Bleak House No. XV: Electronic Edition.

Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870


Funding from the E. S. P. Das Educational Foundation supported the electronic publication of this title.


Illustrated by  Browne, H. K. (Hablot Knight), 1815-1882
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First edition, 2002
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Academic Affairs Library, UNC-CH
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,

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Title (from title page): Bleak House No. XV. May.
Author: Charles Dickens
Extent: 69 p., ill.
London:
Bradbury & Evans, Bouverie Street.
1853
Dickens 21 c. 2 (Rare Book Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

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Title Page Image
[Title Page Image]

          


[Title Page Verso Image]


No. XV.

MAY.

Price 1s.

BLEAK
HOUSE

BY

CHARLES DICKENS.

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY H. K. BROWNE.

LONDON:

BRADBURY & EVANS, BOUVERIE STREET.

AGENTS: J. MENZIES, EDINBURGH; MURRAY AND SON, GLASGOW; J. M`GLASHAN, DUBLIN.
The Author of this Work notifies that it is his intention to reserve the
right of translating it.



page ii

          


           A new meaning in the Roman.



page iii

          


           Friendly behaviour of Mr. Bucket.




page 449

CHAPTER XLVII.
JO'S WILL.

           As Allan Woodcourt and Jo proceed along the streets, where the high church spires and the distances are so near and clear in the morning light that the city itself seems renewed by rest, Allan revolves in his mind how and where he shall bestow his companion. “It surely is a strange fact,” he considers, “that in the heart of a civilised world this creature in human form should be more difficult to dispose of than an unowned dog.” But it is none the less a fact because of its strangeness, and the difficulty remains.

           At first, he looks behind him often, to assure himself that Jo is still really following. But, look where he will, he still beholds him close to the opposite houses, making his way with his wary hand from brick to brick and from door to door, and often, as he creeps along, glancing over at him, watchfully. Soon satisfied that the last thing in his thoughts is to give him the slip, Allan goes on; considering with a less divided attention what he shall do.

           A breakfast-stall at a street corner suggests the first thing to be done. He stops there, looks round, and beckons Jo. Jo crosses, and comes halting and shuffling up, slowly scooping the knuckles of his right hand round and round in the hollowed palm of his left—kneading dirt with a natural pestle and mortar. What is a dainty repast to Jo is then set before him, and he begins to gulp the coffee, and to gnaw the bread and butter; looking anxiously about him in all directions as he eats and drinks, like a scared animal.

           But he is so sick and miserable, that even hunger has abandoned him. “I thought I was almost a starvin, sir,” says Jo, soon putting down his food; “but I don't know nothink—not even that. I don't care for eating wittles nor yet for drinking on em.” And Jo stands shivering, and looking at the breakfast wonderingly.

           Allan Woodcourt lays his hand upon his pulse, and on his chest. “Draw breath, Jo!” “It draws,” says Jo, “as heavy as a cart.” He might add, “and rattles like it;” but he only mutters, “I'm a moving on, sir.”

           Allan looks about for an apothecary's shop. There is none at hand, but a tavern does as well or better. He obtains a little measure of wine, and gives the lad a portion of it very carefully. He begins to revive, almost as soon as it passes his lips. “We may repeat that dose, Jo,” observes Allan, after watching him with his attentive face. “So! Now we will take five minutes rest, and then go on again.”

           Leaving the boy sitting on the bench of the breakfast-stall, with his back against an iron railing, Allan Woodcourt paces up and down in the early sunshine, casting an occasional look towards him without appearing to watch him. It requires no discernment to perceive that he is warmed and refreshed. If a face so shaded can brighten, his face



page 450 brightens somewhat; and, by little and little, he eats the slice of bread he had so hopelessly laid down. Observant of these signs of improvement, Allan engages him in conversation; and elicits to his no small wonder the adventure of the lady in the veil, with all its consequences. Jo slowly munches, as he slowly tells it. When he has finished his story and his bread, they go on again.

           Intending to refer his difficulty in finding a temporary place of refuge for the boy, to his old patient, zealous little Miss Flite, Allan leads the way to the court where he and Jo first foregathered. But all is changed at the rag-and-bottle shop; Miss Flite no longer lodges there it is shut up; and a hard-featured female, much obscured by dust, whose age is a problem—but who is indeed no other than the interesting Judy—is tart and spare in her replies. These sufficing, however, to inform the visitor that Miss Flite and her birds are domiciled with a Mrs. Blinder, in Bell Yard, he repairs to that neighbouring place; where Miss Flite (who rises early that she may be punctual at the Divan of justice held by her excellent friend the Chancellor) comes running down-stairs, with tears of welcome and with open arms.

           “My dear physician!” cries Miss Flite. “My meritorious, distinguished, honourable officer!” She uses some odd expressions, but is as cordial and full of heart as sanity itself can be—more so than it often is. Allan, very patient with her, waits until she has no more raptures to express; then points out Jo, trembling in a door-way, and tells her how he comes there.

           “Where can I lodge him hereabouts for the present? Now you have a fund of knowledge and good sense, and can advise me.”

           Miss Flite, mighty proud of the compliment, sets herself to consider; but it is long before a bright thought occurs to her. Mrs. Blinder is entirely let, and she herself occupies poor Gridley's room. “Gridley!” exclaims Miss Flite, clapping her hands, after a twentieth repetition of this remark. “Gridley! To be sure! of course! My dear physician! General George will help us out.”

           It is hopeless to ask for any information about General George, and would be, though Miss Flite had not already run up-stairs to put on her pinched bonnet and her poor little shawl, and to arm herself with her reticule of documents. But as she informs her physician, in her disjointed manner, on coming down in full array, that General George, whom she often calls upon, knows her dear Fitz-Jarndyce, and takes a great interest in all connected with her, Allan is induced to think that they may be in the right way. So he tells Jo, for his encouragement, that this walking about will soon be over now; and they repair to the General's. Fortunately it is not far.

           From the exterior of George's Shooting Gallery, and the long entry, and the bare perspective beyond it, Allan Woodcourt augurs well. He also descries promise in the figure of Mr. George himself, striding towards them in his morning exercise with his pipe in his mouth, no stock on, and his muscular arms, developed by broadsword and dumb-bell, weightily asserting themselves through his light shirt-sleeves.

           “Your servant, sir,” says Mr. George, with a military salute. Goodhumoredly smiling all over his broad forehead up into his crisp hair, he then defers to Miss Flite, as, with great stateliness, and at some



page 451 length, she performs the courtly ceremony of presentation. He winds it up with another “Your servant, sir!” and another salute.

           “Excuse me, sir. A sailor, I believe?” says Mr. George.

           “I am proud to find I have the air of one,” returns Allan; “but I am only a sea-going doctor.”

           “Indeed, sir! I should have thought you was a regular blue-jacket, myself.”

           Allan hopes Mr. George will forgive his intrusion the more readily on that account, and particularly that he will not lay aside his pipe, which, in his politeness, he has testified some intention of doing. “You are very good, sir,” returns the trooper. “As I know, by experience, that it's not disagreeable to Miss Flite, and since it's equally agreeable to yourself—” and finishes the sentence by putting it between his lips again. Allan proceeds to tell him all he knows about Jo; unto which the trooper listens with a grave face.

           “And that's the lad, sir, is it?” he inquires, looking along the entry to where Jo stands staring up at the great letters on the whitewashed front, which have no meaning in his eyes.

           “That's he,” says Allan. “And, Mr. George, I am in this difficulty about him. I am unwilling to place him in a hospital, even if I could procure him immediate admission, because I foresee that he would not stay there many hours, if he could be so much as got there. The same objection applies to a workhouse; supposing I had the patience to be evaded and shirked, and handed about from post to pillar in trying to get him into one—which is a system that I don't take kindly to.”

           “No man does, sir,” returns Mr. George.

           “I am convinced that he would not remain in either place, because he is possessed by an extraordinary terror of this person who ordered him to keep out of the way; in his ignorance, he believes this person to be everywhere, and cognisant of everything.”

           “I ask your pardon, sir,” says Mr. George. “But you have not mentioned that party's name. Is it a secret, sir?”

           “The boy makes it one. But the name is Bucket.”

           “Bucket the Detective, sir?”

           “The same man.”

           “The man is known to me, sir,” returns the trooper, after blowing out a cloud of smoke, and squaring his chest; “and the boy is so far correct that he undoubtedly is a—rum customer.” Mr. George smokes with a profound meaning after this, and surveys Miss Flite in silence.

           “Now, I wish Mr. Jarndyce and Miss Summerson at least to know that this Jo, who tells so strange a story, has re-appeared; and to have it in their power to speak with him, if they should desire to do so. Therefore I want to get him, for the present moment, into any poor lodging kept by decent people, where he would be admitted. Decent people and Jo, Mr. George,” says Allan, following the direction of the trooper's eyes along the entry, “have not been much acquainted, as you see. Hence the difficulty. Do you happen to know any one in this neighbourhood, who would receive him for a while, on my paying for him beforehand?”

           As he puts the question, he becomes aware of a dirty-faced little man, standing at the trooper's elbow, and looking up, with an oddly twisted



page 452 figure and countenance, into the trooper's face. After a few more puffs at his pipe, the trooper looks down askant at the little man, and the little man winks up at the trooper.

           “Well, sir,” says Mr. George, “I can assure you that I would willingly be knocked on the head at any time, if it would be at all agreeable to Miss Summerson; and consequently I esteem it a privilege to do that young lady any service, however small. We are naturally in the vagabond way here, sir, both myself and Phil. You see what the place is. You are welcome to a quiet corner of it for the boy, if the same would meet your views. No charge made, except for rations. We are not in a flourishing state of circumstances here, sir. We are liable to be tumbled out neck and crop, at a moment's notice. However, sir, such as the place is, and so long as it lasts, here it is at your service.”

           With a comprehensive wave of his pipe, Mr. George places the whole building at his visitor's disposal.

           “I take it for granted, sir,” he adds, “you being one of the medical staff, that there is no present infection about this unfortunate subject?”

           Allan is quite sure of it.

           “Because, sir,” says Mr. George, shaking his head sorrowfully, “we have had enough of that.”

           His tone is no less sorrowfully echoed by his new acquaintance. “Still, I am bound to tell you,” observes Allan, after repeating his former assurance, “that the boy is deplorably low and reduced; and that he may be—I do not say that he is—too far gone to recover.”

           “Do you consider him in present danger, sir?” inquires the trooper.

           “Yes, I fear so.”

           “Then, sir,” returns the trooper, in a decisive manner, “it appears to me—being naturally in the vagabond way myself—that the sooner he comes out of the street, the better. You Phil! Bring him in!”

           Mr. Squod tacks out, all on one side, to execute the word of command; and the trooper, having smoked his pipe, lays it by. Jo is brought in. He is not one of Mrs. Pardiggle's Tockahoopo Indians; he is not one of Mrs. Jellyby's lambs, being wholly unconnected with Borrioboola-Gha; he is not softened by distance and unfamiliarity; he is not a genuine foreign-grown savage; he is the ordinary home-made article. Dirty, ugly, disagreeable to all the senses, in body a common creature of the common streets, only in soul a heathen. Homely filth begrimes him, homely parasites devour him, homely sores are in him, homely rags are on him: native ignorance, the growth of English soil and climate, sinks his immortal nature lower than the beasts that perish. Stand forth, Jo, in uncompromising colors! From the sole of thy foot to the crown of thy head, there is nothing interesting about thee.

           He shuffles slowly into Mr. George's gallery, and stands huddled together in a bundle, looking all about the floor. He seems to know that they have an inclination to shrink from him, partly for what he is, and partly for what he has caused. He, too, shrinks from them. He is not of the same order of things, not of the same place in creation. He is of no order and no place; neither of the beasts, nor of humanity.

           “Look here, Jo!” says Allan. “This is Mr. George.”

           Jo searches the floor for some time longer, then looks up for a moment, and then down again.



page 453

           “He is a kind friend to you, for he is going to give you lodging-room here.”

           Jo makes a scoop with one hand, which is supposed to be a bow. After a little more consideration, and some backing and changing of the foot on which he rests, he mutters that he is “wery thankful.”

