Wargrave. – Wax-works. - Sonning. - Our stew. - Montmorency is sarcastic. - Fight between Montmorency and the tea-kettle. - George\'s banjo studies. - Meet with discouragement. - Difficulties in the way of the musical amateur. - Learning to play the bagpipes. - Harris feels sad after supper. - George and I go for a walk. - Return hungry and wet. - There is a strangeness about Harris. - Harris and the swans, a remarkable story. - Harris has a troubled night.

We caught a breeze, after lunch, which took us gently up past Wargrave and Shiplake. Mellowed in the drowsy sunlight of a summer\'s afternoon, Wargrave, nestling where the river bends, makes a sweet old picture as you pass it, and one that lingers long upon the retina of memory.
The "George and Dragon" at Wargrave boasts a sign, painted on the one side by Leslie, R.A., and on the other by Hodgson of that ilk. Leslie has depicted the fight; Hodgson has imagined the scene, "After the Fight" - George, the work done, enjoying his pint of beer.
Day, the author of Sandford and Merton, lived and - more credit to the place still - was killed at Wargrave. In the church is a memorial to Mrs. Sarah Hill, who bequeathed 1 pound annually, to be divided at Easter, between two boys and two girls who "have never been undutiful to their parents; who have never been known to swear or to tell untruths, to steal, or to break windows." Fancy giving up all that for five shillings a year! It is not worth it.
It is rumoured in the town that once, many years ago, a boy appeared who really never had done these things - or at all events, which was all that was required or could be expected, had never been known to do them - and thus won the crown of glory. He was exhibited for three weeks afterwards in the Town Hall, under a glass case.
What has become of the money since no one knows. They say it is always handed over to the nearest wax-works show.
Shiplake is a pretty village, but it cannot be seen from the river, being upon the hill. Tennyson was married in Shiplake Church.
The river up to Sonning winds in and out through many islands, and is very placid, hushed, and lonely. Few folk, except at twilight, a pair or two of rustic lovers, walk along its banks. `Arry and Lord Fitznoodle have been left behind at Henley, and dismal, dirty Reading is not yet reached. It is a part of the river in which to dream of bygone days, and vanished forms and faces, and things that might have been, but are not, confound them.
We got out at Sonning, and went for a walk round the village. It is the most fairy-like little nook on the whole river. It is more like a stage village than one built of bricks and mortar. Every house is smothered in roses, and now, in early June, they were bursting forth in clouds of dainty splendour. If you stop at Sonning, put up at the "Bull," behind the church. It is a veritable picture of an old country inn, with green, square courtyard in front, where, on seats beneath the trees, the old men group of an evening to drink their ale and gossip over village politics; with low, quaint rooms and latticed windows, and awkward stairs and winding passages.
We roamed about sweet Sonning for an hour or so, and then, it being too late to push on past Reading, we decided to go back to one of the Shiplake islands, and put up there for the night. It was still early when we got settled, and George said that, as we had plenty of time, it would be a splendid opportunity to try a good, slap-up supper. He said he would show us what could be done up the river in the way of cooking, and suggested that, with the vegetables and the remains of the cold beef and general odds and ends, we should make an Irish stew.
It seemed a fascinating idea. George gathered wood and made a fire, and Harris and I started to peel the potatoes. I should never have thought that peeling potatoes was such an undertaking. The job turned out to be the biggest thing of its kind that I had ever been in. We began cheerfully, one might almost say skittishly, but our light-heartedness was gone by the time the first potato was finished. The more we peeled, the more peel there seemed to be left on; by the time we had got all the peel off and all the eyes out, there was no potato left - at least none worth speaking of. George came and had a look at it - it was about the size of a pea-nut. He said:
"Oh, that won\'t do! You\'re wasting them. You must scrape them."
So we scraped them, and that was harder work than peeling. They are such an extraordinary shape, potatoes - all bumps and warts and hollows. We worked steadily for five-and-twenty minutes, and did four potatoes. Then we struck. We said we should require the rest of the evening for scraping ourselves.
I never saw such a thing as potato-scraping for making a fellow in a mess. It seemed difficult to believe that the potato-scrapings in which Harris and I stood, half smothered, could have come off four potatoes. It shows you what can be done with economy and care.
George said it was absurd to have only four potatoes in an Irish stew, so we washed half-a-dozen or so more, and put them in without peeling. We also put in a cabbage and about half a peck of peas. George stirred it all up, and then he said that there seemed to be a lot of room to spare, so we overhauled both the hampers, and picked out all the odds and ends and the remnants, and added them to the stew. There were half a pork pie and a bit of cold boiled bacon left, and we put them in. Then George found half a tin of potted salmon, and he emptied that into the pot.
He said that was the advantage of Irish stew: you got rid of such a lot of things. I fished out a couple of eggs that had got cracked, and put those in. George said they would thicken the gravy.
I forget the other ingredients, but I know nothing was wasted; and I remember that, towards the end, Montmorency, who had evinced great interest in the proceedings throughout, strolled away with an earnest and thoughtful air, reappearing, a few minutes afterwards, with a dead water-rat in his mouth, which he evidently wished to present as his contribution to the dinner; whether in a sarcastic spirit, or with a genuine desire to assist, I cannot say.
We had a discussion as to whether the rat should go in or not. Harris said that he thought it would be all right, mixed up with the other things, and that every little helped; but George stood up for precedent. He said he had never heard of water-rats in Irish stew, and he would rather be on the safe side, and not try experiments.
Harris said:
\"If you never try a new thing, how can you tell what it\'s like? It\'s men such as you that hamper the world\'s progress. Think of the man who first tried German sausage!"
It was a great success, that Irish stew. I don\'t think I ever enjoyed a meal more. There was something so fresh and piquant about it. One\'s palate gets so tired of the old hackneyed things: here was a dish with a new flavour, with a taste like nothing else on earth.
And it was nourishing, too. As George said, there was good stuff in it. The peas and potatoes might have been a bit softer, but we all had good teeth, so that did not matter much: and as for the gravy, it was a poem - a little too rich, perhaps, for a weak stomach, but nutritious.
We finished up with tea and cherry tart. Montmorency had a fight with the kettle during tea-time, and came off a poor second.
Throughout the trip, he had manifested great curiosity concerning the kettle. He would sit and watch it, as it boiled, with a puzzled expression, and would try and rouse it every now and then by growling at it. When it began to splutter and steam, he regarded it as a challenge, and would want to fight it, only, at that precise moment, some one would always dash up and bear off his prey before he could get at it.
To-day he determined he would be beforehand. At the first sound the kettle made, he rose, growling, and advanced towards it in a threatening attitude. It was only a little kettle, but it was full of pluck, and it up and spit at him.
\"Ah! would ye!" growled Montmorency, showing his teeth; "I\'ll teach ye to cheek a hard-working, respectable dog; ye miserable, long-nosed, dirty-looking scoundrel, ye. Come on!"
And he rushed at that poor little kettle, and seized it by the spout.
Then, across the evening stillness, broke a blood-curdling yelp, and Montmorency left the boat, and did a constitutional three times round the island at the rate of thirty-five miles an hour, stopping every now and then to bury his nose in a bit of cool mud.
From that day Montmorency regarded the kettle with a mixture of awe, suspicion, and hate. Whenever he saw it he would growl and back at a rapid rate, with his tail shut down, and the moment it was put upon the stove he would promptly climb out of the boat, and sit on the bank, till the whole tea business was over.
George got out his banjo after supper, and wanted to play it, but Harris objected: he said he had got a headache, and did not feel strong enough to stand it. George thought the music might do him good - said music often soothed the nerves and took away a headache; and he twanged two or three notes, just to show Harris what it was like.
Harris said he would rather have the headache.
George has never learned to play the banjo to this day. He has had too much all-round discouragement to meet. He tried on two or three evenings, while we were up the river, to get a little practice, but it was never a success. Harris\'s language used to be enough to unnerve any man; added to which, Montmorency would sit and howl steadily, right through the performance. It was not giving the man a fair chance.
\"What\'s he want to howl like that for when I\'m playing?" George would exclaim indignantly, while taking aim at him with a boot.
\"What do you want to play like that for when he is howling?" Harris would retort, catching the boot. "You let him alone. He can\'t help howling. He\'s got a musical ear, and your playing makes him howl."
So George determined to postpone study of the banjo until he reached home. But he did not get much opportunity even there. Mrs. P. used to come up and say she was very sorry - for herself, she liked to hear him - but the lady upstairs was in a very delicate state, and the doctor was afraid it might injure the child.
Then George tried taking it out with him late at night, and practising round the square. But the inhabitants complained to the police about it, and a watch was set for him one night, and he was captured. The evidence against him was very clear, and he was bound over to keep the peace for six months.
He seemed to lose heart in the business after that. He did make one or two feeble efforts to take up the work again when the six months had elapsed, but there was always the same coldness - the same want of sympathy on the part of the world to fight against; and, after awhile, he despaired altogether, and advertised the instrument for sale at a great sacrifice- "owner having no further use for same" - and took to learning card tricks instead.

