A bow gone!')
'Morning, morning, morning!'
'Appears to be rather a 'arty old cock, too,' said Mr Wegg, as before; 'Good morning to YOU, sir.'
'Do you remember me, then?' asked his new acquaintance, stopping in his amble, one-sided, before the stall, and speaking in a pounding way, though with great good-humour.
'I have noticed you go past our house, sir, several times in the course of the last week or so.'
'Our house,' repeated the other. 'Meaning--?'
'Yes,' said Mr Wegg, nodding, as the other pointed the clumsy forefinger of his right glove at the corner house.
'Oh! Now, what,' pursued the old fellow, in an inquisitive manner, carrying his knotted stick in his left arm as if it were a baby, 'what do they allow you now?'
'It's job work that I do for our house,' returned Silas, drily, and with reticence; 'it's not yet brought to an exact allowance.'
'Oh! It's not yet brought to an exact allowance? No! It's not yet brought to an exact allowance. Oh!--Morning, morning, morning!'
'Appears to be rather a cracked old cock,' thought Silas, qualifying his former good opinion, as the other ambled off. But, in a moment he was back again with the question:
'How did you get your wooden leg?'
Mr Wegg replied, (tartly to this personal inquiry), 'In an accident.'
'Do you like it?'
'Well! I haven't got to keep it warm,' Mr Wegg made answer, in a sort of desperation occasioned by the singularity of the question.
'He hasn't,' repeated the other to his knotted stick, as he gave it a hug; 'he hasn't got--ha!--ha!--to keep it warm! Did you ever hear of the name of Boffin?'
'No,' said Mr Wegg, who was growing restive under this examination. 'I never did hear of the name of Boffin.'
'Do you like it?'
'Why, no,' retorted Mr Wegg, again approaching desperation; 'I can't say I do.'
'Why don't you like it?'
'I don't know why I don't,' retorted Mr Wegg, approaching frenzy, 'but I don't at all.'
'Now, I'll tell you something that'll make you sorry for that,' said the stranger, smiling. 'My name's Boffin.'
'I can't help it!' returned Mr Wegg. Implying in his manner the offensive addition, 'and if I could, I wouldn't.'
'But there's another chance for you,' said Mr Boffin, smiling still, 'Do you like the name of Nicodemus? Think it over. Nick, or Noddy.'
'It is not, sir,' Mr Wegg rejoined, as he sat down on his stool, with an air of gentle resignation, combined with melancholy candour; it is not a name as I could wish any one that I had a respect for, to call ME by; but there may be persons that would not view it with the same objections.--I don't know why,' Mr Wegg added, anticipating another question.
'Noddy Boffin,' said that gentleman. 'Noddy. That's my name. Noddy--or Nick--Boffin. What's your name?'
'Silas Wegg.--I don't,' said Mr Wegg, bestirring himself to take the same precaution as before, 'I don't know why Silas, and I don't know why Wegg.'
'Now, Wegg,' said Mr Boffin, hugging his stick closer, 'I want to make a sort of offer to you. Do you remember when you first see me?'
The wooden Wegg looked at him with a meditative eye, and also with a softened air as descrying possibility of profit. 'Let me think. I ain't quite sure, and yet I generally take a powerful sight of notice, too. Was it on a Monday morning, when the butcher-boy had been to our house for orders, and bought a ballad of me, which, being unacquainted with the tune, I run it over to him?'
'Right, Wegg, right! But he bought more than one.'
'Yes, to be sure, sir; he bought several; and wishing to lay out his money to the best, he took my opinion to guide his choice, and we went over the collection together. To be sure we did. Here was him as it might be, and here was myself as it might be, and there was you, Mr Boffin, as you identically are, with your self-same stick under your very same arm, and your very same back towards us. To--be--sure!' added Mr Wegg, looking a little round Mr Boffin, to take him in the rear, and identify this last extraordinary coincidence, 'your wery self-same back!'
'What do you think I was doing, Wegg?'
'I should judge, sir, that you might be glancing your eye down the street.'