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Charles Dickens > Our Mutual Friend > Book 1 - 8

Our Mutual Friend

Book 1 - 8


Whosoever had gone out of Fleet Street into the Temple at the date
of this history, and had wandered disconsolate about the Temple
until he stumbled on a dismal churchyard, and had looked up at the
dismal windows commanding that churchyard until at the most
dismal window of them all he saw a dismal boy, would in him
have beheld, at one grand comprehensive swoop of the eye, the
managing clerk, junior clerk, common-law clerk, conveyancing
clerk, chancery clerk, every refinement and department of clerk, of
Mr Mortimer Lightwood, erewhile called in the newspapers
eminent solicitor.

Mr Boffin having been several times in communication with this
clerkly essence, both on its own ground and at the Bower, had no
difficulty in identifying it when he saw it up in its dusty eyrie. To
the second floor on which the window was situated, he ascended,
much pre-occupied in mind by the uncertainties besetting the
Roman Empire, and much regretting the death of the amiable
Pertinax: who only last night had left the Imperial affairs in a state
of great confusion, by falling a victim to the fury of the praetorian

'Morning, morning, morning!' said Mr Boffin, with a wave of his
hand, as the office door was opened by the dismal boy, whose
appropriate name was Blight. 'Governor in?'

'Mr Lightwood gave you an appointment, sir, I think?'

'I don't want him to give it, you know,' returned Mr Boffin; 'I'll pay
my way, my boy.'

'No doubt, sir. Would you walk in? Mr Lightwood ain't in at the
present moment, but I expect him back very shortly. Would you
take a seat in Mr Lightwood's room, sir, while I look over our
Appointment Book?' Young Blight made a great show of fetching
from his desk a long thin manuscript volume with a brown paper
cover, and running his finger down the day's appointments,
murmuring, 'Mr Aggs, Mr Baggs, Mr Caggs, Mr Daggs, Mr
Faggs, Mr Gaggs, Mr Boffin. Yes, sir; quite right. You are a little
before your time, sir. Mr Lightwood will be in directly.'

'I'm not in a hurry,' said Mr Boffin

'Thank you, sir. I'll take the opportunity, if you please, of entering
your name in our Callers' Book for the day.' Young Blight made
another great show of changing the volume, taking up a pen,
sucking it, dipping it, and running over previous entries before he
wrote. As, 'Mr Alley, Mr Balley, Mr Calley, Mr Dalley, Mr
Falley, Mr Galley, Mr Halley, Mr Lalley, Mr Malley. And Mr

'Strict system here; eh, my lad?' said Mr Boffin, as he was booked.

'Yes, sir,' returned the boy. 'I couldn't get on without it.'

By which he probably meant that his mind would have been
shattered to pieces without this fiction of an occupation. Wearing
in his solitary confinement no fetters that he could polish, and
being provided with no drinking-cup that he could carve, be had
fallen on the device of ringing alphabetical changes into the two
volumes in question, or of entering vast numbers of persons out of
the Directory as transacting business with Mr Lightwood. It was
the more necessary for his spirits, because, being of a sensitive
temperament, he was apt to consider it personally disgraceful to
himself that his master had no clients.

'How long have you been in the law, now?' asked Mr Boffin, with
a pounce, in his usual inquisitive way.

'I've been in the law, now, sir, about three years.'

'Must have been as good as born in it!' said Mr Boffin, with
admiration. 'Do you like it?'

'I don't mind it much,' returned Young Blight, heaving a sigh, as if
its bitterness were past.

'What wages do you get?'

'Half what I could wish,' replied young Blight.

'What's the whole that you could wish?'

'Fifteen shillings a week,' said the boy.

'About how long might it take you now, at a average rate of going,
to be a Judge?' asked Mr Boffin, after surveying his small stature
in silence.

