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Sunshine Bill   By: (1814-1880)

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Sunshine Bill, by W H G Kingston.

Bill's father is a wherry man in Portsmouth Harbour, who one day has an accident and is killed. Bill's mother is a seller of apples. The whole family are a happy, good humoured lot. Bill is befriended by a Captain Trevelyan, who offers him a boy seaman's place in his ship, the Lilly. So Bill goes off to sea, knowing that it would be perhaps four years or more before he would see his family again.

His companions as boy seamen include Tommy Rebow, a somewhat weaker lad than Bill. The crew are all reasonably pleasant people, maybe grumbling occasionally, but all getting on well together.

But all is not sunshine, for there are hurricanes, fallings overboard, and other serious mishaps resulting in some swimming. Some fighting with the French, some encounters with sharks, some days with little or no food and water. But they get through it all, giving heartfelt thanks to God for each release from their ordeals. They were taking a captured prize to Jamaica, when a lot of this occurred, and it was a considerable time before they found themselves back on board the Lilly, and homeward bound.

This is a neatly written book no complaints about it. It is also very short, only half the length of most of Kingston's books, and printed on incredibly thick paper, comparable with the card used to pack breakfast cereals. But the action is lively and frequently unexpected.



Sunshine Bill, according to the world's notion, was not "born with a silver spoon in his mouth;" but he had, which was far better, kind, honest parents. His mother kept an apple stall at Portsmouth, and his father was part owner of a wherry; but even by their united efforts, in fine weather, they found it hard work to feed and clothe their numerous offspring.

Sometimes Sunshine Bill's father was laid up with illness, and sometimes his mother was so; and occasionally he and his brothers and sisters were sick also. Sometimes they had the measles, or small pox, or a fever; and then there was the doctor to pay, and medicine to buy; consequently, at the end of these visitations, the family cash box, consisting of an old stocking in a cracked basin, kept on the highest shelf of their sitting room, was generally empty, and they considered themselves fortunate if they were not in debt besides. Still, no one ever heard them complain, or saw them quarrel, or beat their children, as some people do when things do not go straight with them; nor did their children ever fight among themselves. Even, indeed, in the worst of times, Sunshine Bill's mother managed to find a crust of bread and a bit of cheese, to keep the family from starving. To be sure, she and her husband could not give their children much of an education, as far as school learning was concerned. They themselves, in spite of all trials, were never cast down; and they taught Bill, and his brothers and sisters, to follow their example. They said that God had always been kind to them, and that they were sure He would not change while they tried to do their duty and please Him.

The most contented, and merriest, and happiest of their children was Sunshine Bill. That was not his real name, though; indeed, he did not get it till long after the time I am speaking of.

He was properly called William Sunnyside, for, curiously enough, Sunnyside was his father's name. His father was known as Merry Tom Sunnyside, and his mother as Pretty Molly Sunnyside for pretty she had been when she was young, and good as she was pretty. It may seem surprising that they were not better off, but they began the world without anything, and children came fast upon them a circumstance which keeps many people poor in worldly wealth.

Sunshine Bill, when still a very little fellow, found out how to keep the family pot boiling, even before some of his brothers had done so... Continue reading book >>

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