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The Castaways   By: (1818-1883)

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The Castaways

By Captain Mayne Reid This is certainly not a very long book, being about a half to a third of most books of this genre. It starts off with a group of people in a ship's boat, the ship itself having foundered in a typhoon in the Celebes sea. The ship's captain and his two children, the Irish ship's carpenter, and the Malay pilot, are all that finally come to shore, though when the book starts there are a body that has to be thrown overboard, and a seaman who has gone mad and who throws himself there.

Thereafter we are introduced to one natural history topic per chapter, be it a plant, a tree or an animal. There are various perils that have to be overcome the upas tree, an ourang outang, a tree that drops its fruit like a heavy bomb, a python, and quite a few more. Luckily they don't meet any unfriendly Dyaks during the journey they undertake to get from their landing place to the town of Bruni, many hundreds of miles away.

On the whole they are saved by the courage, knowledge and skill of the co hero, the Malay pilot, who is one of the best in that region with a blow pipe. He makes himself one, and it is just as well he did, as you will see.

The book is well written, and as it will only take you five hours or less, you could probably find the time to read it. NH





A boat upon the open sea no land in sight!

It is an open boat, the size and form showing it to be the pinnace of a merchant ship.

It is a tropical sea, with a fiery sun overhead, slowly coursing through a sky of brilliant azure.

The boat has neither sail nor mast. There are oars, but no one is using them. They lie athwart the tholes, their blades dipping in the water, with no hand upon the grasp.

And yet the boat is not empty. Seven human forms are seen within it, six of them living, and one dead.

Of the living, four are full grown men; three of them white, the fourth of an umber brown, or bistre colour. One of the white men is tall, dark and bearded, with features bespeaking him either a European or an American, though their somewhat elongated shape and classic regularity would lead to a belief that he is the latter, and in all probability a native of New York. And so he is.

The features of the white man sitting nearest to him are in strange contrast to his, as is also the colour of his hair and skin. The hair is of a carroty shade, while his complexion, originally reddish, through long exposure to a tropical sun exhibits a yellowish, freckled appearance. The countenance so marked is unmistakably of Milesian type. So it should be, as its owner is an Irishman.

The third white man, of thin, lank frame, with face almost beardless, pale cadaverous cheeks, and eyes sunken in their sockets, and there rolling wildly, is one of those nondescripts who may be English, Irish, Scotch, or American. His dress betokens him to be a seaman, a common sailor.

He of the brown complexion, with flat spreading nose, high cheek bones, oblique eyes, and straight, raven black hair, is evidently a native of the East, a Malay.

The two other living figures in the boat are those of a boy and girl. They are white. They differ but little in size, and but a year or two in age, the girl being fourteen and the boy about sixteen. There is also a resemblance in their features. They are brother and sister.

The fourth white, who lies dead in the bottom of the boat, is also dressed in seaman's clothes, and has evidently in his lifetime been a common sailor.

It is but a short time since the breath departed from his body; and judging by the appearance of the others, it may not be long before they will all follow him into another world. How weak and emaciated they appear, as if in the last stage of starvation! The boy and girl lie along the stern sheets, with wasted arms, embracing each other... Continue reading book >>

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