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L I B RARY

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UNIVERSITY

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collections Library

CLOSED STACKS



COLLECTION

OF



BRITISH AUTHORS.



VOL. CCLX.



BLEAK HOUSE BY CHAELES DICKENS.

IN FOUR VOLUMES.
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Digitized by tine Internet Archive

in 2010 witii funding from

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign



http://www.archive.org/details/bleakhouse03dick



BLEAK HOUSE



CHARLES DICKENS

COPYRIGHT EDITlOy.

IN FOUR VOLUMES.
VOL. III.



LEIPZIG

BERN HARD TAUCHXITZ

1852.



7^S

' CONTENTS

OF VOLUME III.



Page

CHAPTER I. Interlopers 1

— II. A Turn of the Screw 22

— III. Esther's Narrative 44

— IV. ChesneyWold 65

— V. Jarndyce and Jarndyce 86

— VI. A Straggle 113

— VII. Attorney and Client 129

— VIII. National and Domestic 152

— IX. In Mr. Tulkinghom's Room 169

— X. In Mr. Tulkinghom's Chambers .... 182

— XI. Esther's Narrative . . . . . . 193

— XII. The Letter and the Answer 215

— XIII. In trust 226

— XIV. Stop Him! .244

— XV. Jo's Will 257

— X\'I. Closing in 278

— XVII. Dutiful Friendship 301



BLEAK HOUSE.

VOL. III.



CHAPTER I.

Interlopers.

Now do those two gentlemen not very neat about
the cuffs and buttons who attended the last Coroner's
Inquest at the S.oi*s Arms, reappear in the precincts
with surprising swiftness (being, in fact, breathlessly
fetched by the active and intelligent beadle), and in-
stitute perquisitions through the court, and dive into
the Sol's parlour, and Write with ravenous little pens
on tissue-paper. Now do they note down, in the
watches of the night, how the neighbourhood of Chancery
Lane was yesterday, at about midnight, thrown into a
state of the most intense agitation and excitement by
the following alarming and horrible discovery. Now
do they set forth how it will doubtless be remembered,
that some time back a painful sensation was created
in the public mind, by a case of mysterious death
from opium occurring in the first floor of the house
occupied as a rag, bottle, and general marine store-
shop, by an eccentric individual of intemperate habits,
far advanced in life, named Krook; and how, by a
remarkable coincidence, Krook was examined at the
inquest, which it may be recollected was held on that
occasion at the Sol's Arms, a well-conducted tavern,

Dlcah House. Ith^-"-"""^' '" '"' """*" " • .,,j-,.> »-•«.-

Printed by Bornlianl Tauchnitz.



2 BLEAK HOUSE.

immediately adjoining the premises in question, on the
west side, and licensed to a highly respectable land-
lord, Mr. James George Bogsby. Now do they show
(in as many words as possible), how during some
hours of yesterday evening a very peculiar smell was
observed by the inhabitants of the court, in which the
tragical occurrence which forms the subject of that
present account transj^ired; an,^^hich odour was at
one time so powerful, that 3^i;.'^will^, a comic vocalist,
professionally engaged by Mr. J. G. Bogsby, has him-
self stated to our reporter that he mentioned to Miss
M. jNIelvilleson, a lady of some pretensions to musical
ability, likewise engaged by Mr, J. G, Bogsby to sing
at a series of concerts called Harmonic Assemblies or
Meetings, which it would appear are held at the Sol's
Arms, under Mr. Bogsby's direction, pursuant to the
Act of George the Second, that he (Mr. Swills) found
his voice seriously affected by the impure state of the
atmosphere; his jocose expression, at the time, being,
"'that he was like an empty post-office, for he hadn't
a single note in him." How this account of Mr. Swills
is entirely corroborated by two intelligent married
females residing in the same court, and known re-
spectively by the names of Mrs. Piper and Mrs. Perkins;
both of whom observed the foetid effluvia, and regarded
them as being emitted from the premises in the oc-
cupation of Krook, the unfortunate deceased. All this
and a great deal more, the two gentlemen, who have
formed an amicable partnership in the melancholy ca-
tastrophe, write down on the spot; and the boy po-
pulation of the court (out of bed in a moment) swarm
up the shutters of the Sol's Arms parlour, to behold
the top:^ of their heads while they are about it.



