• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Frontispiece
 Title Page
 Preface
 Table of Contents
 The beginning
 The departure
 The Coral Island
 We examine our personal proper...
 Morning, and cogitations connected...
 An excursion into the interior,...
 Jack's ingenuity
 The beauties of the bottom of the...
 Prepare for a journey round the...
 Make discovery of many excellent...
 Effects of over-eating, and reflections...
 Something wrong with the tank
 Notable discovery at the spouting...
 Strange peculiarity of the...
 Boat-building extraordinary
 The boat launched
 A monster wave and its consequ...
 An awful storm and its consequ...
 Shoemaking
 Intercourse with the savages
 Suspicious and moral remarks in...
 I fall into the hands of pirat...
 Bloody Bill
 Bloody Bill is communicative and...
 The sandal-wood party
 Mischief brewing
 Reflections
 Alone on the deep
 The effect of a cannon-shot
 The voyage
 A strange and bloody battle
 An unexpected discovery, and a...
 The flight
 Imprisonment
 Conclusion
 Back Matter
 Back Cover
 Spine






Group Title: R.M. Ballantyne's books for boys
Title: The Coral island
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE TURNER PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00082104/00001
 Material Information
Title: The Coral island a tale of the Pacific Ocean
Series Title: R.M. Ballantyne's books for boys
Physical Description: 336 p., 2 leaves of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 20 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Ballantyne, R. M ( Robert Michael ), 1825-1894
Thomas Nelson & Sons ( Publisher )
Publisher: T. Nelson and Sons
Place of Publication: London
Edinburgh ;
New York
Publication Date: 1893
Edition: New ed.
 Subjects
Subject: Children -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Adventure and adventurers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Outdoor life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Islands -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Survival skills -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Camping -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Natural history -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Shipwrecks -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Survival after airplane accidents, shipwrecks, etc -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Pirates -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Juvenile fiction -- Oceania   ( lcsh )
Robinsonades -- 1893   ( rbgenr )
Prize books (Provenance) -- 1893   ( rbprov )
Bldn -- 1893
Genre: Robinsonades   ( rbgenr )
Prize books (Provenance)   ( rbprov )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
Scotland -- Edinburgh
United States -- New York -- New York
 Notes
Summary: Three English boys, shipwrecked on a deserted island, create an idyllic society despite typhoons, sharks, wild hogs, and hostile visitors, and then pirates kidnap one of the boys whose adventures continue among the South Sea Islands.
General Note: Series listing on back cover.
General Note: Added title page and frontispiece printed in colors.
Statement of Responsibility: by Robert Michael Ballantyne.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00082104
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002373930
notis - ALX8627
oclc - 213371765

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Front Matter
    Frontispiece
        Page i
    Title Page
        Page ii
        Page iii
    Preface
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
    The beginning
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
    The departure
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
    The Coral Island
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
    We examine our personal property
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
    Morning, and cogitations connected therewith
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
    An excursion into the interior, in which we make many valuable and interesting discoveries
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
    Jack's ingenuity
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
    The beauties of the bottom of the sea tempt Peterkin to dive
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
    Prepare for a journey round the island
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
    Make discovery of many excellent roots and fruits
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
    Effects of over-eating, and reflections thereon
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
    Something wrong with the tank
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
    Notable discovery at the spouting cliffs
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
    Strange peculiarity of the tides
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
    Boat-building extraordinary
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
    The boat launched
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
    A monster wave and its consequences
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
    An awful storm and its consequences
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
    Shoemaking
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
    Intercourse with the savages
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
    Suspicious and moral remarks in regard to life
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
    I fall into the hands of pirates
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 205
    Bloody Bill
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
    Bloody Bill is communicative and sagacious
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
    The sandal-wood party
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 241
    Mischief brewing
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
        Page 252
    Reflections
        Page 253
        Page 254
        Page 255
        Page 256
        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 259
        Page 260
        Page 261
        Page 262
    Alone on the deep
        Page 263
        Page 264
        Page 265
        Page 266
        Page 267
    The effect of a cannon-shot
        Page 268
        Page 269
        Page 270
        Page 271
        Page 272
        Page 273
        Page 274
        Page 275
        Page 276
        Page 277
        Page 278
        Page 279
    The voyage
        Page 280
        Page 281
        Page 282
        Page 283
        Page 284
        Page 285
        Page 286
        Page 287
        Page 288
        Page 289
        Page 290
        Page 291
        Page 292
        Page 293
        Page 294
        Page 295
        Page 296
    A strange and bloody battle
        Page 297
        Page 298
        Page 299
        Page 300
        Page 301
        Page 302
        Page 303
        Page 304
        Page 305
    An unexpected discovery, and a bold, reckless defiance, with its consequences
        Page 306
        Page 307
        Page 308
        Page 309
        Page 310
        Page 311
        Page 312
        Page 313
    The flight
        Page 314
        Page 315
        Page 316
        Page 317
        Page 318
        Page 319
        Page 320
        Page 321
        Page 322
        Page 323
        Page 324
        Page 325
    Imprisonment
        Page 326
        Page 327
        Page 328
        Page 329
        Page 330
        Page 331
        Page 332
    Conclusion
        Page 333
        Page 334
        Page 335
        Page 336
    Back Matter
        Back Matter
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
    Spine
        Spine
Full Text


















vr7I


I\TON COLD.


,.. _' ---^ ,


'.1 -k


Creer Lane Boys' School.

AWARDED TO

I;' ?6 t C k 2 1T1 L


-L,









I L l. : I 1 J. L.I 1, ', .


The Baldwin Library

UlcZIt


Jr.1

..1,I


'
'' '""


I II


i.

i
i
-


j


2 1 '


r

-


' '


*b"


" NTpR y ,Sc"


OnO





r 7


































f -~~-~~





i- t
-a-















j~












----r
,,

s~.-.






-~~;r-


A DREADFUL ADVENTURE














































P~1PtL~O0 THE If,




t Sj' ,0CJ N
I.


;r' `j


!. i
'''


.I~ ~"-~SJBP~P;IF'~~ I S~i ;~
;r;
:., i ----rtCaAeBIP 'ne
j ;
'! .t
*r~-
1

5 ~--
~iit 'I:-
~



N D~'' ;'~;1.1;a';t
;i


r
CIFlc? ~CIEAI`J.

i '
)f.


.;.~~lq~'I~LIB
-~rp~irarro


:


1:


e
~8~ !~-tb~~l~!d7~~









THE


CORAL ISLAND



A Tale of the Pacific Ocean



By

1Robert 1ifcbael JaIIantpne
Author of "The Dog Crusoe and his Master," The Young Fur-Traders,"
"The Gorilla-Hunters," "The World of Ice,"
"Martin Rattler," "Ungava,"
&c. &c.


NEW EDITION







T. NELSON AND SONS
LONDON EDINBURGH
NEW YORK

1893
















PREFA CE.



I WAS a boy when I went through the wonderful ad-
ventures herein set down. With the memory of my
boyish feelings strong upon me, I present my book
specially to boys, in the earnest hope that they may
derive valuable information, much pleasure, great profit,
and unbounded amusement from its pages.
One word more. If there is any boy or man who
loves to be melancholy and morose, and who cannot
enter with kindly sympathy into the regions of fun,
let me seriously advise him to shut my book and put
it away. It is not meant for him.
RALPH ROVER.



















CONTENTS.




CHAPTER I.
The beginning-My early life and character-I thirst for adventure in foreign
lands, and go to sea.......... ........... ...... ... ........... .....................9
CHAPTER II.
The departure-The sea-My companions-Some account of the wonderful
sights we saw on the great deep-A dreadful storm and a frightful
w reck ... .............................. ................. ....... .............. ..........14
CHAPTER III.
The Coral Island-Our first cogitations after landing, and the result of them-
We conclude that the island is uninhabited ...................... .............19
CHAPTER IV.
We examine into our personal property, and make a happy discovery-Our
island described-Jack proves himself to be learned and sagacious above
his fellows-Curious discoveries-Natural lemonade /..........................25
CHAPTER V.
Morning, and cogitations connected therewith-We luxuriate in the sea, try our
diving powers, and make enchanting excursions among the coral groves at
the bottom of the ocean-The wonders of the deep enlarged upon .............38
CHAPTER VI.
An excursion into the interior, in which we make many valuable and interesting
discoveries-We get a dreadful fright-The bread-fruit tree-Wonderful
peculiarity of some of the fruit-trees-Signs of former inhabitants..........44
CHAPTER VII.
Jack's ingenuity-We get into difficulties about fishing, and get out of them by a
method which gives us a cold bath-Horrible encounter with a shark......55
CHAPTER VIII.
The beauties of the bottom of the sea tempt Peterkin to dive-How he did ot-
More difficulties overcome-The Water Garden Curious creatures of the sea









VI CONTENTS.

-The tank-Candles missed very much, and the candle-nut tree discovered
-Wonderful account of Peterkin's first voyage-Cloth found growing on a
tree-A plan projected, and arms prepared for offence and defence-A
dreadful cry................ ..... ............... .....62

CHAPTER IX.
Prepare for a journey round the island-Sagactous reflections-Mysterious ap-
pearances and startling occurrences............... .................. ...........78
CHAPTER X.
Make discovery of many excellent roots and fruits-The resources of the Coral
Island gradually unfolded-The banyan tree-Another tree which is sup-
ported by natural planks-Water-fowl found-A very remarkable discov-
ery, and a very peculiar murder-We luxuriate on the fat of the land....85
CHAPTER XI.
Effects of over-eating, and reflections thereon-Humble advice regarding cold
water-The "horrible cry" accounted for-The curious birds called pen-
quins-Peculiarity of the cocoa-nut palm-Questions on the formation
of coral islands-Mysterious footsteps-Strange discoveries and sad
sights......................... ... .. ................ .... ................. 94
CHAPTER XII.
Something wrong with the tank-Jack's wisdom and Peterkin's impertinence-
Wonderful behaviour of a crab--Good wishes for those who dwell far from
the sea-Jack commences to build a little boat............... ...................107

CHAPTER XIII.
Notable discovery at the spouting cliffs-The mysterious green monster explained
-We are thrown into unutterable terror by the idea that Jack is drowned
The Diamond Cave............................................. ....................114

CHAPTER XIV.
Strange peculiarity of the tides-Also of the twilight-Peterkin's remarkable
conduct in embracing a little pig and killing a big sow-Sage remarks on
jesting- A lso on love .................................................................124
CHAPTER XV.
Boat-building extraordinary-Peterkin tries his hand at cookery and fails
most signally-The boat finished-Curious conversation with the cat, and
other matters............................. ..... .............................. 131

CHAPTER XVI.
The boat launched-We visit the coral reef-The great breaker that never goes
down-Coral insects-The way in which coral islands are made-The
boat's sail-We tax our ingenuity to form fish-hooks-Some of the fish
-we saw-And a monstrous whale--Wonderful shower of little fish-Water-
spouts........................ .. ..... .. ...... .. .... ... .. 140









CONTENTS. vii

CHAPTER XVII.
A monster wave and its consequences-The boat lost and found-Peterkin's
terrible accident-Supplies of food for a voyage in the boat-We visit
Penguin Island, and are amazed beyond measure-Account of the pen-
guins ........... .......... .... ......................... ....... 149

CHAPTER XVIII.
An awful storm and its consequences-Narrow escape-A rock proves a sure
foundation-A fearful night and a bright morning-Deliverance from
danger................ .................... .. .............................. ...162

CHAPTER XIX.
Shoemaking-The even tenor of our way suddenly interrupted-An unexpected
visit and an appalling battle-We all become warriors, and Jack proves
himself to be a hero........................... .... ..........................169

CHAPTER XX.
Intercourse with the savages-Cannibalism prevented-The slain are buried
and the survivors depart, leaving us again alone on our Coral Island...180

CHAPTER XXI.
Sagacious and moral remarks in regard to life-A sail !-An unexpected salute
-The end of the black cat-A terrible dive-An incautious proceeding and
a frightful catastrophe.......................................... ....................187

CHAPTER XXII.
Ifall into the hands ofpirates-How they treated me, and what I said to them
-The result of the whole ending in a melancholy separation and in a most
unexpected gift............. .............................196

CHAPTER XXIII.
Bloody Bill-Dark surmises-A strange sail, and a strange crew, and a still
stranger cargo-New reasons for favouring missionaries-A murderous
massacre, and thoughts thereon................................... ..................206

CHAPTER XXIV.
Bloody Bill is communicative and sagacious- Unpleasant prospects-Betrospect-
ive meditations interrupted by volcanic agency-The pirates negotiate
with a Feejee chief-Various etceteras that are calculated to surprise and
horrify....... .............. ................................. ... .. ....... .........217

CHAPTER XXV.
The sandal-wood party-Native children's games somewhat surprising-
Desperate amusements suddenly and fatally brought to a close-An old
friend recognized-News-Bomata's mad conduct..............................231








Vili CONTENTS.

CHAPTER XXVI.
Mischief brewing-My blood is made to run cold-Evil consultations and wicked
resolves-Bloody Bill attempts to do good, and fails-The attack-Wholesale
murder-The flight-The escape................... ...........................242

CHAPTER XXVII.
Reflections-The wounded man-The squall-True consolation-Death.......253

CHAPTER XXVIII.
Alone on the deep-Necessity the mother of invention-A valuable book discov-
ered-Natural phenomenon-A bright day in my history..................263

CHAPTER XXIX.
The effect of a cannon-shot-A happy reunion of a somewhat moist nature-
Betrospects and explanations-An awful dive-New plans-The last of the
Coral Island............................ .................... ................ 268

CHAPTER XXX.
The voyage-The island, and a consultation in which danger is scouted as a
thing unworthy of consideration-Rats and cats-The native teacher-
Awful revelations- Wonderful effects of Christianity.......................280

CHAPTER XXXI.
A strange and bloody battle-The lion bearded in his den-Frightful scenes of
cruelty, and fears for the future.....................................................297

CHAPTER XXXII.
An unexpected discovery, and a bold, reckless defiance, with its consequences-
Plans of escape, and heroic resolves..............................................306

CHAPTER XXXIII.
The flight-The pursuit-Despair and zts results-The lion bearded in his den
again-Awful danger threatened and wonderfully averted-A terrific
storm ................................................................ .....................314

CHAPTER XXXIV.
Imprisonment-Sinking hopes-Unexpected freedom to more than one, and in
more senses than one ....................................................................326

CHAPTER XXXV.
Concluson................... ............................................................333
















THE CORAL ISLAND.




CHAPTER I.

The beginning-My early life and character-I thirst for adventure sn foreign
lands, and go to sea.

ROVING has always been, and still is, my ruling
passion, the joy of my heart, the very sunshine
of my existence. In childhood, in boyhood, and in
man's estate, I have been a rover; not a mere rambler
among the woody glens and upon the hill-tops of my
own native land, but an enthusiastic rover throughout
the length and breadth of the wide, wide world.
It was a wild, black night of howling storm, the
night in which I was born on the foaming bosom of the
broad Atlantic Ocean. My" father was a sea-captain;
my grandfather was a sea-captain; my great-grand-
father had been a marine. Nobody could tell positively
what occupation his father had followed; but my dear
mother used to assert that he had been a midshipman,
whose grandfather, on the mother's side, had been an
admiral in the royal navy. At any rate, we knew that,
as far back as our family could be traced, it had been
intimately connected with the great watery waste. In-







THE CORAL ISLAND.


deed this was the case on both sides of the house; for
my mother always went to sea with my father on his
long voyages, and so spent the greater part of her life
upon the water.
Thus it was, I suppose, that I came to inherit a rov-
ing disposition. Soon after I was born, my father,
being old, retired from a seafaring life, purchased a
small cottage in a fishing village on the west coast of
England, and settled down to spend the evening of his
life on the shores of that sea which had for so many
years been his home. It was not long after this that I
began to show the roving spirit that dwelt within me.
For some time past my infant legs had been gaining
strength, so that I came to be dissatisfied with rubbing
the skin off my chubby knees by walking on them, and
made many attempts to stand up and walk like a man,
all of which attempts, however, resulted in my sitting
down violently and in sudden surprise. One day I took
advantage of my dear mother's absence to make another
effort; and, to my joy, I actually succeeded in reaching
the doorstep, over which I tumbled into a pool of muddy
water that lay before my father's cottage door. Ah,
how vividly I remember the horror of my poor mother
when she found me sweltering in the mud amongst a
group of cackling ducks, and the tenderness with which
she stripped off my dripping clothes and washed my
dirty little body! From this time forth my rambles
became more frequent, and, as I grew older, more dis-
tant, until at last I had wandered far and near on the
shore and in the woods around our humble dwelling,
and did not rest content until my father bound me ap-
prentice to a coasting vessel, and let me go to sea.
For some years I was happy in visiting the sea-ports,
and in coasting along the shores of my native land. My







THE CORAL ISLAND.


