Friday, June 15, 2012

Captain Boldheart

Charles Dickens
illustrated by Philippe Dumas

It's no secret that we love Charles Dickens in this house. When I was reading this book out loud Madeleine and I both were laughing. Since she's a Latin scholar (she just finished her 3rd year of it in school and fortunately has had a great, if kooky, Latin teacher) she found it particularly funny.

Captain Boldheart is a young lad of ten who has had a falling out with his Latin teacher.

"It seems that our hero, considering himself spited by a Latin-grammar master, demanded the satisfaction due from one man of honour to another. Not getting it, he privately withdrew his haughty spirit from such low company, bought a second-hand pocket-pistol, folded up some sandwiches in a paper bag, made a bottle of Spanish liquorice-water, and entered on a career of valour."

He goes to sea as captain on a ship called The Beauty, captures a whale single handedly, and saves a mutinous scallywag, "Maddening was the excitement when boats were lowered; intense the joy when the captain was seen holding up the drowning man with his teeth; deafening the cheering when both were restored to the main deck of The Beauty."

They find an island of cannibals and run into the wretched Latin grammar master, saving him only under two conditions:

1. That he should never, under any circumstances, presume to teach any boy anything any more.
2. That, if taken back to England, he should pass his life in travelling to find out boys who wanted their exercises done, and should do their exercises for those boys for nothing, and never say a word about it.

There's even a bit of romance towards the end.

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