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A New Lodger
The long vacation saunters on towards term-time like an idle river
very leisurely strolling down a flat country to the sea. Mr. Guppy
saunters along with it congenially. He has blunted the blade of
his penknife and broken the point off by sticking that instrument
into his desk in every direction. Not that he bears the desk any
ill will, but he must do something, and it must be something of an
unexciting nature, which will lay neither his physical nor his
intellectual energies under too heavy contribution. He finds that
nothing agrees with him so well as to make little gyrations on one
leg of his stool, and stab his desk, and gape.
Kenge and Carboy are out of town, and the articled clerk has taken
out a shooting license and gone down to his father's, and Mr.
Guppy's two fellow-stipendiaries are away on leave. Mr. Guppy and
Mr. Richard Carstone divide the dignity of the office. But Mr.
Carstone is for the time being established in Kenge's room, whereat
Mr. Guppy chafes. So exceedingly that he with biting sarcasm
informs his mother, in the confidential moments when he sups with
her off a lobster and lettuce in the Old Street Road, that he is
afraid the office is hardly good enough for swells, and that if he
had known there was a swell coming, he would have got it painted.
Mr. Guppy suspects everybody who enters on the occupation of a
stool in Kenge and Carboy's office of entertaining, as a matter of
course, sinister designs upon him. He is clear that every such
person wants to depose him. If he be ever asked how, why, when, or
wherefore, he shuts up one eye and shakes his head. On the
strength of these profound views, he in the most ingenious manner
takes infinite pains to counterplot when there is no plot, and
plays the deepest games of chess without any adversary.
It is a source of much gratification to Mr. Guppy, therefore, to
find the new-comer constantly poring over the papers in Jarndyce
and Jarndyce, for he well knows that nothing but confusion and
failure can come of that. His satisfaction communicates itself to
a third saunterer through the long vacation in Kenge and Carboy's
office, to wit, Young Smallweed.
Whether Young Smallweed (metaphorically called Small and eke Chick
Weed, as it were jocularly to express a fledgling) was ever a boy
is much doubted in Lincoln's Inn. He is now something under
fifteen and an old limb of the law. He is facetiously understood
to entertain a passion for a lady at a cigar-shop in the
neighbourhood of Chancery Lane and for her sake to have broken off
a contract with another lady, to whom he had been engaged some
years. He is a town-made article, of small stature and weazen
features, but may be perceived from a considerable distance by
means of his very tall hat. To become a Guppy is the object of his
ambition. He dresses at that gentleman (by whom he is patronized),
talks at him, walks at him, founds himself entirely on him. He is
honoured with Mr. Guppy's particular confidence and occasionally
advises him, from the deep wells of his experience, on difficult
points in private life.
Mr. Guppy has been lolling out of window all the morning after
trying all the stools in succession and finding none of them easy,
and after several times putting his head into the iron safe with a
notion of cooling it. Mr. Smallweed has been twice dispatched for
effervescent drinks, and has twice mixed them in the two official
tumblers and stirred them up with the ruler. Mr. Guppy propounds
for Mr. Smallweed's consideration the paradox that the more you
drink the thirstier you are and reclines his head upon the window-
sill in a state of hopeless languor.
While thus looking out into the shade of Old Square, Lincoln's Inn,
surveying the intolerable bricks and mortar, Mr. Guppy becomes
conscious of a manly whisker emerging from the cloistered walk
below and turning itself up in the direction of his face. At the
same time, a low whistle is wafted through the Inn and a suppressed
voice cries, "Hip! Gup-py!"
"Why, you don't mean it!" says Mr. Guppy, aroused. "Small! Here's
Jobling!" Small's head looks out of window too and nods to
"Where have you sprung up from?" inquires Mr. Guppy.
"From the market-gardens down by Deptford. I can't stand it any
longer. I must enlist. I say! I wish you'd lend me half a crown.
Upon my soul, I'm hungry."
Jobling looks hungry and also has the appearance of having run to
seed in the market-gardens down by Deptford.
"I say! Just throw out half a crown if you have got one to spare.
I want to get some dinner."
"Will you come and dine with me?" says Mr. Guppy, throwing out the
coin, which Mr. Jobling catches neatly.
