“Survival.” This word can easily serve as the one-word theme that ties together each of the four stories contained in this volume.
“The Sole Survivors” takes the reader to an outlying settlement of Jamestown in l622. The inhabitants of Reginald Neville’s small colony energetically employ themselves in developing the new land and in living peacefully with their Indian neighbors. Stealthily the Indians are planning a surprise attack on these settlers whom they consider invaders.
Henty unfolds the methods of protection and attack used by the pioneers and their adversaries as each group fights for the victory. The aftermath of the battle leads to an ongoing struggle for survival as colonists slip past Indian settlements and ascertain a place of safety amidst dangerous and unexplored topography.
In “A Frontier Girl” and “The Ranch in the Valley” Henty moves the reader west to settlements and ranches that could only be described as dangerous domains. The settlements and ranches stretched into territory that Indians used when and how they thought best. In each account, young and old can learn of the daily dangers faced by these brave frontiersmen. The heroes in each story use their wisdom and wit to face the formidable foes and protect loved ones who are also in danger of Indian ire falling on them.
“On the Track” turns the reader’s attention to a different survival. Roland Partridge’s father is employed as a bank cashier. His job is abruptly ended when he is accused of stealing bank securities. The evidence is damning when his initials are discovered in the bank records of the securities. Even more condemning is the disappearance of Mr. Partridge.
Young Roland must work for the survival of his reputation while facing savage remarks regarding the soiled character of his family. Privately he must find a way to determine his father’s guilt or innocence. This could easily mean placing his father, once he is found, in a place of danger again. He considers the survival of personal and family character, truth, and justice so important that the risks are worth taking.
The publishers have brought together four stories of early America in which Henty showcases the importance of bravery, friendship, and loyalty in the face of great trial. Readers, young and old, who enjoy Henty’s writings, will enjoy this volume. Those unfamiliar with G.A. Henty will find this work a good introduction to his voluminous historical adventures.
- Byron Snapp
Byron Snapp is a graduate of King College (B.A.) and Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div.). He was Associate Pastor at Calvary Reformed Presbyterian Church, Hampton, Virginia, from 1994 until his retirement in December 2014. He is a native of Marion, Virginia. He has had pastorates in Leakesville, Mississippi, and Gaffney, South Carolina. He served as Assistant Pastor in Cedar Bluff, Virginia prior to his ministry at Calvary Reformed. He has served as editor of the Presbyterian Witness and was a contributor to A Comprehensive Faith and Election Day Sermons. He is currently a member of Westminster Presbytery in the PCA. He and his wife Janey have 3 children and several grandchildren.