I reminded him of it when I bought the fowl, and I said, "Pick us out a good one, old Briton, because if we had chosen to keep you in the box another day or two, we could easily have done it." He said to that, "Let me make you a present of the best fowl in the shop." I let him, of course. As far as it goes, it's property and portable. You don't object to an aged parent, I hope?'

I really thought he was still speaking of the fowl, until he added, `Because I have got an aged parent at my place.' I then said what politeness required.

`So, you haven't dined with Mr Jaggers yet?' he pursued, as we walked along.

`Not yet.'

`He told me so this afternoon when he heard you were coming. I expect you'll have an invitation to- morrow. He's going to ask your pals, too. Three of 'em; ain't there?'

Although I was not in the habit of counting Drummle as one of my intimate associates, I answered, `Yes.'

`Well, he's going to ask the whole gang;' I hardly felt complimented by the word; `and whatever he gives you, he'll give you good. Don't look forward to variety, but you'll have excellence. And there'sa nother rum thing in his house,' proceeded Wemmick, after a moment's pause, as if the remark followed on the housekeeper understood; `he never lets a door or window be fastened at night.'

`Is he never robbed?'

`That's it!' returned Wemmick. `He says, and gives it out publicly, "I want to see the man who'll rob me." Lord bless you, I have heard him, a hundred times if I have heard him once, say to regular cracksmen in our front office, "You know where I live; now, no bolt is ever drawn there; why don't you do a stroke of business with me? Come; can't I tempt you?" Not a man of them, sir, would be bold enough to try it on, for love or money.'

`They dread him so much?' said I.

`Dread him,' said Wemmick. `I believe you they dread him. Not but what he's artful, even in his defiance of them. No silver, sir. Britannia metal, every spoon.'

`So they wouldn't have much,' I observed, `even if they--'

`Ah! But he would have much,' said Wemmick, cutting me short, `and they know it. He'd have their lives, and the lives of scores of 'em. He'd have all he could get. And it's impossible to say what he couldn't get, if he gave his mind to it.'

I was falling into meditation on my guardian's greatness, when Wemmick remarked:

`As to the absence of plate, that's only his natural depth, you know. A river's its natural depth, and he's his natural depth. Look at his watch-chain. That's real enough.'

`It's very massive,' said I.

`Massive?' repeated Wemmick. `I think so. And his watch is a gold repeater, and worth a hundred pound if it's worth a penny. Mr Pip, there are about seven hundred thieves in this town who know all about that watch; there's not a man, a woman, or a child, among them, who wouldn't identify the smallest link in that chain, and drop it as if it was red-hot, if inveigled into touching it.'

At first with such discourse, and afterwards with conversation of a more general nature, did Mr Wemmick and I beguile the time and the road, until he gave me to understand that we had arrived in the district of Walworth.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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