When Dickens decides to start moving the story along, he doesn't waste any time, does he? Well, maybe in the 600+ pages that came before this section (in my edition) there has been a little time wasted here and there, but in this section? Hoo boy.
What worries me, though, is that when I read another one of Dickens' big tomes, Our Mutual Friend (also a lovely and fun read), it too had several intertwining plot points and characters that were leisurely brought to life, and then BAM! it was over. As if he'd suddenly gotten tired of all of them, and with one brisk wiping of his hands, he wrapped everything up and went off to the pub. I hope that's not going to happen here. I've been happily committed to this book for quite a while now (as have you all) and I hope he doesn't race to the end. We shall see.
In the meantime! We now know who killed Tulkinghorn, and we now know (although I for one hadn't been wondering) who George's mother is, and Lady Dedlock has disappeared, and it appears her husband maybe had a stroke (if that's the translation from "apoplexy"), but it also appears possible that while utterly clueless, he may actually care for his wife and be worried for her welfare, even if she brings scandal on Casa Dedlock.
There was much to enjoy in this section. Mr. Bucket and his continuous "Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet". Mrs. Bagnet's commentary on lawyers: "'It won't do to have truth and justice on his side; he must have law and lawyers,' exclaims the old girl, apparently persuaded that the latter form a separate establishment." The description of London at dawn: "The frosty night wears away, and the dawn breaks, and the post-chaise comes rolling on through the early mist, like the ghost of a chaise departed. It has plenty of spectral company, in ghosts of trees and hedges, slowly vanishing and giving place to the realities of day." The description of Mrs. Rouncewell as a "handsome piece of old china". And, sadly, the description of Lady Dedlock fleeing her home: "She veils and dresses quickly, leaves all her jewels and her money, listens, goes down-stairs at a moment when the hall is empty, opens and shuts the great door; flutters away in the shrill frosty wind."
The only question I had is: it seems like Mr. Bucket put two and two together pretty early on. So why did he arrest George? And why did he go see Sir Dedlock? What do you think?
Two more weeks, folks. Next week, chapters 57-59. Here's this week's Gorey, the scene where Bucket takes away Hortense after interviewing her in front of Sir Dedlock: