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<TEI xmlns="http://www.tei-c.org/ns/1.0">
<title>Our Mutual Friend Working Notes Number 2</title>
<author>Charles Dickens</author>
<resp>transcribed from facsimiles of the manuscript by</resp>
<name>Anna Gibson</name>
<orgName>Duke University. </orgName>
<orgName>NINES (nines.org) in the form of initial funding for training at the
Digital Humanities Summer Institute (Course on Digital Editions). </orgName>

<orgName>Mellon/ACLS (American Council of Learned Societies in the form of

funding to purchase digital images of the working notes.</orgName>
<publisher>Anna Gibson</publisher>
<pubPlace>Duke University</pubPlace>
<availability status="restricted">
<p>Designed for academic research purposes only. <lb/>The manuscript on which
this transcription is based belongs to the Pierpont Morgan Library.</p>
<p>For more information about this project, contact Anna Gibson:
<note anchored="true">There are 19 double-pages of working notes for this novel, one
for each of the first 18 installments, and then a single final double page for
the final double installment (numbers 19 and 20). </note>
<note type="critIntro" anchored="false">
<hi rend="italics">
<hi rend="underline">Please note that this page is work-in-progress to
test out options for the Digital Dickens Working Notes Project.</hi>
<p>This page displays a test phase of the Digital Dickens Notes Project, which
aims to explore the relationship between Dickens's working notes for <hi
rend="italic">Our Mutual Friend</hi> alongside the serial installments
of the novel. This test places the transcriptions of the notes for the
second installment of the novel (Book 1; Chapters V-VII) alongside the
installment text. It highlights certain connections between Dickens's
generative notes for the novel (left hand side of the page) and his chapter
plans (right hand side of the page). It also includes some early critical
notes. </p>
<p><hi rend="italics"><hi rend="underline">For best viewing</hi></hi>, close
this panel by clicking on the "x" on the top right. To open it again, click
on "Critical Introduction" on the top panel. </p>
<p>Selecting words in the notes panels (left and right) will highlight
corresponding words in the notes and in the installment text. This
illustrates connections across Dickens's stages of writing</p>
<p>For more information about the project (of which this is only an early test)
and its goals, please visit the project homepage at
<!-- REMOVED <note type="desc" anchored="true"><p>How to use this document.</p></note>-->
<note type="image" anchored="true">
<witDetail wit="#notesleft" target="#notesleft" place="apparatus">
<graphic url="images/OMFInstallment02_1L.jpg"/>
<note type="image" anchored="true">
<witDetail wit="#notesright" target="#notesright" place="apparatus">
<graphic url="images/OMFInstallment02_2R.jpg"/>
<p> Dickens's manuscript for <hi rend="italics">Our Mutual Friend</hi>, which
includes the working notes, are held by the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York,
NY. The current images are only temporary facsimiles.</p>
<p>Editorial policies followed the TEI Guidelines where possible. </p>
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<witness xml:id="notesleft">Notes Page Left</witness>
<witness xml:id="notesright">Notes Page Right</witness>
<witness xml:id="inst02">Installment No. 2 Text</witness>
<rdg wit="#notesleft">Left-hand Notes for Installment 2<lb/><space
quantity="2" unit="char"/><lb/></rdg>
<rdg wit="#notesright">Right-hand Notes for Installment 2 <lb/><space
quantity="2" unit="char"/><lb/>(Our Mutual Friend. --------- N<hi
rend="superscript">o</hi>. II)<lb/></rdg>
<rdg wit="#inst02">Text of Installment No. 2 (Book 1, chapters
5-7)<lb/><lb/><hi rend="italics">For better viewing, close
introduction panel on left.<lb/> Click on Dickens's working notes to
highlight connections in the installment text.</hi><space
quantity="2" unit="char"/><lb/><lb/></rdg>

<lg n="1">
<l n="1">
<rdg wit="notesleft">
<app loc="tippins">
<rdg wit="#notesleft">Lady Tippins?</rdg>
<note type="critical" anchored="true">Lady Tippins does not appear in
this installment number, but she does appear in the original chapter
seven, which was relocated to the next installment as chapter
<space quantity="9" unit="char"/>
<add place="above">at the <app loc="wedding"><rdg wit="#notesleft"
>marriage</rdg></app> of the <app loc="matureyounglady"><rdg
wit="#notesleft">mature young lady</rdg></app> &amp; <add
<app loc="mrlammle"><rdg wit="#notesleft">gentleman</rdg></app>

<l n="2">
<rdg wit="#notesleft"> <app loc="twemlow"><rdg wit="#notesleft"
<space quantity="9" unit="char"/>
<add place="above">Do</add>
<note type="critical" anchored="true">Although Dickens marks both
Twemlow and the Veneerings as appearing in this installment, they
appear only in the original chapter 7, which was moved to the
following installment as chapter ten</note>

<l n="3">
<rdg wit="#notesleft">
<app loc="Ven">
<rdg wit="notesleft">Veneerings?</rdg>
<space quantity="9" unit="char"/>
<add place="above">Do</add>
<l n="4">
<rdg wit="#notesleft">Progress of that <app loc="marriagecontract"><rdg
wit="#notesleft">artful match</rdg></app>?/ <add place="above"
>Yes - to <app loc="marriagecontract"><rdg wit="#notesleft">their
<lb/>between <app loc="matureyounggentleman"><rdg wit="#notesleft"><rs
type="person" key="mrlammle">mature young
gentleman</rs></rdg></app><lb/>and <app loc="matureyounglady"
><rdg wit="#notesleft"><rs type="person" key="mrslammle">mature
young lady</rs></rdg></app>. </rdg>

<l n="5">
<rdg wit="#notesleft">On the <app loc="dustground"><rdg wit="#notesleft"
>Dust ground?</rdg></app> . <hi rend="underline">Certainly</hi>
<note type="critical" anchored="true">Although the phrase "dust ground"
does not appear in the installment, Dickens mentions the "dust
mounds" in this chapter when Wegg visits <app loc="BoffinsBower"
><rdg wit="#notesleft">Boffin's Bower</rdg></app>. The
mention of dust recurs at the end of the installment when Mr. Venus
explains that Mr. Boffin brings him items he finds in the dust:
"'The old gentleman was well known all round here. There used to be
stories about his having hidden all kinds of property in those dust

<l n="6">
<rdg wit="#notesleft">
<app loc="HarmonyJail"><rdg wit="#notesleft">Harmony Jail</rdg></app>
<note type="critical" anchored="true">The "hoarse gentleman" who drives
Wegg to the Boffins' house explains the origin of the name <app
loc="HarmonyJail"><rdg wit="#notesleft">Harmony
Jail</rdg></app>: <lb/><lb/>'Was-it-Ev-verajail?' asked Mr Wegg,
holding on.<lb/>'Not a proper jail, wot you and me would get
committed to,' returned his escort; 'they giv' it the name, on
accounts of Old Harmon living solitary there.'
<lb/>'And-why-did-they-callitharm-Ony?' asked Wegg. <lb/>'On
accounts of his never agreeing with nobody. Like a speeches of
chaff. Harmon's Jail; <app loc="HarmonyJail"><rdg wit="#notesleft"
>Harmony Jail</rdg></app>. Working it round like."<lb/><lb/>
Mr. and Mrs. Boffin rename it "<app loc="BoffinsBower"><rdg
wit="#notesleft">Boffin's Bower</rdg></app>" </note>
<space quantity="9" unit="char"/> or <app loc="BoffinsBower"><rdg
wit="#notesleft">Boffin's Bower</rdg></app>
<note type="critical" anchored="true">The Boffins rename Old Harmon's
place "<app loc="BoffinsBower"><rdg wit="#notesleft">Boffin's
Bower</rdg></app>," but it is otherwise known as "<app
loc="HarmonyJail"><rdg wit="#notesleft">Harmony
Jail</rdg></app>" (see note above): <lb/><lb/>"Boffin's Bower is the
name Mrs Boffin christened it when we come into it as a property. If
you should meet with anybody that don't know it by that name (which
hardly anybody does), when you've got nigh upon about a odd mile, or
say and a quarter if you like, up Maiden Lane, Battle Bridge, ask
for <app loc="HarmonyJail"><rdg wit="#notesleft">Harmony
Jail</rdg></app>, and you'll be put right."</note>
<l n="7">
<rdg wit="notesleft">
<space quantity="9" unit="char"/>
<space quantity="9" unit="char"/>
<space quantity="5" unit="char"/>
<app loc="cutadrift">
<rdg wit="notesleft">Cut adrift</rdg>
<space quantity="8" unit="char"/>
<app loc="castout">
<rdg wit="#notesleft">Cast out</rdg>
<space quantity="10" unit="char"/>
<app loc="turnedout">
<rdg wit="#notesleft">Turned out</rdg>
<space quantity="12" unit="char"/>
<app loc="undersuspicion">
<rdg wit="#notesleft">Under suspicion</rdg>
<space quantity="14" unit="char"/>
<app loc="partingcompany">
<rdg wit="#notesleft">Parting company</rdg>
<note type="critical" anchored="true">Here Dickens tests out potential
titles for chapter six (VI). He settles on his first choice, "Cut
adrift," which appears on the opposite page. </note>

<l n="8">
<rdg wit="#notesleft">
<space quantity="9" unit="char"/><lb/>
<space quantity="9" unit="char"/><lb/> This <app loc="amarriagecontract"
><rdg wit="#notesleft">chapter</rdg></app> (too long for the
N<hi rend="superscript">o</hi>) transferred to N<hi
rend="superscript">o</hi>. 3. In its stead <note type="critical"
anchored="true">For more information on this change, see note beside
old chapter seven in the right-hand-side notes.</note>
<space quantity="12" unit="char"/>
<app loc="chapter7"><rdg wit="notesleft">Chapter VII</rdg></app>
<l n="9">
<rdg wit="#notesleft">
<space quantity="8" unit="char"/>
<app loc="looksafterhimself">
<rdg wit="#notesleft"><hi rend="underline">In which</hi>
<app loc="wegg"><rdg wit="#notesleft"><hi rend="underline">Mr
<hi rend="underline">looks</hi> afte<hi rend="underline">r
<note type="critical" anchored="true">Dickens told his illustrator
Marcus Stone that “he had a personage who had just appeared upon the
scene who was to have some eccentric calling, and that he could not
find the calling that would suit him” (quoted in Michael Cotsell,
<hi rend="italics">The Companion to Our Mutual Friend</hi>
[Allen &amp; Unwin, 1986], 65). Stone took Dickens to see a
taxidermist called Willis in Seven Dials in London, “an articulator
of skeletons, a stuffer of birds, and dealer in bottled monsters.”
"I suggested Mr. Willis, or rather his occupation, as an idea that
might be suggestive," wrote Stone. "'It is the very thing that I
want he said it couldn't be better.'" This real-life detour resulted
in Mr. Venus’s appearance in the second installment. <lb/>For more,
see Michael Slater, <hi rend="italics">Charles Dickens</hi> (New
Haven: Yale UP, 2009), 524-25, and Francis Xavier Shea, "Mr. Venus
Observed: The Plot Change in <hi rend="italics">Our Mutual
Friend</hi>," <hi rend="italics">Papers on Language and
Literature</hi> 4 (1968): 170–181, 170. </note>
<l n="10">
<rdg wit="#notesleft">
<app loc="venusshop">
<rdg wit="#notesleft">Picture of the queer S<hi rend="superscript"
>t</hi> Giles's business</rdg>
<l n="11">
<rdg wit="#notesleft">
<space quantity="14" unit="char"/> With Imaginary man. <note
type="critical" anchored="true">This "Imaginary man" could possibly
refer to the "French gentleman" in Mr. Venus's shop, but it most
likely refers to Mr. Venus himself, an imaginary version of the
taxidermist Mr. Willis, to whom illustrator Marcus Stone took
Dickens for inspiration (see note above). In a letter to Stone on
Februrary 28, 1864, Dickens wrote: "I have done the St. Andrew
Street place, and have made it the last Chapter of the 2nd. No. I
will send you a proof when I get it. It is very like, with an
imaginary man and an imaginary place in the story." The full text of
this letter is available on the Our Mutual Friend Scholarly Pages
(University of California Santa Cruz) at
http://omf.ucsc.edu/dickens/letters/marcus-stone.html. </note>

<lg n="2">
<l n="12">
<rdg wit="#notesright">
<space quantity="18" unit="char"/>
<app loc="chapter5"><rdg wit="#notesright"><hi rend="underline"
>Cha</hi>pt<hi rend="underline">er V</hi></rdg></app>.<lb/>
<space quantity="16" unit="char"/>
<app loc="BoffinsBower"><rdg wit="#notesright">B<hi rend="underline"
>offi</hi>n's<hi rend="underline"> B</hi>ow<hi
<note type="critical" anchored="true">In the manuscript the title is
altered from "Harmony Jail." This alteration in the manuscript but
not in the working notes could offer evidence that in some instances
Dickens wrote the working notes <hi rend="italics">after</hi> or <hi
rend="italics">at the same time as</hi> he wrote parts of the
<l n="13">
<rdg wit="#notesright"> S. <app loc="wegg"><rdg wit="#notesright"
>Wegg</rdg></app> at <app loc="stall"><rdg wit="#notesright">his
<space quantity="9" unit="char"/> Solomon ? <space quantity="9"
<hi rend="underline">Silas</hi>? Yes <space quantity="9" unit="char"/>
"<app loc="ourhouse"><rdg wit="#notesright"><hi rend="underline"
>o</hi>ur House</rdg></app>"<lb/>
<space quantity="10" unit="char"/>
<app loc="woodenleg"><rdg wit="#notesright">Seems to have taken his
wooden leg naturally</rdg></app>
<note type="critical" anchored="true">In his <hi rend="italics"
>Companion to Our Mutual Friend</hi>, Michael Cotsell notes that
"Crude surgery and the Napoleonic Wars meant that wooden legs were
not an uncommon sight in Dickens's lifetime" (50). See Cotsell for
more on Dickens's possible sources for Wegg's wooden leg. <hi
rend="italics">The Companion to Our Mutual Friend</hi>. London:
Allen &amp; Unwin, 1986. </note>
<l n="14">
<rdg wit="#notesright">So, <app loc="Boffin"><rdg wit="#notesright">Mr
<space quantity="16" unit="char"/> Teddy Boffin? <note type="critical"
anchored="true">In the manuscript, the first few times the name is
corrected from 'Teddy." Dickens probably added the note below
(Nicodemus. "Noddy Boffin") <hi rend="italics">after</hi> he made
the changes in the manuscript.</note> <lb/>
<space quantity="26" unit="char"/>
<app loc="nicodemus"><rdg wit="#notesright">Nicodemus</rdg></app>. <app
loc="noddy"><rdg wit="notesright">"Noddy Boffin"</rdg></app>
<l n="15">
<rdg wit="#notesright">Lead up to <app loc="BoffinsBower"><rdg
wit="#notesright">Boffin's Bower</rdg></app><lb/>
<space quantity="16" unit="char"/> and to <app loc="Rooshan"><rdg
wit="#notesright"><quote>"declining and falling off the Rooshan
<note type="critical" anchored="true">Dickens evidently drew this idea
from a note written earlier in his <hi rend="italics">Book of
Memoranda</hi>: "Gibbon's Decline and Fall. The two characters,
one reporting to the other as he reads. Both getting confused as to
whether it is not all going on now!" (21). Boffin and Wegg are
reading Edward Gibbon's <hi rend="italics">The History of the
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire</hi>, which was published
in six volumes between 1776 and 1788. Dickens had an 1825
eight-volume edition.</note>
<l n="16">
<rdg wit="#notesright"><rs type="person" key="mrsboffin">Mrs <space
dim="horizontal" unit="4"/>Boffin</rs>, a <app
loc="boffinfashion"><rdg wit="#notesright">High-Flyer at
<app loc="boffinhatfeathers"><rdg wit="#notesright">In a hat and
feathers</rdg></app> <hi rend="underline">This to go through
the book </hi>
<l n="17">
<rdg wit="#notesright">
<space quantity="14" unit="char"/> c<hi rend="underline">ha</hi>pte<hi
rend="underline">r </hi>V<hi rend="underline">I.</hi><lb/>
<app loc="cutadrift">
<rdg wit="#notesright">C<hi rend="underline">ut</hi> a<hi
rend="underline">drif</hi>t. </rdg>
<l n="18">
<rdg wit="#notesright">
<app loc="jollyfellowship"><rdg wit="#notesright"><rs type="place"
key="jollyfellowship">The Six Jolly Fellowship
Porters</rs></rdg></app>. <app loc="fellowshipdesc"><rdg
