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Our Soldier Boy   By: (1831-1909)

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Our Soldier Boy, by George Manville Fenn.

Well, this certainly is a departure from the usual Fenn style. Suspense as always there certainly is, but the intended audience is much younger than his usual teenager one.

The date is the Peninsular War, in Portugal.

A British family of merchants in Portugal are unaware of the intensity of the nearby fighting in the vicinity. They are at their country home, and go out for a few minutes, leaving their eight year old son with the servants. The French attack, slay the servants, and leave the child with a severe injury to the head.

Later the 200th Fusiliers come by, and the corporal sees the villa, and goes up there to see if he can get anything useful for his men to eat. He sees the slain servants, and comes across the little boy, whom he carries back to his wife, to see if she can bring him round.

The boy does recover, becomes the mascot of the regiment, and eventually after a battle with the French, heroically rescues the Colonel himself.

The boy comes to believe that the corporal and his wife are his real parents.

Months go by, while the boy, who does not have the faintest memory of his real father and mother, becomes more and more the favourite of the Regiment. The Portuguese give a great party to celebrate the British victory, and at the Ball there are present the Trevors, the real father and mother of the boy. There are touching scenes as recognition dawns.

So there is quite a lot of action for a short book.



"You, Tom Jones, let that pot lid alone."

It was a big brown faced woman who said that crossly, and a big rough looking bugler, in the uniform of the 200th Fusiliers, with belts, buttons and facings looking very clean and bright, but the scarlet cloth ragged and stained from the rain and mud, and sleeping in it anywhere, often without shelter, who dropped the lid as if it were hot and shut in the steam once more, as the iron pot bubbled away where it hung from three sticks, over a wood fire.

It was in a lovely part of Portugal, and the regiment was halting among the mountains after a long weary tramp; fires had been lit for cooking, and the men were lying and sitting about, sleeping, cleaning their firelocks, pipeclaying their belts, and trying to make themselves look as smart as they could considering that they were all more or less ragged and torn after a fortnight's tramp in all weathers in pursuit of a portion of the French army which had been always a few hours ahead.

But it was easy enough to follow their steps, for everywhere they had plundered, and destroyed; villages and pleasant homes were burned; and blackened ruins, cut up gardens and vineyards met the soldiers' eyes wherever the enemy had been.

There had been a straggling little village by the side of the mountain stream, where the 200th had halted at midday after their long march under a burning sun, at a spot where there was plenty of fresh water, and it was the pot over one of these cooking fires whose lid Tom Jones had lifted off.

"On'y wanted to smell what was for dinner," he said. "What have you got, Mother Beane?"

"Never you mind. Rare ohs for meddlers, and pump handle sauce, perhaps; and look here, you sir, you come when we halt to night and I'll mend some of them rags. You're a disgrace."

"Ain't worse than the rest of the fellows," said Tom, grinning. "The Colonel's horse went down 's morn'."

"Oh, dear, dear!" cried the woman excitedly; "is he hurt?"

"Broke both his knees, and bled ever so."

"The Colonel?"

"Now w w! His horse. Colonel only went sliding down 'mong the stones, and ripped his jacket sleeve right up."

"Oh, that's a blessing," said the woman. "You go to him when we camp, and say Mrs Corp'ral Beane's dooty and she's got a needle and silk ready, and may she mend his jacket... Continue reading book >>

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