Truth compelled me to support George. Harris had been very little good in the boat, so far as helping was concerned, from the beginning.
Well, hang it all, Ive done more than old J., anyhow, rejoined Harris.
Well, you couldnt very well have done less, added George.
I suppose J. thinks he is the passenger, continued Harris.
And that was their gratitude to me for having brought them and their wretched old boat all the way up from Kingston, and for having superintended and managed everything for them, and taken care of them, and slaved for them. It is the way of the world.
We settled the present difficulty by arranging that Harris and George should scull up past Reading, and that I should tow the boat on from there. Pulling a heavy boat against a strong stream has few attractions for me now. There was a time, long ago, when I used to clamour for the hard work: now I like to give the youngsters a chance.
I notice that most of the old river hands are similarly retiring, whenever there is any stiff pulling to be done. You can always tell the old river hand by the way in which he stretches himself out upon the cushions at the bottom of the boat, and encourages the rowers by telling them anecdotes about the marvellous feats he performed last season.
Call what youre doing hard work! he drawls, between his contented whiffs, addressing the two perspiring novices, who have been grinding away steadily up-stream for the last hour and a half; why, Jim Biffles and Jack and I, last season, pulled up from Marlow to Goring in one afternoonnever stopped once. Do you remember that, Jack?
Jack, who has made himself a bed up in the prow of all the rugs and coats he can collect, and who has been lying there asleep for the last two hours, partially wakes up on being thus appealed to, and recollects all about the matter, and also remembers that there was an unusually strong stream against them all the waylikewise a stiff wind.
About thirty-four miles, I suppose, it must have been, adds the first speaker, reaching down another cushion to put under his head.
Nono; dont exaggerate, Tom, murmurs Jack, reprovingly; thirty-three at the outside.
And Jack and Tom, quite exhausted by this conversational effort, drop off to sleep once more. And the two simple-minded youngsters at the sculls feel quite proud of being allowed to row such wonderful oarsmen as Jack and Tom, and strain away harder than ever.
When I was a young man, I used to listen to these tales from my elders, and take them in, and swallow them, and digest every word of them, and then come up for more; but the new generation do not seem to have the simple faith of the old times. WeGeorge, Harris, and myselftook a raw un up with us once last season, and we plied him with the customary stretchers about the wonderful things we had done all the way up.
We gave him all the regular onesthe time-honoured lies that have done duty up the river with every boating-man for years pastand added seven entirely original ones that we had invented for ourselves, including a really quite likely story, founded, to a certain extent, on an all but true episode, which had actually happened in a modified degree some years ago to friends of oursa story that a mere child could have believed without injuring itself much.
And that young man mocked at them all, and wanted us to repeat the feats then and there, and to bet us ten to one that we didnt.
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|