           “You are quite safe here. All you have to do at present is to be obedient, and to get strong. And mind you tell us the truth here, whatever you do, Jo.”

           “Wishermaydie if I don't, sir,” says Jo, reverting to his favorite declaration. “I never done nothink yit, but wot you knows on, to get myself into no trouble. I never was in no other trouble at all, sir—sept not knowin' nothink and starwation.”

           “I believe it. Now attend to Mr. George. I see he is going to speak to you.”

           “My intention merely was, sir,” observes Mr. George, amazingly broad and upright, “to point out to him where he can lie down, and get a thorough good dose of sleep. Now, look here.” As the trooper speaks, he conducts them to the other end of the gallery, and opens one of the little cabins. “There you are, you see! Here is a mattress, and here you may rest, on good behaviour, as long as Mr., I ask your pardon, sir;” he refers apologetically to the card Allan has given him; “Mr. Woodcourt pleases. Don't you be alarmed if you hear shots; they'll be aimed at the target, and not you. Now, there's another thing I would recommend, sir,” says the trooper, turning to his visitor. “Phil, come here!”

           Phil bears down upon them, according to his usual tactics.

           “Here is a man, sir, who was found, when a baby, in the gutter. Consequently, it is to be expected that he takes a natural interest in this poor creature. You do, don't you, Phil?”

           “Certainly and surely I do, guv'ner,” is Phil's reply.

           “Now I was thinking, sir,” says Mr. George, in a martial sort of confidence, as if he were giving his opinion in a council of war at a drum-head, “that if this man was to take him to a bath, and was to lay out a few shillings in getting him one or two coarse articles—”

           “Mr. George, my considerate friend,” returns Allan, taking out his purse, “it is the very favour I would have asked.”

           Phil Squod and Jo are sent out immediately on this work of improvement. Miss Flite, quite entraptured by her success, makes the best of her way to Court; having great fears that otherwise her friend the Chancellor may be uneasy about her, or may give the judgment she has so long expected, in her absence; and observing “which you know, my dear physician, and general, after so many years, would be too absurdly unfortunate!” Allan takes the opportunity of going out to procure some restorative medicines; and obtaining them near at hand, soon returns, to find the trooper walking up and down the gallery, and to fall into step and walk with him.

           “I take it, sir,” says Mr. George, “that you know Miss Summerson pretty well?”

           Yes, it appears.

           “Not related to her, sir?”

           No, it appears.

           “Excuse the apparent curiosity,” says Mr. George. “It seemed to



page 454 me probable that you might take more than a common interest in this poor creature, because Miss Summerson had taken that unfortunate interest in him. 'Tis my case, sir, I assure you.”

           “And mine, Mr. George.”

           The trooper looks sideways at Allan's sun-burnt cheek and bright dark eye, rapidly measures his height and build, and seems to approve of him.

           “Since you have been out, sir, I have been thinking that I unquestionably know the rooms in Lincoln's Inn Fields, where Bucket took the lad, according to his account. Though he is not acquainted with the name, I can help you to it. It's Tulkinghorn. That's what it is.”

           Allan looks at him inquiringly, repeating the name.

           “Tulkinghorn. That's the name, sir. I know the man; and know him to have been in communication with Bucket before, respecting a deceased person who had given him offence. I know the man, sir. To my sorrow.”

           Allan naturally asks what kind of man he is?

           “What kind of man. Do you mean to look at?”

           “I think I know that much of him. I mean to deal with. Generally, what kind of man?”

           “Why, then I'll tell you, sir,” returns the trooper, stopping short, and folding his arms on his square chest, so angrily, that his face fires and flushes all over;” he is a confoundedly bad kind of man. He is a slowtorturing kind of man. He is no more like flesh and blood, than a rusty old carbine is. He is a kind of man—by George!—that has caused me more restlessness, and more uneasiness, and more dissatisfaction with myself, than all other men put together. That's the kind of man Mr. Tulkinghorn is!”

           “I am sorry,” says Allan, “to have touched so sore a place.”

           “Sore?” The trooper plants his legs wider apart, wets the palm of his broad right hand, and lays it on his imaginary moustache. “It's no fault of yours, sir; but you shall judge. He has got a power over me. He is the man I spoke of just now, as being able to tumble me out of this place neck and crop. He keeps me on a constant see-saw. He won't hold off, and he won't come on. If I have a payment to make him, or time to ask him for, or anything to go to him about, he don't see me, don't hear me—passes me on to Melchisedech's in Clifford's Inn, Melchisedech's in Clifford's Inn passes me back again to him—he keeps me prowling and dangling about him, as if I was made of the same stone as himself. Why, I spend half my life now, pretty well, loitering and dodging about his door. What does he care? Nothing. Just as much as the rusty old carbine I have compared him to. He chafes and goads me, till—Bah! nonsense—I am forgetting myself. Mr. Woodcourt;” the trooper resumes his march; “all I say is, he is an old man; but I am glad I shall never have the chance of setting spurs to my horse, and riding at him in a fair field. For if I had that chance, in one of the humors he drives me into—he'd go down, sir!”

           Mr. George has been so excited, that he finds it necessary to wipe his forehead on his shirt-sleeve. Even while he whistles his impetuosity away with the National Anthem, some involuntary shakings of his



page 455 head and heavings of his chest still linger behind; not to mention an occasional hasty adjustment with both hands of his open shirt-collar, as if it were scarcely open enough to prevent his being troubled by a choking sensation. In short, Allan Woodcourt has not much doubt about the going down of Mr. Tulkinghorn on the field referred to.

           Jo and his conductor presently return, and Jo is assisted to his mattress by the careful Phil; to whom, after due administration of medicine by his own hands, Allan confides all needful means and instructions. The morning is by this time getting on apace. He repairs to his lodgings to dress and breakfast; and then, without seeking rest, goes away to Mr. Jarndyce to communicate his discovery.

           With him Mr. Jarndyce returns alone, confidentially telling him that there are reasons for keeping this matter very quiet indeed; and showing a serious interest in it. To Mr. Jarndyce, Jo repeats in substance what he said in the morning; without any material variation. Only, that cart of his is heavier to draw, and draws with a hollower sound.

           “Let me lay here quiet, and not be chivied no more,” falters Jo; “and be so kind any person as is a passin' nigh where I used fur to sweep, as jist to say to Mr. Sangsby that Jo, wot he known once, is a moving on right forards with his duty, and I'll be wery thankful. I'd be more thankful than I am aready, if it was any ways possible for an unfortnet to be it.”

           He makes so many of these references to the law-stationer in the course of a day or two, that Allan, after conferring with Mr. Jarndyce, good-naturedly resolves to call in Cook's Court; the rather, as the cart seems to be breaking down.

           To Cook's Court, therefore, he repairs. Mr. Snagsby is behind his counter in his grey coat and sleeves, inspecting an Indenture of several skins which has just come in from the engrosser's; an immense desert of law-hand and parchment, with here and there a resting-place of a few large letters, to break the awful monotony, and save the traveller from despair. Mr. Snagsby puts up at one of these inky wells, and greets the stranger with his cough of general preparation for business.

           “You don't remember me, Mr. Snagsby?”

           The stationer's heart begins to thump heavily, for his old apprehensions have never abated. It is as much as he can do to answer, “No, sir, I can't say I do. I should have considered—not to put too fine a point upon it—that I never saw you before, sir.”

           “Twice before,” says Allan Woodcourt. “Once at a poor bedside, and once —”

           “It's come at last!” thinks the afflicted stationer, as recollection breaks upon him. “It's got to a head now, and is going to burst!” But, he has sufficient presence of mind to conduct his visitor into the little counting-house, and to shut the door.

           “Are you a married man, sir?”

           “No, I am not.”

           “Would you make the attempt, though single,” says Mr. Snagsby in a melancholy whisper, “to speak as low as you can? For my little woman is a listening somewheres, or I'll forfeit the business and five hundred pound!”



page 456

           In deep dejection Mr. Snagsby sits down on his stool, with his back against his desk, protesting:

           “I never had a secret of my own, sir. I can't charge my memory with ever having once attempted to deceive my little woman on my own account, since she named the day. I wouldn't have done it, sir. Not to put too fine a point upon it, I couldn't have done it, I durstn't have done it. Whereas, and nevertheless, I find myself wrapped round with secresy and mystery, till my life is a burden to me.”

           His visitor professes his regret to hear it, and asks him does he remember Jo? Mr. Snagsby answers with a suppressed groan, O don't he!

           “You couldn't name an individual human being—except myself—that my little woman is more set and determined against than Jo,” says Mr. Snagsby.

           Allan asks why?

           “Why?” repeats Mr. Snagsby, in his desperation clutching at the clump of hair at the back of his bald head, “How should I know why? But you are a single person, sir, and may you long be spared to ask a married person such a question!”

           With this beneficent wish, Mr. Snagsby coughs a cough of dismal resignation, and submits himself to hear what the visitor has to communicate.

           “There again!” says Mr. Snagsby, who, between the earnestness of his feelings, and the suppressed tones of his voice, is discolored in the face. “At it again, in a new direction! A certain person charges me, in the solemnest way, not to talk of Jo to any one, even my little woman. Then comes another certain person, in the person of yourself, and charges me, in an equally solemn way, not to mention Jo to that other certain person above all other persons. Why, this is a private asylum! Why, not to put too fine a point upon it, this is Bedlam, sir!” says Mr. Snagsby.

           But it is better than he expected, after all; being no explosion of the mine below him, or deepening of the pit into which he has fallen. And being tender-hearted, and affected by the account he hears of Jo's condition, he readily engages to “look round,” as early in the evening as he can manage it quietly. He looks round very quietly, when the evening comes; but it may turn out that Mrs. Snagsby is as quiet a manager as he.

           Jo is very glad to see his old friend; and says, when they are left alone, that he takes it uncommon kind as Mr. Sangsby should come so far out of his way on accounts of sich as him. Mr. Snagsby, touched by the spectacle before him, immediately lays upon the table half-a-crown: that magic balsam of his for all kinds of wounds.

           “And how do you find yourself, my poor lad?” inquires the stationer, with his cough of sympathy.

           “I am in luck Mr. Sangsby, I am,” returns Jo, “and don't want for nothink. I'm more cumfbler nor you can't think. Mr. Sangsby! I'm wery sorry that I done it, but I didn't go fur to do it, sir.”

           The stationer softly lays down another half-crown, and asks him what it is that he is sorry for having done?

           “Mr. Sangsby,” says Jo, “I went and giv a illness to the lady as wos and yit as warn't the t'other lady, and none of em never says nothink to



page 457 me for having done it, on accounts of their being ser good and my having been s' unfortnet. The lady come herself and see me yesday, and she ses, ‘Ah Jo!’ she ses. ‘We thought we'd lost you, Jo!’ she ses. And she sits down a smilin so quiet, and don't pass a word nor yit a look upon me for having done it, she don't, and I turns agin the wall, I doos, Mr. Sangsby. And Mr. Jarnders, I see him a forced to turn away his own self. And Mr. Woodcot, he come fur to giv me somethink fur to ease me, wot he's allus a doin on day and night, and wen he come a bendin over me and a speakin up so bold, I see his tears a fallin, Mr. Sangsby.”

           The softened stationer deposits another half-crown on the table. Nothing less than a repetition of that infallible remedy will relieve his feelings.

           “Wot I wos a thinkin on, Mr. Sangsby,” proceeds Jo, “wos, as you wos able to write wery large, p'raps?”

           “Yes, Jo, please God,” returns the stationer.

           “Uncommon precious large, p'raps?” says Jo, with eagerness.

           “Yes, my poor boy.”

           Jo laughs with pleasure. “Wot I wos a thinkin on then, Mr. Sangsby, wos, that wen I was moved on as fur as ever I could go and couldn't be moved no furder, whether you might be so good p'raps, as to write out, wery large so that any one could see it anywheres, as that I wos wery truly hearty sorry that I done it and that I never went fur to do it; and that though I didn't know nothink at all, I knowd as Mr. Woodcot once cried over it and wos allus grieved over it, and that I hoped as he'd be able to forgiv me in his mind. If the writin could be made to say it wery large, he might.”

