I love the little hardcovers that were published in the ‘40s-‘60s!
James has always wanted a family – people he could love and trust. The only family he’s ever known is his father, but he certainly hasn’t given James any reason to love or trust him. The truth is, he sold James to a ship captain for one pound – one pound! Now the captain is selling James as an indentured servant in the colonies. After watching his good friend, Davy being sold off to a cruel, penurious man, James becomes even more nervous. What if his master is cruel, too?
In the end, he is purchased by Mr. Waldruss, a farmer, for five pounds. Mr. Waldruss seems kind, but James is apprehensive. What if it’s just a blind? What if he has been indentured to a life of slavery?
As the story began, James longed for a father’s love, a family’s comfort. When his father betrayed him – sold him! – I began to worry. I began asking – “What is the theme of this story? Is it how children must not rely upon their family for comfort and support? Is this going to be a story of disillusionment and bitterness?”
It was not. James is purchased by Mr. Waldruss, a kindly, principled man. He does not beat James – he doesn’t even overwork him. In fact, he sends James to school to be educated! He accepts James into his family, and James slowly opens to their affection and becomes a son to Mr. Waldruss.
Not so for his friend, Davy. Davy is sold to Mr. Beaton, a neighbouring farmer, who overworks and beats Davy. Davy and James remain friends, but it is very difficult for James to see his friend so cruelly treated. Towards the end of the story, after a particularly savage beating, Davy runs away. Although the penalty for aiding a runaway bondsman is harsh, James seeks Davy out, supplies him with food, and nurses his sores. He conceals the fact that he has found Davy from Mr. Waldruss (he knows that Mr. Waldruss will be honor-bound to return Davy to Mr. Beaton) but feels very guilty in doing so. In the end, Mr. Waldruss reveals that he knew all along what James was doing and has purchased Davy from Mr. Beaton. Davy joins the family, and all is love and happiness.
Another lie is told to keep a boy from being beaten by his cruel master.
A picture is shown of James bathing.
Conclusion. Excellent. A story which magnifies the beauty of a close-knit family.
Review © 2013 Laura Verret