فصل 05

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فصل 05

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CHAPTER five

Dead or Alive?

During the four summer months, the Court of Chancery is open for only a few hours every day, and the important people - judges, lawyers, even suitors - have gone to more interesting places across the face of the earth, from the south coast of England to the mountains of Nepal.

Because the city is so empty, Mr Snagsby is surprised when his dinner is interrupted by a loud knock on the door. He hurries down to the shop and finds a policeman, Mr Guppy and young Jo at his door.

‘This boy,’ the policeman begins, ‘says you know him. He refuses to move away from the street, although I have told him to go many times.’

‘I’ve been moving away ever since I was born,’ cries the boy, drying his dirty tears on his arm. ‘I don’t have no place to move away to!

‘I know the boy, and he is no trouble to anyone,’ says Mr Snagsby kindly.

‘Good evening, Mr Snagsby.’ Mr Guppy finally speaks. ‘I heard Jo say your name when I was passing, so I thought I would lead the policeman here.’

‘But he must move five kilometres away from here,’ says the policeman. ‘And he has too much money in his pockets for a boy in rags. He says he was given it by a lady, but he can’t expect me to believe that story.’

‘I don’t expect nothing, sir, and I don’t know nothing,’ cries Jo.

‘Officer,’ begins Mr Snagsby, ‘Jo will move away. He is a good boy.’

After the policeman has left, Mr Snagsby and Mr Guppy question Jo about the fine lady and his gold coin. Mr Guppy is becoming a little like the great Mr Tulkinghorn and keeps the details of Jo’s story safely in his head, ready for future use.


Mr Guppy and the new law student, Mr Richard Carstone, are the only workers in the offices of Kenge and Carboy during this hot, lazy summer. Richard, who has not yet left the law to join the army, spends his days studying the Jarndyce and Jarndyce papers.

Guppy is bored, so he is very pleased when his old friend Tony Jobling appears at the office. Jobling used to work in another legal office in London, but had to leave for rather mysterious reasons. He wants to be in the city again, and has come to ask for help from his good friend.

‘Jobling! Wonderful to see you, old man! Let’s go to lunch. I shall pay!’

After a good meal and several glasses of beer, Jobling says, ‘I can’t believe how poor I find myself today.’

‘Well, Tony, you were taking chances with other people’s money.’

‘Guppy, I will not deny it, but I got caught, and now I have no job and not a penny to my name.’

‘You could copy legal documents for Snagsby until you find a better job. Wait! There is more to my plan. Krook, at the Rag and Bottle Market, has a room for rent at an affordable price. You could get friendly with him.’

‘Why would I want to do that?’ asks Jobling.

‘He is old and usually drunk and almost always alone, so we might discover his secrets one day. Some people say he is enormously rich. Who knows what you might find out?’

After the two friends drink to the plan, Guppy quietly adds, ‘Krook’s last tenant died there. You don’t mind that, do you?’

‘Well, I think that wasn’t very polite, but let’s go and talk to old Krook and see the room,’ suggests Jobling.

The two young men find Krook still sleeping at one o’clock in the afternoon, and have a hard time waking him up.

‘How do you do, Mr Krook,’ shouts Guppy. ‘I hope you are well!’

‘Hi! Guppy!’ Krook finally answers. Then he looks at his empty alcohol bottle and says, ‘Has somebody finished my drink?’

‘Not us,’ says Guppy. ‘But I shall get you another bottle from next door.’

Guppy returns almost immediately with a full bottle of alcohol which Krook accepts very happily. ‘You are a true gentleman, Guppy.’

Guppy takes advantage of this friendly mood and soon Jobling has rented Mr Nemo’s old room. The young men hurry to Mr Snagsby’s house and are successful there, too.


Not long after poor Jo’s visit to Mr Snagsby’s shop, Mr Tulkinghorn invites Snagsby to dinner. The lawyer wants to discover more details about the boy’s meeting with the lady who was asking about Nemo. Tulkinghorn’s second guest is Mr Bucket, a private detective.

