Summary of Chapter LV: Flight
An emotional reunion of Mr. George (Rouncewell) and his mother, Mrs. Rouncewell, is orchestrated by Mrs. Bagnet. There is forgiveness and George’s promise to defend himself with a lawyer. Then, Mrs. Rouncewell goes to Lady Dedlock with an anonymous letter she received with a newspaper clipping about the murder and “Lady Dedlock, murderess” underneath. She begs if her Ladyship knows anything about it to help her son George who is being held for the murder.
This shock is succeeded by another. Guppy comes to Lady Dedlock to put her on her guard, to tell her the letters were not destroyed after all; they were found by Smallweed who was here earlier trying to collect money for them. Lady Dedlock breaks down, seeing that her husband now knows all, and fearing to be thought a murderess, she writes her husband a letter declaring her innocence of the murder and acknowledging the shame she has brought to his “generous devotion” (p. 575). She must leave and say good-by. She veils herself, leaves all jewels and everything behind and rushes out into the night.
Commentary on Chapter LV
This is a tragic set-up, with the wrong messengers appearing with the wrong information. Mrs. Rouncewell lets her know she may be wanted for murder. Guppy, for once, is trying to act honorably to help Lady Dedlock, but instead, lets her know that the letters are found and her husband knows about them. She flees, feeling trapped, when actually, Hortense has already been arrested, George has been released, and Sir Leicester, still lying in a stupor on the floor, wants only to forgive.