Christian name was' Ralph, and my comrades added to
this the name of Rover, in consequence of the passion
which I always evinced for travelling. Rover was not
my real name, but as I never received any other I came
at last to answer to it as naturally as to my proper
name; and as it is not a bad one, I see no good reason
why I should not introduce myself to the reader as
Ralph Rover. My shipmates were kind, good-natured
fellows, and they and I got on very well together.
They did, indeed, very frequently make game of and
banter me, but not unkindly; and I overheard them
sometimes saying that Ralph Rover was a "queer, old-
fashioned fellow." This, I must confess, surprised me
much, and I pondered the saying long, but could come
at no satisfactory conclusion as to that wherein my old-
fashionedness lay. It is true I was a quiet lad, and
seldom spoke except when spoken to. Moreover, I
never could understand the jokes of my companions
even when they were explained to me: which dulness
in apprehension occasioned me much grief, however, I
tried to make up for it by smiling and looking pleased
when I observed that they were laughing at some wit-
ticism which I had failed to detect. I was also very
fond of inquiring into the nature of things and their
causes, and often fell into fits of abstraction while thus
engaged in my mind. But in all this I saw nothing
that did not seem to be exceedingly natural, and could
by no means understand why my comrades should call
me "an old-fashioned fellow."
Now, while engaged in the coasting trade, I fell in
with many seamen who had travelled to almost every
quarter of the globe; and I freely confess that my heart
glowed ardently within me as they recounted their wild
adventures in foreign lands-the dreadful storms they







THE CORAL ISLAND.


had weathered, the appalling dangers they had escaped,
the wonderful creatures they had seen both on the land
and in the sea, and the interesting lands and strange
people they had visited. But of all the places of which
they told me, none captivated and charmed my imagina-
tion so much as the Coral Islands of the Southern Seas.
They told me of thousands of beautiful fertile islands
that had been formed by a small creature called the
coral insect, where summer reigned nearly all the year
round; where the trees were laden with a constant
harvest of luxuriant fruit; where the climate was
almost perpetually delightful; yet where, strange to
say, men were wild, bloodthirsty savages, excepting in
those favoured isles to which the gospel of our Saviour
had been conveyed. These exciting accounts had so
great an effect upon my mind, that, when I reached the
age of fifteen, I resolved to make a voyage to the South
Seas.
I had no little difficulty at first in prevailing on my
dear parents to let me go; but when I urged on my
father that he would never have become a great captain
had he remained in the coasting trade, he saw the truth
of what I said, and gave his consent. My dear mother,
seeing that my father had made up his mind, no longer
offered opposition to my wishes. "But oh, Ralph," she
said, on the day I bade her adieu, "come back soon to
us, my dear boy, for we are getting old now, Ralph, and
may not have many years to live."
I will not take up my reader's time with a minute
account of all that occurred before I took my final leave
of my dear parents. Suffice it to say that my father
placed me under the charge of an old messmate of his
own, a merchant captain, who was on the point of sail-
ing to the South Seas in his own ship, the Arrow. My







THE CORAL ISLAND. 13

mother gave me her blessing and a small Bible; and her
last request was, that I would never forget to read a
chapter every day, and say my prayers; which I pro-
mised, with tears in my eyes, that I would certainly do.
Soon afterwards I went on board the Arrow, which
was a fine large ship, and set sail for the islands of the
Pacific Ocean.















CHAPTER II.


The departure-The sea-My companions-Some account of the wonderful
sights we saw on the great deep-A dreadful storm and a frightful wreck.

IT was a bright, beautiful, warm day when our ship
Spread her canvas to the breeze, and sailed for the
regions of the south. Oh, how my heart bounded with
delight as I listened to the merry chorus of the sailors.
while they hauled at the ropes and got in the anchor!
The captain shouted; the men ran to obey; the noble
ship bent over to the breeze, and the shore gradually
faded from my view, while I stood looking on with a
kind of feeling that the whole was a delightful dream.
The first thing that struck me as being different from
anything I had yet seen during my short career on the
sea, was the hoisting of the anchor on deck, and lashing
it firmly down with ropes, as if we had now bid adieu to
the land for ever, and would require its services no more.
"There, lass," cried a broad-shouldered jack-tar, giv-
ing the fluke of the anchor a hearty slap with his hand
after the housing was completed-" there, lass, take a
good nap now, for we shan't ask you to kiss the mud
again for many a long day to come !"
And so it was. That anchor did not "kiss the mud"
for many long days afterwards; and when at last it
did, it was for the last time !
There were a number of boys in the ship, but two of
them were my special favourites. Jack Martin was a







THE CORAL ISLAND.


tall, strapping, broad-shouldered youth of eighteen, with
a handsome, good-humoured, firm face. He had had a
good education, was clever and hearty and lion-like in his
actions, but mild and quiet in disposition. Jack was a
general favourite, and had a peculiar fondness for me. My
other companion was Peterkin Gay. He was little, quick,
funny, decidedly mischievous, and about fourteen years
old. But Peterkin's mischief was almost always harmless,
else he could not have been so much beloved as he was.
Hallo, youngster!" cried Jack Martin, giving me a
slap on the shoulder, the day I joined the ship, "come
below, and I'll show you your berth. You and I are to
be mess-mates, and I think we shall be good friends, for
I like the look o' you."
Jack was right. He and I and Peterkin afterwards
became the best and stanchest friends that ever tossed
together on the stormy waves.
I shall say little about the first part of our voyage.
We had the usual amount of rough weather and calm;
also we saw many strange fish rolling in the sea, and I
was greatly delighted one day by seeing a shoal of flying-
fish dart out of the water and skim through the air
about a foot above the surface. They were pursued by
dolphins, which feed on them, and one flying-fish in its
terror flew over the ship, struck on the rigging, and fell
upon the deck. Its wings were just fins elongated, and
we found that they could never fly far at a time, and
never mounted into the air like birds, but skimmed along
the surface of the sea. Jack and I had it for dinner,
and found it remarkably good.
When we approached Cape Horn, at the southern ex-
tremity of America, the weather became very cold and
stormy, and the sailors began to tell stories about the
furious gales and the dangers of that terrible cape.







THE CORAL ISLAND.


Cape Horn," said one, is the most horrible headland
I ever doubled. I've sailed round it twice already, and
both times the ship was a'most blow'd out o' the water."
I've been round it once," said another, an' that time
the sails were split, and the ropes frozen in the blocks,
so that they wouldn't work, and we wos all but lost."
"An' I've been round it fives times," cried a third,
"an' every time wos wuss than another, the gales wos so
tree-mendous!"
"And I've been round it no times at all," cried
Peterkin, with an impudent wink of his eye, an' that
time I wos blow'd inside out!"
Nevertheless, we passed the dreaded cape without
much rough weather, and, in the course of a few weeks
afterwards, were sailing gently before a warm tropical
breeze over the Pacific Ocean. Thus we proceeded on
our voyage, sometimes bounding merrily before a fair
breeze, at other times floating calmly on the glassy wave
and fishing for the curious inhabitants of the deep,-all
of which, although the sailors thought little of them,
were strange, and interesting, and very wonderful to me.
At last we came among the Coral Islands of the
Pacific, and I shall never forget the delight with which
I gazed-when we chanced to pass one-at the pure,
white, dazzling shores, and the verdant palm trees, which
looked bright and beautiful in the sunshine. And often
did we three long to be landed on one, imagining that
we should certainly find perfect happiness there Our
wish -was granted sooner than we expected.
One night, soon after we entered the tropics, an awful
storm burst upon our ship. The first squall of wind
carried away two of our masts, and left only the fore-
mast standing. Even this, however, was more than
enough, for we did not dare to hoist a rag of sail on it.







THE CORAL ISLAND.


For five days the tempest raged in all its fury. Every-
thing was swept off the decks except one small boat.
The steersman was lashed to the wheel, lest he should
be washed away, and we all gave ourselves up for lost.
The captain said that he had no idea where we were, as
we had been blown far out of our course; and we feared
much that we might get among the dangerous coral
reefs which are so numerous in the Pacific. At day-
break on the sixth morning of the gale we saw land
ahead. It was an island encircled by a reef of coral on
which the waves broke in fury. There was calm water
within this reef, but we could see only one narrow open-
ing into it. For this opening we steered, but ere we
reached it a tremendous wave broke on our stern, tore
the rudder completely off, and left us at the mercy of
the winds and waves.
"It's all over with us now, lads!" said the captain to
the men. Get the boat ready to launch; we shall be
on the rocks in less than half-an-hour."
The men obeyed in gloomy silence, for they felt that
there was little hope of so small a boat living in such a sea.
"Come, boys," said Jack Martin, in a grave tone, to
me and Peterkin, as we stood on the quarter-deck await-
ing our fate-" come, boys; we three shall stick to-
gether. You see it is impossible that the little boat can
reach the shore, crowded with men. It will be sure to
upset, so I mean rather to trust myself to a large oar.
I see through the telescope that the ship will strike at
the tail of the reef, where the waves break into the
quiet water inside; so, if we manage to cling to the oar
till it is driven over the breakers, we may perhaps gain
the shore. What say you; will you join me ?"
We gladly agreed to follow Jack, for he inspired us
with confidence, although I could perceive, by the sad
2







THE CORAL ISLAND.


tone of his voice, that he had little hope; and indeed,
when I looked at the white waves that lashed the reef
and boiled against the rocks as if in fury, I felt that
there was but a step between us and death. My heart
sank within me; but at that moment my thoughts
turned to my beloved mother, and I remembered those
words, which were among the last that she said to me:
"Ralph, my dearest child, always remember in the
hour of danger to look to your Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ. He alone is both able and willing to save your
body and your soul." So I felt much comforted when
I thought thereon.
The ship was now very near the rocks. The men
were ready with the boat, and the captain beside them
giving orders, when a tremendous wave came towards
us. We three ran towards the bow to lay hold of our
oar, and had barely reached it when the wave fell
on the deck with a crash like thunder. At the same
moment the ship struck, the foremast broke off close to
the deck and went over the side, carrying the boat and
men along with it. Our oar got entangled with the
wreck, and Jack seized an axe to cut it free, but, owing
to the motion of the ship, he missed the cordage and
struck the axe deep into the oar. Another wave, how-
ever, washed it clear of the wreck. We all seized hold
of it, and the next instant we were struggling in the
wild sea. The last thing I saw was the boat whirling
in the surf, and all the sailors tossed into the foaming
waves. Then I became insensible.
' On recovering from my swoon, I found myself lying
on a bank of soft grass, under shelter of an overhanging
rock, with Peterkin on his knees by my side, tenderly
bathing my temples with water, and endeavouring to stop
the blood that flowed from a wound in my forehead.
















CHAPTER III.


The Coral Island-Our first cogitations after landing, and the result of them-
We conclude that the island is uninhabited.

T HERE is a strange and peculiar sensation experi-
enced in recovering from a state of insensibility,
which is almost indescribable: a sort of dreamy, confused
consciousness; a half-waking half-sleeping condition,
accompanied with a feeling of weariness, which, how-
ever, is by no means disagreeable. As I slowly recovered
and heard the voice of Peterkin inquiring whether I felt
better, I thought that I must have overslept myself, and
should be sent to the mast-head for being lazy; but
before I could leap up in haste, the thought seemed to
vanish suddenly away, and I fancied that I must have
been ill. Then a balmy breeze fanned my cheek, and I
thought of home, and the garden at the back of my
father's cottage, with its luxuriant flowers, and the
sweet-scented honeysuckle that my dear mother trained
so carefully upon the trellised porch. But the roaring
of the surf put these delightful thoughts to flight, and I
was back again at sea, watching the dolphins and the
flying-fish, and reefing topsails off the wild and stormy
Cape Horn. Gradually the roar of the surf became
louder and more distinct. I thought of being wrecked
far, far away from my native land, and slowly opened
my eyes to meet those of my companion Jack, who,







THE CORAL ISLAND.


with a look of intense anxiety, was gazing into my
face.
Speak to us, my dear Ralph," whispered Jack ten-
derly. "Are you better now ?"
I smiled and. looked up, saying, "Better why, what
do you mean, Jack? I'm quite well."
"Then what are you shamming for, and frightening
us in this way ?" said Peterkin, smiling through his
tears; for the poor boy had been really under the
impression that I was dying.
I now raised myself on my elbow, and putting my
hand to my forehead, found that it had been cut
pretty severely, and that I had lost a good deal of blood.
"Come, come, Ralph," said Jack, pressing me gently
backward, "lie down, my boy; you're not right yet.
Wet your lips with this water; it's cool and clear as
crystal. I got it from a spring close at hand. There
now, don't say a word, hold your tongue," said he,
seeing me about to speak. "I'll tell you all about it,
but you must not utter a syllable till you have rested
well."
"Oh! don't stop him from speaking, Jack," said
Peterkin, who, now that his fears for my safety were
removed, busied himself in erecting a shelter of broken
branches in order to protect me from the wind; which,
however, was almost unnecessary, for the rock beside
which I had been laid completely broke the force of
the gale. Let him speak, Jack; it's a comfort to hear
that he's alive, after lying there stiff and white and
sulky for a whole hour, just like an Egyptian mummy.-
Never saw such a fellow as you are, Ralph; always up
to mischief. You've almost knocked out all my teeth
and more than half choked me, and now you go sham-
ming dead! It's very wicked of you, indeed it is."







THE CORAL ISLAND.


While Peterkin ran on in this style, my faculties
became quite clear again, and I began to understand
my position. "What do you mean by saying I half
choked you, Peterkin ? said I.
"What do I mean? Is English not your mother-
tongue, or do you want me to repeat it in French, by
way of making it clearer ? Don't you remember-"
I remember nothing," said I, interrupting him, after
we were thrown into the sea."
"Hush, Peterkin !" said Jack; "you're exciting Ralph
with your nonsense.-I'll explain it to you. You recol-
lect that after the ship struck, we three sprang over the
bow into the sea: well, I noticed that the oar struck
your head and gave you that cut on the brow, which
nearly stunned you, so that you grasped Peterkin round
the neck without knowing apparently what you were
about. In doing so you pushed the telescope-which
you clung to as if it had been your life-against Peter-
kin's mouth-"
Pushed it against his mouth !" interrupted Peterkin;
"say crammed it down his throat. Why, there's a
distinct mark of the brass rim on the back of my gullet
at this moment!"
"Well, well, be that as it may," continued Jack, "you
clung to him, Ralph, till I feared you really would choke
-him; but I saw that he had a good hold of the oar, so
I exerted myself to the utmost to push you towards the
shore, which we luckily reached without much trouble,
for the water inside the reef is quite calm."
"But the captain and crew, what of them ?" I in-
quired anxiously.
Jack shook his head.
"Are they lost ?"
"No, they are not lost, I hope, but I fear there is







THE CORAL ISLAND.


not much chance of their being saved. The ship struck
at the very tail of the island on which we are cast.
When the boat was tossed into the sea it fortunately
did not upset, although it shipped a good deal of
water, and all the men managed to scramble into it;
but before they could get the oars out the gale carried
them past the point and away to leeward of the island.
After we landed I saw them endeavouring to pull to-
wards us; but as they had only one pair of oars out of
the eight that belong to the boat, and as the wind was
blowing right in their teeth, they gradually lost ground.
Then I saw them put about and hoist some sort of sail-
a blanket, I fancy, for it was too small for the boat-
and in half-an-hour they were out of sight."
"Poor fellows !" I murmured sorrowfully.
But the more I think about it, I've better hope of
them," continued Jack, in a more cheerful tone. "You
see, Ralph, I've read a great deal about these South
Sea Islands, and I know that in many places they are
scattered about in thousands over the sea, so they're
almost sure to fall in with one of them before long."
I'm sure I hope so," said Peterkin earnestly. "But
what has become of the wreck, Jack? I saw you
clambering up the rocks there while I was watching
Ralph. Did you say she had gone to pieces ?"
"No, she has not gone to pieces, but she has gone to
the bottom," replied Jack. "As I said before, she struck
on the tail of the island and stove in her bow, but the
next breaker swung her clear, and she floated away to
leeward. The poor fellows in the boat made a hard
struggle to reach her, but long before they came near
her she filled and went down. It was after she
foundered that I saw them trying to pull to the island."
There was a long silence after Jack ceased speak-







THE CORAL ISLAND.


ing, and I have no doubt that each was revolving in
his mind our extraordinary position. For my part, I
cannot say that my reflections were very agreeable. I
knew that we were on an island, for Jack had said so,
but whether it was inhabited or not I did not know.
If it should be inhabited, I felt certain, from all I had
heard of South Sea Islanders, that we should be roasted
alive and eaten. If it should turn out to be uninhabited,
I fancied that we should be starved to death. "Oh,"
thought I, "if the ship had only stuck on the rocks we
might have done pretty well, for we could have obtained
provisions from her, and tools to enable us to build a
shelter; but now-alas! alas! we are lost!" These last
words I uttered aloud in my distress.
"Lost! Ralph?" exclaimed Jack, while a smile over-
spread his hearty countenance. "Saved, you should
have said. Your cogitations seem to have taken a
wrong road, and led you to a wrong conclusion."
"Do you know what conclusion I have come to ?"
said Peterkin. "I have made up my mind that it's
capital-first rate-the best thing that ever happened
to us, and the most splendid prospect that ever lay
before three jolly young tars. We've got an island all
to ourselves. We'll take possession in the name of the
king; we'll go and enter the service of its black inhabit-
ants. Of course we'll rise, naturally, to the top of
affairs. White men always do in savage countries.
You shall be king, Jack; Ralph, prime minister; and I
shall be-"
"The court-jester," interrupted Jack.
"No," retorted Peterkin; "I'll have no title at all.
I shall merely accept a highly responsible situation
under government; for you see, Jack, I'm fond of
having an enormous salary and nothing to do."






