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Summary Chapter 55

A post-chaise makes it way to the prison where Mr. George is incarcerated. Within the post-chaise are Mrs. Bagnet and Mr. George’s mother, who is none other than Mrs. Rouncewell. (As she had resolved to do, Mrs. Bagnet has found Mr. George’s mother.) During the ride to the prison, while Mrs. Rouncewell explains the circumstances of her estrangement from her favorite son (out of shame, George, who had failed to advance to the level of officer in the army, ceased to correspondence with his mother), Mrs. Bagnet chatters on about how she was able to find out about Mrs. Rouncewell’s relationship to George, which George had kept a secret from the rest of the world. Apparently, one day, when George was low in spirits, Mrs. Bagnet had got the secret out of him, that he had a widowed mother to whom he had caused much grief.

Presently, they arrive at the prison where Mrs. Bagnet can’t help but to weep as Mrs. Rouncewell reunites with her son. George begs his mother for forgiveness and explains that his failure in life is what had prompted him to estrange himself from his mother and his kin. Mrs. Rouncewell forgives her son and implores him to accept what legal aid that she may provide for him. George promises not to be headstrong and to avail himself of the legal help that his mother could provide. Indeed, he promises to surrender himself to the lawyers, to let them go about his case in their own way but on one condition: Arguing that he cannot bear the shame, he implores his mother not to let his brother, who has spectacularly succeeded in life, to know of his—George’s—present circumstance. Mrs. Rouncewell promises to do as George asks. Thus, the mother departs from the son. As for Mrs. Bagnet, she returns to the Bagnet household on foot despite Mrs. Rouncewell’s objections and resumes her household duties as if nothing had happened.

Meanwhile, in the Dedlocks townhouse in London, Lady Dedlock is contemplating a letter which was written by Mademoiselle Hortense and which accuses Lady Dedlock of being Mr. Tulkinghorn’s murderer when Mr. Guppy pays a visit. Apologizing for presuming to have a matter that would concern her, Mr. Guppy nonetheless goes on about a recent intelligence that he had become privy to despite his efforts to avoid getting himself involved. He mentions the recent visit of Grandpa Smallweed, the Chadbands, and Mrs. Snagsby to the Dedlock household. According to Mr. Guppy, the visit was a confirmation on Sir Leicester’s behalf with regard Lady Dedlock’s past ties to Captain Hawdon and of their daughter. Lady Dedlock’s secret is out. Subsequently, Lady Dedlock writes a letter of apology to Sir Leicester and flees, never to return.

Charles Dickens