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The Swan and Her Crew; or the Adventures of Three Young Naturalists and Sportsmen on the Broads and Rivers of Norfolk

93 pages
Library of Alexandria
Greeting.—The Broad District.—Hickling Broad.—Felling a Tree.—Dodging the Swallows.—Shooting the Crossbills.—The Boat-house. With the same feeling of pleasure which one experiences when one writes to an old friend, I commence to write this new book, which I hope will be read by many a boy friend. It is very pleasant to an author to feel that he has a large circle of acquaintances whom he has never seen, and who know him only through his books. It should be his aim and endeavour to extend that circle of friends, and to increase the good feeling which they bear towards him. Therefore, my dear boys, I hope that after reading this book which I now submit to your approval, you will conceive as affectionate a regard for me as I have for you. This is a story of sport and adventure, natural history and science, and the movers in it are three boys just like yourselves; and that you may understand the better what they did, I shall first describe the scene of their exploits. It is the eastern part of Norfolk, and no better place could be found as a field for the doings of three enterprising young naturalists and sportsmen. It is known as the "Broad District," and it consists almost entirely of lake, river, and marsh. If we take Yarmouth on the sea-coast as the starting-point, and look inland, we shall see first of all a large tidal lake known as Breydon Water. From this radiate three rivers going north-west, west, and south-west. The chief of them is the Yare, which winds for thirty miles inward to the old city of Norwich. On our right is the river Bure, or North River, which after a very long and winding course leaves the marsh, and enters a richly-wooded country. To the south is the Waveney, a clear and beautiful stream, which flows past Beccles and Bungay, two towns in Suffolk. All these rivers are slow of current, wide and navigable not only for yachts, but for vessels of large burden, such as wherries, billy-boys, and small steamers. The banks of the rivers are fringed with tall reeds, and they flow through miles of level marsh, where, as far as the eye can reach, there is nothing to be seen but the white sails of the yachts and the dark sails of the wherries, and occasional windmills which are used for pumping the water out of the drains into the rivers. In order to deepen the channel of the river for the purposes of navigation, the embankments have been raised so high that the surface of the water is much above the level of the drains which carry the water off the surrounding marshes, and so the water has to be pumped into the river out of the drains by means of pumps set in action by windmills