proudwho
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 portfoliowatching my long shadow at my sideand as I was
gliding upstairs to my room as usualmy godmother looked out of
the parlour-door and called me back. Sitting with herI found-which
was very unusual indeed--a stranger. A portlyimportant-
looking gentlemandressed all in blackwith a white cravatlarge
gold watch sealsa pair of gold eye-glassesand a large seal-ring
upon his little finger.

This,said my godmother in an undertoneis the child.Then
she said in her naturally stern way of speakingThis is Esther,
sir.

The gentleman put up his eye-glasses to look at me and saidCome
here, my dear!He shook hands with me and asked me to take off my
bonnetlooking at me all the while. When I had compliedhe said
Ah!and afterwards "Yes!" And thentaking off his eye-glasses
and folding them in a red caseand leaning back in his arm-chair
turning the case about in his two handshe gave my godmother a
nod. Upon thatmy godmother saidYou may go upstairs, Esther!
And I made him my curtsy and left him.

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

'So 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!'

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

In an instantwhile she stood before me repeating these wordsshe
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 outwardlywith her old handsome resolute frown that
I so well knew carved upon her face. Many and many a timein the
day and in the nightwith my head upon the pillow by her that my
whispers might be plainer to herI kissed herthanked herprayed
for herasked her for her blessing and forgivenessentreated her
to give me the least sign that she knew or heard me. Nonono.
Her face was immovable. To the very lastand even afterwardsher
frown remained unsoftened.

On the day after my poor good godmother was buriedthe gentleman
in black with the white neckcloth reappeared. I was sent for by
Mrs. Rachaeland found him in the same placeas if he had never
gone away.

My name is Kenge,he said; "you may remember itmy child; Kenge
and CarboyLincoln's Inn."

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

Pray 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--

My aunt, sir!

It is really of no use carrying on a deception when no object is
to be gained by it,said Mr. Kenge smoothlyAunt 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.

Never,said Mrs. Rachael.

Is it possible,pursued Mr. Kengeputting up his eye-glasses
that our young friend--I BEG you won't distress yourself!--never
heard of Jarndyce and Jarndyce!

I shook my headwondering even what it was.

Not of Jarndyce and Jarndyce?said Mr. Kengelooking over his
glasses at me and softly turning the case about and about as if he
were petting something. "Not 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 contingencyevery masterly fictionevery form of procedure
known in that courtis 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. Kengeleaning back in his
chair.

I felt very ignorantbut what could I do? I was so entirely
unacquainted with the subject that I understood nothing about it
even then.

And she really never heard of the cause!said Mr. Kenge.
Surprising!

Miss Barbary, sir,returned Mrs. Rachaelwho is now among the
Seraphim--


I hope so, I am sure,said Mr. Kenge politely.

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

Well!said Mr. Kenge. "Upon the wholevery proper. Now to the
point addressing me. Miss Barbaryyour sole relation (in fact
that isfor I am bound to observe that in law you had none) being
deceased and it naturally not being to be expected that Mrs.
Rachael--"

Oh, dear no!said Mrs. Rachael quickly.

Quite so,assented Mr. Kenge; "--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 whichthough rejected thenwas understood to be renewable
under the lamentable circumstances that have since occurred. Now
if I avow that I representin Jarndyce and Jarndyce and otherwise
a highly humanebut at the same time singularmanshall I
compromise myself by any stretch of my professional caution?" said
Mr. Kengeleaning 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 thatfor 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 thenbefore I knew that he formed
himself on the model of a great lord who was his client and that he
was generally called Conversation Kenge.

Mr. Jarndyce,he pursuedbeing aware of the--I would say,
desolate--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 fullboth by what he said and by his
affecting manner of saying itthat I was not able to speakthough
I tried.

Mr. Jarndyce,he went onmakes 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.

Now, what does our young friend say?proceeded MrKenge. "Take
timetake time! I pause for her reply. But take time!"

What the destitute subject of such an offer tried to sayI need
not repeat. What she did sayI could more easily tellif it were
worth the telling. What she feltand will feel to her dying hour
I could never relate.


This interview took place at Windsorwhere I had passed (as far as
I knew) my whole life. On that day weekamply provided with all
necessariesI left itinside the stagecoachfor Reading.

Mrs. Rachael was too good to feel any emotion at partingbut I was
not so goodand 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 foreheadlike 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
faultI knewthat she could say good-bye so easily!

No, Esther!she returned. "It 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 herwith 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 houseI 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 hearth-rug with roses on itwhich always seemed to me
the first thing in the world I had ever seenwas hanging outside
in the frost and snow. A day or two beforeI 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 birdand him I carried
with me in his cage.

When the house was out of sightI satwith my bird-cage in the
straw at my feetforward on the low seat to look out of the high
windowwatching the frosty treesthat were like beautiful pieces
of sparand the fields all smooth and white with last night's
snowand the sunso red but yielding so little heatand 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 wrappingsbut he sat
gazing out of the other window and took no notice of me.

I thought of my dead godmotherof the night when I read to herof
her frowning so fixedly and sternly in her bedof the strange
place I was going toof the people I should find thereand what
they would be likeand what they would say to mewhen a voice in
the coach gave me a terrible start.

It saidWhat the de-vil are you crying for?

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

Yes, you,he saidturning round.

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

But you are!said the gentleman. "Look here!" He came quite
opposite to me from the other corner of the coachbrushed one of
his large furry cuffs across my eyes (but without hurting me)and
showed me that it was wet.

There! Now you know you are,he said. "Don't you?"

Yes, sir,I said.


And what are you crying for?said the genflemanDon't you want
to go there?

Where, sir?

Where? Why, wherever you are going,said the gentleman.

I am very glad to go there, sir,I answered.

Well, then! Look glad!said the gentleman.

I thought he was very strangeor at least that what I could see of
him was very strangefor he was wrapped up to the chinand 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.

Confound Mrs. Rachael!said the gentleman. "Let 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 wrapperwhich appeared to
me large enough to wrap up the whole coachand put his arm down
into a deep pocket in the side.

Now, look here!he said. "In this paper which was nicely
folded, is a piece of the best plum-cake that can be got for
money--sugar on the outside an inch thicklike fat on mutton
chops. Here's a little pie (a gem this isboth 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."

Thank you, sir,I replied; "thank you very much indeedbut I
hope you won't be offended--they are too rich for me."

Floored again!said the gentlemanwhich I didn't at all
understandand 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 Readingwhen he advised me to be a good girl
and to be studiousand shook hands with me. I must say I was
relieved by his departure. We left him at a milestone. I often
walked past it afterwardsand never for a long time without
thinking of him and half expecting to meet him. But I never did;
and soas time went onhe passed out of my mind.

When the coach stoppeda very neat lady looked up at the window
and saidMiss Donny.

No, ma'am, Esther Summerson.

That is quite right,said the ladyMiss Donny.

I now understood that she introduced herself by that nameand
begged Miss Donny's pardon for my mistakeand pointed out my boxes
at her request. Under the direction of a very neat maidthey were
put outside a very small green carriage; and then Miss Donnythe


maidand I got inside and were driven away.

Everything is ready for you, Esther,said Miss Donnyand the
scheme of your pursuits has been arranged in exact accordance with
the wishes of your guardian, Mr. Jarndyce.

Of--did you say, ma'am?

Of 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.

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

Not personally, Esther,said Miss Donny; "merely through his
solicitorsMessrs. Kenge and Carboyof London. A very superior
gentlemanMr. 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 destinationbefore I had time to recover
myselfincreased my confusionand 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 preciseexactand
orderly than Greenleaf. There was a time for everything all round
the dial of the clockand everything was done at its appointed
moment.

We were twelve boardersand there were two Miss Donnystwins. It
was understood that I would have to dependby and byon my
qualifications as a governessand I was not only instructed in
everything that was taught at Greenleafbut was very soon engaged
in helping to instruct others. Although I was treated in every
other respect like the rest of the schoolthis single difference
was made in my case from the first. As I began to know moreI
taught moreand so in course of time I had plenty to dowhich I
was very fond of doing because it made the dear girls fond of me.
At lastwhenever a new pupil came who was a little downcast and
unhappyshe 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 gentlebut I am sure THEY were! I often thought of the
resolution I had made on my birthday to try to be industrious
contentedand true-hearted and to do some good to some one and win
some love if I could; and indeedindeedI felt almost ashamed to
have done so little and have won so much.

I passed at Greenleaf six happyquiet years. I never saw in any
face therethank heavenon my birthdaythat it would have been
better if I had never been born. When the day came roundit
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 gratefuland with
her approval I had written such a letter. I had received a formal


answer acknowledging its receipt and sayingWe 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 paidand about twice a year I ventured to
write a similar letter. I always received by return of post
exactly the same answer in the same round handwith the signature
of Kenge and Carboy in another writingwhich 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 Greenleafseeing in those around meas it might be in a
looking-glassevery stage of my own growth and change therewhen
one November morningI received this letter. I omit the date.

Old SquareLincoln's Inn

Madam

Jarndyce and Jarndyce

Our clt Mr. Jarndyce being abt to rece into his houseunder an
Order of the Ct of Chya Ward of the Ct in this causefor whom he
wishes to secure an elgble compndirects us to inform you that he
will be glad of your serces in the afsd capacity.

We have arrngd for your being fordedcarriage freepr eight
o'clock coach from Readingon Monday morning nextto White Horse
CellarPiccadillyLondonwhere one of our clks will be in
waiting to convey you to our offe as above.

We areMadamYour obedt Servts

Kenge and Carboy

Miss Esther Summerson

Ohnevernevernever shall I forget the emotion this letter
caused in the house! It was so tender in them to care so much for
meit 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 methat I could hardly bear it. Not
that I would have had them less sorry--I am afraid not; but the
pleasure of itand the pain of itand 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 daysand when at last the morning came and
when they took me through all the rooms that I might see them for
the last timeand when some criedEsther, 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 namesWith Esther's
love,and when they all surrounded me with their parting presents
and clung to me weeping and criedWhat 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 onewhat a heart I had!


And when the two Miss Donnys grieved as much to part with me as the
least among themand when the maids saidBless you, miss,
wherever you go!and when the ugly lame old gardenerwho I
thought had hardly noticed me in all those yearscame 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 thisand the coming to the little
schooland the unexpected sight of the poor children outside
waving their hats and bonnets to meand 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 outGood-bye, Esther.
May you be very happy!--could I help it if I was quite bowed down
in the coach by myself and said "OhI am so thankfulI 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. Thereforeof
courseI made myself sob less and persuaded myself to be quiet by
saying very oftenEsther, now you really must! This WILL NOT
do!I cheered myself up pretty well at lastthough I am afraid I
was longer about it than I ought to have been; and when I had
cooled my eyes with lavender waterit was time to watch for
London.

I was quite persuaded that we were there when we were ten miles
offand when we really were therethat we should never get there.
Howeverwhen we began to jolt upon a stone pavementand
particularly when every other conveyance seemed to be running into
usand we seemed to be running into every other conveyanceI
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 saidI am from Kenge and Carboy's, miss, of
Lincoln's Inn.

If you please, sir,said I.

He was very obligingand as he handed me into a fly after
superintending the removal of my boxesI 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.

Oh, dear no, miss,he said. "This is a London particular."

I had never heard of such a thing.

A fog, miss,said the young gentleman.

Oh, 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
cornerwhere there was an entrance up a steepbroad flight of
stairslike an entrance to a church. And there really was a
churchyard outside under some cloistersfor 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.

In 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.

Going before the Chancellor?I saidstartled for a moment.

Only a matter of form, miss,returned the young gentleman. "Mr.
Kenge is in court now. He left his complimentsand 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. As you are
going to be the companion of the young lady who is now in the
Chancellor's private roomMiss Summerson he said, we thought it
well that you should be in attendance also. You will not be
discomposed by the Lord ChancellorI dare say?"

No, sir,I saidI 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 cornerunder a
colonnadeand in at a side door. And so we camealong a passage
into a comfortable sort of room where a young lady and a young
gentleman were standing near a greatloud-roaring fire. A screen
was interposed between them and itand they were leaning on the
screentalking.

They both looked up when I came inand I saw in the young lady
with the fire shining upon hersuch a beautiful girl! With such
rich golden hairsuch soft blue eyesand such a brightinnocent
trusting face!

Miss Ada,said Mr. Kengethis 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 naturalcaptivatingwinning manner that in a few
minutes we were sitting in the window-seatwith the light of the
fire upon ustalking 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 herand so
encouraging to me!

The young gentleman was her distant cousinshe told meand 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 sathe stood by usin the light of the firetalking
gailylike a light-hearted boy. He was very youngnot more than
nineteen thenif quite so muchbut 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 aboutand we talked about it; and the firewhich had left
off roaringwinked 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 frequenfly came in and outand when he did sowe could
hear a drawling sound in the distancewhich 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 feetand 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 thatwe all went into the
next roomMr. Kenge firstwith my darling--it is so natural to me
now that I can't help writing it; and thereplainly dressed in
black and sitting in an arm-chair at a table near the firewas his
lordshipwhose robetrimmed with beautiful gold lacewas thrown
upon another chair. He gave us a searching look as we enteredbut
his manner was both courtly and kind.

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

Miss Clare,said the Lord Chancellor. "Miss Ada Clare?"

Mr. Kenge presented herand 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 Chancellorat his bestappeared so
poor a substitute for the love and pride of parents.

The Jarndyce in question,said the Lord Chancellorstill turning
over leavesis Jarndyce of Bleak House.

Jarndyce of Bleak House, my lord,said Mr. Kenge.

A dreary name,said the Lord Chancellor.

But not a dreary place at present, my lord,said Mr. Kenge.

And Bleak House,said his lordshipis in--

Hertfordshire, my lord.

Mr. Jarndyce of Bleak House is not married?said his lordship.

He is not, my lord,said Mr. Kenge.


A pause.

Young Mr. Richard Carstone is present?said the Lord Chancellor
glancing towards him.

Richard bowed and stepped forward.

Hum!said the Lord Chancellorturning over more leaves.

Mr. Jarndyce of Bleak House, my lord,Mr. Kenge observed in a low
voiceif I may venture to remind your lordship, provides a
suitable companion for--

For 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.

For Miss Ada Clare. This is the young lady. Miss Summerson.

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

Miss Summerson is not related to any party in the cause, I think?

No, my lord.

Mr. Kenge leant over before it was quite said and whispered. His
lordshipwith his eyes upon his paperslistenednodded twice or
thriceturned over more leavesand did not look towards me again
until we were going away.

Mr. Kenge now retiredand Richard with himto where I wasnear
the doorleaving my pet (it is so natural to me that again I can't
help it!) sitting near the Lord Chancellorwith whom his lordship
spoke a little partasking heras she told me afterwardswhether
she had well reflected on the proposed arrangementand if she
thought she would be happy under the roof of Mr. Jarndyce of Bleak
Houseand why she thought so? Presently he rose courteously and
released herand then he spoke for a minute or two with Richard
Carstonenot seatedbut standingand altogether with more ease
and less ceremonyas if he still knewthough he WAS Lord
Chancellorhow to go straight to the candour of a boy.

Very well!said his lordship aloud. "I shall make the order.
Mr. Jarndyce of Bleak House has chosenso far as I may judge and
this was when he looked at me, a very good companion for the young
ladyand the arrangement altogether seems the best of which the
circumstances admit."

He dismissed us pleasantlyand we all went outvery much obliged
to him for being so affable and politeby which he had certainly
lost no dignity but seemed to us to have gained some.

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

Well!said Richard Carstone. "THAT'S over! And where do we go
nextMiss Summerson?"

Don't you know?I said.

Not in the least,said he.


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

No!said she. "Don't you?"

Not at all!said I.

We looked at one anotherhalf laughing at our being like the
children in the woodwhen 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.

Oh!said she. "The wards in Jarndyce! Ve-ry happyI am sure
to have the honour! It is a good omen for youthand hopeand
beauty when they find themselves in this placeand don't know
what's to come of it."

Mad!whispered Richardnot thinking she could hear him.

Right! Mad, young gentleman,she returned so quickly that he was
quite abashed. "I was a ward myself. I was not mad at that time
curtsying low and smiling between every little sentence. I had
youth and hope. I believebeauty. 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 frightenedI saidto humour the poor old
ladythat we were much obliged to her.

Ye-es!she said mincingly. "I imagine so. And here is
Conversation Kenge. With HIS documents! How does your honourable
worship do?"

Quite well, quite well! Now don't be troublesome, that's a good
soul!said Mr. Kengeleading the way back.

By no means,said the poor old ladykeeping up with Ada and me.
Anything 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 steepbroad flight of stairs; but
we looked back as we went upand she was still theresaying
still with a curtsy and a smile between every little sentence
Youth. And hope. And beauty. And Chancery. And Conversation
Kenge! Ha! Pray accept my blessing!

CHAPTER IV

Telescopic Philanthropy

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

I really don't, sir,I returned. "Perhaps Mr. Carstone--or Miss
Clare--"


But nothey knew nothing whatever about Mrs. Jellyby. "In-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, is 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 present (until something else attracts her)
devoted to the subject of Africawith a view to the general
cultivation of the coffee berry--AND the natives--and the happy
settlementon the banks of the African riversof our
superabundant home population. Mr. Jarndycewho is desirous to
aid any work that is considered likely to be a good work and who is
much sought after by philanthropistshasI believea very high
opinion of Mrs. Jellyby."

Mr. Kengeadjusting his cravatthen looked at us.

And Mr. Jellyby, sir?suggested Richard.

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

A nonentity, sir?said Richard with a droll look.

I don't say that,returned Mr. Kenge gravely. "I can't say that
indeedfor I know nothing whatever OF Mr. Jellyby. I neverto my
knowledgehad the pleasure of seeing Mr. Jellyby. He may be a
very superior manbut he isso to speakmerged--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 longdark
and tedious on such an eveningand as we had been travelling
alreadyMr. 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 to-morrow.

He then rang a little belland the young gentleman came in.
Addressing him by the name of GuppyMr. Kenge inquired whether
Miss Summerson's boxes and the rest of the baggage had been "sent
round." Mr. Guppy said yesthey had been sent roundand a coach
was waiting to take us round too as soon as we pleased.

Then it only remains,said Mr. Kengeshaking hands with usfor
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.

Where IS 'there,' Mr. Guppy?said Richard as we went downstairs.

No distance,said Mr. Guppy; "round in Thavies Innyou know."

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

Only round the corner,said Mr. Guppy. "We just twist up
Chancery Laneand cut along Holbornand there we are in four
minutes' timeas near as a toucher. This is about a London
particular NOWain't itmiss?" He seemed quite delighted with it
on my account.


The fog is very dense indeed!said I.

Not that it affects you, though, I'm sure,said Mr. Guppy
putting up the steps. "On the contraryit seems to do you good
missjudging from your appearance."

I knew he meant well in paying me this complimentso 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 peopleprincipally childrengathered about the house at
which we stoppedwhich had a tarnished brass plate on the door
with the inscription JELLYBY.

Don't be frightened!said Mr. Guppylooking in at the coach-
window. "One of the young Jellybys been and got his head through
the area railings!"

Oh, poor child,said I; "let me outif you please!"

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

I made my way to the poor childwho was one of the dirtiest little
unfortunates I ever sawand found him very hot and frightened and
crying loudlyfixed by the neck between two iron railingswhile a
milkman and a beadlewith the kindest intentions possiblewere
endeavouring to drag him back by the legsunder a general
impression that his skull was compressible by those means. As I
found (after pacifying him) that he was a little boy with a
naturally large headI thought that perhaps where his head could
gohis body could followand 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 accidentand 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
pattenswho had been poking at the child from below with a broom;
I don't know with what objectand I don't think she did. I
therefore supposed that Mrs. Jellyby was not at homeand was quite
surprised when the person appeared in the passage without the
pattensand going up to the back room on the first floor before
Ada and meannounced us asThem two young ladies, Missis
Jellyby!We passed several more children on the way upwhom it
was difficult to avoid treading on in the dark; and as we came into
Mrs. Jellyby's presenceone of the poor little things fell
downstairs--down a whole flight (as it sounded to me)with a great
noise.

Mrs. Jellybywhose 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 sevenbesides one for the landing--received us
with perfect equanimity. She was a prettyvery diminutiveplump
woman of from forty to fiftywith handsome eyesthough 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!


I am very glad indeed,said Mrs. Jellyby in an agreeable voice
to 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 seatwe 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 roomwhich was strewn with papers and nearly filled by a great
writing-table covered with similar litterwasI must saynot
only very untidy but very dirty. We were obliged to take notice of
that with our sense of sighteven whilewith our sense of
hearingwe followed the poor child who had tumbled downstairs: I
think into the back kitchenwhere 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-tablewho 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 feetwhich were disfigured with frayed and broken satin
slippers trodden down at heelshe really seemed to have no article
of dress upon herfrom a pin upwardsthat was in its proper
condition or its right place.

You find me, my dears,said Mrs. Jellybysnuffing the two great
office candles in tin candlestickswhich made the room taste
strongly of hot tallow (the fire had gone outand there was
nothing in the grate but ashesa bundle of woodand a poker)
you 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 nothingbut looked at meI said it must be very
gratifying.

It IS gratifying,said Mrs. Jellyby. "It involves the devotion
of all my energiessuch as they are; but that is nothingso that
it succeeds; and I am more confident of success every day. Do you
knowMiss SummersonI 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-


The finest climate in the world!said Mrs. Jellyby.

Indeed, ma'am?

Certainly. With precaution,said Mrs. Jellyby. "You may go into
Holbornwithout precautionand be run over. You may go into
Holbornwith precautionand never be run over. Just so with
Africa."


I saidNo doubt.I meant as to Holborn.

If you would like,said Mrs. Jellybyputting a number of papers
towards usto look over some remarks on that head, and on the
general subject, which have been extensively circulated, while I
finish a letter I am now dictating to my eldest daughter, who is my
amanuensis--

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

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

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

'And begs,'said Mrs. Jellybydictating'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
downstairswho now interrupted the correspondence by presenting
himselfwith a strip of plaster on his foreheadto exhibit his
wounded kneesin which Ada and I did not know which to pity most-the
bruises or the dirt. Mrs. Jellyby merely addedwith the
serene composure with which she said everythingGo along, you
naughty Peepy!and fixed her fine eyes on Africa again.

Howeveras she at once proceeded with her dictationand as I
interrupted nothing by doing itI 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 himbut soon fell
fast asleep in my armssobbing at longer and longer intervals
until he was quiet. I was so occupied with Peepy that I lost the
letter in detailthough I derived such a general impression from
it of the momentous importance of Africaand the utter
insignificance of all other places and thingsthat I felt quite
ashamed to have thought so little about it.

Six o'clock!said Mrs. Jellyby. "And our dinner hour is
nominally (for we dine at all hours) five! Caddyshow Miss Clare
and Miss Summerson their rooms. You will like to make some change
perhaps? You will excuse meI knowbeing so much occupied. Oh
that very bad child! Pray put him downMiss Summerson!"

I begged permission to retain himtruly saying that he was not at
all troublesomeand 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 disorderlyand the curtain to my
window was fastened up with a fork.

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

If it is not being troublesome,said we.

Oh, it's not the trouble,returned Miss Jellyby; "the question
isif 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 miserableand Ada was half
crying. We soon laughedhoweverand were busily unpacking when


Miss Jellyby came back to say that she was sorry there was no hot
waterbut they couldn't find the kettleand 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 bedand 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
roomfor my lockwith no knob to itlooked as if it wanted to be
wound up; and though the handle of Ada's went round and round with
the greatest smoothnessit 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 tableand I would tell them the
story of Little Red Riding Hood while I dressed; which they did
and were as quiet as miceincluding Peepywho awoke opportunely
before the appearance of the wolf.

When we went downstairs we found a mug with "A Present from
Tunbridge Wells" on it lighted up in the staircase window with a
floating wickand a young womanwith 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 degreein shortthat we all sat coughing and
crying with the windows open for half an hourduring which Mrs.
Jellybywith the same sweetness of temperdirected letters about
Africa. Her being so employed wasI must saya great relief to
mefor Richard told us that he had washed his hands in a pie-dish
and that they had found the kettle on his dressing-tableand he
made Ada laugh so that they made me laugh in the most ridiculous
manner.

Soon after seven o'clock we went down to dinnercarefullyby Mrs.
Jellyby's advicefor the stair-carpetsbesides being very
deficient in stair-wireswere so torn as to be absolute traps. We
had a fine cod-fisha piece of roast beefa dish of cutletsand
a pudding; an excellent dinnerif it had had any cooking to speak
ofbut it was almost raw. The young woman with the flannel
bandage waitedand dropped everything on the table wherever it
happened to goand never moved it again until she put it on the
stairs. The person I had seen in pattenswho I suppose to have
been the cookfrequently came and skirmished with her at the door
and there appeared to be ill will between them.

All through dinner--which was longin consequence of such
accidents 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 nativesand received so many letters that
Richardwho sat by hersaw four envelopes in the gravy at once.
Some of the letters were proceedings of ladies' committees or
resolutions of ladies' meetingswhich she read to us; others were
applications from people excited in various ways about the
cultivation of coffeeand natives; others required answersand
these she sent her eldest daughter from the table three or four
times to write. She was full of business and undoubtedly wasas
she had told usdevoted to the cause.

I was a little curious to know who a mild bald gentleman in
spectacles waswho 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 Borriohoola-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 loquacious young man called Mr. Qualewith
large shining knobs for temples and his hair all brushed to the
back of his headwho came in the eveningand told Ada he was a
philanthropistalso informed her that he called the matrimonial
alliance of Mrs. Jellyby with Mr. Jellyby the union of mind and
matter.

This young manbesides 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 tradedelighted in drawing Mrs. Jellyby out by savingI
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?orIf my memory does not deceive me,
Mrs. Jellyby, you once mentioned 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 eveningMr. 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 dinneras if he had something on his mindbut had always
shut it againto Richard's extreme confusionwithout saying
anything.

Mrs. Jellybysitting in quite a nest of waste paperdrank coffee
all the evening and dictated at intervals to her eldest daughter.
She also held a discussion with Mr. Qualeof which the subject
seemed to be--if I understood it--the brotherhood of humanityand
gave utterance to some beautiful sentiments. I was not so
attentive an auditor as I might have wished to behoweverfor
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 "Puss in Boots" and I don't
know what else until Mrs. Jellybyaccidentally remembering them
sent them to bed. As Peepy cried for me to take him to bedI
carried him upstairswhere 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 burnwhich
at last it didquite brightly. On my return downstairsI felt
that Mrs. Jellyby looked down upon me rather for being so
frivolousand I was sorry for itthough at the same time I knew
that I had no higher pretensions.

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

What a strange house!said Ada when we got upstairs. "How
curious of my cousin Jarndyce to send us here!"

My love,said Iit quite confuses me. I want to understand it,
and I can't understand it at all.

What?asked Ada with her pretty smile.

All this, my dear,said I. "It 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
fireand told me I was a quietdeargood creature and had won
her heart. "You are so thoughtfulEsther she said, and yet so
cheerful! And you do so muchso 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!

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

Five hundred,said Ada.

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

Shaking her golden hairAda turned her eyes upon me with such
laughing wonder that I was full of wonder toopartly at her
beautypartly at her surprise.

Esther!she cried.

My dear!

You want a description of my cousin Jarndyce?

My dear, I never saw him.

And I never saw him!returned Ada.

Wellto be sure!

Noshe 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 characterwhich
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 plainhonest letter Ada said--proposing the arrangement
we were now to enter on and telling her that in time it might heal
some of the wounds made by the miserable Chancery suit." She had
repliedgratefully accepting his proposal. Richard had received a
similar letter and had made a similar response. He HAD seen Mr.
Jarndyce oncebut only oncefive years agoat Winchester school.
He had told Adawhen they were leaning on the screen before the
fire where I found themthat he recollected him as "a bluffrosy
fellow." This was the utmost description Ada could give me.

It set me thinking so that when Ada was asleepI still remained
before the firewondering and wondering about Bleak Houseand
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.

Good night!she said very sulkily.

Good night!said I.


May I come in?she shortly and unexpectedly asked me in the same
sulky way.

Certainly,said I. "Don't wake Miss Clare."

She would not sit downbut stood by the fire dipping her inky
middle finger in the egg-cupwhich contained vinegarand smearing
it over the ink stains on her facefrowning the whole time and
looking very gloomy.

I wish Africa was dead!she said on a sudden.

I was going to remonstrate.

I do!she said "Don't talk to meMiss Summerson. I hate it and
detest it. It's a beast!"

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

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

I assented with a smile.

An orphan. Ain't she?

Yes.

But 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?

No doubt,said I.

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

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

It's disgraceful,she said. "You know it is. The whole house is
disgraceful. The children are disgraceful. I'M disgraceful. Pa's
miserableand 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 today. It was as bad as a public-housewaiting at
dinner; you know it was!"

My dear, I don't know it,said I.

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

Oh, my dear!said I. "If you won't let me speak--"

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


Summerson.

My dear,said Ias long as you won't hear me out--

I don't want to hear you out.

Oh, yes, I think you do,said Ibecause 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.

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

No, my dear,said I. "That would be very foolish."

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

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

In a moment afterwardsshe knelt on the ground at my sidehid her
face in my dresspassionately begged my pardonand wept. I
comforted her and would have raised herbut she cried nono; she
wanted to stay there!

You used to teach girls,she saidIf 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 kneelingand take thatand still
hold my dress in the same manner. By degrees the poor tired girl
fell asleepand then I contrived to raise her head so that it
should rest on my lapand to cover us both with shawls. The fire
went outand all night long she slumbered thus before the ashy
grate. At first I was painfully awake and vainly tried to lose
myselfwith my eyes closedamong the scenes of the day. At
lengthby slow degreesthey became indistinct and mingled. I
began to lose the identity of the sleeper resting on me. Now it
was Adanow 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 smilingnow some one in authority at
Bleak House. Lastlyit was no oneand 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 criband crept down in his bed-gown
and capand was so cold that his teeth were chattering as if he
had cut them all.

CHAPTER V

A Morning Adventure

Although the morning was rawand although the fog still seemed
heavy--I say seemedfor 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.

Ma won't be down for ever so long,she saidand 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.

I am not at all tired, my dear,said Iand would much prefer to
go out.

If you're sure you would,returned Miss JellybyI'll get my
things on.

Ada said she would go tooand was soon astir. I made a proposal
to Peepyin 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 beso astonished in his life--looking very
miserable alsocertainlybut making no complaintand going
snugly to sleep as soon as it was over. At first I was in two
minds about taking such a libertybut 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 AdaI was soon quite in a glow. We found
Miss Jellyby trying to warm herself at the fire in the writing-
roomwhich Priscilla was then lighting with a smutty parlour
candlestickthrowing 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 awaybut had been left ready for breakfast. Crumbsdust
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-housewiping her
mouth. She mentionedas she passed usthat she had been to see
what o'clock it was.

But before we met the cookwe met Richardwho 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 Adaand 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.

Where would you wish to go?she asked.

Anywhere, my dear,I replied.

Anywhere's nowhere,said Miss Jellybystopping perversely.

Let us go somewhere at any rate,said I.

She then walked me on very fast.

I don't care!she said. "Nowyou are my witnessMiss


SummersonI say I don't care-but if he was to come to our house
with his greatshininglumpy forehead night after night till he
was as old as MethuselahI wouldn't have anything to say to him.
Such ASSES as he and Ma make of themselves!"

My dear!I remonstratedin allusion to the epithet and the
vigorous emphasis Miss Jellyby set upon it. "Your duty as a child--"

Oh! 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.

But 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. Qualethe 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 pacelaughing and asking us if we meant to
run a race. Thus interruptedMiss Jellyby became silent and
walked moodily on at my side while I admired the long successions
and varieties of streetsthe quantity of people already going to
and frothe number of vehicles passing and repassingthe busy
preparations in the setting forth of shop windows and the sweeping
out of shopsand the extraordinary creatures in rags secretly
groping among the swept-out rubbish for pins and other refuse.

So, cousin,said the cheerful voice of Richard to Ada behind me.
We 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!

Trulythere she wasimmediately in front of uscurtsyingand
smilingand saying with her yesterday's air of patronageThe
wards in Jarndyce! Ve-ry happy, I am sure!

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

Ye-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. "The business of the day requires a
great deal of thought. Chancery justice is so ve-ry difficult to
follow."

Who's this, Miss Summerson?whispered Miss Jellybydrawing my
arm tighter through her own.

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

A suitor, my child. At your service. I have the honour to attend
court regularly. With my documents. Have I the pleasure of
addressing another of the youthful parties in Jarndyce?said the
old ladyrecovering herselfwith her head on one sidefrom a


very low curtsy.

Richardanxious to atone for his thoughtlessness of yesterday
good-naturedly explained that Miss Jellyby was not connected with
the suit.

Ha!said the old lady. "She does not expect a judgment? She
will still grow old. But not so old. Ohdearno! 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 longdon't you?"

We said yesas she seemed to expect us to say so.

When 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 ladythe 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 handand leading me and Miss Jellyby away
beckoned 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 offenceshe continued to lead us awayand he and Ada
continued to followour strange conductress informing us all the
timewith much smiling condescensionthat she lived close by.

It was quite trueas 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 gatethe old
lady stopped most unexpectedly in a narrow back streetpart of
some courts and lanes immediately outside the wall of the innand
saidThis is my lodging. Pray walk up!

She had stopped at a shop over which was written KROOKRAG AND
BOTTLE WAREHOUSE. Alsoin long thin lettersKROOKDEALER 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 anotherOLD IRON BOUGHT. In another
WASTE-PAPER BOUGHT. In anotherLADIES' 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 bottlesmedicine bottlesginger-beer and soda-
water bottlespickle bottleswine bottlesink 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
beingas it werea 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 doorlabelled
Law Books, all at 9d.Some of the inscriptions I have enumerated
were written in law-handlike 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 onein the same writinghaving nothing to
do with the business of the shopbut announcing that a respectable
man aged forty-five wanted engrossing or copying to execute with
neatness and dispatch: Address to Nemocare of Mr. Krookwithin.
There were several second-hand bagsblue and redhanging up. A
little way within the shop-door lay heaps of old crackled parchment
scrolls and discoloured and dog's-eared law-papers. I could have


fancied that all the rusty keysof which there must have been
hundreds huddled together as old ironhad 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
hanging without any counterpoise from a beammight have been
counsellors' bands and gowns torn up. One had only to fancyas
Richard whispered to Ada and me while we all stood looking inthat
yonder bones in a cornerpiled together and picked very clean
were the bones of clientsto make the picture complete.

As it was still foggy and darkand as the shop was blinded besides
by the wall of Lincoln's Innintercepting the light within a
couple of yardswe 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 doorhe now caught sight
of us. He was shortcadaverousand witheredwith 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
chinand 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.

Hi, hi!said the old mancoming to the door. "Have you anything
to sell?"

We naturally drew back and glanced at our conductresswho had been
trying to open the house-door with a key she had taken from her
pocketand to whom Richard now said that as we had had the
pleasure of seeing where she livedwe would leave herbeing
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 instantand was
so bentin her harmless wayon leading me inas part of the good
omen she desiredthat I (whatever the others might do) saw nothing
for it but to comply. I suppose we were all more or less curious;
at any ratewhen the old man added his persuasions to hers and
saidAye, aye! Please her! It won't take a minute! Come in,
come in! Come in through the shop if t'other door's out of order!
we all went instimulated by Richard's laughing encouragement and
relying on his protection.

My landlord, Krook,said the little old ladycondescending to
him from her lofty station as she presented him to us. "He 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. OhI 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 himFor he is a little--you know--M!said the old lady
with great stateliness. The old man overheardand laughed.

It's true enough,he saidgoing before us with the lantern
that 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?

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

You see,said the old manstopping and turning roundthey--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!


That'll do, my good friend!said Richardstrongly disapproving
of his having drawn one of Ada's tresses through his yellow hand.
You 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 Adawhostartled and blushingwas 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 admirationMr. Krook
shrunk into his former self as suddenly as he had leaped out of it.

You see, I have so many things here,he resumedholding up the
lanternof 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.

Hi! 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 clawswith a sound that it set my teeth on edge to hear.

She'd do as much for any one I was to set her on,said the old
man. "I deal in cat-skins among other general mattersand hers
was offered to me. It's a very fine skinas you may seebut I
didn't have it stripped off! THAT warn't like Chancery practice
thoughsays you!"

He had by this time led us across the shopand now opened a door
in the back part of itleading to the house-entry. As he stood
with his hand upon the lockthe little old lady graciously
observed to him before passing outThat 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.

Jarndyce!said the old man with a start.

Jarndyce and Jarndyce. The great suit, Krook,returned his
lodger.

Hi!exclaimed the old man in a tone of thoughtful amazement and
with a wider stare than before. "Think of it!"

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

Yes,said the old man abstractedly. "Sure! YOUR name now will
be--"


Richard Carstone.

Carstone,he repeatedslowly checking off that name upon his
forefinger; and each of the others he went on to mention upon a
separate finger. "Yes. There was the name of Barbaryand the
name of Clareand the name of DedlocktooI think."

He knows as much of the cause as the real salaried Chancellor!
said Richardquite astonishedto Ada and me.

Aye!said the old mancoming slowly out of his abstraction.
Yes! 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. "Tom
Jarndyce was often in here. He got into a restless habit of
strolling about when the cause was onor expectedtalking 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 himselfjust where
the young lady standsas near could be."

We listened with horror.

He come in at the door,said the old manslowly pointing an
imaginary track along the shopon the day he did it--the whole
neighbourhood 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!'

The old man stoppedlooked hard at uslooked down into the
lanternblew the light outand shut the lantern up.

We 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 herand Richard was scarcely less
pale. Nor could I wonderjudging even from my emotionsand I was
no party in the suitthat to hearts so untried and fresh it was a
shock to come into the inheritance of a protracted miseryattended
in the minds of many people with such dreadful recollections. I
had another uneasinessin the application of the painful story to
the poor half-witted creature who had brought us there; butto my
surpriseshe seemed perfectly unconscious of that and only led the
way upstairs againinforming us with the toleration of a superior
creature for the infirmities of a common mortal that her landlord


was "a little Myou know!"

She lived at the top of the housein a pretty large roomfrom
which she had a glimpse of Lincoln's Inn Hall. This seemed to have
been her principal inducementoriginallyfor taking up her
residence there. She could look at itshe saidin the night
especially in the moonshine. Her room was cleanbut veryvery
bare. I noticed the scantiest necessaries in the way of furniture;
a few old prints from booksof Chancellors and barristerswafered
against the wall; and some half-dozen reticles and work-bags
containing documents,as she informed us. There were neither
coals nor ashes in the grateand I saw no articles of clothing
anywherenor any kind of food. Upon a shelf in an open cupboard
were a plate or twoa cup or twoand so forthbut all dry and
empty. There was a more affecting meaning in her pinched
appearanceI thought as I looked roundthan I had understood
before.

Extremely honoured, I am sure,said our poor hostess with the
greatest suavityby 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 longlow garret window
and called our attention to a number of bird-cages hanging there
some containing several birds. There were larkslinnetsand
goldfinches--I should think at least twenty.

I began to keep the little creatures,she saidwith 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 questionshe never seemed to expect
a replybut rambled on as if she were in the habit of doing so
when no one but herself was present.

Indeed,she pursuedI 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!

Richardanswering what he saw in Ada's compassionate eyestook
the opportunity of laying some moneysoftly and unobservedon the
chimney-piece. We all drew nearer to the cagesfeigning to
examine the birds.

I can't allow them to sing much,said the little old ladyfor
(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 curtsyhope,a smile and curtsyand beauty,a smile
and curtsy. "There! We'll let in the full light."

The birds began to stir and chirp.

I cannot admit the air freely,said the little old lady--the room
was closeand would have been the better for it--"because the cat
you saw downstairscalled Lady Janeis greedy for their lives.
She crouches on the parapet outside for hours and hours. I have
discovered whispering mysteriously, that 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 believesometimesthat she is no
catbut the wolf of the old saying. It is so very difficult to
keep her from the door."

Some neighbouring bellsreminding the poor soul that it was half-
past ninedid 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 documentswhich she had laid upon the
table on coming inand asked if we were also going into court. On
our answering noand that we would on no account detain hershe
opened the door to attend us downstairs.

With such an omen, it is even more necessary than usual that I
should be there before the Chancellor comes in,said shefor 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 sellin 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.

The only other lodger,she now whispered in explanationa 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 "Hush!" 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 outas we had passed through
it on our way inwe 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 hardwith the perspiration standing on his forehead
and had a piece of chalk by himwith whichas he put each
separate package or bundle downhe made a crooked mark on the
panelling of the wall.

Richard and Adaand Miss Jellybyand the little old lady had gone
by himand 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 letternot a printed onebut just such a letter as
any clerk in Messrs. Kenge and Carboy's office would have made.


Can you read it?he asked me with a keen glance.

Surely,said I. "It's very plain."

What is it?

J.

With another glance at meand a glance at the doorhe rubbed it
out and turned an "a" in its place (not a capital letter this
time)and saidWhat's that?

I told him. He then rubbed that out and turned the letter "r 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.

What does that spell?" he asked me.

When I told himhe laughed. In the same odd wayyet with the
same rapidityhe then produced singlyand rubbed out singlythe
letters forming the words Bleak House. Thesein some
astonishmentI also read; and he laughed again.

Hi!said the old manlaying aside the chalk. "I have a turn for
copying from memoryyou seemissthough I can neither read nor
write."

He looked so disagreeable and his cat looked so wickedly at meas
if I were a blood-relation of the birds upstairsthat I was quite
relieved by Richard's appearing at the door and sayingMiss
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 outsidewhere we parted with the little old ladywho 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 laneswe looked
back and saw Mr. Krook standing at his shop-doorin his
spectacleslooking after uswith his cat upon his shoulderand
her tail sticking up on one side of his hairy cap like a tall
feather.

Quite an adventure for a morning in London!said Richard with a
sigh. "Ahcousincousinit's a weary word this Chancery!"

It is to me, and has been ever since I can remember,returned
Ada. "I am grieved that I should be the enemy---as I suppose I am
--of a great number of relations and othersand 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 strangeas there
must be right somewherethat an honest judge in real earnest has
not been able to find out through all these years where it is."

Ah, cousin!said Richard. "Strangeindeed! 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 happenedif
men were neither fools nor rascals; and my heart ached to think
they could possibly be either. But at all eventsAda--I may call


you Ada?"

Of course you may, cousin Richard.

At 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!

Never, I hope, cousin Richard!said Ada gently.

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

In half an hour after our arrivalMrs. 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 mannerbut
she presented no appearance of having changed her dress. She was
greatly occupied during breakfastfor the morning's post brought a
heavy correspondence relative to Borrioboola-Ghawhich would
occasion her (she said) to pass a busy day. The children tumbled
aboutand notched memoranda of their accidents in their legs
which were perfect little calendars of distress; and Peepy was lost
for an hour and a halfand 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 Caddyand Caddy
was fast relapsing into the inky condition in which we had found
her. At one o'clock an open carriage arrived for usand 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 passageand stood biting her pen and sobbing on
the steps; PeepyI am happy to saywas 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 offand we saw themwith great
concernscattered over the surface of Thavies Inn as we rolled out
of its precincts.

CHAPTER VI

Quite at Home

The day had brightened very muchand 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 streetsthe
brilliancy of the shopsthe great trafficand 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 proceed through suburbs whichof themselveswould
have made a pretty large town in my eyes; and at last we got into a
real country road againwith windmillsrick-yardsmilestones
farmers' waggonsscents of old hayswinging signsand horse
troughs: treesfieldsand 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 beautiful horsesfurnished with
red trappings and clear-sounding bellscame by us with its music
I believe we could all three have sung to the bellsso cheerful


were the influences around.

The whole road has been reminding me of my name-sake Whittington,
said Richardand that waggon is the finishing touch. Halloa!
What's the matter?

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

Our postilion is looking after the waggoner,said Richardand
the waggoner is coming back after us. Good day, friend!The
waggoner was at our coach-door. "Whyhere's an extraordinary
thing!" added Richardlooking closely at the man. "He has got
your nameAdain his hat!"

He had all our names in his hat. Tucked within the band were three
small notes--one addressed to Adaone to Richardone to me.
These the waggoner delivered to each of us respectivelyreading
the name aloud first. In answer to Richard's inquiry from whom
they camehe briefly answeredMaster, sir, if you please; and
putting on his hat again (which was like a soft bowl)cracked his
whipre-awakened his musicand went melodiously away.

Is that Mr. Jarndyce's waggon?said Richardcalling to our postboy.


Yes, sir,he replied. "Going to London."

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

I 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.

John Jarndyce

I had perhaps less reason to be surprised than either of my
companionshaving 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 himmy
gratitude lying too deep in my heart for that; but I now began to
consider how I could meet him without thanking himand felt it
would be very difficult indeed.

The notes revived in Richard and Ada a general impression that they
both hadwithout quite knowing how they came by itthat 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 tellwhen she was a
very little childthat he had once done her an act of uncommon
generosity and that on her going to his house to thank himhe
happened to see her through a window coming to the doorand
immediately escaped by the back gateand was not heard of for
three months. This discourse led to a great deal more on the same
themeand indeed it lasted us all dayand we talked of scarcely
anything else. If we did by any chance diverge into another
subjectwe soon returned to thisand wondered what the house


would be likeand when we should get thereand whether we should
see Mr. Jarndyce as soon as we arrived or after a delayand what
he would say to usand what we should say to him. All of which we
wondered aboutover and over again.

The roads were very heavy for the horsesbut the pathway was
generally goodso we alighted and walked up all the hillsand
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 usbut as they had only just been fedwe had to wait for them
tooand 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. Albansnear to which town Bleak House
waswe knew.

By that time we were so anxious and nervous that even Richard
confessedas we rattled over the stones of the old streetto
feeling an irrational desire to drive back again. As to Ada and
mewhom he had wrapped up with great carethe night being sharp
and frostywe trembled from head to foot. When we turned out of
the townround a cornerand Richard told us that the post-boy
who had for a long time sympathized with our heightened
expectationwas looking back and noddingwe 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 usand the driverpointing to it with his whip and crying
That's Bleak House!put his horses into a canter and took us
forward at such a rateuphill though it wasthat the wheels sent
the road drift flying about our heads like spray from a water-mill.
Presently we lost the lightpresently saw itpresently lost it
presently saw itand 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 upand amidst the sound of its deep voice in
the still airand the distant barking of some dogsand a gush of
light from the opened doorand the smoking and steaming of the
heated horsesand the quickened beating of our own heartswe
alighted in no inconsiderable confusion.

Ada, 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 clearbrighthospitable
voice had one of his arms round Ada's waist and the other round
mineand kissed us both in a fatherly wayand bore us across the
hall into a ruddy little roomall in a glow with a blazing fire.
Here he kissed us againand opening his armsmade us sit down
side by side on a sofa ready drawn out near the hearth. I felt
that if we had been at all demonstrativehe would have run away in
a moment.

Now, Rick!said he. "I 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 franknessand only saying (though with an earnestness
that rather alarmed meI was so afraid of Mr. Jarndyce's suddenly
disappearing)You are very kind, sir! We are very much obliged
to you!laid aside his hat and coat and came up to the fire.


And 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 replyI glanced (I need not say
with how much interest) at his face. It was a handsomelively
quick facefull of change and motion; and his hair was a silvered
iron-grey. I took him to be nearer sixty than fiftybut he was
uprightheartyand 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 nowall at oncea something sudden
in his manner and a pleasant expression 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 discoveryfor he caught
my glanceand appearing to read my thoughtsgave such a look at
the door that I thought we had lost him.

HoweverI am happy to say he remained where he wasand asked me
what I thought of Mrs. Jellyby.

She exerts herself very much for Africa, sir,I said.

Nobly!returned Mr. Jarndyce. "But you answer like Ada." Whom I
had not heard. "You all think something elseI see."

We rather thought,said Iglancing at Richard and Adawho
entreated me with their eyes to speakthat perhaps she was a
little unmindful of her home.

Floored!cried Mr. Jarndyce.

I was rather alarmed again.

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

We thought that, perhaps,said Ihesitatingit 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.

The little Jellybys,said Richardcoming to my reliefare
really--I can't help expressing myself strongly, sir--in a devil of
a state.

She means well,said Mr. Jarndyce hastily. "The wind's in the
east."

It was in the north, sir, as we came down,observed Richard.

My dear Rick,said Mr. Jarndycepoking the fireI'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.

Rheumatism, sir?said Richard.

I 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
uttering these broken sentencesretaining the poker in one hand


and rubbing his hair with the otherwith 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 meand bidding Richard
bring a candlewas leading the way out when he suddenly turned us
all back again.

Those 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.

Oh, cousin--Ada hastily began.

Good, my pretty pet. I like cousin. Cousin John, perhaps, is
better.

Then, cousin John--Ada laughingly began again.

Ha, ha! Very good indeed!said Mr. Jarndyce with great
enjoyment. "Sounds uncommonly natural. Yesmy dear?"

It did better than that. It rained Esther.

Aye?said Mr. Jarndyce. "What did Esther do?"

Why, cousin John,said Adaclasping her hands upon his arm and
shaking her head at me across him--for I wanted her to be quiet-"
Esther was their friend directly. Esther nursed themcoaxed them
to sleepwashed and dressed themtold them storieskept them
quietbought them keepsakes"--My dear girl! I had only gone out
with Peepy after he was found and given him a littletiny horse!-"
andcousin Johnshe softened poor Carolinethe eldest oneso
much and was so thoughtful for me and so amiable! NonoI won't
be contradictedEsther dear! You knowyou knowit's true!"

The warm-hearted darling leaned across her cousin John and kissed
meand then looking up in his faceboldly saidAt 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.

Where did you say the wind was, Rick?asked Mr. Jarndyce.

In the north as we came down, sir.

You 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 anotherand where you come
upon more rooms when you think you have seen all there areand
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 firstwas of this kindwith 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 tilesin every one of which a bright miniature of the
fire was blazing. Out of this roomyou 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 bedroomwhich had a fine broad
window commanding a beautiful view (we saw a great expanse of
darkness lying underneath the stars)to which there was a hollow
window-seatin whichwith a spring-lockthree dear Adas might


have been lost at once. Out of this room you passed into a little
gallerywith which the other best rooms (only two) communicated
and soby a little staircase of shallow steps with a number of
corner stairs in itconsidering its lengthdown into the hall.
But if instead of going out at Ada's door you came back into my
roomand went out at the door by which you had entered itand
turned up a few crooked steps that branched off in an unexpected
manner from the stairsyou lost yourself in passageswith mangles
in themand three-cornered tablesand a native Hindu chairwhich
was also a sofaa boxand a bedsteadand looked in every form
something between a bamboo skeleton and a great bird-cageand had
been brought from India nobody knew by whom or when. From these
you came on Richard's roomwhich was part librarypart sitting-
roompart bedroomand seemed indeed a comfortable compound of
many rooms. Out of that you went straightwith a little interval
of passageto the plain room where Mr. Jarndyce sleptall the
year roundwith his window openhis bedstead without any
furniture standing in the middle of the floor for more airand his
cold bath gaping for him in a smaller room adjoining. Out of that
you came into another passagewhere there were back-stairs and
where you could hear the horses being rubbed down outside the
stable and being told to "Hold up" and "Get 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 courtly 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 crayons 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 display of the whitest linen, and their storing-up,
wheresoever the existence 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. It makes no pretensionsbut
it is a comfortable little placeI hopeand 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."

More children, Esther!said Ada.

I don't mean literally a child,pursued Mr. Jarndyce; "not a
child in years. He is grown up--he is at least as old as I am--but
in simplicityand freshnessand enthusiasmand a fine guileless
inaptitude for all worldly affairshe is a perfect child."

We felt that he must be very interesting.

He knows Mrs. Jellyby,said Mr. Jarndyce. "He is a musical man
an amateurbut might have been a professional. He is an artist
tooan amateurbut might have been a professional. He is a man
of attainments and of captivating manners. He has been unfortunate
in his affairsand unfortunate in his pursuitsand unfortunate in
his family; but he don't care--he's a child!"

Did 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. Jarndycehis countenance
suddenly falling. "It is said that the children of the very poor
are not brought upbut 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. "No 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 handI was dressed in
a few minutes and engaged in putting my worldly goods away when a
maid (not the one in attendance upon Adabut anotherwhom I had
not seen) brought a basket into my room with two bunches of keys in
itall labelled.

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

For me?said I.

The housekeeping keys, miss.

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

Yes,said I. "That is my name."

The large bunch is the housekeeping, and the little bunch is the


cellars, miss. Any time you was pleased to appoint tomorrow
morning, I was to show you the presses and things they belong to.

I said I would be ready at half-past sixand after she was gone
stood looking at the basketquite 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.
knewto be surethat it was the dear girl's kindnessbut I liked
to be so pleasantly cheated.

When we went downstairswe were presented to Mr. Skimpolewho was
standing before the fire telling Richard how fond he used to bein
his school-timeof football. He was a little bright creature with
a rather large headbut a delicate face and a sweet voiceand
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 complexionwith
browner hairhe looked younger. Indeedhe 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 disposedand his
neckkerchief loose and flowingas 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
yearscaresand experiences.

I gathered from the conversation that Mr. Skimpole had been
educated for the medical profession and had once livedin his
professional capacityin the household of a German prince. He
told ushoweverthat 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 facthe said
he had no head for detail. And he told uswith great humourthat
when he was wanted to bleed the prince or physic any of his people
he was generally found lying on his back in bedreading the
newspapers or making fancy-sketches in penciland couldn't come.
The princeat lastobjecting to thisin which,said Mr.
Skimpolein the frankest mannerhe was perfectly right,the
engagement terminatedand Mr. Skimpole having (as he added with
delightful gaiety) "nothing to live upon but lovefell in love
and marriedand surrounded himself with rosy cheeks." His good
friend Jarndyce and some other of his good friends then helped him
in quicker or slower successionto several openings in lifebut
to no purposefor he must confess to two of the oldest infirmities
in the world: one was that he had no idea of timethe other that
he had no idea of money. In consequence of which he never kept an
appointmentnever could transact any businessand never knew the
value of anything! Well! So he had got on in lifeand here he
was! He was very fond of reading the papersvery fond of making
fancy-sketches with a pencilvery fond of naturevery fond of
art. All he asked of society was to let him live. THAT wasn't
much. His wants were few. Give him the papersconversation
musicmuttoncoffeelandscapefruit in the seasona few sheets
of Bristol-boardand a little claretand he asked no more. He
was a mere child in the worldbut he didn't cry for the moon. He
said to the worldGo 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 usnot only with the utmost
brilliancy and enjoymentbut with a certain vivacious candour-speaking
of himself as if he were not at all his own affairas if
Skimpole were a third personas if he knew that Skimpole had his
singularities but still had his claims toowhich 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 themI scarcely doubted;
he was so very clear about it himself.

I covet nothing,said Mr. Skimpole in the same light way.
Possession 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.

It's only you, the generous creatures, whom I envy,said Mr.
Skimpoleaddressing ushis new friendsin an impersonal manner.
I 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 (playfulyet always fully meaning what
they expressed) none seemed to be more to the taste of Mr. Jarndyce
than this. I had often new temptationsafterwardsto wonder
whether it was really singularor only singular to methat he
who was probably the most grateful of mankind upon the least
occasionshould 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. Skimpoleseeing them for the


first timeshould he so unreserved and should lay himself out to
be so exquisitely agreeable. They (and especially Richard) were
naturally pleased; for similar reasonsand considered it no common
privilege to be so freely confided in by such an attractive man.
The more we listenedthe 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 aboutas if he
had saidI am a child, you know! You are designing people
compared with me(he really made me consider myself in that light)
but 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 eveningwhen I was preparing to make tea and Ada
was touching the piano in the adjoining room and softly humming a
tune to her cousin Richardwhich they had happened to mentionhe
came and sat down on the sofa near me and so spoke of Ada that I
almost loved him.

She is like the morning,he said. "With that golden hairthose
blue eyesand that fresh bloom on her cheekshe is like the
summer morning. The birds here will mistake her for it. We will
not call such a lovely young creature as thatwho is a joy to all
mankindan orphan. She is the child of the universe."

Mr. JarndyceI foundwas standing near us with his hands behind
him and an attentive smile upon his face.

The universe,he observedmakes rather an indifferent parent, I
am afraid.

Oh! I don't know!cried Mr. Skimpole buoyantly.

I think I do know,said Mr. Jarndyce.

Well!cried Mr. Skimpole. "You know the world (which in your
sense is the universe)and I know nothing of itso you shall have
your way. But if I had mine glancing at the cousins, there
should be no brambles of sordid realities in such a path as that.
It should be strewn with roses; it should lie through bowerswhere
there was no springautumnnor winterbut 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 smileas if he had been
really a childand passing a step or two onand stopping a
momentglanced at the young cousins. His look was thoughtfulbut
had a benignant expression in it which I often (how often!) saw
againwhich has long been engraven on my heart. The room in which
they werecommunicating with that in which he stoodwas only
lighted by the fire. Ada sat at the piano; Richard stood beside
herbending down. Upon the walltheir shadows blended together
surrounded by strange formsnot without a ghostly motion caught
from the unsteady firethough reflecting from motionless objects.
Ada touched the notes so softly and sang so low that the wind
sighing away to the distant hillswas 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 fancywell as I remember itthat I
recall the scene. FirstI 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.


Secondlythough Mr. Jarndyce's glance as he withdrew it rested for
but a moment on meI 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 violoncelloand he
was a composer--had composed half an opera oncebut got tired of
it--and played what he composed with taste. After tea we had quite
a little concertin 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. Jarndyceand 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 muchthe maid who had given me the keys looked in at the
doorsayingIf you please, miss, could you spare a minute?

When I was shut out with her in the hallshe saidholding up her
handsOh, if you please, miss, Mr. Carstone says would you come
upstairs to Mr. Skimpole's room. He has been took, miss!

Took?said I.

Took, 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 myselfas I followed her quickly upstairssufficiently
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
chamberwhereto my unspeakable surpriseinstead of finding Mr.
Skimpole stretched upon the bed or prostrate on the floorI found
him standing before the fire smiling at Richardwhile Richard
with a face of great embarrassmentlooked at a person on the sofa
in a white great-coatwith smooth hair upon his head and not much
of itwhich he was wiping smoother and making less of with a
pocket-handkerchief.

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

And really, my dear Miss Summerson,said Mr. Skimpole with his
agreeable candourI 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 sofawho appeared to have a cold in his head
gave such a very loud snort that he startled me.

Are you arrested for much, sir?I inquired of Mr. Skimpole.

My dear Miss Summerson,said heshaking his head pleasantlyI
don't know. Some pounds, odd shillings, and halfpence, I think,
were mentioned.

It's twenty-four pound, sixteen, and sevenpence ha'penny,
observed the stranger. "That's wot it is."

And it sounds--somehow it sounds,said Mr. Skimpolelike 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.

Mr. Skimpole,said Richard to mehas a delicacy in applying to
my cousin Jarndyce because he has lately--I think, sir, I
understood you that you had lately--

Oh, yes!returned Mr. Skimpolesmiling. "Though 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 helpthat I would rather and he looked at Richard and me,
develop generosity in a new soil and in a new form of flower."

What do you think will be best, Miss Summerson?said Richard
aside.

I ventured to inquiregenerallybefore replyingwhat would
happen if the money were not produced.

Jail,said the strange mancoolly putting his handkerchief into
his hatwhich was on the floor at his feet. "Or Coavinses."

May I ask, sir, what is--

Coavinses?said the strange man. "A '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 interestbut there seemedif I may
venture on such a contradictionnothing selfish in it. He had
entirely washed his hands of the difficultyand it had become
ours.

I thought,he suggestedas if good-naturedly to help us out
that 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 undertaking, 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?

Not a bit on it,said the strange man.

Really?returned Mr. Skimpole. "That seems oddnowto one who
is no judge of these things!"

Odd or even,said the stranger grufflyI tell you, not a bit on
it!

Keep 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. "Don'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 manwith a
great deal of poetry in your natureof which you may not be
conscious.

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

Now, my dear Miss Summerson, and my dear Mr. Richard,said Mr.
Skimpole gailyinnocentlyand confidingly as he looked at his
drawing with his head on one sidehere 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!

My dear Miss Summerson,said Richard in a whisperI have ten
pounds that I received from Mr. Kenge. I must try what that will
do.

I possessed fifteen poundsodd shillingswhich 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 propertyon 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 itand I asked him delicately to inform
Mr. Skimpolewhile I should be gone to fetch itthat we would
have the pleasure of paying his debt.

When I came backMr. Skimpole kissed my hand and seemed quite
touched. Not on his own account (I was again aware of that
perplexing and extraordinary contradiction)but on oursas if
personal considerations were impossible with him and the
contemplation of our happiness alone affected him. Richard
begging mefor the greater grace of the transactionas he said
to settle with Coavinses (as Mr. Skimpole now jocularly called
him)I counted out the money and received the necessary
acknowledgment. Thistoodelighted 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 saidWell, then, I'll wish you a good evening, miss.

My friend said Mr. Skimpole, standing with his back to the fire
after giving up the sketch when it was half finished, I should
like to ask you somethingwithout offence."

I think the reply wasCut away, then!

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

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

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

Not a hit,said Coavinses. "I know'd if you wos missed to-day
you wouldn't be missed to-morrow. A day makes no such odds."

But when you came down here,proceeded Mr. Skimpoleit 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.

Nobody said they warn't, in MY hearing,returned Coavinses.

No,observed Mr. Skimpole. "But what did you think upon the
road?"

Wot do you mean?growled Coavinses with an appearance of strong
resentment. "Think! I've got enough to doand little enough to
get for it without thinking. Thinking!" (with profound contempt).

Then you didn't think, at all events,proceeded Mr. Skimpoleto


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?

I--certainly--did--NOT,said Coavinseswhose 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 wordand accompanying the last with a jerk that might
have dislocated his neck.

Very odd and very curious, the mental process is, in you men of
business!said Mr. Skimpole thoughtfully. "Thank youmy friend.
Good night."

