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Old Gold The Cruise of the "Jason" Brig   By: (1831-1909)

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Old Gold; or, The Cruise of the Brig Jason, by George Manville Fenn.

Here we have yet another suspense filled adventure novel by Fenn. There seems to be no end to the situations into which the people in the book can get themselves, and from which there seem to be no escape.

A couple of wealthy Englishmen are determined to sail as far as they can up one of the great rivers of South America, perhaps the Orinoco or perhaps the Amazon. At the time this has never before been done. After finding a ship and skipper they are joined by Briscoe, a rather pushy young man, who has some good characteristics, but whom none of them really like, and who gets on board, with all his stores and a servant, by a series of subterfuges.

As they make their way up the river they choose the Amazon they are attacked by the local natives, armed with bows and arrows. Then a boat they send out to explore near a great cataract is sucked in by the towback of the falls. This is normally fatal, but the wind slightly changes, and they find an eddy which carries them clear.

Creating a trackway to enable them to haul a large ship's boat past the falls, they leave their brig at anchor below the falls, and continue with the exploration. They find an extraordinary rock hewn city in the cliffs bordering a canyon, abandoned perhaps for centuries, and now inhabited by serpents, bats and possibly with various deadfalls guarding the various chambers. Needless to say they find golden artefacts in profusion, but just as they find them they are attacked by a huge fleet of local savages in canoes, so they leave in a hurry.

Re equipping the brig next year, they cannot find the way back to this El Dorado, and it is the same in future years.

A most enjoyable book.




It was very, very hot. That is to say, it was as hot as it knows how to be in Johnstown, Guiana, which means a damp, sticky, stifling kind of heat. The sun made the muddy river look oily, and the party of three seated under the great fig tree which shaded the boarding house by the wharf seemed as if they were slowly melting away like so much of the sugar of which the wharves and warehouses and the vessels moored in the river smelt.

Let us be quite correct: it was more the smell of treacle, and the casks and sugar bags piled up under an open sided shed all looked gummy and sticky; while the flies there, it was just as if all the flies in the world, little and big, had been attracted to hum, buzz, and in some cases utter useless cries for help when they had managed to get their wings daubed with the sweet juice and strove vainly to rise in the air.

Captain David Banes, a weather beaten sailor of about forty, took off his Panama hat, drew a yellow silk handkerchief out of the crown, and dabbed the drops off his face, brow, and the top of his head, which looked as if it had been rubbed and polished till all the hair for a broad space had been cleared away.

Then he said: " Phe ew !" put the handkerchief back, and nursed his hat upon his knees, as he stared across the rough table, upon which coffee and breakfast cups were standing, at the sun burned gentleman who looked something like a modern yachtsman, though it was a good seventy years ago.

The latter looked back at him half smilingly, took out a handkerchief and wiped his face, and glanced across at another sun burned individual, to wit, a young man something like him in face, who was driving away flies from the sugar basin, at which interference with their sweet pleasure they buzzed angrily, and the moment a spoonful of sugar had been taken out settled back.

"It's hot, Brace," said the second personage.

"Yes, I know," said the young fellow, smiling. "I found that out myself."

"Ay, youngster," said the captain, "and it don't want a man o' genous to find that out... Continue reading book >>

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