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The Little Skipper A Son of a Sailor   By: (1831-1909)

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The Little Skipper

A Son of a Sailor


G. Manville Fenn

London: Ernest Nister

New York: E. P. Dutton & Co.

Printed in Bavaria



The birds were singing their best one spring morning, and that means a great deal, for they can sing down in the New Forest on a sunny morning in May, and there was quite a chorus of joy to welcome the Skipper and Dot as they went out through the iron gate at the bottom of the garden.

The Skipper had on his last new suit of white duck, bound with blue, and his straw hat with the dark band bearing in gold letters "H.M.S. Flash"; a white plaited cord was round his waist, and a big pocket knife dangled at his side. With his hat stuck back so as to show his curly brown hair, his blue and white collar over his shoulders, silk sailor knot handkerchief, and his browned flushed face, he looked a thorough man of war's man.

Dot was in white and blue too a bonnie looking little girl of seven, dressed as if for a yachting trip, and as full of excitement as her nine year old brother, to whom she looked up as someone very big and strong, who would protect her from all the perils and dangers to which they might be exposed.

One must stop to say that "The Skipper," as his father always called him, was Bob, otherwise Robert Trevor; and Dot, so nick named for reasons plain to see, was by rights Dorothy, and they had that morning been excused from lessons, because Captain Trevor had sent a message from Portsmouth that he was going to run over to lunch.

Mrs. Trevor had said a few words to the Skipper before they started about taking care, to which he replied rather importantly, "Of course, Ma," and about keeping his fresh suit clean; but Mrs. Trevor said nothing to Dot, because, there was no need, for she was about the most prim, neat little creature that ever lived. And, now she paced along by her brother's side, carrying two sticks with iron hooks at their ends, with which she walked in her precise measured way, as if they were wands, while the Skipper carried the "Flash."

Now, the "Flash" was supposed to be a correct model of the big despatch boat commanded by Captain Trevor, but, it was very far from perfect, and no one knew this better than its owner. For Captain Trevor's beautifully swift gun boat had three funnels amidships, and powerful engines, while the Skipper's model, though it had sails that sent it swiftly through the water when there was a breeze, had a great deal of make believe about it, the funnels being only pieces of zinc pipe tacked to the deck, the engines, the works of an old clock that would not go, placed in a cigar box; the boiler, which was just under the funnels, a tin canister; and the furnace a small lamp that had once belonged to a magic lanthorn, the whole having been fitted neatly into the model by Tom Jeffs, coxswain of the captain's gig, a very big ugly sailor, who took his orders seriously and worked under the Skipper's directions. When the lamp was lighted, as the Skipper said, nobody could tell, for when the water in the tin boiled, the steam came out of the funnels, and when the wind blew, it was almost as good as having real engines.

Tom Jeffs looked very serious over the work, and shook his head a great deal when it was done.

"You see," he said, "the steam looks right as right, but you don't get no help from these engines, because it's no use to them. The vessel has to carry the weight, and the screw stops her way. I shall have to make you a real engine someday;" but "some day" had not yet come, though the Skipper did not forget to ask Tom about it every time he came back from a voyage, Tom Jeffs being his name, though the Skipper always called him "Jack Robinson," because he said he seemed so much like the sailor in a song he used to sing.

It was not far through the fir trees. You could see the water glittering in the sunshine before you were half way, but the Skipper had to stop twice.

"There's a nest up that tree," he said. "Wood pigeon's... Continue reading book >>

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