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The Ocean Cat's Paw The Story of a Strange Cruise   By: (1831-1909)

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The Ocean Cat's Paw, the Story of a Strange Cruise, By George Manville Fenn.

Here we have a full length book by an excellent author at the very top of his powers. The time is set at the end of the Napoleonic War, and continues into the ensuing peace.

The young hero is first found fishing in a Dartmoor stream, when he is interrupted by the arrival of a young Frenchman, who, it turns out, has just escaped from Dartmoor, where the prisoners of war were being kept. Rodd helps him to hide from pursuit.

Rodd is living with his uncle, who is a doctor, but who also is a researcher in Natural History. He receives a Government grant to buy a ship and travel about in it collecting specimens. On the first trip the weather turns nasty and they have to take shelter in a French port.

Later in the voyage they meet up with a strange brig, which they realise they had seen while in France. But she is in difficulty, having been holed below the waterline in an engagement. At this point they discover that her officers include the boy we met in Chapter One, and his father, the Count. The hole is repaired by the skill of the British seamen.

There's lots more to the story, and we won't spoil it for you, but we do full heartedly recommend it to you. The problem in transcribing the book was tearing oneself away from it, for meals, rest, and other duties.




"Here's another, uncle."

This was shouted cheerily, and the reply thereto was a low muttering, ending with a grunt.

It was a glorious day on Dartmoor, high up in the wildest part amongst the rugged tors, where a bright little river came flashing and sparkling along, and sending the bright beams of the sun in every direction from the disturbed water, as an eager looking boy busily played the trout he had hooked, one which darted here and there in its wild rush for freedom, but all in vain, for after its little mad career it was safely brought to bank, and landed. There was no need to use the light net which hung diagonally and unnecessarily across its owner's back, for the glittering little speckled trout was only about the size of a small dace, though it fought and kicked as hardily as if it had weighed a pound, and indulged in a series of active leaps as it was slipped through the hole in the lid of a creel, to drop into companionship with half a score of its fellows, which welcomed the new prisoner with a number of leaps almost as wild as its own.

The utterer of the grunt, a stoutly built man who might have been of any age, though he could not have been very young, judging from his bristly greyish whiskers, was also busily occupied, but in a calmer, more deliberate way.

He had no creel slung from his shoulder, but a coarse clean wallet that was rather bulgy, its appearance suggesting that it was carried because it contained something to eat, while its owner held in one hand, slung by a stoutish lanyard, a big, wide mouthed glass bottle half full of water, and in the other hand a little yellow canvas net attached to a brass ring at the end of a stick, the sort of implement that little boys use when bound upon the chase and capture of the mighty "tittlebat." And as his younger companion shouted and landed his little mountain trout, the net was being carefully passed under water, drawn out and emptied upon the fine lawn like grass, and what looked like a little scrap of opalescent jelly was popped into the wide mouthed bottle.

"You got one too, uncle?" shouted the boy, who was higher up the stream.

"Yes; some very nice specimens down here. Are you getting plenty of sport, Rodd?"

"Yes, uncle," replied the boy, who was carefully examining his tiny artificial gnat before beginning to whip the stream again. "They are rising famously; but they are awfully small... Continue reading book >>

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