<hi rend="underline"><hi rend="bold"><app loc="bow"><rdg
<note type="critical" anchored="true">It is possible that "bow" in the
notes corresponds to the following description of the beer-pulls in
the tavern: "the polite beer-pulls that made low bows when customers
were served with beer."</note></rdg>
<l n="19">
<rdg wit="#notesright"> <space quantity="6" unit="char"/>
<app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#notesright"><rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Miss Potterson</rs></rdg></app><lb/>
<space quantity="8" unit="char"/> <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg
wit="#notesright"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
<space quantity="22" unit="char"/>
<add place="above"> <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#notesright"
><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson"
>She</rs></rdg></app>, the <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg
wit="#notesright"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson"
>Sister</rs></rdg></app> of the <app loc="jobpotterson"
><rdg wit="#notesright"><rs type="person" key="jobpotterson"
>Ship's Steward</rs></rdg></app></add></rdg>
<l n="20">
<rdg wit="#notesright">The <app loc="john"><rdg wit="#notesright"><rs
type="person" key="john">man</rs></rdg></app> from the <app
loc="chapter1"><rdg wit="#notesright">1<hi rend="superscript"
>st</hi> chapter</rdg></app> -- <hi rend="underline">
<app loc="riderhood"><rdg wit="#notesright"><rs type="person"
key="riderhood">Riderhood</rs></rdg></app></hi> - </rdg>
<l n="21">
<rdg wit="#notesright">
<space quantity="2" unit="char"/> <app loc="charley"><rdg
wit="#notesright"><rs type="person" key="charley"
<app loc="charleyleaves"><rdg wit="#notesright">departs to seek his
<space quantity="2" unit="char"/>
<app loc="youngbeggar"><rdg wit="#notesright">
<quote>"Unnat'ral young beggur!"</quote></rdg></app>
<note type="critical" anchored="true">This quotation appears verbatim
(with "beggur" changed to "beggar"), spoken by Gaffer Hexam after
Charley's departure.</note>
<l n="22">
<rdg wit="#notesright">
<lb/> ________ <space quantity="4" unit="char"/>
<hi rend="underline">
<app loc="chapter7"><rdg wit="#notesright">chapter
<note type="critical" anchored="true">As Dickens notes on the left-hand
side of his page, he moved this chapter, "A Marriage Contract," to
his third installment (as chapter 10) because it was too long for
the second. In its place he added a Chapter 7 titled "In Which Mr
Wegg Looks After Himself." For more information on his new chapter
7, see note on left hand side. In the manuscript at the end of
chapter 9, Dickens wrote "Marriage Contract last Chapter of No. 2,
to be added here."</note>
<space quantity="4" unit="char"/> ________ <lb/>
<space quantity="14" unit="char"/>
<hi rend="underline">
<app loc="marriagecontract"><rdg wit="#notesright">A Marriage
<l n="23">
<rdg wit="#notesright"><app loc="Ven"><rdg wit="notesright"><rs
type="person" key="veneerings">Veneerings</rs></rdg></app>
<l n="24">
<rdg wit="#notesright">
<space quantity="2" unit="char"/> <space quantity="6" unit="char"/>
<app loc="lammles"><rdg wit="#notesright"><rs type="person"
key="mrlammle">Mr</rs> and <rs type="person" key="mrslammle"
>Mrs Lammle</rs></rdg></app>.<lb/>
<space quantity="10" unit="char"/> <space quantity="2" unit="char"/>
<app loc="lammlescheme"><rdg wit="#notesright">Having taken one another
in, will now<lb/>
<space quantity="4" unit="char"/> take in every one
<space quantity="10" unit="char"/> </rdg>

<lg n="3">
<l n="25">
<rdg wit="inst02">
<hi rend="underline"><app loc="chapter5"><rdg wit="#inst02">Chapter
<lb/><app loc="BoffinsBower"><rdg wit="inst02">BOFFIN'S
<app loc="stall"><rdg wit="#inst02">Over against a London house, a
corner house not far from Cavendish Square, a <app
loc="woodenleg"><rdg wit="#inst02">man with a wooden
leg</rdg></app> had sat for some years, with his
remaining foot in a basket in cold weather, picking up a living
on this wise:—Every morning at eight o'clock, he stumped to the
corner, carrying a chair, a clothes-horse, a pair of trestles, a
board, a basket, and an umbrella, all strapped together.
Separating these, the board and trestles became a counter, the
basket supplied the few small lots of fruit and sweets that he
offered for sale upon it and became a foot-warmer, the unfolded
clothes-horse displayed a choice collection of halfpenny ballads
and became a screen, and the stool planted within it became his
post for the rest of the day. All weathers saw the man at the
post. This is to be accepted in a double sense, for he contrived
a back to his wooden stool, by placing it against the lamp-post.
When the weather was wet, he put up his umbrella over his stock
in trade, not over himself; when the weather was dry, he furled
that faded article, tied it round with a piece of yarn, and laid
it cross-wise under the trestles: where it looked like an
unwholesomely-forced lettuce that had lost in colour and
crispness what it had gained in size. He had established his
right to the corner, by imperceptible prescription. He had never
varied his ground an inch, but had in the beginning diffidently
taken the corner upon which the side of the house gave. A
howling corner in the winter time, a dusty corner in the summer
time, an undesirable corner at the best of times. Shelterless
fragments of straw and paper got up revolving storms there, when
the main street was at peace; and the water-cart, as if it were
drunk or short-sighted, came blundering and jolting round it,
making it muddy when all else was clean. On the front of his
sale-board hung a little placard, like a kettle-holder, bearing
the inscription in his own small text:<lb/><lb/>
<q rend="indent">Errands gone<lb/> On with fi<lb/> Delity
By<lb/> Ladies and Gentlemen<lb/> I remain<lb/> Your humble
Servt:<lb/> Silas Wegg<lb/><lb/></q></rdg></app> He had not
only settled it with himself in course of time, that he was errand-goer
by appointment to the house at the corner (though he received such
commissions not half a dozen times in a year, and then only as some
servant's deputy), but also that he was one of the house's retainers and
owed vassalage to it and was bound to leal and loyal interest in it.
<app loc="ourhouse"><rdg wit="#inst02">For this reason, he always
spoke of it as 'Our House,' </rdg></app>and, though his
knowledge of its affairs was mostly specula- </rdg>
<l n="26">
<rdg wit="inst02"> tive and all wrong, claimed to be in its confidence. On
similar grounds he never beheld an inmate at any one of its windows but
he touched his hat. Yet, he knew so little about the inmates that he
gave them names of his own invention: as 'Miss Elizabeth', 'Master
George', 'Aunt Jane', 'Uncle Parker '—having no authority whatever for
any such designations, but particularly the last—to which, as a natural
consequence, he stuck with great obstinacy. <lb/>Over the house itself,
he exercised the same imaginary power as over its inhabitants and their
affairs. He had never been in it, the length of a piece of fat black
water-pipe which trailed itself over the area-door into a damp stone
passage, and had rather the air of a leech on the house that had 'taken'
wonderfully; but this was no impediment to his arranging it according to
a plan of his own. It was a great dingy house with a quantity of dim
side window and blank back premises, and it cost his mind a world of
trouble so to lay it out as to account for everything in its external
appearance. But, this once done, was quite satisfactory, and he rested
persuaded, that he knew his way about the house blindfold: from the
barred garrets in the high roof, to the two iron extinguishers before
the main door—which seemed to request all lively visitors to have the
kindness to put themselves out, before entering. <lb/><app loc="stall"
><rdg wit="#inst02">Assuredly, this stall of Silas Wegg's was
the hardest little stall of all the sterile little stalls in
London. It gave you the face-ache to look at his apples, the
stomach-ache to look at his oranges, the tooth-ache to look at
his nuts. Of the latter commodity he had always a grim little
heap, on which lay a little wooden measure which had no
discernible inside, and was considered to represent the
penn'orth appointed by Magna Charta. Whether from too much east
wind or no—it was an easterly corner—the stall, the stock, and
the keeper, were all as dry as the Desert.</rdg></app>
<app loc="woodenleg"><rdg wit="#inst02">Wegg was a knotty man, and a
close-grained, with a face carved out of very hard
material</rdg></app>, that had just as much play of expression
as a watchman's rattle. When he laughed, certain jerks occurred in it,
and the rattle sprung. Sooth to say, he was <app loc="woodenleg"><rdg
wit="#inst02">so wooden a man that he seemed to have taken his
wooden leg naturally, and rather suggested to the fanciful
observer, that he might be expected—if his development received
no untimely check—to be completely set up with a pair of wooden
legs in about six months.</rdg></app>
<lb/>Mr Wegg was an observant person, or, as he himself said, 'took a
powerful sight of notice'. He saluted all his regular passers-by every
day, as he sat on his stool backed up by the lamp-post; and on the
adaptable character of these salutes he greatly plumed himself. Thus, to
the rector, he addressed a bow, compounded of lay deference, and a
slight touch of the shady preliminary meditation at church; to the
doctor, a confidential bow, as to a gentleman whose acquaintance with
his inside he begged respectfully to acknowledge; before the Quality he
delighted to abase himself; and for Uncle Parker, who was in the army
(at least, so he had settled it), he put his open hand to the side of
his hat, in a military manner which that angry-eyed buttoned-up
inflammatory-faced old gentleman appeared but imperfectly to appreciate.
<lb/>The only article in which Silas dealt, that was not hard, was
gingerbread. On a certain day, some wretched infant having purchased the
damp gingerbread-horse (fearfully out of condition), and the adhesive
bird-cage, which had been exposed for the day's sale, he had taken a tin
box from under his stool to produce a relay of those dreadful specimens,
and was going to look in at the lid, when he said to himself, pausing:
'Oh! Here you are again!' <lb/>The words referred to a broad,
round-shouldered, one-sided old fellow in mourning, coming comically
ambling towards the corner, dressed in a pea over-coat, and carrying a
large stick. He wore thick shoes, and thick leather gaiters, and thick
gloves like a hedger's. Both as to his dress and to himself, he was of
an overlapping rhinoceros build, with folds in his cheeks, and his
forehead, and his eyelids, and his lips, and his ears; but with bright,
eager, childishly-inquiring, grey eyes, under his ragged eyebrows, and
broad-brimmed hat. A very odd-looking old fellow altogether. <lb/>'Here
you are again,' repeated Mr Wegg, musing. 'And what are you now? Are you
in the Funns, or where are you? Have you lately come to settle in this
neighbourhood, or do you own to another neighbourhood? Are you in
independent circumstances, or is it wasting the motions of a bow on you?
Come! I'll speculate! I'll invest a bow in you.' <lb/>Which Mr Wegg,
having replaced his tin box, accordingly did, as he rose to bait his
gingerbread-trap for some other devoted infant. The salute was
acknowledged with: <lb/>'Morning, sir! Morning! Morning!' <lb/>('Calls
me Sir!' said Mr Wegg, to himself; 'HE won't answer. A bow gone!')
<lb/>'Morning, morning, morning!' <lb/>'Appears to be rather a 'arty old
cock, too,' said Mr Wegg, as before; 'Good morning to YOU, sir.'
<lb/>'Do you remember me, then?' asked his new acquaintance, stopping in
his amble, one-sided, before the stall, and speaking in a pounding way,
though with great good-humour. <lb/>'I have noticed you go past <app
loc="ourhouse"><rdg wit="#inst02">our house, sir, several times in
the course of the last week or so.' <lb/>'Our house,' repeated
the other. 'Meaning—?' <lb/>'Yes,' said Mr Wegg, nodding, as the
other pointed the clumsy forefinger of his right glove at the
corner house. <lb/>'Oh! Now, what,' pursued the old fellow, in
an inquisitive manner, carrying his knotted stick in his left
arm as if it were a baby, 'what do they allow you now?'
<lb/>'It's job work that I do for our house,' returned Silas,
drily, and with reticence; 'it's not yet brought to an exact
allowance.' <lb/>'Oh! It's not yet brought to an exact
allowance? No! It's not yet brought to an exact allowance.
Oh!—Morning, morning, morning!'</rdg></app>
<lb/>'Appears to be rather a cracked old cock,' thought Silas,
qualifying his former good opinion, as the other ambled off. But, in a
moment he was back again with the question: <lb/>'How did you get your
<app loc="woodenleg"><rdg wit="#inst02">wooden leg?' <lb/>Mr Wegg
replied, (tartly to this personal inquiry), 'In an accident.'
<lb/>'Do you like it?' <lb/>'Well! I haven't got to keep it
warm,' </rdg></app>Mr Wegg made answer, in a sort of desperation
occasioned by the singularity of the question. <lb/>'He hasn't,'
repeated the other to his knotted stick, as he gave it a hug; 'he hasn't
got—ha!—ha!—to keep it warm! Did you ever hear of the name of Boffin?'
<lb/>'No,' said Mr Wegg, who was growing restive under this examination.
'I never did hear of the name of Boffin.' <lb/>'Do you like it?'
<lb/>'Why, no,' retorted Mr Wegg, again approaching desperation; 'I
can't say I do.' <lb/>'Why don't you like it?' <lb/>'I don't know why I
don't,' retorted Mr Wegg, approaching frenzy, 'but I don't at all.'
<lb/>'Now, I'll tell you something that'll make you sorry for that,'
said the stranger, smiling. 'My name's Boffin.' <lb/>'I can't help it!'
returned Mr Wegg. Implying in his manner the offensive addition, 'and if
I could, I wouldn't.' <lb/>'But there's another chance for you,' said Mr
Boffin, smiling still, 'Do you like the name of <app loc="noddy"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><app loc="nicodemus"><rdg wit="#inst02"
>Nicodemus</rdg></app>? Think it over. Nick, or
<lb/>'It is not, sir,' Mr Wegg rejoined, as he sat down on his stool,
with an air of gentle resignation, combined with melancholy candour; 'it
is not a name as I could wish any one that I had a respect for, to call
ME by; but there may be persons that would not view it with the same
objections.—I don't know why,' Mr Wegg added, anticipating another
question. <lb/><app loc="noddy"><rdg wit="#inst02">'Noddy Boffin,' said
that gentleman. 'Noddy. That's my name. Noddy—or
Nick—Boffin.</rdg></app> What's your name?' <lb/>'Silas Wegg.—I
don't,' said Mr Wegg, bestirring himself to take the same precaution as
before, 'I don't know why Silas, and I don't know why Wegg.' <lb/>'Now,
Wegg,' said Mr Boffin, hugging his stick closer, 'I want to make a sort
of offer to you. Do you remember when you first see me?' <lb/>The <app
loc="woodenleg"><rdg wit="#inst02">wooden Wegg</rdg></app> looked at
him with a meditative eye, and also with a softened air as descrying
possibility of profit. 'Let me think. I ain't quite sure, and yet I
generally take a powerful sight of notice, too. Was it on a Monday
morning, when the butcher-boy had been to our house for orders, and
bought a ballad of me, which, being unacquainted with the tune, I run it
over to him?' <lb/>'Right, Wegg, right! But he bought more than one.'
