Novel-Three Men In A boat

Published by CA.Sachin Kushwaha on


Illustrations by A. Frederic’s

Download Here the PDf or Read Below online!


Three invalids. Sufferings of George and Harris. A victim to one hundred and seven fatal
maladies. Useful prescriptions. Cure for liver complaint in children. We agree that we are
overworked, and need rest. A week on the rolling deep? George suggests the River.
Montmorency lodges an objection. Original motion carried by majority of three to one.
There were four of us George, and William Samuel Harris, and myself, and
Montmorency. We were sitting in my room and talking about how bad we were bad from a
medical point of view I mean, of course.
We were all feeling seedy, and we were getting quite nervous about it. Harris said he felt
such extraordinary fits of giddiness come over him at times, that he hardly knew what he was
doing; and then George said that he had fits of giddiness too, and hardly knew what he was
doing. With me, it was my liver that was out of order. I knew it was my liver that was out of
order, because I had just been reading a patent liver-pill circular, in which were detailed the
various symptoms by which a man could tell when his liver was out of order. I had them all.
It is a most extraordinary thing, but I never read a patent medicine advertisement without
being impelled to the conclusion that I am suffering from the particular disease therein dealt
with in its most virulent form. The diagnosis seems in every case to correspond exactly with
all the sensations that I have ever felt.I remember going to the British Museum one day to read up the treatment for some slight
ailment of which I had a touch hay fever, I fancy it was. I got down the book, and read all I
came to read; and then, in an unthinking moment, I idly turned the leaves, and began to
indolently study diseases, generally. I forget which was the first distemper I plunged into
some fearful, devastating scourge, I know and, before I had glanced half down the list of
premonitory symptoms, it was borne in upon me that I had fairly got it.
I sat for awhile, frozen with horror; and then, in the listlessness of despair, I again turned over
the pages. I came to typhoid fever read the symptoms discovered that I had typhoid fever,
must have had it for months without knowing it wondered what else I had got; turned up St.
Vitas’s Dance found, as I expected, that I had that too, began to get interested in my case, and
determined to sift it to the bottom, and so started alphabetically read up ague, and learnt that I
was sickening for it, and that the acute stage would commence in about another
fortnight. Bright disease, I was relieved to find, I had only in a modified form, and, so far as
that was concerned, I might live for years. Cholera I had, with severe complications; and
diphtheria I seemed to have been born with. I plodded conscientiously through the twentysix
letters, and the only malady I could conclude I had not got was housemaids knee.
I felt rather hurt about this at first; it seemed somehow to be a sort of slight. Why hadn’t I got
housemaids knee? Why this invidious reservation? After a while, however, less grasping
feelings prevailed. I reflected that I had every other known malady in the pharmacology, and
I grew less selfish, and determined to do without housemaids knee. Gout, in its most
malignant stage, it would appear, had seized me without my being aware of it; and zymosis I
had evidently been suffering with from boyhood. There were no more diseases after zymosis,
so I concluded there was nothing else the matter with me.
I sat and pondered. I thought what an interesting case I must be from a medical point of
view, what an acquisition I should be to a class! Students would have no need to walk the
hospitals, if they had me. I was a hospital in myself. All they need do would be to walk
round me, and, after that, take their diploma.
Then I wondered how long I had to live. I tried to examine myself. I felt my pulse. I could
not at first feel any pulse at all. Then, all of a sudden, it seemed to start off. I pulled out my
watch and timed it. I made it a hundred and forty-seven to the minute. I tried to feel my
heart. I could not feel my heart. It had stopped beating. I have since been induced to come
to the opinion that it must have been there all the time, and must have been beating, but I
cannot account for it. I patted myself all over my front, from what I call my waist up to my
head, and I went a bit round each side, and a little way up the back. But I could not feel or
hear anything. I tried to look at my tongue. I stuck it out as far as ever it would go, and I
shut one eye, and tried to examine it with the other. I could only see the tip, and the only
thing that I could gain from that was to feel more certain than before that I had scarlet fever.
