Summary and Analysis Chapters 53-54 – The Track & Springing a Mine


Bucket is an amiable man of good will but dogged in pursuit. At present he wanders far and wide, closely observing a multitude of people, places, and things.

At Tulkinghorn’s funeral, he sits behind the lattice blinds of a carriage and scans the crowd that has gathered in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. After the funeral, he visits the Dedlocks, where he is always welcome. His conversation with Sir Leicester, Volumnia, and others is mostly small talk, but as he leaves, he questions the footman (Mercury) about Lady Dedlock’s habits. He learns that on the night of the murder, she took a lone walk.

The next morning, Bucket tells Sir Leicester that his wife is a suspect. Sir Leicester is dumbfounded when he learns of his wife’s former lover, of her visit to his grave, and of the “bad blood” between her and Tulkinghorn.

The Smallweeds, Snagsbys, and Chadbands arrive and bear the news that love letters to Captain Hawdon from “Honoria” were discovered at Krook’s shop, read by Grandfather Smallweed, and then turned over to Tulkinghorn. All of the new arrivals hope to make money, one way or another out of Lady Dedlock’s troubles and Tulkinghorn’s death. Bucket dismisses them and then arrests Mlle. Hortense. He summarizes her relationship with Tulkinghorn and her appearance, in Lady Dedlock’s clothes, before little Jo. Bucket’s wife kept watch on Hortense and can prove that the French woman wrote letters accusing Lady Dedlock.

Both George Rouncewell and Lady Dedlock visited Tulkinghorn on the night of the murder but both were blameless. Hortense later threw the murder weapon in a small lake; Bucket recovered the gun by having the lake dragged. All this is such a shock for Sir Leicester that he suffers a stroke.


At this point, the “detective story” aspect of the book reaches its completion. Still prompting the reader to read on, however, is (among other things) the unknown fate of Lady Dedlock. Bucket proves to be an intrepid sleuth, and though his main work is over, he will continue to play an active role in subsequent events. Both in defending his wife’s honor and, afterward, in regarding her with compassion and without reproach, Sir Leicester shows hitherto unsuspected virtues, even as he succumbs to a stroke.