Chapters 57-59 Summary
Esther travels with Mr. Bucket in search of Lady Dedlock, following the meager trail she left. Mr. Bucket asks if there is anyone with whom Lady Dedlock may have spoken, and the only person Esther can think of is Mr. Boythorn. They stop by the waterside, where sailors are examining the body of a drowning victim. Esther fears the worst, but it is not Lady Dedlock. They travel to Saint Albans, through which Mr. Bucket says Lady Dedlock traveled the previous evening. Heading toward Bleak House, Mr. Bucket tells Esther that it was indeed he who took Jo because the boy had been talking too much about the dark lady visiting the cemetery (this is now known to have been Lady Dedlock). He says Skimpole told him of Jo’s whereabouts. Esther feels that this is a base betrayal on the part of Mr. Skimpole. At Bleak House, no one has seen Lady Dedlock. At the brickmaker’s cottage, Esther learns that Lady Dedlock had asked Jenny for the handkerchief Esther had used to cover the dead baby. Mr. Bucket suspects that Lady Dedlock gave Jenny a watch in exchange for the handkerchief. They also learn that Jenny saw Lady Dedlock the previous night, and she did not look well. As they return to London, Mr. Bucket suddenly makes a connection and plans to follow Jenny while Esther goes on to London. Esther objects that they are abandoning her mother, but Mr. Bucket tells her not to worry.
Despite the “official” statement that Lady Dedlock has gone to Chesney Wold, it is known that there is trouble. Mrs. Rouncewell fears that Lady Dedlock will not be returning. At Sir Leicester’s orders, however, the servants prepare Lady Dedlock’s room for her imminent return. Mrs. Rouncewell tells Sir Leicester that her long-lost son George has returned, which gives him hope that his wife will also return. Mr. George arrives. This makes Sir Leicester comfortable, so Mr. Geoge stays by his side. Fearing that his condition will worsen, resulting in the loss of his speech, Sir Leicester tells everyone that when Lady Dedlock returns, she is to be told that his feelings for her have not changed. Sir Leicester resists the coming dark. Volumnia fears that, should Sir Leicester die, she will be left without the income he has provided for her.
As Esther and Mr. Bucket search through the streets of London, they run across Mr. Woodcourt, who joins them. They go to Mr. Snagsby’s, where Mr. Bucket acquires a letter he believes will be helpful. A woman who was going to the burial ground gave the letter to Guster, the Snagsbys’ servant. They go to the graveyard and see the figure of a woman lying at the gate, reaching through the bars. Esther believes it is Jenny, who has helped Lady Dedlock escape. She bends down, uncovers her face, and discovers that it is the body of her dead mother.