Our Mutual Friend

Mutual Friend, Our.—A novel by Charles Dickens. The “mutual friend” is Mr. Boffin, the golden dustman, who was the mutual friend of John Harmon and of Bella Wilfer. The tale is this: John Harmon was supposed to have been murdered by Julius Handford; but it was Ratford, who was murdered by Rogue Riderhood, and the mistake arose from a resemblance between the two persons. By his father's will, John Harmon was to marry Bella Wilfer; but John Harmon knew not the person destined by his father for his wife, and made up his mind to dislike her. After his supposed murder, he assumed the name of John Rokesmith, and became the secretary of Mr. Boffin, “the golden dustman,” residuary legatee of old John Harmon, by which he became possessor of one hundred thousand dollars. Boffin knew Rokesmith, but concealed his knowledge for a time. At Boffin's house John Harmon (as Rokesmith) met Bella Wilfer, and fell in love with her. Mr. Boffin, in order to test Bella's love, pretended to be angry with Rokesmith for presuming to love Bella; and, as Bella married him, he cast them both off “for a time,” to live on John's earnings. A babe was born, and then the husband took the young mother to a beautiful house, and told her he was John Harmon, that the house was their house, that he was the possessor of five hundred thousand dollars through the disinterested conduct of their “mutual friend,” Mr. Boffin, and the young couple live happily with Mr. and Mrs. Boffin, in wealth and luxury.