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Gil the Gunner The Youngest Officer in the East   By: (1831-1909)

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Gil the Gunner; or, The Youngest Officer in the East, by George Manville Fenn.

This is a very long book from this author. Gilbert Vincent, very young at the time, joins the army to serve in India. Various battles and engagements take place, as a result of which Gil gets injuries, and spends a lot of time unconscious or recovering. At one stage he is captured by the local Rajah, who is extremely wealthy, and who takes a shine to our hero, making sure that he is treated extremely well by his domestic servants. Gil is offered any jewels he likes, but declines the gift, saying that his freedom to go back to his father in his regiment was worth more than any amount of opulent jewels.

The object of all this fighting is nominally to oust the British from their position as peace keepers in India. It ought to have made it much more clear to young readers what devastation would result if the British were removed. I do not think it was clear to many of us in the last years of the British Raj how much hatred various kinds of Indians had for each other, until the days immediately following the hand over of power on 17th August 1947, when they really got going on one another. NH


Or, The Youngest Officer in the East.


"You're another."

"So are you."

"I am, am I?"

"Yes; a cocky overbearing bully. You want your comb cut, Gil Vincent."

"Cut it, then, you miserable humbug. Take that." Crack thud !

My fist went home on Morton's cheek, and almost simultaneously his flew out and struck me in the ribs. Crack thud ! Morton's return sounding like an echo of my blow.

There was a buzz of excitement. Coats flew off; two of our fellows eagerly pressed forward to act as seconds; my shirt sleeves were rolled up over my thin arms, and in another instant we two fellow pupils were squaring at each other, and I was gathering myself up to deliver as hard a blow as I could when

"Stop! halt!" came in a sharp harsh voice, and General Crucie, with the great scar upon his white forehead looking red and inflamed as it always did when he was angry, strode up, thumped down his thick malacca cane, so that the ferule went into the grass and it stood alone, while he looked from one to the other fiercely.

"Upon my word!" he cried. "Very pretty! Two gentlemen flying at each others' throats like a couple of street boys. A regular blackguardly fight. I'm ashamed of you, gentlemen. What does it all mean?"

"Well, sir, it was like this," began Hendry, my second.

"Silence, sir! I will not hear a word. I pretty well know what it all means. You, Vincent, as usual; that nasty overbearing temper of yours again. Is it utterly impossible for you to live in unity with your fellow students?"

"No, sir; not if they would let me be, and not fasten quarrels on me," I cried in an ill used tone.

"Stuff, sir! rubbish, sir! nonsense, sir!" cried the general. "I know you better than you know yourself; and, mark my words, you will never succeed in your profession until you learn to behave like a gentleman. How can you expect to command men if you cannot command yourself. There, I'll hear no more, for I'm sure you have been in the wrong."

The general pointed in so unmistakable a manner that I walked off with my uniform jacket half on, slowly thrusting my arm into the vacant sleeve, and thinking bitterly, with my head bent and my forehead wrinkled up like that of an old man.

I was not long in reaching my little room, a favourite one amongst our fellows; and as I shut myself in, and locked the door, my conscience reproached me with certain passages in the past which led to my having that room, when a fellow student gave way in my favour, and I don't think it was from kindly feeling towards me.

"I'm a miserable, unhappy wretch," I said, as I threw myself in a chair which resented the rough usage by creaking violently and threatening to break one leg... Continue reading book >>

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