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Ran Away to Sea   By: (1818-1883)

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Ran Away to Sea, by Captain Mayne Reid.

Although this book seems to be very much like the sort of book Kingston wrote, it actually predates that author by a few years. It tells the story of a young boy, well brought up, who runs away to sea, despite his parents' wishes. Unfortunately he asks for a place on board a ship where many of the officers and crew are the vilest villains, and the trade they engage in is slaving, despite that trade having been banned half a century previously.

The story is told with all that sense of humour that Mayne Reid brings to his works, though there are some harrowing moments when the treatment of the "cargo" is being described.

This edition appeared just fifty years after the first edition, and it may have been slightly condensed, because the earlier edition had many more pages, though the edition used here has quite small, though very clear type. It would have been nice if the proofreader had done a better job.



I was just sixteen when I ran away to sea.

I did not do so because I had been treated unkindly at home. On the contrary, I left behind me a fond and indulgent father, a kind and gentle mother, sisters and brothers who loved me, and who lamented for me long after I was gone.

But no one had more cause to regret this act of filial disobedience than I myself. I soon repented of what I had done, and often, in after life, did it give me pain, when I reflected upon the pain I had caused to my kindred and friends.

From my earliest years I had a longing for the sea perhaps not so much to be a sailor, as to travel over the great ocean, and behold its wonders. This longing seemed to be part of my nature, for my parents gave no encouragement to such a disposition. On the contrary, they did all in their power to beget within me a dislike for a sea life, as my father had designed for me a far different profession. But the counsels of my father, and the entreaties of my mother all proved unavailing. Indeed and I feel shame in acknowledging it they produced an effect directly opposite to that which was intended; and, instead of lessening my inclination to wander abroad, they only rendered me more eager to carry out that design! It is often so with obstinate natures, and I fear that, when a boy, mine was too much of this character. Most to desire that which is most forbidden, is a common failing of mankind; and in doing this, I was perhaps not so unlike others.

Certain it is, that the thing which my parents least desired me to feel an interest in the great salt sea was the very object upon which my mind constantly dwelt the object of all my longings and aspirations.

I cannot tell what first imbued me with a liking for the sea, for I had such a liking almost from the years of childhood. I was born upon the sea shore, and this fact might explain it; for, during my early life, when I was still but a mere child, I used to sit at the window and look with admiring eyes on the boats with their white sails, and the beautiful ships with their tall tapering masts, that were constantly passing and repassing. How could I do otherwise than admire these grand and glorious structures so strong and so graceful? How could it be otherwise, than that I should imbibe a longing to be on board of them, and be carried afar over yonder bright blue water?

As I grew older, certain books had chanced to fall into my hands, and these related to the sea they told of lovely lands that lay upon its shores of strange races of men and animals of singular plants and trees of palms and broad leaved figs of the banyan and the baobab of many things beautiful and wonderful. These books strengthened the inclination I already felt to wander abroad over the ocean.

Another circumstance aided in bringing about the climax... Continue reading book >>

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