A Chinese Command A Story of Adventure in Eastern Seas

#Fiction #Action & Adventure
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Excerpt The Outcast. A furious gust of wind tore down the chimney, blowing the smoke out into the small but cosily-furnished sitting-room of the little cottage at Kingston-on-Thames, and sending a shower of sparks hissing and spluttering on to the hearth-rug, where they were promptly trodden out by a tall, fair-haired young giant, who lazily removed his feet from a chair on which they reposed, for the purpose. This operation concluded, he replaced his feet on the chair with deliberation, re-arranged a cushion behind his head, leaned back luxuriously, and started hunting in his pocket for matches wherewith to light his pipe, which had gone out. “Beastly night for a dog to be out, much more a human being,” he soliloquised. “Poor old Murray’s sure to be drenched when he gets back, as well as frozen to the bone. Let’s see—is everything ready for him? Yes, there are his slippers warming before the fire—hope none of those sparks burnt a hole in ’em—likewise dry coat, shirt, and trousers; that ought to do him all right. I hope to goodness the poor old chap’s got some encouragement to-day, if nothing else, for he’s fearfully down on his luck, and no mistake. And, between me and those fire-irons there, I’m getting almost afraid to let him out of my sight, for fear he’ll go and do something foolish—though, to be sure, he’s hardly that kind of fellow, when one comes to think of it. However, he should be in very soon now, and then I, shall learn the news.” Having delivered himself of this monologue, Dick Penryn lit his pipe, took up the book he had been reading, and was soon deep in the pages of Théophile Gautier’s Voyage en l’Orient. Dick Penryn and Murray Frobisher, the friend to whom he had been alluding, were chums of many years’ standing. They had been born within a few months of one another—Frobisher being slightly the elder—in the same Devon village; had attended the same school in Plymouth—Mannamead House, to be exact; had gone to the same college together, and had passed into the British Navy within a year of one another—Frobisher being again first in the race. Then, for some years, fortune smiled upon both. Each won golden opinions from his superiors; and by the time that the lads were twenty-three years of age they had attained the rank of lieutenant, and showed signs of rising rapidly in the service. Everything was going splendidly, and both Dick and Murray were enjoying temporary rank as commanders of torpedo-boats during the winter manoeuvres of 1891-92, when suddenly, without any warning, Fate turned her face away from one of the chums and plunged him from the pinnacle of light-hearted happiness to the depths of misery and despair. One evening, while a portion of the defending fleet was lying in Portland Roads waiting to be joined by the other division, news was brought in by one of the scouting destroyers that the attacking fleet had been seen at the entrance to the Channel, steering a course which undoubtedly had Portland as its objective....
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