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Steve Young   By: (1831-1909)

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Steve Young; or, The Voyage of the "Hvalross" to the Icy Seas, by George Manville Fenn.

Steve Young is an orphan whose uncle, Captain Young, has disappeared on a voyage to the Spitzbergen area, well to the north of Britain. Some of the Captain's friends charter a Norwegian vessel to go in search of him, and, much to the disgust of the ship's doctor, who thinks boys are nothing but a nuisance, Steve goes with them.

Steve is a sixteen year old, unconscious of his own good looks, but needing a few hard lessons in life, which the trip provides in plenty. Encounters with Polar Bears, the intense cold of the arctic winter, gales and storms, strong currents, ice floes, the total darkness of the winter, and the occasional bad humour of various of the men of the rescue party.

George Manville Fenn is a master of suspense, and in this book he reveals his usual talents. All of the characters are very well drawn, and we are even amused by the cowardly and idle antics of a young Scottish Highlander, who is not at all typical of the noble and brave Highlander.

Eventually they find Captain Young and most of his crew, and off home they go.




"What do I think?"

"Yes, out with it. Don't be afraid."

"Oh, I'm not afraid; but I don't want to quarrel with any man, nor to upset the lad."

"Speak out then. You will not quarrel with me, and I'm not afraid of your upsetting the lad. I like him to know the whole truth; don't I, Steve?"

"Yes, sir, of course," cried the boy addressed, a well built, sturdy lad of sixteen, fair, strong, and good looking, and with the additional advantage, which made him better looking still, that he did not know it.

For though Stephen Young, son of a well known Lincolnshire doctor who lost his life in fighting hard to save those of others, stood in front of a looking glass every morning to comb his hair, he never stopped long, and for the short space he did stay his face was convulsed and wrinkled, eyes red, and mouth twisted all on one side, consequent upon his being in pain as he jigged and tore with the comb trying to smooth the unsmoothable; for Steve's hair had a habit of curling closely all over his head; and before he had been combing a minute he used to dash the teethed instrument away, give his crisp locks a rub, and say, "Bother!"

And now he, Captain Marsham, and Dr Handscombe stood on the granite wharf at Nordoe, high up among the Norwegian fiords, talking to Captain Hendal, a sturdy, elderly, ruddy bronze giant, who acted as a sort of amateur consul and referee for shipping folk who came and went from the little hot and cold port, and who was now frowning heavily at the trio whom he faced.

"Want me to speak out, do you, Captain Marsham, eh?"

"Of course. I came and asked you for your help and advice. I know you to be a man of great experience, and I say once more, what do you think?"

"Well, sir, I think you ought to be ashamed of yourself."

"Why?" said Captain Marsham, smiling; and as his features relaxed, he looked in size, ruddy bronze complexion, and hard, weather tanned appearance wonderfully like the Norwegian consul.

"Because you are going to take a boy like that up into the high latitudes, where from minute to minute you never know whether the end mayn't come."

"The end come?" said the captain.

"Yes, and you ought to know how: stove in, crushed, sunk, lost in the snow, frozen, starved, sir. It's one big risk, I tell you. It's all very well for the walrus hunters and whale fishers, who go for their living; but you're a gentleman, with money to fit out that steamer as you have done it. There's no need for you to go; and if you'll take my advice, you'll give it up... Continue reading book >>

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