As our absence had been long enough already to seem strange
downstairsI returned at once and found Ada sitting at work by the
fireside talking to her cousin John. Mr. Skimpole presently
appearedand Richard shortly after him. I was sufficiently
engaged during the remainder of the evening in taking my first
lesson in backgammon from Mr. Jarndycewho 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
occasionallywhen Mr. Skimpole played some fragments of his own
compositions or whenboth at the piano and the violoncelloand at
our tablehe preserved with an absence of all effort his
delightful spirits and his easy flow of conversationthat 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 separatedfor when Ada was going at eleven
o'clockMr. 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 nightmy dear! It was past twelve before he took his
candle and his radiant face out of the roomand I think he might
have kept us thereif he had seen fituntil daybreak. Ada and
Richard were lingering for a few moments by the firewondering
whether Mrs. Jellyby had yet finished her dictation for the day
when Mr. Jarndycewho had been out of the roomreturned.

Oh, dear me, what's this, what's this!he saidrubbing his head
and walking about with his good-humoured vexation. "What's this
they tell me? Rickmy boyEsthermy dearwhat 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.

Come, 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!

Really, sir,said RichardI don't think it would be honourable
in me to tell you. Mr. Skimpole relied upon us--

Lord bless you, my dear boy! He relies upon everybody!said Mr.
Jarndycegiving his head a great rub and stopping short.

Indeed, sir?

Everybody! And he'll be in the same scrape again next week!said


Mr. Jarndycewalking again at a great pacewith a candle in his
hand that had gone out. "He'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 BuildingsMrs. Skimpole of a son
in difficulties.'"

Richard laughed heartily but addedStill, 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.

Well!cried Mr. Jarndycestopping againand making several
absent endeavours to put his candlestick in his pocket. "I--here!
Take it awaymy dear. I don't know what I am about with it; it's
all the wind--invariably has that effect--I won't press youRick;
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 timeand 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-


Eh, my dear?said Mr. Jarndycecatching at the word.

Being quite a childsir said I, and so different from other
people--"

You are right!said Mr. Jarndycebrightening. "Your woman's wit
hits the mark. He is a child--an absolute child. I told you he
was a childyou knowwhen I first mentioned him."

Certainly! Certainly! we said.

And he IS a child. Now, isn't he?asked Mr. Jarndyce
brightening more and more.

He was indeedwe said.

When you come to think of it, it's the height of childishness in
you--I mean me--said Mr. Jarodyceto 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
clearingand to see him so heartily pleasedand to knowas it
was impossible not to knowthat the source of his pleasure was the
goodness which was tortured by condemningor mistrustingor
secretly accusing any onethat I saw the tears in Ada's eyes
while she echoed his laughand felt them in my own.

Why, what a cod's head and shoulders I am,said Mr. Jarndyceto
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.

To be sure, to be sure!said Mr. Jarndyce. "HoweverRick
Estherand you tooAdafor 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 faithfullyRichard with a merry glance at me
touching his pocket as if to remind me that there was no danger of
OUR transgressing.

As to Skimpole,said Mr. Jarndycea 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 againwith a smiling facebefore we had lighted our
candlesand saidOh! 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 agreedas we talked together for a little while
upstairsthat this caprice about the wind was a fiction and that
he used the pretence to account for any disappointment he could not
concealrather than he would blame the real cause of it or
disparage or depreciate any one. We thought this very
characteristic of his eccentric 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.

Indeedso much affection for him had been added in this one
evening to my gratitude that I hoped I already began to understand
him through that mingled feeling. Any seeming inconsistencies in
Mr. Skimpole or in Mrs. Jellyby I could not expect to be able to
reconcilehaving so little experience or practical knowledge.
Neither did I tryfor my thoughts were busy when I was alonewith
Ada and Richard and with the confidence I had seemed to receive
concerning them. My fancymade a little wild by the wind perhaps
would not consent to be all unselfisheitherthough I would have
persuaded it to be so if I could. It wandered back to my
godmother's house and came along the intervening trackraising up
shadowy speculations which had sometimes 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 fatherthough that idle
dream was quite gone now.

It was all gone nowI rememberedgetting up from the fire. It was
not for me to muse over bygonesbut to act with a cheerful spirit
and a grateful heart. So I said to myselfEsther, 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 sleepsand while Esther wakesit is still wet weather
down at the place in Lincolnshire. The rain is ever falling--drip
dripdrip--by day and night upon the broad flagged terrace-
pavementthe 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 spotfor Sir Leicester is not here (and
trulyeven if he werewould not do much for it in that
particular)but is in Paris with my Lady; and solitudewith dusky
wingssits 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
barrenred-brick court-yardwhere there is a great bell in a
turretand a clock with a large facewhich 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 occasionsand may be better artists at them than the
grooms. The old roanso famous for cross-country workturning his
large eyeball to the grated window near his rackmay remember the
fresh leaves that glisten there at other times and the scents that
stream inand may have a fine run with the houndswhile the human
helperclearing out the next stallnever stirs beyond his
pitchfork and birch-broom. The greywhose 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 openedand to whom the
opener says'Woa grey, then, steady! Noabody wants you to-day!
may know it quite as well as the man. The whole seemingly
monotonous and uncompanionable half-dozenstabled togethermay
pass the long wet hours when the door is shut in livelier
communication than is held in the servants' hall or at the Dedlock
Armsor may even beguile the time by improving (perhaps corrupting)
the pony in the loose-box in the corner.

So the mastiffdozing in his kennel in the court-yard with his
large head on his pawsmay 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 housewhere he sits on endpanting and growling
shortand very much wanting something to worry besides himself and
his chain. So nowhalf-waking and all-winkinghe may recall the
house full of companythe coach-houses full of vehiclesthe
stables fall of horsesand the out-buildings full of attendants
upon horsesuntil he is undecided about the present and comes forth
to see how it is. Thenwith that impatient shake of himselfhe
may growl in the spiritRain, 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 parkwho have
their resfless fits and whose doleful voices when the wind has been
very obstinate have even made it known in the house itself-upstairs
downstairsand in my Lady's chamber. They may hunt the
whole country-sidewhile the raindrops are pattering round their
inactivity. So the rabbits with their self-betraying tails
frisking in and out of holes at roots of treesmay 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-yardalways 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
treeswhere there was a barn and barley. The discontented goose
who stoops to pass under the old gatewaytwenty feet highmay


gabble outif we only knew ita waddling preference for weather
when the gateway casts its shadow on the ground.

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

It has rained so hard and rained so long down in Lincolnshire that
Mrs. Rouncewellthe old housekeeper at Chesney Woldhas 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 rainbut that she is
rather deafwhich nothing will induce her to believe. She is a
fine old ladyhandsomestatelywonderfully neatand 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
weathersand the houseas she expresses itis what she looks
at.She sits in her room (in a side passage on the ground floor
with an arched window commanding a smooth quadrangleadorned at
regular intervals with smooth round trees and smooth round blocks
of stoneas 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 flutteredbut 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. Rouncewellbut she has only been here
fifty years. Ask her how longthis rainy dayand she shall
answer "fifty yearthree monthsand a fortnightby the blessing
of heavenif I live till Tuesday." Mr. Rouncewell died some time
before the decease of the pretty fashion of pig-tailsand 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
charactersintentionsor opinionsand is persuaded that he was
born to supersede the necessity of their having any. If he were to
make a discovery to the contraryhe would be simply stunned--would
never recover himselfmost likelyexcept to gasp and die. But he
is an excellent master stillholding it a part of his state to be
so. He has a great liking for Mrs. Rouncewell; he says she is a
most respectablecreditable woman. He always shakes hands with
her when he comes down to Chesney Wold and when he goes away; and
if he were very illor if he were knocked down by accidentor run
overor placed in any situation expressive of a Dedlock at a
disadvantagehe would say if he could speakLeave me, and send
Mrs. Rouncewell here!feeling his dignityat such a passsafer
with her than with anybody else.

Mrs. Rouncewell has known trouble. She has had two sonsof whom
the younger ran wildand went for a soldierand never came back.
Even to this hourMrs. Rouncewell's calm hands lose their
composure when she speaks of himand unfolding themselves from her
stomacherhover about her in an agitated manner as she says what a
likely ladwhat a fine ladwhat a gaygood-humouredclever lad
he was! Her second son would have been provided for at Chesney
Wold and would have been made steward in due seasonbut he took


when he was a schoolboyto constructing steam-engines out of
saucepans and setting birds to draw their own water with the least
possible amount of labourso assisting them with artful
contrivance of hydraulic pressure that a thirsty canary had only
in a literal senseto 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
directionwell 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 youthand very persevering)showing no sign of
grace as he got older buton the contraryconstructing a model of
a power-loomshe was fainwith many tearsto mention his
backslidings to the baronet. "Mrs. Rouncewell said Sir
Leicester, I can never consent to argueas you knowwith 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 isI
supposethe congenial direction for a boy with these tendencies."
Farther north he wentand farther north he grew up; and if Sir
Leicester Dedlock ever saw him when he came to Chesney Wold to
visit his motheror ever thought of him afterwardsit is certain
that he only regarded him as one of a body of some odd thousand
conspiratorsswarthy and grimwho were in the habit of turning
out by torchlight two or three nights in the week for unlawful
purposes.

NeverthelessMrs. Rouncewell's son hasin the course of nature
and artgrown upand established himselfand marriedand called
unto him Mrs. Rouncewell's grandsonwhobeing out of his
apprenticeshipand home from a journey in far countrieswhither
he was sent to enlarge his knowledge and complete his preparations
for the venture of this lifestands leaning against the chimney-
piece this very day in Mrs. Rouncewell's room at Chesney Wold.

And, again and again, I am glad to see you, Watt! And, once
again, I am glad to see you, Watt!says Mrs. Rouncewell. "You are
a fine young fellow. You are like your poor uncle George. Ah!"
Mrs. Rouncewell's hands unquietas usualon this reference.

They say I am like my father, grandmother.

Like him, also, my dear--but most like your poor uncle George!
And your dear father.Mrs. Rouncewell folds her hands again. "He
is well?"

Thriving, grandmother, in every way.

I am thankful!Mrs. Rouncewell is fond of her son but has a
plaintive feeling towards himmuch as if he were a very honourable
soldier who had gone over to the enemy.

He is quite happy?says she.

Quite.

I 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!

Grandmother,says the young manchanging the subjectwhat a
very pretty girl that was I found with you just now. You called
her Rosa?


Yes, 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.

I hope I have not driven her away?

She 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. Rouncewellexpanding her stomacher to its
utmost limitsthan it formerly was!

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

Wheels!says she. They have long been audible to the younger
ears of her companion. "What wheels on such a day as thisfor
gracious sake?"

After a short intervala tap at the door. "Come in!" A dark-
eyeddark-hairedshyvillage 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.

What company is this, Rosa?says Mrs. Rouncewell.

It'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. "I went to the hall-door
and told them it was the wrong day and the wrong hourbut the
young man who was driving took off his hat in the wet and begged me
to bring this card to you."

Read 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.

Mr. Guppyis all the information the card yields.

Guppy!repeats Mrs. RouncewellMR. Guppy! Nonsense, I never
heard of him!

If you please, he told ME that!says Rosa. "But he said that he
and the other young gentleman came from London only last night by
the mailon business at the magistrates' meetingten miles off
this morningand that as their business was soon overand they
had heard a great deal said of Chesney Woldand really didn't know
what to do with themselvesthey had come through the wet to see
it. They are lawyers. He says he is not in Mr. Tulkinghorn's
officebut he is sure he may make use of Mr. Tulkinghorn's name if
necessary." Findingnow she leaves offthat she has been making
quite a long speechRosa is shyer than ever.

NowMr. Tulkinghorn isin a mannerpart and parcel of the place
and besidesis supposed to have made Mrs. Rouncewell's will. The
old lady relaxesconsents to the admission of the visitors as a
favourand dismisses Rosa. The grandsonhoweverbeing smitten
by a sudden wish to see the house himselfproposes to join the
party. The grandmotherwho is pleased that he should have that
interestaccompanies him--though to do him justicehe is
exceedingly unwilling to trouble her.


Much obliged to you, ma'am!says Mr. Guppydivesting himself of
his wet dreadnought in the hall. "Us London lawyers don't often
get an outand when we dowe like to make the most of ityou
know."

The old housekeeperwith a gracious severity of deportmentwaves
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 housesMr. Guppy
and his friend are dead beat before they have well begun. They
straggle about in wrong placeslook at wrong thingsdon't care
for the right thingsgape when more rooms are openedexhibit
profound depression of spiritsand are clearly knocked up. In
each successive chamber that they enterMrs. Rouncewellwho is as
upright as the house itselfrests 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 roomraising the
pictured Dedlocks for a few brief minutes as the young gardener
admits the lightand reconsigning 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 Dedlockswhose
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
chimney-piecepainted by the fashionable artist of the dayacts
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.

Dear me!says Mr. Guppy. "Who's that?"

The picture over the fire-place,says Rosais the portrait of
the present Lady Dedlock. It is considered a perfect likeness, and
the best work of the master.

'Blest,says Mr. Guppystaring in a kind of dismay at his
friendif I can ever have seen her. Yet I know her! Has the
picture been engraved, miss?

The picture has never been engraved. Sir Leicester has always
refused permission.

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

The 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. "It's
unaccountable to me he says, still staring at the portrait, how
well I know that picture! I'm dashed adds Mr. Guppy, looking
round, if 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
dreamsthe 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 shutterswhen 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 stareas if he were looking everywhere for Lady Dedlock
again.

He sees no more of her. He sees her roomswhich are the last
shownas being very elegantand he looks out of the windows from
which she looked outnot long agoupon the weather that bored her
to death. All things have an endeven 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 sightand the fresh village
beauty to the end of her description; which is always this: "The
terrace below is much admired. It is calledfrom an old story in
the familythe Ghost's Walk."

No?says Mr. Guppygreedily curious. "What's the storymiss?
Is it anything about a picture?"

Pray tell us the story,says Watt in a half whisper.

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

It is not related to visitors; it is almost forgotten,says the
housekeeperadvancing. "It has never been more than a family
anecdote."

You'll excuse my asking again if it has anything to do with a
picture, ma'am,observes Mr. Guppybecause 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 ismoreovergenerally obliged. He retires with his friend
guided down another staircase by the young gardenerand 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: "In the wicked daysmy dearsof King Charles the
First--I meanof coursein 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 daysI 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.

Sir Morbury Dedlock,says Mrs. Rouncewellwas, 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.

I hear the rain-drip on the stones,replies the young manand I
hear a curious echo--I suppose an echo--which is very like a
halting step.

The housekeeper gravely nods and continues: "Partly on account of
this division between themand partly on other accountsSir
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
characterand they had no children to moderate between them.
After her favourite brothera young gentlemanwas 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
causeshe 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 hourher 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 wristand 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.

She 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!'

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

There and then she died. And from those days says Mrs.
Rouncewell, the name has come down--the Ghost's Walk. If the
tread is an echoit is an echo that is only heard after darkand
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
familyit will be heard then."

And disgrace, grandmother--says Watt.

Disgrace never comes to Chesney Wold,returns the housekeeper.

Her grandson apologizes with "True. True."

That is the story. Whatever the sound is, it is a worrying
sound,says Mrs. Rouncewellgetting up from her chair; "and what
is to be noticed in it is that it MUST BE HEARD. My Ladywho is
afraid of nothingadmits that when it is thereit must be heard.
You cannot shut it out. Wattthere 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?"

Pretty well, grandmother, I think.

Set it a-going.

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

Now, come hither,says the housekeeper. "Hitherchildtowards
my Lady's pillow. I am not sure that it is dark enough yetbut
listen! Can you hear the sound upon the terracethrough the
musicand the beatand everything?"

I certainly can!

So my Lady says.

CHAPTER VIII

Covering a Multitude of Sins

It was interesting when I dressed before daylight to peep out of
windowwhere my candles were reflected in the black panes like two
beaconsand finding all beyond still enshrouded in the
indistinctness of last nightto 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 lifeI had a pleasure in discovering the
unknown objects that had been around me in my sleep. At first they
were faintly discernible in the mistand above them the later
stars still glimmered. That pale interval overthe 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 morningthe dark places in
my room all melted awayand the day shone bright upon a cheerful
landscapeprominent in which the old Abbey Churchwith its
massive towerthrew 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 orderand every one was so
attentive to methat 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 jamsand picklesand preservesand bottlesand
glassand chinaand a great many other things; and what with
being generally a methodicalold-maidish sort of foolish little
personI was so busy that I could not believe it was breakfast-
time when I heard the bell ring. Away I ranhoweverand made
teaas I had already been installed into the responsibility of the
tea-pot; and thenas they were all rather late and nobody was down
yetI thought I would take a peep at the garden and get some
knowledge of that too. I found it quite a delightful place--in
frontthe pretty avenue and drive by which we had approached (and
whereby the bywe had cut up the gravel so terribly with our
wheels that I asked the gardener to roll it); at the backthe
flower-gardenwith my darling at her window up therethrowing it
open to smile out at meas if she would have kissed me from that
distance. Beyond the flower-garden was a kitchen-gardenand then
a paddockand then a snug little rick-yardand then a dear little


farm-yard. As to the house itselfwith its three peaks in the
roof; its various-shaped windowssome so largesome so smalland
all so pretty; its trellis-workagainst the southfront for roses
and honey-suckleand its homelycomfortablewelcoming look--it
wasas Ada said when she came out to meet me with her arm through
that of its masterworthy of her cousin Johna 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 tableand it led him into a
discourse about bees. He had no objection to honeyhe said (and I
should think he had notfor 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 honeyor 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 interruptedthe world would be
quite an unsupportable place. Thenafter allit 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 unaffectedlyYou 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 philosophyand he thought it a very good
philosophyalways supposing the drone to be willing to be on good
terms with the beewhichso far as he knewthe easy fellow
always wasif the consequential creature would only let himand
not be so conceited about his honey!

He pursued this fancy with the lightest foot over a variety of
ground and made us all merrythough 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 timeand 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 hatboxes.


Sit down, my dear,said Mr. Jarndyce. "Thisyou must knowis
the growlery. When I am out of humourI come and growl here."

You must be here very seldom, sir,said I.

Oh, you don't know me!he returned. "When I am deceived or
disappointed in--the windand it's easterlyI take refuge here.
The growlery is the best-used room in the house. You are not aware
of half my humours yet. My dearhow you are trembling!"

I could not help it; I tried very hardbut being alone with that
benevolent presenceand meeting his kind eyesand feeling so
happy and so honoured thereand my heart so full-


I kissed his hand. I don't know what I saidor even that I spoke.
He was disconcerted and walked to the window; I almost believed
with an intention of jumping outuntil he turned and I was


reassured by seeing in his eyes what he had gone there to hide. He
gently patted me on the headand I sat down.

There! There!he said. "That's over. Pooh! Don't be foolish."

It shall not happen again, sir,I returnedbut at first it is
difficult--

Nonsense!he said. "It's easyeasy. Why not? I hear of a good
little orphan girl without a protectorand I take it into my head
to be that protector. She grows upand more than justifies my
good opinionand I remain her guardian and her friend. What is
there in all this? Soso! Nowwe have cleared off old scores
and I have before me thy pleasanttrustingtrusty face again."

I said to myselfEsther, 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.
Jarndyceexpressing his approval in his facebegan to talk to me
as confidentially as if I had been in the habit of conversing with
him every morning for I don't know how long. I almost felt as if I
had.

Of course, Esther,he saidyou don't understand this Chancery
business?

And of course I shook my head.

I don't know who does,he returned. "The 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 appearingand disappearing
and swearingand interrogatingand filingand cross-filingand
arguingand sealingand motioningand referringand reporting
and revolving about the Lord Chancellor and all his satellitesand
equitably waltzing ourselves off to dusty deathabout costs.
That's the great question. All the restby some extraordinary
meanshas melted away."

But it was, sir,said Ito bring him backfor he began to rub
his headabout a will?

Why, yes, it was about a will when it was about anything,he
returned. "A certain Jarndycein an evil hourmade a great
fortuneand made a great will. In the question how the trusts
under that will are to be administeredthe 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 causeeverything that everybody in itexcept one man
knows already is referred to that only one man who don't know it to
find out--all through the deplorable causeeverybody must have
copiesover and over againof everything that has accumulated
about it in the way of cartloads of papers (or must pay for them
without having themwhich is the usual coursefor 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 lawlaw sends
questions back to equity; law finds it can't do thisequity 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


Aand that solicitor instructing and that counsel appearing for B;
and so on through the whole alphabetlike the history of the apple
pie. And thusthrough years and yearsand lives and lives
everything goes onconstantly beginning over and over againand
nothing ever ends. And we can't get out of the suit on any terms
for we are made parties to itand MUST BE parties to itwhether
we like it or not. But it won't do to think of it! When my great
unclepoor Tom Jarndycebegan to think of itit was the
beginning of the end!"

The Mr. Jarndyce, sir, whose story I have heard?

He nodded gravely. "I was his heirand this was his house
Esther. When I came hereit was bleak indeed. He had left the
signs of his misery upon it."

How changed it must be now!I said.

It 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
shudderand then looked at meand brightenedand came and sat
down again with his hands in his pockets.

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

I reminded himat the hopeful change he had made in Bleak House.

Bleak 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!

How changed it is!I said again.

Why, so it is,he answered much more cheerfully; "and it is
wisdom in you to keep me to the bright side of the picture." (The
idea of my wisdom!) "These are things I never talk about or even
think aboutexcepting in the growlery here. If you consider it
right to mention them to Rick and Ada looking seriously at me,
you can. I leave it to your discretionEsther."

I hope, sir--said I.


I think you had better call me guardian, my dear.

I felt that I was choking again--I taxed myself with itEsther,
now, you know you are!--when he feigned to say this slightlyas
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
myselfand folding my hands in a still more determined manner on
the basketlooked at him quietly.

I hope, guardian,said Ithat 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
mewith a smile all over his facethat he knew me very well
indeed and that I was quite clever enough for him.

I hope I may turn out so,said Ibut I am much afraid of it,
guardian.

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

'Little old womanand whither so high?'

'To sweep the cobwebs out of the sky.'

You will sweep them so neatly out of OUR sky in the course of your
housekeepingEstherthat 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 Womanand Little Old
Womanand Cobweband Mrs. Shiptonand Mother Hubbardand Dame
Durdenand so many names of that sort that my own name soon became
quite lost among them.

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

Ohmy goodnessthe idea of asking my advice on such a point!

Here he is, Esther,said Mr. Jarndycecomfortably putting his
hands into his pockets and stretching out his legs. "He must have
a profession; he must make some choice for himself. There will be
a world more wiglomeration about itI supposebut it must be
done."

More what, guardian?said I.

More wiglomeration,said he. "It's the only name I know for the
thing. He is a ward in Chancerymy dear. Kenge and Carboy will
have something to say about it; Master Somebody--a sort of
ridiculous sextondigging graves for the merits of causes in a
back room at the end of Quality CourtChancery 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 feedall roundabout it; the whole thing will be
vastly ceremoniouswordyunsatisfactoryand expensiveand I


call itin generalwiglomeration. How mankind ever came to be
afflicted with wiglomerationor for whose sins these young people
ever fell into a pit of itI 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 heador walked aboutor did bothhis 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.

Perhaps it would be best, first of all,said Ito ask Mr.
Richard what he inclines to himself.

Exactly so,he returned. "That's what I mean! You knowjust
accustom yourself to talk it overwith your tact and in your quiet
waywith him and Adaand see what you all make of it. We are
sure to come at the heart of the matter by your meanslittle
woman."

I really was frightened at the thought of the importance I was
attaining 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
Richard. But of course I said nothing in reply except that I would
do my bestthough 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.

Come!he saidrising and pushing back his chair. "I think we
may have done with the growlery for one day! Only a concluding
word. Esthermy deardo you wish to ask me anything?"

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

About myself, sir?said I.

Yes.

Guardian,said Iventuring to put my handwhich was suddenly
colder than I could have wishedin hisnothing! 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 himquite unreservedquite
content to know no morequite happy.

We livedat firstrather a busy life at Bleak Housefor we had
to become acquainted with many residents in and out of the
neighbourhood 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; indeedI 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 cardshalf-crown cardshalf-sovereign cardspenny
cards. They wanted everything. They wanted wearing apparelthey
wanted linen ragsthey wanted moneythey wanted coalsthey
wanted soupthey wanted interestthey wanted autographsthey
wanted flannelthey wanted whatever Mr. Jarndyce had--or had not.
Their objects were as various as their demands. They were going to
raise new buildingsthey were going to pay off debts on old
buildingsthey were going to establish in a picturesque building
(engraving of proposed west elevation attached) the Sisterhood of
Mediaeval Marysthey were going to give a testimonial to Mrs.
Jellybythey were going to have their secretary's portrait painted
and presented to his mother-in-lawwhose deep devotion to him was
well knownthey were going to get up everythingI 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 Englandthe Daughters of Britainthe
Sisters of all the cardinal virtues separatelythe Females of
Americathe Ladies of a hundred denominations. They appeared to
be always excited about canvassing and electing. They seemed to
our poor witsand according to their own accountsto be
constantly polling people by tens of thousandsyet never bringing
their candidates in for anything. It made our heads ache to think
on the wholewhat 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. Pardigglewho
seemedas 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 fartherwhen he had remarked
that there were two classes of charitable people; onethe people
who did a little and made a great deal of noise; the otherthe
people who did a great deal and made no noise at all. We were
therefore curious to see Mrs. Pardigglesuspecting her to be a
type of the former classand were glad when she called one day
with her five young sons.

She was a formidable style of lady with spectaclesa prominent
noseand a loud voicewho had the effect of wanting a great deal
of room. And she really didfor she knocked down little chairs
with her skirts that were quite a great way off. As only Ada and I
were at homewe received her timidlyfor she seemed to come in
like cold weather and to make the little Pardiggles blue as they
followed.

These, young ladies,said Mrs. Pardiggle with great volubility
after the first salutationsare 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 to--but they looked absolutely ferocious with discontent. At
the mention of the Tockahoopo IndiansI could really have supposed
Eghert to be one of the most baleful members of that tribehe gave


me such a savage frown. The face of each childas the amount of
his contribution was mentioneddarkened in a peculiarly vindictive
mannerbut his was by far the worst. I must excepthoweverthe
little recruit into the Infant Bonds of Joywho was stolidly and
evenly miserable.

You have been visiting, I understand,said Mrs. Pardiggleat
Mrs. Jellyby's?

We said yeswe had passed one night there.

Mrs. Jellyby,pursued the ladyalways speaking in the same
demonstrativeloudhard toneso 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 "choking eyes meaning
very prominent--Mrs. Jellyby is a benefactor to society and
deserves a helping hand. My boys have contributed to the African
project--Egbertone and sixbeing the entire allowance of nine
weeks; Oswaldone and a penny halfpennybeing the same; the rest
according to their little means. NeverthelessI 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 rightshe may be
wrong; butright or wrongthis is not my course with MY young
family. I take them everywhere."

I was afterwards convinced (and so was Ada) that from the ill-
conditioned eldest childthese words extorted a sharp yell. He
turned it off into a yawnbut it began as a yell.

They 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 rapidlyand 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
acquire that knowledge of the poor, and that capacity of doing
charitable 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 couldor wouldforgive the
injury of that night.

You may have observed, Miss Summerson,said Mrs. Pardigglein
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. Jellybyand suppose
Mr. Jellyby were to relieve his mind after dinner to Mr. Pardiggle
would Mr. Pardigglein returnmake any confidential communication
to Mr. Jellyby? I was quite confused to find myself thinking this
but it came into my head.

You are very pleasantly situated here!said Mrs. Pardiggle.

We were glad to change the subjectand going to the window
pointed out the beauties of the prospecton which the spectacles
appeared to me to rest with curious indifference.

You know Mr. Gusher?said our visitor.

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

The loss is yours, I assure you,said Mrs. Pardiggle with her
commanding deportment. "He is a very fervidimpassioned speaker-
full of fire! Stationed in a waggon on this lawnnowwhichfrom
the shape of the landis naturally adapted to a public meetinghe
would improve almost any occasion you could mention for hours and
hours! By this timeyoung 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, by this time you have found me outI 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 thinkingit must have been expressed in the
colour of my cheeks.

Found out, I mean,said Mrs. Pardigglethe 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 gratifyingor
something to that effect. I don't think we knew what it was
eitherbut this is what our politeness expressed.

I do not understand what it is to be tired; you cannot tire me if
you try!said Mrs. Pardiggle. "The 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 familyand Mr. Pardigglequite worn out with
witnessing itwhen 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 lookedthis 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 capwhich was under his left arm.

This gives me a great advantage when I am making my rounds,said
Mrs. Pardiggle. "If I find a person unwilling to hear what I have
to sayI tell that person directly'I am incapable of fatiguemy


good friendI am never tiredand I mean to go on until I have
done.' It answers admirably! Miss SummersonI hope I shall have
your assistance in my visiting rounds immediatelyand 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 protestI then saidmore
particularlythat I was not sure of my qualifications. That I was
inexperienced in the art of adapting my mind to minds very
differently situatedand addressing 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
myselfbefore I could teach othersand that I could not confide
in my good intentions alone. For these reasons I thought it best
to be as useful as I couldand to render what kind services I
could to those immediately about meand to try to let that circle
of duty gradually and naturally expand itself. All this I said
with anything but confidencebecause Mrs. Pardiggle was much older
than Iand had great experienceand was so very military in her
manners.

You are wrong, Miss Summerson,said shebut 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 looksand as we were going out in any case
accepted the offer. When we hastily returned from putting on our
bonnetswe found the young family languishing in a corner and Mrs.
Pardiggle sweeping about the roomknocking 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 (thatindeedI 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 candidates for a pension somewhere. There had been a
quantity of printingand promisingand proxyingand pollingand
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 respectbut on this occasion it
gave me great uneasiness. As soon as we were out of doorsEgbert
with the manner of a little footpaddemanded a shilling of me on
the ground that his pocket-money was "boned" from him. On my
pointing out the great impropriety of the wordespecially in
connexion with his parent (for he added sulkily "By her!")he
pinched me and saidOh, 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 onceand in a dreadfully expert way-screwing
up such little pieces of my arms that I could hardly
forbear crying out. Felixat the same timestamped upon my toes.
And the Bond of Joywho on account of always having the whole of
his little income anticipated stood in fact pledged to abstain from
cakes as well as tobaccoso swelled with grief and rage when we
passed a pastry-cook's shop that he terrified me by becoming


purple. I never underwent so muchboth in body and mindin 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 housethough it was
one of a cluster of wretched hovels in a brick-fieldwith 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 roofor
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 aboutand 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. Pardiggleleading the way with a great show of moral
determination 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 cornerthe ground-floor room of which we nearly filled.
Besides ourselvesthere were in this dampoffensive room a woman
with a black eyenursing a poor little gasping baby by the fire; a
manall stained with clay and mud and looking very dissipated
lying at full length on the groundsmoking a pipe; a powerful
young man fastening 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 inand the woman seemed to turn her face towards the fire
as if to hide her bruised eye; nobody gave us any welcome.

Well, my friends,said Mrs. Pardigglebut her voice had not a
friendly soundI thought; it was much too businesslike and
systematic. "How do you doall of you? I am here again. I told
youyou couldn't tire meyou know. I am fond of hard workand
am true to my word."

There an't,growled the man on the floorwhose head rested on
his hand as he stared at usany more on you to come in, is
there?

No, my friend,said Mrs. Pardiggleseating herself on one stool
and knocking down another. "We are all here."

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

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

You can't tire me, good people,said Mrs. Pardiggle to these
latter. "I enjoy hard workand the harder you make minethe
better I like it."

Then make it easy for her!growled the man upon the floor. "I
wants it doneand 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 a-going 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? Yesshe IS a-washin. Look at the water.
Smell it! That's wot we drinks. How do you like itand what do
you think of gin instead! An't my place dirty? Yesit is dirty-



it's nat'rally dirtyand it's nat'rally onwholesome; and we've had
five dirty and onwholesome childrenas is all dead infantsand so
much the better for themand for us besides. Have I read the
little book wot you left? NoI an't read the little book wot you
left. There an't nobody here as knows how to read it; and if there
wosit 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 dollI shouldn't
nuss it. How have I been conducting of myself? WhyI'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? NoI don't never
mean for to go to church. I shouldn't be expected thereif I did;
the beadle's too gen-teel for me. And how did my wife get that
black eye? WhyI give it her; and if she says I didn'tshe's a
lie!"

He had pulled his pipe out of his mouth to say all thisand he now
turned over on his other side and smoked again. Mrs. Pardiggle
who had been regarding him through her spectacles with a forcible
composurecalculatedI could not help thinkingto increase his
antagonismpulled out a good book as if it were a constable's
staff and took the whole family into custody. I mean into
religious custodyof 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 placeand 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 whateverexcept when the young man
made the dog barkwhich 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 removedwe did not
knowbut we knew that. Even what she read and said seemed to us
to be ill-chosen for such auditorsif 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 referredwe acqulred a knowledge of
it afterwardsand Mr. Jarndyce said he doubted if Robinson Crusoe
could have read itthough he had had no other on his desolate
island.

We were much relievedunder these circumstanceswhen Mrs.
Pardiggle left off.

The man on the floorthen turning his bead round againsaid
moroselyWell! You've done, have you?

For 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 demonstrative cheerfulness.

So long as you goes now,said hefolding his arms and shutting
his eyes with an oathyou 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 handand telling the others
to follow closelyand expressing her hope that the brickmaker and
all his house would be improved when she saw them nextshe then
proceeded to another cottage. I hope it is not unkind in me to say
that she certainly did makein this as in everything elsea 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 herbut as soon as the space
was left clearwe 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
handas though she wished to separate any association with noise
and violence and ill treatment from the poor little child.

Adawhose gentle heart was moved by its appearancebent down to
touch its little face. As she did soI saw what happened and drew
her back. The child died.

Oh, Esther!cried Adasinking on her knees beside it. "Look
here! OhEsthermy lovethe little thing! The suffering
quietpretty 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!
Ohbabybaby!"

Such compassionsuch gentlenessas 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 lapdid what I could to
make the baby's rest the prettier and gentlerlaid it on a shelf
and covered it with my own handkerchief. We tried to comfort the
motherand we whispered to her what Our Saviour said of children.
She answered nothingbut sat weeping--weeping very much.

When I turnedI found that the young man had taken out the dog and
was standing at the door looking in upon us with dry eyesbut
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 defiancebut he was silent.

An ugly womanvery poorly clothedhurried in while I was glancing
at themand coming straight up to the mothersaidJenny!
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 herbut the grace of sympathy; but when
she condoled with the womanand her own tears fellshe wanted no
beauty. I say condoledbut her only words were "Jenny! Jenny!"
All the rest was in the tone in which she said them.

I thought it very touching to see these two womencoarse and
shabby and beatenso united; to see what they could be to one
another; to see how they felt for one anotherhow 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 knownexcepting 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 doorand finding that
there was scarcely room for us to passwent out before us. He
seemed to want to hide that he did this on our accountbut we
perceived that be didand thanked him. He made no answer.

Ada was so full of grief all the way homeand Richardwhom we


found at homewas so distressed to see her in tears (though he
said to mewhen she was not presenthow 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. Jarndycebut the wind changed directly.

Richard accompanied us at night to the scene of our morning
expedition. On our way therewe had to pass a noisy drinking-
housewhere a number of men were flocking about the door. Among
themand prominent in some disputewas the father of the little
child. At a short distancewe 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 doorwe found the
woman who had brought such consolation with her standing there
looking anxiously out.

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

Do you mean your husband?said I.

Yes, miss, my master. Jennys 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 usshe 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 afreshand
washedand neatly dressed in some fragments of white linen; and on
my handkerchiefwhich still covered the poor babya little bunch
of sweet herbs had been laid by the same roughscarred handsso
lightlyso tenderly!

May heaven reward you!we said to her. "You are a good woman."

Me, young ladies?she returned with surprise. "Hush! 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 thoughtwhen 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 unconscious of her presentlywhen we had taken
leaveand left her at the doorby turns lookingand listening in
terror for herselfand saying in her old soothing mannerJenny,
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 peopleand I try to think
about myself as little as possibleand I am surewhen I find
myself coming into the story againI am really vexed and say
Dear, 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 togetherand workedand practisedand
found so much employment for our time that the winter days flew by
us like bright-winged birds. Generally in the afternoonsand
always in the eveningsRichard gave us his company. Although he
was one of the most restless creatures in the worldhe certainly
was very fond of our society.

He was veryveryvery fond of Ada. I mean itand I had better
say it at once. I had never seen any young people falling in love
beforebut I found them out quite soon. I could not say soof
courseor show that I knew anything about it. On the contraryI
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 quietand
I was as quiet as a mouse. They were as quiet as mice tooso far
as any words were concernedbut 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.

Our dear little old woman is such a capital old woman,Richard
would saycoming up to meet me in the garden earlywith his
pleasant laugh and perhaps the least tinge of a blushthat 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!

You know, Dame Durden, dear,Ada would say at nightwith her
head upon my shoulder and the firelight shining in her thoughtful
eyesI 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 nowand there was some talk of gratifying the
inclination of his childhood for the sea. Mr. Jarndyce had written
to a relation of the familya great Sir Leicester Dedlockfor his
interest in Richard's favourgenerally; 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 powerwhich was not at all probableand 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.


So I apprehend it's pretty clear,said Richard to methat 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
flaggedRichard had a carelessness in his character that quite
perplexed meprincipally because he mistook itin such a very odd
wayfor 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 amounteither from Mr. Skimpole
himself or from Coavinsesand 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
poundsand the number of times he talked to me as if he had saved
or realized that amountwould form a sum in simple addition.

My prudent Mother Hubbard, why not?he said to me when he wanted
without the least considerationto bestow five pounds on the
brickmaker. "I made ten poundsclearout of Coavinses'
business."

How was that?said I.

Why, 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?

No,said I.

Very well! Then I came into possession of ten pounds--

The same ten pounds,I hinted.

That has nothing to do with it!returned Richard. "I have got
ten pounds more than I expected to haveand consequently I can
afford to spend it without being particular."

In exactly the same waywhen 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.

Let me see!he would say. "I saved five pounds out of the
brickmaker's affairso if I have a good rattle to London and back
in a post-chaise and put that down at four poundsI shall have
saved one. And it's a very good thing to save onelet 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 braveand in the midst of all
his wild restlessnesswas 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 companionsalways so ready to
be interested and always so happysanguineand light-hearted.
am sure that Isitting with themand walking with themand
talking with themand noticing from day to day how they went on
falling deeper and deeper in loveand saying nothing about itand
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 waywhen one morning at breakfast Mr.
Jarndyce received a letterand looking at the superscription
saidFrom Boythorn? Aye, aye!and opened and read it with
evident pleasureannouncing to us in a parenthesis when he was
about half-way throughthat Boythorn was "coming down" on a visit.
Now who was Boythornwe all thought. And I dare say we all
thought too--I am sure I didfor one--would Boythorn at all
interfere with what was going forward?

I went to school with this fellow, Lawrence Boythorn,said Mr.
Jarndycetapping the letter as he laid it on the tablemore 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.

In stature, sir?asked Richard.

Pretty well, Rick, in that respect,said Mr. Jarndyce; "being
some ten years older than I and a couple of inches tallerwith his
head thrown back like an old soldierhis stalwart chest squared
his hands like a clean blacksmith'sand his lungs! There's no
simile for his lungs. Talkinglaughingor snoringthey make the
beams of the house shake."

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

But it's the inside of the man, the warm heart of the man, the
passion 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. "His language is as sounding as his voice.
He is always in extremesperpetually in the superlative degree.
In his condemnation he is all ferocity. You might suppose him to
be an ogre from what he saysand 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
protectionfor 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, will be here this afternoonmy dear."

I took care that the necessary preparations were made for Mr.
Boythorn's receptionand we looked forward to his arrival with
some curiosity. The afternoon wore awayhoweverand he did not
appear. The dinner-hour arrivedand still he did not appear. The
dinner was put back an hourand 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 wordsuttered with the greatest
vehemence and in a stentorian tone: "We have been misdirected
Jarndyceby a most abandoned ruffianwho 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 villainever to have such a son. I
would have had that fellow shot without the least remorse!"

Did he do it on purpose?Mr. Jarndyce inquired.


I have not the slightest doubt that the scoundrel has passed his
whole existence in misdirecting travellers!returned the other.
By 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!

Teeth, you mean?said Mr. Jarndyce.

Ha, ha, ha!laughed Mr. Lawrence Boythornreally making the
whole house vibrate. "Whatyou have not forgotten it yet! Ha
haha! And that was another most consummate vagabond! By my
soulthe countenance of that fellow when he was a boy was the
blackest image of perfidycowardiceand cruelty ever set up as a
scarecrow in a field of scoundrels. If I were to meet that most
unparalleled despot in the streets to-morrowI would fell him like
a rotten tree!"

I have no doubt of it,said Mr. Jarndyce. "Nowwill you come
upstairs?"

By my soul, Jarndyce,returned his guestwho seemed to refer to
his watchif 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.

Not quite so far, I hope?said Mr. Jarndyce.

By my life and honour, yes!cried the visitor. "I 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 thusthey went upstairsand presently we heard him in his
bedroom thundering "Hahaha!" and again "Hahaha!" 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 favourfor there was a
sterling quality in this laughand in his vigoroushealthy voice
and in the roundness and fullness with which he uttered every word
he spokeand in the very fury of his superlativeswhich 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 heada fine composure of face when silenta
figure that might have become corpulent but for his being so
continually in earnest that he gave it no restand 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 mannerso chivalrously politehis
face was lighted by a smile of so much sweetness and tenderness
and it seemed so plain that he had nothing to hidebut showed
himself exactly as he was--incapableas Richard saidof anything
on a limited scaleand 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 meor was led by Mr.
Jarndyce into some great volley of superlativesor threw up his
head like a bloodhound and gave out that tremendous "Hahaha!"


You have brought your bird with you, I suppose?said Mr.
Jarndyce.

By heaven, he is the most astonishing bird in Europe!replied the
other. "He 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 isin sense and
attachmenta 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 canarywho was so
tame that he was brought down by Mr. Boythorn's manon his
forefingerand 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 sentimentswith this
fragile mite of a creature quietly perched on his foreheadwas to
have a good illustration of his characterI thought.

By my soul, Jarndyce,he saidvery gently holding up a bit of
bread to the canary to peck atif 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.)

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

There never was such an infernal cauldron as that Chancery on the
face of the earth!said Mr. Boythorn. "Nothing but a mine below
it on a busy day in term timewith all its recordsrulesand
precedents collected in it and every functionary belonging to it
alsohigh and lowupward and downwardfrom its son the
Accountant-General to its father the Deviland the whole blown to
atoms with ten thousand hundredweight of gunpowderwould 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 laughedhe
threw up his head and shook his broad chestand again the whole
country seemed to echo to his "Hahaha!" It had not the least
effect in disturbing the birdwhose sense of security was complete
and who hopped about the table with its quick head now on this side
and now on thatturning its bright sudden eye on its master as if
he were no more than another bird.

But how do you and your neighbour get on about the disputed right
of way?said Mr. Jarndyce. "You are not free from the toils of
the law yourself!"

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

Complimentary to our distant relation!said my guardian
laughingly to Ada and Richard.

I would beg Miss Clare's pardon and Mr. Carstone's pardon,


resumed our visitorif 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.

Or he keeps us,suggested Richard.

By my soul,exclaimed Mr. Boythornsuddenly firing another
volleythat 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 Leicester 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 pathway, 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 construct 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 insupportable 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 energyone might have
thought him the angriest of mankind. To see him at the very same
timelooking at the bird now perched upon his thumb and softly
smoothing its feathers with his forefingerone might have thought
him the gentlest. To hear him laugh and see the broad good nature
of his face thenone might have supposed that he had not a care in
the worldor a disputeor a dislikebut that his whole existence
was a summer joke.

No, no,he saidno closing up of my paths by any Dedlock!
Though I willingly confess,here he softened in a momentthat
Lady Dedlock 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!

Nor the man to allow his junior to be walked over either?said my
guardian.

Most assuredly not!said Mr. Boythornclapping him on the


shoulder with an air of protection that had something serious in
itthough he laughed. "He will stand by the low boyalways.
Jarndyceyou 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?"

I think not, Esther?said Mr. Jarndyce.

Nothing, guardian.

Much obliged!said Mr. Boythorn. "Had no need to askafter even
my slight experience of Miss Summerson's forethought for every one
about her." (They all encouraged me; they were determined to do
it.) "I inquired becausecoming from LincolnshireI of course
have not yet been in townand 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 eveningwhich passed very
pleasantlycontemplate 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
musicfor his face showed it--that I asked my guardian as we sat
at the backgammon board whether Mr. Boythorn had ever been married.

No,said he. "No."

But he meant to be!said I.

How did you find out that?he returned with a smile. "Why
guardian I explained, not without reddening a little at hazarding
what was in my thoughts, there is something so tender in his
mannerafter alland he is so very courtly and gentle to usand
--"

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

I said no more.

You are right, little woman,he answered. "He was all but
married once. Long ago. And once."

Did the lady die?

No--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?

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

He has never since been what he might have been,said Mr.
Jarndyceand 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 feltfrom my guardian's mannerthat beyond this point I could
not pursue the subject without changing the wind. I therefore
forbore to ask any further questions. I was interestedbut not
curious. I thought a little while about this old love story in the
nightwhen I was awakened by Mr. Boythorn's lusty snoring; and I


tried to do that very difficult thingimagine old people young
again and invested with the graces of youth. But I fell asleep
before I had succeededand 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 morning there came a letter from Messrs. Kenge and Carboy
to Mr. Boythorn 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
billsand added up my booksand made all the household affairs as
compact as possibleI remained at home while Mr. JarndyceAdaand
Richard took advantage of a very fine day to make a little
excursionMr. Boythorn 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 businessexamining tradesmen's booksadding
up columnspaying moneyfiling receiptsand 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-officeand I was
glad to see himbecause he was associated with my present
happiness.

I scarcely knew him againhe was so uncommonly smart. He had an
entirely new suit of glossy clothes ona shining hatlilac-kid
glovesa neckerchief of a variety of coloursa large hot-house
flower in his button-holeand a thick gold ring on his little
finger. Besides whichhe 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 cornerand I asked him if he had had a
pleasant rideand hoped that Mr. Kenge was wellI never looked at
himbut I found him looking at me in the same scrutinizing and
curious way.

When the request was brought to him that he would go up-stairs to
Mr. Boythorn's roomI mentioned that he would find lunch prepared
for him when he came downof which Mr. Jarndyce hoped he would
partake. He said with some embarrassmentholding the handle of the
door'"Shall I have the honour of finding you heremiss?" I
replied yesI should be there; and he went out with a bow and
another look.

I thought him only awkward and shyfor he was evidently much
embarrassed; 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 broughtbut it remained
for some time on the table. The interview with Mr. Boythorn was a
long oneand a stormy one tooI should thinkfor although his
room was at some distance I heard his loud voice rising every now
and then like a high windand evidently blowing perfect broadsides
of denunciation.

At last Mr. Guppy came backlooking something the worse for the
conference. "My eyemiss he said in a low voice, he's a
Tartar!"

Pray take some refreshment, sir,said I.

Mr. Guppy sat down at the table and began nervously sharpening the
carving-knife on the carving-forkstill looking at me (as I felt
quite sure without looking at him) in the same unusual manner. The


sharpening 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 labourof not being able to leave off.

He immediately looked at the dish and began to carve.

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

No, thank you,said I.

Shan't I give you a piece of anything at all, miss?said Mr.
Guppyhurriedly drinking off a glass of wine.

Nothing, thank you,said I. "I have only waited to see that you
have everything you want. Is there anything I can order for you?"

No, 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 wineone after
another.

I thought I had better go.

I beg your pardon, miss!said Mr. Guppyrising when he saw me
rise. "But would you allow me the favour of a minute's private
conversation?"

Not knowing what to sayI sat down again.

What follows is without prejudice, miss?said Mr. Guppyanxiously
bringing a chair towards my table.

I don't understand what you mean,said Iwondering.

It'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.

I am at a loss, sir,said Ito imagine what you can have to
communicate in total confidence to me, whom you have never seen but
once; but I should be very sorry to do you any injury.

Thank 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 tightly rubbing the palm of his left hand with the
palm of his right. "If you would excuse my taking another glass of
winemissI think it might assist me in getting on without a
continual choke that cannot fail to be mutually unpleasant."

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

You wouldn't allow me to offer you one, would you miss?said Mr.
Guppyapparently refreshed.

Not any,said I.

Not half a glass?said Mr. Guppy. "Quarter? No! Thento
proceed. My present salaryMiss Summersonat Kenge and Carboy's
is two pound a week. When I first had the happiness of looking upon
youit was one fifteenand had stood at that figure for a


lengthened period. A rise of five has since taken placeand 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 propertywhich takes the form of a small life annuityupon
which she lives in an independent though unassuming manner in the
Old Street Road. She is eminently calculated for a mother-in-law.
She never interferesis all for peaceand her disposition easy.
She has her failings--as who has not?--but I never knew her do it
when company was presentat which time you may freely trust her
with winesspiritsor malt liquors. My own abode is lodgings at
Penton PlacePentonville. It is lowlybut airyopen at the back
and considered one of the 'ealthiest outlets. Miss Summerson! In
the mildest languageI 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 saidGet up from that ridiculous position
lmmediately, sir, or you will oblige me to break my implied promise
and ring the bell!

Hear me out, miss!said Mr. Guppyfolding his hands.

I cannot consent to hear another word, sir,I returnedUnless
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 piteouslybut slowly rose and did so.

Yet 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
trayto be stationed behind food at such a moment. The soul
recoils from food at such a moment, miss.

I beg you to conclude,said I; "you have asked me to hear you out
and I beg you to conclude."

I will, miss,said Mr. Guppy. "As I love and honourso likewise
I obey. Would that I could make thee the subject of that vow before
the shrine!"

That is quite impossible,said Iand entirely out of the
question.

I am aware,said Mr. Guppyleaning forward over the tray and
regarding meas I again strangely feltthough my eyes were not
directed to himwith his late intent lookI 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?
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 himif he pleasedto
go away immediately.

Cruel miss,said Mr. Guppyhear 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 today,
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.

I should be pained, Mr. Guppy,said Irising and putting my hand
upon the bell-ropeto do you or any one who was sincere the
injustice of slighting any honest feeling, however disagreeably
expressed. If you have really meant to give me a proof of your good
opinion, though ill-timed 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 addedwithout very well knowing what I
saidthat you will now go away as if you had never been so
exceedingly foolish and attend to Messrs. Kenge and Carboy's
business.

Half a minute, miss!cried Mr. Guppychecking me as I was about
to ring. "This has been without prejudice?"

I will never mention it,said Iunless you should give me future
occasion to do so.

A 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 bellthe servant cameand Mr. Guppylaying his written
card upon the table and making a dejected bowdeparted. Raising my
eyes as he went outI once more saw him looking at me after he had
passed the door.

I sat there for another hour or morefinishing my books and
payments and getting through plenty of business. Then I arranged my
deskand put everything awayand was so composed and cheerful that
I thought I had quite dismissed this unexpected incident. Butwhen
I went upstairs to my own roomI surprised myself by beginning to
laugh about it and then surprised myself still more by beginning to
cry about it. In shortI 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 dolllong buried in the
garden.

CHAPTER X

The Law-Writer

On the eastern borders of Chancery Lanethat is to saymore
particularly in Cook's CourtCursitor StreetMr. Snagsbylaw-
stationerpursues his lawful calling. In the shade of Cook's
Courtat most times a shady placeMr. Snagsby has dealt in all
sorts of blank forms of legal process; in skins and rolls of
parchment; in paper--foolscapbriefdraftbrownwhitewhitey



brownand blotting; in stamps; in office-quillspensinkIndia-
rubberpouncepinspencilssealing-waxand wafers; in red tape
and green ferret; in pocket-booksalmanacsdiariesand law lists;
in string boxesrulersinkstands--glass and leaden--pen-knives
scissorsbodkinsand other small office-cutlery; in shortin
articles too numerous to mentionever since he was out of his time
and went into partnership with Peffer. On that occasionCook's
Court was in a manner revolutionized by the new inscription in fresh
paintPEFFER AND SNAGSBYdisplacing the time-honoured and not
easily to be deciphered legend PEFFER only. For smokewhich is the
London ivyhad 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
churchyard of St. AndrewsHolbornwith 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 Streetwhose ideas of daylight it would be curious to
ascertainsince he knows from his personal observation next to
nothing about it--if Peffer ever do revisit the pale glimpses of
Cook's Courtwhich no law-stationer in the trade can positively
denyhe comes invisiblyand no one is the worse or wiser.

In his lifetimeand likewise in the period of Snagsby's "time" of
seven long yearsthere dwelt with Peffer in the same lawstationering
premises a niece--a shortshrewd niecesomething too
violently compressed about the waistand with a sharp nose like a
sharp autumn eveninginclining to be frosty towards the end. The
Cook's Courtiers had a rumour flying among them that the mother of
this niece didin her daughter's childhoodmoved by too jealous a
solicitude that her figure should approach perfectionlace her up
every morning with her maternal foot against the bed-post for a
stronger hold and purchase; and furtherthat she exhibited
internally pints of vinegar and lemon-juicewhich acidsthey held
had mounted to the nose and temper of the patient. With whichsoever
of the many tongues of Rumour this frothy report originatedit
either never reached or never influenced the ears of young Snagsby
whohaving wooed and won its fair subject on his arrival at man's
estateentered into two partnerships at once. So nowin Cook's
CourtCursitor StreetMr. Snagsby and the niece are one; and the
niece still cherishes her figurewhichhowever 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 fleshbutto
the neighbours' thinkingone voice too. That voiceappearing to
proceed from Mrs. Snagsby aloneis heard in Cook's Court very
often. Mr. Snagsbyotherwise than as he finds expression through
these dulcet tonesis rarely heard. He is a mildbaldtimid 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 cloudsor stands behind a desk in his dark shop
with a heavy flat rulersnipping and slicing at sheepskin in
company with his two 'prenticeshe is emphatically a retiring and
unassuming man. From beneath his feetat such timesas from a
shrill ghost unquiet in its gravethere frequently arise
complainings and lamentations in the voice already mentioned; and
haplyon some occasions when these reach a sharper pitch than
usualMr. Snagsby mentions to the 'prenticesI think my little
woman is a-giving it to Guster!


This proper nameso used by Mr. Snagsbyhas before now sharpened
the wit of the Cook's Courtiers to remark that it ought to be the
name of Mrs. Snagsbyseeing that she might with great force and
expression be termed a Gusterin compliment to her stormy
character. It ishoweverthe possessionand the only possession
except fifty shillings per annum and a very small box indifferently
filled with clothingof a lean young woman from a workhouse (by
some supposed to have been christened Augusta) whoalthough she was
farmed or contracted for during her growing time by an amiable
benefactor of his species resident at Tootingand cannot fail to
have been developed under the most favourable circumstanceshas
fits,which the parish can't account for.

Gusterreally aged three or four and twentybut looking a round
ten years oldergoes cheap with this unaccountable drawback of
fitsand is so apprehensive of being returned on the hands of her
patron saint that except when she is found with her head in the
pailor the sinkor the copperor the dinneror anything else
that happens to be near her at the time of her seizureshe is
always at work. She is a satisfaction to the parents and guardians
of the 'prenticeswho feel that there is little danger of her
inspiring tender emotions in the breast of youth; she is a
satisfaction to Mrs. Snagsbywho can always find fault with her;
she is a satisfaction to Mr. Snagsbywho thinks it a charity to
keep her. The law-stationer's establishment isin Guster's eyesa
temple of plenty and splendour. She believes the little drawing-
room upstairsalways keptas one may saywith its hair in papers
and its pinafore onto 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 moneyreproaches the
tax-gatherersappoints the times and places of devotion on Sundays
licenses Mr. Snagsby's entertainmentsand acknowledges no
responsibility 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 sidesand
even out in Holbornwho in any domestic passages of arms habitually
call upon their husbands to look at the difference between their
(the wives') position and Mrs. Snagsby'sand their (the husbands')
behaviour and Mr. Snagsby's. Rumouralways flying bat-like about
Cook's Court and skimming in and out at everybody's windowsdoes
say that Mrs. Snagsby is jealous and inquisitive and that Mr.
Snagsby is sometimes worried out of house and homeand 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 reality 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 correction. But these vague whisperings may arise
from Mr. Snagsby's being in his way rather a meditative and poetical
manloving to walk in Staple Inn in the summer-time and to observe
how countrified the sparrows and the leaves arealso 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 chapelhe'll be boundif you was to


dig for it. He solaces his imaginationtooby thinking of the
many Chancellors and Vicesand 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 "as clear as
crystial" once ran right down the middle of Holbornwhen Turnstile
really was a turnstileleading 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 lightedbut is not yet fully
effectivefor it is not quite dark. Mr. Snagsby standing at his
shop-door 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
Lincoln's Inn Fields.

Herein a large houseformerly a house of statelives Mr.
Tulkinghorn. It is let off in sets of chambers nowand in those
shrunken fragments of its greatnesslawyers lie like maggots in
nuts. But its roomy staircasespassagesand antechambers still
remain; and even its painted ceilingswhere Allegoryin Roman
helmet and celestial linensprawls among balustrades and pillars
flowerscloudsand big-legged boysand makes the head ache--as
would seem to be Allegory's object alwaysmore or less. Here
among his many boxes labelled with transcendent nameslives Mr.
Tulkinghornwhen 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 atso is his apartment in the dusk of the
present afternoon. Rustyout of datewithdrawing from attention
able to afford it. Heavybroad-backedold-fashionedmahogany-
and-horsehair chairsnot 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 sitsattended 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 tbe inkstand top
is in the middlenow the red bit of sealing-waxnow the black bit.
That's not it. Mr. Tulkinghorn must gather them all up and begin
again.

Herebeneath the painted ceilingwith foreshortened Allegory
staring down at his intrusion as if it meant to swoop upon himand
he cutting it deadMr. Tulkinghorn has at once his house and
office. He keeps no staffonly one middle-aged manusually a
little out at elbowswho 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
confidencesnot 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 bitthe black bitthe inkstand topthe other inkstand


topthe little sand-box. So! You to the middleyou to the right
you to the left. This train of indecision must surely be worked out
now or never. Now! Mr. Tulkinghorn gets upadjusts his
spectaclesputs on his hatputs the manuscript in his pocketgoes
outtells the middle-aged man out at elbowsI shall be back
presently.Very rarely tells him anything more explicit.

Mr. Tulkinghorn goesas the crow came--not quite so straightbut
nearly--to Cook's CourtCursitor Street. To Snagsby'sLawStationer's
Deeds engrossed and copiedLaw-Writing executed in all
its branches&c.&c.&c.

It is somewhere about five or six o'clock in the afternoonand a
balmy fragrance of warm tea hovers in Cook's Court. It hovers about
Snagsby'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.

Master at home?

Guster is minding the shopfor the 'prentices take tea in the
kitchen with Mr. and Mrs. Snagsby; consequentlythe robe-maker's
two daughterscombing their curls at the two glasses in the two
second-floor windows of the opposite houseare not driving the two
'prentices to distraction as they fondly supposebut are merely
awakening the unprofitable admiration of Gusterwhose hair won't
growand never wouldand it is confidently thoughtnever will.

Master at home?says Mr. Tulkinghorn.

Master is at homeand Guster will fetch him. Guster disappears
glad to get out of the shopwhich she regards with mingled dread
and veneration 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 appearsgreasywarmherbaceousand chewing. Bolts a
bit of bread and butter. SaysBless my soul, sir! Mr.
Tulkinghorn!

I want half a word with you, Snagsby.

Certainly, 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 roomstrong of parchment-greaseis warehouse
counting-houseand copying-office. Mr. Tulkinghorn sitsfacing
roundon a stool at the desk.

Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Snagsby.

Yes, sir.Mr. Snagsby turns up the gas and coughs behind his
handmodestly anticipating profit. Mr. Snagsbyas a timid manis
accustomed to cough with a variety of expressionsand so to save
words.

You copied some affidavits in that cause for me lately.

Yes, sir, we did.

There was one of them,says Mr. Tulkinghorncarelessly feeling-tight
unopenable oyster of the old school!--in the wrong coat



pocketthe 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.

'"Who copied thissir?" says Mr. Snagsbytaking itlaying it flat
on the deskand separating all the sheets at once with a twirl and
a twist of the left hand peculiar to lawstationers. "We gave this
outsir. We were giving out rather a large quantity of work just
at that time. I can tell you in a moment who copied itsirby
referring to my book."

Mr. Snagsby takes his book down from the safemakes another bolt of
the bit of bread and butter which seemed to have stopped shorteyes
the affidavit asideand brings his right forefinger travelling down
a page of the bookJewby--Packer--Jarndyce.

Jarndyce! Here we are, sir,says Mr. Snagsby. "To be sure! I
might have remembered it. This was given outsirto a writer who
lodges just over on the opposite side of the lane."

Mr. Tulkinghorn has seen the entryfound it before the law-
stationerread it while the forefinger was coming down the hill.

WHAT do you call him? Nemo?says Mr. Tulkinghorn. "Nemosir.
Here it is. Forty-two folio. Given out on the Wednesday night at
eight o'clockbrought in on the Thursday morning at half after
nine."

Nemo!repeats Mr. Tulkinghorn. "Nemo is Latin for no one."

It must be English for some one, sir, I think,Mr. Snagsby submits
with his deferential cough. "It is a person's name. Here it is
you seesir! Forty-two folio. Given out Wednesday nighteight
o'clock; brought in Thursday morninghalf 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. Snagsbyas who should sayMy dear, a customer!

Half after nine, sir,repeats Mr. Snagsby. "Our law-writerswho
live by job-workare a queer lot; and this may not be his namebut
it's the name he goes by. I remember nowsirthat he gives it in
a written advertisement he sticks up down at the Rule Officeand
the King's Bench Officeand the Judges' Chambersand so forth.
You know the kind of documentsir--wanting employ?"

Mr. Tulkinghorn glances through the little window at the back of
Coavinses'the sheriff's officer'swhere lights shine in
Coavinses' windows. Coavinses' coffee-room is at the backand 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: "Tul-king-horn-rich--
in-flu-en-tial!"

Have you given this man work before?asks Mr. Tulkinghorn.

Oh, dear, yes, sir! Work of yours.

Thinking of more important matters, I forget where you said he
lived?


Across the lane, sir. In fact, he lodges at a--Mr. Snagsby makes
another boltas if the bit of bread and buffer were insurmountable
--at a rag and bottle shop.

Can you show me the place as I go back?

With the greatest pleasure, sir!

Mr. Snagsby pulls off his sleeves and his grey coatpulls on his
black coattakes his hat from its peg. "Oh! Here is my little
woman!" he says aloud. "My dearwill 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. Snagsbysir--I shan't be two minutesmy
love!"

