Study Guide

Our Mutual Friend

Our Mutual Friend Summary

One night, a crankypants riverman and his daughter find a body in a river outside London. Dum dum dum. The body is that of John Harmon, a young man who was supposed to return to England to claim a huge inheritance from his father. But now that the young man's been murdered, the money will go to a pair of old, naïve servants named Mr. and Mrs. Boffin. Right on cue, whole bunch of shifty folks come out of the woodwork to see what they can get out of the Boffins.

One of the points of Old Man's Harmon's will was for his son, John, to marry a young woman named Bella Wilfer. Well it looks like Bella Wilfer won't get the money she expected because her would-be husband is dead. But the Boffins still want to take her in and treat her like their adopted daughter. Meanwhile, two guys named Bradley Headstone and Eugene Wrayburn compete for the love of Lizzie Hexam, the same girl who found John Harmon's body in the river at the beginning of the book. As the plot unfolds, Bradley's hatred of Eugene gets deeper and deeper until he attempts to murder the dude. But the murder is unsuccessful and it only brings Eugene and Lizzie closer together as Lizzie nurses Eugene back to health.

About halfway through the book, we learn that John Harmon isn't dead after all. Instead, he's posing as Mr. Boffin's secretary, Mr. Rokesmith, so he can judge whether Bella Wilfer would make a worthy wife or if she's interested only in money. Eventually, Bella proves herself by sacrificing her position with the Boffins in order to defend Mr. Rokesmith. Harmon thinks this is proof enough of her value, so he marries her and eventually gets around to reclaiming his former identity (and the fortune that goes with it).

By the end of the book, all the bad guys are punished (yay!) and the good guys are rewarded (double yay!). A conniving moneylender named Mr. Fledgeby gets beaten up for being a jerk and the would-be murderer Bradley Headstone drowns in a river with another jerk named Mr. Riderhood. John Harmon and Bella Wilfer move into a fancy house in London and take the Boffins as their trusted servants. Eugene Wrayburn marries Lizzie Hexam and everyone seems pretty happy. Huzzah.

  • Book 1, Part 1, Chapter 1

    On the Look-Out

    • Book 1 is called "The Cup and the Lip," which makes this novel sound like it's going to be about, erm, drinking tea? Soup?
    • Anyway, we open the book looking in on two people in a boat. One is a middle-aged man and the other is a nineteen-year-old girl.
    • There seems to be something bothering the young woman, and the man (named Gaffer) wants to know what it is. They are apparently towing something behind their boat that is creeping out the girl—whose name is Lizzie.
    • The man gets annoyed with her because he thinks that the thing they're towing is also the source of his income. We still don't know what this "thing" is, though.
    • As they row along, another fella rows his boat alongside theirs and asks Gaffer what he's towing. Gaffer brushes him off and the other man gets really offended. Apparently, he and Gaffer used to be partners. But Gaffer put an end to it and now the man is sour about being left out.
    • Despite the man's attempts to stay close to Gaffer's boat, Lizzie pulls hard on the oars and separates herself and Gaffer from the other guy.
    • We still have no clue what Gaffer and Lizzie are towing, though.
  • Book 1, Part 1, Chapter 2

    The Man from Somewhere

    • We look in on a couple named the Veneerings, who are what you everyone calls "new money." In other words, they aren't part of the established upper class of Britain, but are people who have come into wealth only recently. They also have a new baby and a new house, so everything about them is brand spanking new.
    • These newcomers to high society like to host dinners whenever they can because they want to get to know the other folks in their new income bracket. There's always this other old guy they invite to their parties named Twemlow.
    • When there isn't much of a crowd, Twemlow gets to sit close to the Veneerings. But whenever someone important shows up, he gets bumped down to the end of the table.
    • We look in on one particular dinner when the guests are arriving. There are all kinds of people from high British society. But Dickens talks about all of them with pure sarcasm and makes them all seem deluded about how important they are. Twemlow can barely tell them apart, especially two men named Boots and Brewer who have no clear personalities to distinguish them.
    • As the boring conversation unfolds, a woman named Lady Tippins asks a man named Mortimer about a story that's been going around the town. Apparently, a guy named John Harmon is returning to town after a long time away.
    • He is the son of a local rich man who made all of his money by owning a garbage dump—or what people politely called "dust piles" in Dickens' time. Aww, that's like calling the stuff under your dresser "dust bunnies" instead of "gross piles of lint and hair."
    • The rich old dump-man had both a son and a daughter. But the daughter married a poor man and the father cut her out of his life. The son (John) tried to step in and make a case for her, but the father would have none of it.
    • Eventually, the daughter died without reconciling with her dad. The dad was also mad at the son. So the son (John Harmon) hopped a ship and left England in search of his own fortune.
    • As Mortimer tells us, local authorities have tracked John Harmon down and he is currently on his way back to England. His father (Old Man Harmon) has died and people need to figure out the boy's inheritance, since there's a lot of money at stake.
    • Here's the catch, though. According to the old man's will, John Harmon can only inherit his money if he marries a local young woman who's been named in the will. Otherwise, all the estate goes to the old man's most trusted servant, Mr. Boffin.
    • At this point, another man at the table slides Mortimer a note. Mortimer glances at it and tells the table that there won't be a story after all, since the son (John Harmon) has drowned on his way back to England.
  • Book 1, Part 1, Chapter 3

    Another Man

    • Mortimer leaves the Veneerings' dining room and demands to see the boy who brought the note about John Harmon being drowned. The boy tells Mortimer that he has brought the note from his father, Jesse Hexam, who makes his living along the river.
    • Mortimer hops into a cab with the boy to check things out with Hexam. Before they leave, Mortimer's partner Eugene offers to tag along.
    • As they ride, we learn that Eugene totally hates his job as a lawyer and has never done a speck of work since becoming a lawyer six years earlier.
    • They arrive at the house of Gaffer Hexam and Lizzie (remember them from the opening chapter?). Well it turns out the thing they were towing in their boat was the body of John Harmon. Hexam has already informed the police and turned the body over to them.
    • Mortimer and Eugene read part of the police report and learn that the body's pants pockets were turned inside out. They accuse Gaffer of robbing the dead body, but Gaffer denies it. Gaffer doesn't think it's possible to rob a dead person, since the dead have no use for money.
    • At this point, a stranger shows up at Gaffer's door and asks if the body from the river is still around. The stranger says he might be able to identify it. No one recognizes this stranger, but Mortimer invites him along to the police station to see the body that's been pulled out of the river.
    • They get to the police station and check out the body with the inspector. It's all a clear match. The body's clothes and identification papers belong to Mr. John Harmon.
    • The police inspector becomes interested in the stranger who's with Mortimer, since nobody knows him. The man simply says that the body isn't the man he's looking for and he tries to leave.
    • Before he gets away though, the inspector demands to know his name and address, since the guy is acting suspiciously.
    • The guy leaves his name as Julius Handford and takes off. The second he's gone, the inspector asks one of his men to follow up on Handford and to make sure the address he left is legit.
    • The boy who first brought the note to Mortimer returns home. It turns out that he is Charley Hexam, the younger brother of Lizzie Hexam and son of Gaffer Hexam. He chats with Lizzie about how their deadbeat father has gone out to get drunk.
    • Charley asks Lizzie to tell his fortune for him by looking into the fireplace, which she does. Lizzie peers into the future and sees Charley working at a nearby school, keeping it a secret from his father because Gaffer hates education. He worries that his children will think they're too good for him if they get educated.
    • As the days pass, the police never follow up with Mr. Julius Handford. No one knows who murdered John Harmon or why.
    • Eventually, a reward of a hundred pounds is offered for any information leading to the capture of John Harmon's murderer. As the months go by, though, people forget about it.
  • Book 1, Part 1, Chapter 4

    The R. Wilfer Family

    • Now it's time to meet another family—the Wilfers. Their name suggests that they come from money, but the sad truth is that Mr. Wilfer is just a poor clerk and the family has nothing. To make things worse, Mr. Wilfer is a bit of a doormat for his wife and daughters. All they ever do is walk all over him.
    • Mr. Wilfer's daughter Bella is the young woman who was supposed to marry John Harmon and become rich. But now that Harmon is dead, Bella is doomed to a life of poverty. She has also ditched her old boyfriend, George Sampson, because she thought she'd be married to Harmon. Now she's single and poor and feeling pretty sorry for herself.
    • A man enters the Wilfer house and offers to rent out the first floor. The guy seems kind of shifty and he can't offer any references, but beggars can't be choosers. The Wilfers need the money, so they accept him as a renter. The guy's name is John Rokesmith.
    • The family sits down for dinner and Bella asks her father why he thinks Old Man Harmon ever made her marriage to John Harmon part of his will. Mr. Wilfer admits he has no clue, since he barely knew Harmon.
    • The chapter closes with Bella talking about how terrible it is to rent out part of their house to a stranger. The narrator informs us at this point that Mr. John Rokesmith is none other than Julius Handford, the man who went with Mortimer Lightwood to check out John Harmon's drowned body earlier in the book.
  • Book 1, Part 2, Chapter 5

    Boffin's Bower

    • We look in on a poor man with a wooden leg who hangs out in front of a fancy house in London. He has a stall that he uses for selling little bits of poetry and music that he makes up on the spot. He has been at this corner so long that he refers to himself as a member of the rich household he camps out in front of. For this reason, he always refers to the house as "Our House," although he's never seen the inside of it. The dude has a peg leg and is name is Silas Wegg (how's that for poem fodder?).
    • A clumsy old man walks up to Wegg and calls him "Sir." Usually, you wouldn't say "sir" to a poor peddler like Wegg, so we know this man doesn't understand customs.
    • The guy's name is Nicodemus Boffin, and he wants to hire Wegg to read to him. The old man is illiterate because he's spent his life as a servant. Turns out that this is the same old servant who inherited Old Man Harmon's money after John Harmon drowned. So now he's old, rich, and illiterate, and he wants to get some education by having Wegg read to him.
    • Wegg accepts the appointment after some serious haggling, which Boffin gives in to easily. The man cares about being read to, not about money.
    • Later that night, Wegg packs up his things and heads to Mr. Boffin's house. Before he gets down to business with Boffin, though, he asks for a few drinks and some supper. This dude knows how to get the most out of a deal, that's for sure.
    • From the moment that Wegg starts reading, Mr. Boffin is spellbound. They're reading about the rulers of the Roman Empire, and Boffin takes everything he hears as historical truth, even though a lot of it is pure legend.
  • Book 1, Part 2, Chapter 6