I had walked into that reading-room a happy, healthy man. I crawled out a decrepit wreck.
I went to my medical man. He is an old chum of mine, and feels my pulse, and looks at my
tongue, and talks about the weather, all for nothing, when I fancy I’m ill; so I thought I would
do him a good turn by going to him now. What a doctor wants, I said, is practice. He shall
have me. He will get more practice out of me than out of seventeen hundred of your
ordinary, commonplace patients, with only one or two diseases each. So I went straight up
and saw him, and he said:
Well, what’s the matter with you?
I said:
I will not take up your time, dear boy, with telling you what is the matter with me. Life is
brief, and you might pass away before I had finished. But I will tell you what is not the
matter with me. I have not got housemaids knee. Why I have not got housemaids knee, I
cannot tell you; but the fact remains that I have not got it. Everything else, however, I have
And I told him how I came to discover it all.
Then he opened me and looked down me, and clutched hold of my wrist, and then he hit me
over the chest when I wasn’t expecting its cowardly thing to do, I call it and immediately
afterwards butted me with the side of his head. After that, he sat down and wrote out a
prescription, and folded it up and gave it me, and I put it in my pocket and went out.
I did not open it. I took it to the nearest chemists, and handed it in. The man read it, and then
handed it back.
He said he didn’t keep it.
I said:
You are a chemist?
He said:
I am a chemist. If I was a co-operative stores and family hotel combined, I might be able to
oblige you. Being only a chemist hampers me.
I read the prescription. It ran:
1 lb. meat, with
1 pt. bitter tonic
every 6 hours.
1 ten-mile walk every morning.
1 bed at 11 sharp every night.
And don’t stuff up your head with things you don’t understand.
I followed the directions, with the happy result speaking for myself that my life was
preserved, and is still going on.
In the present instance, going back to the liver-pill circular, I had the symptoms, beyond all
mistake, the chief among them being a general disinclination to work of any kind.
What I suffer in that way no tongue can tell. From my earliest infancy I have been a martyr
to it. As a boy, the disease hardly ever left me for a day. They did not know, then, that it was
my liver. Medical science was in a far less advanced state than now, and they used to put it
down to laziness.
Why, you skulking little devil, you, they would say, get up and do something for your living,
cant you? not knowing, of course, that I was ill.
And they didn’t give me pills; they gave me clumps on the side of the head. And, strange as
it may appear, those clumps on the head often cured me for the time being. I have known one
clump on the head have more effect upon my liver, and make me feel more anxious to go
straight away then and there, and do what was wanted to be done, without further loss of
time, than a whole box of pills does now.
You know, it often is so those simple, old-fashioned remedies are sometimes more
efficacious than all the dispensary stuff.
We sat there for half-an-hour, describing to each other our maladies. I explained to George
and William Harris how I felt when I got up in the morning, and William Harris told us how
he felt when he went to bed; and George stood on the hearth-rug, and gave us a clever and
powerful piece of acting, illustrative of how he felt in the night.
George fancies he is ill; but there’s never anything really the matter with him, you know.
At this point, Mrs. Poppets knocked at the door to know if we were ready for supper. We
smiled sadly at one another, and said we supposed we had better try to swallow a bit. Harris
said a little something in ones stomach often kept the disease in check; and Mrs. Poppets
brought the tray in, and we drew up to the table, and toyed with a little steak and onions, and
some rhubarb tart.
I must have been very weak at the time; because I know, after the first half-hour or so, I
seemed to take no interest whatever in my food an unusual thing for me and I didn’t want any
This duty done, we refilled our glasses, lit our pipes, and resumed the discussion upon our
state of health. What it was that was actually the matter with us, we none of us could be sure
of; but the unanimous opinion was that it whatever it was had been brought on by overwork.
What we want is rest, said Harris.
Rest and a complete change, said George. The overstrain upon our brains has produced a
general depression throughout the system. Change of scene, and absence of the necessity for
thought, will restore the mental equilibrium.
George has a cousin, who is usually described in the charge-sheet as a medical student, so
that he naturally has a somewhat family-physician way of putting things.
