Short summary - Dick Sand, A Captain at Fifteen - Un capitaine de quinze ans
Jules Gabriel Verne
On January 29, 1873, the schooner brig Pilgrim, equipped for whaling, sets sail from the port of Auckleanda, New Zealand. On board are the brave and experienced Captain Gul, five seasoned sailors, fifteen-year-old junior sailor - orphan Dick Sand, ship cook Negoro, as well as the wife of the Pilgrim owner James Weldon - Mrs Weldon with her five-year-old son Jack, her eccentric relative, whom everyone calls " cousin Benedict, ”and the old Negress nanny Nan. The sailboat makes its way to San Francisco with a stop at Valparaiso. After several days of sailing, little Jack notices in the ocean the ship "Waldeck" overturned on its side with a hole in the bow. In it, the sailors find five emaciated blacks and a dog named Dingo. It turns out that blacks: Tom, a sixty-year-old man, his son Bath, Austin, Actaeon and Hercules are free citizens of the United States. After completing contract work on a plantation in New Zealand, they returned to America. After the collision of "Waldeck" with another ship, all the crew members and the captain disappeared and they were left alone. They are transported aboard the Pilgrim, and after a few days of careful care for them, they fully regain their strength. Dingo, they said, was picked up off the coast of Africa by the captain of the Waldeck. At the sight of Negoro, the dog, for some unknown reason, begins to growl ferociously and expresses its readiness to pounce on him. Negoro prefers not to appear in front of the dog, who apparently recognized him.
A few days later, Captain Gul and five sailors, who dared to set out on a boat to catch a whale they spotted a few miles from the ship, are killed. Dick Sand, who remains on the ship, takes over as the captain. Negroes are trying to learn sailor craft under his guidance. For all his courage and inner maturity, Dick does not have all the navigational knowledge and knows how to navigate the ocean only by a compass and a lot, which measures the speed of movement. He does not know how to find a location by the stars, which is what Negoro uses. He breaks one compass and, unnoticed by everyone, changes the readings of the second. Then disables the lot. His intrigues contribute to the fact that instead of America, the ship arrives at the shores of Angola and is thrown ashore. All travelers are safe. Negoro leaves them unnoticed and leaves in an unknown direction. After some time, Dick Sand, who went in search of some settlement, meets the American Garris, who, in collusion with Negoro, his old acquaintances, and assuring that the travelers are on the shores of Bolivia, lures them for a hundred miles into the rainforest, promising shelter and leaving his brother on the hacienda. Over time, Dick Sand and Tom realize that they somehow ended up not in South America, but in Africa. Garris, guessing about their insight, hides in the forest, leaving the travelers alone, and goes to a pre-arranged meeting with Negoro. From their conversation, it becomes clear to the reader that Garris is engaged in the slave trade, Negoro was also familiar with this trade for a long time, until the authorities of Portugal, where he is from, sentenced him to life imprisonment for such activities. After spending two weeks on it, Negoro fled, got a job as a cook on the Pilgrim and waited for a suitable opportunity to get back to Africa. Dick's inexperience played into his hands, and his plan was carried out much earlier than he dared hope. Not far from where he meets Garris, there is a caravan of slaves that goes to the fair in Kazonda, led by one of their acquaintances. The caravan is camped ten miles from the travelers' location, on the banks of the Kwanza River. Knowing Dick Send, Negoro and Garris correctly assume that he will decide to bring his people to the river and go down to the ocean on a raft. It is there that they propose to capture them. Having discovered the disappearance of Garris, Dick realizes that a betrayal has occurred, and decides to walk along the bank of the stream to a larger river. On the way, they are overtaken by a thunderstorm and a fierce downpour, from which the river overflows its banks and rises several pounds above ground level. Before the rain, travelers climb into an empty termite mound, twelve feet high. In a huge anthill with thick clay walls, they wait out the thunderstorm. However, having got out of there, they are immediately captured. Negroes, Nan and Dick join the caravan, Hercules manages to escape. Mrs. Weldon with her son and cousin Benedict are led away in an uncertain direction. During the journey, Dick and his black friends have to endure all the hardships of the passage with a caravan of slaves and witness the brutal treatment of the slaves by the soldiers-guards and overseers. Unable to withstand this transition, old Nan perishes on the way.
