BOOK THE FOURTH: A TURNING
Chapter 3: The Golden Dustman Sinks Again
The evening of that day being one of the reading evenings at the
Bower, Mr Boffin kissed Mrs Boffin after a five o'clock dinner,
and trotted out, nursing his big stick in both arms, so that, as of
old, it seemed to be whispering in his ear. He carried so very
attentive an expression on his countenance that it appeared as if the
confidential discourse of the big stick required to be followed
closely. Mr Boffin's face was like the face of a thoughtful listener
to an intricate communication, and, in trotting along, he
occasionally glanced at that companion with the look of a man
who was interposing the remark: 'You don't mean it!'
Mr Boffin and his stick went on alone together, until they arrived
at certain cross-ways where they would be likely to fall in with any
one coming, at about the same time, from Clerkenwell to the
Bower. Here they stopped, and Mr Boffin consulted his watch.
'It wants five minutes, good, to Venus's appointment,' said he. 'I'm
But Venus was a punctual man, and, even as Mr Boffin replaced
his watch in its pocket, was to be descried coming towards him.
He quickened his pace on seeing Mr Boffin already at the place of
meeting, and was soon at his side.
'Thank'ee, Venus,' said Mr Boffin. 'Thank'ee, thank'ee, thank'ee!'
It would not have been very evident why he thanked the anatomist,
but for his furnishing the explanation in what he went on to say.
'All right, Venus, all right. Now, that you've been to see me, and
have consented to keep up the appearance before Wegg of
remaining in it for a time, I have got a sort of a backer. All right,
Venus. Thank'ee, Venus. Thank'ee, thank'ee, thank'ee!'
Mr Venus shook the proffered hand with a modest air, and they
pursued the direction of the Bower.
'Do you think Wegg is likely to drop down upon me to-night,
Venus?' inquired Mr Boffin, wistfully, as they went along.