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to the Pool, began to crowd upon us in a fleet,
and we kept under the shore, as much out of
the strength of the tide now as we could,
standing carefully off from low shallows and

Our oarsmen were so fresh, by dint of
having occasionally let her drive with the tide
for a minute or two, that a quarter of an hour's
rest proved full as much as they wanted. We
got ashore among some slippery stones while
we ate and drank what we had with us, and
looked about. It was like my own marsh
country, flat and monotonous, and with a dim
horizon; while the winding river turned and
turned, and the great floating buoys upon it
turned and turned, and everything else seemed
stranded and still. For, now, the last of the
fleet of ships was round the last low point we
had headed; and the last green barge, straw-
laden, with a brown sail, had followed; and some
ballast-lighters, shaped like a child's first rude
imitation of a boat, lay low in the mud; and a
little squat shoal-lighthouse on open piles, stood
crippled in the mud on stilts and crutches; and
slimy stakes stuck out of the mud, and slimy
stones stuck out of the mud, and red landmarks
and tidemarks stuck out of the mud, and an old
landing-stage and an old roofless building slipped
into the mud, and all about us was stagnation
and mud.

We pushed off again, and made what way we
could. It was much harder work now, but
Herbert and Startop persevered, and rowed,
and rowed, and rowed, until the sun went down.
By that time the river had lifted us a little, so
that we could see above the bank. There was
the red sun, on the low level of the shore,
in a purple haze, fast deepening into black;
and there was the solitary flat marsh; and far
away there were the rising grounds, between
which and us there seemed to be no life, save
here and there in the foreground a melancholy

As the night was fast falling, and as the moon,
being past the full, would not rise early, we
held a little council: a short one, for clearly
our course was to lie by at the first lonely tavern
we could find. So, they plied their oars once
more, and I looked out for anything like a
house. Thus we held on, speaking little, for
four or five dull miles. It was very cold, and, a
collier coming by us, with her galley-fire smoking
and flaring, looked quite a comfortable home.
The night was as dark by this time as it would
be until morning; and what light we had, seemed
to come more from the river than the sky, as the
oars in their dipping struck at a few reflected

At this dismal time we were evidently all
possessed by the idea that we were followed. As the
tide made, it flapped heavily at irregular intervals
against the shore; and whenever auch a sound
came, one or other of us was sure to start and
look in that direction. Here and there, the set
of the current had worn down the bank into a
little creek, and we were all suspicious of such
places, and eyed them nervously. Sometimes,
"What was that ripple!" one of us would say
in a low voice. Or another, "Is that a boat
yonder?" And afterwards, we would fall into a
dead silence, and I would sit impatiently thinking
with what an unusual amount of noise the
oars worked in the thowels.

At length we descried a light and a roof, and
presently afterwards ran alongside a little causeway
made of stones that had been picked up hard-
by. Leaving the rest in the boat, I stepped
ashore, and found the light to be in a window of
a public-house. It was a dirty place enough,
and I dare say not unknown to smuggling
adventurers; but there was a good fire in the
kitchen, and there were eggs and bacon to eat, and
various liquors to drink. Also, there were two
double-bedded rooms—"such as they were,"
the landlord said. No other company was in
the house than the landlord, his wife, and a
grizzled male creature, the "Jack" of the little
causeway, who was as slimy and smeary as if he
had been low-water mark too.

With this assistant, I went down to the boat
again, and we all came ashore, and brought out
the oars, and rudder, and boat-hook, and all else,
and hauled her up for the night. We made a
very good meal by the kitchen fire, and then
apportioned the bedrooms; Herbert and Startop
were to occupy one; I and our charge the other.
We found the air as carefully excluded from both,
as if air were fatal to life; and there were more
dirty clothes and bandboxes under the beds than
I should have thought the family possessed.
But we considered ourselves well off, notwithstanding,
for a more solitary place we could not
have found.

While we were comforting ourselves by the
fire after our meal, the Jackwho was sitting
in a corner, and who had a bloated pair of shoes
on, which he had exhibited while we were eating
our eggs and bacon, as interesting relics that he
had taken a few days ago from the feet of a
drowned seaman washed ashoreasked me if
we had seen a four-oared galley going up with
the tide? When I told him No, he said she
must have gone down then, and yet she "took
up too," when she left there.

"They must ha' thought better on't for some
reason or another," said the Jack, "and gone

"A four-oared galley, did you say?" said I.

"A four," said the Jack, "and two sitters."

"Did they come ashore here?"

"They put in with a stone two-gallon jar, for
some beer. I'd ha' been glad to poison the beer
myself," said the Jack, "or put some rattling
physic in it."


"I know why," said the Jack. He spoke in
a slushy voice, as if much mud had washed into
his throat.

"He thinks," said the landlord: a weakly
meditative man with a pale eye, who seemed to
rely greatly on his Jack: "he thinks they was,
what they wasn't."

"I knows what I thinks," observed the