Charles Dickens

I then found that Wemmick was the clerk in the next room. Another

clerk was rung down from up-stairs to take his place while he was

out, and I accompanied him into the street, after shaking hands

with my guardian. We found a new set of people lingering outside,

but Wemmick made a way among them by saying coolly yet decisively,

"I tell you it's no use; he won't have a word to say to one of

you;" and we soon got clear of them, and went on side by side.

Chapter 21

Casting my eyes on Mr. Wemmick as we went along, to see what he was

like in the light of day, I found him to be a dry man, rather short

in stature, with a square wooden face, whose expression seemed to

have been imperfectly chipped out with a dull-edged chisel. There

were some marks in it that might have been dimples, if the material

had been softer and the instrument finer, but which, as it was,

were only dints. The chisel had made three or four of these

attempts at embellishment over his nose, but had given them up

without an effort to smooth them off. I judged him to be a bachelor

from the frayed condition of his linen, and he appeared to have

sustained a good many bereavements; for, he wore at least four

mourning rings, besides a brooch representing a lady and a weeping

willow at a tomb with an urn on it. I noticed, too, that several

rings and seals hung at his watch chain, as if he were quite laden

with remembrances of departed friends. He had glittering eyes -

small, keen, and black - and thin wide mottled lips. He had had

them, to the best of my belief, from forty to fifty years.

"So you were never in London before?" said Mr. Wemmick to me.

"No," said I.

"I was new here once," said Mr. Wemmick. "Rum to think of now!"

"You are well acquainted with it now?"

"Why, yes," said Mr. Wemmick. "I know the moves of it."

"Is it a very wicked place?" I asked, more for the sake of saying

something than for information.

"You may get cheated, robbed, and murdered, in London. But there

are plenty of people anywhere, who'll do that for you."

"If there is bad blood between you and them," said I, to soften it

off a little.

"Oh! I don't know about bad blood," returned Mr. Wemmick; "there's

not much bad blood about. They'll do it, if there's anything to be

got by it."

"That makes it worse."

"You think so?" returned Mr. Wemmick. "Much about the same, I should


He wore his hat on the back of his head, and looked straight before

him: walking in a self-contained way as if there were nothing in

the streets to claim his attention. His mouth was such a postoffice

of a mouth that he had a mechanical appearance of smiling. We had

got to the top of Holborn Hill before I knew that it was merely a

mechanical appearance, and that he was not smiling at all.

"Do you know where Mr. Matthew Pocket lives?" I asked Mr. Wemmick.

"Yes," said he, nodding in the direction. "At Hammersmith, west of


"Is that far?"

"Well! Say five miles."

"Do you know him?"

"Why, you're a regular cross-examiner!" said Mr. Wemmick, looking at

me with an approving air. "Yes, I know him. I know him!"

There was an air of toleration or depreciation about his utterance

of these words, that rather depressed me; and I was still looking

sideways at his block of a face in search of any encouraging note

to the text, when he said here we were at Barnard's Inn. My

depression was not alleviated by the announcement, for, I had

supposed that establishment to be an hotel kept by Mr. Barnard, to

which the Blue Boar in our town was a mere public-house. Whereas I

now found Barnard to be a disembodied spirit, or a fiction, and his

inn the dingiest collection of shabby buildings ever squeezed

together in a rank corner as a club for Tom-cats.

We entered this haven through a wicket-gate, and were disgorged by

an introductory passage into a melancholy little square that looked

to me like a flat burying-ground.