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Jack at Sea All Work and no Play made him a Dull Boy   By: (1831-1909)

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Jack at Sea; or, All Work and no Play made him a Dull Boy, by George Manville Fenn.

We do seem to have rather a problem with this book, because the copy we worked from had pages 15 and 16 missing (sheet was missing) and also the bottom half of pages 283 and 284 has been torn out. Eventually, when I can see another copy of the book I will be able to rectify this, but at the moment there does not seem to be a copy in sight: it doesn't even seem to be listed in the British Library Catalogue.

Jack is an academic and clever boy, who does not do much in the way of sport and exercise. This worries his father who talks about it to the local doctor. They decide that Jack has to be forced into the world most of us inhabit, but the way they do it was surely a bit of an over kill, for Sir John (the father, who is a baronet), buys a yacht capable of sailing round the world, and they all set off in it, including Ned, one of the domestics from home. There is an excellent crew and the skipper of the yacht is taken on for the trip.

Jack is pretty miserable at first, with seasickness, but gradually he joins in with the daily activities, and as time goes on he becomes indistinguishable from other boys who might have this opportunity. We join in with Jack and Ned in various adventures, mostly in the Java seas.

Apart from the minor blemish of the three missing texts, the book is most enjoyable. There are the usual G M Fenn tight situations, but of course the young men (as these boys would like to be called) manage to get out of them.





"Fine morning, Jack; why don't you go and have a run?"

John Meadows always "Jack," because his father's name was John upon hearing that father's voice, raised his dull, dreamy eyes slowly from the perusal of the old Latin author over which he was bending, and looked in Sir John's face, gazing at him inquiringly as if he had been walking with Cicero in Rome too far away to hear the question which had fallen upon his ears like a sound which conveyed no meaning.

Father and son were as much alike as a sturdy sun browned man of forty can resemble a thin, pale youth of sixteen or so. In other words, they possessed the same features, but the elder suggested an outdoor plant, sturdy and well grown, the younger a sickly exotic, raised in the hot steaming air of the building which gardeners call a stove, a place in which air is only admitted to pass over hot water pipes, for fear the plants within should shiver and begin to droop.

Sir John had just entered the handsome library, bringing with him a good breezy, manly suggestion of having been tramping through woods and over downs; and as soon as he had closed the door, he glanced at the large fire near to which his son had drawn a small writing table, said "Pff!" unbuttoned his rough heather coloured Norfolk jacket, raised his eyes to the window as if he would like to throw it open, and then lowered them and wrinkled up his forehead as he gazed at his son, carefully dressed in dark brown velvet, and wearing correctly fitting trousers and patent leather shoes, a strong contrast to his own knickerbockers, coarse brown knitted stockings, and broad soled shooting boots.

Sir John looked anxious and worried, and he stretched out a strong brown hand to lay upon his son's shoulder, but he let it fall again, drew a deep breath, and then very gently asked him the question about the walk.

"Did you speak to me, father?" said the lad vacantly.

"Speak to you!" cried Sir John, in an impatient, angry tone, "of course I spoke to you. It worries me to see you so constantly sitting over the fire reading."

"Does it, father?" said the lad, wincing at the tone in which these words were spoken, and looking up in an apologetic way... Continue reading book >>

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