Mrs. Snagsby bends to the lawyerretires behind the counterpeeps
at them through the window-blindgoes softly into the back office
refers to the entries in the book still lying open. Is evidently
curious.

You will find that the place is rough, sir,says Mr. Snagsby
walking deferentially in the road and leaving the narrow pavement to
the lawyer; "and the party is very rough. But they're a wild lot in
generalsir. The advantage of this particular man is that he never
wants sleep. He'll go at it right on end if you want him toas
long as ever you like."

It is quite dark nowand 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 dinnerand against
plaintiffs and defendants and suitors of all sortsand against the
general crowdin 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 equityand
through that kindred mysterythe street mudwhich 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 merchandiselying and being in the shadow of the wall
of Lincoln's Innand keptas is announced in paintto all whom it
may concernby one Krook.

This is where he lives, sir,says the law-stationer.

This is where he lives, is it?says the lawyer unconcernedly.
Thank you.

Are you not going in, sir?

No, 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 wayturns backcomes again to the shop of Mr. Krook
and enters it straight. It is dim enoughwith a blot-headed candle
or so in the windowsand an old man and a cat sitting in the back
part by a fire. The old man rises and comes forwardwith another
blot-headed candle in his hand.

Pray is your lodger within?

Male or female, sir?says Mr. Krook.


Male. The person who does copying.

Mr. Krook has eyed his man narrowly. Knows him by sight. Has an
indistinct impression of his aristocratic repute.

Did you wish to see him, sir?

Yes.

It's what I seldom do myself,says Mr. Krook with a grin. "Shall
I call him down? But it's a weak chance if he'd comesir!"

I'll go up to him, then,says Mr. Tulkinghorn.

Second floor, sir. Take the candle. Up there!Mr. Krookwith
his cat beside himstands at the bottom of the staircaselooking
after Mr. Tulkinghorn. "Hi-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.

Order, Lady Jane! Behave yourself to visitors, my lady! You know
what they say of my lodger?whispers Krookgoing up a step or two.

What do they say of him?

They 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 knocksreceives no answeropens 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 roomnearly black with sootand grease
and dirt. In the rusty skeleton of a gratepinched at the middle
as if poverty had gripped ita red coke fire burns low. In the
corner by the chimney stand a deal table and a broken deska
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 neededfor it collapses like the cheeks
of a starved man. The floor is bareexcept that one old mat
trodden to shreds of rope-yarnlies perishing upon the hearth. No
curtain veils the darkness of the nightbut the discoloured
shutters are drawn togetherand through the two gaunt holes pierced
in themfamine might be staring in--the banshee of the man upon the
bed.

Foron a low bed opposite the firea confusion of dirty patchwork
lean-ribbed tickingand coarse sackingthe lawyerhesitating just
within the doorwaysees a man. He lies theredressed in shirt and
trouserswith 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 raggedmingling with his
whiskers and his beard--the latterragged tooand grownlike the
scum and mist around himin neglect. Foul and filthy as the room
isfoul and filthy as the air isit is not easy to perceive what
fumes those are which most oppress the senses in it; but through the
general sickliness and faintnessand the odour of stale tobacco
there comes into the lawyer's mouth the bittervapid taste of
opium.


Hallo, my friend!he criesand 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.

Hallo, my friend!he cries again. "Hallo! Hallo!"

As he rattles on the doorthe candle which has drooped so long goes
out and leaves him in the darkwith 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
irresolutemakes him start and sayWhat's that?

It's me,returns the old man of the housewhose breath is in his
ear. "Can't you wake him?"

No.

What have you done with your candle?

It's gone out. Here it is.

Krook takes itgoes to the firestoops over the red embersand
tries to get a light. The dying ashes have no light to spareand
his endeavours are vain. Mutteringafter an ineffectual call to
his lodgerthat he will go downstairs and bring a lighted candle
from the shopthe old man departs. Mr. Tulkinghornfor some new
reason that he hasdoes not await his return in the roombut on
the stairs outside.

The welcome light soon shines upon the wallas Krook comes slowly
up with his green-eyed cat following at his heels. "Does the man
generally sleep like this?" inquired the lawyer in a low voice.
Hi! I don't know,says Krookshaking his head and lifting his
eyebrows. "I know next to nothing of his habits except that he
keeps himself very close."

Thus whisperingthey both go in together. As the light goes in
the great eyes in the shuttersdarkeningseem to close. Not so
the eyes upon the bed.

God save us!exclaims Mr. Tulkinghorn. "He 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.

Send for some doctor! Call for Miss Flite up the stairs, sir.
Here's poison by the bed! Call out for Flite, will you?says
Krookwith his lean hands spread out above the body like a
vampire's wings.

Mr. Tulkinghorn hurries to the landing and callsMiss Flite!
Flite! Make haste, here, whoever you are! Flite!Krook follows


him with his eyesand while he is callingfinds opportunity to
steal to the old portmanteau and steal back again.

Run, Flite, run! The nearest doctor! Run!So Mr. Krook
addresses a crazy little woman who is his female lodgerwho appears
and vanishes in a breathwho soon returns accompanied by a testy
medical man brought from his dinnerwith a broadsnuffy upper lip
and a broad Scotch tongue.

Ey! Bless the hearts o' ye,says the medical manlooking up at
them after a moment's examination. "He's just as dead as Phairy!"

Mr. Tulkinghorn (standing by the old portmanteau) inquires if he has
been dead any time.

Any time, sir?says the medical gentleman. "It's probable he wull
have been dead aboot three hours."

About that time, I should say,observes a dark young man on the
other side of the bed.

Air you in the maydickle prayfession yourself, sir?inquires the
first.

The dark young man says yes.

Then I'll just tak' my depairture,replies the otherfor 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-writerwho has established his
pretensions to his name by becoming indeed No one.

I knew this person by sight very well,says he. "He has purchased
opium of me for the last year and a half. Was anybody present
related to him?" glancing round upon the three bystanders.

I was his landlord,grimly answers Krooktaking the candle from
the surgeon's outstretched hand. "He told me once I was the nearest
relation he had."

He has died,says the surgeonof an over-dose of opium, there is
no doubt. The room is strongly flavoured with it. There is enough
here now,taking an old teapot from Mr. Krookto kill a dozen
people.

Do you think he did it on purpose?asks Krook.

Took the over-dose?

Yes!Krook almost smacks his lips with the unction of a horrible
interest.

I 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?

I suppose he was. His room--don't look rich,says Krookwho
might have changed eyes with his catas he casts his sharp glance
around. "But I have never been in it since he had itand he was
too close to name his circumstances to me."

Did he owe you any rent?


Six weeks.

He will never pay it!says the young manresuming his
examination. "It is beyond a doubt that he is indeed as dead as
Pharaoh; and to judge from his appearance and conditionI should
think it a happy release. Yet he must have been a good figure when
a youthand I dare saygood-looking." He says thisnot
unfeelinglywhile sitting on the bedstead's edge with his face
towards that other face and his hand upon the region of the heart.
I recollect once thinking there was something in his manner,
uncouth as it was, that denoted a fall in life. Was that so?he
continueslooking round.

Krook repliesYou 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
portmanteauwith his hands behind himequally removedto all
appearancefrom 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 impatiencenor
attention nor abstraction. He has shown nothing but his shell. As
easily might the tone of a delicate musical instrument be inferred
from its caseas the tone of Mr. Tulkinghorn from his case.

He now interposesaddressing the young surgeon in his unmoved
professional way.

I looked in here,he observesjust 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 womanwho has often seen him in courtand
whom he has often seenand who proposesin frightened dumb-show
to go for the law-stationer. "Suppose you do!"

While she is gonethe 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 standsevernear the old portmanteau.

Mr. Snagsby arrives hastily in his grey coat and his black sleeves.
Dear me, dear me,he says; "and it has come to thishas it!
Bless my soul!"

Can you give the person of the house any information about this
unfortunate creature, Snagsby?inquires Mr. Tulkinghorn. "He was
in arrears with his rentit seems. And he must be buriedyou
know."

Well, sir,says Mr. Snagsbycoughing his apologetic cough behind
his handI really don't know what advice I could offer, except
sending for the beadle.

I don't speak of advice,returns Mr. Tulkinghorn. "I could
advise--"


No one better, sir, I am sure,says Mr. Snagsbywith his
deferential cough.

I speak of affording some clue to his connexions, or to where he
came from, or to anything concerning him.

I assure you, sir,says Mr. Snagsby after prefacing his reply
with his cough of general propitiationthat I no more know where
he came from than I know--

Where 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 openlooking for somebody to speak next.

As to his connexions, sir,says Mr. Snagsbyif a person was to
say to me, Snagsbyhere's twenty thousand pound downready for
you in the Bank of England if you'll only name one of 'em' I
couldn't do itsir! About a year and a half ago--to the best of my
beliefat the time when he first came to lodge at the present rag
and bottle shop--"

That was the time!says Krook with a nod.

About a year and a half ago,says Mr. Snagsbystrengthenedhe
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. Snagsbywhich he always offers with a sort of
argumentative franknesshard 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 handand 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 bedas
much as to addI have no doubt my honourable friend would confirm
if he were in a condition to do it.

Hadn't you better see,says Mr. Tulkinghorn to Krookwhether he
had any papers that may enlighten you? There will be an inquest,
and you will be asked the question. You can read?

No, I can't,returns the old man with a sudden grin.

Snagsby,says Mr. Tulkinghornlook 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.

In the first place, here's an old portmanteau, sir,says Snagsby.

Ahto be sureso there is! Mr. Tulkinghorn does not appear to
have seen it beforethough he is standing so close to itand
though there is very little elseheaven knows.

The marine-store merchant holds the lightand 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 schoolwith his dull black breeches
tied with ribbons at the kneeshis large black waistcoathis long-
sleeved black coatand his wisp of limp white neckerchief tied in
the bow the peerage knows so wellstands in exactly the same place
and attitude.

There are some worthless articles of clothing in the old
portmanteau; there is a bundle of pawnbrokers' duplicatesthose
turnpike tickets on the road of poverty; there is a crumpled paper
smelling of opiumon which are scrawled rough memoranda--astook
such a dayso many grains; tooksuch another dayso many more-begun
some time agoas if with the intention of being regularly
continuedbut soon left off. There are a few dirty scraps of
newspapersall referring 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 practical suggestion after alland the
beadle must be called in.

So the little crazy lodger goes for the beadleand the rest come
out of the room. "Don't leave the cat there!" says the surgeon;
that won't do!Mr. Krook therefore drives her out before himand
she goes furtively downstairswinding her lithe tail and licking
her lips.

Good night!says Mr. Tulkinghornand goes home to Allegory and
meditation.

By this time the news has got into the court. Groups of its
inhabitants assemble to discuss the thingand the outposts of the
army of observation (principally boys) are pushed forward to Mr.
Krook's windowwhich they closely invest. A policeman has already
walked up to the roomand walked down again to the doorwhere he
stands like a toweronly condescending to see the boys at his base
occasionally; but whenever he does see themthey quail and fall
back. Mrs. Perkinswho has not been for some weeks on speaking
terms with Mrs. Piper in consequence for an unpleasantness
originating in young Perkins' having "fetched" young Piper "a
crack renews her friendly intercourse on this auspicious occasion.
The potboy at the corner, who is a privileged amateur, as possessing
official knowledge of life and having to deal with drunken men
occasionally, exchanges confidential communications with the
policeman and has the appearance of an impregnable youth,
unassailable by truncheons and unconfinable in station-houses.
People talk across the court out of window, and bare-headed scouts
come hurrying in from Chancery Lane to know what's the matter. The
general feeling seems to be that it's a blessing 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, 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 to-morrow 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 was 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 evenlng.

Wellgentlemen--" the coroner begins.

Silence there, will you!says the beadle. Not to the coroner
though it might appear so.

Well, gentlemen,resumes the coroner. "You are impanelled here to
inquire into the death of a certain man. Evidence will be given
before you as to the circumstances attending that deathand you
will give your verdict according to the--skittles; they must be
stoppedyou knowbeadle!--evidenceand not according to anything
else. The first thing to be done is to view the body."

Make way there!cries the beadle.

So they go out in a loose processionsomething after the manner of
a straggling funeraland make their inspection in Mr. Krook's back
second floorfrom 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 infirmitybut hopes to read in
print what "Mooneythe 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. A very eminent solicitor is in attendancegentlemen says
the coroner, whoI am informedwas accidentally present when
discovery of the death was madebut he could only repeat the
evidence you have already heard from the surgeonthe landlordthe
lodgerand the law-stationerand 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 Pipergentlemen. Married woman. NowMrs. Piperwhat
have you got to say about this?

WhyMrs. Piper has a good deal to saychiefly in parentheses and
without punctuationbut not much to tell. Mrs. Piper lives in the
court (which her husband is a cabinet-maker)and it has long been
well beknown 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 coroneris that boy here? Says the beadlenosirhe is
not here. Says the coronergo and fetch him then. In the absence
of the active and intelligentthe coroner converses with Mr.
Tulkinghorn.

Oh! Here's the boygentlemen!

Here he isvery muddyvery hoarsevery ragged. Nowboy! But
stop a minute. Caution. This boy must be put through a few
preliminary paces.

NameJo. 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
fatherno motherno friends. Never been to school. What's home?
Knows a broom's a broomand knows it's wicked to tell a lie. Don't
recollect who told him about the broom or about the liebut knows
both. Can't exactly say what'll be done to him arter he's dead if
he tells a lie to the gentlemen herebut believes it'll be
something wery bad to punish himand serve him right--and so he'll
tell the truth.


This won't do, gentlemen!says the coroner with a melancholy shake
of the head.

Don't you think you can receive his evidence, sir?asks an
attentive juryman.

Out of the question,says the coroner. "You have heard the boy.
'Can't exactly say' won't doyou know. We can't take THAT in a
court of justicegentlemen. It's terrible depravity. Put the boy
aside."

Boy put asideto the great edification of the audienceespecially
of Little Swillsthe comic vocalist.

Now. Is there any other witness? No other witness.

Very wellgentlemen! Here's a man unknownproved 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 suicideyou 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. Gentlemenyou
are discharged. Good afternoon.

While the coroner buttons his great-coatMr. 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 hethe boywas shivering in a doorway near his crossingthe
man turned to look at himand came backand having questioned him
and found that he had not a friend in the worldsaidNeither 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 nightand how he bore cold and hunger
and whether he ever wished to dieand similar strange questions.
That when the man had no moneyhe would say in passingI am as
poor as you to-day, Jo,but that when he had anyhe had always (as
the boy most heartily believes) been glad to give him some.
He was wery good to me,says the boywiping his eyes with his
wretched sleeve. "Wen 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
mehe wos!"

As he shuffles downstairsMr. Snagsbylying in wait for himputs
a half-crown in his hand. "If you ever see me coming past your
crossing with my little woman--I mean a lady--" says Mr. Snagsby
with his finger on his nosedon't allude to it!

For some little time the jurymen hang about the Sol's Arms
colloquially. In the sequelhalf-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
nightand top up with oysters. Little Swills is treated on several
hands. Being asked what he thinks of the proceedingscharacterizes
them (his strength lying in a slangular direction) as "a rummy
start." The landlord of the Sol's Armsfinding Little Swills so
popularcommends him highly to the jurymen and publicobserving
that for a song in character he don't know his equal and that that
man's character-wardrobe would fill a cart.


Thusgradually 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 chairis faced
(red-faced) by Little Swills; their friends rally round them and
support first-rate talent. In the zenith of the eveningLittle
Swills saysGentlemen, 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 inquestwith recreative intervals of piano-forte accompaniment
to the refrain: With his (the coroner's) tippy tol li dolltippy
tol lo dolltippy tol li dollDee!

The jingling piano at last is silentand 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 nestleda little childwith eyes
upraised to her loving faceand soft hand scarcely knowing how to
close upon the neck to which it creptwhat an impossibility the
vision would have seemed! Ohif in brighter days the now-
extinguished fire within him ever burned for one woman who held him
in her heartwhere is shewhile these ashes are above the ground!

It is anything but a night of rest at Mr. Snagsby'sin Cook's
Courtwhere Guster murders sleep by goingas 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
imaginationbut for Tooting and her patron saint. Be it what it
maynowit 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 kitchenpreceded by a flying Dutch
cheeseand fell into a fit of unusual durationwhich she only came
out of to go into anotherand anotherand so on through a chain of
fitswith short intervals betweenof which she has pathetically
availed herself by consuming them in entreaties to Mrs. Snagsby not
to give her warning "when 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, I thought you was deadI am sure!"

What question this enthusiastic fowl supposes he settles when he
strains himself to such an extentor why he should thus crow (so
men crow on various triumphant public occasionshowever) about what
cannot be of any moment to himis his affair. It is enough that
daylight comesmorning comesnoon comes.

Then the active and intelligentwho has got into the morning papers
as suchcomes with his pauper company to Mr. Krook's and bears off
the body of our dear brother here departed to a hemmed-in
churchyardpestiferous and obscenewhence malignant diseases are
communicated to the bodies of our dear brothers and sisters who have
not departedwhile 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
atthey bring our dear brother here departed to receive Christian
burial.


With houses looking onon every sidesave where a reeking little
tunnel of a court gives access to the iron gate--with every villainy
of life in action close on deathand every poisonous element of
death in action close on life--here they lower our dear brother down
a foot or twohere sow him in corruptionto be raised in
corruption: an avenging ghost at many a sick-bedsidea shameful
testimony to future ages how civilization and barbarism walked this
boastful island together.

Come nightcome darknessfor you cannot come too soon or stay too
long by such a place as this! Comestraggling lights into the
windows of the ugly houses; and you who do iniquity thereindo it
at least with this dread scene shut out! Comeflame of gas
burning so sullenly above the iron gateon which the poisoned air
deposits its witch-ointment slimy to the touch! It is well that you
should call to every passerbyLook 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 barsstands looking in for a little while.

It thenwith an old broom it carriessoftly sweeps the step and
makes the archway clean. It does so very busily and trimlylooks
in again a little whileand so departs.

Jois it thou? Wellwell! Though a rejected witnesswho "can'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: "He wos wery
good to mehe wos!"

CHAPTER XII

On the Watch

It has left off raining down in Lincolnshire at lastand 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 Englishbut 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 bargainthe broken arch of the bridge
in the park is mended; and the waternow retired within its proper
limits and again spanned gracefullymakes a figure in the prospect
from the house. The clearcold 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 cloudsand chases themand never catches themall
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 Ladyover the great chimney-
pieceit 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 windmy Lady and
Sir Leicesterin 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-crackingand many plunging
demonstrations on the part of two bare-backed horses and two
centaurs with glazed hatsjack-bootsand 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 queenoff by the Place of Concordand the
Elysian Fieldsand the Gate of the Starout of Paris.

Sooth to saythey cannot go away too fastfor even here my Lady
Dedlock has been bored to death. Concertassemblyoperatheatre
drivenothing is new to my Lady under the worn-out heavens. Only
last Sundaywhen poor wretches were gay--within the walls playing
with children among the clipped trees and the statues in the Palace
Garden; walkinga score abreastin the Elysian Fieldsmade more
Elysian by performing dogs and wooden horses; between whiles
filtering (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 dancinglove-makingwine-drinkingtobacco-smoking
tomb-visitingbilliard card and domino playingquack-doctoring
and much murderous refuseanimate and inanimate--only last Sunday
my Ladyin the desolation of Boredom and the clutch of Giant
Despairalmost hated her own maid for being in spirits.

She cannotthereforego too fast from Paris. Weariness of soul
lies before heras it lies behind--her Ariel has put a girdle of it
round the whole earthand 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 distancethenexchanging
it for endless avenues and cross-avenues of wintry trees! Andwhen
next beheldlet it be some leagues awaywith the Gate of the Star
a white speck glittering in the sunand the city a mere mound in a
plain--two dark square towers rising out of itand light and shadow
descending on it aslantlike the angels in Jacob's dream!

Sir Leicester is generally in a complacent stateand rarely bored.
When he has nothing else to dohe can always contemplate his own
greatness. It is a considerable advantage to a man to have so
inexhaustible a subject. After reading his lettershe leans back
in his corner of the carriage and generally reviews his importance
to society.

You 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.

Nothing in it, though. Nothing whatever.

I saw one of Mr. Tulkinghorn's long effusions, I think?

You see everything,says Sir Leicester with admiration.

Ha!sighs my Lady. "He is the most tiresome of men!"

He sends--I really beg your pardon--he sends,says Sir Leicester
selecting the letter and unfolding ita 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. "He says 'In the matter of the right of
way--' I beg your pardonthat's not the place. He says--yes!
Here I have it! He says'I beg my respectful compliments to my


LadywhoI hopehas 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 suitwhich so powerfully stimulated her
curiosity. I have seen him.'"

My Ladyleaning forwardlooks out of her window.

That's the message,observes Sir Leicester.

I should like to walk a little,says my Ladystill looking out of
her window.

Walk?repeats Sir Leicester in a tone of surprise.

I should like to walk a little,says my Lady with unmistakable
distinctness. "Please to stop the carriage."

The carriage is stoppedthe affectionate man alights from the
rumbleopens the doorand lets down the stepsobedient to an
impatient motion of my Lady's hand. My Lady alights so quickly and
walks away so quickly that Sir Leicesterfor all his scrupulous
politenessis unable to assist herand is left behind. A space of
a minute or two has elapsed before he comes up with her. She
smileslooks very handsometakes his armlounges with him for a
quarter of a mileis very much boredand resumes her seat in the
carriage.

The rattle and clatter continue through the greater part of three
dayswith more or less of bell-jingling and whip-crackingand 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 Madamethe hostess of the Golden Apeand though he might be
her amiable fatherone can see at a glance that they love each
other. One observes my Lord with his white hairstandinghat in
handto help my Lady to and from the carriage. One observes my
Ladyhow recognisant of my Lord's politenesswith an inclination
of her gracious head and the concession of her so-genteel fingers!
It is ravishing!

The sea has no appreciation of great menbut knocks them about like
the small fry. It is habitually hard upon Sir Leicesterwhose
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. Neverthelesshis dignity gets over it
after stopping to refitand he goes on with my Lady for Chesney
Woldlying only one night in London on the way to Lincolnshire.

Through the same cold sunlightcolder as the day declinesand
through the same sharp windsharper as the separate shadows of bare
trees gloom together in the woodsand as the Ghost's Walktouched
at the western corner by a pile of fire in the skyresigns itself
to coming nightthey drive into the park. The rooksswinging in
their lofty houses in the elm-tree avenueseem to discuss the
question of the occupancy of the carriage as it passes underneath
some agreeing that Sir Leicester and my Lady are come downsome
arguing with malcontents who won't admit itnow all consenting to
consider the question disposed ofnow all breaking out again in
violent debateincited by one obstinate and drowsy bird who will
persist in putting in a last contradictory croak. Leaving them to
swing and cawthe travelling chariot rolls on to the housewhere
fires gleam warmly through some of the windowsthough 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.

How do you do, Mrs. Rouncewell? I am glad to see you.

I hope I have the honour of welcoming you in good health, Sir
Leicester?

In excellent health, Mrs. Rouncewell.

My Lady is looking charmingly well,says Mrs. Rouncewell with
another curtsy.

My Lady signifieswithout profuse expenditure of wordsthat she is
as wearily well as she can hope to be.

But Rosa is in the distancebehind the housekeeper; and my Lady
who has not subdued the quickness of her observationwhatever else
she may have conqueredasksWho is that girl?

A young scholar of mine, my Lady. Rosa.

Come here, Rosa!Lady Dedlock beckons herwith even an
appearance of interest. "Whydo you know how pretty you are
child?" she saystouching her shoulder with her two forefingers.

Rosavery much abashedsaysNo, if you please, my Lady!and
glances upand glances downand don't know where to lookbut
looks all the prettier.

How old are you?

Nineteen, my Lady.

Nineteen,repeats my Lady thoughtfully. "Take care they don't
spoil you by flattery."

Yes, my Lady.

My Lady taps her dimpled cheek with the same delicate gloved fingers
and goes on to the foot of the oak staircasewhere Sir Leicester
pauses for her as her knightly escort. A staring old Dedlock in a
panelas large as life and as dulllooks as if he didn't know what
to make of itwhich was probably his general state of mind in the
days of Queen Elizabeth.

That eveningin the housekeeper's roomRosa can do nothing but
murmur Lady Dedlock's praises. She is so affableso gracefulso
beautifulso 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 pridereserving 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 familyabove allof my Ladywhom the whole world
admires; but if my Lady would only be "a little more free not
quite so cold and distant, Mrs. Rounceweil thinks she would be more
affable.

'Tis almost a pity Mrs. Rouncewell adds--only almost" because it
borders on impiety to suppose that anything could be better than it
isin such an express dispensation as the Dedlock affairs--"that my


Lady has no family. If she had had a daughter nowa grown young
ladyto interest herI think she would have had the only kind of
excellence she wants."

Might not that have made her still more proud, grandmother?says
Wattwho has been home and come back againhe is such a good
grandson.

More and most, my dear,returns the housekeeper with dignityare
words it's not my place to use--nor so much as to hear--applied to
any drawback on my Lady.

I beg your pardon, grandmother. But she is proud, is she not?

If she is, she has reason to be. The Dedlock family have always
reason to be.

Well,says Wattit'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!

Sir Leicester and Lady Dedlock, my dear, are not fit subjects for
joking.

Sir Leicester is no joke by any means,says Wattand I humbly
ask his pardon. I suppose, grandmother, that even with the family
and their guests down here, there is no ojection to my prolonging my
stay at the Dedlock Arms for a day or two, as any other traveller
might?

Surely, none in the world, child.

I am glad of that,says Wattbecause I have an inexpressible
desire to extend my knowledge of this beautiful neighbourhood.

He happens to glance at Rosawho looks down and is very shy indeed.
But according to the old superstitionit should be Rosa's ears that
burnand not her fresh bright cheeksfor 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 thirtyfrom somewhere in
the southern country about Avignon and Marseillesa large-eyed
brown woman with black hair who would be handsome but for a certain
feline mouth and general uncomfortable tightness of facerendering
the jaws too eager and the skull too prominent. There is something
indefinably keen and wan about her anatomyand she has a watchful
way of looking out of the corners of her eyes without turning her
head which could be pleasantly dispensed withespecially when she
is in an ill humour and near knives. Through all the good taste of
her dress and little adornmentsthese 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 postshe is almost an Englishwoman in her
acquaintance with the language; consequentlyshe 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 companionthe affectionate manis rather relieved when
she arrives at the spoon stage of that performance.

Hahaha! SheHortensebeen in my Lady's service since five
years and always kept at the distanceand this dollthis puppet
caressed--absolutely caressed--by my Lady on the moment of her
arriving at the house! Hahaha! "And do you know how pretty you
arechild?" "Nomy Lady." You are right there! "And how old are


youchild! And take care they do not spoil you by flattery
child!" Ohhow droll! It is the BEST thing altogether.

In shortit is such an admirable thing that Mademoiselle Hortense
can't forget it; but at meals for days afterwardseven among her
countrywomen and others attached in like capacity to the troop of
visitorsrelapses into silent enjoyment of the joke--an enjoyment
expressedin her own convivial mannerby an additional tightness
of facethin elongation of compressed lipsand 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 nowmany of
them after a long blank. They reflect handsome facessimpering
facesyouthful facesfaces 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 Woldand which the
fashionable intelligencea mighty hunter before the Lordhunts
with a keen scentfrom 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
woodshorsemen and carriages enliven the park roadsservants and
hangers-on pervade the village and the Dedlock Arms. Seen by night
from distant openings in the treesthe row of windows in the long
drawing-roomwhere my Lady's picture hangs over the great chimney-
pieceis like a row of jewels set in a black frame. On Sunday the
chill little church is almost warmed by so much gallant companyand
the general flavour of the Dedlock dust is quenched in delicate
perfumes.

The brilliant and distinguished circle comprehends within it no
contracted amount of educationsensecouragehonourbeautyand
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
neckclothsno short-waisted coatsno false calvesno stays.
There are no caricaturesnowof 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 buckskinsor who goes to see all the executionsor who is
troubled with the self-reproach of having once consumed a pea. But
is there dandyism in the brilliant and distinguished circle
notwithstandingdandyism of a more mischievous sortthat has got
below the surface and is doing less harmless things than jack-
towelling itself and stopping its own digestionto which no
rational person need particularly object?

Whyyes. It cannot be disguised. There ARE at Chesney Wold this
January week some ladies and gentlemen of the newest fashionwho
have set up a dandyism--in religionfor instance. Who in mere
lackadaisical want of an emotion have agreed upon a little dandy
talk about the vulgar wanting faith in things in generalmeaning in
the things that have been tried and found wantingas 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 fashionnot so new
but very elegantwho 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 artsattending in
powder and walking backward like the Lord Chamberlainmust 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 Boodleof considerable reputation with his
partywho has known what office is and who tells Sir Leicester
Dedlock with much gravityafter dinnerthat 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 overthrownthe limited
choice of the Crownin the formation of a new ministrywould lie
between Lord Coodle and Sir Thomas Doodle--supposing it to be
impossible for the Duke of Foodle to act with Goodlewhich may be
assumed to be the case in consequence of the breach arising out of
that affair with Hoodle. Thengiving the Home Department and the
leadership of the House of Commons to Joodlethe Exchequer to
Koodlethe Colonies to Loodleand 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 shipwreckedlostand gone to pieces
(as is made manifest to the patriotism of Sir Leicester Dedlock)
because you can't provide for Noodle!

On the other handthe Right Honourable William BuffyM.P.
contends 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
Parliamentand had prevented him from going over to Duffyyou
would have got him into alliance with Fuffyyou would have had with
you the weight attaching as a smart debater to Guffyyou would have
brought to bear upon the elections the wealth of Huffyyou would
have got in for three counties JuffyKuffyand Luffyand you
would have strengthened your administration by the official
knowledge and the business habits of Muffy. All thisinstead of
being as you now aredependent on the mere caprice of Puffy!

As to this pointand as to some minor topicsthere are differences
of opinion; but it is perfectly clear to the brilliant and
distinguished circleall roundthat nobody is in question but
Boodle and his retinueand Buffy and HIS retinue. These are the
great actors for whom the stage is reserved. A People there areno
doubt--a certain large number of supernumerarieswho are to be
occasionally addressedand relied upon for shouts and chorusesas
on the theatrical stage; but Boodle and Buffytheir followers and
familiestheir heirsexecutorsadministratorsand assignsare
the born first-actorsmanagersand leadersand no others can
appear upon the scene for ever and ever.

In thistoothere is perhaps more dandyism at Chesney Wold than
the brilliant and distinguished circle will find good for itself in
the long run. For it iseven with the stillest and politest
circlesas with the circle the necromancer draws around him--very
strange appearances may be seen in active motion outside. With this
differencethat being realities and not phantomsthere is the
greater danger of their breaking in.

Chesney Wold is quite full anyhowso full that a burning sense of


injury arises in the breasts of ill-lodged ladies'-maidsand is not
to he extinguished. Only one room is empty. It is a turret chamber
of the third order of meritplainly but comfortably furnished and
having an old-fashioned business air. It is Mr. Tulkinghorn's room
and is never bestowed on anybody elsefor 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 weatherto drop into this room as if he
had never been out of it since he was last seen thereto request a
servant to inform Sir Leicester that he is arrived in case he should
be wantedand to appear ten minutes before dinner in the shadow of
the library-door. He sleeps in his turret with a complaining flagstaff
over his headand has some leads outside on whichany fine
morning when he is down herehis black figure may be seen walking
before breakfast like a larger species of rook.

Every day before dinnermy Lady looks for him in the dusk of the
librarybut he is not there. Every day at dinnermy Lady glances
down the table for the vacant place that would be waiting to receive
him if he had just arrivedbut there is no vacant place. Every
night my Lady casually asks her maidIs Mr. Tulkinghorn come?

Every night the answer isNo, my Lady, not yet.

One nightwhile having her hair undressedmy Lady loses herself in
deep thought after this reply until she sees her own brooding face
in the opposite glassand a pair of black eyes curiously observing
her.

Be so good as to attend,says my Lady thenaddressing the
reflection of Hortenseto your business. You can contemplate your
beauty at another time.

Pardon! It was your Ladyship's beauty.

That,says my Ladyyou needn't contemplate at all.

At lengthone afternoon a little before sunsetwhen 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 terraceMr. Tulkinghorn appears. He comes towards
them at his usual methodical pacewhich is never quickenednever
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 itas he keeps the secrets of his
clients; he is his own client in that matterand will never betray
himself.

How do you do, Mr. Tulkinghorn?says Sir Leicestergiving him his
hand.

Mr. Tulkinghorn is quite well. Sir Leicester is quite well. My
Lady is quite well. All highly satisfactory. The lawyerwith his
hands behind himwalks at Sir Leicester's side along the terrace.
My Lady walks upon the other side.

We expected you before,says Sir Leicester. A gracious
observation. As much as to sayMr. 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. Tulkinghorncomprehending itinclines his head and says he is
much obliged.


I should have come down sooner,he explainsbut that I have been
much engaged with those matters in the several suits between
yourself and Boythorn.

A man of a very ill-regulated mind,observes Sir Leicester with
severity. "An extremely dangerous person in any community. A man
of a very low character of mind."

He is obstinate,says Mr. Tulkinghorn.

It is natural to such a man to be so,says Sir Leicesterlooking
most profoundly obstinate himself. "I am not at all surprised to
hear it."

The only question is,pursues the lawyerwhether you will give
up anything.

No, sir,replies Sir Leicester. "Nothing. I give up?"

I don't mean anything of importance. That, of course, I know you
would not abandon. I mean any minor point.

Mr. Tulkinghorn,returns Sir Leicesterthere 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. "I have now my
instructions he says. Mr. Boythorn will give us a good deal of
trouble--"

It is the character of such a mind, Mr. Tulkinghorn,Sir Leicester
interrupts himTO 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
pauseif not hanged, drawn, and quartered.

Sir Leicester appears to discharge his stately breast of a burden in
passing this capital sentenceas if it were the next satisfactory
thing to having the sentence executed.

But night is coming on,says heand my Lady will take cold. My
dear, let us go in.

As they turn towards the hall-doorLady Dedlock addresses Mr.
Tulkinghorn for the first time.

You sent me a message respecting the person whose writing I
happened 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.

You had some?Mr. Tulkinghorn repeats.

Oh, yes!returns my Lady carelessly. "I 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?"

Yes.


How very odd!

They pass into a sombre breakfast-room on the ground floorlighted
in the day by two deep windows. It is now twilight. The fire glows
brightly on the panelled wall and palely on the window-glasswhere
through the cold reflection of the blazethe colder landscape
shudders in the wind and a grey mist creeps alongthe only
traveller besides the waste of clouds.

My Lady lounges in a great chair in the chimney-cornerand Sir
Leicester takes another great chair opposite. The lawyer stands
before the fire with his hand out at arm's lengthshading his face.
He looks across his arm at my Lady.

Yes,he saysI inquired about the man, and found him. And, what
is very strange, I found him--

Not to be any out-of-the-way person, I am afraid!Lady Dedlock
languidly anticipates.

I found him dead.

Oh, dear me!remonstrated Sir Leicester. Not so much shocked by
the fact as by the fact of the fact being mentioned.

I was directed to his lodging--a miserable, poverty-stricken place
--and I found him dead.

You will excuse me, Mr. Tulkinghorn,observes Sir Leicester. "I
think the less said--"

Pray, Sir Leicester, let me hear the story out(it is my Lady
speaking). "It is quite a story for twilight. How very shocking!
Dead?"

MrTulkinghorn re-asserts it by another inclination of his head.
Whether by his own hand--

Upon my honour!cries Sir Leicester. "Really!"

Do let me hear the story!says my Lady.

Whatever you desire, my dear. But, I must say--

No, you mustn't say! Go on, Mr. Tulkinghorn.

Sir Leicester's gallantry concedes the pointthough he still feels
that to bring this sort of squalor among the upper classes is
really--really-


I was about to say,resumes the lawyer with undisturbed calmness
that 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
accidentally.

And what kind of man,my Lady askswas this deplorable
creature?

Very difficult to say,returns the lawyershaking his bead. "He
had lived so wretchedly and was so neglectedwith his gipsy colour


and his wild black hair and beardthat I should have considered him
the commonest of the common. The surgeon had a notion that he had
once been something betterboth in appearance and condition."

What did they call the wretched being?

They called him what he had called himself, but no one knew his
name.

Not even any one who had attended on him?

No one had attended on him. He was found dead. In fact, I found
him.

Without any clue to anything more?

Without any; there was,says the lawyer meditativelyan old
portmanteau, but--No, there were no papers.

During the utterance of every word of this short dialogueLady
Dedlock and Mr. Tulkinghornwithout any other alteration in their
customary deportmenthave looked very steadily at one another--as
was naturalperhapsin the discussion of so unusual a subject.
Sir Leicester has looked at the firewith the general expression of
the Dedlock on the staircase. The story being toldhe renews his
stately protestsaying 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.

Certainly, a collection of horrors,says my Ladygathering up her
mantles and fursbut 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 himwith her usual fatigued manner
and insolent grace. They meet again at dinner--againnext day-again
for many days in succession. Lady Dedlock is always the same
exhausted deitysurrounded by worshippersand terribly liable to
be bored to deatheven while presiding at her own shrine. Mr.
Tulkinghorn is always the same speechless repository of noble
confidencesso 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 within the same walls could. But whether each evermore
watches and suspects the otherevermore mistrustful of some great
reservation; whether each is evermore prepared at all points for the
otherand never to be taken unawares; what each would give to know
how much the other knows--all this is hiddenfor the timein their
own hearts.

CHAPTER XIII

Esther's Narrative

We held many consultations about what Richard was to befirst
without Mr. Jarndyceas he had requestedand 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 NavyRichard said he
had thought of thatand perhaps he was. When Mr. Jarndyce asked
him what he thought of the ArmyRichard said he had thought of


thattooand 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 impulseRichard
answeredWell he really HAD tried very oftenand he couldn't make
out.

How much of this indecision of character,Mr. Jarndyce said to me
is 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 besidesI 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
learntI understoodto 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 wasor where his
failings layor 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 ageI
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.
Stillalthough I had no doubt that they were very beautifuland
very improvingand very sufficient for a great many purposes of
lifeand always remembered all through lifeI 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 sureI 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.

I haven't the least idea,said Richardmusingwhat I had better
be. Except that I am quite sure I don't want to go into the Church,
it's a toss-up.

You have no inclination in Mr. Kenge's way?suggested Mr.
Jarndyce.

I don't know that, sir!replied Richard. "I am fond of boating.
Articled clerks go a good deal on the water. It's a capital
profession!"

Surgeon--suggested Mr. Jarndyce.

That's the thing, sir!cried Richard.

I doubt if he had ever once thought of it before.

That's the thing, sir,repeated Richard with the greatest
enthusiasm. "We have got it at last. M.R.C.S.!"

He was not to be laughed out of itthough he laughed at it
heartily. He said he had chosen his professionand the more he


thought of itthe 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 becausehaving never had much chance
of finding out for himself what he was fitted for and having never
been guided to the discoveryhe was taken by the newest idea and
was glad to get rid of the trouble of considerationI 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 interviewsbut
invariably told Ada and me that it was all rightand then began to
talk about something else.

By heaven!cried Mr. Boythornwho interested himself strongly in
the subject--though I need not say thatfor he could do nothing
weakly; "I rejoice to find a young gentleman of spirit and gallantry
devoting himself to that noble profession! The more spirit there is
in itthe better for mankind and the worse for those mercenary
task-masters and low tricksters who delight in putting that
illustrious art at a disadvantage in the world. By all that is base
and despicable cried Mr. Boythorn, the 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 qualified practitioner to
set them if the system were not wholly changed in eight and forty
hours!"

Wouldn't you give them a week?asked Mr. Jarndyce.

No!cried Mr. Boythorn firmly. "Not on any consideration! Eight
and forty hours! As to corporationsparishesvestry-boardsand
similar gatherings of jolter-headed clods who assemble to exchange
such speeches thatby heaventhey ought to be worked in
quicksilver mines for the short remainder of their miserable
existenceif it were only to prevent their detestable English from
contaminating a language spoken in the presence of the sun--as to
those fellowswho meanly take advantage of the ardour of gentlemen
in the pursuit of knowledge to recompense the inestimable services
of the best years of their livestheir long studyand their
expensive education with pittances too small for the acceptance of
clerksI would have the necks of every one of them wrung and their
skulls arranged in Surgeons' Hall for the contemplation of the whole
profession in order that its younger members might understand from
actual measurementin early lifeHOW thick skulls may become!"

He wound up this vehement declaration by looking round upon us with
a most agreeable smile and suddenly thunderingHa, ha, ha!over
and over againuntil 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
after repeated periods for consideration had been recommended by Mr.
Jarndyce and had expiredand he still continued to assure Ada and
me in the same final manner that it was "all right it became
advisable 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.

Ah!" said Mr. Kenge. "Yes. Well! A very good professionMr.
Jarndycea very good profession."


The course of study and preparation requires to be diligently
pursued,observed my guardian with a glance at Richard.

Oh, no doubt,said Mr. Kenge. "Diligently."

But that being the case, more or less, with all pursuits that are
worth much,said Mr. Jarndyceit is not a special consideration
which another choice would be likely to escape.

Truly,said Mr. Kenge. "And Mr. Richard Carstonewho has so
meritoriously acquitted himself in the--shall I say the classic
shades?--in which his youth had been passedwillno doubtapply
the habitsif not the principles and practiceof versification in
that tongue in which a poet was said (unless I mistake) to be born
not madeto the more eminently practical field of action on which
he enters."

You may rely upon it,said Richard in his off-hand mannerthat I
shall go at it and do my best.

Very well, Mr. Jarndyce!said Mr. Kengegently nodding his head.
Really, 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
expressionsI 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?

No one, Rick, I think?said my guardian.

No one, sir,said Richard.

Quite so!observed Mr. Kenge. "As to situationnow. Is there
any particular feeling on that head?"

N--no,said Richard.

Quite so!observed Mr. Kenge again.

I should like a little variety,said Richard; "I mean a good range
of experience."

Very requisite, no doubt,returned Mr. Kenge. "I think this may
be easily arrangedMr. Jarndyce? We have onlyin the first place
to discover a sufficiently eligible practitioner; and as soon as we
make our want--and shall I addour ability to pay a premium?-known
our only difficulty will be in the selection of one from a
large number. We have onlyin the second placeto 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 sayin Mr. Richard'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, one of those
coincidences which may or may not require an explanation beyond our
present limited facultiesthat 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 youbut he MIGHT!"

As this was an opening in the prospectit was arranged that Mr.
Kenge should see his cousin. And as Mr. Jarndyce had before
proposed to take us to London for a few weeksit 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 weekwe took up our abode at a
cheerful lodging near Oxford Street over an upholsterer's shop.
London was a great wonder to usand we were out for hours and hours
at a timeseeing the sightswhich appeared to be less capable of
exhaustion than we were. We made the round of the principal
theatrestoowith great delightand 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 Adaand Richard
was in the place he liked bestbehind Ada's chairwhenhappening
to look down into the pitI saw Mr. Guppywith his hair flattened
down upon his head and woe depicted in his facelooking up at me.
I felt all through the performance that he never looked at the
actors but constantly looked at meand always with a carefully
prepared expression 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 forthwe
never went to the play without my seeing Mr. Guppy in the pit
always with his hair straight and flathis shirt-collar turned
downand a general feebleness about him. If he were not there when
we went inand I began to hope he would not come and yielded myself
for a little while to the interest of the sceneI was certain to
encounter his languishing eyes when I least expected it andfrom
that timeto 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 collarit would have been
bad enough; but to know that that absurd figure was always gazing at
meand always in that demonstrative state of despondencyput such
a constraint upon me that I did not like to laugh at the playor to
cry at itor to moveor to speak. I seemed able to do nothing
naturally. As to escaping Mr. Guppy by going to the back of the
boxI 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 satnot knowing where to look--for wherever I lookedI 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.
Sometimes I thought of confiding in Richardbut was deterred by the
possibility of his fighting Mr. Guppy and giving him black eyes.
Sometimes I thoughtshould 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 motherbut that ended in my being convinced that to
open a correspondence would he to make the matter worse. I always
came to the conclusionfinallythat I could do nothing. Mr.
Guppy's perseveranceall this timenot only produced him regularly
at any theatre to which we wentbut caused him to appear in the
crowd as we were coming outand even to get up behind our fly-where
I am sure I saw himtwo or three timesstruggling among the
most dreadful spikes. After we got homehe haunted a post opposite
our house. The upholsterer's where we lodged being at the corner of
two streetsand my bedroom window being opposite the postI was
afraid to go near the window when I went upstairslest I should see
him (as I did one moonlight night) leaning against the post and
evidenfly catching cold. If Mr. Guppy had not beenfortunately for


meengaged in the daytimeI really should have had no rest from
him.

While we were making this round of gaietiesin which Mr. Guppy so
extraordinarily participatedthe business which had helped to bring
us to town was not neglected. Mr. Kenge's cousin was a Mr. Bayham
Badgerwho 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 studiesand as it seemed that
those could be pursued advantageously under Mr. Badger's roofand
Mr. Badger liked Richardand as Richard said he liked Mr. Badger
well enough,an agreement was madethe Lord Chancellor's consent
was obtainedand it was all settled.

On the day when matters were concluded between Richard and Mr.
Badgerwe were all under engagement to dine at Mr. Badger's house.
We were to be "merely 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, You would hardly suppose that I am
Mrs. Bayham Badger's third!"

Indeed?said Mr. Jarndyce.

Her third!said Mr. Badger. "Mrs. Bayham Badger has not the
appearanceMiss Summersonof a lady who has had two former
husbands?"

I said "Not at all!"

And most remarkable men!said Mr. Badger in a tone of confidence.
Captain 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.

Yes, my dear!Mr. Badger replied to the smileI 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.

I was barely twenty,said Mrs. Badgerwhen 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.

Of European reputation,added Mr. Badger in an undertone.


And when Mr. Badger and myself were married,pursued Mrs. Badger
we were married on the same day of the year. I had become attached
to the day.

So that Mrs. Badger has been married to three husbands--two of them
highly distinguished men,said Mr. Badgersumming up the facts
and each time upon the twenty-first of March at eleven in the
forenoon!

We all expressed our admiration.

But for Mr. Badger's modesty,said Mr. JarndyceI would take
leave to correct him and say three distinguished men.

Thank you, Mr. Jarndyce! What I always tell him!observed Mrs.
Badger.

And, my dear,said Mr. Badgerwhat 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 generallyso 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 Badgerleading the way into the
next drawing-roomin 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 echoedA very fine head!

I feel when I look at it,said Mr. Badger'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 announcedand we went downstairs. It was a very
genteel entertainmentvery handsomely served. But the captain and
the professor still ran in Mr. Badger's headand as Ada and I had
the honour of being under his particular carewe had the full
benefit of them.

Water, 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.

Astonishing how they keep!said Mr. Badger. "They were presented
to Mrs. Bayham Badger when she was in the Mediterranean."

He invited Mr. Jarndyce to take a glass of claret.

Not that claret!he said. "Excuse me! This is an occasionand
ON an occasion I produce some very special claret I happen to have.
(JamesCaptain Swosser's wine!) Mr. Jarndycethis is a wine that
was imported by the captainwe will not say how many years ago.
You will find it very curious. My dearI shall he happy to take
some of this wine with you. (Captain Swosser's claret to your
mistressJames!) My loveyour health!"


After dinnerwhen we ladies retiredwe 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.

The dear old Crippler!said Mrs. Badgershaking her head. "She
was a noble vessel. Trimship-shapeall a tauntoas 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 quarterdeck
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 headsighedand looked in the glass.

It was a great change from Captain Swosser to Professor Dingo,she
resumed with a plaintive smile. "I felt it a good deal at first.
Such an entire revolution in my mode of life! But customcombined
with science--particularly science--inured me to it. Being the
professor's sole companion in his botanical excursionsI almost
forgot that I had ever been afloatand 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 Dingoboth of whom seem to have had very bad complaints.
In the course of itMrs. 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 enthusiasmwas Captain Swosser.
The professor was yet dying by inches in the most dismal mannerand
Mrs. Badger was giving us imitations of his way of sayingwith
great difficultyWhere is Laura? Let Laura give me my toast and
water!when the entrance of the gentlemen consigned him to the
tomb.

NowI observed that eveningas I had observed for some days past
that Ada and Richard were more than ever attached to each other's
societywhich was but naturalseeing that they were going to be
separated so soon. I was therefore not very much surprised when we
got homeand Ada and I retired upstairsto find Ada more silent
than usualthough I was not quite prepared for her coming into my
arms and beginning to speak to mewith her face hidden.

My darling Esther!murmured Ada. "I have a great secret to tell
you!"

A mighty secretmy pretty oneno doubt!

What is it, Ada?

Oh, Esther, you would never guess!

Shall I try to guess?said I.

Oh, no! Don't! Pray don't!cried Adavery much startled by the
idea of my doing so.

Now, I wonder who it can be about?said Ipretending to consider.


It's about--said Ada in a whisper. "It's about--my cousin
Richard!"

Well, my own!said Ikissing her bright hairwhich was all I
could see. "And what about him?"

Oh, Esther, you would never guess!

It was so pretty to have her clinging to me in that wayhiding her
faceand to know that she was not crying in sorrow but in a little
glow of joyand prideand hopethat I would not help her just
yet.

He says--I know it's very foolish, we are both so young--but he
says,with a burst of tearsthat he loves me dearly, Esther.

Does he indeed?said I. "I never heard of such a thing! Whymy
pet of petsI could have told you that weeks and weeks ago!"

To see Ada lift up her flushed face in joyful surpriseand hold me
round the neckand laughand cryand blushwas so pleasant!

Why, my darling,said Iwhat 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!

And yet you never said a word about it!cried Adakissing me.

No, my love,said I. "I waited to be told."

But 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 yetI said no
very freely.

And now,said II know the worst of it.

Oh, that's not quite the worst of it, Esther dear!cried Ada
holding me tighter and laying down her face again upon my breast.

No?said I. "Not even that?"

No, not even that!said Adashaking her head.

Why, you never mean to say--I was beginning in joke.

But Adalooking up and smiling through her tear'scriedYes, I
do! You know, you know I do!And then sobbed outWith all my
heart I do! With all my whole heart, Esther!

I told herlaughingwhy I had known thattoojust as well as I
had known the other! And we sat before the fireand 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.

Do you think my cousin John knows, dear Dame Durden?she asked.

Unless my cousin John is blind, my pet,said II should think my
cousin John knows pretty well as much as we know.

We want to speak to him before Richard goes,said Ada timidly
and we wanted you to advise us, and to tell him so. Perhaps you
wouldn't mind Richard's coming in, Dame Durden?


Oh! Richard is outside, is he, my dear?said I.

I am not quite certain,returned Ada with a bashful simplicity
that would have won my heart if she had not won it long beforebut
I think he's waiting at the door.

There he wasof course. They brought a chair on either side of me
and put me between themand really seemed to have fallen in love
with me instead of one anotherthey were so confidingand so
trustfuland 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 wereand
how there must be a lapse of several years before this early love
could come to anythingand 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 otherwith constancyfortitudeand
perseveranceeach always for the other's sake. Well! Richard said
that he would work his fingers to the bone for Adaand Ada said
that she would work her fingers to the bone for Richardand they
called me all sorts of endearing and sensible namesand we sat
thereadvising and talkinghalf the night. Finallybefore we
partedI gave them my promise to speak to their cousin John tomorrow.


Sowhen to-morrow cameI went to my guardian after breakfastin
the room that was our town-substitute for the growleryand told him
that I had it in trust to tell him something.

Well, little woman,said heshutting up his bookif you have
accepted the trust, there can be no harm in it.

I hope not, guardian,said I. "I can guarantee that there is no
secrecy in it. For it only happened yesterday."

Aye? And what is it, Esther?

Guardian,said Iyou 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 mistakenI saw that I did so.

Because--said I with a little hesitation.

Yes, my dear!said he. "Don't hurry."

Because,said IAda and Richard have fallen in love. And have
told each other so.

Already!cried my guardianquite astonished.

Yes!said I. "And to tell you the truthguardianI rather
expected it."

The deuce you did!said he.

He sat considering for a minute or twowith his smileat once so
handsome and so kindupon his changing faceand then requested me
to let them know that he wished to see them. When they camehe
encircled Ada with one arm in his fatherly way and addressed himself
to Richard with a cheerful gravity.

Rick,said Mr. JarndyceI 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!

We look afar off, sir,returned Richard.

Well!said Mr. Jarndyce. "That's rational. Nowhear memy
dears! I might tell you that you don't know your own minds yet
that a thousand things may happen to divert you from one another
that it is well this chain of flowers you have taken up is very
easily brokenor it might become a chain of lead. But I will not
do that. Such wisdom will come soon enoughI dare sayif 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 assumption isif 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 meRick!)--don't be ashamed still to confide in mefor
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."

I am very sure, sir,returned Richardthat 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.

Dear cousin John,said Adaon his shouldermy father's place
can never be empty again. All the love and duty I could ever have
rendered to him is transferred to you.

Come!said Mr. Jarndyce. "Now for our assumption. Now we lift
our eyes up and look hopefully at the distance! Rickthe world is
before you; and it is most probable that as you enter itso it will
receive you. Trust in nothing but in Providence and your own
efforts. Never separate the twolike the heathen waggoner.
Constancy in love is a good thingbut it means nothingand is
nothingwithout constancy in every kind of effort. If you had the
abilities of all the great menpast and presentyou could do
nothing well without sincerely meaning it and setting about it. If
you entertain the supposition that any real successin great things
or in smallever was or could beever will or can bewrested from
Fortune by fits and startsleave that wrong idea here or leave your
cousin Ada here."

I will leave IT here, sir,replied Richard smilingif 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.

Right!said Mr. Jarndyce. "If you are not to make her happywhy
should you pursue her?"

I wouldn't make her unhappy--no, not even for her love,retorted
Richard proudly.

Well said!cried Mr. Jarndyce. "That's well said! She remains
herein her home with me. Love herRickin your active lifeno
less than in her home when you revisit itand all will go well.
Otherwiseall will go ill. That's the end of my preaching. I
think you and Ada had better take a walk."


Ada tenderly embraced himand Richard heartily shook hands with
himand then the cousins went out of the roomlooking back again
directlythoughto say that they would wait for me.

The door stood openand we both followed them with our eyes as
they passed down the adjoining roomon which the sun was shining
and out at its farther end. Richard with his head bentand her
hand drawn through his armwas talking to her very earnestly; and
she looked up in his facelisteningand seemed to see nothing
else. So youngso beautifulso full of hope and promisethey
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 outand the sun was clouded over.

Am I right, Esther?said my guardian when they were gone.

He was so good and wise to ask ME whether he was right!

Rick may gain, out of this, the quality he wants. Wants, at the
core of so much that is good!said Mr. Jarndyceshaking his head.
I 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 movedthough I did
all I could to conceal it.

Tut tut!said he. "But we must take caretoothat our little
woman's life is not all consumed in care for others."

Care? My dear guardian, I believe I am the happiest creature in
the world!

I believe so, too,said he. "But 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 reservedbut I thought him very sensible
and agreeable. At leastAda asked me if I did notand 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 reflectand it touches me now
more nearlyto remember (having what I have to tell) how they both
thought of meeven at that engrossing time. I was a part of all
their plansfor the present and the futureI was to write Richard
once a weekmaking my faithful report of Adawho was to write to
him every alternate day. I was to be informedunder his own hand
of all his labours and successes; 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.

And if the suit SHOULD make us rich, Esther--which it may, you
know!said Richard to crown all.

A shade crossed Ada's face.

My dearest Ada,asked Richardwhy not?

It had better declare us poor at once,said Ada.

Oh! I don't know about that,returned Richardbut at all
events, it won't declare anything at once. It hasn't declared
anything in heaven knows how many years.

Too true,said Ada.

Yes, but,urged Richardanswering what her look suggested rather
than her wordsthe longer it goes on, dcar cousin, the nearer it
must be to a settlement one way or other. Now, is not that
reasonable?

You know best, Richard. But I am afraid if we trust to it, it
will make us unhappy.

But, my Ada, we are not going to trust to it!cried Richard
gaily. "We know it better than to trust to it. We only say that
if it SHOULD make us richwe have no constitutional objection to
being rich. The court isby solemn settlement of lawour grim
old guardianand 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."

No,Said Adabut it may be better to forget all about it.

Well, well,cried Richardthen we will forget all about it! We
consign the whole thing to oblivion. Dame Durden puts on her
approving face, and it's done!

Dame Durden's approving face,said Ilooking out of the box in
which I was packing his bookswas not very visible when you
called it by that name; but it does approve, and she thinks you
can't do better.

SoRichard said there was an end of itand immediately beganon
no other foundationto build as many castles in the air as would
man the Great Wall of China. He went away in high spirits. Ada
and Iprepared to miss him very muchcommenced our quieter
career.

On our arrival in Londonwe 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-drinkingthere was
to be some considerable speech-making and letter-writing on the
general merits of the cultivation of coffeeconjointly with
nativesat the Settlement of Borrioboola-Gha. All this involved
no doubtsufficient 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 townbut not at homehaving 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 anywhereand 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 passagebut he was nowhere
discoverableand the cook supposed that he had "gone after the
sheep." When we repeatedwith some surpriseThe sheep?she
saidOhyeson 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
morningand Ada was busy writing-of course to Richard--when Miss
Jellyby was announcedand enteredleading 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 wereon a
small scalethe boots of a ploughmanwhile his legsso crossed
and recrossed with scratches that they looked like mapswere 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 coatsthey were so extremely brazen and so much too
large. Most extraordinary specimens of needlework appeared on
several parts of his dresswhere it had been hastily mendedand I
recognized the same hand on Miss Jellyby's. She washowever
unaccountably improved in her appearance and looked very pretty.
She was conscious of poor little Peepy being but a failure after
all her troubleand she showed it as she came in by the way in
which she glanced first at him and then at us.

Oh, dear me!said my guardian. "Due east!"

Ada and I gave her a cordial welcome and presented her to Mr.
Jarndyceto whom she said as she sat downMa'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.

Thank you,said my guardian. "I am much obliged to Mrs. Jellyby.
Ohdear me! This is a very trying wind!"

We were busy with Peepytaking off his clerical hatasking him if
he remembered usand so on. Peepy retired behind his elbow at
firstbut relented at the sight of sponge-cake and allowed me to
take him on my lapwhere he sat munching quietly. Mr. Jarndyce
then withdrawing into the temporary growleryMiss Jellyby opened a
conversation with her usual abruptness.

We are going on just as bad as ever in Thavies Inn,said she. "I
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.

Oh, it's of no use, Miss Summerson,exclaimed Miss Jellyby
though 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!

I shan't!said Peepy.

Very well, you ungrateful, naughty, hard-hearted boy!returned
Miss Jellyby with tears in her eyes. "I'll never take pains to
dress you any more."

Yes, I will go, Caddy!cried Peepywho was really a good child
and who was so moved by his sister's vexation that he went at once.

It seems a little thing to cry about,said poor Miss Jellyby
apologeticallybut 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!

Peepyhappily unconscious of the defects in his appearancesat on
the carpet behind one of the legs of the pianolooking calmly out
of his den at us while he ate his cake.

I have sent him to the other end of the room,observed Miss
Jellybydrawing her chair nearer oursbecause 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.

It's of no use hoping, though it's very kind of you,returned
Miss Jellybyshaking her head. "Pa 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 likeand the servants do what they
like with itand I have no time to improve things if I knew how
and Ma don't care about anythingI should like to make out how Pa
is to weather the storm. I declare if I was PaI'd run away."

My dear!said Ismiling. "Your papano doubtconsiders his
family."

Oh, yes, his family is all very fine, Miss Summerson,replied
Miss Jellyby; "but what comfort is his family to him? His family
is nothing but billsdirtwastenoisetumbles downstairs
confusionand wretchedness. His scrambling homefrom week's end
to week's endis like one great washing-day--only nothing's
washed!"

Miss Jellyby tapped her foot upon the floor and wiped her eyes.

I am sure I pity Pa to that degree,she saidand 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 myselfseeing and hearing this neglected girl and knowing
how much of bitterly satirical truth there was in what she said.


If it wasn't that we had been intimate when you stopped at our
house,pursued Miss JellybyI 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 anotherforeseeing something more.

No!said Miss Jellybyshaking her head. "Not at all likely! I
know I may trust you two. I am sure you won't betray me. I am
engaged."

Without their knowledge at home?said I.

Why, good gracious me, Miss Summerson,she returnedjustifying
herself in a fretful but not angry mannerhow can it be
otherwise? You know what Ma is--and I needn't make poor Pa more
miserable by telling HIM.

But would it not he adding to his unhappiness to marry without his
knowledge or consent, my dear?said I.

No,said Miss Jellybysoftening. ""I hope not. I should try to
make him happy and comfortable when he came to see meand 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 Peepyin his
cave under the pianowas touchedand turned himself over on his
back with loud lamentations. It was not until I had brought him to
kiss his sisterand had restored him to his place on my lapand
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 lastas his
spirits were not equal to the pianowe put him on a chair to look
out of window; and Miss Jellybyholding him by one legresumed
her confidence.

It began in your coming to our house,she said.

We naturally asked how.

I felt I was so awkward,she repliedthat 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.

And was it there, my dear--I began.

Yes, it was there,said Caddyand 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.

I am sorry to hear this,said II must confess.

I don't know why you should be sorry,she retorted a little


anxiouslybut 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.

Does his wife know of it?asked Ada.

Old Mr. Turveydrop's wife, Miss Clare?returned Miss Jellyby
opening her eyes. "There's no such person. He is a widower."

We were here interrupted by Peepywhose 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 compassionand as I was only a listenerI
undertook to hold him. Miss Jellyby proceededafter begging
Peepy's pardon with a kiss and assuring him that she hadn't meant
to do it.

That's the state of the case,said Caddy. "If I ever blame
myselfI still think it's Ma's fault. We are to be married
whenever we canand 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, that I shall never
hear of Africa after I am married. Young Mr. Turveydrop hates it
for my sakeand if old Mr. Turveydrop knows there is such a place
it's as much as he does."

It was he who was very gentlemanly, I think!said I.

Very gentlemanly indeed,said Caddy. "He is celebrated almost
everywhere for his deportment."

Does he teach?asked Ada.

