They shook it out and strewed it well about me, and I found it warm and comfortable.
"Now, my dear," said Mr. Bucket, with his head in at the window after I was shut up. "We're a-going to mark this person down. It may take a little time, but you don't mind that. You're pretty sure that I've got a motive. Ain't you?"
I little thought what it was, little thought in how short a time I should understand it better, but I assured him that I had confidence in him.
"So you may have, my dear," he returned. "And I tell you what! If you only repose half as much confidence in me as I repose in you after what I've experienced of you, that'll do. Lord! You're no trouble at all. I never see a young woman in any station of society--and I've seen many elevated ones too--conduct herself like you have conducted yourself since you was called out of your bed. You're a pattern, you know, that's what you are," said Mr. Bucket warmly; "you're a pattern."
I told him I was very glad, as indeed I was, to have been no hindrance to him, and that I hoped I should be none now.
"My dear," he returned, "when a young lady is as mild as she's game, and as game as she's mild, that's all I ask, and more than I expect. She then becomes a queen, and that's about what you are yourself."
With these encouraging words--they really were encouraging to me under those lonely and anxious circumstances--he got upon the box, and we once more drove away. Where we drove I neither knew then nor have ever known since, but we appeared to seek out the narrowest and worst streets in London. Whenever I saw him directing the driver, I was prepared for our descending into a deeper complication of such streets, and we never failed to do so.
Sometimes we emerged upon a wider thoroughfare or came to a larger building than the generality, well lighted. Then we stopped at offices like those we had visited when we began our journey, and I saw him in consultation with others. Sometimes he would get down by an archway or at a street corner and mysteriously show the light of his little lantern. This would attract similar lights from various dark quarters, like so many insects, and a fresh consultation would be held. By degrees we appeared to contract our search within narrower and easier limits. Single police-officers on duty could now tell Mr. Bucket what he wanted to know and point to him where to go. At last we stopped for a rather long conversation between him and one of these men, which I supposed to be satisfactory from his manner of nodding from time to time. When it was finished he came to me looking very busy and very attentive.
"Now, Miss Summerson," he said to me, "you won't be alarmed whatever comes off, I know. It's not necessary for me to give you any further caution than to tell you that we have marked this person down and that you may be of use to me before I know it myself. I don't like to ask such a thing, my dear, but would you walk a little way?"
Of course I got out directly and took his arm.
"It ain't so easy to keep your feet," said Mr. Bucket, "but take time."
Although I looked about me confusedly and hurriedly as we crossed the street, I thought I knew the place. "Are we in Holborn?" I asked him.
"Yes," said Mr. Bucket. "Do you know this turning?"
"It looks like Chancery Lane."
"And was christened so, my dear," said Mr. Bucket.
We turned down it, and as we went shuffling through the sleet, I heard the clocks strike half-past five. We passed on in silence and as quickly as we could with such a foot-hold, when some one coming towards us on the narrow pavement, wrapped in a cloak, stopped and stood aside to give me room. In the same moment I heard an exclamation of wonder and my own name from Mr. Woodcourt. I knew his voice very well.
It was so unexpected and so--I don't know what to call it, whether pleasant or painful--to come upon it after my feverish wandering journey, and in the midst of the night, that I could not keep back the tears from my eyes.