Part 4 out of 21
The titles on the backs of his books have retired into the binding;
everything that can have a lock has got one; no key is visible.
Very few loose papers are about. He has some manuscript near him,
but is not referring to it. With the round top of an inkstand and
two broken bits of sealing-wax he is silently and slowly working out
whatever train of indecision is in his mind. Now tbe inkstand top
is in the middle, now the red bit of sealing-wax, now the black bit.
That's not it. Mr. Tulkinghorn must gather them all up and begin
Here, beneath the painted ceiling, with foreshortened Allegory
staring down at his intrusion as if it meant to swoop upon him, and
he cutting it dead, Mr. Tulkinghorn has at once his house and
office. He keeps no staff, only one middle-aged man, usually a
little out at elbows, who sits in a high pew in the hall and is
rarely overburdened with business. Mr. Tulkinghorn is not in a
common way. He wants no clerks. He is a great reservoir of
confidences, not to be so tapped. His clients want HIM; he is all
in all. Drafts that he requires to be drawn are drawn by special-
pleaders in the temple on mysterious instructions; fair copies that
he requires to be made are made at the stationers', expense being no
consideration. The middle-aged man in the pew knows scarcely more
of the affairs of the peerage than any crossing-sweeper in Holborn.
The red bit, the black bit, the inkstand top, the other inkstand
top, the little sand-box. So! You to the middle, you to the right,
you to the left. This train of indecision must surely be worked out
now or never. Now! Mr. Tulkinghorn gets up, adjusts his
spectacles, puts on his hat, puts the manuscript in his pocket, goes
out, tells the middle-aged man out at elbows, "I shall be back
presently." Very rarely tells him anything more explicit.
Mr. Tulkinghorn goes, as the crow came--not quite so straight, but
nearly--to Cook's Court, Cursitor Street. To Snagsby's, Law-
Stationer's, Deeds engrossed and copied, Law-Writing executed in all
its branches, &c., &c., &c.
It is somewhere about five or six o'clock in the afternoon, and a
balmy fragrance of warm tea hovers in Cook's Court. It hovers about
Snagsby's door. The hours are early there: dinner at half-past one
and supper at half-past nine. Mr. Snagsby was about to descend into
the subterranean regions to take tea when he looked out of his door
just now and saw the crow who was out late.
"Master at home?"
Guster is minding the shop, for the 'prentices take tea in the
kitchen with Mr. and Mrs. Snagsby; consequently, the robe-maker's
two daughters, combing their curls at the two glasses in the two
second-floor windows of the opposite house, are not driving the two
'prentices to distraction as they fondly suppose, but are merely
awakening the unprofitable admiration of Guster, whose hair won't
grow, and never would, and it is confidently thought, never will.
"Master at home?" says Mr. Tulkinghorn.
Master is at home, and Guster will fetch him. Guster disappears,
glad to get out of the shop, which she regards with mingled dread
and veneration as a storehouse of awful implements of the great
torture of the law--a place not to be entered after the gas is
Mr. Snagsby appears, greasy, warm, herbaceous, and chewing. Bolts a
bit of bread and butter. Says, "Bless my soul, sir! Mr.
"I want half a word with you, Snagsby."
"Certainly, sir! Dear me, sir, why didn't you send your young man
round for me? Pray walk into the back shop, sir." Snagsby has
brightened in a moment.
The confined room, strong of parchment-grease, is warehouse,
counting-house, and copying-office. Mr. Tulkinghorn sits, facing
round, on a stool at the desk.
"Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Snagsby."
"Yes, sir." Mr. Snagsby turns up the gas and coughs behind his
hand, modestly anticipating profit. Mr. Snagsby, as a timid man, is
accustomed to cough with a variety of expressions, and so to save
"You copied some affidavits in that cause for me lately."
"Yes, sir, we did."
"There was one of them," says Mr. Tulkinghorn, carelessly feeling--
tight, unopenable oyster of the old school!--in the wrong coat-
pocket, "the handwriting of which is peculiar, and I rather like.
As I happened to be passing, and thought I had it about me, I looked
in to ask you--but I haven't got it. No matter, any other time will
do. Ah! here it is! I looked in to ask you who copied this."
'"Who copied this, sir?" says Mr. Snagsby, taking it, laying it flat
on the desk, and separating all the sheets at once with a twirl and
a twist of the left hand peculiar to lawstationers. "We gave this
out, sir. We were giving out rather a large quantity of work just
at that time. I can tell you in a moment who copied it, sir, by
referring to my book."
Mr. Snagsby takes his book down from the safe, makes another bolt of
the bit of bread and butter which seemed to have stopped short, eyes
the affidavit aside, and brings his right forefinger travelling down
a page of the book, "Jewby--Packer--Jarndyce."
"Jarndyce! Here we are, sir," says Mr. Snagsby. "To be sure! I
might have remembered it. This was given out, sir, to a writer who
lodges just over on the opposite side of the lane."
Mr. Tulkinghorn has seen the entry, found it before the law-
stationer, read it while the forefinger was coming down the hill.
"WHAT do you call him? Nemo?" says Mr. Tulkinghorn. "Nemo, sir.
Here it is. Forty-two folio. Given out on the Wednesday night at
eight o'clock, brought in on the Thursday morning at half after
"Nemo!" repeats Mr. Tulkinghorn. "Nemo is Latin for no one."
"It must be English for some one, sir, I think," Mr. Snagsby submits
with his deferential cough. "It is a person's name. Here it is,
you see, sir! Forty-two folio. Given out Wednesday night, eight
o'clock; brought in Thursday morning, half after nine."
The tail of Mr. Snagsby's eye becomes conscious of the head of Mrs.
Snagsby looking in at the shop-door to know what he means by
deserting his tea. Mr. Snagsby addresses an explanatory cough to
Mrs. Snagsby, as who should say, "My dear, a customer!"
"Half after nine, sir," repeats Mr. Snagsby. "Our law-writers, who
live by job-work, are a queer lot; and this may not be his name, but
it's the name he goes by. I remember now, sir, that he gives it in
a written advertisement he sticks up down at the Rule Office, and
the King's Bench Office, and the Judges' Chambers, and so forth.
You know the kind of document, sir--wanting employ?"
Mr. Tulkinghorn glances through the little window at the back of
Coavinses', the sheriff's officer's, where lights shine in
Coavinses' windows. Coavinses' coffee-room is at the back, and the
shadows of several gentlemen under a cloud loom cloudily upon the
blinds. Mr. Snagsby takes the opportunity of slightly turning his
head to glance over his shoulder at his little woman and to make
apologetic motions with his mouth to this effect: "Tul-king-horn--
"Have you given this man work before?" asks Mr. Tulkinghorn.
"Oh, dear, yes, sir! Work of yours."
"Thinking of more important matters, I forget where you said he
"Across the lane, sir. In fact, he lodges at a--" Mr. Snagsby makes
another bolt, as if the bit of bread and buffer were insurmountable
"--at a rag and bottle shop."
"Can you show me the place as I go back?"
"With the greatest pleasure, sir!"
Mr. Snagsby pulls off his sleeves and his grey coat, pulls on his
black coat, takes his hat from its peg. "Oh! Here is my little
woman!" he says aloud. "My dear, will you be so kind as to tell one
of the lads to look after the shop while I step across the lane with
Mr. Tulkinghorn? Mrs. Snagsby, sir--I shan't be two minutes, my
Mrs. Snagsby bends to the lawyer, retires behind the counter, peeps
at them through the window-blind, goes softly into the back office,
refers to the entries in the book still lying open. Is evidently
"You will find that the place is rough, sir," says Mr. Snagsby,
walking deferentially in the road and leaving the narrow pavement to
the lawyer; "and the party is very rough. But they're a wild lot in
general, sir. The advantage of this particular man is that he never
wants sleep. He'll go at it right on end if you want him to, as
long as ever you like."
It is quite dark now, and the gas-lamps have acquired their full
effect. Jostling against clerks going to post the day's letters,
and against counsel and attorneys going home to dinner, and against
plaintiffs and defendants and suitors of all sorts, and against the
general crowd, in whose way the forensic wisdom of ages has
interposed a million of obstacles to the transaction of the
commonest business of life; diving through law and equity, and
through that kindred mystery, the street mud, which is made of
nobody knows what and collects about us nobody knows whence or how--
we only knowing in general that when there is too much of it we find
it necessary to shovel it away--the lawyer and the law-stationer
come to a rag and bottle shop and general emporium of much
disregarded merchandise, lying and being in the shadow of the wall
of Lincoln's Inn, and kept, as is announced in paint, to all whom it
may concern, by one Krook.
"This is where he lives, sir," says the law-stationer.
"This is where he lives, is it?" says the lawyer unconcernedly.
"Are you not going in, sir?"
"No, thank you, no; I am going on to the Fields at present. Good
evening. Thank you!" Mr. Snagsby lifts his hat and returns to his
little woman and his tea.
But Mr. Tulkinghorn does not go on to the Fields at present. He
goes a short way, turns back, comes again to the shop of Mr. Krook,
and enters it straight. It is dim enough, with a blot-headed candle
or so in the windows, and an old man and a cat sitting in the back
part by a fire. The old man rises and comes forward, with another
blot-headed candle in his hand.
"Pray is your lodger within?"
"Male or female, sir?" says Mr. Krook.
"Male. The person who does copying."
Mr. Krook has eyed his man narrowly. Knows him by sight. Has an
indistinct impression of his aristocratic repute.
"Did you wish to see him, sir?"
"It's what I seldom do myself," says Mr. Krook with a grin. "Shall
I call him down? But it's a weak chance if he'd come, sir!"
"I'll go up to him, then," says Mr. Tulkinghorn.
"Second floor, sir. Take the candle. Up there!" Mr. Krook, with
his cat beside him, stands at the bottom of the staircase, looking
after Mr. Tulkinghorn. "Hi-hi!" he says when Mr. Tulkinghorn has
nearly disappeared. The lawyer looks down over the hand-rail. The
cat expands her wicked mouth and snarls at him.
"Order, Lady Jane! Behave yourself to visitors, my lady! You know
what they say of my lodger?" whispers Krook, going up a step or two.
"What do they say of him?"
"They say he has sold himself to the enemy, but you and I know
better--he don't buy. I'll tell you what, though; my lodger is so
black-humoured and gloomy that I believe he'd as soon make that
bargain as any other. Don't put him out, sir. That's my advice!"
Mr. Tulkinghorn with a nod goes on his way. He comes to the dark
door on the second floor. He knocks, receives no answer, opens it,
and accidentally extinguishes his candle in doing so.
