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A Handful of Salt

307 pages4 hours


In this first sequel to 'A Handful of Dust', Joshua Nash, the bastard son of Thomas by an aborigine woman, opts for a sailor's life on one of this father's ships; his ambition is to become Commodore of the Fleet. He earns his right of passage, enduring gales, mutiny, disaster and hunger. On a trip to the West Indies, by a trick in the fog, Joshua's crew is overpowered by the 'Scorpion' and her band of pirates. Joshua is put overboard in a tiny coracle and set adrift to die. By drinking his own urine he lasts for several days, but is at the point of death when taken on board a Royal Navy ship. There he is insulted by the First Mate, and calls him out. In the dual his opponent tries a dirty trick that misfires, killing him. The Captain of the ship, impressed by Joshua, takes him on as a temporary Lieutenant. During the voyage he sees his old ship at anchor, but the RN vessel can not approach. They fight and capture French ships, and Joshua is given command of one to take back to England. There he is offered a permanent commission in the Royal Navy, but declines. He rejoins his own fleet and they head for the West Indies again, where he retakes his ship and captures and imprisons the Scorpion. They fall in love. She is the daughter of a hildalgo, whose estate has been taken from him by an uncle. Together, Joshua and the Scorpion go to Spain and win back the estate, though she is shot and almost dies. Joshua takes her back to Australia to meet the family and marry her, and to arrange a fantastic 65th birthday party for his father. At that party, his mentor, Amos, retires from the sea and Joshua achieves his ambition. He is made Commodore of the Fleet, the first aborigine master mariner.

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