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Bleak House

Charles Dickens
  • Study Guide

Chapters 56–60

Summary Chapters 56–60

It’s snowing, and the snow slows their journey. Bucket seems to lose some of his confidence and eventually admits that he has lost the trail. At an inn, Esther faints and is then cared for by the landlady and her daughters. Later, when they stop again to change horses, Bucket realizes something and says he finally understands. He excitedly orders the driver to return to London, which shocks Esther. He says he is going to follow Jenny. Esther protests that they shouldn’t abandon Lady Dedlock, but Bucket tells her not to worry.

Summary: Chapter 58, “A Wintry Day and Night”

The narrator says that at the Dedlock town house, people are told that Lady Dedlock has gone to Lincolnshire, but rumors abound about where she really is and what has happened between her and Sir Leicester. Sir Leicester is still bedridden. In the morning, he instructs Mrs. Rouncewell to have Lady Dedlock’s rooms prepared for her. Mrs. Rouncewell admits to George that she thinks Lady Dedlock will not be returning to Chesney Wold or anywhere else. She says that Lady Dedlock told her yesterday that the footsteps on the Ghost’s Walk had “almost walked her down.”

The narrator describes the abandoned appearance of Lady Dedlock’s rooms. Mrs. Rouncewell and George help the servants light fires and prepare for her return. Volumnia sits with Sir Leicester. When Mrs. Rouncewell returns, Volumnia praises George, and Mrs. Rouncewell explains to Sir Leicester that George is her long-lost son. Sir Leicester seems hopeful at the news and asks to see George immediately.

George appears and helps arrange Sir Leicester more comfortably in his bed. Sir Leicester tells George he is unwell, that he has had an attack that “deadens” and “confuses” (most likely a stroke). He tells everyone in the room—Volumnia, Mrs. Rouncewell, and George—that if he gets worse and becomes unable to communicate, then they should make it known that his feelings for Lady Dedlock have not changed whatsoever and that he harbors no anger toward her. After his speech he lays back. George stays with him.

The narrator says that the day is coming to an end, but that Sir Leicester is unwilling to admit it. Mrs. Rouncewell convinces him to rest. He maintains his hopes by thinking that her rooms are prepared for her arrival. Eventually, everyone goes to bed, except for Mrs. Rouncewell and George. Volumnia can’t sleep, worrying that if Sir Leicester dies she will have no income. George runs into her as he walks around the house and convinces her to go to bed.

The morning comes.