After a suspense of a minute or two the door slowly opens and a Frenchwoman enters. Mademoiselle Hortense.
The moment she is in the room Mr. Bucket claps the door to and puts his back against it. The suddenness of the noise occasions her to turn, and then for the first time she sees Sir Leicester Dedlock in his chair.
"I ask you pardon," she mutters hurriedly. "They tell me there was no one here."
Her step towards the door brings her front to front with Mr. Bucket. Suddenly a spasm shoots across her face and she turns deadly pale.
"This is my lodger, Sir Leicester Dedlock," says Mr. Bucket, nodding at her. "This foreign young woman has been my lodger for some weeks back."
"What do Sir Leicester care for that, you think, my angel?" returns mademoiselle in a jocular strain.
"Why, my angel," returns Mr. Bucket, "we shall see."
Mademoiselle Hortense eyes him with a scowl upon her tight face, which gradually changes into a smile of scorn, "You are very mysterieuse. Are you drunk?"
"Tolerable sober, my angel," returns Mr. Bucket.
"I come from arriving at this so detestable house with your wife. Your wife have left me since some minutes. They tell me downstairs that your wife is here. I come here, and your wife is not here. What is the intention of this fool's play, say then?" mademoiselle demands, with her arms composedly crossed, but with something in her dark cheek beating like a clock.
Mr. Bucket merely shakes the finger at her.
"Ah, my God, you are an unhappy idiot!" cries mademoiselle with a toss of her head and a laugh. "Leave me to pass downstairs, great pig." With a stamp of her foot and a menace.
"Now, mademoiselle," says Mr. Bucket in a cool determined way, "you go and sit down upon that sofy."
"I will not sit down upon nothing," she replies with a shower of nods.
"Now, mademoiselle," repeats Mr. Bucket, making no demonstration except with the finger, "you sit down upon that sofy."
"Because I take you into custody on a charge of murder, and you don't need to be told it. Now, I want to be polite to one of your sex and a foreigner if I can. If I can't, I must be rough, and there's rougher ones outside. What I am to be depends on you. So I recommend you, as a friend, afore another half a blessed moment has passed over your head, to go and sit down upon that sofy."
Mademoiselle complies, saying in a concentrated voice while that something in her cheek beats fast and hard, "You are a devil."
"Now, you see," Mr. Bucket proceeds approvingly, "you're comfortable and conducting yourself as I should expect a foreign young woman of your sense to do. So I'll give you a piece of advice, and it's this, don't you talk too much. You're not expected to say anything here, and you can't keep too quiet a tongue in your head. In short, the less you PARLAY, the better, you know." Mr. Bucket is very complacent over this French explanation.
Mademoiselle, with that tigerish expansion of the mouth and her black eyes darting fire upon him, sits upright on the sofa in a rigid state, with her hands clenched--and her feet too, one might suppose--muttering, "Oh, you Bucket, you are a devil!"
"Now, Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet," says Mr. Bucket, and from this time forth the finger never rests, "this young woman, my lodger, was her ladyship's maid at the time I have mentioned to you; and this young woman, besides being extraordinary vehement and passionate against her ladyship after being discharged--"
"Lie!" cries mademoiselle. "I discharge myself."
"Now, why don't you take my advice?" returns Mr. Bucket in an impressive, almost in an imploring, tone. "I'm surprised at the indiscreetness you commit. You'll say something that'll be used against you, you know. You're sure to come to it. Never you mind what I say till it's given in evidence. It is not addressed to you."
"Discharge, too," cries mademoiselle furiously, "by her ladyship! Eh, my faith, a pretty ladyship! Why, I r-r-r-ruin my character by remaining with a ladyship so infame!"
"Upon my soul I wonder at you!" Mr.