Книга Bleak House. Содержание - CHAPTER XXIII Esther's Narrative
The figure removes the right-hand glove and shows the hand.
"Now, what do you say to that?" asks Bucket.
Jo shakes his head. "Not rings a bit like them. Not a hand like that."
"What are you talking of?" says Bucket, evidently pleased though, and well pleased too.
"Hand was a deal whiter, a deal delicater, and a deal smaller," returns Jo.
"Why, you'll tell me I'm my own mother next," says Mr. Bucket. "Do you recollect the lady's voice?"
"I think I does," says Jo.
The figure speaks. "Was it at all like this? I will speak as long as you like if you are not sure. Was it this voice, or at all like this voice?"
Jo looks aghast at Mr. Bucket. "Not a bit!"
"Then, what," retorts that worthy, pointing to the figure, "did you say it was the lady for?"
"Cos," says Jo with a perplexed stare but without being at all shaken in his certainty, "cos that there's the wale, the bonnet, and the gownd. It is her and it an't her. It an't her hand, nor yet her rings, nor yet her woice. But that there's the wale, the bonnet, and the gownd, and they're wore the same way wot she wore 'em, and it's her height wot she wos, and she giv me a sov'ring and hooked it."
"Well!" says Mr. Bucket slightly, "we haven't got much good out of YOU. But, however, here's five shillings for you. Take care how you spend it, and don't get yourself into trouble." Bucket stealthily tells the coins from one hand into the other like counters-which is a way he has, his principal use of them being in these games of skill-and then puts them, in a little pile, into the boy's hand and takes him out to the door, leaving Mr. Snagsby, not by any means comfortable under these mysterious circumstances, alone with the veiled figure. But on Mr. Tulkinghorn's coming into the room, the veil is raised and a sufficiently good-looking Frenchwoman is revealed, though her expression is something of the intensest.
"Thank you, Mademoiselle Hortense," says Mr. Tulkinghorn with his usual equanimity. "I will give you no further trouble about this little wager."
"You will do me the kindness to remember, sir, that I am not at present placed?" says mademoiselle.
"And to confer upon me the favour of your distinguished recommendation?"
"By all means, Mademoiselle Hortense."
"A word from Mr. Tulkinghorn is so powerful."
"It shall not be wanting, mademoiselle."
"Receive the assurance of my devoted gratitude, dear sir."
Mademoiselle goes out with an air of native gentility; and Mr.
Bucket, to whom it is, on an emergency, as natural to be groom of the ceremonies as it is to be anything else, shows her downstairs, not without gallantry.
"Well, Bucket?" quoth Mr. Tulkinghorn on his return.
"It's all squared, you see, as I squared it myself, sir. There an't a doubt that it was the other one with this one's dress on.
The boy was exact respecting colours and everything. Mr. Snagsby, I promised you as a man that he should be sent away all right.
Don't say it wasn't done!"
"You have kept your word, sir," returns the stationer; "and if I can be of no further use, Mr. Tulkinghorn, I think, as my little woman will be getting anxious-"
"Thank you, Snagsby, no further use," says Mr. Tulkinghorn. "I am quite indebted to you for the trouble you have taken already."
"Not at all, sir. I wish you good night."
"You see, Mr. Snagsby," says Mr. Bucket, accompanying him to the door and shaking hands with him over and over again, "what I like in you is that you're a man it's of no use pumping; that's what YOU are. When you know you have done a right thing, you put it away, and it's done with and gone, and there's an end of it. That's what YOU do."
"That is certainly what I endeavour to do, sir," returns Mr.
"No, you don't do yourself justice. It an't what you endeavour to do," says Mr. Bucket, shaking hands with him and blessing him in the tenderest manner, "it's what you DO. That's what I estimate in a man in your way of business."
Mr. Snagsby makes a suitable response and goes homeward so confused by the events of the evening that he is doubtful of his being awake and out-doubtful of the reality of the streets through which he goes-doubtful of the reality of the moon that shines above him.
He is presently reassured on these subjects by the unchallengeable reality of Mrs. Snagsby, sitting up with her head in a perfect beehive of curl-papers and night-cap, who has dispatched Guster to the police-station with official intelligence of her husband's being made away with, and who within the last two hours has passed through every stage of swooning with the greatest decorum. But as the little woman feelingly says, many thanks she gets for it!
We came home from Mr. Boythorn's after six pleasant weeks. We were often in the park and in the woods and seldom passed the lodge where we had taken shelter without looking in to speak to the keeper's wife; but we saw no more of Lady Dedlock, except at church on Sundays. There was company at Chesney Wold; and although several beautiful faces surrounded her, her face retained the same influence on me as at first. I do not quite know even now whether it was painful or pleasurable, whether it drew me towards her or made me shrink from her. I think I admired her with a kind of fear, and I know that in her presence my thoughts always wandered back, as they had done at first, to that old time of my life.
I had a fancy, on more than one of these Sundays, that what this lady so curiously was to me, I was to her-I mean that I disturbed her thoughts as she influenced mine, though in some different way.
But when I stole a glance at her and saw her so composed and distant and unapproachable, I felt this to be a foolish weakness.
Indeed, I felt the whole state of my mind in reference to her to be weak and unreasonable, and I remonstrated with myself about it as much as I could.
One incident that occurred before we quitted Mr. Boythorn's house, I had better mention in this place.
I was walking in the garden with Ada and when I was told that some one wished to see me. Going into the breakfast-room where this person was waiting, I found it to be the French maid who had cast off her shoes and walked through the wet grass on the day when it thundered and lightened.
"Mademoiselle," she began, looking fixedly at me with her too-eager eyes, though otherwise presenting an agreeable appearance and speaking neither with boldness nor servility, "I have taken a great liberty in coming here, but you know how to excuse it, being so amiable, mademoiselle."
"No excuse is necessary," I returned, "if you wish to speak to me."
"That is my desire, mademoiselle. A thousand thanks for the permission. I have your leave to speak. Is it not?" she said in a quick, natural way.
"Certainly," said I.
"Mademoiselle, you are so amiable! Listen then, if you please. I have left my Lady. We could not agree. My Lady is so high, so very high. Pardon! Mademoiselle, you are right!" Her quickness anticipated what I might have said presently but as yet had only thought. "It is not for me to come here to complain of my Lady.
But I say she is so high, so very high. I will not say a word more. All the world knows that."
"Go on, if you please," said I.
"Assuredly; mademoiselle, I am thankful for your politeness.
Mademoiselle, I have an inexpressible desire to find service with a young lady who is good, accomplished, beautiful. You are good, accomplished, and beautiful as an angel. Ah, could I have the honour of being your domestic!"
"I am sorry-" I began.
"Do not dismiss me so soon, mademoiselle!" she said with an involuntary contraction of her fine black eyebrows. "Let me hope a moment! Mademoiselle, I know this service would be more retired than that which I have quitted. Well! I wish that. I know this service would be less distinguished than that which I have quitted.