No, he don't teach anything in particular,replied Caddy. "But
his deportment is beautiful."

Caddy went on to say with considerable hesitation and reluctance
that there was one thing more she wished us to knowand felt we
ought to knowand which she hoped would not offend us. It was
that she had improved her acquaintance with Miss Flitethe little
crazy old ladyand that she frequently went there early in the
morning and met her lover for a few minutes before breakfast--only
for a few minutes. "I go there at other times said Caddy, but
Prince does not come then. Young Mr. Turveydrop's name is Prince;
I wish it wasn'tbecause it sounds like a dogbut of course be
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'swhere I first went with youbecause
I like the poor thing for her own sake and I believe she likes me.
If you could see young Mr. TurveydropI am sure you would think
well of him--at leastI 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 meMiss Summerson; but if you would said Caddy,
who had said all this earnestly and tremblingly, I 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 visitand 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 mepoor girlI proposed that she and I and
Peepy should go to the academy and afterwards meet my guardian and
Ada at Miss Flite'swhose 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 bothwe smartened Peepy up a little with
the assistance of a few pinssome soap and waterand a hairbrush
and went outbending our steps towards Newman Streetwhich
was very near.

I found the academy established in a sufficiently dingy house at
the corner of an archwaywith busts in all the staircase windows.
In the same house there were also establishedas I gathered from
the plates on the doora drawing-mastera coal-merchant (there
wascertainlyno room for his coals)and a lithographic artist.
On the plate whichin size and situationtook precedence of all
the restI readMR. TURVEYDROP. The door was openand the hall
was blocked up by a grand pianoa harpand several other musical
instruments in casesall in progress of removaland all looking
rakish in the daylight. Miss Jellyby informed me that the academy
had been lentlast nightfor a concert.

We went upstairs--it had been quite a fine house oncewhen it was
anybody's business to keep it clean and freshand nobody's
business to smoke in it all day--and into Mr. Turveydrop's great
roomwhich was built out into a mews at the back and was lighted
by a skylight. It was a bareresounding room smelling of stables
with cane forms along the wallsand the walls ornamented at
regular intervals with painted lyres and little cut-glass branches
for candleswhich seemed to be shedding their old-fashioned drops
as other branches might shed autumn leaves. Several young lady
pupilsranging from thirteen or fourteen years of age to two or
three and twentywere assembled; and I was looking among them for
their instructor when Caddypinching my armrepeated the ceremony
of introduction. "Miss SummersonMr. 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 fiddlewhich we used to call at
school a kitunder his left armand its little bow in the same
hand. His little dancing-shoes were particularly diminutiveand
he had a little innocentfeminine manner which not only appealed
to me in an amiable waybut 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.

I am very happy to see Miss Jellyby's friend,he saidbowing low
to me. "I began to fear with timid tenderness, as it was past
the usual timethat Miss Jellyby was not coming."

I beg you will have the goodness to attribute that to me, who have
detained her, and to receive my excuses, sir,said I.

Oh, dear!said he.

And pray,I entreateddo not allow me to be the cause of any
more delay.

With that apology I withdrew to a seat between Peepy (whobeing
well used to ithad 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. Turveydropin the full lustre of his
deportment.

He was a fat old gentleman with a false complexionfalse teeth
false whiskersand a wig. He had a fur collarand he had a
padded breast to his coatwhich only wanted a star or a broad blue
ribbon to be complete. He was pinched inand swelled outand got
upand strapped downas much as he could possibly bear. He had
such a neckcloth on (puffing his very eyes out of their natural
shape)and his chin and even his ears so sunk into itthat it
seemed as though be 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 brimand in his hand a
pair of white gloves with which he flapped it as he stood poised on
one leg in a high-shoulderedround-elbowed state of elegance not
to be surpassed. He had a canehe had an eye-glasshe had a
snuff-boxhe had ringshe had wristbandshe had everything but
any touch of nature; he was not like youthhe was not like agehe
was not like anything in the world but a model of deportment.

Father! A visitor. Miss Jellyby's friend, Miss Summerson.

Distinguished,said Mr. Turveydropby Miss Summerson's
presence.As he bowed to me in that tight stateI almost believe
I saw creases come into the whites of his eyes.

My father,said the sonasideto me with quite an affecting
belief in himis a celebrated character. My father is greatly
admired.

Go on, Prince! Go on!said Mr. Turveydropstanding with his
back to the fire and waving his gloves condescendingly. "Go onmy
son!"

At this commandor by this gracious permissionthe lesson went
on. Prince Turveydrop sometimes played the kitdancing; sometimes
played the pianostanding; sometimes hummed the tune with what
little breath he could sparewhile he set a pupil right; always
conscientiously moved with the least proficient through every step
and every part of the figure; and never rested for an instant. His
distinguished father did nothing whatever but stand before the
firea model of deportment.

And he never does anything else,said the old lady of the
censorious countenance. "Yet would you believe that it's HIS name
on the door-plate?"

His son's name is the same, you know,said I.

He wouldn't let his son have any name if he could take it from
him,returned the old lady. "Look at the son's dress!" It
certainly was plain--threadbare--almost shabby. "Yet the father
must be garnished and tricked out said the old lady, because of
his deportment. I'd deport him! Transport him would be better!"

I felt curious to know more concerning this person. I askedDoes
he give lessons in deportment now?

Now!returned the old lady shortly. "Never did."


After a moment's considerationI suggested that perhaps fencing
had been his accomplishment.

I don't believe he can fence at all, ma'am,said the old lady.

I looked surprised and inquisitive. The old ladybecoming more
and more incensed against the master of deportment as she dwelt
upon the subjectgave me some particulars of his careerwith
strong assurances that they were mildly stated.

He had married a meek little dancing-mistresswith a tolerable
connexion (having never in his life before done anything but deport
himself)and had worked her to deathor hadat the best
suffered her to work herself to deathto 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 himselfhe had found it necessary to
frequent all public places of fashionable and lounging resortto
be seen at Brighton and elsewhere at fashionable timesand 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 selfishnesshis wife (overpowered by his
deportment) hadto the lastbelieved in him and hadon her
death-bedin the most moving termsconfided 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 beliefand having the deportment always
before himhad lived and grown in the same faithand nowat
thirty years of ageworked for his father twelve hours a day and
looked up to him with veneration on the old imaginary pinnacle.

The airs the fellow gives himself!said my informantshaking her
head at old Mr. Turveydrop with speechless indignation as he drew
on his tight glovesof course unconscious of the homage she was
rendering. "He 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 ladyapostrophizing him with infinite vehemence. "I could
bite you!"

I could not help being amusedthough 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 accountor what I might have thought of the
old lady's account without themI cannot say. There was a fitness
of things in the whole that carried conviction with it.

My eyes were yet wanderingfrom young Mr. Turveydrop working so
hardto old Mr. Turveydrop deporting himself so beautifullywhen
the latter came ambling up to me and entered into conversation.

He asked mefirst of allwhether I conferred a charm and a
distinction 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 casebut merely told him where I did reside.

A lady so graceful and accomplished,he saidkissing his right
glove and afterwards extending it towards the pupilswill look
leniently on the deficiencies here. We do our best to polish-polish--
polish!

He sat down beside metaking some pains to sit on the form. I


thoughtin imitation of the print of his illustrious model on the
sofa. And really he did look very like it.

To polish--polish--polish!he repeatedtaking a pinch of snuff
and gently fluttering his fingers. "But we are notif I may say
so to one formed to be graceful both by Nature and Art--" with the
high-shouldered bowwhich it seemed impossible for him to make
without lifting up his eyebrows and shutting his eyes "--we are not
what we used to be in point of deportment."

Are we not, sir?said I.

We have degenerated,he returnedshaking his headwhich he
could do to a very limited extent in his cravat. "A 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 calledfor some years nowGentleman Turveydrop
or that his Royal Highness the Prince Regent did me the honour to
inquireon 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 propertyma'am-still
repeated occasionally among the upper classes."

Indeed?said I.

He replied with the high-shouldered bow. "Where what is left among
us of deportment he added, still lingers. England--alasmy
country!--has degenerated very muchand is degenerating every day.
She has not many gentlemen left. We are few. I see nothing to
succeed us but a race of weavers."

One might hope that the race of gentlemen would be perpetuated
here,said I.

You are very good.He smiled with a high-shouldered bow again.
You 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.

He appears to be an excellent master,I observed.

Understand 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 againas if to addThis kind of thing, for
instance.

I glanced towards the centre of the roomwhere Miss Jellyby's
lovernow engaged with single pupilswas undergoing greater
drudgery than ever.

My amiable child,murmured Mr. Turveydropadjusting his cravat.

Your son is indefatigable,said I.

It is my reward,said Mr. Turveydropto 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 gallantrywhat a sex you are!

I rose and joined Miss Jellybywho was by this time putting on her
bonnet. The time allotted to a lesson having fully elapsedthere
was a general putting on of bonnets. When Miss Jellyby and the


unfortunate Prince found an opportunity to become betrothed I don't
knowbut they certainly found none on this occasion to exchange a
dozen words.

My dear,said Mr. Turveydrop benignly to his sondo you know
the hour?

No, father.The son had no watch. The father had a handsome
gold onewhich he pulled out with an air that was an example to
mankind.

My son,said heit's two o'clock. Recollect your school at
Kensington at three.

That's time enough for me, father,said Prince. "I can take a
morsel of dinner standing and be off."

My dear boy,returned his fatheryou must be very quick. You
will find the cold mutton on the table.

Thank you, father. Are YOU off now, father?

Yes, my dear. I suppose,said Mr. Turveydropshutting his eyes
and lifting up his shoulders with modest consciousnessthat I
must show myself, as usual, about town.

You had better dine out comfortably somewhere,said his son.

My dear child, I intend to. I shall take my little meal, I think,
at the French house, in the Opera Colonnade.

That's right. Good-bye, father!said Princeshaking hands.

Good-bye, my son. Bless you!

Mr. Turveydrop said this in quite a pious mannerand it seemed to
do his son goodwhoin parting from himwas so pleased with him
so dutiful to himand 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 usas I
sawbeing 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
mannerI must acknowledgeworthy 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 townwhere he was going
to show himself among the few other gentlemen left. For some
momentsI 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 meespecially when I began
to inquire in my mind whether there wereor ever had beenany
other gentlemennot in the dancing professionwho lived and
founded a reputation entirely on their deportment. This became so
bewildering and suggested the possibility of so many Mr.
Turveydrops that I saidEsther, you must make up your mind to
abandon this subject altogether and attend to Caddy.I
accordingly did soand 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. "He does it with the best intention observed Caddy,
but it hasn't the effect he meanspoor fellow!" Caddy then went
on to reasonhow 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 fagfag and teachmorningnoonand night! And
what did it matter? She could write letters enough for bothas
she knew to her costand it was far better for him to be amiable
than learned. "Besidesit's not as if I was an accomplished girl
who had any right to give herself airs said Caddy. I know
little enoughI am surethanks to Ma!

There's another thing I want to tell you, now we are alone,
continued Caddywhich 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 Caddyglancing at the repairs on Peepy's frock
but 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 girltrying so hardsaid it from her heartand touched
mine. "Caddymy love I replied, I begin to have a great
affection for youand I hope we shall become friends."

Oh, do you?cried Caddy. "How happy that would make me!"

My dear Caddy,said Ilet 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 herand 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'swhose private door stood
open. There was a billpasted on the door-postannouncing 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 openwe 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 wasa gloomysorrowful place that gave me a
strange sensation of mournfulness and even dread. "You look pale


said Caddy when we came out, and cold!" I felt as if the room had
chilled me.

We had walked slowly while we were talkingand my guardian and Ada
were here before us. We found them in Miss Flite's garret. They
were looking at the birdswhile a medical gentleman who was so
good as to attend Miss Flite with much solicitude and compassion
spoke with her cheerfully by the fire.

I have finished my professional visit,he saidcoming forward.
Miss Flite is much better and may appear in court (as her mind is
set upon it) to-morrow. She has been greatly missed there, I
understand.

Miss Flite received the compliment with complacency and dropped a
general curtsy to us.

Honoured, indeed,said sheby another visit from the wards in
Jarndyce! Ve-ry happy to receive Jarndyce of Bleak House beneath
my humble roof!with a special curtsy. "Fitz-Jarndycemy dear"-she
had bestowed that name on Caddyit appearedand always called
her by it--"a double welcome!"

Has she been very ill?asked Mr. Jarndyce of the gentleman whom
we had found in attendance on her. She answered for herself
directlythough he had put the question in a whisper.

Oh, decidedly unwell! Oh, very unwell indeed,she said
confidentially. "Not painyou know--trouble. Not bodily so much
as nervousnervous! The truth is in a subdued voice and
trembling, we 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 physicianMrWoodcourt!"
with great stateliness. "The wards in Jarndyce--Jarndyce of Bleak
House--Fitz-Jarndyce!"

Miss Flite,said Mr. Woodcourt in a grave kind of voiceas if he
were appealing to her while speaking to usand laying his hand
gently on her armMiss 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.

The kindest physician in the college,whispered Miss Flite to me.
I expect a judgment. On the day of judgment. And shall then
confer estates.

She will be as well in a day or two,said Mr. Woodcourtlooking
at her with an observant smileas she ever will be. In other
words, quite well of course. Have you heard of her good fortune?

Most extraordinary!said Miss Flitesmiling brightly. "You
never heard of such a thingmy dear! Every SaturdayConversation
Kenge or Guppy (clerk to Conversation K.) places in my hand a paper
of shillings. Shillings. I assure you! Always the same number in
the paper. Always one for every day in the week. Now you know
really! So well-timedis it not? Ye-es! From whence do these
papers comeyou 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, that 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 creditableyou 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 itand he almost confessed.
That isI smiled at him from my benchand HE smiled at me from
his bench. But it's great good fortuneis it not? And Fitz-
Jarndyce lays the money out for me to great advantage. OhI
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
mecontemplating the birdsand I had no need to look beyond him.

And what do you call these little fellows, ma'am?said he in his
pleasant voice. "Have they any names?"

I can answer for Miss Elite that they have,said Ifor she
promised to tell us what they were. Ada remembers?

Ada remembered very well.

Did I?said Miss Elite. "Who's that at my door? What are you
listening at my door forKrook?"

The old man of the housepushing it open before himappeared
there with his fur cap in his hand and his cat at his heels.

I warn't listening, Miss Flite,he saidI was going to give a
rap with my knuckles, only you're so quick!

Make your cat go down. Drive her away!the old lady angrily
exclaimed.

Bah, 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; "she'd never offer at the birds when I was here
unless I told her to it."

You will excuse my landlord,said the old lady with a dignified
air. "Mquite M! What do you wantKrookwhen I have company?"

Hi!said the old man. "You know I am the Chancellor."

Well?returned Miss Elite. "What of that?"

For the Chancellor,said the old man with a chucklenot 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.

I never go there,said Mr. Jarndyce (which he never did on any
consideration). "I would sooner go--somewhere else."

Would you though?returned Krookgrinning. "You're bearing hard
upon my noble and learned brother in your meaningsirthough
perhaps it is but nat'ral in a Jarndyce. The burnt childsir!
Whatyou're looking at my lodger's birdsMr. 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. "It'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. "Shall I run
'em overFlite?" he asked aloudwinking at us and pointing at her
as she turned awayaffecting to sweep the grate.

If you like,she answered hurriedly.

The old manlooking up at the cages after another look at uswent
through the list.

Hope, Joy, Youth, Peace, Rest, Life, Dust, Ashes, Waste, Want,
Ruin, Despair, Madness, Death, Cunning, Folly, Words, Wigs, Rags,
Sheepskin, Plunder, Precedent, Jargon, Gammon, and Spinach. That's
the whole collection,said the old manall cooped up together,
by my noble and learned brother.

This is a bitter wind!muttered my guardian.

When my noble and learned brother gives his judgment, they're to
be let go free,said Krookwinking at us again. "And then he
added, whispering and grinning, if that ever was to happen--which
it won't--the birds that have never been caged would kill 'em."

If ever the wind was in the east,said my guardianpretending to
look out of the window for a weathercockI 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 consulting 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 himhe 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 onas 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 indecisionand a perpetual
impulse to do something he could not resolve to venture onthan
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 himhe observed him with the slyness of an old white
fox. If he went beforehe looked back. When we stood stillhe
got opposite to himand drawing his hand across and across his
open mouth with a curious expression of a sense of powerand
turning up his eyesand lowering his grey eyebrows until they
appeared to be shutseemed to scan every lineament of his face.

At lasthaving been (always attended by the cat) all over the
house and having seen the whole stock of miscellaneous lumber
which was certainly curiouswe came into the back part of the
shop. Here on the head of an empty barrel stood on end were an
ink-bottlesome old stumps of pensand some dirty playbills; and
against the wall were pasted several large printed alphabets in
several plain hands.

What are you doing here?asked my guardian.

Trying to learn myself to read and write,said Krook.


And how do you get on?

Slow. Bad,returned the old man impatiently. "It's hard at my
time of life."

It would be easier to be taught by some one,said my guardian.

Aye, but they might teach me wrong!returned the old man with a
wonderfully suspicious flash of his eye. "I 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."

Wrong?said my guardian with his good-humoured smile. "Who do
you suppose would teach you wrong?"

I don't know, Mr. Jarndyce of Bleak House!replied the old man
turning up his spectacles on his forehead and rubbing his hands.
I 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. Woodcourtas we all walked across
Lincoln's Inn togetherwhether Mr. Krook were reallyas his
lodger represented himderanged. The young surgeon repliedno
he had seen no reason to think so. He was exceedingly distrustful
as ignorance usually wasand he was always more or less under the
influence of raw ginof which he drank great quantities and of
which he and his back-shopas we might have observedsmelt
strongly; but he did not think him mad as yet.

On our way homeI 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 menext to Adato whom
we imparted the whole history of the engagement as soon as we got
back. We made much of Caddyand 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-
coachwith Peepy fast asleepbut 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
AdaNow, 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. Qualewho presented himself soon after
our arrivalwas 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 backuntil the very


roots were almost ready to fly out of his head in inappeasable
philanthropy. All objects were alike to himbut 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 timewith the utmost
enjoymentbathing his temples in the light of any order of
luminary. Having first seen him perfectly swallowed up in
admiration of Mrs. JellybyI 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 somethingand
with herMr. Quale. Whatever Mrs. Pardiggle saidMr. Quale
repeated to us; and just as he had drawn Mrs. Jellyby outhe 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. Gusherbeing 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 elsewas not at first sight prepossessing; yet he was
scarcely seated before Mr. Quale asked Ada and menot inaudibly
whether he was not a great creature--which he certainly was
flabbily speakingthough Mr. Quale meant in intellectual beauty-and
whether we were not struck by his massive configuration of
brow. In shortwe heard of a great many missions of various sorts
among this set of peoplebut 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
mission 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 companywhere
benevolence took spasmodic formswhere charity was assumed as a
regular uniform by loud professors and speculators in cheap
notorietyvehement in professionrestless and vain in action
servile in the last degree of meanness to the greatadulatory of
one anotherand 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
downhe plainly told us. When a testimonial was originated to Mr.
Quale by Mr. Gusher (who had already got oneoriginated by Mr.
Quale)and when Mr. Gusher spoke for an hour and a half on the
subject to a meetingincluding two charity schools of small boys
and girlswho were specially reminded of the widow's miteand
requested to come forward with halfpence and be acceptable
sacrificesI 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 guardianby contrast with
such thingsand 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 guardianhe certainly
was to the rest of the world.

He had not been very well; and thusthough he lived in Londonwe
had seen nothing of him until now. He appeared one morning in his
usual agreeable way and as full of pleasant spirits as ever.

Wellhe saidhere he was! He had been biliousbut rich men were


often biliousand therefore he had been persuading himself that he
was a man of property. So he wasin a certain point of view--in
his expansive intentions. He had been enriching his medical
attendant in the most lavish manner. He had always doubledand
sometimes quadrupledhis fees. He had said to the doctorNow,
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 handhe
would have put them in the doctor's hand. Not having themhe
substituted the will for the deed. Very well! If he really meant
it--if his will were genuine and realwhich it was--it appeared to
him that it was the same as coinand cancelled the obligation.

It may be, partly, because I know nothing of the value of money,
said Mr. Skimpolebut 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 unconscious 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.'

But, suppose,said my guardianlaughinghe had meant the meat
in the bill, instead of providing it?

My dear Jarndyce,he returnedyou 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.

Did he take no legal proceedings?inquired my guardian.

Yes, he took legal proceedings,said Mr. Skimpole. "But in that
he was influenced by passionnot 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."

He is a great favourite with my girls,said Mr. Jarndyceand I
have promised for them.

Nature forgot to shade him off, I think,observed Mr. Skimpole to
Ada and me. "A 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 anotherMr. Boythorn attaching so much importance to
many things and Mr. Skimpole caring so little for anything.
Besides whichI 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.


He has invited me,said Mr. Skimpole; "and 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 byCoavinses. You remember our friend Coavinses
Miss Summerson?"

He asked me as the subject arose in his mindin his graceful
light-hearted manner and without the least embarrassment.

Oh, yes!said I.

Coavinses has been arrested by the Great Bailiff,said Mr.
Skimpole. "He will never do violence to the sunshine any more."

It quite shocked me to hear itfor I had already recalled with
anything but a serious association the image of the man sitting on
the sofa that night wiping his head.

His successor informed me of it yesterday,said Mr. Skimpole.
His 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.

And he told me,he saidplaying little chords where I shall put
full stopsThe Coavinses had left. Three children. No mother.
And that Coavinses' profession. Being unpopular. The rising
Coavinses. Were at a considerable disadvantage.

Mr. Jarndyce got uprubbing his headand began to walk about.
Mr. Skimpole played the melody of one of Ada's favourite songs.
Ada and I both looked at Mr. Jarndycethinking that we knew what
was passing in his mind.

After walking and stoppingand several times leaving off rubbing
his headand beginning againmy guardian put his hand upon the
keys and stopped Mr. Skimpole's playing. "I don't like this
Skimpole he said thoughtfully.

Mr. Skimpole, who had quite forgotten the subject, looked up
surprised.

The 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. If we make such men
necessary by our faults and folliesor by our want of worldly
knowledgeor by our misfortuneswe 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."

Oh! Coavinses?cried Mr. Skimpoleat length perceiving what he
meant. "Nothing easier. A walk to Coavinses' headquartersand
you can know what you will."

Mr. Jarndyce nodded to uswho were only waiting for the signal.
Come! 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 refreshinghe saidfor him to want Coavinses instead of
Coavinses wanting him!

He took usfirstto Cursitor StreetChancery Lanewhere there
was a house with barred windowswhich he called Coavinses' Castle.
On our going into the entry and ringing a bella very hideous boy
came out of a sort of office and looked at us over a spiked wicket.

Who did you want?said the boyfitting two of the spikes into
his chin.

There was a follower, or an officer, or something, here,said Mr.
Jarndycewho is dead.

Yes?said the boy. "Well?"

I want to know his name, if you please?

Name of Neckett,said the boy.

And his address?

Bell Yard,said the boy. "Chandler's shopleft hand sidename
of Blinder."

Was he--I don't know how to shape the question--murmured my
guardianindustrious?

Was Neckett?said the boy. "Yeswery 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."

He might have done worse,I heard my guardian soliloquize. "He
might have undertaken to do it and not done it. Thank you. That's
all I want."

We left the boywith his head on one side and his arms on the
gatefondling and sucking the spikesand went back to Lincoln's
Innwhere Mr. Skimpolewho had not cared to remain nearer
Coavinsesawaited us. Then we all went to Bell Yarda 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 dropsyor an
asthmaor perhaps both.

Neckett's children?said she in reply to my inquiry. "Yes
Surelymiss. Three pairif you please. Door right opposite the
stairs." And she handed me the key across the counter.

I glanced at the key and glanced at herbut she took it for
granted that I knew what to do with it. As it could only be
intended for the children's doorI came out without askmg any more
questions and led the way up the dark stairs. We went as quietly
as we couldbut four of us made some noise on the aged boardsand
when we came to the second story we found we had disturbed a man
who was standing there looking out of his room.

Is it Gridley that's wanted?he saidfixing his eyes on me with
an angry stare.

No, sir,said I; "I am going higher up."

He looked at Adaand at Mr. Jarndyceand at Mr. Skimpolefixing


the same angry stare on each in succession as they passed and
followed me. Mr. Jarndyce gave him good day. "Good day!" he said
abruptly and fiercely. He was a tallsallow man with a careworn
head on which but little hair remaineda deeply lined faceand
prominent eyes. He had a combative look and a chafingirritable
manner whichassociated with his figure--still large and powerful
though evidently in its decline--rather alarmed me. He had a pen
in his handand in the glimpse I caught of his room in passingI
saw that it was covered with a litter of papers.

Leaving him standing therewe went up to the top room. I tapped
at the doorand a little shrill voice inside saidWe 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 boysome five or six years oldnursing 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
warmhoweverbut 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.

Who has locked you up here alone?we naturally asked.

Charley,said the boystanding still to gaze at us.

Is Charley your brother?

No. She's my sister, Charlotte. Father called her Charley.

Are there any more of you besides Charley?

Me,said the boyand Emma,patting the limp bonnet of the
child he was nursing. "And Charley."

Where is Charley now?

Out a-washing,said the boybeginning 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 girlchildish 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 washingand the soap-suds were yet smoking which she
wiped off her arms. But for thisshe 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. Consequentlythough she was very
lightshe was out of breath and could not speak at firstas she
stood pantingand wiping her armsand looking quietly at us.

Oh, 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 itin a womanly sort of
manner belonging to the apron and the bonnetand stood looking at
us over the burden that clung to her most affectionately.


Is it possible,whispered my guardian as we put a chair for the
little creature and got her to sit down with her loadthe boy
keeping close to herholding to her apronthat 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 togetherand
two of them relying solely on the thirdand the third so young and
yet with an air of age and steadiness that sat so strangely on the
childish figure.

Charley, Charley!said my guardian. "How old are you?"

Over thirteen, sir,replied the child.

Oh! What a great age,said my guardian. "What a great age
Charley!"

I cannot describe the tenderness with which he spoke to herhalf
playfully yet all the more compassionately and mournfully.

And do you live alone here with these babies, Charley?said my
guardian.

Yes, sir,returned the childlooking up into his face with
perfect confidencesince father died.

And how do you live, Charley? Oh! Charley,said my guardian
turning his face away for a momenthow do you live?

Since father died, sir, I've gone out to work. I'm out washing
to-day.

God help you, Charley!said my guardian. "You're not tall enough
to reach the tub!"

In pattens I am, sir,she said quickly. "I've got a high pair as
belonged to mother."

And when did mother die? Poor mother!

Mother died just after Emma was born,said the childglancing at
the face upon her bosom. "Then 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 seesir?"

And do you often go out?

As often as I can,said Charleyopening her eyes and smiling
because of earning sixpences and shillings!

And do you always lock the babies up when you go out?

'To keep 'em safesirdon't you see?" said Charley. "Mrs.
Blinder comes up now and thenand Mr. Gridley comes up sometimes
and perhaps I can run in sometimesand they can play you knowand
Tom an't afraid of being locked upare youTom?"

'"No-o!" said Tom stoutly.

When 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?


Yes, Charley,said Tomalmost quite bright.

Then he's as good as gold,said the little creature--Ohin such
a motherlywomanly way! "And when Emma's tiredhe 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 supperhe sits up again
and has it with me. Don't youTom?"

Oh, yes, Charley!said Tom. "That I do!" And either in this
glimpse of the great pleasure of his life or in gratitude and love
for Charleywho was all in all to himhe 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 courageand by her childish importance in
being able to workand by her bustling busy way. But nowwhen
Tom criedalthough she sat quite tranquillooking quietly at us
and did not by any movement disturb a hair of the head of either of
her little chargesI saw two silent tears fall down her face.

I stood at the window with Adapretending to look at the
housetopsand the blackened stack of chimneysand the poor
plantsand the birds in little cages belonging to the neighbours
when I found that Mrs. Blinderfrom the shop belowhad come in
(perhaps it had taken her all this time to get upstairs) and was
talking to my guardian.

It's not much to forgive 'em the rent, sir,she said; "who could
take it from them!"

'"Wellwell!" said my guardian to us two. "It is enough that the
time will come when this good woman will find that it WAS muchand
that forasmuch as she did it unto the least of these--This child
he added after a few moments, could she possibly continue this?"

Really, sir, I think she might,said Mrs. Blindergetting her
heavy breath by painful degrees. "She's as handy as it's possible
to be. Bless yousirthe 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 illit really was! 'Mrs.
Blinder' he said to me the very last he spoke--he was lying there
--'Mrs. Blinderwhatever my calling may have beenI see a angel
sitting in this room last night along with my childand I trust
her to Our Father!'"

He had no other calling?said my guardian.

No, sir,returned Mrs. Blinderhe was nothing but a follerers.
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. Blinderand 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.

So you gave him notice?said my guardian.

So I gave him notice,said Mrs. Blinder. "But really when the
time cameand I knew no other ill of himI was in doubts. He was
punctual and diligent; he did what he had to dosir said Mrs.
Blinder, unconsciously fixing Mr. Skimpole with her eye, and it's


something in this world even to do that."

So you kept him after all?

Why, 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.

Have many people been kind to the children?asked Mr. Jarndyce.

Upon the whole, not so bad, sir,said Mrs. Blinder; "but
certainly not so many as would have been if their father's calling
had been different. Mr. Coavins gave a guineaand 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 subscriptionand--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 themwith that
and all her draw-backs upon herand perhaps pay her less and put
upon her more. But she's patienter than others would beand is
clever tooand always willingup to the full mark of her strength
and over. So I should sayin generalnot so badsirbut might
be better."

Mrs. Blinder sat down to give herself a more favourable opportunity
of recovering her breathexhausted 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.

I don't know what you may be doing here, ladies and gentlemen,he
saidas if he resented our presencebut 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 childrenthough 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.

No one, surely, would come here to stare about him,he said
mildly.

May be so, sir, may be so,returned the othertaking Tom upon
his knee and waving him off impatiently. "I don't want to argue
with ladies and gentlemen. I have had enough of arguing to last
one man his life."

You have sufficient reason, I dare say,said Mr. Jarndycefor
being chafed and irritated--

There again!exclaimed the manbecoming violently angry. "I am
of a quarrelsome temper. I am irascible. I am not polite!"

Not very, I think.

Sir,said Gridleyputting down the child and going up to him as
if he meant to strike himdo you know anything of Courts of
Equity?


Perhaps I do, to my sorrow.

To your sorrow?said the manpausing in his wrath. "if soI
beg your pardon. I am not politeI know. I beg your pardon!
Sir with renewed violence, I have been dragged for five and
twenty years over burning ironand 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
sometimesand 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, am the man from Shropshire."

I believe I and my family have also had the honour of furnishing
some entertainment in the same grave place,said my guardian
composedly. "You may have heard my name--Jarndyce."

Mr. Jarndyce,said Gridley with a rough sort of salutationyou
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 saidspeaking in a homelyrustic way and
with great vehemence. "You may tell me that I over-excite myself.
I answer that it's in my nature to do itunder wrongand I must
do it. There's nothing between doing itand sinking into the
smiling state of the poor little mad woman that haunts the court.
If I was once to sit down under itI should become imbecile."

The passion and heat in which he wasand the manner in which his
face workedand the violent gestures with which he accompanied
what he saidwere most painful to see.

Mr. Jarndyce,he saidconsider my case. As true as there is a
heaven 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.

There again!said Mr. Gridley with no diminution of his rage.
The 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.

I have done!he saidsitting down and wiping his face. "Mr.
JarndyceI have done! I am violentI 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 troubleand
that troubleand shall be again. I am the man from Shropshire
and I sometimes go beyond amusing themthough they have found it
amusingtooto see me committed into custody and brought up in
custody and all that. It would be better for methey tell meif
I restrained myself. I tell them that if I did restrain myself I
should become imbecile. I was a good-enough-tempered man onceI
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 youMr.
Gridley' the Lord Chancellor told me last week'not to waste your
time hereand to stayusefully employeddown in Shropshire.'
'My Lordmy LordI 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 officebut unhappily for meI can't undo the pastand the
past drives me here!' Besides he added, breaking fiercely out,
I'll shame them. To the lastI'll show myself in that court to
its shame. If I knew when I was going to dieand could be carried
thereand had a voice to speak withI would die theresaying
'You have brought me here and sent me from here many and many a
time. Now send me out feet foremost!'"

His countenance hadperhaps for yearsbecome so set in its
contentious expression that it did not softeneven now when he was
quiet.

I came to take these babies down to my room for an hour,he said
going to them againand 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?

No!said Tom. "You ain't angry with ME."

You are right, my child. You're going back, Charley? Aye? Come
then, little one!He took the youngest child on his armwhere


she was willing enough to be carried. "I shouldn't wonder if we
found a ginger-bread soldier downstairs. Let's go and look for
him!"

He made his former rough salutationwhich was not deficient in a
certain respectto Mr. Jarndyceand bowing slightly to uswent
downstairs to his room.

Upon thatMr. Skimpole began to talkfor the first time since our
arrivalin his usual gay strain. He saidWellit was really
very pleasant to see how things lazily adapted themselves to
purposes. Here was this Mr. Gridleya man of a robust will and
surprising energy--intellectually speakinga sort of inharmonious
blacksmith--and he could easily imagine that there Gridley was
years agowandering 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 werematchedever
afterwards! Otherwise he might have been a great generalblowing
up all sorts of townsor he might have been a great politician
dealing in all sorts of parliamentary rhetoric; but as it washe
and the Court of Chancery had fallen upon each other in the
pleasantest wayand nobody was much the worseand Gridley wasso
to speakfrom that hour provided for. Then look at Coavinses!
How delightfully poor Coavinses (father of these charming children)
illustrated the same principle! HeMr. Skimpolehimselfhad
sometimes repined at the existence of Coavinses. He had found
Coavinses in his way. He could had dispensed with Coavinses.
There had been times whenif he had been a sultanand his grand
vizier had said one morningWhat does the Commander of the
Faithful require at the hands of his slave?he might have even
gone so far as to replyThe head of Coavinses!But what turned
out to be the case? Thatall that timehe had been giving
employment to a most deserving manthat he had been a benefactor
to Coavinsesthat he had actually been enabling Coavinses to bring
up these charming children in this agreeable waydeveloping 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 thoughtI 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 stringsand he was such a mirthful child by the
side of the graver childhood we had seenthat he made my guardian
smile even as he turned towards us from a little private talk with
Mrs. Blinder. We kissed Charleyand 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 goingbut we saw her runsuch a little
little creature in her womanly bonnet and apronthrough 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 restlessvery 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 abroadfor 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 allyfor better and for worse--the gout--darts
into the old oak bedchamber at Chesney Wold and grips him by both
legs.

Sir Leicester receives the gout as a troublesome demonbut still a
demon of the patrician order. All the Dedlocksin the direct male
linethrough a course of time during and beyond which the memory
of man goeth not to the contraryhave had the gout. It can be
provedsir. Other men's fathers may have died of the rheumatism
or may have taken base contagion from the tainted blood of the sick
vulgarbut 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 plateor the picturesor the place in Lincolnshire. It
is among their dignities. Sir Leicester is perhaps not wholly
without an impressionthough 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 aristocracyMy 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 somewherebut he thinksWe 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 a-hunting with bow and arrow, bear witness to his greatness.
Inside, his forefathers, looking on him from the walls, say, Each
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 don't know nothink." He knows that
it's hard to keep the mud off the crossing in dirty weatherand
harder still to live by doing it. Nobody taught him even that
much; he found it out.

Jo lives--that is to sayJo has not yet died--in a ruinous place
known to the like of him by the name of Tom-all-Alone's. It is a
blackdilapidated streetavoided by all decent peoplewhere the
crazy houses were seized uponwhen their decay was far advanced
by some bold vagrants who after establishing their own possession
took to letting them out in lodgings. Nowthese tumbling
tenements containby nighta swarm of misery. As on the ruined
human wretch vermin parasites appearso 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 sleepin maggot numbers
where the rain drips in; and comes and goesfetching and carrying
fever and sowing more evil in its every footprint than Lord Coodle
and Sir Thomas Doodleand the Duke of Foodleand all the fine
gentlemen in officedown to Zoodleshall set right in five
hundred years--though born expressly to do it.

Twice lately there has been a crash and a cloud of dustlike the
springing of a minein 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
remainand there are not unpopular lodgings among the rubbish. As
several more houses are nearly ready to gothe next crash in Tomall-
Alone's may be expected to be a good one.

This desirable property is in Chanceryof course. It would be an
insult to the discernment of any man with half an eye to tell him
so. Whether "Tom" is the popular representative of the original
plaintiff or defendant in Jarndyce and Jarndyceor whether Tom
lived here when the suit had laid the street wasteall alone
until other settlers came to join himor whether the traditional
title is a comprehensive name for a retreat cut off from honest
company and put out of the pale of hopeperhaps nobody knows.
Certainly Jo don't know.

For I don't,says JoI don't know nothink.

It must be a strange state to be like Jo! To shuffle through the
streetsunfamiliar with the shapesand in utter darkness as to
the meaningof those mysterious symbolsso abundant over the
shopsand at the corners of streetsand on the doorsand in the
windows! To see people readand to see people writeand to see
the postmen deliver lettersand not to have the least idea of all
that language--to beto every scrap of itstone blind and dumb!
It must be very puzzling to see the good company going to the
churches on Sundayswith their books in their handsand to think
(for perhaps Jo DOES think at odd times) what does it all meanand
if it means anything to anybodyhow comes it that it means nothing
to me? To be hustledand jostledand moved on; and really to
feel that it would appear to be perfectly true that I have no
business hereor thereor anywhere; and yet to be perplexed by
the consideration that I AM here somehowtooand everybody
overlooked me until I became the creature that I am! It must be a
strange statenot 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 horsesdogsand cattle
go by me and to know that in ignorance I belong to them and not to
the superior beings in my shapewhose delicacy I offend! Jo's
ideas of a criminal trialor a judgeor a bishopor a govemment
or that inestimable jewel to him (if he only knew it) the
Constitutionshould be strange! His whole material and immaterial
life is wonderfully strange; his deaththe strangest thing of all.

Jo comes out of Tom-all-Alone'smeeting the tardy morning which is
always late in getting down thereand munches his dirty bit of
bread as he comes along. His way lying through many streetsand
the houses not yet being openhe 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 ideapoor
wretchof 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 writingwhich has been
suspended for a few hoursrecommences. Jo and the other lower
animals get on in the unintelligible mess as they can. It is
market-day. The blinded oxenover-goadedover-drivennever
guidedrun into wrong places and are beaten outand plunge red-
eyed and foaming at stone wallsand often sorely hurt the
innocentand often sorely hurt themselves. Very like Jo and his
order; veryvery like!

A band of music comes and plays. Jo listens to it. So does a dog
--a drover's dogwaiting 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 fourcan't remember where he left themlooks
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 dogaccustomed to low company and public-
houses; a terrific dog to sheepready at a whistle to scamper over
their backs and tear out mouthfuls of their wool; but an educated
improveddeveloped dog who has been taught his duties and knows
how to discharge them. He and Jo listen to the musicprobably
with much the same amount of animal satisfaction; likewise as to
awakened associationaspirationor regretmelancholy or joyful
reference to things beyond the sensesthey are probably upon a
par. Butotherwisehow far above the human listener is the
brute!

Turn that dog's descendants wildlike Joand 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
wheelsthe horseswhipsand umbrellasand 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 ladderruns 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 to-morrow morning for a warrant. Gridleya
disappointed suitorhas been here to-day and has been alarming.


We are not to be put in bodily fearand that ill-conditioned
fellow shall be held to bail again. From the ceiling
foreshortened Allegoryin the person of one impossible Roman
upside downpoints with the arm of Samson (out of jointand an
odd one) obtrusively toward the window. Why should Mr.
Tulkinghornfor such no reasonlook out of window? Is the hand
not always pointing there? So he does not look out of window.

And if he didwhat would it be to see a woman going by? There are
women enough in the worldMr. Tulkinghorn thinks--too many; they
are at the bottom of all that goes wrong in itthoughfor the
matter of thatthey create business for lawyers. What would it be
to see a woman going byeven 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 behindbetween whose plain dress and her refined manner
there is something exceedingly inconsistent. She should be an
upper servant by her attireyet in her air and stepthough both
are hurried and assumed--as far as she can assume in the muddy
streetswhich she treads with an unaccustomed foot--she is a lady.
Her face is veiledand 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 servantshe 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. Stillshe does not turn her head until she has landed
on the other side. Then she slightly beckons to him and says
Come here!

Jo follows her a pace or two into a quiet court.

Are you the boy I've read of in the papers?she asked behind her
veil.

I don't know,says Jostaring moodily at the veilnothink
about no papers. I don't know nothink about nothink at all.

Were you examined at an inquest?

I don't know nothink about no--where I was took by the beadle, do
you mean?says Jo. "Was the boy's name at the inkwhich Jo?"

Yes.

That's me!says Jo.

Come farther up.

You mean about the man?says Jofollowing. "Him as wos dead?"

Hush! Speak in a whisper! Yes. Did he look, when he was living,
so very ill and poor?

Oh, jist!says Jo.

Did he look like--not like YOU?says the woman with abhorrence.

Oh, not so bad as me,says Jo. "I'm a reg'lar one I am! You
didn't know himdid you?"

How dare you ask me if I knew him?


No offence, my lady,says Jo with much humilityfor even he has
got at the suspicion of her being a lady.

I am not a lady. I am a servant.

You are a jolly servant!says Jo without the least idea of saying
anything offensivemerely as a tribute of admiration.

Listen 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 nodhaving also nodded as each other place was
mentioned.

Go 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-handlefinding them rather hard; pauses to consider
their meaning; considers it satisfactory; and nods his ragged head.

I'm fly,says Jo. "But fen larksyou know. Stow hooking it!"

What does the horrible creature mean?exclaims the servant
recoiling from him.

Stow cutting away, you know!says Jo.

I 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 whistlegives his ragged head a rub
takes his broom under his armand leads the waypassing deftly
with his bare feet over the hard stones and through the mud and
mire.

Cook's Court. Jo stops. A pause.

Who lives here?

Him wot give him his writing and give me half a bull,says Jo in
a whisper without looking over his shoulder.

Go on to the next.

Krook's house. Jo stops again. A longer pause.

Who lives here?

HE lived here,Jo answers as before.

After a silence he is askedIn which room?

In 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.

Go on to the next!

It is a longer walk to the nextbut Jorelieved of his first


suspicionssticks to the forms imposed upon him and does not look
round. By many devious waysreeking with offence of many kinds
they come to the little tunnel of a courtand to the gas-lamp
(lighted now)and to the iron gate.

He was put there,says Joholding to the bars and looking in.

Where? Oh, what a scene of horror!

There!says Jopointing. "Over yinder. Arnong them piles of
bonesand 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 itI s'pose giving it a shake. It's
always locked. Look at the rat!" cries Joexcited. "Hi! Look!
There he goes! Ho! Into the ground!"

The servant shrinks into a cornerinto a corner of that hideous
archwaywith its deadly stains contaminating her dress; and
putting out her two hands and passionately telling him to keep away
from herfor he is loathsome to herso remains for some moments.
Jo stands staring and is still staring when she recovers herself.

Is this place of abomination consecrated ground?

I don't know nothink of consequential ground,says Jostill
staring.

Is it blessed?

Which?says Join the last degree amazed.

Is it blessed?

I'm blest if I know,says Jostaring more than ever; "but I
shouldn't think it warn't. Blest?" repeats Josomething troubled
in his mind. "It 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 itand
shuddering as their hands approach. "Now she adds, show me the
spot again!"

Jo thrusts the handle of his broom between the bars of the gate
and with his utmost power of elaborationpoints it out. At
lengthlooking 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 nextto put it in his mouth for safety and to sweep
the step and passage with great care. His job donehe sets off
for Tom-all-Alone'sstopping 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-nightfor my


Lady goes to a grand dinner and three or four balls. Sir Leicester
is fidgety down at Chesney Woldwith 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.

Sir Leicester would have done better to try the other side of the
house, my dear,says Mrs. Rouncewell to Rosa. "His 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
abilitieshis good spiritshis good temperhis gaiety and
freshnesswas always delightful. But though I liked him more and
more the better I knew himI 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
boysall varying in character and capacityhad enabled him to
dash through his tasksalways with fair credit and often with
distinctionbut in a fitfuldazzling 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 qualitieswithout
which no high place can be meritoriously wonbut like fire and
waterthough excellent servantsthey were very bad masters. If
they had been under Richard's directionthey would have been his
friends; but Richard being under their directionthey became his
enemies.

I write down these opinions not because I believe that this or any
other thing was so because I thought sobut 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 saidand 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 homein the course of conversation I naturally inquired
after Richard.

Why, Mr. Carstone,said Mrs. Badgeris 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 noas Mrs. Badger's insinuating tone seemed to require such
an answer.

Nor Miss Clare?said Mrs. Bayham Badger sweetly.


Ada said notooand looked uneasy.

Why, you see, my dears,said Mrs. Badger--you'll excuse me
calling you my dears?

We entreated Mrs. Badger not to mention it.

Because you really are, if I may take the liberty of saying so,
pursued Mrs. Badgerso perfectly charming. You see, my dears,
that although I am still young--or Mr. Bayham Badger pays me the
compliment of saying so--

No,Mr. Badger called out like some one contradicting at a public
meeting. "Not at all!"

Very well,smiled Mrs. Badgerwe will say still young.

Undoubtedly,said Mr. Badger.

My 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 wonld 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.

A man of European reputation,murmured Mr. Badger.

When I lost my dear first and became the wife of my dear second,
said Mrs. Badgerspeaking of her former husbands as if they were
parts of a charadeI 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.

Remarkable assemblies those, Miss Summerson,said Mr. Badger
reverentially. "There must have been great intellectual friction
going on there under the auspices of such a man!"

And now,pursued Mrs. Badgernow 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.

My dear Miss Summerson,she repliedon Mr. Carstone's character
and conduct. He is of such a very easy disposition that probably
he would never think it worthwhile 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.

Does Mr. Badger think so too?asked Ada timidly.

Why,said Mr. Badgerto 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 consideration 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.

It was a maxim of Captain Swosser's,said Mrs. Badgerspeaking
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.

To all professions observed Mr. Badger. It was admirably said
by Captain Swosser. Beautifully said."

People objected to Professor Dingo when we were staying in the
north of Devon after our marriage,said Mrs. Badgerthat 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?

Precisely the same,said Mr. Badger. "Finely expressed! The
professor made the same remarkMiss Summersonin his last
illnesswhen (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 conversationwe 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 eveningwe resolved to have a
very serious talk with him.

So after he had been a little while with AdaI went in and found
my darling (as I knew she would be) prepared to consider him
thoroughly right in whatever he said.

And 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.

Oh! Well enough!said Richard.

He can't say better than that, Esther, can he?cried my pet
triumphantly.

I tried to look at my pet in the wisest mannerbut of course I
couldn't.


Well enough?I repeated.

Yes,said Richardwell enough. It's rather jog-trotty and
humdrum. But it'll do as well as anything else!

Oh! My dear Richard!I remonstrated.

What's the matter?said Richard.

Do as well as anything else!

I don't think there's any harm in that, Dame Durden,said Ada
looking so confidingly at me across him; "because if it will do as
well as anything elseit will do very wellI hope."

Oh, yes, I hope so,returned Richardcarelessly tossing his hair
from his forehead. "After allit may be only a kind of probation
till our suit is--I forgot though. I am not to mention the suit.
Forbidden ground! Ohyesit's all right enough. Let us talk
about something else."

Ada would have done so willinglyand with a full persuasion that
we had brought the question to a most satisfactory state. But I
thought it would be useless to stop thereso I began again.

No, but Richard,said Iand 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.

Oh, yes! We must talk about it!said Ada. "But I think Richard
is right."

What was the use of my trying to look wise when she was so pretty
and so engagingand so fond of him!

Mr. and Mrs. Badger were here yesterday, Richard,said Iand
they seemed disposed to think that you had no great liking for the
profession.

Did they though?said Richard. "Oh! Wellthat rather alters the
casebecause I had no idea that they thought soand I should not
have liked to disappoint or inconvenience them. The fact isI
don't care much about it. Butohit don't matter! It'll do as
well as anything else!"

You hear him, Ada!said I.

The fact is,Richard proceededhalf thoughtfully and half
jocoselyit 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.

I am sure THAT'S very natural!cried Adaquite delighted. "The
very thing we both said yesterdayEsther!"

Then,pursued Richardit's monotonous, and to-day is too like
yesterday, and to-morrow is too like to-day.

But I am afraid,said Ithis is an objection to all kinds of
application--to life itself, except under some very uncommon
circumstances.


Do you think so?returned Richardstill considering. "Perhaps!
Ha! Whythenyou know he added, suddenly becoming gay again,
we travel outside a circle to what I said just now. It'll do as
well as anything else. Ohit's all right enough! Let us talk
about something else."

But even Adawith 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 himselfI was very sure he never
meant to be careless of Adaand 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.

My dear Mother Hubbard,he saidthat'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.

That may be,I suggestedbecause you don't like what you have
chosen.

Poor fellow!said Ada. "I am sure I don't wonder at it!"

No. It was not of the least use my trying to look wise. I tried
againbut how could I do itor how could it have any effect if I
couldwhile Ada rested her clasped hands upon his shoulder and
while he looked at her tender blue eyesand while they looked at
him!

You see, my precious girl,said Richardpassing her golden curls
through and through his handI 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.

My dear Richard,said Ihow CAN you say about nothing
particular?

I don't mean absolutely that,he returned. "I mean that it MAY
be nothing particular because I may never want it."

Both Ada and I urgedin replynot only that it was decidedly
worth-while to undo what had been donebut that it must be undone.
I then asked Richard whether he had thought of any more congenial
pursuit.

There, my dear Mrs. Shipton,said Richardyou touch me home.
Yes, I have. I have been thinking that the law is the boy for me.

The law!repeated Ada as if she were afraid of the name.

If I went into Kenge's office,said Richardand 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 thatand 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 exertionand only advised him to be
quite sure that his mind was made up now.

My dear Minerva,said RichardI 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 Richardrelapsing into doubtif it really is
worth-while, after all, to make such a disturbance about nothing
particular!

This led to our saying againwith a great deal of gravityall
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. Jarndycewithout a moment's delayand his
disposition was naturally so opposed to concealment that he sought
him out at once (taking us with him) and made a full avowal.
Rick,said my guardianafter hearing him attentivelywe can
retreat with honour, and we will. But we must he 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. Submittinghoweverwith a good grace to the caution
that we had shown to be so necessaryhe 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 himbut rather graveenough so to cause Adawhen he
had departed and we were going upstairs to bedto sayCousin
John, I hope you don't think the worse of Richard?

No, my love,said he.

Because it was very natural that Richard should be mistaken in
such a difficult case. It is not uncommon.

No, no, my love,said he. "Don't look unhappy."

Oh, I am not unhappy, cousin John!said Adasmiling cheerfully
with her hand upon his shoulderwhere she had put it in bidding
him good night. "But I should be a little so if you thought at all
the worse of Richard."

My dear,said Mr. JarndyceI 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!

No, indeed, cousin John,said AdaI 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 itwith her hands upon his
shoulders--both hands now--and looking up into his facelike the
picture of truth!

I think,said my guardianthoughtfully regarding herI 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 shiningand away into the shade; but his glance was
changedand 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 sakebut
I was wakeful and rather low-spirited. I don't know why. At least
I don't think I know why. At leastperhaps I dobut I don't
think it matters.

At any rateI 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 saidEsther! You to be low-spirited. YOU!And
it really was time to say sofor I--yesI really did see myself
in the glassalmost crying. "As if you had anything to make you
unhappyinstead of everything to make you happyyou ungrateful
heart!" said I.

If I could have made myself go to sleepI would have done it
directlybut not being able to do thatI took out of my basket
some ornamental 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 necessary to count all the stitches in that workand I
resolved to go on with it until I couldn't keep my eyes openand
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 growleryand coming to a
stop for want of itI took my candle and went softly down to get
it. To my great surpriseon going in I found my guardian still
thereand sitting looking at the ashes. He was lost in thought
his book lay unheeded by his sidehis silvered iron-grey hair was
scattered confusedly upon his forehead as though his hand had been
wandering among it while his thoughts were elsewhereand 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 notin again passing his hand abstractedly through his
hairseen me and started.

Esther!


I told him what I had come for.

At work so late, my dear?

I am working late to-night,said Ibecause 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?

None, 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 meaningThat I could readily
understand!

Remain a moment, Esther,said heYou were in my thoughts.

I hope I was not the trouble, guardian?

He slightly waved his hand and fell into his usual manner. The
change was so remarkableand he appeared to make it by dint of so
much self-commandthat I found myself again inwardly repeating
None that I could understand!

Little woman,said my guardianI 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.

Dear guardian,I repliedwhen you spoke to me before on that
subject--

But since then,he gravely interposedanticipating what I meant
to sayI 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.

If you think so, guardian, it is right.

I think so,he returned very gentlyand kindlyand very
distinctly. "My dearI think so now. If any real disadvantage
can attach to your position in the mind of any man or woman worth a
thoughtit 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 beOne 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.'I had
covered my face with my hands in repeating the wordsbut I took
them away now with a better kind of shameI hopeand told him
that to him I owed the blessing that I had from my childhood to
that hour nevernevernever felt it. He put up his hand as if to
stop me. I well knew that he was never to be thankedand said no
more.

Nine years, my dear,he said after thinking for a little while
have 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 existence,
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.

Your 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.

It 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.

I saw my ward oftener than she saw me,he addedcheerily making
light of itand I always knew she was beloved, useful, and happy.
She repays me twenty-thousandfold, and twenty more to that, every
hour in every day!

And oftener still,said I'"she blesses the guardian who is a
father to her!"

At the word fatherI saw his former trouble come into his face.
He subdued it as beforeand 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
wonderingThat I could readily understand. None that I could
readily understand!Noit was true. I did not understand it.
Not for many and many a day.

Take a fatherly good night, my dear,said hekissing me on the
foreheadand 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 meand 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 longlong 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
profession. It was not lucrative to a young practitionerwith


very little influence in London; and although he wasnight and
dayat the service of numbers of poor people and did wonders of
gentleness and skill for themhe gained very little by it in
money. He was seven years older than I. Not that I need mention
itfor it hardly seems to belong to anything.

I think--I meanhe 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 morehe would not have made the voyage on which he was
bound. But he had no fortune or private meansand 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 bestand some of the greatest men
belonging to it had a high opinion of him.

When he came to bid us good-byehe brought his mother with him for
the first time. She was a pretty old ladywith bright black eyes
but she seemed proud. She came from Wales and had hada long time
agoan eminent person for an ancestorof the name of Morgan apKerrig--
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 calledas nearly as I could catch it
Mewlinnwillinwodd.

Mrs. Woodcourtafter expatiating to us on the fame of her great
kinsmansaid 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 speculationand that there were
some to be picked up with propertybut that neither charms nor
wealth would suffice for the descendant from such a line without
birthwhich must ever be the first consideration. She talked so
much about birth that for a moment I half fanciedand 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 prolixitybut 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 themhe saidwould go with him wherever he went
and would be always treasured. And so we gave him our handsone
after another--at leastthey 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
servantsand wrote notes for my guardianand dusted his books and
papersand jingled my housekeeping keys a good dealone way and
another. I was still busy between the lightssinging and working
by the windowwhen who should come in but Caddywhom I had no
expectation of seeing!

Why, Caddy, my dear,said Iwhat beautiful flowers!

She had such an exquisite little nosegay in her hand.

Indeed, I think so, Esther,replied Caddy. "They are the
loveliest I ever saw."


Prince, my dear?said I in a whisper.

No,answered Caddyshaking her head and holding them to me to
smell. "Not Prince."

Well, to be sure, Caddy!said I. "You must have two lovers!"

What? Do they look like that sort of thing?said Caddy.

Do they look like that sort of thing?I repeatedpinching her
cheek.

Caddy only laughed in returnand telling me that she had come for
half an hourat the expiration of which time Prince would be
waiting for her at the cornersat chatting with me and Ada in the
windowevery now and then handing me the flowers again or trying
how they looked against my hair. At lastwhen she was goingshe
took me into my room and put them in my dress.

For me?said Isurprised.

For you,said Caddy with a kiss. "They were left behind by
somebody."

Left behind?

At poor Miss Flite's,said Caddy. "Somebody who has been very
good to her was hurrying away an hour ago to join a ship and left
these flowers behind. Nono! Don't take them out. Let the
pretty little things lie here said Caddy, adjusting them with a
careful hand, because I was present myselfand I shouldn't wonder
if somebody left them on purpose!"

Do they look like that sort of thing?said Adacoming laughingly
behind me and clasping me merrily round the waist. "Ohyes
indeed they doDame Durden! They look veryvery like that sort
of thing. Ohvery like it indeedmy 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 momenthe began to doubt whether he wanted
to leave him at all. He didn't knowhe saidreally. 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 thathe 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 fervourafter lasting about
a monthbegan to cooland when it was quite cooledbegan 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 experimental course of Messrs. Kenge and
Carboy. For all his waywardnesshe took great credit to himself
as being determined to be in earnest "this time." And he was so
good-natured throughoutand in such high spiritsand so fond of
Adathat it was very difficult indeed to be otherwise than pleased
with him.


As to Mr. Jarndyce,whoI may mentionfound the wind much
givenduring this periodto stick in the east; "As to Mr.
Jarndyce Richard would say to me, he is the finest fellow in the
worldEsther! I must be particularly carefulif it were only for
his satisfactionto take myself well to task and have a regular
wind-up of this business now."

The idea of his taking himself well to taskwith that laughing
face and heedless manner and with a fancy that everything could
catch and nothing could holdwas 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 wasin money affairswhat I have described him
in a former illustration--generousprofusewildly carelessbut
fully persuaded that he was rather calculating and prudent. I
happened to say to Adain his presencehalf jestinglyhalf
seriouslyabout the time of his going to Mr. Kenge'sthat he
needed to have Fortunatus' pursehe made so light of moneywhich
he answered in this wayMy 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
experimented on the lawfor we had long since gone back to Bleak
Houseand 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; "butlittle woman he added, rubbing his head very
significantly, he hasn't settled down there yet!" The discussions
ended in our hiring for himby the montha 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 expensivehe 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 abeyanceour visit to Mr. Boythorn's
was postponed. At lengthRichard having taken possession of his
lodgingthere was nothing to prevent our departure. He could have
gone with us at that time of the year very wellbut 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 himand 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 offit appearedby the person who took
possession of it on his blue-eyed daughter's birthdaybut he
seemed quite relieved to think that it was gone. Chairs and table
he saidwere wearisome objects; they were monotonous ideasthey
had no variety of expressionthey looked you out of countenance


and you looked them out of countenance. How pleasantthento be
bound to no particular chairs and tablesbut to sport like a
butterfly among all the furniture on hireand to flit from
rosewood to mahoganyand from mahogany to walnutand from this
shape to thatas the humour took one!

The oddity of the thing is,said Mr. Skimpole with a quickened
sense of the ludicrousthat 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!

Well,said my guardian good-humouredlyit's pretty clear that
whoever became security for those chairs and tables will have to
pay for them.

Exactly!returned Mr. Skimpole. "That's the crowning point of
unreason in the business! I said to my landlord'My good manyou
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."

And refused all proposals,said my guardian.

Refused all proposals,returned Mr. Skimpole. "I made him
business proposals. I had him into my room. I said'You are a
man of businessI believe?' He replied'I am' 'Very well'
said I'now let us be business-like. Here is an inkstandhere
are pens and paperhere are wafers. What do you want? I have
occupied your house for a considerable periodI 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 thishe 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.' 'Wellsir' 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 businessand
whatever you can suggest to be done in a business-like way with
penand inkand paper--and wafers--I am ready to do. Don't pay
yourself at another man's expense (which is foolish)but be
business-like!' Howeverhe wouldn't beand there was an end of
it."

If these were some of the inconveniences of Mr. Skimpole's
childhoodit 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 feehe pleasantly asked him what he considered a very good
fee indeednow--a liberal one--and on his replying half a crown
for a single passengersaid it was little enough tooall things
consideredand left Mr. Jarndyce to give it him.

It was delightful weather. The green corn waved so beautifully
the larks sang so joyfullythe hedges were so full of wild
flowersthe trees were so thickly out in leafthe bean-fields
with a light wind blowing over themfilled 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-spireand a marketplaceand a market-crossand one
intensely sunny streetand a pond with an old horse cooling his
legs in itand 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 roadit looked as stillas
hotas motionless a little town as England could produce.

At the inn we found Mr. Boythorn on horsebackwaiting with an open
carriage to take us to his housewhich was a few miles off. He
was over-joyed to see us and dismounted with great alacrity.

By heaven!said he after giving us a courteous greeting. This 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 twenty-five minutes after its time this afternoon.
The coachman ought to be put to death!"

IS he after his time?said Mr. Skimpoleto whom he happened to
address himself. "You know my infirmity."

Twenty-five minutes! Twenty-six minutes!replied Mr. Boythorn
referring to his watch. "With two ladies in the coachthis
scoundrel has deliberately delayed his arrival six and twenty
minutes. Deliberately! 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 indignationhe handed
us into the little phaeton with the utmost gentleness and was all
smiles and pleasure.

I am sorry, ladies,he saidstanding bare-headed at the
carriage-door when all was readythat 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 herecatching my guardian's eyehe broke into one of
his tremendous laughswhich seemed to shake even the motionless
little market-town.

Are the Dedlocks down here, Lawrence?said my guardian as we
drove along and Mr. Boythorn trotted on the green turf by the
roadside.

Sir Arrogant Numskull is here,replied Mr. Boythorn. "Ha ha ha!
Sir Arrogant is hereand I am glad to sayhas 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, is expectedI believedaily. 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!"

I suppose, said my guardian, laughing, WE may set foot in the
park while we are here? The prohibition does not extend to us
does it?"

I can lay no prohibition on my guests,he saidbending his head
to Ada and me with the smiling politeness which sat so gracefully
upon himexcept 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!

I shall not put him to the proof,said my guardian. "He is as
indifferent to the honour of knowing meI dare sayas 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."

