London at the End of the Century:A Book of Gossip
a Beckett, Arthur William
FROM PUTNEY TO HAMMERSMITH.
I never remember a than the occasion of my outing. It pelted at Putney, and even the of the towing-path sought shelter under the sheds of the boathouses. The dogs did not seem to mind the downpour; they walked about as usual. One of them (he was chained up) treacherously repaid the kindly pat of my friend the coach by biting the hand that caressed him. It was a wicked thing to do, and I believe that canine public opinion accepted the theory that the deceitful dog had been carried away by his feelings, or, rather, his betting- book. Those who know Dog Latin say that the biter had a and had, consequently, reasons for attempting to incapacitate the coach of the Darker Blues. But the dog was out in his calculations. My friend the coach, in spite of his accident and the frightful weather, was as fit as a fiddle.
I first entered the London Boating Club (where the Oxonians put up), and had a glance at the photographs of boating men past and present; strolled through the apartments devoted to weighing, and rubbing down, and got aboard the
|Swan. My companions had waterproofs; I wore a fur-lined coat.|
said the Old Blue.
The Old Blue was right. But there was no time for chaff. The crew had carried their ship from the boathouse to the river and were afloat. They took off their wraps and were ready to start. A few directions and off we went, the Swan keeping just in rear of the Oxford rudder. From that moment there was a silence broken only by the voice of the coach as he called out to this man and to that to correct some fault. When he was not giving a particular direction he repeated a general instruction. I was reminded of Wellington Barracks and the sergeant-major in charge of the newly-joined subs. My friend Mr. Lehmann was intently on the alert, and so was the Old Blue, and so was I.
As we passed along we had the banks of the river to ourselves-not a soul to be seen anywhere. But civilisation came within measurable distance as we neared Hammersmith Bridge. There were a couple of omnibuses and a cab crossing. As we approached they pulled up sharp, and heads appeared in all directions. It was against human nature to proceed while the Oxford eight were in view. My friend Mr. Lehmann shouted out a few directions,
|and we shot the bridge in splendid style. Then he called to the man in charge of the engine, and there was a solitary whistle. Then, and we had two whistles. The crew slowed at the first signal and stopped at the second. shouted Mr. Lehmann, as he noticed that one of his charges (a freshman in his first term) had forgotten to take the necessary precautions to keep off chills. Then there was time for a few minutes' chat and recreation.|