Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)

by Jerome K. Jerome

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In Three Men in a Boat by Jerome, what happens to Harris when he goes inside the maze?

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Harris narrates his previous experience with the Hampton Court maze in chapter six. He tells the narrator and readers that he thought it would be a trivial thing to guide a "country cousin" through the maze.

“We’ll just go in here, so that you can say you’ve been, but it’s very simple. It’s absurd to call it a maze. You keep on taking the first turning to the right. We’ll just walk round for ten minutes, and then go and get some lunch.”

Harris's confidence is a result of having obtained what he believes is a map of the maze. Unfortunately, the map is not an actual map of the maze.

He had studied it up in a map, and it was so simple that it seemed foolish—hardly worth the twopence charged for admission. Harris said he thought that map must have been got up as a practical joke, because it wasn’t a bit like the real thing, and only misleading.

Harris was so confident in his ability to navigate the maze that he bragged about it to other people that had been lost in the maze for quite some time. Readers are told that his group grew to include roughly 20 people.

Harris said he should judge there must have been twenty people, following him, in all; and one woman with a baby, who had been there all the morning, insisted on taking his arm, for fear of losing him.

It eventually became obvious to several of the people following Harris that Harris had no clue of how to escape the maze. At this point, Harris suggested that they simply turn around and go back the way that they came from. The group agreed to try this; however, the group didn't make it out of the maze. In fact, the group made it to the center of the maze. Once there, the group tried over and over again to get out, but each "escape" attempt eventually returned them to the center of the maze.

And three minutes later they were back in the center again.

After that, they simply couldn’t get anywhere else. Whatever way they turned brought them back to the middle. It became so regular at length, that some of the people stopped there, and waited for the others to take a walk round, and come back to them.

Next, the group began to yell for help. A maze keeper heard their cries and attempted to guide the group out. He stood atop a ladder and gave directions, but that didn't work. The keeper decided that he would go into the maze and guide the group out. That would have worked too; however, the maze keeper was a new keeper, and he got lost too.

He was a young keeper, as luck would have it, and new to the business; and when he got in, he couldn’t find them, and he wandered about, trying to get to them, and then he got lost.

The group was finally saved and able to make it out of the maze once one of the more experienced keepers returned from dinner. Interestingly, Harris still thinks the maze is a "fine maze." He and J. both agree that they should try and get George to try the maze.

Harris said he thought it was a very fine maze, so far as he was a judge; and we agreed that we would try to get George to go into it, on our way back.

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He couldn’t get out of the Hampton Court maze. Harris tells this rather amusing story to J. in Chapter VI. The maze was set up around the year 1700, and it is still the oldest hedge maze in the United Kingdom. Harris says he got a map of it and thought it would be easy enough to walk through. But when he led “a country cousin” into it, they couldn’t find their way back out. They kept walking and kept finding other people who were stuck, too. The group eventually yelled for help to the keeper of the maze. He got a ladder to straddle the hedge and to climb in to reach them. But he was young and new to the job, and he got lost in the maze, too. They all had to wait for an older keeper to come back from his dinner break to get everyone out. Still, Harris and J. think they ought to send George into the maze when they pass Hampton Court on their way back.

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