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Fred Markham in Russia The Boy Travellers in the Land of the Czar   By: (1814-1880)

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Fred Markham in Russia; or, The Boy Travellers in the Land of the Czar, by W H G Kingston.

Fred and his brother have an adult friend, Cousin Giles, who is a naval officer who had served under the boys' father, before injury had compelled his retirement. One day Cousin Giles asks the boys to come with him on a visit to Russia. This was 1856. The boys' mother is glad they are not going too far, such as to the Antipodes.

The little party arrive in Russia after some problems with their sea voyage. They tour Saint Petersburg, and then travel a little wider. Meeting various people with a knowledge of the land and its customs, they get some good first hand information about Russia. Some of their new friends tell long stories about things that have happened to them, or to their own friends, and by this device we learn much more about Russia and its people, and their lives, often very difficult, under the Czars.

And the boys have some thrills of their own, for instance during an encounter with wolves.

Eventually it is time to return home, and the last two chapters are letters from Fred to his mother, recounting their adventures during the last few days of their holiday. But Fred must have been a remarkably well educated boy to write in such an adult style!

This book was written just after a time when it had become possible to travel to Russia. Many people had availed themselves of this chance, and had written of their journeys. Kingston uses the device of telling us about Russia as seen by the two boys, embellished with the adventures of some of the friends they make.



A Trip to Russia proposed Cousin Giles and his History Preparations for the Voyage Journey to Hull The Steamer described The Voyage commenced A Fog at Sea.

"Thank you, thank you; it will be very delightful," said Fred Markham.

"It will be jolly, that it will!" exclaimed his younger brother Harry; and home they ran as fast as their legs could carry them to find their father and mother.

"Oh, father, father! mother, mother! may we go? May we go?" they exclaimed in a breath together. "Cousin Giles has asked us, and he says that he will take very good care of us, and that he is not joking; that he is in real earnest, and that, if you will give us leave to go, he wishes to set off immediately."

"But you have not told us where you wish to go to," said Captain Markham. "If it should chance to be to Timbuctoo, to the Sandwich Islands, or to the antipodes, I fear that I must refuse your request."

"Even should Cousin Giles be answerable for your safe return, I could not part with you for so long a time as would be required to go to either of those regions of the world," added their mother, smiling.

"But it is not to Timbuctoo, nor to the Sandwich Islands, nor to any place near so far off that Cousin Giles wants to take us," replied Fred eagerly. "It is only to Russia, and that is no distance at all, he says."

"Only to Russia!" exclaimed Captain Markham, with an emphasis on the only. "That country used to be thought a long way off from England in my younger days; but railways and steamers have worked a great change in our notions of distances. We must, however, hear what Cousin Giles has to say before we decide on the subject."

The lads had not to endure their uncertainty very long before Cousin Giles made his appearance, his somewhat weather beaten countenance beaming with a glow of benevolence and vivacity which seldom forsook it. Now it must be understood that Cousin Giles was not really the young Markhams' cousin, any more than he was that of several other families in the county who called him by the same affectionate name. He was a lieutenant in the navy, but, having received a severe wound in battle, which incapacitated him, he considered, from doing his duty properly, he retired from the service, though he ultimately recovered sufficiently to travel about without inconvenience... Continue reading book >>

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