Mr. Snagsby, a meek and obese law stationer, whose shop/residence is situated on Cook’s Court, Cursitor Street, is about to join his wife for afternoon tea (it is about 5 p.m.) when there is a knocking at the door. The Snagsbys’ housemaid Augusta, a.k.a. Guster on account of her inclination to have fits, answers the door when she beholds Mr. Tulkinghorn, the Dedlocks’ lawyer. Mr. Tulkinghorn asks for Mr. Snagsby.
Eating a bit of bread and butter, Mr. Snagsby emerges and welcomes Mr. Tulkinghorn as serving him will prove to be remunerative. Mr. Tulkinghorn asks Mr. Snagsby about some affidavits that Mr. Snagsby had copied for Mr. Tulkinghorn. Mr. Tulkinghorn wants to know just who exactly had copied them. Mr. Snagsby checks his files and informs the lawyer that a man named Nemo, who lives nearby, has copied them. Mr. Tulkinghorn asks to be taken to Nemo and Mr. Snagsby obliges. In Mr. Snagsby’s absence, his wife Mrs. Snagsby, a slim-waisted and frosty-nosed woman, who is wont to wear the pants in the house, will see to the shop’s operation.
On the street, Mr. Tulkinghorn and Mr. Snagsby pass clerks who are on their way to the post office and attorneys who are going home for dinner. Presently, when they arrive at Mr. Krook’s Rag and Bottle shop, Mr. Tulkinghorn asks to see Mr. Krook’s tenant. Mr. Krook asks if the tenant is male or female. Mr. Tulkinghorn replies male. Mr. Krook points in the direction of the male tenant’s room.
When no one answers the door, Mr. Tulkinghorn and Mr. Snagsby enter the room, which is as foul and filthy as a room could ever be. There is the smell of opium in the air. There is a man lying who is disheveled, ragged, and in poor health. Mr. Tulkinghorn calls out to the man.