I am reading "The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle" story, I don't understand this sentence:

When they got round the bend in the river and the water was hidden from view, you could still see their huge brown sails towering over the roofs of the town, moving onward slowly—like some gentle giants that walked among the houses without noise.

Here what does "the water" mean? the river or the sea? How come to be hidden?


  • Hi Fahad, welcome to English Language & Usage (EL&U), which is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. You may not be aware that you can ask general questions about understanding English at English Language Learners. For further information about what's expected on our EL&U site, see How to Ask. Jul 19, 2018 at 6:07
  • @Chappo Thanks, Do I have to ask there?
    – Fahad
    Jul 19, 2018 at 6:23
  • No, it's not good to ask the same question on different SE sites. I'll offer a quick answer here, but if you have future questions like this, try asking first at English Language Learners. Jul 19, 2018 at 6:30

1 Answer 1


In this context, "the water" refers to the river.

The chapter starts by talking about the town on this river:

At that time Puddleby was only quite a small town. A river ran through the middle of it; and over this river there was a very old stone bridge, called Kingsbridge, which led you from the market-place on one side to the churchyard on the other.

Sailing-ships came up this river from the sea and anchored near the bridge. I used to go down and watch the sailors unloading the ships upon the river-wall.

The water is hidden by the bend in the river. In other words, there are things - trees, buildings, low hills - that are now blocking the view of that part of the river. But the ships in that part of the river have tall sails, and even though you can't see the river, you can see the tops of the sails. And as the ships move, you can see the tops of the sails move (probably towards the sea).

  • @Fahad I agree with the meaning, but I still find it awkward phrasing. It would make more specific sense if the phrasing had been when they got round the bend in the river and the previous section of water was hidden from view. The problem with it as written is that they are still viewing some water, so it is not all hidden . . . Jul 19, 2018 at 14:43

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