A pampered millionaire's son learns to be worth his salt among the fishermen working the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. This classic tale has delighted readers of all ages since 1897.
About the Author
Nobel Laureate Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936) is best remembered for children's tales such as The Jungle Book as well as his poetry and stories about British soldiers in India, which include "Gunga Din" and The Man Who Would Be King. Kipling was enormously popular at the turn of the 20th century but his reputation declined with the change in attitude toward British imperialism. In recent years Kipling's works have found new acclaim as a vibrant source of literary and cultural history.
Read an Excerpt
By Rudyard Kipling
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2016 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.
All rights reserved.
THE WEATHER DOOR OF THE smoking-room had been left open to the North Atlantic fog, as the big liner rolled and lifted, whistling to warn the fishing-fleet.
"That Cheyne boy's the biggest nuisance aboard," said a man in a frieze overcoat, shutting the door with a bang. "He isn't wanted here. He's too fresh."
A white-haired German reached for a sandwich, and grunted between bites: "I know der breed. Ameriga is full of dot kind. I dell you you should imbort ropes' ends free under your dariff."
"Pshaw! There isn't any real harm to him. He's more to be pitied than anything," a man from New York drawled, as he lay at full length along the cushions under the wet skylight. "They've dragged him around from hotel to hotel ever since he was a kid. I was talking to his mother this morning. She's a lovely lady, but she don't pretend to manage him. He's going to Europe to finish his education."
"Education isn't begun yet." This was a Philadelphian, curled up in a corner. "That boy gets two hundred a month pocket-money, he told me. He isn't sixteen either."
"Railroads, his father, aind't it?" said the German.
"Yep. That and mines and lumber and shipping. Built one place at San Diego, the old man has; another at Los Angeles; owns half a dozen railroads, half the lumber on the Pacific slope, and lets his wife spend the money," the Philadelphian went on lazily. "The West don't suit her, she says. She just tracks around with the boy and her nerves, trying to find out what'll amuse him, I guess. Florida, Adirondacks, Lakewood, Hot Springs, New York, and round again. He isn't much more than a second-hand hotel clerk now. When he's finished in Europe he'll be a holy terror."
"What's the matter with the old man attending to him personally?" said a voice from the frieze ulster.
"Old man's piling up the rocks. 'Don't want to be disturbed, I guess. He'll find out his error a few years from now. 'Pity, because there's a heap of good in the boy if you could get at it."
"Mit a rope's end; mit a rope's end!" growled the German.
Once more the door banged, and a slight, slim-built boy perhaps fifteen years old, a half-smoked cigarette hanging from one corner of his mouth, leaned in over the high footway. His pasty yellow complexion did not show well on a person of his years, and his look was a mixture of irresolution, bravado, and very cheap smartness. He was dressed in a cherry-coloured blazer, knickerbockers, red stockings, and bicycle shoes, with a red flannel cap at the back of the head. After whistling between his teeth, as he eyed the company, he said in a loud, high voice: "Say, it's thick outside. You can hear the fish-boats squawking all around us. Say, wouldn't it be great if we ran down one?"
"Shut the door, Harvey," said the New Yorker. "Shut the door and stay outside. You're not wanted here."
"Who'll stop me?" he answered deliberately. "Did you pay for my passage, Mister Martin? 'Guess I've as good right here as the next man."
He picked up some dice from a checker-board and began throwing, right hand against left.
"Say, gen'elmen, this is deader'n mud. Can't we make a game of poker between us?"
There was no answer, and he puffed his cigarette, swung his legs, and drummed on the table with rather dirty fingers. Then he pulled out a roll of bills as if to count them.
"How's your mamma this afternoon?" a man said. "I didn't see her at lunch."
"In her state-room, I guess. She's 'most always sick on the ocean. I'm going to give the stewardess fifteen dollars for looking after her. I don't go down more 'n I can avoid. It makes me feel mysterious to pass that butler's-pantry place. Say, this is the first time I've been on the ocean."