<lb/>'Yes, to be sure, sir; he bought several; and wishing to lay out
his money to the best, he took my opinion to guide his choice, and we
went over the collection together. To be sure we did. Here was him as it
might be, and here was myself as it might be, and there was you, Mr
Boffin, as you identically are, with your self-same stick under your
very same arm, and your very same back towards us. To—be—sure!' added Mr
Wegg, looking a little round Mr Boffin, to take him in the rear, and
identify this last extraordinary coincidence, 'your wery self-same
back!' <lb/>'What do you think I was doing, Wegg?' <lb/>'I should judge,
sir, that you might be glancing your eye down the street.' <lb/>'No,
Wegg. I was a listening.' <lb/>'Was you, indeed?' said Mr Wegg,
dubiously. <lb/>'Not in a dishonourable way, Wegg, because you was
singing to the butcher; and you wouldn't sing secrets to a butcher in
the street, you know.' <lb/>'It never happened that I did so yet, to the
best of my remembrance,' said Mr Wegg, cautiously. 'But I might do it. A
man can't say what he might wish to do some day or another.' (This, not
to release any little advantage he might derive from Mr Boffin's
avowal.) <lb/>'Well,' repeated Boffin, 'I was a listening to you and to
him. And what do you—you haven't got another stool, have you? I'm rather
thick in my breath.' <lb/>'I haven't got another, but you're welcome to
this,' said Wegg, resigning it. 'It's a treat to me to stand.'
<lb/>'Lard!' exclaimed Mr Boffin, in a tone of great enjoyment, as he
settled himself down, still nursing his stick like a baby, 'it's a
pleasant place, this! And then to be shut in on each side, with these
ballads, like so many book-leaf blinkers! Why, its delightful!' <lb/>'If
I am not mistaken, sir,' Mr Wegg delicately hinted, resting a hand on
his stall, and bending over the discursive Boffin, 'you alluded to some
offer or another that was in your mind?' <lb/>'I'm coming to it! All
right. I'm coming to it! I was going to say that when I listened that
morning, I listened with hadmiration amounting to haw. I thought to
myself, <app loc="woodenleg"><rdg wit="#inst02">"Here's a man with a
wooden leg</rdg></app>—a literary man with—"' <lb/>'N—not
exactly so, sir,' said Mr Wegg. <lb/>'Why, you know every one of these
songs by name and by tune, and if you want to read or to sing any one on
'em off straight, you've only to whip on your spectacles and do it!'
cried Mr Boffin. 'I see you at it!' <lb/>'Well, sir,' returned Mr Wegg,
with a conscious inclination of the head; 'we'll say literary, then.'
<lb/>'"A literary man—<app loc="woodenleg"><rdg wit="#inst02">WITH a
wooden leg</rdg></app>—and all Print is open to him!" That's
what I thought to myself, that morning,' pursued Mr Boffin, leaning
forward to describe, uncramped by the clotheshorse, as large an arc as
his right arm could make; '"all Print is open to him!" And it is, ain't
it?' <lb/>'Why, truly, sir,' Mr Wegg admitted, with modesty; 'I believe
you couldn't show me the piece of English print, that I wouldn't be
equal to collaring and throwing.' <lb/>'On the spot?' said Mr Boffin.
<lb/>'On the spot.' <lb/>'I know'd it! Then consider this. Here am I, a
man without a wooden leg, and yet all print is shut to me.'
<lb/>'Indeed, sir?' Mr Wegg returned with increasing self-complacency.
'Education neglected?' <lb/>'Neg—lected!' repeated Boffin, with
emphasis. 'That ain't no word for it. I don't mean to say but what if
you showed me a B, I could so far give you change for it, as to answer
Boffin.' <lb/>'Come, come, sir,' said Mr Wegg, throwing in a little
encouragement, 'that's something, too.' <lb/>'It's something,' answered
Mr Boffin, 'but I'll take my oath it ain't much.' <lb/>'Perhaps it's not
as much as could be wished by an inquiring mind, sir,' Mr Wegg admitted.
<lb/>'Now, look here. I'm retired from business. Me and Mrs
Boffin—Henerietty Boffin—which her father's name was Henery, and her
mother's name was Hetty, and so you get it—we live on a compittance,
under the will of a diseased governor.' <lb/>'Gentleman dead, sir?'
<lb/>'Man alive, don't I tell you? A diseased governor? Now, it's too
late for me to begin shovelling and sifting at alphabeds and
grammar-books. I'm getting to be a old bird, and I want to take it easy.
But I want some reading—some fine bold reading, some splendid book in a
gorging Lord-Mayor's-Show of wollumes' (probably meaning gorgeous, but
misled by association of ideas); 'as'll reach right down your pint of
view, and take time to go by you. How can I get that reading, Wegg? By,'
tapping him on the breast with the head of his thick stick, 'paying a
man truly qualified to do it, so much an hour (say twopence) to come and
do it.' <lb/>'Hem! Flattered, sir, I am sure,' said Wegg, beginning to
regard himself in quite a new light. 'Hew! This is the offer you
mentioned, sir?' <lb/>'Yes. Do you like it?' <lb/>'I am considering of
it, Mr Boffin.' <lb/>'I don't,' said Boffin, in a free-handed manner,
'want to tie a literary man—<app loc="woodenleg"><rdg wit="#inst02">WITH
a wooden leg</rdg></app>—down too tight. A halfpenny an hour
shan't part us. The hours are your own to choose, after you've done for
the day with your house here. I live over Maiden-Lane way—out Holloway
direction—and you've only got to go East-and-by-North when you've
finished here, and you're there. Twopence halfpenny an hour,' said
Boffin, taking a piece of chalk from his pocket and getting off the
stool to work the sum on the top of it in his own way; 'two long'uns and
a short'un—twopence halfpenny; two short'uns is a long'un and two two
long'uns is four long'uns—making five long'uns; six nights a week at
five long'uns a night,' scoring them all down separately, 'and you mount
up to thirty long'uns. A round'un! Half a crown!' <lb/>Pointing to this
result as a large and satisfactory one, Mr Boffin smeared it out with
his moistened glove, and sat down on the remains. <lb/>'Half a crown,'
said Wegg, meditating. 'Yes. (It ain't much, sir.) Half a crown.'
<lb/>'Per week, you know.' <lb/>'Per week. Yes. As to the amount of
strain upon the intellect now. Was you thinking at all of poetry?' Mr
Wegg inquired, musing. <lb/>'Would it come dearer?' Mr Boffin asked.
<lb/>'It would come dearer,' Mr Wegg returned. 'For when a person comes
to grind off poetry night after night, it is but right he should expect
to be paid for its weakening effect on his mind.' <lb/>'To tell you the
truth Wegg,' said Boffin, 'I wasn't thinking of poetry, except in so fur
as this:—If you was to happen now and then to feel yourself in the mind
to tip me and Mrs Boffin one of your ballads, why then we should drop
into poetry.' <lb/>'I follow you, sir,' said Wegg. 'But not being a
regular musical professional, I should be loath to engage myself for
that; and therefore when I dropped into poetry, I should ask to be
considered so fur, in the light of a friend.' <lb/>At this, Mr Boffin's
eyes sparkled, and he shook Silas earnestly by the hand: protesting that
it was more than he could have asked, and that he took it very kindly
indeed. <lb/>'What do you think of the terms, Wegg?' Mr Boffin then
demanded, with unconcealed anxiety. <lb/>Silas, who had stimulated this
anxiety by his hard reserve of manner, and who had begun to understand
his man very well, replied with an air; as if he were saying something
extraordinarily generous and great: <lb/>'Mr Boffin, I never bargain.'
<lb/>'So I should have thought of you!' said Mr Boffin, admiringly. 'No,
sir. I never did 'aggle and I never will 'aggle. Consequently I meet you
at once, free and fair, with—Done, for double the money!' <lb/>Mr Boffin
seemed a little unprepared for this conclusion, but assented, with the
remark, 'You know better what it ought to be than I do, Wegg,' and again
shook hands with him upon it. <lb/>'Could you begin to night, Wegg?' he
then demanded. <lb/>'Yes, sir,' said Mr Wegg, careful to leave all the
eagerness to him. 'I see no difficulty if you wish it. You are provided
with the needful implement—a book, sir?' <lb/>'Bought him at a sale,'
said Mr Boffin. 'Eight wollumes. Red and gold. Purple ribbon in every
wollume, to keep the place where you leave off. Do you know him?'
<lb/>'The book's name, sir?' inquired Silas. <lb/>'I thought you might
have know'd him without it,' said Mr Boffin slightly disappointed. 'His
name is <app loc="Rooshan"><rdg wit="#inst02"
>Decline-And-Fall-Off-The-Rooshan-Empire</rdg></app>.' (Mr
Boffin went over these stones slowly and with much caution.) <lb/>'Ay
indeed!' said Mr Wegg, nodding his head with an air of friendly
recognition. <lb/>'You know him, Wegg?' <lb/>'I haven't been not to say
right slap through him, very lately,' Mr Wegg made answer, 'having been
otherways employed, Mr Boffin. But know him? <app loc="Rooshan"><rdg
wit="#inst02">Old familiar declining and falling off the
Rooshan?</rdg></app> Rather, sir! Ever since I was not so high
as your stick. Ever since my eldest brother left our cottage to enlist
into the army. On which occasion, as the ballad that was made about it
describes: <lb/><lb/>'Beside that cottage door, Mr Boffin, <lb/>A girl
was on her knees; <lb/>She held aloft a snowy scarf, Sir, <lb/> Which
(my eldest brother noticed) fluttered in the breeze. <lb/>She breathed a
prayer for him, Mr Boffin; <lb/>A prayer he coold not hear. <lb/> And my
eldest brother lean'd upon his sword, Mr Boffin, <lb/>And wiped away a
tear.' <lb/><lb/>Much impressed by this family circumstance, and also by
the friendly disposition of Mr Wegg, as exemplified in his so soon
dropping into poetry, Mr Boffin again shook hands with that ligneous
sharper, and besought him to name his hour. Mr Wegg named eight.
<lb/><app loc="BoffinsBower"><rdg wit="#inst02">'Where I live,' said
Mr Boffin, 'is called The Bower. Boffin's Bower is the name Mrs
Boffin christened it when we come into it as a property. If you
should meet with anybody that don't know it by that name (which
hardly anybody does), when you've got nigh upon about a odd
mile, or say and a quarter if you like, up Maiden Lane, Battle
Bridge, ask for <app loc="HarmonyJail"><rdg wit="#inst02"
>Harmony Jail</rdg></app>, and you'll be put
right.</rdg></app> I shall expect you, Wegg,' said Mr Boffin,
clapping him on the shoulder with the greatest enthusiasm, 'most
joyfully. I shall have no peace or patience till you come. Print is now
opening ahead of me. This night, a literary man—<app loc="woodenleg"
><rdg wit="#inst02">WITH a wooden leg</rdg></app>—' he bestowed
an admiring look upon that decoration, as if it greatly enhanced the
relish of Mr Wegg's attainments—'will begin to lead me a new life! My
fist again, Wegg. Morning, morning, morning!' <lb/>Left alone at his
stall as the other ambled off, Mr Wegg subsided into his screen,
produced a small pocket-handkerchief of a penitentially-scrubbing
character, and took himself by the nose with a thoughtful aspect. Also,
while he still grasped that feature, he directed several thoughtful
looks down the street, after the retiring figure of Mr Boffin. But,
profound gravity sat enthroned on Wegg's countenance. For, while he
considered within himself that this was an old fellow of rare
simplicity, that this was an opportunity to be improved, and that here
might be money to be got beyond present calculation, still he
compromised himself by no admission that his new engagement was at all
out of his way, or involved the least element of the ridiculous. Mr Wegg
would even have picked a handsome quarrel with any one who should have
challenged his deep acquaintance with those <app loc="Rooshan"><rdg
wit="#inst02">aforesaid eight volumes of Decline and
Fall</rdg></app>. His gravity was unusual, portentous, and
immeasurable, not because he admitted any doubt of himself but because
he perceived it necessary to forestall any doubt of himself in others.
And herein he ranged with that very numerous class of impostors, who are
quite as determined to keep up appearances to themselves, as to their
neighbours. <lb/>A certain loftiness, likewise, took possession of Mr
Wegg; a condescending sense of being in request as an official expounder
of mysteries. It did not move him to commercial greatness, but rather to
littleness, insomuch that if it had been within the possibilities of
things for the wooden measure to hold fewer nuts than usual, it would
have done so that day. But, when night came, and with her veiled eyes
beheld him stumping towards <app loc="BoffinsBower"><rdg wit="#inst02"
>Boffin's Bower</rdg></app>, he was elated too. <lb/><app
loc="BoffinsBower"><rdg wit="#inst02">The Bower was as difficult to
find, as Fair Rosamond's without the clue. Mr Wegg, having
reached the quarter indicated, inquired for the Bower half a
dozen times without the least success, until he remembered to
ask for <app loc="HarmonyJail"><rdg wit="#inst02">Harmony
Jail</rdg></app>. This occasioned a quick change in the
spirits of a hoarse gentleman and a donkey, whom he had much
perplexed. <lb/>'Why, yer mean Old Harmon's, do yer?' said the
hoarse gentleman, who was driving his donkey in a truck, with a
carrot for a whip. 'Why didn't yer niver say so? Eddard and me
is a goin' by HIM! Jump in.' <lb/>Mr Wegg complied, and the
hoarse gentleman invited his attention to the third person in
company, thus; <lb/>'Now, you look at Eddard's ears. What was it
as you named, agin? Whisper.' <lb/>Mr Wegg whispered, 'Boffin's
Bower.' <lb/>'Eddard! (keep yer hi on his ears) cut away to
Boffin's Bower!'</rdg></app>
<lb/>Edward, with his ears lying back, remained immoveable.
<lb/>'Eddard! (keep yer hi on his ears) cut away to Old Harmon's.'
Edward instantly pricked up his ears to their utmost, and rattled off at
such a pace that Mr Wegg's conversation was jolted out of him in a most
dislocated state. <lb/><app loc="HarmonyJail"><rdg wit="#inst02"
>'Was-it-Ev-verajail?' asked Mr Wegg, holding on. <lb/>'Not a
proper jail, wot you and me would get committed to,' returned
his escort; 'they giv' it the name, on accounts of Old Harmon
living solitary there.' <lb/>'And-why-did-they-callitharm-Ony?'
asked Wegg. <lb/>'On accounts of his never agreeing with nobody.
Like a speeches of chaff. Harmon's Jail; Harmony Jail. Working
it round like.'</rdg></app>
<lb/>'Doyouknow-Mist-Erboff-in?' asked Wegg. <lb/>'I should think so!
Everybody do about here. Eddard knows him. (Keep yer hi on his ears.)
Noddy Boffin, Eddard!' <lb/>The effect of the name was so very alarming,
in respect of causing a temporary disappearance of Edward's head,
casting his hind hoofs in the air, greatly accelerating the pace and
increasing the jolting, that Mr Wegg was fain to devote his attention
exclusively to holding on, and to relinquish his desire of ascertaining
whether this homage to Boffin was to be considered complimentary or the
reverse. <lb/>Presently, Edward stopped at a gateway, and Wegg
discreetly lost no time in slipping out at the back of the truck. The
moment he was landed, his late driver with a wave of the carrot, said
'Supper, Eddard!' and he, the hind hoofs, the truck, and Edward, all
seemed to fly into the air together, in a kind of apotheosis.
