Study Guide

Our Mutual Friend Book 4, Part 16, Chapter 1

By Charles Dickens

Book 4, Part 16, Chapter 1

Setting Traps

  • Book 4 is called "A Turning," which gives us hope that everything will end up a-okay for everyone who deserves it. Pretty please?
  • Mr. Riderhood has found himself a new job working at a lock along the river. It's a pretty lonely job, since he spends a lot of time sitting around and waiting for a boat to pass through. But then again, Riderhood is lazy. So it all works out.
  • Eugene Wrayburn passes through the lock in a rowboat and takes the opportunity to say a few rude things.
  • Once Eugene is gone, Riderhood sits down on some grass. But then Bradley Headstone comes walking along and Riderhood jumps to attention. He knows that Headstone is looking for Eugene, and he happily points in the direction where Eugene just took his boat.
  • Bradley Headstone makes a few threatening remarks about Eugene, since both he and Riderhood know that Eugene is going to see Lizzie Hexam.
  • Headstone moves on, but there's something about the way he looked that has troubled Riderhood. Headstone was wearing the exact same suit of clothes that Riderhood now has on. Riderhood decides to test a theory by changing his scarf. If Bradley sees him again and changes his scarf too, Riderhood will know something's wrong.
  • Later that day, Bradley Headstone returns to the lock, hoping that he can stay the night with Riderhood. The two of them stand by the edge of the lock and discuss how easy it would be for someone to drown in it. Uh oh.
  • Headstone heads inside the lock cabin to rest. He and Riderhood have a bite together, and Riderhood notices that Bradley keeps sneaking glances at his new scarf. A-ha.
  • Headstone disappears for a few days. But when he finally returns, he tells Riderhood that he has seen Eugene walking with Lizzie. Riderhood wants to know what he's going to do about it, but Headstone is silent.
  • Once Headstone falls asleep that night, Riderhood sneaks across the room and looks under the collar of his coat. Sure enough, the guy has changed his scarf so that he's once again wearing the exact same outfit as Riderhood. Riderhood doesn't get a good feeling from this at all. He senses some sort of frame-up coming.