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Three Men in a Boat Chapter 19 Summary

Stay at Oxford. Montmorency’s idea of heaven. The pros and cons of rowing upstream. The start of the journey back home. Swapping of stories between the friends. George plays the banjo. Wet days on the boat andflight back, to solid ground. The end of the boat trip.

The three friends stayed at Oxford for two days. During that time, Montmorency fought with several dogs, which seemed to be his idea of heaven.

The author also commented on the practice of some people of taking a boat from Oxford and travelling downstream with the current. However, he was of the opinion that it was far more satisfying to row upstream, especially when George and Harris were rowing and he was steering. The author recommended taking one’s own boat for this stretch. According to him, one may also hire boats above Marlow, as they were quite unlikely to sink, but were plain and unomamented. As a result, people were not too keen to be seen in them and travelled only early in the morning or late at night. He shared his experience of hiring one such boat, called the ‘Pride of the Thames’, which actually looked more like a roman relic.

On the third day at Oxford, the weather changed and they began their home-ward journey amidst a drizzle. The author mused that as beautiful as the river looked on a sunlit day, it was equally dismal when it rained. The three friends first tried to pretend to like it, so much so that Harris and the author even tried singing songs about a gypsy’s life. George however, stayed stuck under the umbrella.

They pulled up that evening at a place called Day’s Lock and had quite a dismal evening. The rain continued, everything was clammy and damp, and their dinner was unappetizing, as they each wished to eat something they could not have. Afterwards, they played cards and George won four pence from the others.

They then mixed up some toddy and shared dismal tales. George spoke of a young man who caught a chill in a damp boat and died, Harris shared a story of a friend who slept out on such a night and was crippled for life. This led to a lively discussion of several dangerous diseases. Finally the author, in a weak moment, asked George to play them a comic song on his banjo.

He immediately played a merry tune, but made it sound so sad that the other two wanted to cry. Finally they went to bed, sleeping fitfully till about five a.m. The second day was just like the first, but the three were determined not to give up just yet. By the time they neared Pangboume, they were discussing how nice it would be to stop at a nice warm inn and restaurant, except that they had made up their minds to stay with the boat.

Twenty minutes later, the three men and the dog crept stealthily towards the railway station. They reached the Paddington station at seven, drove to a restaurant and ate heartily. Finally well fed and happy, Harris proposed a toast to the three men who were well out of a boat! Montmorency seemed to approve.