Even Miss M. Melvilleson, in the revived Caledonian melody of "We're a-Nodding," points the sentiment that "the dogs love broo" (whatever the nature of that refreshment may be) with such archness and such a turn of the head towards next door that she is immediately understood to mean Mr. Smallweed loves to find money, and is nightly honoured with a double encore. For all this, the court discovers nothing; and as Mrs. Piper and Mrs. Perkins now communicate to the late lodger whose appearance is the signal for a general rally, it is in one continual ferment to discover everything, and more.
Mr. Weevle and Mr. Guppy, with every eye in the court's head upon them, knock at the closed door of the late lamented's house, in a high state of popularity. But being contrary to the court's expectation admitted, they immediately become unpopular and are considered to mean no good.
The shutters are more or less closed all over the house, and the ground-floor is sufficiently dark to require candles. Introduced into the back shop by Mr. Smallweed the younger, they, fresh from the sunlight, can at first see nothing save darkness and shadows; but they gradually discern the elder Mr. Smallweed seated in his chair upon the brink of a well or grave of waste-paper, the virtuous Judy groping therein like a female sexton, and Mrs. Smallweed on the level ground in the vicinity snowed up in a heap of paper fragments, print, and manuscript which would appear to be the accumulated compliments that have been sent flying at her in the course of the day. The whole party, Small included, are blackened with dust and dirt and present a fiendish appearance not relieved by the general aspect of the room. There is more litter and lumber in it than of old, and it is dirtier if possible; likewise, it is ghostly with traces of its dead inhabitant and even with his chalked writing on the wall.
On the entrance of visitors, Mr. Smallweed and Judy simultaneously fold their arms and stop in their researches.
"Aha!" croaks the old gentleman. "How de do, gentlemen, how de do! Come to fetch your property, Mr. Weevle? That's well, that's well. Ha! Ha! We should have been forced to sell you up, sir, to pay your warehouse room if you had left it here much longer. You feel quite at home here again, I dare say? Glad to see you, glad to see you!"
Mr. Weevle, thanking him, casts an eye about. Mr. Guppy's eye follows Mr. Weevle's eye. Mr. Weevle's eye comes back without any new intelligence in it. Mr. Guppy's eye comes back and meets Mr. Smallweed's eye. That engaging old gentleman is still murmuring, like some wound-up instrument running down, "How de do, sir--how de--how--" And then having run down, he lapses into grinning silence, as Mr. Guppy starts at seeing Mr. Tulkinghorn standing in the darkness opposite with his hands behind him.
"Gentleman so kind as to act as my solicitor," says Grandfather Smallweed. "I am not the sort of client for a gentleman of such note, but he is so good!"
Mr. Guppy, slightly nudging his friend to take another look, makes a shuffling bow to Mr. Tulkinghorn, who returns it with an easy nod. Mr. Tulkinghorn is looking on as if he had nothing else to do and were rather amused by the novelty.
"A good deal of property here, sir, I should say," Mr. Guppy observes to Mr. Smallweed.
"Principally rags and rubbish, my dear friend! Rags and rubbish! Me and Bart and my granddaughter Judy are endeavouring to make out an inventory of what's worth anything to sell. But we haven't come to much as yet; we--haven't--come--to--hah!"
Mr. Smallweed has run down again, while Mr. Weevle's eye, attended by Mr. Guppy's eye, has again gone round the room and come back.
"Well, sir," says Mr. Weevle. "We won't intrude any longer if you'll allow us to go upstairs."
"Anywhere, my dear sir, anywhere! You're at home. Make yourself so, pray!"
As they go upstairs, Mr. Guppy lifts his eyebrows inquiringly and looks at Tony. Tony shakes his head. They find the old room very dull and dismal, with the ashes of the fire that was burning on that memorable night yet in the discoloured grate.