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Summary Chapter 58

Outside the walls of the Dedlock town house, rumor runs rampant. There is talk of impending divorce between Sir Leicester Dedlock and Lady Dedlock. Amongst the jewelers, the mercers, and the librarian, there is talk about getting in the mind of Lady Dedlock’s successor(s), and of how doing so is critical to their respective businesses what with society being a herd which apes the one or three persons who are believed to be the acme of fashion.

Meanwhile, inside the walls of the Dedlock townhouse, Mrs. Rouncewell looks after Sir Leicester Dedlock who is still bed-ridden and can barely speak. Presently, Mrs. Rouncewell has a word with her son George, who has come to visit. Referring to the legend of the Ghost’s Walk and to Lady Dedlock’s woeful state yesterday, Mrs. Rouncewell tells George of her fear and presentiment that Lady Dedlock may never again be seen within the walls of Chesney Wold. George hopes his mother is wrong, but when he takes a look at the desolate emptiness of Lady Dedlock’s room, he himself can’t help but to think that there is some validity to her mother’s fear.

While Mrs. Rouncewell is with her son, Sir Leicester’s cousin Volumnia keeps watch of Sir Leicester. When Mrs. Rouncewell returns, Volumnia takes a seat by a nearby table. It isn’t long before Volumnia, who is susceptible to boredom, begins yawning. She engages Mrs. Rouncewell in a conversation about the latter’s son. The conversation piques Sir Leicester’s interest. He urges Mrs. Rouncewell to bring George before him. Mrs. Rouncewell complies though it was George’s wish to have kept his presence a secret.

The presence of George Rouncewell encourages Sir Leicester. After all, George, who had disappeared from Mrs. Rouncewell’s sight for years, has returned. Doesn’t this bode well for Sir Leicester what with Lady Dedlock having disappeared from his sight for only hours? Presently, with George’s help, Sir Leicester assumes a more comfortable position on his bed to make an announcement. He wants everyone to know that nothing has changed between him and Lady Dedlock, that he holds the highest regard for his lady as he ever had, and that for anyone to think otherwise would be to wrong Sir Leicester.

However, as the day declines to evening and night and no news arrives with regard Lady Dedlock, Sir Leicester’s spirit flags. Fearful, he continuously looks out the windows and refuses to have the curtains closed and the candles lighted. Mrs. Rouncewell eventually persuades Sir Leicester to have the curtains closed and the candles lighted for his comfort’s sake. As the night wears on, George periodically informs Sir Leicester of the weather outside, while patrolling the house. Meanwhile, though she doesn’t have to, Volumnia stays awake with the aid of her maid and takes consolation at George’s presence in the house. George eventually persuades her to retire to her bed much to the maid’s relief.

As the day dawns, the weather is as miserable as ever. Sleet and snow vie for predominance. George, who opens the curtains and puts out the candles for Sir Leicester, can’t help but be reminded of her mother’s fear and dread.

Charles Dickens