The Friendly Move takes up a Strong Position

THE friendly movers sat upright on the floor, panting and eyeing one another, after Mr. Boffin had slammed the gate and gone away. In the weak eyes of Venus, and in every reddish dust-coloured hair in his shock of hair, there was a marked distrust of Wegg and an alertness to fly at him on perceiving the smallest occasion. In the hard-grained face of Wegg, and in his stiff knotty figure (he looked like a German wooden toy), there was expressed a politic conciliation, which had no spontaneity in it. Both were flushed, flustered, and rumpled, by the late scuffle; and Wegg, in coming to the ground, had received a humming knock on the back of his devoted head, which caused him still to rub it with an air of having been highly — but disagreeably — astonished. Each was silent for some time, leaving it to the other to begin.

“Brother,” said Wegg, at length breaking the silence, “you were right, and I was wrong. I forgot myself.”

Mr. Venus knowingly cocked his shock of hair, as rather thinking Mr. Wegg had remembered himself, in respect of appearing without any disguise.

“But comrade,” pursued Wegg, “it was never your lot to know Miss Elizabeth, Master George, Aunt Jane, nor Uncle Parker.”

Mr. Venus admitted that he had never known those distinguished persons, and added, in effect, that he had never so much as desired the honor of their acquaintance.

“Don’t say that, comrade!’ retorted Wegg: “No, don’t say that! Because, without having known them, you never can fully know what it is to be stimilated to frenzy by the sight of the Usurper.”

Offering these excusatory words as if they reflected great credit on himself, Mr. Wegg impelled himself with his hands towards a chair in a corner of the room, and there, after a variety of awkward gambols, attained a perpendicular position. Mr. Venus also rose.

“Comrade,” said Wegg, “take a seat. Comrade, what a speaking countenance is yours!”

Mr. Venus involuntarily smoothed his countenance, and looked at his hand, as if to see whether any of its speaking properties came off.

“For clearly do I know, mark you,” pursued Wegg, pointing his words with his forefinger, “clearly do I know what question your expressive features puts to me.”

“What question?” said Venus.

“The question,” returned Wegg, with a sort of joyful affability, “why I didn’t mention sooner, that I had found something. Says your speaking countenance to me: ‘Why didn’t you communicate that, when I first come in this evening? Why did you keep it back till you thought Mr. Boffin had come to look for the article?” Your speaking countenance,” said Wegg, “puts it plainer than language. Now, you can’t read in my face what answer I give?”

“No, I can’t,” said Venus.

“I knew it! And why not?” returned Wegg, with the same joyful candour. “Because I lay no claims to a speaking countenance. Because I am well aware of my deficiencies. All men are not gifted alike. But I can answer in words. And in what words? These. I wanted to give you a delightful sap — pur—IZE!”

Having thus elongated and emphasized the word Surprise, Mr. Wegg shook his friend and brother by both hands, and then clapped him on both knees, like an affectionate patron who entreated him not to mention so small a service as that which it had been his happy privilege to render.

“Your speaking countenance,” said Wegg, “being answered to its satisfaction, only asks then, ‘What have you found?’ Why, I hear it say the words!”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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