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Novel Summary

Chapter I

The three men in a long discussion on their illnesses

The narrator, J, two of his friends, George and Harris and the dog, Montmorency, are spending an evening at J’s room. They are discussing the sufferings and illnesses that they fancy they are going through. Harris and George feel they have “fits of giddiness” as many a time they ‘hardly knew what they were doing’. The narrator considers his liver to be out of order and feels this to be the cause of his current illness.

A mine-house of diseases

Every ailment or disease that the narrator hears or reads about seems to ideally fit his symptoms. He refers to a medical book wherein he reads about various diseases and their possible symptoms and then happens to interpret that he possesses virtually each one of them. He visits his doctor who prescribes him a hearty diet and exercise and advices not to stuff up his head with things he does not understand. 

Overwork is the reason for their illnesses

It seems that all three of them seem to be going through hypochondria. None of them is sure of what actually is wrong with them. Yet the three friends somehow figure out that they are overworked and all they need is “rest and a complete change”.

Seeking a holiday destination

Harris suggests that a sea trip is the best way to rest and experience a change but J objects. J contemplates the unpleasant experiences of a sea trip that his brother-in-law had. One of his friends also had similar regretful experiences.

George finally comes up with a suggestion of going up the river Thames considering that they would have “fresh air, exercise and quiet” and “the constant change of scene”. The three of them agree to the suggestion and decide to go on a boating holiday.

Montmorency’s dislike for a boat trip

 The only one who was not on the same page with the three of them was Montmorency. He feels that there is nothing to do for him on a boat trip as he neither cares for scenery and nor smoking.  He considered the idea of boating to be a “bally foolishness.”

Plans for boating discussed

The three men decide to begin their journey the following Saturday from Kingston. Harris and J are to go down in the morning to take the boat up to Chertsey while George agrees meet them there..

Discussions on “camping out”

Discussions on whether they should ‘camp out’ or sleep in a hotel go on. George and J are in favour of camping out. The narrator accounts for the pleasures of camping out. He praises the natural beauty of the night while camping out. On the contrary, Harris makes a sensible point regarding the difficulties one would face while camping on rainy and stormy nights. According to him, one faces several difficulties as the things that one carries get damp. Fixing up the tent, lighting a fire and arranging food are all part of difficulties that one has to face while camping on a wet damp night.

Finally, they decide to camp out only on fine nights and stay at a hotel during a stormy, wet night.

Montmorency’s hail

Montmorency, the dog of fox-terrier breed, acclaims this settlement made between the three of them. He does not take delight in “romantic solitude.” Montmorency is too good for this world but is somehow kept back from the mankind.

He is shown to be a violent dog as he has killed rats; dozens of chickens and a cat. Montmorency’s idea of “life” is to collect some “disreputable dogs to be found in the town, and lead them out to march round the slums to fight other disreputable dogs.”


Harris’ way of accomplishing tasks

The three friends get together to make arrangements for their journey. The first thing they start with is to decide on what things are required to be taken along with them on the trip. Harris has the tendency of taking the burden of the work on his shoulders and then passing the buck to other people.


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