"How long should I have to hold out?" says Jobling.
"Not half an hour. I am only waiting here till the enemy goes,"
returns Mr. Guppy, butting inward with his head.
"A new one. Going to be articled. Will you wait?"
"Can you give a fellow anything to read in the meantime?" says Mr.
Smallweed suggests the law list. But Mr. Jobling declares with
much earnestness that he "can't stand it."
"You shall have the paper," says Mr. Guppy. "He shall bring it
down. But you had better not be seen about here. Sit on our
staircase and read. It's a quiet place."
Jobling nods intelligence and acquiescence. The sagacious
Smallweed supplies him with the newspaper and occasionally drops
his eye upon him from the landing as a precaution against his
becoming disgusted with waiting and making an untimely departure.
At last the enemy retreats, and then Smallweed fetches Mr. Jobling
"Well, and how are you?" says Mr. Guppy, shaking hands with him.
"So, so. How are you?"
Mr. Guppy replying that he is not much to boast of, Mr. Jobling
ventures on the question, "How is SHE?" This Mr. Guppy resents as
a liberty, retorting, "Jobling, there ARE chords in the human
mind--" Jobling begs pardon.
"Any subject but that!" says Mr. Guppy with a gloomy enjoyment of
his injury. "For there ARE chords, Jobling--"
Mr. Jobling begs pardon again.
During this short colloquy, the active Smallweed, who is of the
dinner party, has written in legal characters on a slip of paper,
"Return immediately." This notification to all whom it may
concern, he inserts in the letter-box, and then putting on the tall
hat at the angle of inclination at which Mr. Guppy wears his,
informs his patron that they may now make themselves scarce.
Accordingly they betake themselves to a neighbouring dining-house,
of the class known among its frequenters by the denomination slap-
bang, where the waitress, a bouncing young female of forty, is
supposed to have made some impression on the susceptible Smallweed,
of whom it may be remarked that he is a weird changeling to whom
years are nothing. He stands precociously possessed of centuries
of owlish wisdom. If he ever lay in a cradle, it seems as if he
must have lain there in a tail-coat. He has an old, old eye, has
Smallweed; and he drinks and smokes in a monkeyish way; and his
neck is stiff in his collar; and he is never to be taken in; and he
knows all about it, whatever it is. In short, in his bringing up
he has been so nursed by Law and Equity that he has become a kind
of fossil imp, to account for whose terrestrial existence it is
reported at the public offices that his father was John Doe and his
mother the only female member of the Roe family, also that his
first long-clothes were made from a blue bag.
Into the dining-house, unaffected by the seductive show in the
window of artificially whitened cauliflowers and poultry, verdant
baskets of peas, coolly blooming cucumbers, and joints ready for
the spit, Mr. Smallweed leads the way. They know him there and
defer to him. He has his favourite box, he bespeaks all the
papers, he is down upon bald patriarchs, who keep them more than
ten minutes afterwards. It is of no use trying him with anything
less than a full-sized "bread" or proposing to him any joint in cut
unless it is in the very best cut. In the matter of gravy he is
Conscious of his elfin power and submitting to his dread
experience, Mr. Guppy consults him in the choice of that day's
banquet, turning an appealing look towards him as the waitress
repeats the catalogue of viands and saying "What do YOU take,
Chick?" Chick, out of the profundity of his artfulness, preferring
"veal and ham and French beans--and don't you forget the stuffing,
Polly" (with an unearthly cock of his venerable eye), Mr. Guppy and
Mr. Jobling give the like order. Three pint pots of half-and-half
are superadded. Quickly the waitress returns bearing what is
apparently a model of the Tower of Babel but what is really a pile
of plates and flat tin dish-covers. Mr. Smallweed, approving of
what is set before him, conveys intelligent benignity into his
ancient eye and winks upon her. Then, amid a constant coming in,
and going out, and running about, and a clatter of crockery, and a
rumbling up and down of the machine which brings the nice cuts from
the kitchen, and a shrill crying for more nice cuts down the
speaking-pipe, and a shrill reckoning of the cost of nice cuts that
have been disposed of, and a general flush and steam of hot joints,
cut and uncut, and a considerably heated atmosphere in which the
soiled knives and tablecloths seem to break out spontaneously into
eruptions of grease and blotches of beer, the legal triumvirate
appease their appetites.
