Whether it shall be openly declared in the new notices that must now be put about in our names--'
'In your name, Mr Boffin; in your name.'
'Very well; in my name, which is the same as Mrs Boffin's, and means both of us, is to be considered in drawing 'em up. But this is the first instruction that I, as the owner of the property, give to my lawyer on coming into it.'
'Your lawyer, Mr Boffin,' returned Lightwood, making a very short note of it with a very rusty pen, 'has the gratification of taking the instruction. There is another?'
'There is just one other, and no more. Make me as compact a little will as can be reconciled with tightness, leaving the whole of the property to "my beloved wife, Henerietty Boffin, sole executrix". Make it as short as you can, using those words; but make it tight.'
At some loss to fathom Mr Boffin's notions of a tight will, Lightwood felt his way.
'I beg your pardon, but professional profundity must be exact. When you say tight--'
'I mean tight,' Mr Boffin explained.
'Exactly so. And nothing can be more laudable. But is the tightness to bind Mrs Boffin to any and what conditions?'
'Bind Mrs Boffin?' interposed her husband. 'No! What are you thinking of! What I want is, to make it all hers so tight as that her hold of it can't be loosed.'
'Hers freely, to do what she likes with? Hers absolutely?'
'Absolutely?' repeated Mr Boffin, with a short sturdy laugh. 'Hah! I should think so! It would be handsome in me to begin to bind Mrs Boffin at this time of day!'
So that instruction, too, was taken by Mr Lightwood; and Mr Lightwood, having taken it, was in the act of showing Mr Boffin out, when Mr Eugene Wrayburn almost jostled him in the door- way. Consequently Mr Lightwood said, in his cool manner, 'Let me make you two known to one another,' and further signified that Mr Wrayburn was counsel learned in the law, and that, partly in the way of business and partly in the way of pleasure, he had imparted to Mr Wrayburn some of the interesting facts of Mr Boffin's biography.
'Delighted,' said Eugene--though he didn't look so--'to know Mr Boffin.'
'Thankee, sir, thankee,' returned that gentleman. 'And how do YOU like the law?'
'A--not particularly,' returned Eugene.
'Too dry for you, eh? Well, I suppose it wants some years of sticking to, before you master it. But there's nothing like work. Look at the bees.'
'I beg your pardon,' returned Eugene, with a reluctant smile, 'but will you excuse my mentioning that I always protest against being referred to the bees?'
'Do you!' said Mr Boffin.
'I object on principle,' said Eugene, 'as a biped--'
'As a what?' asked Mr Boffin.
'As a two-footed creature;--I object on principle, as a two-footed creature, to being constantly referred to insects and four-footed creatures. I object to being required to model my proceedings according to the proceedings of the bee, or the dog, or the spider, or the camel. I fully admit that the camel, for instance, is an excessively temperate person; but he has several stomachs to entertain himself with, and I have only one. Besides, I am not fitted up with a convenient cool cellar to keep my drink in.'
'But I said, you know,' urged Mr Boffin, rather at a loss for an answer, 'the bee.'
'Exactly. And may I represent to you that it's injudicious to say the bee? For the whole case is assumed. Conceding for a moment that there is any analogy between a bee, and a man in a shirt and pantaloons (which I deny), and that it is settled that the man is to learn from the bee (which I also deny), the question still remains, what is he to learn? To imitate? Or to avoid? When your friends the bees worry themselves to that highly fluttered extent about their sovereign, and become perfectly distracted touching the slightest monarchical movement, are we men to learn the greatness of Tuft- hunting, or the littleness of the Court Circular? I am not clear, Mr Boffin, but that the hive may be satirical.'
'At all events, they work,' said Mr Boffin.