The boy answered that he had not yet quite worked out that little

'I suppose there's nothing to prevent your going in for it?' said Mr

The boy virtually replied that as he had the honour to be a Briton
who never never never, there was nothing to prevent his going in
for it. Yet he seemed inclined to suspect that there might be
something to prevent his coming out with it.

'Would a couple of pound help you up at all?' asked Mr Boffin.

On this head, young Blight had no doubt whatever, so Mr Boffin
made him a present of that sum of money, and thanked him for his
attention to his (Mr Boffin's) affairs; which, he added, were now,
he believed, as good as settled.

Then Mr Boffin, with his stick at his ear, like a Familiar Spirit
explaining the office to him, sat staring at a little bookcase of Law
Practice and Law Reports, and at a window, and at an empty blue
bag, and at a stick of sealing-wax, and a pen, and a box of wafers,
and an apple, and a writing-pad--all very dusty--and at a number of
inky smears and blots, and at an imperfectly-disguised gun-case
pretending to be something legal, and at an iron box labelled
HARMON ESTATE, until Mr Lightwood appeared.

Mr Lightwood explained that he came from the proctor's, with
whom he had been engaged in transacting Mr Boffin's affairs.

'And they seem to have taken a deal out of you!' said Mr Boffin,
with commiseration.

Mr Lightwood, without explaining that his weariness was chronic,
proceeded with his exposition that, all forms of law having been at
length complied with, will of Harmon deceased having been
proved, death of Harmon next inheriting having been proved, &c.,
and so forth, Court of Chancery having been moved, &c. and so
forth, he, Mr Lightwood, had now the gratification, honour, and
happiness, again &c. and so forth, of congratulating Mr Boffin on
coming into possession as residuary legatee, of upwards of one
hundred thousand pounds, standing in the books of the Governor
and Company of the Bank of England, again &c. and so forth.

'And what is particularly eligible in the property Mr Boffin, is, that
it involves no trouble. There are no estates to manage, no rents to
return so much per cent upon in bad times (which is an extremely
dear way of getting your name into the newspapers), no voters to
become parboiled in hot water with, no agents to take the cream off
the milk before it comes to table. You could put the whole in a
cash-box to-morrow morning, and take it with you to--say, to the
Rocky Mountains. Inasmuch as every man,' concluded Mr
Lightwood, with an indolent smile, 'appears to be under a fatal
spell which obliges him, sooner or later, to mention the Rocky
Mountains in a tone of extreme familiarity to some other man, I
hope you'll excuse my pressing you into the service of that gigantic
range of geographical bores.'

Without following this last remark very closely, Mr Boffin cast his
perplexed gaze first at the ceiling, and then at the carpet.

'Well,' he remarked, 'I don't know what to say about it, I am sure. I
was a'most as well as I was. It's a great lot to take care of.'

'My dear Mr Boffin, then DON'T take care of it!'

'Eh?' said that gentleman.

'Speaking now,' returned Mortimer, 'with the irresponsible
imbecility of a private individual, and not with the profundity of a
professional adviser, I should say that if the circumstance of its
being too much, weighs upon your mind, you have the haven of
consolation open to you that you can easily make it less. And if
you should be apprehensive of the trouble of doing so, there is the
further haven of consolation that any number of people will take
the trouble off your hands.'

'Well! I don't quite see it,' retorted Mr Boffin, still perplexed.
'That's not satisfactory, you know, what you're a-saying.'

'Is Anything satisfactory, Mr Boffin?' asked Mortimer, raising his

'I used to find it so,' answered Mr Boffin, with a wistful look.
'While I was foreman at the Bower--afore it WAS the Bower--I
considered the business very satisfactory. The old man was a
awful Tartar (saying it, I'm sure, without disrespect to his memory)
but the business was a pleasant one to look after, from before
daylight to past dark. It's a'most a pity,' said Mr Boffin, rubbing
his ear, 'that he ever went and made so much money. It would
have been better for him if he hadn't so given himself up to it. You
may depend upon it,' making the discovery all of a sudden, 'that
HE found it a great lot to take care of!'

