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Owen Hartley; or, Ups and Downs A Tale of Land and Sea   By: (1814-1880)

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Owen Hartley; or, Ups and Downs, A Tale of Land and Sea, by William H G Kingston.

Owen is a teenager who had been quite well educated, but who had just been orphaned. There is a family relation who has a shipping business in Wapping, London. A kind friend escorts the boy there, and he is granted an interview with the head of the firm, his relation. He is able to prove to the old man that he is indeed his relation, and is given a job as an assistant clerk. He does his work very well, and it is decided that he ought to be sent on a round trip away by sea, so that he shall understand more of the business.

Unfortunately the kind and helpful captain is taken ill, and his place is taken by the mate, who is a very nasty piece of work. Owen is supposed to be an honoured passenger, but is ordered to give up his cabin, and take a berth among the ship's boys. One of the boys, Nat, is an especial target for the general nastiness of the mate, now the captain. Owen had previously rescued Nat when he had fallen overboard, and they had become great friends.

The stupid and drunken mate, now acting as the captain, insists one day that his sunsight is correct, while everybody else's is wrong, and insists on the ship holding her course, which the other officers knew would lead her into danger. Of course there is a wreck. But maybe we have now told you enough, so you can read it for yourselves, or listen to it.



"Well, boy, what do you want?"

These words were uttered in a no pleasant tone by an old gentleman with a brownish complexion, a yellowish brown scratch wig, somewhat awry, a decidedly brown coat, breeches, and waistcoat, a neckcloth, once white, but now partaking of the sombre hue of his other garments; brown stockings and brownish shoes, ornamented by a pair of silver buckles, the last mentioned articles being the only part of his costume on which the eye could rest with satisfaction.

On his lap was placed a pocket handkerchief, of a nondescript tint, brown, predominating, in consequence of its frequent application to a longish nose, made the recipient of huge quantities of snuff. Altogether there was a dry, withered leaf like look about the old man which was not prepossessing. His little grey eyes were sunk deeply in his head, his sight being aided by a large pair of tortoiseshell spectacles, which he had now shoved up over his forehead.

He was seated on a high stool at a desk in a little back dingy office, powerfully redolent of odours nautical and unsavoury, emanating from coils of rope, casks of salt butter, herrings, Dutch cheese, whale oil, and similar unaromatic articles of commerce. It was in that region made classical by Dibdin Wapping. The back office in which the old gentleman sat opened out of one of much larger proportions, though equally dull and dingy, full of clerks, old and young, on high stools, busily moving their pens, or rapidly casting up accounts evidence that no idleness was allowed in the establishment. On one side was a warehouse, in which large quantities of the above named and similar ship's stores were collected. In front was a shop, the ceiling hung with tallow candles, brushes, mats, iron pots, and other things more useful than ornamental. From one end to the other of it ran a long, dark coloured counter, behind which stood a man in a brown apron, and sleeves tucked up, ready to serve out, in small quantities, tea, sugar, coffee, tallow candles, brushes, twine, tin kettles, and the pots which hung over his head, within reach of a long stick, placed ready for detaching them from the hooks on which they were suspended. In the windows, and on the walls outside, were large placards in red and black letters, announcing the sailing of various ships of wonderful sea qualities, and admirable accommodation for passengers, with a statement that further information would be afforded within... Continue reading book >>

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