Our Mutual Friend Part 1, Chapters 14-17 Summary

Charles Dickens

Part 1, Chapters 14-17 Summary

Riderhood suggests that since they cannot find Gaffer, they should go and apprehend his daughter, Lizzie. Wrayburn contemptuously puts this idea down. He and Lightwood go with Riderhood to drag the boat in and are shocked to discover Gaffer’s body tied behind it. The inspector takes charge of the body, and Lightwood suggests that they go tell Lizzie of her father’s death. He turns to talk to Wrayburn and finds that he has disappeared. He returns home and goes to bed after his long night. When he awakens, he finds that Wrayburn has returned home as well, explaining that he had had enough of the investigation and had gone for a walk.

Mr. Boffin attempts to understand what Mr. Rokesmith meant when he offered to be his secretary, thinking it was the article of furniture. At Mr. Rokesmith’s clarification, Mr. Boffin, encouraged by Mrs. Boffin, readily agrees. He tells Rokesmith that he is planning on moving to a new and bigger home and wishes Rokesmith to take charge of the business of managing the redecorating. He plans to keep Boffin’s Bower as a memorial to his late employer. He reassigns Wegg from literary man to caretaker of Boffin’s Bower, not wanting Wegg to have his stall perched in front of his new mansion. Mrs. Boffin tells her husband that she has seen the ghosts of old Mr. Harmon and his two children in the house, but she takes some comfort that they have returned to their old home.

Mr. Rokesmith makes it his business to know everything about Mr. Boffin’s finances. His thoroughness does not attract the suspicion of Mr. Boffin, since he appreciates someone else's taking over that area of his affairs. Rokesmith’s only condition is that he does not want to have any face-to-face connection with Mortimer Lightwood, Mr. Boffin’s solicitor. He has no objection to writing to him, but does not want to meet him because of a past conflict about which Mr. Lightwood knows nothing. Mr. and Mrs. Boffin continue their search for an orphan and finally find one in the grandson of Mrs. Betty Higden through Mr. Rokesmith’s endeavors. Arrangements are made, giving Mrs. Higden some relief in knowing her grandson will receive the life that she is no longer able to give him. Mr. Rokesmith meets Bella Wilfer and informs her that Mrs. Boffin will be ready to receive her into her home in a week or two. Rokesmith remarks to himself that her personality is unpleasant, but her appearance is pretty.

Mr. and Mrs. Boffin at last move into their new mansion. They are called upon by the best in society (Mr. Veneering’s crowd) as well as solicited by various charities. Mr. Rokesmith, as the secretary, discovers the marital secrets of many families, as husbands request loans from Mr. Boffin without their wives' consent and vice versa.