"Then, you see, you live in a lonesome way, and in a lonesome room, with a black circumstance hanging over it," says Mr. Snagsby, looking in past the other's shoulder along the dark passage and then falling back a step to look up at the house. "I couldn't live in that room alone, as you do, sir. I should get so fidgety and worried of an evening, sometimes, that I should be driven to come to the door and stand here sooner than sit there. But then it's very true that you didn't see, in your room, what I saw there. That makes a difference."
"I know quite enough about it," returns Tony.
"It's not agreeable, is it?" pursues Mr. Snagsby, coughing his cough of mild persuasion behind his hand. "Mr. Krook ought to consider it in the rent. I hope he does, I am sure."
"I hope he does," says Tony. "But I doubt it."
"You find the rent too high, do you, sir?" returns the stationer. "Rents ARE high about here. I don't know how it is exactly, but the law seems to put things up in price. Not," adds Mr. Snagsby with his apologetic cough, "that I mean to say a word against the profession I get my living by."
Mr. Weevle again glances up and down the court and then looks at the stationer. Mr. Snagsby, blankly catching his eye, looks upward for a star or so and coughs a cough expressive of not exactly seeing his way out of this conversation.
"It's a curious fact, sir," he observes, slowly rubbing his hands, "that he should have been--"
"Who's he?" interrupts Mr. Weevle.
"The deceased, you know," says Mr. Snagsby, twitching his head and right eyebrow towards the staircase and tapping his acquaintance on the button.
"Ah, to be sure!" returns the other as if he were not over-fond of the subject. "I thought we had done with him."
"I was only going to say it's a curious fact, sir, that he should have come and lived here, and been one of my writers, and then that you should come and live here, and be one of my writers too. Which there is nothing derogatory, but far from it in the appellation," says Mr. Snagsby, breaking off with a mistrust that he may have unpolitely asserted a kind of proprietorship in Mr. Weevle, "because I have known writers that have gone into brewers' houses and done really very respectable indeed. Eminently respectable, sir," adds Mr. Snagsby with a misgiving that he has not improved the matter.
"It's a curious coincidence, as you say," answers Weevle, once more glancing up and down the court.
"Seems a fate in it, don't there?" suggests the stationer.
"Just so," observes the stationer with his confirmatory cough. "Quite a fate in it. Quite a fate. Well, Mr. Weevle, I am afraid I must bid you good night"--Mr. Snagsby speaks as if it made him desolate to go, though he has been casting about for any means of escape ever since he stopped to speak--"my little woman will be looking for me else. Good night, sir!"
If Mr. Snagsby hastens home to save his little woman the trouble of looking for him, he might set his mind at rest on that score. His little woman has had her eye upon him round the Sol's Arms all this time and now glides after him with a pocket handkerchief wrapped over her head, honouring Mr. Weevle and his doorway with a searching glance as she goes past.
"You'll know me again, ma'am, at all events," says Mr. Weevle to himself; "and I can't compliment you on your appearance, whoever you are, with your head tied up in a bundle. Is this fellow NEVER coming!"
This fellow approaches as he speaks. Mr. Weevle softly holds up his finger, and draws him into the passage, and closes the street door. Then they go upstairs, Mr. Weevle heavily, and Mr. Guppy (for it is he) very lightly indeed. When they are shut into the back room, they speak low.
"I thought you had gone to Jericho at least instead of coming here," says Tony.
"Why, I said about ten."
"You said about ten," Tony repeats. "Yes, so you did say about ten. But according to my count, it's ten times ten--it's a hundred o'clock.