    Cut Adrift

    • We drop in on a pub called the Six Jolly Fellowship-Porters (best name, or best name?), which is owned by a tough woman named Miss Potterson. It looks like Miss Potterson has had quite enough of one of her customers, a dude named Riderhood. We seriously hope his first name is LittleRed.
    • She gives him one last pint and tells him to make the most of it, because she won't serve him any more. He tries to argue, but it's no use. Don't mess with Miss Potterson.
    • The guy is mad that he gets turned out of the bar when men like Gaffer Hexam are allowed to stay as long as they want. He tells Potterson that he used to be Gaffer's partner along the river. This should ring a bell, since Gaffer's former partner (Riderhood) also showed up in the first chapter of this story.
    • In order to take the focus off himself and put it on Gaffer, Riderhood tells Miss Potterson that Gaffer is responsible for half of the dead men he finds in the river.
    • After Riderhood leaves, Miss Potterson sends for Lizzie Hexam with the thought of talking to her about her (Lizzie's) father, Gaffer Hexam.
    • When Lizzie gets there, Miss Potterson tells her that Lizzie and her father are no longer welcome at the pub. Even if Riderhood's accusation isn't true, Miss Potterson can't have someone accused of murder hanging around her business. Potterson closes by giving Lizzie a piece of advice to abandon her father. Lizzie knows this is all Riderhood's doing, but it doesn't matter. She and her father are banned.
    • On her way home, Lizzie keeps telling herself that the suspicions against her father are totally groundless. But she can never fully convince herself.
    • After thinking for a moment, Lizzie rushes home and puts together a little pile of money. When her brother Charley wakes up, she gives him the money and tells him to run away from home and enroll in a nearby school. She can't have him around their dad anymore.
    • It's a sad scene, but Charley eventually grabs his money and travel-pack and runs off.
    • When Gaffer returns that afternoon, he notices that the other men are avoiding him. It looks like Riderhood's rumor has gotten around quickly.
    • When Gaffer gets home, Lizzie tells him that Charley has run off to go to school. Gaffer feels betrayed by his son's attempts to better himself, and he proclaims loud and clear that his son is now dead to him.
    • The angrier Gaffer gets, the more Lizzie wonders if he's capable of murder.
  • Book 1, Part 2, Chapter 7

    Mr. Wegg Looks After Himself

    • On his way to Mr. Boffin's house, Silas Wegg takes a detour into a taxidermy store in a creepy part of London. How's that for nightmare fuel?
    • Once inside, he starts chatting with an old acquaintance named Mr. Venus. Venus offers him tea and a muffin before the conversation starts. As Wegg looks around the shop, he realizes that there are human skeletons and human limbs alongside the animal ones.
    • If you're anything like us, you're now screaming into your pillow.
    • After some small talk about how much money Wegg could get for his skeleton after he dies, Mr. Venus shows Wegg a card that's been written to him (Venus) from a young woman.
    • Essentially, the woman has rejected a marriage proposal from Mr. Venus because of his super creepy job.
    • Rather than listen to this sob story, Wegg gets up and says he needs to be on his way to Mr. Boffin, who is living in the old Harmon house.
    • Venus is impressed with the cushy position Wegg has weaseled for himself. Venus mentions some old rumors about how Old Man Harmon used to hide valuables in the mounds of his dump. (You might want to remember this part.)
    • Wegg shakes Venus' hand and heads for Boffin's place.
  • Book 1, Part 3, Chapter 8

    Mr. Boffin in Consultation

    • We're back with Mr. Mortimer Lightwood, the lawyer who was called out of the Veneerings' party to check out the body of John Harmon after the dude drowned. It looks like Mr. Boffin has some business to do with Mortimer.
    • While he waits for Lightwood, Boffin chats with the office clerk and gives him some money.
    • Boffin sits down and tells Mortimer all about how he (Boffin) and his wife used to work for Old Man Harmon and how they always loved the man's children. Boffin admits that Harmon was a really mean dude and that his kids were too good for him.
    • The first thing Mr. Boffin wants to do with his newfound wealth is put out a huge reward for any info that helps solve the murder of John Harmon. Second, Mr. Boffin wants to make sure that his wife gets all the fortune if he dies.
    • While Mr. Boffin is leaving, Mortimer's partner Eugene Wrayburn comes into the office and makes a few sarcastic jokes.
    • Back in the street, Mr. Boffin heads for home. A guy approaches him on the way and recommends himself as a personal secretary to Boffin. Boffin doesn't understand, but the other guy says that he will need someone to look after his affairs now that he's rich.
    • The stranger claims to be loyal, but he unfortunately can't offer any references because he's not from around there.
    • Finally, the guy introduces himself as Mr. Rokesmith and says that he lives in the Wilfer family's house. Boffin is amazed at the coincidence, since this is the family of Bella Wilfer, who was supposed to get the Harmon inheritance instead of Boffin if John Harmon had lived to marry her.
    • Rather than expect an immediate answer, Rokesmith says he'll come by to hear Boffin's answer in a few days.
  • Book 1, Part 3, Chapter 9

    Mr. And Mrs. Boffin in Consultation

    • Mr. and Mrs. Boffin ride in a carriage, and Mrs. Boffin tells her husband about how she plans on becoming part of high society now that she's rich.
    • They decide that they're going to move into a mansion and hire someone to housesit for their current place, since they don't want to give it up.
    • Mrs. Boffin mentions that she feels horrible about how Bella Wilfer had the rug pulled out from under her when John Harmon died. She thinks that she and Mr. Boffin should do something nice for Bella, like take her under their wing.
    • They also decide to adopt a young boy and to raise him as a gentleman, giving him the name of John. Now they just need to figure out how they'll go about finding a suitable orphan.
    • Before you know it, Mr. and Mrs. Boffin are visiting the Reverend Milvey, who agrees to help find them an orphan to bestow all their love and money on. Finding a good orphan turns out to be harder than it sounds, though. Milvey says he'll have a good think on it.
    • The Boffins head from the Milveys' to the Wilfers' house to see Bella. The Wilfers intentionally make the Boffins wait because they (the Wilfers) are super snooty. The meeting doesn't last long. Mr. and Mrs. Boffin tell Bella that they want to give her the rich life she deserves, according to the will of Old Man Harmon.
    • Bella accepts and the Boffins leave. On their way out, they run into John Rokesmith. It's only a passing moment, though, and Mr. Boffin doesn't give Rokesmith an answer about the secretary job.
  • Book 1, Part 3, Chapter 10

    A Marriage Contract

    • We look back in on the Veneerings' house, where a wedding is about to happen between a guy named Alfred Lammle and a woman named Sophronia. These names, sheesh!
    • Since Sophronia has no family, there is no one to give her away at the wedding. Mr. Veneering nominates Twemlow for the job, and Twemlow nervously accepts.
    • For the next few pages, Dickens describes the wedding and all the characters present at it. He uses this as an opportunity to make fun of people from " high" society who think they're cool just because they hang with the in-crowd.
    • Everything seems to go well with the wedding. But on the honeymoon, Alfred and Sophronia are in for a couple of big surprises.
    • It looks like each of them thought that the other one was rich. But in reality, both of them have no money to their names. It sounds like Mr. Veneering has had a lot to do with making each of them think the wrong thing. The guy just wanted to play matchmaker, so he made up stories for each of them.
  • Book 1, Part 4, Chapter 11

    Podsnappery

    • We get a look into the mind of Mr. Podsnap, who admires one person more than anyone else in the world—himself. He's got all kinds of money and social status, and can't understand why anyone would be unsatisfied with the world just the way it is.
    • In other words, Mr. Podsnap = the status quo, at least in Dickens' eyes.
    • Mr. Podsnap has a daughter named Georgiana who is about to turn eighteen, and Mr. Podsnap figures that it might be a good idea to throw her a birthday party and present her to the world.
    • The time comes for Georgiana's party, but it just ends up being a dinner party that the Podsnaps have for their own social circle. Not a single young person is invited.
    • During the dinner, Podsnap spends his time trying to explain to a Frenchman why England is so much better than France. This guy sounds like the worst.
    • After dinner is over, Sophronia Lammle sits down with Georgiana Podsnap and asks whether she likes dancing. Georgiana says no, because she's too shy, and she admits that she wishes sometimes that she were from a poorer background so she could just enjoy life without worrying about appearances.
    • At one point in the party, someone mentions that a dozen people in London have recently died in the streets of starvation. Mr. Podsnap refuses to believe such a thing could happen in England. But when the stat turns out to be true, he simply insists that the people who starved must have brought it on themselves. Then he says he won't hear anything more about it, and forbids further discussion of the poor.
    • When the time comes to leave, Mrs. Lammle asks Georgiana not to forget their new agreement: they're going to be besties from now on.
    • While driving home, Alfred Lammle tells Mrs. Lammle to keep Georgiana Podsnap under her thumb. He has big plans for this young woman. He thinks he can make some money off her while taking Mr. Podsnap down a peg.
  • Book 1, Part 4, Chapter 12

    The Sweat of an Honest Man's Brow

    • Mortimer Lightwood and his partner Eugene sit down for dinner in Mortimer's office. They've decided to set up a new law practice in an old cottage on the Thames River.
    • Turns out that Eugene's dad has found a wife for Eugene, and this woman has a good chunk of money coming with her. Eugene isn't impressed. He claims he can't get married because he gets bored too easily.
    • At this point, Lightwood turns to the door and finds a man standing there. The guy is none other than the pesky Riderhood, and he has come to swear that Gaffer Hexam is responsible for the murder of John Harmon.
    • Lightwood is understandably skeptical because Riderhood has no proof other than his word, and his word doesn't count for much because he has a terrible reputation. Riderhood invents a big elaborate story of how Gaffer Hexam told him about killing Harmon, and he includes all kinds of details that might be true. But the fact remains that he has no proof.
    • Eugene asks whether Riderhood is accusing Hexam's daughter Lizzie of knowing about the crime as well. Riderhood says that Lizzie didn't know, which seems to satisfy Eugene.
    • They all go to Gaffer's house and peek inside. Only Lizzie is at home, so they turn and head for the police station.
    • The inspector wants to go bring Hexam in, but he's worried the guy will bolt if he suspects an arrest. The inspector makes a big show of heading to the bar with Eugene and Mortimer and pretending to talk about some phony business deal while they hatch a plan for Gaffer. Eugene and Mortimer get a real kick out of the situation.
  • Book 1, Part 4, Chapter 13

