“Well?” retorted Venus snappishly, after waiting in vain. “If you hear it say the words, why don’t you answer it?”

“Hear me out!” said Wegg. “I’m a-going to. Hear me out! Man and brother, partner in feelings equally with undertakings and actions, I have found a cash-box.”


“— Hear me out!’ said Wegg. (He tried to reserve whatever he could, and, whenever disclosure was forced upon him, broke into a radiant gush of Hear me out.) “On a certain day, sir —”

“When?” said Venus bluntly.

“N—no,” returned Wegg, shaking his head at once observantly, thoughtfully, and playfully. “No, sir! That’s not your expressive countenance which asks that question. That’s your voice; merely your voice. To proceed. On a certain day, sir, I happened to be walking in the yard — taking my lonely round — for in the words of a friend of my own family, the author of All’s Well arranged as a duett:

 ‘Deserted, as you will remember Mr. Venus, by the waning moon,
 When stars, it will occur to you before I mention it, proclaim night’s cheerless noon,
 On tower, fort, or tented ground,
 The sentry walks his lonely round,
 The sentry walks:’

— under those circumstances, sir, I happened to be walking in the yard early one afternoon, and happened to have an iron rod in my hand, with which I have been sometimes accustomed to beguile the monotony of a literary life, when I struck it against an object not necessary to trouble you by naming—”

“It is necessary. What object?” demanded Venus, in a wrathful tone.

“— Hear me out!” said Wegg. “The Pump. — When I struck it against the Pump, and found, not only that the top was loose and opened with a lid, but that something in it rattled. That something, comrade, I discovered to be a small flat oblong cash-box. Shall I say it was disappintingly light?”

“There were papers in it,” said Venus.

“There your expressive countenance speaks indeed!” cried Wegg. “A paper. The box was locked, tied up, and sealed, and on the outside was a parchment label, with the writing, ‘MY WILL, JOHN HARMON, TEMPORARILY DEPOSITED HERE.’ ”

“We must know its contents,” said Venus.

“— Hear me out!” cried Wegg. “I said so, and I broke the box open.”

“Without coming to me!” exclaimed Venus.

“Exactly so, sir!” returned Wegg, blandly and buoyantly. “I see I take you with me! Hear, hear, hear! Resolved, as your discriminating good sense perceives, that if you was to have a sap—pur—IZE, it should be a complete one! Well, sir. And so, as you have honored me by anticipating, I examined the document. Regularly executed, regularly witnessed, very short. Inasmuch as he has never made friends, and has ever had a rebellious family, he, John Harmon, gives to Nicodemus Boffin the Little Mound, which is quite enough for him, and gives the whole rest and residue of his property to the Crown.”

“The date of the will that has been proved, must be looked to,” remarked Venus. “It may be later than this one.”

“— Hear me out!” cried Wegg. “I said so. I paid a shilling (never mind your sixpence of it) to look up that will. Brother, that will is dated months before this will. And now, as a fellow-man, and as a partner

  By PanEris using Melati.

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