<lb/>Pushing the gate, which stood ajar, Wegg looked into <app
loc="dustground"><rdg wit="#inst02">an enclosed space where certain
tall dark mounds rose high against the sky</rdg></app>, and
where the pathway to <app loc="BoffinsBower"><rdg wit="#inst02">the
Bower</rdg></app> was indicated, as the moonlight showed,
between two lines of broken crockery set in ashes. A white figure
advancing along this path, proved to be nothing more ghostly than Mr
Boffin, easily attired for the pursuit of knowledge, in an undress
garment of short white smock-frock. Having received his literary friend
with great cordiality, he conducted him to the interior of <app
loc="BoffinsBower"><rdg wit="#inst02">the Bower</rdg></app> and
there presented him to <app loc="boffinhatfeathers"><rdg wit="#inst02"
>Mrs Boffin:—a stout lady of a rubicund and cheerful aspect,
dressed (to Mr Wegg's consternation) in a low evening-dress of
sable satin, and a large black velvet hat and
<lb/><app loc="boffinfashion"><rdg wit="#inst02">'Mrs Boffin, Wegg,'
said Boffin, 'is a highflyer at Fashion. And her make is such,
that she does it credit. As to myself I ain't yet as Fash'nable
as I may come to be</rdg></app>. Henerietty, old lady, this is
<app loc="Rooshan"><rdg wit="#inst02">the gentleman that's a going
to decline and fall off the Rooshan Empire</rdg></app>.'
<lb/>'And I am sure I hope it'll do you both good,' said Mrs Boffin.
<lb/>It was the queerest of rooms, fitted and furnished more like a
luxurious amateur tap-room than anything else within the ken of Silas
Wegg. There were two wooden settles by the fire, one on either side of
it, with a corresponding table before each. On one of these tables, the
eight volumes were ranged flat, in a row, like a galvanic battery; on
the other, certain squat case-bottles of inviting appearance seemed to
stand on tiptoe to exchange glances with Mr Wegg over a front row of
tumblers and a basin of white sugar. On the hob, a kettle steamed; on
the hearth, a cat reposed. Facing the fire between the settles, a sofa,
a footstool, and a little table, formed a centrepiece devoted to Mrs
Boffin. They were garish in taste and colour, but were expensive
articles of drawing-room furniture that had a very odd look beside the
settles and the flaring gaslight pendent from the ceiling. There was a
flowery carpet on the floor; but, instead of reaching to the fireside,
its glowing vegetation stopped short at Mrs Boffin's footstool, and gave
place to a region of sand and sawdust. Mr Wegg also noticed, with
admiring eyes, that, while the flowery land displayed such hollow
ornamentation as stuffed birds and waxen fruits under glass-shades,
there were, in the territory where vegetation ceased, compensatory
shelves on which the best part of a large pie and likewise of a cold
joint were plainly discernible among other solids. The room itself was
large, though low; and the heavy frames of its old-fashioned windows,
and the heavy beams in its crooked ceiling, seemed to indicate that it
had once been a house of some mark standing alone in the country.
<lb/>'Do you like it, Wegg?' asked Mr Boffin, in his pouncing manner.
<lb/>'I admire it greatly, sir,' said Wegg. 'Peculiar comfort at this
fireside, sir.' <lb/>'Do you understand it, Wegg?' <lb/>'Why, in a
general way, sir,' Mr Wegg was beginning slowly and knowingly, with his
head stuck on one side, as evasive people do begin, when the other cut
him short: <lb/>'You DON'T understand it, Wegg, and I'll explain it.
These arrangements is made by mutual consent between Mrs Boffin and me.
<app loc="boffinfashion"><rdg wit="#inst02">Mrs Boffin, as I've
mentioned, is a highflyer at Fashion</rdg></app>; at present I'm
not. I don't go higher than comfort, and comfort of the sort that I'm
equal to the enjoyment of. Well then. Where would be the good of Mrs
Boffin and me quarrelling over it? We never did quarrel, before <app
loc="BoffinsBower"><rdg wit="#inst02">we come into Boffin's Bower as
a property</rdg></app>; why quarrel when we HAVE <app
loc="BoffinsBower"><rdg wit="#inst02">come into Boffin's Bower as a
property</rdg></app>? So Mrs Boffin, she keeps up her part of
the room, in her way; I keep up my part of the room in mine. In
consequence of which we have at once, Sociability (I should go
melancholy mad without Mrs Boffin), <app loc="boffinfashion"><rdg
wit="#inst02">Fashion</rdg></app>, and Comfort. <app
loc="boffinfashion"><rdg wit="#inst02">If I get by degrees to be a
higher-flyer at Fashion, then Mrs Boffin will by degrees come
for'arder. If Mrs Boffin should ever be less of a dab at Fashion
than she is at the present time, then Mrs Boffin's carpet would
go back'arder. If we should both continny as we are, why then
HERE we are, and give us a kiss, old lady.'</rdg></app>
<lb/><app loc="boffinfashion"><rdg wit="#inst02">Mrs Boffin who,
perpetually smiling, had approached and drawn her plump arm
through her lord's, most willingly complied. <app
loc="boffinhatfeathers"><rdg wit="#inst02">Fashion, in the
form of her black velvet hat and feathers</rdg></app>,
tried to prevent it; but got deservedly crushed in the
<lb/>'So now, Wegg,' said Mr Boffin, wiping his mouth with an air of
much refreshment, 'you begin to know us as we are. <app
loc="BoffinsBower"><rdg wit="#inst02">This is a charming spot, is
the Bower, but you must get to apprechiate it by degrees. It's a
spot to find out the merits of; little by little, and a new'un
every day. There's a serpentining walk up each of <app
loc="dustground"><rdg wit="#inst02">the mounds, that gives
you the yard and neighbourhood changing every
moment.</rdg></app> When you get to the top, there's a
view of the neighbouring premises, not to be surpassed. The
premises of Mrs Boffin's late father (Canine Provision Trade),
you look down into, as if they was your own. And the top of <app
loc="HarmonyJail"><rdg wit="#inst02">the High
Mound</rdg></app> is crowned with a lattice-work Arbour, in
which, if you don't read out loud many a book in the summer, ay,
and as a friend, drop many a time into poetry too, it shan't be
my fault. </rdg></app>Now, what'll you read on?' <lb/>'Thank
you, sir,' returned Wegg, as if there were nothing new in his reading at
all. 'I generally do it on gin and water.' <lb/>'Keeps the organ moist,
does it, Wegg?' asked Mr Boffin, with innocent eagerness. <lb/>'N-no,
sir,' replied Wegg, coolly, 'I should hardly describe it so, sir. I
should say, mellers it. Mellers it, is the word I should employ, Mr
Boffin.' <lb/><app loc="woodenleg"><rdg wit="#inst02">His wooden conceit
and craft</rdg></app> kept exact pace with the delighted
expectation of his victim. The visions rising before his mercenary mind,
of the many ways in which this connexion was to be turned to account,
never obscured the foremost idea natural to a dull overreaching man,
that he must not make himself too cheap. <lb/><app loc="boffinfashion"
><rdg wit="#inst02">Mrs Boffin's Fashion, as a less inexorable
deity than the idol usually worshipped under that name, did not
forbid her mixing for her literary guest, or asking if he found
the result to his liking.</rdg></app> On his returning a
gracious answer and taking his place at the literary settle, Mr Boffin
began to compose himself as a listener, at the opposite settle, with
exultant eyes. <lb/>'Sorry to deprive you of a pipe, Wegg,' he said,
filling his own, 'but you can't do both together. Oh! and another thing
I forgot to name! When you come in here of an evening, and look round
you, and notice anything on a shelf that happens to catch your fancy,
mention it.' <lb/>Wegg, who had been going to put on his spectacles,
immediately laid them down, with the sprightly observation: <lb/>'You
read my thoughts, sir. DO my eyes deceive me, or is that object up there
a—a pie? It can't be a pie.' <lb/>'Yes, it's a pie, Wegg,' replied Mr
Boffin, with a glance of some little discomfiture at <app loc="Rooshan"
><rdg wit="#inst02">the Decline and Fall</rdg></app>. <lb/>'HAVE
I lost my smell for fruits, or is it a apple pie, sir?' asked Wegg.
<lb/>'It's a veal and ham pie,' said Mr Boffin. <lb/>'Is it indeed, sir?
And it would be hard, sir, to name the pie that is a better pie than a
weal and hammer,' said Mr Wegg, nodding his head emotionally. <lb/>'Have
some, Wegg?' <lb/>'Thank you, Mr Boffin, I think I will, at your
invitation. I wouldn't at any other party's, at the present juncture;
but at yours, sir!—And meaty jelly too, especially when a little salt,
which is the case where there's ham, is mellering to the organ, is very
mellering to the organ.' Mr Wegg did not say what organ, but spoke with
a cheerful generality. <lb/>So, the pie was brought down, and the worthy
Mr Boffin exercised his patience until Wegg, in the exercise of his
knife and fork, had finished the dish: only profiting by the opportunity
to inform Wegg that although it was not strictly Fashionable to keep the
contents of a larder thus exposed to view, he (Mr Boffin) considered it
hospitable; for the reason, that instead of saying, in a comparatively
unmeaning manner, to a visitor, 'There are such and such edibles down
stairs; will you have anything up?' you took the bold practical course
of saying, 'Cast your eye along the shelves, and, if you see anything
you like there, have it down.' <lb/>And now, Mr Wegg at length pushed
away his plate and put on his spectacles, and Mr Boffin lighted his pipe
and looked with beaming eyes into the opening world before him, and <app
loc="boffinfashion"><rdg wit="#inst02">Mrs Boffin reclined in a
fashionable manner on her sofa: as one who would be part of the
audience if she found she could, and would go to sleep if she
found she couldn't.</rdg></app>
<lb/>'Hem!' began Wegg, 'This, Mr Boffin and Lady, <app loc="Rooshan"
><rdg wit="#inst02">is the first chapter of the first wollume of
the Decline and Fall off—</rdg></app>' here he looked hard at
the book, and stopped. <lb/>'What's the matter, Wegg?' <lb/>'Why, it
comes into my mind, do you know, sir,' said Wegg with an air of
insinuating frankness (having first again looked hard at the book),
'that you made a little mistake this morning, which I had meant to set
you right in, only something put it out of my head. I think you said
<app loc="Rooshan"><rdg wit="#inst02">Rooshan Empire</rdg></app>,
sir?' <lb/>'It is <app loc="Rooshan"><rdg wit="#inst02">Rooshan; ain't
it, Wegg?' <lb/>'No, sir. Roman. Roman.'</rdg></app>
<lb/>'What's the difference, Wegg?' <lb/>'The difference, sir?' Mr Wegg
was faltering and in danger of breaking down, when a bright thought
flashed upon him. 'The difference, sir? There you place me in a
difficulty, Mr Boffin. Suffice it to observe, that the difference is
best postponed to some other occasion when Mrs Boffin does not honour us
with her company. In Mrs Boffin's presence, sir, we had better drop it.'
<lb/>Mr Wegg thus came out of his disadvantage with quite a chivalrous
air, and not only that, but by dint of repeating with a manly delicacy,
'In Mrs Boffin's presence, sir, we had better drop it!' turned the
disadvantage on Boffin, who felt that he had committed himself in a very
painful manner. <lb/>Then, Mr Wegg, in a dry unflinching way, entered on
his task; going straight across country at everything that came before
him; taking all the hard words, biographical and geographical; getting
rather shaken by Hadrian, Trajan, and the Antonines; stumbling at
Polybius (pronounced Polly Beeious, and supposed by Mr Boffin to be a
Roman virgin, and by Mrs Boffin to be responsible for that necessity of
dropping it); heavily unseated by Titus Antoninus Pius; up again and
galloping smoothly with Augustus; finally, getting over the ground well
with Commodus: who, under the appellation of Commodious, was held by Mr
Boffin to have been quite unworthy of his English origin, and 'not to
have acted up to his name' in his government of the Roman people. With
the death of this personage, Mr Wegg terminated his first reading; long
before which consummation several total eclipses of Mrs Boffin's candle
behind her black velvet disc, would have been very alarming, but for
being regularly accompanied by a potent smell of burnt pens when her
feathers took fire, which acted as a restorative and woke her. Mr Wegg,
having read on by rote and attached as few ideas as possible to the
text, came out of the encounter fresh; but, Mr Boffin, who had soon laid
down his unfinished pipe, and had ever since sat intently staring with
his eyes and mind at the confounding enormities of the Romans, was so
severely punished that he could hardly wish his literary friend
Good-night, and articulate 'Tomorrow.' <lb/>'Commodious,' gasped Mr
Boffin, staring at the moon, after letting Wegg out at the gate and
fastening it: 'Commodious fights in that wild-beast-show, seven hundred
and thirty-five times, in one character only! As if that wasn't stunning
enough, a hundred lions is turned into the same wild-beast-show all at
once! As if that wasn't stunning enough, Commodious, in another
character, kills 'em all off in a hundred goes! As if that wasn't
stunning enough, Vittle-us (and well named too) eats six millions'
worth, English money, in seven months! Wegg takes it easy, but
upon-my-soul to a old bird like myself these are scarers. And even now
that Commodious is strangled, I don't see a way to our bettering
ourselves.' Mr Boffin added as he turned his pensive steps towards <app
loc="BoffinsBower"><rdg wit="#inst02">the Bower</rdg></app> and
shook his head, 'I didn't think this morning there was half so many
Scarers in Print. But I'm in for it now!' <lb/><lb/><hi rend="capitals"
><hi rend="underline">Chapter 6 <lb/>
<lb/><app loc="cutadrift"><rdg wit="#inst02">CUT
<lb/><app loc="jollyfellowship"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="place"
key="jollyfellowship">The Six Jolly Fellowship
Porters</rs></rdg></app>, already mentioned as <app
loc="fellowshipdesc"><rdg wit="#inst02"> a tavern of a dropsical
appearance, had long settled down into a state of hale
infirmity. In its whole constitution it had not a straight
floor, and hardly a straight line; but it had outlasted, and
clearly would yet outlast, many a better-trimmed building, many
a sprucer public-house. Externally, it was a narrow lopsided
wooden jumble of corpulent windows heaped one upon another as
you might heap as many toppling oranges, with a crazy wooden
verandah impending over the water; indeed the whole house,
inclusive of the complaining flag-staff on the roof, impended
over the water, but seemed to have got into the condition of a
faint-hearted diver who has paused so long on the brink that he
will never go in at all.</rdg></app>
<lb/><app loc="fellowshipdesc"><rdg wit="#inst02"> This description
applies to the river-frontage of the <app loc="jollyfellowship"
><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="place"
key="jollyfellowship">Six Jolly Fellowship
Porters</rs></rdg></app>. The back of the
establishment, though the chief entrance was there, so
contracted that it merely represented in its connexion with the
front, the handle of a flat iron set upright on its broadest
end. This handle stood at the bottom of a wilderness of court
and alley: which wilderness pressed so hard and close upon the
<app loc="jollyfellowship"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="place" key="jollyfellowship">Six Jolly
Fellowship Porters</rs></rdg></app> as to leave the
hostelry not an inch of ground beyond its door. For this reason,
in combination with the fact that the house was all but afloat
at high water, when the Porters had a family wash the linen
subjected to that operation might usually be seen drying on
lines stretched across the reception-rooms and
<lb/><app loc="fellowshipdesc"><rdg wit="#inst02"> The wood forming the
chimney-pieces, beams, partitions, floors and doors, of the <app
loc="jollyfellowship"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="place"
key="jollyfellowship"> Six Jolly Fellowship
Porters</rs></rdg></app>, seemed in its old age
fraught with confused memories of its youth. In many places it
had become gnarled and riven, according to the manner of old
trees; knots started out of it; and here and there it seemed to
twist itself into some likeness of boughs. In this state of
second childhood, it had an air of being in its own way
garrulous about its early life. Not without reason was it often
asserted by the regular frequenters of the Porters, that when
the light shone full upon the grain of certain panels, and
particularly upon an old corner cupboard of walnut-wood in the
bar, you might trace little forests there, and tiny trees like
the parent tree, in full umbrageous leaf.</rdg></app>
<lb/><app loc="fellowshipdesc"><rdg wit="#inst02">The bar of the <app
loc="jollyfellowship"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="place"
key="jollyfellowship">Six Jolly Fellowship
Porters</rs></rdg></app> was a bar to soften the
human breast. The available space in it was not much larger than
a hackney-coach; but no one could have wished the bar bigger,
that space was so girt in by corpulent little casks, and by
cordial-bottles radiant with fictitious grapes in bunches, and
by lemons in nets, and by biscuits in baskets, and by <app
loc="bow"><rdg wit="#inst02">the polite beer-pulls that made
low bows when customers were served with
beer</rdg></app>, and by the cheese in a snug corner, and by
the landlady's own small table in a snugger corner near the
fire, with the cloth everlastingly laid. This haven was divided
from the rough world by a glass partition and a half-door, with
a leaden sill upon it for the convenience of resting your
liquor; but, over this half-door the bar's snugness so gushed
forth that, albeit customers drank there standing, in a dark and
draughty passage where they were shouldered by other customers
passing in and out, they always appeared to drink under an
enchanting delusion that they were in the bar
<lb/><app loc="fellowshipdesc"><rdg wit="#inst02">For the rest, both the
tap and parlour of the <app loc="jollyfellowship"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="place" key="jollyfellowship">
Six Jolly Fellowship Porters</rs></rdg></app> gave
upon the river, and had red curtains matching the noses of the
regular customers, and were provided with comfortable fireside
tin utensils, like models of sugar-loaf hats, made in that shape
that they might, with their pointed ends, seek out for
themselves glowing nooks in the depths of the red coals, when
they mulled your ale, or heated for you those delectable drinks,
Purl, Flip, and Dog's Nose. The first of these humming compounds
was a speciality of the <rs type="place" key="jollyfellowship">
