"Why, then," said the medical gentleman, "there are hopes for me yet; I may attend half the old women in Bristol if I've decent luck. Get out, you mouldy old villain, get out!" With this adjuration, which was addressed to the large book, the medical gentleman kicked the volume with remarkable agility to the further end of the shop, and, pulling off his green spectacles, grinned the identical grin of Robert Sawyer, Esquire, formerly of Guy's Hospital in the Borough, with a private residence in Lant Street.
"You don't mean to say you weren't down upon me!" said Mr. Bob Sawyer, shaking Mr. Winkle's hand with friendly warmth.
"Upon my word I was not," replied Mr. Winkle, returning the pressure.
"I wonder you didn't see the name," said Bob Sawyer, calling his friend's attention to the outer door, on which, in the same white paint, were traced the words "Sawyer, late Nockemorf."
"It never caught my eye," returned Mr. Winkle.
"Lord, if I had known who you were, I should have rushed out, and caught you in my arms," said Bob Sawyer; "but upon my life, I thought you were the King's-taxes."
"No!" said Mr. Winkle.
"I did, indeed," responded Bob Sawyer, "and I was just going to say that I wasn't at home, but if you'd leave a message I'd be sure to give it to myself; for he don't know me; no more does the Lighting and Paving. I think the Church-rates guesses who I am, and I know the Waterworks does, because I drew a tooth of his when I first came down here. But come in, come in!" Chattering in this way, Mr. Bob Sawyer pushed Mr. Winkle into the back room, where, amusing himself by boring little circular caverns in the chimney-piece with a red-hot poker, sat no less a person than Mr. Benjamin Allen.
"Well!" said Mr. Winkle. "This is indeed a pleasure I did not expect. What a very nice place you have here!"
"Pretty well, pretty well," replied Bob Sawyer. "I passed, soon after that precious party, and my friends came down with the needful for this business; so I put on a black suit of clothes, and a pair of spectacles, and came here to look as solemn as I could."
"And a very snug little business you have, no doubt?" said Mr. Winkle, knowingly.
"Very," replied Bob Sawyer. "So snug, that at the end of a few years you might put all the profits in a wine glass, and cover 'em over with a gooseberry leaf."
"You cannot surely mean that?" said Mr. Winkle. "The stock itself--"
"Dummies, my dear boy," said Bob Sawyer; "half the drawers have nothing in 'em, and the other half don't open."
"Nonsense!" said Mr. Winkle.
"Fact--honour!" returned Bob Sawyer, stepping out into the shop, and demonstrating the veracity of the assertion by divers hard pulls at the little gilt knobs on the counterfeit drawers. "Hardly anything real in the shop but the leeches, and they are second-hand."
"I shouldn't have thought it!" exclaimed Mr. Winkle, much surprised.
"I hope not," replied Bob Sawyer, "else where's the use of appearances, eh? But what will you take? Do as we do? That's right. Ben, my fine fellow, put your hand into the cupboard, and bring out the patent digester."
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