    Tracking the Bird of Prey

    • The inspector, Mortimer, and Eugene head into the local pub and pretend to talk about a sweetheart business deal. Eugene and Mortimer keep making their story more and more ridiculous, taking pride in how far they can take the joke.
    • As they talk, Mortimer and Eugene ask the inspector if they can be nearby and watch when the inspector arrests Gaffer. The man agrees, as long as Mortimer and Eugene don't spook Gaffer and let him get away.
    • They go to Hexam's house and Eugene peeks through the window. When he sees Lizzie with the firelight on her face, he can't help staring at her. After a good, long look, he goes back to Mortimer, who's hiding behind a nearby bank. Soon enough, they're hiding in a new place with the Inspector alongside them. There's still no sign of Gaffer, though.
    • Riderhood comes over to ask them what's up, and they say that there's no sign of Gaffer. Riderhood decides to head out in his boat to see if he can find Gaffer on the river. An hour later, he returns and says he's found Gaffer's boat, which is empty and drifting on the water.
  • Book 1, Part 5, Chapter 14

    The Bird of Prey Brought Down

    • The inspector, Eugene, Mortimer, and Riderhood row up to Gaffer's boat, which has gotten lodged between two large ships on the bank of the river. Riderhood hops into Gaffer's boat and notices that there's a rope hanging into the water. He tugs on the rope and finds that it's tight; whatever it's tied to must be heavy.
    • It's not easy pulling up the rope because of the way the boat is positioned. But eventually, the inspector is able to haul in whatever is attached to the other end. They haul it onto the shore and realize that it's the body of Gaffer Hexam, who's been dead for some time now. Gross.
    • It looks like Hexam got himself tangled in some rope that he would normally use to fish a dead body out of the river. The more he struggled, the more the rope tightened around him… until he drowned.
    • The inspector says that he'll go tell Lizzie Hexam about what has happened. Meanwhile, Mortimer and Eugene are so tired that they head back to their office and pass out.
    • The next morning, Mortimer realizes that Eugene "took a walk" after he (Mortimer) passed out. But we don't quite know why Eugene did this or where he went.
  • Book 1, Part 5, Chapter 15

    Two New Servants

    • We look in on Mr. and Mrs. Boffin and find out that money has made Mr. Boffin's life a lot more stressful. He has just had his breakfast and is looking over a bunch of accounting papers that mean nothing to him.
    • The bell rings and Mr. Boffin goes to the door to meet his visitor, Mr. Rokesmith. He admits that he hasn't had time to turn over Rokesmith's offer to become his secretary, but he decides to make the guy a deal: if Rokesmith can sort through all the papers on Mr. Boffin's breakfast table, Mr. Boffin will count it as a big point in Rokesmith's favor.
    • Rokesmith plows through the work double-quick. Then he writes out a sample letter for Mr. Boffin and reads it aloud. Both Mr. and Mrs. Boffin are impressed, and Mr. Boffin hires Rokesmith on the spot.
    • Mr. Boffin is worried, though, that Silas Wegg is going to be jealous about being passed over for this job in favor of Rokesmith.
    • With things settled, Mr. Boffin gives Rokesmith a tour of the house and tells him about how wonderful the place used to be when Old Man Harmon's kids were still around, playing and laughing. Even though the Boffins plan on moving, they insist they'll never sell the old Harmon house.
    • That night, Wegg shows up to read to Mr. Boffin like he always has. Before he starts reading, though, Boffin offers him the job of being a caretaker of the house they're sitting in. He tells Wegg about his plans to move and to hold onto the current house by using Wegg as a house sitter.
    • This is a sweet deal for Wegg, but he thinks he deserves even more. The dude drives a hard bargain for someone who was living on the street a few weeks ago. Apparently beggars can be choosers.
    • With everything settled, Silas Wegg starts reading. But he doesn't get far before Mr. Boffin gets up to check on Mrs. Boffin, who's been feeling the spirits of Old Man Harmon and his kids all over the house. Ugh, creepy.
    • Boffin sends Wegg home for the night because he doesn't want the guy getting the idea that the house is haunted. Then he takes Mrs. Boffin for a walk to settle her down.
  • Book 1, Part 5, Chapter 16

    Minders and Reminders

    • It doesn't take long for Mr. Rokesmith to make Mr. Boffin's life a whole lot easier. A more suspicious man might not trust Rokesmith so much, since the guy will settle for nothing less than a full understanding of Boffin's whole life. But Boffin isn't a suspicious man.
    • One weird thing about Rokesmith is that he never wants to deliver any messages to Mortimer Lightwood—or even be in the guy's presence. Boffin thinks it's strange but lets it go because Rokesmith is so valuable to him.
    • Meanwhile, Mortimer Lightwood has been frantically looking for Julius Handford since the death of Gaffer Hexam. If you recall, Julius Handford was the stranger who showed up asking strange questions on the night John Harmon's body was found.
    • As you might also recall, Mr. Rokesmith is Julius Handford… so it makes sense that he wouldn't want to run into Mortimer Lightwood (who would remember him from the police station).
    • At one point, Mr. Boffin asks Mr. Rokesmith to write a public letter asking for Julius Handford (his alter ego) to come forward to offer testimony in the John Harmon case.
    • Meanwhile, Mr. and Mrs. Boffin keep looking for an orphan to name John and raise as their own.
    • One day, the Boffins and Mr. Rokesmith go to the home of an old woman named Betty Higden, who has a young orphan that might be a good fit for the Boffins. When they get there, they meet a young man named Sloppy (seriously, his name is Sloppy) who works as a sort of servant for Miss Higden. The orphan she has isn't really an orphan at all, but her grandson.
    • She's worried about what'll happen to the baby when she dies, since she's very old. She has two other children living in her house because she wants to keep them out of the poor house. According to her, there is no worse place in the world than the poor house, where they punish you for being poor and make you work like a slave.
    • At first, Betty Higden gets kinda violent at the thought of anyone taking away her perfect little grandson. But once she realizes what a good life the Boffins will provide for her little Johnny, she agrees.
    • When this is all done, Mr. Rokesmith heads home for the day. When he gets there, he sees Bella Wilfer reading a book and asks her if it's a love story. It's kind of a come-on line.
    • Bella answers that the book isn't any good and tells Rokesmith he can have it if he wants.
    • When Mrs. Wilfer looks out the window and sees Bella talking with Mr. Rokesmith, she decides to head outside for a " random" walk. But we all know she's just keeping tabs on her daughter.
    • Mr. Rokesmith goes back inside and Bella can hear him pacing in his room. She resents the fact that her family is too poor to have their own house all to themselves.
  • Book 1, Part 5, Chapter 17

    A Dismal Swamp

    • As the months roll by, all kinds of people come out of the woodwork to visit the Boffins. They're rich now! All kinds of tradespeople want to work for them, fixing up their houses and doing their plumbing.
    • No one is more aware of the dangers of society than Mr. Rokesmith, who receives all of the Boffins' mail and realizes how much people are just looking to get some of the Boffins' money. Some people even want straight-up loans from Mr. Boffin.
    • The chapter (and Book 1 of Our Mutual Friend) ends with the image of Silas Wegg getting down on his stomach and peeping under the beds in Boffin's house. It seems like he's searching the whole place top to bottom, though we don't know what he's looking for.
  • Book 2, Part 6, Chapter 1

    Of an Educational Character

    • Book 2 is called "Birds Of A Feather." We assumed that somebody is going to be "flocking together."
    • We look in on young Charley Hexam, who ran away from his father Gaffer in order to get into school and educate himself. According to the narrator, Charley's school has teachers who really mean well, but who can be pretty incompetent.
    • Despite his teachers' lack of ability, Charley is smart enough to educate himself effectively.
    • One day, Charley asks his headmaster, Bradley Headstone, for permission to visit his sister Lizzie. Headstone agrees and even offers to come along himself. He has taken a deep interest in Charley and wants to see where he comes from.
    • We find out that there is a female teacher at Charley's school who is secretly in love with Mr. Headstone. But unfortunately, Headstone doesn't return the affection.
    • When Charley and Headstone get to Lizzie's new apartment, they head inside and find the "master of the house," which is a tiny hunchbacked girl named Jenny who sews dolls' clothing for a living.
    • The girl seems suspicious of the two men, saying that she knows what they're up to (although she never specifies what they're up to). The two men wait until Lizzie gets back.
    • Lizzie shows up and hugs Charley. It's pretty clear that Bradley Headstone has a crush on Lizzie from the moment he sees her.
    • When the girl named Jenny is gone, Charley asks Lizzie what she's doing hanging with a deformed girl like that. Lizzie has sympathy for the girl and wants to be her friend, but Charley thinks Lizzie is just holding herself back.
    • He thinks Lizzie should just keep raising herself up like he has (c'mon Charlie—don't be so closed-minded).
    • Eventually, Charley and Headstone leave, although it's clearly tough for Headstone. As they go, they are passed by Eugene Wrayburn, the lawyer. Charley stops and stares at Eugene because Eugene has been rude to him in the past.
    • Charley has the thought that maybe Mr. Headstone could become a tutor to his sister Lizzie. Since Headstone clearly has a crush on Lizzie, he agrees.
    • They get back to the schoolhouse. The teacher Mrs. Peecher gets all heart-achey when she hears Mr. Headstone go into his little house and lock the door.
  • Book 2, Part 6, Chapter 2

    Still Educational

    • We return to Jenny Wren, the little hunchbacked dolls' dressmaker who lives with Lizzie Hexam. Jenny tells Lizzie that she (Jenny) doesn't plan on marrying Charley Hexam because she doesn't like him.
    • Jenny Wren often fantasizes about what a tyrant she'll be to her husband once she gets married. She plans on treating her future husband like a slave, even though the book suggests that Jenny will have a tough time finding someone to marry her.
    • At this point, Mr. Eugene Wrayburn shows up at the door. You might remember in the last chapter that Charley Hexam and Bradley Headstone saw him heading for Lizzie's house.
    • Eugene asks Lizzie whether she's made up her mind about a proposition he has already made her. It sounds like he has offered to be her personal tutor, just like Bradley Headstone plans on doing.
    • Lizzie is hesitant at first, but she eventually accepts Eugene's offer.
    • With all that done, Jenny Wren's father comes home from a night of drinking. Jenny scolds him and sends him away as though she were the parent and he were the child. She even demands his wages from work so he won't blow any more of them on booze. Nice job, Jenny.
  • Book 2, Part 6, Chapter 3

    A Piece of Work

    • One day, Mr. Veneering decides that he is going to run for a spot in the British parliament. So he runs around asking all of his high-class friends if he can count on them for support. They all agree and then run off to tell their own friends.
    • One endorsement Veneering really wants is from Lord Snigsworth, a rich and powerful relative of Mr. Twemlow. But Mr. Twemlow is way too intimidated by this man to ask for such a favor, so Veneering backs off.
    • As always, Dickens uses his time with the Veneerings to make fun of how superficial and delusional the people of high English society are.
    • In the end, the campaign is a success and Mr. Veneering gets himself a spot in parliament.
  • Book 2, Part 7, Chapter 4