The air of the room is almost bad enough to have extinguished it if
he had not. It is a small room, nearly black with soot, and grease,
and dirt. In the rusty skeleton of a grate, pinched at the middle
as if poverty had gripped it, a red coke fire burns low. In the
corner by the chimney stand a deal table and a broken desk, a
wilderness marked with a rain of ink. In another corner a ragged
old portmanteau on one of the two chairs serves for cabinet or
wardrobe; no larger one is needed, for it collapses like the cheeks
of a starved man. The floor is bare, except that one old mat,
trodden to shreds of rope-yarn, lies perishing upon the hearth. No
curtain veils the darkness of the night, but the discoloured
shutters are drawn together, and through the two gaunt holes pierced
in them, famine might be staring in--the banshee of the man upon the
For, on a low bed opposite the fire, a confusion of dirty patchwork,
lean-ribbed ticking, and coarse sacking, the lawyer, hesitating just
within the doorway, sees a man. He lies there, dressed in shirt and
trousers, with bare feet. He has a yellow look in the spectral
darkness of a candle that has guttered down until the whole length
of its wick (still burning) has doubled over and left a tower of
winding-sheet above it. His hair is ragged, mingling with his
whiskers and his beard--the latter, ragged too, and grown, like the
scum and mist around him, in neglect. Foul and filthy as the room
is, foul and filthy as the air is, it is not easy to perceive what
fumes those are which most oppress the senses in it; but through the
general sickliness and faintness, and the odour of stale tobacco,
there comes into the lawyer's mouth the bitter, vapid taste of
"Hallo, my friend!" he cries, and strikes his iron candlestick
against the door.
He thinks he has awakened his friend. He lies a little turned away,
but his eyes are surely open.
"Hallo, my friend!" he cries again. "Hallo! Hallo!"
As he rattles on the door, the candle which has drooped so long goes
out and leaves him in the dark, with the gaunt eyes in the shutters
staring down upon the bed.
Our Dear Brother
A touch on the lawyer's wrinkled hand as he stands in the dark room,
irresolute, makes him start and say, "What's that?"
"It's me," returns the old man of the house, whose breath is in his
ear. "Can't you wake him?"
"What have you done with your candle?"
"It's gone out. Here it is."
Krook takes it, goes to the fire, stoops over the red embers, and
tries to get a light. The dying ashes have no light to spare, and
his endeavours are vain. Muttering, after an ineffectual call to
his lodger, that he will go downstairs and bring a lighted candle
from the shop, the old man departs. Mr. Tulkinghorn, for some new
reason that he has, does not await his return in the room, but on
the stairs outside.
The welcome light soon shines upon the wall, as Krook comes slowly
up with his green-eyed cat following at his heels. "Does the man
generally sleep like this?" inquired the lawyer in a low voice.
"Hi! I don't know," says Krook, shaking his head and lifting his
eyebrows. "I know next to nothing of his habits except that he
keeps himself very close."
Thus whispering, they both go in together. As the light goes in,
the great eyes in the shutters, darkening, seem to close. Not so
the eyes upon the bed.
"God save us!" exclaims Mr. Tulkinghorn. "He is dead!" Krook drops
the heavy hand he has taken up so suddenly that the arm swings over
They look at one another for a moment.
"Send for some doctor! Call for Miss Flite up the stairs, sir.
Here's poison by the bed! Call out for Flite, will you?" says
Krook, with his lean hands spread out above the body like a
Mr. Tulkinghorn hurries to the landing and calls, "Miss Flite!
Flite! Make haste, here, whoever you are! Flite!" Krook follows
him with his eyes, and while he is calling, finds opportunity to
steal to the old portmanteau and steal back again.
"Run, Flite, run! The nearest doctor! Run!" So Mr. Krook
addresses a crazy little woman who is his female lodger, who appears
and vanishes in a breath, who soon returns accompanied by a testy
medical man brought from his dinner, with a broad, snuffy upper lip
and a broad Scotch tongue.
"Ey! Bless the hearts o' ye," says the medical man, looking up at
them after a moment's examination. "He's just as dead as Phairy!"
Mr. Tulkinghorn (standing by the old portmanteau) inquires if he has
been dead any time.
"Any time, sir?" says the medical gentleman. "It's probable he wull
have been dead aboot three hours."
"About that time, I should say," observes a dark young man on the
other side of the bed.
"Air you in the maydickle prayfession yourself, sir?" inquires the
The dark young man says yes.
"Then I'll just tak' my depairture," replies the other, "for I'm nae
gude here!" With which remark he finishes his brief attendance and
returns to finish his dinner.
The dark young surgeon passes the candle across and across the face
and carefully examines the law-writer, who has established his
pretensions to his name by becoming indeed No one.
"I knew this person by sight very well," says he. "He has purchased
opium of me for the last year and a half. Was anybody present
related to him?" glancing round upon the three bystanders.
"I was his landlord," grimly answers Krook, taking the candle from
the surgeon's outstretched hand. "He told me once I was the nearest
relation he had."
"He has died," says the surgeon, "of an over-dose of opium, there is
no doubt. The room is strongly flavoured with it. There is enough
here now," taking an old teapot from Mr. Krook, "to kill a dozen
"Do you think he did it on purpose?" asks Krook.
"Took the over-dose?"
"Yes!" Krook almost smacks his lips with the unction of a horrible
"I can't say. I should think it unlikely, as he has been in the
habit of taking so much. But nobody can tell. He was very poor, I
"I suppose he was. His room--don't look rich," says Krook, who
might have changed eyes with his cat, as he casts his sharp glance
around. "But I have never been in it since he had it, and he was
too close to name his circumstances to me."
"Did he owe you any rent?"
"He will never pay it!" says the young man, resuming his
examination. "It is beyond a doubt that he is indeed as dead as
Pharaoh; and to judge from his appearance and condition, I should
think it a happy release. Yet he must have been a good figure when
a youth, and I dare say, good-looking." He says this, not
unfeelingly, while sitting on the bedstead's edge with his face
towards that other face and his hand upon the region of the heart.
"I recollect once thinking there was something in his manner,
uncouth as it was, that denoted a fall in life. Was that so?" he
continues, looking round.
Krook replies, "You might as well ask me to describe the ladies
whose heads of hair I have got in sacks downstairs. Than that he
was my lodger for a year and a half and lived--or didn't live--by
law-writing, I know no more of him."
During this dialogue Mr. Tulkinghorn has stood aloof by the old
portmanteau, with his hands behind him, equally removed, to all
appearance, from all three kinds of interest exhibited near the
bed--from the young surgeon's professional interest in death,
noticeable as being quite apart from his remarks on the deceased as
an individual; from the old man's unction; and the little crazy
woman's awe. His imperturbable face has been as inexpressive as
his rusty clothes. One could not even say he has been thinking all
this while. He has shown neither patience nor impatience, nor
attention nor abstraction. He has shown nothing but his shell. As
easily might the tone of a delicate musical instrument be inferred
from its case, as the tone of Mr. Tulkinghorn from his case.
He now interposes, addressing the young surgeon in his unmoved,
"I looked in here," he observes, "just before you, with the
intention of giving this deceased man, whom I never saw alive, some
employment at his trade of copying. I had heard of him from my
stationer--Snagsby of Cook's Court. Since no one here knows
anything about him, it might be as well to send for Snagsby. Ah!"
to the little crazy woman, who has often seen him in court, and
whom he has often seen, and who proposes, in frightened dumb-show,
to go for the law-stationer. "Suppose you do!"
While she is gone, the surgeon abandons his hopeless investigation
and covers its subject with the patchwork counterpane. Mr. Krook
and he interchange a word or two. Mr. Tulkinghorn says nothing,
but stands, ever, near the old portmanteau.
Mr. Snagsby arrives hastily in his grey coat and his black sleeves.
"Dear me, dear me," he says; "and it has come to this, has it!
Bless my soul!"
"Can you give the person of the house any information about this
unfortunate creature, Snagsby?" inquires Mr. Tulkinghorn. "He was
in arrears with his rent, it seems. And he must be buried, you
"Well, sir," says Mr. Snagsby, coughing his apologetic cough behind
his hand, "I really don't know what advice I could offer, except
sending for the beadle."
"I don't speak of advice," returns Mr. Tulkinghorn. "I could
"No one better, sir, I am sure," says Mr. Snagsby, with his
"I speak of affording some clue to his connexions, or to where he
came from, or to anything concerning him."
"I assure you, sir," says Mr. Snagsby after prefacing his reply
with his cough of general propitiation, "that I no more know where
he came from than I know--"
"Where he has gone to, perhaps," suggests the surgeon to help him
A pause. Mr. Tulkinghorn looking at the law-stationer. Mr. Krook,
with his mouth open, looking for somebody to speak next.
"As to his connexions, sir," says Mr. Snagsby, "if a person was to
say to me, "Snagsby, here's twenty thousand pound down, ready for
you in the Bank of England if you'll only name one of 'em,' I
couldn't do it, sir! About a year and a half ago--to the best of my
belief, at the time when he first came to lodge at the present rag
and bottle shop--"
"That was the time!" says Krook with a nod.
"About a year and a half ago," says Mr. Snagsby, strengthened, "he
came into our place one morning after breakfast, and finding my
little woman (which I name Mrs. Snagsby when I use that appellation)
in our shop, produced a specimen of his handwriting and gave her to
understand that he was in want of copying work to do and was, not to
put too fine a point upon it," a favourite apology for plain
speaking with Mr. Snagsby, which he always offers with a sort of
argumentative frankness, "hard up! My little woman is not in
general partial to strangers, particular--not to put too fine a
point upon it--when they want anything. But she was rather took by
something about this person, whether by his being unshaved, or by
his hair being in want of attention, or by what other ladies'
reasons, I leave you to judge; and she accepted of the specimen, and
likewise of the address. My little woman hasn't a good ear for
names," proceeds Mr. Snagsby after consulting his cough of
consideration behind his hand, "and she considered Nemo equally the
same as Nimrod. In consequence of which, she got into a habit of
saying to me at meals, 'Mr. Snagsby, you haven't found Nimrod any
work yet!' or 'Mr. Snagsby, why didn't you give that eight and
thirty Chancery folio in Jarndyce to Nimrod?' or such like. And
that is the way he gradually fell into job-work at our place; and
that is the most I know of him except that he was a quick hand, and
a hand not sparing of night-work, and that if you gave him out, say,
five and forty folio on the Wednesday night, you would have it
brought in on the Thursday morning. All of which--" Mr. Snagsby
concludes by politely motioning with his hat towards the bed, as
much as to add, "I have no doubt my honourable friend would confirm
if he were in a condition to do it."