I agreed with George, and suggested that we should seek out some retired and old-world spot,
far from the madding crowd, and dream away a sunny week among its drowsy lanes some
half-forgotten nook, hidden away by the fairies, out of reach of the noisy world some quaintperched
on the cliffs of Time, from whence the surging waves of the nineteenth century
would sound far-off and faint.
Harris said he thought it would be humpy. He said he knew the sort of place I meant; where
everybody went to bed at eight o’clock, and you couldn’t get a Referee for love or money,
and had to walk ten miles to get anything.
No, said Harris, if you want rest and change, you cant beat a sea trip.
I objected to the sea trip strongly. A sea trip does you good when you are going to have a
couple of months of it, but, for a week, it is wicked.
You start on Monday with the idea implanted in your bosom that you are going to enjoy
yourself. You wave an airy adieu to the boys on shore, light your biggest pipe, and swagger
about the deck as if you were Captain Cook, Sir Francis Drake, and Christopher Columbus all
rolled into one. On Tuesday, you wish you hadn’t come. On Wednesday, Thursday, and
Friday, you wish you were dead. On Saturday, you are able to swallow a little tea, and to sit
up on deck, and answer with a wan, sweet smile when kind-hearted people ask you how you
feel now. On Sunday, you begin to walk about again, and take solid food. And on Monday
morning, as, with your bag and umbrella in your hand, you stand by the gunwale, waiting to
step ashore, you begin to thoroughly like it.
I remember my brother-in-law going for a short sea trip once, for the benefit of his
health. He took a return berth from London to Liverpool; and when he got to Liverpool, the
only thing he was anxious about was to sell that return ticket.
It was offered round the town at a tremendous reduction, so I am told; and was eventually
sold for eighteen pence to a bilious-looking youth who had just been advised by his medical
men to go to the sea-side, and take exercise.
Sea-side! said my brother-in-law, pressing the ticket affectionately into his hand; why, you’ll
have enough to last you a lifetime; and as for exercise! why, you’ll get more exercise, sitting
down on that ship, than you would turning somersaults on dry land.
He himself my brother-in-law came back by train. He said the North-Western Railway was
healthy enough for him.
Another fellow I knew went for a weeks voyage round the coast, and, before they started, the
steward came to him to ask whether he would pay for each meal as he had it, or arrange
beforehand for the whole series.
The steward recommended the latter course, as it would come so much cheaper. He said they
would do him for the whole week at two pounds five. He said for breakfast there would be
fish, followed by a grill. Lunch was at one, and consisted of four courses. Dinner at six
soup, fish, entree, joint, poultry, salad, sweets, cheese, and dessert. And a light meat supper
at ten.
My friend thought he would close on the two-pound-five job (he is a hearty eater), and did so.
Lunch came just as they were off Sheerness. He didn’t feel so hungry as he thought he
should, and so contented himself with a bit of boiled meat, and some strawberries and
cream. He pondered a good deal during the afternoon, and at one time it seemed to him that
he had been eating nothing but boiled meat for weeks, and at other times it seemed that he
must have been living on strawberries and cream for years.
Neither the meat nor the strawberries and cream seemed happy, either seemed discontented
At six, they came and told him dinner was ready. The announcement aroused no enthusiasm
within him, but he felt that there was some of that two-pound-five to be worked off, and he
held on to ropes and things and went down. A pleasant odour of onions and hot meat,
mingled with fried fish and greens, greeted him at the bottom of the ladder; and then the
steward came up with an oily smile, and said:
What can I get you, sir?
Get me out of this, was the feeble reply.
And they ran him up quick, and propped him up, over to leeward, and left him.
For the next four days he lived a simple and blameless life on thin captains biscuits (I mean
that the biscuits were thin, not the captain) and soda-water; but, towards Saturday, he got
uppish, and went in for weak tea and dry toast, and on Monday he was gorging himself on
chicken broth. He left the ship on Tuesday, and as it steamed away from the landing-stage he
gazed after it regretfully.