"Oh, don't apologise, Harvey."
"Who's apologising? This is the first time I've crossed the ocean, gen'elmen, and, except the first day, I haven't been sick one little bit. No, sir!" He brought down his fist with a triumphant bang, wetted his finger, and went on counting the bills.
"Oh, you're a high-grade machine, with the writing in plain sight," the Philadelphian yawned. "You'll blossom into a credit to your country if you don't take care."
"I know it. I'm an American — first, last, and all the time. I'll show 'em that when I strike Europe. Pif! My cig's out. I can't smoke the truck the steward sells. Any gen'elman got a real Turkish cig on him?"
The chief engineer entered for a moment, red, smiling, and wet. "Say, Mac," cried Harvey, cheerfully, "how are we hitting it?"
"Vara much in the ordinary way," was the grave reply. "The young are as polite as ever to their elders, an' their elders are e'en tryin' to appreciate it."
A low chuckle came from a corner. The German opened his cigar-case and handed a skinny black cigar to Harvey.
"Dot is der broper apparatus to smoke, my young friendt," he said. "You vill dry it? Yes? Den you vill be efer so happy."
Harvey lit the unlovely thing with a flourish: he felt that he was getting on in grown-up society.
"It would take more 'n this to keel me over," he said, ignorant that he was lighting that terrible article, a Wheeling "stogie."
"Dot we shall bresently see," said the German. "Where are we now, Mr. Mactonal'?"
"Just there or thereabouts, Mr. Schaefer," said the engineer. "We'll be on the Grand Bank to-night; but in a general way o' speakin', we're all among the fishing-fleet now. We've shaved three dories an' near skelped the boom off a Frenchman since noon, an' that's close sailin', ye may say."
"You like my cigar, eh?" the German asked, for Harvey's eyes were full of tears.
"Fine, full flavour," he answered through shut teeth. "Guess we've slowed down a little, haven't we? I'll skip out and see what the log says."
"I might if I vhas you," said the German.
Harvey staggered over the wet decks to the nearest rail. He was very unhappy; but he saw the deck-steward lashing chairs together, and, since he had boasted before the man that he was never seasick, his pride made him go aft to the second-saloon deck at the stern, which was finished in a turtle-back. The deck was deserted, and he crawled to the extreme end of it, near the flagpole. There he doubled up in limp agony, for the Wheeling "stogie" joined with the surge and jar of the screw to sieve out his soul. His head swelled; sparks of fire danced before his eyes; his body seemed to lose weight, while his heels wavered in the breeze. He was fainting from seasickness, and a roll of the ship tilted him over the rail on to the smooth lip of the turtle-back. Then a low, grey mother-wave swung out of the fog, tucked Harvey under one arm, so to speak, and pulled him off and away to leeward; the great green closed over him, and he went quietly to sleep.
He was roused by the sound of a dinner-horn such as they used to blow at a summer-school he had once attended in the Adirondacks. Slowly he remembered that he was Harvey Cheyne, drowned and dead in mid-ocean, but was too weak to fit things together. A new smell filled his nostrils; wet and clammy chills ran down his back, and he was helplessly full of salt water. When he opened his eyes, he perceived that he was still on the top of the sea, for it was running round him in silver-coloured hills, and he was lying on a pile of half-dead fish, looking at a broad human back clothed in a blue jersey.
"It's no good," thought the boy. "I'm dead, sure enough, and this thing is in charge."
He groaned, and the figure turned its head, showing a pair of little gold rings half hidden in curly black hair.
"Aha! You feel some pretty well now'?" it said. "Lie still so: we trim better."
With a swift jerk he sculled the flickering boat-head on to a foamless sea that lifted her twenty full feet, only to slide her into a glassy pit beyond. But this mountain-climbing did not interrupt blue-jersey's talk. "Fine good job, I say, that I catch you. Eh, wha-at? Better good job, I say, your boat not catch me. How you come to fall out?"
