Our Mutual Friend (Paperback)
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In these times of ours, though concerning the exact year there is no need to be precise, aboat 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 anautumn evening was closing in.The figures in this boat were those of a strong man with ragged grizzled hair and a sunbrowned face, and a dark girl of nineteen or twenty, sufficiently like him to be recognizableas his daughter. The girl rowed, pulling a pair of sculls very easily; the man, with therudder-lines slack in his hands, and his hands loose in his waistband, kept an eager lookout. He had no net, hook, or line, and he could not be a fisherman; his boat had no cushionfor a sitter, no paint, no inscription, no appliance beyond a rusty boathook and a coil ofrope, and he could not be a waterman; his boat was too crazy and too small to take in cargofor delivery, and he could not be a lighterman or river-carrier; there was no clue to what helooked 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 raceand eddy in its broad sweep, as the boat made slight head-way against it, or drove sternforemost before it, according as he directed his daughter by a movement of his head. Shewatched his face as earnestly as he watched the river. But, in the intensity of her look therewas a touch of dread or horro.