Mr Lightwood coughed, not convinced.

'And speaking of satisfactory,' pursued Mr Boffin, 'why, Lord
save us! when we come to take it to pieces, bit by bit, where's the
satisfactoriness of the money as yet? When the old man does right
the poor boy after all, the poor boy gets no good of it. He gets
made away with, at the moment when he's lifting (as one may say)
the cup and sarser to his lips. Mr Lightwood, I will now name to
you, that on behalf of the poor dear boy, me and Mrs Boffin have
stood out against the old man times out of number, till he has
called us every name be could lay his tongue to. I have seen him,
after Mrs Boffin has given him her mind respecting the claims of
the nat'ral affections, catch off Mrs Boffin's bonnet (she wore, in
general, a black straw, perched as a matter of convenience on the
top of her head), and send it spinning across the yard. I have
indeed. And once, when he did this in a manner that amounted to
personal, I should have given him a rattler for himself, if Mrs
Boffin hadn't thrown herself betwixt us, and received flush on the
temple. Which dropped her, Mr Lightwood. Dropped her.'

Mr Lightwood murmured 'Equal honour--Mrs Boffin's head and

'You understand; I name this,' pursued Mr Boffin, 'to show you,
now the affairs are wound up, that me and Mrs Boffin have ever
stood as we were in Christian honour bound, the children's friend.
Me and Mrs Boffin stood the poor girl's friend; me and Mrs Boffin
stood the poor boy's friend; me and Mrs Boffin up and faced the
old man when we momently expected to be turned out for our
pains. As to Mrs Boffin,' said Mr Boffin lowering his voice, 'she
mightn't wish it mentioned now she's Fashionable, but she went so
far as to tell him, in my presence, he was a flinty-hearted rascal.'

Mr Lightwood murmured 'Vigorous Saxon spirit--Mrs Boffin's
ancestors--bowmen--Agincourt and Cressy.'

'The last time me and Mrs Boffin saw the poor boy,' said Mr
Boffin, warming (as fat usually does) with a tendency to melt, 'he
was a child of seven year old. For when he came back to make
intercession for his sister, me and Mrs Boffin were away
overlooking a country contract which was to be sifted before
carted, and he was come and gone in a single hour. I say he was a
child of seven year old. He was going away, all alone and forlorn,
to that foreign school, and he come into our place, situate up the
yard of the present Bower, to have a warm at our fire. There was
his little scanty travelling clothes upon him. There was his little
scanty box outside in the shivering wind, which I was going to
carry for him down to the steamboat, as the old man wouldn't hear
of allowing a sixpence coach-money. Mrs Boffin, then quite a
young woman and pictur of a full-blown rose, stands him by her,
kneels down at the fire, warms her two open hands, and falls to
rubbing his cheeks; but seeing the tears come into the child's eyes,
the tears come fast into her own, and she holds him round the
neck, like as if she was protecting him, and cries to me, "I'd give
the wide wide world, I would, to run away with him!" I don't say
but what it cut me, and but what it at the same time heightened my
feelings of admiration for Mrs Boffin. The poor child clings to her
for awhile, as she clings to him, and then, when the old man calls,
he says "I must go! God bless you!" and for a moment rests his
heart against her bosom, and looks up at both of us, as if it was in
pain--in agony. Such a look! I went aboard with him (I gave him
first what little treat I thought he'd like), and I left him when he
had fallen asleep in his berth, and I came back to Mrs Boffin. But
tell her what I would of how I had left him, it all went for nothing,
for, according to her thoughts, he never changed that look that he
had looked up at us two. But it did one piece of good. Mrs Boffin
and me had no child of our own, and had sometimes wished that
how we had one. But not now. "We might both of us die," says
Mrs Boffin, "and other eyes might see that lonely look in our
child." So of a night, when it was very cold, or when the wind
roared, or the rain dripped heavy, she would wake sobbing, and
call out in a fluster, "Don't you see the poor child's face? O shelter
the poor child!"--till in course of years it gently wore out, as many
things do.'

