Chapter 21

CASTING my eyes on Mr Wemmick as we went along, to see what he was like in the light of day, I found him to be a dry man, rather short in stature, with a square wooden face, whose expression seemed to have been imperfectly chipped out with a dull-edged chisel. There were some marks in it that might have been dimples, if the material had been softer and the instrument finer, but which, as it was, were only dints. The chisel had made three or four of these attempts at embellishment over his nose, but had given them up without an effort to smooth them off. I judged him to be a bachelor from the frayed condition of his linen, and he appeared to have sustained a good many bereavements; for, he wore at least four mourning rings, besides a brooch representing a lady and a weeping willow at a tomb with an urn on it. I noticed, too, that several rings and seals hung at his watch chain, as if he were quite laden with remembrances of departed friends. He had glittering eyes - small, keen, and black - and thin wide mottled lips. He had had them, to the best of my belief, from forty to fifty years.

`So you were never in London before?' said Mr Wemmick to me.

`No,' said I.

`I was new here once,' said Mr Wemmick. `Rum to think of now!'

`You are well acquainted with it now?'

`Why, yes,' said Mr Wemmick. `I know the moves of it.'

`Is it a very wicked place?' I asked, more for the sake of saying something than for information.

`You may get cheated, robbed, and murdered, in London. But there are plenty of people anywhere, who'll do that for you.'

`If there is bad blood between you and them,' said I, to soften it off a little.

`Oh! I don't know about bad blood,' returned Mr Wemmick; `there's not much bad blood about. They'll do it, if there's anything to be got by it.'

`That makes it worse.'

`You think so?' returned Mr Wemmick. `Much about the same, I should say.'

He wore his hat on the back of his head, and looked straight before him: walking in a self-contained way as if there were nothing in the streets to claim his attention. His mouth was such a postoffice of a mouth that he had a mechanical appearance of smiling. We had got to the top of Holborn Hill before I knew that it was merely a mechanical appearance, and that he was not smiling at all.

`Do you know where Mr Matthew Pocket lives?' I asked Mr Wemmick.

`Yes,' said he, nodding in the direction. `At Hammersmith, west of London.'

`Is that far?'

`Well! Say five miles.'

`Do you know him?'

`Why, you're a regular cross-examiner!' said Mr Wemmick, looking at me with an approving air. `Yes, I know him. I know him!'

There was an air of toleration or depreciation about his utterance of these words, that rather depressed me; and I was still looking sideways at his block of a face in search of any encouraging note to the text,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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