THE CORAL ISLAND.


"But suppose there are no natives ?"
Then we'll build a charming villa, and plant a lovely
garden round it, stuck all full of the most splendiferous
tropical flowers, and we'll farm the land, plant, sow,
reap, eat, sleep, and be merry."
"But to be serious," said Jack, assuming a grave
expression of countenance, which I observed always had
the effect of checking Peterkin's disposition to make fun
of everything, we are really in rather an uncomfortable
position. If this is a desert island, we shall have to live
very much like the wild beasts, for we have not a tool
of any kind, not even a knife."
"Yes, we have that," said Peterkin, fumbling in his
trousers pocket, from which he drew forth a small
penknife with only one blade, and that was broken.
"Well, that's better than nothing. But come," said
Jack, rising; we are wasting our time in talking instead
of doing.-You seem well enough to walk now, Ralph.-
Let us see what we have got in our pockets, and then let
us climb some hill and ascertain what sort of island we
have been cast upon, for, whether good or bad, it seems
likely to be our home for some time to come."
















CHAPTER IV.


We examine into our personal property, and make a happy discovery-Our
island described-Jack proves himself to be learned and sagacious above
his fellows-Curious discoveries-Natural lemonade I

WE now seated ourselves upon a rock, and began
to examine into our personal property. When
we reached the shore, after being wrecked, my com-
panions had taken off part of their clothes and spread
them out in the sun to dry; for although the gale was
raging fiercely, there was not a single cloud in the bright
sky. They had also stripped off most part of my wet
clothes and spread them also on the rocks. Having
resumed our garments, we now searched all our pockets
with the utmost care, and laid their contents out on a
flat stone before us; and now that our minds were fully
alive to our condition, it was with no little anxiety that
we turned our several pockets inside out, in order that
nothing might escape us. When all was collected to-
gether, we found that our worldly goods consisted of
the following articles:-
First, A small penknife with a single blade broken
off about the middle and very rusty, besides having two
or three notches on its edge. (Peterkin said of this,
with his usual pleasantry, that it would do for a saw as
well as a knife, which was a great advantage.) Second,
An old German-silver pencil-case without any lead in it.






THE CORAL ISLAND.


Third, A piece of whip-cord about six yards long. Fourth,
A sailmaker's needle of a small size. Fifth, A ship's
telescope, which I happened to have in my hand at
the time the ship struck, and which I had clung to
firmly all the time I was in the water. Indeed it was
with difficulty that Jack got it out of my grasp when I
was lying insensible on the shore. I cannot understand
why I kept such a firm hold of this telescope. They
say that a drowning man will clutch at a straw. Per-
haps it may have been some such feeling in me, for I
did not know that it was in my hand at the time we
were wrecked. However, we felt some pleasure in
having it with us now, although we did not see that it
could be of much use to us, as the glass at the small
end was broken to pieces. Our sixth article was a brass
ring which Jack always wore on his little finger. I
never understood why he wore it, for Jack was not vain
of his appearance, and did not seem to care for ornaments
of any kind. Peterkin said it was in memory of the girl
he left behind him! But as he never spoke of this
girl to either of us, I am inclined to think that Peterkin
was either jesting or mistaken. In addition to these
articles we had a little bit of tinder, and the clothes on
our backs. These last were as follows:-
Each of us had on a pair of stout canvas trousers,
and a pair of sailors' thick shoes. Jack wore a red
flannel shirt, a blue jacket, and a red Kilmarnock bonnet
or night-cap, besides a pair of worsted socks, and a cotton
pocket handkerchief, with sixteen portraits of Lord
Nelson printed on it, and a union-jack in the middle.
Peterkin had on a striped flannel shirt-which he wore
outside his trousers, and belted round his waist, after
the manner of a tunic-and a round black straw hat.
He had no jacket, having thrown it off just before we







THE CORAL ISLAND.


were cast into the sea; but this was not of much conse-
quence, as the climate of the island proved to be ex-
tremely mild,-so much so, indeed, that Jack and I often
preferred to go about without our jackets. Peterkin
had also a pair of white cotton socks, and a blue hand-
kerchief with white spots all over it. My own costume
consisted of a blue flannel shirt, a blue jacket, a black
cap, and a pair of worsted socks, besides the shoes
and canvas trousers already mentioned. This was all
we had, and besides these things we had nothing else;
but when we thought of the danger from which we had
escaped, and how much worse off we might have been
had the ship struck on the reef during the night, we
felt very thankful that we were possessed of so much,
although, I must confess, we sometimes wished that we
had had a little more.
While we were examining these things and talking
about them, Jack suddenly started and exclaimed,-
"The oar we have forgotten the oar."
What good will that do us ?" said Peterkin; there's
wood enough on the island to make a thousand oars."
"Ay, lad," replied Jack; "but there's a bit of hoop
iron at the end of it, and that may be of much use to us."
"Very true," said I, "let us go fetch it;" and with
that we all three rose and hastened down to the beach.
I still felt a little weak from loss of blood, so that my
companions soon began to leave me behind; but Jack
perceived this, and, with his usual considerate good
nature, turned back to help me. This was now the
first time that I had looked well about me since land-
ing, as the spot where I had been laid was covered with
thick bushes, which almost hid the country from our view.
As we now emerged from among these and walked
down the sandy beach together, I cast my eyes about,







THE CORAL ISLAND.


and truly my heart glowed within me and my spirits
rose at the beautiful prospect which I beheld on every
side. The gale had suddenly died away, just as if it
had blown furiously till it dashed our ship upon the
rocks, and had nothing more to do after accomplishing
that. The island on which we stood was hilly, and
covered almost everywhere with the most beautiful
and richly-coloured trees, bushes, and shrubs, none of
which I knew the names of at that time, except, indeed,
the cocoa-nut palms, which I recognized at once from
the many pictures that I had seen of them before I left
home. A sandy beach of dazzling whiteness lined this
bright green shore, and upon it there fell a gentle ripple
of the sea. This last astonished me much, for I recol-
lected that at home the sea used to fall in huge billows
on the shore long after a storm had subsided. But on
casting my glance out to sea the cause became apparent.
About a mile distant from the shore I saw the great
billows of the ocean rolling like a green wall, and falling
with a long, loud roar upon a low coral reef, where they
were dashed into white foam and flung up in clouds of
spray. This spray sometimes flew exceedingly high, and
every here and there a beautiful rainbow was formed
for a moment among the falling drops. We afterwards
found that this coral reef extended quite round the
island, and formed a natural breakwater to it. Beyond
this the sea rose and tossed violently from the effects of
the storm; but between the reef and the shore it was as
calm and as smooth as a pond.
My heart was filled with more delight than I can express
at sight of so many glorious objects, and my thoughts
turned suddenly to the contemplation of the Creator of
them all. I mention this the more gladly, because at
that time, I am ashamed to say, I very seldom thought







THE CORAL ISLAND.


of my Creator, although I was constantly surrounded
by the most beautiful and wonderful of his works. I
observed, from the expression of my companion's counte-
nance, that he too derived much joy from the splendid
scenery, which was all the more agreeable to us after
our long voyage on the salt sea. There the breeze was
fresh and cold, but here it was delightfully mild; and
when a puff blew off the land, it came laden with the
most exquisite perfume that can be imagined. While
we thus gazed, we were startled by a loud "Huzza!"
from Peterkin, and on looking towards the edge of the
sea, we saw him capering and jumping about like a
monkey, and ever and anon tugging with all his might
at something that lay upon the shore.
What an odd fellow he is, to be sure!" said Jack,
taking me by the arm and hurrying forward; "come,
let us hasten to see what it is."
Here it is, boys, hurrah! come along. Just what we
want," cried Peterkin, as we drew near, still tugging
with all his power. First rate; just the very ticket!"
I need scarcely say to my readers that my companion
Peterkin was in the habit of using very remarkable and
peculiar phrases. And I am free to confess that I did
not well understand the meaning of some of them-such,
for instance, as "the very ticket;" but I think it my
duty to recount everything relating to my adventures
with a strict regard to truthfulness in as far as my
memory serves me; so I write, as nearly as possible, the
exact words that my companions spoke. I often asked
Peterkin to explain what he meant by ticket," but he
always answered me by going into fits of laughter.
However, by observing the occasions on which he used
it, I came to understand that it meant to show that
something was remarkably good or fortunate.







THE CORAL ISLAND.


On coming up we found that Peterkin was vainly
endeavouring to pull the axe out of the oar, into which,
it will be remembered, Jack struck it while endeavour-
ing to cut away the cordage among which it had become
entangled at the bow of the ship. Fortunately for us
the axe had remained fast in the oar, and even now all
Peterkin's strength could not draw it out of the cut.
"Ah that is capital indeed," cried Jack, at the same
time giving the axe a wrench that plucked it out of the
tough wood. "How fortunate this is! It will be of
more value to us than a hundred knives, and the edge
is quite new and sharp."
"I'll answer for the toughness of the handle at any
rate," cried Peterkin; my arms are nearly pulled out of
the sockets. But see here, our luck is great. There is
iron on the blade." He pointed to a piece of hoop iron
as he spoke, which had been nailed round the blade of
the oar to prevent it from splitting.
This also was a fortunate discovery. Jack went down
on his knees, and with the edge of the axe began care-
fully to force out the nails. But as they were firmly
fixed in, and the operation blunted our axe, we carried
the oar up with us to the place where we had left the
rest of our things, intending to burn the wood away
from the iron at a more convenient time.
"Now, lads," said Jack, after we had laid it on the
stone which contained our little all, "I propose that we
should go to the tail of the island, where the ship struck,
which is only a quarter of a mile off, and see if anything
else has been. thrown ashore. I don't expect anything,
but it is well to see. When we get back here it will be
time to have our supper and prepare our beds."
"Agreed !" cried Peterkin and I together, as, indeed,
we would have agreed to any proposal that Jack made;






THE CORAL ISLAND.


for besides his being older and much stronger and taller
than either of us, he was a very clever fellow, and I
think would have induced people much older than him-
self to choose him for their leader, especially if they
required to be led on a bold enterprise.
Now, as we hastened along the white beach, which
shone so brightly in the rays of the setting sun that our
eyes were quite dazzled by its glare, it suddenly came
into Peterkin's head that we had nothing to eat except
the wild berries which grew in profusion at our feet.
What shall we do, Jack ?" said he, with a rueful
look; "perhaps they may be poisonous !"
No fear," replied Jack confidently; I have observed
that a few of them are not unlike some of the berries
that grow wild on our own native hills. Besides, I saw
one or two strange birds eating them just a few minutes
ago, and what won't kill the birds won't kill us. But
look up there, Peterkin," continued Jack, pointing to the
branched head of a cocoa-nut palm. There are nuts for
us in all stages."
"So there are!" cried Peterkin, who, being of a very
unobservant nature, had been too much taken up with
other things to notice anything so high above his head
as the fruit of a palm tree. But whatever faults my
young comrade had, he could not be blamed for want of
activity or animal spirits. Indeed, the nuts had scarcely
been pointed out to him when he bounded up the tall
stem of the tree like a squirrel, and in a few minutes
returned with three nuts, each as large as a man's fist.
"You had better keep them till we return," said Jack.
"Let us finish our work before eating."
So be it, captain; go ahead," cried Peterkin, thrusting
the nuts into his trousers pocket. "In fact I don't
want to eat just now, but I would give a good deal for







THE CORAL ISLAND.


a drink. Oh that I could find a spring but I don't see
the smallest sign of one hereabouts. I say, Jack, how
does it happen that you seem to be up to everything ?
You have told us the names of half-a-dozen trees already,
and yet y6u say that you were never in the South Seas
before."
"I'm not up to everything, Peterkin, as you'll find out
ere long," replied Jack, with a smile; "but I have been
a great reader of books of travel and adventure all my
life, and that has put me up to a good many things that
you are, perhaps, not acquainted with."
0 Jack, that's all humbug. If you begin to lay
everything to the credit of books, I'll quite lose my
opinion of you," cried Peterkin, with a look of contempt.
"I've seen a lot o' fellows that were always poring over
books, and when they came to try to do anything, they
were no better than baboons "
You are quite right," retorted Jack; and I have
seen a lot of fellows who never looked into books at all,
who knew nothing about anything except the things
they had actually seen, and very little they knew even
about these. Indeed, some were so ignorant that they
did not know that cocoa nuts grew on cocoa-nut trees 1"
I could not refrain from laughing at this rebuke, for
there was much truth in it, as to Peterkin's ignorance.
"Humph! maybe you're right," answered Peterkin;
"but I would not give tuppence for a man of books, if
he had nothing else in him."
Neither would I," said Jack; "but that's no reason
why you should run books down, or think less of me for
having read them. Suppose now, Peterkin, that you
wanted to build a ship, and I were to give you a long
and particular account of the way to do it, would not
that b6 very useful ?"







THE CORAL ISLAND.


"No doubt of it," said Peterkin, laughing.
"And suppose I were to write the account in a letter
instead of telling you in words, would that be less useful?"
Well-no, perhaps not."
"Well, suppose I were to print it, and send it to you
in the form of a book, would it not be as good and
useful as ever ?"
Oh, bother! Jack, you're a philosopher, and that's
worse than anything!" cried Peterkin, with a look of
pretended horror.
"Very well, Peterkin, we shall see," returned Jack,
halting under the shade of a cocoa-nut tree. "You said
you were thirsty just a minute ago; now jump up that
tree and bring down a nut-not a ripe one, bring a
green, unripe one."
Peterkin looked surprised, but seeing that Jack was
in earnest, he obeyed.
"Now cut a hole in it with your penknife, and clap
it to your mouth, old fellow," said Jack.
Peterkin did as he was directed, and we both burst
into uncontrollable laughter at the changes that instantly
passed over his expressive countenance. No sooner had
he put the nut to his mouth, and thrown back his head
in order to catch what came out of it, than his eyes
opened to twice their ordinary size with astonishment,
while his throat moved vigorously in the act of swallow-
ing. Then a smile and look of intense delight over-
spread his face, except, indeed, the mouth, which, being
firmly fixed to the hole in the nut, could not take part
in the expression; but he endeavoured to make up for
this by winking at us excessively with his right eye.
At length he stopped, and, drawing a long breath, ex-
claimed,-
"Nectar perfect nectar I say, Jack, you're a Briton
3







THE CORAL ISLAND.


