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Bob Strong's Holidays Adrift in the Channel   By:

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Bob Strong's Holiday; or, Adrift in the Channel

by John Conroy Hutcheson Bob Strong and his sister Nellie are the children of a busy barrister, too busy to take them on holiday, and they are sent by train down to Portsmouth to spend the summer holidays with their aunt. The dog Rover travels in the guard's van, and in the same compartment of the train there is an elderly gentleman who turns out to be a retired sea captain.

The train is moving out of Guildford when a grubby boy's face appears at the window. They let the boy in, and the Captain decides to pay the fare for the boy, who is a runaway from a dreadfully cruel stepfather. They all spend the holiday together, doing various things with boats, fish, seaweed, and visiting various interesting places, some of which they find to be a con! They travel to the Isle of Wight, just a few miles across the Solent, and even visit Seaview where I, the reviewer, was brought up. Many of the interesting things they did were what we as boys fifty years later also did.

They get involved in a couple of disasters, including the wreck of a brand new excursion steamer. As in my day, the engines of these ships were most interesting, being triple expansion horizontal steam engines driving paddle wheels, and, like Bob, I used to spend the journeys to and from the Isle of Wight hovering at the engine room door, admiring these amazingly beautiful artefacts.

But the other disaster I will not tell you about save only to say that Alderney and the Casquets Rock, over fifty miles from the Isle of Wight, are mentioned, and these too are places with which I am very familiar.

You may wonder what happened to the runaway boy, Dick, and here again a very suitable arrangement was made for him, for he was accepted for training as a boy seaman. N.H.






The noise of the train, however, drowned Nellie's voice; besides which Master Bob was further prevented from hearing this appeal to him by reason of his head and shoulders being at that precise instant projected out of the window of the railway carriage, in utter defiance of the Company's bye laws to the contrary and of his sister's solicitous entreaties to the same effect poor Nellie, fearing, in her feminine anxiety, that the door would fly open unexpectedly, from the pressure of Bob's person, and precipitate her brother as suddenly out on the line.

"Bob!" she therefore repeated on finding her first summons disregarded, speaking in a louder key and giving a tug to his jacket the better to attract his attention "I say, Bob!"

"Hullo! What's the row?" shouted back the delinquent, hearing her at last, and wriggling himself in from the window like a snail withdrawing itself into its shell, turning round the while his face, slightly flushed with the exertion, to hers "Anything wrong, eh?"

Little Miss Nellie had not expected her timid and tentative conversational advances to be taken up in this downright fashion. Really she was only anxious for some one to sympathise with her and talk about the various objects of interest which came across her notice as they went along; so, Bob's abrupt address, coupled with his gruff tone of voice, fell on her enthusiasm like a wet blanket!

"Nothing's the matter," she replied timidly. "I only wanted to say how nice it is travelling like this."

"You don't mean to say you only called me in to tell me that?" said Bob, almost angrily. "I do think girls are the greatest geese in the world!"

With this dogmatic assertion, Master Bob shoved himself head and shoulders out of the window again, utterly ignoring poor Nellie's existence, much to her chagrin and dismay.

He was very rude, it must be confessed; but, some allowance should be made for him, all things considered... Continue reading book >>

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