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A Young Hero   By: (1831-1909)

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A Young Hero, by G Manville Fenn.

This is a prettily produced little book. It's not very long and doesn't have anything like the usual Manville Fenn subtle plot.

The plot itself consists of an opening scene in which Doctor Martin, a most learned gentleman, is teaching Phil, the hero, his Latin. Phil is perhaps eight or none years of age, not older then that, Dr Martin is French, while Phil is English.

It is a time in Canada in which war is about to break out between the English, who have colonised most of North America, and the French, who have occupied most of Canada. All of a sudden Phil's father, an officer with the English forces, appears, and requests that Dr Martin should abandon his house, and all his books and papers, and take the boy Phil to him in the English lines. I should say this is a pretty ridiculous idea, but the poor old Doctor did just as he was told, thereby suffering many days of privation, and insult from the farmers whose land they passed through. Eventually they arrive near the English lines, where they are arrested as possible spies.

After a few weeks Phil's father appears, but at that point there is a battle, in which General Wolfe dies, being brought draughts of water in his dying hour by the young hero, Phil.

To be frank I am surprised that George Manville Fenn wrote this book, as it could only serve to water down his reputation. But it may have been an early work, or possibly one aimed at a different market than his usual teenager one. There are other similarly produced books by him, so it may have been a fancy idea by the publisher, to produce some sort of a pseudo historical series.



Dr Martin wore a close fitting black silk cap.


Well, the answer to the old riddle, "Why does a miller wear a white hat?" is, "To keep his head warm."

That answer would do for a reply to the question why this grey, anxious looking Dr Martin wore a close fitting black silk cap as he sat poring over an old book opposite Phil Carleton, who also bent over a book; but he was not reading, for he had a pencil in his fingers and a sheet of paper covering one page, upon which sheet he was making notes.

Not a single one, for Phil was not far enough advanced for such work as that. He was drawing, after a fashion, and very busily, when the old Doctor, his tutor, suddenly looked up.

"Now, my dear boy," he said, "can you say that declension?"

Phil started and shut up the book suddenly, turning very red the while.

"Don't you know it yet?" said the Doctor, gravely.

The boy shook his head and looked terribly confused.

"Then you cannot have been studying it. What have you there?"

The Doctor spoke like a Frenchman, and said dere .

"Ah," he continued, reaching out his hand and drawing out the paper. "I see, drawing soldiers, eh?"

Phil nodded.

"Vairy fonnee soldiers, my boy. I should not know but for this sword. And is this a gun?"

Phil nodded again.

"Ah," said the old French Canadian, "it is a pity you think so much of soldiers. You should learn your lesson."

"I'm going to be a soldier some day," said Phil.

"Ah, yes, some day. Like my dear old friend, your father," said the Doctor, with a sigh.

"Yes," cried the boy, eagerly. "Is he coming to see me, Dr Martin?"

"Why do you ask? Are you not happy here?"

"Not very," said the boy, sadly.

"Ah, I am sorry. What is the reason? There, speak out."

The boy hesitated for a few moments, and then burst out with, "It's because of the Latin, and what Pierre said."

"Ah, the Latin is hard, my child; but if you work hard it will grow easy. But tell me; what does Pierre say?"

"He says the French are going to fight the English and drive them out of the country, and my father is sure to be killed... Continue reading book >>

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