Mr. Jobling is buttoned up closer than mere adornment might
require. His hat presents at the rims a peculiar appearance of a
glistening nature, as if it had been a favourite snail-promenade.
The same phenomenon is visible on some parts of his coat, and
particularly at the seams. He has the faded appearance of a
gentleman in embarrassed circumstances; even his light whiskers
droop with something of a shabby air.
His appetite is so vigorous that it suggests spare living for some
little time back. He makes such a speedy end of his plate of veal
and ham, bringing it to a close while his companions are yet midway
in theirs, that Mr. Guppy proposes another. "Thank you, Guppy,"
says Mr. Jobling, "I really don't know but what I WILL take
Another being brought, he falls to with great goodwill.
Mr. Guppy takes silent notice of him at intervals until he is half
way through this second plate and stops to take an enjoying pull at
his pint pot of half-and-half (also renewed) and stretches out his
legs and rubs his hands. Beholding him in which glow of
contentment, Mr. Guppy says, "You are a man again, Tony!"
"Well, not quite yet," says Mr. Jobling. "Say, just born."
"Will you take any other vegetables? Grass? Peas? Summer
"Thank you, Guppy," says Mr. Jobling. "I really don't know but
what I WILL take summer cabbage."
Order given; with the sarcastic addition (from Mr. Smallweed) of
"Without slugs, Polly!" And cabbage produced.
"I am growing up, Guppy," says Mr. Jobling, plying his knife and
fork with a relishing steadiness.
"Glad to hear it."
"In fact, I have just turned into my teens," says Mr. Jobling.
He says no more until he has performed his task, which he achieves
as Messrs. Guppy and Smallweed finish theirs, thus getting over the
ground in excellent style and beating those two gentlemen easily by
a veal and ham and a cabbage.
"Now, Small," says Mr. Guppy, "what would you recommend about
"Marrow puddings," says Mr. Smallweed instantly.
"Aye, aye!" cries Mr. Jobling with an arch look. "You're there,
are you? Thank you, Mr. Guppy, I don't know but what I WILL take a
Three marrow puddings being produced, Mr. Jobling adds in a
pleasant humour that he is coming of age fast. To these succeed,
by command of Mr. Smallweed, "three Cheshires," and to those "three
small rums." This apex of the entertainment happily reached, Mr.
Jobling puts up his legs on the carpeted seat (having his own side
of the box to himself), leans against the wall, and says, "I am
grown up now, Guppy. I have arrived at maturity."
"What do you think, now," says Mr. Guppy, "about--you don't mind
"Not the least in the worid. I have the pleasure of drinking his
"Sir, to you!" says Mr. Smallweed.
"I was saying, what do you think NOW," pursues Mr. Guppy, "of
"Why, what I may think after dinner," returns Mr. Jobling, "is one
thing, my dear Guppy, and what I may think before dinner is another
thing. Still, even after dinner, I ask myself the question, What
am I to do? How am I to live? Ill fo manger, you know," says Mr.
Jobling, pronouncing that word as if he meant a necessary fixture
in an English stable. "Ill fo manger. That's the French saying,
and mangering is as necessary to me as it is to a Frenchman. Or
Mr. Smallweed is decidedly of opinion "much more so."
"If any man had told me," pursues Jobling, "even so lately as when
you and I had the frisk down in Lincolnshire, Guppy, and drove over
to see that house at Castle Wold--"
Mr. Smallweed corrects him--Chesney Wold.
"Chesney Wold. (I thank my honourable friend for that cheer.) If
any man had told me then that I should be as hard up at the present
time as I literally find myself, I should have--well, I should have
pitched into him," says Mr. Jobling, taking a little rum-and-water
with an air of desperate resignation; "I should have let fly at his
"Still, Tony, you were on the wrong side of the post then,"
remonstrates Mr. Guppy. "You were talking about nothing else in
"Guppy," says Mr. Jobling, "I will not deny it. I was on the wrong
side of the post. But I trusted to things coming round."