'My dear Mr Boffin, everything wears to rags,' said Mortimer, with
a light laugh.

'I won't go so far as to say everything,' returned Mr Boffin, on
whom his manner seemed to grate, 'because there's some things
that I never found among the dust. Well, sir. So Mrs Boffin and
me grow older and older in the old man's service, living and
working pretty hard in it, till the old man is discovered dead in his
bed. Then Mrs Boffin and me seal up his box, always standing on
the table at the side of his bed, and having frequently heerd tell of
the Temple as a spot where lawyer's dust is contracted for, I come
down here in search of a lawyer to advise, and I see your young
man up at this present elevation, chopping at the flies on the
window-sill with his penknife, and I give him a Hoy! not then
having the pleasure of your acquaintance, and by that means come
to gain the honour. Then you, and the gentleman in the
uncomfortable neck-cloth under the little archway in Saint Paul's

'Doctors' Commons,' observed Lightwood.

'I understood it was another name,' said Mr Boffin, pausing, 'but
you know best. Then you and Doctor Scommons, you go to work,
and you do the thing that's proper, and you and Doctor S. take
steps for finding out the poor boy, and at last you do find out the
poor boy, and me and Mrs Boffin often exchange the observation,
"We shall see him again, under happy circumstances." But it was
never to be; and the want of satisfactoriness is, that after all the
money never gets to him.'

'But it gets,' remarked Lightwood, with a languid inclination of the
head, 'into excellent hands.'

'It gets into the hands of me and Mrs Boffin only this very day and
hour, and that's what I am working round to, having waited for
this day and hour a' purpose. Mr Lightwood, here has been a
wicked cruel murder. By that murder me and Mrs Boffin
mysteriously profit. For the apprehension and conviction of the
murderer, we offer a reward of one tithe of the property--a reward
of Ten Thousand Pound.'

'Mr Boffin, it's too much.'

'Mr Lightwood, me and Mrs Boffin have fixed the sum together,
and we stand to it.'

'But let me represent to you,' returned Lightwood, 'speaking now
with professional profundity, and not with individual imbecility,
that the offer of such an immense reward is a temptation to forced
suspicion, forced construction of circumstances, strained
accusation, a whole tool-box of edged tools.'

'Well,' said Mr Boffin, a little staggered, 'that's the sum we put o'
one side for the purpose. Whether it shall be openly declared in the
new notices that must now be put about in our names--'

'In your name, Mr Boffin; in your name.'

'Very well; in my name, which is the same as Mrs Boffin's, and
means both of us, is to be considered in drawing 'em up. But this
is the first instruction that I, as the owner of the property, give to
my lawyer on coming into it.'

'Your lawyer, Mr Boffin,' returned Lightwood, making a very short
note of it with a very rusty pen, 'has the gratification of taking the
instruction. There is another?'

'There is just one other, and no more. Make me as compact a little
will as can be reconciled with tightness, leaving the whole of the
property to "my beloved wife, Henerietty Boffin, sole executrix".
Make it as short as you can, using those words; but make it tight.'

At some loss to fathom Mr Boffin's notions of a tight will,
Lightwood felt his way.

'I beg your pardon, but professional profundity must be exact.
When you say tight--'

'I mean tight,' Mr Boffin explained.

'Exactly so. And nothing can be more laudable. But is the
tightness to bind Mrs Boffin to any and what conditions?'

'Bind Mrs Boffin?' interposed her husband. 'No! What are you
thinking of! What I want is, to make it all hers so tight as that her
hold of it can't be loosed.'

'Hers freely, to do what she likes with? Hers absolutely?'

'Absolutely?' repeated Mr Boffin, with a short sturdy laugh. 'Hah!
I should think so! It would be handsome in me to begin to bind
Mrs Boffin at this time of day!'

