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Stan Lynn A Boy's Adventures in China   By: (1831-1909)

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Stan Lynn, by George Manville Fenn.




"Yes! What is it?"

"Hist, boy! Jump up and dress."

"Oh, it's you, father!" said the newly aroused sleeper, slipping out of bed or, rather, off his bed, for the heat of an Eastern China night had made him dispense with bedclothes.

He made a frantic dash at his trousers, feeling confused and strange in the darkness, and hardly knowing whether he was dreaming or awake, as he whispered:

"Is anything the matter?"

There was no reply, and the lad became conscious of the fact that his father had passed out of the room after awakening him.

Dressing in the darkness is not pleasant. Buttons have a habit of making for the wrong holes, socks and collars and ties of slipping off the bedside chair and hiding underneath anywhere; while if it is very dark, elbows come in contact with pieces of furniture, and the back of the hair brush is liable to come rap against the skull, instead of the yielding, bristly front.

Stanley Lynn went through divers experiences of this kind as he hurried on his clothes, wondering what was the matter the while, and coming to the conclusion that Uncle Jeff must have been taken ill and wanted the doctor.

The lad had just come to this decision when a faint click told him that the door had been reopened proof of which came in the shape of a whisper:

"Dressed, boy?"

"Yes, father. Is Uncle Jeff ill?"

"Hi? No, my boy. But be very quiet; they don't know that we are stirring."

"Who don't, father?"

"Bah! Don't ask questions, boy," said his father in an impatient whisper. "There, there! of course you want to know. Here, Stan, can you fight?"

"A little, father," said the boy in a tone full of surprise. "I had two or three sets to at school."

"Pooh! Absurd! Look here, boy; your uncle Jeff was alarmed by sounds down by the warehouse entry, and looking out cautiously, he saw men at work by the big doors."

"Robbers, father?" said the boy excitedly.

"Yes, robbers river pirates."

"And you want me to go for the police?"

"No, boy; I want you to help us to keep the wretches at bay. We shall be only three with you, and we can't afford to reduce our numbers to two. Can you load and fire a pistol?"

"Yes, father; Tom Dicks and I used to go rabbit shooting with one "

"Then you ought to be able to hit a man if you can shoot rabbits."

The thought flashed across the boy's brain that, though he and his fellow pupil had gone shooting on the Clovelly cliffs times enough, they had never once hit a rabbit; but there was no time to communicate this fact to his father. "And besides," he thought, "I dare say firing the pistol will be enough; the noise will frighten the men away."

"Can you use a sword, Stan?"

"Yes, father. You know I had fencing lessons."

"Bah!" muttered his elder impatiently. "Poking about a square skewer with a leather covered button at the end! I mean a service sword cut and thrust. There! you must try. Catch hold and come along. Loaded, mind."

The last words were uttered as the boy felt the butt of a revolver thrust into one hand, the handle of a sword into the other.

"Tread softly, boy," whispered his father. "This way."

Stanley Lynn felt more confused than ever, for he had only returned from England two days before, after six years' absence and work at a big school; and the home he had now come to in Hai Hai was a very much larger and more important place than that he had quitted at Canton years before. Everything had seemed strange, even by day, in the big, roomy, lightly built place connected with the great warehouse and wharf, while the lower part of the former building was used as offices and sampling rooms. He had not half mastered the intricacies of the place by the previous evening, while now in the darkness woke up from a deep sleep everything seemed puzzling in the extreme... Continue reading book >>

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