    Cupid Prompted

    • The more time Mrs. Sophronia Lammle spends with young Miss Podsnap, the closer they become as friends. In the background, though, we also know that the Lammles are running on fumes financially and will not be able to keep their house much longer.
    • One day, Alfred Lammle decides to approach a young businessman in London named Mr. Fledgeby and to introduce him to Georgiana Podsnap. Georgiana is mortified at the idea of being set up with a guy like Fledgeby. The Lammles go ahead with the dinner anyway and it's super awkward.
    • Fledgeby and Georgiana won't even look at each other because they're so shy. So Mr. and Mrs. Lammle speak for them until it seems as though Fledgeby and Georgiana have gotten to know one another.
    • After the dinner, Sophronia says there's no way they'll get Fledgeby and Georgiana together. But Alfred says that once Fledgeby finds out how rich Georgiana's family is, he'll clamp onto the girl like a leech. How's that for romantic imagery?
  • Book 2, Part 7, Chapter 5

    Mercury Prompting

    • In this chapter, we learn a bit more about Mr. Fledgeby, who this book's narrator refers to as the meanest person who ever walked on two legs. Quite the endorsement, eh?
    • Mr. Lammle comes over for breakfast the day after he has introduced Fledgeby to Georgiana Podsnap. He asks Fledgeby what he thinks of Georgiana, and Fledgeby says that he has no interest in being Alfred Lammle's puppet. If he's going to meet a girl, it'll be on his terms.
    • From this point on, Fledgeby seems to enjoy having Alfred Lammle on his turf, since he is able to take charge of their conversation.
    • Fledgeby takes his rudeness a little too far, though, and it isn't long before Alfred is physically threatening him and forcing him to apologize. Things calm down between them and they agree to act like friends again. They agree that Fledgeby will pursue Miss Podsnap and the Lammles will do everything they can to push her toward him.
    • After his meeting with Lammle, Fledgeby heads over to a business called Pubsey and Co., which he actually owns. He knocks on the door and is let in by an old Jewish man named Mr. Riah. Fledgeby takes pleasure in bossing this man around because Fledgeby is a huge anti-Semite (he doesn't like Jewish people).
    • After talking some business, Fledgeby finds out Mr. Riah has guests upstairs and heads up to meet them. The guests are none other than Jenny Wren and Lizzie Hexam.
    • Fledgeby and Riah head back downstairs, where Fledgeby orders Riah never to identify him (Fledge) as the owner of Pubsey & Co. Fledgeby likes to be behind the scenes in his own businesses because he's super private and doesn't want people to know what he's up to.
  • Book 2, Part 7, Chapter 6

    A Riddle Without and Answer

    • Now we're back with the lawyers Mortimer Lightwood and Eugene Wrayburn. As they speak, Mortimer asks Eugene what's on his mind, since there's clearly something he's been thinking about. Eugene denies it, but we readers know that he's probably thinking about Lizzie Hexam.
    • Eugene and Mortimer hear two people outside. Eugene wanders over to the window and drops some dirt down on the people for fun (because he's kind of a jerk).
    • When the visitors come in, Eugene sees that they are Charley Hexam and Bradley Headstone. The two have come to tell Eugene to back away from Lizzie once and for all. Eugene acts all cool and says he'll do whatever he wants. Mr. Headstone just gets angrier and angrier, and Eugene revels in frustrating him.
    • When Headstone and Charley leave in a huff, Mortimer asks Eugene what he's up to with Lizzie Hexam. It sounds like Eugene wants to pursue Lizzie romantically (and probably have sex with her). But he has no plans of ever marrying her because she's too far beneath his social status. Mortimer thinks this is immoral, but Eugene brushes off his objections.
  • Book 2, Part 8, Chapter 7

    In Which a Friendly Move is Originated

    • Remember the arrangement between Mr. Boffin and Silas Wegg? You know, the one about how Wegg will read to Mr. Boffin and housesit for him? Well, now that you've had a refresher we're going to rejoin them and see what they're up to now.
    • Mr. Boffin ends up buying the old mansion that Wegg used to sit outside when he sold poems. Wegg is amazed to see how different it is on the inside than he always imagined.
    • One day, Wegg's buddy Mr. Venus comes to visit him. Wegg sits Venus down and makes him a proposition. He tells Venus that there must be riches inside the Boffins' old house somewhere, since Old Man Harmon was known as a miser and a hoarder.
    • But Wegg (with his peg leg and all) needs help searching the place. He promises to split whatever he finds with Mr. Venus. Venus accepts and the two of them get to work.
  • Book 2, Part 8, Chapter 8

    In Which an Innocent Elopement Occurs

    • Now we're back with Mr. Boffin, who is chatting with Bella about Mr. Rokesmith. It seems like Mr. Rokesmith never wants to meet any company at Boffin's house except for Miss Bella Wilfer. Bella takes this to mean that Rokesmith has the hots for her.
    • One day, Rokesmith bumps into Bella in Mr. Boffin's drawing room. He takes the opportunity to ask her why she never gives him any tasks to do for her. Bella dodges the question and says she'd rather do things herself.
    • When Bella returns home, her mom is all like, "Well look who's here? If it isn't the girl who's too good for her family now that she's rich!" She doesn't really talk like that, but that's the gist of what she's saying.
    • Once she finishes with her mother and sister, Bella heads back into the street and bumps into her father. He's the one she has always loved most, since he's honest and good-natured.
    • The two of them spend the rest of the day together and get in some good bonding time. Bella feels sorry for her father for marrying such a horrible wife (Bella's mom) and having such selfish and ungrateful daughters.
    • At dinner, Bella confesses that now that she's had a taste of money, she'll never be able to go back to being poor. She has decided that when she gets married, she'll do it for money instead of love. It's a tough decision, but she knows that it's what she wants.
  • Book 2, Part 8, Chapter 9

    In Which the Orphan Makes His Will

    • The young man named Sloppy (snicker) shows up at the house of Mr. Boffin to let everyone know that the orphan child Mr. and Mrs. Boffin wanted to adopt (little Johnny) has become dangerously ill.
    • Once they get to Betty Higden's house, they realize just how bad things are and send for a doctor. The doctor can only tell them that they should have called sooner. It's too late for the child now.
    • The ordeal doesn't last very long before Johnny dies. Now Mr. and Mrs. Boffin have no one to fill the place of the dead John Harmon.
  • Book 2, Part 8, Chapter 10

    A Successor

    • Mr. and Mrs. Boffin decide that they'll look for someone else to take John Harmon's place as their heir. But they're against giving anyone else the name John, since it seems to be cursed (there are already two John Harmons who've died).
    • The next time Sloppy visits the Boffin house, Mrs. Boffin offers to give him his dinner there every day. The boy practically cries at this generosity. Mrs. Boffin also offers to give Sloppy a place in her own home. But Sloppy says he can never abandon old Miss Higden, since she has done so much for him.
    • Mrs. Boffin admires Sloppy's devotion.
  • Book 2, Part 9, Chapter 11

    Some Affairs of the Heart

    • Back at the schoolhouse, Miss Peecher wonders why Bradley Headstone has been acting so strangely. She figures out that he must be in love with Lizzie Hexam, and the realization practically crushes her.
    • Meanwhile, Headstone pays a visit to Lizzie's house. But once again, he gets Jenny Wren for company instead. Lizzie isn't around and he'll have to wait.
    • Headstone announces that he has come to offer Lizzie his services as a personal instructor. Lizzie turns him down, though, and he figures that the only reason can be Eugene Wrayburn. In case you didn't know, Bradley Headstone hates Eugene Wrayburn more than anyone in the world.
    • In the end, Headstone knows he's beat. But before he leaves, he gets Lizzie to promise to hear him out once more at a later time. He says he needs to tell her something, but can't just yet.
    • Once Headstone is gone, Jenny Wren asks Lizzie is she likes Eugene Wrayburn. But Lizzie plays it cool and acts all naïve, saying she's never thought about it. Which in Dickens' time was a not-so-subtle way of saying, "I think about it all the time."
  • Book 2, Part 9, Chapter 12

    More Birds of Prey

    • We look in on Rogue Riderhood, the no-good scoundrel who first ruined Gaffer Hexam's reputation and expected a reward for it. In any case, Riderhood tends to spend most of his time hanging out at home with his daughter, Pleasant. Pleasant runs a little shop that both she and her father use as a house.
    • Riderhood ducks outside for a moment, and a stranger comes into the shop looking for him. He agrees to wait until Riderhood comes back. He chats with Pleasant and says he's a sailor who's been locked up in a sickroom for the last while. He also tells Pleasant a story about the time he was attacked, robbed, and left for dead.
    • When Riderhood comes back, he throws his hat at Pleasant because he doesn't like her talking too much. The stranger tells him to leave the girl alone because she was only talking to him. Riderhood is annoyed with this command, but he softens once the stranger offers to share a bottle of liquor with him.
    • While they sit and chat, the stranger pulls out a knife that Riderhood recognizes as belonging to a man named George Radfoot. Then the stranger shows Riderhood his coat, which Riderhood also recognizes as being Radfoot's. He suddenly wonders if the stranger has come to confess to killing Radfoot. But when he asks, the stranger only answers with a shrug.
    • The stranger goes on to suggest that Riderhood is a liar for saying that Gaffer Hexam committed the Harmon murder. He even implies that George Radfoot was the dude responsible, even though the guy is dead now and can't answer for himself.
    • Finally, the stranger comes out and says that he knows Riderhood conspired with George Radfoot to kill and rob an innocent man.
    • Riderhood knows he's in trouble, so he tries to make deals. But the only deal the stranger will accept is for Riderhood to sign a statement saying that his story about Gaffer Hexam confessing to the Harmon murder was completely false. Riderhood figures he's getting off easy here, so he agrees.
    • Before leaving, the stranger says that he plans on claiming the reward for solving John Harmon's murder. And when he claims it, he plans on "sharing" the reward with Riderhood, though we don't totally know what he means by this.
  • Book 2, Part 9, Chapter 13

