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Syd Belton The Boy who would not go to Sea   By: (1831-1909)

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Syd Belton; or, The Boy who would not go to Sea, by George Manville Fenn.

The book opens with a domestic scene with the boy Sydney having just finished dinner with his father, a Captain in the navy, and his uncle, an Admiral. They are discussing Syd's career, which the two old gentlemen hope will be as a naval officer. Syd, however has other ideas: he has been on his rounds with the local doctor, and thinks that he might like to be a doctor, too. The time of the story is in the middle of the eighteenth century, but the only real evidence of this is the fact of people wearing cocked hats. Other than that the story might fit a hundred years later, though there is a point late in the story where the French are the enemy.

There is an episode in which Syd runs away from home, in company with the son of his father's gardener, the latter having been his boatswain in his naval days. On his return he realises that he does really want to be a naval officer, too. His father tries to get him an appointment as a midshipman with a captain he formerly served with, but was rebuffed. He realises that the present First Sea Lord, the title of the Admiral in command of the whole navy, is someone he used to serve with in former days, so they go to see this eminent officer. The outcome is that Syd's father is appointed to command the Sirius, and is invited to take Syd with him as a midshipman.

From here on we have an excellent and well told narrative, describing Syd's early days in the Navy, and then an episode when he finds himself in command of a naval party holding a rock in the Caribbean.

You'll enjoy this story, especially if you make an audiobook of it.




"Here you, Syd, pass the port."

Sydney Belton took hold of the silver decanter stand and slid it carefully along the polished mahogany table towards where Admiral Belton sat back in his chair.


The ruddy faced old gentleman roared out that adjuration in so thunderous a way that the good looking boy who was passing the decanter started and nearly turned it over.

"What's the matter, Tom?" came from the other end of the table, where Captain Belton, a sturdy looking, grey haired gentleman nearly as ruddy as his brother, was the admiral's vis a vis .

"He's passing the decanter without filling his own glass!" cried the admiral. "Fill up, you young dog, and drink the King's health."

"No, thank you, uncle," said the boy, quietly, "I've had one glass."

"Well, sir, so have I. Don't I tell you I'm going to propose the King's health?"

"I'll drink it in water, uncle."

"What, sir? Drink the health of his most gracious Majesty in raw water! Not if I know it."

"But port wine makes my face burn, uncle, and Doctor Liss says "

"Confound Doctor Liss, sir! Hang Doctor Liss, sir! By George, sir, if I were in active service again, and your Doctor Liss were in my squadron, I'd have him triced up and give him twelve dozen, sir."

"No, you wouldn't, uncle," said the boy, cracking a walnut, and glancing at his father, who was watching him furtively.

"What, sir? I wouldn't? Look here, brother Harry, Liss is corrupting this boy's mind."

"I don't know about corrupting, Tom," said the captain, smiling, "but he certainly does seem to be putting some queer things into his head."

"So it seems. Teaches him to drink the King's health in water."

"No, he didn't, uncle," said the boy, cracking another walnut.

"Yes, he did, sir. How dare you contradict me! Confound you, sir, if I had you aboard ship I'd mast head you."

"No, you wouldn't, uncle," said the boy, dipping a piece of freshly peeled walnut in the salt and crunching it between his teeth... Continue reading book >>

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