           “It shall say it, Jo. Very large.”

           Jo laughs again. “Thankee, Mr. Sangsby. Its wery kind of you, sir, and it makes me more cumfbler nor I was afore.”

           The meek little stationer, with a broken and unfinished cough, slips down his fourth halfcrown—he has never been so close to a case requiring so many—and is fain to depart. And Jo and he, upon this little earth, shall meet no more. No more.

           For the cart so hard to draw, is near its journey's end, and drags over stony ground. All round the clock, it labours up the broken steeps, shattered and worn. Not many times can the sun rise, and behold it still upon its weary road.

           Phil Squod, with his smoky gunpowder visage, at once acts as nurse and works as armourer at his little table in a corner; often looking round, and saying with a nod of his green baize cap, and an encouraging elevation of his one eyebrow, “Hold up, my boy! Hold up!” There, too, is Mr. Jarndyce many a time, and Allan Woodcourt almost always; both thinking, much, how strangely Fate has entangled this rough outcast in the web of very different lives. There too, the trooper is a frequent visitor; filling the doorway with his athletic figure, and, from his superfluity of life and strength, seeming to shed down temporary vigor upon Jo, who never fails to speak more robustly in answer to his cheerful words.

           Jo is in a sleep or in a stupor to-day, and Allan Woodcourt, newly arrived, stands by him, looking down upon his wasted form. After a



page 458 while, he softly seats himself upon the bedside with his face towards him—just as he sat in the law-writer's room—and touches his chest and heart. The cart had very nearly given up, but labors on a little more.

           The trooper stands in the doorway, still and silent. Phil has stopped in a low clinking noise, with his little hammer in his hand, Mr. Woodcourt looks round with that grave professional interest and attention on his face, and, glancing significantly at the trooper, signs to Phil to carry his table out. When the little hammer is next used, there will be a speck of rust upon it.

           “Well, Jo! What is the matter? Don't be frightened.”

           “I thought,” says Jo, who has started, and is looking round, “I thought I was in Tom-all-Alone's agin. An't there nobody here but you, Mr. Woodcot?”

           “Nobody.”

           “And I an't took back to Tom-all-Alone's. Am I, sir?”

           “No.” Jo closes his eyes, muttering, “I'm wery thankful.”

           After watching him closely a little while, Allan puts his mouth very near his ear, and says to him in a low, distinct voice:

           “Jo! Did you ever know a prayer?”

           “Never know'd nothink, sir.”

           “Not so much as one short prayer?”

           “No, sir. Nothink at all. Mr. Chadbands he wos a prayin wunst at Mr. Sangsby's and I heerd him, but he sounded as if he wos a speakin' to his-self, and not to me. He prayed a lot, but I couldn't make out nothink on it. Different times, there wos other genlmen come down Tom-all-Alone's a prayin, but they all mostly sed as the t'other wuns prayed wrong, and all mostly sounded to be a talking to theirselves, or a passing blame on the t'others, and not a talkin to us. We never knowd nothink. I never knowd what it wos all about.”

           It takes him a long time to say this; and few but an experienced and attentive listener could hear, or, hearing, understand him. After a short relapse into sleep or stupor, he makes, of a sudden, a strong effort to get out of bed.

           “Stay, Jo! What now?”

           “It's time for me to go to that there berryin ground, sir,” he returns with a wild look.

           “Lie down, and tell me. What burying ground, Jo?”

           “Where they laid him as wos wery good to me, wery good to me indeed, he wos. It's time fur me to go down to that there berryin ground, sir, and ask to be put along with him. I wants to go there and be berried. He used fur to say to me, ‘I am as poor as you to-day, Jo,’ he ses. I wants to tell him that I am as poor as him now, and have come there to be laid along with him.”

           “Bye and bye, Jo. Bye and bye.”

           “Ah! P'raps they wouldn't do it if I wos to go myself. But will you promise to have me took there, sir, and laid along with him?”

           “I will, indeed.”

           “Thankee, sir. Thankee, sir! They'll have to get the key of the gate afore they can take me in, for it's allus locked. And there's a step there, as I used fur to clean with my broom.—It's turned wery dark, sir. Is there any light a comin?”



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           “It is coming fast, Jo.”

           Fast. The cart is shaken all to pieces, and the rugged road is very near its end.

           “Jo, my poor fellow!”

           “I hear you, sir, in the dark, but I'm a gropin—a gropin—let me catch hold of your hand.”

           “Jo, can you say what I say?”

           “I'll say anythink as you say, sir, for I knows it's good.”

           “OUR FATHER.”

           “Our Father!—yes, that's wery good, sir.”

           “WHICH ART IN HEAVEN.”

           “Art in Heaven—is the light a comin, sir?”

           “It is close at hand. HALLOWED BE THY NAME!”

           “Hallowed be—thy—”

           The light is come upon the dark benighted way. Dead!

           Dead, your Majesty. Dead, my lords and gentlemen. Dead, Right Reverends and Wrong Reverends of every order. Dead, men and women, born with Heavenly compassion in your hearts. And dying thus around us, every day.

CHAPTER XLVIII.
CLOSING IN.

           THE place in Lincolnshire has shut its many eyes again, and the house in town is awake. In Lincolnshire, the Dedlocks of the past doze in their picture-frames, and the low wind murmurs through the long drawingroom as if they were breathing pretty regularly. In town, the Dedlocks of the present rattle in their fire-eyed carriages through the darkness of the night, and the Dedlock Mercuries with ashes (or hair-powder) on their heads, symptomatic of their great humility, loll away the drowsy mornings in the little windows of the hall. The fashionable world—tremendous orb, nearly five miles round—is in full swing, and the solar system works respectfully at its appointed distances.

           Where the throng is thickest, where the lights are brightest, where all the senses are ministered to with the greatest delicacy and refinement, Lady Dedlock is. From the shining heights she has scaled and taken, she is never absent. Though the belief she of old reposed in herself, as one able to reserve whatsoever she would under her mantle of pride, is beaten down; though she has no assurance that what she is to those around her, she will remain another day; it is not in her nature, when envious eyes are looking on, to yield or to droop. They say of her, that she has lately grown more handsome and more haughty. The debilitated cousin says of her that she's beauty nough—tsetup Shopofwomen—but rather larming kind—remindingmanfact—inconvenient woman—who will getoutofbedandbawthstablishment—Shakspeare.

           Mr. Tulkinghorn says nothing, looks nothing. Now, as heretofore, he



page 460 is to be found in doorways of rooms, with his limp white cravat loosely twisted into its old-fashioned tie, receiving patronage from the Peerage and making no sign. Of all men he is still the last who might be supposed to have any influence upon my Lady. Of all women she is still the last who might be supposed to have any dread of him.

           One thing has been much on her mind since their late interview in his turret-room at Chesney Wold. She is now decided, and prepared to throw it off.

           It is morning in the great world; afternoon according to the little sun. The Mercuries, exhausted by looking out of window, are reposing in the hall; and hang their heavy heads, the gorgeous creatures, like overblown sun-flowers. Like them too, they seem to run to a deal of seed in their tags and trimmings. Sir Leicester, in the library, has fallen asleep for the good of the country, over the report of a Parliamentary committee. My Lady sits in the room in which she gave audience to the young man of the name of Guppy. Rosa is with her, and has been writing for her and reading to her. Rosa is now at work upon embroidery, or some such pretty thing; and as she bends her head over it, my Lady watches her in silence. Not for the first time to-day.

           “Rosa.”

           The pretty village face looks brightly up. Then, seeing how serious my Lady is, looks puzzled and surprised.

           “See to the door. Is it shut?”

           Yes. She goes to it and returns, and looks yet more surprised.

           “I am about to place confidence in you, child, for I know I may trust your attachment, if not your judgment. In what I am going to do, I will not disguise myself to you at least. But I confide in you. Say nothing to any one of what passes between us.”

           The timid little beauty promises in all earnestness to be trustworthy.

           “Do you know,” Lady Dedlock asks her, signing to her to bring her chair nearer; “do you know, Rosa, that I am different to you from what I am to any one?”

           “Yes, my Lady. Much kinder. But then I often think I know you as you really are.”

           “You often think you know me as I really am? Poor child, poor child!”

           She says it with a kind of scorn—though not of Rosa—and sits brooding, looking dreamily at her.

           “Do you think, Rosa, you are any relief or comfort to me? Do you suppose your being young and natural, and fond of me and grateful to me, makes it any pleasure to me to have you near me?”

           “I don't know, my Lady; I can scarcely hope so. But, with all my heart, I wish it was so.”

           “It is so, little one.”

           The pretty face is checked in its flush of pleasure, by the dark expression on the handsome face before it. It looks timidly for an explanation.

           “And if I were to say to-day, Go! Leave me! I should say what would give me great pain and disquiet, child, and what would leave me very solitary.”

           “My Lady! Have I offended you?”



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           “In nothing. Come here.”

           Rosa bends down on the footstool at my Lady's feet. My Lady, with that motherly touch of the famous Ironmaster night, lays her hand upon her dark hair, and gently keeps it there.

           “I told you, Rosa, that I wished you to be happy, and that I would make you so if I could make anybody happy on this earth. I can not. There are reasons now known to me, reasons in which you have no part, rendering it far better for you that you should not remain here. You must not remain here. I have determined that you shall not. I have written to the father of your lover, and he will be here to-day. All this I have done for your sake.”

           The weeping girl covers her hand with kisses, and says what shall she do, what shall she do, when they are separated! Her mistress kisses her on the cheek, and makes no other answer.

           “Now, be happy, child, under better circumstances. Be beloved, and happy!”

           “Ah, my Lady, I have sometimes thought—forgive my being so free—that you are not happy.”

           “I!”

           “Will you be more so, when you have sent me away? Pray, pray, think again. Let me stay a little while!”

           “I have said, my child, that what I do, I do for your sake, not my own. It is done. What I am towards you, Rosa, is what I am now—not what I shall be a little while hence. Remember this, and keep my confidence. Do so much for my sake, and thus all ends between us!”

           She detaches herself from her simple-hearted companion, and leaves the room. Late in the afternoon, when she next appears upon the staircase, she is in her haughtiest and coldest state. As indifferent as if all passion, feeling, and interest, had been worn out in the earlier ages of the world, and had perished from its surface with its other departed monsters.

           Mercury has announced Mr. Rouncewell, which is the cause of her appearance. Mr. Rouncewell is not in the library; but she repairs to the library. Sir Leicester is there, and she wishes to speak to him first.

           “Sir Leicester, I am desirous—but you are engaged.”

           O dear no! Not at all. Only Mr. Tulkinghorn.

           Always at hand. Haunting every place. No relief or security from him for a moment.

           “I beg your pardon, Lady Dedlock. Will you allow me to retire?”

           With a look that plainly says, “You know you have the power to remain if you will,” she tells him it is not necessary, and moves towards a chair. Mr. Tulkinghorn brings it a little forward for her with his clumsy bow, and retires into a window opposite. Interposed between her and the fading light of day in the now quiet street, his shadow falls upon her, and he darkens all before her. Even so does he darken her life.

           It is a dull street, under the best conditions; where the two long rows of houses stare at each other with that severity; that half a dozen of its greatest mansions seem to have been slowly stared into stone, rather than originally built in that material. It is a street of such dismal grandeur, so determined not to condescend to liveliness, that the doors



page 462 and windows hold a gloomy state of their own in black paint and dust, and the echoing mews behind have a dry and massive appearance, as if they were reserved to stable the stone chargers of noble statues. Complicated garnish of iron-work entwines itself over the flights of steps in this awful street; and, from these petrified bowers, extinguishers for obsolete flambeaux gasp at the upstart gas. Here and there a weak little iron hoop, through which bold boys aspire to throw their friends' caps (its only present use), retains its place among the rusty foliage, sacred to the memory of departed oil. Nay, even oil itself, yet lingering at long intervals in a little absurd glass pot, with a knob in the bottom like an oyster, blinks and sulks at newer lights every night, like its high and dry master in the House of Lords.

