`I suppose you make it twenty pounds,' said I, smiling.

`Never mind what I make it, my friend,' observed Mr Jaggers, with a knowing and contradictory toss of his head. `I want to know what you make it.'

`Twenty pounds, of course.'

`Wemmick!' said Mr Jaggers, opening his office door. `Take Mr Pip's written order, and pay him twenty pounds.'

This strongly marked way of doing business made a strongly marked impression on me, and that not of an agreeable kind. Mr Jaggers never laughed; but he wore great bright creaking boots, and, in poising himself on these boots, with his large head bent down and his eyebrows joined together, awaiting an answer, he sometimes caused the boots to creak, as if they laughed in a dry and suspicious way. As he happened to go out now, and as Wemmick was brisk and talkative, I said to Wemmick that I hardly knew what to make of Mr Jaggers's manner.

`Tell him that, and he'll take it as a compliment,' answered Wemmick; `he don't mean that you should know what to make of it. - Oh!' for I looked surprised, `it's not personal; it's professional: only professional.'

Wemmick was at his desk, lunching - and crunching - on a dry hard biscuit; pieces of which he threw from time to time into his slit of a mouth, as if he were posting them.

`Always seems to me,' said Wemmick, `as if he had set a mantrap and was watching it. Suddenly - click - you're caught!'

Without remarking that man-traps were not among the amenities of life, I said I supposed he was very skilful?

`Deep,' said Wemmick, `as Australia.' Pointing with his pen at the office floor, to express that Australia was understood, for the purposes of the figure, to be symmetrically on the opposite spot of the globe. `If there was anything deeper,' added Wemmick, bringing his pen to paper, `he'd be it.'

Then, I said I supposed he had a fine business, and Wemmick said, `Ca-pi-tal!' Then I asked if there were many clerks? to which he replied:

`We don't run much into clerks, because there's only one Jaggers, and people won't have him at second- hand. There are only four of us. Would you like to see 'em? You are one of us, as I may say.'

I accepted the offer. When Mr Wemmick had put all the biscuit into the post, and had paid me my money from a cash-box in a safe, the key of which safe he kept somewhere down his back and produced from his coat-collar like an iron pigtail, we went up-stairs. The house was dark and shabby, and the greasy shoulders that had left their mark in Mr Jaggers's room, seemed to have been shuffling up and down the staircase for years. In the front first floor, a clerk who looked something between a publican and a rat-catcher - a large pale puffed swollen man - was attentively engaged with three or four people of shabby appearance, whom he treated as unceremoniously as everybody seemed to be treated who contributed to Mr Jaggers's coffers. `Getting evidence together,' said Mr Wemmick, as we came out, `for the Bailey.' In the room over that, a little flabby terrier of a clerk with dangling hair (his cropping seemed to have been forgotten when he was a puppy) was similarly engaged with a man with weak eyes, whom Mr Wemmick presented to me as a smelter who kept his pot always boiling, and who would melt me anything I pleased - and who was in an excessive white-perspiration, as if he had been trying his art on himself. In a back room, a high-shouldered man with a faceache tied up in dirty flannel, who was dressed in old black clothes that bore the appearance of having been waxed, was stooping over his work of making fair copies of the notes of the other two gentlemen, for Mr Jaggers's own use.

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