In "Stolen Ingots" in Dr. Thorndyke's Case-Book by R. Austin Freeman, there was a boat that chases a barge in a tidal river and amongst muddy banks:

Meanwhile the fugitive barge, having got some two miles start, seemed to be drawing ahead. But it was only at intervals that we could see her, for the tide was falling fast and we were mostly hemmed in by the high, muddy banks. Only when we entered a straight reach of the river could we see her sails over the land; and every time that she came into view, she appeared perceptibly smaller.

"Still gaining?" asked Badger.

"Aye. She's a-going to slip across the tail of Foulness Sand into the deep channel. And that's the last we shall see of her."

"But can't we get into the channel the same way?" demanded Badger.

"Well, d'ye see," replied the fisherman, "'tis like this. Tide's a-running out, but there'll be enough for her. It'll just carry her out through the Whitaker Channel and across the spit. Then it'll turn, and up she'll go, London way, on the flood. But we shall catch the flood-tide in the Whitaker Channel, and a rare old job we'll have to get out; and when we do get out, that barge'll be miles away."

How could its sails be over the land?!

And as for the second bolded sentence "Then it'll turn, and up she'll go, London way, on the flood."

It's a bit obscure for me because of these too much commas! Does it mean "the tide will turn london way, and she will go on the flood"? or "she herself will go london way?!

And for the last bolded thing, what's meant by "rare old job"?

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1 Answer 1


They are sailing on a navigable river, the river has twists and turns through the landscape. This means that the pursuers cannot always see the river itself, but when the barge’s sails are not screened from their view by landform or vegetation they see them across the intervening land.

As to the ‘then it’ll turn’ section: I looked up the ‘Whitaker channel’ and founds this to be near the mouth of the River Crouch. The River Crouch seems to be the next navigable river going north from the Thames, so they may be on the Crouch or it’s smaller tributary the Roach.

Therefore we can understand that the ebbing tide, which the barge left on in your previous question, will still be high enough to carry the barge out into the sea, over a sand spit at the river mouth.

Then the tide will turn and the rising tide (also called the flood tide)will make it easy going for the barge, having sailed down the coast to the Thames, to sail up it towards London on the tide. Going with the flow both out of the Crouch and into the Thames.

Our gallant pursuers however are too far behind the barge to benefit from the tides and will have to fight a rising tide, ‘go against the flow’, to get out of the mouth of the Crouch into the sea.

A ‘rare old job’ means an extraordinarily hard task.


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