'And with a footman up behind, with a bar across, to keep his legs from being poled! And with a coachman up in front, sinking down into a seat big enough for three of him, all covered with upholstery in green and white! And with two bay horses tossing their heads and stepping higher than they trot long-ways! And with you and me leaning back inside, as grand as ninepence! Oh-h-h-h My! Ha ha ha ha ha!'
Mrs Boffin clapped her hands again, rocked herself again, beat her feet upon the floor, and wiped the tears of laughter from her eyes.
'And what, my old lady,' inquired Mr Boffin, when he also had sympathetically laughed: 'what's your views on the subject of the Bower?'
'Shut it up. Don't part with it, but put somebody in it, to keep it.'
'Any other views?'
'Noddy,' said Mrs Boffin, coming from her fashionable sofa to his side on the plain settle, and hooking her comfortable arm through his, 'Next I think--and I really have been thinking early and late--of the disappointed girl; her that was so cruelly disappointed, you know, both of her husband and his riches. Don't you think we might do something for her? Have her to live with us? Or something of that sort?'
'Ne-ver once thought of the way of doing it!' cried Mr Boffin, smiting the table in his admiration. 'What a thinking steam-ingein this old lady is. And she don't know how she does it. Neither does the ingein!'
Mrs Boffin pulled his nearest ear, in acknowledgment of this piece of philosophy, and then said, gradually toning down to a motherly strain: 'Last, and not least, I have taken a fancy. You remember dear little John Harmon, before he went to school? Over yonder across the yard, at our fire? Now that he is past all benefit of the money, and it's come to us, I should like to find some orphan child, and take the boy and adopt him and give him John's name, and provide for him. Somehow, it would make me easier, I fancy. Say it's only a whim--'
'But I don't say so,' interposed her husband.
'No, but deary, if you did--'
'I should be a Beast if I did,' her husband interposed again.
'That's as much as to say you agree? Good and kind of you, and like you, deary! And don't you begin to find it pleasant now,' said Mrs Boffin, once more radiant in her comely way from head to foot, and once more smoothing her dress with immense enjoyment, 'don't you begin to find it pleasant already, to think that a child will be made brighter, and better, and happier, because of that poor sad child that day? And isn't it pleasant to know that the good will be done with the poor sad child's own money?'
'Yes; and it's pleasant to know that you are Mrs Boffin,' said her husband, 'and it's been a pleasant thing to know this many and many a year!' It was ruin to Mrs Boffin's aspirations, but, having so spoken, they sat side by side, a hopelessly Unfashionable pair.
These two ignorant and unpolished people had guided themselves so far on in their journey of life, by a religious sense of duty and desire to do right. Ten thousand weaknesses and absurdities might have been detected in the breasts of both; ten thousand vanities additional, possibly, in the breast of the woman. But the hard wrathful and sordid nature that had wrung as much work out of them as could be got in their best days, for as little money as could be paid to hurry on their worst, had never been so warped but that it knew their moral straightness and respected it. In its own despite, in a constant conflict with itself and them, it had done so. And this is the eternal law. For, Evil often stops short at itself and dies with the doer of it; but Good, never.
Through his most inveterate purposes, the dead Jailer of Harmony Jail had known these two faithful servants to be honest and true. While he raged at them and reviled them for opposing him with the speech of the honest and true, it had scratched his stony heart, and he had perceived the powerlessness of all his wealth to buy them if he had addressed himself to the attempt.