"I was sick," said Harvey; "sick, and couldn't help it."
"Just in time I blow my horn, and your boat she yaw a little. Then I see you come all down. Eh, wha-at? I think you are cut into baits by the screw, but you dreeft — dreeft to me, and I make a big fish of you. So you shall not die this time."
"Where am I?" said Harvey, who could not see that life was particularly safe where he lay.
"You are with me in the dory — Manuel my name, and I come from schooner 'We're Here' of Gloucester. I live to Gloucester. By-and-by we get supper. Eh, wha-at?"
He seemed to have two pairs of hands and a head of cast-iron, for, not content with blowing through a big conch-shell, he must needs stand up to it, swaying with the sway of the flat-bottomed dory, and send a grinding, thuttering shriek through the fog. How long this entertainment lasted, Harvey could not remember, for he lay back terrified at the sight of the smoking swells. He fancied he heard a gun and a horn and shouting. Something bigger than the dory, but quite as lively, loomed alongside. Several voices talked at once; he was dropped into a dark, heaving hole, where men in oilskins gave him a hot drink and took off his clothes, and he fell asleep.
When he waked he listened for the first breakfast-bell on the steamer, wondering why his stateroom had grown so small. Turning, he looked into a narrow, triangular cave, lit by a lamp hung against a huge square beam. A three-cornered table within arm's reach ran from the angle of the bows to the foremast. At the after end, behind a well-used Plymouth stove, sat a boy about his own age, with a flat red face and a pair of twinkling grey eyes. He was dressed in a blue jersey and high rubber boots. Several pairs of the same sort of foot-wear, an old cap, and some worn-out woolen socks lay on the floor, and black and yellow oilskins swayed to and fro beside the bunks. The place was packed as full of smells as a bale is of cotton. The oilskins had a peculiarly thick flavour of their own which made a sort of background to the smells of fried fish, burnt grease, paint, pepper, and stale tobacco; but these, again, were all hooped together by one encircling smell of ship and salt water. Harvey saw with disgust that there were no sheets on his bed-place. He was lying on a piece of dingy ticking full of lumps and nubbles. Then, too, the boat's motion was not that of a steamer. She was neither sliding nor rolling, but rather wriggling herself about in a silly, aimless way, like a colt at the end of a halter. Water-noises ran by close to his ear, and beams creaked and whined about him. All these things made him grunt despairingly and think of his mother.
"Feelin' better?" said the boy, with a grin. "Hev some coffee?" He brought a tin cup full, and sweetened it with molasses.
"Isn't there milk?" said Harvey, looking round the dark double tier of bunks as if he expected to find a cow there.
"Well, no," said the boy. "Ner there ain't likely to be till 'baout mid-September. 'Tain't bad coffee. I made it."
Harvey drank in silence, and the boy handed him a plate full of pieces of crisp fried pork, which he ate ravenously.
"I've dried your clothes. Guess they've shrunk some," said the boy. "They ain't our style much — none of 'em. Twist round an' see ef you're hurt any."
Harvey stretched himself in every direction, but could not report any injuries.
"That's good," the boy said heartily. "Fix yerself an' go on deck. Dad wants to see you. I'm his son, — Dan, they call me, — an' I'm cook's helper an' everything else aboard that's too dirty for the men. There ain't no boy here 'cep' me sence Otto went overboard — an' he was only a Dutchy, an' twenty year old at that. How'd you come to fall off in a dead flat ca'am?"
"'Twasn't a calm," said Harvey, sulkily. "It was a gale, and I was seasick. Guess I must have rolled over the rail."
"There was a little common swell yes' day an' last night," said the boy. "But ef thet's your notion of a gale —" He whistled. "You'll know more 'fore you're through. Hurry! Dad's waitin'."