           Therefore there is not much that Lady Dedlock, seated in her chair, could wish to see through the window in which Mr. Tulkinghorn stands. And yet—and yet—she sends a look in that direction, as if it were her heart's desire to have that figure removed out of the way.

           Sir Leicester begs his Lady's pardon. She was about to say?

           “Only that Mr. Rouncewell is here (he has called by my appointment), and that we had better make an end of the question of that girl. I am tired to death of the matter.”

           “What can I do—to—assist?” demands Sir Leicester, in some considerable doubt.

           “Let us see him here, and have done with it. Will you tell them to send him up?”

           “Mr. Tulkinghorn, be so good as to ring. Thank you. Request,” says Sir Leicester, to Mercury, not immediately remembering the business term, “request the iron gentleman to walk this way.”

           Mercury departs in search of the iron gentleman, finds, and produces him. Sir Leicester receives that ferruginous person, graciously.

           “I hope you are well, Mr. Rouncewell. Be seated. (My solicitor, Mr. Tulkinghorn). My Lady was desirous, Mr. Rouncewell,” Sir Leicester skilfully transfers him with a solemn wave of his hand, “was desirous to speak with you. Hem!”

           “I shall be very happy,” returns the iron gentleman, “to give my best attention to anything Lady Dedlock does me the honor to say.”

           As he turns towards her, he finds that the impression she makes upon him is less agreeable than on the former occasion. A distant supercilious air makes a cold atmosphere about her; and there is nothing in her bearing, as there was before, to encourage openness.

           “Pray, sir,” says Lady Dedlock, listlessly, “may I be allowed to inquire whether anything has passed between you and your son, respecting your son's fancy?”

           It is almost too troublesome to her languid eyes to bestow a look upon him, as she asks this question.

           “If my memory serves me, Lady Dedlock, I said, when I had the pleasure of seeing you before, that I should seriously advise my son to conquer that—fancy.” The ironmaster repeats her expression with a little emphasis.

           “And did you?”

           “O! of course I did.”

           Sir Leicester gives a nod, approving and confirmatory. Very proper.



page 463 The iron gentleman having said that he would do it, was bound to do it. No difference in this respect between the base metals and the precious. Highly proper.

           “And pray has he done so?”

           “Really, Lady Dedlock, I cannot make you a definite reply. I fear not. Probably not yet. In our condition of life, we sometimes couple an intention with our—our fancies, which renders them not altogether easy to throw off. I think it is rather our way to be in earnest.”

           Sir Leicester has a misgiving that there may be a hidden Wat Tylerish meaning in this expression, and fumes a little. Mr. Rouncewell is perfectly good-humoured and polite; but, within such limits, evidently adapts his tone to his reception.

           “Because,” proceeds my Lady, “I have been thinking of the subject—which is tiresome to me.”

           “I am very sorry, I am sure.”

           “And also of what Sir Leicester said upon it, in which I quite concur;” Sir Leicester flattered; “and if you cannot give us the assurance that this fancy is at an end, I have come to the conclusion that the girl had better leave me.”

           “I can give no such assurance, Lady Dedlock. Nothing of the kind.”

           “Then she had better go.”

           “Excuse me, my Lady,” Sir Leicester considerately interposes, “but perhaps this may be doing an injury to the young woman, which she has not merited. Here is a young woman,” says Sir Leicester, magnificently laying out the matter with his right hand, like a service of plate, “whose good fortune it is to have attracted the notice and favor of an eminent lady, and to live, under the protection of that eminent lady, surrounded by the various advantages which such a position confers, and which are unquestionably very great—I believe unquestionably very great, sir—for a young woman in that station of life. The question then arises, should that young woman be deprived of these many advantages and that good fortune, simply because she has;” Sir Leicester, with an apologetic but dignified inclination of his head towards the ironmaster, winds up his sentence; “has attracted the notice of Mr. Rouncewell's son? Now, has she deserved this punishment? Is this just towards her? Is this our previous understanding?”

           “I beg your pardon,” interposes Mr. Rouncewell's son's father. “Sir Leicester, will you allow me? I think I may shorten the subject. Pray dismiss that from your consideration. If you remembered anything so unimportant—which is not to be expected—you would recollect that my first thought in the affair was directly opposed to her remaining here.”

           Dismiss the Dedlock patronage from consideration? O! Sir Leicester is bound to believe a pair of ears that have been handed down to him through such a family, or he really might have mistrusted their report of the iron gentleman's observations.

           “It is not necessary,” observes my Lady, in her coldest manner, before he can do anything but breathe amazedly, “to enter into these matters on either side. The girl is a very good girl; I have nothing whatever to say against her; but she is so far insensible to her many advantages and her good fortune, that she is in love—or supposes she is, poor little fool—and unable to appreciate them.”



page 464

           Sir Leicester begs to observe, that wholly alters the case. He might have been sure that my Lady had the best grounds and reasons in support of her view. He entirely agrees with my Lady. The young woman had better go.

           “As Sir Leicester observed, Mr. Rouncewell, on the last occasion when we were fatigued by this business,” Lady Dedlock languidly proceeds, “we cannot make conditions with you. Without conditions, and under present circumstances, the girl is quite misplaced here, and had better go. I have told her so. Would you wish to have her sent back to the village, or would you like to take her with you, or what would you prefer?”

           “Lady Dedlock, if I may speak plainly—”

           “By all means.”

           “— I should prefer the course which will the soonest relieve you of the incumbrance, and remove her from her present position.”

           “And to speak as plainly,” she returns, with the same studied carelessness, “so should I. Do I understand that you will take her with you?”

           The iron gentleman makes an iron bow.

           “Sir Leicester, will you ring?” Mr. Tulkinghorn steps forward from his window and pulls the bell. “I had forgotten you. Thank you.” He makes his usual bow, and goes quietly back again. Mercury, swift-responsive, appears, receives instructions whom to produce, skims away, produces the aforesaid, and departs.

           Rosa has been crying, and is yet in distress. On her coming in, the ironmaster leaves his chair, takes her arm in his, and remains with her near the door ready to depart.

           “You are taken charge of, you see,” says my Lady, in her weary manner, “and are going away, well protected. I have mentioned that you are a very good girl, and you have nothing to cry for.

           “She seems after all,” observes Mr. Tulkinghorn, loitering a little forward with his hands behind him, “as if she were crying at going away.”

           “Why, she is not well-bred, you see,” returns Mr. Rouncewell with some quickness in his manner, as if he were glad to have the lawyer to retort upon; “and she is an inexperienced little thing, and knows no better. If she had remained here, sir, she would have improved, no doubt.”

           “No doubt,” is Mr. Tulkinghorn's composed reply.

           Rosa sobs out that she is very sorry to leave my Lady, and that she was happy at Chesney Wold, and has been happy with my Lady, and that she thanks my Lady over and over again. “Out, you silly little puss!” says the ironmaster, checking her in a low voice, though not angrily; “have a spirit, if you're fond of Wat!” My Lady merely waves her off with indifference, saying, “There, there, child! You are a good girl. Go way!” Sir Leicester has magnificently disengaged himself from the subject, and retired into the sanctuary of his blue coat. Mr. Tulkinghorn, an indistinct form against the dark street now dotted with lamps, looms in my Lady's view, bigger and blacker than before.

           “Sir Leicester and Lady Dedlock,” says Mr. Rouncewell, after a pause of a few moments, “I beg to take my leave, with an apology for having again troubled you, though not of my own act, on this tiresome subject.



page 465 I can very well understand, I assure you, how tiresome so small a matter must have become to Lady Dedlock. If I am doubtful of my dealing with it, it is only because I did not at first quietly exert my influence to take my young friend here away, without troubling you at all. But it appeared to me—I dare say magnifying the importance of the thing—that it was respectful to explain to you how the matter stood, and candid to consult your wishes and convenience. I hope you will excuse my want of acquaintance with the polite world.”

           Sir Leicester considers himself evoked out of the sanctuary by these remarks. “Mr. Rouncewell,” he returns, “do not mention it. Justifications are unnecessary, I hope, on either side.

           “I am glad to hear it, Sir Leicester; and if I may, by way of a last word, revert to what I said before of my mother's long connexion with the family, and the worth it bespeaks on both sides, I would point out this little instance here on my arm, who shows herself so affectionate and faithful in parting, and in whom my mother, I dare say, has done something to awaken such feelings—though of course Lady Dedlock, by her heartfelt interest and her genial condescension, has done much more.”

           If he mean this ironically, it may be truer than he thinks. He points it, however, by no deviation from his straightforward manner of speech, though in saying it he turns towards that part of the dim room where my Lady sits. Sir Leicester stands to return his parting salutation, Mr. Tulkinghorn again rings, Mercury takes another flight, and Mr. Rouncewell and Rosa leave the house.

           Then lights are brought in, discovering Mr. Tulkinghorn still standing in his window with his hands behind him, and my Lady still sitting with his figure before her, closing up her view of the night as well as of the day. She is very pale. Mr. Tulkinghorn observing it as she rises to retire, thinks, “Well she may be! The power of this woman is astonishing. She has been acting a part the whole time.” But he can act a part too—his one unchanging character—and as he holds the door open for this woman, fifty pairs of eyes, each fifty times sharper than Sir Leicester's pair, should find no flaw in him.

           Lady Dedlock dines alone in her own room to-day. Sir Leicester is whipped in to the rescue of the Doodle Party, and the discomfiture of the Coodle Faction. Lady Dedlock asks, on sitting down to dinner, still deadly pale, (and quite an illustration of the debilitated cousin's text), whether he is gone out? Yes. Whether Mr. Tulkinghorn is gone yet? No. Presently she asks again, is he gone yet? No. What is he doing? Mercury thinks he is writing letters in the library. Would my Lady wish to see him? Anything but that.

           But he wishes to see my Lady. Within a few more minutes, he is reported as sending his respects, and could my Lady please to receive him for a word or two after her dinner? My Lady will receive him now. He comes now, apologising for intruding, even by her permission, while she is at table. When they are alone, my Lady waves her hand to dispense with such mockeries.

           “What do you want, sir?”

           “Why, Lady Dedlock,” says the lawyer, taking a chair at a little



page 466 distance from her, and slowly rubbing his rusty legs up and down, up and down, up and down; “I am rather surprised by the course you have taken.”

           “Indeed?”

           “Yes, decidedly. I was not prepared for it. I consider it a departure from our agreement and your promise. It puts us in a new position, Lady Dedlock. I feel myself under the necessity of saying that I don't approve of it.”

           He stops in his rubbing, and looks at her, with his hands on his knees. Imperturbable and unchangeable as he is, there is still an indefinable freedom in his manner, which is new, and which does not escape this woman's observation.

           “I do not quite understand you.”

           “O yes you do, I think. I think you do. Come, come, Lady Dedlock, we must not fence and parry now. You know you like this girl.”

           “Well, sir?”

           “And you know—and I know—that you have not sent her away for the reasons you have assigned, but for the purpose of separating her as much as possible from—excuse my mentioning it as a matter of business—any reproach and exposure that impend over yourself.”

           “Well, sir?”

           “Well, Lady Dedlock,” returns the lawyer, crossing his legs and nursing the uppermost knee, “I object to that. I consider that, a dangerous proceeding. I know it to be unnecessary, and calculated to awaken speculation, doubt, rumour, I don't know what, in the house. Besides, it is a violation of our agreement. You were to be exactly what you were before. Whereas, it must be evident to yourself, as it is to me, that you have been this evening very different from what you were before. Why, bless my soul, Lady Dedlock, transparently so!”

           “If, sir,” she begins, “in my knowledge of my secret—” But he interrupts her.

           “Now, Lady Dedlock, this is a matter of business, and in a matter of business the ground cannot be kept too clear. It is no longer your secret. Excuse me. That is just the mistake. It is my secret, in trust for Sir Leicester and the family. If it were your secret, Lady Dedlock, we should not be here, holding this conversation.”

