Bob Strong and his sister Nellie are the children of a busy barrister, too busy to take them on holiday, and they are sent by train down to Portsmouth to spend the summer holidays with their aunt. The dog Rover travels in the guard’s van, and in the same compartment of the train there is an elderly gentleman who turns out to be a retired sea-captain.
The train is moving out of Guildford when a grubby boy’s face appears at the window. They let the boy in, and the Captain decides to pay the fare for the boy, who is a runaway from a dreadfully cruel stepfather. They all spend the holiday together, doing various things with boats, fish, seaweed, and visiting various interesting places, some of which they find to be a con! They travel to the Isle of Wight, just a few miles across the Solent, and even visit Seaview where I, the reviewer, was brought up. Many of the interesting things they did were what we as boys fifty years later also did.
They get involved in a couple of disasters, including the wreck of a brand-new excursion steamer. As in my day, the engines of these ships were most interesting, being triple expansion horizontal steam engines driving paddle-wheels, and, like Bob, I used to spend the journeys to and from the Isle of Wight hovering at the engine-room door, admiring these amazingly beautiful artefacts.
But the other disaster I will not tell you about save only to say that Alderney and the Casquets Rock, over fifty miles from the Isle of Wight, are mentioned, and these too are places with which I am very familiar.
You may wonder what happened to the runaway boy, Dick, and here again a very suitable arrangement was made for him, for he was accepted for training as a boy seaman.
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