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 foothold; 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. It was like hearing his voice in a strange country.

“My dear Miss Summerson, that you should be out at this hour, and in such weather!”

He had heard from my guardian of my having been called away on some uncommon business, and said so to dispense with any explanation. I told him that we had but just left a coach, and were going — but then I was obliged to look at my companion.

“Why, you see, Mr Woodcourt;” he had caught the name from me; “we are a going at present into the next street. — Inspector Bucket.”

Mr Woodcourt, disregarding my remonstrances, had hurriedly taken off his cloak, and was putting it about me. “That’s a good move, too,” said Mr Bucket, assisting, “a very good move.”

“May I go with you?” said Mr Woodcourt. I don’t know whether to me or to my companion.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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