Missee Lee
Arthur Ransome

Publishing Page

Missee Lee2.jpg (7481 bytes) Nancy and Peggy’s Uncle Jim generally known to our young people as "Captain Flint" has taken his nieces and the Walker children off around the world on his schooner "Wild Cat". They fall afoul of Chinese pirates along the coast of mainland China. At first the pirates are inclined to kill them all for fear of trouble with the British. However the pirate leader decides to keep them there … forever. Caught between a strong willed pirate chieftain who wishes to keep them alive but doesn’t want them to leave and the chieftain’s compatriots who would much rather kill them, the young people must play a dangerous game.

As a boy your reviewer loved this story, which combined China, Chinese sailing craft, seamanship, and some interesting psychological studies in a wonderful exotic tale. However I did not realize that at the time it was set in the 1930’s it would have been quite plausible for a yacht to get in trouble with pirates still operating under sail on the Chinese coast. Given that many Chinese were educated in Europe by their parents to gain a knowledge of how to work with westerners, the story is not at all the fantasy it might appear to today’s reader. Of course young people will simply read it and love it.

As an aside it may interest the reader to know that the last naval battle conducted entirely under sail was between two sailing junks in 1948 off the Chinese coast. One was manned by Communist Chinese and the other by American naval personnel operating out of Taiwan. They exchanged fire from small arms and even brass cannon. So we can safely conclude that the Swallows and Amazons might well have encountered all the elements in this story on such a voyage. (tm)  $14.95