"Hadn't you better see," says Mr. Tulkinghorn to Krook, "whether he
had any papers that may enlighten you? There will be an inquest,
and you will be asked the question. You can read?"
"No, I can't," returns the old man with a sudden grin.
"Snagsby," says Mr. Tulkinghorn, "look over the room for him. He
will get into some trouble or difficulty otherwise. Being here,
I'll wait if you make haste, and then I can testify on his behalf,
if it should ever be necessary, that all was fair and right. If you
will hold the candle for Mr. Snagsby, my friend, he'll soon see
whether there is anything to help you."
"In the first place, here's an old portmanteau, sir," says Snagsby.
Ah, to be sure, so there is! Mr. Tulkinghorn does not appear to
have seen it before, though he is standing so close to it, and
though there is very little else, heaven knows.
The marine-store merchant holds the light, and the law-stationer
conducts the search. The surgeon leans against the corner of the
chimney-piece; Miss Flite peeps and trembles just within the door.
The apt old scholar of the old school, with his dull black breeches
tied with ribbons at the knees, his large black waistcoat, his long-
sleeved black coat, and his wisp of limp white neckerchief tied in
the bow the peerage knows so well, stands in exactly the same place
There are some worthless articles of clothing in the old
portmanteau; there is a bundle of pawnbrokers' duplicates, those
turnpike tickets on the road of poverty; there is a crumpled paper,
smelling of opium, on which are scrawled rough memoranda--as, took,
such a day, so many grains; took, such another day, so many more--
begun some time ago, as if with the intention of being regularly
continued, but soon left off. There are a few dirty scraps of
newspapers, all referring to coroners' inquests; there is nothing
else. They search the cupboard and the drawer of the ink-splashed
table. There is not a morsel of an old letter or of any other
writing in either. The young surgeon examines the dress on the law-
writer. A knife and some odd halfpence are all he finds. Mr.
Snagsby's suggestion is the practical suggestion after all, and the
beadle must be called in.
So the little crazy lodger goes for the beadle, and the rest come
out of the room. "Don't leave the cat there!" says the surgeon;
"that won't do!" Mr. Krook therefore drives her out before him, and
she goes furtively downstairs, winding her lithe tail and licking
"Good night!" says Mr. Tulkinghorn, and goes home to Allegory and
By this time the news has got into the court. Groups of its
inhabitants assemble to discuss the thing, and the outposts of the
army of observation (principally boys) are pushed forward to Mr.
Krook's window, which they closely invest. A policeman has already
walked up to the room, and walked down again to the door, where he
stands like a tower, only condescending to see the boys at his base
occasionally; but whenever he does see them, they quail and fall
back. Mrs. Perkins, who has not been for some weeks on speaking
terms with Mrs. Piper in consequence for an unpleasantness
originating in young Perkins' having "fetched" young Piper "a
crack," renews her friendly intercourse on this auspicious occasion.
The potboy at the corner, who is a privileged amateur, as possessing
official knowledge of life and having to deal with drunken men
occasionally, exchanges confidential communications with the
policeman and has the appearance of an impregnable youth,
unassailable by truncheons and unconfinable in station-houses.
People talk across the court out of window, and bare-headed scouts
come hurrying in from Chancery Lane to know what's the matter. The
general feeling seems to be that it's a blessing Mr. Krook warn't
made away with first, mingled with a little natural disappointment
that he was not. In the midst of this sensation, the beadle
The beadle, though generally understood in the neighbourhood to be a
ridiculous institution, is not without a certain popularity for the
moment, if it were only as a man who is going to see the body. The
policeman considers him an imbecile civilian, a remnant of the
barbarous watchmen times, but gives him admission as something that
must be borne with until government shall abolish him. The
sensation is heightened as the tidings spread from mouth to mouth
that the beadle is on the ground and has gone in.
By and by the beadle comes out, once more intensifying the
sensation, which has rather languished in the interval. He is
understood to be in want of witnesses for the inquest to-morrow who
can tell the coroner and jury anything whatever respecting the
deceased. Is immediately referred to innumerable people who can
tell nothing whatever. Is made more imbecile by being constantly
informed that Mrs. Green's son "was a law-writer his-self and knowed
him better than anybody," which son of Mrs. Green's appears, on
inquiry, to be at the present time aboard a vessel bound for China,
three months out, but considered accessible by telegraph on
application to the Lords of the Admiralty. Beadle goes into various
shops and parlours, examining the inhabitants, always shutting the
door first, and by exclusion, delay, and general idiotcy
exasperating the public. Policeman seen to smile to potboy. Public
loses interest and undergoes reaction. Taunts the beadle in shrill
youthful voices with having boiled a boy, choruses fragments of a
popular song to that effect and importing that the boy was made into
soup for the workhouse. Policeman at last finds it necessary to
support the law and seize a vocalist, who is released upon the
flight of the rest on condition of his getting out of this then,
come, and cutting it--a condition he immediately observes. So the
sensation dies off for the time; and the unmoved policeman (to whom
a little opium, more or less, is nothing), with his shining hat,
stiff stock, inflexible great-coat, stout belt and bracelet, and all
things fitting, pursues his lounging way with a heavy tread, beating
the palms of his white gloves one against the other and stopping now
and then at a street-corner to look casually about for anything
between a lost child and a murder.
Under cover of the night, the feeble-minded beadle comes flitting
about Chancery Lane with his summonses, in which every juror's name
is wrongly spelt, and nothing rightly spelt but the beadle's own
name, which nobody can read or wants to know. The summonses served
and his witnesses forewarned, the beadle goes to Mr. Krook's to keep
a small appointment he has made with certain paupers, who, presently
arriving, are conducted upstairs, where they leave the great eyes in
the shutter something new to stare at, in that last shape which
earthly lodgings take for No one--and for Every one.
And all that night the coffin stands ready by the old portmanteau;
and the lonely figure on the bed, whose path in life has lain
through five and forty years, lies there with no more track behind
him that any one can trace than a deserted infant.
Next day the court is all alive--is like a fair, as Mrs. Perkins,
more than reconciled to Mrs. Piper, says in amicable conversation
with that excellent woman. The coroner is to sit in the first-floor
room at the Sol's Arms, where the Harmonic Meetings take place twice
a week and where the chair is filled by a gentleman of professional
celebrity, faced by Little Swills, the comic vocalist, who hopes
(according to the bill in the window) that his friends will rally
round him and support first-rate talent. The Sol's Arms does a
brisk stroke of business all the morning. Even children so require
sustaining under the general excitement that a pieman who has
established himself for the occasion at the corner of the court says
his brandy-balls go off like smoke. What time the beadle, hovering
between the door of Mr. Krook's establishment and the door of the
Sol's Arms, shows the curiosity in his keeping to a few discreet
spirits and accepts the compliment of a glass of ale or so in
At the appointed hour arrives the coroner, for whom the jurymen are
waiting and who is received with a salute of skittles from the good
dry skittle-ground attached to the Sol's Arms. The coroner
frequents more public-houses than any man alive. The smell of
sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke, and spirits is inseparable in his
vocation from death in its most awful shapes. He is conducted by
the beadle and the landlord to the Harmonic Meeting Room, where he
puts his hat on the piano and takes a Windsor-chair at the head of a
long table formed of several short tables put together and
ornamented with glutinous rings in endless involutions, made by pots
and glasses. As many of the jury as can crowd together at the table
sit there. The rest get among the spittoons and pipes or lean
against the piano. Over the coroner's head is a small iron garland,
the pendant handle of a bell, which rather gives the majesty of the
court the appearance of going to be hanged presently.
Call over and swear the jury! While the ceremony is in progress,
sensation is created by the entrance of a chubby little man in a
large shirt-collar, with a moist eye and an inflamed nose, who
modestly takes a position near the door as one of the general
public, but seems familiar with the room too. A whisper circulates
that this is Little Swills. It is considered not unlikely that he
will get up an imitation of the coroner and make it the principal
feature of the Harmonic Meeting in the evenlng.
"Well, gentlemen--" the coroner begins.
"Silence there, will you!" says the beadle. Not to the coroner,
though it might appear so.
"Well, gentlemen," resumes the coroner. "You are impanelled here to
inquire into the death of a certain man. Evidence will be given
before you as to the circumstances attending that death, and you
will give your verdict according to the--skittles; they must be
stopped, you know, beadle!--evidence, and not according to anything
else. The first thing to be done is to view the body."
"Make way there!" cries the beadle.
So they go out in a loose procession, something after the manner of
a straggling funeral, and make their inspection in Mr. Krook's back
second floor, from which a few of the jurymen retire pale and
precipitately. The beadle is very careful that two gentlemen not
very neat about the cuffs and buttons (for whose accommodation he
has provided a special little table near the coroner in the Harmonic
Meeting Room) should see all that is to be seen. For they are the
public chroniclers of such inquiries by the line; and he is not
superior to the universal human infirmity, but hopes to read in
print what "Mooney, the active and intelligent beadle of the
district," said and did and even aspires to see the name of Mooney
as familiarly and patronizingly mentioned as the name of the hangman
is, according to the latest examples.
Little Swills is waiting for the coroner and jury on their return.
Mr. Tulkinghorn, also. Mr. Tulkinghorn is received with distinction
and seated near the coroner between that high judicial officer, a
bagatelle-board, and the coal-box. The inquiry proceeds. The jury
learn how the subject of their inquiry died, and learn no more about
him. "A very eminent solicitor is in attendance, gentlemen," says
the coroner, "who, I am informed, was accidentally present when
discovery of the death was made, but he could only repeat the
evidence you have already heard from the surgeon, the landlord, the
lodger, and the law-stationer, and it is not necessary to trouble
him. Is anybody in attendance who knows anything more?"
Mrs. Piper pushed forward by Mrs. Perkins. Mrs. Piper sworn.
Anastasia Piper, gentlemen. Married woman. Now, Mrs. Piper, what
have you got to say about this?