Porters</rs>, which, through an inscription on its
door-posts, gently appealed to your feelings as, 'The Early Purl
House'. For, it would seem that Purl must always be taken early;
though whether for any more distinctly stomachic reason than
that, as the early bird catches the worm, so the early purl
catches the customer, cannot here be resolved. It only remains
to add that in the handle of the flat iron, and opposite the
bar, was a very little room like a three-cornered hat, into
which no direct ray of sun, moon, or star, ever penetrated, but
which was superstitiously regarded as a sanctuary replete with
comfort and retirement by gaslight, and on the door of which was
therefore painted its alluring name: Cosy.</rdg></app>
<lb/><app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Miss Potterson</rs>, sole proprietor
and manager of the <lb/><app loc="jollyfellowship"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="place" key="jollyfellowship"
>Fellowship Porters</rs></rdg></app>, reigned
supreme on her throne, the Bar, and a man must have drunk
himself mad drunk indeed if he thought he could contest a point
with her. Being known on her own authority as <rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Miss Abbey Potterson</rs>, some
water-side heads, which (like the water) were none of the
clearest, harboured muddled notions that, because of her dignity
and firmness, she was named after, or in some sort related to,
the Abbey at Westminster. But, <rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Abbey</rs> was only short for <rs
type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Abigail</rs>, by which
name <rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss Potterson</rs>
had been christened at Limehouse Church, some sixty and odd
years before.</rdg></app>
<lb/>'Now, you mind, you <lb/><app loc="riderhood"><rdg wit="#inst02"
><rs type="person" key="riderhood"
>Riderhood</rs></rdg></app>,' said <lb/><app loc="abbeypotterson"
><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Abbey Potterson</rs></rdg></app>, with emphatic forefinger
over the half-door, 'the <lb/><app loc="jollyfellowship"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="place" key="jollyfellowship"
>Fellowship</rs></rdg></app> don't want you at all, and
would rather by far have your room than your company; but if you were as
welcome here as you are not, you shouldn't even then have another drop
of drink here this night, after this present pint of beer. So make the
most of it.' <lb/>'But you know, <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Potterson</rs></rdg></app>,' this was suggested very meekly
though, 'if <lb/><app loc="riderhood"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="riderhood">I</rs></rdg></app> behave
myself, you can't help serving me, miss.' <lb/>'CAN'T I!' said <app
loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Abbey</rs></rdg></app>, with infinite
expression. <lb/>'No, <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Potterson</rs></rdg></app>; because, you see, the law—' <lb/>'I am
the law here, my man,' returned <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Abbey</rs></rdg></app>, 'and I'll soon convince you of that,
if you doubt it at all.' <lb/>'I never said I did doubt it at all, <app
loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Miss Abbey</rs></rdg></app>.' <lb/>'So
much the better for you.' <lb/><app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson"
>Abbey</rs></rdg></app> the supreme threw the customer's
halfpence into the till, and, seating herself in her fireside-chair,
resumed the newspaper she had been reading. <app loc="abbeypotterson"
><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson"
>She</rs> was a tall, upright, well-favoured woman, though
severe of countenance, and had more of the air of a
schoolmistress than mistress of the <app loc="jollyfellowship"
><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="place"
key="jollyfellowship">Six Jolly Fellowship
Porters</rs></rdg></app></rdg></app>. <app
loc="riderhood"><rdg wit="#inst02">The <rs type="person"
key="riderhood">man</rs> on the other side of the half-door,
was a waterside-man with a squinting leer, and he eyed her as if
he were one of her pupils in disgrace.</rdg></app>
<lb/>'You're cruel hard upon me, <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Potterson</rs></rdg></app>.' <lb/><app loc="abbeypotterson"
><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Potterson</rs></rdg></app> read her newspaper with
contracted brows, and took no notice until <app loc="riderhood"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="riderhood"
>he</rs></rdg></app> whispered: <lb/>'<app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Potterson</rs></rdg></app>! Ma'am! Might I have half a word
with you?' <lb/>Deigning then to turn her eyes sideways towards <app
loc="riderhood"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="riderhood"
>the suppliant</rs></rdg></app>, <app loc="abbeypotterson"
><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Potterson</rs></rdg></app> beheld <app loc="riderhood"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="riderhood">him</rs>
knuckling his low forehead, and ducking at her with his head, as
if he were asking leave to fling himself head foremost over the
half-door and alight on his feet in the bar.</rdg></app>
<lb/>'Well?' said <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Potterson</rs></rdg></app>, with a manner as short as she herself
was long, 'say your half word. Bring it out.' <lb/>'<app
loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Miss Potterson</rs></rdg></app>! Ma'am!
Would you 'sxcuse me taking the liberty of asking, is it <app
loc="riderhood"><rdg wit="#inst02">my character</rdg></app> that you
take objections to?' <lb/>'Certainly,' said <app loc="abbeypotterson"
><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Potterson</rs></rdg></app>. <lb/>'Is it that you're afraid
of—' <lb/>'I am not afraid OF YOU,' interposed <app loc="abbeypotterson"
><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Potterson</rs></rdg></app>, 'if you mean that.' <lb/>'But I
humbly don't mean that, <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Abbey</rs></rdg></app>.' <lb/>'Then what do you mean?' <lb/>'You
really are so cruel hard upon me! What I was going to make inquiries was
no more than, might you have any apprehensions—leastways beliefs or
suppositions—that the company's property mightn't be altogether to be
considered safe, if I used the house too regular?' <lb/>'What do you
want to know for?' <lb/>'Well, <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Abbey</rs></rdg></app>, respectfully meaning no offence to
you, it would be some satisfaction to a man's mind, to understand why
the <app loc="jollyfellowship"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="place"
key="jollyfellowship">Fellowship Porters</rs></rdg></app> is
not to be free to such as me, and is to be free to such as <rs
type="person" key="gafferhexam">Gaffer</rs>.' <lb/>The face of the
<app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">hostess</rs></rdg></app> darkened with
some shadow of perplexity, as she replied: '<rs type="person"
key="gafferhexam">Gaffer</rs> has never been where <app
loc="riderhood"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="riderhood"
>you</rs></rdg></app> have been.' <lb/>'Signifying in Quod,
Miss? Perhaps not. But he may have merited it. He may be suspected of
far worse than ever I was.' <lb/>'Who suspects him?' <lb/>'Many,
perhaps. One, beyond all doubts. I do.' <lb/>'YOU are not much,' said
<app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Miss Abbey Potterson</rs></rdg></app>,
knitting her brows again with disdain. <lb/>'But <app loc="riderhood"
><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="riderhood"
>I</rs></rdg></app> was <app loc="gafferhexam"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="gafferhexam"
>his</rs></rdg></app> pardner. Mind you, <app loc="abbeypotterson"
><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Abbey</rs></rdg></app>, I was his pardner. As such I know
more of the ins and outs of <app loc="gafferexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="gafferhexam">him</rs></rdg></app> than
any person living does. Notice this! <app loc="riderhood"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="riderhood">I</rs> am the
man</rdg></app> that was his pardner, and <app loc="riderhood"
><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="riderhood">I</rs> am
the man</rdg></app> that suspects <app loc="gafferhexam"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="gafferhexam"
>him</rs></rdg></app>.' <lb/>'Then,' suggested <app
loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Miss Abbey</rs></rdg></app>, though
with a deeper shade of perplexity than before, 'you criminate yourself.'
<lb/>'No I don't, <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Abbey</rs></rdg></app>. For how does it stand? It stands this way.
When I was his pardner, I couldn't never give him satisfaction. Why
couldn't I never give him satisfaction? Because my luck was bad; because
I couldn't find many enough of 'em. How was his luck? Always good.
Notice this! Always good! Ah! There's a many games, <app
loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Miss Abbey</rs></rdg></app>, in which
there's chance, but there's a many others in which there's skill too,
mixed along with it.' <lb/>'That <app loc="gafferhexam"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="gafferhexam"
>Gaffer</rs></rdg></app> has a skill in finding what he finds,
who doubts, man?' asked <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Abbey</rs></rdg></app>. <lb/>'A skill in purwiding what he finds,
perhaps,' said <app loc="riderhood"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="riderhood">Riderhood</rs>, shaking his evil
head</rdg></app>. <lb/><app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"
><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Abbey</rs></rdg></app> knitted her brow at him, as <app
loc="riderhood"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="riderhood"
>he</rs> darkly leered at her</rdg></app>. 'If you're out
upon the river pretty nigh every tide, and if you want to find a man or
woman in the river, you'll greatly help your luck, <app
loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Miss Abbey</rs></rdg></app>, by
knocking a man or woman on the head aforehand and pitching 'em in.'
<lb/>'Gracious Lud!' was the involuntary exclamation of <app
loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Miss Potterson</rs></rdg></app>.
<lb/>'Mind you!' returned <app loc="riderhood"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="riderhood">the other</rs></rdg></app>,
stretching forward over the half door to throw his words into the bar;
for <app loc="riderhood"><rdg wit="#inst02">his voice was as if the head
of his boat's mop were down his throat</rdg></app>; 'I say so,
<app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Miss Abbey</rs></rdg></app>! And mind
you! I'll follow him up, <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"
><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Abbey</rs></rdg></app>! And mind you! I'll bring him to hook at
last, if it's twenty year hence, I will! Who's he, to be favoured along
of his <app loc="lizziehexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="lizziehexam">daughter</rs></rdg></app>? Ain't I got a
<app loc="pleasantriderhood"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="pleasantriderhood">daughter</rs> of my
own</rdg></app>!' <lb/>With that flourish, and seeming to have talked
himself rather more drunk and much more ferocious than he had begun by
being, <app loc="riderhood"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="riderhood">Mr Riderhood</rs></rdg></app> took up his
pint pot and swaggered off to the taproom. <lb/><app loc="gafferhexam"
><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="gafferhexam"
>Gaffer</rs></rdg></app> was not there, but a pretty strong
muster of <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Miss Abbey</rs></rdg></app>'s pupils
were, who exhibited, when occasion required, the greatest docility. On
the clock's striking ten, and <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Abbey</rs></rdg></app>'s appearing at the door, and
addressing a certain person in a faded scarlet jacket, with 'George
Jones, your time's up! I told your wife you should be punctual,' Jones
submissively rose, gave the company good-night, and retired. At
half-past ten, on <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Abbey</rs></rdg></app>'s looking in again, and saying, 'William
Williams, Bob Glamour, and Jonathan, you are all due,' Williams, Bob,
and Jonathan with similar meekness took their leave and evaporated.
Greater wonder than these, when a bottle-nosed person in a glazed hat
had after some considerable hesitation ordered another glass of gin and
water of the attendant potboy, and when <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Abbey</rs></rdg></app>, instead of sending it, <app
loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02">appeared in
person</rdg></app>, saying, 'Captain Joey, you have had as much as
will do you good,' not only did the captain feebly rub his knees and
contemplate the fire without offering a word of protest, but the rest of
the company murmured, 'Ay, ay, Captain! <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Abbey</rs></rdg></app>'s right; you be guided by <app
loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Miss Abbey</rs></rdg></app>, Captain.'
Nor, was <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Miss Abbey</rs></rdg></app>'s vigilance
in anywise abated by this submission, but rather sharpened; for, looking
round on the deferential faces of her school, and descrying two other
young persons in need of admonition, she thus bestowed it: 'Tom Tootle,
it's time for a young fellow who's going to be married next month, to be
at home and asleep. And you needn't nudge him, Mr Jack Mullins, for I
know your work begins early tomorrow, and I say the same to you. So
come! Good-night, like good lads!' Upon which, the blushing Tootle
looked to Mullins, and the blushing Mullins looked to Tootle, on the
question who should rise first, and finally both rose together and went
out on the broad grin, followed by <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Abbey</rs>; in whose presence</rdg></app> the company did
not take the liberty of grinning likewise. <lb/>In such an
establishment, the white-aproned pot-boy with his shirt-sleeves arranged
in a tight roll on each bare shoulder, was a mere hint of the
possibility of physical force, thrown out as a matter of state and form.
Exactly at the closing hour, all the guests who were left, filed out in
the best order: <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Abbey</rs></rdg></app> standing at the half door of the bar, to hold
a ceremony of review and dismissal. All wished <app loc="abbeypotterson"
><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Abbey</rs></rdg></app> good-night and <app
loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Miss Abbey</rs></rdg></app> wished
good-night to all, except Riderhood. The sapient pot-boy, looking on
officially, then had the conviction borne in upon his soul, that the man
was evermore outcast and excommunicate from the <app
loc="jollyfellowship"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="place"
key="jollyfellowship">Six Jolly Fellowship
Porters</rs></rdg></app>. <lb/>'You Bob Gliddery,' said <app
loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Miss Abbey</rs></rdg></app> to this
pot-boy, 'run round to <app loc="gafferhexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="gafferhexam">Hexam</rs></rdg></app>'s and
tell his<app loc="lizziehexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="lizziehexam"> daughter Lizzie</rs></rdg></app> that I
want to speak to her.' <lb/>With exemplary swiftness Bob Gliddery
departed, and returned. <app loc="lizziehexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="lizziehexam">Lizzie</rs></rdg></app>,
following him, arrived as one of the two female domestics of the <app
loc="jollyfellowship"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="place"
key="jollyfellowship">Fellowship Porters</rs></rdg></app>
arranged on the snug little table by the bar fire, <app
loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Miss Potterson</rs></rdg></app>'s
supper of hot sausages and mashed potatoes. <lb/>'Come in and sit ye
down, girl,' said <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Abbey</rs></rdg></app>. 'Can you eat a bit?' <lb/>'No thank you,
Miss. I have had my supper.' <lb/>'I have had mine too, I think,' said
<app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Miss Abbey</rs></rdg></app>, pushing
away the untasted dish, 'and more than enough of it. I am put out, <app
loc="lizziehexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="lizziehexam">Lizzie</rs></rdg></app>.' <lb/>'I am very
sorry for it, Miss.' <lb/>'Then why, in the name of Goodness,' quoth
<app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Miss Abbey</rs></rdg></app>, sharply,
'do you do it?' <lb/>'I do it, Miss!' <lb/>'There, there. Don't look
astonished. I ought to have begun with a word of explanation, but it's
my way to make short cuts at things. I always was a pepperer. You Bob
Gliddery there, put the chain upon the door and get ye down to your
supper.' <lb/>With an alacrity that seemed no less referable to the
pepperer fact than to the supper fact, Bob obeyed, and his boots were
heard descending towards the bed of the river. <lb/>'<app
loc="lizziehexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="lizziehexam">Lizzie Hexam, Lizzie
Hexam</rs></rdg></app>,' then began <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Potterson</rs></rdg></app>, 'how often have I held out to
you the opportunity of getting clear of <app loc="gafferhexam"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="gafferhexam">your
father</rs></rdg></app>, and doing well?' <lb/>'Very often,
Miss.' <lb/>'Very often? Yes! And I might as well have spoken to the
iron funnel of the strongest sea-going steamer that passes the <app
loc="jollyfellowship"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="place"
key="jollyfellowship">Fellowship Porters</rs></rdg></app>.'
