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Mass' George: A Boy's Adventures in the Old Savannah

George Manville Fenn

  Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

  Mass' George, by George Manville Fenn.


  George Bruton, son of Captain Bruton is a young teenager. His father'splantation is in Georgia. The time is around the middle of theeighteenth century. Although not keen on the idea of slavery, CaptainBruton determines that he will buy one of them and will try to treat himextremely well. The man has a son, whom the family nickname Pompey,Pomp for short. Eventually these two become relaxed, realising thatthere will be no hard treatment for them, and the two boys, George andPomp, become fast friends. They have various adventures, includingattacks by alligators, floods, fire, Red Indians, Spaniards, snakes,ants, and several other nasties.

  The book very largely consists of dialogue between the two boys,starting at the point when Pomp can barely speak English, which he soonmasters after a fashion (which his father never does), and going on tothe point when Captain Bruton decides to free the two slaves, who hadcomported themselves well during a prolonged series of attacks byIndians, and later by Spaniards from Florida as well.

  It's quite a long book, but the action is well-sustained, and you willenjoy it. NH




  Interesting? My life? Well, let me see. I suppose some people wouldcall it so, for now I come to think of it I did go through a good deal;what with the fighting with the Spaniards, and the Indians, and thefire, and the floods, and the wild beasts, and such-like adventures.Yes; it never seemed to occur to me before, you know, me--George Bruton,son of Captain Bruton of the King's army, who went out with the Generalto help colonise Georgia, as they called the country after his MajestyKing George the Second, and went through perils and dangers such as noone but English gentlemen and their brave followers would dare andovercome.

  You'll find it all in your histories; how the General had leave to takeso many followers, and carve out for themselves land and estates in thebeautiful new country.

  My father was one of the party. He went, for he was sick at heart anddespondent. He had married a sweet English lady--my mother--and when Iwas about six years old she died; and after growing more and moreunhappy for a couple of years, his friends told him that if he did notseek active life of some kind, he would die too, and leave me an orphanindeed.

  That frightened him so that he raised himself up from his despondentstate, readily embraced the opportunity offered by the General'sexpedition, sold his house in the country to which he had retired onleaving the army, and was going out to the southern part of NorthAmerica with me only. But Sarah would not hear of parting from me, andbegged my father to take her to be my attendant and his servant, just ason the same day Morgan Johns, our gardener, had volunteered to go withhis master. Not that he was exactly a gardener, though he was full ofgardening knowledge, and was a gardener's son; for he had been in myfather's company in the old regiment, and when my father left it,followed him down and settled quite into a domestic life.

  Well, as Morgan Johns volunteered to go with the expedition, and saidnothing would suit him better than gardening in a new country, and doinga bit of fighting if it was wanted, and as our Sarah had volunteeredtoo, it fell out quite as a matter of course, that one day as my fatherwas seated in his room writing letters, and making his finalpreparations for his venturesome journey, and while I was seated therelooking at the pictures in a book, Morgan and Sarah came in dressed intheir best clothes, and stood both of them looking very red in the face.

  "Well?" said my father, in the cold, stern way in which he generallyspoke then; "what is it?"

  "Tell him, Sarah," I heard Morgan whisper, for I had gone up to put myhand in hers.

  "For shame!" she said; "it's you who ought."

  "Now look you," said Morgan, who was a Welshman, and spoke very Welshysometimes, "didn't you just go and promise to help and obey? And thefirst thing I tells you to do you kicks."

  "I am very busy," said my father. "If you two want a holiday, say so."

  "Holiday, sir? Not us," said Morgan, in a hesitating way. "We don'twant no holiday, sir, only we felt like as it was our dooty to tell youwhat--"

  "To tell me what?"

  "Yes, sir; seeing as we were going out to a savage country, where you'vegot to do everything yourself before you can have it, and as there'd beno parsons and churches, we thought we'd get it done decent and'spectable here first."

  "My good fellow, what do you mean?" said my father.

  "Why, what I've been telling of you, sir. Sarah says--"

  "I did not, Morgan, and I shouldn't have thought of such a thing. Itwas all your doing."

  "Steady in the ranks, my lass. Be fair. I'll own to half of it, butyou know you were just as bad as me."

  "I was not, sir, indeed," cried Sarah, beginning to sob. "He deluded meinto it, and almost forced me to say yes."

  "Man's dooty," said Morgan, dryly.

  "What!" cried my father, smiling; "have you two gone and been married?"

  "Stop there, sir, please, begging your pardon," said Morgan; "I declareto gootness, you couldn't make a better guess than that."

  "I beg your pardon, sir," said Sarah, who was very red in the facebefore, but scarlet now; and as I sit down and write all this, as an oldman, everything comes back to me as vividly as if it were onlyyesterday--for though I have forgotten plenty of my later life, all thisis as fresh as can be--"I beg your pardon, sir, but as you know all theyears I have been in your service, and with my own dear angel of amistress--Heaven bless her!"

  "Amen," said my father, and, stern soldier as he was, I saw the tearsstand thick in his eyes, for poor Sarah broke down and began to sob,while Morgan turned his face and began to blow his nose like a trumpetout of tune.

