A comment by Jack, an ill-kempt fellow patron of the public house where Pip and the group are spending the night, causes unseasiness among the crew. Jack asks if they had seen "a four-oared galley going up with the tide". The galley crew, which included four rowers and two sitters, had stopped by the public house for some beer, and Jack had taken an instant dislike to them. Although the landlord is not in agreement with Jack, Jack thinks they were custom house officers, even though they were not dressed as such.
The conversation about the mysterious galley causes unease for Pip and the crew, who had already been "possessed by the idea that (they) were followed". Although they had not actually seen the vessel, the fact that there had been "a four-oared galley hovering about in so unusual a way as to attract this notice (is) an ugly circumstance", and gives them "a feeling that (they are) caged and threatened".