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Nat the Naturalist A Boy's Adventures in the Eastern Seas   By: (1831-1909)

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Nat the Naturalist; or, A Boy's Adventures in the Eastern Seas by George Manville Fenn.

Nat's mother and father have died, and he is being brought up by an aunt and uncle, the latter being his mother's brother. His aunt does not care at all for boys, and in particular makes sniping remarks at Nat the whole time. But Nat's uncle is very fond of him, and they are great friends.

But enter the aunt's brother, a famous naturalist, back from some trip in South America. Nat, who has already shown great interest in collecting specimens from nature, is enthralled, helps him to stuff and catalogue his specimens, and eventually persuades him to take him (Nat) with him on his next trip.

This requires a little training in shooting and sailing. Then they are off, on a P&O liner sailing from Marseilles. On arriving in the Java Seas they disembark, purchase a little boat, and set off. Very soon they are joined by an enthusiastic native, and the trio spend some years collecting numerous splendid specimens, of birds, beetles, and anything else they can.

An unfriendly tribe of natives steal their boat, but does not find their hut and specimens. They set to to build a boat of some sort, to get themselves away from such an unfriendly place. At the same time their native assistant disappears, presumably murdered by the unfriendly locals. What happens next I will not spoil the story by telling.

You'll enjoy it.




"I don't know what to do with him. I never saw such a boy a miserable little coward, always in mischief and doing things he ought not to do, and running about the place with his whims and fads. I wish you'd send him right away, I do."

My aunt went out of the room, and I can't say she banged the door, but she shut it very hard, leaving me and my uncle face to face staring one at the other.

My uncle did not speak for some minutes, but sat poking at his hair with the waxy end of his pipe, for he was a man who smoked a great deal after dinner; the mornings he spent in his garden, being out there as early as five o'clock in the summer and paying very little attention to the rain.

He was a very amiable, mild tempered man, who had never had any children, in fact he did not marry till quite late in life; when I remember my poor father saying that it was my aunt married my uncle, for uncle would never have had the courage to ask her.

I say "my poor father", for a couple of years after that marriage, the news came home that he had been lost at sea with the whole of the crew of the great vessel of which he was the surgeon.

I remember it all so well; the terrible blank and trouble that seemed to have come upon our house, with my mother's illness that followed, and that dreadful day when Uncle Joseph came down stairs to me in the dining room, and seating himself by the fire filled and lit his pipe, took two or three puffs, and then threw the pipe under the grate, let his head go down upon his hands, and cried like a child.

A minute or two later, when I went up to him in great trouble and laid my hand upon his shoulder, saying, "Don't cry, uncle; she'll be better soon," he caught me in his arms and held me to his breast.

"Nat, my boy," he said, "I've promised her that I'll be like a father to you now, and I will."

I knew only too soon why he said those words, for a week later I was an orphan boy indeed; and I was at Uncle Joseph's house, feeling very miserable and unhappy in spite of his kind ways and the pains he took to make me comfortable.

I was not so wretched when I was alone with uncle in the garden, where he would talk to me about his peas and potatoes and the fruit trees, show me how to find the snails and slugs, and encourage me to shoot at the thieving birds with a crossbow and arrow; but I was miserable indeed when I went in, for my aunt was a very sharp, acid sort of woman, who seemed to have but one idea, and that was to keep the house so terribly tidy that it was always uncomfortable to the people who were in it... Continue reading book >>

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