That very popular trust in flat things coming round! Not in their
being beaten round, or worked round, but in their "coming" round!
As though a lunatic should trust in the world's "coming"
"I had confident expectations that things would come round and be
all square," says Mr. Jobling with some vagueness of expression and
perhaps of meaning too. "But I was disappointed. They never did.
And when it came to creditors making rows at the office and to
people that the office dealt with making complaints about dirty
trifles of borrowed money, why there was an end of that connexion.
And of any new professional connexion too, for if I was to give a
reference to-morrow, it would be mentioned and would sew me up.
Then what's a fellow to do? I have been keeping out of the way and
living cheap down about the market-gardens, but what's the use of
living cheap when you have got no money? You might as well live
"Better," Mr. Smallweed thinks.
"Certainly. It's the fashionable way; and fashion and whiskers
have been my weaknesses, and I don't care who knows it," says Mr.
Jobling. "They are great weaknesses--Damme, sir, they are great.
Well," proceeds Mr. Jobling after a defiant visit to his rum-and-
water, "what can a fellow do, I ask you, BUT enlist?"
Mr. Guppy comes more fully into the conversation to state what, in
his opinion, a fellow can do. His manner is the gravely impressive
manner of a man who has not committed himself in life otherwise
than as he has become the victim of a tender sorrow of the heart.
"Jobling," says Mr. Guppy, "myself and our mutual friend Smallweed--"
Mr. Smallweed modestly observes, "Gentlemen both!" and drinks.
"--Have had a little conversation on this matter more than once
"Say, got the sack!" cries Mr. Jobling bitterly. "Say it, Guppy.
You mean it."
"No-o-o! Left the Inn," Mr. Smallweed delicately suggests.
"Since you left the Inn, Jobling," says Mr. Guppy; "and I have
mentioned to our mutual friend Smallweed a plan I have lately
thought of proposing. You know Snagsby the stationer?"
"I know there is such a stationer," returns Mr. Jobling. "He was
not ours, and I am not acquainted with him."
"He IS ours, Jobling, and I AM acquainted with him," Mr. Guppy
retorts. "Well, sir! I have lately become better acquainted with
him through some accidental circumstances that have made me a
visitor of his in private life. Those circumstances it is not
necessary to offer in argument. They may--or they may not--have
some reference to a subject which may--or may not--have cast its
shadow on my existence."
As it is Mr. Guppy's perplexing way with boastful misery to tempt
his particular friends into this subject, and the moment they touch
it, to turn on them with that trenchant severity about the chords
in the human mind, both Mr. Jobling and Mr. Smallweed decline the
pitfall by remaining silent.
"Such things may be," repeats Mr. Guppy, "or they may not be. They
are no part of the case. It is enough to mention that both Mr. and
Mrs. Snagsby are very willing to oblige me and that Snagsby has, in
busy times, a good deal of copying work to give out. He has all
Tulkinghorn's, and an excellent business besides. I believe if our
mutual friend Smallweed were put into the box, he could prove
Mr. Smallweed nods and appears greedy to be sworn.
"Now, gentlemen of the jury," says Mr. Guppy, "--I mean, now,
Jobling--you may say this is a poor prospect of a living. Granted.
But it's better than nothing, and better than enlistment. You want
time. There must be time for these late affairs to blow over. You
might live through it on much worse terms than by writing for
Mr. Jobling is about to interrupt when the sagacious Smallweed
checks him with a dry cough and the words, "Hem! Shakspeare!"
"There are two branches to this subject, Jobling," says Mr. Guppy.
"That is the first. I come to the second. You know Krook, the
Chancellor, across the lane. Come, Jobling," says Mr. Guppy in his
encouraging cross-examination-tone, "I think you know Krook, the
Chancellor, across the lane?"
"I know him by sight," says Mr. Jobling.
"You know him by sight. Very well. And you know little Flite?"
"Everybody knows her," says Mr. Jobling.
