Study Guide

Our Mutual Friend Book 1, Part 1, Chapter 3

By Charles Dickens

Book 1, Part 1, Chapter 3

Another Man

  • Mortimer leaves the Veneerings' dining room and demands to see the boy who brought the note about John Harmon being drowned. The boy tells Mortimer that he has brought the note from his father, Jesse Hexam, who makes his living along the river.
  • Mortimer hops into a cab with the boy to check things out with Hexam. Before they leave, Mortimer's partner Eugene offers to tag along.
  • As they ride, we learn that Eugene totally hates his job as a lawyer and has never done a speck of work since becoming a lawyer six years earlier.
  • They arrive at the house of Gaffer Hexam and Lizzie (remember them from the opening chapter?). Well it turns out the thing they were towing in their boat was the body of John Harmon. Hexam has already informed the police and turned the body over to them.
  • Mortimer and Eugene read part of the police report and learn that the body's pants pockets were turned inside out. They accuse Gaffer of robbing the dead body, but Gaffer denies it. Gaffer doesn't think it's possible to rob a dead person, since the dead have no use for money.
  • At this point, a stranger shows up at Gaffer's door and asks if the body from the river is still around. The stranger says he might be able to identify it. No one recognizes this stranger, but Mortimer invites him along to the police station to see the body that's been pulled out of the river.
  • They get to the police station and check out the body with the inspector. It's all a clear match. The body's clothes and identification papers belong to Mr. John Harmon.
  • The police inspector becomes interested in the stranger who's with Mortimer, since nobody knows him. The man simply says that the body isn't the man he's looking for and he tries to leave.
  • Before he gets away though, the inspector demands to know his name and address, since the guy is acting suspiciously.
  • The guy leaves his name as Julius Handford and takes off. The second he's gone, the inspector asks one of his men to follow up on Handford and to make sure the address he left is legit.
  • The boy who first brought the note to Mortimer returns home. It turns out that he is Charley Hexam, the younger brother of Lizzie Hexam and son of Gaffer Hexam. He chats with Lizzie about how their deadbeat father has gone out to get drunk.
  • Charley asks Lizzie to tell his fortune for him by looking into the fireplace, which she does. Lizzie peers into the future and sees Charley working at a nearby school, keeping it a secret from his father because Gaffer hates education. He worries that his children will think they're too good for him if they get educated.
  • As the days pass, the police never follow up with Mr. Julius Handford. No one knows who murdered John Harmon or why.
  • Eventually, a reward of a hundred pounds is offered for any information leading to the capture of John Harmon's murderer. As the months go by, though, people forget about it.