Why, Mrs. Piper has a good deal to say, chiefly in parentheses and
without punctuation, but not much to tell. Mrs. Piper lives in the
court (which her husband is a cabinet-maker), and it has long been
well beknown among the neighbours (counting from the day next but
one before the half-baptizing of Alexander James Piper aged eighteen
months and four days old on accounts of not being expected to live
such was the sufferings gentlemen of that child in his gums) as the
plaintive--so Mrs. Piper insists on calling the deceased--was
reported to have sold himself. Thinks it was the plaintive's air in
which that report originatinin. See the plaintive often and
considered as his air was feariocious and not to be allowed to go
about some children being timid (and if doubted hoping Mrs. Perkins
may be brought forard for she is here and will do credit to her
husband and herself and family). Has seen the plaintive wexed and
worrited by the children (for children they will ever be and you
cannot expect them specially if of playful dispositions to be
Methoozellers which you was not yourself). On accounts of this and
his dark looks has often dreamed as she see him take a pick-axe from
his pocket and split Johnny's head (which the child knows not fear
and has repeatually called after him close at his eels). Never
however see the plaintive take a pick-axe or any other wepping far
from it. Has seen him hurry away when run and called after as if
not partial to children and never see him speak to neither child nor
grown person at any time (excepting the boy that sweeps the crossing
down the lane over the way round the corner which if he was here
would tell you that he has been seen a-speaking to him frequent).
Says the coroner, is that boy here? Says the beadle, no, sir, he is
not here. Says the coroner, go and fetch him then. In the absence
of the active and intelligent, the coroner converses with Mr.
Oh! Here's the boy, gentlemen!
Here he is, very muddy, very hoarse, very ragged. Now, boy! But
stop a minute. Caution. This boy must be put through a few
Name, Jo. Nothing else that he knows on. Don't know that everybody
has two names. Never heerd of sich a think. Don't know that Jo is
short for a longer name. Thinks it long enough for HIM. HE don't
find no fault with it. Spell it? No. HE can't spell it. No
father, no mother, no friends. Never been to school. What's home?
Knows a broom's a broom, and knows it's wicked to tell a lie. Don't
recollect who told him about the broom or about the lie, but knows
both. Can't exactly say what'll be done to him arter he's dead if
he tells a lie to the gentlemen here, but believes it'll be
something wery bad to punish him, and serve him right--and so he'll
tell the truth.
"This won't do, gentlemen!" says the coroner with a melancholy shake
of the head.
"Don't you think you can receive his evidence, sir?" asks an
"Out of the question," says the coroner. "You have heard the boy.
'Can't exactly say' won't do, you know. We can't take THAT in a
court of justice, gentlemen. It's terrible depravity. Put the boy
Boy put aside, to the great edification of the audience, especially
of Little Swills, the comic vocalist.
Now. Is there any other witness? No other witness.
Very well, gentlemen! Here's a man unknown, proved to have been in
the habit of taking opium in large quantities for a year and a half,
found dead of too much opium. If you think you have any evidence to
lead you to the conclusion that he committed suicide, you will come
to that conclusion. If you think it is a case of accidental death,
you will find a verdict accordingly.
Verdict accordingly. Accidental death. No doubt. Gentlemen, you
are discharged. Good afternoon.
While the coroner buttons his great-coat, Mr. Tulkinghorn and he
give private audience to the rejected witness in a corner.
That graceless creature only knows that the dead man (whom he
recognized just now by his yellow face and black hair) was sometimes
hooted and pursued about the streets. That one cold winter night
when he, the boy, was shivering in a doorway near his crossing, the
man turned to look at him, and came back, and having questioned him
and found that he had not a friend in the world, said, "Neither have
I. Not one!" and gave him the price of a supper and a night's
lodging. That the man had often spoken to him since and asked him
whether he slept sound at night, and how he bore cold and hunger,
and whether he ever wished to die, and similar strange questions.
That when the man had no money, he would say in passing, "I am as
poor as you to-day, Jo," but that when he had any, he had always (as
the boy most heartily believes) been glad to give him some.
"He was wery good to me," says the boy, wiping his eyes with his
wretched sleeve. "Wen I see him a-layin' so stritched out just now,
I wished he could have heerd me tell him so. He wos wery good to
me, he wos!"
As he shuffles downstairs, Mr. Snagsby, lying in wait for him, puts
a half-crown in his hand. "If you ever see me coming past your
crossing with my little woman--I mean a lady--" says Mr. Snagsby
with his finger on his nose, "don't allude to it!"
For some little time the jurymen hang about the Sol's Arms
colloquially. In the sequel, half-a-dozen are caught up in a cloud
of pipe-smoke that pervades the parlour of the Sol's Arms; two
stroll to Hampstead; and four engage to go half-price to the play at
night, and top up with oysters. Little Swills is treated on several
hands. Being asked what he thinks of the proceedings, characterizes
them (his strength lying in a slangular direction) as "a rummy
start." The landlord of the Sol's Arms, finding Little Swills so
popular, commends him highly to the jurymen and public, observing
that for a song in character he don't know his equal and that that
man's character-wardrobe would fill a cart.
Thus, gradually the Sol's Arms melts into the shadowy night and then
flares out of it strong in gas. The Harmonic Meeting hour arriving,
the gentleman of professional celebrity takes the chair, is faced
(red-faced) by Little Swills; their friends rally round them and
support first-rate talent. In the zenith of the evening, Little
Swills says, "Gentlemen, if you'll permit me, I'll attempt a short
description of a scene of real life that came off here to-day." Is
much applauded and encouraged; goes out of the room as Swills; comes
in as the coroner (not the least in the world like him); describes
the inquest, with recreative intervals of piano-forte accompaniment,
to the refrain: With his (the coroner's) tippy tol li doll, tippy
tol lo doll, tippy tol li doll, Dee!
The jingling piano at last is silent, and the Harmonic friends rally
round their pillows. Then there is rest around the lonely figure,
now laid in its last earthly habitation; and it is watched by the
gaunt eyes in the shutters through some quiet hours of night. If
this forlorn man could have been prophetically seen lying here by
the mother at whose breast he nestled, a little child, with eyes
upraised to her loving face, and soft hand scarcely knowing how to
close upon the neck to which it crept, what an impossibility the
vision would have seemed! Oh, if in brighter days the now-
extinguished fire within him ever burned for one woman who held him
in her heart, where is she, while these ashes are above the ground!
It is anything but a night of rest at Mr. Snagsby's, in Cook's
Court, where Guster murders sleep by going, as Mr. Snagsby himself
allows--not to put too fine a point upon it--out of one fit into
twenty. The occasion of this seizure is that Guster has a tender
heart and a susceptible something that possibly might have been
imagination, but for Tooting and her patron saint. Be it what it
may, now, it was so direfully impressed at tea-time by Mr. Snagsby's
account of the inquiry at which he had assisted that at supper-time
she projected herself into the kitchen, preceded by a flying Dutch
cheese, and fell into a fit of unusual duration, which she only came
out of to go into another, and another, and so on through a chain of
fits, with short intervals between, of which she has pathetically
availed herself by consuming them in entreaties to Mrs. Snagsby not
to give her warning "when she quite comes to," and also in appeals
to the whole establishment to lay her down on the stones and go to
bed. Hence, Mr. Snagsby, at last hearing the cock at the little
dairy in Cursitor Street go into that disinterested ecstasy of his
on the subject of daylight, says, drawing a long breath, though the
most patient of men, "I thought you was dead, I am sure!"
What question this enthusiastic fowl supposes he settles when he
strains himself to such an extent, or why he should thus crow (so
men crow on various triumphant public occasions, however) about what
cannot be of any moment to him, is his affair. It is enough that
daylight comes, morning comes, noon comes.
Then the active and intelligent, who has got into the morning papers
as such, comes with his pauper company to Mr. Krook's and bears off
the body of our dear brother here departed to a hemmed-in
churchyard, pestiferous and obscene, whence malignant diseases are
communicated to the bodies of our dear brothers and sisters who have
not departed, while our dear brothers and sisters who hang about
official back-stairs--would to heaven they HAD departed!--are very
complacent and agreeable. Into a beastly scrap of ground which a
Turk would reject as a savage abomination and a Caffre would shudder
at, they bring our dear brother here departed to receive Christian
With houses looking on, on every side, save where a reeking little
tunnel of a court gives access to the iron gate--with every villainy
of life in action close on death, and every poisonous element of
death in action close on life--here they lower our dear brother down
a foot or two, here sow him in corruption, to be raised in
corruption: an avenging ghost at many a sick-bedside, a shameful
testimony to future ages how civilization and barbarism walked this
boastful island together.
Come night, come darkness, for you cannot come too soon or stay too
long by such a place as this! Come, straggling lights into the
windows of the ugly houses; and you who do iniquity therein, do it
at least with this dread scene shut out! Come, flame of gas,
burning so sullenly above the iron gate, on which the poisoned air
deposits its witch-ointment slimy to the touch! It is well that you
should call to every passerby, "Look here!"
With the night comes a slouching figure through the tunnel-court to
the outside of the iron gate. It holds the gate with its hands and
looks in between the bars, stands looking in for a little while.
It then, with an old broom it carries, softly sweeps the step and
makes the archway clean. It does so very busily and trimly, looks
in again a little while, and so departs.
Jo, is it thou? Well, well! Though a rejected witness, who "can't
exactly say" what will be done to him in greater hands than men's,
thou art not quite in outer darkness. There is something like a
distant ray of light in thy muttered reason for this: "He wos wery
good to me, he wos!"
On the Watch
It has left off raining down in Lincolnshire at last, and Chesney
Wold has taken heart. Mrs. Rouncewell is full of hospitable cares,
for Sir Leicester and my Lady are coming home from Paris. The
fashionable intelligence has found it out and communicates the glad
tidings to benighted England. It has also found out that they will
entertain a brilliant and distinguished circle of the ELITE of the
BEAU MONDE (the fashionable intelligence is weak in English, but a
giant refreshed in French) at the ancient and hospitable family seat
For the greater honour of the brilliant and distinguished circle,
and of Chesney Wold into the bargain, the broken arch of the bridge
in the park is mended; and the water, now retired within its proper
limits and again spanned gracefully, makes a figure in the prospect
from the house. The clear, cold sunshine glances into the brittle
woods and approvingly beholds the sharp wind scattering the leaves
and drying the moss. It glides over the park after the moving
shadows of the clouds, and chases them, and never catches them, all
day. It looks in at the windows and touches the ancestral portraits
with bars and patches of brightness never contemplated by the
painters. Athwart the picture of my Lady, over the great chimney-
piece, it throws a broad bend-sinister of light that strikes down
crookedly into the hearth and seems to rend it.
