Well then. We've arrived at the final quarter of the book, and Dickens appears poised to really start having things happen. This section is full of sad things--Jo's death (sniff) and Mr. George's arrest for the murder of Mr. Tulkinghorn. I have to admit I love the whole lead-up to Tulkinghorn's death. I figured out fairly quickly what was about to happen, but Dickens was on a roll:
"Not only does the stillness attend it as it flows where houses cluster thick, where may bridges are reflected in it,where wharves and shipping make it black and awful, where it winds away from these disfigurements through marshes whose grim beacons stand like skeletons washed ashore."
But while I'm 99% convinced Lady Dedlock committed this murder, there's 1% of me that isn't so sure. I don't for a minute think Mr. George did it. Certainly he was no friend of Tulkinghorn, but overall he's too honorable. Yet Lady Dedlock letting her maid go so that she wouldn't be tainted by an upcoming scandal, and knowing the Tulkinghorn plans to tell Sir Leicester--yes, that's plenty of motive, but at the same time, I got the impression she let Rosa go because she knew her hidden life was about to be revealed and shock all good society. She doesn't seem surprised that Tulkinghorn is going to reveal the secret.
So...did she murder him on a moment's whim? Did she perhaps see who murdered him (because it seems like Tulkinghorn would definitely have more than a few people who'd like to see him dead)?
And wasn't his death a pointed contrast to poor Jo's? Jo had so very little in his life, but at least he died a safe death in a place where people tried to care for him and wanted him to live. Unlike Tulkinghorn, who was no friend of Jo's, and who was shot in the back.
I knew that Bucket was coming back to haunt us. What a creep, sitting there at the birthday party, pretending all is well, when he's just biding his time before arresting Mr. George.
That said, the birthday party was a much-needed bit of levity in this section. Poor Mrs. Bagnet, with that hideous meal! She knows they're trying and they think they're doing well, but no question she'd rather do it herself.
Next week, chapters 50-53 (and I peeked and see that Esther returns). This week's Gorey: Roman looking down at the corpse of Mr. Tulkinghorn.