‘Mr Bucket has heard about this business and has some questions for the boy,’ explains Mr Tulkinghorn. ‘Help him find Jo and bring him here.’

Snagsby seems upset at this suggestion, but Mr Bucket understands what he is thinking. ‘The boy will be paid for his trouble, and I promise he will be all right. We have a few questions about Mr Nemo. Perhaps he owned a little property or had some money hidden away. We want to find out if this female is looking for something that does not belong to her.’

‘Oh, I see,’ says Snagsby although he is not sure that he does.

Mr Bucket and Snagsby finally find Jo delivering some medicine to a poor woman. He has moved away from his usual places and found a place to sleep near the brick-makers. Of course he does not understand what is happening, but follows Mr Snagsby, who has always been kind to him.

In Tulkinghorn’s office the lights have been turned down and there is a woman in a long dark coat with a veil over her face standing in the centre of the room when Jo and the two men enter.

‘There she is!’ cries Jo. ‘The fine lady that gave me the money. I know that veil and coat, and she’s the right size.’

‘Jo,’ says Bucket, ‘are you certain that she is the lady? Look at her hands.’

‘Oh. Those aren’t her hands - they were whiter and smaller, and her rings were very beautiful.’

‘Listen to her voice, Jo,’ says Bucket. And then the lady speaks.

‘No, it can’t be her. That’s not her voice and those aren’t her hands, but the veil and the coat are hers. I’m sure about that.’

When Jo has gone, the woman lifts her veil.

‘Thank you, Miss Hortense,’ says Mr Tulkinghorn.

‘Sir, kindly remember that I am now not employed by Lady Dedlock,’ the Frenchwoman begins. ‘I hope you may be able to help me.’

‘I will do whatever I can. I wish you good night,’ says Mr Tulkinghorn very formally. ‘And to you, Snagsby.’

‘Without doubt,’ says Bucket, ‘the other woman was dressed in the Frenchwoman’s clothes on the night she asked Jo to be her guide.’


Mr Tulkinghorn continues his own detective work. Before talking to Jo, he knew that Lady Dedlock wanted to discover more about Mr Nemo. His search has uncovered the possibility that Nemo’s real name was Captain Hawdon.

Tulkinghorn has Nemo’s signature from Snagsby, but he needs to match it with an example of Captain Hawdon’s writing.

Mr Bucket has learned that Hawdon was in the army with Mr George Rouncewell, the owner of a London training school for men who want to learn the skills of real soldiers. He has also discovered that Mr Rouncewell has borrowed money from Mr Smallweed, a clever and terribly greedy old moneylender who sometimes does little jobs for Tulkinghorn. Bucket tells Smallweed to bring Mr Rouncewell to Tulkinghorn’s office for an interview.

‘Mr Rouncewell,’ says Tulkinghorn, not pausing to greet the old soldier politely, ‘I understand that you served in the army with Captain Hawdon, and that you were good friends. Perhaps you have a note or a letter in Captain Hawdon’s handwriting. I wish to compare his writing with an example of writing that I have. Perhaps this is something you could lend me?’

‘I have no experience of business, and when I hear you talk, I feel that I can’t breathe. I am not the equal of you gentlemen, but if you will allow me to ask, why do you need to see something in the captain’s handwriting?’

‘I cannot tell you. But I will say that this bit of business will not harm Captain Hawdon,’ says Tulkinghorn.

‘Of course not. He is dead,’ says George Rouncewell.

‘Is he?’ asks the lawyer as he returns to his desk.

‘Yes, he went over the side of a ship, and may he rest in peace,’ says George. ‘You won’t explain yourself, so I will not be part of this business.’

‘Good day, Mr Rouncewell. Don’t forget to make your payments to Mr Smallweed on time. You don’t want to have any trouble with the police.’

On hearing these rude words, George Rouncewell hurries out of Tulkinghorn’s office. ‘What an awful man! A murderous, dangerous, nasty sort of man!’ he says to himself as he rushes angrily out of the building.

