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Sail Ho! A Boy at Sea   By: (1831-1909)

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Sail Ho! or, A Boy at Sea, by George Manville Fenn.

This appears to be one of Fenn's later novels, and is just as exciting and full of tension as are his earlier ones. The hero is a seventeen year old boy called Alison Dale. We have never heard of a boy called Alison before, but this one is pretty tough, and already knew a lot about seamanship even before he went to sea, on account of having often sailed in his father's large yachts.

Hopefully most boys on their first cruise to sea won't have anything like the adventures that befell Master Alison. The skipper was not a pleasant man, and there was a mutiny, led by a nasty piece of work called Jarette, who was half French.

The story progresses through various degrees of terror, beginning when the ship is taken over by the mutineers, leaving the passengers and officers isolated. Finally most of the latter are cast adrift to die, but leaving two of their number on board. Attempts are made to rescue these.

Eventually the drunken mutineers manage accidentally to set fire to the vessel, and flee it. But the heroic party of officers and passengers come back to recover the missing two, get on board, and manage to put the fire out. This is noticed by the mutineers, who are just over the horizon, and who row back. There is then a good old battle in which eventually Jarette is killed, and life begins to be restored to normal.

The edition used was very difficult to work with. It is a longish book which was squished into less than 160 pages. The pages were large, the typeface was very small, and there were two columns of text per page. There were actually 130 lines of text per page, with the lines being about two thirds the normal length. However, the Athelstane system of e book editing was not fazed, and we hope there won't be too many errors found in what we present.




Many many years ago seem like yesterday, and I hope it will always be the same. For, just to be serious for a moment, what is the full stretch of the oldest man's life to time? Just one star wink, if the astronomers are right about the passage of light, and that the glitter of stars that we see now are only the rays which started from them away there in space long before we were born.

Don't be frightened, I'm not going to talk astronomy, but about my old ship, the first I ever sailed in, after having a kind of training in my father's little yachts, beginning with the shoulder of mutton sail; and next with the Cornish lugger, which he bought at Newlyn, on beyond Penzance, when Penwalloc went wrong, and his two boats with all their gear, and about two miles of drift mackerel and pilchard nets, were sold by auction.

Father bought the Brine , and had her decked and newly rigged, and many's the cruise I had with him and old Tom Sanders, we three managing the two big sails well enough. After that came the cutter, when we had to have two men and a boy, for the mainsail was pretty big to manage, and took some hauling and setting in a breeze, and some strength to tackle in one of the squalls that come rushing out of the gullies and combes down along our Cornish coast, where the great peninsula or promontory, or whatever you call it, is scored across and across almost from sea to sea with deep valleys; just as you see a loin of pork cut with a sharp knife before it is put down to roast.

There, I'm not going to talk about Cornwall this time, but my adventures on the high seas in the Burgh Castle.

So to begin:

"Be low!"

"Hi! you sirs!"

"Look out! Run!"

Quite a little chorus of warnings, and then

Spang .

And directly after

Crash .

One of the yards being hoisted up to its place across the main topgallant mast of the Burgh Castle lying in the East India Docks, and still in the hands of the riggers, had slipped from the slings, through carelessness, and come down from high, up aloft to strike the deck wich one end, and then fall flat within a foot of where two lads dressed as midshipmen in the merchant service had been standing, but who at the first shout had rushed in different directions, one to stumble over a coil of rope, perform an evolution like the leap of a frog, and come down flat on his front; the other to butt his head right into the chest of a big, burly, sunburnt man, who gave vent to a sound between a bellow and a roar... Continue reading book >>

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