This particular Henty begins in the early years of our hero, Ned’s, life. We watch him go through school, get in trouble for breaking his nasty teacher’s shoulder (he’s acquitted of punishment for good reasons), cry as his father passes away and meet a young lad who will be his life long friend.
After Ned breaks his nasty teachers shoulder, the man is sent away from cruelty to boys. The new teacher, unlike the other, is kind and firm. He prefers not to beat the boys unless it is absolutely necessary, and obedience out of respect rather than fear. It is to this teacher that Ned depends on for advice and guidance after the passing of his beloved father.
Ned’s father dies saving a young girl from getting run over by a carriage, this event leads to his mothers second marriage less than a year later. The step-father is cruel, but is able to hide it from those he is cozying up to. (Ned hates him)
Because of his cruelty, Ned and him fight every now and again. One time the step-father beats on Ned horribly and then goes off into the night, Ned following half awake to go walk in the country. Ned’s step-father is murdered and Ned is blamed ….will he be able to prove his innocence? You’ll need to read it to find out!
Positive: Though Ned’s mother is unkind to him almost every time they meet, and accuses him of his step fathers murder, refusing to see Ned for over a year. In the end, Ned and his mother are reconciled.
Ned’s father is a strong figure, and this book shows the value of friendship, overcoming fiery tempers, perseverance in the face of great adversity and how you shouldn’t judge too quickly.
Negative: Ned’s mother is a very poor example to her children, and is shown as very lazy, strong-headed and a gossip. Thankfully in the end these unwanted traits, except for her gossiping, reverse themselves.
Overall: Another great G.A. Henty, though our hero does not actually go into the army as is his original wish, he does great good where he is at. I strongly recommend this Henty book. 🙂