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Menhardoc   By: (1831-1909)

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Menhardoc, a Story of Cornish Nets and Mines, by George Manville Fenn.

In passing, the title of the book, Menhardoc, never once appears in the body text of the book. But it has a sort of mysterious Cornish sound to it, and that does the trick.

Mr Temple and his two 15 or 16 year old twin sons have come to stay for the summer holidays in a Cornish fishing village. The two boys are very different. Arthur, or Taff, is very foppish and afraid of getting wet, hurt, or in any way inconvenienced. The other boy, Richard, or Dick, is the exact opposite, always running hither and thither, always wanting to get involved in anything that is going, ready to make friends with all and sundry, while Arthur believes himself to be very grand and much above the fisher men and boys that they meet on this holiday.

Will Marion is one such boy. But he is a very clever studious boy, as well as one who gets on with the day to day fishing business. He has had a good grammar school education, and Arthur is quite put out to discover that Will is better than he at his Latin and Greek, in those days forming a large part of a good education.

Josh, Uncle Abram, and several others complete the principal cast. The boys get out on various boating expeditions, in which they, and we, learn a great deal about the life of a fishing village of perhaps 1850. We learn about the various fishes, and how they are caught, and they have various narrow shaves down mines, in caves, and after various unfortunate accidents.

This book is beautifully written, very informative and interesting, and as full of thrills as any book by G Manville Fenn, the master of suspense.

Of course there is a surprise waiting for us at the finish.




"You don't know it, Master Will, lad, but Natur' couldn't ha' done no better for you if she'd tried."

"Why, Josh?"

"Why, lad? There's a queshton to ask! Why? Warn't you born in Co'rn'all, the finest country in all England, and ain't you going to grow into a Cornishman, as all old books says is giants, when you've left off being a poor smooth, soft roed, gallish looking creatur', same as you are now?"

The utterer of these words certainly spoke them, but in a musical, sing song intonation peculiar to the fishermen of the district. He was a fair, short man, somewhat deformed, one arm being excessively short, seeming little more than a hand projecting from one side of his breast; but this in no wise interfered with his activity as he stood there glittering in the bright morning sunshine on the deck of a Cornish lugger, shaking pilchards out of the dark brown net into the well or hold.

Josh Helston glittered in the morning sunshine like a harlequin in a limelight, for he was spangled from head to foot with the loose silvery scales of the pilchards caught during the night, and on many another night during the past few weeks. There were scales on his yellow south wester, in his fair closely curling hair, a couple on his ruddy brown nose, hundreds upon his indigo blue home knit jersey, and his high boots, that were almost trousers and boots in one, were literally burnished with the adherent disks of silvery iridescent horn.

The "poor smooth, gallish looking creatur'" he addressed was a well built young fellow of seventeen, with no more effeminacy in his appearance than is visible in a lad balanced by nature just on that edge of life where we rest for a short space uneasily, bidding good bye to boyhood so eagerly, before stepping boldly forward, and with flushed face and flashing eyes feeling our muscles and the rough hair upon our cheeks and chins, and saying, in all the excitement of the discovery of that El Dorado time of life, "At last I am a man!"

Josh Helston's words did not seem fair, but his way was explained once to Michael Polree as they stood together on the pier; and the latter had expostulated after his fashion, for he never spoke much, by saying:

"Easy, mate, easy... Continue reading book >>

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