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Tom Finch's Monkey and How he Dined with the Admiral   By:

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Tom Finch's Monkey, and how he dined with the Admiral and other yarns.

by John C. Hutcheson This is quite a short book, containing five short late Victorian stories.

The first of these concerns a monkey on board ship, which was dressed up as an officer, and as such introduced to a visiting Admiral, who invites all the officers to dinner, stressing that he hoped to entertain the one who didn't speak much.

The second story is an informative one about icebergs.

The third concerns a yachting cruise in the Aegean Sea, among the Greek Islands, in which they save the live of a Greek. There is an encounter with bandits, from which they are surprisingly released without further harm. Why would that be, I wonder.

The fourth concerns a "sighting of a sea serpent of extraordinary dimensions", by HMS Daedalus in 1848.

And the fifth is a story about the curious events at a cricket match. TOM FINCH'S MONKEY, AND HOW HE DINED WITH THE ADMIRAL AND OTHER YARNS.




We were cruising off Callao on the Pacific station when it all happened, and I daresay there are a good many others who will recollect all about it as well as myself. But to explain the matter properly I must go back a little in my dates; for, instead of Callao at the commencement of my yarn, you must read Calabar.

You see, I was in the Porpoise at the time, a small old fashioned, paddle wheel steamer that had been ordered across from the West Coast of Africa by "my lords" of the Admiralty to reinforce our squadron in South American waters on account of a war breaking out between Chili and Peru. Being a "sub" on board of her, and consequently subject to the authorities that be, when the Porpoise was obliged to abandon the fragrant mangrove swamps at the mouth of the Congo river, where we had been enjoying ourselves for over a twelvemonth amidst the delights of a deadly miasma that brought on perpetual low fever, and as constant a consumption of quinine and bottled beer to counteract its effects, I was of course forced to accompany her across the Atlantic and round the Horn to her allotted destination.

Thence "this plain unvarnished tale," which is as clear as mud in a ditch, although you needn't believe it if you don't like there is no compulsion required to make hungry people eat roast mutton!

Tom Finch, the lieutenant in command of the Porpoise , who had got his promotion through the death vacancy of his senior at Cape Coast Castle he was just ahead of me on the roster, luckily for him was one of the jolliest fellows I ever sailed with or under, since I entered the service; and I'm sure I've known a few "swabs" in my time!

Unlike some junior officers I could name, when suddenly intrusted with the reins of power, there was nothing of the martinet about Tom, even on the first day he assumed his new rank, when a little extra pomposity might have been excusable. But no, he gave himself no airs or graces whatever.

He was the same Tom Finch who had chaffed and larked and talked confidence with me in the gunroom, now that he trod the quarter deck "in all his war paint," as I told him somewhat impudently, the "skipper" of HMS Porpoise , "paddle sloop, 6 guns," as she was described in the Navy List the same unaffected, jovial, good natured sailor whom everybody liked, men and messmates alike. His only weakness was a love for practical joking, which he would carry out sometimes, perhaps, to a rather ticklish extent for his own good, that is, as he never knowingly did anyone else an injury by it.

"What will you do with your monkey?" I said, when the mail brought in our orders from the commodore on the West Coast for us to sail for Monte Video at once, and there await our further instructions which would be sent on from England; "what will you do with him when we go?"

"Take him with me of course," answered Tom; "why shouldn't I?"

"Well, I don't see any reason against it certainly," I replied; "now that you are captain of the ship, and can do as you please without asking anybody's leave... Continue reading book >>

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