Dick is the teenage son of an early nineteenth century vicar in England. The boy has a passionate desire to go to sea, but his family, especially his Aunt Deb, oppose this.One reason is that if he were to go as a midshipman he would be required to have at least fifty pounds a year to keep appearances up, and that money wasn't available. He forms a friendship with another boy, Mark, who gets into trouble for being a poacher.Dick peaches on the local smugglers, who imprison him, and he is nearly killed by them. Wandering out of curiosity round the decks of a ship that is about to sail he falls through a hatchway, and right down into the lower hold. When he comes to the ship is at sea, and the hold is battened down.It takes him several weeks before he can attract attention.But the captain is a horrible man, and some of the crew are not much better. Eventually Dick jumps ship by stealing a ship's dinghy, and lands on atiny rocky islet.The dinghy is lost in a storm.Eventually Dick is rescued and is taken back to his home town, where he vows never to go to sea again. The story was written as a cautionary tale to advise boys like Dick never to go to sea as a stowaway, which is effectually what Dick did, and was inspired by a real case, in which the boy was found dying after only thirteen days at sea. According to Wikipedia: "William Henry Giles Kingston (28 February 1814 - 5 August 1880), writer of tales for boys, was born in London, but spent much of his youth in Oporto, where his father was a merchant. His first book, The Circassian Chief, appeared in 1844. His first book for boys, Peter the Whaler, was published in 1851, and had such success that he retired from business and devoted himself entirely to the production of this kind of literature, in which his popularity was deservedly great; and during 30 years he wrote upwards of 130 tales, including The Three Midshipmen (1862), The Three Lieutenants (1874), The Three Commanders (1875), The Three Admirals (1877), Digby Heathcote, etc. He also conducted various papers, including The Colonist, and Colonial Magazine and East India Review. He was also interested in emigration, volunteering, and various philanthropic schemes. For services in negotiating a commercial treaty with Portugal he received a Portuguese knighthood, and for his literary labours a Government pension."
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