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Cutlass and Cudgel

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By: (1831-1909)

Based around the crew of cutter HMS White Hawk, this is a tale of smuggling in the early 19th century off the coast of Wessex. The midshipman of the cutter is taken hostage by the smugglers and is befriended by a farm-boy, son of one of the smugglers. His friendship is rudely rebuffed, the midshipman eventually escapes and the farm-boy gets his long-held dream of becoming a seaman on an Excise vessel.

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Cutlass and Cudgel, by George Manville Fenn.

In some ways this book is reminiscent of "The Lost Middy", by the same author, but I suppose that with a similar theme, a nosey midshipman taken prisoner by a gang of smugglers, there are bound to be other points of similarity. Anyway, it is a good fast moving story, with lots of well drawn human interest.

It starts off with a comic scene, where the Excise patrol vessel is cruising near an area suspected of being heavily involved with smuggling. Suddenly a large object is seen swimming in the water, and it turns out to be a cow. Then there's all the business of milking the cow on the deck of a sailing vessel. Pretty soon, however it gets serious, and we meet various characters living nearby. Soon the inquisitive midshipman is taken prisoner, and it falls to another teenager, the son of one of the chief rogues, to bring him food. Both boys become friendly with each other, but the midshipman can only express it by appearing to hate the farm fisher boy, whom he considers to be socially far beneath him... Continue reading book >>

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