Study Guide

Bleak House Chapter 22

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Chapter 22

Mr. Bucket

  • (Third-person narrator.)
  • Tulkinghorn is sitting in his office drinking expensive wine.
  • Oh, but, fake out! He's not alone – he's there with Snagsby, who has apparently come to tell him all about Jo and his story of the woman who paid him to take her around on a Nemo walking tour.
  • Tulkinghorn makes extra sure that Snagsby didn't tell his wife he was coming, then Snagsby notices... another person in the room!
  • It's Mr. Bucket, a detective officer.
  • All right, back to the story.
  • Bucket needs Snagsby's help to find Jo, who it seems has "moved on" pretty well this time.
  • Snagsby is at first a little worried, but Bucket says he just needs to ask him a couple of questions and then pay him some money. Bucket adds that apparently Nemo was supposed to get some property, which this woman might have been scheming with. So off they go to Tom-all-Alone's.
  • Bucket asks whether, by the way, Snagsby knows anyone named Gridley. No, he doesn't. Too bad for Bucket, who apparently has a warrant out for Gridley's arrest.
  • Bucket is every bit the detective: friendly but also menacing, he sees everything without seeming to have to look around, and he is never discombobulated by anything he sees.
  • At Tom-all-Alone's, seeing all the crap in the street (literally, crap – there's no sewage system) and all the dregs of humanity and plague victims, Snagsby almost loses his lunch.
  • They try to find Jo, but it's hard because no one knows what his street name is. Finally they figure out that around here he's called "Tough Customer" and that he's gone to get some medicine for a sick woman.
  • The sick woman is none other than our old friend Jenny, the wife of the brickmaker. Lots of coincidences in Dickens. You never meet someone and then never see them again – which is sort of crazy in a big city like London, right? And not very much like real life.
  • Anyhow, Jenny is there cradling a baby. OK, relax, it's not the same dead baby from before. It's her friend Liz's baby, who reminds her of her dead one.
  • She's crying because she wishes her kid were still alive. Meanwhile Liz is crying because when she imagines the baby's future (being beaten by his father, seeing his mother be beaten, then maybe becoming a street kid and probably running away from home), she wishes he were dead.
  • Wow. Awful. Yeesh.
  • Jo comes back with the medicine and Bucket takes him to Tulkinghorn's office.
  • There Jo freaks out a little bit because... the veiled woman is standing in front of him! Jo is confused because the woman seems very much like the one he saw – the same clothes – but is clearly not her – wrong hands, wrong voice.
  • Bucket looks happy, gives Jo some money, and sends him off.
  • The woman takes off her veil, revealing herself to be... Hortense the maid!
  • Tulkinghorn thanks her for doing this thing, mumbles that it must have been the other one wearing this one's clothes, and sends her off.
  • Hortense reminds him that he promised to get her a job.
  • Bucket sends Snagsby on his way, after again confirming that he'll keep all of this a secret.

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