"Now, George," says Mr. Bucket, keeping his forefinger in an impressive state of action, "bear in mind what I've said to you. I ask you nothing. You've been in low spirits this afternoon. I say, you don't happen to have heard of a murder?"
"No. Where has there been a murder?"
"Now, George," says Mr. Bucket, "don't you go and commit yourself. I'm a-going to tell you what I want you for. There has been a murder in Lincoln's Inn Fields — gentleman of the name of Tulkinghorn. He was shot last night. I want you for that."
The trooper sinks upon a seat behind him, and great drops start out upon his forehead, and a deadly pallor overspreads his face.
"Bucket! It's not possible that Mr. Tulkinghorn has been killed and that you suspect ME?"
"George," returns Mr. Bucket, keeping his forefinger going, "it is certainly possible, because it's the case. This deed was done last night at ten o'clock. Now, you know where you were last night at ten o'clock, and you'll be able to prove it, no doubt."
"Last night! Last night?" repeats the trooper thoughtfully. Then it flashes upon him. "Why, great heaven, I was there last night!"
"So I have understood, George," returns Mr. Bucket with great deliberation. "So I have understood. Likewise you've been very often there. You've been seen hanging about the place, and you've been heard more than once in a wrangle with him, and it's possible — I don't say it's certainly so, mind you, but it's possible — that he may have been heard to call you a threatening, murdering, dangerous fellow."
The trooper gasps as if he would admit it all if he could speak.
"Now, George," continues Mr. Bucket, putting his hat upon the table with an air of business rather in the upholstery way than otherwise, "my wish is, as it has been all the evening, to make things pleasant. I tell you plainly there's a reward out, of a hundred guineas, offered by Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet. You and me have always been pleasant together; but I have got a duty to discharge; and if that hundred guineas is to be made, it may as well be made by me as any other man. On all of which accounts, I should hope it was clear to you that I must have you, and that I'm damned if I don't have you. Am I to call in any assistance, or is the trick done?"
Mr. George has recovered himself and stands up like a soldier. "Come," he says; "I am ready."
"George," continues Mr. Bucket, "wait a bit!" With his upholsterer manner, as if the trooper were a window to be fitted up, he takes from his pocket a pair of handcuffs. "This is a serious charge, George, and such is my duty."
The trooper flushes angrily and hesitates a moment, but holds out his two hands, clasped together, and says, "There! Put them on!"
Mr. Bucket adjusts them in a moment. "How do you find them? Are they comfortable? If not, say so, for I wish to make things as pleasant as is consistent with my duty, and I've got another pair in my pocket." This remark he offers like a most respectable tradesman anxious to execute an order neatly and to the perfect satisfaction of his customer. "They'll do as they are? Very well! Now, you see, George" — he takes a cloak from a corner and begins adjusting it about the trooper's neck — "I was mindful of your feelings when I come out, and brought this on purpose. There! Who's the wiser?"
"Only I," returns the trooper, "but as I know it, do me one more good turn and pull my hat over my eyes."
"Really, though! Do you mean it? Ain't it a pity? It looks so."
"I can't look chance men in the face with these things on," Mr. George hurriedly replies. "Do, for God's sake, pull my hat forward."
So strongly entreated, Mr. Bucket complies, puts his own hat on, and conducts his prize into the streets, the trooper marching on as steadily as usual, though with his head less erect, and Mr. Bucket steering him with his elbow over the crossings and up the turnings.