More tales of derring-do from the wonderful G A Henty! In this one, our hero lives on the south coast of England, where he rescues a little girl, who turns out to be the long-lost granddaughter of the local squire, from drowning. He later accidentally gets mixed up with some smugglers, but his name is cleared and the squire pays for him to go into the Army. He goes to the colonies in North America, fights alongside George Washington, then of course a British officer, in the French and Indian War, and then becomes one of the heroes of the British victory over the French in Québec.
G A Henty likes to have his British lads behaving very honourably and never doing anything which is Not Cricket but, in this book, the baddie who attempts to thwart James, Our Hero, at various stages is a fellow Brit, the squire’s nephew. The said baddie is eventually caught out, and is about to do the honourable thing by shooting himself when Our Hero sets him free. The French, on the other hand, generally behave quite honourably – even though this book was written in 1894, four years before the Fashoda Crisis but still in the middle of the Scramble for Africa, when thoughts of Entente Cordiale were a long way away. Gold star for not being overly jingoistic, LOL. And the Native Americans were presented very favourably indeed: Henty clearly had great admiration for their skills.
Of course, James duly married Agnes, the squire’s granddaughter and heiress, whom he’d rescued all those years before. I would have been very surprised and disappointed had he not, LOL, but I was a bit disappointed that he then just settled down to living in his home town and being a pillar of the local community/general good egg. Nothing wrong with that, but it wasn’t very exciting. Oh well, he had plenty of excitement in his soldiering days, eh?
I do like G A Henty! You have to bear in mind that these books were written for young lads at the height of the British Empire, not for kids in the 21st century, but they are very good reads as what they are. And there are so many of them, some of them covering periods which it’s virtually impossible to find English language historical novels on! I look forward to reading many more of them :-).