Well!said Mr. Boythorn. "I 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 Sundaya considerable part of the inconsiderable
congregation expect to see me dropscorched and witheredon the
pavement under the Dedlock displeasure. Ha ha ha ha! I have no
doubt he is surprised that I don't. For he isby heaventhe most
self-satisfiedand the shallowestand 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. Ohthe solemn woods
over which the light and shadow travelled swiftlyas if heavenly
wings were sweeping on benignant errands through the summer air;
the smooth green slopesthe glittering waterthe garden where the
flowers were so symmetrically arranged in clusters of the richest
colourshow beautiful they looked! The housewith gable and
chimneyand towerand turretand dark doorwayand broad
terrace-walktwining among the balustrades of whichand lying
heaped upon the vasesthere was one great flush of rosesseemed
scarcely real in its light solidity and in the serene and peaceful
hush that rested on all around it. To Ada and to methat above
all appeared the pervading influence. On everythinghouse
gardenterracegreen slopeswaterold oaksfernmosswoods
againand far away across the openings in the prospect to the
distance lying wide before us with a purple bloom upon itthere
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 frontMr.
Boythorn interchanged greetings with a young gentleman sitting on a
bench outside the inn-door who had some fishing-tackle lying beside
him.

That's the housekeeper's grandson, Mr. Rouncewell by name,said
heand 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!

Are he and the pretty girl engaged, Mr. Boythorn?asked Ada.


Why, my dear Miss Clare,he returnedI 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 blushedand Mr. Boythorntrotting forward on his comely grey
horsedismounted at his own door and stood ready with extended arm
and uncovered head to welcome us when we arrived.

He lived in a pretty houseformerly the parsonage housewith a
lawn in fronta bright flower-garden at the sideand a well-
stocked orchard and kitchen-garden in the rearenclosed with a
venerable wall that had of itself a ripened ruddy look. But
indeedeverything about the place wore an aspect of maturity and
abundance. The old lime-tree walk was like green cloistersthe
very shadows of the cherry-trees and apple-trees were heavy with
fruitthe gooseberry-bushes were so laden that their branches
arched and rested on the earththe strawberries and raspberries
grew in like profusionand 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
podsand marrowsand cucumbersthat every foot of ground
appeared a vegetable treasurywhile 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 wherehere and there high upa disused
nail and scrap of list still clung to itit 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 housethough a little disorderly in comparison with the
gardenwas 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 disputewhere Mr.
Boythorn maintained a sentry in a smock-frock day and nightwhose
duty was supposed to bein cases of aggressionimmediately to
ring a large bell hung up there for the purposeto unchain a great
bull-dog established in a kennel as his allyand generally to deal
destruction on the enemy. Not content with these precautionsMr.
Boythorn had himself composed and posted thereon painted boards
to which his name was attached in large lettersthe following
solemn warnings: "Beware of the bull-dog. He is most ferocious.
Lawrence Boythorn." "The blunderbus is loaded with slugs.
Lawrence Boythorn." "Man-traps and spring-guns are set here at all
times of the day and night. Lawrence Boythorn." "Take 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
windowwhile his bird was hopping about his headand he laughed
Ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha!to that extent as he pointed them out
that I really thought he would have hurt himself.

But this is taking a good deal of trouble,said Mr. Skimpole in
his light waywhen you are not in earnest after all.

Not in earnest!returned Mr. Boythorn with unspeakable warmth.
Not 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 parkalmost immediately by the disputed groundwe 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 housesome of
whom were already in their seatswhile others were yet dropping
in. There were some stately footmenand there was a perfect
picture of an old coachmanwho 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 womenand
above themthe 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
fishermanwhom I discovered not far off. One faceand not an
agreeable onethough it was handsomeseemed maliciously watchful
of this pretty girland 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 churchwhich smelt as earthy as a
graveand to think what a shadyancientsolemn little church it
was. The windowsheavily shaded by treesadmitted a subdued
light that made the faces around me paleand darkened the old
brasses in the pavement and the time and damp-worn monumentsand
rendered the sunshine in the little porchwhere a monotonous
ringer was working at the bellinestimably bright. But a stir in
that directiona gathering of reverential awe in the rustic faces
and a blandly ferocious assumption 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.

'Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord, for in thy
sight--'

Shall I ever forget the rapid beating at my heartoccasioned 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 againif I may say so--on my book; but I knew the
beautiful face quite well in that short space of time.

Andvery strangelythere was something quickened within me
associated with the lonely days at my godmother's; yesaway even
to the days when I had stood on tiptoe to dress myself at my little
glass after dressing my doll. And thisalthough 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 ceremoniousgoutygrey-haired
gentlemanthe only other occupant of the great pewwas Sir
Leicester Dedlockand that the lady was Lady Dedlock. But why her
face should bein a confused waylike a broken glass to mein
which I saw scraps of old remembrancesand why I should be so
fluttered and troubled (for I was still) by having casually met her


eyesI 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. Thenvery strangelyI
seemed to hear themnot in the reader's voicebut in the well-
remembered voice of my godmother. This made me thinkdid Lady
Dedlock's face accidentally resemble my godmother's? It might be
that it dida little; but the expression was so differentand the
stern decision which had worn into my godmother's facelike
weather into rockswas 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 faceat
allin any one. And yet I--Ilittle Esther Summersonthe child
who lived a life apart and on whose birthday there was no
rejoicing--seemed to arise before my own eyesevoked out of the
past by some power in this fashionable ladywhom I not only
entertained no fancy that I had ever seenbut 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 maidthough I knew she had been looking
watchfully hereand thereand everywherefrom the moment of her
coming into the church. By degreesthough very slowlyI at last
overcame my strange emotion. After a long timeI looked towards
Lady Dedlock again. It was while they were preparing to sing
before the sermon. She took no heed of meand 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 concludedSir 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 congregationwhom 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.

He believes he is!said Mr. Boythorn. "He firmly believes it.
So did his fatherand his grandfatherand his great-grandfather!"

Do you know,pursued Mr. Skimpole very unexpectedly to Mr.
Boythornit's agreeable to me to see a man of that sort.

IS it!said Mr. Boytborn.

Say that he wants to patronize me,pursued Mr. Skimpole. "Very
well! I don't object."

I do,said Mr. Boythorn with great vigour.

Do you really?returned Mr. Skimpole in his easy light vein.
But 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!

But suppose you went down somewhere else to-morrow,said Mr.
Boythornwhere there was the opposite of that fellow--or of this
fellow. How then?

How then?said Mr. Skimpole with an appearance of the utmost
simplicity and candour. "Just the same then! I should say'My
esteemed Boythorn'--to make you the personification of our
imaginary friend--'my esteemed Boythornyou 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
harmonyin short. Therefore if you objectI object. Now
excellent Boythornlet us go to dinner!'"

But excellent Boythorn might say,returned our hostswelling and
growing very redI'll be--

I understand,said Mr. Skimpole. "Very likely he would."

--if I WILL go to dinner!cried Mr. Boythorn in a violent burst
and stopping to strike his stick upon the ground. "And he would
probably add'Is there such a thing as principleMr. Harold
Skimpole?'"

To which Harold Skimpole would reply, you know,he returned in
his gayest manner and with his most ingenuous smile'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 endand which I dare say would have ended under other
circumstancesin some violent explosion on the part of our host.
But he had so high a sense of his hospitable and responsible
position as our entertainerand my guardian laughed so sincerely
at and with Mr. Skimpoleas a child who blew bubbles and broke
them all day longthat matters never went beyond this point. Mr.
Skimpolewho always seemed quite unconscious of having been on
delicate groundthen betook himself to beginning some sketch in
the park which be never finishedor to playing fragments of airs
on the pianoor to singing scraps of songsor to lying down on
his back under a tree and looking at the sky--which he couldn't
help thinkinghe saidwas what he was meant for; it suited him so
exactly.

Enterprise and effort,he would say to us (on his back)are
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; butfor 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
hardI 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 methey give it a poetry for meand perhaps that is
one of the pleasanter objects of their existence. I am very
sensible of itif it beand I shouldn't wonder if it were!"

I always wondered on these occasions whether he ever thought of
Mrs. Skimpole and the childrenand in what point of view they
presented themselves to his cosmopolitan mind. So far as I could
understandthey 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 woodsand to see the light striking down
among the transparent leaves and sparkling in the beautiful
interlacings of the shadows of the treeswhile the birds poured
out their songs and the air was drowsy with the hum of insectshad
been most delightful. We had one favourite spotdeep in moss and
last year's leaveswhere there were some felled trees from which
the bark was all stripped off. Seated among thesewe looked
through a green vista supported by thousands of natural columns
the whitened stems of treesupon 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
hereMr. JarndyceAdaand Iuntil we heard thunder muttering in
the distance and felt the large raindrops rattle through the
leaves.

The weather had been all the week extremely sultrybut the storm
broke so suddenly--upon usat leastin 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 treeswe ran out of the woodand up and
down the moss-grown steps which crossed the plantation-fence like
two broad-staved ladders placed back to backand 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 treesand
how the ivy clustered over itand how there was a steep hollow
nearwhere we had once seen the keeper's dog dive down into the
fern as if it were water.

The lodge was so dark withinnow the sky was overcastthat 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 openand we sat just within the doorway watching the
storm. It was grand to see how the wind awokeand 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
encompassedto 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.

Is it not dangerous to sit in so exposed a place?

Oh, no, Esther dear!said Ada quietly.

Ada said it to mebut I had not spoken.

The beating of my heart came back again. I had never heard the
voiceas I had never seen the facebut it affected me in the same
strange way. Againin a momentthere 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.

I have frightened you?she said.

No. It was not fright. Why should I be frightened!

I believe,said Lady Dedlock to my guardianI have the pleasure
of speaking to Mr. Jarndyce.

Your remembrance does me more honour than I had supposed it would,
Lady Dedlock,he returned.

I 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.

I am aware of the circumstances,returned my guardian with a
smileand 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
beautifulperfectly self-possessedand had the airI thoughtof
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.

Is 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.

I hope so,said he.

She seemed to respect him and even to wish to conciliate him.
There was something very winning in her haughty mannerand it
became more familiar--I was going to say more easybut that could
hardly be--as she spoke to him over her shoulder.

I presume this is your other ward, Miss Clare?

He presented Adain form.

You will lose the disinterested part of your Don Quixote
character,said Lady Dedlock to Mr. Jarndyce over her shoulder
againif you only redress the wrongs of beauty like this. But
present me,and she turned full upon meto this young lady too!

Miss Summerson really is my ward,said Mr. Jarndyce. "I am
responsible to no Lord Chancellor in her case."

Has Miss Summerson lost both her parents?said my Lady.

Yes.

She is very fortunate in her guardian.

Lady Dedlock looked at meand I looked at her and said I was
indeed. All at once she turned from me with a hasty airalmost


expressive of displeasure or dislikeand spoke to him over her
shoulder again.

Ages have passed since we were in the habit of meeting, Mr.
Jarndyce.

A long time. At least I thought it was a long time, until I saw
you last Sunday,he returned.

What! Even you are a courtier, or think it necessary to become
one to me!she said with some disdain. "I have achieved that
reputationI suppose."

You have achieved so much, Lady Dedlock,said my guardianthat
you pay some little penalty, I dare say. But none to me.

So much!she repeatedslightly laughing. "Yes!"

With her air of superiorityand powerand fascinationand I know
not whatshe seemed to regard Ada and me as little more than
children. Soas she slightly laughed and afterwards sat looking
at the rainshe was as self-possessed and as free to occupy
herself with her own thoughts as if she had been alone.

I think you knew my sister when we were abroad together better
than you know me?she saidlooking at him again.

Yes, we happened to meet oftener,he returned.

We went our several ways,said Lady Dedlockand 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 abatedthe lightning
ceasedthe thunder rolled among the distant hillsand the sun
began to glisten on the wet leaves and the falling rain. As we sat
theresilentlywe saw a little pony phaeton coming towards us at
a merry pace.

The messenger is coming back, my Lady,said the keeperwith the
carriage.

As it drove upwe saw that there were two people inside. There
alighted from itwith some cloaks and wrappersfirst the
Frenchwoman whom I had seen in churchand secondly the pretty
girlthe Frenchwoman with a defiant confidencethe pretty girl
confused and hesitating.

What now?said Lady Dedlock. "Two!"

I am your maid, my Lady, at the present,said the Frenchwoman.
The message was for the attendant.

I was afraid you might mean me, my Lady,said the pretty girl.

I did mean you, child,replied her mistress calmly. "Put that
shawl on me."

She slightly stooped her shoulders to receive itand the pretty
girl lightly dropped it in its place. The Frenchwoman stood
unnoticedlooking on with her lips very tightly set.

I am sorry,said Lady Dedlock to Mr. Jarndycethat 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 offershe took a
graceful leave of Ada--none of me--and put her hand upon his
proffered armand got into the carriagewhich was a littlelow
park carriage with a hood.

Come in, child,she said to the pretty girl; "I shall want you.
Go on!"

The carriage rolled awayand the Frenchwomanwith the wrappers
she had brought hanging over her armremained standing where she
had alighted.

I suppose there is nothing pride can so little bear with as pride
itselfand 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
driveand thenwithout the least discomposure of countenance
slipped off her shoesleft them on the groundand walked
deliberately in the same direction through the wettest of the wet
grass.

Is that young woman mad?said my guardian.

Oh, no, sir!said the keeperwhowith his wifewas looking
after her. "Hortense 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 hershe don't take kindly to it."

But why should she walk shoeless through all that water?said my
guardian.

Why, indeed, sir, unless it is to cool her down!said the man.

Or unless she fancies it's blood,said the woman. "She'd as soon
walk through that as anything elseI thinkwhen her own's up!"

We passed not far from the house a few minutes afterwards.
Peaceful as it had looked when we first saw itit looked even more
so nowwith a diamond spray glittering all about ita light wind
blowingthe birds no longer hushed but singing strongly
everything refreshed by the late rainand the little carriage
shining at the doorway like a fairy carriage made of silver.
Stillvery steadfastly and quietly walking towards ita peaceful
figure too in the landscapewent Mademoiselle Hortenseshoeless
through the wet grass.

CHAPTER XIX

Moving On

It is the long vacation in the regions of Chancery Lane. The good
ships Law and Equitythose teak-builtcopper-bottomediron-
fastenedbrazen-facedand not by any means fast-sailing clippers
are laid up in ordinary. The Flying Dutchmanwith a crew of
ghostly clients imploring all whom they may encounter to peruse
their papershas driftedfor the time beingheaven 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 singand a tenderer class of suitors than is usually found
therewalk.

The TempleChancery LaneSerjeants' Innand Lincoln's Inn even
unto the Fields are like tidal harbours at low waterwhere
stranded proceedingsoffices at anchoridle clerks lounging on
lop-sided stools that will not recover their perpendicular until
the current of Term sets inlie 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 Hallbut that the ticket-porters
who have nothing to do beyond sitting in the shade therewith
their white aprons over their heads to keep the flies offgrub 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 wigno red
petticoatsno furno javelin-menno white wands. Merely a
close-shaved gentleman in white trousers and a white hatwith sea-
bronze on the judicial countenanceand a strip of bark peeled by
the solar rays from the judicial nosewho calls in at the shellfish
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 gentleman who is always so tremendously indignant at the
unprecedented 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-timewhen 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 frighten 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 staircases and other dry places seeking
water give short howls of aggravation. 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
contemplation 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 gentleman 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 volunteeringon his own accountat all incumbent
on his conscience; but he has his followersand Mrs. Snagsby is of
the number. Mrs. Snagsby has but recently taken a passage upward
by the vesselChadband; 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 Gustermuch impressed by regarding herself for the time as the
handmaid of Chadbandwhom she knows to be endowed with the gift of
holding forth for four hours at a stretchprepares the little
drawing-room for tea. All the furniture is shaken and dustedthe
portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Snagsby are touched up with a wet cloth
the best tea-service is set forthand there is excellent provision
made of dainty new breadcrusty twistscool fresh butterthin
slices of hamtongueand German sausageand delicate little rows
of anchovies nestling in parsleynot to mention new-laid eggsto
be brought up warm in a napkinand 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 coatlooking at all the preparations when
they are completed and coughing his cough of deference behind his
handsays to Mrs. SnagsbyAt 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 muchbut he
sayswith his cough of mildnessNo, my dear, no. I merely named
the time.

What's time,says Mrs. Snagsbyto eternity?

Very true, my dear,says Mr. Snagsby. "Only when a person lays
in victuals for teaa person does it with a view--perhaps--more to
time. And when a time is named for having teait'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.

HereGusterwho had been looking out of the bedroom windowcomes
rustling and scratching down the little staircase like a popular
ghostand falling flushed into the drawing-roomannounces that
Mr. and Mrs. Chadband have appeared in the court. The bell at the
inner door in the passage immediately thereafter tinklingshe is
admonished by Mrs. Snagsbyon pain of instant reconsignment to her
patron saintnot to omit the ceremony of announcement. Much
discomposed in her nerves (which were previously in the best order)
by this threatshe so fearfully mutilates that point of state as
to announce "Mr. and Mrs. Cheesemingleast whichImeantersay
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 sternsevere-lookingsilent woman. Mr. Chadband
moves softly and cumbrouslynot unlike a bear who has been taught
to walk upright. He is very much embarrassed about the armsas if
they were inconvenient to him and he wanted to grovelis very much
in a perspiration about the headand never speaks without first
putting up his great handas delivering a token to his hearers
that he is going to edify them.

My friends,says Mr. Chadbandpeace 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 edifiedMr. Snagsby
thinks it expedient on the whole to say amenwhich is well
received.

Now, my friends,proceeds Mr. Chadbandsince I am upon this
theme--

Guster presents herself. Mrs. Snagsbyin a spectral bass voice


and without removing her eyes from Chadbandsays with dreadful
distinctnessGo away!

Now, my friends,says Chadbandsince 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 solemnlyGo
away!

Now, my friends,says Mr. Chadbandwe will inquire in a spirit
of love--

Still Guster reiterates "one thousing seven hundred and eighty-
two."

Mr. Chadbandpausing with the resignation of a man accustomed to
be persecuted and languidly folding up his chin into his fat smile
saysLet 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 heI 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. Snagsbydrawing her breathlooks hard at Mr. Snagsby
as who should sayYou hear this apostle!and while Mr. Chadband
glows with humility and train oilMrs. 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 Chadbandeightpence 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 remarkwhich appears from its sound to be an extract in
verseMr. Chadband stalks to the tableand before taking a chair
lifts up his admonitory hand.

My friends,says hewhat 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. Snagsbypresuming on the success of his last pointventures
to observe in a cheerful and rather knowing toneNo wings.But
is immediately frowned down by Mrs. Snagsby.

I say, my friends,pursues Mr. Chadbandutterly rejecting and
obliterating Mr. Snagsby's suggestionwhy 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 Chadbandglancing over the tablefrom
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 stairsone upon another
after this fashion. But this can only be received as a proof of
their determination to persecutesince it must be within
everybody's experience that the Chadband style of oratory is widely
received and much admired.

Mr. Chadbandhoweverhaving concluded for the presentsits 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 appears to be a process so inseparable from the
constitution of this exemplary vessel that in beginning to eat and
drinkhe may be described 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 vacationin Cook's CourtCursitor Streethe does such a
powerful stroke of business that the warehouse appears to be quite
full when the works cease.

At this period of the entertainmentGusterwho has never
recovered her first failurebut 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
platesand afterwards crowning that gentleman with muffins--at
which period of the entertainmentGuster 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. Snagsbyrisingperhaps this good company
will excuse me for half a minute.

Mr. Snagsby descends and finds the two 'prentices intently
contemplating a police constablewho holds a ragged boy by the
arm.

Why, bless my heart,says Mr. Snagsbywhat's the matter!

This boy,says the constablealthough 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 tosirmore nor
I do move!"

He won't move on,says the constable calmlywith a slight
professional hitch of his neck involving its better settlement in
his stiff stockalthough 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 boyclutching 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 constablegiving him a passionless shake. "My
instructions 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
doubtreally, 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 hearJo? 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 offJofor the
great lights can't at all agree about that. Move on!

Mr. Snagsby says nothing to this effectsays nothing at all
indeedbut coughs his forlornest coughexpressive of no
thoroughfare in any direction. By this time Mr. and Mrs. Chadband
and Mrs. Snagsbyhearing the altercationhave appeared upon the
stairs. Guster having never left the end of the passagethe whole
household are assembled.

The simple question is, sir,says the constablewhether you
know this boy. He says you do.

Mrs. Snagsbyfrom her elevationinstantly cries outNo he
don't!

My lit-tle woman!says Mr. Snagsbylooking up the staircase.
My 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 woful experience
suppressing the half-crown fact.

Well!says the constableso 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. Guppywho nods to Mr. Snagsby and touches his hat with
the chivalry of clerkship to the ladies on the stairs.

I was strolling away from the office just now when I found this
row going on,says Mr. Guppy to the law-stationerand as your
name was mentioned, I thought it was right the thing should be
looked into.

It was very good-natured of you, sir,says Mr. Snagsbyand I am


obliged to you.And Mr. Snagsby again relates his experience
again suppressing the half-crown fact.

Now, I know where you live,says the constablethento Jo.
You live down in Tom-all-Alone's. That's a nice innocent place to
live in, ain't it?

I can't go and live in no nicer place, sir,replies Jo. "They
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!"

You are very poor, ain't you?says the constable.

Yes, I am indeed, sir, wery poor in gin'ral,replies Jo. "I
leave you to judge now! I shook these two half-crowns out of him
says the constable, producing them to the company, in only putting
my hand upon him!"

They're wot's left, Mr. Snagsby,says Joout 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 Jowith dirty tearsfur 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.

You don't expect anybody to believe this, about the lady and the
sovereign, do you?says the constableeyeing him aside with
ineffable disdain.

I don't know as I do, sir,replies Jo. "I don't expect nothink
at allsirmuchbut that's the true hist'ry on it."

You see what he is!the constable observes to the audience.
Well, Mr. Snagsby, if I don't lock him up this time, will you
engage for his moving on?

No!cries Mrs. Snagsby from the stairs.

My little woman!pleads her husband. "ConstableI have no doubt
he'll move on. You know you really must do it says Mr. Snagsby.

I'm everyways agreeablesir says the hapless Jo.

Do itthen observes the constable. You 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. Nowthe 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 tothe 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 sidecarrying his
iron-bound hat in his hand for a little ventilation.

NowJo's improbable story concerning the lady and the sovereign


has awakened more or less the curiosity of all the company. Mr.
Guppywho 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 witnesswhich is found so interesting by the
ladies that Mrs. Snagsby politely invites him to step upstairs and
drink a cup of teaif he will excuse the disarranged state of the
tea-tableconsequent on their previous exertions. Mr. Guppy
yielding his assent to this proposalJo is requested to follow
into the drawing-room doorwaywhere Mr. Guppy takes him in hand as
a witnesspatting him into this shapethat shapeand the other
shape like a butterman dealing with so much butterand worrying
him according to the best models. Nor is the examination unlike
many such model displaysboth in respect of its eliciting nothing
and of its being lengthyfor Mr. Guppy is sensible of his talent
and Mrs. Snagsby feels not only that it gratifies her inquisitive
dispositionbut that it lifts her husband's establishment higher
up in the law. During the progress of this keen encounterthe
vessel Chadbandbeing merely engaged in the oil tradegets
aground and waits to be floated off.

Well!says Mr. Guppy. "Either 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. Snagsbywho exclaimsYou don't say
so!

For years!replied Mrs. Chadband.

Has known Kenge and Carboy's office for years,Mrs. Snagsby
triumphantly explains to Mr. Guppy. "Mrs. Chadband--this
gentleman's wife--Reverend Mr. Chadband."

Oh, indeed!says Mr. Guppy.

Before I married my present husband,says Mrs. Chadband.

Was you a party in anything, ma'am?says Mr. Guppytransferring
his cross-examination.

No.

NOT a party in anything, ma'am?says Mr. Guppy.

Mrs. Chadband shakes her head.

Perhaps you were acquainted with somebody who was a party in
something, ma'am?says Mr. Guppywho likes nothing better than to
model his conversation on forensic principles.

Not exactly that, either,replies Mrs. Chadbandhumouring the
joke with a hard-favoured smile.

Not exactly that, either!repeats Mr. Guppy. "Very good. Pray
ma'amwas it a lady of your acquaintance who had some transactions
(we will not at present say what transactions) with Kenge and
Carboy's officeor was it a gentleman of your acquaintance? Take
timema'am. We shall come to it presently. Man or womanma'am?"

Neither,says Mrs. Chadband as before.

Oh! A child!says Mr. Guppythrowing on the admiring Mrs.
Snagsby the regular acute professional eye which is thrown on


British jurymen. "Nowma'amperhaps you'll have the kindness to
tell us WHAT child."

You have got it at last, sir,says Mrs. Chadband with another
hard-favoured smile. "Wellsirit was before your timemost
likelyjudging from your appearance. I was left in charge of a
child named Esther Summersonwho was put out in life by Messrs.
Kenge and Carboy."

Miss Summerson, ma'am!cries Mr. Guppyexcited.

I call her Esther Summerson,says Mrs. Chadband with austerity.
There 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.

My dear ma'am,returns Mr. Guppymoving across the small
apartmentthe 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. Chadbandat last seeing his opportunitymakes his accustomed
signal and rises with a smoking headwhich he dabs with his
pocket-handkerchief. Mrs. Snagsby whispers "Hush!"

My friends,says Chadbandwe have partaken in moderation
(which was certainly not the case so far as he was concerned) "of
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 growmay it thrivemay it prospermay it
advancemay it proceedmay it press forward! Butmy friends
have we partaken of any-hing else? We have. My friendsof what
else have we partaken? Of spiritual profit? Yes. From whence
have we derived that spiritual profit? My young friendstand
forth!"

Jothus apostrophizedgives a slouch backwardand another slouch
forwardand another slouch to each sideand confronts the
eloquent Chadband with evident doubts of his intentions.

My young friend,says Chadbandyou 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?

I don't know,replies Jo. "I don't know nothink."

My young friend,says Chadbandit 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!

And 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 discourseJowho seems to have
been gradually going out of his mindsmears 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.

My friends,says Mr. Chadband with his persecuted chin folding
itself into its fat smile again as he looks roundit 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.

My friends,says Chadbandlooking round him in conclusionI
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.)

Jowhose immediate object seems to be to get away on any terms
gives a shuffling nod. Mr. Guppy then throws him a pennyand Mrs.
Snagsby calls to Guster to see him safely out of the house. But
before he goes downstairsMr. Snagsby loads him with some broken
meats from the tablewhich he carries awayhugging in his arms.

SoMr. Chadband--of whom the persecutors say that it is no wonder
he should go on for any length of time uttering such abominable
nonsensebut that the wonder rather is that he should ever leave
offhaving once the audacity to begin--retires into private life
until he invests a little capital of supper in the oil-trade. Jo
moves onthrough the long vacationdown to Blackfriars Bridge
where he finds a baking stony corner wherein to settle to his
repast.

And there he sitsmunching and gnawingand looking up at the
great cross on the summit of St. Paul's Cathedralglittering above
a red-and-violet-tinted cloud of smoke. From the boy's face one
might suppose that sacred emblem to bein his eyesthe crowning
confusion of the greatconfused city--so goldenso high upso
far out of his reach. There he sitsthe sun going downthe river
running fastthe 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 "move 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 willbut he must do somethingand it must be something of an
unexciting naturewhich 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 stooland stab his deskand gape.

Kenge and Carboy are out of townand the articled clerk has taken
out a shooting license and gone down to his father'sand 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 roomwhereat
Mr. Guppy chafes. So exceedingly that he with biting sarcasm
informs his motherin the confidential moments when he sups with
her off a lobster and lettuce in the Old Street Roadthat he is
afraid the office is hardly good enough for swellsand that if he
had known there was a swell cominghe would have got it painted.

Mr. Guppy suspects everybody who enters on the occupation of a
stool in Kenge and Carboy's office of entertainingas a matter of
coursesinister designs upon him. He is clear that every such
person wants to depose him. If he be ever asked howwhywhenor
whereforehe shuts up one eye and shakes his head. On the
strength of these profound viewshe in the most ingenious manner
takes infinite pains to counterplot when there is no plotand
plays the deepest games of chess without any adversary.

It is a source of much gratification to Mr. Guppythereforeto
find the new-comer constantly poring over the papers in Jarndyce
and Jarndycefor 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
officeto witYoung Smallweed.

Whether Young Smallweed (metaphorically called Small and eke Chick
Weedas 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 ladyto whom he had been engaged some
years. He is a town-made articleof small stature and weazen
featuresbut 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 himwalks at himfounds himself entirely on him. He is
honoured with Mr. Guppy's particular confidence and occasionally
advises himfrom the deep wells of his experienceon 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 drinksand has twice mixed them in the two official
tumblers and stirred them up with the ruler. Mr. Guppy propounds
for Mr. Smallweed's consideration the paradox that the more you
drink the thirstier you are and reclines his head upon the windowsill
in a state of hopeless languor.

While thus looking out into the shade of Old SquareLincoln's Inn
surveying the intolerable bricks and mortarMr. 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 timea low whistle is wafted through the Inn and a suppressed
voice criesHip! Gup-py!

Why, you don't mean it!says Mr. Guppyaroused. "Small! Here's
Jobling!" Small's head looks out of window too and nods to
Jobling.

Where have you sprung up from?inquires Mr. Guppy.

From 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.

I say! Just throw out half a crown if you have got one to spare.
I want to get some dinner.

Will you come and dine with me?says Mr. Guppythrowing out the
coinwhich Mr. Jobling catches neatly.

How long should I have to hold out?says Jobling.

Not half an hour. I am only waiting here till the enemy goes,
returns Mr. Guppy, butting inward with his head.

What enemy?"

A new one. Going to be articled. Will you wait?

Can 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 "can't stand it."

You shall have the paper,says Mr. Guppy. "He 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 retreatsand then Smallweed fetches Mr. Jobling
up.

Well, and how are you?says Mr. Guppyshaking hands with him.

So, so. How are you?

Mr. Guppy replying that he is not much to boast ofMr. Jobling
ventures on the questionHow is SHE?This Mr. Guppy resents as
a libertyretortingJobling, there ARE chords in the human
mind--Jobling begs pardon.

Any subject but that!says Mr. Guppy with a gloomy enjoyment of
his injury. "For there ARE chordsJobling--"

Mr. Jobling begs pardon again.

During this short colloquythe active Smallweedwho is of the
dinner partyhas written in legal characters on a slip of paper


Return immediately.This notification to all whom it may
concernhe inserts in the letter-boxand 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 slap-
bangwhere the waitressa bouncing young female of fortyis
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 nothing. He stands precociously possessed of centuries
of owlish wisdom. If he ever lay in a cradleit seems as if he
must have lain there in a tail-coat. He has an oldold eyehas
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 itwhatever it is. In shortin his bringing up
he has been so nursed by Law and Equity that he has become a kind
of fossil impto 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 familyalso that his
first long-clothes were made from a blue bag.

Into the dining-houseunaffected by the seductive show in the
window of artificially whitened cauliflowers and poultryverdant
baskets of peascoolly blooming cucumbersand joints ready for
the spitMr. Smallweed leads the way. They know him there and
defer to him. He has his favourite boxhe bespeaks all the
papershe is down upon bald patriarchswho keep them more than
ten minutes afterwards. It is of no use trying him with anything
less than a full-sized "bread" 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
experienceMr. Guppy consults him in the choice of that day's
banquetturning an appealing look towards him as the waitress
repeats the catalogue of viands and saying "What do YOU take
Chick?" Chickout of the profundity of his artfulnesspreferring
veal 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. Smallweedapproving of
what is set before himconveys intelligent benignity into his
ancient eye and winks upon her. Thenamid a constant coming in
and going outand running aboutand a clatter of crockeryand a
rumbling up and down of the machine which brings the nice cuts from
the kitchenand a shrill crying for more nice cuts down the
speaking-pipeand a shrill reckoning of the cost of nice cuts that
have been disposed ofand a general flush and steam of hot joints
cut and uncutand a considerably heated atmosphere in which the
soiled knives and tablecloths seem to break out spontaneously into
eruptions of grease and blotches of beerthe 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 natureas if it had been a favourite snail-promenade.
The same phenomenon is visible on some parts of his coatand
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 hambringing it to a close while his companions are yet midway
in theirsthat Mr. Guppy proposes another. "Thank youGuppy
says Mr. Jobling, I really don't know but what I WILL take
another."

Another being broughthe 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
contentmentMr. Guppy saysYou are a man again, Tony!

Well, not quite yet,says Mr. Jobling. "Sayjust born."

Will you take any other vegetables? Grass? Peas? Summer
cabbage?

Thank you, Guppy,says Mr. Jobling. "I really don't know but
what I WILL take summer cabbage."

Order given; with the sarcastic addition (from Mr. Smallweed) of
Without slugs, Polly!And cabbage produced.

I am growing up, Guppy,says Mr. Joblingplying his knife and
fork with a relishing steadiness.

Glad to hear it.

In fact, I have just turned into my teens,says Mr. Jobling.

He says no more until he has performed his taskwhich he achieves
as Messrs. Guppy and Smallweed finish theirsthus getting over the
ground in excellent style and beating those two gentlemen easily by
a veal and ham and a cabbage.

Now, Small,says Mr. Guppywhat would you recommend about
pastry?

Marrow puddings,says Mr. Smallweed instantly.

Aye, aye!cries Mr. Jobling with an arch look. "You're there
are you? Thank youMr. GuppyI don't know but what I WILL take a
marrow pudding."

Three marrow puddings being producedMr. Jobling adds in a
pleasant humour that he is coming of age fast. To these succeed
by command of Mr. Smallweedthree Cheshires,and to those "three
small rums." This apex of the entertainment happily reachedMr.
Jobling puts up his legs on the carpeted seat (having his own side
of the box to himself)leans against the walland saysI am
grown up now, Guppy. I have arrived at maturity.

What do you think, now,says Mr. Guppyabout--you don't mind
Smallweed?

Not the least in the worid. I have the pleasure of drinking his
good health.

Sir, to you!says Mr. Smallweed.

I was saying, what do you think NOW,pursues Mr. Guppyof


enlisting?

Why, what I may think after dinner,returns Mr. Joblingis 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.
Joblingpronouncing that word as if he meant a necessary fixture
in an English stable. "Ill 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 "much more so."

If any man had told me,pursues Joblingeven 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.

Chesney 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. Joblingtaking a little rum-and-water
with an air of desperate resignation; "I should have let fly at his
head."

Still, Tony, you were on the wrong side of the post then,
remonstrates Mr. Guppy. "You were talking about nothing else in
the gig."

Guppy,says Mr. JoblingI 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 roundor worked roundbut in their "coming" round!
As though a lunatic should trust in the world's "coming"
triangular!

I 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. "But 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 moneywhy there was an end of that connexion.
And of any new professional connexion toofor if I was to give a
reference to-morrowit 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-gardensbut what's the use of
living cheap when you have got no money? You might as well live
dear."

Better,Mr. Smallweed thinks.

Certainly. It's the fashionable way; and fashion and whiskers
have been my weaknesses, and I don't care who knows it,says Mr.
Jobling. "They are great weaknesses--Dammesirthey are great.
Well proceeds Mr. Jobling after a defiant visit to his rum-andwater,
what can a fellow doI ask youBUT enlist?"

Mr. Guppy comes more fully into the conversation to state whatin
his opiniona 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.


Jobling,says Mr. Guppymyself and our mutual friend Smallweed--

Mr. Smallweed modestly observesGentlemen both!and drinks.

--Have had a little conversation on this matter more than once
since you--

Say, got the sack!cries Mr. Jobling bitterly. "Say itGuppy.
You mean it."

No-o-o! Left the Inn,Mr. Smallweed delicately suggests.

Since you left the Inn, Jobling,says Mr. Guppy; "and I have
mentioned to our mutual friend Smallweed a plan I have lately
thought of proposing. You know Snagsby the stationer?"

I know there is such a stationer,returns Mr. Jobling. "He was
not oursand I am not acquainted with him."

He IS ours, Jobling, and I AM acquainted with him,Mr. Guppy
retorts. "Wellsir! 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 subjectand the moment they touch
itto turn on them with that trenchant severity about the chords
in the human mindboth Mr. Jobling and Mr. Smallweed decline the
pitfall by remaining silent.

Such things may be,repeats Mr. Guppyor 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 Smallweed were put into the box, he could prove
this?

Mr. Smallweed nods and appears greedy to be sworn.

Now, gentlemen of the jury,says Mr. Guppy--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 wordsHem! Shakspeare!

There are two branches to this subject, Jobling,says Mr. Guppy.
That 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-toneI think you know Krook, the
Chancellor, across the lane?

I know him by sight,says Mr. Jobling.

You know him by sight. Very well. And you know little Flite?

Everybody knows her,says Mr. Jobling.


Everybody 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. Guppywho has suddenly lowered his voice
and become familiar againhe'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.

You don't mean--Mr. Jobling begins.

I mean,returns Mr. Guppyshrugging his shoulders with becoming
modestythat 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 testimonyA few!

I have seen something of the profession and something of life,
Tony,says Mr. Guppyand 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. JoblingMr. Guppyand Mr. Smallweed all lean their elbows on
the table and their chins upon their handsand look at the
ceiling. After a timethey all drinkslowly lean backput their
hands in their pocketsand look at one another.

If I had the energy I once possessed, Tony!says Mr. Guppy with a
sigh. "But there are chords in the human mind--"

Expressing the remainder of the desolate sentiment in rum-andwater
Mr. Guppy concludes by resigning the adventure to Tony
Jobling and informing him that during the vacation and while things
are slackhis purseas far as three or four or even five pound
goes,will be at his disposal. "For never shall it be said Mr.
Guppy adds with emphasis, that 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 emotionGuppy, my trump, your fist!Mr.
Guppy presents itsayingJobling, my boy, there it is!Mr.
Jobling returnsGuppy, we have been pals now for some years!
Mr. Guppy repliesJobling, we have.

They then shake handsand Mr. Jobling adds in a feeling manner
Thank you, Guppy, I don't know but what I WILL take another glass
for old acquaintance sake.


Krook's last lodger died there,observes Mr. Guppy in an
incidental way.

Did he though!says Mr. Jobling.

There was a verdict. Accidental death. You don't mind that?

No,says Mr. JoblingI 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 libertyseveral times
returning to it with such remarks asThere are places enough to
die in, I should think!orHe wouldn't have liked my dying at
HIS place, I dare say!

Howeverthe compact being virtually madeMr. 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 approvingSmallweed 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-doorsitting in the back
premisessleeping "like one o'clock."

Then I'll pay,says Mr. Guppyand we'll go and see him. Small,
what will it be?

Mr. Smallweedcompelling the attendance of the waitress with one
hitch of his eyelashinstantly replies as follows: "Four veals and
hams is threeand four potatoes is three and fourand one summer
cabbage is three and sixand three marrows is four and sixand
six breads is fiveand three Cheshires is five and threeand four
half-pints of half-and-half is six and threeand four small rums
is eight and threeand three Pollys is eight and six. Eight and
six in half a sovereignPollyand eighteenpence out!"

Not at all excited by these stupendous calculationsSmallweed
dismisses his friends with a cool nod and remains behind to take a
little admiring notice of Pollyas opportunity may serveand to
read the daily paperswhich are so very large in proportion to
himselfshorn of his hatthat when he holds up the Times to run
his eye over the columnshe 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 shopwhere
they find Krook still sleeping like one o'clockthat 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 himamong the usual lumberstand 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 shelfas they
open and shut and glimmer on the visitorslook drunk.

Hold up here!says Mr. Guppygiving the relaxed figure of the
old man another shake. "Mr. Krook! Halloasir!"

But it would seem as easy to wake a bundle of old clothes with a
spirituous heat smouldering in it. "Did you ever see such a stupor
as he falls intobetween drink and sleep?" says Mr. Guppy.

If this is his regular sleep,returns Joblingrather alarmed
it'll last a long time one of these days, I am thinking.

It's always more like a fit than a nap,says Mr. Guppyshaking


him again. "Halloayour lordship! Whyhe might be robbed fifty
times over! Open your eyes!"

After much adohe opens thembut without appearing to see his
visitors or any other objects. Though he crosses one leg on
anotherand folds his handsand several times closes and opens
his parched lipshe seems to all intents and purposes as
insensible as before.

He is alive, at any rate,says Mr. Guppy. "How are youmy Lord
Chancellor. I have brought a friend of minesiron a little
matter of business."

The old man still sitsoften smacking his dry lips without the
least consciousness. After some minutes he makes an attempt to
rise. They help him upand he staggers against the wall and
stares at them.

How do you do, Mr. Krook?says Mr. Guppy in some discomfiture.
How do you do, sir? You are looking charming, Mr. Krook. I hope
you are pretty well?

The old manin aiming a purposeless blow at Mr. Guppyor at
nothingfeebly swings himself round and comes with his face
against the wall. So he remains for a minute or twoheaped up
against itand then staggers down the shop to the front door. The
airthe movement in the courtthe lapse of timeor the
combination of these things recovers him. He comes back pretty
steadilyadjusting his fur cap on his head and looking keenly at
them.

Your servant, gentlemen; I've been dozing. Hi! I am hard to wake,
odd times.

Rather so, indeed, sir,responds Mr. Guppy.

What? You've been a-trying to do it, have you?says the
suspicious Krook.

Only a little,Mr. Guppy explains.

The old man's eye resting on the empty bottlehe takes it up
examines itand slowly tilts it upside down.

I say!he cries like the hobgoblin in the story. "Somebody's
been making free here!"

I assure you we found it so,says Mr. Guppy. "Would you allow me
to get it filled for you?"

Yes, certainly I would!cries Krook in high glee. "Certainly I
would! Don't mention it! Get it filled next door--Sol's Arms--the
Lord Chancellor's fourteenpenny. Bless youthey know ME!"

He so presses the empty bottle upon Mr. Guppy that that gentleman
with a nod to his friendaccepts 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.

But, I say,he whisperswith his eyes screwed upafter tasting
itthis ain't the Lord Chancellor's fourteenpenny. This is
eighteenpenny!

I thought you might like that better,says Mr. Guppy.


You're a nobleman, sir,returns Krook with another tasteand his
hot breath seems to come towards them like a flame. "You're a
baron of the land."

Taking advantage of this auspicious momentMr. Guppy presents his
friend under the impromptu name of Mr. Weevle and states the object
of their visit. Krookwith 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. "You'd like to see the roomyoung man?" he says. "Ah! It's
a good room! Been whitewashed. Been cleaned down with soft soap
and soda. Hi! It's worth twice the rentletting alone my company
when you want it and such a cat to keep the mice away."

Commending the room after this mannerthe old man takes them
upstairswhere 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. Guppyassociated as
he is with Kenge and CarboyJarndyce and Jarndyceand 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 CourtCursitor Streetwhere
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 purposeand
separateMr. 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 morrowin the dusk of eveningMr. Weevle modestly appears
at Krook'sby no means incommoded with luggageand establishes
himself in his new lodgingwhere the two eyes in the shutters
stare at him in his sleepas if they were full of wonder. On the
following day Mr. Weevlewho is a handy good-for-nothing kind of
young fellowborrows a needle and thread of Miss Flite and a
hammer of his landlord and goes to work devising apologies for
window-curtainsand knocking up apologies for shelvesand hanging
up his two teacupsmilkpotand crockery sundries on a pennyworth
of little hookslike a shipwrecked sailor making the best of it.

But what Mr. Weevle prizes most of all his few possessions (next
after his light whiskersfor 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 Albionor Galaxy Gallery of British Beauty
representing ladies of title and fashion in every variety of smirk
that artcombined with capitalis capable of producing. With
these magnificent portraitsunworthily confined in a band-box
during his seclusion among the market-gardenshe decorates his
apartment; and as the Galaxy Gallery of British Beauty wears every
variety of fancy dressplays every variety of musical instrument
fondles every variety of dogogles every variety of prospectand
is backed up by every variety of flower-pot and balustradethe
result is very imposing.

But fashion is Mr. Weevle'sas it was Tony Jobling'sweakness.
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 yesterday or contemplates the no
less brilliant and distinguished feat of leaving it to-morrow gives
him a thrill of joy. To be informed what the Galaxy Gallery of
British Beauty is aboutand means to be aboutand what Galaxy
marriages are on the tapisand what Galaxy rumours are in
circulationis to become acquainted with the most glorious
destinies of mankind. Mr. Weevle reverts from this intelligence to
the Galaxy portraits implicatedand seems to know the originals
and to be known of them.

For the rest he is a quiet lodgerfull of handy shifts and devices
as before mentionedable to cook and clean for himself as well as
to carpenterand developing social inclinations after the shades
of evening have fallen on the court. At those timeswhen he is
not visited by Mr. Guppy or by a small light in his likeness
quenched in a dark hathe 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 "very 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, Mark my wordsMrs. Perkinsma'amand don't
you be surprisedLord bless youif 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 neighbourhoodthough one
of its rising grounds bears the name of Mount Pleasantthe Elfin
Smallweedchristened Bartholomew and known on the domestic hearth
as Bartpasses that limited portion of his time on which the
office and its contingencies have no claim. He dwells in a little
narrow streetalways solitaryshadyand sadclosely bricked in
on all sides like a tombbut 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 beenbut no
childuntil Mr. Smallweed's grandmothernow livingbecame weak
in her intellect and fell (for the first time) into a childish
state. With such infantine graces as a total want of observation
memoryunderstandingand interestand an eternal disposition to
fall asleep over the fire and into itMr. Smallweed's grandmother
has undoubtedly brightened the family.

Mr. Smallweed's grandfather is likewise of the party. He is in a
helpless condition as to his lowerand nearly so as to his upper
limbsbut his mind is unimpaired. It holdsas well as it ever
heldthe first four rules of arithmetic and a certain small
collection of the hardest facts. In respect of ideality
reverencewonderand other such phrenological attributesit 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 firstand is a
grub at last. In all his life he has never bred a single
butterfly.

The father of this pleasant grandfatherof the neighbourhood of


Mount Pleasantwas a horny-skinnedtwo-leggedmoney-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 itmarried itdied 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 sidehe
broke something--something necessary to his existencetherefore it
couldn't have been his heart--and made an end of his career. As
his character was not goodand he had been bred at a charity
school in a complete courseaccording to question and answerof
those ancient people the Amorites and Hittiteshe was frequently
quoted as an example of the failure of education.

His spirit shone through his sonto whom he had always preached of
going outearly in life and whom he made a clerk in a sharp
scrivener's office at twelve years old. There the young gentleman
improved his mindwhich was of a lean and anxious characterand
developing the family giftsgradually elevated himself into the
discounting profession. Going out early in life and marrying late
as his father had done before himhe too begat a lean and anxious-
minded sonwho in his turngoing out early in life and marrying
latebecame the father of Bartholomew and Judith Smallweedtwins.
During the whole time consumed in the slow growth of this family
treethe house of Smallweedalways early to go out and late to
marryhas strengthened itself in its practical characterhas
discarded all amusementsdiscountenanced all story-booksfairy-
talesfictionsand fablesand 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 timein the dark little parlour certain feet below
the level of the street--a grimharduncouth parlouronly
ornamented with the coarsest of baize table-coversand the hardest
of sheet-iron tea-traysand offering in its decorative character
no bad allegorical representation of Grandfather Smallweed's mind-seated
in two black horsehair porter's chairsone on each side of
the fire-placethe superannuated Mr. and Mrs. Smallweed while away
the rosy hours. On the stove are a couple of trivets for the pots
and kettles which it is Grandfather Smallweed's usual occupation to
watchand projecting from the chimney-piece between them is a sort
of brass gallows for roastingwhich 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 chairreported 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.

And where's Bart?Grandfather Smallweed inquires of JudyBart's
twin sister.

He an't come in yet,says Judy.

It's his tea-time, isn't it?

No.

How much do you mean to say it wants then?

Ten minutes.


Hey?

Ten minutes.(Loud on the part of Judy.)

Ho!says Grandfather Smallweed. "Ten minutes."

Grandmother Smallweedwho has been mumbling and shaking her head
at the trivetshearing figures mentionedconnects them with money
and screeches like a horrible old parrot without any plumageTen
ten-pound notes!

Grandfather Smallweed immediately throws the cushion at her.

Drat 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 presentwhen extricated by her
granddaughtera highly unbecoming state of capbut the necessary
exertion recoils on Mr. Smallweed himselfwhom 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 itdoes 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 meanshe and the sharer of his
life's evening again fronting one another in their two porter's
chairslike a couple of sentinels long forgotten on their post by
the Black SerjeantDeath.

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
proportionswhile 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 circumstanceshowevershe is dressed in a plainspare
gown of brown stuff.

Judy never owned a dollnever heard of Cinderellanever played at
any game. She once or twice fell into children's company when she
was about ten years oldbut the children couldn't get on with
Judyand Judy couldn't get on with them. She seemed like an
animal of another speciesand 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 laughshe
certainly can have no conception. If she were to try oneshe
would find her teeth in her waymodelling that action of her face
as she has unconsciously modelled all its other expressionson 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 leapfrog
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.

Judywith a gong-like clash and clattersets one of the sheet



iron tea-trays on the table and arranges cups and saucers. The
bread she puts on in an iron basketand 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.

Charley, do you mean?says Judy.

Hey?from Grandfather Smallweed.

Charley, do you mean?

This touches a spring in Grandmother Smallweedwhochuckling as
usual at the trivetscriesOver 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.

Ha!he says when there is silence. "If that's her name. She
eats a deal. It would be better to allow her for her keep."

Judywith her brother's winkshakes her head and purses up her
mouth into no without saying it.

No?returns the old man. "Why not?"

She'd want sixpence a day, and we can do it for less,says Judy.

Sure?

Judy answers with a nod of deepest meaning and callsas she
scrapes the butter on the loaf with every precaution against waste
and cuts it into slicesYou, Charley, where are you?Timidly
obedient to the summonsa little girl in a rough apron and a large
bonnetwith her hands covered with soap and water and a scrubbing
brush in one of themappearsand curtsys.

What work are you about now?says Judymaking an ancient snap at
her like a very sharp old beldame.

I'm a-cleaning the upstairs back room, miss,replies Charley.

Mind 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. "You girls are more trouble than you're worthby half."

On this severe matronas she returns to her task of scraping the
butter and cutting the breadfalls the shadow of her brother
looking in at the window. For whomknife and loaf in handshe
opens the street-door.

Aye, aye, Bart!says Grandfather Smallweed. "Here you arehey?"

Here I am,says Bart.

Been along with your friend again, Bart?

Small nods.

Dining at his expense, Bart?

Small nods again.

That'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 grandsonwithout receiving this good counsel as dutifully as
he mighthonours 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
cherubimMrs. Smallweed perpetually twitching her head and
chattering at the trivets and Mr. Smallweed requiring to be
repeatedly shaken up like a large black draught.

Yes, yes,says the good old gentlemanreverting to his lesson of
wisdom. "That'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 aton that accountdoes not appear.

He was my true son,repeats the old gentlemanfolding his bread
and butter on his kneea good accountant, and died fifteen years
ago.

Mrs. Smallweedfollowing her usual instinctbreaks out with
Fifteen hundred pound. Fifteen hundred pound in a black box,
fifteen hundred pound locked up, fifteen hundred pound put away and
hid!Her worthy husbandsetting aside his bread and butter
immediately discharges the cushion at hercrushes her against the
side of her chairand falls back in his ownoverpowered. His
appearanceafter visiting Mrs. Smallweed with one of these
admonitionsis particularly impressive and not wholly
prepossessingfirstly because the exertion generally twists his
black skull-cap over one eye and gives him an air of goblin
rakishnesssecondly because he mutters violent imprecations
against Mrs. Smallweedand 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 thishoweveris so common in the Smallweed family circle that
it produces no impression. The old gentleman is merely shaken and
has his internal feathers beaten upthe cushion is restored to its
usual place beside himand the old ladyperhaps with her cap
adjusted and perhaps notis planted in her chair againready to
be bowled down like a ninepin.

Some time elapses in the present instance before the old gentleman
is sufficiently cool to resume his discourseand even then he
mixes it up with several edifying expletives addressed to the
unconscious partner of his bosomwho holds communication with
nothing on earth but the trivets. As thus: "If your fatherBart
had lived longerhe 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 forthrough many a
year--you jade of a magpiejackdawand poll-parrotwhat do you
mean!--he took ill and died of a low feveralways being a sparing
and a spare manfule been a good sonand I think I meant to
have been one. But I wasn't. I was a thundering bad sonthat's
the long and the short of itand never was a credit to anybody."

Surprising!cries the old man.

However,Mr. George resumesthe 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 sitswith his arms foldedconsuming the family and the
parlour while Grandfather Smallweed is assisted by Judy to two
black leathern cases out of a locked bureauin one of which he
secures the document he has just receivedand from the other takes
another similar document which hl of business care--I should like to throw a
cat at you instead of a cushionand I will too if you make such a
confounded fool of yourself!--and your motherwho was a prudent
woman as dry as a chipjust 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!"

Judynot interested in what she has often heardbegins to collect
in a basin various tributary streams of teafrom the bottoms of
cups and saucers and from the bottom of the teapot for the little
charwoman's evening meal. In like manner she gets togetherin the
iron bread-basketas many outside fragments and worn-down heels of
loaves as the rigid economy of the house has left in existence.

But your father and me were partners, Bart,says the old
gentlemanand 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 flowersbut 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'swhen their venerable grandsire anticipates his being
gonesome little impatience to know when he may be goingand some
resentful opinion that it is time he went.

Now, if everybody has done,says Judycompleting her
preparationsI'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 introducedand 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 personJudy 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 herwith or without pretencewhether or nois
wonderfulevincing an accomplishment in the art of girl-driving
seldom reached by the oldest practitioners.

Now, don't stare about you all the afternoon,cries Judyshaking
her head and stamping her foot as she happens to catch the glance
which has been previously sounding the basin of teabut take your
victuals and get back to your work.

Yes, miss,says Charley.

Don't say yes,returns Miss Smallweedfor 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 gormandizewhich "in 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.


See who it isand don't chew when you open it!" cries Judy.

The object of her attentions withdrawing for the purposeMiss
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.

Now! Who is it, and what's wanted?says the snappish Judy.

It is one Mr. Georgeit appears. Without other announcement or
ceremonyMr. George walks in.

Whew!says Mr. George. "You are hot here. Always a fireeh?
Well! Perhaps you do right to get used to one." Mr. George makes
the latter remark to himself as he nods to Grandfather Smallweed.

Ho! It's you!cries the old gentleman. "How de do? How de do?"

Middling,replies Mr. Georgetaking a chair. "Your
granddaughter I have had the honour of seeing before; my service to
youmiss."

This is my grandson,says Grandfather Smallweed. "You ha'n't
seen him before. He is in the law and not much at home."

My 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.

And how does the world use you, Mr. George?Grandfather Smallweed
inquiresslowly rubbing his legs.

Pretty much as usual. Like a football.

He is a swarthy brown man of fiftywell madeand good looking
with crisp dark hairbright eyesand a broad chest. His sinewy
and powerful handsas sunburnt as his facehave evidently been
used to a pretty rough life. What is curious about him is that he
sits forward on his chair as if he werefrom long habitallowing
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 nowbut 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 formshis large manner filling any amount of room
and their little narrow pinched wayshis sounding voice and their
sharp spare tonesare in the strongest and the strangest
opposition. As he sits in the middle of the grim parlourleaning
a little forwardwith his hands upon his thighs and his elbows
squaredhe looks as thoughif he remained there longhe would
absorb into himself the whole family and the whole four-roomed
houseextra little back-kitchen and all.

Do you rub your legs to rub life into 'em?he asks of Grandfather


Smallweed after looking round the room.

Why, it's partly a habit, Mr. George, and--yes--it partly helps
the circulation,he replies.

The cir-cu-la-tion!repeats Mr. Georgefolding his arms upon his
chest and seeming to become two sizes larger. "Not much of thatI
should think."

Truly I'm old, Mr. George,says Grandfather Smallweed. "But I
can carry my years. I'm older than HER nodding at his wife, and
see what she is? You're a brimstone chatterer!" with a sudden
revival of his late hostility.

Unlucky old soul!says Mr. Georgeturning his head in that
direction. "Don't scold the old lady. Look at her herewith her
poor cap half off her head and her poor hair all in a muddle. Hold
upma'am. That's better. There we are! Think of your mother
Mr. Smallweed says Mr. George, coming back to his seat from
assisting her, if your wife an't enough."

I 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 repliesWhy
no. I wasn't.

I am astonished at it.

So am I. I ought to have hands to Mr. George, who twists
it up for a pipelight. As the old man inspects, through his
glasses, every up-stroke 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, Afraid to order the pipe? We are
not so mercenary as thatsir. Judysee directly to the pipe and
the glass of cold brandy-and-water for Mr. George."

The sportive twinswho have been looking straight before them all
this time except when they have been engrossed by the black
leathern casesretire togethergenerally disdainful of the
visitorbut leaving him to the old man as two young cubs might
leave a traveller to the parental bear.

And there you sit, I suppose, all the day long, eh?says Mr.
George with folded arms.

Just so, just so,the old man nods.

And don't you occupy yourself at all?

I watch the fire--and the boiling and the roasting--

When there is any,says Mr. George with great expression.

Just so. When there is any.

Don't you read or get read to?

The old man shakes his head with sharp sly triumph. "Nono. We


have never been readers in our family. It don't pay. Stuff.
Idleness. Folly. Nono!"

There'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. "I say!" in a louder
voice.

I hear you.

You'll sell me up at last, I suppose, when I am a day in arrear.

My dear friend!cries Grandfather Smallweedstretching out both
hands to embrace him. "Never! Nevermy dear friend! But my
friend in the city that I got to lend you the money--HE might!"

Oh! You can't answer for him?says Mr. Georgefinishing the
inquiry in his lower key with the words "You lying old rascal!"

My dear friend, he is not to be depended on. I wouldn't trust
him. He will have his bond, my dear friend.

Devil doubt him,says Mr. George. Charley appearing with a tray
on which are the pipea small paper of tobaccoand the brandyand-
waterhe asks herHow do you come here! You haven't got the
family face.

I 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 handand pats her on the head.
You 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 pipeand drinks to Mr. Smallweed's friend in the city-the
one solitary flight of that esteemed old gentleman's
imagination.

So you think he might be hard upon me, eh?

I think he might--I am afraid he would. I have known him do it,
says Grandfather Smallweed incautiouslytwenty times.

Incautiouslybecause his stricken better-halfwho has been dozing
over the fire for some timeis instantly aroused and jabbers
Twenty 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 cushionwhich the visitorto whom
this singular experiment appears to be a noveltysnatches from her
face as it crushes her in the usual manner.

You'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
manprostrate in his chair. "My dear friendwill you shake me up
a little?"

Mr. Georgewho has been looking first at one of them and then at
the otheras if he were dementedtakes his venerable acquaintance
by the throat on receiving this requestand dragging him upright
in his chalr as easily as if he were a dollappears in two minds
whether or no to shake all future power of cushioning out of him
and shake him into his grave. Resisting the temptationbut
agitating him violently enough to make his head roll like a
harlequin'she 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.

O Lord!gasps Mr. Smallweed. "That'll do. Thank youmy dear
friendthat'll do. Ohdear meI'm out of breath. O Lord!" And
Mr. Smallweed says it not without evident apprehensions of his dear
friendwho still stands over him looming larger than ever.

The alarming presencehowevergradually subsides into its chair
and falls to smoking in long puffsconsoling itself with the
philosophical reflectionThe name of your friend in the city
begins with a D, comrade, and you're about right respecting the
bond.

Did you speak, Mr. George?inquires the old man.

The trooper shakes his headand leaning forward with his right
elbow on his right knee and his pipe supported in that handwhile
his other handresting on his left legsquares his left elbow in
a martial mannercontinues 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.

I take it,he saysmaking just as much and as little change in
his position as will enable him to reach the glass to his lips with
a roundfull actionthat I am the only man alive (or dead
either) that gets the value of a pipe out of YOU?

Well,returns the old manit'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--

Why, 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.

Ha! You're prudent, prudent, sir!cries Grandfather Smallweed
rubbing his legs.

Very. I always was.Puff. "It's a sure sign of my prudence
that I ever found the way here." Puff. "Alsothat I am what I
am." Puff. "I am well known to be prudent says Mr. George,
composedly smoking. I rose in life that way."

Don't he down-hearted, sir. You may rise yet.

Mr. George laughs and drinks.

Ha'n't you no relations, now,asks Grandfather Smallweed with a
twinkle in his eyeswho 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. Georgestill composedly smokingrepliesIf 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.

But natural affection, Mr. George,hints Grandfather Smallweed.


For two good names, hey?says Mr. Georgeshaking his head and
still composedly smoking. "No. 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 houriappearingshakes 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.

Ha!he observes when he is in trim again. "If you could have
traced out the captainMr. Georgeit would have been the making
of you. If when you first came herein consequence of our
advertisement in the newspapers--when I say 'our' I'm alluding to
the advertisements of my friend in the cityand one or two others
who embark their capital in the same wayand are so friendly
towards me as sometimes to give me a lift with my little pittance-if
at that time you could have helped usMr. Georgeit would have
been the making of you."

I was willing enough to be 'made,' as you call it,says Mr.
Georgesmoking not quite so placidly as beforefor since the
entrance of Judy he has been in some measure disturbed by a
fascinationnot of the admiring kindwhich obliges him to look at
her as she stands by her grandfather's chairbut on the whole, I
am glad I wasn't now.

Why, 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.)

For two reasons, comrade.

And what two reasons, Mr. George? In the name of the--

Of our friend in the city?suggests Mr. Georgecomposedly
drinking.

Aye, if you like. What two reasons?

In the first place,returns Mr. Georgebut still looking at Judy
as if she being so old and so like her grandfather it is
indifferent which of the two he addressesyou 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.

Well?returns the old man shrilly and sharply.

Well!says Mr. Georgesmoking on. "It wouldn't have been much
to his advantage to have been clapped into prison by the whole bill
and judgment trade of London."

How 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
manholding up his impotent ten fingersI want to strangle him
now.And in a sudden access of furyhe throws the cushion at the
unoffending Mrs. Smallweedbut it passes harmlessly on one side of
her chair.

I don't need to be told,returns the troopertaking 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 lowthat 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.

I wish he had let it off,says the benevolent old manand blown
his head into as many pieces as he owed pounds!

That would have been a smash indeed,returns the trooper coolly;
any 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.

I hope number two's as good?snarls the old man.

Why, 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.

How do you know he was there?

He wasn't here.

How do you know he wasn't here?