at all events: anyway
awe: fear
awkward: uncomfortable
beforehand: earlier, in advance
bequeath: (bequeathing, bequeathed) donate
bump: guz
bygone: miniony
capture: (capturing, captured) schwytać
courtyard: dziedziniec
dash: (dashing, dashed) hurry
discourage: zniechęcać
discouragement: disappointment
dismal: miserable
drowsy: sleepy
earnest: serious
elapse: (elapsing, elapsed) pass
evince: (evincing, evinced) to show a feeling, okazywać
glass case: gablota
gravy: sos
growl: (growling, growled) warczeć
hamper: (hampering, hampered) slow down
hand over: (handing, handed) przekazać
howl: (howling, howled) wyć
linger: (lingering, lingered) pozostawiać
mortar: zaprawa murarska
nourishing: odżywczy
nutritious: odżywczy
odds and ends: resztki, pozostałości
of that ilk: of that type
overhaul: (overhauling, overhauled) poddawać przeglądowi
passage: corridor
peel: (peeling, peeled) obierać
peel: obierki
placid: peaceful
poor second: (to be/to come a poor second) to finish a competition a long way behind the first person
postpone: (postponing, postponed) delay, put off
precedent: precendens
prey: ofiara
promptly: quickly
remnants: pozostałości
retina: siatkówka (oka)
retort: (retorting, retorted) reply angrily
sacrifice: poświęcenie
salmon: łosoś
scoundrel: łajdak
scrape: (scraping, scraped) skrobać
seize: (seizing, seized) grab, catch
skittishly: (skit: parodia) not seriously
slap-up supper: a very large enjoyable meal
smother: (smothering, smothered) przytłaczać
soothe: (soothing, soothed) calm down
splutter: (spluttering, spluttered) prychać
spout: dzióbek
stew: potrawka
stir: (stirring, stirred) mieszać
stroll: (strolling, strolled) walk
take to: to begin a new hobby
Tennyson: Lord Alfred Tennyson (an English poet)
twang: (twanging, twanged) brzdąkać
undertaking: responsibility
unnerve: (unnerving, unnerved) odbierać odwagę
veritable: real
wart: brodawka
wax-work: figura woskowa

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