“In a Dutch bottle?” said Wegg gloomily, as he sat himself down.

“Very good, sir, very good!” cried Venus. “Will you partake, sir?”

“Will I partake?” returned Wegg very surlily. “Why, of course I will! will a man partake, as has been tormented out of his five senses by an everlasting dustman with his head tied up! will he, too! As if he wouldn’t!”

“Don’t let it put you out, Mr. Wegg. You don’t seem in your usual spirits.”

“If you come to that, you don’t seem in your usual spirits,” growled Wegg. “You seem to be setting up for lively.”

This circumstance appeared, in his then state of mind, to give Mr. Wegg uncommon offence.

“And you’ve been having your hair cut!” said Wegg, missing the usual dusty shock.

“Yes, Mr. Wegg. But don’t let that put you out, either.”

“And I am blest if you ain’t getting fat!” said Wegg, with culminating discontent. “What are you going to do next?”

“Well, Mr. Wegg,” said Venus, smiling in a sprightly manner, “I suspect you could hardly guess what I am going to do next.”

“I don’t want to guess,” retorted Wegg. “All I’ve got to say is, that it’s well for you that the diwision of labour has been what it has been. It’s well for you to have had so light a part in this business, when mine has been so heavy. You haven’t had your rest broke, I’ll be bound.”

“Not at all, sir,” said Venus. “Never rested so well in all my life, I thank you.”

“Ah!” grumbled Wegg, “you should have been me. If you had been me, and had been fretted out of your bed, and your sleep, and your meals, and your mind, for a stretch of months together, you’d have been out of condition and out of sorts.”

“Certainly, it has trained you down, Mr. Wegg,” said Venus, contemplating his figure with an artist’s eye. “Trained you down very low, it has! So weazen and yellow is the kivering upon your bones, that one might almost fancy you had come to give a look-in upon the French gentleman in the corner, instead of me.”

Mr. Wegg, glancing in great dudgeon towards the French gentleman’s corner, seemed to notice something new there, which induced him to glance at the opposite corner, and then to put on his glasses and stare at all the nooks and corners of the dim shop in succession.

“Why, you’ve been having the place cleaned up!” he exclaimed.

“Yes, Mr. Wegg. By the hand of adorable woman.”

“Then what you’re going to do next, I suppose, is to get married?”

“That’s it, sir.”

Silas took off his glasses again — finding himself too intensely disgusted by the sprightly appearance of his friend and partner, to bear a magnified view of him — and made the inquiry:

“To the old party?”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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