Miss Flite, mighty proud of the compliment, sets herself to consider; but it is long before a bright thought occurs to her. Mrs Blinder is entirely let, and she herself occupies poor Gridleys room. Gridley! exclaims Miss Flite, clapping her hands, after a twentieth repetition of this remark. Gridley! To be sure! Of course! My dear physician! General George will help us out.
It is hopeless to ask for any information about General George, and would be, though Miss Flite had not akeady run up-stairs to put on her pinched bonnet and her poor little shawl, and to arm herself with her reticule of documents. But as she informs her physician, in her disjointed manner, on coming down in full array, that General George, whom she often calls upon, knows her dear Fitz-Jarndyce, and takes a great interest in all connected with her, Allan is induced to think that they may be in the right way. So he tells Jo, for his encouragement, that this walking about will soon be over now; and they repair to the generals. Fortunately it is not far.
From the exterior of Georges Shooting Gallery, and the long entry, and the bare perspective beyond it, Allan Woodcourt augurs well. He also descries promise in the figure of Mr George himself, striding towards them in his mornmg exercise with his pipe in his mouth, no stock on, and his muscular arms, developed by broadsword and dumb-bell, weightily asserting themselves through his light shirt-sleeves.
Your servant, sir, says Mr George, with a military salute. Good-humouredly smiling all over his broad forehead up into his crisp hair, he then defers to Miss Flite, as, with great stateliness, and at some length, she performs the courtly ceremony of presentation. He winds it up with another Your servant, sir! and another salute.
Excuse me, sir. A sailor, I believe? says Mr George.
I am proud to find I have the air of one, returns Allan; but I am only a sea-going doctor.
Indeed, sir! I should have thought you was a regular blue-jacket, myself.
Allan hopes Mr George will forgive his intrusion the more readily on that account, and particularly that he will not lay aside his pipe, which, in his politeness, he has testifled some intention of doing. You are very good, sir, returns the trooper. As I know, by experience, that its not disagreeable to Miss Flite, and since its equally agreeable to yourself and finishes the sentence by putting it between his lips again. Allan proceeds to tell him all he knows about Jo; unto which the trooper listens with a grave face.
And thats the lad, sir, is it? he inquires, looking along the entry to where Jo stands staring up at the great letters on the whitewashed front, which have no meaning in his eyes.
Thats he, says Allan. And, Mr George, I am in this difficulty about him. I am unwilling to place him in a hospital, even if I could procure him immediate admission, because I foresee that he would not stay there many hours, if he could be so much as got there. The same objection applies to a workhouse; supposing I had the patience to be evaded and shirked, and handed about from post to pillar in trying to get him into one which is a system that I dont take kindly to.
No man does, sir, returns Mr George.
I am convinced that he would not remain in either place, because he is possessed by an extraordinary terror of this person who ordered him to keep out of the way; in his ignorance, he believes this person to be everywhere, and cognisant of everything.
I ask your pardon, sir, says Mr George. But you have not mentioned that partys name. Is it a secret, sir?
The boy makes it one. But his name is Bucket.
Bucket the detective, sir?
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