It was a little window of but four pieces of glass, and was not curtained; he chose it because the larger window near it was (p. 72) — this slightly longer caption appears in the Harper and Brothers edition of the novel. James Mahoney's thirteenth illustration for Dickens's Our Mutual Friend, Household Edition, 1875. Wood engraving by the Dalziels, 10.9 cm high x 13.5 cm wide.

The woodcut for Book One, Chapter Thirteen, "Tracking the Bird of Prey," depicts Eugene Wrayburn's surveillance of the interior of Gaffer Hexam's cottage, and in particular of his daughter Lizzie, who is awaiting her father's return. The former business partner of Gaffer Hexam, Rogue Riderhood, in soliciting Mortimer Lightwood's assistance in claiming the ten-thousand-pound reward offered by Nicodemus Boffin for information regarding John Harmon's murder, has accused Gaffer. Now, Lightwood, Wrayburn, and a police inspector, accompanied by Riderhood, are awaiting Gaffer's return. The pylon and mooring-ring beside the lawyer suggest the riverside setting, and one may see the Thames dimly in the background of the dark plate whose sole source of illumination is the smaller window of the cottage. The larger window (right), which Dickens mentions, does not give forth much light because it is, as the text specifies, curtained.

Passage Realised

He could see the light of the fire shining through the window. Perhaps it drew him on to look in. Perhaps he had come out with the express intention. That part of the bank having rank grass growing on it, there was no difficulty in getting close, without any noise of footsteps: it was but to scramble up a ragged face of pretty hard mud some three or four feet high and come upon the grass and to the window. He came to the window by that means.

She had no other light than the light of the fire. The unkindled lamp stood on the table. She sat on the ground, looking at the brazier, with her face leaning on her hand. There was a kind of film or flicker on her face, which at first he took to be the fitful firelight; but, on a second look, he saw that she was weeping. A sad and solitary spectacle, as shown him by the rising and the falling of the fire.

It was a little window of but four pieces of glass, and was not curtained; he chose it because the larger window near it was. It showed him the room, and the bills upon the wall respecting the drowned people starting out and receding by turns. But he glanced slightly at them, though he looked long and steadily at her. A deep rich piece of colour, with the brown flush of her cheek and the shining lustre of her hair, though sad and solitary, weeping by the rising and the falling of the fire.

She started up. He had been so very still that he felt sure it was not he who had disturbed her, so merely withdrew from the window and stood near it in the shadow of the wall. She opened the door, and said in an alarmed tone, "Father, was that you calling me?" And again, "Father!" And once again, after listening, "Father! I thought I heard you call me twice before!" — Book One, Chapter 13, p. 72.


In the original serial, part four (August 1864), Marcus Stone had not illustrated the scene with the Riderhood and the lawyers that precedes this, but had jumped ahead to the scene at Limehouse when Lizzie, the waterman's daughter, sits by the fire awaiting Gaffer Hexam's return from one of his nocturnal "fishing" expeditions. He will not return. However, whereas Mahoney has elected to realise Wrayburn's growing fascination with the young woman, in Waiting for Father the original illustrator (probably acting in concert with Dickens) has depicted the brightly lit interior of the hovel and Lizzie, staring at the glowing coals in the little furnace. On the other hand, Sol Eytinge, Jr. in the 1867 Diamond Edition volume's frontispiece provided a dual portrait of the girl and her father with their little boat on the shore of the river, The Bird of Prey, but shows the lawyers in the more congenial setting of their rooms in the Middle Temple. Felix Octavius Carr Darley does not depict Lizzie observed by the lawyers in any of his frontispieces (1866), but in The End of a Long Journey, the frontispiece for the third volume, depicts Lizzie Hexam tending to the dying Betty Higden. This Mahoney illustration establishes the basis for Wrayburn's becoming involved in the plot development of a romantic triangle with Lizzie and Bradley Headstone.

James Mahoney has six illustrations involving the solidly upper-middle-class Mortimer Lightwood and the book's secondary protagonist, Eugene Wrayburn, his focus being steadily upon the latter here. Eugene Wrayburn appears again with Mr. Dolls, Jenny Wren's alcoholic father, and with Bradley Headstone at the Plashwater Weir Lock, but only here is he by himself. In Stone's early illustrations of him, the bearded Wrayburn is casual and disinterested, but in this Mahoney illustration he is clearly engaged by what he sees inside the building, leading the reader to ponder his motivation. The blowing marsh vegetation imply that on this cold, wet, windy night his interest in the interior of the hovel is overriding his feeling chilled or fatigued.

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL.]


Pertinent Illustrations in the original and Diamond Editions, 1864-1867

Left: Marcus Stone's August 1864 illustration of what Wrayburn sees inside the hovel,​Waiting for Father. Right: Sol Eytinge, Junior's interpretation of the avuncular Mortimer Lightwood and Eugene Wrayburn in their rooms, smoking cigars after supper, in Wrayburn and Lightwood (1867). [Click on images to enlarge them.]


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Last modified 3 December 2015