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The New Forest Spy   By: (1831-1909)

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The New Forest Spy, by George Manville Fenn.

The hero, living in a big house in the New Forest, is a teenager, Waller Froy. His father is away, and he is out fishing in the Forest, when he encounters a strange boy of his own age. Initially they each assume the other to be an adversary, but Waller then realises that the other boy is harmless, and has become lost from a party of Jacobite gentlemen from France. Of course this is ridiculous, because we are now in the days of King George the Third, and no Jacobite revival is likely or possible, but the soldiers are out looking for this lad and his former companions.

So Waller decides to take him home and look after him till he is a bit less starved. The boy's name is Godfrey Boyne. But from a tiny incident news gets out that there are strange noises in the house, as though there was another person in the attics. And so the military, accompanied by the village constable, arrive, to search the house. This is a very comic event, and the soldiers retreat empty handed. Help comes from an unexpected quarter, and Waller manages to organise his friend Godfrey with a trip back to France in a local fishing boat.

It's a short book, or a long short story, and was published under the same binding as "Through Forest and Stream". But neither of these books appears in any of the lists of Fenn's works, though it certainly appears from internal evidence that they are genuine. The way they were bound there was no title page for this book, nor lists of the contents and of the illustrations, so for our pdf version we have had to recreate these.

It actually is an enjoyable book, and makes a good read or a good listen.




"Hullo! What's that?"

The lad who uttered those words dropped a short, stiff fishing rod in amongst the bracken and furze, and made a dash in the direction of a sharp rustling sound to his right, ran as hard as he could, full pelt, for about five and twenty yards, and then, catching his toe in a tough stem of heather, went headlong down into a tuft of closely cropped furze the delicate finer kind which had been nibbled off year after year till it had assumed the form of a great green and gold cushion, beautiful to look at, but too pointed in its attentions to make a pleasant resting place.

"Bother!" shouted the boy, as he scrambled up. "Oh, what an ass I am! Anyone would think I was old enough to know that I couldn't catch a rabbit on the run, even if he had no hole among the hazel stubbs. Hole? Hundreds, where he could dive down. Horrid, prickly things furzes are. That was a sharp one; but there, it hasn't hurt much, only it makes one so jolly hot."

He walked backward along the edge of the forest much more deliberately to stoop and pick up his rod.

"Yes, of course," he grumbled, and he screwed up a rather good looking young manly face into a grin of annoyance which shewed all his closely set white teeth; "I might have known all in a tangle. The hook broken, of course!"

He let the butt of the rod which bore a very old fashioned brass winch, rest in the hollow of his arm, while he carefully extricated the hook at the end of his line from where it had fallen and caught hold of a stem of dwarf bracken, while to free it and the hair, feather, and dubbing which had transformed the said hook into what was supposed to be a big artificial fly, although it was not in the slightest degree like any insect that ever flew, required no little care.

"Humph!" he grunted; "might have been worse. But what a stupid a trout must be to go at a thing like that! Well, so much the better for me. Now then: once more, to begin."

But the boy seemed in no hurry to start. His exertions, though slight, had made him very hot, and he took off his cap to wipe away the shining drops that covered his sun tanned forehead and stood thickly where, higher up, the skin was white amongst the thickly set curls of his brown hair... Continue reading book >>

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