Come the roll of wheels and a violent ringing at the bell. "Talk of the angels," says Mr. Bucket. "Here she is!"
The doors are thrown open, and she passes through the hall. Still very pale, she is dressed in slight mourning and wears two beautiful bracelets. Either their beauty or the beauty of her arms is particularly attractive to Mr. Bucket. He looks at them with an eager eye and rattles something in his pocket--halfpence perhaps.
Noticing him at his distance, she turns an inquiring look on the other Mercury who has brought her home.
"Mr. Bucket, my Lady."
Mr. Bucket makes a leg and comes forward, passing his familiar demon over the region of his mouth.
"Are you waiting to see Sir Leicester?"
"No, my Lady, I've seen him!"
"Have you anything to say to me?"
"Not just at present, my Lady."
"Have you made any new discoveries?"
"A few, my Lady."
This is merely in passing. She scarcely makes a stop, and sweeps upstairs alone. Mr. Bucket, moving towards the staircase-foot, watches her as she goes up the steps the old man came down to his grave, past murderous groups of statuary repeated with their shadowy weapons on the wall, past the printed bill, which she looks at going by, out of view.
"She's a lovely woman, too, she really is," says Mr. Bucket, coming back to Mercury. "Don't look quite healthy though."
Is not quite healthy, Mercury informs him. Suffers much from headaches.
Really? That's a pity! Walking, Mr. Bucket would recommend for that. Well, she tries walking, Mercury rejoins. Walks sometimes for two hours when she has them bad. By night, too.
"Are you sure you're quite so much as six foot three?" asks Mr. Bucket. "Begging your pardon for interrupting you a moment?"
Not a doubt about it.
"You're so well put together that I shouldn't have thought it. But the household troops, though considered fine men, are built so straggling. Walks by night, does she? When it's moonlight, though?"
Oh, yes. When it's moonlight! Of course. Oh, of course! Conversational and acquiescent on both sides.
"I suppose you ain't in the habit of walking yourself?" says Mr. Bucket. "Not much time for it, I should say?"
Besides which, Mercury don't like it. Prefers carriage exercise.
"To be sure," says Mr. Bucket. "That makes a difference. Now I think of it," says Mr. Bucket, warming his hands and looking pleasantly at the blaze, "she went out walking the very night of this business."
"To be sure she did! I let her into the garden over the way."
"And left her there. Certainly you did. I saw you doing it."
"I didn't see YOU," says Mercury.
"I was rather in a hurry," returns Mr. Bucket, "for I was going to visit a aunt of mine that lives at Chelsea--next door but two to the old original Bun House--ninety year old the old lady is, a single woman, and got a little property. Yes, I chanced to be passing at the time. Let's see. What time might it be? It wasn't ten."
"You're right. So it was. And if I don't deceive myself, my Lady was muffled in a loose black mantle, with a deep fringe to it?"
"Of course she was."
Of course she was. Mr. Bucket must return to a little work he has to get on with upstairs, but he must shake hands with Mercury in acknowledgment of his agreeable conversation, and will he--this is all he asks--will he, when he has a leisure half-hour, think of bestowing it on that Royal Academy sculptor, for the advantage of both parties?
Springing a Mine
Refreshed by sleep, Mr. Bucket rises betimes in the morning and prepares for a field-day. Smartened up by the aid of a clean shirt and a wet hairbrush, with which instrument, on occasions of ceremony, he lubricates such thin locks as remain to him after his life of severe study, Mr. Bucket lays in a breakfast of two mutton chops as a foundation to work upon, together with tea, eggs, toast, and marmalade on a corresponding scale. Having much enjoyed these strengthening matters and having held subtle conference with his familiar demon, he confidently instructs Mercury "just to mention quietly to Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet, that whenever he's ready for me, I'm ready for him." A gracious message being returned that Sir Leicester will expedite his dressing and join Mr.