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Bleak House

Charles Dickens
Summary Chapters 51–55
Summary Chapters 51–55

Summary: Chapter 53, “The Track”

The narrator describes Bucket’s habit of moving his forefinger around his face and ears when mulling something over. Bucket neglects his wife, who is a good detective herself. Only a few people attend Tulkinghorn’s funeral, but there are many empty cars that signify his dead relatives. Bucket meets Mrs. Bucket on the steps of Tulkinghorn’s house, then joins the funeral procession, but he gets out and heads to Sir Leicester’s home. He lets himself in with the key he has been given. The servant, Mercury, gives him a letter that has come for him, one of several that have come over the past day. It says only “Lady Dedlock,” just as the others had. He walks around the house, comparing the handwriting to other letters and papers he finds. He decides to tell Sir Leicester tomorrow.

Later, Sir Leicester asks Bucket if he has anything to tell him, but Bucket says no. Sir Leicester is distraught over Tulkinghorn’s death. Bucket says he’ll have the final pieces of the case figured out very soon.

In the hall, Bucket engages Mercury in conversation about Lady Dedlock. She soon comes home and asks Bucket if he’s found out anything else; then she goes upstairs. When she is gone, Bucket slyly gets Mercury to admit that Lady Dedlock was out walking alone the night of the murder, wearing a fringed veil.

Summary: Chapter 54, “Springing a Mine”

Bucket presents himself to Sir Leicester, locking the door to ensure their privacy. He tells Sir Leicester that the murderer is not George, but a woman. He prepares Sir Leicester for a shock, telling him he must shoulder it bravely. He says that Tulkinghorn distrusted Lady Dedlock because he suspected that she had learned about the existence of her former lover. She had seen some handwriting of his and recognized it. Tulkinghorn suspected Lady Dedlock of visiting this man’s grave after he died, and Bucket had investigated this claim by questioning Mademoiselle Hortense, whose dress Lady Dedlock had worn, and Jo, who had led her to the grave. Bucket says that on the night of the murder, Lady Dedlock had gone to Tulkinghorn’s room, wearing a veil with fringe.

Sir Dedlock is devastated. He asks why Tulkinghorn hadn’t told him this information sooner, and Bucket says he had planned to, once he was ready. There are noises at the door; several people have arrived. Bucket says he fears the news has gotten out and tells Sir Leicester to just nod at whatever he says. Grandfather Smallweed, Mr. Chadband, Mrs. Chadband, and Mrs. Snagsby are all admitted inside. Grandfather Smallweed says that Krook was his brother-in-law, and that after he died, Grandfather Smallweed went through his papers. He found some letters belonging to Krook’s dead lodger, Captain Hawdon, and looked through them before Tulkinghorn got them. They were from the lodger’s lover, Honoria. Grandfather Smallweed says he doesn’t know anyone by the name of Honoria. He wants to know where the letters are and demands that the murder be investigated more thoroughly. Bucket says he will solve the murder and that he has the letters. He shows them to Smallweed, who asks for money.

Mrs. Chadband then reveals that she raised Lady Dedlock’s daughter after Lady Dedlock’s sister claimed the baby was dead.