Nic Revel: A White Slave's Adventures in Alligator LandGeorge Manville Fenn
Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England
Nic Revel; A White Slave's Adventures in Alligator Land, by GeorgeManville Fenn.
Nic Revel is brought up on a small landed estate in Devon. The date issomewhere in the middle of the nineteenth century. There is a very goodsalmon pool on the estate, but it is often used by poachers, whichgreatly annoys the Revel family. Eventually they have a great fightthere, in which they had arranged to be supported by men from a vesselof the Royal Navy.
Nic is wounded and is mistaken for a poacher by the naval party, whopress-gang the poachers. When they reach America, Nic is still hardlyconscious, and not capable of much work. All the less able poachers arethen sold by the ship to an American slave dealer, who sells them to asettler who lives a long way up a river.
After a journey to the farm they find that they are given very hard workto do, and not fed very well. And of course Nic and one of thepoachers, who has become a good friend of his, want to get back toDevon. After many trials and tribulations they eventually escape.
George Manville Fenn is a master of suspense, and this book is a verygood example of his work.
NIC REVEL; A WHITE SLAVE'S ADVENTURES IN ALLIGATOR LAND, BY GEORGEMANVILLE FENN.
CAPTAIN REVEL IS CROSS.
"Late again, Nic," said Captain Revel.
"Very sorry, father."
"Yes, you always are `very sorry,' sir. I never saw such a fellow tosleep. Why, when I was a lad of your age--let's see, you're justeighteen."
"Yes, father, and very hungry," said the young man, with a laugh and aglance at the breakfast-table.
"Always are very hungry. Why, when I was a lad of your age I didn'tlead such an easy-going life as you do. You're spoiled, Nic, by anindulgent father.--Here, help me to some of that ham.--Had to keep mywatch and turn up on deck at all hours; glad to eat weavilly biscuit.--Give me that brown bit.--Ah, I ought to have sent you to sea. Made aman of you. Heard the thunder, of course?"
"No, father. Was there a storm?"
"Storm--yes. Lightning as we used to have it in the East Indies, andthe rain came down like a waterspout."
"I didn't hear anything of it, father."
"No; you'd sleep through an earthquake, or a shipwreck, or--Why, I say,Nic, you'll soon have a beard."
"Oh, nonsense, father! Shall I cut you some bread?"
"But you will," said the Captain, chuckling. "My word, how time goes!Only the other day you were an ugly little pup of a fellow, and I usedto wipe your nose; and now you're as big as I am--I mean as tall."
"Yes; I'm not so stout, father," said Nic, laughing.
"None of your impudence, sir," said the heavy old sea-captain, frowning."If you had been as much knocked about as I have, you might have beenas stout."
Nic Revel could not see the common-sense of the remark, but he saidnothing, and went on with his breakfast, glancing from time to timethrough the window at the glittering sea beyond the flagstaff, plantedon the cliff which ran down perpendicularly to the little river thatwashed its base while flowing on towards the sea a mile lower down.
"Couldn't sleep a bit," said Captain Revel. "But I felt it coming allyesterday afternoon. Was I--er--a bit irritable?"
"Um--er--well, just a little, father," said Nic dryly.
"Humph! and that means I was like a bear--eh, sir?"
"I did not say so, father."
"No, sir; but you meant it. Well, enough to make me," cried theCaptain, flushing. "I will not have it. I'll have half-a-dozen morewatchers, and put a stop to their tricks. The land's mine, and theriver's mine, and the salmon are mine; and if any more of those idlerascals come over from the town on to my grounds, after my fish, I'llshoot 'em, or run 'em through, or catch 'em and have 'em tied up andflogged."
"It is hard, father."
"`_Hard_' isn't hard enough, Nic, my boy," cried the Captain angrily."The river's open to them below, and it's free to them up on the moors,and they may go and catch them in the sea if they want more room."
"If they can, father," said Nic, laughing.
"Well, yes--if they can, boy. Of course it's if they can with any onewho goes fishing. But I will not have them come disturbing me. Theimpudent scoundrels!"
"Did you see somebody yesterday, then, father?"
"Didn't you hear me telling you, sir? Pay attention, and give me somemore ham. Yes; I'd been up to the flagstaff and was walking along bythe side of the combe, so as to come back home through the wood path,when there was that great lazy scoundrel, Burge, over from the town witha long staff and a hook, and I was just in time to see him land a goodtwelve-pound salmon out of the pool--one of that half-dozen that havebeen lying there this fortnight past waiting for enough water to run uphigher."
"Did you speak to him, father?"
"Speak to him, sir!" cried the Captain. "I let him have a broadside."
"What did he say, father?"
"Laughed at me--the scoundrel! Safe on the other side; and I had tostand still and see him carry off the beautiful fish."
"The insolent dog!" cried Nic.
"Yes; I wish I was as young and strong and active as you, boy. I'd havegone down somehow, waded the river, and pushed the scoundrel in."
He looked at his father and smiled.
"But I would, my boy: I was in such a fit of temper. Why can't therascals leave me and mine alone?"
"Like salmon, I suppose, father," said the young man.
"So do we--but they might go up the river and catch them."
"We get so many in the pool, and they tempt the idle people."
"Then they have no business to fall into temptation. I'll do somethingto stop them."
"Better not, father," said Nic quietly. "It would only mean fightingand trouble."
"Bah!" cried Captain Revel, with his face growing redder than usual."What a fellow to be my son! Why, sir, when I was your age I gloried ina fight."
"Did you, father?"
"Yes, sir, I did."
"Ah! but you were in training for a fighting-man."
"And I was weak enough, to please your poor mother, to let you beschooled for a bookworm, and a man of law and quips and quiddities,always ready to enter into an argument with me, and prove that black'swhite and white's no colour, as they say. Hark ye, sir, if it was nottoo late I'd get Jack Lawrence to take you to sea with him now. He'llbe looking us up one of these days soon. It's nearly time he put in atPlymouth again."
"No, you would not, father," said the young man quietly.
"Ah! arguing again? Why not, pray?"
"Because you told me you were quite satisfied with what you had done."
"Humph! Hah! Yes! so I did. What are you going to do this morning--read?"
"Yes, father; read hard."
"Well, don't read too hard, my lad. Get out in the fresh air a bit.Why not try for a salmon? They'll be running up after this rain, andyou may get one if there is not too much water."
"Yes, I might try," said the young man quietly; and soon after hestrolled into the quaint old library, to begin poring over a heavylaw-book full of wise statutes, forgetting everything but the task hehad in hand; while Captain Revel went out to walk to the edge of thehigh cliff and sat down on the stone seat at the foot of theproperly-rigged flagstaff Here he scanned the glittering waters,criticising the manoeuvres of the craft passing up and down the Channelon their way to Portsmouth or the port of London, or westward
forPlymouth, dreaming the while of his old ship and the adventures he hadhad till his wounds, received in a desperate engagement with a couple ofpiratical vessels in the American waters, incapacitated him for activeservice, and forced him to lead the life of an old-fashioned countrygentleman at his home near the sea.