"Everybody knows her. VERY well. Now it has been one of my duties
of late to pay Flite a certain weekly allowance, deducting from it
the amount of her weekly rent, which I have paid (in consequence of
instructions I have received) to Krook himself, regularly in her
presence. This has brought me into communication with Krook and
into a knowledge of his house and his habits. I know he has a room
to let. You may live there at a very low charge under any name you
like, as quietly as if you were a hundred miles off. He'll ask no
questions and would accept you as a tenant at a word from me--
before the clock strikes, if you chose. And I tell you another
thing, Jobling," says Mr. Guppy, who has suddenly lowered his voice
and become familiar again, "he's an extraordinary old chap--always
rummaging among a litter of papers and grubbing away at teaching
himself to read and write, without getting on a bit, as it seems to
me. He is a most extraordinary old chap, sir. I don't know but
what it might be worth a fellow's while to look him up a bit."
"You don't mean--" Mr. Jobling begins.
"I mean," returns Mr. Guppy, shrugging his shoulders with becoming
modesty, "that I can't make him out. I appeal to our mutual friend
Smallweed whether he has or has not heard me remark that I can't
make him out."
Mr. Smallweed bears the concise testimony, "A few!"
"I have seen something of the profession and something of life,
Tony," says Mr. Guppy, "and it's seldom I can't make a man out,
more or less. But such an old card as this, so deep, so sly, and
secret (though I don't believe he is ever sober), I never came
across. Now, he must be precious old, you know, and he has not a
soul about him, and he is reported to be immensely rich; and
whether he is a smuggler, or a receiver, or an unlicensed
pawnbroker, or a money-lender--all of which I have thought likely
at different times--it might pay you to knock up a sort of
knowledge of him. I don't see why you shouldn't go in for it, when
everything else suits."
Mr. Jobling, Mr. Guppy, and Mr. Smallweed all lean their elbows on
the table and their chins upon their hands, and look at the
ceiling. After a time, they all drink, slowly lean back, put their
hands in their pockets, and look at one another.
"If I had the energy I once possessed, Tony!" says Mr. Guppy with a
sigh. "But there are chords in the human mind--"
Expressing the remainder of the desolate sentiment in rum-and-
water, Mr. Guppy concludes by resigning the adventure to Tony
Jobling and informing him that during the vacation and while things
are slack, his purse, "as far as three or four or even five pound
goes," will be at his disposal. "For never shall it be said," Mr.
Guppy adds with emphasis, "that William Guppy turned his back upon
The latter part of the proposal is so directly to the purpose that
Mr. Jobling says with emotion, "Guppy, my trump, your fist!" Mr.
Guppy presents it, saying, "Jobling, my boy, there it is!" Mr.
Jobling returns, "Guppy, we have been pals now for some years!"
Mr. Guppy replies, "Jobling, we have."
They then shake hands, and Mr. Jobling adds in a feeling manner,
"Thank you, Guppy, I don't know but what I WILL take another glass
for old acquaintance sake."
"Krook's last lodger died there," observes Mr. Guppy in an
"Did he though!" says Mr. Jobling.
"There was a verdict. Accidental death. You don't mind that?"
"No," says Mr. Jobling, "I don't mind it; but he might as well have
died somewhere else. It's devilish odd that he need go and die at
MY place!" Mr. Jobling quite resents this liberty, several times
returning to it with such remarks as, "There are places enough to
die in, I should think!" or, "He wouldn't have liked my dying at
HIS place, I dare say!"
However, the compact being virtually made, Mr. Guppy proposes to
dispatch the trusty Smallweed to ascertain if Mr. Krook is at home,
as in that case they may complete the negotiation without delay.
Mr. Jobling approving, Smallweed puts himself under the tall hat
and conveys it out of the dining-rooms in the Guppy manner. He
soon returns with the intelligence that Mr. Krook is at home and
that he has seen him through the shop-door, sitting in the back
premises, sleeping "like one o'clock."
"Then I'll pay," says Mr. Guppy, "and we'll go and see him. Small,
what will it be?"
Mr. Smallweed, compelling the attendance of the waitress with one
hitch of his eyelash, instantly replies as follows: "Four veals and
hams is three, and four potatoes is three and four, and one summer
cabbage is three and six, and three marrows is four and six, and
six breads is five, and three Cheshires is five and three, and four
half-pints of half-and-half is six and three, and four small rums
is eight and three, and three Pollys is eight and six. Eight and
six in half a sovereign, Polly, and eighteenpence out!"