           “That is very true. If, in my knowledge of the secret, I do what I can to spare an innocent girl (especially, remembering your own reference to her when you told my story to the assembled guests at Chesney Wold) from the taint of my impending shame, I act upon a resolution I have taken. Nothing in the world, and no one in the world, could shake it, or could move me.” This she says with great deliberation and distinctness, and with no more outward passion than himself. As for him, he methodically discusses his matter of business, as if she were any insensible instrument used in business.

           “Really? Then you see, Lady Dedlock,” he returns, “you are not to be trusted. You have put the case in a perfectly plain way, and according to the literal fact; and, that being the case, you are not to be trusted.”



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           “Perhaps you may remember that I expressed some anxiety on this same point, when we spoke at night at Chesney Wold?”

           “Yes,” says Mr. Tulkinghorn, coolly getting up and standing on the hearth. “Yes. I recollect, Lady Dedlock, that you certainly referred to the girl; but that was before we came to our arrangement, and both the letter and the spirit of our arrangement altogether precluded any action on your part, founded upon my discovery. There can be no doubt about that. As to sparing the girl, of what importance or value is she? Spare! Lady Dedlock, here is a family name compromised. One might have supposed that the course was straight on—over everything, neither to the right nor to the left, regardless of all considerations in the way, sparing nothing, treading everything under foot.”

           She has been looking at the table. She lifts up her eyes, and looks at him. There is a stern expression on her face, and a part of her lower lip is compressed under her teeth. “This woman understands me,” Mr. Tulkinghorn thinks, as she lets her glance fall again. “She cannot be spared. Why should she spare others?”

           For a little while they are silent. Lady Dedlock has eaten no dinner, but has twice or thrice poured out water with a steady hand and drunk it. She rises from table, takes a lounging-chair, and reclines in it, shading her face. There is nothing in her manner to express weakness or excite compassion. It is thoughtful, gloomy, concentrated. “This woman,” thinks Mr. Tulkinghorn, standing on the hearth, again a dark object closing up her view, “is a study.”

           He studies her at his leisure, not speaking for a time. She, too, studies something at her leisure. She is not the first to speak; appearing indeed so unlikely to be so, though he stood there until midnight, that even he is driven upon breaking silence.

           “Lady Dedlock, the most disagreeable part of this business interview remains; but it is business. Our agreement is broken. A lady of your sense and strength of character will be prepared for my now declaring it void, and taking my own course.”

           “I am quite prepared.”

           Mr. Tulkinghorn inclines his head. “That is all I have to trouble you with, Lady Dedlock.”

           She stops him as he is moving out of the room, by asking, “This is the notice I was to receive? I wish not to misapprehend you.”

           “Not exactly the notice you were to receive, Lady Dedlock, because the contemplated notice supposed the agreement to have been observed. But virtually the same, virtually the same. The difference is merely in a lawyer's mind.”

           “You intend to give me no other notice?”

           “You are right. No.”

           “Do you contemplate undeceiving Sir Leicester to-night?”

           “A home question!” says Mr. Tulkinghorn, with a slight smile, and cautiously shaking his head at the shaded face. “No, not to-night.”

           “To-morrow?”

           “All things considered, I had better decline answering that question, Lady Dedlock. If I were to say I don't know when, exactly, you would not believe me, and it would answer no purpose. It may be to-morrow.



page 468 I would rather say no more. You are prepared, and I hold out no expectations which circumstances might fail to justify. I wish you good evening.”

           She removes her hand, turns her pale face towards him as he walks silently to the door, and stops him once again as he is about to open it.

           “Do you intend to remain in the house any time? I heard you were writing in the library. Are you going to return there?”

           “Only for my hat. I am going home.”

           She bows her eyes rather than her head, the movement is so slight and curious; and he withdraws. Clear of the room, he looks at his watch, but is inclined to doubt it by a minute or thereabouts. There is a splendid clock upon the staircase, famous, as splendid clocks not often are, for its accuracy. “And what do you say,” Mr. Tulkinghorn inquires, referring to it. “What do you say?”

           If it said now, “Don't go home”! What a famous clock, hereafter, if it said to-night of all the nights that it has counted off, to this old man of all the young and old men who have ever stood before it, “Don't go home”! With its sharp clear bell, it strikes three-quarters after seven, and ticks on again. “Why, you are worse than I thought you,” says Mr. Tulkinghorn, muttering reproof to his watch. “Two minutes wrong? At this rate you won't last my time.” What a watch to return good for evil, if it ticked in answer “Don't go home”!

           He passes out into the streets, and walks on, with his hands behind him, under the shadow of the lofty houses, many of whose mysteries, difficulties, mortgages, delicate affairs of all kinds, are treasured up within his old black satin waistcoat. He is in the confidence of the very bricks and mortar. The high chimney-stacks telegraph family secrets to him. Yet there is not a voice in a mile of them to whisper “Don't go home!”

           Through the stir and motion of the commoner streets; through the roar and jar of many vehicles, many feet, many voices; with the blazing shop-lights lighting him on, the west wind blowing him on, and the crowd pressing him on; he is pitilessly urged upon his way, and nothing meets him, murmuring “Don't go home!” Arrived at last in his dull room, to light his candles, and look round and up, and see the Roman pointing from the ceiling, there is no new significance in the Roman's hand to-night, or in the flutter of the attendant groupes, to give him the late warning, “Don't come here!”

           It is a moonlight night; but the moon, being past the full, is only now rising over the great wilderness of London. The stars are shining as they shone above the turret-leads at Chesney Wold. This woman, as he has of late been so accustomed to call her, looks out upon them. Her soul is turbulent within her; she is sick at heart, and restless. The large rooms are too cramped and close. She cannot endure their restraint, and will walk alone in a neighbouring garden.

           Too capricious and imperious in all she does, to be the cause of much surprise in those about her as to anything she does, this woman, loosely muffled, goes out into the moonlight. Mercury attends with the key. Having opened the garden gate, he delivers the key into his Lady's hand at



page 469 her request, and is bidden to go back. She will walk there some time, to ease her aching head. She may be an hour; she may be more. She needs no further escort. The gate shuts upon its spring with a clash, and he leaves her, passing on into the dark shade of some trees.

           A fine night, and a bright large moon, and multitudes of stars. Mr. Tulkinghorn, in repairing to his cellar, and in opening and shutting those resounding doors, has to cross a little prison-like yard. He looks up casually, thinking what a fine night, what a bright large moon, what multitudes of stars! A quiet night, too.

           A very quiet night. When the moon shines very brilliantly, a solitude and stillness seem to proceed from her, that influence even crowded places full of life. Not only is it a still night on dusty high roads and on hill-summits, whence a wide expanse of country may be seen in repose, quieter and quieter as it spreads away into a fringe of trees against the sky, with the grey ghost of a bloom upon them; not only is it a still night in gardens and in woods, and on the river where the water-meadows are fresh and green, and the stream sparkles on among pleasant islands, murmuring weirs, and whispering rushes; not only does the stillness attend it as it flows where houses cluster thick, where many bridges are reflected in it, where wharves and shipping make it black and awful, where it winds from these disfigurements through marshes whose grim beacons stand like skeletons washed ashore, where it expands through the bolder region of rising grounds rich in corn-field windmill and steeple, and where it mingles with the ever-heaving sea; not only is it a still night on the deep, and on the shore where the watcher stands to see the ship with her spread wings cross the path of light that appears to be presented to only him; but even on this stranger's wilderness of London there is some rest. Its steeples and towers, and its one great dome, grow more ethereal; its smoky house-tops lose their grossness, in the pale effulgence; the noises that arise from the streets are fewer and are softened, and the footsteps on the pavements pass more tranquilly away. In these fields of Mr. Tulkinghorn's inhabiting, where the shepherds play on Chancery pipes that have no stop, and keep their sheep in the fold by hook and by crook until they have shorn them exceeding close, every noise is merged, this moonlight night, into a distant ringing hum, as if the city were a vast glass, vibrating.

           What's that? Who fired a gun or pistol? Where was it?

           The few foot-passengers start, stop, and stare about them. Some windows and doors are opened, and people come out to look. It was a loud report, and echoed and rattled heavily. It shook one house, or so a man says who was passing. It has aroused all the dogs in the neighbourhood, who bark vehemently. Terrified cats scamper across the road. While the dogs are yet barking and howling—there is one dog howling like a demon—the church-clocks, as if they were startled too, begin to strike. The hum from the streets, likewise, seems to swell into a shout. But it is soon over. Before the last clock begins to strike ten, there is lull. When it has ceased, the fine night, the bright large moon, and multitudes of stars, are left at peace again.

           Has Mr. Tulkinghorn been disturbed? His windows are dark and quiet, and his door is shut. It must be something unusual indeed, to



page 470 bring him out of his shell. Nothing is heard of him, nothing is seen of him. What power of cannon might it take to shake that rusty old man out of his immoveable composure?

           For many years, the persistent Roman has been pointing, with no particular meaning, from that ceiling. It is not likely that he has any new meaning in him to-night. Once pointing, always pointing—like any Roman, or even Briton, with a single idea. There he is, no doubt, in his impossible attitude, pointing, unavailingly, all night long. Moonlight, darkness, dawn, sunrise, day. There he is still, eagerly pointing, and no one minds him.

           But, a little after the coming of the day, come people to clean the rooms. And either the Roman has some new meaning in him, not expressed before, or the foremost of them goes wild; for, looking up at his outstretched hand, and looking down at what is below it, that person shrieks and flies. The others, looking in as the first one looked, shriek and fly too, and there is an alarm in the street.

           What does it mean? No light is admitted into the darkened chamber, and people unaccustomed to it, enter, and treading softly, but heavily, carry a weight into the bed-room, and lay it down. There is whispering and wondering all day, strict search of every corner, careful tracing of steps, and careful noting of the disposition of every article of furniture. All eyes look up at the Roman, and all voices murmur, “If he could only tell what he saw!”

           He is pointing at a table, with a bottle (nearly full of wine) and a glass upon it, and two candles that were blown out suddenly, soon after being lighted. He is pointing at an empty chair, and at a stain upon the ground before it that might be almost covered with a hand. These objects lie directly within his range. An excited imagination might suppose that there was something in them so terrific, as to drive the rest of the composition, not only the attendant big-legged boys, but the clouds and flowers and pillars too—in short, the very body and soul of Allegory, and all the brains it has—stark mad. It happens surely, that every one who comes into the darkened room and looks at these things, looks up at the Roman, and that he is invested in all eyes with mystery and awe, as if he were a paralysed dumb witness.

           So, it shall happen surely, through many years to come, that ghostly stories shall be told of the stain upon the floor, so easy to be covered, so hard to be got out; and that the Roman, pointing from the ceiling, shall point, so long as dust and damp and spiders spare him, with far greater significance than he ever had in Mr. Tulkinghorn's time, and with a deadly meaning. For, Mr. Tulkinghorn's time is over for evermore; and the Roman pointed at the murderous hand uplifted against his life, and pointed helplessly at him, from night to morning, lying face downward on the floor, shot through the heart.



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CHAPTER XLIX.
DUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP.

           A GREAT annual occasion has come round in the establishment of Mr. Joseph Bagnet, otherwise Lignum Vitæ, ex-artilleryman and present bassoon-player. An occasion of feasting and festival. The celebration of a birthday in the family.

           It is not Mr. Bagnet's birthday. Mr. Bagnet merely distinguishes that epoch in the musical instrument business, by kissing the children with an extra smack before breakfast, smoking an additional pipe after dinner, and wondering towards evening what his poor old mother is thinking about it,—a subject of infinite speculation, and rendered so by his mother having departed this life, twenty years. Some men rarely revert to their father, but seem, in the bank-books of their remembrance, to have transferred all their stock of filial affection into their mother's name. Mr. Bagnet is one of these. Perhaps his exalted appreciation of the merits of the old girl, causes him usually to make the noun-substantive, Goodness, of the feminine gender.