<lb/>'No, Miss,' <app loc="lizziehexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="lizziehexam">Lizzie</rs></rdg></app>
pleaded; 'because that would not be thankful, and I am.' <lb/>'I vow and
declare I am half ashamed of myself for taking such an interest in you,'
said <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Miss Abbey</rs></rdg></app>, pettishly,
'for I don't believe I should do it if you were not good-looking. Why
ain't you ugly?' <lb/>Lizzie merely answered this difficult question
with an apologetic glance. <lb/>'However, you ain't,' resumed <app
loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Miss Potterson</rs></rdg></app>, 'so
it's no use going into that. I must take you as I find you. Which indeed
is what I've done. And you mean to say you are still obstinate?'
<lb/>'Not obstinate, Miss, I hope.' <lb/>'Firm (I suppose you call it)
then?' <lb/>'Yes, Miss. Fixed like.' <lb/>'Never was an obstinate person
yet, who would own to the word!' remarked <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Potterson</rs></rdg></app>, rubbing her vexed nose; 'I'm
sure I would, if I was obstinate; but I am a pepperer, which is
different. Lizzie Hexam, Lizzie Hexam, think again. Do you know the
worst of your father?' <lb/>'Do I know the worst of father!' she
repeated, opening her eyes. <lb/>'Do you know the suspicions to which
your father makes himself liable? Do you know the suspicions that are
actually about, against him?' <lb/>The consciousness of what he
habitually did, oppressed the girl heavily, and she slowly cast down her
eyes. <lb/>'Say, <app loc="lizziehexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="lizziehexam">Lizzie</rs></rdg></app>. Do
you know?' urged <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Abbey</rs></rdg></app>. <lb/>'Please to tell me what the suspicions
are, Miss,' she asked after a silence, with her eyes upon the ground.
<lb/>'It's not an easy thing to tell a daughter, but it must be told. It
is thought by some, then, that your father helps to their death a few of
those that he finds dead.' <lb/>The relief of hearing what she felt sure
was a false suspicion, in place of the expected real and true one, so
lightened <app loc="lizziehexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="lizziehexam">Lizzie</rs></rdg></app>'s breast for the
moment, that <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Abbey</rs></rdg></app> was amazed at her demeanour. She raised her
eyes quickly, shook her head, and, in a kind of triumph, almost laughed.
<lb/>'They little know father who talk like that!' <lb/>('She takes it,'
thought <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Miss Abbey</rs></rdg></app>, 'very
quietly. She takes it with extraordinary quietness!') <lb/>'And
perhaps,' said Lizzie, as a recollection flashed upon her, 'it is some
one who has a grudge against father; some one who has threatened father!
Is it Riderhood, Miss?' <lb/>'Well; yes it is.' <lb/>'Yes! He was
father's partner, and father broke with him, and now he revenges
himself. Father broke with him when I was by, and he was very angry at
it. And besides, Miss Abbey!—Will you never, without strong reason, let
pass your lips what I am going to say?' <lb/>She bent forward to say it
in a whisper. <lb/>'I promise,' said <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Abbey</rs></rdg></app>. <lb/>'It was on the night when the
Harmon murder was found out, through father, just above bridge. And just
below bridge, as we were sculling home, Riderhood crept out of the dark
in his boat. And many and many times afterwards, when such great pains
were taken to come to the bottom of the crime, and it never could be
come near, I thought in my own thoughts, could Riderhood himself have
done the murder, and did he purposely let father find the body? It
seemed a'most wicked and cruel to so much as think such a thing; but now
that he tries to throw it upon <app loc="gafferhexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"
><rs type="person" key="gafferhexam"
>father</rs></rdg></app>, I go back to it as if it was a truth. Can it
be a truth? That was put into my mind by the dead?' <lb/>She asked this
question, rather of the fire than of <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">the hostess
of the Fellowship Porters</rs></rdg></app>, and looked round
the little bar with troubled eyes. <lb/>But, <app loc="abbeypotterson"
><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Potterson</rs>, as a ready schoolmistress accustomed to
bring her pupils to book</rdg></app>, set the matter in a light
that was essentially of this world. <lb/>'You poor deluded girl,' she
said, 'don't you see that you can't open your mind to particular
suspicions of one of the two, without opening your mind to general
suspicions of the other? They had worked together. Their goings-on had
been going on for some time. Even granting that it was as you have had
in your thoughts, what the two had done together would come familiar to
the mind of one.' <lb/>'You don't know <app loc="gafferhexam"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="gafferhexam"
>father</rs></rdg></app>, Miss, when you talk like that. Indeed,
indeed, you don't know father.' <lb/>'<app loc="lizziehexam"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="lizziehexam">Lizzie,
Lizzie</rs></rdg></app>,' said <app loc="abbeypotterson"
><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Potterson</rs></rdg></app>. 'Leave him. You needn't break
with him altogether, but leave him. Do well away from him; not because
of what I have told you to-night—we'll pass no judgment upon that, and
we'll hope it may not be—but because of what I have urged on you before.
No matter whether it's owing to your good looks or not, I like you and I
want to serve you. <app loc="lizziehexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="lizziehexam">Lizzie</rs></rdg></app>,
come under my direction. Don't fling yourself away, my girl, but be
persuaded into being respectable and happy.' <lb/>In the sound good
feeling and good sense of her entreaty, <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Abbey</rs></rdg></app> had softened into a soothing tone,
and had even drawn her arm round the girl's waist. But, she only
replied, 'Thank you, thank you! I can't. I won't. I must not think of
it. The harder <app loc="gafferhexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="gafferhexam">father</rs></rdg></app> is
borne upon, the more he needs me to lean on.' <lb/>And then <app
loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Miss Abbey</rs></rdg></app>, who, like
all hard people when they do soften, felt that there was considerable
compensation owing to her, underwent reaction and became frigid. <lb/>'I
have done what I can,' she said, 'and you must go your way. You make
your bed, and you must lie on it. But tell <app loc="gafferhexam"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="gafferhexam">your
father</rs></rdg></app> one thing: he must not come here any
more.' <lb/>'Oh, Miss, will you forbid him the house where I know he's
safe?' <lb/>'The Fellowships,' returned <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Abbey</rs></rdg></app>, 'has itself to look to, as well as
others. It has been hard work to establish order here, and make the <app
loc="jollyfellowship"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="place"
key="jollyfellowship">Fellowships</rs></rdg></app> what it
is, and it is daily and nightly hard work to keep it so. The <app
loc="jollyfellowship"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="place"
key="jollyfellowship">Fellowships</rs></rdg></app> must not
have a taint upon it that may give it a bad name. I forbid the house to
<app loc="riderhood"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="riderhood">Riderhood</rs></rdg></app>, and I forbid the
house to <app loc="gafferhexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="gafferhexam">Gaffer</rs></rdg></app>. I forbid both,
equally. I find from <app loc="riderhood"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="riderhood">Riderhood</rs></rdg></app> and
you together, that there are suspicions against both men, and I'm not
going to take upon myself to decide betwixt them. They are both tarred
with a dirty brush, and I can't have the <app loc="jollyfellowship"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="place" key="jollyfellowship"
>Fellowships</rs></rdg></app> tarred with the same brush.
That's all I know.' <lb/>'Good-night, Miss!' said Lizzie Hexam,
sorrowfully. <lb/>'Hah!—Good-night!' returned <app loc="abbeypotterson"
><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Abbey</rs></rdg></app> with a shake of her head.
<lb/>'Believe me, <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Abbey</rs></rdg></app>, I am truly grateful all the same.' <lb/>'I
can believe a good deal,' returned <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg
wit="#inst02">the stately <rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson"
>Abbey</rs></rdg></app>, 'so I'll try to believe that too,
Lizzie.' <lb/>No supper did <app loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"
><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Potterson</rs></rdg></app> take that night, and only half her
usual tumbler of hot Port Negus. And the female domestics—two robust
sisters, with staring black eyes, shining flat red faces, blunt noses,
and strong black curls, like dolls—interchanged the sentiment that
Missis had had her hair combed the wrong way by somebody. And the
pot-boy afterwards remarked, that he hadn't been 'so rattled to bed',
since his late mother had systematically accelerated his retirement to
rest with a poker. <lb/>The chaining of the door behind her, as she went
forth, disenchanted <app loc="lizziehexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="lizziehexam">Lizzie
Hexam</rs></rdg></app> of that first relief she had felt. The night
was black and shrill, the river-side wilderness was melancholy, and
there was a sound of casting-out, in the rattling of the iron-links, and
the grating of the bolts and staples under <app loc="abbeypotterson"
><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="abbeypotterson">Miss
Abbey</rs></rdg></app>'s hand. As she came beneath the
lowering sky, a sense of being involved in a murky shade of Murder
dropped upon her; and, as the tidal swell of the river broke at her feet
without her seeing how it gathered, so, her thoughts startled her by
rushing out of an unseen void and striking at her heart. <lb/>Of <app
loc="gafferhexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="gafferhexam">her father</rs></rdg></app>'s being
groundlessly suspected, she felt sure. Sure. Sure. And yet, repeat the
word inwardly as often as she would, the attempt to reason out and prove
that she was sure, always came after it and failed. <app loc="riderhood"
><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="riderhood"
>Riderhood</rs></rdg></app> had done the deed, and entrapped
her father. <app loc="riderhood"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="riderhood">Riderhood</rs></rdg></app> had not done the
deed, but had resolved in his malice to turn against her father, the
appearances that were ready to his hand to distort. Equally and swiftly
upon either putting of the case, followed the frightful possibility that
her father, being innocent, yet might come to be believed guilty. She
had heard of people suffering Death for bloodshed of which they were
afterwards proved pure, and those ill-fated persons were not, first, in
that dangerous wrong in which her father stood. Then at the best, the
beginning of his being set apart, whispered against, and avoided, was a
certain fact. It dated from that very night. And as the great black
river with its dreary shores was soon lost to her view in the gloom, so,
she stood on the river's brink unable to see into the vast blank misery
of a life suspected, and fallen away from by good and bad, but knowing
that it lay there dim before her, stretching away to the great ocean,
Death. <lb/>One thing only, was clear to <app loc="lizziehexam"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="lizziehexam">the
girl</rs></rdg></app>'s mind. Accustomed from her very babyhood
promptly to do the thing that could be done—whether to keep out weather,
to ward off cold, to postpone hunger, or what not—she started out of her
meditation, and ran home. <lb/>The room was quiet, and the lamp burnt on
the table. In the bunk in the corner, <app loc="charley"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="charley">her
brother</rs></rdg></app> lay asleep. She bent over him softly,
kissed him, and came to the table. <lb/>'By the time of <app
loc="abbeypotterson"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="abbeypotterson">Miss Abbey</rs></rdg></app>'s closing,
and by the run of the tide, it must be one. Tide's running up. Father at
Chiswick, wouldn't think of coming down, till after the turn, and that's
at half after four. I'll call Charley at six. I shall hear the
church-clocks strike, as I sit here.' <lb/>Very quietly, she placed a
chair before the scanty fire, and sat down in it, drawing her shawl
about her. <lb/>'<app loc="charley"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="charley">Charley</rs></rdg></app>'s hollow down by the
flare is not there now. Poor <app loc="charley"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="charley">Charley</rs></rdg></app>!'
<lb/>The clock struck two, and the clock struck three, and the clock
struck four, and she remained there, with a woman's patience and her own
purpose. When the morning was well on between four and five, she slipped
off her shoes (that her going about might not wake <app loc="charley"
><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="charley"
>Charley</rs></rdg></app>), trimmed the fire sparingly, put
water on to boil, and set the table for breakfast. Then she went up the
ladder, lamp in hand, and came down again, and glided about and about,
making a little bundle. Lastly, from her pocket, and from the
chimney-piece, and from an inverted basin on the highest shelf she
brought halfpence, a few sixpences, fewer shillings, and fell to
laboriously and noiselessly counting them, and setting aside one little
heap. She was still so engaged, when she was startled by:
<lb/>'Hal-loa!' From <app loc="charley"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="charley">her brother</rs></rdg></app>,
sitting up in bed. <lb/>'You made me jump, <app loc="charley"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="charley"
>Charley</rs></rdg></app>.' <lb/>'Jump! Didn't you make ME jump,
when I opened my eyes a moment ago, and saw you sitting there, like the
ghost of a girl miser, in the dead of the night.' <lb/>'It's not the
dead of the night, <app loc="charley"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="charley">Charley</rs></rdg></app>. It's
nigh six in the morning.' <lb/>'Is it though? But what are you up to,
<app loc="lizziehexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="lizziehexam">Liz</rs></rdg></app>?' <lb/>'Still telling
your fortune, <app loc="charley"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="charley">Charley</rs></rdg></app>.' <lb/>'It seems to
be a precious small one, if that's it,' said the boy. 'What are you
putting that little pile of money by itself for?' <lb/>'For you, <app
loc="charley"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="charley"
>Charley</rs></rdg></app>.' <lb/>'What do you mean?'
<lb/>'Get out of bed, <app loc="charley"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="charley">Charley</rs></rdg></app>, and
get washed and dressed, and then I'll tell you.' <lb/>Her composed
manner, and her low distinct voice, always had an influence over him.
His head was soon in a basin of water, and out of it again, and staring
at her through a storm of towelling. <lb/>'I never,' towelling at
himself as if he were his bitterest enemy, 'saw such a girl as you are.
What IS the move, <app loc="lizziehexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="lizziehexam">Liz</rs></rdg></app>?'
<lb/>'Are you almost ready for breakfast, <app loc="charley"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="charley"
>Charley</rs></rdg></app>?' <lb/>'You can pour it out. Hal-loa! I
say? And a bundle?' <lb/>'And a bundle, <app loc="charley"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="charley"
>Charley</rs></rdg></app>.' <lb/>'You don't mean it's for me, too?'
<lb/>'Yes, <app loc="charley"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="charley">Charley</rs></rdg></app>; I do; indeed.'
<lb/>More serious of face, and more slow of action, than he had been,
the boy completed his dressing, and came and sat down at the little
breakfast-table, with his eyes amazedly directed to her face. <lb/><app
loc="charleyleaves"><rdg wit="#inst02">'You see, <app loc="charley"
><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="charley"
>Charley</rs></rdg></app> dear, I have made up my
mind that this is the right time for your going away from us.
