BOOK THE FIRST: THE CUP AND THE LIP
Chapter 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 inkstand.
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