Unfortunately, Tulkinghorn’s servant hears these words as he passes Rouncewell on the stairs.


It is autumn and Sir Leicester and his wife are at their house in town. One evening, Lady Dedlock’s quiet reading is interrupted by a servant: ‘The young man, My Lady, of the name of Guppy,’ he says.

‘Mr Guppy, you are, of course, the person who has written me so many letters?’ asks Lady Dedlock without greeting Guppy.

‘Yes, madam, several, but today my business is too important, and too private, to put in writing. Have you, madam, ever heard of or seen a young lady of the name Miss Esther Summerson?’

‘I saw a young lady of that name not long ago,’ answers Lady Dedlock.

‘I have visited Chesney Wold, and when I saw your picture above the fireplace, I noticed that you and Miss Summerson are very similar.’

Lady Dedlock gives Guppy one of her coldest looks and says, ‘Why do you think your opinion of my picture is of any interest to me?’

‘Madam, if I could solve the mystery of Miss Summerson’s birth, she might begin to admire me and might then agree to marry me. From papers at Kenge and Carboy,’ continues Guppy politely, ‘I learned that Miss Barbary, Miss Summerson’s aunt, looked after her when she was a child. Does Miss Barbary have a connection to your family?’

Lady Dedlock’s face has gone very pale. ‘I know the name.’

‘Miss Barbary told Mr Kenge that the girl’s last name was really Hawdon.’

Lady Dedlock is shocked and has to force herself to stay calm.

‘Madam, there is one final point. Some time ago, a law-writer was found dead at the house of a person named Krook, near Chancery Lane. I have discovered recently that the dead man’s real name was Hawdon.’

‘And is that my business?’

‘Later, a lady hired a poor sweeping boy to show her the final resting place of Hawdon, or Nemo, as he was known. The boy knows the lady’s voice and can describe her hands and her rings. The police believe that Nemo left nothing behind in his room when he died. But he did. He left a packet of old letters, and tomorrow night I will have those letters in my hand. I have explained my purpose, and if you agree, I will bring these letters here tomorrow night and look at them for the first time with you.’

Lady Dedlock is not certain that she can believe this young man, but she answers, again calmly, ‘You may bring the letters if you choose.’

When My Lady is alone, she falls to her knees and a horrible cry shakes her whole body. ‘Oh, my child, my child! Not dead in the first hours of her life! My cruel sister lied to me and stole my child from me!’


Tony Jobling has become friends with Krook, often bringing him a bottle of his favourite alcohol. Krook has agreed to show Tony the packet of letters that he took from Mr Nemo’s suitcase on the night the law-writer died. Guppy hopes that the information in these letters will help him to win Esther Summerson’s love. He arrives at Jobling’s room just after ten o’clock.

‘There is something strange in the air tonight,’ says Tony Jobling.

‘You are right. Is there a chimney on fire? Something smells horrible. There are little pieces of black stuff on your table and on our clothes. I can’t brush them off. It seems like some kind of fat,’ complains Guppy.

‘Let’s open the window and breathe some air,’ suggests Jobling.

Finally, at midnight, Jobling goes downstairs, but he returns in seconds.

‘Have you got the letters?’ shouts Guppy.

‘No,’ says Jobling. ‘Krook’s not there. I opened his door and there was a terrible burning smell, and I could see the^ame black stuff and yellow oil that we saw up here on the walls and table, but no old man.’

The two young men hurry down the stairs to find Krook.

‘Look!’ says Jobling. ‘There is his hat on the back of his chair. And there on the floor is the red string that was around the letters.’

The only other thing they find is a small, burnt, oily mark on the floor with something that looks like pieces of white bones resting on it. Suddenly they realise that this is what is left of Krook - and they run into the street, more frightened than they have ever been in their lives.

Mr Krook has been burned to death by a fire that started inside his own body. It is a very rare way to die, but scientifically, it is not impossible.

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