           It is not the birthday of one of the three children. Those occasions are kept with some marks of distinction, but they rarely overleap the bounds of happy returns and a pudding. On young Woolwich's last birthday, Mr. Bagnet certainly did, after observing upon his growth and general advancement, proceed, in a moment of profound reflection on the changes wrought by time, to examine him in the catechism; accomplishing with extreme accuracy the questions number one and two, What is your name? and Who gave you that name? but there failing in the exact precision of his memory, and substituting for number three, the question And how do you like that name? which he propounded with a sense of its importance, in itself so edifying and improving, as to give it quite an orthodox air. This, however, was a speciality on that particular birthday, and not a generic solemnity.

           It is the old girl's birthday; and that is the greatest holiday and reddest-letter day in Mr. Bagnet's calendar. The auspicious event is always commemorated according to certain forms, settled and prescribed by Mr. Bagnet some years since. Mr. Bagnet being deeply convinced that to have a pair of fowls for dinner is to attain the highest pitch of imperial luxury, invariably goes forth himself very early in the morning of this day to buy a pair; he is, as invariably, taken in by the vendor, and installed in the possession of the oldest inhabitants of any coop in Europe. Returning with these triumphs of toughness tied up in a clean blue and white cotton handkerchief (essential to the arrangements), he in a casual manner invites Mrs. Bagnet to declare at breakfast what she would like for dinner. Mrs. Bagnet, by a coincidence never known to fail, replying Fowls, Mr. Bagnet instantly produces his bundle from a place of concealment, amidst general amazement and rejoicing. He further requires that the old girl shall do nothing all day long, but sit in



page 472 her very best gown, and be served by himself and the young people. As he is not illustrious for his cookery, this may be supposed to be a matter of state rather than enjoyment on the old girl's part; but she keeps her state with all imaginable cheerfulness.

           On this present birthday, Mr. Bagnet has accomplished the usual preliminaries. He has bought two specimens of poultry, which, if there be any truth in adages, were certainly not caught with chaff, to be prepared for the spit; he has amazed and rejoiced the family by their unlooked-for production; he is himself directing the roasting of the poultry; and Mrs. Bagnet, with her wholesome brown fingers itching to prevent what she sees going wrong, sits in her gown of ceremony, an honored guest.

           Quebec and Malta lay the cloth for dinner, while Woolwich, serving, as beseems him, under his father, keeps the fowls revolving. To these young scullions Mrs. Bagnet occasionally imparts a wink, or a shake of the head, or a crooked face, as they make mistakes.

           “At half-after one.” Says Mr. Bagnet. “To the minute. They'll be done.”

           Mrs. Bagnet, with anguish, beholds one of them at a stand-still before the fire, and beginning to burn.

           “You shall have a dinner, old girl,” says Mr. Bagnet. “Fit for a queen.”

           Mrs. Bagnet shows her white teeth cheerfully, but to the perception of her son betrays so much uneasiness of spirit, that he is impelled by the dictates of affection to ask her, with his eyes, what is the matter?—thus standing, with his eyes wide open, more oblivious of the fowls than before, and not affording the least hope of a return to consciousness. Fortunately, his elder sister perceives the cause of the agitation in Mrs. Bagnet's breast, and with an admonitory poke recalls him. The stopped fowls going round again, Mrs. Bagnet closes her eyes, in the intensity of her relief.

           “George will look us up,” says Mr. Bagnet. “At half-after four. To the moment. How many years, old girl. Has George looked us up. This afternoon?”

           “Ah, Lignum, Lignum, as many as make an old woman of a young one, I begin to think. Just about that, and no less,” returns Mrs. Bagnet, laughing, and shaking her head.

           “Old girl,” says Mr. Bagnet. “Never mind. You'd be as young as ever you was. If you wasn't younger. Which you are. As everybody knows.”

           Quebec and Malta here exclaim, with clapping of hands, that Bluffy is sure to bring mother something, and begin to speculate on what it will be.

           “Do you know, Lignum,” says Mrs. Bagnet, casting a glance on the table-cloth, and winking “salt!” at Malta with her right eye, and shaking the pepper away from Quebec with her head; “I begin to think George is in the roving way again.”

           “George,” returns Mr. Bagnet, “will never desert. And leave his old comrade. In the lurch. Don't be afraid of it.”

           “No, Lignum. No. I don't say he will. I don't think he will. But if be could get over this money-trouble of his, I believe he would be off.”



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           Mr. Bagnet asks why?

           “Well,” returns his wife, considering, “George seems to me to be getting not a little impatient and restless. I don't say but what he's as free as ever. Of course he must be free, or he wouldn't be George; but he smarts, and seems put out.”

           He's extra-drilled,” says Mr. Bagnet. “By a lawyer. Who would put the devil out.”

           “There's something in that,” his wife assents; “but so it is, Lignum.”

           Further conversation is prevented, for the time, by the necessity under which Mr. Bagnet finds himself of directing the whole force of his mind to the dinner, which is a little endangered by the dry humour of the fowls in not yielding any gravy, and also by the made-gravy acquiring no flavor, and turning out of a flaxen complexion. With a similar perverseness, the potatoes crumble off forks in the process of peeling, upheaving from their centres in every direction, as if they were subject to earthquakes. The legs of the fowls, too, are longer than could be desired, and extremely scaly. Overcoming these disadvantages to the best of his ability, Mr. Bagnet at last dishes, and they sit down at table; Mrs. Bagnet occupying the guest's place at his right hand.

           It is well for the old girl that she has but one birthday in a year, for two such indulgences in poultry might be injurious. Every kind of finer tendon and ligament that it is in the nature of poultry to possess, is developed in these specimens in the singular form of guitar-strings. Their limbs appear to have struck roots into their breasts and bodies, as aged trees strike roots into the earth. Their legs are so hard, as to encourage the idea that they must have devoted the greater part of their long and arduous lives to pedestrian exercises, and the walking of matches. But Mr. Bagnet, unconscious of these little defects, sets his heart on Mrs. Bagnet eating a most severe quantity of the delicacies before her; and as that good old girl would not cause him a moment's disappointment on any day, least of all on such a day, for any consideration, she imperils her digestion fearfully. How young Woolwich cleans the drum-sticks without being of ostrich descent, his anxious mother is at a loss to understand.

           The old girl has another trial to undergo after the conclusion of the repast, in sitting in state to see the room cleared, the hearth swept, and the dinner-service washed up and polished in the back yard. The great delight and energy with which the two young ladies apply themselves to these duties, turning up their skirts in imitation of their mother, and skaiting in and out on little scaffolds of pattens, inspire the highest hopes for the future, but some anxiety for the present. The same causes lead to a confusion of tongues, a clattering of crockery, a rattling of tin mugs, a whisking of brooms, and an expenditure of water, all in excess; while the saturation of the young ladies themselves is almost too moving a spectacle for Mrs. Bagnet to look upon, with the calmness proper to her position. At last the various cleansing processes are triumphantly completed; Quebec and Malta appear in fresh attire, smiling and dry; pipes, tobacco, and something to drink, are placed upon the table; and the old girl enjoys the first peace of mind she ever knows on the day of this delightful entertainment.



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           When Mr. Bagnet takes his usual seat, the hands of the clock are very near to half-past four; as they mark it accurately, Mr. Bagnet announces,

           “George! Military time.”

           It is George; and he has hearty congratulations for the old girl (whom he kisses on the great occasion), and for the children, and for Mr. Bagnet. “Happy returns to all!” says Mr. George.

           “But, George, old man!” cries Mrs. Bagnet, looking at him curiously. “What's come to you?”

           “Come to me?”

           “Ah! you are so white, George—for you—and look so shocked. Now don't he, Lignum?”

           “George,” says Mr. Bagnet, “tell the old girl. What's the matter.”

           “I didn't know I looked white,” says the trooper, passing his hand over his brow, “and I didn't know I looked shocked, and I'm sorry I do. But the truth is, that boy who was taken in at my place died yesterday afternoon, and it has rather knocked me over.”

           “Poor creetur!” says Mrs. Bagnet, with a mother's pity. “Is he gone? Dear, dear!”

           “I didn't mean to say anything about it, for it's not birthday talk, but you have got it out of me, you see, before I sit down. I should have roused up in a minute,” says the trooper, making himself speak more gaily, “but you're so quick, Mrs. Bagnet.”

           “You're right! The old girl,” says Mr. Bagnet. “Is as quick. As powder.”

           “And what's more, she's the subject of the day, and we'll stick to her,” cries Mr. George. “See here, I have brought a little brooch along with me. It's a poor thing, you know, but it's a keepsake. That's all the good it is, Mrs. Bagnet.”

           Mr. George produces his present, which is greeted with admiring leapings and clappings by the young family, and with a species of reverential admiration by Mr. Bagnet. “Old girl,” says Mr. Bagnet. “Tell him my opinion of it.”

           “Why, it's a wonder, George!” Mrs. Bagnet exclaims. “It's the beautifullest thing that ever was seen!”

           “Good!” says Mr. Bagnet. “My opinion.”

           “It's so pretty, George,” cries Mrs. Bagnet, turning it on all sides, and holding it out at arm's length, “that it seems too choice for me.”

           “Bad!” says Mr. Bagnet. “Not my opinion.”

           “But whatever it is, a hundred thousand thanks, old fellow,” says Mrs. Bagnet, her eyes sparkling with pleasure, and her hand stretched out to him; “and though I have been a cross-grained soldier's wife to you sometimes, George, we are as strong friends I am sure, in reality, as ever can be. Now you shall fasten it on yourself, for good luck, if you will George.”

           The children close up to see it done, and Mr. Bagnet looks over young Woolwich's head to see it done, with an interest so maturely wooden, yet so pleasantly childish, that Mrs. Bagnet cannot help laughing in her airy way, and saying, “O Lignum, Lignum, what a precious old chap you are!” But the trooper fails to fasten the brooch. His hand shakes, he is nervous, and it falls off. “Would any one believe this?”



page 475 says he, catching it as it drops, and looking round. “I am so out of sorts that I bungle at an easy job like this!”

           Mrs. Bagnet concludes that for such a case there is no remedy like a pipe; and fastening the brooch herself in a twinkling, causes the trooper to be inducted into his usual snug place, and the pipes to be got into action. “If that don't bring you round, George,” says she, “just throw your eye across here at your present now and then, and the two together must do it.”

           “You ought to do it of yourself,” George answers; “I know that very well, Mrs. Bagnet. I'll tell you how, one way and another, the blues have got to be too many for me. Here was this poor lad. 'Twas dull work to see him dying as he did, and not be able to help him.”

           “What do you mean, George? You did help him. You took him under your roof.”

           “I helped him so far, but that's little. I mean, Mrs. Bagnet, there he was, dying without ever having been taught much more than to know his right hand from his left. And he was too far gone to be helped out of that.”

           “Ah, poor creetur!” says Mrs. Bagnet.

           “Then,” says the trooper, not yet lighting his pipe, and passing his heavy hand over his hair, “that brought up Gridley in a man's mind. His was a bad case too, in a different way. Then the two got mixed up in a man's mind with a flinty old rascal who had to do with both. And to think of that rusty carbine, stock and barrel, standing up on end in his corner, hard, indifferent, taking everything so evenly—it made flesh and blood tingle, I do assure you.”

           “My advice to you,” returns Mrs. Bagnet, “is to light your pipe, and tingle that way. It's wholesomer and comfortabler, and better for the health altogether.”

           “You're right,” says the trooper, “and I'll do it!”

           So, he does it: though still with an indignant gravity that impresses the young Bagnets, and even causes Mr. Bagnet to defer the ceremony of drinking Mrs. Bagnet's health; always given by himself, on these occasions, in a speech of exemplary terseness. But the young ladies having composed what Mr. Bagnet is in the habit of calling “the mixtur,” and George's pipe being now in a glow, Mr. Bagnet considers it his duty to proceed to the toast of the evening. He addresses the assembled company in the following terms.

           “George. Woolwich. Quebec. Malta. This is her birthday. Take a day's march. And you won't find such another. Here's towards her!”

           The toast having been drunk with enthusiasm, Mrs. Bagnet returns thanks in a neat address of corresponding brevity. This model composition is limited to the three words “And wishing yours!” which the old girl follows up with a nod at everybody in succession, and a well regulated swig of the mixture. This she again follows up, on the present occasion, by the wholly unexpected exclamation, “Here's a man!”

