Dan Harrow, a tall, stooped, broad-shouldered young man. He is a naïve newcomer on the canal who, after brief jobs on two canal boats, becomes captain of the Sarsy Sal after Samson Weaver’s death. At last, feeling that the canal is not the place for him, he returns to farm life.
Molly Larkins, his tall, strapping, amoral cook, blowsy looking but attractive. She formerly cooked for Jotham. Although she likes Dan and remains with him for a time, she pities Jotham after he is beaten by Dan, and she returns to the chastened bully.
Fortune Friendly, an old, red-faced, skinny canal character and rascal, a former divinity student who still preaches occasionally when he needs money.
Joseph P. “Gentleman Joe” Calash
Joseph P. “Gentleman Joe” Calash, a cruel-faced canal highwayman for whose capture a large reward is offered. He aids Dan in a fight with Jotham and rescues him after a second fight. He is at last caught and killed.
Jotham Klore, a big, black-bearded, tobacco-chewing canal bully who is knocked out twice by Calash and who knocks out Dan in a fight over Molly. In a final fight, Dan wins a great victory.
Jacob Turnesa, a hook-nosed, pale-faced Jewish peddler who picks up Dan and gives him a volume of William Shakespeare’s plays.
Hector Berry, a henpecked canal boatman.
Penelope, his nagging, dictatorial wife.
Solomon (Sol) Tinkle
Solomon (Sol) Tinkle, a bald, diminutive canal boatman.
Mrs. Gurget, Sol’s fat, good-natured cook and mistress, addicted to rum noggins.
Julius Wilson, the owner of the canal boat Xerxes.
Benjamin (Ben) Rae
Benjamin (Ben) Rae, the big Jewish steersman of the Xerxes.
William Wampy, the cook and fiddler on the Xerxes.
Lucy Cashdollar, the operator of an agency supplying women as cooks for lonely canal men.
Samson Weaver, the captain of the Sarsy Sal. He dies shortly after hiring Dan.
Mr. Butterfield, the agent for whom Samson and Dan work.