The story begins by introducing George, Harris, Jerome and Montmorency, a fox terrier. The men are spending an evening in J.'s room, smoking and discussing illnesses they fancy they suffer from. They conclude that they are all suffering from 'overwork' and need a holiday. A stay in the country and a sea trip are both considered. The country stay is rejected because Harris claims it would be dull, the sea-trip after J. describes bad experiences of his brother-in-law and a friend on sea trips. The three eventually decide on a boating holiday up the River Thames, from Kingston upon Thames to Oxford, during which they will camp, notwithstanding more of J's anecdotes about previous mishaps with tents and camping stoves.