           Here is a man, much to the astonishment of the little company, looking in at the parlor door. He is a sharp-eyed man—a quick keen man- and he takes in everybody's look at him, all at once, individually and collectively, in a manner that stamps him a remarkable man.



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           “George,” says the man, nodding, “how do you find yourself?”

           “Why, it's Bucket!” cries Mr. George.

           “Yes,” says the man, coming in and closing the door. “I was going down the street here, when I happened to stop and look in at the musical instruments in the shop window—a friend of mine is in wants of a second-hand wiolinceller, of a good tone—and I saw a party enjoying themselves, and I thought it was you in the corner; I thought I couldn't be mistaken. How goes the world with you, George, at the present moment? Pretty smooth? And with you, ma'am? And with you, governor? And Lord!” says Mr. Bucket, opening his arms, “here's children too! You may do anything with me, if you only show me children. Give us a kiss, my pets. No occasion to inquire who your father and mother is. Never saw such a likeness in my life!”

           Mr. Bucket, not unwelcome, has sat himself down next to Mr. George, and taken Quebec and Malta on his knees. “You pretty dears,” says Mr. Bucket, “give us another kiss; it's the only thing I'm greedy in. Lord bless you, how healthy you look! And what may be the ages of these two, ma'am? I should put 'em down at the figures of about eight and ten.”

           “You're very near, sir,” says Mrs. Bagnet.

           “I generally am near,” returns Mr. Bucket, “being so fond of children. A friend of mine has had nineteen of 'em, ma'am, all by one mother, and she's still as fresh and rosy as the morning. Not so much so as yourself, but, upon my soul, she comes near you! And what do you call these, my darling?” pursues Mr. Bucket, pinching Malta's cheek. “These are peaches, these are. Bless your heart! And what do you think about father? Do you think father could recommend a second-hand wiolinceller of a good tone for Mr. Bucket's friend, my dear? My name's Bucket. Ain't that a funny name?”

           These blandishments have entirely won the family heart. Mrs. Bagnet forgets the day to the extent of filling a pipe and a glass for Mr. Bucket, and waiting upon him hospitably. She would be glad to receive so pleasant a character under any circumstances, but she tells him that as a friend of George's she is particularly glad to see him this evening, for George has not been in his usual spirits.

           “Not in his usual spirits?” exclaims Mr. Bucket. “Why, I never heard of such a thing! What's the matter, George? You don't intend to tell me you've been out of spirits. What should you be out of spirits for? You haven't got anything on your mind, you know.”

           “Nothing particular,” returns the trooper.

           “I should think not,” rejoins Mr. Bucket. “What could you have on your mind, you know! And have these pets got anything on their minds, eh? Not they; but they'll be upon the minds of some of the young fellows, some of these days, and make 'em precious low-spirited. I ain't much of a prophet, but I can tell you that, ma'am.”

           Mrs. Bagnet, quite charmed, hopes Mr. Bucket has a family of his own.

           “There, ma'am!” says Mr. Bucket. “Would you believe it? No, I haven't. My wife, and a lodger, constitute my family. Mrs. Bucket is as fond of children as myself, and as wishful to have 'em; but no. So it is. Worldly goods are divided unequally, and man must not repine. What a very nice back yard, ma'am! Any way out of that yard, now?”



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           There is no way out of that yard.

           “Ain't there really?” says Mr. Bucket. “I should have thought there might have been. Well, I don't know as I ever saw a back yard that took my fancy more. Would you allow me to look at it? Thank you. No, I see there's no way out. But what a very good-proportioned yard it is!”

           Having cast his sharp eye all about it, Mr. Bucket returns to his chair next his friend Mr. George, and pats Mr. George affectionately on the shoulder.

           “How are your spirits, now, George?”

           “All right now,” returns the trooper.

           “That's your sort!” says Mr. Bucket. “Why should you ever have been otherwise? A man of your fine figure and constitution has no right to be out of spirits. That ain't a chest to be out of spirits, is it, ma'am? And you haven't got anything on your mind, you know, George; what could you have on your mind!”

           Somewhat harping on this phrase, considering the extent and variety of his conversational powers, Mr. Bucket twice or thrice repeats it to the pipe he lights, and with a listening face that is particularly his own. But the sun of his sociality soon recovers from this brief eclipse, and shines again.

           “And this is brother, is it, my dears?” says Mr. Bucket, referring to Quebec and Malta for information on the subject of young Woolwich. “And a nice brother he is—half brother I mean to say. For he's too old to be your boy, ma'am.”

           “I can certify at all events that he is not anybody else's,” returns Mrs. Bagnet, laughing.

           “Well, you do surprise me! Yet he's like you, there's no denying. Lord, he's wonderfully like you! But about what you may call the brow, you know, there his father comes out!” Mr. Bucket compares the faces with one eye shut up, while Mr. Bagnet smokes in stolid satisfaction.

           This is an opportunity for Mrs. Bagnet to inform him, that the boy is George's godson.

           “George's godson, is he?” rejoins Mr. Bucket, with extreme cordiality. “I must shake hands over again with George's godson. Godfather and godson do credit to one another. And what do you intend to make of him, ma'am? Does he show any turn for any musical instrument?”

           Mr. Bagnet suddenly interposes, “Plays the Fife. Beautiful.”

           “Would you believe it, governor,” says Mr. Bucket, struck by the coincidence, “that when I was a boy I played the fife myself? Not in a scientific way, as I expect he does, but by ear. Lord bless you! British Grenadiers—there's a tune to warm an Englishman up! Could you give us British Grenadiers, my fine fellow?”

           Nothing could be more acceptable to the little circle than this call upon young Woolwich, who immediately fetches his fife and performs the stirring melody: during which performance Mr. Bucket, much enlivened beats time, and never fails to come in sharp with the burden, “Brit Ish Gra-a-anadeers!” In short, he shows so much musical taste, that Mr. Bagnet actually takes his pipe from his lips to express his conviction that he is a singer. Mr. Bucket receives the harmonious impeachment



page 478 so modestly: confessing how that he did once chaunt a little, for the expression of the feelings of his own bosom, and with no presumptuous idea of entertaining his friends: that he is asked to sing. Not to be behind-hand in the sociality of the evening, he complies, and gives them “Believe me if all those endearing young charms.” This ballad, he informs Mrs. Bagnet, he considers to have been his most powerful ally in moving the heart of Mrs. Bucket when a maiden, and inducing her to approach the altar—Mr. Bucket's own words are, to come up to the scratch.

           This sparkling stranger is such a new and agreeable feature in the evening, that Mr. George, who testified no great emotions of pleasure on his entrance, begins, in spite of himself, to be rather proud of him. He is so friendly, is a man of so many resources, and so easy to get on with, that it is something to have made him known there. Mr. Bagnet becomes, after another pipe, so sensible of the value of his acquaintance, that he solicits the honor of his company on the old girl's next birth day. If anything can more closely cement and consolidate the esteem which Mr. Bucket has formed for the family, it is the discovery of the nature of the occasion. He drinks to Mrs. Bagnet with a warmth approaching to rapture, engages himself for that day twelvemonth more than thankfully, makes a memorandum of the day in a large black pocket-book with a girdle to it, and breathes a hope that Mrs. Bucket and Mrs. Bagnet may before then become, in a manner, sisters. As he says himself, what is public life without private ties? He is in his humble way a public man, but it is not in that sphere that he finds happiness. No, it must be sought within the confines of domestic bliss.

           It is natural, under these circumstances, that he, in his turn, should remember the friend to whom he is indebted for so promising an acquaintance. And he does. He keeps very close to him. Whatever the subject of the conversation, he keeps a tender eye upon him. He waits to walk home with him. He is interested in his very boots; and observes even them attentively, as Mr. George sits smoking cross-legged in the chimney corner.

           At length, Mr. George rises to depart. At the same moment Mr. Bucket, with the secret sympathy of friendship, also rises. He dotes upon the children to the last, and remembers the commission he has undertaken for an absent friend.

           “Respecting that second-hand wiolinceller, governor—could you recommend me such a thing?”

           “Scores,” says Mr. Bagnet.

           “I am obliged to you,” returns Mr. Bucket, squeezing his hand. “You're a friend in need. A good tone, mind you! My friend is a regular dab at it. Ecod, he saws away at Mo-zart and Handel, and the rest of the big-wigs, like a thorough workman. And you needn't,” says Mr. Bucket, in a considerate and private voice, “you needn't commit yourself to too low a figure, governor. I don't want to pay too large a price for my friend; but I want you to have your proper percentage, and be remunerated for your loss of time. That is but fair. Every man must live, and ought to it.”

           Mr. Bagnet shakes his head at the old girl, to the effect that they have found a jewel of price.



page 479

           “Suppose I was to give you a look in, say at half arter ten to-morrow morning. Perhaps you could name the figures of a few wiolincellers of a good tone?” says Mr. Bucket.

           Nothing easier. Mr. and Mrs. Bagnet both engage to have the requisite information ready, and even hint to each other at the practicability of having a small stock collected there for approval.

           “Thank you,” says Mr. Bucket, “thank you. Good night, ma'am. Good night, governor. Good night, darlings. I am much obliged to you for one of the pleasantest evenings I ever spent in my life.”

           They, on the contrary, are much obliged to him for the pleasure he has given them in his company; and so they part with many expressions of good-will on both sides. “Now, George, old boy,” says Mr. Bucket, taking his arm at the shop door, “come along!” As they go down the little street, and the Bagnets pause for a minute looking after them, Mrs. Bagnet remarks to the worthy Lignum that Mr. Bucket “almost clings to George like, and seems to be really fond of him.”

           The neighbouring streets being narrow and ill paved, it is a little inconvenient to walk there two abreast and arm in arm. Mr. George therefore soon proposes to walk singly. But Mr. Bucket, who cannot make up his mind to relinquish his friendly hold, replies, “Wait half a minute, George. I should wish to speak to you first.” Immediately afterwards, he twists him into a public-house and into a parlor, where he confronts him, and claps his own back against the door.

           “Now, George,” says Mr. Bucket. “Duty is duty, and friendship is friendship. I never want the two to clash, if I can help it. I have endeavoured to make things pleasant to-night, and I put it to you whether I have done it or not. You must consider yourself in custody, George.”

           “Custody? What for?” returns the trooper, thunderstruck.

           “Now, George,” says Mr. Bucket, urging a sensible view of the case upon him with his fat forefinger, “duty, as you know very well, is one thing, and conversation is another. It's my duty to inform you that any observations you may make will be liable to be used against you. Therefore, George, be careful what you say. You don't happen to have heard of a murder.”

           “Murder!”

           “Now, George,” says Mr. Bucket, keeping his forefinger in an impressive state of action, “bear in mind what I've said to you. I ask you nothing. You've been in low spirits this afternoon. I say, you don't happen to have heard of a murder.”

           “No. Where has there been a murder?”

           “Now, George,” says Mr. Bucket, “don't you go and commit yourself. I'm a going to tell you what I want you for. There has been a murder in Lincoln's Inn Fields—gentleman of the name of Tulkinghorn. He was shot last night. I want you for that.”

           The trooper sinks upon a seat behind him, and great drops start out upon his forehead, and a deadly pallor overspreads his face.

           “Bucket! It's not possible that Mr. Tulkinghorn has been killed, and that you suspect me?

           “George,” returns Mr. Bucket, keeping his forefinger going, “it is certainly possible, because it's the case. This deed was done last night



page 480 at ten o'clock. Now, you know where you were last night at ten o'clock, and you'll be able to prove it, no doubt.”

           “Last night? Last night?” repeats the trooper, thoughtfully. Then it flashes upon him. “Why, great Heaven, I was there, last night!”

           “So I have understood, George,” returns Mr. Bucket, with great deliberation. “So I have understood. Likewise you've been very often there. You've been seen hanging about the place, and you've been heard more than once in a wrangle with him, and it's possible—I don't say it's certainly so, mind you, but it's possible—that he may have been heard to call you a threatening, murdering, dangerous fellow.”

           The trooper gasps as if he would admit it all, if he could speak.

