This story belongs to the year 1837, and was regarded by the generations of that and a succeeding time as the most miraculous of all the recorded deliverances from death at sea. It may be told thus: Mr. Montagu Vanderholt sat at breakfast with his daughter Violet one morning in September. Vanderholt's house was one of a fine terrace close to Hyde Park. He was a rich man, a retired Cape merchant, and his life had been as chequered as Trelawney's, with nothing of romance and nothing of imagination in it. He was the son of honest parents, of Dutch extraction, and had run away to sea when about twelve years old. Nothing under the serious heavens was harsher, more charged with misery, suffering, dirt, and wretchedness, than seafaring in the days when young Vanderholt, with an idiot's cunning, fled to it from his father's comfortable little home. He got a ship, was three years absent, and on his return found both his father and mother dead. He went again to sea, and, fortunately for him, was shipwrecked in the neighbourhood of Simon's Bay.
The survivors made their way to Cape Town, and presently young Vanderholt got a job, and afterwards a position. He then became a master, until, after some eight or ten years of heroic perseverance, attended by much good luck, behold Mr. Vanderholt full-blown into a colonial merchant prince. How much he was worth when he made up his mind to settle in England, after the death of his wife, and when he had disposed of his affairs so as to leave himself as free a man as ever he had been when he was a common Jack Swab, really signifies nothing. It is certain he had plenty, and plenty is enough, even for a merchant prince of Dutch extraction. Besides Violet, he had two sons, who will not make an appearance on this little brief stage. They are dismissed, therefore, with this brief reference?that both were in the army, and both, at the time of this tale, in India. Violet was Vanderholt's only daughter, and he loved her exceedingly. She was not beautiful, but she was fair to see, with a pretty figure, and an arch, gay smile. You saw the Dutch blood in her eyes, as you saw it in her father's, whose orbs of vision, indeed, were ridiculously small?scarcely visible in their bed of socket and lash. An English mother had come to Violet's help in this matter. Taking her from top to toe, with her surprising quantity of brown hair, soft complexion, good mouth, teeth, and figure, Violet Vanderholt was undoubtedly a fine girl.
THE LAST ENTRY
"OPINIONS OF THE PRESS ON THE LAST ENTRY":
'"The Last Entry" is a rattling good salt-water yarn, told in the author's usual breezy, exhilarating style.'-?Daily Mail.
'In this new novel Mr. Russell has cleverly thrown its events into the year 1837, and there are one or two ingenious passages which add to the Diamond Jubilee interest which that date suggests.... "The Last Entry" is as certain of general popularity as any of Mr. Russell's former tales of the marvels of the sea.'-?Glasgow Herald.
'We do not think it possible for anyone to dip into this novel without desiring to finish it, and it adds another to the long list of successes of our best sea author.'-?Librarian.
'In addition to mutiny and murder, "The Last Entry" contains many of those good things which have made Mr. Russell's pages a joy to so many lovers of the sea during the last twenty years.... "The Last Entry" is a welcome addition to Mr. Clark Russell's library.'-?Speaker.
'The writer is as realistic and picturesque as usual in his vivid descriptions of the stagnant life on board the homeward-bound Indiaman.'-?Times.
'It is full of pleasant vigour.... As is always the case in Mr. Clark Russell's books, the elements are treated with the pen of an artist.'-?Standard.
'We expected plenty of go, of fresh and vigorous description of sea-faring life, coupled with a story which would not be wanting in interest. All this we have here.'?-Tablet.