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The Castaways   By: (1851-1922)

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The Castaways, by Harry Collingwood.

A very nice book by this prolific writer of adventures at sea. Not too long, and fully recommended.

As usual with this author, this book makes a nice audiobook.

I just wonder what made him use this title, as there are so many books with the same title, and I would not have said that there were any castaway situations in this book, but perhaps this is because the book didn't go in quite the direction that the author intended when he started to write it!




It was on a wet, dreary, dismal afternoon, toward the end of October 18 , that I found myself en route for Gravesend, to join the clipper ship City of Cawnpore , in the capacity of cuddy passenger, bound for Calcutta.

The wind was blowing strong from the south east, and came sweeping along, charged with frequent heavy rain squalls that dashed fiercely against the carriage windows, while the atmosphere was a mere dingy, brownish grey expanse of shapeless vapour, so all pervading that it shut out not only the entire firmament but also a very considerable portion of the landscape.

There had been a time, not so very long ago while I was hunting slavers on the West Coast, grilling under a scorching African sun day after day and month after month, with pitiless monotony when the mere recollection of such weather as this had made me long for a taste of it as a priceless luxury; but now, after some five months' experience of the execrable British climate, I folded my cloak more closely about me, as I gazed through the carriage windows at the rain blurred landscape, and blessed the physician who was sending me southward in search of warmth and sunshine and the strong salt breeze once more.

For it was in pursuit of renewed health and strength that I was about to undertake the voyage; a spell of over two years of hard, uninterrupted service upon the Coast during which a more than average allowance of wounds and fever had fallen to my share had compelled me to invalid home; and now, with my wounds healed, the fever banished from my system, and in possession of a snug little, recently acquired competence that rendered it unnecessary for me to follow the sea as a profession, I Charles Conyers, R.N., aged twenty seven was, by the fiat of my medical adviser, about to seek, on the broad ocean, that life giving tonic which is unobtainable elsewhere, and which was all that I now needed to entirely reinvigorate my constitution and complete my restoration to perfect health.

Upon my arrival at Gravesend I was glad to find that the rain had ceased, for the moment, although the sky still looked full of it. I therefore lost no time in making my way down to the river, where I forthwith engaged a waterman to convey me, and the few light articles I had brought with me, off to the ship.

The City of Cawnpore was a brand new iron ship, of some twelve hundred tons register, modelled like a frigate, full rigged, and as handsome a craft in every respect as I had ever seen. I had seen her before, of course, in the Docks, when I had gone down to inspect her and choose my cabin; but she was then less than half loaded; her decks were dirty and lumbered up with bales and cases of cargo; her jib booms were rigged in, and her topgallant masts down on deck; and altogether she was looking her worst; while now, lying well out toward the middle of the stream as she was, she looked a perfect picture, as she lay with her bows pointing down stream, straining lightly at her cable upon the last of the flood tide, loaded down just sufficiently, as it seemed, to put her into perfect sailing trim, her black hull with its painted ports showing up in strong contrast to the peasoup coloured flood upon which she rode, her lofty masts stayed to a hair, and all accurately parallel, gleaming like ruddy gold against the dingy murk of the wild looking sky... Continue reading book >>

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