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A Middy in Command A Tale of the Slave Squadron   By: (1851-1922)

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A Middy in Command A Tale of the Slave Squadron

By Harry Collingwood Another excellent book by this talented nautical author. As the title implies, it is the tale of a young man who is a midshipman in the Royal Navy's anti slave trade squadron.

There are the usual accidents and swimming events, but the young man secures his promotion by his distinguished performance in the capture of a slaver.

A well written book by an author who from his actual trade understands how sailing ships are designed and built, and whose works are by that reason all the more worthy of reading.

It makes a very nice audiobook, of eleven and a half hours duration. A MIDDY IN COMMAND A TALE OF THE SLAVE SQUADRON




The first faint pallor of the coming dawn was insidiously extending along the horizon ahead as H.M. gun brig Shark the latest addition to the slave squadron slowly surged ahead over the almost oil smooth sea, under the influence of a languid air breathing out from the south east. She was heading in for the mouth of the Congo, which was about forty miles distant, according to the master's reckoning.

The night had been somewhat squally, and the royals and topgallant sails were stowed; but the weather was now clearing, and as "three bells" chimed out musically upon the clammy morning air, Mr Seaton, the first lieutenant, who was the officer of the watch, having first scanned the heavens attentively, gave orders to loose and set again the light upper canvas.

By the time that the men aloft had cast off the gaskets that confined the topgallant sails to the yards, the dawn which comes with startling rapidity in those latitudes had risen high into the sky ahead, and spread well along the horizon to north and south, causing the stars to fade and disappear, one after another, until only a few of the brightest remained twinkling low down in the west.

As I wheeled at the stern grating in my monotonous promenade of the lee side of the quarter deck, a hail came down from aloft

"Sail ho! two of 'em, sir, broad on the lee beam. Look as if they were standin' out from the land."

"What are they like? Can you make out their rig?" demanded the first luff, as he halted and directed his gaze aloft at the man on the main royal yard, who, half way out to the yard arm, was balancing himself upon the foot rope, and steadying himself with one hand upon the yard as he gazed away to leeward under the shade of the other.

"I can't make out very much, sir," replied the man. "They're too far off; but one looks like a schooner, and t'other like a brig."

"And they are heading out from the land, you say?" demanded the lieutenant.

"Looks like it, sir," answered the man; "but, as I was sayin', they're a long way off; and it's a bit thick down to leeward there, so "

"All right, never mind; cast off those gaskets and come down," interrupted Mr Seaton impatiently. Then, turning to me, he said:

"Mr Grenvile, take the glass and lay aloft, if you please, and see what you can make of those strangers. Mr Keene" to the other midshipman of the watch "slip down below and call the captain, if you please. Tell him that two strange sail have been sighted from aloft, apparently coming out from the Congo."

By the time he had finished speaking I had snatched the glass from its beckets, and was half way up the weather main rigging, while the watch was sheeting home and hoisting away the topgallant sails and royals. When Keene reappeared on deck, after calling the skipper, I was comfortably astride the royal yard, with my left arm round the spindle of the vane the yard hoisting close up under the truck. With my right hand I manipulated the slide of the telescope and adjusted the focus of the instrument to suit my sight... Continue reading book >>

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