So that instruction, too, was taken by Mr Lightwood; and Mr
Lightwood, having taken it, was in the act of showing Mr Boffin
out, when Mr Eugene Wrayburn almost jostled him in the door-
way. Consequently Mr Lightwood said, in his cool manner, 'Let
me make you two known to one another,' and further signified that
Mr Wrayburn was counsel learned in the law, and that, partly in
the way of business and partly in the way of pleasure, he had
imparted to Mr Wrayburn some of the interesting facts of Mr
Boffin's biography.

'Delighted,' said Eugene--though he didn't look so--'to know Mr

'Thankee, sir, thankee,' returned that gentleman. 'And how do
YOU like the law?'

'A--not particularly,' returned Eugene.

'Too dry for you, eh? Well, I suppose it wants some years of
sticking to, before you master it. But there's nothing like work.
Look at the bees.'

'I beg your pardon,' returned Eugene, with a reluctant smile, 'but
will you excuse my mentioning that I always protest against being
referred to the bees?'

'Do you!' said Mr Boffin.

'I object on principle,' said Eugene, 'as a biped--'

'As a what?' asked Mr Boffin.

'As a two-footed creature;--I object on principle, as a two-footed
creature, to being constantly referred to insects and four-footed
creatures. I object to being required to model my proceedings
according to the proceedings of the bee, or the dog, or the spider, or
the camel. I fully admit that the camel, for instance, is an
excessively temperate person; but he has several stomachs to
entertain himself with, and I have only one. Besides, I am not
fitted up with a convenient cool cellar to keep my drink in.'

'But I said, you know,' urged Mr Boffin, rather at a loss for an
answer, 'the bee.'

'Exactly. And may I represent to you that it's injudicious to say the
bee? For the whole case is assumed. Conceding for a moment that
there is any analogy between a bee, and a man in a shirt and
pantaloons (which I deny), and that it is settled that the man is to
learn from the bee (which I also deny), the question still remains,
what is he to learn? To imitate? Or to avoid? When your friends
the bees worry themselves to that highly fluttered extent about their
sovereign, and become perfectly distracted touching the slightest
monarchical movement, are we men to learn the greatness of Tuft-
hunting, or the littleness of the Court Circular? I am not clear, Mr
Boffin, but that the hive may be satirical.'

'At all events, they work,' said Mr Boffin.

'Ye-es,' returned Eugene, disparagingly, 'they work; but don't you
think they overdo it? They work so much more than they need--
they make so much more than they can eat--they are so incessantly
boring and buzzing at their one idea till Death comes upon them--
that don't you think they overdo it? And are human labourers to
have no holidays, because of the bees? And am I never to have
change of air, because the bees don't? Mr Boffin, I think honey
excellent at breakfast; but, regarded in the light of my conventional
schoolmaster and moralist, I protest against the tyrannical humbug
of your friend the bee. With the highest respect for you.'

'Thankee,' said Mr Boffin. 'Morning, morning!'

But, the worthy Mr Boffin jogged away with a comfortless
impression he could have dispensed with, that there was a deal of
unsatisfactoriness in the world, besides what he had recalled as
appertaining to the Harmon property. And he was still jogging
along Fleet Street in this condition of mind, when he became aware
that he was closely tracked and observed by a man of genteel

'Now then?' said Mr Boffin, stopping short, with his meditations
brought to an abrupt check, 'what's the next article?'

'I beg your pardon, Mr Boffin.'

'My name too, eh? How did you come by it? I don't know you.'

'No, sir, you don't know me.'

Mr Boffin looked full at the man, and the man looked full at him.

'No,' said Mr Boffin, after a glance at the pavement, as if it were
made of faces and he were trying to match the man's, 'I DON'T
know you.'

'I am nobody,' said the stranger, 'and not likely to be known; but
Mr Boffin's wealth--'

'Oh! that's got about already, has it?' muttered Mr Boffin.

