Our Mutual Friend
9. In Which The Orphan Makes His Will
The Secretary, working in the Dismal Swamp betimes next morning, was
informed that a youth waited in the hall who gave the name of Sloppy. The
footman who communicated this intelligence made a decent pause before
uttering the name, to express that it was forced on his reluctance by the youth in
question, and that if the youth had had the good sense and good taste to inherit
some other name it would have spared the feelings of him the bearer.
'Mrs Boffin will be very well pleased,' said the Secretary in a perfectly composed
way. 'Show him in.'
Mr Sloppy being introduced, remained close to the door: revealing in various
parts of his form many surprising, confounding, and incomprehensible buttons.
'I am glad to see you,' said John Rokesmith, in a cheerful tone of welcome. 'I
have been expecting you.'
Sloppy explained that he had meant to come before, but that the Orphan (of
whom he made mention as Our Johnny) had been ailing, and he had waited to
report him well.
'Then he is well now?' said the Secretary.
'No he ain't,' said Sloppy.
Mr Sloppy having shaken his head to a considerable extent, proceeded to remark
that he thought Johnny 'must have took 'em from the Minders.' Being asked what
he meant, he answered, them that come out upon him and partickler his chest.
Being requested to explain himself, he stated that there was some of 'em wot you
couldn't kiver with a sixpence. Pressed to fall back upon a nominative case, he
opined that they wos about as red as ever red could be. 'But as long as they
strikes out'ards, sir,' continued Sloppy, 'they ain't so much. It's their striking
in'ards that's to be kep off.'
John Rokesmith hoped the child had had medical attendance? Oh yes, said
Sloppy, he had been took to the doctor's shop once. And what did the doctor call
it? Rokesmith asked him. After some perplexed reflection, Sloppy answered,
brightening, 'He called it something as wos wery long for spots.' Rokesmith
suggested measles. 'No,' said Sloppy with confidence, 'ever so much longer than
THEM, sir!' (Mr Sloppy was elevated by this fact, and seemed to consider that it
reflected credit on the poor little patient.)