  "I--I beg your pardon for crying, sir, and it's very weak, I own,"continued Sarah, after a few minutes' interval, during which I hurriedlyput my arm round her, and she dabbed down and kissed me, leaving my facevery wet; "but you know I never meant to be married, but when Morgancomes to me and talks about what I was thinking about--how you and thatpoor darling motherless boy was to get on in foreign abroad, all amongstwild beasts and savages, and no one to make a drop o' gruel if you hadcolds, or to make your beds, or sew on a button, and your poor stockingsall in holes big enough to break any decent woman's heart, and to MasterGeorge's head--"

  "I can wash my own head well enough now, Sarah," I said.

  "Yes, my dear; but I don't believe you'd do it as well as I could, andyou know I never let the soap get in your eyes. And when, sir, Morgancomes to me, and he asks me if I'd got the heart to let you both go outinto the wilderness like that without a soul to look after you, andtells me as it was my dooty to marry him, and go out and look after thehousekeeping for you both, while he did the garden, what could I say?"

  Poor Sarah paused quite out of breath.

  "Say?" said my father, smiling, but looking very much moved. "You couldonly say _yes_, like the good, true-hearted woman you are."

  "Oh, sir!" exclaimed Sarah.

  "You have both relieved me of a great deal of care and anxiety by yourfaithful, friendly conduct," continued my father, "for it will make whatI am going to seek in the wilderness quite a home at once. It is notthe wilderness you think, for I know on very good authority that theplace where we are going is a very beautiful and fertile country."

  "Can't come up to Wales," said Morgan, shaking his head.

  "Perhaps not," said my father, smiling; "but ve
ry beautiful all thesame. I ought to warn you both, though, while there is time to drawback, that the land is entirely new."

  "What, wasn't it made with the rest of the world, sir?" said Morgan,staring.

  "Yes, of course," said my father; "but I mean it has never beeninhabited more than by a few Indians, who passed through it whenhunting. No houses; not so much as a road."

  "Then there won't be no taverns, Sarah," said Morgan, giving her anudge.

  "And a very good thing too," she replied.

  "So that," continued my father, "I shall have to help cut down the treesto build my own house, make my own furniture, and fence in the estate--in short, do everything."

  "Well, I don't see nothing to grumble at in that, sir, so long asthere's plenty of wood," said Morgan.

  "There'll be too much wood, my man," said my father, smiling, "and weshall have to ply the axe hard to clear our way."

  "Any stone or slate, sir?"

  "Plenty of stone, but no slate that I am aware of."

  "No," cried Morgan, triumphantly. "I knew there'd be no slate. Thatproves as it won't come up to Wales. There isn't such a country forslate anywhere as Wales. Well, sir, but even if there's no slate, wecan make shift. First thing we do as soon as we get out, will be for meto rig the missus up a bit of a kitchen, and we shall take a few potsand pans in a box."

  "Oh, I shall go well provided with necessaries," said my father.

  "Then pray don't forget a frying-pan, sir. It's wonderful what themissus here can do with a frying-pan."

  "Do be quiet, Morgan Johns," said Sarah.

  "Shan't," he growled. "I'm a-telling of the truth. It's wonderful,sir, that it is. Give her a frying-pan and a bit o' fire, and we shan'tnever hurt for a bit o' well-cooked victuals."

  "But--" began my father, when Morgan rushed in again.

  "Washin', sir, I forgot all about the washing. We shall want a tub anda line. Trees 'll do for tying up to, and you'll see we shall none ofus ever want for clean clothes."

  "Do be quiet, Morgan."

  "I shan't, Sarah. It's only fair as the master should know what you cando, look you."

  "But I wish you people to think seriously now, while there is yet time,"said my father.

  "Seriously, sir? Oh yes, we've been thinking of it seriously enough,and--I say, missus, do try and do without flat-irons; they're very heavykind o' traps for a man to take in his kit."

  "Come, come," said my father; "you had better think better of it, andnot embrace such a rough life."

  "We have thought better on it, sir, and the very best too. We'recoming, and if you won't take us, we'll come without. And look you,sir, of course you'll take some guns, and swords, and powder and shot."

  "Of course."

  "Then don't forget some tools: spades, and hoes, and seeds, and somecarpenter's things and nails. You can't think what a deal can be donewith a hammer, a saw, and a few nails."

  "Then you mean to come?"

  "Mean to come, sir?" cried Morgan, in astonishment. "Why we got marriedo' purpose; didn't we, Sarah?"

  "Oh yes, sir; that's the very truth."

  "And we shall be obliged to go now."

  I did not see where the obligation came in, but I supposed it was allright.

  "Then I can only say thank you heartily," cried my father, warmly; "andfor my part, I'll do my duty by you both."

  "Of course we know that, don't we, Sarah? Or else we shouldn't go."

  "My dear master!" said Sarah, and she bent forward and kissed his handbefore clapping her handkerchief to her eyes, and rushing out of theroom.

  "She'll be all right, sir, soon," whispered Morgan. "And look you, I'llbegin getting together all sorts of little tackle, sir, as I think 'llbe useful out yonder. Knives and string, and--look you, Master George,strikes me as a few hooks and lines wouldn't be amiss. A few good fishin a frying-pan, cooked as Sarah can cook 'em, arn't to be sneezed atnow and then."

  He gave us both a sharp nod, and hastily followed his wife, while Istayed to pester my father with endless questions about our new home.