Silas Wegg is a one-legged shyster of a street vendor who makes claims of great literary talents. When the poor Boffin family inherits some money, they hire Wegg to teach Mr. Boffin to read. As he is charging the Boffins a hefty fee for his services (even though he's not quite as well-read as he professes), he tries to buy back his leg from a local taxidermist who bought it from the hospital. His true nature shows itself when he comes across some information that threatens the Boffins' new fortune and he tries to blackmail them in order to receive a portion of the estate. His plot is eventually foiled.