Not at all excited by these stupendous calculations, Smallweed
dismisses his friends with a cool nod and remains behind to take a
little admiring notice of Polly, as opportunity may serve, and to
read the daily papers, which are so very large in proportion to
himself, shorn of his hat, that when he holds up the Times to run
his eye over the columns, he seems to have retired for the night
and to have disappeared under the bedclothes.
Mr. Guppy and Mr. Jobling repair to the rag and bottle shop, where
they find Krook still sleeping like one o'clock, that is to say,
breathing stertorously with his chin upon his breast and quite
insensible to any external sounds or even to gentle shaking. On
the table beside him, among the usual lumber, stand an empty gin-
bottle and a glass. The unwholesome air is so stained with this
liquor that even the green eyes of the cat upon her shelf, as they
open and shut and glimmer on the visitors, look drunk.
"Hold up here!" says Mr. Guppy, giving the relaxed figure of the
old man another shake. "Mr. Krook! Halloa, sir!"
But it would seem as easy to wake a bundle of old clothes with a
spirituous heat smouldering in it. "Did you ever see such a stupor
as he falls into, between drink and sleep?" says Mr. Guppy.
"If this is his regular sleep," returns Jobling, rather alarmed,
"it'll last a long time one of these days, I am thinking."
"It's always more like a fit than a nap," says Mr. Guppy, shaking
him again. "Halloa, your lordship! Why, he might be robbed fifty
times over! Open your eyes!"
After much ado, he opens them, but without appearing to see his
visitors or any other objects. Though he crosses one leg on
another, and folds his hands, and several times closes and opens
his parched lips, he seems to all intents and purposes as
insensible as before.
"He is alive, at any rate," says Mr. Guppy. "How are you, my Lord
Chancellor. I have brought a friend of mine, sir, on a little
matter of business."
The old man still sits, often smacking his dry lips without the
least consciousness. After some minutes he makes an attempt to
rise. They help him up, and he staggers against the wall and
stares at them.
"How do you do, Mr. Krook?" says Mr. Guppy in some discomfiture.
"How do you do, sir? You are looking charming, Mr. Krook. I hope
you are pretty well?"
The old man, in aiming a purposeless blow at Mr. Guppy, or at
nothing, feebly swings himself round and comes with his face
against the wall. So he remains for a minute or two, heaped up
against it, and then staggers down the shop to the front door. The
air, the movement in the court, the lapse of time, or the
combination of these things recovers him. He comes back pretty
steadily, adjusting his fur cap on his head and looking keenly at
"Your servant, gentlemen; I've been dozing. Hi! I am hard to wake,
"Rather so, indeed, sir," responds Mr. Guppy.
"What? You've been a-trying to do it, have you?" says the
"Only a little," Mr. Guppy explains.
The old man's eye resting on the empty bottle, he takes it up,
examines it, and slowly tilts it upside down.
"I say!" he cries like the hobgoblin in the story. "Somebody's
been making free here!"
"I assure you we found it so," says Mr. Guppy. "Would you allow me
to get it filled for you?"
"Yes, certainly I would!" cries Krook in high glee. "Certainly I
would! Don't mention it! Get it filled next door--Sol's Arms--the
Lord Chancellor's fourteenpenny. Bless you, they know ME!"
He so presses the empty bottle upon Mr. Guppy that that gentleman,
with a nod to his friend, accepts the trust and hurries out and
hurries in again with the bottle filled. The old man receives it
in his arms like a beloved grandchild and pats it tenderly.
"But, I say," he whispers, with his eyes screwed up, after tasting
it, "this ain't the Lord Chancellor's fourteenpenny. This is
"I thought you might like that better," says Mr. Guppy.
"You're a nobleman, sir," returns Krook with another taste, and his
hot breath seems to come towards them like a flame. "You're a
baron of the land."
Taking advantage of this auspicious moment, Mr. Guppy presents his
friend under the impromptu name of Mr. Weevle and states the object
of their visit. Krook, with his bottle under his arm (he never
gets beyond a certain point of either drunkenness or sobriety),
takes time to survey his proposed lodger and seems to approve of
him. "You'd like to see the room, young man?" he says. "Ah! It's
a good room! Been whitewashed. Been cleaned down with soft soap
and soda. Hi! It's worth twice the rent, letting alone my company
when you want it and such a cat to keep the mice away."