BLEAK HOUSE. 3

The whole court, adult as well as boy, is sleepless
for that night, and can do nothing but wrap up its
many heads, and talk of the ill-fated house, and look
at it. Miss Flite has been bravely rescued from her
chamber, as if it were in flames, and accommodated
with a bed at the Sol's Arms. The Sol neither turns
off its gas nor shuts its door, ail night; for any kind
of public excitement makes good for the Sol, and causes
the court to stand in need of comfort. The house has
not done so much in the stomachic article of cloves,
or in brandy and water warm, since the Inquest. The
moment the potboy heard what had happened, he
rolled up his shirt-sleeves tight to his shoulders, and
said, "There'll be a run upon us!" In the first out-
cry, Young Pi^er dashed off for the fire-engines; and
returned in triumph at a jolting gallop, perched up
aloft on the Phoenix, and holding on to that fabulous
creature with all his might, in the midst of helmets
and torches. One helmet remains behind, after careful
investigation of all chinks and crannies; and slowly
paces up and down before the house, in company with
one of the two policemen who have been likewise left
in charge thereof. To this trio, everybody in the court,
possessed of sixjjence, has an insatiate desire to exhibit
hospitality in a liquid form.

Mr. AVeevle and his friend Mr. Guppy are within
the bar at the Sol, and are worth anything to the Sol
that the bar contains, if they will only stay there.
"This is not a time," says Mr. Bogsby, "to haggle
about money," though he looks something sharply
after it, over the counter; "give your orders, you two
gentlemen, and you're welcome to whatever you put
a name to."

1*



4 BLEAK HOUSE.

Thus entreated, the two gentlemen (Mr. Weevle
especially) put names to so many things, that in course
of time they find it difficult to put a name to anything
quite distinctly; though they still relate, to all new
comers, some version of the night they have had of it,
and of what they said, and what they thought, and
what they saw. Meanwhile, one or other of the police-
men often flits about the door, and pushing it open a
little way at the full length of his arm, looks in from
outer gloom. Not that he has any suspicions, but
that he may as well know what they are up to, in there.

Thus, night pursues its leaden course; finding the
court still out of bed through the unwonted hours,
still treating and being treated, still conducting itself
similarly to a court that has had a little money left
it unexpectedly. Thus, night at length with slow-
retreating steps departs, and the lamplighter going his
rounds, like an executioner to a despotic king, strikes
off the little heads of fire that have aspired to lessen
the darkness. Thus, the day coraeth, whether or no.

And the day may discern, even with its dim London
eye, that the court has been up all night. Over and
above the faces that have fallen drowsily on tables,
and the heels that lie prone on hard floors instead of
beds, the brick and mortar pliysiognomy of the very
court itself looks Avorn and jaded. And now the neigli-
bourhood waking up, and beginning to hear of what
has happened, comes streaming in, half-dressed, to ask
questions; and the two policemen and the helmet (who
are far less impressible externally than the court) have
enough to do to keep the door.

"Good gracious, gentlemen!" says Mr. Snagsby,
coming up. "What's this I hear!"



BLEAK HOUSE.

"Why, it's true," returns one of the policemen.
"That's v:hat it is. Now move on here, cornel"

"Why, good gracious, gentlemen," says Mr. Snagsby,
somewhat promptly backed away, "I was at this door
last night betwixt ten and eleven o'clock, in conversation
with the young man who lodges here."

"Indeed?" returns the policeman. "You will find
the young man next door then. Now move on here,
some of you."

"Not hurt, I hope?" says Mr. Snagsby.

"Hurt? No. AVhat's to hurt himi"

Mr. Snagsby, wholly unable to answer this, or any
other question, in his troubled mind, repairs to the
Sol's Arms, and finds Mr. Weevle languishing over
tea and toast; with a considerable expression on him
of exhausted excitement, and exhausted tobacco-smoke.

"And Mr. Guppy likewise I" Cjuoth Mr. Snagsby.
"Dear, dear, dear! What a Fate there seems in all
this! And my lit — "

Mr. Snagsby's power of speech deserts him in the
formation of the words "my little woman." For, to
see that injured female walk into the Sol's Arms at
that hour of the morning and stand before the beer-engine,
with her eyes fixed upon him like an accusing spirit,
strikes him dumb.

"My dear," says Mr. Snagsby, when his tongue is
loosened, "will you take anything? A little — not to
put too fine a point upon it — drop of shrub?"

"No," says Mrs. Snagsby.

"My love, you know these two gentlemen?"

"Yes!" says Mrs. Snagsby; and in a rigid manner
acknowledges their presence, still fixing Mr. Snagsby
with her eye.



6 BLEAK HOUSE.

The devoted Mr. Snagsby cannot bear this treat-
ment. He takes Mrs. Snagsby by the hand, and leads
her aside to an adjacent cask.

"My little woman, why do you look at me in that
way? Pray don't do it."

"I can't help my looks," says Mrs. Snagsby, "and
if I could I wouldn't."

Mr. Snagsby, with his cough of meekness, rejoins,
— "Wouldn't you really, my dear?" and meditates.
Then coughs his cough of trouble, and says, "This
is a dreadful mystery, my love!" still fearfully discon-
certed by jMrs. Snagsby's eye.

"It is^" returns Mrs. Snagsby, shaking her head,
"a dreadful mystery."

"My little woman," urges Mr. Snagsby, in a piteous
manner, "don't, for goodness sake, speak to me with
that bitter expression, and look at me in that searching
way! I beg and entreat of you not to do it. Good
lord, you don't suppose that I would go spontaneously
combusting any person, my dear?"

"I can't say," returns Mrs. Snagsby.

On a hasty review of his unfortunate position,
Mr. Snagsby "can't say," either. He is not prepared
positively to deny that he may have had something
to do with it. He has had something — he don't know
what — to do with so much in this connexion that is
mysterious, that it is possible he may even be implicated,
without knowing it, in the present transaction. He faintly
wipes his forehead with his handkerchief, and gasps.

"My life," says the unhappy stationer, "would
you have any objections to mention why, being in
general so delicately circumspect in your conduct, you
come into a Wine \'aults before breakfast?"



BLEAK HOUSE. 7

"Why do yov come here?" inquii'es Mrs. Snagsby.

"My dear, merely to know the rights of the fatal
accident which has happened to the venerable party
who has been — combusted." Mr. Snagsby has made
a pause to suppress a groan. "I should then have
related them to you, my love, over your French roll."

"I dare say you would! You relate everything to
me, Mr. Snagsby."

"Every — my lit — ?"

"I should be glad," says Mrs. Snagsby, after
contemplating his increased confusion with a severe
and sinister smile, "if you would come home with me;
I think you may be safer there, Mr. Snagsby, than
anywhere else."

"My love, I don't know but what I may be, I am
sure. I am ready to go."

Mr. Snagsby- casts his eyes forlornly round the bar,
gives Messrs. Weevle and Guppy good morning,
assures them of the satisfaction with which he sees
them uninjured, and accompanies IVIrs. Snagsby from
the Sol's Arms. Before night, his doubt whether he
may not be responsible for some inconceivable part
in the catastrophe which is the talk of the whole
neighbourhood, is almost resolved into certainty by
Mrs. Snagsby's pertinacity in that fixed gaze. His
mental sufferings are so great, that he entertains
wandering ideas of delivering himself up to justice,
and requiring to be cleared, if innocent, and punished
with the utmost rigour of the lav/, if guilty.

