Charles Dickens, Bleak House: Ch. 53

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"Yes, yes," says Mr. Bucket.  "But I could have made the money without this anonymous information."

Having put the letters in his book of fate and girdled it up again, he unlocks the door just in time to admit his dinner, which is brought upon a goodly tray with a decanter of sherry.  Mr. Bucket frequently observes, in friendly circles where there is no restraint, that he likes a toothful of your fine old brown East Inder sherry better than anything you can offer him.  Consequently he fills and empties his glass with a smack of his lips and is proceeding with his refreshment when an idea enters his mind.

Mr. Bucket softly opens the door of communication between that room and the next and looks in.  The library is deserted, and the fire is sinking low.  Mr. Bucket's eye, after taking a pigeon-flight round the room, alights upon a table where letters are usually put as they arrive.  Several letters for Sir Leicester are upon it.  Mr. Bucket draws near and examines the directions.  "No," he says, "there's none in that hand.  It's only me as is written to.  I can break it to Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet, to-morrow."

With that he returns to finish his dinner with a good appetite, and after a light nap, is summoned into the drawing-room.  Sir Leicester has received him there these several evenings past to know whether he has anything to report.  The debilitated cousin (much exhausted by the funeral) and Volumnia are in attendance.

Mr. Bucket makes three distinctly different bows to these three people.  A bow of homage to Sir Leicester, a bow of gallantry to Volumnia, and a bow of recognition to the debilitated Cousin, to whom it airily says, "You are a swell about town, and you know me, and I know you."  Having distributed these little specimens of his tact, Mr. Bucket rubs his hands.

"Have you anything new to communicate, officer?" inquires Sir Leicester.  "Do you wish to hold any conversation with me in private?"

"Why—not to-night, Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet."

"Because my time," pursues Sir Leicester, "is wholly at your disposal with a view to the vindication of the outraged majesty of the law."

Mr. Bucket coughs and glances at Volumnia, rouged and necklaced, as though he would respectfully observe, "I do assure you, you're a pretty creetur.  I've seen hundreds worse looking at your time of life, I have indeed."

The fair Volumnia, not quite unconscious perhaps of the humanizing influence of her charms, pauses in the writing of cocked-hat notes and meditatively adjusts the pearl necklace.  Mr. Bucket prices that decoration in his mind and thinks it as likely as not that Volumnia is writing poetry.

"If I have not," pursues Sir Leicester, "in the most emphatic manner, adjured you, officer, to exercise your utmost skill in this atrocious case, I particularly desire to take the present opportunity of rectifying any omission I may have made.  Let no expense be a consideration.  I am prepared to defray all charges.  You can incur none in pursuit of the object you have undertaken that I shall hesitate for a moment to bear."

Mr. Bucket made Sir Leicester's bow again as a response to this liberality.

"My mind," Sir Leicester adds with a generous warmth, "has not, as may be easily supposed, recovered its tone since the late diabolical occurrence.  It is not likely ever to recover its tone.  But it is full of indignation to-night after undergoing the ordeal of consigning to the tomb the remains of a faithful, a zealous, a devoted adherent."

Sir Leicester's voice trembles and his grey hair stirs upon his head.  Tears are in his eyes; the best part of his nature is aroused.