He was calculated to BE a deprivation, I'm sure he was."
Volumnia gives Mr. Bucket to understand, in reply, that her sensitive mind is fully made up never to get the better of it as long as she lives, that her nerves are unstrung for ever, and that she has not the least expectation of ever smiling again. Meanwhile she folds up a cocked hat for that redoubtable old general at Bath, descriptive of her melancholy condition.
"It gives a start to a delicate female," says Mr. Bucket sympathetically, "but it'll wear off."
Volumnia wishes of all things to know what is doing? Whether they are going to convict, or whatever it is, that dreadful soldier? Whether he had any accomplices, or whatever the thing is called in the law? And a great deal more to the like artless purpose.
"Why you see, miss," returns Mr. Bucket, bringing the finger into persuasive action--and such is his natural gallantry that he had almost said "my dear"--"it ain't easy to answer those questions at the present moment. Not at the present moment. I've kept myself on this case, Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet," whom Mr. Bucket takes into the conversation in right of his importance, "morning, noon, and night. But for a glass or two of sherry, I don't think I could have had my mind so much upon the stretch as it has been. I COULD answer your questions, miss, but duty forbids it. Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet, will very soon be made acquainted with all that has been traced. And I hope that he may find it"--Mr. Bucket again looks grave--"to his satisfaction."
The debilitated cousin only hopes some fler'll be executed--zample. Thinks more interest's wanted--get man hanged presentime--than get man place ten thousand a year. Hasn't a doubt--zample--far better hang wrong fler than no fler.
"YOU know life, you know, sir," says Mr. Bucket with a complimentary twinkle of his eye and crook of his finger, "and you can confirm what I've mentioned to this lady. YOU don't want to be told that from information I have received I have gone to work. You're up to what a lady can't be expected to be up to. Lord! Especially in your elevated station of society, miss," says Mr. Bucket, quite reddening at another narrow escape from "my dear."
"The officer, Volumnia," observes Sir Leicester, "is faithful to his duty, and perfectly right."
Mr. Bucket murmurs, "Glad to have the honour of your approbation, Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet."
"In fact, Volumnia," proceeds Sir Leicester, "it is not holding up a good model for imitation to ask the officer any such questions as you have put to him. He is the best judge of his own responsibility; he acts upon his responsibility. And it does not become us, who assist in making the laws, to impede or interfere with those who carry them into execution. Or," says Sir Leicester somewhat sternly, for Volumnia was going to cut in before he had rounded his sentence, "or who vindicate their outraged majesty."
Volumnia with all humility explains that she had not merely the plea of curiosity to urge (in common with the giddy youth of her sex in general) but that she is perfectly dying with regret and interest for the darling man whose loss they all deplore.
"Very well, Volumnia," returns Sir Leicester. "Then you cannot be too discreet."
Mr. Bucket takes the opportunity of a pause to be heard again.
"Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet, I have no objections to telling this lady, with your leave and among ourselves, that I look upon the case as pretty well complete. It is a beautiful case--a beautiful case--and what little is wanting to complete it, I expect to be able to supply in a few hours."
"I am very glad indeed to hear it," says Sir Leicester. "Highly creditable to you."
"Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet," returns Mr. Bucket very seriously, "I hope it may at one and the same time do me credit and prove satisfactory to all. When I depict it as a beautiful case, you see, miss," Mr. Bucket goes on, glancing gravely at Sir Leicester, "I mean from my point of view.