Mr. Weevle and Mr. Guppy, having taken their
breakfast, step into Lincoln's Inn to take a little walk
about the square, and clear as many of the dark
cobwebs out of their brains as a little walk may.



8 BLEAK HOUSE.

"There can be no more favourable time than the
present, Tony," says INIr. Guppy, after they have
broodingly made out the four sides of the square,
"for a word or two between us, upon a point on
which we must, with very little delay, come to an
understanding."

"Now, I tell you what, William GI" returns the
other, eyeing his companion with a bloodshot eye.
"If it's a point of conspiracy, you needn't take the
trouble to mention it. I have had enough of that, and
I ain't going to have any more. We shall have you
taking fire next, or blowing up with a bang."

This supposititious phenomenon is so very dis-
agreeable to Mr. Guppy that his voice quakes, as he
says in a moral way, "Tony, I should have thought
that what we went through last night, would have
been a lesson to you never to be personal any more
as long as you lived." To whicli Mr. Weevle returns,
"William, I should have thought it would have been
a lesson to you never to conspire any more as long
as you lived." To which Mr. Guppy says, "Who's
conspiring?" To which Mr, Jobling replies, "AVhy,
you are I" To which Mr. Guppy retorts, "No, I am
not." To which Mr. Jobling retorts again, "Yes,
you are!" To which Mr. Guppy retorts, "Who says
so?" To which Mr. Jobling retorts, "/ say so!"
To which Mr. Guppy retorts, "Oh, indeed?" To
which Mr. Jobling retorts, "Yes, indeed!" And both
being now in a heated state, they walk on silently for
a wliile, to cool down again.

"Tony," says Mr. Guppy, then, "if you heard
your friend out, instead of flying at him, you wouldn't
fall into mistakes. But your temper is hasty, and you



BLEAK HOUSE. 9

are not considerate. Possessing in yourself, Tony, all
that is calculated to charm the eye — "

''"Oh! Blow the eye!" cries Mr.AVeevle, cutting him
short "Say what you have got to say!"

Finding his friend in this morose and material con-
dition, Mr. Guppy only expresses the finer feelings of
his soul through the tone of injury in which he recom-
mences:

"Tony, when I say there is a point on which we
must come to an understanding pretty soon, I say so
quite apart from any kind of conspiring, however in-
nocent. You know it is professionally arranged be-
forehand, in all V cases that are tried, what facts the
witnesses are to prove. Is it, or is it not, desirable
that we should know what facts Ave are to prove, on
the inquiry into the death of this unfortunate old Mo —
gentleman?" (Mr. Guppy was going to say, Mogul,
but thinks gentleman better suited to the circum-
stances.)

"What facts? The facts."

"The facts bearing on that inquiry. Those are — "
Mr. Guppy tells them off on his fingers — "what we
knew of his habits; when you saw him last; what his
condition was then; the discovery that we made, and
how we made it,"

"Yes," says Mr.Weevle. "Those are about the facts."

"We made the discovery, in consequence of his
having, in his eccentric way, an appointment with you
for twelve o'clock at night, when you were to explain
some writing to him, as you had often done before, on
account of his not being able to read. I, spending the
evening with you, was called down — and so forth.
The inquiry being only into the circumstances touch-



10 BLEAK HOUSE.

ing the death of the deceased, it 's not necessary to go
beyond these facts, I suppose you'll agree?"

"No!" returns Mr. Weevle. "I suppose not."

"And this is not a conspiracy, perhaps?" says the
injured Guppy.

"No," returns his friend; "if it 's nothing worse
than this, I withdraw the observation."

"Now, Tony," says Mr. Guppy, taking his arm
again, and walking him slowly on, "I should like to
know, in a friendly way, whether you have yet thought
over the many advantages of your continuing to live at
that place?"

"What do you mean?" says Ton}^ stopping.

"Whether you have yet thought over the many
advantages of your continuing to live at that place?"
repeats Mr. Guppy, walking him on again.

"At what place? That place?" pointing in the di-
rection of the rag and bottle shop.

JMr. Guppy nods.

