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Our Mutual Friend

3. Another Man
As the disappearing skirts of the ladies ascended the Veneering staircase,
Mortimer, following them forth from the dining-room, turned into a library of bran-
new books, in bran-new bindings liberally gilded, and requested to see the
messenger who had brought the paper. He was a boy of about fifteen. Mortimer
looked at the boy, and the boy looked at the bran-new pilgrims on the wall, going
to Canterbury in more gold frame than procession, and more carving than
country.
'Whose writing is this?'
'Mine, sir.'
'Who told you to write it?'
'My father, Jesse Hexam.'
'Is it he who found the body?'
'Yes, sir.'
'What is your father?'
The boy hesitated, looked reproachfully at the pilgrims as if they had involved
him in a little difficulty, then said, folding a plait in the right leg of his trousers, 'He
gets his living along-shore.'
'Is it far?'
'Is which far?' asked the boy, upon his guard, and again upon the road to
Canterbury.
'To your father's?'
'It's a goodish stretch, sir. I come up in a cab, and the cab's waiting to be paid.
We could go back in it before you paid it, if you liked. I went first to your office,
according to the direction of the papers found in the pockets, and there I see
nobody but a chap of about my age who sent me on here.'
There was a curious mixture in the boy, of uncompleted savagery, and
uncompleted civilization. His voice was hoarse and coarse, and his face was
 
 
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