    A Solo and a Duet

    • After leaving Riderhood's house, the stranger heads into the London streets. At this point, the narrator of the book informs us that the stranger is none other than Mr. Rokesmith, a.k.a. Julius Handford.
    • As the guy walks around, he talks to himself, repeating everything that has happened to him in the past few years. We learn that he is none other than John Harmon, the heir to the Harmon fortune who's supposed to be dead! Dang, plot twist.
    • As we read on, we find out that John Harmon was drugged, robbed, and left for dead by Riderhood and his partner-in-crime, George Radfoot. But John Harmon survived and spent the next day or two in a daze. By the time he came to, he realized that everyone thought he was dead.
    • Wait a second. If John Harmon isn't dead, then whom did Gaffer Hexam fish out of the river at the beginning of the book?
    • It all started when people on Harmon's boat started to mistake him for the boat's third mate, George Radfoot. It turns out that Harmon and Radfoot looked a lot like one another. Harmon was nervous about marrying a woman he'd never met (Bella) once he was back in England, so he made a deal with Radfoot to get matching sets of clothes and to switch identities so that Radfoot could go check things out for Harmon before he (Harmon) came forward.
    • Once they reached land, Radfoot met up with Riderhood and gave Harmon some drugged coffee, hoping to rob him and leave him for dead. It's important to know here that Harmon was carrying a good bit of money on him when he left the ship, and Radfoot knew this.
    • After getting dumped in the river, Harmon washed up on some rocks and survived. Everyone he approached thought he was drunk, and it took him several days to recover from the drug.
    • We're not quite clear how George Radfoot died, but we can only assume that Riderhood killed him after they'd gotten rid of Harmon.
    • It was twelve days before John Harmon stumbled into the police station and saw the body of Radfoot, which had been identified as John Harmon's. At this point, Harmon decided that he didn't want the life his father had laid out for him. So he decided to stay "dead."
    • When he gets back to the Boffins' house, Harmon (aka Rokesmith) runs into Bella and takes the opportunity to tell her he's in love with her. Bella is insulted by this, since she thinks she's way too good for a secretary like Rokesmith.
    • She asks Rokesmith never to mention this love again, since it'll just make her feel awkward every time she visits the Boffins.
    • Harmon promises never to bother her again. And at this moment, once and for all, he decides to let go of the memory of his life as John Harmon.
  • Book 2, Part 10, Chapter 14

    Strong of Purpose

    • John Harmon/Rokesmith returns to his lodging at Mr. Wilfer's house and chats with Mr. Wilfer, who tells him all about Bella's plans to marry someone rich. It's almost as if the man wants to tell Rokesmith he has no chance with Bella.
    • After this chat, Betty Higden shows up and informs Rokesmith that she plans on running away from her young helper, Sloppy. She knows that Sloppy has a great opportunity to live with the Boffins and is rejecting it because of his loyalty to her. So Betty has decided to take herself out of the equation by disappearing.
    • The first thing the Boffins decide is to give Sloppy some education. So they get Rokesmith (Harmon) to send for Bradley Headstone. Headstone shows up and says he's happy to help. But when he learns that the family heard of him through Lightwood (a friend of Eugene Wrayburn), he can't help but mention how much he loathes Eugene.
    • After Bradley has had his say, he leaves. Miss Betty Higden is quick to follow, although her leaving is a bit more sentimental.
  • Book 2, Part 10, Chapter 15

    The Whole Case So Far

    • Bradley Headstone takes Charley Hexam and goes to visit Lizzie at her apartment. Lizzie sees them coming and looks uncomfortable, though she greets Charley with her usual love.
    • The three of them go for a walk, and Bradley breaks off with Lizzie to ask for her hand in marriage. Lizzie wants nothing to do with him, although she's kind enough to refuse politely. But Bradley is convinced that Eugene Wrayburn is the reason she's refusing and he goes nearly insane with jealousy. In fact, he's pretty rough when he grabs Lizzie by the arm and insists that she marry him. But Lizzie refuses.
    • After they meet back up with Charley, Charley takes Lizzie aside and curses her for rejecting Mr. Headstone's proposal. He tells her he wants nothing to do with her from now on. He is mostly angry because he has tried so hard to raise himself in the world and he wants Lizzie to try to do the same. He finds it ridiculous that she wouldn't jump at the chance to be more respectable by marrying a schoolmaster.
    • Charley storms off and leaves Lizzie alone, crying. Old Mr. Riah walks by and gives Lizzie his arm. They run into Eugene Wrayburn, who'd like to talk to Lizzie alone. But Mr. Riah is protective and won't leave. In the end, the two of them walk Lizzie home and head their separate ways.
  • Book 2, Part 10, Chapter 16

    An Anniversary Occasion

    • It's time to look back in on clumsy old Mr. Twemlow. He is going to attend a breakfast for the first wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Lammle.
    • Mortimer Lightwood and Eugene Wrayburn are at the breakfast, and someone named Tippins asks Lightwood to tell everyone the latest news. Mortimer resists, but eventually Eugene gets him to say what's up.
    • The word around town is that Lizzie Hexam has completely vanished, without telling anyone where she's gone. The news has understandably upset Eugene.
    • When breakfast is finished, Mrs. Lammle takes Mr. Twemlow off to the side and asks him to do her a favor. She confesses that she and her husband have been scheming to get Georgiana Podsnap married to Fledgeby, even though Fledgeby is a total goon.
    • It sounds like Fledgeby will give Alfred Lammle a cut of Georgiana's fortune once Fledgeby has taken control of it.
    • Mrs. Lammle has gotten too attached to Georgiana to ruin her life, so she asks Mr. Twemlow to expose the whole thing to Mr. Podsnap, whose insane pride will immediately make him cut all ties with Lammle and Fledgeby.
  • Book 3, Part 11, Chapter 1

    Lodgers in Queer Street

    • Book 3 is called "A Long Lane."
    • Mr. Riah is making a visit to his boss, Mr. Fledgeby, who is still nestled snugly in bed at ten-thirty a.m. That's a pretty intense sleep-in for Dickens' time.
    • After Fledgeby makes a few ugly, bigoted remarks about Jewish people, he hears someone coming in from outside. It's the voice of Alfred Lammle, who's looking for him.
    • Fledgeby introduces Mr. Riah as an employee of Pubsey and Co. But he neglects to mention the fact that he (Fledgeby) owns this same company.
    • Lammle is there to tell Fledgeby that their plan has been blown out of the water. Mr. Podsnap has found out about their scheme to marry Georgiana and has requested that the Lammles not speak to his family anymore.
    • Fledgeby and Lammle are disappointed, and they're even angrier to think that they have no clue how Podsnap sniffed out their plans.
    • Once Lammle is gone, Fledgeby calls Mr. Riah back in and asks where Lizzie Hexam has disappeared to. He has seen Lizzie in Mr. Riah's company before and figures that Mr. Riah has had something to do with her disappearance.
    • Riah admits that he has helped Lizzie go somewhere where the people in London won't find her. He won't say exactly where, though, and Mr. Fledgeby quickly loses interest.
    • After Riah has left, Fledgeby rubs his hands together and says "Mwahahaha" and does all that cartoon villain stuff. We find out that he's been buying up a lot of properties in secret and that he now holds a bunch of people's mortgages in the palm of his hand.
  • Book 3, Part 11, Chapter 2

    A Respected Friend in a New Aspect

    • Mr. Riah shows up at Jenny Wren's place and leads her out into the street. It looks like Jenny has a packed bag with her.
    • They travel along the river and visit the Six Jolly Fellowship-Porters, the pub that Gaffer Hexam was once banned from because his reputation had been ruined. Once inside, they see Miss Potterson (the owner) and tell her they're there to restore the good name of Lizzie Hexam.
    • Mr. Riah shows Miss Potterson a letter signed by Mr. Riderhood that says he lied about Gaffer's involvement with the Harmon murder. Potterson is surprised and feels awful for the way she has treated Lizzie and her father. Apparently, Lizzie saw this letter herself and asked Mr. Riah to show it to Miss Potterson before she (Lizzie) disappeared from London.
    • Just as things are about to wrap up, a man busts into the bar and says that someone in a rowboat has been run over by a steamship coming up the river. Yikes. There goes our desire to run off and live on the river.
    • Miss Potterson asks the workers in her pub to prepare the place to treat any victims who might be brought in.
    • The only victim who ends up being brought in, though, is Mr. Riderhood. He's the dude who was run over by the steamship. Yesss. Good riddance.
    • It looks like the people connected to the Harmon murder are dropping like flies.
  • Book 3, Part 11, Chapter 3

    The Same Respected Friend in More Aspects than One

    • It takes a long time, but a doctor is able to revive Mr. Riderhood after he's been drowned in the river. Aw, man. We thought he was deader than a doornail.
    • A lot of men in the pub have been crying around Riderhood's body because, you know, death is really sad. But the moment Riderhood wakes up, everyone seems to remember what a huge jerk he is.
    • The first thing Riderhood says on waking is that he's going to sue the captain of the steamship and take him for every penny he's got. He's also cranky that no one thought to pick up his hat from the water after they'd found him. Now he's got to find a new hat. Worst…day…ever.
  • Book 3, Part 11, Chapter 4

    A Happy Return of the Day

    • It looks like Mr. and Mrs. Wilfer are celebrating their twenty-sixth wedding anniversary. But the occasion isn't all that festive because Mrs. Wilfer is a super-cold person. Mr. Wilfer tries his best to get her to say something cheerful, but she considers it beneath her to show enthusiasm of any kind.
    • During the event, Bella runs upstairs to check if Mr. Rokesmith is around. While there, she sees that he has kept a copy of the old announcement of John Harmon's death. She finds this very weird, but leaves the room untouched and heads back downstairs.
    • After dinner, Bella tells her dad about Mr. Rokesmith's declaration of love, which she rejected. Her father admits he always thought Rokesmith liked her, but Bella repeats that she thinks it's beneath her to even think of a man like Rokesmith.
    • With that all said, Bella confesses to her father that she thinks money is ruining Mr. Boffin, who used to be such a kind and innocent man.
    • Bella knows that money is making her a worse person, too. But she can't help it. She just wants more and more of it.
  • Book 3, Part 11, Chapter 5

    The Golden Dustman Falls Into Bad Company

    • Mr. Rokesmith pays a visit to Mr. Boffin, who wants to settle the terms of Mr. Rokesmith's job as his secretary. Mr. Boffin basically wants to buy Rokesmith out and out, meaning that Rokesmith will always be on the clock for whenever Boffin wants him. It sounds a lot like slavery, but Rokesmith agrees anyway.
    • Once Rokesmith is gone, Boffin tells himself that he's given Rokesmith too much power in the past and that it's time now to take him down a peg.
    • The chapter goes on to talk about how Bella often goes for walks with Mr. Boffin, and she continues to be disappointed by how mean and superficial he's becoming.
    • Bella spends a little bit of time with Mr. and Mrs. Lammle. But she's smart enough to know they aren't trustworthy and starts to keep a distance.
    • Not only is Mr. Boffin getting mean, but he's also getting more and more miserly. He even starts to admire some of history's greatest misers and cheapskates. In order to have more control, he even orders Rokesmith to move in with him so that he'll always be on hand.
    • When he's alone with Mrs. Boffin, Mr. Boffin gets a little nicer. But he puts his guard back up once his wife mentions how different he's become since getting his fortune. He says that life must be different now that they're rich. It's dog-eat-dog, baby.
  • Book 3, Part 12, Chapter 6