"Why, I wouldn't pass another night there, for
any consideration that you could offer me," says Mr.
Weevle, haggardly staring.

"Do you mean it though, Tony?"

"Mean it! Do I look as if I mean it? I feel as if I
do; I know that," says Mr. Weevle, with a very genuine
shudder.

"Then the possibility, or probability — for such it
must be considered — of your never being disturbed in
possession of those effects, lately belonging to a lone
old man who seemed to have no relation in the world;
and the certainty of your being able to find out what
he really had got stored up there; don't weigh with
you at all against last night, Tony, if I understand



BLEAK HOUSE. 11

you?" says Mr. Guppy, biting his thumb with the ap-
petite of vexation.

"Certainly not. Talk in that cool way of a fellow's
living there?" cries Mr. Weevle, indignantly. "Go and
live there yourself."

"O! I, Tony!" says Mr. Guppy, soothing him. "I
have never lived there, and couldn't get a lodging there
now; whereas you have got one."

"You are welcome to it," rejoins his friend, "and
— ugh! — you may make yourself at home in it."

"Then you really and truly at this point," says
Mr. Guppy, "give up the whole thing, if I understand
you, Tony?"

"You never," returns Tony, with a most convincing
stedfastness, "said a truer word in all your life. I do!"

While they are so conversing, a hackney-coach
drives into the square, on the box of which vehicle a
very tall hat makes itself manifest to the public. Inside
the coach, and consequently not so manifest to the mul-
titude, though sufficiently so to the two friends, for the
coach stops almost at their feet, are the venerable Mr.
Smallweed and Mrs. Smallweed, accompanied by their
grand- daughter Judy, An air of haste and excitement
pervades the party; and as the tall hat (surmounting
]\Ir. Smallweed the younger) alights, Mr. Smallweed
the elder pokes his head out of window, and bawls to
Mr. Guppy, "How de do. Sir! How de do!"

"What do Chick and his family want here at this
time of the morning, I wonder!" says Mr. Guppy, nod-
ding to his familiar.

"My dear Sir," cries Grandfather Smallweed, "would
you do me a favour? Would you and your friend be so
very obleeging as to carry me into the public-house in the



12 BLEAK HOUSE.

court, while Bart and liis sister bring tlieir grandmother
along? AVould you do an old man that good turn, Sir?"

Mr. (iuppy looks at his friend, repeating inquiringly,
"the public-house in the court?" And they prepare to
bear the venerable burden to the Sol's Arms.

" There 's your fare ! " says the Patriarch to the coach-
man with a fierce grin , and shaking his incapable fist
at him. "Ask me for a penny more, and I '11 have my
lawful revenge upon you. j\Iy dear young men, be easy
with me, if you please. Allow me to catch you round
the neck. I won't squeeze you tighter than I can help.
Lord! O dear me! O my bones!"

It is well that the Sol is not far off, for Mr.Weevle
presents an apoplectic appearance before half the dis-
tance is accomplished. With no worse aggravation of
his symptoms, however, than the utterance of divers
croaking sounds, expressive of obstructed respiration,
he fulfils his share of the porterage, and the benevolent
old gentleman is deposited by his own desire in the
parlour of the Sol's Arms.

"O Lord!" gasps Mr. Smallweed, looking about him,
breathless, from an arm-chair. "0 dear me! O my bones
and back! O my aches and pains! Sit doAvn, you dancing,
prancing, shambling, scrambling poll parrot! Sit down ! "

This little apostrophe to Mrs. Smallweed is occasion-
ed by a propensity on the part of that unlucky old
lady, whenever she finds herself on her feet, to amble
about, and "set" to inanimate objects, accompanying
herself with a chattering noise, as in a witch dance. A
nervous affection has probably as much to do with
these demonstrations, as any imbecile intention in the
poor old woman; but on the present occasion they arc
so particularly lively in connexion with a Windsor arm-



BLEAK HOUSE. 13

chair, fellow to that in which Mr. Smallweed is seated,
that she only quite desists when her grandchildren
have held her down in it: her lord in the meanwhile
bestowing upon her, with great volubility, the endear-
ing epithet of "a pig-headed Jackdaw," repeated a sur-
prising number of times.