The caravan arrives at Kazonda, where the slaves are distributed to the barracks. Dick Sand accidentally meets Garris and, after Garris, deceiving him, informs about the death of Mrs. Weldon and her son, in desperation snatches a dagger from his belt and kills him. The next day a slave fair is to be held. Negoro, who saw from afar the scene of the death of his friend, asks permission from Alvets, the master of the slave caravan and a very influential person in Kazonda, as well as from Muani-Lung, the local king, for permission to execute Dick after the fair. Alvets promises Muani-Lung, who is unable to do without alcohol for a long time, a drop of fire water for every drop of white man's blood. He cooks a strong punch, sets it on fire, and when Muani-Lung drinks it, his alcohol-soaked body suddenly catches fire and the king decays to the very bones. His first wife, Queen Muan, organizes a funeral, during which, according to tradition, numerous other wives of the king are killed, thrown into a pit and flooded. In the same pit there is also Dick tied to a post. He must die.
Mrs. Weldon and her son and cousin Benedict, meanwhile, also live in Kazonda, outside the fence of the trading post of Alvez. Negoro is holding them hostage there and wants a ransom of one hundred thousand dollars from Mr. Weldon. He forces Mrs. Weldon to write a letter to her husband, which should contribute to the implementation of his plan, and, leaving the hostages in the care of Alvez, leaves for San Francisco. One day, cousin Benedict, a passionate collector of insects, is chasing a particularly rare ground beetle. Pursuing her, he, unnoticed by himself, through a wormhole passing under the walls of the fence, breaks free and runs two miles through the forest in the hope of still grabbing the insect. There he meets Hercules, who all this time was next to the caravan in the hope of helping his friends in some way.
At this time, a long, unusual downpour begins in the village, which is unusual for this time of year, which floods all nearby fields and threatens to leave residents without crops. Queen Muan invites sorcerers to the village to chase away the clouds. Hercules, having caught one of these sorcerers in the forest and dressed in his outfit, pretends to be a dumb sorcerer and comes to the village, grabs the astonished queen by the hand and leads her to the trading station of Alvez, There he shows by signs that the white woman and her child. He grabs them and carries them out of the village. Alvets tries to detain him, but yields to the onslaught of savages and is forced to release the hostages. After walking eight miles and finally freeing from the last curious inhabitants of the village, Hercules lowers Mrs. Weldon and Jack into a boat, where they are amazed to find that the sorcerer and Hercules are one person, they see Dick Send saved by Hercules from death, cousin Benedict and Dingo. The only thing missing is Tom, Bath, Actaeon and Austin, who were even earlier sold into slavery and driven from the village. Now travelers finally have the opportunity to go down to the ocean on a boat disguised as a floating island. From time to time, Dick goes ashore to hunt. A few days later, the boat sails past the village of cannibals, located on the right bank. The fact that the river is not floating on an island, but a boat with people, the savages discover after she is already far ahead. Unbeknownst to travelers, savages chase the boat along the coast in the hope of prey. A few days later, the boat stops at the left bank so as not to be dragged into the waterfall. Dingo, barely jumping to the shore, rushes forward, as if smelling someone's trail. Travelers stumble upon a small shack, in which already white human bones are scattered. On the tree next to it, two letters “S.” are inscribed in blood. IN.". These are the same letters that are engraved on Dingo's collar. Nearby is a note in which its author, the traveler Samuel Vernon, accuses his guide Negoro of mortally wounded and robbed in December 1871. Suddenly, Dingo takes off, and a scream is heard nearby. It was Dingo who grabbed the throat of Negoro, who, before boarding the steamer to America, returned to the scene of his crime to retrieve the money he had stolen from Vernon from his hiding place. Dingo, whom Negoro wounds with a knife before dying, dies. But Negoro himself cannot escape retribution. Fearing Negoro's satellites on the left bank, Dick goes for reconnaissance to the right bank. There arrows fly at him, and ten savages from the village of cannibals jump into the boat to him. Dick shoots the oar, and the boat is carried to the waterfall. The savages die in it, but Dick, who has taken refuge in the boat, manages to escape. Soon the travelers reach the ocean, and then arrive in California on August 25 without incident. Dick Sand becomes the son of the Weldon family, at the age of eighteen he finishes hydrographic courses and prepares to become a captain on one of James Weldon's ships. Hercules becomes a great family friend. Tom, Bath, Actaeon and Austin are redeemed by Mr. Weldon from slavery, and on November 15, 1877, four negroes, freed from so many dangers, find themselves in the weldons' friendly embrace.