-the best fellow I ever met in my life.-Only taste
that !" said he, turning to me and holding the nut to
my mouth. I immediately drank, and certainly I was
much surprised at the delightful liquid that flowed copi-
ously down my throat. It was extremely cool, and had
a sweet taste, mingled with acid; in fact, it was the
likes thing to lemonade I ever tasted, and was most
grateful and refreshing. I handed the nut to Jack, who,
after tasting it, said, "Now, Peterkin, you unbeliever, I
never saw or tasted a cocoa nut in my life before, except
those sold in shops at home; but I once read that the
green nuts contain that stuff, and you see it is true !"
"And pray," asked Peterkin, "what sort of 'stuff'
does the ripe nut contain ?"
"A hollow kernel," answered Jack, "with a liquid
like milk in it; but it does not satisfy thirst so well
as hunger. It is very wholesome food, I believe."
"Meat and drink on the same tree !" cried Peterkin;
"washing in the sea, lodging on the ground,-' and all
for nothing! My dear boys, we're set up for life; it
must be the ancient Paradise,-hurrah!" and Peterkin
tossed his straw hat in the air, and ran along the beach
hallooing like a madman with delight.
We afterwards found, however, that these lovely
islands were very unlike Paradise in many things. But
more of this in its proper place.
We had now come to the point of rocks on which the
ship had struck, but did not find a single article, although
we searched carefully among the coral rocks, which at
this place jutted out so far as nearly to join the reef
that encircled the island. Just as we were about to
return, however, we saw something black floating in a
little cove that had escaped our observation. Running
forward, we drew it from the water, and found it to be







THE CORAL ISLAND.


a long thick leather boot, such as fishermen at home
wear; and a few paces farther on we picked up its
fellow. We at once recognized these as having belonged
to our captain, for he had worn them during the whole
of the storm, in order to guard his legs from the waves
and spray that constantly washed over our decks. My
first thought on seeing them was that our dear captain
had been drowned; .but Jack soon put my mind more at
rest on that point, by saying that if the captain had
been drowned with the boots on, he would certainly
have been washed ashore along with them, and that he
had no doubt whatever he had kicked them off while in
the sea, that he might swim more easily.
Peterkin immediately put them on, but they were so
large that, as Jack said, they would have drne for boots,
trousers, and vest too. I also tried them, but although
I was long enough in the legs for them, they were much
too large in the feet for me: so we handed them to Jack,
who was anxious to make me keep them; but as they
fitted his large limbs and feet as if they had been made
for him, I would not hear of it, so he consented at last
to use them. I may remark, however, that Jack did
not use them often, as they were extremely heavy.
It was beginning to grow dark when we returned to
our encampment; so we put off our visit to the top of a
hill till next day, and employed the light that yet re-
mained to us in cutting down a quantity of boughs and
the broad leaves of a tree of which none of us knew the
name. With these we erected a sort of rustic bower, in
which we meant to pass the night. There was no abso-
lute necessity for this, because the air of our island was
so genial and balmy that we could have slept quite well
without any shelter; but we were so little used to sleep-
ing in the open air, that we did not quite relish the idea







THE CORAL ISLAND.


of lying down without any covering over us; besides,
our bower would shelter us from the night-dews or rain,
if any should happen to fall. Having strewed the floor
with leaves and dry grass, we bethought ourselves of
supper.
But it now occurred to us, for the first time, that we
had no means of making a fire.
"Now, there's a fix !-what shall we do ?" said Peter-
kin, while we both turned our eyes to Jack, to whom we
always looked in our difficulties. Jack seemed not a
little perplexed.
"There are flints enough, no doubt, on the beach,"
said he, "but they are of no use at all without a steel.
However, we must try." So saying, he went to the
beach, and soon returned with two flints. On one of
these he placed the tinder, and endeavoured to ignite it;
but it was with great difficulty that a very small spark
was struck out of the flints, and the tinder, being a bad,
hard piece, would not catch. He then tried the bit of
hoop iron, which would not strike fire at all; and after
that the back of the axe, with no better success. During
all these trials Peterkin sat with his hands in his pockets,
gazing with a most melancholy visage at our comrade,
his face growing longer and more miserable at each suc-
cessive failure.
Oh dear !" he sighed; I would not care a button for
the cooking of our victuals-perhaps they don't need it
-but it's so dismal to eat one's supper in the dark, and
we have had such a capital day, that it's a pity to finish
off in this glum style. Oh, I have it!" he cried, starting
up: "the spy-glass-the big glass at the end is a burn-
ing-glass !"
"You forget that we have no sun," said I.
Peterkin was silent. In his sudden recollection of







THE CORAL ISLAND.


the telescope he had quite overlooked the absence of the
sun.
"Ah, boys, I've got it now!" exclaimed Jack, rising
and cutting a branch from a neighboring bush, which
he stripped of its leaves. "I recollect seeing this done
once at home. Hand me the bit of whip-cord." With
the cord and branch Jack soon formed a bow. Then he
cut a piece, about three inches long, off the end of a dead
branch, which he pointed at the two ends. Round this
he passed the cord of the bow, and placed one end against
his chest, which was protected from its point by a chip
of wood; the other point he placed against the bit of
tinder, and then began to saw vigorously with the bow,
just as a blacksmith does with his drill while boring a
hole in a piece of iron. In a few seconds the tinder
began to smoke; in less than a minute it caught fire;
and in less than a quarter of an hour we were drinking
our lemonade and eating cocoa nuts round a fire that
would have roasted an entire sheep, while the smoke,
flames, and sparks flew up among the broad leaves of
the overhanging palm trees, and cast a warm glow upon
our leafy bower.
That night the starry sky looked down through the
gently-rustling trees upon our slumbers, and the distant
roaring of the surf upon the coral reef was our lullaby.

















CHAPTER V.


Morning, and cogitations connected therewith-We luxuriate in the sea, try our
diving powers, and make enchanting excursions among the coral groves at
the bottom of the ocean- The wonders of the deep enlarged upon.

W HAT a joyful thing it is to awaken, on a fresh
glorious morning, and find the rising sun staring
into your face with dazzling brilliancy! to see the birds
twittering in the bushes, and to hear the murmuring of
a rill, or the soft hissing ripples as they fall upon the
sea-shore! At any time and in any place such sights
and sounds are most charming, but more especially are
they so when one awakens to them, for the first time, in
a novel and romantic situation, with the soft sweet air
of a tropical climate mingling with the fresh smell of
the sea, and stirring the strange leaves that flutter over-
head and around one, or ruffling the plumage of the
stranger birds that fly inquiringly around, as if to de-
mand what business we have to intrude uninvited on
their domains. When I awoke on the morning after the
shipwreck, I found myself in this most delightful condi-
tion; and as I lay on my back upon my bed of leaves,
gazing up through the branches of the cocoa-nut trees
into the clear blue sky, and watched the few fleecy clouds
that passed slowly across it, my heart expanded more
and more with an exulting gladness, the like of which I
had never felt before. While I meditated, my thoughts







THE CORAL ISLAND.


again turned to the great and kind Creator of this
beautiful world, as they had done on the previous day,
when I first beheld the sea and the coral reef, with the
mighty waves dashing over it into the calm waters of
the lagoon.
While thus meditating, I naturally bethought me of
my Bible, for I had faithfully kept the promise, which I
gave at parting to my beloved mother, that I would read
it every morning; and it was with a feeling of dismay
that I remembered I had left it in the ship. I was
much troubled about this. However, I consoled myself
with reflecting that I could keep the second part of my
promise to her-namely, that I should never omit to say
my prayers. So I rose quietly, lest I should disturb my
companions, who were still asleep, and stepped aside into
the bushes for this purpose.
On my return I found them still slumbering, so I again
lay down to think over our situation. Just at that
moment I was attracted by the sight of a very small
parrot, which Jack afterwards told me was called a
paroquet. It was seated on a twig that overhung
Peterkin's head, and I was speedily lost in admiration
of its bright green plumage, which was mingled with
other gay colours. While I looked I observed that the
bird turned its head slowly from side to side and looked
downwards, first with the one eye and then with the
other. On glancing downwards I observed that Peter-
kin's mouth was wide open, and that this remarkable
bird was looking into it. Peterkin used to say that I
had not an atom of fun in my composition, and that I
never could understand a joke.. In regard to the latter,
perhaps he was right; yet I think that, when they were
explained to me, I understood jokes as well as most
people: but in regard to the former he must certainly







THE CORAL ISLAND.


have been wrong, for this bird seemed to me to be
extremely funny; and I could not help thinking that, if
it should happen to faint, or slip its foot, and fall off the
twig into Peterkin's mouth, he would perhaps think it
funny too Suddenly the paroquet bent down its head
and uttered a loud scream in his face. This awoke him,
and, with a cry of surprise, he started up, while the
foolish bird flew precipitately away.
Oh you monster !" cried Peterkin, shaking his fist
at the bird. Then he yawned, and rubbed his eyes, and
asked what o'clock it was.
I smiled at this question, and answered that, as our
watches were at the bottom of the sea, I could not tell,
but it was a little past sunrise.
Peterkin now began to remember where we were.
As he looked up into the bright sky, and snuffed the
scented air, his eyes glistened with delight, and he
uttered a faint "Hurrah!" and yawned again. Then
he gazed slowly round, till, observing the calm sea
through an opening in the bushes, he started suddenly
up as if he had received an electric shock, uttered a
vehement shout, flung off his garments, and, rushing
over the white sands, plunged into the water. The cry
awoke Jack, who rose on his elbow with a look of grave
surprise; but this was followed by a quiet smile of
intelligence on seeing Peterkin in the water. With an
energy that he only gave way to in moments of excite-
ment, Jack bounded to his feet, threw off his clothes,
shook back his hair, and, with a lion-like spring, dashed
over the sands and plunged into the sea with such force
as quite to envelop Peterkin in a shower of spray.
Jack was a remarkably good swimmer and diver, so
that after his plunge we saw no sign, of him for nearly
a minute; after which he suddenly emerged, with a cry







THE CORAL ISLAND.


of joy, a good many yards out from the shore. My
spirits were so much raised by seeing all this that I, too,
hastily threw off my garments and endeavoured to imi-
tate Jack's vigorous bound; but I was so awkward that
my foot caught on a stump, and I fell to the ground;
then I slipped on a stone while running over the sand,
and nearly fell again, much to the amusement of Peter-
kin, who laughed heartily, and called me a slow coach,"
while Jack cried out, "Come along, Ralph, and I'll help
you." However, when I got into the water I managed
very well, for I was really a good swimmer, and diver too.
I. could not, indeed, equal Jack, who was superior to any
Englishman I ever saw, but I infinitely surpassed Peterkin,
who could only swim a little, and could not dive at all.
While Peterkin enjoyed himself in the shallow water
and in running along the beach, Jack and I swam out
into the deep water, and occasionally dived for stones.
I shall never forget my surprise and delight on first
beholding the bottom of the sea. As I have before
stated, the water within the reef was as calm as a pond;
and, as there was no wind, it was quite clear, from the
surface to the bottom, so that we could see down easily
even at a depth of twenty or thirty yards. When Jack
and I dived in shallower water, we expected to have
found sand and stones, instead of which we found our-
selves in what appeared really to be an enchanted garden.
The whole of the bottom of the lagoon, as we called the
calm water within the reef, was covered with coral of
every shape, size, and hue. Some portions were formed
like large mushrooms; others appeared like the brain of
a man, having stalks or necks attached to them; but
the most common kind was a species of branching coral,
and some portions were of a lovely pale pink colour,
others pure white. Among this there grew large quan-







THE CORAL ISLAND.


titles of sea-weed of the richest hues imaginable, and of
the most graceful forms; while innumerable fishes-
blue, red, yellow, green, and striped-sported in and out
amongst the flower-beds of this submarine garden, and did
not appear to be at all afraid of our approaching them.
On darting to the surface for breath, after our first
dive, Jack and I rose close to each other.
"Did you ever in your life, Ralph, see anything so
lovely ?" said Jack, as he flung the spray from his hair.
"Never," I replied. "It appears to me like fairy
realms. I can scarcely believe that we are not dreaming."
"Dreaming!" cried Jack; "do you know, Ralph, I'm
half tempted to think that we really are dreaming.
But if so, I am resolved to rhake the most of it, and
dream another dive; so here goes,-down again, my boy!"
We took the second dive together, and kept beside
each other while under water; and I was greatly sur-
prised to find that we could keep down much longer
than I ever recollect having done in our own seas at
home. I believe that this was owing to the heat of the
water, which was so warm that we afterwards found we
could remain in it for two and three hours at a time
without feeling any unpleasant effects such as we used to
experience in the sea at home. When Jack reached the
bottom, he grasped the coral stems, and crept along on
his hands and knees, peeping under the sea-weed and
among the rocks. I observed him also pick up one or
two large oysters, and retain them in his grasp, as if he
meant to take them up with him, so I also gathered a
few. Suddenly he made a grasp at a fish with blue and
yellow stripes on its back, and actually touched its tail,
but did not catch it. At this he turned towards me and
attempted to smile; but no sooner had he done so than
he sprang like an arrow to the surface, where, on follow-







THE CORAL ISLAND.


ing him, I found him gasping and coughing, and spitting
water from his mouth. In a few minutes he recovered,
and we both turned to swim ashore.
"I declare, Ralph," said he, "that I actually tried to
laugh under water."
"So I saw," I replied; and I observed that you very
nearly caught that fish by the tail. It would have done
capitally for breakfast if you had."
"Breakfast enough here," said he, holding up the
oysters, as we landed and ran up the beach.-" Hallo,
Peterkin! here you are, boy. Split open these fellows
while Ralph and I put on our clothes. They'll agree
with the cocoa nuts excellently, I have no doubt."
Peterkin, who was already dressed, took the oysters,
and opened them with the edge of our axe, exclaiming,
" Now, that is capital. There's nothing I'm so fond of."
Ah! that's lucky," remarked Jack. "I'll be able to
keep you in good order now, Master Peterkin. You
know you can't dive any better than a cat. So, sir,
whenever you behave ill, you shall have no oysters for
breakfast."
"I'm very glad that our prospect of breakfast is so
good," said I, "for I'm very hungry."
"Here, then, stop your mouth with that, Ralph," said
Peterkin, holding a large oyster to my lips. I opened
my mouth and swallowed it in silence, and really it was
remarkably good.
We now set ourselves earnestly about our preparations
for spending the day. We had no difficulty with the
fire this morning, as our burning-glass was an admirable
one; and while we, roasted a few oysters and ate our
cocoa nuts, we held a long, animated conversation about our
plans for the future. What those plans were, and how
we carried them into effect, the reader shall see hereafter.
















CHAPTER VI.


An excursion into the interior, in which we make many valuable and interesting
discoveries- We get a dreadful fright-The bread-fruit tree- Wonderful
peculiarity of some of the fruit-trees-Signs of former inhabitants.

O UR first care, after breakfast, was to place the few
articles we possessed in the crevice of a rock at
the farther end of a small cave which we discovered
near our encampment. This cave, we hoped, might be
useful to us afterwards as a store-house. Then we
cut two large clubs off a species of very hard tree which
grew near at hand. One of these was given to Peter-
kin, the other to me, and Jack armed himself with the
axe. We took these precautions because we purposed
to make an excursion to the top of the mountains of
the interior, in order to obtain a better view of our
island. Of course we knew not what dangers might
befall us by the way, so thought it best to be prepared.
Having completed our arrangements and carefully
extinguished our fire, we sallied forth and walked a
short distance along the sea-beach, till we came to the
entrance of a valley, through which flowed the rivulet
before mentioned. Here we turned our backs on the
sea and struck into the interior.
The prospect that burst upon our view on entering
the valley was truly splendid. On either side of us
there was a gentle rise in the land, which thus formed







THE CORAL ISLAND.


two ridges about a mile apart on each side of the
valley. These ridges-which, as well as the low
grounds between them, were covered with trees and
shrubs of the most luxuriant kind-continued to recede
inland for about two miles, when they joined the foot
of a small mountain. This hill rose rather abruptly
from the head of the valley, and was likewise entirely
covered even to the top with trees, except on one parti-
cular spot near the left shoulder, where was a bare and
rocky place of a broken and savage character. Beyond
this hill we could not see, and we therefore directed our
course up the banks of the rivulet towards the foot of
it, intending to climb to the top, should that be possible,
as, indeed, we had no doubt it was.
Jack being the wisest and boldest among us, took
the lead, carrying the axe on his shoulder. Peterkin,
with his enormous club, came second, as he said he
should like to be in a position to defend me if any
danger should threaten. I brought up the rear, but,
having been more taken up with the wonderful and
curious things I saw at starting than with thoughts of
possible danger, I had very foolishly left my club behind
me. Although, as I have said, the trees and bushes
were very luxuriant, they were not so thickly crowded
together as to hinder our progress among them. We
were able to wind in and out, and to follow the banks of
the stream quite easily, although, it is true, the height
and thickness of the foliage prevented us from seeing
far ahead. But sometimes a jutting-out rock on the
hillsides afforded us a position whence we could enjoy
the romantic view and mark our progress towards the
foot of the hill. I was particularly struck, during the
walk, with the richness of the undergrowth in most
places, and recognized many berries and plants that







THE CORAL ISLAND.


resembled those of my native land, especially a tall,
elegantly-formed fern, which emitted an agreeable per-
fume. There were several kinds of flowers, too, but I
did not see so many of these as I should have expected
in such a climate. We also saw a great variety of
small birds of bright plumage, and many paroquets
similar to the one that awoke Peterkin so rudely in
the morning.
Thus we advanced to the foot of the hill without
encountering anything to alarm us, except, indeed, once,
when we were passing close under a part of the hill
which was hidden from our view by the broad leaves
of the banana trees, which grew in great luxuriance in
that part. Jack was just preparing to force his way
through this thicket, when we were startled and arrested
by a strange pattering or rumbling sound which appeared
to us quite different from any of the sounds we had
heard during the previous part of our walk.
"Hallo !" cried Peterkin, stopping short and grasping
his club with both hands, what's that ?"
Neither of us replied; but Jack seized his axe in his
right hand, while with the other he pushed aside the
broad leaves and endeavoured to peer amongst them.
"I can see nothing," he said, after a short pause.
"I think it-"
Again the rumbling sound came, louder than before,
and we all sprang back and stood on the defensive.
For myself, having forgotten my club, and not having
taken the precaution to cut another, I buttoned my
jacket, doubled my fists, and threw myself into a boxing
attitude. I must say, however, that I felt somewhat
uneasy; and my companions afterwards confessed that
their thoughts at this moment had been instantly filled
with all they had ever heard or read of wild beasts and







THE CORAL ISLAND.


savages, torturings at the stake, roastings alive, and
such like horrible things. Suddenly the pattering noise
increased with tenfold violence. It was followed by
a fearful crash among the bushes, which was rapidly
repeated, as if some gigantic animal were bounding
towards us. In another moment an enormous rock
came crashing through the shrubbery,, followed by a
cloud of dust and small stones, and flew close past the
spot where we stood, carrying bushes and young trees
along with it.
"Pooh is that all ?" exclaimed Peterkin, wiping the
perspiration off his forehead. "Why, I thought it was
all the wild men and beasts in the South Sea Islands
galloping on in one grand charge to sweep us off the
face of the earth, instead of a mere stone tumbling down
the mountain side."
Nevertheless," remarked Jack, "if that same stone
had hit any of us, it would have rendered the charge
you speak of quite unnecessary, Peterkin."
This was true, and I felt very thankful for our
escape. On examining the spot more narrowly, we
found that it lay close to the foot of a very rugged
precipice, from which stones of various sizes were always
tumbling at intervals. Indeed the numerous fragments
lying scattered all around might have suggested the
cause of the sound, had we not been too suddenly
alarmed to think of anything.
We now resumed our journey, resolving that, in our
future excursions into the interior, we would be careful
to avoid this dangerous precipice.
Soon afterwards we arrived at the foot of the hill,
and prepared to ascend it. Here Jack made a dis-
covery which caused us all very great joy. This was
a tree of a remarkably beautiful appearance, which







THE CORAL ISLAND.