Through the same cold sunshine and the same sharp wind, my Lady and
Sir Leicester, in their travelling chariot (my Lady's woman and Sir
Leicester's man affectionate in the rumble), start for home. With a
considerable amount of jingling and whip-cracking, and many plunging
demonstrations on the part of two bare-backed horses and two
centaurs with glazed hats, jack-boots, and flowing manes and tails,
they rattle out of the yard of the Hotel Bristol in the Place
Vendome and canter between the sun-and-shadow-chequered colonnade of
the Rue de Rivoli and the garden of the ill-fated palace of a
headless king and queen, off by the Place of Concord, and the
Elysian Fields, and the Gate of the Star, out of Paris.
Sooth to say, they cannot go away too fast, for even here my Lady
Dedlock has been bored to death. Concert, assembly, opera, theatre,
drive, nothing is new to my Lady under the worn-out heavens. Only
last Sunday, when poor wretches were gay--within the walls playing
with children among the clipped trees and the statues in the Palace
Garden; walking, a score abreast, in the Elysian Fields, made more
Elysian by performing dogs and wooden horses; between whiles
filtering (a few) through the gloomy Cathedral of Our Lady to say a
word or two at the base of a pillar within flare of a rusty little
gridiron-full of gusty little tapers; without the walls encompassing
Paris with dancing, love-making, wine-drinking, tobacco-smoking,
tomb-visiting, billiard card and domino playing, quack-doctoring,
and much murderous refuse, animate and inanimate--only last Sunday,
my Lady, in the desolation of Boredom and the clutch of Giant
Despair, almost hated her own maid for being in spirits.
She cannot, therefore, go too fast from Paris. Weariness of soul
lies before her, as it lies behind--her Ariel has put a girdle of it
round the whole earth, and it cannot be unclasped--but the imperfect
remedy is always to fly from the last place where it has been
experienced. Fling Paris back into the distance, then, exchanging
it for endless avenues and cross-avenues of wintry trees! And, when
next beheld, let it be some leagues away, with the Gate of the Star
a white speck glittering in the sun, and the city a mere mound in a
plain--two dark square towers rising out of it, and light and shadow
descending on it aslant, like the angels in Jacob's dream!
Sir Leicester is generally in a complacent state, and rarely bored.
When he has nothing else to do, he can always contemplate his own
greatness. It is a considerable advantage to a man to have so
inexhaustible a subject. After reading his letters, he leans back
in his corner of the carriage and generally reviews his importance
"You have an unusual amount of correspondence this morning?" says my
Lady after a long time. She is fatigued with reading. Has almost
read a page in twenty miles.
"Nothing in it, though. Nothing whatever."
"I saw one of Mr. Tulkinghorn's long effusions, I think?"
"You see everything," says Sir Leicester with admiration.
"Ha!" sighs my Lady. "He is the most tiresome of men!"
"He sends--I really beg your pardon--he sends," says Sir Leicester,
selecting the letter and unfolding it, "a message to you. Our
stopping to change horses as I came to his postscript drove it out
of my memory. I beg you'll excuse me. He says--" Sir Leicester is
so long in taking out his eye-glass and adjusting it that my Lady
looks a little irritated. "He says 'In the matter of the right of
way--' I beg your pardon, that's not the place. He says--yes!
Here I have it! He says, 'I beg my respectful compliments to my
Lady, who, I hope, has benefited by the change. Will you do me the
favour to mention (as it may interest her) that I have something to
tell her on her return in reference to the person who copied the
affidavit in the Chancery suit, which so powerfully stimulated her
curiosity. I have seen him.'"
My Lady, leaning forward, looks out of her window.
"That's the message," observes Sir Leicester.
"I should like to walk a little," says my Lady, still looking out of
"Walk?" repeats Sir Leicester in a tone of surprise.
"I should like to walk a little," says my Lady with unmistakable
distinctness. "Please to stop the carriage."
The carriage is stopped, the affectionate man alights from the
rumble, opens the door, and lets down the steps, obedient to an
impatient motion of my Lady's hand. My Lady alights so quickly and
walks away so quickly that Sir Leicester, for all his scrupulous
politeness, is unable to assist her, and is left behind. A space of
a minute or two has elapsed before he comes up with her. She
smiles, looks very handsome, takes his arm, lounges with him for a
quarter of a mile, is very much bored, and resumes her seat in the
The rattle and clatter continue through the greater part of three
days, with more or less of bell-jingling and whip-cracking, and more
or less plunging of centaurs and bare-backed horses. Their courtly
politeness to each other at the hotels where they tarry is the theme
of general admiration. Though my Lord IS a little aged for my Lady,
says Madame, the hostess of the Golden Ape, and though he might be
her amiable father, one can see at a glance that they love each
other. One observes my Lord with his white hair, standing, hat in
hand, to help my Lady to and from the carriage. One observes my
Lady, how recognisant of my Lord's politeness, with an inclination
of her gracious head and the concession of her so-genteel fingers!
It is ravishing!
The sea has no appreciation of great men, but knocks them about like
the small fry. It is habitually hard upon Sir Leicester, whose
countenance it greenly mottles in the manner of sage-cheese and in
whose aristocratic system it effects a dismal revolution. It is the
Radical of Nature to him. Nevertheless, his dignity gets over it
after stopping to refit, and he goes on with my Lady for Chesney
Wold, lying only one night in London on the way to Lincolnshire.
Through the same cold sunlight, colder as the day declines, and
through the same sharp wind, sharper as the separate shadows of bare
trees gloom together in the woods, and as the Ghost's Walk, touched
at the western corner by a pile of fire in the sky, resigns itself
to coming night, they drive into the park. The rooks, swinging in
their lofty houses in the elm-tree avenue, seem to discuss the
question of the occupancy of the carriage as it passes underneath,
some agreeing that Sir Leicester and my Lady are come down, some
arguing with malcontents who won't admit it, now all consenting to
consider the question disposed of, now all breaking out again in
violent debate, incited by one obstinate and drowsy bird who will
persist in putting in a last contradictory croak. Leaving them to
swing and caw, the travelling chariot rolls on to the house, where
fires gleam warmly through some of the windows, though not through
so many as to give an inhabited expression to the darkening mass of
front. But the brilliant and distinguished circle will soon do
Mrs. Rouncewell is in attendance and receives Sir Leicester's
customary shake of the hand with a profound curtsy.
"How do you do, Mrs. Rouncewell? I am glad to see you."
"I hope I have the honour of welcoming you in good health, Sir
"In excellent health, Mrs. Rouncewell."
"My Lady is looking charmingly well," says Mrs. Rouncewell with
My Lady signifies, without profuse expenditure of words, that she is
as wearily well as she can hope to be.
But Rosa is in the distance, behind the housekeeper; and my Lady,
who has not subdued the quickness of her observation, whatever else
she may have conquered, asks, "Who is that girl?"
"A young scholar of mine, my Lady. Rosa."
"Come here, Rosa!" Lady Dedlock beckons her, with even an
appearance of interest. "Why, do you know how pretty you are,
child?" she says, touching her shoulder with her two forefingers.
Rosa, very much abashed, says, "No, if you please, my Lady!" and
glances up, and glances down, and don't know where to look, but
looks all the prettier.
"How old are you?"
"Nineteen, my Lady."
"Nineteen," repeats my Lady thoughtfully. "Take care they don't
spoil you by flattery."
"Yes, my Lady."
My Lady taps her dimpled cheek with the same delicate gloved fingers
and goes on to the foot of the oak staircase, where Sir Leicester
pauses for her as her knightly escort. A staring old Dedlock in a
panel, as large as life and as dull, looks as if he didn't know what
to make of it, which was probably his general state of mind in the
days of Queen Elizabeth.
That evening, in the housekeeper's room, Rosa can do nothing but
murmur Lady Dedlock's praises. She is so affable, so graceful, so
beautiful, so elegant; has such a sweet voice and such a thrilling
touch that Rosa can feel it yet! Mrs. Rouncewell confirms all this,
not without personal pride, reserving only the one point of
affability. Mrs. Rouncewell is not quite sure as to that. Heaven
forbid that she should say a syllable in dispraise of any member of
that excellent family, above all, of my Lady, whom the whole world
admires; but if my Lady would only be "a little more free," not
quite so cold and distant, Mrs. Rounceweil thinks she would be more
"'Tis almost a pity," Mrs. Rouncewell adds--only "almost" because it
borders on impiety to suppose that anything could be better than it
is, in such an express dispensation as the Dedlock affairs--"that my
Lady has no family. If she had had a daughter now, a grown young
lady, to interest her, I think she would have had the only kind of
excellence she wants."
"Might not that have made her still more proud, grandmother?" says
Watt, who has been home and come back again, he is such a good
"More and most, my dear," returns the housekeeper with dignity, "are
words it's not my place to use--nor so much as to hear--applied to
any drawback on my Lady."
"I beg your pardon, grandmother. But she is proud, is she not?"
"If she is, she has reason to be. The Dedlock family have always
reason to be."
"Well," says Watt, "it's to be hoped they line out of their prayer-
books a certain passage for the common people about pride and
vainglory. Forgive me, grandmother! Only a joke!"
"Sir Leicester and Lady Dedlock, my dear, are not fit subjects for
"Sir Leicester is no joke by any means," says Watt, "and I humbly
ask his pardon. I suppose, grandmother, that even with the family
and their guests down here, there is no ojection to my prolonging my
stay at the Dedlock Arms for a day or two, as any other traveller
"Surely, none in the world, child."
"I am glad of that," says Watt, "because I have an inexpressible
desire to extend my knowledge of this beautiful neighbourhood."
He happens to glance at Rosa, who looks down and is very shy indeed.
But according to the old superstition, it should be Rosa's ears that
burn, and not her fresh bright cheeks, for my Lady's maid is holding
forth about her at this moment with surpassing energy.
My Lady's maid is a Frenchwoman of two and thirty, from somewhere in
the southern country about Avignon and Marseilles, a large-eyed
brown woman with black hair who would be handsome but for a certain
feline mouth and general uncomfortable tightness of face, rendering
the jaws too eager and the skull too prominent. There is something
indefinably keen and wan about her anatomy, and she has a watchful
way of looking out of the corners of her eyes without turning her
head which could be pleasantly dispensed with, especially when she
is in an ill humour and near knives. Through all the good taste of
her dress and little adornments, these objections so express
themselves that she seems to go about like a very neat she-wolf
imperfectly tamed. Besides being accomplished in all the knowledge
appertaining to her post, she is almost an Englishwoman in her
acquaintance with the language; consequently, she is in no want of
words to shower upon Rosa for having attracted my Lady's attention,
and she pours them out with such grim ridicule as she sits at dinner
that her companion, the affectionate man, is rather relieved when
she arrives at the spoon stage of that performance.
