This was the third-best selling book in the United States in 1895. It begins: "Early in the spring of the year 1884, the three-masted schooner Castor, from San Francisco to Valparaiso, was struck by a tornado off the coast of Peru. The storm, which rose with frightful suddenness, was of short duration, but it left the Castor a helpless wreck. ... "The Castor was an American merchant-vessel, commanded by Captain Philip Horn, an experienced navigator of about thirty-five years of age.
Besides a valuable cargo, she carried three passengers—two ladies and a boy. ... "But when the storm had passed, and the sky was clear, and the mad waves had subsided into a rolling swell, there seemed no reason to believe that any one on board the Castor would ever reach Valparaiso. The vessel had been badly strained by the wrenching of the masts, her sides had been battered by the floating wreckage, and she was taking in water rapidly.
Fortunately, no one had been injured by the storm, ...." All of the row boats had been blown off of the ship, but the crew was able to retrieve two of them from the sea; and "...in less than three hours after the vessel had been struck, the two boats, containing all the crew and the passengers, besides a goodly quantity of provisions and water, and such valuables, clothing, rugs, and wraps as room could be found for, were pulling away from the wreck."
About the Author
Frank Richard Stockton (April 5, 1834 – April 20, 1902) was an American writer and humorist, best known today for a series of innovative children's fairy tales that were widely popular during the last decades of the 19th century.
Born in Philadelphia in the year 1834, Stockton was the son of a prominent Methodist minister who discouraged him from a writing career. After he married Mary Ann Edwards Tuttle, the couple moved to Nutley, New Jersey.
For years he supported himself as a wood engraver until his father's death in 1860; in 1867, he moved back to Philadelphia to write for a newspaper founded by his brother. His first fairy tale, "Ting-a-ling," was published that year in The Riverside Magazine; his first book collection appeared in 1870.
He died in 1902 of cerebral hemorrhage and is buried at The Woodlands in Philadelphia.
Stockton avoided the didactic moralizing common to children's stories of the time, instead using clever humor to poke at greed, violence, abuse of power and other human foibles, describing his fantastic characters' adventures in a charming, matter-of-fact way in stories like "The Griffin and the Minor Canon" (1885) and "The Bee-Man of Orn" (1887), which were published in 1963 and 1964, respectively, in editions illustrated by Maurice Sendak. "The Griffin and the Minor Canon" won a Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1963.
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