Part 1, Chapters 8-10 Summary
Mr. Boffin keeps an appointment with his lawyer, Mr. Lightwood, wanting to create a “tight” will to ensure that all his fortune (estimated at 100,000 pounds) will be left absolutely to Mrs. Boffin. He tells Mr. Lightwood that he is offering a reward of ten thousand pounds to the person who solves the murder of John Harmon, but Mr. Lightwood warns that this large amount may bring out more misinformation from scoundrels than the truth. Mr. Boffin tells of the last time he saw John Harmon, when John was a young boy being sent abroad to school. As he is leaving the lawyer’s office, Eugene Wrayburn enters. Mr. Lightwood introduces the two gentlemen. Outside of the office, a stranger approaches Mr. Boffin, explaining that he had been pointed out to him on the streets and has wished to speak with him. He introduces himself as Rokesmith and mentions that he is lodging with the Wilfers. Mr. Boffin knows Bella Wilfer. Rokesmith offers his services as a secretary to Mr. Boffin, who is not sure exactly what kind of services a secretary would provide, explaining to Rokesmith that he already has Mr. Wegg as his “literary man.” Mr. Rokesmith suggests that they meet further, to which Mr. Boffin agrees in a week or two.
On arriving home, Mr. Boffin is greeted by Mrs. Boffin’s announcement that they must begin to live up to their new position in society. She proposes offering a home to Bella Wilfer, who tragically lost her future husband. She also would like to adopt an orphan boy, rename him John Harmon, and bring him up as a tribute to their late employer’s son. Mr. Boffin agrees to all this, and the Boffins go to the home of the Reverend Mr. Milvey, who promises to find a suitable orphan for them. Mr. and Mrs. Boffin then go to the Wilfer home and make their proposal to Bella. Mrs. Wilfer feels herself superior to the former servants. She calls in Bella to let her decide. Her other daughter, Lavinia, also arrives along with her gentleman friend, George Sampson. After some acrimonious conversation among the Wilfers, Bella agrees to the Boffins’ proposal. Mr. Boffin asks about their lodger, Mr. Rokesmith, to whom he refers as “Our Mutual Friend.” As they leave, Mr. Rokesmith arrives. He is startled when he hears Mrs. Boffin tell Bella that she will soon be introduced to little John Harmon. She explains her plans for adoption to Rokesmith.
Two friends of the Veneerings, Alfred Lammle and Sophronia Akershem, are married, each believing that the other is a person of property. On their honeymoon, they discover that each one had been deceiving the other. After the initial outrage, the Lammles decide to treat the world as they have treated each other and vow to deceive and take advantage of everyone they know.