    The Golden Dustman Falls Into Worse Company

    • We look back in on Silas Wegg, who's been living for free in Boffin's old house and not doing much of anything. Or at least that's what it looks like. He and his buddy Mr. Venus have been searching the place from top to bottom looking for something of value.
    • One evening, Wegg and Venus are hanging out when Boffin shows up, looking for Wegg to read to him. He's okay with Mr. Venus sitting in on the reading.
    • Boffin seems too agitated to sit still for long, so he gets up and leaves the house. Once he's gone, Venus tells Wegg that he's fed up with searching. They've found nothing and Venus doesn't think they ever will. But at this moment, Wegg tells him that he has found something out in the old dust mounds behind the house.
    • At this moment, Venus and Wegg realize that Mr. Boffin has gone out to the dust mounds.
    • Wegg is worried that Boffin will dig up the box that he (Wegg) has found. But instead, Boffin climbs to the top of one of the mounds and digs up an old bottle, which he carries away. Wegg figures that whatever it is, it must be valuable. He tries to run out and take it from Boffin by force, by Mr. Venus thinks it's a bad idea.
    • The guy tackles Wegg and the two of them wrestle on the floor while Boffin gets away.
  • Book 3, Part 12, Chapter 7

    The Friendly Move Takes Up a Strong Position

    • Now that Mr. Boffin is gone, Silas Wegg and Mr. Venus sit up to catch their breath. They've been wrestling for a couple of minutes now, and it's time for Wegg to tell Venus what he found in the dust mound behind the Boffin house.
    • Wegg leads Venus out to the dust mounds, where he digs up an old hat box. Inside the box is a piece of paper. It's a version of Old Man Harmon's will that leaves all of his money to the government and not to Mr. Boffin. If Wegg were ever to show this will to the authorities, Boffin would lose everything.
    • If you know your 19th-century literature, you know what this means… it's blackmail time! Woo-hoo! And Wegg plans on splitting whatever he gets out of Boffin with Mr. Venus.
    • Mr. Venus suggests that they retreat back to his store to look at the paper some more. Once they get there, though, he traps Wegg and threatens him until Wegg gives him the will. Venus won't take the chance of letting Wegg double-cross him.
    • With that all settled, Wegg and Venus decide to wait until Mr. Boffin has sold off all his dust mounds so they can cut into the money that Boffin will make from the sale.
  • Book 3, Part 13, Chapter 8

    The End of a Long Journey

    • Now it's time to look in on Betty Higden, who you might remember as the old woman who disappeared because she wanted her young companion, Sloppy (we can't not laugh when we hear that name), to have a better life with Mr. and Mrs. Boffin. Well, it looks like her journey has taken its toll on her and that she's pretty sickly.
    • As she travels, Betty gets weaker and weaker until there's hardly any strength left in her. She leans up against a tree near a mill and resigns herself to dying.
    • But it's not quite Betty's time yet. She's found by none other than (drumroll please…) Lizzie Hexam, who's been out of this book for quite a while now. Welcome back to the story, Lizzie.
    • Betty can't talk all that well, but Lizzie understands that Betty wants her to read the note in her pocket. After reading it, Lizzie promises to give it to the people mentioned in it.
  • Book 3, Part 13, Chapter 9

    Somebody Becomes the Subject of a Prediction

    • It's Betty Higden's funeral now, so it looks like the old woman didn't survive after all. Aww. At the funeral, Mr. Rokesmith and Bella Wilfer meet Lizzie Hexam for the first time.
    • After Lizzie leaves them for a moment, Rokesmith and Bella talk about how great she is. Bella changes the subject to how terribly Mr. Boffin has been treating Rokesmith. Rokesmith is happy to know that she cares.
    • When Lizzie returns, she and Bella hit it off right away and they agree to be good friends going forward. While talking, they realize how they are both connected to the death of John Harmon, since Bella was supposed to be this man's wife and Lizzie's dad is the one who found John's body (which we now know was the body of George Radfoot).
    • Lizzie confides to Bella that she has left London because she is avoiding people who've been making advances on her. But as she talks, she admits she's in love with the man who's been pursuing her. It's pretty clear here that she's talking about Eugene Wrayburn and not Bradley Headstone.
    • Lizzie ends the meeting by saying that she knows Bella is in love with somebody too. It's just that Bella hasn't admitted it to herself yet.
  • Book 3, Part 13, Chapter 10

    Scouts Out

    • Back in London, Mr. Eugene Wrayburn is visiting Jenny Wren and asking her to make him a doll's dress for his goddaughter. Jenny knows that he's just there to find out where Lizzie is, though.
    • Jenny Wren's drunken father comes into the house and hears Jenny talking with Eugene. But it isn't long before Jenny scolds him and tells him to go to his room.
    • Frustrated, Eugene heads back to the law office. He isn't there long before Jenny Wren's dad shows up behind him, stinking drunk.
    • The guy offers Eugene the directions to Lizzie's new address in exchange for fifteen shillings, which this guy wants to buy booze with.
    • After the guy leaves, Eugene lets Mortimer Lightwood in on the whole story of how he has made an enemy out of Bradley Headstone by constantly burning the guy with insults and zingers. Mortimer feels like Eugene might get some comeuppance one day, but Eugene is pretty confident he won't. He laughs at how Headstone has been following his every move day and night, probably because he thinks Eugene knows where Lizzie is.
  • Book 3, Part 14, Chapter 11

    In the Dark

    • We join Mr. Bradley Headstone, who's been following Eugene Wrayburn in the hope that Eugene will lead him to Lizzie Hexam. Finally, he goes to Eugene's place of work and asks for him.
    • While he's waiting outside, another guy comes up to the door and asks for Mr. Mortimer Lightwood. The man is none other than Riderhood, and he and Headstone quickly realize they have something in common. They both hate Eugene Wrayburn.
    • Headstone realizes that he might be able to use Riderhood to his advantage. Out of nowhere, he offers Riderhood five shillings, although he doesn't say right away what he wants for it.
    • Headstone asks Riderhood whether he's ever seen Eugene Wrayburn being "friendly" with Lizzie Hexam, and Riderhood confirms that he has. Now Headstone's jealousy looks like it's going to boil over.
    • Headstone says he'll come visit Riderhood soon at the place he works, which is now a river lock.
  • Book 3, Part 14, Chapter 12

    Meaning Mischief

    • Mr. and Mrs. Lammle are getting desperate. All of their schemes to get quick money have failed and it's only a matter of time before they're totally bankrupt. But Alfred still has another plan up his sleeve. He thinks he can plant suspicions in Mr. Boffin's mind and get him to fire Mr. Rokesmith as his secretary. With this accomplished, Alfred plans on becoming Rokesmith's replacement.
    • Mr. Fledgeby shows up at the door, and Alfred uses this opportunity to ask him if he (Fledgeby) can use his influence to get Mr. Riah to back off on Alfred's debt.
    • In case you missed it, here's the situation. Alfred's debts are due to be paid, and he thinks that Mr. Riah is the man he's in debt with. In reality, Mr. Riah is just a puppet of Fledgeby, who runs the whole money-lending operation. So Fledgeby is being completely manipulative when he tells Alfred he'll plead his case to Mr. Riah.
    • Fledgeby leaves the Lammles' house and goes straight to his office to order Mr. Riah to call in all their debts and ruin them. He's a jerk… although the Lammles are no saints either.
  • Book 3, Part 14, Chapter 13

    Give a Dog a Bad Name, and Hang Him

    • Back at his business office, Fledgeby wanders around with nothing to do. Eventually, Miss Jenny Wren shows up to buy some scrap fabric off of Mr. Riah, which she uses for making her dolls' dresses.
    • Jenny decides to wait until Mr. Riah gets back. In the meantime, Mr. Twemlow shows up. When Mr. Riah gets in, Twemlow asks for an extension on his current loan payment. But a quick glance from Fledgeby tells Riah to reject the request for mercy.
    • Riah looks so cruel in doing this that Jenny Wren runs off, calling him a villain. Meanwhile, it looks like Twemlow is going to be ruined. Fledgeby even pretends to argue his case with Riah, but he secretly tells Riah to reject any pleas for mercy.
  • Book 3, Part 14, Chapter 14

    Mr. Wegg Prepares a Grindstone for Mr. Boffin's Nose

    • As weeks go by, Silas Wegg continues to bide his time and read to Mr. Boffin as if everything is fine and dandy. He makes sure to invite Mr. Venus to their reading sessions to keep him close by.
    • One night, Mr. Venus hands Mr. Boffin a piece of paper without Wegg noticing. When Boffin sees it, Venus puts a finger to his lips. The note asks Mr. Boffin to meet Venus back at his taxidermy shop.
    • Back at the shop, Venus tells Mr. Boffin all about Wegg's scheme. Boffin asks why Venus is telling him this, and Venus replies that his conscience has been weighing heavily on him. Boffin asks if Venus will give him the copy of Harmon's will that Wegg plans to blackmail him with, but Venus refuses. It seems that Venus thinks the only honest course of action is to keep the true will safe and not to let Wegg use it for personal gain.
    • Silas Wegg comes knocking on the door of Venus' shop. Mr. Boffin hides behind a stuffed alligator while Wegg stomps around and brags about his fiendish plan to blackmail Boffin.
    • After Wegg has left, Boffin comes back out from hiding and asks Venus if he'd be willing to go along with Wegg's plan until Boffin sells off his dust mounds. Venus is tough to convince at first, but Boffin promises to make it worth his while.
    • On his walk home, Boffin gets picked up by the Lammles' carriage. They offer him a ride, and it looks like Alfred Lammle is about to initiate Operation Get-Rokesmith-Fired-and-Replace-Him.
  • Book 3, Part 15, Chapter 15

    The Golden Dustman at His Worst

    • It's breakfast at the Boffins' place, and both Bella and Rokesmith are there as usual. Mr. Boffin usually loves these breakfasts, but on this occasion, he comes in with a dark face and you just know there's some trouble brewing. It's probably because he knows about Wegg's plan.
    • But that's not it at all. The reason Boffin is really angry is because the Lammles have told him about Rokesmith's declaration of love to Bella Wilfer. That's old news to us by now, but Boffin is hearing it for the first time. He thinks that Rokesmith is just a fortune hunter who wormed his way into Boffin's house with the hope of getting Bella's money.
    • Bella tries to defend Rokesmith, but Boffin won't hear of it.
    • The conversation blows up into a ten-page fight, with Boffin yelling at Rokesmith and Bella yelling at Boffin. It all ends with Rokesmith getting fired and Bella vowing to walk away from Mr. and Mrs. Boffin forever.
    • Before Rokesmith goes, Bella apologizes for any trouble she has caused him and any insults he's had to endure because of her. She's grown up a lot since we saw her talking as though Rokesmith's love for her was an insult.
    • Once Rokesmith is gone, Bella admits to Mr. and Mrs. Boffin that she has come to love him. And with that, she walks away from the Boffins (and from her personal fortune) forever.
    • Bella leaves the house and thinks about how nice it'll be to visit her poor father.
  • Book 3, Part 15, Chapter 16