Jack confidently declared to be the celebrated bread-
fruit tree.
Is it celebrated ?" inquired Peterkin, with a look of
great simplicity.
"It is," replied Jack.
"That's odd, now," rejoined Peterkin; "I never heard
of it before."
"Then it's not so celebrated as I thought it was,"
returned Jack, quietly squeezing Peterkin's hat over
his eyes; "but listen, you ignorant boobie! and hear
of it now."
Peterkin readjusted his hat, and was soon listening
with as much interest as myself, while Jack told us
that this tree is one of the most valuable in the islands
of the south ; that it bears two, sometimes three, crops
of fruit in the year; that the fruit is very like wheaten
bread in appearance, and that it constitutes the principal
food of many of the islanders.
"So," said Peterkin, "we seem to have everything
ready prepared to our hands in this wonderful island-
lemonade ready bottled in nuts, and loaf-bread growing
on the trees!"
Peterkin, as usual, was jesting; nevertheless it is a
curious fact that he spoke almost the literal truth.
Moreover," continued Jack, the bread-fruit tree
affords a capital gum, which serves the natives for
pitching their canoes; the bark of the young branches
is made by them into cloth; and of the wood, which
is durable and of a good colour, they build their houses.
So you see, lads, that we have no lack of material here
to make us comfortable, if we are only clever enough
to use it."
But are you sure that that's it ?" asked Peterkin
"Quite sure," replied Jack; for I was particularly







THE CORAL ISLAND.


interested in the account I once read of it, and I
remember the description well. I am sorry, however,
that I. have forgotten the descriptions of many other
trees which I am sure we have seen to-day, if we could
but recognize them. So you see, Peterkin, I'm not up
to everything yet."
"Never mind, Jack," said Peterkin, with a grave,
patronizing expression of countenance, patting his tall
companion on the shoulder-" never mind, Jack; you
know a good deal for your age. You're a clever boy,
sir-a promising young man; and if you only go on as
you have begun, sir, you will-"
The end of this speech was suddenly cut short by
Jack tripping up Peterkin's heels and tumbling him into
a mass of thick shrubs, where, finding himself comfort-
able, he lay still, basking in the sunshine, while Jack
and I examined the bread-fruit tree.
We were much struck with the deep, rich green
colour of its broad leaves, which were twelve or eighteen
inches long, deeply indented, and of a glossy smoothness,
like the laurel. The fruit, with which it was loaded,
was nearly round, and appeared to be about six inches
in diameter, with a rough rind, marked with lozenge-
shaped divisions. It was of various colours, from light
pea-green to brown and rich yellow. Jack said that
the yellow was the ripe fruit. We afterwards found that
most of the fruit-trees on the island were evergreens,
and that we might, when we wished, pluck the blossom
and the ripe fruit from the same tree. Such a wonder-
ful difference from the trees of our own country sur-
prised us not a little. The bark of the tree was rough
and light-coloured; the trunk was about two feet in
diameter, and it appeared to be twenty feet high, being
quite destitute of branches up to that height, where it
4






THE CORAL ISLAND.


branched off into a beautiful and umbrageous head. We
noticed that the fruit hung in clusters of twos and threes
on the branches; but as we were anxious to get to the
top of the hill, we refrained from attempting to pluck
any at that time.
Our hearts were now very much cheered by our good
fortune, and it was with light and active steps that we
clambered up the steep sides of the hill. On reaching
the summit, a new and if possible a grander prospect
met our gaze. We found that this was not the highest
part of the island, but that another hill lay beyond,
with a wide valley between it and the one on which we
stood. This valley. like the first, was also full of rich
trees, some dark and some light green, some heavy and
thick in foliage, and others light, feathery, and graceful,
while the beautiful blossoms on many of them threw a
sort of rainbow tint over all, and gave to the valley the
appearance of a garden of flowers. Among these we
recognized many of the bread-fruit trees, laden with
yellow fruit, and also a great many cocoa-nut palms.
After gazing our fill we pushed down the hillside,
crossed the valley, and soon began to ascend the second
mountain. It was clothed with trees nearly to the top,
but the summit was bare, and in some places broken.
While on our way up 'we came to an object which
filled us with much interest. This was the stump of a
tree that had evidently been cut down with an axe!
So, then, we were not the first who had viewed this
beautiful isle. The hand of man had been at work
there before us. It now began to recur to us again
that perhaps the island was inhabited, although we had
not seen any traces of man until now; but a second
glance at the stump convinced us that we had not more
reason to think so now than formerly; for the surface







THE CORAL ISLAND.


of the wood was quite decayed, and partly covered with
fungus and green matter, so that it must have been cut
many years ago.
"Perhaps," said Peterkin, "some 'ship or other has
touched here long ago for wood, and only taken one
tree."
We did not think this likely, however, because, in
such circumstances, the crew of a ship-would cut wood
of small size, and near the shore, whereas this was a
large tree and stood near the top of the mountain. In
fact, it was the highest large tree on the mountain, all
above it being wood of very recent growth.
"I can't understand it," said Jack, scratching the
surface of the stump with his axe. "I can only suppose
that the savages have been here and cut it for some
purpose known only to themselves. But, hallo! what
have we here ?"
As he spoke, Jack began carefully to scrape away the
moss and fungus from the stump, and soon laid bare
three distinct traces of marks, as if some inscription or
initials had been cut thereon. But although the traces
were distinct, beyond all doubt, the exact form of the
letters could not be made out. Jack thought they looked
like J. S., but we could not be certain. They had
apparently been carelessly cut, and long exposure to
the weather had so broken them up that we could not
make out what they were. We were exceedingly per-
plexed at this discovery, and stayed a long time at the
place conjecturing what these marks could have been,
but without avail; so, as the day was advancing, we
left it and quickly reached the top of the mountain.
We found this to be the highest point of the island,
and from it we saw our kingdom lying, as it were, like
a map around us. As I have always thought it impos-







THE CORAL ISLAND.


sible to get a thing properly into one's understanding
without comprehending it, I shall beg the reader's
patience for a little while I describe our island, thus,
shortly :-
It consisted of two mountains: the one we guessed
at 500 feet; the other, on which we stood, at 1,000.
Between these lay a rich beautiful valley, as already
said. This valley crossed the island from one end to
the other, being high in the middle and sloping on each
side towards the sea. The large mountain sloped, on
the side farthest from where we had been wrecked,
gradually towards the sea; but although, when viewed
at a glance, it had thus a regular sloping appearance, a
more careful observation showed that it was broken up
into a multitude of very small vales, or rather dells and
glens, intermingled with little rugged spots and small
but abrupt precipices here and there, with rivulets
tumbling over their edges and wandering down the
slopes in little white streams, sometimes glistening
among the broad leaves of the bread-fruit and cocoa-
nut trees, or hiding altogether beneath the rich under-
wood. At the base of this mountain lay a narrow
bright green plain or meadow, which terminated abruptly
at the shore. On the other side of the island, whence
we had come, stood the smaller hill, at the foot of which
diverged three valleys; one being that which we had
ascended, with a smaller vale on each side of it, and
separated from it by the two ridges before mentioned.
In these smaller valleys there were no streams, but they
were clothed with the same luxuriant vegetation.
The diameter of the island seemed to be about ten
miles, and as it was almost circular in form, its circumi-
ference must have been thirty miles-perhaps a little
more, if allowance be made for the numerous bays and






THE CORAL ISLAND.


indentations of the shore. The entire island was belted
by a beach of pure white sand, on which laved the
gentle ripples of the lagoon. We now also observed
that the coral reef completely encircled the island; but
it varied its distance from it here and there, in some
places being a mile from the beach, in others a few
hundred yards, but the average distance was half-a-mile.
The reef lay very low, and the spray of the surf broke
quite over it in many places. This surf never ceased
its roar, for however calm the weather might be, there
is always a gentle swaying motion in the great Pacific,
which, although scarce noticeable out at sea, reaches the
shore at last in a huge billow. The water within the
lagoon, as before said, was perfectly still. There were
three narrow openings in the reef: one opposite each
end of the valley which I have described as crossing
the island; the other opposite our own valley, which we
afterwards named the Valley of the Wreck. At each of
these openings the reef rose into two small green islets,
covered with bushes and having one or two cocoa-nut
palms on each. These islets were very singular, and
appeared as if planted expressly for the purpose of
marking the channel into the lagoon. Our captain was
making for one of these openings the day we were
wrecked, and would have reached it too, I doubt not,
had not the rudder been torn away. Within the lagoon
were several pretty, low coral islands, just opposite our
encampment; and immediately beyond these, out at sea,
lay about a dozen other islands, at various distances,
from half-a-mile to ten miles;-all of them, as far as we
could discern, smaller than ours and apparently unin-
habited. They seemed to be low coral islands, raised but
little above the sea, yet covered with cocoa-nut trees.
All this we noted, and a great deal more, while we







54 THE CORAL ISLAND.

sat on the top of the mountain. After we had satisfied
ourselves we prepared to return; but here again we
discovered traces of the presence of man. These were
a pole or staff and one or two pieces of wood which had
been squared with an axe. All of these were, however,
very much decayed, and they had evidently not been
touched for many years.
Full of these discoveries we returned to our encamp-
ment. On the way we fell in with the traces of some
four-footed animal, but whether old or of recent date
none of us were able to guess. This also tended to
raise our hopes of obtaining some animal food on the
island, so we reached home in good spirits, quite pre-
pared for supper, and highly satisfied with our excursion
After much discussion, in which Peterkin took the
lead, we came to the conclusion that the island was
uninhabited, and went to bed.
















CHAPTER VII.


Jack's ingenuity-We get into difficulties about fishing, and get out of them by a
method which gives us a cold bath--Horrible encounter with a shark.

F OR several days after the excursion related in the
last chapter we did not wander far from our en-
campment, but gave ourselves up to forming plans for
the future and making our present abode comfortable.
There were various causes that induced this state of
comparative inaction. In the first place, although every-
thing around us was so delightful, and we could without
difficulty obtain all that we required for our bodily com-
fort, we did not quite like the idea of settling down here
for the rest of our lives, far away from our friends and
our native land. To set energetically about preparations
for a permanent residence seemed so like making up our
minds to saying adieu to home and friends for ever, that
we tacitly shrank from it, and put off our preparations,
for one reason and another, as long as we could. Then
there was a little uncertainty still as to there being
natives on the island, and we entertained a kind of faint
hope that a ship might come and take us off. But as
day after day passed, and neither savages nor ships ap-
peared, we gave up all hope of an early deliverance, and
set diligently to work at our homestead.
During this time, however, we had not been altogether
idle. We made several experiments in cooking the






THE CORAL ISLAND.


cocoa-nut, most of which did not improve it. Then we
removed our goods, and took up our abode in the cave,
but found the change so bad that we returned gladly to
the bower. Besides this, we bathed very frequently,
and talked a great deal; at least Jack and Peterkin did,
-I listened. Among other useful things, Jack, who
was ever the most active and diligent, converted about
three inches of the hoop-iron into an excellent knife.
First he beat it quite flat with the axe. Then he made
a rude handle, and tied the hoop-iron to it with our
piece of whip-cord, and ground it to an edge on a piece
of sandstone. When it was finished he used it to shape
a better handle, to which he fixed it with a strip of his
cotton handkerchief in which operation he had, as
Peterkin pointed out, torn off one of Lord Nelson's noses.
However, the whip-cord, thus set free, was used by
Peterkin as a fishing-line. He merely tied a piece of
oyster to the end of it. This the fish were allowed to
swallow, and then they were pulled quickly ashore.
But as the line was very short and we had no boat, the
fish we caught were exceedingly small.
One day Peterkin came up from the beach, where he
had been angling, and said in a very cross tone, "I'll
tell you what, Jack, I'm not going to be humbugged
with catching such contemptible things any longer. I
want you to swim out with me on your back, and let
me fish in deep water!"
"Dear me, Peterkin !" replied Jack, "I had no idea
you were taking the thing so much to heart, else I would
have got you out of that difficulty long ago. Let me
see,"-and Jack looked down at a piece of timber on
which he had been labouring, with a peculiar gaze of
abstraction, which he always assumed when trying to
invent or discover anything.







THE CORAL ISLAND.


