I'm reading the novel"A Christmas Carol" .
"Now what have we here?"said old Joe,opening the woman's bandle.
(woman were going to sell bandle to old Joe).
I can't understand the sentence"Now what have we here?"
Please tell me the meaning of this sentence.
"Now what have we here?" is usually a rhetorical question - the person asking it sees the items in question and may well know what they are, but he is asking the owner of the goods to describe them.
In this case, the woman has a bundle (not "bandle") of goods for sale. At a glance, Joe can determine a few of the items contained in the bundle, but for a more thorough description he needs the woman's help. "What have we here?" is his way of asking her to detail each item in her bundle that is for sale.