"My dear Sir," Grandfather vSmallweed then pro-
ceeds, addressing Mr. Guppy, "there has been a cala-
mity here. Have you heard of it, either of you?"

'"Heard of it. Sir! AVhy we discovered it."

"You discovered it. You two discovered it! Bart,
they discovered it I"

The two discoverers stare at the Smallweeds. who
return the compliment.

'^My dear friends," whines Grandfather Smallweed,
putting out both his hands, "I owe you a thousand
thanks for discharging the melancholy office of dis-
covering the ashes of Mrs. Smallweed's brother."

"Eh? says Mr. Gupp\*"

"MrC^'"SrnaTrweed^s brother, my dear friend — her
only r'^Tirffmr-^W^-Trer^Ttttr"^^^^

depTorednow, but he never ivould be on terms. He
was not fond of us. He was eccentric — he was very
eccentric. Unless he has left a will (which is not at
all likely) I shall take out letters of administration.
I have come down to look after the property; it must
be sealed up, it must be protected. I have come
down," repeats Grandfather Smallweed, hooking the
air towards him with all his ten fingers at once, "to
look after the property."

"'^I think. Small," says the disconsolate Mr. Guppy,
"you might have mentioned that the old man was
your uncle."



14 BLEAK HOUSE.

"Yon two were so close about him that I thought
you would like me to be the same," returns that old
bird, with a secretly glistening eye. "Besides, I
wasn't proud of him."

"Besides which, it was nothing to you, you know,
whether he was or not," says Judy. Also with a se-
cretly glistening eye.

"He never saw me in his life, to know me," ob-
serves Small; "I don't know why I should introduce
him, I am sure!"

"No, he never communicated with us — which is
to be deplored," the old gentleman strikes in; "but I
have come to look after the property — to look over
the papers, and to look after the property. We shall
make good our title. It is in the hands of my solicitor.
Mr. Tulkinghorn, of Lincoln's Inn Fields, over the
way there, is so good as to act as my solicitor; and
grass don't grow under his feet, I can tell ye. Krook
was Mrs. Smallweed's only brother; she had no rela-
tion but Krook, and Krook had no relation but Mrs.
Smallweed. I am speaking of your brother, you brim-
stone black-beetle, that was seventy-six years of age."

Mrs. Smallweed instantly begins to shake her head,
and pipe up, "Seventy-six pound seven and seven-
pence! Seventy-six thousand bags of money! Seventy-
six hundred thousand million of parcels of bank notes !"

"Will somebody give me a quart pot?" exclaims
her exasperated husband, looking helplessly about him,
and finding no missile within his reach. "Will some-
body obleege me with a spittoon? AVill somebody
hand me anything hard and bruising to pelt at her?
You hag, you cat, you dog, you brimstone barker!'*
Here Mr. Smallweed, wrought up to the highest pitch



BLEAK HOUSE. 15

by his own eloquence, actually throws Judy at her
grandmother in default of anything else, by butting
that younsT virgin at the old lady with such force as he
can muster, and then dropping into his chair in a heap.

"Shake me up, somebody, if you'll be so good,"
says the voice from within the faintly struggling bundle
into which he has collapsed. "I h^ve come to look
after the property. Shake me uppand^calT in the
police Oil"' dTrty^'af the next house, to be explained to
about the property. My solicitor wiU*be here pre-
sently ttr^rotect the property. Transportation or the
gallows for anybody who shall touch the property!"
As his dutiful grandchildren set him up, panting, and
put him through the usual restorative process of s^*^-
king and punching, he still repeats like an echo, 'the
— the property! The 'prSp'Sf^T'^^* property!" ^

Mr. Weevle and Mr. Guppy look at each other;
the former as having relinquished the whole aflair;
the latter with a discomfited countenance, as having


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