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Bleak House

Charles Dickens

Chapters 26–30

Chapters 21–25

Chapters 26–30, page 2

page 1 of 3

Summary: Chapter 26, “Sharpshooters”

The narrator describes George of the shooting gallery and his servant, Phil, getting ready for their day. George asks Phil if he dreamed of the country that night, and Phil says yes. George tells him that he himself was born and raised in the country. Phil asks if George’s mother is dead, and George says no, then changes the subject. George asks Phil how old he is, but Phil doesn’t know. The two men reminisce about how they met, when George rescued the crippled Phil from the street.

Grandfather Smallweed and Judy visit George. Grandfather Smallweed is alarmed by Phil’s handling of the guns in the gallery. He reminds George that George owes him money. George gets out a pipe and lights it, distracting Grandfather Smallweed. Then Smallweed tells him that his friend in the city, Carstone, has done some business with a student of George’s. George suggests that his friend avoid any future dealings in that area, and that he thinks the friend has come to a “dead halt.” Smallweed says that Carstone is still good for something.

Smallweed then mentions a man named Captain Hawdon and claims that he’s not dead. A lawyer has been asking about him, requesting some of Hawdon’s handwriting so he can compare it to some writing he already has. Smallweed says he has only Hawdon’s signature and asks George if he has any of Hawdon’s writing that’s more substantial. George says that he wouldn’t give it to Smallweed even if he did have some, which he may or may not. Smallweed suggests George visit the lawyer for himself, and George agrees.

Summary: Chapter 27, “More Old Soldiers than One”

The group arrives at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, where they visit Mr. Tulkinghorn. George sees that Sir Leicester Dedlock is one of Tulkinghorn’s clients. Tulkinghorn explains to George that since George once served under Captain Hawdon and was a friend, he thought George might have some of Hawdon’s handwriting. He will reward George for anything he provides. George seems troubled and says he wants nothing to do with any of this. Tulkinghorn refuses to explain why he wants the handwriting. George says he’ll consult a soldier friend of his about the matter. Privately, Smallweed tells Tulkinghorn that he saw George slip some handwriting into his pocket.

George visits Mr. and Mrs. Bagnet in their musical instrument shop. He greets their two daughters, Quebec and Malta, and asks after their son, Woolwich. When Mr. Bagnet comes home, they all have dinner. Later, George tells the Bagnets what’s going on. They tell him to have nothing to do with it. On his way home, George stops at Tulkinghorn’s and says that he hasn’t changed his mind. Tulkinghorn asks George if Gridley was found in his shooting gallery, and George says yes. Tulkinghorn declares that Gridley was “threatening, murderous, dangerous.” A clerk who is coming up the stairs hears Tulkinghorn and, seeing George walk down the stairs, thinks the words are being directed at him.

Summary, Chapter 28, “The Ironmaster”

The narrator says that Sir Leicester Dedlock, great as he is, has poor relatives, all of whom are his cousins. Several of them visit Chesney Wold, which Sir Leicester Dedlock endures uncomplainingly. One cousin currently staying at Chesney Wold is Volumnia Dedlock, who is sixty years old and usually receives financial support from Sir Leicester Dedlock. The narrator also describes the Honourable Bob Stables, who makes food for livestock. All the poor cousins who visit revere Lady Dedlock.

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