Our Mutual friend

  • Our Mutual friend
  • Product Code: A2-38793
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Our Mutual friend by Charles dickens 


In these times of ours, though concerning the exact year there is no need to be

precise, a boat of dirty and disreputable appearance, with two figures in it,

floated on the Thames, between Southwark bridge which is of iron, and London

Bridge which is of stone, as an autumn evening was closing in.

The figures in this boat were those of a strong man with ragged grizzled hair

and a sun-browned face, and a dark girl of nineteen or twenty, sufficiently like

him to be recognizable as his daughter. The girl rowed, pulling a pair of sculls

very easily; the man, with the rudder-lines slack in his hands, and his hands

loose in his waistband, kept an eager look out. He had no net, hook, or line, and

he could not be a fisherman; his boat had no cushion for a sitter, no paint, no

inscription, no appliance beyond a rusty boathook and a coil of rope, and he

could not be a waterman; his boat was too crazy and too small to take in cargo

for delivery, and he could not be a lighterman or river-carrier; there was no clue

to what he looked for, but he looked for something, with a most intent and

searching gaze. The tide, which had turned an hour before, was running down,

and his eyes watched every little race and eddy in its broad sweep, as the boat

made slight head-way against it, or drove stern foremost before it, according as

he directed his daughter by a movement of his head. She watched his face as

earnestly as he watched the river. But, in the intensity of her look there was a

touch of dread or horror.

Allied to the bottom of the river rather than the surface, by reason of the slime

and ooze with which it was covered, and its sodden state, this boat and the two

figures in it obviously were doing something that they often did, and were

seeking what they often sought. Half savage as the man showed, with no

covering on his matted head, with his brown arms bare to between the elbow and

the shoulder, with the loose knot of a looser kerchief lying low on his bare breast

in a wilderness of beard and whisker, with such dress as he wore seeming to be

made out of the mud that begrimed his boat, still there was a business-like usage

in his steady gaze. So with every lithe action of the girl, with every turn of her

wrist, perhaps most of all with her look of dread or horror; they were things of


Keep her out, Lizzie. Tide runs strong here. Keep her well afore the sweep of


Trusting to the girl’s skill and making no use of the rudder, he eyed the

coming tide with an absorbed attention. So the girl eyed him. But, it happened

now, that a slant of light from the setting sun glanced into the bottom of the boat,

and, touching a rotten stain there which bore some resemblance to the outline of

a muffled human form, coloured it as though with diluted blood. This caught the

girl’s eye, and she shivered.

‘What ails you?’ said the man, immediately aware of it, though so intent on

the advancing waters; ‘I see nothing afloat.’

The red light was gone, the shudder was gone, and his gaze, which had come

back to the boat for a moment, travelled away again. Wheresoever the strong

tide met with an impediment, his gaze paused for an instant. At every mooring￾chain and rope, at every stationery boat or barge that split the current into a

broad-arrowhead, at the offsets from the piers of Southwark Bridge, at the

paddles of the river steamboats as they beat the filthy water, at the floating logs

of timber lashed together lying off certain wharves, his shining eyes darted a

hungry look. After a darkening hour or so, suddenly the rudder-lines tightened in

his hold, and he steered hard towards the Surrey shore. ..................... Download Now to read more about " Our Mutual friend " by Charles dickens 

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