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"With pleasure, sir."
Then, with fidelity, though with some prolixity, the law-stationer repeats Jo's statement made to the assembled guests at his house. On coming to the end of his narrative, he gives a great start and breaks off with, "Dear me, sir, I wasn't aware there was any other gentleman present!"
Mr. Snagsby is dismayed to see, standing with an attentive face between himself and the lawyer at a little distance from the table, a person with a hat and stick in his hand who was not there when he himself came in and has not since entered by the door or by either of the windows. There is a press in the room, but its hinges have not creaked, nor has a step been audible upon the floor. Yet this third person stands there with his attentive face, and his hat and stick in his hands, and his hands behind him, a composed and quiet listener. He is a stoutly built, steady-looking, sharp-eyed man in black, of about the middle-age. Except that he looks at Mr. Snagsby as if he were going to take his portrait, there is nothing remarkable about him at first sight but his ghostly manner of appearing.
"Don't mind this gentleman," says Mr. Tulkinghorn in his quiet way. "This is only Mr. Bucket."
"Oh, indeed, sir?" returns the stationer, expressing by a cough that he is quite in the dark as to who Mr. Bucket may be.
"I wanted him to hear this story," says the lawyer, "because I have half a mind (for a reason) to know more of it, and he is very intelligent in such things. What do you say to this, Bucket?"
"It's very plain, sir. Since our people have moved this boy on, and he's not to be found on his old lay, if Mr. Snagsby don't object to go down with me to Tom-all-Alone's and point him out, we can have him here in less than a couple of hours' time. I can do it without Mr. Snagsby, of course, but this is the shortest way."
"Mr. Bucket is a detective officer, Snagsby," says the lawyer in explanation.
"Is he indeed, sir?" says Mr. Snagsby with a strong tendency in his clump of hair to stand on end.
"And if you have no real objection to accompany Mr. Bucket to the place in question," pursues the lawyer, "I shall feel obliged to you if you will do so."
In a moment's hesitation on the part of Mr. Snagsby, Bucket dips down to the bottom of his mind.
"Don't you be afraid of hurting the boy," he says. "You won't do that. It's all right as far as the boy's concerned. We shall only bring him here to ask him a question or so I want to put to him, and he'll be paid for his trouble and sent away again. It'll be a good job for him. I promise you, as a man, that you shall see the boy sent away all right. Don't you be afraid of hurting him; you an't going to do that."
"Very well, Mr. Tulkinghorn!" cries Mr. Snagsby cheerfully. And reassured, "Since that's the case--"
"Yes! And lookee here, Mr. Snagsby," resumes Bucket, taking him aside by the arm, tapping him familiarly on the breast, and speaking in a confidential tone. "You're a man of the world, you know, and a man of business, and a man of sense. That's what you are."
"I am sure I am much obliged to you for your good opinion," returns the stationer with his cough of modesty, "but--"
"That's what you are, you know," says Bucket. "Now, it an't necessary to say to a man like you, engaged in your business, which is a business of trust and requires a person to be wide awake and have his senses about him and his head screwed on tight (I had an uncle in your business once)--it an't necessary to say to a man like you that it's the best and wisest way to keep little matters like this quiet. Don't you see? Quiet!"
"Certainly, certainly," returns the other.
"I don't mind telling you," says Bucket with an engaging appearance of frankness, "that as far as I can understand it, there seems to be a doubt whether this dead person wasn't entitled to a little property, and whether this female hasn't been up to some games respecting that property, don't you see?"
"Oh!" says Mr. Snagsby, but not appearing to see quite distinctly.
"Now, what you want," pursues Bucket, again tapping Mr. Snagsby on the breast in a comfortable and soothing manner, "is that every person should have their rights according to justice. That's what you want."
"To be sure," returns Mr. Snagsby with a nod.
"On account of which, and at the same time to oblige a--do you call it, in your business, customer or client? I forget how my uncle used to call it."
"Why, I generally say customer myself," replies Mr. Snagsby.
"You're right!" returns Mr. Bucket, shaking hands with him quite affectionately. "--On account of which, and at the same time to oblige a real good customer, you mean to go down with me, in confidence, to Tom-all-Alone's and to keep the whole thing quiet ever afterwards and never mention it to any one. That's about your intentions, if I understand you?"
"You are right, sir. You are right," says Mr. Snagsby.
"Then here's your hat," returns his new friend, quite as intimate with it as if he had made it; "and if you're ready, I am."
They leave Mr. Tulkinghorn, without a ruffle on the surface of his unfathomable depths, drinking his old wine, and go down into the streets.
"You don't happen to know a very good sort of person of the name of Gridley, do you?" says Bucket in friendly converse as they descend the stairs.
"No," says Mr. Snagsby, considering, "I don't know anybody of that name. Why?"
"Nothing particular," says Bucket; "only having allowed his temper to get a little the better of him and having been threatening some respectable people, he is keeping out of the way of a warrant I have got against him--which it's a pity that a man of sense should do."
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Bleak House -- by Charles DickensBottom Content goes here. Wikipedia content requires these links..... Wikipedia content is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.