"What say you to building a boat ?" he inquired,
looking up hastily.
Take far too long," was the reply; can't be bothered
waiting. I want to begin at once!"
Again Jack considered. I have it !" he cried. We'll
fell a large tree and launch the trunk of it in the water,
so that when you want to fish you've nothing to do but
to swim out to it."
Would not a small raft do better ?" said I.
"Much better; but we have no ropes to bind it to-
gether with. Perhaps we may find something hereafter
that will do as well, but in the meantime let us try the
tree."
This was agreed on, so we started off to a spot not far
distant, where we knew of a tree that would suit us,
which grew near the water's edge. As soon as we reached
it Jack threw off his coat, and, wielding the axe with
his sturdy arms, hacked and hewed at it for a quarter of
an hour without stopping. Then he paused, and while
he sat down to rest I continued the work. Then Peter-
kin made a vigorous attack on it, so that when Jack
renewed his powerful blows, a few minutes' cutting
brought it down with a terrible crash.
"Hurrah! now for it," cried Jack; "let us off with
its head."
So saying he began to cut through the stem again, at
about six yards from the thick end. This done, he cut
three strong, short poles or levers from the stout branches,
with which to roll the log down the beach into the sea;
for, as it was nearly two feet thick at the large end, we
could not move it without such helps. With the levers,
however, we rolled it slowly into the sea.
Having been thus successful in launching our vessel,
we next shaped the levers into rude oars or paddles, and







THE CORAL ISLAND.


then attempted to embark. This was easy enough to
do; but after seating ourselves astride the log, it was
with the utmost difficulty we kept it from rolling round
and plunging us into the water. Not that we minded
that much; but we preferred, if possible, to fish in dry
clothes. To be sure, our trousers were necessarily wet,
as our legs were dangling in the water on each side of
the log; but as they could be easily dried, we did not
care. After half-an-hour's practice, we became expert
enough to keep our balance pretty steadily. Then Peter-
kin laid down his paddle, and having baited his line with
a whole oyster, dropped it into deep water.
"Now then, Jack," said he, "be cautious; steer clear
o' that sea-weed. There that's it; gently now, gently.
I see a fellow at least a foot long down there, coming to
-ha! that's it! Oh bother he's off.
"Did he bite?" said Jack, urging the log ohwards a
little with his paddle.
"Bite ? ay! He took it into his mouth, but the
moment I began to haul he opened his jaws and let it
out again."
"Let him swallow it next time," said Jack, laughing
at the melancholy expression of Peterkin's visage.
"There he's again," cried Peterkin, his eyes flashing
with excitement. "Look out! Now then! No! Yes!
No! Why, the brute won't swallow it!"
"Try to haul him up by the mouth, then," cried Jack.
"Do it gently."
A heavy sigh and a look of blank despair showed that
poor Peterkin had tried and failed again.
"Never mind, lad," said Jack, in a voice of sympathy;
"we'll move on, and offer it to some other fish." So say-
ing, Jack plied his paddle; but scarcely had he moved
from the spot, when a fish with an enormous head and







THE CORAL ISLAND.


a little body darted from under a rock and swallowed
the bait at once.
Got him this time-that's a fact!" cried Peterkin,
hauling in the line. "He's swallowed the bait right
down to his tail, I declare. Oh what a thumper !"
As the fish came struggling to the surface, we leaned
forward to see it, and overbalanced the log. Peterkin
threw his arms round the fish's neck, and in another
instant we were all floundering in the water!
A shout of laughter burst from us as we rose to the
surface like three drowned rats, and seized hold of the
log. We soon recovered our position, and sat more
warily, while Peterkin secured the fish, which had well-
nigh escaped in the midst of our struggles. It was
little worth having, however; but, as Peterkin remarked,
it was better than the smouts he had been catching for
the last two or three days; so we laid it on the log
before us, and having re-baited the line, dropped it in
again for another.
Now, while we were thus intent upon our sport, our
attention was suddenly attracted by a ripple on the sea,
just a few yards away from us. Peterkin shouted to us
to paddle in that direction, as he thought it was a big
fish, and we might have a chance of catching it. But
'Jack, instead of complying, said, in a deep, earnest tone
of voice, which I never before heard him use,-
"Haul up your line, Peterkin; seize your paddle;
quick,-it's a shark !"
The horror with which we heard this may well be
imagined, for it must be remembered that our legs were
hanging down in the water, and we could not venture
to pull them up without upsetting the log. Peterkin
instantly hauled up the line, and grasping his paddle,
exerted himself to the utmost, while we also did our best







THE CORAL ISLAND.


to make for shore. But we were a good way off, and
the log being, as I have before said, very heavy, moved
but slowly through the water. We now saw the shark
quite distinctly swimming round and round.us, its sharp
fin every now and then protruding above the water.
From its active and unsteady motions, Jack knew it was
making up its mind to attack us, so he urged us vehe-
mently to paddle for our lives, while he himself set us
the example. Suddenly he shouted, "Look out! there
he comes!" and in a second we saw the monstrous fish
dive close under us, and turn half over on his side. But
we all made a great commotion with our paddles, which
no doubt frightened it away for that time, as we saw it
immediately after circling round us as before.
Throw the fish to him," cried Jack, in a quick, sup-
pressed voice; "we'll make the shore in time yet if we
can keep him off for a few minutes."
Peterkin stopped one instant to obey the command,
and then plied his paddle again with all his might. No
sooner had the fish fallen on the water than we observed
the shark to sink. In another second we saw its white
breast rising; for sharks always turn over on their sides
when about to seize their prey, their mouths being not
at the point of their heads like those of other fish, but,
as it were, under their chins. In another moment his
snout rose above the water; his wide jaws, armed with
a terrific double row of teeth, appeared. The dead fish
was engulfed, and the shark sank out of sight. But
Jack was mistaken in supposing that it would be satis-
fied. In a very few minutes it returned to us, and its
quick motions led us to fear that it would attack us at once.
Stop paddling," cried Jack suddenly. I see it coming
up behind us. Now, obey my orders quickly. Our lives
may depend on it. Ralph, Peterkin, do your best to







THE CORAL ISLAND,


balance the log. Don't look out for the shark. Don't
glance behind you. Do nothing but balance the log."
Peterkin and I instantly did as we were ordered, being
only too glad to do anything that afforded us a chance
or a hope of escape, for we had implicit confidence in
Jack's courage and wisdom. For a few seconds, that
seemed long minutes to my mind, we sat thus silently;
but I could not resist glancing backward, despite the
orders to the contrary. On doing so, I saw Jack sitting
rigid like a statue, with his paddle raised, his lips com-
pressed, and his eyebrows bent over his eyes, which
glared savagely from beneath them down into the water.
I also saw the shark, to my horror, quite close under
the log, in the act of darting towards Jack's foot. I
could scarce suppress a cry on beholding this. In an-
other moment the shark rose. Jack drew his leg
suddenly from the water, and threw it over the log.
The monster's snout rubbed against the log as it passed,
and revealed its hideous jaws, into which Jack instantly
plunged the paddle, and thrust it down its throat. So
violent was this act that Jack rose to his feet in per-
forming it; the log was thereby rolled completely over,
and we were once more plunged into the water. We all
rose, spluttering and gasping, in a moment.
Now, then, strike out for shore," cried Jack.-" Here,
Peterkin, catch hold of my collar, and kick out with a will."
Peterkin did as he was desired, and Jack struck out
with such force that he cut through the water like a
boat; while I, being free from all encumbrance, suc-
ceeded in keeping up with him. As we had by this
time drawn pretty near to the shore, a few minutes
more sufficed to carry us into shallow water; and,
finally, we landed in safety, though very much exhausted.
and not a little frightened by our terrible adventure.

















CHAPTER VIII.


The beauties of the bottom of the sea tempt Peterkin to dive-How he did it-
More difficulties overcome-The Water Garden Curious creatures of the sea
-The tank-Candles missed very much, and the candle-nut tree discovered
Wonderful account of Peterkin's first voyage-Cloth found growing on a
tree-A plan projected, and arms prepared for offence and defence-A
dreadful cry.

OUR encounter with the shark was the first great
danger that had befallen us since landing on
this island, and we felt very seriously affected by it,
especially when we considered that we had so often un-
wittingly incurred the same danger before while bathing.
We were now forced to take to fishing again in the
shallow water, until we should succeed in constructing
a raft. What troubled us most, however, was, that we
were compelled to forego our morning swimming excur-
sions. We did, indeed, continue to enjoy our bathe in
the shallow water, but Jack and I found that one great
source of our enjoyment was gone, when we could no
longer dive down among the beautiful coral groves at
the bottom of the lagoon. We had come to be so fond
of this exercise, and to take such an interest in watching
the formations of coral and the gambols of the many
beautiful fish amongst the forests of red and green sea-
weeds, that we had become quite familiar with the
appearance of the fish and the localities that they chiefly
haunted. We had also become expert divers. But we






THE CORAL ISLAND.


made it a rule never to stay long under water at a time.
Jack told me that to do so often was bad for the lungs,
and, instead of affording us enjoyment, would ere long
do us a serious injury. So we never stayed at the
bottom as long as we might have done, but came up
frequently to the top for fresh air, and dived down
again immediately. Sometimes, when Jack happened to
be in a humorous frame, he would seat himself at the
bottom of the sea on one of the brain-corals, as if he
were seated on a large paddock-stool, and then make
faces at me, in order, if possible, to make me laugh
under water. At first, when he took me unawares, he
nearly succeeded, and I had to shoot to the surface in
order to laugh; but afterwards I became aware of his
intentions, and being naturally of a grave disposition, I
had no difficulty in restraining myself. I used often to
wonder how poor Peterkin would have liked to be with
us; and he sometimes expressed much regret at being
unable to join us. I used to do my best to gratify him,
poor fellow, by relating all the wonders that we saw;
but this, instead of satisfying, seemed only to whet his
curiosity the more, so one day we prevailed on him to
try to go down with us. But although a brave boy in
every other way, Peterkin was very nervous, in the
water, and it was with difficulty we got him to consent
to be taken down, for he could never have managed to
push himself down to the bottom without assistance.
But no sooner had we pulled him down a yard or so into
the deep clear water, than he began to struggle and kick
violently; so we were forced to let him go, when he rose
out of the water like a cork, gave a loud gasp and a
frightful roar, and struck out for the land with the
utmost possible haste.
Now all this pleasure we were to forego, and when







THE CORAL ISLAND.


we thought thereon, Jack and I felt very much depressed
in our spirits. I could see, also, that Peterkin grieved
and sympathized with us, for when talking about this
matter he refrained from jesting and bantering us
upon it.
As, however, a man's difficulties usually set him upon
devising methods to overcome them, whereby he often
discovers better things than those he ihay have lost, so
this our difficulty induced us to think of searching for a
large pool among the rocks, where the water should be
deep enough for diving, yet so surrounded by rocks as to
prevent sharks from getting at us. And such a pool we
afterwards found, which proved to be very much better
than our most sanguine hopes anticipated. It was situ-
ated not more than ten minutes' walk from our camp,
and was in the form of a small deep bay or basin, the
entrance to which, besides being narrow, was so shallow
that no fish so large as a shark could get in, at least
not unless he should be a remarkably thin one.
Inside of this basin, which we called our Water
Garden, the coral formations were much more wonderful,
and the sea-weed plants far more lovely and vividly
coloured, than in the lagoon itself. And the water was
so clear and still, that, although very deep, you could
see the minutest object at the bottom. Besides this,
there was a ledge of rock which overhung the basin at
its deepest part, from which we could dive pleasantly,
and whereon Peterkin could sit and see not only all the
wonders I had described to him, but also see Jack and
me creeping amongst the marine shrubbery at the
bottom, like-as he expressed it-" two great white
sea-monsters." During these excursions of ours to the
bottom of the sea, we began to get an insight into the
manners and customs of its inhabitants, and to make







THE CORAL ISLAND.


discoveries of wonderful things, the like of which we
never before conceived. Among other things, we were
deeply interested with the operations of the little coral
insect which, I was informed by Jack, is supposed to
have entirely constructed many of the numerous islands
in Pacific Ocean. And certainly, when we considered
the great reef which these insects had formed round the
island on which we were cast, and observed their cease-
less activity in building their myriad cells, it did at first
seem as if this might be true; but then, again, when I
looked at the mountains of the island, and reflected that
there were thousands of such, many of them much
higher, in the South Seas, I doubted that there must be
some mistake here. But more of this hereafter.
I also became much taken up with the manners and
appearance of the anemones, and star-fish, and crabs, and
sea-urchins, and such-like creatures; and was not con-
tent with watching those I saw during my dives in the
Water Garden, but I must needs scoop out a hole in the
coral rock close to it, which I filled with salt water, and
stocked with sundry specimens of anemones and shell-
fish, in order to watch more closely how they were in
the habit of passing their time. Our burning-glass also
now became a great treasure to me, as it enabled me to
magnify, and so to perceive more nearly the forms and
actions of these curious creatures of the deep.
Having now got ourselves into a very comfortable
condition, we began to talk of a project which we had
long had in contemplation-namely, to travel entirely
round the island ; in order, first, to ascertain whether it
contained any other productions which might be useful
to us; and, second, to see whether there might be any
place more convenient and suitable for our permanent
residence than that on which we were now encamped.






THE CORAL ISLAND.


Not that we were in any degree dissatisfied with it; on
the contrary, we entertained quite a home-feeling to our
bower and its neighbourhood; but if a better place did
exist, there was no reason why we should not make use
of it. At any rate, it would be well to know of its
existence.
We had much earnest talk over this matter. But
Jack proposed that, before undertaking such an excur-
sion, we should supply ourselves with good defensive
arms; for as we intended not only to go round all the
shore, but to ascend most of the valleys, before return-
ing home, we should be likely to meet in with, he would
not say dangers, but at least with everything that ex-
isted on the island, whatever that might be.
"Besides," said Jack, it won't do for us to live on
cocoa-nuts and oysters always. No doubt they are very
excellent in their way, but I think a little animal food
now and then would be agreeable as well as good for
us; and as there are many small birds among the trees,
some of which are probably very good to eat, I think it
would be a capital plan to make bows and arrows, with
which we could easily knock them over."
"First-rate !" cried Peterkin. "You will make the
bows, Jack, and I'll try my hand at the arrows. The
fact is, I'm quite tired of throwing stones at the birds.
I began the very day we landed, I think, and have
persevered up to the present time, but I've never hit
anything yet."
You forget," said I, "you hit me one day on the
shin."
Ah, true," replied Peterkin, "and a precious shindy
you kicked up in consequence. But you were at least
four yards away from the impudent paroquet I aimed
at; so you see what a horribly bad shot I am."







THE CORAL ISLAND.


But," said I, "Jack, you cannot make three bows
and arrows before to-morrow, and would it not be a
pity to waste time, now that we have made up our
minds to go on this expedition ? Suppose that you
make one bow and. arrow for yourself, and we can take
our clubs ?"
"That's true, Ralph. The day is pretty far advanced,
and I doubt if I can make even one bow before dark.
To be sure, I might work by fire-light, after the sun
goes down."
We had, up to this time, been in the habit of going
to bed with the sun, as we had no pressing call to work
o' nights; and, indeed, our work during the day was
usually hard enough-what between fishing, and im-
proving our bower, and diving in the Water Garden, and
rambling in the woods; so that, when night came, we
were usually very glad to retire to our beds. But now
that we had a desire to work at night, we felt a wish
for candles.
Won't a good blazing fire give you light enough ?"
inquired Peterkin.
Yes," replied Jack, quite enough; but then it will
give us a great deal more than enough of heat in this
warm climate of ours."
"True," said Peterkin; "I forgot that. It would
roast us."
Well, as you're always doing that at any rate," re-
marked Jack, we could scarcely call it a change. But
the fact is, I've been thinking over this subject before.
There is a certain nut growing in these islands which is
called the candle-nut, because the natives use it instead
of candles, and I know all about it, and how to prepare
it for burning-"
Then why don't you do it ? interrupted Peterkin.







THE CORAL ISLAND.


" Why have you kept us in the dark so long, you vile
philosopher ? "
"Because," said Jack, "I have not seen the tree yet,
and I'm not sure that I should know either the tree
or the nuts if I did see them. You see, I forget the
description."
Ah! that's just the way with me," said Peterkin,
with a deep sigh. I never could keep in my mind
for half-an-hour the few descriptions I ever attempted
to remember. The very first voyage I ever made was
caused by my mistaking a description, or forgetting it,
which is the same thing. And a horrible voyage it was.
I had to fight with the captain the whole way out, and
made the homeward voyage by swimming "
"Come, Peterkin," said I, you can't get even me to
believe that."
Perhaps not, but it's true notwithstanding," returned
Peterkin, pretending to be hurt at my doubting his word.
Let us hear how it happened," said Jack, while a
good-natured smile overspread his face.
"Well, you must know," began Peterkin, "that the
very day before I went to sea, I was greatly taken up
with a game at hockey, which I was playing with my
old school-fellows for the last time before leaving them.-
You see I was young then, Ralph." Peterkin gazed, in
an abstracted and melancholy manner, out to sea.-" Well,
in the midst of the game, my uncle, who had taken all
the bother and trouble of getting me bound 'prentice
and rigged out, came and took me aside, and told me
that he was called suddenly away from home, and would
not be able to see me aboard, as he had intended. 'How-
ever,' said he, 'the captain knows you are coming, so
that's not of much consequence; but as you'll have to
find the ship yourself, you must remember her name







THE CORAL ISLAND.


and description. D'ye hear, boy?' I certainly did
hear, but I'm afraid I did not understand, for my mind
was so taken up with the game, which I saw my side
was losing, that I began to grow impatient, and the
moment my uncle finished his description of the ship,
and bade me good-bye, I bolted back to my game, with
only a confused idea of three masts, and a green-painted
tafferel, and a gilt figure-head of Hercules with his club
at the bow. Next day I was so much cast down with
everybody saying good-bye, and a lot o' my female
friends cryin' horribly over me, that I did not start for
the harbour, where the ship was lying among a thousand
others, till it was almost too late. So I had to run the
whole way. When I reached the pier, there were so
many masts, and so much confusion, that I felt quite
humblebumbled in my faculties. 'Now,' said I to myself,
'Peterkin, you're in a fix.' Then I fancied I saw a gilt
figure-head and three masts, belonging to a ship just
about to start; so I darted on board, but speedily
jumped on shore again, when I found that two of the
masts belonged to another vessel, and the figure-head to
a third! At last I caught sight of what I made sure
was it-a fine large vessel just casting off her moorings.
The tafferel was green. Three masts-yes, that must be
it-and the gilt figure-head of Hercules. To be sure, it
had a three-pronged pitchfork in its hand instead of a
club; but that might be my uncle's mistake, or perhaps
Hercules sometimes varied his weapons. Cast off!'
roared a voice from the quarter-deck. 'Hold on!' cried
I, rushing franticly through the crowd. 'Hold on! hold
on!' repeated some of the bystanders, while the men at
the ropes delayed for a minute. This threw the captain
into a frightful rage; for some of his friends had come
down to see him off, and having his orders contradicted







THE CORAL ISLAND.


so flatly was too much for him. However, the delay
was sufficient. I took a race and a good leap; the ropes
were east off; the steam-tug gave a puff, and we started.
Suddenly the captain walks up to me: 'Where did you
come from, you scamp, and what do you want here ?'
"'Please, sir,' said I, touching my cap, 'I'm your new
'prentice come aboard.'
"' New 'prentice!' said he, stamping; 'I've got no new
'prentice. My boys are all aboard already. This is a
trick, you young blackguard. You've run away, you
have;' and the captain stamped about the deck and
swore dreadfully; for, you see, the thought of having to
stop the ship and lower a boat and lose half-an-hour, all
for the sake of sending a small boy ashore, seemed to
make him very angry. Besides, it was blowin' fresh
outside the harbour, so that to have let the steamer
alongside to put me into it was no easy job. Just
as we were passing the pierhead, where several boats
were rowing into the harbour, the captain came up
to me.
You've run away, you blackguard,' he said, giving
me a box on the ear.
"' No I haven't,' said I, angrily; for the box was by
no means a light one.
"' Hark'ee, boy, can you swim ? '
"' Yes,' said I.
"'Then do it;' and seizing me by my trousers and
the nape of my neck, he tossed me over the side into
the sea. The fellows in the boats at the end of the
pier backed their oars on seeing this; but observing
that I could swim, they allowed me to make the best of
my way to the pierhead.--So you see, Ralph, that I
really did swim my first homeward voyage."
Jack laughed, and patted Peterkin on the shoulder.







