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The Voyage of the "Steadfast" The Young Missionaries in the Pacific   By: (1814-1880)

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The Voyage of the "Steadfast" The Young Missionaries in the Pacific, by W.H.G. Kingston.

The "Steadfast" is a whaling vessel, based on Liverpool. The whaling grounds are in the Pacific, so each voyage involves a long time away from home. The story opens with the owner captain's wife and daughter sitting at home during a great storm, in which a vessel is wrecked very near their house.

On board the ship are Harry Graybrook, the skipper's son, and another youngster called Dickey Bass. Leonard Champion is the mate, and is also in love with the captain's daughter, whom we met in Chapter One. There is an incident with a whale which results in the "Steadfast" being separated from a small boat containing the above, as well as an old seaman known as "old Tom", and several other seamen. They try to regain contact with the mother ship, but fail. They run out of food and water, but land on an island where they are catching fish and filling their water containers, when they are attacked by a hostile band of natives who kill some of the seamen. After a long time at sea with very little water and food they are picked up by another whaling vessel, but are treated very badly by her moody and eccentric captain.

Shipwrecked again, and after various adventures, they meet up with some missionaries. Eventually contact is made again with the "Steadfast", and back they go to England, where Leonard Champion marries the daughter, and takes command of the ship on old Graybrook's retirement.




A heavy gale was blowing, which shook the windows of the little drawing room in which Mrs Graybrook and her daughter Hannah were seated at their work.

Their cottage was situated close to the sea on the north coast of Wales, so that from it, on a clear day, many a tall ship bound for Liverpool, or sailing from that port, could be seen through the telescope which stood ever ready pointed across the water.

A lamp burning on the table, for it was night, shed its light on the comely features and matronly figure of the elder lady, as she busily plied her needle, while it showed that those of Hannah, a fair and interesting looking girl just growing into womanhood, were unusually pale. Every now and then she unconsciously let her work drop on her lap while, with her eyes turned towards the window and lips apart, she seemed to be listening for some sound which her mother's ear had not noticed.

A glance into the little room might have shown why both mother and daughter should feel anxious when tempests were raging and the sea was tossing with angry waves.

The mantel piece was ornamented with some beautiful branches of coral, several large and rare shells, and two horns of the narwhal, or sea unicorn, fixed against the wall, and above it was the picture of a ship under all sail, with boats hoisted up along her sides, and flags flying at her mastheads and peak. On the top of a bookcase stood the perfect model of a vessel; another part of the wall was adorned with Indian bows and spears and clubs, arranged in symmetrical order; while one side of the room was hung with pictures, in which boats in chase of the mighty monsters of the deep formed the chief subjects, or which represented scenes on the coasts of far distant lands.

Hannah had more than once risen and gone to the window, across which for the weather was still warm the curtain had only partially been drawn.

Another fierce blast shook the whole house.

"Oh, mother, what a dreadful night it is!" she exclaimed, at length. "I fancied I heard the sound of a distant gun; it must come from some ship in distress. What can she do if embayed off our shore in this terrific gale?"

Mrs Graybrook looked up from her work... Continue reading book >>

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