Ha, ha, ha! She, Hortense, been in my Lady's service since five
years and always kept at the distance, and this doll, this puppet,
caressed--absolutely caressed--by my Lady on the moment of her
arriving at the house! Ha, ha, ha! "And do you know how pretty you
are, child?" "No, my Lady." You are right there! "And how old are
you, child! And take care they do not spoil you by flattery,
child!" Oh, how droll! It is the BEST thing altogether.
In short, it is such an admirable thing that Mademoiselle Hortense
can't forget it; but at meals for days afterwards, even among her
countrywomen and others attached in like capacity to the troop of
visitors, relapses into silent enjoyment of the joke--an enjoyment
expressed, in her own convivial manner, by an additional tightness
of face, thin elongation of compressed lips, and sidewise look,
which intense appreciation of humour is frequently reflected in my
Lady's mirrors when my Lady is not among them.
All the mirrors in the house are brought into action now, many of
them after a long blank. They reflect handsome faces, simpering
faces, youthful faces, faces of threescore and ten that will not
submit to be old; the entire collection of faces that have come to
pass a January week or two at Chesney Wold, and which the
fashionable intelligence, a mighty hunter before the Lord, hunts
with a keen scent, from their breaking cover at the Court of St.
James's to their being run down to death. The place in Lincolnshire
is all alive. By day guns and voices are heard ringing in the
woods, horsemen and carriages enliven the park roads, servants and
hangers-on pervade the village and the Dedlock Arms. Seen by night
from distant openings in the trees, the row of windows in the long
drawing-room, where my Lady's picture hangs over the great chimney-
piece, is like a row of jewels set in a black frame. On Sunday the
chill little church is almost warmed by so much gallant company, and
the general flavour of the Dedlock dust is quenched in delicate
The brilliant and distinguished circle comprehends within it no
contracted amount of education, sense, courage, honour, beauty, and
virtue. Yet there is something a little wrong about it in despite
of its immense advantages. What can it be?
Dandyism? There is no King George the Fourth now (more the pity) to
set the dandy fashion; there are no clear-starched jack-towel
neckcloths, no short-waisted coats, no false calves, no stays.
There are no caricatures, now, of effeminate exquisites so arrayed,
swooning in opera boxes with excess of delight and being revived by
other dainty creatures poking long-necked scent-bottles at their
noses. There is no beau whom it takes four men at once to shake
into his buckskins, or who goes to see all the executions, or who is
troubled with the self-reproach of having once consumed a pea. But
is there dandyism in the brilliant and distinguished circle
notwithstanding, dandyism of a more mischievous sort, that has got
below the surface and is doing less harmless things than jack-
towelling itself and stopping its own digestion, to which no
rational person need particularly object?
Why, yes. It cannot be disguised. There ARE at Chesney Wold this
January week some ladies and gentlemen of the newest fashion, who
have set up a dandyism--in religion, for instance. Who in mere
lackadaisical want of an emotion have agreed upon a little dandy
talk about the vulgar wanting faith in things in general, meaning in
the things that have been tried and found wanting, as though a low
fellow should unaccountably lose faith in a bad shilling after
finding it out! Who would make the vulgar very picturesque and
faithful by putting back the hands upon the clock of time and
cancelling a few hundred years of history.
There are also ladies and gentlemen of another fashion, not so new,
but very elegant, who have agreed to put a smooth glaze on the world
and to keep down all its realities. For whom everything must be
languid and pretty. Who have found out the perpetual stoppage. Who
are to rejoice at nothing and be sorry for nothing. Who are not to
be disturbed by ideas. On whom even the fine arts, attending in
powder and walking backward like the Lord Chamberlain, must array
themselves in the milliners' and tailors' patterns of past
generations and be particularly careful not to be in earnest or to
receive any impress from the moving age.
Then there is my Lord Boodle, of considerable reputation with his
party, who has known what office is and who tells Sir Leicester
Dedlock with much gravity, after dinner, that he really does not see
to what the present age is tending. A debate is not what a debate
used to be; the House is not what the House used to be; even a
Cabinet is not what it formerly was. He perceives with astonishment
that supposing the present government to be overthrown, the limited
choice of the Crown, in the formation of a new ministry, would lie
between Lord Coodle and Sir Thomas Doodle--supposing it to be
impossible for the Duke of Foodle to act with Goodle, which may be
assumed to be the case in consequence of the breach arising out of
that affair with Hoodle. Then, giving the Home Department and the
leadership of the House of Commons to Joodle, the Exchequer to
Koodle, the Colonies to Loodle, and the Foreign Office to Moodle,
what are you to do with Noodle? You can't offer him the Presidency
of the Council; that is reserved for Poodle. You can't put him in
the Woods and Forests; that is hardly good enough for Quoodle. What
follows? That the country is shipwrecked, lost, and gone to pieces
(as is made manifest to the patriotism of Sir Leicester Dedlock)
because you can't provide for Noodle!
On the other hand, the Right Honourable William Buffy, M.P.,
contends across the table with some one else that the shipwreck of
the country--about which there is no doubt; it is only the manner of
it that is in question--is attributable to Cuffy. If you had done
with Cuffy what you ought to have done when he first came into
Parliament, and had prevented him from going over to Duffy, you
would have got him into alliance with Fuffy, you would have had with
you the weight attaching as a smart debater to Guffy, you would have
brought to bear upon the elections the wealth of Huffy, you would
have got in for three counties Juffy, Kuffy, and Luffy, and you
would have strengthened your administration by the official
knowledge and the business habits of Muffy. All this, instead of
being as you now are, dependent on the mere caprice of Puffy!
As to this point, and as to some minor topics, there are differences
of opinion; but it is perfectly clear to the brilliant and
distinguished circle, all round, that nobody is in question but
Boodle and his retinue, and Buffy and HIS retinue. These are the
great actors for whom the stage is reserved. A People there are, no
doubt--a certain large number of supernumeraries, who are to be
occasionally addressed, and relied upon for shouts and choruses, as
on the theatrical stage; but Boodle and Buffy, their followers and
families, their heirs, executors, administrators, and assigns, are
the born first-actors, managers, and leaders, and no others can
appear upon the scene for ever and ever.
In this, too, there is perhaps more dandyism at Chesney Wold than
the brilliant and distinguished circle will find good for itself in
the long run. For it is, even with the stillest and politest
circles, as with the circle the necromancer draws around him--very
strange appearances may be seen in active motion outside. With this
difference, that being realities and not phantoms, there is the
greater danger of their breaking in.
Chesney Wold is quite full anyhow, so full that a burning sense of
injury arises in the breasts of ill-lodged ladies'-maids, and is not
to he extinguished. Only one room is empty. It is a turret chamber
of the third order of merit, plainly but comfortably furnished and
having an old-fashioned business air. It is Mr. Tulkinghorn's room,
and is never bestowed on anybody else, for he may come at any time.
He is not come yet. It is his quiet habit to walk across the park
from the village in fine weather, to drop into this room as if he
had never been out of it since he was last seen there, to request a
servant to inform Sir Leicester that he is arrived in case he should
be wanted, and to appear ten minutes before dinner in the shadow of
the library-door. He sleeps in his turret with a complaining flag-
staff over his head, and has some leads outside on which, any fine
morning when he is down here, his black figure may be seen walking
before breakfast like a larger species of rook.
Every day before dinner, my Lady looks for him in the dusk of the
library, but he is not there. Every day at dinner, my Lady glances
down the table for the vacant place that would be waiting to receive
him if he had just arrived, but there is no vacant place. Every
night my Lady casually asks her maid, "Is Mr. Tulkinghorn come?"
Every night the answer is, "No, my Lady, not yet."
One night, while having her hair undressed, my Lady loses herself in
deep thought after this reply until she sees her own brooding face
in the opposite glass, and a pair of black eyes curiously observing
"Be so good as to attend," says my Lady then, addressing the
reflection of Hortense, "to your business. You can contemplate your
beauty at another time."
"Pardon! It was your Ladyship's beauty."
"That," says my Lady, "you needn't contemplate at all."
At length, one afternoon a little before sunset, when the bright
groups of figures which have for the last hour or two enlivened the
Ghost's Walk are all dispersed and only Sir Leicester and my Lady
remain upon the terrace, Mr. Tulkinghorn appears. He comes towards
them at his usual methodical pace, which is never quickened, never
slackened. He wears his usual expressionless mask--if it be a mask
--and carries family secrets in every limb of his body and every
crease of his dress. Whether his whole soul is devoted to the great
or whether he yields them nothing beyond the services he sells is
his personal secret. He keeps it, as he keeps the secrets of his
clients; he is his own client in that matter, and will never betray
"How do you do, Mr. Tulkinghorn?" says Sir Leicester, giving him his
Mr. Tulkinghorn is quite well. Sir Leicester is quite well. My
Lady is quite well. All highly satisfactory. The lawyer, with his
hands behind him, walks at Sir Leicester's side along the terrace.
My Lady walks upon the other side.
"We expected you before," says Sir Leicester. A gracious
observation. As much as to say, "Mr. Tulkinghorn, we remember your
existence when you are not here to remind us of it by your presence.
We bestow a fragment of our minds upon you, sir, you see!"
Mr. Tulkinghorn, comprehending it, inclines his head and says he is
"I should have come down sooner," he explains, "but that I have been
much engaged with those matters in the several suits between
yourself and Boythorn."
"A man of a very ill-regulated mind," observes Sir Leicester with
severity. "An extremely dangerous person in any community. A man
of a very low character of mind."
"He is obstinate," says Mr. Tulkinghorn.
"It is natural to such a man to be so," says Sir Leicester, looking
most profoundly obstinate himself. "I am not at all surprised to
"The only question is," pursues the lawyer, "whether you will give
"No, sir," replies Sir Leicester. "Nothing. I give up?"
"I don't mean anything of importance. That, of course, I know you
would not abandon. I mean any minor point."
"Mr. Tulkinghorn," returns Sir Leicester, "there can be no minor
point between myself and Mr. Boythorn. If I go farther, and observe
that I cannot readily conceive how ANY right of mine can be a minor
point, I speak not so much in reference to myself as an individual
as in reference to the family position I have it in charge to
Mr. Tulkinghorn inclines his head again. "I have now my
instructions," he says. "Mr. Boythorn will give us a good deal of
"It is the character of such a mind, Mr. Tulkinghorn," Sir Leicester
interrupts him, "TO give trouble. An exceedingly ill-conditioned,
levelling person. A person who, fifty years ago, would probably
have been tried at the Old Bailey for some demagogue proceeding, and
severely punished--if not," adds Sir Leicester after a moment's
pause, "if not hanged, drawn, and quartered."