    The Feast of the Three Hobgoblins

    • After storming out of the Boffin house, Bella walks the streets of London. Instead of heading home, she turns toward the counting house where her father works and asks to share lunch with him. Her father is surprised to find her wearing shabby clothes, but she tells him that she has broken with the Boffins and won't be rich after all.
    • Bella sees her father's workplace for the first time and realizes how shabby it is. While they chat about the life that lies ahead, Mr. Rokesmith shows up and takes Bella in his arms.
    • He realizes that she has given up her life of fortune for him, and the two of them decide they'll be together forever. Of course, the two of them turn to Mr. Wilfer first and ask his consent, which he gives.
    • There's going to be a problem with telling Mrs. Wilfer, though, since she's so proud and uptight that she'll lose her mind at the idea of Bella abandoning her fortune to marry an unemployed secretary.
    • Once everything is settled, Mr. Wilfer returns home with Bella to tell Mrs. Wilfer about Bella's break with the Boffins. It doesn't go so well.
  • Book 3, Part 15, Chapter 17

    A Social Chorus

    • Well it looks like the Lammles have run out of time. Their mortgage is toast and all of their stuff is getting sold in a public auction to pay their debts.
    • The Veneerings feel bad for the Lammles, so they do the only thing they know how to do: host a dinner.
    • Meanwhile, Mrs. Lammle pays a visit to Mr. Twemlow. She wants to tell him that the truth about her scheme with Georgiana Podsnap was for one-time use only. In other words, if Twemlow sees Mrs. Lammle up to no good in the future, he's not allowed to rat her out. Twemlow is uncomfortable, but he agrees.
    • Before Mrs. Lammle leaves, she learns that Twemlow is in debt trouble with Pubsey and Co., the same company that bankrupted the Lammles. She takes the opportunity to inform Twemlow that Pubsey and Co. is actually owned by his cousin, Mr. Fledgeby, and not by Mr. Riah (which Fledgeby has led everyone to believe). Mr. Twemlow can't believe how badly he's been betrayed.
    • At the Veneerings' dinner, everyone is talking about the Lammles' bankruptcy scandal. People are amazed that a couple could live so far beyond its means without ever telling anyone.
    • During the dinner, Eugene Wrayburn's assistant calls him away and tells him there's a man waiting to speak with him. Eugene goes out to meet the man, who is none other than Jenny Wren's drunk daddy. The guy has found the address of Lizzie Hexam and he wants his fifteen shillings. Eugene is more than happy to give it to him for this information.
  • Book 4, Part 16, Chapter 1

    Setting Traps

    • Book 4 is called "A Turning," which gives us hope that everything will end up a-okay for everyone who deserves it. Pretty please?
    • Mr. Riderhood has found himself a new job working at a lock along the river. It's a pretty lonely job, since he spends a lot of time sitting around and waiting for a boat to pass through. But then again, Riderhood is lazy. So it all works out.
    • Eugene Wrayburn passes through the lock in a rowboat and takes the opportunity to say a few rude things.
    • Once Eugene is gone, Riderhood sits down on some grass. But then Bradley Headstone comes walking along and Riderhood jumps to attention. He knows that Headstone is looking for Eugene, and he happily points in the direction where Eugene just took his boat.
    • Bradley Headstone makes a few threatening remarks about Eugene, since both he and Riderhood know that Eugene is going to see Lizzie Hexam.
    • Headstone moves on, but there's something about the way he looked that has troubled Riderhood. Headstone was wearing the exact same suit of clothes that Riderhood now has on. Riderhood decides to test a theory by changing his scarf. If Bradley sees him again and changes his scarf too, Riderhood will know something's wrong.
    • Later that day, Bradley Headstone returns to the lock, hoping that he can stay the night with Riderhood. The two of them stand by the edge of the lock and discuss how easy it would be for someone to drown in it. Uh oh.
    • Headstone heads inside the lock cabin to rest. He and Riderhood have a bite together, and Riderhood notices that Bradley keeps sneaking glances at his new scarf. A-ha.
    • Headstone disappears for a few days. But when he finally returns, he tells Riderhood that he has seen Eugene walking with Lizzie. Riderhood wants to know what he's going to do about it, but Headstone is silent.
    • Once Headstone falls asleep that night, Riderhood sneaks across the room and looks under the collar of his coat. Sure enough, the guy has changed his scarf so that he's once again wearing the exact same outfit as Riderhood. Riderhood doesn't get a good feeling from this at all. He senses some sort of frame-up coming.
  • Book 4, Part 16, Chapter 2

    The Golden Dustman Rises a Little

    • The bankrupt Lammles have come to have breakfast with the Boffins. Of course, Mr. Lammle is still angling for the position as Mr. Boffin's secretary.
    • Mr. Boffin presents Mr. and Mrs. Lammle with a hundred pounds as a reward for them telling him about Mr. Rokesmith's pursuit of Bella. The Lammles take the money happily. Mrs. Lammle then asks whether she could ever hope to take the place of Bella Wilfer in the Boffins' hearts (and in their wallets). But Mr. Boffin will have none of it. He thinks it's best if the Boffins go their way and the Lammles go theirs.
    • Just as the Lammles are about to leave, young Georgiana Podsnap runs in and hugs Mrs. Lammle, saying she can't believe that the Lammles are bankrupt. She gives Mrs. Lammle a necklace to sell to help her out with her money troubles. Mr. Boffin takes the necklace and says he'll make sure it's sold at a good price.
    • Once Georgiana is gone, Boffin says he'll make sure the necklace goes back to her. Basically, he knows the Lammles are frauds. He promises not to tell Georgiana, though.
    • With that, the Lammles leave. We'll probably never see them again.
  • Book 4, Part 16, Chapter 3

    The Golden Dustman Sinks Again

    • The night after meeting the Lammles, Mr. Boffin kisses his wife and heads out on the town. He goes to meet with Mr. Venus and the two of them head to Mr. Wegg's house (which is actually Boffin's house).
    • At the house, Wegg decides that the time has come to spring his trap. He tells Boffin all about the will he found. You know, the will that leaves all of Old Man Harmon's money to the government and nothing to Mr. Boffin.
    • Mr. Boffin asks to see the will, so Wegg leads him to Venus' shop and holds his arms behind his back while Venus shows him the piece of paper. Boffin has no choice but to admit defeat. He is Wegg's slave now.
  • Book 4, Part 16, Chapter 4

    A Runaway Match

    • Mr. Wilfer sneaks out of bed without waking his wife and joins his daughter Bella before leaving the house. Before long, they meet up with John Rokesmith.
    • Bella gives John a letter to mail to her mother. The letter says that she (Bella) and John have gotten married. It looks like they don't plan on having Mrs. Wilfer present at the wedding. The letter also says nothing about Mr. Wilfer being there.
    • Before you know it, Rokesmith and Bella are husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride, blah blah blah. It's a sealed deal. Now comes the hard part: facing Mrs. Wilfer's wrath.
  • Book 4, Part 17, Chapter 5

    Concerning the Mendicant's Bride

    • When Mr. Wilfer gets back from the wedding, his wife is out of bed and she wants to know where he's been. She also finds it weird that he doesn't ask where Bella is. She definitely smells something fishy about his disappearance, but he fibs his way out of the conversation.
    • Mrs. Wilfer takes the opportunity to tell Mr. Wilfer that he no longer has a daughter named Bella because Bella is now dead to them. Yeah, she's a pretty harsh lady.
    • Eventually, Bella comes home with Mr. Rokesmith to face her mother. She's actually pretty casual about the whole thing, saying that Mr. Rokesmith has made her a better person. They explain how they're going to get by financially and how they'll have everything they need.
    • When they leave the Wilfer house, Bella asks John what's on his mind. He says he's been thinking about whether she misses being rich.
    • Let's not forget that this is John Harmon speaking, and he could step up and claim his family fortune at any moment if he wants to. But Bella says she'll have everything she wants if they can just be together.
    • And so Mr. and Mrs. Rokesmith begin their married life. But as months go by, John keeps asking Bella if she'd like to be rich. When she asks why, he dodges the question. Then one day, Bella tells John that she's pregnant.
  • Book 4, Part 17, Chapter 6

    A Cry For Help

    • We're back with Mr. Eugene Wrayburn, who is on his way to meet Lizzie Hexam. When they see each other, Lizzie is nervous. She asks Mr. Wrayburn to leave the neighborhood the next day and to stop bothering her.
    • The truth is that Lizzie really likes Eugene. But she knows he has no intention of marrying her, since she's so far beneath him socially.
    • Before he leaves, Eugene wants to know what Lizzie would think of him if the two of them were on equal terms socially. She gives a vague answer, and he kisses her once before keeping his promise and leaving.
    • Walking away, Eugene thinks about how much he's grown as a person since meeting Lizzie. He's way less selfish, and deep down, he thinks that he truly—
    • Wham! Wait, what happened? There's someone attacking Eugene now. Eugene has just enough strength to turn and try to grab onto his attacker. But it's no use. Both his arms are broken and his head is smashed in. The attacker tosses Eugene into the river and leaves him for dead.
    • Meanwhile, Lizzie is walking alone along the river when she hears a scuffle. She heads toward the source of the noise and finds Eugene lying in the river, though his face is so bloody she doesn't know it's him.
    • Using all he strength, Lizzie pulls Eugene to shore and brings him into the local pub. The doctor who shows up is amazed that someone Lizzie's size was able to carry Eugene's body all the way to the pub. In any case, the doctor doesn't think Eugene has any chance of survival.
  • Book 4, Part 17, Chapter 7

