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The First Mate The Story of a Strange Cruise   By: (1851-1922)

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The First Mate, by Harry Collingwood.

The hero of this story is Walter Leigh, who takes a job as second mate aboard a gasoline powered yacht owned by a Mrs Vansittart, whose husband is an American industrialist. Julius Vansittart is a rather nasty 12 year old, who, despite his life being saved by Leigh, when he had fallen overboard, hates the English, and never misses an opportunity of being as unpleasant as possible, even to the point of stupidity.

There are numerous disasters in this story, with the First Mate's death occurring soon after the start of the book, and Leigh's promotion to the position. After that there are an attack by pirates, a shipwreck, an attack by hostile natives, all of which Leigh does his best to cope with. Eventually even the dreadful Julius becomes a bit more civilised, and apologises for his bad behaviour hitherto.

They drop a large number of floating messages asking for help, into the sea, and eventually they are rescued. This is not a very long book, taking only 8.5 hours to read as an audiobook.




"Well, young man, what do you think of her?"

The question was addressed to me in a very pleasantly modulated female voice, carrying just the slightest suspicion of an American accent. For the fraction of a second I was a wee bit startled. I had not had the ghost of a suspicion that anyone was nearer me than the gang of labourers who were busily engaged in unloading a big delivery wagon and transferring the contents, in the shape of numerous packing cases, to the deck of the vessel which I was scrutinising. It was afternoon of a grey day in the latter part of October three years ago; and the scene was one of the wharves of the east basin of the London Docks, round which I had been prowling in search of a ship. I had been thus engaged ever since nine o'clock that morning, interviewing skippers and mates, so far unsuccessfully, when I was "brought up all standing" by finding myself in close proximity to a white hulled, ship rigged craft of, I estimated, some two thousand five hundred tons measurement.

She was steel built, with steel lower masts, bowsprit, and lower and topsail yards; and even if she had not been sporting the ensign of the New York Yacht Club at her ensign staff and its burgee at her main royal mast head, I should still have known her for a yacht from the perfection of her lines, the dainty and exquisite beauty of her shape, the whiteness of her decks (notwithstanding their somewhat littered condition), the beautiful modelling of her boats, her polished teak rails, and generally the high finish and perfect cleanliness of her deck fittings. She was as heavily rigged as a frigate; moreover, although no guns were visible, I observed that her main deck bulwarks were pierced with six ports of a side, in the wake of which steel racers were bolted to the deck; also she sported hammock rails, which I had never seen before except in pictures of old fashioned wooden men o' war. A gilt cable moulding ornamented her sheer strake; a beautifully carved and gilded full length figure of a woman wearing a star of cut glass facets on her forehead formed her figurehead; and her quarters were adorned with a considerable amount of gilded scroll work. Her elliptical stern bore, in large gilded block letters, the words: Stella Maris. New York.

As the enquiry with which I have opened this story reached my ears, I wheeled round and found myself face to face with a little lady. She was very richly dressed in silk and furs, quite colourless as to complexion, but with a fine pair of deep violet eyes and a quantity of dark chestnut hair loosely coiled under an immense hat rigged with black ostrich plumes... Continue reading book >>

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