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The Queen's Scarlet The Adventures and Misadventures of Sir Richard Frayne   By: (1831-1909)

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The Queen's Scarlet, by George Manville Fenn.

The 17 year old Sir Richard Frayne, Baronet, and his cousin Mark, are both at a coach for the Army exam, after which, if successful, they would join the Army as officers. But Mark is seen to be a cad and liar, and there is a fight between them, Mark being apparently dead. Dick, who is a good musician, goes off with his flute in its case, intending to make his way to a city where there is an Army barracks and a Naval port, presumably Chatham, since we are in Kent. He had intended to cross a river by a certain bridge, but the river was in flood, and the bridge had been washed away. As he is looking at this, a drowning shepherd boy is washed by, and Dick dives in to try and rescue him, unsuccessfully. But Dick's servant had followed him, and seen him dive in, assuming that Dick had committed suicide. Furthermore the shepherd's body is later recovered, and presumed to be Dick's, so that it is buried at Dick's home church yard. Mark recovers, his sickly father inherits Dick's estate and baronetcy, but dies, and Mark in turn inherits.

Meanwhile Dick had joined up as a bandsman. Another regiment marches into the garrison town, and Dick's former servant turns up, and to his astonishment recognises Dick. Mark is also an officer of this second regiment. After various events in which Dick and Mark are both involved, though Mark pretends not to recognise Dick, there is a confrontation, in which Mark shoots his cousin in a hop field, leaving him for dead. But some workers who are spraying the hops for aphid, come across the body, and realise it is not quite dead. Eventually Dick is nursed back to health in the barracks hospital, and Mark leaves, never to be seen again. Dick easily recovers his estates and the title, finding that Mark had greatly lost the value of the estate, but with care he manages to recoup most of the loss. He also passes the Army exam, and joins a regiment as an officer, having a distinguished career in the Army, as his father had done before him.

It's a fairly short book, less than nine hours to read aloud, but an interesting one, and you will enjoy it.




Two rooks flew over the Cathedral Close, and as they neared the old square Norman tower they cawed in a sneering way.

That was enough. Out like magic came the jackdaws from hole and corner snapping, snarling, and barking birdily to join in a hue and cry as they formed a pack to drive away the bucolic intruders who dared to invade the precincts sacred to daws from the beginning of architectural time; and this task over, they returned to sit on corbel, leaden spout, crevice, and ledge, to erect the feathers of their powdered heads and make remarks to one another, till the chimes rang out and the big bell boomed the hour.

"Bother Mark!" said Richard Frayne, Baronet. "If he had ten thousand a year, he'd spend twenty. I can't do it, and I won't."

Richard Frayne puckered up his brow and began reading away at Lord Wolseley's Red Book after being interrupted by the jackdaws trying to master the puzzling military details, but finding it impossible while his brain was full of his cousin's money troubles; and at last, in despair, he pitched the little leather covered book aside, walked to the side table, took his handsome flute from its case, set up a piece of music on a stand, and began to run through a few preliminary flourishes that were peculiarly bird like in their trilling, when there was a tap at the door and Jerry Brigley thrust in his head.

"Wants to see you, sir."

"Who does?" said Richard, hurriedly putting aside his flute.

Jerry held out a card.

"`Isaac Simpson, clerical and military tailor,'" read the young man. "What does he want with me?" Then, quickly: "Oh! of course! I know... Continue reading book >>

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