           “Now, George,” continues Mr. Bucket, putting his hat upon the table, with an air of business rather in the upholstery way than otherwise, “My wish is, as it has been all the evening, to make things pleasant. I tell you plainly there's a reward out, of a hundred guineas, offered by Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet. You and me have always been pleasant together; but I have got a duty to discharge; and if that hundred guineas is to be made, it may as well be made by me as by another man. On all of which accounts, I should hope it was clear to you that I must have you, and that I'm damned if I don't have you. Am I to call in any assistance, or is the trick done?”

           Mr. George has recovered himself, and stands up like a soldier. “Come,” he says; “I am ready.”

           “George,” continues Mr. Bucket, “wait a bit!” With his upholsterer manner, as if the trooper were a window to be fitted up, he takes from his pocket a pair of handcuffs. “This is a serious charge, George, and such is my duty.”

           The trooper flushes angrily, and hesitates a moment; but holds out his two hands, clasped together, and says, “There! Put them on!”

           Mr. Bucket adjusts them in a moment. “How do you find them? Are they comfortable? If not, say so, for I wish to make things as pleasant as is consistent with my duty, and I've got another pair in my pocket.” This remark he offers like a most respectable tradesman, anxious to execute an order neatly, and to the perfect satisfaction of his customer. “They'll do as they are? Very well! Now you see, George;” he takes a cloak from a corner, and begins adjusting it about the trooper's neck; “I was mindful of your feelings when I come out, and brought this on purpose. There! Who's the wiser?”

           “Only I,” returns the trooper; “but, as I know it, do me one more good turn, and pull my hat over my eyes.”

           “Really, though! Do you mean it? Ain't it a pity? It looks so.”

           “I can't look chance men in the face with these things on,” Mr. George hurriedly replies. “Do, for God's sake, pull my hat forward.”

           So strongly entreated, Mr. Bucket complies, puts his own hat on, and conducts his prize into the streets; the trooper marching on as steadily as usual, though with his head less erect; and Mr. Bucket steering him with his elbow over the crossings and up the turnings.


A DESCRIPTIVE SKETCH
BY
MRS. S. C. HALL,
OF THE ENGRAVING
OF THE
VILLAGE PASTOR.
From a Picture by W. P. FRITH, Esq. R.A.

LONDON:

PUBLISHED BY LLOYD BROTHERS, AND CO., 22, LUDGATE HILL.





page 1

THE VILLAGE PASTOR.

“The service past, around the pious man, With ready zeal, each honest rustic ran; E'en children followed, with endearing wile, And pluckt his gown to share the good man's smile.”

           IT is a great and a delightful privilege to be able to introduce into our homes so delicious an episode in genuine English life; to feel, when we look upon Mr. Frith's charming picture, that it is no fiction,—and that although the dresses appertain to a past century, the characters—the love, and faith, and innocence—are with us still. We pray they may continue to be so as long as England exists.

           There are those who insinuate that the hope and trust which the English peasantry once gave to their “spiritual pastors and masters” are no more—that it is with the poetry of the past, and has little or nothing to do with the realities of the present; but it is not so: those who send forth these tales, and seek to pollute the fresh and pure waters of life by evil principles and doubtful imaginings, know nothing of the actual state of our rural districts; but write of what they desire, rather than of what they know. It is no doubt certain,



page 2 that in the immediate neighbourhoods of our large cities, the pastor's influence is not as great as it is in those far-away villages where the railroad whistle is as distant as the eagle's scream, and the agriculturist barely draws by labour sufficient from the soil to supply his moderate wants; there the Vicar is the poor man's bodily and mental physician;—he is emphatically his “friend:”—he receives him at the font, weds him at the altar, and consigns him to the grave;
“— he is his Oracle.”
in the beautiful and forcible words of the poet who inspired Mr. Frith with one of his purest and most exquisite fancies: he

“Allures to brighter worlds, and leads the way.”

           Many portions of the picture as drawn by Goldsmith of the country Clergyman are so charming, that they merit, according to the old phrase, to be “written in golden letters:”—

“Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride,
And e'en his failings leaned to virtue's side;
But in his duty prompt at every call,
He watch'd and wept, he pray'd and felt for all:
And as a bird each fond endearment tries,
To tempt its new fledged offspring to the skies,
He tried each art, reproved each dull delay,
Allured to brighter worlds, and led the way.”

           The whole poem is exquisitely beautiful and true: we extract only that portion which was more immediately the source of Mr. Frith's inspiration; yet how much of the detail do we not owe to the creative genius of the painter!



page 3

           The centre of the foreground strongly expresses the poet's meaning:—

“E'en children followed with endearing wile,
And pluckt his gown to share the good man's smile.”

           The benevolence of the Pastor, and the loveliness of the child escaping from her mother's hand to “pluck his gown,” is full of the poet's fervour and the painter's feeling. The child, whose full fresh beauty contrasts so touchingly with the “beauty of age” as personified in the old Clergyman, is in itself a picture; and while the mother's hand makes a feint to withdraw her darling from the good man's “gown,” there is an expression of happiness in her eye and smile, which is at once “motherly,” and indicative of her veneration for her Pastor. The husband's attitude and bearing is in admirable keeping with the scene; and the young mother in the background, holding up her infant with joy and pride, while endeavouring to direct its attention to the Pastor, is one faithful episode among the many episodes which Mr. Frith has introduced with such admirable skill and exquisite feeling. Behind the little triumphant child who will be noticed, is another, whose face expresses a combination of the most earnest veneration for the Pastor, and astonishment at its little companion's presumption; this figure is in shadow, and makes an admirable background to the foremost child, while it is of much value in the group. Every face is instinct with life, and expressive of a distinctive character; to the right of the Clergyman is a very stunted little one, who, grasping her grand-dame's apron, glances timidly upwards, the old woman is leaning with crossed hands on the top of her staff;



page 4 there is a world of affectionate and almost familiar respect in her eyes, as they should say “Bless him! I've heard him these many Sabbaths; but he is hale and hearty still,—and so he ought to be,—he is not as old as I am! no, no, thank God! he is not old!”

           The background space between the Pastor and this village dame is filled up by three heads, and though in the distance, they lose nothing of their interest: there is the handsome haughty face of the young squire, contrasting with that of the gentle and loving wife, pleading with him on behalf of an old man, whose bare head, meagre face, and anxious upturned eyes, shew the nature and object of his petition. It will not, however, be granted,—that haughty brow, and firm-set mouth, will not relax! Near the churchyard gate, where the ascending steps show the way out, is a group of old calculating men, engaged, it may be, in a theological disquisition: and it may be that one, the orator of the party, is expounding the text to his less-gifted neighbours,—to that open-mouthed “Hodge,” who looks as if he could “discuss” nothing but Bacon; and to a sharp, clever, old gentleman in spectacles, the very personification of a doubt: or it may be, that secular feelings have for a time rendered them forgetful—even at the gateway, and while yet amongst the graves—of “the Word” which has been so faithfully rendered by the shepherd of the flock,—that flock going forth into the world, many with good resolves, to be tried and shaken by that day week: or it may be, again I say, strengthened so as to fight the good fight bravely, seeking the Pastor within the sanctuary of his own peaceful home, there to gird on new armour, and strengthen the old,—having resort



page 5 to prayer, and pouring out the soul in thanksgiving, beneath the blessing of the “good man's smile”—the smile of him who has frequently realized one of the joys of heaven within his simple vicarage, feeling more joy “over one sinner that repenteth, than over the ninety-and-nine just men, who need no repentance.”

           Behind the argumentative group, there are two,—little more than boy and girl,—not brother and sister, certainly not; two—on the threshold of the earthly love, that was blessed by God for his creatures. The youth—comely, handsome, full of earnestness, looking if not making love; the words are naught, but the manner—the manner tells the tale; and the girl, so lowly-looking and lovely,—not “casting eyes” around for admiration,—but modest and devout: the Pastor's words ringing upon that young heart which is beating with a new-found emotion. Never was a gentle love-passage more sweetly rendered; earthly love though it be, it is so truly hallowed by the simplicity and meekness of the maiden, and the respectful greeting of the youth, that it is no way out of place or irreverent in that fine old churchyard.

           But the most touching episode in this painted story, which else had been all too sunny, is what by the artist's skill is rendered of so much advantage to it, as a composition; giving firmness and breadth to the foreground: seated on a tombstone, is a widow, who has no greeting to give her spiritual teacher; her aged eyes are so full of tears that she dares not raise them; her heart so overflowing with sorrow, that she cannot speak; the world has not gone ill with her; she has all that she can desire of humble prosperity, she is well clad,



page 6 well fed, well “to do;” and yet beneath the pressure of that dear head, learning against her with the deepest, the most endearing, the most powerful of all earthly passions, her heart trembles; she knows that her best, her beautiful, her holy child,—the daughter bequeathed to her by her husband on his death-bed, cannot be long with her. She knows that her daughter is called HOME!

           It is impossible by description to do justice to the sentiment of these two figures. The daughter's face is seen only in profile, so that its almost transparent thinness is marked by the sharp but delicate outline of the features; the hair looks “astray” and damp; the eyes, uplifted to the preacher's, are bright and excited; the thin hand falling listlessly upon her dress, says as eloquently as if it had the power of speech, “I am worn of the world, and my strength is faded;” the air comes wooingly unto those heavy tresses, for she could not bear the pressure of the hood, which is thrown back from her throbbing brow. She desired so earnestly to hear “the good man” preach once more, that her mother has taken her to church; but she could not remain there. The words conveyed no meaning to her soul, thirsty for the truth; for her head swam, and before her eyes floated a mist; and the music all too much, made her think she had passed into the regions of the blest, her mother still beside her, and there the Angels —a heaven full of Angels — chaunting Hosannas to their golden harps, overwhelmed her; and, fainting on her mother's shoulder, she was led from God's house—not to her home as yet—no, she would wait her Pastor's coming forth, and see him once again in the old



page 7 Churchyard, where she too, in days gone by,—a bright, sweet, sunny child, had
“pluckt his gown
To share the good man's smile.”

           The contrast between the faded girl and the budding child is highly poetic, and is rendered with the happy skill of a great artist. Such lessons in life can be given—either with pen or pencil—only by the hand of Genius, sanctifying the “things of every-day” to a high and holy purpose.

           Mr. Frith is essentially a painter of English life; which, though he never so much refines upon as to depart from its essential character and qualities, in his hands is purified from every taint of coarseness or vulgarity. He has a great deal of sentiment, which fortunately is based upon the soundest principles of art: he could not caricature; his nature is to refine; his sound and matured judgment prevents that refinement from shrinking into weakness. In his hands a peasant is a rustic, not a boor; and his combinations are as true and beautiful, as they are effective.

           We owe him much for much enjoyment: we read with delight—and for instruction—all the productions of his vigorous and graceful pencil: but in the work of which we now write, he supplies us with a theme for thought as well as joy: making glad the heart, while he exhibits the Artist as a great and triumphant moral teacher.

           Mr. Frith has been fortunate in the Engraver, with whom he is here allied. Mr. William Holl has been worthily associated with him: he has evidently loved his task: the whole print is executed with masterly



page 8 freedom, yet with much care; and the result of this union, is a publication of rare interest and value—considered not only as a SUBJECT, but as a work of Art.

           The Plate is engraved, including a suitable margin for framing, 36 by 28½ inches; and forms an admirable companion to “An Old English Merry Making,” by the same talented Painter and Engraver,—and is published as follows:—

          

Artist's Proofs on India Paper 8 8 0
Proofs before Letters on India Paper 6 6 0
Proofs after Letters on India Paper 4 4 0
India Prints, Open Letters 3 3 0
Plain Prints, Open Letters 2 2 0



page [9]

           MESSRS. LLOYD BROTHERS & CO.

           185  

           22, Ludgate Hill,
You will please to secure for me a Copy of the Engraving of “THE VILLAGE PASTOR,” of the class of impression against which my Initials are placed.

          

Artists' Proofs on India Paper 8 8 0
Proofs before Letters on India Paper 6 6 0
Proofs after Letters on India Paper 4 4 0
Prints on India Paper 3 3 0
Plain Prints 2 2  

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