Charles Dickens, Bleak House: Ch. 53

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"I declare," he says, "I solemnly declare that until this crime is discovered and, in the course of justice, punished, I almost feel as if there were a stain upon my name.  A gentleman who has devoted a large portion of his life to me, a gentleman who has devoted the last day of his life to me, a gentleman who has constantly sat at my table and slept under my roof, goes from my house to his own, and is struck down within an hour of his leaving my house.  I cannot say but that he may have been followed from my house, watched at my house, even first marked because of his association with my house—which may have suggested his possessing greater wealth and being altogether of greater importance than his own retiring demeanour would have indicated.  If I cannot with my means and influence and my position bring all the perpetrators of such a crime to light, I fail in the assertion of my respect for that gentleman's memory and of my fidelity towards one who was ever faithful to me."

While he makes this protestation with great emotion and earnestness, looking round the room as if he were addressing an assembly, Mr. Bucket glances at him with an observant gravity in which there might be, but for the audacity of the thought, a touch of compassion.

"The ceremony of to-day," continues Sir Leicester, "strikingly illustrative of the respect in which my deceased friend"—he lays a stress upon the word, for death levels all distinctions—"was held by the flower of the land, has, I say, aggravated the shock I have received from this most horrible and audacious crime.  If it were my brother who had committed it, I would not spare him."

Mr. Bucket looks very grave.  Volumnia remarks of the deceased that he was the trustiest and dearest person!

"You must feel it as a deprivation to you, miss," replies Mr. Bucket soothingly, "no doubt.  He was calculated to BE a deprivation, I'm sure he was."

Volumnia gives Mr. Bucket to understand, in reply, that her sensitive mind is fully made up never to get the better of it as long as she lives, that her nerves are unstrung for ever, and that she has not the least expectation of ever smiling again.  Meanwhile she folds up a cocked hat for that redoubtable old general at Bath, descriptive of her melancholy condition.

"It gives a start to a delicate female," says Mr. Bucket sympathetically, "but it'll wear off."

Volumnia wishes of all things to know what is doing?  Whether they are going to convict, or whatever it is, that dreadful soldier?  Whether he had any accomplices, or whatever the thing is called in the law?  And a great deal more to the like artless purpose.

"Why you see, miss," returns Mr. Bucket, bringing the finger into persuasive action—and such is his natural gallantry that he had almost said "my dear"—"it ain't easy to answer those questions at the present moment.  Not at the present moment.  I've kept myself on this case, Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet," whom Mr. Bucket takes into the conversation in right of his importance, "morning, noon, and night.  But for a glass or two of sherry, I don't think I could have had my mind so much upon the stretch as it has been.  I COULD answer your questions, miss, but duty forbids it.  Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet, will very soon be made acquainted with all that has been traced.  And I hope that he may find it"—Mr. Bucket again looks grave—"to his satisfaction."

The debilitated cousin only hopes some fler'll be executed—zample.  Thinks more interest's wanted—get man hanged presentime—than get man place ten thousand a year.  Hasn't a doubt—zample—far better hang wrong fler than no fler.

"YOU know life, you know, sir," says Mr. Bucket with a complimentary twinkle of his eye and crook of his finger, "and you can confirm what I've mentioned to this lady.  YOU don't want to be told that from information I have received I have gone to work.  You're up to what a lady can't be expected to be up to.  Lord!  Especially in your elevated station of society, miss," says Mr. Bucket, quite reddening at another narrow escape from "my dear."