THE CORAL ISLAND.


"But tell us about the candle-nut tree," said I; "you
were talking about it."
"Very true," said Jack, "but I fear I can remember little
about it. I believe the nut is about the size of a walnut;
and I think that the leaves are white, but I am not sure."
Eh! ha! hum! exclaimed Peterkin, "I saw a tree
answering to that description this very day."
Did you ? cried Jack. Is it far from this ? "
No, not half-a-mile."
Then lead me to it," said Jack, seizing his axe.
In a few minutes we were all three pushing through
the underwood of the forest, headed by Peterkin.
We soon came to the tree in question, which, after
Jack had closely examined it, we concluded must be the
candle-nut tree. Its leaves were of a beautiful silvery
white, and formed a fine contrast to the dark-green
foliage of the surrounding trees. We immediately filled
our pockets with the nuts, after which Jack said,-
"Now, Peterkin, climb that cocoa-nut tree and cut
me one of the long branches."
This was soon done, but it cost some trouble, for the
stem was very high, and as Peterkin usually pulled nuts
from the younger trees, he was not much accustomed to
climbing the high ones. The leaf or branch was a very
large one, and we were surprised at its size and strength.
Viewed from a little distance, the cocoa-nut tree seems
to be a tall, straight stem, without a single branch
except at the top, where there is a tuft of feathery-
looking leaves, that seem to wave like soft plumes in
the wind. But when we saw one of these leaves or
branches at our feet, we found.it to be a strong stalk,
about fifteen feet long, with a number of narrow, pointed
leaflets ranged alternately on each side. But what seemed
to us the most wonderful thing about .it was a curious







THE CORAL ISLAND.


substance resembling cloth, which was wrapped round
the thick end of the stalk, where it had been cut from the
tree. Peterkin told us that he had the greatest difficulty
in separating the branch from the stem on account of
this substance, as it was wrapped quite round the tree,
and, he observed, round all the other branches, thus
forming a strong support to the large leaves while
exposed to high winds. When I call this substance
cloth I do not exaggerate. Indeed, with regard to all
the things I saw during my eventful career in the South
Seas, I have been exceedingly careful not to exaggerate,
or in any way to mislead or deceive my readers. This
cloth, I say, was remarkably like to coarse brown cotton
cloth. It had a seam or fibre down the centre of it,
from which diverged other fibres, about the size of a
bristle. There were two layers of these fibres, very
long and tough, the one layer crossing the other obliquely,
and the whole was cemented together with a still finer
fibrous and adhesive substance. When we regarded it
attentively, we could with difficulty believe that it had
not been woven by human hands. This remarkable
piece of cloth we stripped carefully off, and found it to
be above two feet long by a foot broad, and we carried
it home with us as a great prize.
Jack now took one of -the leaflets, and, cutting out
the central spine or stalk, hurried back with it to our
camp. Having made a small fire, he baked the nuts
slightly, and then peeled off the husks. After this he
wished to bore a hole in them, which, not having any-
thing better at hand at the time, he did with the point
of our useless pencil-case. Then he strung them on the
cocoa-nut spine, and on putting a light to the topmost
nut, we found to our joy that it burned with a clear,
beautiful flame; upon seeing which, Peterkin sprang up






THE CORAL ISLAND.


and danced round the fire for at least five minutes in
the excess of his satisfaction.
"Now lads," said Jack, extinguishing our candle,
"the sun will set in an hour, so we have no time to
lose. I shall go and cut a young tree to make my bow
out of, and you had better each of you go and select
good strong sticks for clubs, and we'll set to work at
them after dark."
So saying he shouldered his axe and went off, fol-
lowed by Peterkin, while I took up the piece of newly-
discovered cloth, and fell to examining its structure.
So engrossed was I in this that I was still sitting in
the same attitude and occupation when my companions
returned.
"I told you so! cried Peterkin, with a loud laugh.
-" 0 Ralph, you're incorrigible. See, there's a club for
you. I was sure, when we left you looking at that
bit of stuff, that we would find you poring over it
when we came back, so I just cut a club for you as
well as for myself."
Thank you, Peterkin," said I. "It was kind of
you to do that, instead of scolding me for a lazy fellow,
as I confess I deserve."
Oh, as to that," returned Peterkin, "I'll blow you
up yet, if you wish it; only it would be of no use if I
did, for you're a perfect mule! "
As it was now getting dark we lighted our candle,
and placing it in a holder made of two crossing branches,
inside of our bower, we seated ourselves on our leafy
beds and began to work.
"I intend t6 appropriate the bow for my own use,"
said Jack, chipping the piece of wood he had brought
with his axe. I used to be a pretty fair shot once.
But what's that you're doing ? he added, looking at







THE CORAL ISLAND.


Peterkin, who had drawn the end of a long pole into
the tent, and was endeavouring to fit a small piece of
the hoop-iron to the end of it.
"I'm going to enlist into the Lancers," answered
Peterkin. You see, Jack, I find the club rather an
unwieldy instrument for my delicately-formed muscles,
and I flatter myself I shall do more execution with' a
spear."
Well, if length constitutes power," said Jack, "you'll
certainly be invincible."
The pole which Peterkin had cut was full twelve feet
long, being a very strong but light and tough young
tree, which merely required thinning at the butt to be a
serviceable weapon.
"That's a very good idea," said I.
"Which-this ?" inquired Peterkin, pointing to the
spear.
"Yes," I replied.
"Humph!" said he; "you'd find it a pretty tough
and matter-of-fact idea if you had it stuck through
your gizzard, old boy !"
"I mean the idea of making it is a good one," said
I, laughing. "And, now I think of it, I'll change my
plan too. I don't think much of a club, so I'll make
me a sling out of this piece of cloth. I used to be very
fond of slinging, ever since I read of David slaying
Goliath the Philistine, and I was once thought to be
expert at it."
So I set to work to manufacture a sling. For a long
time we all worked very busily without speaking. At
length Peterkin looked up. "I say, Jack, I'm sorry to
say I must apply to you for another strip of your hand-
kerchief, to tie on this rascally head with. It's pretty
well torn at any rate, so you won't miss it."






THE CORAL ISLAND.


Jack proceeded to comply with this request, when
Peterkin suddenly laid his hand on his arm and arrested
him.
Hist, man," said he, "be tender; you should never
be needlessly cruel if you can help it. Do try to shave
past Lord Nelson's mouth without tearing it, if possible !
Thanks. There are plenty more handkerchiefs on the
cocoa-nut trees."
Poor Peterkin! with what pleasant feelings I recall
and record his jests and humorous sayings now !
While we were thus engaged, we were startled by a
distant but most strange and horrible cry. It seemed
to come from the sea, but was so far away that we
could not clearly distinguish its precise direction. Rush-
ing out of our bower, we hastened down to the beach
and stayed to listen. Again it came quite loud and
distinct on the night air,-a prolonged, hideous cry,
something like the braying of an ass. The moon had
risen, and we could see the islands in and beyond the
lagoon quite plainly, but there was no object visible to
account for such a cry. A strong gust of wind was
blowing from the point whence the sound came, but this
died away while we were gazing out to sea.
What can it be ?" said Peterkin, in a low whis-
per, while we all involuntarily crept closer to each
other.
"Do you know," said Jack, "I have heard that mys-
terious sound twice before, but never so loud as to-night.
Indeed it was so faint that I thought I must have
merely fancied it, so, as I did not wish to alarm you,
I said nothing about it."
We listened for a long time for the sound again, but
as it did not come, we returned to the bower and
resumed our work.







THE CORAL ISLAND.


"Very strange," said Peterkin, quite gravely. "Do
you believe in ghosts, Ralph ?"
"No," I answered, "I do not. Nevertheless I must
confess that strange, unaccountable sounds, such as we
have just heard, make me feel a little uneasy."
What say you to it, Jack ?"
"I neither believe in ghosts nor feel uneasy," he re-
plied. "I never saw a ghost myself, and I never met
with any one who had; and I have generally found that
strange and unaccountable things have almost always
been accounted for, and found to be quite simple, on close
examination. I certainly can't imagine what that sound
is; but I'm quite sure I shall find out before long, and
if it's a ghost I'll-I'll-"
"Eat it," cried Peterkin.
"Yes, I'll eat it! Now, then, my bow and two
arrows are finished; so if you're ready we had better
turn in."
By this time Peterkin had thinned down his. spear
and tied an iron point very cleverly to the end of it; I
had formed a sling, the lines of which were composed
of thin strips of the cocoa-nut cloth, plaited; and Jack
had made a stout bow, nearly five feet long, with two
arrows, feathered with two or three large plumes which
some bird had dropped. They had no barbs, but Jack said
that if arrows were well feathered they did not require
iron points, but would fly quite well if merely sharpened
at the point; which I did not know before.
"A feathered arrow without a barb," said he, "is a
good weapon, but a barbed arrow without feathers is
utterly useless."
The string of the bow was formed of our piece of
whip-cord, part of which, as he did not like to cut it, was
rolled round the bow.







THE CORAL ISLAND.


Although thus prepared for a start on the morrow,
we thought it wise to exercise ourselves a little in the
use of our weapons before starting, so we spent the
whole of the next day in practising. And it was well
we did so, for we found that our arms were very imper-
fect, and that we were far from perfect in the use of
them. First, Jack found that the bow was much too
strong, and he had to thin it. Also the spear was much
too heavy, and so had to be reduced in thickness,
although nothing would induce Peterkin to have it
shortened. My sling answered very well, but I had
fallen so much out of practice that my first stone
knocked off Peterkin's hat, and narrowly missed making
a second Goliath of him. However, after having spent
the whole day in diligent practice, we began to find
some of our former expertness returning-at least Jack
and I did. As for Peterkin, being naturally a neat-
handed boy, he soon handled his spear well, and could
run full tilt at a cocoa nut, and hit it with great preci-
sion once out of every five times.
But I feel satisfied that we owed much of our rapid
success to the unflagging energy of Jack, who insisted
that, since we had made him captain, we should obey
him; and he kept us at work from morning till night,
perseveringly, at the same thing. Peterkin wished very
much to run about and stick his spear into everything
he passed; but Jack put up a' cocoa nut, and would not
let him leave off running at that for a moment, except
when he wanted to rest. We laughed at Jack for this,
but we were both convinced that it did us much good.
That night we examined and repaired our arms ere
we lay down to rest, although we were much fatigued,
in order that we might be in readiness to set out on our
expedition at daylight on the following morning.















CHAPTER IX.


Prepare for a journey round the island-Sagacious reflections-Mysterious
appearances and startling occurrences.

SCARCELY had the sun shot its first ray across the
bosom of the broad Pacific, when Jack sprang to
his feet, and, hallooing in Peterkin's ear to awaken him,
ran down the beach to take his customary dip in the
sea. We did not, as was our wont, bathe that morning
in our Water Garden, but, in order to save time, re-
freshed ourselves in the shallow water just opposite the
bower. Our breakfast was also despatched without loss
of time, and in less than an hour afterwards all our
preparations for the journey were completed.
In addition to his ordinary dress, Jack tied a belt
of cocoa-nut cloth round his waist, into which he thrust
the axe. I was also advised to put on a belt and carry
a short cudgel or bludgeon in it; for, as Jack truly
remarked, the sling would be of little use if we should
chance to come to close quarters with any wild animal.
As for Peterkin, notwithstanding that he carried such a
long, and I must add, frightful-looking spear over his
shoulder, we could not prevail on him to leave his club
behind; "for," said he, "a spear at close quarters is not
worth a button." I must say that it seemed to me
that the club was, to use his own style of language, not
worth a button-hole; for it was all knotted over at the
head, something like the club which I remember to have







THE CORAL ISLAND.


observed in picture-books of Jack the Giant Killer,
besides being so heavy that he required to grasp it with
both hands in order to wield it at all. However, he
took it with him, and in this manner we set out upon
our travels.
We did not consider it necessary to carry any food
with us, as we knew that wherever we went we should
be certain to fall in with cocoa-nut trees; having which,
we were amply supplied, as Peterkin said, with meat
and drink and pocket-handkerchiefs I took the precau-
tion, however, to put the burning-glass into my pocket,
lest we should want fire.
The morning was exceedingly lovely. It was one of
that very still and peaceful sort which made the few
noises that we heard seem to be quiet noises. I know
no other way of expressing this idea. Noises which,
so far from interrupting the universal tranquillity of
earth, sea, and sky, rather tended to reveal to us how
quiet the world round us really was. Such sounds as I
refer to were, the peculiarly melancholy-yet, it seemed
to me, cheerful-plaint of sea-birds floating on the
glassy water or sailing in the sky, also the subdued
twittering of little birds among the bushes, the faint
ripples on the beach, and the solemn boom of the surf
upon the distant coral reef. We felt very glad in our
hearts as we.walked along the sands side by side. For
my part, I felt so deeply overjoyed that I was surprised
at my own sensations, and fell into a reverie upon the
causes of happiness. I came to the conclusion that a
state of profound peace and repose, both in regard to
outward objects and within the soul, is the happiest
condition in which man can be placed; for although I
had many a time been most joyful and happy when
engaged in bustling, energetic, active pursuits or amuse-






80 THE CORAL ISLAND.

ments, I never found that such joy or satisfaction was
so deep or so pleasant to reflect upon as that which I
now experienced. And I was the more confirmed in
this opinion when I observed, and indeed was told by
himself, that Peterkin's happiness was also very great;
yet he did not express this by dancing as was his wont,
nor did he give so much as a single shout, but walked
quietly between us with his eye sparkling, and a joyful
smile upon his countenance. My reader must not sup-
pose that I thought all this in the clear and methodi-
cal manner in which I have set it down here. These
thoughts did indeed pass through my mind, but they did
so in a very confused and indefinite manner, for I was
young at that time, and not much given to deep reflec-
tions. Neither did I consider that the peace whereof
I write is not to be found in this world-at least in its
perfection, although I have since learned that by religion
a man may attain to a very great degree of it.
I have said that Peterkin walked along the sands
between us. We had two ways of walking together
about our island. When we travelled through the
woods, we always did so in single file, as by this method
we advanced with greater facility, the one treading in
the other's footsteps. In such cases Jack always took
the lead, Peterkin followed, and I brought up the rear.
But when we travelled along the sands, which extended
almost in an unbroken line of glistening white round
the island, we marched abreast, as we found this method
more sociable, and every way more pleasant. Jack,
being the tallest, walked next the sea, and Peterkin
marched between us, as by this arrangement either of
us could talk to him or he to us, while if Jack and I
happened to wish to converse together, we could con-
veniently do so over Peterkin's head. Peterkin used to







THE CORAL ISLAND.