There she goes, he said, there she goes, with two pounds worth of food on board that belongs
to me, and that I haven’t had.
He said that if they had given him another day he thought he could have put it straight.
So I set my face against the sea trip. Not, as I explained, upon my own account. I was never
queer. But I was afraid for George. George said he should be all right, and would rather like
it, but he would advise Harris and me not to think of it, as he felt sure we should both be
ill. Harris said that, to himself, it was always a mystery how people managed to get sick at
sea said he thought people must do it on purpose, from affectation said he had often wished to
be, but had never been able.
Then he told us anecdotes of how he had gone across the Channel when it was so rough that
the passengers had to be tied into their berths, and he and the captain were the only two living
souls on board who were not ill. Sometimes it was he and the second mate who were not ill;
but it was generally he and one other man. If not he and another man, then it was he by
It is a curious fact, but nobody ever is sea-sick on land. At sea, you come across plenty of
people very bad indeed, whole boat-loads of them; but I never met a man yet, on land, who
had ever known at all what it was to be sea-sick. Where the thousands upon thousands of bad
sailors that swarm in every ship hide themselves when they are on land is a mystery.
If most men were like a fellow I saw on the Yarmouth boat one day, I could account for the
seeming enigma easily enough. It was just off Southend Pier, I recollect, and he was leaning
out through one of the port-holes in a very dangerous position. I went up to him to try and
save him.
Hi! come further in, I said, shaking him by the shoulder. You’ll be overboard.
Oh my! I wish I was, was the only answer I could get; and there I had to leave him.
Three weeks afterwards, I met him in the coffee-room of a Bath hotel, talking about his
voyages, and explaining, with enthusiasm, how he loved the sea.
Good sailor!he replied in answer to a mild young mans envious query; well, I did feel a little
queer once, I confess. It was off Cape Horn. The vessel was wrecked the next morning.
I said:
Weren’t you a little shaky by Southend Pier one day, and wanted to be thrown overboard?
South end Pier! he replied, with a puzzled expression.
Yes; going down to Yarmouth, last Friday three weeks.
Oh, ah yes, he answered, brightening up; I remember now. I did have a headache that
afternoon. It was the pickles, you know. They were the most disgraceful pickles I ever tasted
in a respectable boat. Did you have any?
For myself, I have discovered an excellent preventive against sea-sickness, in balancing
myself. You stand in the centre of the deck, and, as the ship heaves and pitches, you move
your body about, so as to keep it always straight. When the front of the ship rises, you lean
forward, till the deck almost touches your nose; and when its back end gets up, you lean
backwards. This is all very well for an hour or two; but you cant balance yourself for a week.
George said:
Lets go up the river.
He said we should have fresh air, exercise and quiet; the constant change of scene would
occupy our minds (including what there was of Harris’s); and the hard work would give us a
good appetite, and make us sleep well.
Harris said he didnt think George ought to do anything that would have a tendency to make
him sleepier than he always was, as it might be dangerous. He said he didn’t very well
understand how George was going to sleep any more than he did now, seeing that there were
only twenty-four hours in each day, summer and winter alike; but thought that if he did sleep
any more, he might just as well be dead, and so save his board and lodging.
Harris said, however, that the river would suit him to a T. I don’t know what a T is (except a
sixpenny one, which includes bread-and-butter and cake ad lib., and is cheap at the price, if
you haven’t had any dinner). It seems to suit everybody, however, which is greatly to its
It suited me to a Toto, and Harris and I both said it was a good idea of Georges; and we said
it in a tone that seemed to somehow imply that we were surprised that George should have
come out so sensible.
The only one who was not struck with the suggestion was Montmorency. He never did care
for the river, did Montmorency.
It’s all very well for you fellows, he says; you like it, but I don’t. There’s nothing for me to
do. Scenery is not in my line. If I see a rat, you wont stop; and if I go to sleep, you get
fooling about with the boat, and slop me overboard. If you ask me, I call the whole thing
bally foolishness.
We were three to one, however, and the motion was carried.

error: Content is protected !!