BOOK THE THIRD: A LONG LANE
Chapter 14: Mr Wegg Prepares a Grindstone for Mr Boffin's Nose (continued)
Mr Boffin glanced about him, as accepting under that inclusive
denomination the French gentleman and the circle in which he
didn't move, and repeated, 'The present company.'
'Sir,' said Mr Venus, 'before entering upon business, I shall have to
ask you for your word and honour that we are in confidence.'
'Let's wait a bit and understand what the expression means,'
answered Mr Boffin. 'In confidence for how long? In confidence
for ever and a day?'
'I take your hint, sir,' said Venus; 'you think you might consider
the business, when you came to know it, to be of a nature
incompatible with confidence on your part?'
'I might,' said Mr Boffin with a cautious look.
'True, sir. Well, sir,' observed Venus, after clutching at his dusty
hair, to brighten his ideas, 'let us put it another way. I open the
business with you, relying upon your honour not to do anything in
it, and not to mention me in it, without my knowledge.'
'That sounds fair,' said Mr Boffin. 'I agree to that.'
'I have your word and honour, sir?'
'My good fellow,' retorted Mr Boffin, 'you have my word; and how
you can have that, without my honour too, I don't know. I've
sorted a lot of dust in my time, but I never knew the two things go
into separate heaps.'
This remark seemed rather to abash Mr Venus. He hesitated, and
said, 'Very true, sir;' and again, 'Very true, sir,' before resuming the
thread of his discourse.
'Mr Boffin, if I confess to you that I fell into a proposal of which
you were the subject, and of which you oughtn't to have been the
subject, you will allow me to mention, and will please take into
favourable consideration, that I was in a crushed state of mind at