Don't lose your temper as well as your money,says Mr. George
calmly knocking the ashes out of his pipe. "He was drowned long
before. I am convinced of it. He went over a ship's side.
Whether intentionally or accidentallyI don't know. Perhaps your
friend in the city does. Do you know what that tune isMr.
Smallweed?" he adds after breaking off to whistle oneaccompanied
on the table with the empty pipe.

Tune!replied the old man. "No. We never have tunes here."

That'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!

My dear friend!the old man gives him both his hands.

So you think your friend in the city will be hard upon me if I
fall in a payment?says the trooperlooking down upon him like a
giant.

My dear friend, I am afraid he will,returns the old manlooking
up at him like a pygmy.

Mr. George laughsand with a glance at Mr. Smallweed and a parting
salutation to the scornful Judystrides out of the parlour
clashing imaginary sabres and other metallic appurtenances as he
goes.

You're a damned rogue,says the old gentlemanmaking a hideous
grimace at the door as he shuts it. "But I'll lime youyou dog
I'll lime you!"

After this amiable remarkhis spirit soars into those enchanting
regions of reflection which its education and pursuits have opened


to itand 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 postMr. George strides
through the streets with a massive kind of swagger and a grave-
enough face. It is eight o'clock nowand the day is fast drawing
in. He stops hard by Waterloo Bridge and reads a playbilldecides
to go to Astley's Theatre. Being thereis 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 scenewhen the Emperor of Tartary gets up into a cart and
condescends to bless the united lovers by hovering over them with
the Union Jackhis eyelashes are moistened with emotion.

The theatre overMr. George comes across the water again and makes
his way to that curious region lying about the Haymarket and
Leicester Square which is a centre of attraction to indifferent
foreign hotels and indifferent foreignersracket-courtsfighting-
menswordsmenfootguardsold chinagaming-housesexhibitions
and a large medley of shabbiness and shrinking out of sight.
Penetrating to the heart of this regionhe arrives by a court and
a long whitewashed passage at a great brick building composed of
bare wallsfloorsroof-raftersand skylightson the front of
whichif it can be said to have any frontis 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-shootingand archery accommodationand fencing appliances
and all necessaries for the British art of boxing. None of these
sports or exercises being pursued in George's Shooting Gallery tonight
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 gunsmithin 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 targetthe black upon him shines
again. Not far off is the strongroughprimitive table with a
vice upon it at which he has been working. He is a little man with
a face all crushed togetherwho appearsfrom a certain blue and
speckled appearance that one of his cheeks presentsto have been
blown upin the way of businessat some odd time or times.

Phil!says the trooper in a quiet voice.

All right!cries Philscrambling to his feet.

Anything been doing?

Flat as ever so much swipes,says Phil. "Five dozen rifle and a
dozen pistol. As to aim!" Phil gives a howl at the recollection.

Shut up shop, Phil!

As Phil moves about to execute this orderit appears that he is
lamethough able to move very quickly. On the speckled side of
his face he has no eyebrowand on the other side he has a bushy
black onewhich 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 fingersfor they are notchedand seamedand
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 themwhich has left a smear all round the
four wallsconventionally called "Phil's mark."

This custodian of George's Gallery in George's absence concludes
his proceedingswhen he has locked the great doors and turned out
all the lights but onewhich he leaves to glimmerby dragging out
from a wooden cabin in a corner two mattresses and bedding. These
being drawn to opposite ends of the gallerythe trooper makes his
own bed and Phil makes his.

Phil!says the masterwalking towards him without his coat and
waistcoatand looking more soldierly than ever in his braces.
You were found in a doorway, weren't you?

Gutter,says Phil. "Watchman tumbled over me."

Then vagabondizing came natural to YOU from the beginning.

As nat'ral as possible,says Phil.

Good night!

Good night, guv'ner.

Phil cannot even go straight to bedbut finds it necessary to
shoulder round two sides of the gallery and then tack off at his
mattress. The trooperafter taking a turn or two in the rifle-
distance and looking up at the moon now shining through the
skylightsstrides 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 Fieldsthough the
evening is hotfor both Mr. Tulkinghorn's windows are wide open
and the room is loftygustyand gloomy. These may not be
desirable characteristics when November comes with fog and sleet or
January with ice and snowbut they have their merits in the sultry
long vacation weather. They enable Allegorythough it has cheeks
like peachesand knees like bunches of blossomsand rosy
swellings for calves to its legs and muscles to its armsto look
tolerably cool to-night.

Plenty of dust comes in at Mr. Tulkinghorn's windowsand 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 againit flings
as much dust in the eyes of Allegory as the law-or Mr. Tulkinghorn
one of its trustiest representatives--may scatteron occasionin
the eyes of the laity.

In his lowering magazine of dustthe universal article into which
his papers and himselfand all his clientsand all things of
earthanimate and inanimateare resolvingMr. Tulkinghorn sits


at one of the open windows enjoying a bottle of old port. Though a
hard-grained manclosedryand silenthe can enjoy old wine
with the best. He has a priceless bin of port in some artful
cellar under the Fieldswhich is one of his many secrets. When he
dines alone in chambersas he has dined to-dayand has his bit of
fish and his steak or chicken brought in from the coffee-househe
descends with a candle to the echoing regions below the deserted
mansionand heralded by a remote reverberation of thundering
doorscomes gravely back encircled by an earthy atmosphere and
carrying a bottle from which he pours a radiant nectartwo score
and ten years oldthat blushes in the glass to find itself so
famous and fills the whole room with the fragrance of southern
grapes.

Mr. Tulkinghornsitting in the twilight by the open windowenjoys
his wine. As if it whispered to him of its fifty years of silence
and seclusionit shuts him up the closer. More impenetrable than
everhe sitsand drinksand mellows as it were in secrecy
pondering at that twilight hour on all the mysteries he knows
associated with darkening woods in the countryand vast blank
shut-up houses in townand perhaps sparing a thought or two for
himselfand his family historyand his moneyand his will--all a
mystery to every one--and that one bachelor friend of hisa man of
the same mould and a lawyer toowho lived the same kind of life
until he was seventy-five years oldand then suddenly conceiving
(as it is supposed) an impression that it was too monotonousgave
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 tablethough with his chair modestly
and uncomfortably drawn a little way from itsits a baldmild
shining man who coughs respectfully behind his hand when the lawyer
bids him fill his glass.

Now, Snagsby,says Mr. Tulkinghornto go over this odd story
again.

If you please, sir.

You told me when you were so good as to step round here last
night--

For 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 sayingwith an awkward coughI must ask
you to excuse the liberty, sir, I am sure.

Not at all,says Mr. Tulkinghorn. "You told meSnagsbythat
you put on your hat and came round without mentioning your
intention to your wife. That was prudent I thinkbecause it's not
a matter of such importance that it requires to be mentioned."

Well, sir,returns Mr. Snagsbyyou 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
handDear me, very fine wine indeed!

Therefore you kept your visit to yourself last night?says Mr.
Tulkinghorn. "And to-night too?"

Yes, 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 little woman being engaged in that way made it easier
for me to step round in a quiet manner.

Mr. Tulkinghorn assents. "Fill your glassSnagsby."

Thank you, sir, I am sure,returns the stationer with his cough
of deference. "This is wonderfully fine winesir!"

It is a rare wine now,says Mr. Tulkinghorn. "It is fifty years
old."

Is 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 portMr. Snagsby in his modesty coughs an apology behind
his hand for drinking anything so precious.

Will you run over, once again, what the boy said?asks Mr.
Tulkinghornputting his hands into the pockets of his rusty
smallclothes and leaning quietly back in his chair.

With pleasure, sir.

Thenwith fidelitythough with some prolixitythe law-stationer
repeats Jo's statement made to the assembled guests at his house.
On coming to the end of his narrativehe gives a great start and
breaks off withDear me, sir, I wasn't aware there was any other
gentleman present!

Mr. Snagsby is dismayed to seestanding 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 roombut its hinges have
not creakednor has a step been audible upon the floor. Yet this
third person stands there with his attentive faceand his hat and
stick in his handsand his hands behind hima composed and quiet
listener. He is a stoutly builtsteady-lookingsharp-eyed man in
blackof about the middle-age. Except that he looks at Mr.
Snagsby as if he were going to take his portraitthere is nothing
remarkable about him at first sight but his ghostly manner of
appearing.

Don't mind this gentleman,says Mr. Tulkinghorn in his quiet way.
This is only Mr. Bucket.

Oh, indeed, sir?returns the stationerexpressing by a cough
that he is quite in the dark as to who Mr. Bucket may be.

I wanted him to hear this story,says the lawyerbecause 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?


It'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.

Mr. Bucket is a detective officer, Snagsby,says the lawyer in
explanation.

Is he indeed, sir?says Mr. Snagsby with a strong tendency in his
clump of hair to stand on end.

And if you have no real objection to accompany Mr. Bucket to the
place in question,pursues the lawyerI shall feel obliged to
you if you will do so.

In a moment's hesitation on the part of Mr. SnagsbyBucket dips
down to the bottom of his mind.

Don't you be afraid of hurting the boy,he says. "You 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 youas a manthat you shall see the
boy sent away all right. Don't you be afraid of hurting him; you
an't going to do that."

Very well, Mr. Tulkinghorn!cries Mr. Snagsby cheerfully. And
reassuredSince that's the case--

Yes! And lookee here, Mr. Snagsby,resumes Buckettaking him
aside by the armtapping him familiarly on the breastand
speaking in a confidential tone. "You're a man of the worldyou
knowand a man of businessand a man of sense. That's what YOU
are."

I am sure I am much obliged to you for your good opinion,returns
the stationer with his cough of modestybut--

That's what YOU are, you know,says Bucket. "Nowit an't
necessary to say to a man like youengaged in your businesswhich
is a business 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!"

Certainly, certainly,returns the other.

I don't mind telling YOU,says Bucket with an engaging appearance
of franknessthat 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?

Oh!says Mr. Snagsbybut not appearing to see quite distinctly.

Now, what YOU want,pursues Bucketagain tapping Mr. Snagsby on
the breast in a comfortable and soothing manneris that every
person should have their rights according to justice. That's what
YOU want.

To be sure,returns Mr. Snagsby with a nod.


On 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.

Why, I generally say customer myself,replies Mr. Snagsby.

You're right!returns Mr. Bucketshaking hands with him quite
affectionately. "--On account of whichand at the same time to
oblige a real good customeryou mean to go down with mein
confidenceto Tom-all-Alone's and to keep the whole thing quiet
ever afterwards and never mention it to any one. That's about your
intentionsif I understand you?"

You are right, sir. You are right,says Mr. Snagsby.

Then here's your hat,returns his new friendquite as intimate
with it as if he had made it; "and if you're readyI am."

They leave Mr. Tulkinghornwithout a ruffle on the surface of his
unfathomable depthsdrinking his old wineand go down into the
streets.

You 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.

No,says Mr. SnagsbyconsideringI don't know anybody of that
name. Why?

Nothing particular,says Bucket; "only having allowed his temper
to get a little the better of him and having been threatening some
respectable peoplehe 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 alongMr. Snagsby observesas a noveltythat
however quick their pace may behis companion still seems in some
undefinable manner to lurk and lounge; alsothat whenever he is
going to turn to the right or lefthe pretends to have a fixed
purpose in his mind of going straight aheadand wheels off
sharplyat the very last moment. Now and thenwhen they pass a
police-constable on his beatMr. Snagsby notices that both the
constable and his guide fall into a deep abstraction as they come
towards each otherand appear entirely to overlook each otherand
to gaze into space. In a few instancesMr. Bucketcoming behind
some under-sized young man with a shining hat onand his sleek
hair twisted into one flat curl on each side of his headalmost
without glancing at him touches him with his stickupon which the
young manlooking roundinstantly evaporates. For the most part
Mr. Bucket notices things in generalwith 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 settingwhich he
wears in his shirt.

When they come at last to Tom-all-Alone'sMr. Bucket stops for a
moment at the corner and takes a lighted bull's-eye from the
constable on duty therewho 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
undrainedunventilateddeep in black mud and corrupt water-though
the roads are dry elsewhere--and reeking with such smells
and sights that hewho has lived in London all his lifecan
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.

Draw off a bit here, Mr. Snagsby,says Bucket as a kind of shabby
palanquin is borne towards themsurrounded by a noisy crowd.
Here's the fever coming up the street!

As the unseen wretch goes bythe crowdleaving that object of
attractionhovers round the three visitors like a dream of
horrible faces and fades away up alleys and into ruins and behind
wallsand with occasional cries and shrill whistles of warning
thenceforth flits about them until they leave the place.

Are 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 "all them are and further that in all, for
months and months, the people have been down by dozens" and have
been carried out dead and dying "like sheep with the rot." Bucket
observing to Mr. Snagsby as they go on again that he looks a little
poorlyMr. 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 signthere is
much reference to Mr. Snagsby whether he means Carrotsor the
Colonelor Gallowsor Young Chiselor Terrier Tipor Lankyor
the Brick. Mr. Snagsby describes over and over again. There are
conflicting opinions respecting the original of his picture. Some
think it must be Carrotssome say the Brick. The Colonel is
producedbut is not at all near the thing. Whenever Mr. Snagsby
and his conductors are stationarythe crowd flows roundand from
its squalid depths obsequious advice heaves up to Mr. Bucket.
Whenever they moveand the angry bull's-eyes glareit fades away
and flits about them up the alleysand in the ruinsand behind
the wallsas before.

At last there is a lair found out where Toughyor the Tough
Subjectlays 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
bundleand 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.

And who have we got here to-night?says Mr. Bucketopening
another door and glaring in with his bull's-eye. "Two drunken men
eh? And two women? The men are sound enough turning back each
sleeper's arm from his face to look at him. Are these your good
menmy dears?"

Yes, sir,returns one of the women. "They are our husbands."

Brickmakers, eh?

Yes, sir.

What are you doing here? You don't belong to London.

No, sir. We belong to Hertfordshire.

Whereabouts in Hertfordshire?


Saint Albans.

Come up on the tramp?

We 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.

That's not the way to do much good,says Mr. Bucketturning his
head in the direction of the unconscious figures on the ground.

It an't indeed,replies the woman with a sigh. "Jenny and me
knows it full well."

The roomthough two or three feet higher than the dooris 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 downbut the women
sit by the candle. Lying in the arms of the woman who has spoken
is a very young child.

Why, what age do you call that little creature?says Bucket. "It
looks as if it was born yesterday." He is not at all rough about
it; and as he turns his light gently on the infantMr. Snagsby is
strangely reminded of another infantencircled with lightthat he
has seen in pictures.

He is not three weeks old yet, sir,says the woman.

Is he your child?

Mine.

The other womanwho was bending over it when they came instoops
down again and kisses it as it lies asleep.

You seem as fond of it as if you were the mother yourself,says
Mr. Bucket.

I was the mother of one like it, master, and it died.

Ah, Jenny, Jenny!says the other woman to her. "Better so. Much
better to think of dead than aliveJenny! Much better!"

Why, you an't such an unnatural woman, I hope,returns Bucket
sternlyas to wish your own child dead?

God knows you are right, master,she returns. "I am not. I'd
stand between it and death with my own life if I couldas true as
any pretty lady."

Then don't talk in that wrong manner,says Mr. Bucketmollified
again. "Why do you do it?"

It's brought into my head, master,returns the womanher eyes
filling with tearswhen 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.
Look 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!

Well, well,says Mr. Bucketyou train him respectable, and
he'll be a comfort to you, and look after you in your old age, you
know.

I mean to try hard,she answerswiping her eyes. "But I have
been a-thinkingbeing over-tired to-night and not well with the
agueof all the many things that'll come in his way. My master
will be against itand he'll be beatand see me beatand made to
fear his homeand perhaps to stray wild. If I work for him ever
so muchand ever so hardthere's no one to help me; and if he
should be turned bad 'spite of all I could doand the time should
come when I should sit by him in his sleepmade 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!"

There, there!says Jenny. "Lizyou're tired and ill. Let me
take him."

In doing soshe displaces the mother's dressbut quickly
readjusts it over the wounded and bruised bosom where the baby has
been lying.

It's my dead child,says Jennywalking up and down as she
nursesthat 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 sympathya
step is heard without. Mr. Bucket throws his light into the
doorway and says to Mr. SnagsbyNow, what do you say to Toughy?
Will HE do?

That's Jo,says Mr. Snagsby.

Jo stands amazed in the disk of lightlike a ragged figure in a
magic-lanterntrembling to think that he has offended against the
law in not having moved on far enough. Mr. Snagsbyhowever
giving him the consolatory assuranceIt's only a job you will be
paid for, Jo,he recovers; and on being taken outside by Mr.
Bucket for a little private confabulationtells his tale
satisfactorilythough out of breath.

I have squared it with the lad,says Mr. Bucketreturningand
it's all right. Now, Mr. Snagsby, we're ready for you.

FirstJo has to complete his errand of good nature by handing over
the physic he has been to getwhich he delivers with the laconic
verbal direction that "it's to be all took d'rectly." Secondly
Mr. Snagsby has to lay upon the table half a crownhis usual
panacea for an immense variety of afflictions. ThirdlyMr. Bucket
has to take Jo by the arm a little above the elbow and walk him on
before himwithout which observance neither the Tough Subject nor
any other Subject could be professionally conducted to Lincoln's
Inn Fields. These arrangements completedthey 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 itthe crowd flittingand whistling


and skulking about them until they come to the vergewhere
restoration of the bull's-eyes is made to Darby. Here the crowd
like a concourse of imprisoned demonsturns backyellingand is
seen no more. Through the clearer and fresher streetsnever so
clear and fresh to Mr. Snagsby's mind as nowthey 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 kindBucket takes time to
open the door and makes some noise too. It may be that he sounds a
note of preparation.

Howbeitthey come at last into the hallwhere 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 therebut his two old-fashioned
candlesticks areand the room is tolerably light.

Mr. Bucketstill having his professional hold of Jo and appearing
to Mr. Snagsby to possess an unlimited number of eyesmakes a
little way into this roomwhen Jo starts and stops.

What's the matter?says Bucket in a whisper.

There she is!cries Jo.

Who!

The lady!

A female figureclosely veiledstands 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 thembut it takes no notice of
their entrance and remains like a statue.

Now, tell me,says Bucket aloudhow you know that to be the
lady.

I know the wale,replies Jostaringand the bonnet, and the
gownd.

Be quite sure of what you say, Tough,returns Bucketnarrowly
observant of him. "Look again."

I am a-looking as hard as ever I can look,says Jo with starting
eyesand that there's the wale, the bonnet, and the gownd.

What about those rings you told me of?asks Bucket.

A-sparkling all over here,says Jorubbing 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.

Now, what do you say to that?asks Bucket.

Jo shakes his head. "Not rings a bit like them. Not a hand like
that."

What are you talking of?says Bucketevidently pleased though
and well pleased too.


Hand was a deal whiter, a deal delicater, and a deal smaller,
returns Jo.

Why, you'll tell me I'm my own mother next,says Mr. Bucket. "Do
you recollect the lady's voice?"

I think I does,says Jo.

The figure speaks. "Was it at all like this? I will speak as long
as you like if you are not sure. Was it this voiceor at all like
this voice?"

Jo looks aghast at Mr. Bucket. "Not a bit!"

Then, what,retorts that worthypointing to the figuredid you
say it was the lady for?

Cos,says Jo with a perplexed stare but without being at all
shaken in his certaintycos 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.

Well!says Mr. Bucket slightlywe 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 hashis principal use of them being in
these games of skill--and then puts themin a little pileinto
the boy's hand and takes him out to the doorleaving Mr. Snagsby
not by any means comfortable under these mysterious circumstances
alone with the veiled figure. But on Mr. Tulkinghorn's coming into
the roomthe veil is raised and a sufficiently good-looking
Frenchwoman is revealedthough her expression is something of the
intensest.

Thank you, Mademoiselle Hortense,says Mr. Tulkinghorn with his
usual equanimity. "I will give you no further trouble about this
little wager."

You will do me the kindness to remember, sir, that I am not at
present placed?says mademoiselle.

Certainly, certainly!

And to confer upon me the favour of your distinguished
recommendation?

By all means, Mademoiselle Hortense.

A word from Mr. Tulkinghorn is so powerful.

It shall not be wanting, mademoiselle.

Receive the assurance of my devoted gratitude, dear sir.

Good night.

Mademoiselle goes out with an air of native gentility; and Mr.
Bucketto whom it ison an emergencyas natural to be groom of
the ceremonies as it is to be anything elseshows her downstairs
not without gallantry.


Well, Bucket?quoth Mr. Tulkinghorn on his return.

It'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!

You have kept your word, sir,returns the stationer; "and if I
can be of no further useMr. TulkinghornI thinkas my little
woman will be getting anxious--"

Thank you, Snagsby, no further use,says Mr. Tulkinghorn. "I am
quite indebted to you for the trouble you have taken already."

Not at all, sir. I wish you good night.

You see, Mr. Snagsby,says Mr. Bucketaccompanying him to the
door and shaking hands with him over and over againwhat 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.

That is certainly what I endeavour to do, sir,returns Mr.
Snagsby.

No, you don't do yourself justice. It an't what you endeavour to
do,says Mr. Bucketshaking hands with him and blessing him in
the tenderest mannerit'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 confused
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. Snagsbysitting up with her head in a perfect
beehive of curl-papers and night-capwho has dispatched Guster to
the police-station with official intelligence of her husband's
being made away withand who within the last two hours has passed
through every stage of swooning with the greatest decorum. But as
the little woman feelingly saysmany 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 Dedlockexcept at church
on Sundays. There was company at Chesney Wold; and although
several beautiful faces surrounded herher face retained the same
influence on me as at first. I do not quite know even now whether
it was painful or pleasurablewhether it drew me towards her or
made me shrink from her. I think I admired her with a kind of
fearand I know that in her presence my thoughts always wandered
backas they had done at firstto that old time of my life.


I had a fancyon more than one of these Sundaysthat what this
lady so curiously was to meI was to her--I mean that I disturbed
her thoughts as she influenced minethough in some different way.
But when I stole a glance at her and saw her so composed and
distant and unapproachableI felt this to be a foolish weakness.
IndeedI felt the whole state of my mind in reference to her to be
weak and unreasonableand 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 waitingI 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.

Mademoiselle,she beganlooking fixedly at me with her too-eager
eyesthough otherwise presenting an agreeable appearance and
speaking neither with boldness nor servilityI have taken a great
liberty in coming here, but you know how to excuse it, being so
amiable, mademoiselle.

No excuse is necessary,I returnedif you wish to speak to me.

That is my desire, mademoiselle. A thousand thanks for the
permission. I have your leave to speak. Is it not?she said in a
quicknatural way.

Certainly,said I.

Mademoiselle, you are so amiable! Listen then, if you please.
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. "It is not for me to come here to complain of my Lady.
But I say she is so highso very high. I will not say a word
more. All the world knows that."

Go on, if you please,said I.

Assuredly; 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!

I am sorry--I began.

Do not dismiss me so soon, mademoiselle!she said with an
involuntary contraction of her fine black eyebrows. "Let me hope a
moment! MademoiselleI 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 thatI know that I should win lessas to wages here.
Good. I am content."

I assure you,said Iquite embarrassed by the mere idea of
having such an attendantthat I keep no maid--

Ah, 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 backalmost afraid of
her. Without appearing to notice itin her ardour she still
pressed herself upon mespeaking in a rapid subdued voicethough
always with a certain grace and propriety.

Mademoiselle, 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--finlshed! 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 engagmg 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 voiceHey, 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 itand seemed to take
notewith her momentary touchof every vein in it. "I fear I
surprised youmademoiselleon the day of the storm?" she said
with a parting curtsy.

I confessed that she had surprised us all.

I took an oath, mademoiselle,she saidsmilingand I wanted to
stamp it on my mind so that I might keep it faithfully. And I
will! Adieu, mademoiselle!

So ended our conferencewhich I was very glad to bring to a close.
I supposed she went away from the villagefor 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 timeand for a good many weeks after that timeRichard
was constant in his visits. Besides coming every Saturday or
Sunday and remaining with us until Monday morninghe 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 industriousbut 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 nowhe told usand 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 ohwhat 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 readand 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 dailyhow they
talked togetherand how he did her little kindnessesand how
while he laughed at herhe pitied her from his heart. But he
never thought--nevermy poordearsanguine Richardcapable of
so much happiness thenand with such better things before him-what
a fatal link was riveting between his fresh youth and her
faded agebetween his free hopes and her caged birdsand her
hungry garretand her wandering mind.

Ada loved him too well to mistrust him much in anything he said or
didand my guardianthough he frequently complained of the east
wind and read more than usual in the growlerypreserved a strict
silence on the subject. So I thought one day when I went to London
to meet Caddy Jellybyat her solicitationI would ask Richard to
be in waiting for me at the coach-officethat we might have a
little talk together. I found him there when I arrivedand we
walked away arm in arm.

Well, Richard,said I as soon as I could begin to be grave with
himare you beginning to feel more settled now?

Oh, yes, my dear!returned Richard. "I'm all right enough."

But settled?said I.

How do you mean, settled?returned Richard with his gay laugh.

Settled in the law,said I.

Oh, aye,replied RichardI'm all right enough.

You said that before, my dear Richard.

And 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?

Yes.

Why, no, I can't say I am settling down,said Richardstrongly
emphasizing "down as if that expressed the difficulty, because
one can't settle down while this business remains in such an
unsettled state. When I say this businessof course I mean the-forbidden
subject."

Do you think it will ever be in a settled state?said I.

Not the least doubt of it,answered Richard.

We walked a little way without speakingand presently Richard
addressed me in his frankest and most feeling mannerthus: "My
dear EstherI understand youand I wish to heaven I were a more
constant sort of fellow. I don't mean constant to Adafor I love
her dearly--better and better every day--but constant to myself.
(SomehowI mean something that I can't very well expressbut
you'll make it out.) If I were a more constant sort of fellowI
should have held on either to Badger or to Kenge and Carboy like
grim deathand should have begun to be steady and systematic by
this timeand shouldn't be in debtand--"

ARE you in debt, Richard?

Yes,said RichardI 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?

You know I don't,said I.

You are kinder to me than I often am to myself,he returned. "My
dear EstherI am a very unfortunate dog not to be more settled
but how CAN I be more settled? If you lived in an unfinished
houseyou couldn't settle down in it; if you were condemned to
leave everything you undertook unfinishedyou 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
changesand 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 nowconscious
sometimes that I am but a worthless fellow to love my confiding
cousin Ada."

We were in a solitary placeand he put his hands before his eyes
and sobbed as he said the words.

Oh, Richard!said I. "Do not be so moved. You have a noble
natureand Ada's love may make you worthier every day."

I know, my dear,he repliedpressing my armI 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 fingersbut that was infinitely less affecting to me
than the hopeful animation with which he said these words.

I have looked well into the papers, Esther. I have been deep in
them for months,he continuedrecovering his cheerfulness in a
momentand 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. BadgerI asked him when he intended to
be articled in Lincoln's Inn.

There again! I think not at all, Esther,he returned with an
effort. "I fancy I have had enough of it. Having worked at
Jarndyce and Jarndyce like a galley slaveI have slaked my thirst
for the law and satisfied myself that I shouldn't like it.
BesidesI 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, do I naturally turn my thoughts to?"

I can't imagine,said I.

Don't look so serious,returned Richardbecause it's the best
thing I can do, my dear Esther, I am certain. It's not as if I
wanted a profession 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 condition--I may say, precisely
suited. What is it that I naturally turn my thoughts to?

I looked at him and shook my head.

What,said Richardin a tone of perfect convictionbut the
army!

The army?said I.

The 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 meproved by elaborate calculations in his
pocket-bookthat supposing he had contractedsaytwo 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 yearor two thousand
pounds in five yearswhich was a considerable sum. And then he
spoke so ingenuously and sincerely of the sacrifice he made in
withdrawing himself for a time from Adaand of the earnestness
with which he aspired--as in thought he always didI know full
well--to repay her loveand to ensure her happinessand to
conquer what was amiss in himselfand to acquire the very soul of
decisionthat he made my heart ache keenlysorely. ForI
thoughthow would this endhow could this endwhen 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 feltand all the
hope I could not quite feel thenand implored him for Ada's sake
not to put any trust in Chancery. To all I saidRichard readily
assentedriding over the court and everything else in his easy way
and drawing the brightest pictures of the character he was to
settle into--alaswhen the grievous suit should loose its hold
upon him! We had a long talkbut it always came back to thatin
substance.

At last we came to Soho Squarewhere Caddy Jellyby had appointed
to wait for meas 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 wordsRichard left us
together.

Prince has a pupil over the way, Esther,said Caddyand 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.

Very well, my dear,said I. "Nothing could be better." So
Caddyafter affectionately squeezing the dear good face as she
called itlocked the gateand took my armand we began to walk
round the garden very cosily.

You see, Esther,said Caddywho thoroughly enjoyed a little
confidenceafter 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.


I hope he approved, Caddy?

Oh, my dear! I assure you he would approve of anything you could
say. You have no idea what an opimon he has of you!

Indeed!

Esther, it's enough to make anybody but me jealous,said Caddy
laughing and shaking her head; "but it only makes me joyfulfor
you are the first friend I ever hadand the best friend I ever can
haveand nobody can respect and love you too much to please me."

Upon my word, Caddy,said Iyou are in the general conspiracy
to keep me in a good humour. Well, my dear?

Well! I am going to tell you,replied Caddycrossing her hands
confidentially upon my arm. "So we talked a good deal about it
and so I said to Prince'Princeas Miss Summerson--"

I hope you didn't say 'Miss Summerson'?

No. I didn't!cried Caddygreatly pleased and with the
brightest of faces. "I said'Esther.' I said to Prince'As
Esther is decidedly of that opinionPrinceand has expressed it
to meand always hints it when she writes those kind noteswhich
you are so fond of hearing me read to youI 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 truerand more honourable position altogether if you did the
same to your papa.'"

Yes, my dear,said I. "Esther certainly does think so."

So I was right, you see!exclaimed Caddy. "Well! This troubled
Prince a good dealnot 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 heartor faint awayor 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 beautifulyou knowEsther said Caddy, and his feelings
are extremely sensitive."

Are they, my dear?

Oh, extremely sensitive. Prince says so. Now, this has caused my
darling child--I didn't mean to use the expression to you, Esther,
Caddy apologizedher face suffused with blushesbut I generally
call Prince my darling child.

I laughed; and Caddy laughed and blushedand went on'

This has caused him, Esther--

Caused whom, my dear?

Oh, you tiresome thing!said Caddylaughingwith her pretty
face on fire. "My darling childif you insist upon it! This has
caused him weeks of uneasiness and has made him delayfrom day to
dayin a very anxious manner. At last he said to me'Caddyif
Miss Summersonwho is a great favourite with my fathercould be
prevailed upon to be present when I broke the subjectI think I


could do it.' So I promised I would ask you. And I made up my
mindbesides said Caddy, looking at me hopefully but timidly,
that if you consentedI 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 itEstherwe should both be very
grateful."

Let me see, Caddy,said Ipretending to consider. "ReallyI
think I could do a greater thing than that if the need were
pressing. I am at your service and the darling child'smy dear
whenever you like."

Caddy was quite transported by this reply of minebeingI
believeas 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 gardenduring 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 Deportmentwe
went to Newman Street direct.

Prince was teachingof course. We found him engaged with a not
very hopeful pupil--a stubborn little girl with a sulky foreheada
deep voiceand an inanimatedissatisfied 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 endafter
proceeding as discordantly as possible; and when the little girl
had changed her shoes and had had her white muslin extinguished in
shawlsshe was taken away. After a few words of preparationwe
then went in search of Mr. Turveydropwhom we foundgrouped with
his hat and glovesas a model of deportmenton 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
collationand his dressing-casebrushesand so forthall of
quite an elegant kindlay about.

Father, Miss Summerson; Miss Jellyby.

Charmed! Enchanted!said Mr. Turveydroprising with his high-
shouldered bow. "Permit me!" Handing chairs. "Be seated!"
Kissing the tips of his left fingers. "Overjoyed!" Shutting his
eyes and rolling. "My little retreat is made a paradise."
Recomposing himself on the sofa like the second gentleman in
Europe.

Again you find us, Miss Summerson,said heusing our little
arts to polish, polish! Again the sex stimulates us and rewards us
by the condescension 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 nothingwhich I thought a suitable reply; and he took a
pinch of snuff.

My dear son,said Mr. Turveydropyou have four schools this
afternoon. I would recommend a hasty sandwich.

Thank you, father,returned PrinceI will be sure to be
punctual. My dear father, may I beg you to prepare your mind for
what I am going to say?


Good heaven!exclaimed the modelpale and aghast as Prince and
Caddyhand in handbent down before him. "What is this? Is this
lunacy! Or what is this?"

Father,returned Prince with great submissionI love this young
lady, and we are engaged.

Engaged!cried Mr. Turveydropreclining on the sofa and shutting
out the sight with his hand. "An arrow launched at my brain by my
own child!"

We have been engaged for some time, father,faltered Princeand
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.

No, pray don't! Pray don't, father,urged his son. "Miss
Jellyby is a young lady who deeply respects youand our first
desire is to consider your comfort."

Mr. Turveydrop sobbed.

No, pray don't, father!cried his son.

Boy,said Mr. Turveydropit is well that your sainted mother is
spared this pang. Strike deep, and spare not. Strike home, sir,
strike home!

Pray don't say so, father,implored Princein tears. "It goes
to my heart. I do assure youfatherthat our first wish and
intention is to consider your comfort. Caroline and I do not
forget our duty--what is my duty is Caroline'sas we have often
said together--and with your approval and consentfatherwe will
devote ourselves to making your life agreeable."

Strike home,murmured Mr. Turveydrop. "Strike home!" But he
seemed to listenI thoughttoo.

My dear father,returned Princewe 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
cravata perfect model of parental deportment.

My son!said Mr. Turveydrop. "My 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.

My children,said Mr. Turveydroppaternally encircling Caddy


with his left arm as she sat beside himand putting his right hand
gracefully on his hip. "My son and daughteryour happiness shall
be my care. I will watch over you. You shall always live with
me"--meaningof courseI 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 ifinstead of quartering himself
upon them for the rest of his lifehe were making some munificent
sacrifice in their favour.

For myself, my children,said Mr. TurveydropI 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.

My son,said Mr. Turveydropfor 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.

That you may depend I will do, dear father, with all my heart,
replied Prince.

I have no doubt of it,said Mr. Turveydrop. "Your qualities are
not shiningmy dear childbut they are steady and useful. And to
both of youmy childrenI would merely observein the spirit of
a sainted wooman on whose path I had the happiness of castingI
believeSOME ray of lighttake care of the establishmenttake
care of my simple wantsand bless you both!"

Old Mr. Turveydrop then became so very gallantin honour of the
occasionthat 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 betrothedand
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 letand 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 beforeand he was shut up in the
dining-room with two gentlemen and a heap of blue bagsaccount-
booksand papersmaking the most desperate endeavours to
understand his affairs. They appeared to me to be quite beyond his
comprehensionfor when Caddy took me into the dining-room by
mistake and we came upon Mr. Jellyby in his spectaclesforlornly
fenced into a corner by the great dining-table and the two


gentlemenhe 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 kitchenand there was no servant to be seen)we
found that lady in the midst of a voluminous correspondence
openingreadingand sorting letterswith a great accumulation of
torn covers on the floor. She was so preoccupied that at first she
did not know methough she sat looking at me with that curious
bright-eyedfar-off look of hers.

Ah! Miss Summerson!she said at last. "I 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.

Why, not quite, my dear,said Mrs. Jellyby in the calmest manner.
He 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 Nigerand wondered how she could be
so placid.

You have brought Caddy back, I see,observed Mrs. Jellyby with a
glance at her daughter. "It 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."

I am sure, Ma--began Caddy.

Now you know, Caddy,her mother mildly interposedthat I DO
employ a boy, who is now at his dinner. What is the use of your
contradicting?

I was not going to contradict, Ma,returned Caddy. "I was only
going to say that surely you wouldn't have me be a mere drudge all
my life."

I believe, my dear,said Mrs. Jellybystill opening her letters
casting her bright eyes smilingly over themand sorting them as
she spokethat 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.

Not if it's Africa, Ma, I have not.

Of course you have not. Now, if I were not happily so much
engaged, Miss Summerson,said Mrs. Jellybysweetly casting her
eyes for a moment on me and considering where to put the particular
letter she had just openedthis 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 entreatyand as Mrs. Jellyby was
looking far away into Africa straight through my bonnet and headI
thought it a good opportunity to come to the subject of my visit


and to attract Mrs. Jellyby's attention.

Perhaps,I beganyou will wonder what has brought me here to
interrupt you.

I am always delighted to see Miss Summerson,said Mrs. Jellyby
pursuing her employment with a placid smile. "Though I wish and
she shook her head, she was more interested in the Borrioboolan
project."

I have come with Caddy,said Ibecause 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.

Caddy,said Mrs. Jellybypausing for a moment in her occupation
and then serenely pursuing it after shaking her headyou are
going to tell me some nonsense.

Caddy untied the strings of her bonnettook her bonnet offand
letting it dangle on the floor by the stringsand crying heartily
saidMa, I am engaged.

Oh, you ridiculous child!observed Mrs. Jellyby with an
abstracted air as she looked over the dispatch last opened; "what a
goose you are!"

I am engaged, Ma,sobbed Caddyto 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 Caddyquite forgetful of her general
complainings and of everything but her natural affection.

You see again, Miss Summerson,observed Mrs. Jellyby serenely
what 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!

Ma, I always hated and detested Mr. Quale!sobbed Caddy.

Caddy, Caddy!returned Mrs. Jellybyopening another letter with
the greatest complacency. "I have no doubt you did. How could you
do otherwisebeing totally destitute of the sympathies with which
he overflows! Nowif my public duties were not a favourite child
to meif I were not occupied with large measures on a vast scale
these petty details might grieve me very muchMiss 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. Noindeed."

I was so unprepared for the perfect coolness of this reception
though I might have expected itthat 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 composureNo, indeed.

I hope, Ma,sobbed poor Caddy at lastyou are not angry?


Oh, Caddy, you really are an absurd girl,returned Mrs. Jellyby
to ask such questions after what I have said of the preoccupation
of my mind.

And I hope, Ma, you give us your consent and wish us well?said
Caddy.

You are a nonsensical child to have done anything of this kind,
said Mrs. Jellyby; "and a degenerate childwhen you might have
devoted yourself to the great public measure. But the step is
takenand I have engaged a boyand there is no more to be said.
NowprayCaddy said Mrs. Jellyby, for Caddy was kissing her,
don't delay me in my workbut 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 sayingYou won't object to my bringing
him to see you, Ma?

Oh, dear me, Caddy,cried Mrs. Jellybywho had relapsed into
that distant contemplationhave you begun again? Bring whom?

Him, Ma.

Caddy, Caddy!said Mrs. Jellybyquite weary of such little
matters. "Then you must bring him some evening which is not a
Parent Society nightor a Branch nightor a Ramification night.
You must accommodate the visit to the demands upon my time. My
dear Miss Summersonit 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 manufacturing families anxious to understand
the details of the native and coffee-cultivation question this
morningI need not apologize for having very little leisure."

I was not surprised by Caddy's being in low spirits when we went
downstairsor by her sobbing afresh on my neckor by her saying
she would far rather have been scolded than treated with such
indifferenceor 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 kitchenwhere 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 overheadand 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 bustleI 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 waswhy that was all for the best tooand 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 starsand thought about travellers
in distant countries and the stars THEY sawand 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 homeas 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 housefrom
the lowest to the highestshowed me such a bright face of welcome
and spoke so cheerilyand was so happy to do anything for methat
I suppose there never was such a fortunate little creature in the
world.

We got into such a chatty state that nightthrough Ada and my
guardian drawing me out to tell them all about Caddythat I went
on proseproseprosing for a length of time. At last I got up to
my own roomquite red to think how I had been holding forthand
then I heard a soft tap at my door. So I saidCome in!and
there came in a pretty little girlneatly dressed in mourningwho
dropped a curtsy.

If you please, miss,said the little girl in a soft voiceI am
Charley.

Why, so you are,said Istooping down in astonishment and giving
her a kiss. "How glad am I to see youCharley!"

If you please, miss,pursued Charley in the same soft voiceI'm
your maid.

Charley?

If 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.

And oh, miss,says Charleyclapping her handswith the tears
starting down her dimpled cheeksTom'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!

I can't help it, Charley.

No, miss, nor I can't help it,says Charley. "And if you please
missMr. Jarndyce's loveand he thinks you'll like to teach me
now and then. And if you pleaseTom and Emma and me is to see
each other once a month. And I'm so happy and so thankfulmiss
cried Charley with a heaving heart, and I'll try to be such a good
maid!"

Oh, Charley dear, never forget who did all this!

No, miss, I never will. Nor Tom won't. Nor yet Emma. It was all
you, miss.

I have known nothing of it. It was Mr. Jarndyce, Charley.

Yes, 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 functionsgoing 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 saidOh, don't cry, if you please,
miss.

And I said againI can't help it, Charley.

And Charley said againNo, miss, nor I can't help it.And so
after allI did cry for joy indeedand so did she.

CHAPTER XXIV

An Appeal Case

As soon as Richard and I had held the conversation of which I have
given an accountRichard communicated the state of his mind to Mr.
Jarndyce. I doubt if my guardian were altogether taken by surprise
when he received the representationthough it caused him much
uneasiness and disappointment. He and Richard were often closeted
togetherlate at night and early in the morningand passed whole
days in Londonand had innumerable appointments with Mr. Kenge
and laboured through a quantity of disagreeable business. While
they were thus employedmy guardianthough 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 placewas as genial with Ada and me as at any other
timebut 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 lastour anxiety was not much relieved by
him.

We learnthoweveras the time went onthat a new application was
made to the Lord Chancellor on Richard's behalf as an infant and a
wardand I don't know whatand that there was a quantity of
talkingand that the Lord Chancellor described him in open court
as a vexatious and capricious infantand that the matter was
adjourned and readjournedand referredand reported onand
petitioned about until Richard began to doubt (as he told us)
whetherif he entered the army at allit 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
roomand there the Lord Chancellor very seriously reproved him for
trifling with time and not knowing his mind--"a pretty good jokeI
think said Richard, from 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
Richardin his usual characteristic wayplunged into a violent
course of military study and got up at five o'clock every morning
to practise the broadsword exercise.

Thusvacation succeeded termand term succeeded vacation. We
sometimes heard of Jarndyce and Jarndyce as being in the paper or
out of the paperor as being to be mentionedor as being to be
spoken to; and it came onand it went off. Richardwho was now
in a professor's house in Londonwas 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 eveningand 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 saidCome in, my dears!We went in and found
Richardwhom we had last seen in high spiritsleaning on the
chimney-piece looking mortified and angry.

Rick and I, Ada,said Mr. Jarndyceare not quite of one mind.
Come, come, Rick, put a brighter face upon it!

You are very hard with me, sir,said Richard. "The 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 yousir."

Well, well!said Mr. Jarndyce. "I want to set you more right
yet. I want to set you more right with yourself."

I hope you will excuse my saying, sir,returned Richard in a
fiery waybut yet respectfullythat I think I am the best judge
about myself.

I hope you will excuse my saying, my dear Rick,observed Mr.
Jarndyce with the sweetest cheerfulness and good humourthat's
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.

It's nothing, my dear,he saidit'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.

I am not indeed, cousin John,replied Ada with a smileif it is
to come from you.

Thank 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-chairyou recollect the talk we had, we four when the little
woman told me of a little love affair?

It is not likely that either Richard or I can ever forget your
kindness that day, cousin John.

I can never forget it,said Richard.

And I can never forget it,said Ada.

So much the easier what I have to say, and so much the easier for
us to agree,returned my guardianhis face irradiated by the
gentleness and honour of his heart. "Adamy birdyou 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 exhausted his resources and is bound henceforward
to the tree he has planted."

Quite true that I have exhausted my present resources, and I am
quite content to know it. But what I have of certainty, sir,said


Richardis not all I have.

Rick, Rick!cried my guardian with a sudden terror in his manner
and in an altered voiceand putting up his hands as if he would
have stopped his ears. "For the love of Goddon't found a hope or
expectation on the family curse! Whatever you do on this side the
gravenever give one lingering glance towards the horrible phantom
that has haunted us so many years. Better to borrowbetter to
begbetter to die!"

We were all startled by the fervour of this warning. Richard bit
his lip and held his breathand glanced at me as if he feltand
knew that I felt toohow much he needed it.

Ada, my dear,said Mr. Jarndycerecovering his cheerfulness
these 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. 1 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.

Better to say at once, sir,returned Richardthat you renounce
all confidence in me and that you advise Ada to do the same.

Better to say nothing of the sort, Rick, because I don't mean it.

You think I have begun ill, sir,retorted Richard. "I HAVEI
know."

How 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. "You have not made that beginning yetbut
there is a time for all thingsand yours is not gone by; rather
it is just now fully come. Make a clear beginning altogether. You
two (very youngmy dears) are cousins. As yetyou are nothing
more. What more may come must come of being worked outRickand
no sooner."

You are very hard with me, sir,said Richard. "Harder than I
could have supposed you would be."

My dear boy,said Mr. JarndyceI 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.

Why is it best, sir?returned Richard hastily. "It was not when
we opened our hearts to you. You did not say so then."

I have had experience since. I don't blame you, Rick, but I have
had experience since.

You mean of me, sir.

Well! Yes, of both of you,said Mr. Jarndyce kindly. "The time
is not come for your standing pledged to one another. It is not
rightand I must not recognize it. Comecomemy young cousins


begin afresh! Bygones shall be bygonesand a new page turned for
you to write your lives in."

Richard gave an anxious glance at Ada but said nothing.

I have avoided saying one word to either of you or to Esther,
said Mr. Jarndyceuntil 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.

Cousin Richard,said Ada thenraising her blue eyes tenderly to
his faceafter what our cousin John has said, I think no choice
is left us. Your mind may he 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 Adaa little confused
that 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 Adagoing up to him and giving him her trembling
handwe 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 regret 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 sobut he was
not; and solely on his sidean estrangement began to arise between
them.

In the business of preparation and equipment he soon lost himself
and even his grief at parting from Adawho remained in
Hertfordshire while heMr. Jarndyceand I went up to London for a
week. He remembered her by fits and startseven with bursts of
tearsand 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 everand would become as gay as possible.

It was a busy timeand 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 meand often
talked so sensibly and feelingly about his faults and his vigorous
resolutionsand dwelt so much upon the encouragement he derived
from these conversations that I could never have been tired if I
had tried.

There usedin that weekto 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 manof a frank free


bearingwith whom Richard had practised for some months. I heard
so much about himnot only from Richardbut from my guardian too
that I was purposely in the room with my work one morning after
breakfast when he came.

Good morning, Mr. George,said my guardianwho happened to be
alone with me. "Mr. Carstone will be here directly. Meanwhile
Miss Summerson is very happy to see youI know. Sit down."

He sat downa little disconcerted by my presenceI thoughtand
without looking at medrew his heavy sunburnt hand across and
across his upper lip.

You are as punctual as the sun,said Mr. Jarndyce.

Military time, sir,he replied. "Force of habit. A mere habit
in mesir. I am not at all business-like."

Yet you have a large establishment, too, I am told?said Mr.
Jarndyce.

Not much of a one, sir. I keep a shooting gallery, but not much
of a one.

And what kind of a shot and what kind of a swordsman do you make
of Mr. Carstone?said my guardian.

Pretty good, sir,he repliedfolding his arms upon his broad
chest and looking very large. "If Mr. Carstone was to give his
full mind to ithe would come out very good."

But he don't, I suppose?said my guardian.

He 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.

He has not me upon his mind, I assure you, Mr. George,said I
laughingthough you seem to suspect me.

He reddened a little through his brown and made me a trooper's bow.
No offence, I hope, miss. I am one of the roughs.

Not at all,said I. "I take it as a compliment."

If he had not looked at me beforehe looked at me now in three or
four quick successive glances. "I beg your pardonsir he said
to my guardian with a manly kind of diffidence, but you did me the
honour to mention the young lady's name--"

Miss Summerson.

Miss Summerson,he repeatedand looked at me again.

Do you know the name?I asked.

No, miss. To my knowledge I never heard it. I thought I had seen
you somewhere.

I think not,I returnedraising 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. "I remember faces very well."

So do I, miss!he returnedmeeting my look with the fullness of


his dark eyes and broad forehead. "Humph! What set me offnow
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.

Have you many pupils, Mr. George?

They vary in their number, sir. Mostly they're but a small lot to
live by.

And what classes of chance people come to practise at your
gallery?

All 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.

People don't come with grudges and schemes of finishing their
practice with live targets, I hope?said my guardiansmiling.

Not 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. Georgesitting stiffly upright and
squaring an elbow on each kneebut I believe you're a Chancery
suitor, if I have heard correct?

I am sorry to say I am.

I have had one of YOUR compatriots in my time, sir.

A Chancery suitor?returned my guardian. "How was that?"

Why, the man was so badgered and worried and tortured by being
knocked about from post to pillar, and from pillar to post,said
Mr. Georgethat 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.

What was that man?asked my guardian in a new tone of interest.

Why, he began by being a small Shropshire farmer before they made
a baited bull of him,said Mr. George.

Was his name Gridley?

It 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
coincidenceand 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.


I don't know,he said as he looked at mewhat 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 leglooking in a
brown study at the ground.

I 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.

So I am told, sir,returned Mr. Georgestill musing and looking
on the ground. "So I am told."

You don't know where?

No, sir,returned the trooperlifting up his eyes and coming out
of his reverie. "I can't say anything about him. He will be worn
out soonI expect. You may file a strong man's heart away for a
good many yearsbut it will tell all of a sudden at last."

Richard's entrance stopped the conversation. Mr. George rosemade
me another of his soldierly bowswished 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
nightwhen he was to go to Liverpool for Holyhead. Jarndyce and
Jarndyce being again expected to come on that dayRichard proposed
to me that we should go down to the court and hear what passed. As
it was his last dayand he was eager to goand I had never been
thereI gave my consent and we walked down to Westminsterwhere
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 courtthere 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 benchwith the mace and seals on a
red table below him and an immense flat nosegaylike a little
gardenwhich scented the whole court. Below the tableagainwas
a long row of solicitorswith 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 asleepand one talkingand 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 easeby no means in a hurry
very unconcernedand 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 ceremony and to think of the wasteand wantand
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 dayand year to yearin 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 jestwas held in


universal horrorcontemptand indignationwas 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 mewho had no experience of itthat it was at
first incredibleand I could not comprehend it. I sat where
Richard put meand tried to listenand looked about me; but there
seemed to be no reality in the whole scene except poor little Miss
Flitethe madwomanstanding 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 indicatedwith much
gratification and prideits principal attractions. Mr. Kenge also
came to speak to us and did the honours of the place in much the
same waywith the bland modesty of a proprietor. It was not a
very good day for a visithe said; he would have preferred the
first day of term; but it was imposingit was imposing.

When we had been there half an hour or sothe case in progress--if
I may use a phrase so ridiculous in such a connexion--seemed to die
out of its own vapiditywithout comingor being by anybody
expected to cometo any resuIt. The Lord Chancellor then threw
down a bundle of papers from his desk to the gentlemen below him
and somebody saidJarndyce and Jarndyce.Upon this there was a
buzzand a laughand a general withdrawal of the bystandersand
a bringing in of great heapsand pilesand bags and bags full of
papers.

I think it came on "for further directions"--about some bill of
coststo the best of my understandingwhich 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 contradicted
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.
After 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 everDame 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 bowwhich 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 whisperand 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
spokeI saw before meas if she had started into bodily shape
from my remembranceMrs. 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 returnedcoldly correcting meand am
Mrs. Chadband. Well! I wish you good day, and I hope you'll do
well.

Mr. Guppywho had been attentive to this short dialogueheaved 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 outwhich
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 sawcoming towards usbut not seeing usno less a person
than Mr. George. He made nothing of the people about him as he
tramped onstaring 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 youmiss. Could you
point a person out for meI want? I don't understand these
places."

Turning as he spoke and making an easy way for ushe stopped when
we were out of the press in a corner behind a great red curtain.

There's a little cracked old woman,he beganthat--

I put up my fingerfor Miss Flite was close by mehaving kept
beside 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 earsHush! Fitz Jarndyce on my
left!

Hem!said Mr. George. "You remembermissthat 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 marchmissand has a whim to see
her. He says they can feel for one anotherand she has been
almost as good as a friend to him here. I came down to look for
herfor when I sat by Gridley this afternoonI 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 youmiss; 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 Flitein her earof the purport of his
kind errand.

My angry friend from Shropshire! Almost as celebrated as myself!
she exclaimed. "Now really! My dearI 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 manmy dear. You knowa perfect general!" she
whispered to me.

Poor Miss Flite deemed it necessary to be so courtly and politeas
a mark of her respect for the armyand to curtsy so very often
that it was no easy matter to get her out of the court. When this
was at last doneand 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 saidFitz Jarndyce, my dear, you will accompany us, of
course.As Richard seemed quite willingand even anxiousthat
we should see them safely to their destinationwe 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
morningI wrote a hasty note in pencil to my guardian to say where
we were gone and why. Mr. George sealed it at a coffee-housethat
it might lead to no discoveryand 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 courtsfor which
Mr. George apologizedand soon came to the shooting gallerythe
door of which was closed. As he pulled a bell-handle which hung by
a chain to the door-posta very respectable old gentleman with
grey hairwearing spectaclesand dressed in a black spencer and
gaiters and a broad-brimmed hatand carrying a large gold-beaded
caneaddressed him.

I ask your pardon, my good friend,said hebut is this George's
Shooting Gallery?

It is, sir,returned Mr. Georgeglancing up at the great letters
in which that inscription was painted on the whitewashed wall.

Oh! To be sure!said the old gentlemanfollowing 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 youyou see. You came for meno 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. Georgeturning to Richard and me and
gravely shaking his head. "It's quite correctsir. 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 apronwhose face and hands and
dress were blackened all overwe passed along a dreary passage
into a large building with bare brick walls where there were
targetsand gunsand swordsand other things of that kind. When
we had all arrived herethe physician stoppedand taking off his
hatappeared to vanish by magic and to leave another and quite a


different man in his place.

Now lookee here, George,said the manturning quickly round upon
him and tapping him on the breast with a large forefinger. "You
know meand I know you. You're a man of the worldand I'm a man
of the world. My name's Bucketas you are awareand I have got a
peace-warrant against Gridley. You have kept him out of the way a
long timeand you have been artful in itand it does you credit."

Mr. Georgelooking hard at himbit his lip and shook his head.

Now, George,said the otherkeeping close to himyou'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 walland his eyes on the intruderin 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 manwith a low growlstood still.

Ladies and gentlemen,said Mr. Bucketyou'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 manand I must tell my man to consider himself in custody;
but you know meand you know I don't want to take any
uncomfortable measures. You give me your wordas from one man to
another (and an old soldiermind youlikewise)that it's
honourable between us twoand I'll accommodate you to the utmost
of my power."

I give it,was the reply. '"But it wasn't handsome in youMr.
Bucket."

Gammon, George! Not handsome?said Mr. Buckettapping 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 closedo I? Be equally
good-tempered to meold boy! Old William TellOld Shawthe Life
Guardsman! Whyhe's a model of the whole British army in himself
ladies and gentlemen. I'd give a fifty-pun' note to be such a
figure of a man!"

The affair being brought to this headMr. Georgeafter a little
considerationproposed to go in first to his comrade (as he called
him)taking Miss Flite with him. Mr. Bucket agreeingthey went
away to the further end of the galleryleaving us sitting and
standing by a table covered with guns. Mr. Bucket took this
opportunity of entering into a little light conversationasking me
if I were afraid of fire-armsas 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-handtelling him in return that it was a pity he ever gave
way to his temperfor he was naturally so amiable that he might
have been a young womanand making himself generally agreeable.

After a time he followed us to the further end of the galleryand
Richard and I were going quietly away when Mr. George came after
us. He said that if we had no objection to see his comradehe
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 observedof 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 roompartitioned off from the gallery with unpainted
wood. As the screening was not more than eight or ten feet high
and only enclosed the sidesnot the topthe rafters of the high
gallery roof were overheadand the skylight through which Mr.
Bucket had looked down. The sun was low--near setting--and its
light came redly in abovewithout descending to the ground. Upon
a plain canvas-covered sofa lay the man from Shropshiredressed
much as we had seen him lastbut 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-placeand still dwelling
on his grievanceshour after hour. A table and some shelves were
covered with manuscript papers and with worn pens and a medley of
such tokens. Touchingly and awfully drawn togetherhe and the
little mad woman were side by side andas it werealone. She sat
on a chair holding his handand none of us went close to them.

His voice had fadedwith the old expression of his facewith his
strengthwith his angerwith 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 earnestlyand 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 flrst time of our
meeting. But you know I made a fight for ityou know I stood up
with my single hand against them allyou know I told them the
truth to the lastand told them what they wereand what they had
done to me; so I don't mind your seeing methis 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 soand 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. Bucketwho was sitting in a corner by the doorgoodnaturedly
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 uphold up! You'll lose your temper
with the whole round of 'emagain and again; and I shall take you
on a score of warrants yetif 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. WhyLord bless your soulwhat times we have
had together! Haven't I seen you in the Fleet over and over again
for contempt? Haven't I come into courttwenty 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. Gridleyhold upsir!"

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 encouragementhe pursued aloud: "Worn outMr. 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 excitementyou knowto keep YOU up; that's what
YOU want. You're used to itand you can't do without it. I
couldn't myself. Very wellthen; here's this warrant got by Mr.
Tulkinghorn of Lincoln's Inn Fieldsand backed into half-a-dozen
counties since. What do you say to coming along with meupon this
warrantand 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? WhyI 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.
Georgeyou lend Mr. Gridley a handand 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.
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 meright and leftif he


likes. I shall never take advantage of it."

The roof rang with a scream from Miss Flitewhich 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 downthe light had gradually stolen from the roofand
the shadow had crept upward. But to me the shadow of that pair
one living and one deadfell 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 associationsof all my old
pursuits and hopesof all the living and the dead worldthis one
poor soul alone comes natural to meand I am fit for. There is a
tie of many suffering years between us twoand 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 CourtCursitor Street. Black
suspicion hides in that peaceful region. The mass of Cook's
Courtiers are in their usual state of mindno better and no worse;
but Mr. Snagsby is changedand his little woman knows it.

For Tom-all-Alone's and Lincoln's Inn Fields persist in harnessing
themselvesa pair of ungovernable coursersto 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-tablewhen 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 somewherebut what somethingwhat may come of
itto whomwhenand from which unthought of and unheard of
quarter is the puzzle of his life. His remote impressions of the
robes and coronetsthe stars and gartersthat 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 Courtall Chancery Laneand 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 declinedpersuade him that he is a
party to some dangerous secret without knowing what it is. And it
is the fearful peculiarity of this condition thatat any hour of
his daily lifeat any opening of the shop-doorat any pull of the
bellat any entrance of a messengeror any delivery of a letter
the secret may take air and fireexplodeand blow up--Mr. Bucket
only knows whom.

For which reasonwhenever a man unknown comes into the shop (as
many men unknown do) and saysIs Mr. Snagsby in?or words to
that innocent effectMr. 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 questionsso that often when the cock at the little
dairy in Cursitor Street breaks out in his usual absurd way about
the morningMr. Snagsby 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 herthat he has
under all circumstances to conceal and hold fast a tender double
toothwhich her sharpness is ever ready to twist out of his head
gives Mr. Snagsbyin her dentistical presencemuch 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 tokensmarked by the little womanare not
lost upon her. They impel her to saySnagsby has something on
his mind!And thus suspicion gets into Cook's CourtCursitor
Street. From suspicion to jealousyMrs. Snagsby finds the road as
natural and short as from Cook's Court to Chancery Lane. And thus
jealousy gets into Cook's CourtCursitor Street. Once there (and
it was always lurking thereabout)it is very active and nimble in
Mrs. Snagsby's breastprompting 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 ledgertillcash-box
and iron safe; to watchings at windowslistenings 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 cellarguarded by an old man with a
white beardwho 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 appropriatedand the lady being unproducibleshe directs her
mental eyefor the presentwith redoubled vigilance to the boy.
And who,quoth Mrs. Snagsby for the thousand and first timeis
that boy? Who is that--!And there Mrs. Snagsby is seized with
an inspiration.

He has no respect for Mr. Chadband. Noto be sureand he
wouldn't haveof course. Naturally he wouldn'tunder those
contagious circumstances. He was invited and appointed by Mr.
Chadband--whyMrs. Snagsby heard it herself with her own ears!--to
come backand be told where he was to goto 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? Haha!
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 boyas affording a subject which Mr. Chadband desires to
improve for the spiritual delight of a select congregationwas
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 intoand fulfilledan undertaking to appear
in Cook's Court to-morrow night'to--mor--row--night,Mrs.


Snagsby repeats for mere emphasis with another tight smile and
another tight shake of her head; and to-morrow night that boy will
be hereand to-morrow night Mrs. Snagsby will have her eye upon
him and upon some one else; and ohyou 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 earsbut holds her
purpose quietlyand keeps her counsel. To-morrow comesthe
savoury preparations for the Oil Trade comethe evening comes.
Comes Mr. Snagsby in his black coat; come the Chadbands; come (when
the gorging vessel is replete) the 'prentices and Gusterto be
edified; comes at lastwith his slouching headand his shuflle
backwardand his shuffle forwardand his shuffle to the right
and his shuffle to the leftand his bit of fur cap in his muddy
handwhich he picks as if it were some mangy bird he had caught
and was plucking before eating rawJothe veryvery 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 thatbut that Mrs. Snagsby
sees it all? Why else should that look pass between themwhy 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.

'"Peacemy friends says Chadband, rising and wiping the oily
exudations from his reverend visage. Peace be with us! My
friendswhy with us? Because with his fat smile, it cannot be
against usbecause it must be for us; because it is not hardening
because it is softening; because it does not make war like the
hawkbut comes home unto us like the dove. Thereforemy friends
peace be with us! My human boycome forward!"

Stretching forth his flabby pawMr. Chadband lays the same on Jo's
arm and considers where to station him. Jovery 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
muttersYou let me alone. I never said nothink to you. You let
me alone.

No, my young friend,says Chadband smoothlyI 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.