'--And his romantic manner of acquiring it, make him conspicuous.
You were pointed out to me the other day.'

'Well,' said Mr Boffin, 'I should say I was a disappintment to you
when I WAS pinted out, if your politeness would allow you to
confess it, for I am well aware I am not much to look at. What
might you want with me? Not in the law, are you?'

'No, sir.'

'No information to give, for a reward?'

'No, sir.'

There may have been a momentary mantling in the face of the man
as he made the last answer, but it passed directly.

'If I don't mistake, you have followed me from my lawyer's and
tried to fix my attention. Say out! Have you? Or haven't you?'
demanded Mr Boffin, rather angry.


'Why have you?'

'If you will allow me to walk beside you, Mr Boffin, I will tell you.
Would you object to turn aside into this place--I think it is called
Clifford's Inn--where we can hear one another better than in the
roaring street?'

('Now,' thought Mr Boffin, 'if he proposes a game at skittles, or
meets a country gentleman just come into property, or produces
any article of jewellery he has found, I'll knock him down!' With
this discreet reflection, and carrying his stick in his arms much as
Punch carries his, Mr Boffin turned into Clifford's Inn aforesaid.)

'Mr Boffin, I happened to be in Chancery Lane this morning, when
I saw you going along before me. I took the liberty of following
you, trying to make up my mind to speak to you, till you went into
your lawyer's. Then I waited outside till you came out.'

('Don't quite sound like skittles, nor yet country gentleman, nor yet
jewellery,' thought Mr Boffin, 'but there's no knowing.')

'I am afraid my object is a bold one, I am afraid it has little of the
usual practical world about it, but I venture it. If you ask me, or if
you ask yourself--which is more likely--what emboldens me, I
answer, I have been strongly assured, that you are a man of
rectitude and plain dealing, with the soundest of sound hearts, and
that you are blessed in a wife distinguished by the same qualities.'

'Your information is true of Mrs Boffin, anyhow,' was Mr Boffin's
answer, as he surveyed his new friend again. There was
something repressed in the strange man's manner, and he walked
with his eyes on the ground--though conscious, for all that, of Mr
Boffin's observation--and he spoke in a subdued voice. But his
words came easily, and his voice was agreeable in tone, albeit

'When I add, I can discern for myself what the general tongue says
of you--that you are quite unspoiled by Fortune, and not uplifted--I
trust you will not, as a man of an open nature, suspect that I mean
to flatter you, but will believe that all I mean is to excuse myself,
these being my only excuses for my present intrusion.'

('How much?' thought Mr Boffin. 'It must be coming to money.
How much?')

'You will probably change your manner of living, Mr Boffin, in
your changed circumstances. You will probably keep a larger
house, have many matters to arrange, and be beset by numbers of
correspondents. If you would try me as your Secretary--'

'As WHAT?' cried Mr Boffin, with his eyes wide open.

'Your Secretary.'

'Well,' said Mr Boffin, under his breath, 'that's a queer thing!'

'Or,' pursued the stranger, wondering at Mr Boffin's wonder, 'if you
would try me as your man of business under any name, I know you
would find me faithful and grateful, and I hope you would find me
useful. You may naturally think that my immediate object is
money. Not so, for I would willingly serve you a year--two years--
any term you might appoint--before that should begin to be a
consideration between us.'

'Where do you come from?' asked Mr Boffin.

'I come,' returned the other, meeting his eye, 'from many countries.'

Boffin's acquaintances with the names and situations of foreign
lands being limited in extent and somewhat confused in quality, he
shaped his next question on an elastic model.

'From--any particular place?'

'I have been in many places.'

'What have you been?' asked Mr Boffin.

Here again he made no great advance, for the reply was, 'I have
been a student and a traveller.'

'But if it ain't a liberty to plump it out,' said Mr Boffin, 'what do
you do for your living?'

