Summary of Chapter XXVII
Smallweed is carried into Tulkinghorn’s chamber alongside Mr. George. Mr. George sees a box of papers labeled “Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet” and he remarks, “Chesney Wold.” Smallweed tells him Tulkinghorn is very rich.
Tulkinghorn grills Mr. George about his military service under Captain Hawdon and tells him he will pay for a letter of his. Though George has one on him, he says he doesn’t know unless he understands what it’s for. Tulkinghorn won’t say, so George doesn’t give it to him. Smallweed is furious, but Tulkinghorn plays it cool. When George says Hawdon is dead, Tulkinghorn questions it.
George leaves Tulkinghorn’s for his friends, the Bagnets near Blackfriars Bridge, who own a music shop. They are old army friends. Mr. Bagnet says that George will have to consult Mrs. Bagnet on any important matter, because that’s what he does. She is the brains of the family and figured out how to get him out of the army and into his first love, music. George plays with the children and then asks advice of Mrs. Bagnet about the Hawdon letter. She tells him not to be a party to something he doesn’t understand.
George returns to Tulkinghorn and tells him no, and Tulkinghorn slams the door in his face because he has found out he sheltered Gridley.
Commentary on Chapter XXVII
Mr. George is a simple and honest man. He doesn’t know anything about legal procedures. Tulkinghorn tries his best legal manner to get the piece of evidence he needs from George, but George goes by his instincts. He keeps saying he feels “smothered” (p. 290) in the presence of Smallweed and Tulkinghorn. Then he goes to Mrs. Bagnet who confirms his action by telling him the principle, “do nothing in the dark” or “put [your] foot where [you] cannot see the ground” (p. 295).
The Bagnets give the narrator a chance to contrast all the nasty business in London with the only center of light in England for the author—family love. This family, like the Snagsbys, and Jellybys, is run by the woman, but she has sense, and the husband appreciates her. Mrs. Bagnet uses her brains for her family, however, not like Mrs. Jellyby who uses her talents for the natives in some other country, while her own family goes down through neglect.