Joapparently possessed by an impression that the reverend
gentleman wants to cut his hairshields 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-figureMr. Chadband
retiring behind the tableholds up his bear's-paw and saysMy
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 statecompounded 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 kneesfinding 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 personwho is understood to be
expected to be moved to an occasional gruntgroangaspor other
audible expression of inward workingwhich expression of inward
workingbeing 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 presentserves the purpose of parliamentary
cheering and gets Mr. Chadband's steam up. From mere force of
habitMr. Chadband in saying "My friends!" has rested his eye on
Mr. Snagsby and proceeds to make that ill-starred stationer
already sufficiently confusedthe immediate recipient of his
discourse.

We have here among us, my friends,says Chadbanda 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. Chadbanduntwisting the point with his dirty thumb-nail
bestows an oily smile on Mr. Snagsbysignifying that he will throw
him an argumentative back-fall presently if he be not already down
a 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 propoundlng an entirely new riddle of much
ingenuity and merit to Mr. Snagsby and entreating him not to give
it up.

Mr. Snagsbygreatly 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
remarkingI don't know, I'm sure, sir.On which interruption
Mrs. Chadband glares and Mrs. Snagsby saysFor shame!

I hear a voice,says Chadband; "is it a still small voicemy
friends? I fear notthough I fain would hope so--"

Ah--h!from Mrs. Snagsby.

Which 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 pausesbut Mr. Snagsby is not
to be lured on to his destruction again. Mr. Chadbandleaning
forward over the tablepierces what he has got to follow directly
into Mr. Snagsby with the thumb-nail already mentioned.

It is,says Chadbandthe 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.

Of Terewth,says Mr. Chadbandhitting him again. "Say not to me
that it is NOT the lamp of lamps. I say to you it is. I say to
youa million of times overit is. It is! I say to you that I
will proclaim it to youwhether you like it or not; naythat the


less you like itthe more I will proclaim it to you. With a
speaking-trumpet! I say to you that if you rear yourself against
ityou shall fallyou shall be bruisedyou shall be battered
you shall be flawedyou 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 warmbut to represent the innocent Mr.
Snagsby in the light of a determined enemy to virtuewith a
forehead of brass and a heart of adamantthat 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.

My 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 itwhich smokestooafter 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. Formy young friends suddenly addressing the
'prentices and Guster, to their consternation, if I am told by the
doctor that calomel or castor-oil is good for meI may naturally
ask what is calomeland what is castor-oil. I may wish to be
informed of that before I dose myself with either or with both.
Nowmy young friendswhat is this Terewth then? Firstly (in a
spirit of love)what is the common sort of Terewth--the working
clothes--the every-day wearmy young friends? Is it deception?"

Ah--h!from Mrs. Snagsby.

Is it suppression?

A shiver in the negative from Mrs. Snagsby.

Is it reservation?

A shake of the head from Mrs. Snagsby--very long and very tight.

No, my friends, it is neither of these. Neither of these names
belongs 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 eyesthe windows of his souland searches the whole
tenementhe were other than the man he is. He cowers and droops.

Or, my juvenile friends,says Chadbanddescending to the level
of their comprehension with a very obtrusive demonstration in his
greasily meek smile of coming a long way downstairs for the
purposeif 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.

Or 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.

Or put it, my juvenile friends,said Chadbandstimulated by the
soundthat 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 spasmsnot an
unresisting preybut a crying and a tearing oneso that Cook's
Court re-echoes with her shrieks. Finallybecoming cataleptic
she has to be carried up the narrow staircase like a grand piano.
After unspeakable sufferingproductive of the utmost
consternationshe is pronouncedby expresses from the bedroom
free from painthough much exhaustedin which state of affairs
Mr. Snagsbytrampled and crushed in the piano-forte removaland
extremely timid and feebleventures 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 airfor he feels that it is in
his nature to be an unimprovable reprobate and that it's no good
HIS trying to keep awakefor HE won't never know nothink. Though
it may beJothat there is a history so interesting and affecting
even to minds as near the brutes as thinerecording deeds done on
this earth for common menthat if the Chadbandsremoving their
own persons from the lightwould but show it thee in simple
reverencewould but leave it unimprovedwould but regard it as
being eloquent enough without their modest aid--it might hold thee
awakeand thou might learn from it yet!

Jo never heard of any such book. Its compilers and the Reverend
Chadband are all one to himexcept that he knows the Reverend
Chadband and would rather run away from him for an hour than hear
him talk for five minutes. "It an't no good my waiting here no
longer thinks Jo. Mr. Snagsby an't a-going to say nothink to me
to-night." And downstairs he shuffles.

But downstairs is the charitable Gusterholding by the handrail of
the kitchen stairs and warding off a fitas yet doubtfullythe
same having been induced by Mrs. Snagsby's screaming. She has her
own supper of bread and cheese to hand to Jowith whom she
ventures to interchange a word or so for the first time.

Here's something to eat, poor boy,says Guster.

Thank'ee, mum,says Jo.

Are you hungry?

Jist!says Jo.

What'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 shoulderand it is the first time in his
life that any decent hand has been so laid upon him.


I never know'd nothink about 'em,says Jo.

No 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.

Jo,whispers the law-stationer softly as the boy lingers on the
step.

Here I am, Mr. Snagsby!

I 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.

I am fly, master!

And sogood night.

A ghostly shadefrilled and night-cappedfollows the law-
stationer to the room he came from and glides higher up. And
henceforth he beginsgo where he willto be attended by another
shadow than his ownhardly less constant than his ownhardly less
quiet than his own. And into whatsoever atmosphere of secrecy his
own shadow may passlet all concerned in the secrecy beware! For
the watchful Mrs. Snagsby is there too--bone of his boneflesh of
his fleshshadow of his shadow.

CHAPTER XXVI

Sharpshooters

Wintry morninglooking with dull eyes and sallow face upon the
neighbourhood of Leicester Squarefinds its inhabitants unwilling
to get out of bed. Many of them are not early risers at the
brightest of timesbeing 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 curtainin upper story and garretskulking
more or less under false namesfalse hairfalse titlesfalse
jewelleryand false historiesa 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 fearbroken traitorscowardsbulliesgamesters
shufflersswindlersand false witnesses; some not unmarked by the
branding-iron beneath their dirty braid; all with more cruelty in
them than was in Neroand 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 designingcallousand
intolerable devil when he sticks a pin in his shirt-frontcalls
himself a gentlemanbacks a card or colourplays a game or so of
billiardsand knows a little about bills and promissory notes than
in any other form he wears. And in such form Mr. Bucket shall find
himwhen he willstill 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. Georgehaving shaved


himself before a looking-glass of minute proportionsthen marches
outbare-headed and bare-chestedto the pump in the little yard
and anon comes back shining with yellow soapfrictiondrifting
rainand exceedingly cold water. As he rubs himself upon a large
jack-towelblowing like a military sort of diver just come uphis
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
rubsand puffsand polishesand blowsturning his head from
side to side the more conveniently to excoriate his throatand
standing with his body well bent forward to keep the wet from his
martial legsPhilon his knees lighting a firelooks round as if
it were enough washing for him to see all that doneand sufficient
renovation for one day to take in the superfluous health his master
throws off.

When Mr. George is dryhe goes to work to brush his head with two
hard brushes at onceto that unmerciful degree that Phil
shouldering his way round the gallery in the act of sweeping it
winks with sympathy. This chafing overthe ornamental part of Mr.
George's toilet is soon performed. He fills his pipelights it
and marches up and down smokingas his custom iswhile Phil
raising a powerful odour of hot rolls and coffeeprepares
breakfast. He smokes gravely and marches in slow time. Perhaps
this morning's pipe is devoted to the memory of Gridley in his
grave.

And so, Phil,says George of the shooting gallery after several
turns in silenceyou were dreaming of the country last night?

Philby the bysaid as much in a tone of surprise as he scrambled
out of bed.

Yes, guv'ner.

What was it like?

I hardly know what it was like, guv'ner,said Philconsidering.

How did you know it was the country?

On account of the grass, I think. And the swans upon it,says
Phil after further consideration.

What were the swans doing on the grass?

They was a-eating of it, I expect,says Phil.

The master resumes his marchand 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 wantsand
never brings two objects at onceit takes time under the
circumstances. At length the breakfast is ready. Phil announcing
itMr. George knocks the ashes out of his pipe on the hobstands
his pipe itself in the chimney cornerand sits down to the meal.
When he has helped himselfPhil follows suitsitting at the
extreme end of the little oblong table and taking his plate on his
knees. Either in humilityor to hide his blackened handsor
because it is his natural manner of eating.

The country,says Mr. Georgeplying his knife and fork; "whyI


suppose you never clapped your eyes on the countryPhil?"

I see the marshes once,says Philcontentedly eating his
breakfast.

What marshes?

THE marshes, commander,returns Phil.

Where are they?

I don't know where they are,says Phil; "but I see 'emguv'ner.
They was flat. And miste."

Governor and commander are interchangeable terms with Phil
expressive of the same respect and deference and applicable to
nobody but Mr. George.

I was born in the country, Phil.

Was you indeed, commander?

Yes. And bred there.

Phil elevates his one eyebrowand after respectfully staring at
his master to express interestswallows a great gulp of coffee
still staring at him.

There's not a bird's note that I don't know,says Mr. George.
Not 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.

She must have been a fine old lady, guv'ner,Phil observes.

Aye! And not so old either, five and thirty years ago,says Mr.
George. "But I'll wager that at ninety she would be near as
upright as meand near as broad across the shoulders."

Did she die at ninety, guv'ner?inquires Phil.

No. Bosh! Let her rest in peace, God bless her!says the
trooper. "What set me on about country boysand runawaysand
good-for-nothings? Youto be sure! So you never clapped your
eyes upon the country--marshes and dreams excepted. Eh?"

Phil shakes his head.

Do you want to see it?

N-no, I don't know as I do, particular,says Phil.

The town's enough for you, eh?

Why, you see, commander,says PhilI ain't acquainted with
anythink else, and I doubt if I ain't a-getting too old to take to
novelties.

How old ARE you, Phil?asks the trooperpausing as he conveys
his smoking saucer to his lips.

I'm something with a eight in it,says Phil. "It can't be
eighty. Nor yet eighteen. It's betwixt 'emsomewheres."


Mr. Georgeslowly putting down his saucer without tasting its
contentsis laughingly beginningWhy, what the deuce, Phil--
when he stopsseeing that Phil is counting on his dirty fingers.

I was just eight,says Philagreeable 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.

Ah!says Mr. Georgeresuming his breakfast. "And where's the
tinker?"

Drink put him in the hospital, guv'ner, and the hospital put him-in
a glass-case, I HAVE heerd,Phil replies mysteriously.

By that means you got promotion? Took the business, Phil?

Yes, 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.

They were mighty particular. You would pass muster in a crowd,
Phil!says the trooper with a pleasant smile.

No, guv'ner,returns Philshaking his head. "NoI shouldn't.
I was passable enough when I went with the tinkerthough nothing
to boast of then; but what with blowing the fire with my mouth when
I was youngand spileing my complexionand singeing my hair off
and swallering the smokeand what with being nat'rally unfort'nate
in the way of running against hot metal and marking myself by sich
meansand what with having turn-ups with the tinker as I got
olderalmost whenever he was too far gone in drink--which was
almost always--my beauty was queerwery queereven at that time.
As to sincewhat with a dozen years in a dark forge where the men
was given to larkingand what with being scorched in a accident at
a gas-worksand what with being blowed out of winder case-filling
at the firework businessI am ugly enough to be made a show on!"

Resigning himself to which condition with a perfectly satisfied
mannerPhil begs the favour of another cup of coffee. While
drinking ithe saysIt was after the case-filling blow-up when I
first see you, commander. You remember?

I remember, Phil. You were walking along in the sun.

Crawling, guv'ner, again a wall--

True, Phil--shouldering your way on--


In a night-cap!exclaims Philexcited.

In a night-cap--

And hobbling with a couple of sticks!cries Philstill more
excited.

With a couple of sticks. When--

When you stops, you know,cries Philputting down his cup and
saucer and hastily removing his plate from his kneesand 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, delivering 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
Philwho has started from his chair and unaccountably begun to
sidle away. "If a mark's wantedor if it will improve the
businesslet 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
CornwallDevonshireor Lancashirelet 'em throw me. They won't
hurt ME. I have been throwedall sorts of stylesall my life!"

With this unexpected speechenergetically delivered and
accompanied by action illustrative of the various exercises
referred toPhil Squod shoulders his way round three sides of the
galleryand abruptly tacking off at his commandermakes a butt at
him with his headintended to express devotion to his service. He
then begins to clear away the breakfast.

Mr. Georgeafter laughing cheerfully and clapping him on the
shoulderassists in these arrangements and helps to get the
gallery into business order. That donehe takes a turn at the
dumb-bellsand afterwards weighing himself and opining that he is
getting "too 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 everything 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, O Lord! Ohdear me! I am shaken!" addsHow de do, my
dear friend, how de do?Mr. George then descriesin the
processionthe venerable Mr. Smallweed out for an airingattended


by his granddaughter Judy as body-guard.

Mr. George, my dear friend,says Grandfather Smallweedremoving
his right arm from the neck of one of his bearerswhom he has
nearly throttled coming alonghow de do? You're surprised to see
me, my dear friend.

I should hardly have been more surprised to have seen your friend
in the city,returns Mr. George.

I am very seldom out,pants Mr. Smallweed. "I haven't been out
for many months. It's inconvenient--and it comes expensive. But I
longed so much to see youmy dear Mr. George. How de dosir?"

I am well enough,says Mr. George. "I hope you are the same."

You can't be too well, my dear friend.Mr. Smallweed takes him
by both hands. "I have brought my granddaughter Judy. I couldn't
keep her away. She longed so much to see you."

Hum! She hears it calmly!mutters Mr. George.

So 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 Smallweedalluding to the
bearerwho has been in danger of strangulation and who withdraws
adjusting his windpipeis the driver of the cab. He has nothing
extra. It is by agreement included in his fare. This person,the
other bearerwe 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 "O Lord! Ohdear me!" Nor in his
apprehensionon the surface of thingswithout some reasonfor
Philwho has never beheld the apparition in the black-velvet cap
beforehas 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.

Judy, my child,says Grandfather Smallweedgive the person his
twopence. It's a great deal for what he has done.

The personwho is one of those extraordinary specimens of human
fungus that spring up spontaneously in the western streets of
Londonready dressed in an old red jacketwith a "mission" for
holding horses and calling coachesreceived his twopence with
anything but transporttosses the money into the aircatches it
over-handedand retires.

My dear Mr. George,says Grandfather Smallweedwould 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. Squodlike a geniecatches him up
chair and alland deposits him on the hearth-stone.

O Lord!says Mr. Smallweedpanting. "Ohdear me! Ohmy
stars! My dear friendyour workman is very strong--and very
prompt. O Lordhe is very prompt! Judydraw 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 overshadowed eye from its black-velvet extinguisher, Mr.
Smallweed again says, Ohdear me! O Lord!" and looking about and
meeting Mr. George's glanceagain stretches out both hands.

My dear friend! So happy in this meeting! And this is your
establishment? It's a delightful place. It's a picture! You
never find that anything goes off here accidentally, do you, my
dear friend?adds Grandfather Smallweedvery ill at ease.

No, no. No fear of that.

And your workman. He--Oh, dear me!--he never lets anything off
without meaning it, does he, my dear friend?

He has never hurt anybody but himself,says Mr. Georgesmiling.

But he might, you know. He seems to have hurt himself a good
deal, and he might hurt somebody else,the old gentleman returns.
He mightn't mean it--or he even might. Mr. George, will you order
him to leave his infernal firearms alone and go away?

Obedient to a nod from the trooperPhil retiresempty-handedto
the other end of the gallery. Mr. Smallweedreassuredfalls to
rubbing his legs.

And you're doing well, Mr. George?he says to the trooper
squarely standing faced about towards him with his broadsword in
his hand. "You are prosperingplease the Powers?"

Mr. George answers with a cool nodaddingGo on. You have not
come to say that, I know.

You are so sprightly, Mr. George,returns the venerable
grandfather. "You are such good company."

Ha ha! Go on!says Mr. George.

My 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. "He owes
me moneyand might think of paying off old scores in this
murdering place. I wish your brimstone grandmother was hereand
he'd shave her head off."

Mr. Georgereturningfolds his armsand looking down at the old
mansliding every moment lower and lower in his chairsays
quietlyNow for it!

Ho!cries Mr. Smallweedrubbing his hands with an artful
chuckle. "Yes. Now for it. Now for whatmy dear friend?"

For a pipe,says Mr. Georgewho with great composure sets his
chair in the chimney-cornertakes his pipe from the gratefills
it and lights itand falls to smoking peacefully.

This tends to the discomfiture of Mr. Smallweedwho finds it so
difficult to resume his objectwhatever it may bethat 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 leadenand his hands lean and veinousand his eyes green
and watery; andover and above thisas he continueswhile he
clawsto slide down in his chair and to collapse into a shapeless
bundlehe becomes such a ghastly spectacleeven in the accustomed
eyes of Judythat 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 bodybut particularly in that
part which the science of self-defence would call his windthat in
his grievous distress he utters enforced sounds like a paviour's
rammer.

When Judy has by these means set him up again in his chairwith 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 headshe makes another poke at her
esteemed grandfatherand having thus brought them togetherstares
rigidly at the fire.

Aye, aye! Ho, ho! U--u--u--ugh!chatters Grandfather Smallweed
swallowing his rage. "My dear friend!" (still clawing).

I tell you what,says Mr. George. "If you want to converse with
meyou must speak out. I am one of the roughsand 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,
dammeif 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.

If you have come to give me a friendly call,continues Mr.
GeorgeI 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 welcome. If you want to out with something, out with it!

The blooming Judywithout removing her gaze from the firegives
her grandfather one ghostly poke.

You 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 JudyI can't comprehend.

She keeps at my side to attend to me, sir,says Grandfather
Smallweed. "I am an old manmy dear Mr. Georgeand I need some
attention. I can carry my years; I am not a brimstone poll-parrot"
(snarling and looking unconsciously for the cushion)but I need
attention, my dear friend.

Well!returns the trooperwheeling his chair to face the old
man. "Now then?"

My friend in the city, Mr. George, has done a little business with
a pupil of yours.

Has he?says Mr. George. "I am sorry to hear it."

Yes, sir.Grandfather Smallweed rubs his legs. "He is a fine
young soldier nowMr. Georgeby the name of Carstone. Friends
came forward and paid it all uphonourable."

Did they?returns Mr. George. "Do you think your friend in the
city would like a piece of advice?"


I think he would, my dear friend. From you.

I 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.

No, no, my dear friend. No, no, Mr. George. No, no, no, sir,
remonstrates Grandfather Smallweedcunningly rubbing his spare
legs. "Not quite a dead haltI think. He has good friendsand
he is good for his payand he is good for the selling price of his
commissionand he is good for his chance in a lawsuitand he is
good for his chance in a wifeand--ohdo you knowMr. GeorgeI
think my friend would consider the young gentleman good for
something yet?" says Grandfather Smallweedturning up his velvet
cap and scratching his ear like a monkey.

Mr. Georgewho has put aside his pipe and sits with an arm on his
chair-backbeats a tattoo on the ground with his right foot as if
he were not particularly pleased with the turn the conversation has
taken.

But to pass from one subject to another,resumes Mr. Smallweed.
'To promote the conversation, as a joker might say. To pass, Mr.
George, from the ensign to the captain.

What are you up to, now?asks Mr. Georgepausing with a frown in
stroking the recollection of his moustache. "What captain?"

Our captain. The captain we know of. Captain Hawdon.

Oh! That's it, is it?says Mr. George with a low whistle as he
sees both grandfather and granddaughter looking hard at him. "You
are there! Well? What about it? ComeI won't be smothered any
more. Speak!"

My dear friend,returns the old manI was applied--Judy, shake
me up a little!--I was applied to yesterday about the captain, and
my opinion still is that the captain is not dead.

Bosh!observes Mr. George.

What was your remark, my dear friend?inquires the old man with
his hand to his ear.

Bosh!

Ho!says Grandfather Smallweed. "Mr. Georgeof my opinion you
can judge for yourself according to the questions asked of me and
the reasons given for asking 'em. Nowwhat do you think the
lawyer making the inquiries wants?"

A job,says Mr. George.

Nothing of the kind!

Can't be a lawyer, then,says Mr. Georgefolding his arms with
an air of confirmed resolution.

My 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.


Well?

Well, Mr. George. Happening to remember the advertisement
concerning 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!
should have missed forming such a friendship if you hadn't come!

Well, Mr. Smallweed?says Mr. George again after going through
the ceremony with some stiffness.

I had no such thing. I have nothing but his signature. Plague
pestilence and famine, battle murder and sudden death upon him,
says the old manmaking a curse out of one of his few remembrances
of a prayer and squeezing up his velvet cap between his angry
handsI have half a million of his signatures, I think! But
you,breathlessly recovering his mildness of speech as Judy readjusts
the cap on his skittle-ball of a headyou, 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.

Some writing in that hand,says the trooperpondering; "may be
I have."

My dearest friend!

May be, I have not.

Ho!says Grandfather Smallweedcrest-fallen.

But if I had bushels of it, I would not show as much as would make
a cartridge without knowing why.

Sir, I have told you why. My dear Mr. George, I have told you
why.

Not enough,says the troopershaking his head. "I must know
moreand approve it."

Then, will you come to the lawyer? My dear friend, will you come
and see the gentleman?urges Grandfather Smallweedpulling out a
lean old silver watch with hands like the leg of a skeleton. "I
told him it was probable I might call upon him between ten and
eleven this forenoonand it's now half after ten. Will you come
and see the gentlemanMr. George?"

Hum!says he gravely. "I don't mind that. Though why this
should concern you so muchI don't know."

Everything 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 Smallweedlowering his tonethat I want YOU to
betray anything. Far from it. Are you ready to come, my dear
friend?

Aye! I'll come in a moment. I promise nothing, you know.

No, my dear Mr. George; no.

And 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 laughslong and
lowbefore the fire. But ever while he laughshe 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
gallerylooks here and there upon the higher shelvesand
ultimately takes something out with a rustling of paperfolds it
and puts it in his breast. Then Judy pokes Mr. Smallweed onceand
Mr. Smallweed pokes Judy once.

I am ready,says the troopercoming back. "Philyou can carry
this old gentleman to his coachand make nothing of him."

Oh, dear me! O Lord! Stop a moment!says Mr. Smallweed. "He's
so very prompt! Are you sure you can do it carefullymy worthy
man?"

Phil makes no replybut seizing the chair and its loadsidles
awaytightly bugged by the now speechless Mr. Smallweedand bolts
along the passage as if he had an acceptable commission to carry
the old gentleman to the nearest volcano. His shorter trust
howeverterminating at the cabhe deposits him there; and the
fair Judy takes her place beside himand the chair embellishes the
roofand 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
himwhere the grim Judy is always motionlessand 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 boxfor
their destination is Lincoln's Inn Fields. When the driver stops
his horsesMr. George alightsand looking in at the windowsays
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 upstairswhich 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 hallhaving said
thus muchstirs 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 ceilinglooks round at the old law-books
contemplates the portraits of the great clientsreads 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 repeatingSir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet, and
Manor of Chesney Wold, hey?

Worth a mint of money, Mr. George!whispers Grandfather
Smallweedrubbing 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. Georgelooking round again. "See
the strong-box yonder!"

This reply is cut short by Mr. Tulkinghorn's arrival. There is no
change in himof course. Rustily drestwith his spectacles in
his handand their very case worn threadbare. In mannerclose
and dry. In voicehusky and low. In facewatchful behind a
blind; habitually not uncensorious and contemptuous perhaps. The
peerage may have warmer worshippers and faithfuller believers than
Mr. Tulkinghornafter allif everything were known.

Good morning, Mr. Smallweed, good morning!he says as he comes
in. "You have brought the sergeantI see. Sit downsergeant."

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 perchanceYou'll do, my friend!

Sit down, sergeant,he repeats as he comes to his tablewhich is
set on one side of the fireand takes his easy-chair. "Cold and
raw this morningcold and raw!" Mr. Tulkinghorn warms before the
barsalternatelythe 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 sergeantI see."

Yes, sir,returns Mr. Smallweedvery 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 handthis is the gentleman, sir.

Mr. George salutes the gentleman but otherwise sits bolt upright
and profoundly silent--very forward in his chairas if the full
complement of regulation appendages for a field-day hung about him.

Mr. Tulkinghorn proceedsWell, George--I believe your name is
George?

It is so, Sir.

What do you say, George?

I ask your pardon, sir,returns the trooperbut 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. Tulkinghornexcusing himself for this slip of the
tongue by saying to JudyI 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 legsthat 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 Smallweedscrewing 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 attitudelooks at the
painted ceilingand says never a word. The irascible Mr.
Smallweed scratches the air.

The question is,says Mr. Tulkinghorn in his methodicalsubdued
uninterested wayfirst, 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. Tulkinghornsuddenly 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
looking straight at Mr. Tulkinghorn; nor does he so much as glance
at the affidavit in Jarndyce and Jarndycethat 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. Georgerising erect and looking immense
I would rather, if you'll excuse me, have nothing to do with
this.

Mr. Tulkinghornoutwardly quite undisturbeddemandsWhy not?

Why, sir,returns the trooper. "Except on military compulsionI
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 paperssir. I can
stand any fire better than a fire of cross questions. I mentioned
to Mr. Smallweedonly an hour or so agothat 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 thathe takes three strides forward to replace the papers on
the lawyer's table and three strides backward to resume his former
stationwhere he stands perfectly uprightnow looking at the
ground and now at the painted ceillhgwith his hands behind him as
if to prevent himself from accepting any other document whatever.

Under this provocationMr. Smallweed's favourite adjective of
disparagement is so close to his tongue that he begins the words
my dear friendwith 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 interestsergeant." "Take care you do
no harm by this." "Please yourselfplease yourself." "If you
know what you meanthat'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
groundfrom the ground to Mr. Smallweedfrom Mr. Smallweed to Mr.
Tulkinghornand 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. Georgenot 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 businesssergeantyou would not need to be informed that there
are confidential reasonsvery harmless in themselvesfor many
such wants in the profession to which I belong. But if you are
afraid of doing any injury to Captain Hawdonyou 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 trooperlooking into his hat after another
disconcerted pauseI am sorry not to have given you more
satisfaction. 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. Georgepassing his hand hopelessly across his
browthat I don't know but what it might be a satisfaction to
me.

Mr. Smallweedhearing that this authority is an old soldierso
strongly inculcates the expediency of the trooper's taking counsel
with himand particularly informing him of its being a question of
five guineas or morethat 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
trooperand 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 boxesstrong and otherwise.

If I wasn't as weak as a brimstone baby, sir,whispers
Grandfather Smallweeddrawing the lawyer down to his level by the
lapel of his coat and flashing some half-quenched green fire out of
his angry eyesI'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 walkingstick
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 chairdrawing Mr. Tulkinghorn with
himuntil he is arrested by Judyand 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 Judywho only looks at the fireto 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 Smallweedwinking at
the lawyer hideously as he releases himI am ready for your kind
assistance, my excellent friend!

Mr. Tulkinghornwith some shadowy sign of amusement manifesting
itself through his self-possessionstands on the hearth-rug with
his back to the firewatching 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 gentlemanMr. George
findsthan to bear a hand in carrying him downstairsfor when he
is replaced in his conveyancehe is so loquacious on the subject
of the guineas and retains such an affectionate hold of his button
--havingin trutha 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 lastand he
proceeds alone in quest of his adviser.

By the cloisterly Templeand by Whitefriars (therenot without a
glance at Hanging-Sword Alleywhich would seem to be something in
his way)and by Blackfriars Bridgeand Blackfriars RoadMr.
George sedately marches to a street of little shops lying somewhere
in that ganglion of roads from Kent and Surreyand of streets from
the bridges of Londoncentring in the far-famed elephant who has
lost his castle formed of a thousand four-horse coaches to a
stronger iron monster than heready to chop him into mince-meat
any day he dares. To one of the little shops in this streetwhich
is a musician's shophaving a few fiddles in the windowand some
Pan's pipes and a tambourineand a triangleand certain elongated
scraps of musicMr. George directs his massive tread. And halting
at a few paces from itas he sees a soldierly looking womanwith
her outer skirts tucked upcome forth with a small wooden tuband
in that tub commence a-whisking and a-splashing on the margin of
the pavementMr. George says to himselfShe'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 untillifting up herself and her tub together
when she has poured the water off into the guttershe 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 trooperwithout remarking on this welcomefollows into the
musical-instrument shopwhere the lady places her tub of greens
upon the counterand having shaken hands with himrests her arms
upon it.

I never,she saysGeorge, consider Matthew Bagnet safe a minute
when you're near him. You are that resfless 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. Bagnetsomething 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-
boneda little coarse in the grainand freckled by the sun and
wind which have tanned her hair upon the foreheadbut healthy
wholesomeand bright-eyed. A strongbusyactivehonest-faced
woman of from forty-five to fifty. Cleanhardyand so
economically dressed (though substantially) that the only article
of ornament of which she stands possessed appear's to be her
wedding-ringaround 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 trooperI 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. "AhGeorgeGeorge! 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
laughinglyhalf seriouslybut 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. Bagnetwho seems in a virtuous way to be under little reserve
with a good sort of fellowbut to be another good sort of fellow
herself for that matterreceives 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 Georgefollowingon invitation
into that department. "And little Maltatoo! Come and kiss your
Bluffy!"

These young ladies--not supposed to have been actually christened
by the names applied to themthough always so called in the family
from the places of their birth in barracks--are respectively
employed on three-legged stoolsthe younger (some five or six
years old) in learning her letters out of a penny primerthe 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. Bagnetturning 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 fatherto play the fife in a military piece."

Well done, my godson!cries Mr. Georgeslapping 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 Scotlandand your old father
somewhere elsecorresponded withand helped a littleand--well
well! To be sureI don't know why I shouldn't be wished a hundred
mile awayfor I have not much to do with all this!"

Mr. George is becoming thoughtfulsitting before the fire in the
whitewashed roomwhich has a sanded floor and a barrack smell and
contains nothing superfluous and has not a visible speck of dirt or
dust in itfrom the faces of Quebec and Malta to the bright tin
pots and pannikins upon the dresser shelves--Mr. George is becoming
thoughtfulsitting here while Mrs. Bagnet is busywhen Mr. Bagnet
and young Woolwich opportunely come home. Mr. Bagnet is an ex-
artillerymantall and uprightwith shaggy eyebrows and whiskers
like the fibres of a coco-nutnot a hair upon his headand a
torrid complexion. His voiceshortdeepand resonantis not at
all unlike the tones of the instrument to which he is devoted.
Indeed there may be generally observed in him an unbending
unyieldingbrass-bound airas 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 sayingin due
seasonthat he has come to advise with Mr. BagnetMr. 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 invitationhe and Mr. Bagnetnot to embarrass the domestic
preparationsgo forth to take a turn up and down the little
streetwhich 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 saysdo--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 sentencesbassoon-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 to-morrow. Did it once!

You are right,says Mr. George.

What college,pursues Bagnetcould 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. Bagnetacquiescingsaves. 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 replyis 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 mattersthey walk up and
down the little streetkeeping step and timeuntil summoned by
Quebec and Malta to do justice to the pork and greensover which
Mrs. Bagnetlike a military chaplainsays a short grace. In the
distribution of these comestiblesas in every other household


dutyMrs. Bagnet developes an exact systemsitting with every
dish before herallotting to every portion of pork its own portion
of pot-liquorgreenspotatoesand even mustardand serving it
out complete. Having likewise served out the beer from a can and
thus supplied the mess with all things necessaryMrs. Bagnet
proceeds to satisfy her own hungerwhich is in a healthy state.
The kit of the messif 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 knifein
particularwhich is of the oyster kindwith the additional
feature of a strong shutting-up movement which frequently balks the
appetite of that young musicianis mentioned as having gone in
various hands the complete round of foreign service.

The dinner doneMrs. Bagnetassisted by the younger branches (who
polish their own cups and plattersknives and forks)makes all
the dinner garniture shine as brightly as before and puts it all
awayfirst sweeping the hearthto 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 considerable use of a pailwhich is finally so happy
as to assist in the ablutions of Mrs. Bagnet herself. That old
girl reappearing by and byquite freshand sitting down to her
needleworkthen 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 discretionappearing to address
himself to Mr. Bagnetbut having an eye solely on the old girl all
the timeas Bagnet has himself. Sheequally discreetbusies
herself with her needlework. The case fully statedMr. 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 Georgeentirely by it.

Old girl,says Mr. Bagnetgive 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
darkto be a party to nothing underhanded or mysteriousand never
to put his foot where he cannot see the ground. Thisin effect
is Mr. Bagnet's opinionas delivered through the old girland 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 familyaccording 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. Georgein his
domestic character of Bluffyto take leave of Quebec and Malta and
insinuate a sponsorial shilling into the pocket of his godson with
felicitations on his success in lifeit is dark when Mr. George
again turns his face towards Lincoln's Inn Fields.


A family home,he ruminates as he marches alonghowever 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.
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
stairhe finds the outer door closed and the chambers shutbut
the trooper not knowing much about outer doorsand the staircase
being dark besideshe is yet fumbling and groping abouthoping to
discover a bell-handle or to open the door for himselfwhen Mr.
Tulkinghorn comes up the stairs (quietlyof course) and angrily
asksWho 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
trooperrather 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. Tulkinghornopening his door with the keyin
whose hiding-place Mr. Gridley was found?

Yes, I AM the man,says the trooperstopping two or three stairs
down. "What thensir?"

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 wordsspoken in an unusually high tone for himthe
lawyer goes into his rooms and shuts the door with a thundering
noise.

Mr. George takes his dismissal in great dudgeonthe 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 threateningmurderousdangerous fellow!" And
looking uphe 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 betterfor the time beingof
the family gout and is once morein a literal no less than in a
figurative point of viewupon his legs. He is at his place in
Lincolnshire; but the waters are out again on the low-lying
groundsand the cold and damp steal into Chesney Woldthough well
defendedand 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 woodssullen to see how trees are sacrificeddo not
exclude the enemy. The hot-water pipes that trail themselves all
over the housethe cushioned doors and windowsand 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 relationsinasmuch as very red blood of the superior
qualitylike inferior blood unlawfully shedWILL cry aloud and
WILL be heard. Sir Leicester's cousinsin 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 goldbut to have been made
of common iron at first and done base service.

Servicehowever (with a few limited reservationsgenteel but not
profitable)they may not dobeing of the Dedlock dignity. So
they visit their richer cousinsand get into debt when they can
and live but shabbily when they can'tand find--the women no
husbandsand the men no wives--and ride in borrowed carriagesand
sit at feasts that are never of their own makingand so go through
high life. The rich family sum has been divided by so many
figuresand 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 Boodlethrough the Duke of Foodledown to Noodle
Sir Leicesterlike a glorious spiderstretches his threads of
relationship. But while he is stately in the cousinship of the
Everybodyshe is a kind and generous manaccording to his
dignified wayin the cousinship of the Nobodys; and at the present
timein despite of the damphe stays out the visit of several
such cousins at Chesney Wold with the constancy of a martyr.

Of theseforemost in the front rank stands Volumnia Dedlocka
young lady (of sixty) who is doubly highly relatedhaving the
honour to be a poor relationby the mother's sideto another
great family. Miss Volumniadisplaying in early life a pretty
talent for cutting ornaments out of coloured paperand also for
singing to the guitar in the Spanish tongueand propounding French
conundrums in country housespassed 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 languageshe
retired to Bathwhere 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 trousersand 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 stateVolumnia would be a clear case
for the pension list. Efforts have been made to get her on itand
when William Buffy came init was fully expected that her name
would be put down for a couple of hundred a year. But William
Buffy somehow discoveredcontrary to all expectationthat these
were not the times when it could be doneand 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 Stableswho 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
recognizedbut somehow William Buffy found when he came in that
these were not times in which he could manage that little matter
eitherand 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 capacitiesthe major part amiable and sensible and likely to
have done well enough in life if they could have overcome their
cousinship; as it isthey are almost all a little worsted by it
and lounge in purposeless and listless pathsand 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 societyand where notmy Lady Dedlock reigns supreme.
Beautifulelegantaccomplishedand 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 househowever haughty and
indifferent her manneris greatly to improve it and refine it.
The cousinseven those older cousins who were paralysed when Sir
Leicester married herdo her feudal homage; and the Honourable Bob
Stables daily repeats to some chosen person between breakfast and
lunch his favourite original remarkthat 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 houseraising ghosts of grim furniture on wall and ceiling.
Bedroom candlesticks bristle on the distant table by the doorand
cousins yawn on ottomans. Cousins at the pianocousins at the
soda-water traycousins rising from the card-tablecousins
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 hearthmy Lady at her table. Volumniaas one of the
more privileged cousinsin a luxurious chair between them. Sir
Leicester glancingwith magnificent displeasureat the rouge and
the pearl necklace.

I occasionally meet on my staircase here,drawls Volumniawhose
thoughts perhaps are already hopping up it to bedafter a long
evening of very desultory talkone of the prettiest girls, I
think, that I ever saw in my life.

A PROTEGEE of my 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 Volumniareserving her own sortbut in its
way, perfect; such bloom I never saw!

Sir Leicesterwith his magnificent glance of displeasure at the
rougeappears to say so too.

Indeed,remarks my Lady languidlyif 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. "Yeshow charming now! And how well that
delightful old soul Mrs. Rouncewell is looking. She must be an
immense ageand yet she is as active and handsome! She is the
dearest friend I havepositively!"

Sir Leicester feels it to be right and fitting that the housekeeper
of Chesney Wold should be a remarkable person. Apart from thathe
has a real regard for Mrs. Rouncewell and likes to hear her
praised. So he saysYou 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 Ladywhose chronic malady of boredom has been sadly aggravated
by Volumnia this eveningglances 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 gloomthat 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 doubtas not being sure but that he is
called a lead-mistress 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


Leicesterthat 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-wardsSir Leicester
politely performs the grand tour of the drawing-roombrings one
and lights it at my Lady's shaded lamp.

I must beg you, my Lady,he says while doing soto 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
Leicesterwith his habitual regard to truthdwells upon it--"I am
bound to sayin a very becoming and well-expressed notethe
favour of a short interview with yourself and MYself on the subject
of this young girl. As it appeared that he wished to depart tonight
I replied that we would see him before retiring."

Miss Volumnia with a third little scream takes flightwishing her
hosts--O Lud!--well rid of the--what is it?--ironmaster!

The other cousins soon disperseto the last cousin there. Sir
Leicester rings the bellMake my compliments to Mr. Rouncewell,
in the housekeeper's apartments, and say I can receive him now.

My Ladywho has beard all this with slight attention outwardly
looks towards Mr. Rouncewell as he comes in. He is a little over
fifty perhapsof a good figurelike his motherand has a clear
voicea broad forehead from which his dark hair has retiredand a
shrewd though open face. He is a responsible-looking gentleman
dressed in blackportly enoughbut 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; therein that ancient houserooted
in that quiet parkwhere the ivy and the moss have had time to
matureand 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 wayas 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 grandeurfor he
thinks the ironmaster a little too glibmust 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 sure, Sir
Leicester and Lady Dedlock, you will understand and excuse me--I
should make it a condition that she did not remain at Chesney Wold.
Therefore, before communicating further with my son, I take the
liberty of saying that if her removal would be in any way
inconvenient or objectionable, I will hold the matter over with him
for any reasonable time and leave it precisely where it is.

Not remain at Chesney Wold! Make it a condition! All Sir
Leicester's old misgivings relative to Wat Tyler and the people in
the iron districts who do nothing but turn out by torchlight come
in a shower upon his headthe fine grey hair of whichas well as
of his whiskersactually stirs with indignation.

Am I to understand, sir,says Sir Leicesterand is my Lady to
understand--he brings her in thus speciallyfirst as a point of
gallantryand next as a point of prudencehaving great reliance
on her sense--"am I to understandMr. Rouncewelland is my Lady
to understandsirthat you consider this young woman too good for
Chesney Wold or likely to be injured by remaining here?"

Certainly not, Sir Leicester,

I am glad to hear it.Sir Leicester very lofty indeed.

Pray, Mr. Rouncewell,says my Ladywarning Sir Leicester off
with the slightest gesture of her pretty handas if he were a fly
explain to me what you mean.

Willingly, Lady Dedlock. There is nothing I could desire more.

Addressing her composed facewhose intelligencehoweveris too
quick and active to be concealed by any studied impassiveness
however habitualto the strong Saxon face of the visitora
picture of resolution and perseverancemy Lady listens with
attentionoccasionally slightly bending her head.

I am the son of your housekeeper, Lady Dedlock, and passed my
childhood about this house. My mother has lived here half a
century and will die here I have no doubt. She is one of those
examples--perhaps as good a one as there is--of love, and
attachment, and fidelity in such a nation, which England may well
be proud of, but of which no order can appropriate the whole pride
or the whole merit, because such an instance bespeaks high worth on
two sides--on the great side assuredly, on the small one no less
assuredly.

Sir Leicester snorts a little to hear the law laid down in this
waybut in his honour and his love of truthhe freelythough


silentlyadmits the justice of the ironmaster's proposition.

Pardon me for saying what is so obvious, but I wouldn't have it
hastily supposed,with the least turn of his eyes towards Sir
Leicesterthat I am ashamed of my mother's position here, or
wanting in all just respect for Chesney Wold and the family. I
certainly may have desired--I certainly have desired, Lady Dedlock
--that my mother should retire after so many years and end her days
with me. But as I have found that to sever this strong bond would
be to break her heart, I have long abandoned that idea.

Sir Leicester very magnificent again at the notion of Mrs.
Rouncewell being spirited off from her natural home to end her days
with an ironmaster.

I have been,proceeds the visitor in a modestclear wayan
apprentice and a workman. I have lived on workman's wages, years
and years, and beyond a certain point have had to educate myself.
My wife was a foreman's daughter, and plainly brought up. We have
three daughters besides this son of whom I have spoken, and being
fortunately able to give them greater advantages than we have had
ourselves, we have educated them well, very well. It has been one
of our great cares and pleasures to make them worthy of any
station.

A little boastfulness in his fatherly tone hereas if he added in
his hearteven of the Chesney Wold station.Not a little more
magnificencethereforeon the part of Sir Leicester.

All this is so frequent, Lady Dedlock, where I live, and among the
class to which I belong, that what would be generally called
unequal marriages are not of such rare occurrence with us as
elsewhere. A son will sometimes make it known to his father that
he has fallen in love, say, with a young woman in the factory. The
father, who once worked in a factory himself, will be a little
disappointed at first very possibly. It may be that he had other
views for his son. However, the chances are that having
ascertained the young woman to be of unblemished character, he will
say to his son, 'I must be quite sure you are in earnest here.
This is a serious matter for both of you. Therefore I shall have
this girl educated for two years,' or it may be, 'I shall place
this girl at the same school with your sisters for such a time,
during which you will give me your word and honour to see her only
so often. If at the expiration of that time, when she has so far
profited by her advantages as that you may be upon a fair equality,
you are both in the same mind, I will do my part to make you
happy.' I know of several cases such as I describe, my Lady, and I
think they indicate to me my own course now.

Sir Leicester's magnificence explodes. Calmlybut terribly.

Mr. Rouncewell,says Sir Leicester with his right hand in the
breast of his blue coatthe attitude of state in which he is
painted in the gallerydo you draw a parallel between Chesney
Wold and a--Here he resists a disposition to chokea factory?

I need not reply, Sir Leicester, that the two places are very
different; but for the purposes of this case, I think a parallel
may be justly drawn between them.

Sir Leicester directs his majestic glance down one side of the long
drawing-room and up the other before he can believe that he is
awake.


Are you aware, sir, that this young woman whom my Lady--my Lady-has
placed near her person was brought up at the village school
outside the gates?

Sir Leicester, I am quite aware of it. A very good school it is,
and handsomely supported by this family.

Then, Mr. Rouncewell,returns Sir Leicesterthe application of
what you have said is, to me, incomprehensible.

Will it be more comprehensible, Sir Leicester, if I say,the
ironmaster is reddening a littlethat I do not regard the village
school as teaching everything desirable to be known by my son's
wife?

From the village school of Chesney Woldintact as it is this
minuteto the whole framework of society; from the whole framework
of societyto the aforesaid framework receiving tremendous cracks
in consequence of people (iron-masterslead-mistressesand what
not) not minding their catechismand getting out of the station
unto which they are called--necessarily and for everaccording to
Sir Leicester's rapid logicthe first station in which they happen
to find themselves; and from thatto their educating other people
out of THEIR stationsand so obliterating the landmarksand
opening the floodgatesand all the rest of it; this is the swift
progress of the Dedlock mind.

My Lady, I beg your pardon. Permit me, for one moment!She has
given a faint indication of intending to speak. "Mr. Rouncewell
our views of dutyand our views of stationand our views of
educationand our views of--in shortALL our views--are so
diametrically opposedthat to prolong this discussion must be
repellent to your feelings and repellent to my own. This young
woman is honoured with my Lady's notice and favour. If she wishes
to withdraw herself from that notice and favour or if she chooses
to place herself under the influence of any one who may in his
peculiar opinions--you will allow me to sayin his peculiar
opinionsthough I readily admit that he is not accountable for
them to me--who mayin his peculiar opinionswithdraw her from
that notice and favourshe is at any time at liberty to do so. We
are obliged to you for the plainness with which you have spoken.
It will have no effect of itselfone way or otheron the young
woman's position here. Beyond thiswe can make no terms; and here
we beg--if you will be so good--to leave the subject."

The visitor pauses a moment to give my Lady an opportunitybut she
says nothing. He then rises and repliesSir Leicester and Lady
Dedlock, allow me to thank you for your attention and only to
observe that I shall very seriously recommend my son to conquer his
present inclinations. Good night!

Mr. Rouncewell,says Sir Leicester with all the nature of a
gentleman shining in himit is late, and the roads are dark. I
hope your time is not so precious but that you will allow my Lady
and myself to offer you the hospitality of Chesney Wold, for tonight
at least.

I hope so,adds my Lady.

I am much obliged to you, but I have to travel all night in order
to reach a distant part of the country punctually at an appointed
time in the morning.

Therewith the ironmaster takes his departureSir Leicester ringing


the bell and my Lady rising as he leaves the room.

When my Lady goes to her boudoirshe sits down thoughtfully by the
fireand inattentive to the Ghost's Walklooks at Rosawriting
in an inner room. Presently my Lady calls her.

Come to me, child. Tell me the truth. Are you in love?

Oh! My Lady!

My Ladylooking at the downcast and blushing facesays smiling
Who is it? Is it Mrs. Rouncewell's grandson?

Yes, if you please, my Lady. But I don't know that I am in love
with him--yet.

Yet, you silly little thing! Do you know that he loves YOU, yet?

I think he likes me a little, my Lady.And Rosa bursts into
tears.

Is this Lady Dedlock standing beside the village beautysmoothing
her dark hair with that motherly touchand watching her with eyes
so full of musing interest? Ayeindeed it is!

Listen to me, child. You are young and true, and I believe you
are attached to me.

Indeed I am, my Lady. Indeed there is nothing in the world I
wouldn't do to show how much.

And I don't think you would wish to leave me just yet, Rosa, even
for a lover?

No, my Lady! Oh, no!Rosa looks up for the first timequite
frightened at the thought.

Confide in me, my child. Don't fear me. I wish you to be happy,
and will make you so--if I can make anybody happy on this earth.

Rosawith fresh tearskneels at her feet and kisses her hand. My
Lady takes the hand with which she has caught itand standing with
her eyes fixed on the fireputs it about and about between her own
two handsand gradually lets it fall. Seeing her so absorbed
Rosa softly withdraws; but still my Lady's eyes are on the fire.

In search of what? Of any hand that is no moreof any hand that
never wasof any touch that might have magically changed her life?
Or does she listen to the Ghost's Walk and think what step does it
most resemble? A man's? A woman's? The pattering of a little
child's feetever coming on--on--on? Some melancholy influence is
upon heror why should so proud a lady close the doors and sit
alone upon the hearth so desolate?

Volumnia is away next dayand all the cousins are scattered before
dinner. Not a cousin of the batch but is amazed to hear from Sir
Leicester at breakfast-time of the obliteration of landmarksand
opening of floodgatesand cracking of the framework of society
manifested through Mrs. Rouncewell's son. Not a cousin of the
batch but is really indignantand connects it with the feebleness
of William Buffy when in officeand really does feel deprived of a
stake in the country--or the pension list--or something--by fraud
and wrong. As to Volumniashe is handed down the great staircase
by Sir Leicesteras eloquent upon the theme as if there were a


general rising in the north of England to obtain her rouge-pot and
pearl necklace. And thuswith a clatter of maids and valets--for
it is one appurtenance of their cousinship that however difficult
they may find it to keep themselvesthey MUST keep maids and
valets--the cousins disperse to the four winds of heaven; and the
one wintry wind that blows to-day shakes a shower from the trees
near the deserted houseas if all the cousins had been changed
into leaves.

CHAPTER XXIX

The Young Man

Chesney Wold is shut upcarpets are rolled into great scrolls in
corners of comfortless roomsbright damask does penance in brown
hollandcarving and gilding puts on mortificationand the Dedlock
ancestors retire from the light of day again. Around and around
the house the leaves fall thickbut never fastfor they come
circling down with a dead lightness that is sombre and slow. Let
the gardener sweep and sweep the turf as he willand press the
leaves into full barrowsand wheel them offstill they lie ankle-
deep. Howls the shrill wind round Chesney Wold; the sharp rain
beatsthe windows rattleand the chimneys growl. Mists hide in
the avenuesveil the points of viewand move in funeral-wise
across the rising grounds. On all the house there is a coldblank
smell like the smell of a little churchthough something dryer
suggesting that the dead and buried Dedlocks walk there in the long
nights and leave the flavour of their graves behind them.

But the house in townwhich is rarely in the same mind as Chesney
Wold at the same timeseldom rejoicing when it rejoices or
mourning when it mournsexpecting when a Dedlock dies--the house
in town shines out awakened. As warm and bright as so much state
may beas delicately redolent of pleasant scents that bear no
trace of winter as hothouse flowers can make itsoft and hushed so
that the ticking of the clocks and the crisp burning of the fires
alone disturb the stillness in the roomsit seems to wrap those
chilled bones of Sir Leicester's in rainbow-coloured wool. And Sir
Leicester is glad to repose in dignified contentment before the
great fire in the librarycondescendingly perusing the backs of
his books or honouring the fine arts with a glance of approbation.
For he has his picturesancient and modern. Some of the Fancy
Ball School in which art occasionally condescends to become a
masterwhich would be best catalogued like the miscellaneous
articles in a sale. As '"Three high-backed chairsa table and
coverlong-necked bottle (containing wine)one flaskone Spanish
female's costumethree-quarter face portrait of Miss Jogg the
modeland a suit of armour containing Don Quixote." Or "One stone
terrace (cracked)one gondola in distanceone Venetian senator's
dress completerichly embroidered white satin costume with profile
portrait of Miss Jogg the modelone Scimitar superbly mounted in
gold with jewelled handleelaborate Moorish dress (very rare)and
Othello."

Mr. Tulkinghorn comes and goes pretty oftenthere being estate
business to doleases to be renewedand so on. He sees my Lady
pretty oftentoo; and he and she are as composedand as
indifferentand take as little heed of one anotheras ever. Yet
it may be that my Lady fears this Mr. Tulkinghorn and that he knows
it. It may be that he pursues her doggedly and steadilywith no
touch of compunctionremorseor pity. It may be that her beauty


and all the state and brilliancy surrounding her only gives him the
greater zest for what he is set upon and makes him the more
inflexible in it. Whether he be cold and cruelwhether immovable
in what he has made his dutywhether absorbed in love of power
whether determined to have nothing hidden from him in ground where
he has burrowed among secrets all his lifewhether he in his heart
despises the splendour of which he is a distant beamwhether he is
always treasuring up slights and offences in the affability of his
gorgeous clients--whether he be any of thisor all of thisit may
be that my Lady had better have five thousand pairs of fashionahle
eyes upon herin distrustful vigilancethan the two eyes of this
rusty lawyer with his wisp of neckcloth and his dull black breeches
tied with ribbons at the knees.

Sir Leicester sits in my Lady's room--that room in which Mr.
Tulkinghorn read the affidavit in Jarndyce and Jarndyce-particularly
complacent. My Ladyas on that daysits before the
fire with her screen in her hand. Sir Leicester is particularly
complacent because he has found in his newspaper some congenial
remarks bearing directly on the floodgates and the framework of
society. They apply so happily to the late case that Sir Leicester
has come from the library to my Lady's room expressly to read them
aloud. "The man who wrote this article he observes by way of
preface, nodding at the fire as if he were nodding down at the man
from a mount, has a well-balanced mind."

The man's mind is not so well balanced but that he bores my Lady
whoafter a languid effort to listenor rather a languid
resignation of herself to a show of listeningbecomes distraught
and falls into a contemplation of the fire as if it were her fire
at Chesney Woldand she had never left it. Sir Leicesterquite
unconsciousreads on through his double eye-glassoccasionally
stopping to remove his glass and express approvalas "Very true
indeed Very properly put I have frequently made the same
remark myself invariably losing his place after each observation,
and going up and down the column to find it again.

Sir Leicester is reading with infinite gravity and state when the
door opens, and the Mercury in powder makes this strange
announcement, The young manmy Ladyof the name of Guppy."

Sir Leicester pausesstaresrepeats in a killing voiceThe
young man of the name of Guppy?

Looking roundhe beholds the young man of the name of Guppymuch
discomfited and not presenting a very impressive letter of
introduction in his manner and appearance.

Pray,says Sir Leicester to Mercurywhat do you mean by
announcing with this abruptness a young man of the name of Guppy?

I beg your pardon, Sir Leicester, but my Lady said she would see
the young man whenever he called. I was not aware that you were
here, Sir Leicester.

With this apologyMercury directs a scornful and indignant look at
the young man of the name of Guppy which plainly saysWhat do you
come calling here for and getting ME into a row?

It's quite right. I gave him those directions,says my Lady.
Let the young man wait.

By no means, my Lady. Since he has your orders to come, I will
not interrupt you.Sir Leicester in his gallantry retiresrather


declining to accept a bow from the young man as he goes out and
majestically supposing him to be some shoemaker of intrusive
appearance.

Lady Dedlock looks imperiously at her visitor when the servant has
left the roomcasting her eyes over him from head to foot. She
suffers him to stand by the door and asks him what he wants.

That your ladyship would have the kindness to oblige me with a
little conversation,returns Mr. Guppyembarrassed.

You are, of course, the person who has written me so many
letters?

Several, your ladyship. Several before your ladyship condescended
to favour me with an answer.

And could you not take the same means of rendering a Conversation
unnecessary? Can you not still?

Mr. Guppy screws his mouth into a silent "No!" and shakes his head.

You have been strangely importunate. If it should appear, after
all, that what you have to say does not concern me--and I don't
know how it can, and don't expect that it will--you will allow me
to cut you short with but little ceremony. Say what you have to
say, if you please.

My Ladywith a careless toss of her screenturns herself towards
the fire againsitting almost with her back to the young man of
the name of Guppy.

With your ladyship's permission, then,says the young manI
will now enter on my business. Hem! I am, as I told your ladyship
in my first letter, in the law. Being in the law, I have learnt
the habit of not committing myself in writing, and therefore I did
not mention to your ladyship the name of the firm with which I am
connected and in which my standing--and I may add income--is
tolerably good. I may now state to your ladyship, in confidence,
that the name of that firm is Kenge and Carboy, of Lincoln's Inn,
which may not be altogether unknown to your ladyship in connexion
with the case in Chancery of Jarndyce and Jarndyce.

My Lady's figure begins to be expressive of some attention. She
has ceased to toss the screen and holds it as if she were
listening.

Now, I may say to your ladyship at once,says Mr. Guppya little
emboldenedit is no matter arising out of Jarndyce and Jarndyce
that made me so desirous to speak to your ladyship, which conduct I
have no doubt did appear, and does appear, obtrusive--in fact,
almost blackguardly.

After waiting for a moment to receive some assurance to the
contraryand not receiving anyMr. Guppy proceedsIf it had
been Jarndyce and Jarndyce, I should have gone at once to your
ladyship's solicitor, Mr. Tulkinghorn, of the Fields. I have the
pleasure of being acquainted with Mr. Tulkinghorn--at least we move
when we meet one another--and if it had been any business of that
sort, I should have gone to him.

My Lady turns a little round and saysYou had better sit down.

Thank your ladyship.Mr. Guppy does so. "Nowyour ladyship"-



Mr. Guppy refers to a little slip of paper on which he has made
small notes of his line of argument and which seems to involve him
in the densest obscurity whenever he looks at it--"I--Ohyes!--I
place myself entirely in your ladyship's hands. If your ladyship
was to make any complaint to Kenge and Carboy or to Mr. Tulkinghorn
of the present visitI should be placed in a very disagreeable
situation. ThatI openly admit. ConsequentlyI rely upon your
ladyship's honour."

My Ladywith a disdainful gesture of the hand that holds the
screenassures him of his being worth no complaint from her.

Thank your ladyship,says Mr. Guppy; "quite satisfactory. Now-I--
dash it!--The fact is that I put down a head or two here of the
order of the points I thought of touching uponand they're written
shortand I can't quite make out what they mean. If your ladyship
will excuse me taking it to the window half a momentI--"

Mr. Guppygoing to the windowtumbles into a pair of love-birds
to whom he says in his confusionI beg your pardon, I am sure.
This does not tend to the greater legibility of his notes. He
murmursgrowing warm and red and holding the slip of paper now
close to his eyesnow a long way offC.S. What's C.S. for? Oh!
C.S.! Oh, I know! Yes, to be sure!And comes back enlightened.

I am not aware,says Mr. Guppystanding midway between my Lady
and his chairwhether your ladyship ever happened to hear of, or
to see, a young lady of the name of Miss Esther Summerson.

My Lady's eyes look at him full. "I saw a young lady of that name
not long ago. This past autumn."

Now, did it strike your ladyship that she was like anybody?asks
Mr. Guppycrossing his armsholding his head on one sideand
scratching the corner of his mouth with his memoranda.

My Lady removes her eyes from him no more.

No.

Not like your ladyship's family?

No.

I think your ladyship,says Mr. Guppycan hardly remember Miss
Summerson's face?

I remember the young lady very well. What has this to do with
me?

Your ladyship, I do assure you that having Miss Summerson's image
imprinted on my 'eart--which I mention in confidence--I found, when
I had the honour of going over your ladyship's mansion of Chesney
Wold while on a short out in the county of Lincolnshire with a
friend, such a resemblance between Miss Esther Summerson and your
ladyship's own portrait that it completely knocked me over, so much
so that I didn't at the moment even know what it WAS that knocked
me over. And now I have the honour of beholding your ladyship near
(I have often, since that, taken the liberty of looking at your
ladyship in your carriage in the park, when I dare say you was not
aware of me, but I never saw your ladyship so near), it's really
more surprising than I thought it.

Young man of the name of Guppy! There have been timeswhen ladies


lived in strongholds and had unscrupulous attendants within call
when that poor life of yours would NOT have been worth a minute's
purchasewith those beautiful eyes looking at you as they look at
this moment.

My Ladyslowly using her little hand-screen as a fanasks him
again what he supposes that his taste for likenesses has to do with
her.

Your ladyship,replies Mr. Guppyagain referring to his paper
I am coming to that. Dash these notes! Oh! 'Mrs. Chadband.'
Yes.Mr. Guppy draws his chair a little forward and seats himself
again. My Lady reclines in her chair composedlythough with a
trifle less of graceful ease than usual perhapsand never falters
in her steady gaze. "A--stop a minutethough!" Mr. Guppy refers
again. "E.S. twice? Ohyes! YesI see my way nowright on."

Rolling up the slip of paper as an instrument to point his speech
withMr. Guppy proceeds.

Your ladyship, there is a mystery about Miss Esther Summerson's
birth and bringing up. I am informed of that fact because--which I
mention in confidence--I know it in the way of my profession at
Kenge and Carboy's. Now, as I have already mentioned to your
ladyship, Miss Summerson's image is imprinted on my 'eart. If I
could clear this mystery for her, or prove her to be well related,
or find that having the honour to be a remote branch of your
ladyship's family she had a right to be made a party in Jarndyce
and Jarndyce, why, I might make a sort of a claim upon Miss
Summerson to look with an eye of more dedicated favour on my
proposals than she has exactly done as yet. In fact, as yet she
hasn't favoured them at all.

A kind of angry smile just dawns upon my Lady's face.

Now, it's a very singular circumstance, your ladyship,says Mr.
Guppythough one of those circumstances that do fall in the way
of us professional men--which I may call myself, for though not
admitted, yet I have had a present of my articles made to me by
Kenge and Carboy, on my mother's advancing from the principal of
her little income the money for the stamp, which comes heavy--that
I have encountered the person who lived as servant with the lady
who brought Miss Summerson up before Mr. Jarndyce took charge of
her. That lady was a Miss Barbary, your ladyship.

Is the dead colour on my Lady's face reflected from the screen
which has a green silk ground and which she holds in her raised
hand as if she had forgotten itor is it a dreadful paleness that
has fallen on her?

Did your ladyship,says Mr. Guppyever happen to hear of Miss
Barbary?

I don't know. I think so. Yes.

Was Miss Barbary at all connected with your ladyship's family?

My Lady's lips movebut they utter nothing. She shakes her head.

NOT connected?says Mr. Guppy. "Oh! Not to your ladyship's
knowledgeperhaps? Ah! But might be? Yes." After each of these
interrogatoriesshe has inclined her head. "Very good! Nowthis
Miss Barbary was extremely close--seems to have been
extraordinarily close for a femalefemales being generally (in


common life at least) rather given to conversation--and my witness
never had an idea whether she possessed a single relative. On one
occasionand only oneshe seems to have been confidential to my
witness on a single pointand she then told her that the little
girl's real name was not Esther Summersonbut Esther Hawdon."

My God!

Mr. Guppy stares. Lady Dedlock sits before him looking him
throughwith the same dark shade upon her facein the same
attitude even to the holding of the screenwith her lips a little
aparther brow a little contractedbut for the moment dead. He
sees her consciousness returnsees a tremor pass across her frame
like a ripple over watersees her lips shakesees her compose
them by a great effortsees her force herself back to the
knowledge of his presence and of what he has said. All thisso
quicklythat her exclamation and her dead condition seem to have
passed away like the features of those long-preserved dead bodies
sometimes opened up in tombswhichstruck by the air like
lightningvanish in a breath.