Sir Leicester appears to discharge his stately breast of a burden in
passing this capital sentence, as if it were the next satisfactory
thing to having the sentence executed.
"But night is coming on," says he, "and my Lady will take cold. My
dear, let us go in."
As they turn towards the hall-door, Lady Dedlock addresses Mr.
Tulkinghorn for the first time.
"You sent me a message respecting the person whose writing I
happened to inquire about. It was like you to remember the
circumstance; I had quite forgotten it. Your message reminded me of
it again. I can't imagine what association I had with a hand like
that, but I surely had some."
"You had some?" Mr. Tulkinghorn repeats.
"Oh, yes!" returns my Lady carelessly. "I think I must have had
some. And did you really take the trouble to find out the writer of
that actual thing--what is it!--affidavit?"
"How very odd!"
They pass into a sombre breakfast-room on the ground floor, lighted
in the day by two deep windows. It is now twilight. The fire glows
brightly on the panelled wall and palely on the window-glass, where,
through the cold reflection of the blaze, the colder landscape
shudders in the wind and a grey mist creeps along, the only
traveller besides the waste of clouds.
My Lady lounges in a great chair in the chimney-corner, and Sir
Leicester takes another great chair opposite. The lawyer stands
before the fire with his hand out at arm's length, shading his face.
He looks across his arm at my Lady.
"Yes," he says, "I inquired about the man, and found him. And, what
is very strange, I found him--"
"Not to be any out-of-the-way person, I am afraid!" Lady Dedlock
"I found him dead."
"Oh, dear me!" remonstrated Sir Leicester. Not so much shocked by
the fact as by the fact of the fact being mentioned.
"I was directed to his lodging--a miserable, poverty-stricken place
--and I found him dead."
"You will excuse me, Mr. Tulkinghorn," observes Sir Leicester. "I
think the less said--"
"Pray, Sir Leicester, let me hear the story out" (it is my Lady
speaking). "It is quite a story for twilight. How very shocking!
Mr, Tulkinghorn re-asserts it by another inclination of his head.
"Whether by his own hand--"
"Upon my honour!" cries Sir Leicester. "Really!"
"Do let me hear the story!" says my Lady.
"Whatever you desire, my dear. But, I must say--"
"No, you mustn't say! Go on, Mr. Tulkinghorn."
Sir Leicester's gallantry concedes the point, though he still feels
that to bring this sort of squalor among the upper classes is
"I was about to say," resumes the lawyer with undisturbed calmness,
"that whether he had died by his own hand or not, it was beyond my
power to tell you. I should amend that phrase, however, by saying
that he had unquestionably died of his own act, though whether by
his own deliberate intention or by mischance can never certainly be
known. The coroner's jury found that he took the poison
"And what kind of man," my Lady asks, "was this deplorable
"Very difficult to say," returns the lawyer, shaking his bead. "He
had lived so wretchedly and was so neglected, with his gipsy colour
and his wild black hair and beard, that I should have considered him
the commonest of the common. The surgeon had a notion that he had
once been something better, both in appearance and condition."
"What did they call the wretched being?"
"They called him what he had called himself, but no one knew his
"Not even any one who had attended on him?"
"No one had attended on him. He was found dead. In fact, I found
"Without any clue to anything more?"
"Without any; there was," says the lawyer meditatively, "an old
portmanteau, but-- No, there were no papers."
During the utterance of every word of this short dialogue, Lady
Dedlock and Mr. Tulkinghorn, without any other alteration in their
customary deportment, have looked very steadily at one another--as
was natural, perhaps, in the discussion of so unusual a subject.
Sir Leicester has looked at the fire, with the general expression of
the Dedlock on the staircase. The story being told, he renews his
stately protest, saying that as it is quite clear that no
association in my Lady's mind can possibly be traceable to this poor
wretch (unless he was a begging-letter writer), he trusts to hear no
more about a subject so far removed from my Lady's station.
"Certainly, a collection of horrors," says my Lady, gathering up her
mantles and furs, "but they interest one for the moment! Have the
kindness, Mr. Tulkinghorn, to open the door for me."
Mr. Tulkinghorn does so with deference and holds it open while she
passes out. She passes close to him, with her usual fatigued manner
and insolent grace. They meet again at dinner--again, next day--
again, for many days in succession. Lady Dedlock is always the same
exhausted deity, surrounded by worshippers, and terribly liable to
be bored to death, even while presiding at her own shrine. Mr.
Tulkinghorn is always the same speechless repository of noble
confidences, so oddly but of place and yet so perfectly at home.
They appear to take as little note of one another as any two people
enclosed within the same walls could. But whether each evermore
watches and suspects the other, evermore mistrustful of some great
reservation; whether each is evermore prepared at all points for the
other, and never to be taken unawares; what each would give to know
how much the other knows--all this is hidden, for the time, in their
We held many consultations about what Richard was to be, first
without Mr. Jarndyce, as he had requested, and afterwards with him,
but it was a long time before we seemed to make progress. Richard
said he was ready for anything. When Mr. Jarndyce doubted whether
he might not already be too old to enter the Navy, Richard said he
had thought of that, and perhaps he was. When Mr. Jarndyce asked
him what he thought of the Army, Richard said he had thought of
that, too, and it wasn't a bad idea. When Mr. Jarndyce advised him
to try and decide within himself whether his old preference for the
sea was an ordinary boyish inclination or a strong impulse, Richard
answered, Well he really HAD tried very often, and he couldn't make
"How much of this indecision of character," Mr. Jarndyce said to me,
"is chargeable on that incomprehensible heap of uncertainty and
procrastination on which he has been thrown from his birth, I don't
pretend to say; but that Chancery, among its other sins, is
responsible for some of it, I can plainly see. It has engendered or
confirmed in him a habit of putting off--and trusting to this, that,
and the other chance, without knowing what chance--and dismissing
everything as unsettled, uncertain, and confused. The character of
much older and steadier people may be even changed by the
circumstances surrounding them. It would be too much to expect that
a boy's, in its formation, should be the subject of such influences
and escape them."
I felt this to be true; though if I may venture to mention what I
thought besides, I thought it much to be regretted that Richard's
education had not counteracted those influences or directed his
character. He had been eight years at a public school and had
learnt, I understood, to make Latin verses of several sorts in the
most admirable manner. But I never heard that it had been anybody's
business to find out what his natural bent was, or where his
failings lay, or to adapt any kind of knowledge to HIM. HE had been
adapted to the verses and had learnt the art of making them to such
perfection that if he had remained at school until he was of age, I
suppose he could only have gone on making them over and over again
unless he had enlarged his education by forgetting how to do it.
Still, although I had no doubt that they were very beautiful, and
very improving, and very sufficient for a great many purposes of
life, and always remembered all through life, I did doubt whether
Richard would not have profited by some one studying him a little,
instead of his studying them quite so much.
To be sure, I knew nothing of the subject and do not even now know
whether the young gentlemen of classic Rome or Greece made verses to
the same extent--or whether the young gentlemen of any country ever
"I haven't the least idea," said Richard, musing, "what I had better
be. Except that I am quite sure I don't want to go into the Church,
it's a toss-up."
"You have no inclination in Mr. Kenge's way?" suggested Mr.
"I don't know that, sir!" replied Richard. "I am fond of boating.
Articled clerks go a good deal on the water. It's a capital
"Surgeon--" suggested Mr. Jarndyce.
"That's the thing, sir!" cried Richard.
I doubt if he had ever once thought of it before.
"That's the thing, sir," repeated Richard with the greatest
enthusiasm. "We have got it at last. M.R.C.S.!"
He was not to be laughed out of it, though he laughed at it
heartily. He said he had chosen his profession, and the more he
thought of it, the more he felt that his destiny was clear; the art
of healing was the art of all others for him. Mistrusting that he
only came to this conclusion because, having never had much chance
of finding out for himself what he was fitted for and having never
been guided to the discovery, he was taken by the newest idea and
was glad to get rid of the trouble of consideration, I wondered
whether the Latin verses often ended in this or whether Richard's
was a solitary case.
Mr. Jarndyce took great pains to talk with him seriously and to put
it to his good sense not to deceive himself in so important a
matter. Richard was a little grave after these interviews, but
invariably told Ada and me that it was all right, and then began to
talk about something else.
"By heaven!" cried Mr. Boythorn, who interested himself strongly in
the subject--though I need not say that, for he could do nothing
weakly; "I rejoice to find a young gentleman of spirit and gallantry
devoting himself to that noble profession! The more spirit there is
in it, the better for mankind and the worse for those mercenary
task-masters and low tricksters who delight in putting that
illustrious art at a disadvantage in the world. By all that is base
and despicable," cried Mr. Boythorn, "the treatment of surgeons
aboard ship is such that I would submit the legs--both legs--of
every member of the Admiralty Board to a compound fracture and
render it a transportable offence in any qualified practitioner to
set them if the system were not wholly changed in eight and forty
"Wouldn't you give them a week?" asked Mr. Jarndyce.
"No!" cried Mr. Boythorn firmly. "Not on any consideration! Eight
and forty hours! As to corporations, parishes, vestry-boards, and
similar gatherings of jolter-headed clods who assemble to exchange
such speeches that, by heaven, they ought to be worked in
quicksilver mines for the short remainder of their miserable
existence, if it were only to prevent their detestable English from
contaminating a language spoken in the presence of the sun--as to
those fellows, who meanly take advantage of the ardour of gentlemen
in the pursuit of knowledge to recompense the inestimable services
of the best years of their lives, their long study, and their
expensive education with pittances too small for the acceptance of
clerks, I would have the necks of every one of them wrung and their
skulls arranged in Surgeons' Hall for the contemplation of the whole
profession in order that its younger members might understand from
actual measurement, in early life, HOW thick skulls may become!"
He wound up this vehement declaration by looking round upon us with
a most agreeable smile and suddenly thundering, "Ha, ha, ha!" over
and over again, until anybody else might have been expected to be
quite subdued by the exertion.
As Richard still continued to say that he was fixed in his choice
after repeated periods for consideration had been recommended by Mr.
Jarndyce and had expired, and he still continued to assure Ada and
me in the same final manner that it was "all right," it became
advisable to take Mr. Kenge into council. Mr. Kenge, therefore,
came down to dinner one day, and leaned back in his chair, and
turned his eye-glasses over and over, and spoke in a sonorous voice,
and did exactly what I remembered to have seen him do when I was a
"Ah!" said Mr. Kenge. "Yes. Well! A very good profession, Mr.
Jarndyce, a very good profession."
