BOOK THE THIRD: A LONG LANE
Chapter 14: Mr Wegg Prepares a Grindstone for Mr Boffin's Nose (continued)
The adverse destinies ordained that one evening Mr Wegg's
labouring bark became beset by polysyllables, and embarrassed
among a perfect archipelago of hard words. It being necessary to
take soundings every minute, and to feel the way with the greatest
caution, Mr Wegg's attention was fully employed. Advantage was
taken of this dilemma by Mr Venus, to pass a scrap of paper into
Mr Boffin's hand, and lay his finger on his own lip.
When Mr Boffin got home at night he found that the paper
contained Mr Venus's card and these words: 'Should be glad to be
honoured with a call respecting business of your own, about dusk
on an early evening.'
The very next evening saw Mr Boffin peeping in at the preserved
frogs in Mr Venus's shop-window, and saw Mr Venus espying Mr
Boffin with the readiness of one on the alert, and beckoning that
gentleman into his interior. Responding, Mr Boffin was invited to
seat himself on the box of human miscellanies before the fire, and
did so, looking round the place with admiring eyes. The fire being
low and fitful, and the dusk gloomy, the whole stock seemed to be
winking and blinking with both eyes, as Mr Venus did. The
French gentleman, though he had no eyes, was not at all behind-
hand, but appeared, as the flame rose and fell, to open and shut his
no eyes, with the regularity of the glass-eyed dogs and ducks and
birds. The big-headed babies were equally obliging in lending
their grotesque aid to the general effect.
'You see, Mr Venus, I've lost no time,' said Mr Boffin. 'Here I am.'
'Here you are, sir,' assented Mr Venus.
'I don't like secrecy,' pursued Mr Boffin--'at least, not in a general
way I don't--but I dare say you'll show me good reason for being
secret so far.'
'I think I shall, sir,' returned Venus.
'Good,' said Mr Boffin. 'You don't expect Wegg, I take it for
'No, sir. I expect no one but the present company.'