Showing how the Golden Dustman Helped to Scatter Dust

IN all the first bewilderment of her wonder, the most bewilderingly wonderful thing to Bella was the shining countenance of Mr. Boffin. That his wife should be joyous, open-hearted, and genial, or that her face should express every quality that was large and trusting, and no quality that was little or mean, was accordant with Bella’s experience. But, that he, with a perfectly beneficent air and a plump rosy face, should be standing there, looking at her and John, like some jovial good spirit, was marvellous. For, how had he looked when she last saw him in that very room (it was the room in which she had given him that piece of her mind at parting), and what had become of all those crooked lines of suspicion, avarice, and distrust, that twisted his visage then?

Mrs. Boffin seated Bella on the large ottoman, and seated herself beside her, and John her husband seated himself on the other side of her, and Mr. Boffin stood beaming at every one and everything he could see, with surpassing jollity and enjoyment. Mrs. Boffin was then taken with a laughing fit of clapping her hands, and clapping her knees, and rocking herself to and fro, and then with another laughing fit of embracing Bella, and rocking her to and fro — both fits, of considerable duration.

“Old lady, old lady,” said Mr. Boffin, at length; “if you don’t begin somebody else must.”

“I’m a going to begin, Noddy, my dear,” returned Mrs. Boffin. “Only it isn’t easy for a person to know where to begin, when a person is in this state of delight and happiness. Bella, my dear. Tell me, who’s this?”

“Who is this?” repeated Bella. “My husband.”

“Ah! But tell me his name, deary!” cried Mrs. Boffin.


“No, it ain’t!” cried Mrs. Boffin, clapping her hands, and shaking her head. “Not a bit of it.”

“Handford then,” suggested Bella.

“No, it ain’t!” cried Mrs. Boffin, again clapping her hands and shaking her head. “Not a bit of it.”

“At least, his name is John, I suppose?” said Bella.

“Ah! I should think so, deary!” cried Mrs. Boffin. “I should hope so! Many and many is the time I have called him by his name of John. But what’s his other name, his true other name? Give a guess, my pretty!”

“I can’t guess,” said Bella, turning her pale face from one to another.

I could,” cried Mrs. Boffin, “and what’s more, I did! I found him out, all in a flash as I may say, one night. Didn’t I, Noddy?”

“Ay! That the old lady did!” said Mr. Boffin, with stout pride in the circumstance.

“Harkee to me, deary,” pursued Mrs. Boffin, taking Bella’s hands between her own, and gently beating on them from time to time. “It was after a particular night when John had been disappointed — as he thought — in his affections. It was after a night when John had made an offer to a certain young lady, and the certain young lady had refused it. It was after a particular night, when he felt himself cast-away- like, and had made up his mind to go seek his fortune. It was the very next night. My Noddy wanted a paper out of his Secretary’s room, and I says to Noddy, ‘I am going by the door, and I’ll ask him for it.’ I tapped at his door, and he didn’t hear me. I looked in, and saw him a sitting lonely by his fire, brooding over it. He chanced to look up with a pleased kind of smile in my company when he saw me, and then in a single moment every grain of the gunpowder that had been lying sprinkled thick about him ever since I first set eyes upon him as a man at the Bower, took fire! Too many a time had I seen him sitting

  By PanEris using Melati.

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