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Sunk at Sea   By: (1825-1894)

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Sunk at Sea, by R.M. Ballantyne.

This story starts with the childhood of one of Ballantyne's perpetual heroes, Will Osten. Will would love to have a career at sea, but his father, a very successful businessman, thinks otherwise, so eventually Will agrees to study medicine. However, before his studies are over he decides that he really must go to sea, and he joins a friend of his, Captain Dall, on his ship.

They travel to the Pacific, where they encounter some very heavy weather as a result of which a plank is started in the ship's hull, and she starts to sink. All attempts to find and stop the leak fail, and she does indeed sink, with the crew taking to the boats.

Eventually they reach a small coral island, but they have not been there long before a visiting native war canoe perceives them and takes them to another much larger island, where preparations are made to kill and eat them. Luckily there is an old white man there who has long been accepted by the natives and who gets our heroes and his friends off this rather dire treatment, but was too late for some of the crew.

A visiting sandalwood trader, who does not wish to pay for the cargo he has taken on board, fires on the natives, causing our heroes to flee for their lives. A hunt is set up for them. Luckily a missionary ship comes in a few days later, and manages to restore peace. Our heroes return to the village. A mission is set up, and a small church, complete with a spire, is built. Another vessel calls for water, and would have opened fire, just for spite, but they see the spire and restrain themselves. Our heroes persuade the captain to take them on board. Will has fallen in love with the missionary's daughter, but nevertheless joins the party leaving for the ship, the "Rover". For the sequel see "Lost in the Forest".




William Osten was a wanderer by nature. He was born with a thirst for adventure that nothing could quench, and with a desire to rove that nothing could subdue.

Even in babyhood, when his limbs were fat and feeble, and his visage was round and red, he displayed his tendency to wander in ways and under circumstances that other babies never dreamt of. He kept his poor mother in a chronic fever of alarm, and all but broke the heart of his nurse, long before he could walk, by making his escape from the nursery over and over again, on his hands and knees; which latter bore constant marks of being compelled to do the duty of feet in dirty places.

Baby Will never cried. To have heard him yell would have rejoiced the hearts of mother and nurse, for that would have assured them of his being near at hand and out of mischief at least not engaged in more than ordinary mischief. But Baby Will was a natural philosopher from his birth. He displayed his wisdom by holding his peace at all times, except when very hard pressed by hunger or pain, and appeared to regard life in general in a grave, earnest, inquiring spirit. Nevertheless, we would not have it understood that Will was a slow, phlegmatic baby. By no means. His silence was deep, his gravity profound, and his earnestness intense, so that, as a rule, his existence was unobtrusive. But his energy was tremendous. What he undertook to do he usually did with all his might and main whether it was the rending of his pinafore or the smashing of his drum!

We have said that he seldom or never cried, but he sometimes laughed, and that not unfrequently; and when he did so you could not choose but hear, for his whole soul gushed out in his laugh, which was rich, racy, and riotous. He usually lay down and rolled when he laughed, being quite incapable of standing to do it at least during the early period of babyhood... Continue reading book >>

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