Commending the room after this manner, the old man takes them
upstairs, where indeed they do find it cleaner than it used to be
and also containing some old articles of furniture which he has dug
up from his inexhaustible stores. The terms are easily concluded--
for the Lord Chancellor cannot be hard on Mr. Guppy, associated as
he is with Kenge and Carboy, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, and other
famous claims on his professional consideration--and it is agreed
that Mr. Weevle shall take possession on the morrow. Mr. Weevle
and Mr. Guppy then repair to Cook's Court, Cursitor Street, where
the personal introduction of the former to Mr. Snagsby is effected
and (more important) the vote and interest of Mrs. Snagsby are
secured. They then report progress to the eminent Smallweed,
waiting at the office in his tall hat for that purpose, and
separate, Mr. Guppy explaining that he would terminate his little
entertainment by standing treat at the play but that there are
chords in the human mind which would render it a hollow mockery.
On the morrow, in the dusk of evening, Mr. Weevle modestly appears
at Krook's, by no means incommoded with luggage, and establishes
himself in his new lodging, where the two eyes in the shutters
stare at him in his sleep, as if they were full of wonder. On the
following day Mr. Weevle, who is a handy good-for-nothing kind of
young fellow, borrows a needle and thread of Miss Flite and a
hammer of his landlord and goes to work devising apologies for
window-curtains, and knocking up apologies for shelves, and hanging
up his two teacups, milkpot, and crockery sundries on a pennyworth
of little hooks, like a shipwrecked sailor making the best of it.
But what Mr. Weevle prizes most of all his few possessions (next
after his light whiskers, for which he has an attachment that only
whiskers can awaken in the breast of man) is a choice collection of
copper-plate impressions from that truly national work The
Divinities of Albion, or Galaxy Gallery of British Beauty,
representing ladies of title and fashion in every variety of smirk
that art, combined with capital, is capable of producing. With
these magnificent portraits, unworthily confined in a band-box
during his seclusion among the market-gardens, he decorates his
apartment; and as the Galaxy Gallery of British Beauty wears every
variety of fancy dress, plays every variety of musical instrument,
fondles every variety of dog, ogles every variety of prospect, and
is backed up by every variety of flower-pot and balustrade, the
result is very imposing.
But fashion is Mr. Weevle's, as it was Tony Jobling's, weakness.
To borrow yesterday's paper from the Sol's Arms of an evening and
read about the brilliant and distinguished meteors that are
shooting across the fashionable sky in every direction is
unspeakable consolation to him. To know what member of what
brilliant and distinguished circle accomplished the brilliant and
distinguished feat of joining it yesterday or contemplates the no
less brilliant and distinguished feat of leaving it to-morrow gives
him a thrill of joy. To be informed what the Galaxy Gallery of
British Beauty is about, and means to be about, and what Galaxy
marriages are on the tapis, and what Galaxy rumours are in
circulation, is to become acquainted with the most glorious
destinies of mankind. Mr. Weevle reverts from this intelligence to
the Galaxy portraits implicated, and seems to know the originals,
and to be known of them.
For the rest he is a quiet lodger, full of handy shifts and devices
as before mentioned, able to cook and clean for himself as well as
to carpenter, and developing social inclinations after the shades
of evening have fallen on the court. At those times, when he is
not visited by Mr. Guppy or by a small light in his likeness
quenched in a dark hat, he comes out of his dull room--where he has
inherited the deal wilderness of desk bespattered with a rain of
ink--and talks to Krook or is "very free," as they call it in the
court, commendingly, with any one disposed for conversation.
Wherefore, Mrs. Piper, who leads the court, is impelled to offer
two remarks to Mrs. Perkins: firstly, that if her Johnny was to
have whiskers, she could wish 'em to be identically like that young
man's; and secondly, "Mark my words, Mrs. Perkins, ma'am, and don't
you be surprised, Lord bless you, if that young man comes in at
last for old Krook's money!"