Over and above all the blessed change of by-and-bye, you'll be
much happier, and do much better, even so soon as next month.
Even so soon as next week.' <lb/>'How do you know I shall?'
<lb/>'I don't quite know how, <app loc="charley"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="charley"
>Charley</rs></rdg></app>, but I do.' In spite of
her unchanged manner of speaking, and her unchanged appearance
of composure, she scarcely trusted herself to look at him, but
kept her eyes employed on the cutting and buttering of his
bread, and on the mixing of his tea, and other such little
preparations. 'You must leave <app loc="gafferhexam"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="gafferhexam"
>father</rs></rdg></app> to me, <app loc="charley"
><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="charley"
>Charley</rs></rdg></app>—I will do what I can with
him—but you must go.' <lb/>'You don't stand upon ceremony, I
think,' grumbled <app loc="charley"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="charley">the
boy</rs></rdg></app>, throwing his bread and butter about, in an
ill-humour. <lb/>She made him no answer. <lb/>'I tell you what,'
said <app loc="charley"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="charley">the boy</rs></rdg></app>, then,
bursting out into an angry whimpering, 'you're a selfish jade,
and you think there's not enough for three of us, and you want
to get rid of me.' <lb/>'If you believe so, <app loc="charley"
><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="charley"
>Charley</rs></rdg></app>,—yes, then I believe too,
that I am a selfish jade, and that I think there's not enough
for three of us, and that I want to get rid of you.' <lb/>It was
only when the boy rushed at her, and threw his arms round her
neck, that she lost her self-restraint. But she lost it then,
and wept over him. <lb/>'Don't cry, don't cry! I am satisfied to
go, <app loc="lizziehexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="lizziehexam">Liz</rs></rdg></app>; I am
satisfied to go. I know you send me away for my good.' <lb/>'O,
<app loc="charley"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="charley">Charley, Charley</rs></rdg></app>,
Heaven above us knows I do!' <lb/>'Yes yes. Don't mind what I
said. Don't remember it. Kiss me.' <lb/>After a silence, she
loosed him, to dry her eyes and regain her strong quiet
influence. <lb/>'Now listen, <app loc="charley"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="charley"
>Charley</rs></rdg></app> dear. We both know it must
be done, and I alone know there is good reason for its being
done at once. Go straight to the school, and say that you and I
agreed upon it—that we can't overcome father's opposition—that
<app loc="gafferhexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="gafferhexam">father</rs></rdg></app> will never
trouble them, but will never take you back. You are a credit to
the school, and you will be a greater credit to it yet, and they
will help you to get a living. Show what clothes you have
brought, and what money, and say that I will send some more
money. If I can get some in no other way, I will ask a little
help of those two gentlemen who came here that night.' <lb/>'I
say!' cried <app loc="charley"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="charley">her
brother</rs></rdg></app>, quickly. 'Don't you have it of
that chap that took hold of me by the chin! Don't you have it of
that <rs type="person" key="eugene">Wrayburn</rs> one!'
<lb/>Perhaps a slight additional tinge of red flushed up into
her face and brow, as with a nod she laid a hand upon his lips
to keep him silently attentive. <lb/>'And above all things mind
this, <app loc="charley"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="charley">Charley</rs></rdg></app>! Be sure you
always speak well of <app loc="gafferhexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"
><rs type="person" key="gafferhexam"
>father</rs></rdg></app>. Be sure you always give father
his full due. You can't deny that because father has no learning
himself he is set against it in you; but favour nothing else
against him, and be sure you say—as you know—that <app
loc="lizziehexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="lizziehexam">your sister</rs></rdg></app> is
devoted to him. And if you should ever happen to hear anything
said against <app loc="gafferhexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="gafferhexam"
>father</rs></rdg></app> that is new to you, it will not be
true. Remember, <app loc="charley"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="charley"
>Charley</rs></rdg></app>! It will not be true.' <lb/><app
loc="charley"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="charley">The boy</rs></rdg></app> looked at her
with some doubt and surprise, but she went on again without
heeding it. <lb/>'Above all things remember! It will not be
true. I have nothing more to say, <app loc="charley"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="charley"
>Charley</rs></rdg></app> dear, except, be good, and
get learning, and only think of some things in the old life
here, as if you had dreamed them in a dream last night.
Good-bye, my Darling!' <lb/>Though so young, she infused in
these parting words a love that was far more like a mother's
than a sister's, and before which <app loc="charley"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="charley">the
boy</rs></rdg></app> was quite bowed down. After
holding her to his breast with a passionate cry, he took up his
bundle and darted out at the door, with an arm across his
<lb/>The white face of the winter day came sluggishly on, veiled in a
frosty mist; and the shadowy ships in the river slowly changed to black
substances; and the sun, blood-red on the eastern marshes behind dark
masts and yards, seemed filled with the ruins of a forest it had set on
fire. <app loc="lizziehexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="lizziehexam">Lizzie</rs></rdg></app>, looking for <app
loc="gafferhexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="gafferhexam">her father</rs></rdg></app>, saw him
coming, and stood upon the causeway that he might see her. <lb/><app
loc="gafferhexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="gafferhexam">He</rs></rdg></app> had nothing with him
but his boat, and came on apace. A knot of those amphibious
human-creatures who appear to have some mysterious power of extracting a
subsistence out of tidal water by looking at it, were gathered together
about the causeway. As <app loc="gafferhexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs
type="person" key="gafferhexam">her
father</rs></rdg></app>'s boat grounded, they became contemplative of
the mud, and dispersed themselves. She saw that the mute avoidance had
begun. <lb/><app loc="gafferhexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="gafferhexam">Gaffer</rs></rdg></app> saw it, too, in so
far as that he was moved when he set foot on shore, to stare around him.
But, he promptly set to work to haul up his boat, and make her fast, and
take the sculls and rudder and rope out of her. Carrying these with <app
loc="lizziehexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="lizziehexam">Lizzie</rs></rdg></app>'s aid, he passed
up to his dwelling. <lb/>'Sit close to the fire, father, dear, while I
cook your breakfast. It's all ready for cooking, and only been waiting
for you. You must be frozen.' <lb/>'Well, <app loc="lizziehexam"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="lizziehexam"
>Lizzie</rs></rdg></app>, I ain't of a glow; that's certain. And
my hands seem nailed through to the sculls. See how dead they are!'
Something suggestive in their colour, and perhaps in her face, struck
him as he held them up; he turned his shoulder and held them down to the
fire. <lb/>'You were not out in the perishing night, I hope, father?'
<lb/>'No, my dear. Lay aboard a barge, by a blazing coal-fire.—Where's
<app loc="charley"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="charley">that boy</rs></rdg></app>?' <lb/>'There's a
drop of brandy for your tea, father, if you'll put it in while I turn
this bit of meat. If the river was to get frozen, there would be a deal
of distress; wouldn't there, father?' <lb/>'Ah! there's always enough of
that,' said Gaffer, dropping the liquor into his cup from a squat black
bottle, and dropping it slowly that it might seem more; 'distress is for
ever a going about, like sut in the air—Ain't <app loc="charley"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="charley">that
boy</rs></rdg></app> up yet?' <lb/>'The meat's ready now,
father. Eat it while it's hot and comfortable. After you have finished,
we'll turn round to the fire and talk.' <lb/>But, he perceived that he
was evaded, and, having thrown a hasty angry glance towards the bunk,
plucked at a corner of her apron and asked: <lb/>'What's gone with <app
loc="charley"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="charley"
>that boy</rs></rdg></app>?' <lb/>'Father, if you'll begin
your breakfast, I'll sit by and tell you.' He looked at her, stirred his
tea and took two or three gulps, then cut at his piece of hot steak with
his case-knife, and said, eating: <lb/>'Now then. What's gone with <app
loc="charley"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="charley"
>that boy</rs></rdg></app>?' <lb/>'Don't be angry, dear. It
seems, father, that he has quite a gift of learning.' <lb/><app
loc="youngbeggar"><rdg wit="#inst02">'Unnat'ral young beggar!' said
<app loc="gafferhexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="gafferhexam">the parent</rs></rdg></app>,
shaking his knife in the air.</rdg></app>
<lb/>'And that having this gift, and not being equally good at other
things, he has made shift to get some schooling.' <lb/><app
loc="youngbeggar"><rdg wit="#inst02">'Unnat'ral young beggar!' said
<app loc="gafferhexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="gafferhexam">the parent</rs></rdg></app> again,
with his former action.</rdg></app>
<lb/>'—And that knowing you have nothing to spare, father, and not
wishing to be a burden on you, he gradually made up his mind <app
loc="charleyleaves"><rdg wit="#inst02">to go seek his fortune out of
learning</rdg></app>. He went away this morning, father, and he
cried very much at going, and he hoped you would forgive him.' <lb/>'Let
him never come a nigh me to ask me my forgiveness,' said <app
loc="gafferhexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="gafferhexam">the father</rs></rdg></app>, again
emphasizing his words with the knife. 'Let him never come within sight
of my eyes, nor yet within reach of my arm. His own father ain't good
enough for him. He's disowned his own father. <app loc="youngbeggar"
><rdg wit="#inst02">His own father therefore, disowns him for
ever and ever, as a unnat'ral young beggar.'</rdg></app>
<lb/>He had pushed away his plate. With the natural need of <app
loc="gafferhexam"><rdg wit="#inst02">a strong rough man in
anger</rdg></app>, to do something forcible, he now clutched his
knife overhand, and struck downward with it at the end of every
succeeding sentence. As he would have struck with his own clenched fist
if there had chanced to be nothing in it. <lb/>'He's welcome to go. He's
more welcome to go than to stay. But let him never come back. Let him
never put his head inside that door. And let you never speak a word more
in his favour, or you'll disown your own father, likewise, and what your
father says of him he'll have to come to say of you. Now I see why them
men yonder held aloof from me. They says to one another, "Here comes the
man as ain't good enough for his own son!" <app loc="lizziehexam"><rdg
wit="#inst02"><rs type="person" key="lizziehexam"
>Lizzie</rs></rdg></app>—!' <lb/>But, she stopped him with a
cry. Looking at her he saw her, with a face quite strange to him,
shrinking back against the wall, with her hands before her eyes.
<lb/>'Father, don't! I can't bear to see you striking with it. Put it
down!' <lb/>He looked at the knife; but in his astonishment still held
it. <lb/>'Father, it's too horrible. O put it down, put it down!'
<lb/>Confounded by her appearance and exclamation, he tossed it away,
and stood up with his open hands held out before him. <lb/>'What's come
to you, <app loc="lizziehexam"><rdg wit="#inst02"><rs type="person"
key="lizziehexam">Liz</rs></rdg></app>? Can you think I
would strike at you with a knife?' <lb/>'No, father, no; you would never
hurt me.' <lb/>'What should I hurt?' <lb/>'Nothing, dear father. On my
knees, I am certain, in my heart and soul I am certain, nothing! But it
was too dreadful to bear; for it looked—' her hands covering her face
again, 'O it looked—' <lb/>'What did it look like?' <lb/>The
recollection of his murderous figure, combining with her trial of last
night, and her trial of the morning, caused her to drop at his feet,
without having answered. <lb/>He had never seen her so before. He raised
her with the utmost tenderness, calling her the best of daughters, and
'my poor pretty creetur', and laid her head upon his knee, and tried to
restore her. But failing, he laid her head gently down again, got a
pillow and placed it under her dark hair, and sought on the table for a
spoonful of brandy. There being none left, he hurriedly caught up the
empty bottle, and ran out at the door. <lb/>He returned as hurriedly as
he had gone, with the bottle still empty. He kneeled down by her, took
her head on his arm, and moistened her lips with a little water into
which he dipped his fingers: saying, fiercely, as he looked around, now
over this shoulder, now over that: <lb/>'Have we got a pest in the
house? Is there summ'at deadly sticking to my clothes? What's let loose
upon us? Who loosed it?' <lb/>
<lb/><hi rend="capitals"><hi rend="underline"><app loc="chapter7"><rdg
wit="#inst02">Chapter 7</rdg></app>
<lb/><app loc="looksafterhimself"><rdg wit="#inst02">MR WEGG
LOOKS AFTER HIMSELF</rdg></app></hi></hi>
<lb/>Silas Wegg, <app loc="rooshan"><rdg wit="#inst02">being on his road
to the Roman Empire</rdg></app>, approaches it by way of
Clerkenwell. The time is early in the evening; the weather moist and
raw. Mr Wegg finds leisure to make a little circuit, by reason that he
folds his screen early, now that he combines another source of income
with it, and also that he feels it due to himself to be anxiously
expected at <app loc="BoffinsBower"><rdg wit="#inst02">the
Bower</rdg></app>. 'Boffin will get all the eagerer for waiting a
bit,' says Silas, screwing up, as he stumps along, first his right eye,
and then his left. Which is something superfluous in him, for Nature has
already screwed both pretty tight. <lb/>'If I get on with him as I
expect to get on,' Silas pursues, stumping and meditating, 'it wouldn't
become me to leave it here. It wouldn't he respectable.' Animated by
this reflection, he stumps faster, and looks a long way before him, as a
man with an ambitious project in abeyance often will do. <lb/>Aware of a
working-jeweller population taking sanctuary about the church in
Clerkenwell, Mr Wegg is conscious of an interest in, and a respect for,
the neighbourhood. But, his sensations in this regard halt as to their
strict morality, as he halts in his gait; for, they suggest the delights
of a coat of invisibility in which to walk off safely with the precious
stones and watch-cases, but stop short of any compunction for the people
who would lose the same. <lb/>Not, however, towards the 'shops' where
cunning artificers work in pearls and diamonds and gold and silver,
making their hands so rich, that the enriched water in which they wash
them is bought for the refiners;—not towards these does Mr Wegg stump,
but towards the poorer shops of small retail traders in commodities to
eat and drink and keep folks warm, and of Italian frame-makers, and of
barbers, and of brokers, and of dealers in dogs and singing-birds. From
these, in a narrow and a dirty street devoted to such callings, <app
loc="venusshop"><rdg wit="#inst02">Mr Wegg selects one dark
shop-window with a tallow candle dimly burning in it, surrounded
by a muddle of objects vaguely resembling pieces of leather and
dry stick, but among which nothing is resolvable into anything
distinct, save the candle itself in its old tin candlestick, and
two preserved frogs fighting a small-sword duel. Stumping with
fresh vigour, he goes in at the dark greasy entry, pushes a
little greasy dark reluctant side-door, and follows the door
into the little dark greasy shop. It is so dark that nothing can
be made out in it, over a little counter, but another tallow
candle in another old tin candlestick, close to the face of a
man stooping low in a chair.</rdg></app>
<lb/>Mr Wegg nods to the face, 'Good evening.' <lb/>The face looking up
is a sallow face with weak eyes, surmounted by a tangle of reddish-dusty
hair. The owner of the face has no cravat on, and has opened his tumbled
shirt-collar to work with the more ease. For the same reason he has no
coat on: only a loose waistcoat over his yellow linen. His eyes are like
the over-tried eyes of an engraver, but he is not that; his expression
and stoop are like those of a shoemaker, but he is not that. <lb/>'Good
evening, Mr Venus. Don't you remember?' <lb/>With slowly dawning
remembrance, Mr Venus rises, and holds his candle over the little
counter, and holds it down towards <app loc="woodenleg"><rdg
wit="#inst02">the legs, natural and artificial, of Mr
<lb/>'To be SURE!' he says, then. 'How do you do?' <lb/>'Wegg, you
know,' that gentleman explains. <lb/>'Yes, yes,' says the other. '<app
loc="woodenleg"><rdg wit="#inst02">Hospital amputation?</rdg></app>'
<lb/>'Just so,' says Mr Wegg. <lb/>'Yes, yes,' quoth Venus. 'How do you
do? Sit down by the fire, and warm your—your other one.' <lb/><app
loc="venusshop"><rdg wit="#inst02">The little counter being so short
a counter that it leaves the fireplace, which would have been
behind it if it had been longer, accessible, Mr Wegg sits down
on a box in front of the fire, and inhales a warm and
comfortable smell which is not the smell of the shop. 'For
that,' Mr Wegg inwardly decides, as he takes a corrective sniff
or two, 'is musty, leathery, feathery, cellary, gluey, gummy,
and,' with another sniff, 'as it might be, strong of old pairs
of bellows.'</rdg></app>
<lb/>'My tea is drawing, and my muffin is on the hob, Mr Wegg; will you
partake?' <lb/>It being one of Mr Wegg's guiding rules in life always to
partake, he says he will. But, <app loc="venusshop"><rdg wit="#inst02"
>the little shop is so excessively dark, is stuck so full of
black shelves and brackets and nooks and corners, that he sees
Mr Venus's cup and saucer only because it is close under the
candle, and does not see from what mysterious recess Mr Venus
produces another for himself until it is under his nose.
