short summary of three men in a boat from chapters 11-19
Chapter 11 George and J. wake up at six the next morning, and cannot get back to sleep. George tells J. a story about how he once forgot to wind his watch before going to bed, which left him confused when he woke at three in the morning. He only realized the mistake when he arrived at work, and aroused the suspicion of several constables as he walked around London so late at night.J. and George finally wake Harris. They had previously agreed to go for a morning swim, but are now reluctant to jump in the cold water. J. falls in and tries to trick his friends into joining him, but they refuse. J. also accidentally drops a shirt into the river, which George finds hilarious until he realizes it is actually his shirt.Harris volunteers to make scrambled eggs, promising that they will be delicious. Of course, Harris has no idea how to make scrambled eggs, but George and J. enjoy watching him make a fool of himself in the process. Naturally, the eggs are inedible.That morning, the men arrive at Magna Charta Island, near Runnymede. As the name suggests, Magna Charta Island is where King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215. J. speculates at length about what it would have been like to be a peasant living in Runnymede at the time of the event.Chapter 12Next, the men pass Picnic Point, where Henry VIII is said to have courted Anne Boleyn. J. remarks that such spots are located all over England, and the common people must have had a great deal of trouble trying to give Henry and Anne their privacy. He then digresses to discuss how awkward it is to walk in on young couples who are ‘spooning.’The boat then passes the spot where Earl Godwin choked after being accused of murdering Edward the Confessor’s brother.They row past Datchet, and reminisce about the first boat trip they took together. They had attempted to find an inn in Datchet, but all of the town’s lodging-houses were full. After asking everywhere, the men came across a young boy who offered to let them sleep at his family’s house. They did, and were grateful for the room despite the uncomfortable conditions.When lunchtime arrives, the men are very disappointed to discover that they had forgotten to pack mustard. George saves the day by revealing that he brought along pineapple, but the men have great trouble trying to open the can. After taking turns trying to break it open, they give it up.They pass quickly through Maidenhead, a tourist town “too snobby to be pleasant” (119). They spot three old men fishing, and Harris’s poor steering disturbs the water near the men, who then curse at them.That night, the friends stay at an inn in Marlow.Chapter 13The men pass by Marlow and Bisham Abbey, where many important historical figures are buried. At Medmenham, they pass an abbey that once housed a hedonistic order of monks whose motto was ‘Do as you please.’The friends stop for lunch in a village, and Montmorency chases a large tom cat, only to back away when the cat calmly stares him down. The men stock up on food in Marlow, and by the time they finish shopping, several errand boys are trailing behind them carrying their purchases. J. humorously describes what the procession must look like to an outside eye. They then have trouble departing from Marlow because of the large number of steam-launches in the water, which are noisy and difficult to navigate around.Near Hambledon lock, the travelers run out of drinking water. The lock-keeper advises them to drink from the river, but they are concerned about the “germs of poison” present in the Thames (130). They find some water from a nearby cottage well, but J. speculates in retrospect that this was probably river water as well. However, since they did not know it, it did not taste bad.As they continue on their journey, they see a dog floating on its back down the river. When they settle down on the shore for dinner, Harris unwittingly sits at the edge of a gulch, and falls into it when he leans back. Because they do not see him fall, J. and George initially believe he is dead (and are not terribly upset about it). However, Harris then climbs from the gulch and angrily accuses them of making him sit there on purpose.Chapter 14George, Harris, and J. pass a number of landmarks near the idyllic villages of Wargrave and Shiplake. However, the day takes a turn for the worse when they attempt to peel potatoes for supper, but over-peel the potatoes until they are no bigger than peanuts. They attempt to make Irish stew anyway, putting in potatoes without peeling them. Montmorency catches a water-rat and offers it to the men to add to the stew, but they decline. The stew turns out to be delicious.When the tea kettle shrieks, a frightened Montmorency attacks it. After dinner, George plays the banjo. A novice player, he is terrible at it. Montmorency howls along, and Harris and J. persuade George not to play for the remainder of the trip. J. mentions that George was later forced to sell the banjo because neither his landlady nor the passers-by outside his house can tolerate his playing.That night, George and J. head into the village of Henley for drinks; Harris stays behind on account of an upset stomach. They return to the boat fairly late, but forget which island it is docked off of. When Harris does not answer their calls and it begins to rain, George and J. start to panic. They only find the boat by following the sound of Montmorency’s barking.When they arrive, a terribly exhausted Harris explains that he spent hours fighting off a flock of aggressive