Your ladyship is acquainted with the name of Hawdon?

I have heard it before.

Name of any collateral or remote branch of your ladyship's
family?

No.

Now, your ladyship,says Mr. GuppyI come to the last point of
the case, so far as I have got it up. It's going on, and I shall
gather it up closer and closer as it goes on. Your ladyship must
know--if your ladyship don't happen, by any chance, to know
already--that there was found dead at the house of a person named
Krook, near Chancery Lane, some time ago, a law-writer in great
distress. Upon which law-writer there was an inquest, and which
law-writer was an anonymous character, his name being unknown.
But, your ladyship, I have discovered very lately that that law-
writer's name was Hawdon.

And what is THAT to me?

Aye, your ladyship, that's the question! Now, your ladyship, a
queer thing happened after that man's death. A lady started up, a
disguised lady, your ladyship, who went to look at the scene of
action and went to look at his grave. She hired a crossing-
sweeping boy to show it her. If your ladyship would wish to have
the boy produced in corroboration of this statement, I can lay my
hand upon him at any time.

The wretched boy is nothing to my Ladyand she does NOT wish to
have him produced.

Oh, I assure your ladyship it's a very queer start indeed,says
Mr. Guppy. "If you was to hear him tell about the rings that
sparkled on her fingers when she took her glove offyou'd think it
quite romantic."

There are diamonds glittering on the hand that holds the screen.
My Lady trifles with the screen and makes them glitter moreagain
with that expression which in other times might have been so
dangerous to the young man of the name of Guppy.


It was supposed, your ladyship, that he left no rag or scrap
behind him by which he could be possibly identified. But he did.
He left a bundle of old letters.

The screen still goesas before. All this time her eyes never
once release him.

They were taken and secreted. And to-morrow night, your ladyship,
they will come into my possession.

Still I ask you, what is this to me?

Your ladyship, I conclude with that.Mr. Guppy rises. "If you
think there's enough in this chain of circumstances put together-in
the undoubted strong likeness of this young lady to your
ladyshipwhich is a positive fact for a jury; in her having been
brought up by Miss Barbary; in Miss Barbary stating Miss
Summerson's real name to be Hawdon; in your ladyship's knowing both
these names VERY WELL; and in Hawdon's dying as he did--to give
your ladyship a family interest in going further into the caseI
will bring these papers here. I don't know what they areexcept
that they are old letters: I have never had them in my posession
yet. I will bring those papers here as soon as I get them and go
over them for the first time with your ladyship. I have told your
ladyship my object. I have told your ladyship that I should be
placed in a very disagreeable situation if any complaint was made
and all is in strict confidence."

Is this the full purpose of the young man of the name of Guppyor
has he any other? Do his words disclose the lengthbreadth
depthof his object and suspicion in coming here; or if notwhat
do they hide? He is a match for my Lady there. She may look at
himbut he can look at the table and keep that witness-box face of
his from telling anything.

You may bring the letters,says my Ladyif you choose.

Your ladyship is not very encouraging, upon my word and honour,
says Mr. Guppya little injured.

You may bring the letters,she repeats in the same toneif you
--please.

It shall he done. I wish your ladyship good day.

On a table near her is a rich bauble of a casketbarred and
clasped like an old strong-chest. Shelooking at him stilltakes
it to her and unlocks it.

Oh! I assure your ladyship I am not actuated by any motives of
that sort,says Mr. Guppyand I couldn't accept anything of the
kind. I wish your ladyship good day, and am much obliged to you
all the same.

So the young man makes his bow and goes downstairswhere the
supercilious Mercury does not consider himself called upon to leave
his Olympus by the hall-fire to let the young man out.

As Sir Leicester basks in his library and dozes over his newspaper
is there no influence in the house to startle himnot to say to
make the very trees at Chesney Wold fling up their knotted arms
the very portraits frownthe very armour stir?

No. Wordssobsand cries are but airand air is so shut in and


shut out throughout the house in town that sounds need be uttered
trumpet-tongued indeed by my Lady in her chamber to carry any faint
vibration to Sir Leicester's ears; and yet this cry is in the
housegoing upward from a wild figure on its knees.

O my child, my child! Not dead in the first hours of her life, as
my cruel sister told me, but sternly nurtured by her, after she had
renounced me and my name! O my child, O my child!

CHAPTER XXX

Esther's Narrative

Richard had been gone away some time when a visitor came to pass a
few days with us. It was an elderly lady. It was Mrs. Woodcourt
whohaving come from Wales to stay with Mrs. Bayham Badger and
having written to my guardianby her son Allan's desire,to
report that she had heard from him and that he was well "and sent
his kind remembrances to all of us had been invited by my
guardian to make a visit to Bleak House. She stayed with us nearly
three weeks. She took very kindly to me and was extremely
confidential, so much so that sometimes she almost made me
uncomfortable. I had no right, I knew very well, to be
uncomfortable because she confided in me, and I felt it was
unreasonable; still, with all I could do, I could not quite help it.

She was such a sharp little lady and used to sit with her hands
folded in each other looking so very watchful while she talked to
me that perhaps I found that rather irksome. Or perhaps it was her
being so upright and trim, though I don't think it was that,
because I thought that quaintly pleasant. Nor can it have been the
general expression of her face, which was very sparkling and pretty
for an old lady. I don't know what it was. Or at least if I do
now, I thought I did not then. Or at least--but it don't matter.

Of a night when I was going upstairs to bed, she would invite me
into her room, where she sat before the fire in a great chair; and,
dear me, she would tell me about Morgan ap-Kerrig until I was quite
low-spirited! Sometimes she recited a few verses from
Crumlinwallinwer and the Mewlinn-willinwodd (if those are the right
names, which I dare say they are not), and would become quite fiery
with the sentiments they expressed. Though I never knew what they
were (being in Welsh), further than that they were highly
eulogistic of the lineage of Morgan ap-Kerrig.

SoMiss Summerson she would say to me with stately triumph,
thisyou seeis the fortune inherited by my son. Wherever my
son goeshe can claim kindred with Ap-Kerrig. He may not have
moneybut he always has what is much better--familymy dear."

I had my doubts of their caring so very much for Morgan ap-Kerrig
in India and Chinabut of course I never expressed them. I used
to say it was a great thing to be so highly connected.

It IS, my dear, a great thing,Mrs. Woodcourt would reply. "It
has its disadvantages; my son's choice of a wifefor instanceis
limited by itbut the matrimonial choice of the royal family is
limited in much the same manner."

Then she would pat me on the arm and smooth my dressas much as to
assure me that she had a good opinion of methe distance between


us notwithstanding.

Poor Mr. Woodcourt, my dear,she would sayand always with some
emotionfor with her lofty pedigree she had a very affectionate
heartwas descended from a great Highland family, the MacCoorts
of MacCoort. He served his king and country as an officer in the
Royal Highlanders, and he died on the field. My son is one of the
last representatives of two old families. With the blessing of
heaven he will set them up again and unite them with another old
family.

It was in vain for me to try to change the subjectas I used to
tryonly for the sake of novelty or perhaps because--but I need
not be so particular. Mrs. Woodcourt never would let me change it.

My dear,she said one nightyou have so much sense and you look
at the world in a quiet manner so superior to your time of life
that it is a comfort to me to talk to you about these family
matters of mine. You don't know much of my son, my dear; but you
know enough of him, I dare say, to recollect him?

Yes, ma'am. I recollect him.

Yes, my dear. Now, my dear, I think you are a judge of character,
and I should like to have your opinion of him.

Oh, Mrs. Woodcourt,said Ithat is so difficult!

Why is it so difficult, my dear?she returned. "I don't see it
myself."

To give an opinion--

On so slight an acquaintance, my dear. THAT'S true.

I didn't mean thatbecause Mr. Woodcourt had been at our house a
good deal altogether and had become quite intimate with my
guardian. I said soand added that he seemed to be very clever in
his profession--we thought--and that his kindness and gentleness to
Miss Flite were above all praise.

You do him justice!said Mrs. Woodcourtpressing my hand. "You
define him exactly. Allan is a dear fellowand in his profession
faultless. I say itthough I am his mother. StillI must
confess he is not without faultslove."

None of us are,said I.

Ah! But his really are faults that he might correct, and ought to
correct,returned the sharp old ladysharply shaking her head.
I am so much attached to you that I may confide in you, my dear,
as a third party wholly disinterested, that he is fickleness
itself.

I said I should have thought it hardly possible that he could have
been otherwise than constant to his profession and zealous in the
pursuit of itjudging from the reputation he had earned.

You are right again, my dear,the old lady retortedbut I don't
refer to his profession, look you.

Oh!said I.

No,said she. "I refermy dearto his social conduct. He is


always paying trivial attentions to young ladiesand always has
beenever since he was eighteen. Nowmy dearhe has never
really cared for any one of them and has never meant in doing this
to do any harm or to express anything but politeness and good
nature. Stillit's not rightyou know; is it?"

No,said Ias she seemed to wait for me.

And it might lead to mistaken notions, you see, my dear.

I supposed it might.

Therefore, I have told him many times that he really should be
more careful, both in justice to himself and in justice to others.
And he has always said, 'Mother, I will be; but you know me better
than anybody else does, and you know I mean no harm--in short, mean
nothing.' All of which is very true, my dear, but is no
justification. However, as he is now gone so far away and for an
indefinite time, and as he will have good opportunities and
introductions, we may consider this past and gone. And you, my
dear,said the old ladywho was now all nods and smiles
regarding your dear self, my love?

Me, Mrs. Woodcourt?

Not to be always selfish, talking of my son, who has gone to seek
his fortune and to find a wife--when do you mean to seek YOUR
fortune and to find a husband, Miss Summerson? Hey, look you! Now
you blush!

I don't think I did blush--at all eventsit was not important if I
did--and I said my present fortune perfectly contented me and I had
no wish to change it.

Shall I tell you what I always think of you and the fortune yet to
come for you, my love?said Mrs. Woodcourt.

If you believe you are a good prophet,said I.

Why, then, it is that you will marry some one very rich and very
worthy, much older--five and twenty years, perhaps--than yourself.
And you will be an excellent wife, and much beloved, and very
happy.

That is a good fortune,said I. "But why is it to be mine?"

My dear,she returnedthere's suitability in it--you are so
busy, and so neat, and so peculiarly situated altogether that
there's suitability in it, and it will come to pass. And nobody,
my love, will congratulate you more sincerely on such a marriage
than I shall.

It was curious that this should make me uncomfortablebut I think
it did. I know it did. It made me for some part of that night
uncomfortable. I was so ashamed of my folly that I did not like to
confess it even to Adaand that made me more uncomfortable still.
I would have given anything not to have been so much in the bright
old lady's confidence if I could have possibly declined it. It
gave me the most inconsistent opinions of her. At one time I
thought she was a story-tellerand at another time that she was
the pink of truth. Now I suspected that she was very cunningnext
moment I believed her honest Welsh heart to be perfectly innocent
and simple. And after allwhat did it matter to meand why did
it matter to me? Why could not Igoing up to bed with my basket


of keysstop to sit down by her fire and accommodate myself for a
little while to herat least as well as to anybody elseand not
trouble myself about the harmless things she said to me? Impelled
towards heras I certainly wasfor I was very anxious that she
should like me and was very glad indeed that she didwhy should I
harp afterwardswith actual distress and painon every word she
said and weigh it over and over again in twenty scales? Why was it
so worrying to me to have her in our houseand confidential to me
every nightwhen I yet felt that it was better and safer somehow
that she should be there than anywhere else? These were
perplexities and contradictions that I could not account for. At
leastif I could--but I shall come to all that by and byand it
is mere idleness to go on about it now.

So when Mrs. Woodcourt went awayI was sorry to lose her but was
relieved too. And then Caddy Jellyby came downand Caddy brought
such a packet of domestic news that it gave us abundant occupation.

First Caddy declared (and would at first declare nothing else) that
I was the best adviser that ever was known. Thismy pet saidwas
no news at all; and thisI saidof coursewas nonsense. Then
Caddy told us that she was going to be married in a month and that
if Ada and I would be her bridesmaidsshe was the happiest girl in
the world. To be surethis was news indeed; and I thought we
never should have done talking about itwe had so much to say to
Caddyand Caddy had so much to say to us.

It seemed that Caddy's unfortunate papa had got over his
bankruptcy--"gone through the Gazette was the expression Caddy
used, as if it were a tunnel--with the general clemency and
commiseration of his creditors, and had got rid of his affairs in
some blessed manner without succeeding in understanding them, and
had given up everything he possessed (which was not worth much, I
should think, to judge from the state of the furniture), and had
satisfied every one concerned that he could do no more, poor man.
So, he had been honourably dismissed to the office" to begin the
world again. What he did at the officeI never knew; Caddy said
he was a "custom-house and general agent and the only thing I
ever understood about that business was that when he wanted money
more than usual he went to the docks to look for it, and hardly
ever found it.

As soon as her papa had tranquillized his mind by becoming this
shorn lamb, and they had removed to a furnished lodging in Hatton
Garden (where I found the children, when I afterwards went there,
cutting the horse hair out of the seats of the chairs and choking
themselves with it), Caddy had brought about a meeting between him
and old Mr. Turveydrop; and poor Mr. Jellyby, being very humble and
meek, had deferred to Mr. Turveydrop's deportment so submissively
that they had become excellent friends. By degrees, old Mr.
Turveydrop, thus familiarized with the idea of his son's marriage,
had worked up his parental feelings to the height of contemplating
that event as being near at hand and had given his gracious consent
to the young couple commencing housekeeping at the academy in
Newman Street when they would.

And your papaCaddy. What did he say?"

Oh! Poor Pa,said Caddyonly cried and said he hoped we might
get on better than he and Ma had got on. He didn't say so before
Prince, he only said so to me. And he said, 'My poor girl, you
have not been very well taught how to make a home for your husband,
but unless you mean with all your heart to strive to do it, you bad
better murder him than marry him--if you really love him.'


And how did you reassure him, Caddy?

Why, it was very distressing, you know, to see poor Pa so low and
hear him say such terrible things, and I couldn't help crying
myself. But I told him that I DID mean it with all my heart and
that I hoped our house would be a place for him to come and find
some comfort in of an evening and that I hoped and thought I could
be a better daughter to him there than at home. Then I mentioned
Peepy's coming to stay with me, and then Pa began to cry again and
said the children were Indians.

Indians, Caddy?

Yes,said Caddywild Indians. And Pa said--here she began to
sobpoor girlnot at all like the happiest girl in the world-"
that he was sensible the best thing that could happen to them was
their being all tomahawked together."

Ada suggested that it was comfortable to know that Mr. Jellyby did
not mean these destructive sentiments.

No, of course I know Pa wouldn't like his family to be weltering
in their blood,said Caddybut he means that they are very
unfortunate in being Ma's children and that he is very unfortunate
in being Ma's husband; and I am sure that's true, though it seems
unnatural to say so.

I asked Caddy if Mrs. Jellyby knew that her wedding-day was fixed.

Oh! You know what Ma is, Esther,she returned. "It's impossible
to say whether she knows it or not. She has been told it often
enough; and when she IS told itshe only gives me a placid look
as if I was I don't know what--a steeple in the distance said
Caddy with a sudden idea; and then she shakes her head and says
'OhCaddyCaddywhat a tease you are!' and goes on with the
Borrioboola letters."

And about your wardrobe, Caddy?said I. For she was under no
restraint with us.

Well, my dear Esther,'' she returned, drying her eyes, I must do
the best I can and trust to my dear Prince never to have an unkind
remembrance of my coming so shabbily to him. If the question
concerned an outfit for BorrioboolaMa would know all about it and
would be quite excited. Being what it isshe neither knows nor
cares."

Caddy was not at all deficient in natural affection for her mother
but mentioned this with tears as an undeniable factwhich I am
afraid it was. We were sorry for the poor dear girl and found so
much to admire in the good disposition which had survived under
such discouragement that we both at once (I mean Ada and I)
proposed a little scheme that made her perfectly joyful. This was
her staying with us for three weeksmy staying with her for one
and our all three contriving and cutting outand repairingand
sewingand savingand doing the very best we could think of to
make the most of her stock. My guardian being as pleased with the
idea as Caddy waswe took her home next day to arrange the matter
and brought her out again in triumph with her boxes and all the
purchases that could be squeezed out of a ten-pound notewhich Mr.
Jellyby had found in the docks I supposebut which he at all
events gave her. What my guardian would not have given her if we
had encouraged himit would be difficult to saybut we thought it


right to compound for no more than her wedding-dress and bonnet.
He agreed to this compromiseand if Caddy had ever been happy in
her lifeshe was happy when we sat down to work.

She was clumsy enough with her needlepoor girland pricked her
fingers as much as she had been used to ink them. She could not
help reddening a little now and thenpartly with the smart and
partly with vexation at being able to do no betterbut she soon
got over that and began to improve rapidly. So day after day she
and my darlingand my little maid Charleyand a milliner out of
the townand Isat hard at workas pleasantly as possible.

Over and above thisCaddy was very anxious "to learn
housekeeping as she said. Now, mercy upon us! The idea of her
learning housekeeping of a person of my vast experience was such a
joke that I laughed, and coloured up, and fell into a comical
confusion when she proposed it. However, I said, CaddyI am sure
you are very welcome to learn anything that you can learn of MEmy
dear and I showed her all my books and methods and all my fidgety
ways. You would have supposed that I was showing her some
wonderful inventions, by her study of them; and if you had seen
her, whenever I jingled my housekeeping keys, get up and attend me,
certainly you might have thought that there never was a greater
imposter than I with a blinder follower than Caddy Jellyby.

So what with working and housekeeping, and lessons to Charley, and
backgammon in the evening with my guardian, and duets with Ada, the
three weeks slipped fast away. Then I went home with Caddy to see
what could be done there, and Ada and Charley remained behind to
take care of my guardian.

When I say I went home with Caddy, I mean to the furnished lodging
in Hatton Garden. We went to Newman Street two or three times,
where preparations were in progress too--a good many, I observed,
for enhancing the comforts of old Mr. Turveydrop, and a few for
putting the newly married couple away cheaply at the top of the
house--but our great point was to make the furnished lodging decent
for the wedding-breakfast and to imbue Mrs. Jellyby beforehand with
some faint sense of the occasion.

The latter was the more difficult thing of the two because Mrs.
Jellyby and an unwholesome boy occupied the front sitting-room (the
back one was a mere closet), and it was littered down with wastepaper
and Borrioboolan documents, as an untidy stable might be
littered with straw. Mrs. Jellyby sat there all day drinking
strong coffee, dictating, and holding Borrioboolan interviews by
appointment. The unwholesome boy, who seemed to me to be going
into a decline, took his meals out of the house. When Mr. Jellyby
came home, he usually groaned and went down into the kitchen.
There he got something to eat if the servant would give him
anything, and then, feeling that he was in the way, went out and
walked about Hatton Garden in the wet. The poor children scrambled
up and tumbled down the house as they had always been accustomed to
do.

The production of these devoted little sacrifices in any
presentable condition being quite out of the question at a week's
notice, I proposed to Caddy that we should make them as happy as we
could on her marriage morning in the attic where they all slept,
and should confine our greatest efforts to her mama and her mama's
room, and a clean breakfast. In truth Mrs. Jellyby required a good
deal of attention, the lattice-work up her back having widened
considerably since I first knew her and her hair looking like the
mane of a dustman's horse.


Thinking that the display of Caddy's wardrobe would be the best
means of approaching the subject, I invited Mrs. Jellyby to come
and look at it spread out on Caddy's bed in the evening after the
unwholesome boy was gone.

My dear Miss Summerson said she, rising from her desk with her
usual sweetness of temper, these are really ridiculous
preparationsthough your assisting them is a proof of your
kindness. There is something so inexpressibly absurd to me in the
idea of Caddy being married! OhCaddyyou sillysillysilly
puss!"

She came upstairs with us notwithstanding and looked at the clothes
in her customary far-off manner. They suggested one distinct idea
to herfor she said with her placid smileand shaking her head
My good Miss Summerson, at half the cost, this weak child might
have been equipped for Africa!

On our going downstairs againMrs. Jellyby asked me whether this
troublesome business was really to take place next Wednesday. And
on my replying yesshe saidWill my room be required, my dear
Miss Summerson? For it's quite impossible that I can put my papers
away.

I took the liberty of saying that the room would certainly be
wanted and that I thought we must put the papers away somewhere.
Well, my dear Miss Summerson,said Mrs. Jellybyyou know best,
I dare say. But by obliging me to employ a boy, Caddy has
embarrassed me to that extent, overwhelmed as I am with public
business, that I don't know which way to turn. We have a
Ramification meeting, too, on Wednesday afternoon, and the
inconvenience is very serious.

It is not likely to occur again,said Ismiling. "Caddy will be
married but onceprobably."

That's true,Mrs. Jellyby replied; "that's truemy dear. I
suppose we must make the best of it!"

The next question was how Mrs. Jellyby should be dressed on the
occasion. I thought it very curious to see her looking on serenely
from her writing-table while Caddy and I discussed itoccasionally
shaking her head at us with a half-reproachful smile like a
superior spirit who could just bear with our trifling.

The state in which her dresses wereand the extraordinary
confusion in which she kept themadded not a little to our
difficulty; but at length we devised something not very unlike what
a common-place mother might wear on such an occasion. The
abstracted manner in which Mrs. Jellyby would deliver herself up to
having this attire tried on by the dressmakerand the sweetness
with which she would then observe to me how sorry she was that I
had not turned my thoughts to Africawere consistent with the rest
of her behaviour.

The lodging was rather confined as to spacebut I fancied that if
Mrs. Jellyby's household had been the only lodgers in Saint Paul's
or Saint Peter'sthe sole advantage they would have found in the
size of the building would have been its affording a great deal of
room to be dirty in. I believe that nothing belonging to the
family which it had been possible to break was unbroken at the time
of those preparations for Caddy's marriagethat nothing which it
had been possible to spoil in any way was unspoiltand that no


domestic object which was capable of collecting dirtfrom a dear
child's knee to the door-platewas without as much dirt as could
well accumulate upon it.

Poor Mr. Jellybywho very seldom spoke and almost always sat when
he was at home with his head against the wallbecame interested
when he saw that Caddy and I were attempting to establish some
order among all this waste and ruin and took off his coat to help.
But such wonderful things came tumbling out of the closets when
they were opened--bits of mouldy piesour bottlesMrs. Jellyby's
capslettersteaforksodd boots and shoes of children
firewoodwaferssaucepan-lidsdamp sugar in odds and ends of
paper bagsfootstoolsblacklead brushesbreadMrs. Jellyby's
bonnetsbooks with butter sticking to the bindingguttered candle
ends put out by being turned upside down in broken candlesticks
nutshellsheads and tails of shrimpsdinner-matsglovescoffee-
groundsumbrellas--that he looked frightenedand left off again.
But he came regularly every evening and sat without his coatwith
his head against the wallas though he would have helped us if he
had known how.

Poor Pa!said Caddy to me on the night before the great daywhen
we really had got things a little to rights. "It seems unkind to
leave himEsther. But what could I do if I stayed! Since I first
knew youI have tidied and tidied over and over againbut it's
useless. Ma and Africatogetherupset the whole house directly.
We never have a servant who don't drink. Ma's ruinous to
everything."

Mr. Jellyby could not hear what she saidbut he seemed very low
indeed and shed tearsI thought.

My heart aches for him; that it does!sobbed Caddy. "I can't
help thinking to-nightEstherhow dearly I hope to be happy with
Princeand how dearly Pa hopedI dare sayto be happy with Ma.
What a disappointed life!"

My dear Caddy!said Mr. Jellybylooking slowly round from the
wail. It was the first timeI thinkI ever heard him say three
words together.

Yes, Pa!cried Caddygoing to him and embracing him

affectionately.
My dear Caddy,said Mr. Jellyby. "Never have--"
Not Prince, Pa?faltered Caddy. "Not have Prince?"
Yes, my dear,said Mr. Jellyby. "Have himcertainly. But
never have--"

I mentioned in my account of our first visit in Thavies Inn that
Richard described Mr. Jellyby as frequently opening his mouth after
dinner without saying anything. It was a habit of his. He opened
his mouth now a great many times and shook his head in a melancholy
manner.

What do you wish me not to have? Don't have what, dear Pa?asked
Caddycoaxing himwith her arms round his neck.

Never have a mission, my dear child.

Mr. Jellyby groaned and laid his head against the wall againand
this was the only time I ever heard him make any approach to


expressing his sentiments on the Borrioboolan question. I suppose
he had been more talkative and lively oncebut he seemed to have
been completely exhausted long before I knew him.

I thought Mrs. Jellyby never would have left off serenely looking
over her papers and drinking coffee that night. It was twelve
o'clock before we could obtain possession of the roomand the
clearance it required then was so discouraging that Caddywho was
almost tired outsat down in the middle of the dust and cried.
But she soon cheered upand we did wonders with it before we went
to bed.

In the morning it lookedby the aid of a few flowers and a
quantity of soap and water and a little arrangementquite gay.
The plain breakfast made a cheerful showand Caddy was perfectly
charming. But when my darling cameI thought--and I think now-that
I never had seen such a dear face as my beautiful pet's.

We made a little feast for the children upstairsand we put Peepy
at the head of the tableand we showed them Caddy in her bridal
dressand they clapped their hands and hurrahedand Caddy cried
to think that she was going away from them and hugged them over and
over again until we brought Prince up to fetch her away--whenI am
sorry to sayPeepy bit him. Then there was old Mr. Turveydrop
downstairsin a state of deportment not to be expressedbenignly
blessing Caddy and giving my guardian to understand that his son's
happiness was his own parental work and that he sacrificed personal
considerations to ensure it. "My dear sir said Mr. Turveydrop,
these young people will live with me; my house is large enough for
their accommodationand they shall not want the shelter of my
roof. I could have wished--you will understand the allusionMr.
Jarndycefor you remember my illustrious patron the Prince Regent
--I could have wished that my son had married into a family where
there was more deportmentbut the will of heaven be done!"

Mr. and Mrs. Pardiggle were of the party--Mr. Pardigglean
obstinate-looking man with a large waistcoat and stubbly hairwho
was always talking in a loud bass voice about his miteor Mrs.
Pardiggle's miteor their five boys' mites. Mr. Qualewith his
hair brushed back as usual and his knobs of temples shining very
muchwas also therenot in the character of a disappointed lover
but as the accepted of a young--at leastan unmarried--ladya
Miss Wiskwho was also there. Miss Wisk's missionmy guardian
saidwas to show the world that woman's mission was man's mission
and that the only genuine mission of both man and woman was to be
always moving declaratory resolutions about things in general at
public meetings. The guests were fewbut wereas one might
expect at Mrs. Jellyby'sall devoted to public objects only.
Besides those I have mentionedthere was an extremely dirty lady
with her bonnet all awry and the ticketed price of her dress still
sticking on itwhose neglected homeCaddy told mewas like a
filthy wildernessbut whose church was like a fancy fair. A very
contentious gentlemanwho said it was his mission to be
everybody's brother but who appeared to be on terms of coolness
with the whole of his large familycompleted the party.

A partyhaving less in common with such an occasioncould hardly
have been got together by any ingenuity. Such a mean mission as
the domestic mission was the very last thing to be endured among
them; indeedMiss Wisk informed uswith great indignationbefore
we sat down to breakfastthat the idea of woman's mission lying
chiefly in the narrow sphere of home was an outrageous slander on
the part of her tyrantman. One other singularity was that nobody
with a mission--except Mr. Qualewhose missionas I think I have


formerly saidwas to be in ecstasies with everybody's mission-cared
at all for anybody's mission. Mrs. Pardiggle being as clear
that the only one infallible course was her course of pouncing upon
the poor and applying benevolence to them like a strait-waistcoat;
as Miss Wisk was that the only practical thing for the world was
the emancipation of woman from the thraldom of her tyrantman.
Mrs. Jellybyall the whilesat smiling at the limited vision that
could see anything but Borrioboola-Gha.

But I am anticipating now the purport of our conversation on the
ride home instead of first marrying Caddy. We all went to church
and Mr. Jellyby gave her away. Of the air with which old Mr.
Turveydropwith his hat under his left arm (the inside presented
at the clergyman like a cannon) and his eyes creasing themselves up
into his wigstood stiff and high-shouldered behind us bridesmaids
during the ceremonyand afterwards saluted usI could never say
enough to do it justice. Miss Wiskwhom I cannot report as
prepossessing in appearanceand whose manner was grimlistened to
the proceedingsas part of woman's wrongswith a disdainful face.
Mrs. Jellybywith her calm smile and her bright eyeslooked the
least concerned of all the company.

We duly came back to breakfastand Mrs. Jellyby sat at the head of
the table and Mr. Jellyby at the foot. Caddy had previously stolen
upstairs to hug the children again and tell them that her name was
Turveydrop. But this piece of informationinstead of being an
agreeable surprise to Peepythrew him on his back in such
transports of kicking grief that I could do nothing on being sent
for but accede to the proposal that he should be admitted to the
breakfast table. So he came down and sat in my lap; and Mrs.
Jellybyafter sayingin reference to the state of his pinafore
Oh, you naughty Peepy, what a shocking little pig you are!was
not at all discomposed. He was very good except that he brought
down Noah with him (out of an ark I had given him before we went to
church) and WOULD dip him head first into the wine-glasses and then
put him in his mouth.

My guardianwith his sweet temper and his quick perception and his
amiable facemade something agreeable even out of the ungenial
company. None of them seemed able to talk about anything but his
or herown one subjectand none of them seemed able to talk about
even that as part of a world in which there was anything else; but
my guardian turned it all to the merry encouragement of Caddy and
the honour of the occasionand brought us through the breakfast
nobly. What we should have done without himI am afraid to think
for all the company despising the bride and bridegroom and old Mr.
Turveydrop--and old Mr. Thrveydropin virtue of his deportment
considering himself vastly superior to all the company--it was a
very unpromising case.

At last the time came when poor Caddy was to go and when all her
property was packed on the hired coach and pair that was to take
her and her husband to Gravesend. It affected us to see Caddy
clingingthento her deplorable home and hanging on her mother's
neck with the greatest tenderness.

I am very sorry I couldn't go on writing from dictation, Ma,
sobbed Caddy. "I hope you forgive me now."

Oh, Caddy, Caddy!said Mrs. Jellyby. "I have told you over and
over again that I have engaged a boyand there's an end of it."

You are sure you are not the least angry with me, Ma? Say you are
sure before I go away, Ma?


You foolish Caddy,returned Mrs. Jellybydo I look angry, or
have I inclination to be angry, or time to be angry? How CAN you?

Take a little care of Pa while I am gone, Mama!

Mrs. Jellyby positively laughed at the fancy. "You romantic
child said she, lightly patting Caddy's back. Go along. I am
excellent friends with you. Nowgood-byeCaddyand be very
happy!"

Then Caddy hung upon her father and nursed his cheek against hers
as if he were some poor dull child in pain. All this took place in
the hall. Her father released hertook out his pocket
handkerchiefand sat down on the stairs with his head against the
wall. I hope he found some consolation in walls. I almost think
he did.

And then Prince took her arm in his and turned with great emotion
and respect to his fatherwhose deportment at that moment was
overwhelming.

Thank you over and over again, father!said Princekissing his
hand. "I am very grateful for all your kindness and consideration
regarding our marriageand soI can assure youis Caddy."

Very,sobbed Caddy. "Ve-ry!"

My dear son,said Mr. Turveydropand dear daughter, I have done
my duty. If the spirit of a sainted wooman hovers above us and
looks down on the occasion, that, and your constant affection, will
be my recompense. You will not fail in YOUR duty, my son and
daughter, I believe?

Dear father, never!cried Prince.

Never, never, dear Mr. Turveydrop!said Caddy.

This,returned Mr. Turveydropis as it should be. My children,
my home is yours, my heart is yours, my all is yours. I will never
leave you; nothing but death shall part us. My dear son, you
contemplate an absence of a week, I think?

A week, dear father. We shall return home this day week.

My dear child,said Mr. Turveydroplet me, even under the
present exceptional circumstances, recommend strict punctuality.
It is highly important to keep the connexion together; and schools,
if at all neglected, are apt to take offence.

This day week, father, we shall be sure to be home to dinner.

Good!said Mr. Turveydrop. "You will find firesmy dear
Carolinein your own roomand dinner prepared in my apartment.
YesyesPrince!" anticipating some self-denying objection on his
son's part with a great air. "You and our Caroline will be strange
in the upper part of the premises and willthereforedine that
day in my apartment. Nowbless ye!"

They drove awayand whether I wondered most at Mrs. Jellyby or at
Mr. TurveydropI did not know. Ada and my guardian were in the
same condition when we came to talk it over. But before we drove
away tooI received a most unexpected and eloquent compliment from
Mr. Jellyby. He came up to me in the halltook both my hands


pressed them earnestlyand opened his mouth twice. I was so sure
of his meaning that I saidquite flurriedYou are very welcome,
sir. Pray don't mention it!

I hope this marriage is for the best, guardian,said I when we
three were on our road home.

I hope it is, little woman. Patience. We shall see.

Is the wind in the east to-day?I ventured to ask him.

He laughed heartily and answeredNo.

But it must have been this morning, I think,said I.

He answered "No" againand this time my dear girl confidently
answered "No" too and shook the lovely head whichwith its
blooming flowers against the golden hairwas like the very spring.
Much YOU know of east winds, my ugly darling,said Ikissing her
in my admiration--I couldn't help it.

Well! It was only their love for meI know very welland it is a
long time ago. I must write it even if I rub it out againbecause
it gives me so much pleasure. They said there could be no east
wind where Somebody was; they said that wherever Dame Durden went
there was sunshine and summer air.

CHAPTER XXXI

Nurse and Patient

I had not been at home again many days when one evening I went
upstairs into my own room to take a peep over Charley's shoulder
and see how she was getting on with her copy-book. Writing was a
trying business to Charleywho seemed to have no natural power
over a penbut in whose hand every pen appeared to become
perversely animatedand to go wrong and crookedand to stopand
splashand sidle into corners like a saddle-donkey. It was very
odd to see what old letters Charley's young hand had madethey so
wrinkledand shrivelledand totteringit so plump and round.
Yet Charley was uncommonly expert at other things and had as nimble
little fingers as I ever watched.

Well, Charley,said Ilooking over a copy of the letter O in
which it was represented as squaretriangularpear-shapedand
collapsed in all kinds of wayswe are improving. If we only get
to make it round, we shall be perfect, Charley.

Then I made oneand Charley made oneand the pen wouldn't join
Charley's neatlybut twisted it up into a knot.

Never mind, Charley. We shall do it in time.

Charley laid down her penthe copy being finishedopened and shut
her cramped little handlooked gravely at the pagehalf in pride
and half in doubtand got upand dropped me a curtsy.

Thank you, miss. If you please, miss, did you know a poor person
of the name of Jenny?

A brickmaker's wife, Charley? Yes.


She came and spoke to me when I was out a little while ago, and
said you knew her, miss. She asked me if I wasn't the young lady's
little maid--meaning you for the young lady, miss--and I said yes,
miss.

I thought she had left this neighbourhood altogether, Charley.

So she had, miss, but she's come back again to where she used to
live--she and Liz. Did you know another poor person of the name of
Liz, miss?

I think I do, Charley, though not by name.

That's what she said!returned Chariey. "They have both come
backmissand have been tramping high and low."

Tramping high and low, have they, Charley?

Yes, miss.If Charley could only have made the letters in her
copy as round as the eyes with which she looked into my facethey
would have been excellent. "And this poor person came about the
house three or four dayshoping to get a glimpse of youmiss--all
she wantedshe said--but you were away. That was when she saw me.
She saw me a-going aboutmiss said Charley with a short laugh of
the greatest delight and pride, and she thought I looked like your
maid!"

Did she though, really, Charley?

Yes, miss!said Charley. "Really and truly." And Charleywith
another short laugh of the purest gleemade her eyes very round
again and looked as serious as became my maid. I was never tired
of seeing Charley in the full enjoyment of that great dignity
standing before me with her youthful face and figureand her
steady mannerand her childish exultation breaking through it now
and then in the pleasantest way.

And where did you see her, Charley?said I.

My little maid's countenance fell as she repliedBy the doctor's
shop, miss.For Charley wore her black frock yet.

I asked if the brickmaker's wife were illbut Charley said no. It
was some one else. Some one in her cottage who had tramped down to
Saint Albans and was tramping he didn't know where. A poor boy
Charley said. No fatherno motherno any one. "Like as Tom
might have beenmissif Emma and me had died after father said
Charley, her round eyes filling with tears.

And she was getting medicine for himCharley?"

She said, miss,returned Charleyhow that he had once done as
much for her.

My little maid's face was so eager and her quiet hands were folded
so closely in one another as she stood looking at me that I had no
great difficulty in reading her thoughts. "WellCharley said I,
it appears to me that you and I can do no better than go round to
Jenny's and see what's the matter."

The alacrity with which Charley brought my bonnet and veiland
having dressed mequaintly pinned herself into her warm shawl and
made herself look like a little old womansufficiently expressed


her readiness. So Charley and Iwithout saying anything to any
onewent out.

It was a coldwild nightand the trees shuddered in the wind.
The rain had been thick and heavy all dayand with little
intermission for many days. None was falling just thenhowever.
The sky had partly clearedbut was very gloomy--even above us
where a few stars were shining. In the north and north-westwhere
the sun had set three hours beforethere was a pale dead light
both beautiful and awful; and into it long sullen lines of cloud
waved up like a sea stricken immovable as it was heaving. Towards
London a lurid glare overhung the whole dark wasteand the
contrast between these two lightsand the fancy which the redder
light engendered of an unearthly firegleaming on all the unseen
buildings of the city and on all the faces of its many thousands of
wondering inhabitantswas as solemn as might be.

I had no thought that night--noneI am quite sure--of what was
soon to happen to me. But I have always remembered since that when
we had stopped at the garden-gate to look up at the skyand when
we went upon our wayI had for a moment an undefinable impression
of myself as being something different from what I then was. I
know it was then and there that I had it. I have ever since
connected the feeling with that spot and time and with everything
associated with that spot and timeto the distant voices in the
townthe barking of a dogand the sound of wheels coming down the
miry hill.

It was Saturday nightand most of the people belonging to the
place where we were going were drinking elsewhere. We found it
quieter than I had previously seen itthough quite as miserable.
The kilns were burningand a stifling vapour set towards us with a
pale-blue glare.

We came to the cottagewhere there was a feeble candle in the
patched window. We tapped at the door and went in. The mother of
the little child who had died was sitting in a chair on one side of
the poor fire by the bed; and opposite to hera wretched boy
supported by the chimney-piecewas cowering on the floor. He held
under his armlike a little bundlea fragment of a fur cap; and
as he tried to warm himselfhe shook until the crazy door and
window shook. The place was closer than before and had an
unhealthy and a very peculiar smell.

I had not lifted by veil when I first spoke to the womanwhich was
at the moment of our going in. The boy staggered up instantly and
stared at me with a remarkable expression of surprise and terror.

His action was so quick and my being the cause of it was so evident
that I stood still instead of advancing nearer.

I won't go no more to the berryin ground,muttered the boy; "I
ain't a-going thereso I tell you!"

I lifted my veil and spoke to the woman. She said to me in a low
voiceDon't mind him, ma'am. He'll soon come back to his head,
and said to himJo, Jo, what's the matter?

I know wot she's come for!cried the boy.

Who?

The lady there. She's come to get me to go along with her to the
berryin ground. I won't go to the berryin ground. I don't like


the name on it. She might go a-berryin ME.His shivering came on
againand as he leaned against the wallhe shook the hovel.

He has been talking off and on about such like all day, ma'am,
said Jenny softly. "Whyhow you stare! This is MY ladyJo."

Is it?returned the boy doubtfullyand surveying me with his arm
held out above his burning eyes. "She looks to me the t'other one.
It ain't the bonnetnor yet it ain't the gowndbut she looks to
me the t'other one."

My little Charleywith her premature experience of illness and
troublehad pulled off her bonnet and shawl and now went quietly
up to him with a chair and sat him down in it like an old sick
nurse. Except that no such attendant could have shown him
Charley's youthful facewhich seemed to engage his confidence.

I say!said the boy. "YOU tell me. Ain't the lady the t'other
lady?"

Charley shook her head as she methodically drew his rags about him
and made him as warm as she could.

Oh!the boy muttered. "Then I s'pose she ain't."

I came to see if I could do you any good,said I. "What is the
matter with you?"

I'm a-being froze,returned the boy hoarselywith his haggard
gaze wandering about meand then burnt up, and then froze, and
then burnt up, ever so many times in a hour. And my head's all
sleepy, and all a-going mad-like--and I'm so dry--and my bones
isn't half so much bones as pain.

When did he come here?" I asked the woman.

This morning, ma'am, I found him at the corner of the town. I had
known him up in London yonder. Hadn't I, Jo?

Tom-all-Alone's,the boy replied.

Whenever he fixed his attention or his eyesit was only for a very
little while. He soon began to droop his head againand roll it
heavilyand speak as if he were half awake.

When did he come from London?I asked.

I come from London yes'day,said the boy himselfnow flushed and
hot. "I'm a-going somewheres."

Where is he going?I asked.

Somewheres,repeated the boy in a louder tone. "I have been
moved onand moved onmore nor ever I was aforesince the
t'other one give me the sov'ring. Mrs. Snagsbyshe's always a-
watchingand a-driving of me--what have I done to her?--and
they're all a-watching and a-driving of me. Every one of 'em's
doing of itfrom the time when I don't get upto the time when I
don't go to bed. And I'm a-going somewheres. That's where I'm a-
going. She told medown in Tom-all-Alone'sas she came from
Stolbunsand so I took the Stolbuns Road. It's as good as
another."

He always concluded by addressing Charley.


What is to be done with him?said Itaking the woman aside. "He
could not travel in this state even if he had a purpose and knew
where he was going!"

I know no more, ma'am, than the dead,she repliedglancing
compassionately at him. "Perhaps the dead know betterif they
could only tell us. I've kept him here all day for pity's sake
and I've given him broth and physicand Liz has gone to try if any
one will take him in (here's my pretty in the bed--her childbut I
call it mine); but I can't keep him longfor if my husband was to
come home and find him herehe'd be rough in putting him out and
might do him a hurt. Hark! Here comes Liz back!"

The other woman came hurriedly in as she spokeand the boy got up
with a half-obscured sense that he was expected to be going. When
the little child awokeand when and how Charley got at ittook it
out of bedand began to walk about hushing itI don't know.
There she wasdoing all this in a quiet motherly manner as if she
were living in Mrs. Blinder's attic with Tom and Emma again.

The friend had been here and thereand had been played about from
hand to handand had come back as she went. At first it was too
early for the boy to be received into the proper refugeand at
last it was too late. One official sent her to anotherand the
other sent her back again to the firstand so backward and
forwarduntil it appeared to me as if both must have been
appointed for their skill in evading their duties instead of
performing them. And nowafter allshe saidbreathing quickly
for she had been running and was frightened tooJenny, your
master's on the road home, and mine's not far behind, and the Lord
help the boy, for we can do no more for him!They put a few
halfpence together and hurried them into his handand soin an
oblivioushalf-thankfulhalf-insensible wayhe shuffled out of
the house.

Give me the child, my dear,said its mother to Charleyand
thank you kindly too! Jenny, woman dear, good night!

Young lady, if my master don't fall out with me, I'll look down by
the kiln by and by, where the boy will be most like, and again in
the morning!She hurried offand presenfty we passed her hushing
and singing to her child at her own door and looking anxiously
along the road for her drunken husband.

I was afraid of staying then to speak to either womanlest I
should bring her into trouble. But I said to Charley that we must
not leave the boy to die. Charleywho knew what to do much better
than I didand whose quickness equalled her presence of mind
glided on before meand presently we came up with Jojust short
of the brick-kiln.

I think he must have begun his journey with some small bundle under
his arm and must have had it stolen or lost it. For he still
carried his wretched fragment of fur cap like a bundlethough he
went bareheaded through the rainwhich now fell fast. He stopped
when we called to him and again showed a dread of me when I came
upstanding with his lustrous eyes fixed upon meand even
arrested in his shivering fit.

I asked him to come with usand we would take care that he had
some shelter for the night.

I don't want no shelter,he said; "I can lay amongst the warm


bricks."

But don't you know that people die there?replied Charley.

They dies everywheres,said the boy. "They dies in their
lodgings--she knows where; I showed her--and they dies down in Tomall-
Alone's in heaps. They dies more than they livesaccording to
what I see." Then he hoarsely whispered CharleyIf she ain't the
t'other one, she ain't the forrenner. Is there THREE of 'em then?

Charley looked at me a little frightened. I felt half frightened
at myself when the boy glared on me so.

But he turned and followed when I beckoned to himand finding that
he acknowledged that influence in meI led the way straight home.
It was not faronly at the summit of the hill. We passed but one
man. I doubted if we should have got home without assistancethe
boy's steps were so uncertain and tremulous. He made no complaint
howeverand was strangely unconcerned about himselfif I may say
so strange a thing.

Leaving him in the hall for a momentshrunk into the corner of the
window-seat and staring with an indifference that scarcely could be
called wonder at the comfort and brightness about himI went into
the drawing-room to speak to my guardian. There I found Mr.
Skimpolewho had come down by the coachas he frequently did
without noticeand never bringing any clothes with himbut always
borrowing everything he wanted.

They came out with me directly to look at the boy. The servants
had gathered in the hall tooand he shivered in the window-seat
with Charley standing by himlike some wounded animal that had
been found in a ditch.

This is a sorrowful case,said my guardian after asking him a
question or two and touching him and examining his eyes. "What do
you sayHarold?"

You had better turn him out,said Mr. Skimpole.

What do you mean?inquired my guardianalmost sternly.

My dear Jarndyce,said Mr. Skimpoleyou know what I am: I am a
child. Be cross to me if I deserve it. But I have a
constitutional objection to this sort of thing. I always had, when
I was a medical man. He's not safe, you know. There's a very bad
sort of fever about him.

Mr. Skimpole had retreated from the hall to the drawing-room again
and said this in his airy wayseated on the music-stool as we
stood by.

You'll say it's childish,observed Mr. Skimpolelooking gaily at
us. "WellI dare say it may be; but I AM a childand I never
pretend to be anything else. If you put him out in the roadyou
only put him where he was before. He will be no worse off than he
wasyou know. Even make him better offif you like. Give him
sixpenceor five shillingsor five pound ten--you are
arithmeticiansand I am not--and get rid of him!"

And what is he to do then?asked my guardian.

Upon my life,said Mr. Skimpoleshrugging his shoulders with his
engaging smileI have not the least idea what he is to do then.


But I have no doubt he'll do it.

Now, is it not a horrible reflection,said my guardianto whom I
had hastily explained the unavailing efforts of the two womenis
it not a horrible reflection,walking up and down and rumpling his
hairthat if this wretched creature were a convicted prisoner,
his hospital would be wide open to him, and he would be as well
taken care of as any sick boy in the kingdom?

My dear Jarndyce,returned Mr. Skimpoleyou'll pardon the
simplicity of the question, coming as it does from a creature who
is perfectly simple in worldly matters, but why ISN'T he a prisoner
then?

My guardian stopped and looked at him with a whimsical mixture of
amusement and indignation in his face.

Our young friend is not to be suspected of any delicacy, I should
imagine,said Mr. Skimpoleunabashed and candid. "It seems to me
that it would be wiseras well as in a certain kind of way more
respectableif he showed some misdirected energy that got him into
prison. There would be more of an adventurous spirit in itand
consequently more of a certain sort of poetry."

I believe,returned my guardianresuming his uneasy walkthat
there is not such another child on earth as yourself.

Do you really?said Mr. Skimpole. "I dare say! But I confess I
don't see why our young friendin his degreeshould not seek to
invest himself with such poetry as is open to him. He is no doubt
born with an appetite--probablywhen he is in a safer state of
healthhe has an excellent appetite. Very well. At our young
friend's natural dinner hourmost likely about noonour young
friend says in effect to society'I am hungry; will you have the
goodness to produce your spoon and feed me?' Societywhich has
taken upon itself the general arrangement of the whole system of
spoons and professes to have a spoon for our young frienddoes NOT
produce that spoon; and our young friendthereforesays 'You
really must excuse me if I seize it.' Nowthis appears to me a
case of misdirected energywhich has a certain amount of reason in
it and a certain amount of romance; and I don't know but what I
should be more interested in our young friendas an illustration
of such a casethan merely as a poor vagabond--which any one can
be."

In the meantime,I ventured to observehe is getting worse.

In the meantime,said Mr. Skimpole cheerfullyas Miss
Summerson, with her practical good sense, observes, he is getting
worse. Therefore I recommend your turning him out before he gets
still worse.

The amiable face with which he said itI think I shall never
forget.

Of course, little woman,observed my guardiantuming to meI
can ensure his admission into the proper place by merely going
there to enforce it, though it's a bad state of things when, in his
condition, that is necessary. But it's growing late, and is a very
bad night, and the boy is worn out already. There is a bed in the
wholesome loft-room by the stable; we had better keep him there
till morning, when he can be wrapped up and removed. We'll do
that.


Oh!said Mr. Skimpolewith his hands upon the keys of the piano
as we moved away. "Are you going back to our young friend?"

Yes,said my guardian.

How I envy you your constitution, Jarndyce!returned Mr. Skimpole
with playful admiration. "You don't mind these things; neither
does Miss Summerson. You are ready at all times to go anywhere
and do anything. Such is will! I have no will at all--and no
won't--simply can't."

You can't recommend anything for the boy, I suppose?said my
guardianlooking back over his shoulder half angrily; only half
angrilyfor he never seemed to consider Mr. Skimpole an
accountable being.

My dear Jarndyce, I observed a bottle of cooling medicine in his
pocket, and it's impossible for him to do better than take it. You
can tell them to sprinkle a little vinegar about the place where he
sleeps and to keep it moderately cool and him moderately warm. But
it is mere impertinence in me to offer any recommendation. Miss
Summerson has such a knowledge of detail and such a capacity for
the administration of detail that she knows all about it.

We went back into the hall and explained to Jo what we proposed to
dowhich Charley explained to him again and which he received with
the languid unconcern I had already noticedwearily looking on at
what was done as if it were for somebody else. The servants
compassionating his miserable state and being very anxious to help
we soon got the loft-room ready; and some of the men about the
house carried him across the wet yardwell wrapped up. It was
pleasant to observe how kind they were to him and how there
appeared to be a general impression among them that frequently
calling him "Old Chap" was likely to revive his spirits. Charley
directed the operations and went to and fro between the loft-room
and the house with such little stimulants and comforts as we
thought it safe to give him. My guardian himself saw him before he
was left for the night and reported to me when he returned to the
growlery to write a letter on the boy's behalfwhich a messenger
was charged to deliver at day-light in the morningthat he seemed
easier and inclined to sleep. They had fastened his door on the
outsidehe saidin case of his being deliriousbut had so
arranged that he could not make any noise without being heard.

Ada being in our room with a coldMr. Skimpole was left alone all
this time and entertained himself by playing snatches of pathetic
airs and sometimes singing to them (as we heard at a distance) with
great expression and feeling. When we rejoined him in the drawing-
room he said he would give us a little ballad which had come into
his head "apropos of our young friend and he sang one about a
peasant boy,

Thrown on the wide worlddoomed to wander and roam
Bereft of his parentsbereft of a home."


quite exquisitely. It was a song that always made him cryhe told
us.

He was extremely gay all the rest of the eveningfor he absolutely
chirped--those were his delighted words--when he thought by what a
happy talent for business he was surrounded. He gave usin his
glass of negusBetter health to our young friend!and supposed


and gaily pursued the case of his being reserved like Whittington
to become Lord Mayor of London. In that eventno doubthe would
establish the Jarndyce Institution and the Summerson Almshouses
and a little annual Corporation Pilgrimage to St. Albans. He had
no doubthe saidthat our young friend was an excellent boy in
his waybut his way was not the Harold Skimpole way; what Harold
Skimpole wasHarold Skimpole had found himselfto his
considerable surprisewhen he first made his own acquaintance; he
had accepted himself with all his failings and had thought it sound
philosophy to make the best of the bargain; and he hoped we would
do the same.

Charley's last report was that the boy was quiet. I could see
from my windowthe lantern they had left him burning quietly; and
I went to bed very happy to think that he was sheltered.

There was more movement and more talking than usual a little before
daybreakand it awoke me. As I was dressingI looked out of my
window and asked one of our men who had been among the active
sympathizers last night whether there was anything wrong about the
house. The lantern was still burning in the loft-window.

It's the boy, miss,said he.

Is he worse?I inquired.

Gone, miss.

Dead!"

Dead, miss? No. Gone clean off.

At what time of the night he had goneor howor whyit seemed
hopeless ever to divine. The door remaining as it had been left
and the lantern standing in the windowit could only be supposed
that he had got out by a trap in the floor which communicated with
an empty cart-house below. But he had shut it down againif that
were so; and it looked as if it had not been raised. Nothing of
any kind was missing. On this fact being clearly ascertainedwe
all yielded to the painful belief that delirium had come upon him
in the night and thatallured by some imaginary object or pursued
by some imaginary horrorhe had strayed away in that worse than
helpless state; all of usthat is to saybut Mr. Skimpolewho
repeatedly suggestedin his usual easy light stylethat it had
occurred to our young friend that he was not a safe inmatehaving
a bad kind of fever upon himand that he had with great natural
politeness taken himself off.

Every possible inquiry was madeand every place was searched. The
brick-kilns were examinedthe cottages were visitedthe two women
were particularly questionedbut they knew nothing of himand
nobody could doubt that their wonder was genuine. The weather had
for some time been too wet and the night itself had been too wet to
admit of any tracing by footsteps. Hedge and ditchand walland
rick and stackwere examined by our men for a long distance round
lest the boy should be lying in such a place insensible or dead;
but nothing was seen to indicate that he had ever been near. From
the time when he was left in the loft-roomhe vanished.

The search continued for five days. I do not mean that it ceased
even thenbut that my attention was then diverted into a current
very memorable to me.

As Charley was at her writing again in my room in the eveningand


as I sat opposite to her at workI felt the table tremble.
Looking upI saw my little maid shivering from head to foot.

Charley,said Iare you so cold?

I think I am, miss,she replied. "I don't know what it is. I
can't hold myself still. I felt so yesterday at about this same
timemiss. Don't be uneasyI think I'm ill."

I heard Ada's voice outsideand I hurried to the door of
communication between my room and our pretty sitting-roomand
locked it. Just in timefor she tapped at it while my hand was
yet upon the key.

Ada called to me to let her inbut I saidNot now, my dearest.
Go away. There's nothing the matter; I will come to you
presently.Ah! It was a longlong time before my darling girl
and I were companions again.

Charley fell ill. In twelve hours she was very ill. I moved her
to my roomand laid her in my bedand sat down quietly to nurse
her. I told my guardian all about itand why I felt it was
necessary that I should seclude myselfand my reason for not
seeing my darling above all. At first she came very often to the
doorand called to meand even reproached me with sobs and tears;
but I wrote her a long letter saying that she made me anxious and
unhappy and imploring heras she loved me and wished my mind to be
at peaceto come no nearer than the garden. After that she came
beneath the window even oftener than she had come to the doorand
if I had learnt to love her dear sweet voice before when we were
hardly ever aparthow did I learn to love it thenwhen I stood
behind the window-curtain listening and replyingbut not so much
as looking out! How did I learn to love it afterwardswhen the
harder time came!

They put a bed for me in our sitting-room; and by keeping the door
wide openI turned the two rooms into onenow that Ada had
vacated that part of the houseand kept them always fresh and
airy. There was not a servant in or about the house but was so
good that they would all most gladly have come to me at any hour of
the day or night without the least fear or unwillingnessbut I
thought it best to choose one worthy woman who was never to see Ada
and whom I could trust to come and go with all precaution. Through
her means I got out to take the air with my guardian when there was
no fear of meeting Adaand wanted for nothing in the way of
attendanceany more than in any other respect.

And thus poor Charley sickened and grew worseand fell into heavy
danger of deathand lay severely ill for many a long round of day
and night. So patient she wasso uncomplainingand inspired by
such a gentle fortitude that very often as I sat by Charley holding
her head in my arms--repose would come to hersowhen it would
come to her in no other attitude--I silently prayed to our Father
in heaven that I might not forget the lesson which this little
sister taught me.

I was very sorrowful to think that Charley's pretty looks would
change and be disfiguredeven if she recovered--she was such a
child with her dimpled face--but that thought wasfor the greater
partlost in her greater peril. When she was at the worstand
her mind rambled again to the cares of her father's sick bed and
the little childrenshe still knew me so far as that she would be
quiet in my arms when she could lie quiet nowhere elseand murmur
out the wanderings of her mind less restlessly. At those times I


used to thinkhow should I ever tell the two remaining babies that
the baby who had learned of her faithful heart to be a mother to
them in their need was dead!

There were other times when Charley knew me well and talked to me
telling me that she sent her love to Tom and Emma and that she was
sure Tom would grow up to be a good man. At those times Charley
would speak to me of what she had read to her father as well as she
could to comfort himof that young man carried out to be buried
who was the only son of his mother and she was a widowof the
ruler's daughter raised up by the gracious hand upon her bed of
death. And Charley told me that when her father died she had
kneeled down and prayed in her first sorrow that he likewise might
be raised up and given back to his poor childrenand that if she
should never get better and should die tooshe thought it likely
that it might come into Tom's mind to offer the same prayer for
her. Then would I show Tom how these people of old days had been
brought back to life on earthonly that we might know our hope to
be restored to heaven!

But of all the various times there were in Charley's illnessthere
was not one when she lost the gentle qualities I have spoken of.
And there were manymany when I thought in the night of the last
high belief in the watching angeland the last higher trust in
Godon the part of her poor despised father.

And Charley did not die. She flutteringiy and slowly turned the
dangerous pointafter long lingering thereand then began to
mend. The hope that never had been givenfrom the firstof
Charley being in outward appearance Charley any more soon began to
be encouraged; and even that prosperedand I saw her growing into
her old childish likeness again.

It was a great morning when I could tell Ada all this as she stood
out in the garden; and it was a great evening when Charley and I at
last took tea together in the next room. But on that same evening
I felt that I was stricken cold.

Happily for both of usit was not until Charley was safe in bed
again and placidly asleep that I began to think the contagion of
her illness was upon me. I had been able easily to hide what I
felt at tea-timebut I was past that already nowand I knew that
I was rapidly following in Charley's steps.

I was well enoughhoweverto be up early in the morningand to
return my darling's cheerful blessing from the gardenand to talk
with her as long as usual. But I was not free from an impression
that I had been walking about the two rooms in the nighta little
beside myselfthough knowing where I was; and I felt confused at
times--with a curious sense of fullnessas if I were becoming too
large altogether.

In the evening I was so much worse that I resolved to prepare
Charleywith which view I saidYou're getting quite strong,
Charley, are you not?'

Ohquite!" said Charley.

Strong enough to be told a secret, I think, Charley?

Quite strong enough for that, miss!cried Charley. But Charley's
face fell in the height of her delightfor she saw the secret in
MY face; and she came out of the great chairand fell upon my
bosomand said "Ohmissit's my doing! It's my doing!" and a


great deal more out of the fullness of her grateful heart.

Now, Charley,said I after letting her go on for a little while
if I am to be ill, my great trust, humanly speaking, is in you.
And unless you are as quiet and composed for me as you always were
for yourself, you can never fulfil it, Charley.

If you'll let me cry a little longer, miss,said Charley. "Oh
my dearmy dear! If you'll only let me cry a little longer. Oh
my dear!"--how affectionately and devotedly she poured this out as
she clung to my neckI never can remember without tears--"I'll be
good."

So I let Charley cry a little longerand it did us both good.

Trust in me now, if you please, miss,said Charley quietly. "I
am listening to everything you say."

It's very little at present, Charley. I shall tell your doctor
to-night that I don't think I am well and that you are going to
nurse me.

For that the poor child thanked me with her whole heart. "And in
the morningwhen you hear Miss Ada in the gardenif I should not
be quite able to go to the window-curtain as usualdo you go
Charleyand say I am asleep--that I have rather tired myselfand
am asleep. At all times keep the room as I have kept itCharley
and let no one come."

Charley promisedand I lay downfor I was very heavy. I saw the
doctor that night and asked the favour of him that I wished to ask
relative to his saying nothing of my illness in the house as yet.
I have a very indistinct remembrance of that night melting into
dayand of day melting into night again; but I was just able on
the first morning to get to the window and speak to my darling.

On the second morning I heard her dear voice--Ohhow dear now!-outside;
and I asked Charleywith some difficulty (speech being
painful to me)to go and say I was asleep. I heard her answer
softlyDon't disturb her, Charley, for the world!

How does my own Pride look, Charley?I inquired.

Disappointed, miss,said Charleypeeping through the curtain.

But I know she is very beautiful this morning.

She is indeed, miss,answered Charleypeeping. "Still looking
up at the window."

With her blue clear eyesGod bless themalways loveliest when
raised like that!

I called Charley to me and gave her her last charge.

Now, Charley, when she knows I am ill, she will try to make her
way into the room. Keep her out, Charley, if you love me truly, to
the last! Charley, if you let her in but once, only to look upon
me for one moment as I lie here, I shall die.

I never will! I never will!she promised me.

I believe it, my dear Charley. And now come and sit beside me for
a little while, and touch me with your hand. For I cannot see you,


Charley; I am blind.

CHAPTER XXXII

The Appointed Time

It is night in Lincoln's Inn--perplexed and troublous valley of the
shadow of the lawwhere suitors generally find but little day--and
fat candles are snuffed out in officesand clerks have rattled
down the crazy wooden stairs and dispersed. The bell that rings at
nine o'clock has ceased its doleful clangour about nothing; the
gates are shut; and the night-portera solemn warder with a mighty
power of sleepkeeps guard in his lodge. From tiers of staircase
windows clogged lamps like the eyes of Equitybleared Argus with a
fathomless pocket for every eye and an eye upon itdimly blink at
the stars. In dirty upper casementshere and therehazy little
patches of candlelight reveal where some wise draughtsman and
conveyancer yet toils for the entanglement of real estate in meshes
of sheep-skinin the average ratio of about a dozen of sheep to an
acre of land. Over which bee-like industry these benefactors of
their species linger yetthough office-hours be pastthat they
may givefor every daysome good account at last.

In the neighbouring courtwhere the Lord Chancellor of the rag and
bott