You couldn't do better."
"Let us then, my brother, in a spirit of love," says Mr. Chadband with a cunning eye, "proceed unto it. Rachael, my wife, advance!"
Mrs. Chadband, more than ready, so advances as to jostle her husband into the background and confronts Mr. Bucket with a hard, frowning smile.
"Since you want to know what we know," says she, "I'll tell you. I helped to bring up Miss Hawdon, her ladyship's daughter. I was in the service of her ladyship's sister, who was very sensitive to the disgrace her ladyship brought upon her, and gave out, even to her ladyship, that the child was dead--she WAS very nearly so--when she was born. But she's alive, and I know her." With these words, and a laugh, and laying a bitter stress on the word "ladyship," Mrs. Chadband folds her arms and looks implacably at Mr. Bucket.
"I suppose now," returns that officer, "YOU will he expecting a twenty-pound note or a present of about that figure?"
Mrs. Chadband merely laughs and contemptuously tells him he can "offer" twenty pence.
"My friend the law-stationer's good lady, over there," says Mr. Bucket, luring Mrs. Snagsby forward with the finger. "What may YOUR game be, ma'am?"
Mrs. Snagsby is at first prevented, by tears and lamentations, from stating the nature of her game, but by degrees it confusedly comes to light that she is a woman overwhelmed with injuries and wrongs, whom Mr. Snagsby has habitually deceived, abandoned, and sought to keep in darkness, and whose chief comfort, under her afflictions, has been the sympathy of the late Mr. Tulkinghorn, who showed so much commiseration for her on one occasion of his calling in Cook's Court in the absence of her perjured husband that she has of late habitually carried to him all her woes. Everybody it appears, the present company excepted, has plotted against Mrs. Snagsby's peace. There is Mr. Guppy, clerk to Kenge and Carboy, who was at first as open as the sun at noon, but who suddenly shut up as close as midnight, under the influence--no doubt--of Mr. Snagsby's suborning and tampering. There is Mr. Weevle, friend of Mr. Guppy, who lived mysteriously up a court, owing to the like coherent causes. There was Krook, deceased; there was Nimrod, deceased; and there was Jo, deceased; and they were "all in it." In what, Mrs. Snagsby does not with particularity express, but she knows that Jo was Mr. Snagsby's son, "as well as if a trumpet had spoken it," and she followed Mr. Snagsby when he went on his last visit to the boy, and if he was not his son why did he go? The one occupation of her life has been, for some time back, to follow Mr. Snagsby to and fro, and up and down, and to piece suspicious circumstances together--and every circumstance that has happened has been most suspicious; and in this way she has pursued her object of detecting and confounding her false husband, night and day. Thus did it come to pass that she brought the Chadbands and Mr. Tulkinghorn together, and conferred with Mr. Tulkinghorn on the change in Mr. Guppy, and helped to turn up the circumstances in which the present company are interested, casually, by the wayside, being still and ever on the great high road that is to terminate in Mr. Snagsby's full exposure and a matrimonial separation. All this, Mrs. Snagsby, as an injured woman, and the friend of Mrs. Chadband, and the follower of Mr. Chadband, and the mourner of the late Mr. Tulkinghorn, is here to certify under the seal of confidence, with every possible confusion and involvement possible and impossible, having no pecuniary motive whatever, no scheme or project but the one mentioned, and bringing here, and taking everywhere, her own dense atmosphere of dust, arising from the ceaseless working of her mill of jealousy.
While this exordium is in hand--and it takes some time--Mr. Bucket, who has seen through the transparency of Mrs. Snagsby's vinegar at a glance, confers with his familiar demon and bestows his shrewd attention on the Chadbands and Mr. Smallweed. Sir Leicester Dedlock remains immovable, with the same icy surface upon him, except that he once or twice looks towards Mr.