Like many other unfortunate young people, Harvey had never in all his life received a direct order — never, at least, without long, and sometimes tearful, explanations of the advantages of obedience and the reasons for the request. Mrs. Cheyne lived in fear of breaking his spirit, which, perhaps, was the reason that she herself walked on the edge of nervous prostration. He could not see why he should be expected to hurry for any man's pleasure, and said so. "Your dad can come down here if he's so anxious to talk to me. I want him to take me to New York right away. It'll pay him."
Dan opened his eyes, as the size and beauty of this joke dawned on him. "Say, dad!" he shouted up the fo'c'sle hatch, "he says you kin slip down an' see him ef you're anxious that way. 'Hear, dad?"
The answer came back in the deepest voice Harvey had ever heard from a human chest: "Quit foolin', Dan, and send him to me."
Dan sniggered, and threw Harvey his warped bicycle shoes. There was something in the tones on the deck that made the boy dissemble his extreme rage and console himself with the thought of gradually unfolding the tale of his own and his father's wealth on the voyage home. This rescue would certainly make him a hero among his friends for life. He hoisted himself on deck up a perpendicular ladder, and stumbled aft, over a score of obstructions, to where a small, thick-set, clean-shaven man with grey eyebrows sat on a step that led up to the quarter-deck. The swell had passed in the night, leaving a long, oily sea, dotted round the horizon with the sails of a dozen fishing-boats. Between them lay little black specks, showing where the dories were out fishing. The schooner, with a triangular riding-sail on the mainmast, played easily at anchor, and except for the man by the cabin-roof — "house" they call it — she was deserted.
"Mornin' — good afternoon, I should say. You've nigh slep' the clock around, young feller," was the greeting.
"Mornin'," said Harvey. He did not like being called "young feller"; and, as one rescued from drowning, expected sympathy. His mother suffered agonies whenever he got his feet wet; but this mariner did not seem excited.
"Naow let's hear all abaout it. It's quite providential, first an' last, fer all concerned. What might be your name? Where from (we mistrust it's Noo York), an' where baound (we mistrust it's Europe)?"
Harvey gave his name, the name of the steamer, and a short history of the accident, winding up with a demand to be taken back immediately to New York, where his father would pay anything any one chose to name.
"H'm," said the shaven man, quite unmoved by the end of Harvey's speech. "I can't say we think special of any man, or boy even, that falls overboard from that kind o' packet in a flat ca'am. Least of all when his excuse is thet he's seasick."
"Excuse!" cried Harvey. "D'you suppose I'd fall overboard into your dirty little boat for fun?"
"Not knowin' what your notions o' fun may be, I can't rightly say, young feller. But if I was you, I wouldn't call the boat which, under Providence, was the means o' savin' ye, names. In the first place, it's blame irreligious. In the second, it's annoyin' to my feelin's — an' I'm Disko Troop o' the 'We're Here' o' Gloucester, which you don't seem rightly to know."
"I don't know and I don't care," said Harvey. "I'm grateful enough for being saved and all that, of course; but I want you to understand that the sooner you take me back to New York the better it'll pay you."
"Meanin' — haow?" Troop raised one shaggy eyebrow over a suspiciously mild blue eye.
"Dollars and cents," said Harvey, delighted to think that he was making an impression. "Cold dollars and cents." He thrust a hand into a pocket, and threw out his stomach a little, which was his way of being grand. "You've done the best day's work you ever did in your life when you pulled me in. I'm all the son Harvey Cheyne has."
"He's bin favoured," said Disko, drily.
"And if you don't know who Harvey Cheyne is, you don't know much — that's all. Now turn her around and let's hurry."
Harvey had a notion that the greater part of America was filled with people discussing and envying his father's dollars.
"Mebbe I do, an' mebbe I don't. Take a reef in your stummick, young feller. It's full o' my vittles."
Harvey heard a chuckle from Dan, who was pretending to be busy by the stump-foremast, and the blood rushed to his face. "We'll pay for that too," he said. "When do you suppose we shall get to New York?"
