The Golden Dustman Rises a Little

MR. and Mrs. Lammle had come to breakfast with Mr. and Mrs. Boffin. They were not absolutely uninvited, but had pressed themselves with so much urgency on the golden couple, that evasion of the honor and pleasure of their company would have been difficult, if desired. They were in a charming state of mind, were Mr. and Mrs. Lammle, and almost as fond of Mr. and Mrs. Boffin as of one another.

“My dear Mrs. Boffin,” said Mrs. Lammle, “it imparts new life to me, to see my Alfred in confidential communication with Mr. Boffin. The two were formed to become intimate. So much simplicity combined with so much force of character, such natural sagacity united to such amiability and gentleness — these are the distinguishing characteristics of both.”

This being said aloud, gave Mr. Lammle an opportunity, as he came with Mr. Boffin from the window to the breakfast table, of taking up his dear and honored wife.

“My Sophronia,” said that gentleman, “your too partial estimate of your poor husband’s character —”

“No! Not too partial, Alfred,” urged the lady, tenderly moved; “never say that.”

“My child, your favourable opinion, then, of your husband — you don’t object to that phrase, darling?”

“How can I, Alfred?”

“Your favourable opinion then, my Precious, does less than justice to Mr. Boffin, and more than justice to me.”

“To the first charge, Alfred, I plead guilty. But to the second, oh no, no!”

“Less than justice to Mr. Boffin, Sophronia,” said Mr. Lammle, soaring into a tone of moral grandeur, “because it represents Mr. Boffin as on my lower level; more than justice to me, Sophronia, because it represents me as on Mr. Boffin’s higher level. Mr. Boffin bears and forbears far more than I could.”

“Far more than you could for yourself, Alfred?”

“My love, that is not the question.”

“Not the question, Lawyer?” said Mrs. Lammle, archly.

“No, dear Sophronia. From my lower level, I regard Mr. Boffin as too generous, as possessed of too much clemency, as being too good to persons who are unworthy of him and ungrateful to him. To those noble qualities I can lay no claim. On the contrary, they rouse my indignation when I see them in action.”


“They rouse my indignation, my dear, against the unworthy persons, and give me a combative desire to stand between Mr. Boffin and all such persons. Why? Because, in my lower nature I am more worldly and less delicate. Not being so magnanimous as Mr. Boffin, I feel his injuries more than he does himself, and feel more capable of opposing his injurers.”

It struck Mrs. Lammle that it appeared rather difficult this morning to bring Mr. and Mrs. Boffin into agreeable conversation. Here had been several lures thrown out, and neither of them had uttered a word. Here were she, Mrs. Lammle, and her husband discoursing at once affectingly and effectively, but discoursing alone. Assuming that the dear old creatures were impressed by what they heard, still one would like to be sure of it, the more so, as at least one of the dear old creatures was somewhat pointedly referred to. If the dear old creatures were too bashful or too dull to assume their required places in the discussion, why then it would seem desirable that the dear old creatures should be taken by their heads and shoulders and brought into it.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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