    Better to be Abel than Cain

    • Bradley Headstone arrives back at Mr. Riderhood's lock and knocks on the door. Once inside, Headstone tells Riderhood that he'll be heading back to London.
    • Headstone sits down to eat with Riderhood. But while slicing some pie, he cuts his hand and shakes blood all over Riderhood's clothes.
    • After a while, Headstone says he's going to head out for a while. Riderhood follows him and sees him bathing in the river. But when Headstone comes back out of the river, he leaves his old clothes behind and puts on a new suit altogether. Riderhood is again suspicious. After all, he's heard news already of the murder of Eugene Wrayburn.
    • The next day, Headstone returns to London and resumes his job as a teacher. He bumps into Charley Hexam and asks after Charley's sister. But Charley says he never wants anything to do with Lizzie ever again.
    • Meanwhile, back at the river lock, Mr. Riderhood fishes around in the river until he finds the bundle of clothes that Bradley Headstone dumped into the water.
  • Book 4, Part 18, Chapter 8

    A Few Grains of Pepper

    • Mr. Fledgeby heads into Jenny Wren's place looking for Mr. Riah. During the conversation, Jenny Wren figures out that Mr. Fledgeby is actually the man behind Pubsey and Co. So she was hard on her friend Mr. Riah for no good reason. Riah is nothing more than Fledgeby's puppet.
    • The real reason Fledgeby is there is because he'd like to know where Lizzie Hexam is.
    • Fledgeby leaves by promising Jenny Wren all the scrap fabric she'll ever need if she tells him where Lizzie is.
    • The next day, Jenny heads toward Fledgeby's place. But she's stopped by a stern lady who won't let her upstairs to see Fledgeby. The women is none other than Mrs. Lammle, whose husband Alfred is upstairs beating up Fledgeby for being a deceiving jerk. After all, it was Fledgeby who brought the Lammles into bankruptcy. Oh yeah, and Mr. Lammle puts pepper up Fledgeby's nose to add insult to injury.
    • After the Lammles leave, Jenny heads upstairs and finds Fledgeby rolling around on the floor, in pain from all the pepper up his nose.
    • Fledgeby asks Jenny to help him by mixing up some plaster and making casts and bandages for him. Jenny is happy to oblige, but not before she puts more pepper into the plaster and slaps the plaster around Mr. Fledgeby's cuts, making them hurt even more. She leaves Fledgeby rolling around on the floor in pain. Awesome.
  • Book 4, Part 18, Chapter 9

    Two Places Vacated

    • Jenny goes from Fledgeby's place over to the offices of Pubsey and Co., where she finds Mr. Riah. She tells Riah she knows about Fledgeby, and Riah finally tells her the whole story of how Fledgeby has used him as a screen to make people think an old Jewish man is cheating them when it's actually Fledgeby.
    • While they talk, Riah receives a letter from Fledgeby saying that his debt is all paid and he won't have to work as Fledgeby's decoy anymore. Both Riah and Jenny are glad he's a free man again.
    • Meanwhile, Jenny's father has taken advantage of Jenny's absence and disappeared from his house. He has gone into London to look for something to drink away his sorrows. But on his trip, he gets teased by a group of young troublemakers. The ordeal sends the man into a fit, and he doesn't know what to do but retreat to the office of Mortimer Lightwood, which is the only place he knows nearby.
    • Mortimer isn't there, so the young assistant gives Jenny's dad a shilling for cab fare home. But the man just spends it on drinks. When the money's gone, he returns to Lightwood's office looking for more. But no one will let him in, so he bangs on the door until he collapses.
    • A crowd gathers around the man. Eventually, Jenny passes by and sees him. The crowd takes him to a nearby doctor's shop, but the dude dies.
    • After the funeral preparations are made, Jenny receives a note from Mortimer Lightwood. He wants Jenny to tell Lizzie Hexam that Eugene Wrayburn is dying.
  • Book 4, Part 18, Chapter 10

    The Dolls' Dressmaker Discovers a Word

    • We look in on Eugene Wrayburn, who lies on the edge of death. Jenny has arrived to be at his side. The guy has barely moved since she got there.
    • Eugene tells Mortimer that it was Bradley Headstone who attacked him. But here's the thing. Eugene wants Mortimer to promise that the police will never pursue Headstone for the crime. The scandal would drag Lizzie's name through the mud and ruin her life, and Eugene doesn't want to see that happen.
    • For the next few days, Eugene drifts in and out of consciousness, repeating Lizzie's name. Eventually, Mortimer learns from Jenny that Eugene's dying wish is to be married to Lizzie, even though the marriage will only last a few hours before he dies.
    • By the end of the chapter, Lizzie has appeared and taken her place at Eugene's bedside.
  • Book 4, Part 18, Chapter 11

    Effect is Given to the Dolls' Dressmmaker's Discovery

    • We look back in on Bella Wilfer (now Bella Rokesmith), who is sewing. There is a knock at the door, and Bella goes to find Mortimer Lightwood standing on the front step. He has come to invite Bella to the wedding of Lizzie Hexam and Eugene Wrayburn.
    • While she's showing Mortimer into the house, Mr. Rokesmith arrives. But he avoids seeing Lightwood and refuses to attend Lizzie's wedding. After all, Rokesmith is really John Harmon, and he knows Lightwood will recognize him if they meet.
    • In any case, there's no time to lose. Lizzie and Eugene need to get married ASAP before Eugene dies, so Bella and Mortimer head off to meet the priest and hightail it to Eugene's bedside.
    • While the Reverend Milvey talks about the wedding in the train station, a passing Bradley Headstone overhears the chatter and nearly faints when he hears that Lizzie Hexam is marrying Eugene. That means Eugene is alive and that Headstone is bound to go to jail… or worse.
    • A few pages later, Eugene and Lizzie are married. Eugene feels like he's wasted his entire life until the moment he has married Lizzie. He almost wishes he could die right away so that Lizzie's last memory of him would be a good one.
  • Book 4, Part 19, Chapter 12

    The Passing Shadow

    • Time passes and Bella Rokesmith gives birth to a baby girl. Once this happens, though, she notices her husband John showing more and more signs of stress. As time passes, he makes more and more comments about how nice things would be for them if they were rich.
    • Then one day Bella and John round a corner in London and run straight into Mortimer Lightwood, who recognizes John immediately as Julius Handford. The police have been looking for Handford for quite some time, and Lightwood insists it's his duty to make sure John comes forward in the Harmon murder case.
    • After this run-in, Bella swears her loyalty to Rokesmith, even though he's suspected to be Julius Handford who killed Harmon.
    • Later, the police inspector shows up at the Rokesmith house to question John about the Harmon murder. But John sets the inspector straight by taking him to a nearby pub where there are two sailors who recognize John instantly as John Harmon.
    • After the whole story has come out, John tells Bella that they'll need to move to a new, nicer house in downtown London.
    • Next thing you know, John and Bella are in a carriage and pulling up to a fancy house in London. And who should come out of the house to welcome them but Mr. and Mrs. Boffin?
  • Book 4, Part 19, Chapter 13

    Showing How the Golden Dustman Helped to Scatter Dust

    • Apparently, Mr. and Mrs. Boffin have known that Mr. Rokesmith was actually John Harmon for some time. Mrs. Boffin figured it out one night when the light of a fireplace caught John's face in a way that made him look like the little boy Mrs. Boffin used to take care of.
    • They sit Bella down and break the news. She had no clue.
    • From the moment the Boffins knew, Mr. Boffin decided to act like a jerk and to pretend that his money was making him evil. But why go to all this trouble, you ask?
    • Because John Harmon wanted to make sure that Bella Wilfer had a good heart, deep down. She ended up passing his test when she chose him over the Boffins' money.
    • Now you might be saying, "Hey, this is a pretty lousy thing to do to Bella." And you'd be right. But readers in Dickens' time probably didn't see anything wrong with it.
  • Book 4, Part 19, Chapter 14

    Checkmate to the Friendly Move

    • John and Bella Harmon just so happen to take up their new house in London when the last dust mound is shipped out of Mr. Boffin's backyard. Silas Wegg decides that this is the time to make good on his threats and demand his money from Boffin. But the plan doesn't go as he thought it would.
    • Do you remember when Wegg first found Old Man Harmon's will? That same night, he looked outside and saw Mr. Boffin dig up an old glass bottle and run off with it? Well it turns out this bottle contained another will that's dated after the one Wegg has, and this will leaves everything to John Harmon, who is alive after all.
    • So here's the deal. Mr. Boffin tells Wegg that the jig is up and Wegg has nothing to threaten him with.
    • With all that said and done, the young man Sloppy takes Wegg by the collar and tosses him out of the house, straight into a garbage cart that's out in the street. So that's good riddance to ol' Mr. Wegg.
  • Book 4, Part 19, Chapter 15

    What was Caught in the Traps that were Set

    • Bradley Headstone has heard that Eugene Wrayburn was indeed married in bed, and it seems as though he's going to get better. Now Headstone can't figure out why the police haven't come for him yet. He figures that maybe Eugene didn't identify him after all.
    • During one of Headstone's classes one day, Mr. Riderhood barges in and whispers to him that he knows about his whole scheme. Riderhood knows that Headstone arranged his clothing to look exactly like Riderhood's when he killed Eugene Wrayburn.
    • Riderhood also knows that Headstone intentionally cut his hand and shook blood over Riderhood's clothes to incriminate him further.
    • Riderhood invites Headstone back to his house at the river lock for a friendly chat. When Headstone gets there, Riderhood tells him that he (Riderhood) has all the evidence he needs to get Headstone convicted of trying to murder Eugene Wrayburn. And you know what that means...
    • ... more blackmail!
    • Except this time around the blackmail doesn't last long. Headstone lunges at Riderhood and pulls him into the river lock. Riderhood isn't scared because he's certain a man can't drown once he's been revived from drowning before. But he's wrong, and both men die in the lock. Womp womp.
  • Book 4, Part 19, Chapter 16

    Persons and Things in General

    • Now that everything is squared away, John and Bella Harmon use their newfound wealth to benefit all of their friends—people like Jenny Wren and Lizzie Hexam and even Mr. Riah. So it looks like all of the good guys win together. Oh yeah, and Eugene ends up surviving his attempted murder by Headstone, although it takes him a long time to recover.
    • Toward the end of the story, the young man Sloppy meets Jenny Wren by accident, and the two of them really hit it off. It looks like there might be some romance in Jenny's life after all… even if it has to be with a dude named Sloppy.
    • Eugene's dad is disappointed that his son married a girl of such low social standing, but he ends up accepting it in the end (especially since it's already done and is legally binding).
  • Book 4, Part 19, Chapter 17

    The Voice of Society

    • The book closes with a final look in on one of the Veneerings' dinner parties. A woman named Tippins says that it's an absolute disgrace that Eugene Wrayburn would marry the daughter of a river worker.
    • But who should step up and defend Eugene but the shy Mr. Twemlow, who says that love is all that matters. The people in the party don't agree with him at all, but Eugene's friend Mortimer is grateful for Twemlow's bravery in speaking out against all the snobs and jerks of the London upper class.