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Our Mutual Friend

17. A Dismal Swamp
And now, in the blooming summer days, behold Mr and Mrs Boffin established in
the eminently aristocratic family mansion, and behold all manner of crawling,
creeping, fluttering, and buzzing creatures, attracted by the gold dust of the
Golden Dustman!
Foremost among those leaving cards at the eminently aristocratic door before it
is quite painted, are the Veneerings: out of breath, one might imagine, from the
impetuosity of their rush to the eminently aristocratic steps. One copper-plate Mrs
Veneering, two copper-plate Mr Veneerings, and a connubial copper-plate Mr
and Mrs Veneering, requesting the honour of Mr and Mrs Boffin's company at
dinner with the utmost Analytical solemnities. The enchanting Lady Tippins
leaves a card. Twemlow leaves cards. A tall custard-coloured phaeton tooling up
in a solemn manner leaves four cards, to wit, a couple of Mr Podsnaps, a Mrs
Podsnap, and a Miss Podsnap. All the world and his wife and daughter leave
cards. Sometimes the world's wife has so many daughters, that her card reads
rather like a Miscellaneous Lot at an Auction; comprising Mrs Tapkins, Miss
Tapkins, Miss Frederica Tapkins, Miss Antonina Tapkins, Miss Malvina Tapkins,
and Miss Euphemia Tapkins; at the same time, the same lady leaves the card of
Mrs Henry George Alfred Swoshle, NEE Tapkins; also, a card, Mrs Tapkins at
Home, Wednesdays, Music, Portland Place.
Miss Bella Wilfer becomes an inmate, for an indefinite period, of the eminently
aristocratic dwelling. Mrs Boffin bears Miss Bella away to her Milliner's and
Dressmaker's, and she gets beautifully dressed. The Veneerings find with swift
remorse that they have omitted to invite Miss Bella Wilfer. One Mrs Veneering
and one Mr and Mrs Veneering requesting that additional honour, instantly do
penance in white cardboard on the hall table. Mrs Tapkins likewise discovers her
omission, and with promptitude repairs it; for herself; for Miss Tapkins, for Miss
Frederica Tapkins, for Miss Antonina Tapkins, for Miss Malvina Tapkins, and for
Miss Euphemia Tapkins. Likewise, for Mrs Henry George Alfred Swoshle NEE
Tapkins. Likewise, for Mrs Tapkins at Home, Wednesdays, Music, Portland
Place.
Tradesmen's books hunger, and tradesmen's mouths water, for the gold dust of
the Golden Dustman. As Mrs Boffin and Miss Wilfer drive out, or as Mr Boffin
walks out at his jog-trot pace, the fishmonger pulls off his hat with an air of
reverence founded on conviction. His men cleanse their fingers on their woollen
aprons before presuming to touch their foreheads to Mr Boffin or Lady. The
gaping salmon and the golden mullet lying on the slab seem to turn up their eyes
sideways, as they would turn up their hands if they had any, in worshipping
admiration. The butcher, though a portly and a prosperous man, doesn't know
 
 
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