Excerpted from Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling. Copyright © 2016 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Notes to the Teacher 4
Facts About the Author 5
Facts About the Times 6
Facts About the Characters 6
Chapter Summaries 7
Answer Key 10
Literary Glossary 12
Words and Meanings, Ch. 1 14
Cause and Effect, Ch. 1 15
Synonyms and Antonyms, Ch. 1 16
Words and Meanings, Ch. 2 17
Comprehension Check, Ch. 2 18
Character Study, Ch. 2 19
Words and Meanings, Ch. 3 20
Sequence of Events, Ch. 3 21
Words and Meanings, Ch. 4 22
Comprehension Check, Ch. 4 23
Synonyms and Antonyms, Ch. 4 24
Words and Meanings, Ch. 5 25
Comprehension Check, Ch. 5 26
Words and Meanings, Ch. 6 27
Sequence of Events, Ch. 6 28
Personalizing Story Events, Ch. 6 29
Words and Meanings, Ch. 7 30
Comprehension Check, Ch. 7 31
Mystery Words, Ch. 7 32
Words and Meanings, Ch. 8 33
Inference, Ch. 8 34
Words and Meanings, Ch. 9 35
Sequence of Events, Ch. 9 36
Cause and Effect, Ch. 9 37
Book Sequence 38
Final Exam, Part 1 39
Final Exam, Part 2 40
Beyond the Text 41
Plot Study 42
Theme Analysis 43
Character Study 44
Vocabulary Study 45
Glossary Study 46
Book Review, Part 1 47
Book Review, Part 2 48
What People are Saying About This
“The most complete man of genius I have ever known.”—Henry James
“Throughout the world his voice commanded more respect than any citizen other than heads of state.”—Mark Twain
“Of Kipling’s personal decency there can be no doubt….I for one cannot help wishing that I could offer some kind of tribute.”—George Orwell
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a very good book but you need to be able to understand some pretty difficult dialect. I've read a lot of Mark Twain before without trouble but i found this book to be extremely hard to understand during any dialog.
Oh my gosh! i was at the end of my seat when i read this novel! It was so amazing how life at sea can change one man's heart! it is really a super duper story and i recommend it to all you sea lovers out there, it is AWSOME
Have you ever fallen off a huge ship at night when there’s so much fog you can’t see past you hand? Well the book is about a 15 year old spoiled kid from America that gets 200 dollars a month and lives in a mansion. He fell off the boat because a German dared him to smoke a cigar; he tried and felt sick and went to the side of the where he passed out and fell off the side into the ocean! A few minutes later a fisherman picks him out of the water and puts him in a bed. He wakes up in the morning not knowing where he is, the captain tells him he is on a fishing boat that will be on the sea for about 6 months. He learns to work on the boat and gets paid 10.50$ a month for working his butt off, and his mom and dad think he’s dead somewhere in the middle of the ocean. There are hundreds of fishing boats in this one area fishing when this one guy dies. They take all of his belongings and auction them off. Danny, Harvey’s friend is a boy that has to work to get his money which is very little and loves to fish. He buys his knife and give it to Harvey, but Harvey doesn’t know if he should take it because it belonged to a dead guy. Later they have a funeral and strap an anchor on him and throw him into the ocean. Danny and Harvey were out at sea fishing miles from where they put him into the sea. They catch him on one of the lines. They freak out and throw the knife into the water so he can have it back even though he’s dead. The fishing year is finally over and they all get to go home; but will Harvey ever see his parents again because he doesn’t even know where they are? You should read this book, it was really good and it was easy to read. I would recommend it for someone to read it is 250 pages long and very easy to read. It is also one really interesting book, I enjoyed reading it.