swans, whose nest they disturbed when they moored the boat. The next morning, Harris does not remember anything about the swan fight, and George and J. wonder if he dreamt it.Chapter 15George, Harris, and J. argue about who will tow the boat, the most physically demanding job by far. They eventually decide to row to Reading, at which point J. will tow for a while. We learn that J. learned to row by joining a club, but that George had some trouble learning. The first time he went out, with a group of friends on a trip to Kew, the coxswain did not know how to call out directions and they had great trouble navigating.J. lists the different types of rowing, as well as the pitfalls that novices face when they attempt to row for the first time. He discusses punting, a type of rowing where the passenger stands up in the boat and propels it along using a long pole that is pushed against the riverbed. Punting is hazardous for beginners; J. describes a friend who was not paying attention and stepped off the boat, leaving himself clinging to the pole in the middle of the river as the boat drifted away.On another occasion, J. and his friends noticed an amateur punter who could not keep control of his boat. Thinking it was someone they knew, they mercilessly mocked him until realizing that the man was actually a stranger. Harris once had a similar experience, when a stranger thought he was a friend and began roughhousing with him, holding his head under water.J. concludes the chapter with a final anecdote about sailing on the river with his friend Hector. The men had trouble raising the sail, which was very tangled. They eventually ran the boat aground and decided to row back. However, they broke the oars in the process, and had to be towed.Chapter 16As the men approach Reading, J. describes several important historical events that happened there. Starting in the 17th century, it became a popular destination for Londoners fleeing the plague. However, it is now crowded and polluted, so the men pass through it quickly.As they leave Reading, J. spots an acquaintance who owns a steam-launch; the steamboat tows them for several miles, giving the men a much-needed break from rowing.As they approach Goring, they spot a dead woman floating in the water. Some other travelers take her to the coroner, but J. later learns that she killed herself after having a child out of wedlock and being abandoned by her family.Chapter 17The men try to wash their clothes in the Thames, but only succeed in making them dirtier than before. They pay a washerwoman in Streatley to do their laundry, and she charges them three times the normal rate because the clothes are so dirty. They do not complain.After describing Streatley as a fishing town, J. advises readers not to fish in the Thames because there is nothing to be caught there but minnows and dead cats. J. explains that being a good angler has nothing to do with fishing, and everything to do with one’s ability to tell believable lies about the number of fish one has caught. He provides several examples of men he has met who have lied convincingly about their catch.George and J. go to a pub in Wallingford. There is a large trout hanging on the wall there, and three different patrons (plus the bartender) each claim they were the one to catch it, each with a different story and description of its weight. At the end of the night, George trips and grabs the trout to steady himself. The trout falls to the ground and shatters, and the men realize that it is made of plaster of Paris.Chapter 18J. discusses how “the Thames would not be the fairyland it is without its flower-decked locks” (170).He recalls another rowing trip he took with George to Hampton Court. A photographer was taking pictures of a steam-launch, and called out to George and J. to try to stay out of his photograph. In attempting to keep their boat out of the frame, George and J. fell over and were photographed lying in the boat with their feet in the air. Their feet took up nine-tenths of the image, and the owner of the steam-launch – who had commissioned the photos – refused to pay for them.J. describes the sights and attractions of Dorchester, Clifton, and Abingdon. These include Roman ruins, a pleasant park, and the grave of a man who is said to have fathered 197 children. J. warns readers about a challenging stretch of river near Oxford.Chapter 19The friends spend two days in Oxford. Montmorency has a wonderful time fighting with the many stray dogs there. J. explains that many who vacation on the Thames start in Oxford and row downriver to London, so that they travel with the current the whole time. He recommends bringing one’s own boat rather than renting one in Oxford, however, because the boats there are of low quality. He remembers once hiring a boat in Oxford and mistaking it for an archeological artifact.On the journey back from Oxford, it rains incessantly. The men, miserable, pass the time by playing penny nap, a card game, and listening to George play the banjo. Although J. describes him as an unskilled player elsewhere in the book, George here plays a mournful rendition of “Two Lovely Black Eyes” that plunges the men further into depression.Though they swore to complete the trip, the men decide to abandon the boat and spend the rest of the trip in an inn in Pangbourne. They enjoy a delicious supper there, and tell the other guests about their travels. As the novel ends, they toast their decision to end the trip when they did, and Montmorency barks in agreement.
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