Nat Gould

His life and books

A Lad of Mettle

First published in 1897 by Routledge.

Reissued in 1935.

Edgar Foster, son of cricketer Robert Foster, sails for Australia on leaving Redbank School. Wrecked at Sydney, he is rescued by Wal Jessop together with Eva Manton, the infant daughter of the captain. Edgar goes upcountry to Yanda, managed by Ben Brody, and is joined there by his schoolfriend Will Brown. Yacka, an aborigine, leads Edgar and Will on a long journey to a treasure cave. After several narrow escapes they return to Yanda. Edgar moves to Sydney and eventually joins the Australian cricket team. With Will and Ben he sails for England. On the voyage Edgar falls in love with Muriel Wylde, and they save each other's lives. On his return to Australia, Edgar and Wal find and rescue Captain Manton, who is still alive. Edgar returns to England. Will marries Edgar's sister Doris, and Edgar marries Muriel.

A very episodic book, barely a connected story. Enough material is packed in it for several adventure stories. Too reminiscent of King Solomon's Mines plus Treasure Island. The characters are cardboard and the descriptions dull. A disappointing book, giving the impression that the author disliked it. Perhaps because there's no horse racing! (TA)