“Do you think so, Mr Wegg? I bought you in open contract.”

“You can’t buy human flesh and blood in this country, sir; not alive, you can’t,” says Wegg, shaking his head. “Then query, bone?”

“As a legal point?” asks Venus.

“As a legal point.”

“I am not competent to speak upon that, Mr Wegg,” says Venus, reddening and growing something louder; “but upon a point of fact I think myself competent to speak; and as a point of fact I would have seen you — will you allow me to say, further?”

“I wouldn’t say more than further, if I was you,” Mr Wegg suggests, pacifically.

— “Before I’d have given that packet into your hand without being paid my price for it. I don’t pretend to know how the point of law may stand, but I’m thoroughly confident upon the point of fact.”

As Mr Venus is irritable (no doubt owing to his disappointment in love), and as it is not the cue of Mr Wegg to have him out of temper, the latter gentleman soothingly remarks, “I only put it as a little case; I only put it ha’porthetically.”

“Then I’d rather, Mr Wegg, you put it another time, penn’orthetically,” is Mr Venus’s retort, “for I tell you candidly I don’t like your little cases.”

Arrived by this time in Mr Wegg’s sitting-room, made bright on the chilly evening by gaslight and fire, Mr Venus softens and compliments him on his abode; profiting by the occasion to remind Wegg that he (Venus) told him he had got into a good thing.

“Tolerable,” Wegg rejoins. “But bear in mind, Mr Venus, that there’s no gold without its alloy. Mix for yourself and take a seat in the chimbley-corner. Will you perform upon a pipe, sir?”

“I am but an indifferent performer, sir,” returns the other; “but I’ll accompany you with a whiff or two at intervals.”

So, Mr Venus mixes, and Wegg mixes; and Mr Venus lights and puffs, and Wegg lights and puffs.

“And there’s alloy even in this metal of yours, Mr Wegg, you was remarking?”

“Mystery,” returns Wegg. “I don’t like it, Mr Venus. I don’t like to have the life knocked out of former inhabitants of this house, in the gloomy dark, and not know who did it.”

“Might you have any suspicions, Mr Wegg?”

“No,” returns that gentleman. “I know who profits by it. But I’ve no suspicions.”

Having said which, Mr Wegg smokes and looks at the fire with a most determined expression of Charity; as if he had caught that cardinal virtue by the skirts as she felt it her painful duty to depart from him, and held her by main force.

“Similarly,” resumes Wegg, “I have observations as I can offer upon certain points and parties; but I make no objections, Mr Venus. Here is an immense fortune drops from the clouds upon a person that shall be nameless. Here is a weekly allowance, with a certain weight of coals, drops from the clouds upon me. Which of us is the better man? Not the person that shall be nameless. That’s an observation of mine, but I don’t make it an objection. I take my allowance and my certain weight of coals. He takes his fortune. That’s the way it works.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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