Our Mutual Friend
15. Two New Servants
Mr and Mrs Boffin sat after breakfast, in the Bower, a prey to prosperity. Mr
Boffin's face denoted Care and Complication. Many disordered papers were
before him, and he looked at them about as hopefully as an innocent civilian
might look at a crowd of troops whom he was required at five minutes' notice to
manoeuvre and review. He had been engaged in some attempts to make notes
of these papers; but being troubled (as men of his stamp often are) with an
exceedingly distrustful and corrective thumb, that busy member had so often
interposed to smear his notes, that they were little more legible than the various
impressions of itself; which blurred his nose and forehead. It is curious to
consider, in such a case as Mr Boffin's, what a cheap article ink is, and how far it
may be made to go. As a grain of musk will scent a drawer for many years, and
still lose nothing appreciable of its original weight, so a halfpenny-worth of ink
would blot Mr Boffin to the roots of his hair and the calves of his legs, without
inscribing a line on the paper before him, or appearing to diminish in the
Mr Boffin was in such severe literary difficulties that his eyes were prominent and
fixed, and his breathing was stertorous, when, to the great relief of Mrs Boffin,
who observed these symptoms with alarm, the yard bell rang.
'Who's that, I wonder!' said Mrs Boffin.
Mr Boffin drew a long breath, laid down his pen, looked at his notes as doubting
whether he had the pleasure of their acquaintance, and appeared, on a second
perusal of their countenances, to be confirmed in his impression that he had not,
when there was announced by the hammer-headed young man:
'Oh!' said Mr Boffin. 'Oh indeed! Our and the Wilfers' Mutual Friend, my dear.
Yes. Ask him to come in.'
Mr Rokesmith appeared.
'Sit down, sir,' said Mr Boffin, shaking hands with him. 'Mrs Boffin you're already
acquainted with. Well, sir, I am rather unprepared to see you, for, to tell you the
truth, I've been so busy with one thing and another, that I've not had time to turn
your offer over.'
'That's apology for both of us: for Mr Boffin, and for me as well,' said the smiling
Mrs Boffin. 'But Lor! we can talk it over now; can't us?'