Our Mutual Friend Part 3, Chapters 5-7 Summary

Charles Dickens

Part 3, Chapters 5-7 Summary

Mr. Boffin is finally ready to talk wages with Mr. Rokesmith. He offers his secretary two hundred pounds a year, which Rokesmith views as fair. Mr. Boffin tells Rokesmith that he “buys” him on a round-the-clock basis. Mrs. Boffin thinks that he has been too strict with Rokesmith. Mr. Boffin tells Bella that her good looks will make money for her, and he urges her to use them to her own advantage. This also bothers Mrs. Boffin, as it does Bella, despite having told herself the same thing. In the following days, Mr. Boffin has Bella buy him books on the lives of misers. She notices that Mr. Boffin is becoming a miser himself. Sophronia Lammle becomes captivated by Bella, now that she has stopped her husband’s machinations of Georgiana Podsnap. Bella confides in her concerning Rokesmith and his rejected marriage proposal, though Bella questions her own motives. Mr. Boffin complains to Rokesmith that he is spending too much of Mr. Boffin’s money. He orders Rokesmith to leave his separate lodgings and move into the Boffin home so he may always be available. Mrs. Boffin becomes upset at the change in her husband.

Mr. Boffin does not show up at the Bower for the usual historical readings with Mr. Wegg. Mr. Venus arrives, however, and Wegg welcomes him in. Mr. Boffin arrives after all, carrying several books on the lives of misers to replace Wegg’s histories. Wegg reads a chapter titled “The Treasures of a Dunghill,” as well as others on the same theme, reminding Wegg and Venus of their secret business of finding valuables in the dust heaps. Mr. Boffin is inspired to go out alone to examine the dust heaps. Wegg watches him anxiously, especially when Boffin finds a bottle in the dust. Boffin returns to tell Wegg that he is selling the dust heaps, and they will be carted off the following day. Wegg wants to follow Mr. Boffin and snatch the bottle back, but Mr. Venus struggles with him and keeps him from doing so. Finally calm, Wegg tells Venus that he found a cash box in the dust heap. Inside was a parchment labeled “My Will, John Harmon, Temporarily Deposited Here.” The will stipulates that Boffin is to receive the little dust heap, and the rest of the estate will go to the Crown. Wegg found out that this will is more recent that that by which Boffin received the whole estate. The two men go to Venus’s shop to examine the will, lest Mr. Boffin return to the Bower. Venus decides he will keep the will, not trusting Wegg to keep it safe. Venus reveals that it is Pleasant Riderhood who rejected his marriage proposal. Wegg reflects that Mr. Boffin has grown too fond of money.