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Captain Mugford Our Salt and Fresh Water Tutors   By: (1814-1880)

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Captain Mugford, or Our Salt and Fresh Water Tutors, by W.H.G. Kingston.

This is not a long book, but it is an absolutely delightful one. The Tregellins had owned a large old house on a headland in Cornwall. They had not lived there for some time, and had left it in the care of Clump and his wife Juno, West Indians, while the family lived in Bristol. Tregellin senior decides that he will install some of his young relatives there, in the care of the Clumps and two tutors, one of which, Mr Clare, has to deal with their academic needs, and the other, Captain Mugford, is to teach them watermanship. The date is early in the nineteenth century.

There is also a brave and virtuous dog, Ugly. The boys' sailing, swimming and rowing improve, and they rise to various challenges. Eventually they all set off for a longer sailing and fishing expedition. But it all goes pear shaped, as the weather turns very nasty, and they are marooned on a reef some way out to sea. Clare is not on this expedition, but they need a way to alert him to where they are. It is Ugly that saves the day.

They had been using an old wrecked brig, high ashore in the bay, as a classroom, but unknown to them some smugglers have been using it as a base as well. Open war breaks out, and things get nasty. Read the book to find out what happens in the end.




We belong to a Cornish family of the greatest respectability and high antiquity so say the county records, in which we have every reason to place the most unbounded confidence. The Tregellins have possessed the same estate for I do not know exactly how long; only I suppose it must have been some time after Noah disembarked from the ark, and, at all events, for a very long time. The estate of which I speak was in a wild part of the country, and not at that time very productive; but I believe that my father would not have parted with it for ten times its market value. It contained between four and five hundred acres of hill and dale, and rock and copse, and wood; its chief feature a lofty cape, which ran out for a considerable distance into the sea. On one side it was exposed to the almost unbroken sweep of the Atlantic Ocean; on the other it was washed by the tranquil waters of a deep bay, which formed a safe and picturesque harbour for numerous small craft which frequently took shelter there from press of weather when running up channel.

That headland, where the happiest half year of all my boyhood's days was passed, is now dotted with several pleasant summer residences; its acres are marked off by fences and walls, and variegated with the diverse crops of well tilled fields, and on its bay side are occasional small wharves for pleasure boats. Fifty years ago it was very different, and, (though, perhaps, I may be an old fogey and have that grey hair fashion of thinking, with an expressive shrug, "Ah, things are not as they were when I was a boy!") I must say, far more beautiful to my eyes than it is now. You have seen a bold, handsome bearded, athletic sailor fellow, with a manner combining the sunniness of calms, the dash of storms, and the romance of many strange lands about him. Now, if our admired hero should abandon his adventurous profession, and settle down quietly into the civilised career of an innkeeper, or village constable, or shopman, or sedate church clerk, and we chanced to meet him years after his "life on the ocean wave," it would probably be to find a sober faced gentleman, with forehead a little bald, with somewhat of a paunch, with sturdy legs and gaiters, perhaps with a stiff stock and dignified white collar altogether a very respectable, useful citizen. But the eye and the heart could not find in our excellent acquaintance the fascination which so charmed us in our friend the brave sailor... Continue reading book >>

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