'I have mentioned,' returned the other, with another look at him,
and a smile, 'what I aspire to do. I have been superseded as to
some slight intentions I had, and I may say that I have now to
begin life.'

Not very well knowing how to get rid of this applicant, and
feeling the more embarrassed because his manner and appearance
claimed a delicacy in which the worthy Mr Boffin feared he
himself might be deficient, that gentleman glanced into the mouldy
little plantation or cat-preserve, of Clifford's Inn, as it was that day,
in search of a suggestion. Sparrows were there, cats were there,
dry-rot and wet-rot were there, but it was not otherwise a
suggestive spot.

'All this time,' said the stranger, producing a little pocket-book and
taking out a card, 'I have not mentioned my name. My name is
Rokesmith. I lodge at one Mr Wilfer's, at Holloway.'

Mr Boffin stared again.

'Father of Miss Bella Wilfer?' said he.

'My landlord has a daughter named Bella. Yes; no doubt.'

Now, this name had been more or less in Mr Boffin's thoughts all
the morning, and for days before; therefore he said:

'That's singular, too!' unconsciously staring again, past all bounds
of good manners, with the card in his hand. 'Though, by-the-bye, I
suppose it was one of that family that pinted me out?'

'No. I have never been in the streets with one of them.'

'Heard me talked of among 'em, though?'

'No. I occupy my own rooms, and have held scarcely any
communication with them.'

'Odder and odder!' said Mr Boffin. 'Well, sir, to tell you the truth, I
don't know what to say to you.'

'Say nothing,' returned Mr Rokesmith; 'allow me to call on you in a
few days. I am not so unconscionable as to think it likely that you
would accept me on trust at first sight, and take me out of the very
street. Let me come to you for your further opinion, at your

'That's fair, and I don't object,' said Mr Boffin; 'but it must be on
condition that it's fully understood that I no more know that I shall
ever be in want of any gentleman as Secretary--it WAS Secretary
you said; wasn't it?'


Again Mr Boffin's eyes opened wide, and he stared at the applicant
from head to foot, repeating 'Queer!--You're sure it was Secretary?
Are you?'

'I am sure I said so.'

--'As Secretary,' repeated Mr Boffin, meditating upon the word; 'I
no more know that I may ever want a Secretary, or what not, than I
do that I shall ever be in want of the man in the moon. Me and
Mrs Boffin have not even settled that we shall make any change in
our way of life. Mrs Boffin's inclinations certainly do tend towards
Fashion; but, being already set up in a fashionable way at the
Bower, she may not make further alterations. However, sir, as you
don't press yourself, I wish to meet you so far as saying, by all
means call at the Bower if you like. Call in the course of a week or
two. At the same time, I consider that I ought to name, in addition
to what I have already named, that I have in my employment a
literary man--WITH a wooden leg--as I have no thoughts of
parting from.'

'I regret to hear I am in some sort anticipated,' Mr Rokesmith
answered, evidently having heard it with surprise; 'but perhaps
other duties might arise?'

'You see,' returned Mr Boffin, with a confidential sense of dignity,
'as to my literary man's duties, they're clear. Professionally he
declines and he falls, and as a friend he drops into poetry.'

Without observing that these duties seemed by no means clear to
Mr Rokesmith's astonished comprehension, Mr Boffin went on:

'And now, sir, I'll wish you good-day. You can call at the Bower
any time in a week or two. It's not above a mile or so from you,
and your landlord can direct you to it. But as he may not know it
by it's new name of Boffin's Bower, say, when you inquire of him,
it's Harmon's; will you?'

'Harmoon's,' repeated Mr Rokesmith, seeming to have caught the
sound imperfectly, 'Harmarn's. How do you spell it?'

'Why, as to the spelling of it,' returned Mr Boffin, with great
presence of mind, 'that's YOUR look out. Harmon's is all you've
got to say to HIM. Morning, morning, morning!' And so departed,
without looking back.

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