Which version of CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS am I reviewing? Not the original 1897 novel by Rudyard Kipling but a 2002 Great Illustrated Classics issue adapted by Malvina Vogel and illustrated by Ken Landgraf. It is called the Library Edition, bare-boned, no notes, chapter summaries, etc. There are as many pages of pen and ink sketches as there are of text. And the Vogel text is perhaps 85 % shorter than Kipling's original. Well-known adapter Vogel aims at readers ten years old and up. *** I, who am 76 years old and blessed with six grandsons and two granddaughters, have little doubt that the Vogel-Landgraf shortened, illustrated edition will be a hit with the youngsters whom it targets. The plot is simple enough: Around 1895 Harvey ("Harve") Cheyne falls off an ocean liner, is rescued by a fishing schooner and spends three months learning to be a cod fisherman. Back in the schooner's home port of Gloucester, Massachusetts, Harve telegraphs his multi-millionaire father in San Diego, is soon reunited with his parents and plans a sea-related future. He has been transformed from a self-centered, pampered mama's boy into a thoughtful, caring young man. *** My review focuses on what there is for adults in the Vogel-Landgraf adaptation. I assume that you already know the original novel. It abounds in symbolism (sea and baptism, a bloody nose and the sacrament of Confirmation, a fishing boat as monastery with abbot (Captain Troop), prior (co-owner Uncle Salters) and eight (temporarily) celibate male monks who welcome novice Harve to their fellowship. Several religions and superstitions appear in the novel. CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS is also a critique of then rapidly rising destructive economic values of America's Gilded Age. All this is layers deeper than the simple tale of a spoiled rich kid growing up quickly through obedience and hard work, especially through male-bonded teamwork. *** Those depths are not there in the Vogel-Landgraf adaptation. Malvina Vogel adds sentences here and there, initially one that makes young Harve Cheyne look more impolite than Kipling did. She eliminates some key scenes. But she also does some things right, from an adult's point of view. Take the three film retellings of CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS. In the first, Manuel the fisherman who pulls Harve out of the Atlantic -- played for an Oscar by Spencer Tracy -- is killed off at sea. In the second Harve has no mother. In the third he has neither mother nor father. Admittedly, Kipling devotes relatively few words to the only two important female characters: Constance Cheyne, Harve's mother, and to the mother of the only other boy on the schooner We're Here. But those women exist and make a difference. To her credit Malvina retains them, and all other characters of the 1897 novel. And illustrator Landgraf sketches both of them, too. *** In the 1870s Kipling's own mother had told Kipling's Headmaster that her son had a soft feminine streak. In CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS, Kipling says that Harve inherited brains from his self-made tycoon father and sensitivity from his mother. At novel's end, previously hysterical Constance wins the hearts of every man on the We're Here and overcomes her Unitarian disdain of Catholics to make a large bequest to Harve's savior Manuel's church on the hill in Gloucester. Kipling hinted at some strengths of character in Mrs Cheyne. And the Vogel-Landgraf team keeps her very much alive, caring and credible. -OOO-
I love this book. I can't review it objectively because I love it so. When I think of a book that took me away, swept me off to places I have never seen--this was the first. Possibly the best. Can't recommend it highly enough.
Interesting timeless tale. Really enjoyed as Kipling and I have the same difficulty with perfect grammar.
This is a great book. There are some imperfections in this version, though. The transfer process has occasionally misidentified letters; la=k, nn=rm, etc. If you don't mind having to translate a little bit this is a fine version. Otherwise, you may want to plunk down the cash for a cleaner version. 4/5 only because of the transfer errors.
One of Kipling's best! Although the movie Hollywood made was well done, their attempt the "modernize" the story destroys some of the books charm.
It is not worth the time it takes to read this 'WORK OF ART'. It is certainly not Kiplings OPUS
I was at the farm and needed something to read and picked it up and was engrossed by the expert writing, characterization, plot but then the last fourth of the novel took a surprising nose dive. It was as if Kipling the defender of the British empire has been too sympathetic to the working class fishermen and needed to portray the exploiting minority as kind, worthy of worship and paternalistic [parasites]. I'm curious to see the notes that he might have kept to explain such an abrupt poor writing.