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The Powder Monkey   By: (1831-1909)

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The Powder Monkey, by George Manville Fenn.

This is a very short book, probably intended for a younger market than most of Fenn's books. An old seaman finds a ragged and hungry young boy, to whom he talks, finding out that the boy was being brought up by an aunt and her brother. The uncle used to beat the boy too severely to bear, and he had run away from home. The seaman, Jack Jeens, decides to take charge of the boy, but both of them are taken by the press gang, and end up serving on HMS Victory. The boy, Phil Leigh, gets on well with the other seamen, but is especially fond of Jack. At first he doesn't get on well with the other ship's boys, but one day they are chasing each other round the rigging, and one of the boys, Tom Dodds, falls. Phil is made, as a punishment for causing the fall, to be Tom's nurse, for Tom has broken his leg badly.

In the next scene we find ourselves in the midst of the Battle of Trafalgar, and Phil's protector, Jack, is very badly wounded, so now Phil has a second person to nurse.

In the final scene we are back in Portsmouth, where the Aunt appears, and tells Phil that the Uncle has gone away, and that he should come home. Phil is unwilling to leave Jack, but the Aunt promises to have him come with them, and be nursed at her house, so that is where the story is complete.



"Hi lo!"

The little boy raised his head with a sudden start.

"Hilli hi ho! What cheer?"

The little fellow started to his feet from where he had been sitting upon a sloping bank, and caught at the bars of the gate close by. He said nothing, but stared through the gloom of the autumn evening at the strange man, who now roared out:

"What cheer, I says! What cheer?"

The little fellow made an effort to speak, but only sighed at first, before stammering out:

"Please, sir, I don't know what you mean."

"You don't?" growled the man, fiercely, as he clapped the palm of his left hand upon the front of his waistband, and the back of his right hand level with it behind; then kicking out his right leg behind, he made a kind of hop on his left, as if to shake himself down into his clothes, as he hoisted them up.

"You don't?" he said again, as he stared at the little fellow. "What are you, then? A furrener?"

"No, sir," said the little boy, shrinking; for the man now took a step forward and clapped a big, brown, tarry hand upon his shoulder.

"Then why can't yer understand yer own lingo?"

"I do, sir," said the boy, with a sound like a sob.

"Then why did you say you didn't, and make me think you was a Frenchy?"

"I didn't know what you meant, sir, by `hilli' something, and `what cheer.'"

"Why, yer young savage!" cried the man. "Arn't yer never been to school?"

"Yes, sir, and had a tutor."

"A tutor, eh? What may that be? But lookye here, my lad; I arn't a sir on'y a marrineer."

"A what, sir?" said the boy, staring.

"Marrineer seaman. Fore the mast man, ship now lying off the port o' Torquay. Whatcher doing there?"

"Cry ying, sir," came for answer, with a piteous sob.

"Cry hying, you young swab?" roared the man, as if he were speaking through a storm. "Here, sop that up. Father been leathering yer?"

"No, sir."

"No, Jack Jeens!" yelled the man. " Sir , indeed! Jack Jeens that's my name. England is my dwellin' place leastwise, when I arn't off France and Spain, or in the 'Terranium leathering the French. Now, then, who has been givin' it to you? Mother, p'r'aps, and turned you out of doors?"

"No, sir," sobbed the boy, with a piteous look, in the gathering darkness.

"Yah!" came so savagely that the boy started to run; but the grip upon his shoulder tightened, and he was forced back against the bars of the gate... Continue reading book >>

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