Reference > The Library > Helen Rex Keller > Reader’s Digest of Books

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
H. R. Keller.  The Reader’s Digest of Books.
The Maid of Sker
Richard Doddridge Blackmore (1825–1900)
Maid of Sker, The, by Richard D. Blackmore (1872), carries one through the last twenty years of the eighteenth century in England and Wales. “Fisherman Davy” Llewellyn, ’longshore sailor, and later, one of Lord Nelson’s very bravest “own,”—while fishing along the shores of Bristol Channel and Swansea Bay, finds in a drifting boat, which is carried by the seas into Pool Tavan, a wee two-year-old child asleep,—the Maid of Sker. “Born to grace,” and very beautiful too, is this “waif of the sea,” first known as “Bardie,” then Andalusia; and last proved, by the true Bampfylde peculiarity of thumbs, to be Bertha, the long-lost daughter of that aristocratic family. Brave Commander Rodney Bluett’s proud relations do not therefore object to his marriage with the heroine. The old veteran’s description of naval engagements, and his quaint views of “the quality” (the story is a first-person narrative throughout), makes it intensely dramatic. The death and disinterment of “Black Evan’s” five sons, smothered in a sand-storm; the villainy of giant Parson Chowne, and his savage death from hydrophobia; and the honest love of the narrator for Lady Isabel Carey, are prominent factors in the development of the plot. It is to the latter that old Davy, describing “the unpleasantness of hanging,” remarks, “I had helped, myself, to run nine good men up at the yard-arm. And a fine thing for their souls, no doubt, to stop them from more mischief, and let them go up while the Lord might think that other men had injured them….” In another place he is made to admit, “If my equal insults me, I knock him down; if my officer does it, I knock under….” These illustrations show something of the drollery of much of Blackmore’s writing.  1

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