Concurrently, Wegg perceives a pretty little dead bird lying on
the counter, with its head drooping on one side against the rim
of Mr Venus's saucer, and a long stiff wire piercing its breast.
As if it were Cock Robin, the hero of the ballad, and Mr Venus
were the sparrow with his bow and arrow, and Mr Wegg were the
fly with his little eye. <lb/>Mr Venus dives, and produces
another muffin, yet untoasted; taking the arrow out of the
breast of Cock Robin, he proceeds to toast it on the end of that
cruel instrument. When it is brown, he dives again and produces
butter, with which he completes his work. <lb/>Mr Wegg, as an
artful man who is sure of his supper by-and-bye, presses muffin
on his host to soothe him into a compliant state of mind, or, as
one might say, to grease his works. As the muffins disappear,
little by little, the black shelves and nooks and corners begin
to appear, and Mr Wegg gradually acquires an imperfect notion
that over against him on the chimney-piece is a Hindoo baby in a
bottle, curved up with his big head tucked under him, as he
would instantly throw a summersault if the bottle were large
<lb/>When he deems Mr Venus's wheels sufficiently lubricated, Mr Wegg
approaches his object by asking, as he lightly taps his hands together,
to express an undesigning frame of mind: <lb/>'And how have I been going
on, this long time, Mr Venus?' <lb/>'Very bad,' says Mr Venus,
uncompromisingly. <lb/>'What? Am I still at home?' asks Wegg, with an
air of surprise. <lb/>'Always at home.' <lb/>This would seem to be
secretly agreeable to Wegg, but he veils his feelings, and observes,
'Strange. To what do you attribute it?' <lb/>'I don't know,' replies
Venus, who is a haggard melancholy man, speaking in a weak voice of
querulous complaint, 'to what to attribute it, Mr Wegg. I can't work you
into a miscellaneous one, no how. Do what I will, you can't be got to
fit. Anybody with a passable knowledge would pick you out at a look, and
say,—"No go! Don't match!"' <lb/>'Well, but hang it, Mr Venus,' Wegg
expostulates with some little irritation, 'that can't be personal and
peculiar in ME. It must often happen with miscellaneous ones.'
<lb/>'With ribs (I grant you) always. But not else. When I prepare a
miscellaneous one, I know beforehand that I can't keep to nature, and be
miscellaneous with ribs, because every man has his own ribs, and no
other man's will go with them; but elseways I can be miscellaneous. I
have just sent home a Beauty—a perfect Beauty—to a school of art. One
leg Belgian, one leg English, and the pickings of eight other people in
it. Talk of not being qualified to be miscellaneous! By rights you OUGHT
to be, Mr Wegg.' <lb/>Silas looks as hard at his one leg as he can in
the dim light, and after a pause sulkily opines 'that it must be the
fault of the other people. Or how do you mean to say it comes about?' he
demands impatiently. <lb/>'I don't know how it comes about. Stand up a
minute. Hold the light.' Mr Venus takes from a corner by his chair, the
bones of a leg and foot, beautifully pure, and put together with
exquisite neatness. These he compares with Mr Wegg's leg; that gentleman
looking on, as if he were being measured for a riding-boot. 'No, I don't
know how it is, but so it is. You have got a twist in that bone, to the
best of my belief. I never saw the likes of you.' <lb/>Mr Wegg having
looked distrustfully at his own limb, and suspiciously at the pattern
with which it has been compared, makes the point: <lb/>'I'll bet a pound
that ain't an English one!' <lb/>'An easy wager, when we run so much
into foreign! No, it belongs to that French gentleman.' <lb/>As he nods
towards a point of darkness behind Mr Wegg, the latter, with a slight
start, looks round for 'that French gentleman,' whom he at length
descries to be represented (in a very workmanlike manner) by his ribs
only, standing on a shelf in another corner, like a piece of armour or a
pair of stays. <lb/>'Oh!' says Mr Wegg, with a sort of sense of being
introduced; 'I dare say you were all right enough in your own country,
but I hope no objections will be taken to my saying that the Frenchman
was never yet born as I should wish to match.' <lb/><app loc="venusshop"
><rdg wit="#inst02">At this moment the greasy door is violently
pushed inward, and a boy follows it, who says, after having let
it slam: <lb/>'Come for the stuffed canary.' <lb/>'It's three
and ninepence,' returns Venus; 'have you got the money?'
<lb/>The boy produces four shillings. Mr Venus, always in
exceedingly low spirits and making whimpering sounds, peers
about for the stuffed canary. On his taking the candle to assist
his search, Mr Wegg observes that he has a convenient little
shelf near his knees, exclusively appropriated to skeleton
hands, which have very much the appearance of wanting to lay
hold of him. From these Mr Venus rescues the canary in a glass
case, and shows it to the boy. <lb/>'There!' he whimpers.
'There's animation! On a twig, making up his mind to hop! Take
care of him; he's a lovely specimen.—And three is four.'
<lb/>The boy gathers up his change and has pulled the door open
by a leather strap nailed to it for the purpose, when Venus
cries out: <lb/>'Stop him! Come back, you young villain! You've
got a tooth among them halfpence.' <lb/>'How was I to know I'd
got it? You giv it me. I don't want none of your teeth; I've got
enough of my own.' So the boy pipes, as he selects it from his
change, and throws it on the counter. <lb/>'Don't sauce ME, in
the wicious pride of your youth,' Mr Venus retorts pathetically.
'Don't hit ME because you see I'm down. I'm low enough without
that. It dropped into the till, I suppose. They drop into
everything. There was two in the coffee-pot at breakfast time.
Molars.' <lb/>'Very well, then,' argues the boy, 'what do you
call names for?' <lb/>To which Mr Venus only replies, shaking
his shock of dusty hair, and winking his weak eyes, 'Don't sauce
ME, in the wicious pride of your youth; don't hit ME, because
you see I'm down. You've no idea how small you'd come out, if I
had the articulating of you.' <lb/>This consideration seems to
have its effect on the boy, for he goes out grumbling. <lb/>'Oh
dear me, dear me!' sighs Mr Venus, heavily, snuffing the candle,
'the world that appeared so flowery has ceased to blow! You're
casting your eye round the shop, Mr Wegg. Let me show you a
light. My working bench. My young man's bench. A Wice. Tools.
Bones, warious. Skulls, warious. Preserved Indian baby. African
ditto. Bottled preparations, warious. Everything within reach of
your hand, in good preservation. The mouldy ones a-top. What's
in those hampers over them again, I don't quite remember. Say,
human warious. Cats. Articulated English baby. Dogs. Ducks.
Glass eyes, warious. Mummied bird. Dried cuticle, warious. Oh,
dear me! That's the general panoramic view.' <lb/>Having so held
and waved the candle as that all these heterogeneous objects
seemed to come forward obediently when they were named, and then
retire again, Mr Venus despondently repeats, 'Oh dear me, dear
me!' resumes his seat, and with drooping despondency upon him,
falls to pouring himself out more tea.</rdg></app>
<lb/>'Where am I?' asks Mr Wegg. <lb/>'You're somewhere in the back shop
across the yard, sir; and speaking quite candidly, I wish I'd never
bought you of the Hospital Porter.' <lb/>'Now, look here, what did you
give for me?' <lb/>'Well,' replies Venus, blowing his tea: his head and
face peering out of the darkness, over the smoke of it, as if he were
modernizing the old original rise in his family: 'you were one of a
warious lot, and I don't know.' <lb/>Silas puts his point in the
improved form of 'What will you take for me?' <lb/>'Well,' replies
Venus, still blowing his tea, 'I'm not prepared, at a moment's notice,
to tell you, Mr Wegg.' <lb/>'Come! According to your own account I'm not
worth much,' Wegg reasons persuasively. <lb/>'Not for miscellaneous
working in, I grant you, Mr Wegg; but you might turn out valuable yet,
as a—' here Mr Venus takes a gulp of tea, so hot that it makes him
choke, and sets his weak eyes watering; 'as a Monstrosity, if you'll
excuse me.' <lb/>Repressing an indignant look, indicative of anything
but a disposition to excuse him, Silas pursues his point. <lb/>'I think
you know me, Mr Venus, and I think you know I never bargain.' <lb/>Mr
Venus takes gulps of hot tea, shutting his eyes at every gulp, and
opening them again in a spasmodic manner; but does not commit himself to
assent. <lb/>'I have a prospect of getting on in life and elevating
myself by my own independent exertions,' says Wegg, feelingly, 'and I
shouldn't like—I tell you openly I should NOT like—under such
circumstances, to be what I may call dispersed, a part of me here, and a
part of me there, but should wish to collect myself like a genteel
person.' <lb/>'It's a prospect at present, is it, Mr Wegg? Then you
haven't got the money for a deal about you? Then I'll tell you what I'll
do with you; I'll hold you over. I am a man of my word, and you needn't
be afraid of my disposing of you. I'll hold you over. That's a promise.
Oh dear me, dear me!' <lb/>Fain to accept his promise, and wishing to
propitiate him, Mr Wegg looks on as he sighs and pours himself out more
tea, and then says, trying to get a sympathetic tone into his voice:
<lb/>'You seem very low, Mr Venus. Is business bad?' <lb/>'Never was so
good.' <lb/>'Is your hand out at all?' <lb/>'Never was so well in. Mr
Wegg, I'm not only first in the trade, but I'm THE trade. You may go and
buy a skeleton at the West End if you like, and pay the West End price,
but it'll be my putting together. I've as much to do as I can possibly
do, with the assistance of my young man, and I take a pride and a
pleasure in it.' <lb/>Mr Venus thus delivers himself, his right hand
extended, his smoking saucer in his left hand, protesting as though he
were going to burst into a flood of tears. <lb/>'That ain't a state of
things to make you low, Mr Venus.' <lb/>'Mr Wegg, I know it ain't. Mr
Wegg, not to name myself as a workman without an equal, I've gone on
improving myself in my knowledge of Anatomy, till both by sight and by
name I'm perfect. Mr Wegg, if you was brought here loose in a bag to be
articulated, I'd name your smallest bones blindfold equally with your
largest, as fast as I could pick 'em out, and I'd sort 'em all, and sort
your wertebrae, in a manner that would equally surprise and charm you.'
<lb/>'Well,' remarks Silas (though not quite so readily as last time),
'THAT ain't a state of things to be low about.—Not for YOU to be low
about, leastways.' <lb/>'Mr Wegg, I know it ain't; Mr Wegg, I know it
ain't. But it's the heart that lowers me, it is the heart! Be so good as
take and read that card out loud.' <lb/>Silas receives one from his
hand, which Venus takes from a wonderful litter in a drawer, and putting
on his spectacles, reads: <lb/>'"Mr Venus,"' <lb/>'Yes. Go on.'
<lb/>'"Preserver of Animals and Birds,"' <lb/>'Yes. Go on.'
<lb/>'"Articulator of human bones."' <lb/>'That's it,' with a groan.
'That's it! Mr Wegg, I'm thirty-two, and a bachelor. Mr Wegg, I love
her. Mr Wegg, she is worthy of being loved by a Potentate!' Here Silas
is rather alarmed by Mr Venus's springing to his feet in the hurry of
his spirits, and haggardly confronting him with his hand on his coat
collar; but Mr Venus, begging pardon, sits down again, saying, with the
calmness of despair, 'She objects to the business.' <lb/>'Does she know
the profits of it?' <lb/>'She knows the profits of it, but she don't
appreciate the art of it, and she objects to it. "I do not wish," she
writes in her own handwriting, "to regard myself, nor yet to be
regarded, in that boney light".' <lb/>Mr Venus pours himself out more
tea, with a look and in an attitude of the deepest desolation. <lb/>'And
so a man climbs to the top of the tree, Mr Wegg, only to see that
there's no look-out when he's up there! I sit here of a night surrounded
by the lovely trophies of my art, and what have they done for me? Ruined
me. Brought me to the pass of being informed that "she does not wish to
regard herself, nor yet to be regarded, in that boney light"!' Having
repeated the fatal expressions, Mr Venus drinks more tea by gulps, and
offers an explanation of his doing so. <lb/>'It lowers me. When I'm
equally lowered all over, lethargy sets in. By sticking to it till one
or two in the morning, I get oblivion. Don't let me detain you, Mr Wegg.
I'm not company for any one.' <lb/>'It is not on that account,' says
Silas, rising, 'but because I've got an appointment. It's time I was at
Harmon's.' <lb/>'Eh?' said Mr Venus. 'Harmon's, up Battle Bridge way?'
<lb/>Mr Wegg admits that he is bound for that port. <lb/>'You ought to
be in a good thing, if you've worked yourself in there. There's lots of
money going, there.' <lb/>'To think,' says Silas, 'that you should catch
it up so quick, and know about it. Wonderful!' <lb/>'Not at all, Mr
Wegg. The old gentleman wanted to know the nature and worth of
everything that was found in the dust; and many's the bone, and feather,
and what not, that he's brought to me.' <lb/>'Really, now!' <lb/>'Yes.
(Oh dear me, dear me!) And he's buried quite in this neighbourhood, you
know. Over yonder.' <lb/>Mr Wegg does not know, but he makes as if he
did, by responsively nodding his head. He also follows with his eyes,
the toss of Venus's head: as if to seek a direction to over yonder.
<lb/>'I took an interest in that discovery in the river,' says Venus.
'(She hadn't written her cutting refusal at that time.) I've got up
there—never mind, though.' <lb/>He had raised the candle at arm's length
towards one of the dark shelves, and Mr Wegg had turned to look, when he
broke off. <lb/>'The old gentleman was well known all round here. There
used to be stories about his having hidden all kinds of property in
those <app loc="dustground"><rdg wit="#inst02">dust mounds</rdg></app>.
I suppose there was nothing in 'em. Probably you know, Mr Wegg?'
<lb/>'Nothing in 'em,' says Wegg, who has never heard a word of this
before. <lb/>'Don't let me detain you. Good night!' <lb/>The unfortunate
Mr Venus gives him a shake of the hand with a shake of his own head, and
drooping down in his chair, proceeds to pour himself out more tea. Mr
Wegg, looking back over his shoulder as he pulls the door open by the
strap, notices that the movement so shakes <app loc="venusshop"><rdg
wit="#inst02">the crazy shop, and so shakes a momentary flare
out of the candle, as that the babies—Hindoo, African, and
British—the 'human warious', the French gentleman, the green
glass-eyed cats, the dogs, the ducks, and all the rest of the
collection, show for an instant as if paralytically animated;
while even poor little Cock Robin at Mr Venus's elbow turns over
on his innocent side. </rdg></app>Next moment, Mr Wegg is
stumping under the gaslights and through the mud. </rdg>