Summary (Masterplots: Revised Category Edition, British Fiction Series)
Tom Cringle, aged thirteen and four feet four inches tall, looked upon himself as a successor to Nelson. In pursuing his aim, he pestered his relative Sir Barnaby Blueblazes to such lengths that Tom was finally appointed midshipman aboard the frigate Breeze and ordered to report for foreign duty in four days.
Poor Tom had envisioned a period of months ashore after his appointment; this would give him time to strut his uniform before all of his friends. Since his time was so short, he hardly knew whether he wanted to go to sea after all, and his widowed mother wept and begged him not to leave. On the appointed day, however, Tom went aboard his ship, bound for action.
He had a trip to the Bay of Biscay on the Breeze and a tour of duty on the Kraaken. Now an old hand, Tom boarded the Torch, an eighteen-gun sloop bound for the North Sea.
Near Cuxhaven, the ship’s boat was lowered, and Tom was put second in command of a party to enter the harbor. The captain was sure no French were near; consequently, the party shoved off with light hearts. To their astonishment, they were challenged by French sentries. In trying to regain the ship, Tom’s boat was hit by a shell from a shore battery, and subsequently he was taken prisoner.
A resident of Hamburg went surety for Tom and took him to his own country house. The next day, the Russians advanced and drove out the French. In the confusion, Tom and the Hamburg family escaped and...
(The entire section is 1340 words.)
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