"The course of study and preparation requires to be diligently
pursued," observed my guardian with a glance at Richard.
"Oh, no doubt," said Mr. Kenge. "Diligently."
"But that being the case, more or less, with all pursuits that are
worth much," said Mr. Jarndyce, "it is not a special consideration
which another choice would be likely to escape."
"Truly," said Mr. Kenge. "And Mr. Richard Carstone, who has so
meritoriously acquitted himself in the--shall I say the classic
shades?--in which his youth had been passed, will, no doubt, apply
the habits, if not the principles and practice, of versification in
that tongue in which a poet was said (unless I mistake) to be born,
not made, to the more eminently practical field of action on which
"You may rely upon it," said Richard in his off-hand manner, "that I
shall go at it and do my best."
"Very well, Mr. Jarndyce!" said Mr. Kenge, gently nodding his head.
"Really, when we are assured by Mr. Richard that he means to go at
it and to do his best," nodding feelingly and smoothly over those
expressions, "I would submit to you that we have only to inquire
into the best mode of carrying out the object of his ambition. Now,
with reference to placing Mr. Richard with some sufficiently eminent
practitioner. Is there any one in view at present?"
"No one, Rick, I think?" said my guardian.
"No one, sir," said Richard.
"Quite so!" observed Mr. Kenge. "As to situation, now. Is there
any particular feeling on that head?"
"N--no," said Richard.
"Quite so!" observed Mr. Kenge again.
"I should like a little variety," said Richard; "I mean a good range
"Very requisite, no doubt," returned Mr. Kenge. "I think this may
be easily arranged, Mr. Jarndyce? We have only, in the first place,
to discover a sufficiently eligible practitioner; and as soon as we
make our want--and shall I add, our ability to pay a premium?--
known, our only difficulty will be in the selection of one from a
large number. We have only, in the second place, to observe those
little formalities which are rendered necessary by our time of life
and our being under the guardianship of the court. We shall soon
be--shall I say, in Mr. Richard's own light-hearted manner, 'going
at it'--to our heart's content. It is a coincidence," said Mr.
Kenge with a tinge of melancholy in his smile, "one of those
coincidences which may or may not require an explanation beyond our
present limited faculties, that I have a cousin in the medical
profession. He might be deemed eligible by you and might be
disposed to respond to this proposal. I can answer for him as
little as for you, but he MIGHT!"
As this was an opening in the prospect, it was arranged that Mr.
Kenge should see his cousin. And as Mr. Jarndyce had before
proposed to take us to London for a few weeks, it was settled next
day that we should make our visit at once and combine Richard's
business with it.
Mr. Boythorn leaving us within a week, we took up our abode at a
cheerful lodging near Oxford Street over an upholsterer's shop.
London was a great wonder to us, and we were out for hours and hours
at a time, seeing the sights, which appeared to be less capable of
exhaustion than we were. We made the round of the principal
theatres, too, with great delight, and saw all the plays that were
worth seeing. I mention this because it was at the theatre that I
began to be made uncomfortable again by Mr. Guppy.
I was sitting in front of the box one night with Ada, and Richard
was in the place he liked best, behind Ada's chair, when, happening
to look down into the pit, I saw Mr. Guppy, with his hair flattened
down upon his head and woe depicted in his face, looking up at me.
I felt all through the performance that he never looked at the
actors but constantly looked at me, and always with a carefully
prepared expression of the deepest misery and the profoundest
It quite spoiled my pleasure for that night because it was so very
embarrassing and so very ridiculous. But from that time forth, we
never went to the play without my seeing Mr. Guppy in the pit,
always with his hair straight and flat, his shirt-collar turned
down, and a general feebleness about him. If he were not there when
we went in, and I began to hope he would not come and yielded myself
for a little while to the interest of the scene, I was certain to
encounter his languishing eyes when I least expected it and, from
that time, to be quite sure that they were fixed upon me all the
I really cannot express how uneasy this made me. If he would only
have brushed up his hair or turned up his collar, it would have been
bad enough; but to know that that absurd figure was always gazing at
me, and always in that demonstrative state of despondency, put such
a constraint upon me that I did not like to laugh at the play, or to
cry at it, or to move, or to speak. I seemed able to do nothing
naturally. As to escaping Mr. Guppy by going to the back of the
box, I could not bear to do that because I knew Richard and Ada
relied on having me next them and that they could never have talked
together so happily if anybody else had been in my place. So there
I sat, not knowing where to look--for wherever I looked, I knew Mr.
Guppy's eyes were following me--and thinking of the dreadful expense
to which this young man was putting himself on my account.
Sometimes I thought of telling Mr. Jarndyce. Then I feared that the
young man would lose his situation and that I might ruin him.
Sometimes I thought of confiding in Richard, but was deterred by the
possibility of his fighting Mr. Guppy and giving him black eyes.
Sometimes I thought, should I frown at him or shake my head. Then I
felt I could not do it. Sometimes I considered whether I should
write to his mother, but that ended in my being convinced that to
open a correspondence would he to make the matter worse. I always
came to the conclusion, finally, that I could do nothing. Mr.
Guppy's perseverance, all this time, not only produced him regularly
at any theatre to which we went, but caused him to appear in the
crowd as we were coming out, and even to get up behind our fly--
where I am sure I saw him, two or three times, struggling among the
most dreadful spikes. After we got home, he haunted a post opposite
our house. The upholsterer's where we lodged being at the corner of
two streets, and my bedroom window being opposite the post, I was
afraid to go near the window when I went upstairs, lest I should see
him (as I did one moonlight night) leaning against the post and
evidenfly catching cold. If Mr. Guppy had not been, fortunately for
me, engaged in the daytime, I really should have had no rest from
While we were making this round of gaieties, in which Mr. Guppy so
extraordinarily participated, the business which had helped to bring
us to town was not neglected. Mr. Kenge's cousin was a Mr. Bayham
Badger, who had a good practice at Chelsea and attended a large
public institution besides. He was quite willing to receive Richard
into his house and to superintend his studies, and as it seemed that
those could be pursued advantageously under Mr. Badger's roof, and
Mr. Badger liked Richard, and as Richard said he liked Mr. Badger
"well enough," an agreement was made, the Lord Chancellor's consent
was obtained, and it was all settled.
On the day when matters were concluded between Richard and Mr.
Badger, we were all under engagement to dine at Mr. Badger's house.
We were to be "merely a family party," Mrs. Badger's note said; and
we found no lady there but Mrs. Badger herself. She was surrounded
in the drawing-room by various objects, indicative of her painting a
little, playing the piano a little, playing the guitar a little,
playing the harp a little, singing a little, working a little,
reading a little, writing poetry a little, and botanizing a little.
She was a lady of about fifty, I should think, youthfully dressed,
and of a very fine complexion. If I add to the little list of her
accomplishments that she rouged a little, I do not mean that there
was any harm in it.
Mr. Bayham Badger himself was a pink, fresh-faced, crisp-looking
gentleman with a weak voice, white teeth, light hair, and surprised
eyes, some years younger, I should say, than Mrs. Bayham Badger. He
admired her exceedingly, but principally, and to begin with, on the
curious ground (as it seemed to us) of her having had three
husbands. We had barely taken our seats when he said to Mr.
Jarndyce quite triumphantly, "You would hardly suppose that I am
Mrs. Bayham Badger's third!"
"Indeed?" said Mr. Jarndyce.
"Her third!" said Mr. Badger. "Mrs. Bayham Badger has not the
appearance, Miss Summerson, of a lady who has had two former
I said "Not at all!"
"And most remarkable men!" said Mr. Badger in a tone of confidence.
"Captain Swosser of the Royal Navy, who was Mrs. Badger's first
husband, was a very distinguished officer indeed. The name of
Professor Dingo, my immediate predecessor, is one of European
Mrs. Badger overheard him and smiled.
"Yes, my dear!" Mr. Badger replied to the smile, "I was observing to
Mr. Jarndyce and Miss Summerson that you had had two former
husbands--both very distinguished men. And they found it, as people
generally do, difficult to believe."
"I was barely twenty," said Mrs. Badger, "when I married Captain
Swosser of the Royal Navy. I was in the Mediterranean with him; I
am quite a sailor. On the twelfth anniversary of my wedding-day, I
became the wife of Professor Dingo."
"Of European reputation," added Mr. Badger in an undertone.
"And when Mr. Badger and myself were married," pursued Mrs. Badger,
"we were married on the same day of the year. I had become attached
to the day."
"So that Mrs. Badger has been married to three husbands--two of them
highly distinguished men," said Mr. Badger, summing up the facts,
"and each time upon the twenty-first of March at eleven in the
We all expressed our admiration.
"But for Mr. Badger's modesty," said Mr. Jarndyce, "I would take
leave to correct him and say three distinguished men."
"Thank you, Mr. Jarndyce! What I always tell him!" observed Mrs.
"And, my dear," said Mr. Badger, "what do I always tell you? That
without any affectation of disparaging such professional distinction
as I may have attained (which our friend Mr. Carstone will have many
opportunities of estimating), I am not so weak--no, really," said
Mr. Badger to us generally, "so unreasonable--as to put my
reputation on the same footing with such first-rate men as Captain
Swosser and Professor Dingo. Perhaps you may be interested, Mr.
Jarndyce," continued Mr. Bayham Badger, leading the way into the
next drawing-room, "in this portrait of Captain Swosser. It was
taken on his return home from the African station, where he had
suffered from the fever of the country. Mrs. Badger considers it
too yellow. But it's a very fine head. A very fine head!"
We all echoed, "A very fine head!"
"I feel when I look at it," said Mr. Badger, "'That's a man I should
like to have seen!' It strikingly bespeaks the first-class man that
Captain Swosser pre-eminently was. On the other side, Professor
Dingo. I knew him well--attended him in his last illness--a
speaking likeness! Over the piano, Mrs. Bayham Badger when Mrs.
Swosser. Over the sofa, Mrs. Bayham Badger when Mrs. Dingo. Of
Mrs. Bayham Badger IN ESSE, I possess the original and have no
Dinner was now announced, and we went downstairs. It was a very
genteel entertainment, very handsomely served. But the captain and
the professor still ran in Mr. Badger's head, and as Ada and I had
the honour of being under his particular care, we had the full
benefit of them.
"Water, Miss Summerson? Allow me! Not in that tumbler, pray.
Bring me the professor's goblet, James!"
Ada very much admired some artificial flowers under a glass.
"Astonishing how they keep!" said Mr. Badger. "They were presented
to Mrs. Bayham Badger when she was in the Mediterranean."
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