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Rob Harlow's Adventures A Story of the Grand Chaco   By: (1831-1909)

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Rob Harlow's Adventures, a Story of the Grand Chaco, by George Manville Fenn.

A small private naturalist's expedition is about to take place up one of the Paraguay rivers. The eponymous hero, Rob Harlow, is a teenager. They are going to be rowed up the river, and the larger vessel that had brought then there, with its Italian captain, is to wait for them. The captain's son, Giovanni, is very keen to come with them, and his father thinks it would be a very good idea. The other adults on the trip are not so happy about the responsibility, but eventually he is allowed to come. He is about the same age as our hero, Rob.

There ensue the usual desperate situations we always get from this author. Serpents; people getting lost and eventually found, having lost their reason; attacks by Indians; insects; pumas; jaguars; and various other problems with animals. There are even quarrels between the boys, arising from a silly misunderstanding.

It's good stuff, and will be numbered among George Manville Fenn's best, which is rather a long list.




"Don't they bite, sir?"


Smick! smack! flap !

"Oh, murder!"

"What's the matter, sir?"

"My hand."

"Hurt it, sir?"

"I should think I have."

"You should wait till they've sucked 'emselves full and then hit 'em; they're lazy then. Too quick for you now."

"The wretches! I shall be spotted all over, like a currant dumpling. I say, Shaddy, do they always bite like this?"

"Well, yes, sir," said the man addressed, about as ugly a specimen of humanity as could be met in a day's march, for he had only one eye, and beneath that a peculiar, puckered scar extending down to the corner of his mouth, shaggy short hair, neither black nor grey a kind of pepper and salt colour yellow teeth in a very large mouth, and a skin so dark and hairy that he looked like some kind of savage, dressed in a pair of canvas trousers and a shirt that had once been scarlet, but was now stained, faded, and rubbed into a neutral grub or warm earthy tint. He wore no braces, but a kind of belt of what seemed to be snake or lizard skin, fastened with either a silver or pewter buckle. Add to this the fact that his feet were bare, his sleeves rolled up over his mahogany coloured arms, and that his shirt was open at the throat, showing his full neck and hairy chest; add also that he was about five feet, nine, very broad shouldered and muscular, and you have Shadrach Naylor, about the last person any one would take to be an Englishman or select for a companion on a trip up one of the grandest rivers of South America.

But there he was that hot, sunny day, standing up in the stern of the broad, lightly built boat which swung by a long rope some fifty feet behind a large schooner, of shallow draught but of lofty rig, so that her tremendous tapering masts might carry their sails high above the trees which formed a verdant wall on each side of the great river, and so catch the breeze when all below was sheltered and calm.

The schooner was not anchored, but fast aground upon one of the shifting sand banks that made navigation difficult. Here she was likely to lie until the water rose, or a fresh cool wind blew from the south and roughened the dull silvery gleaming surface into waves where she could roll and rock and work a channel for herself through the sand, and sail onward tugging the boat which swung behind.

It was hot, blistering hot! and all was very still save for the rippling murmur of the flowing river and the faint buzz of the insect plagues which had come hunting from the western shore, a couple of hundred yards away, while the eastern was fully two miles off, and the voices of the man and the boy he addressed sounded strange in the vast solitudes through which the mighty river ran... Continue reading book >>

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