Peter's mother lies dying in the first chapter, and gives him her own Bible. Peter's father had already died at sea, and the only family income had been what Peter earned looking after a farmer's sheep. After the death the little house had to be sold to settle debts, leaving virtually nothing. Peter decides to go to sea, and makes his way to a nearby port, where, against advice, he takes a place as a ship's boy in a coasting brig carrying cargoes of coals. The Captain is very unkind to him, as are most of the rest of the crew, but Peter is buoyed up only by his Bible which he contrives to carry with him at all times. In a gale the brig starts to sink and the Captain and crew abandon her in 0the ship's boat, leaving Peter on board as he had been sent below to get food for the crew, and was forgotten. However, the sinking brig grounds inside the tail of a bank, where she is sheltered from the gale. After a couple of days he is seen and rescued by the crew of the Primrose, where he is taken on, again as a ship's boy. One of the crew is a grumpy old man called Simon Hixon. After a long time Peter and Simon become more friendly. There is an accident and the vessel is cast up on a rock fairly near an island. The Captain is injured as he had been the last to leave the sinking vessel. Eventually there is a rescue by a passing ship, and life begins to go uphill for Peter after that. We won't spoil the story for you, but it is a very well told tale, written not long before Kingston's death, at the very height of his powers.According to Wikipedia: William Henry Giles Kingston (28 February 1814 - 5 August 1880), writer of tales for boys, was born in London, but spent much of his youth in Oporto, where his father was a merchant. His first book, The Circassian Chief, appeared in 1844. His first book for boys, Peter the Whaler, was published in 1851, and had such success that he retired from business and devoted himself entirely to the production of this kind of literature, in which his popularity was deservedly great; and during 30 years he wrote upwards of 130 tales, including The Three Midshipmen (1862), The Three Lieutenants (1874), The Three Commanders (1875), The Three Admirals (1877), Digby Heathcote, etc. He also conducted various papers, including The Colonist, and Colonial Magazine and East India Review. He was also interested in emigration, volunteering, and various philanthropic schemes. For services in negotiating a commercial treaty with Portugal he received a Portuguese knighthood, and for his literary labours a Government pension.
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B&R Samizdat Express
January 01, 2009
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