say, in reference to this arrangement, that had he been
as tall as either of us, our order of march might have
been the same; for as Jack often used to scold him for
letting everything we said to him pass in at one ear and
out at the other, his head could of course form no inter-
ruption to our discourse.
We were now fairly started. Half-a-mile's walk con-
veyed us round a bend in the land which shut out our
bower from view, and for some time we advanced at a
brisk pace without speaking, though our eyes were not
idle, but noted everything, in the woods, on the shore, or
in the sea, that was interesting. After passing the ridge
of land that formed one side of our valley-the Valley
of the Wreck-we beheld another small vale lying be-
fore us in all the luxuriant loveliness of tropical vegeta-
tion. We had, indeed, seen it before from the mountain-
top, but we had no idea that it would turn out to be so
much more lovely when we were close to it. We were
about to commence the exploration of this valley, when
Peterkin stopped us, and directed our attention to a
very remarkable appearance in advance along the shore.
What's yon, think you ?" said he, levelling his spear,
as if he expected an immediate attack from the object
in question, though it was full half-a-mile distant.
As he spoke, there appeared a white column above
the rocks, as if of steam or spray. It rose upwards to
a height of several feet, and then disappeared. Had
this been near the sea, we would not have been so
greatly surprised, as it might in that case have been the
surf, for at this part of the coast the coral reef ap-
proached so'near to the island that in some parts it
almost joined it. There was therefore no lagoon be-
tween, and the heavy surf of the ocean beat almost up
to the rocks. But this white column appeared about
6







THE CORAL ISLAND.


fifty yards inland. The rocks at the place were rugged,
and they stretched across the sandy beach into the sea.
Scarce had we ceased expressing our surprise at this
sight, when another column flew upwards for a few
seconds, not far from the spot where the first had been
seen, and disappeared; and so, at long, irregular inter-
vals, these strange sights recurred. We were now quite
sure that the columns were watery or composed of spray,
but what caused them we could not guess, so we deter-
mined to go and see.
In a few minutes we gained the spot, which was very
rugged and precipitous, and, moreover, quite damp with
the falling of the spray. We had much ado to pass
over dry-shod. The ground also was full of holes here
and there. Now, while we stood anxiously waiting for
the reappearance of these waterspouts, we heard a low,
rumbling sound near us, which quickly increased to a
gurgling and hissing noise, and a moment afterwards a
thick spout of water burst upwards from a hole in the
rock, and spouted into the air with much violence, and so
close to where Jack and I were standing that it nearly
touched us. We sprang aside, but not before a cloud of
spray descended, and drenched us both to the skin.
Peterkin, who was standing farther off, escaped with
a few drops, and burst into an uncontrollable fit of
laughter on beholding our miserable plight.
"Mind your eye!" he shouted eagerly, "there goes
another!" The words were scarcely out of his mouth
when there came up a spout from another hole, which
served us exactly in the same manner as before.
Peterkin now shrieked with laughter; but his merri-
ment was abruptly put a stop to by the gurgling noise
occurring close to where he stood.
"Where'll it spout this time, I wonder ?" he said,







THE CORAL ISLAND.


looking about with some anxiety, and preparing to run.
Suddenly there came a loud hiss or snort; a fierce spout
of water burst up between Peterkin's legs, blew him off
his feet, enveloped him in its spray, and hurled him to
the ground. He fell with so much violence that we
feared he must have broken some of his bones, and ran
anxiously to his assistance; but fortunately he had
fallen on a clump of tangled herbage, in which he lay
sprawling in a most deplorable condition.
It was now our turn to laugh; but as we were not
yet quite sure that he was unhurt, and as we knew not
when or where the next spout might arise, we assisted
him hastily to jump up and hurry from the spot.
I may here add, that although I am quite certain that
the spout of water was very strong, and that it blew
Peterkin completely off his legs, I am not quite certain
of the exact height to which it lifted him, being some-
what startled by the event, and blinded partially by the
spray, so that my power of observation was somewhat
impaired for the moment.
What's to be done now ?" asked Peterkin ruefully.
"Make a fire, lad, and dry ourselves," replied Jack.
"And here is material ready to our hand," said I,
picking up a dried branch of a tree, as we hurried up to
the woods.
In about an hour after this mishap our clothes were
again dried. While they were hanging up before the
fire, we walked down to the beach, and soon observed
that these curious spouts took place immediately after
the fall of a huge wave, never before it; and, moreover,
that the spouts did not take place excepting when the
billow was an extremely large one. From this we con-
cluded that there must be a subterraneous channel in
the rock into which the water was driven by the larger







THE CORAL ISLAND.


waves, and finding no way of escape except through
these small holes, was thus forced up violently through
them. At any rate, we could not conceive any other
reason for these strange waterspouts, and as this seemed
a very simple and probable one, we forthwith adopted it.
I say, Ralph, what's that in the water? is it a shark?"
said Jack, just as we were about to quit the place.
I immediately ran to the overhanging ledge of rock,from
which he was looking down into the sea, and bent over it.
There I saw a very faint pale object of a greenish colour,
which seemed to move slightly while I looked at it.
"It's like a fish of some sort," said I.
Hallo, Peterkin !" cried Jack, "fetch your spear;
here's work for it."
But when we tried to reach the object, the spear
proved to be too short.
"There now," said Peterkin, with a sneer, you were
always telling me it was too long."
Jack now drove the spear forcibly towards the object,
and let go his hold; but although it seemed to be well
aimed, he must have missed, for the handle soon rose
again; and when the spear was drawn up, there was the
pale green object in exactly the same spot, slowly mov-
ing its tail.
"Very odd," said Jack.
But although it was undoubtedly very odd, and
although Jack and all of us plunged the spear at it re-
peatedly, we could neither hit it nor drive it away, so
we were compelled to continue our journey without dis-
covering what it was. I was very much perplexed at
this strange appearance in the water, and could not get
it out of my mind for a long time afterwards. How-
ever, I quieted myself by resolving that I would pay a
visit to it again at some more convenient season.
















CHAPTER X.


Make discovery of many excellent roots and fruits-The resources of the Coral
Island gradually unfolded-The banyan tree-Another tree which is sup-
ported by natural planks-Water-fowl found-A very remarkable discov-
ery, and a very peculiar murder-We luxuriate on the fat of the land.

OUR examination of the little valley proved to be
altogether most satisfactory. We found in it not
only similar trees to those we had already seen in our
own valley, but also one or two others of a different
species. We had also the satisfaction of discovering a
peculiar vegetable, which Jack concluded must certainly
be that of which he had read as being very common
among the South Sea islanders, and which was named
taro. Also we found a large supply of yams, and an-
other root like a potato in appearance. As these were all
quite new to us, we regarded our lot as a most fortunate
one, in being thus cast on an island which was so prolific
and so well stored with all the necessaries of life. Long
afterwards we found out that this island of ours was no
better in these respects than thousands of other islands
in those seas. Indeed, many of them were much richer
and more productive; but that did not render us the
less grateful for our present good fortune. We each put
one of these roots in our pocket, intending to use them
for our supper; of which more hereafter. We also saw
many beautiful birds here, and traces of some four-footed
animal again. Meanwhile the sun began to descend, so







THE CORAL ISLAND.


we returned to the shore, and pushed on round the
spouting rocks into the next valley. This was that
valley of which I have spoken as running across the
entire island. It was by far the largest and most beau-
tiful that we had yet looked upon. Here were trees of
every shape and size and hue which it is possible to con-
ceive of, many of which we had not seen in the other
valleys; for, the stream in this valley being larger, and
the mould much richer than in the Valley of the Wreck,
it was clothed with a more luxuriant growth of trees
and plants. Some trees were dark glossy green, others
of a rich and warm hue, contrasting well with those of
a pale light green, which were everywhere abundant.
Among these we recognized the broad dark heads of
the bread-fruit, with its golden fruit; the pure, silvery
foliage of the candle-nut, and several species which bore
a strong resemblance to the pine; while here and there,
in groups and in single trees, rose the tall forms of the
cocoa-nut palms, spreading abroad, and waving their
graceful plumes high above all the rest, as if they were
a superior race of stately giants keeping guard over
these luxuriant forests. Oh, it was a most enchanting
scene, and I thanked God for having created such de-
lightful spots for the use of man.
Now, while we were gazing around us in silent
admiration, Jack uttered an exclamation of surprise, and
pointing to an object a little to one side of us, said,-
"That's a banyan tree."
"And what's a banyan tree ?" inquired Peterkin, as
we walked towards it.
"A very curious one, as you shall see presently,"
replied Jack. "It is called the aoa here, if I recollect
rightly, and has a wonderful peculiarity about it. What
an enormous one it is, to be sure !"







THE CORAL ISLAND.


It!" repeated Peterkin; "why, there are dozens of
banyans here! What do you mean by talking bad
grammar ? Is your philosophy deserting you, Jack ?"
"There is but one tree here of this kind," returned
Jack, "as you will perceive if you will examine it."
And, sure enough, we did find that what we had sup-
posed was a forest of trees was in reality only one. Its
bark was of a light colour, and had a shining appearance,
the leaves being lance-shaped, small, and of a beautiful
pea-green. But the wonderful thing about it was, that
the branches, which grew out from the stem horizontally,
sent down long shoots or fibres to the ground, which,
taking root, had themselves become trees, and were
covered with bark like the tree itself. Many of these
fibres had descended from the branches at various dis-
tances, and thus supported them on natural pillars, some
of which were so large and strong that it was not easy
at first to distinguish the offspring from the parent stem.
The fibres were of all sizes and in all states of advance-
ment, from the pillars we have just mentioned to small
cords which hung down and were about to take root,
and thin brown threads still far from the ground, which
swayed about with every motion of wind. In short,
it seemed to us that, if there were only space afforded
to it, this single tree would at length cover the whole
island.
Shortly after this we came upon another remarkable
tree, which, as its peculiar formation afterwards proved
extremely useful to us, merits description. It was a
splendid chestnut, but its proper name Jack did not
know. However, there were quantities of fine nuts
upon it, some of which we put in our pockets. But its
stem was the wonderful part of it. It rose to about
twelve feet without a branch, and was not of great







THE CORAL ISLAND.


thickness: on the contrary, it was remarkably slender
for the size of the tree; but, to make up for this, there
were four or five wonderful projections in this stem,
which I cannot better describe than by asking the
reader to suppose that five planks of two inches thick
and three feet broad had been placed round the trunk
of the tree, with their edges closely fixed to it, from the
ground up to the branches, and that these planks had
been covered over with the bark of the tree and incor-
porated with it. In short, they were just natural but-
tresses, without which the stem could not have supported
its heavy and umbrageous top. We found these chest-
nuts to be very numerous. They grew chiefly on the
banks of the stream, and were of all sizes.
While we were examining a small tree of this kind,
Jack chipped a piece off a buttress with his axe, and
found the wood to be firm and easily cut. He then
struck the axe into it with all his force, and very soon
split it off close to the tree, first, however, having cut it
across transversely above and below. By this means he
satisfied himself that we could now obtain short planks,
as it were all ready sawn, of any size and thickness
that we desired; which was a very great discovery
indeed, perhaps the most important we had yet made.
We now wended our way back to the coast, intend-
ing to encamp near the beach, as we found that the
musquitoes were troublesome in the forest. On our way
we could not help admiring the birds which flew and
chirped around us. Among them we observed a pretty
kind of paroquet, with a green body, a blue head, and a
red breast; also a few beautiful turtle-doves, and several
flocks of wood-pigeons. The hues of many of these
birds were extremely vivid-bright green, blue, and
scarlet being the prevailing tints. We made several







THE CORAL ISLAND.


attempts throughout the day to bring down one of these,
both with the bow and the sling-not for mere sport,
but to ascertain whether they were good for food. But
we invariably missed, although once or twice we were
very near hitting. As evening drew on, however, a
flock of pigeons flew past. I slung a stone into the
midst of them at a venture, and had the good fortune
to kill one. We were startled, soon after, by a loud
whistling noise above our heads ; and on looking up, saw
a flock of wild-ducks making for the coast. We watched
these, and observing where they alighted, followed them
up until we came upon a most lovely blue lake, not more
than two hundred yards long, imbosomed in verdant trees.
Its placid surface, which reflected every leaf and stem
as if in a mirror, was covered with various species of
wild-ducks, feeding among the sedges and broad-leaved
water-plants which floated on it, while numerous birds
like water-hens ran to and fro most busily on its margin.
These all with one accord flew tumultuously away the
instant we made our appearance. While walking along
the margin we observed fish in the water, but of what
sort we could not tell.
Now, as we neared the shore, Jack and I said we
would go a little out of our way to see if we could pro-
cure one of those ducks; so, directing Peterkin to go
straight to the shore and kindle a fire, we separated,
promising to rejoin him speedily. But we did not find
the ducks, although we made a diligent search for half-
an-hour. We were about to retrace our steps, when we
were arrested by one of the strangest sights that we had
yet beheld.
Just in front of us, at the distance of about ten yards,
grew a superb tree, which certainly was the largest we
had yet seen on the island. Its trunk was at least five







THE CORAL ISLAND.


feet in diameter, with a smooth gray bark; above this
the spreading branches were clothed with light green
leaves, amid which were clusters of bright yellow fruit,
so numerous as to weigh down the boughs with their
great weight. This fruit seemed to be of the plum
species, of an oblong form, and a good deal larger than
the magnum bonum plum. The ground at the foot of
this tree was thickly strewn with the fallen fruit, in the
midst of which lay sleeping, in every possible attitude,
at least twenty hogs of all ages and sizes, apparently
quite surfeited with a recent banquet.
Jack and I could scarce restrain our laughter as we
gazed at these coarse, fat, ill-looking animals while they
lay groaning and snoring heavily amid the remains of
their supper.
"Now, Ralph," said Jack, in a low whisper, "put
a stone in your sling-a good big one-and let fly at
that fat fellow with his back toward you. I'll try to
put an arrow into yon little pig."
"Don't you think we had better put them up first ?"
I whispered; "it seems cruel to kill them while asleep."
"If I wanted sport, Ralph, I would certainly set them
up; but as we only want por7c, we'll let them lie. Besides.
we're not sure of killing them; so, fire away."
Thus admonished, I slung my stone with so good aim
that it went bang against the hog's flank as if against
the head of a drum; but it had no other effect than that
of causing the animal to start to its feet, with a frightful
yell of surprise, and scamper away. At the same instant
Jack's bow twanged, and the arrow pinned the little pig
to the ground by the ear.
"I've missed, after all," cried Jack, darting forward
with uplifted axe, while the little pig uttered a loud
squeal, tore the arrow from the ground, and ran away






THE CORAL ISLAND.


with it, along with the whole drove, into the bushes and
disappeared, though we heard them screaming long after-
wards in the distance.
"That's very provoking, now," said Jack, rubbing the
point of his nose.
"Very," I replied, stroking my chin.
"Well, we must make haste and rejoin Peterkin," said
Jack. "It's getting late." And without further remark
we threaded our way quickly through the woods towards
the shore.
When we reached it, we found wood laid out, the
fire lighted and beginning to kindle up, with other signs
of preparation for our encampment, but Peterkin was
nowhere to be found. We wondered very much at this;
but Jack suggested that he might have gone to fetch
water; so he gave a shout to let him know that we had
arrived, and sat down upon a rock, while I threw off my
jacket, and seized the axe, intending to split up one or
two billets of wood. But I had scarce moved from the
spot when, in the distance, we heard a most appalling
shriek, which was followed up by a chorus of yells from
the hogs, and a loud hurrah.
"I do believe," said I, "that Peterkin has met with
the hogs."
"When Greek meets Greek," said Jack, soliloquizing,
"then comes the tug of-"
"Hurrah!" shouted Peterkin in the distance.
We turned hastily towards the direction whence the
sound came, and soon described Peterkin walking along
the beach towards us with a little pig transfixed on the
end of his long spear!
"Well done, my boy exclaimed Jack, slapping him
on the shoulder when he came up; you're the best shot
amongst us."







THE CORAL ISLAND.


Look here, Jack cried Peterkin, as he disengaged
the animal from his spear. Do you recognize that
hole ? said he, pointing to the pig's ear; and are you
familiar with this arrow, eh ? "
"Well, I declare !" said Jack.
"Of course you do," interrupted Peterkin; "but, pray,
restrain your declarations at this time, and let's have
supper, for I'm uncommonly hungry, I can tell you; and
it's no joke to charge a whole herd of swine with their
great-grandmother bristling like a giant porcupine at
the head of them "
We now set about preparing supper; and, truly, a
good display of viands we made, when all was laid out
on a flat rock in the light of the blazing fire. There
was, first of all, the little pig; then there were the taro-
root, and the yam, and the potato, and six plums; and,
lastly, the wood-pigeon. To these Peterkin added a bit
of sugar-cane, which he had cut from a little patch of
that plant which he had found not long after separating
from us; and," said he, the patch was somewhat in
a square form, which convinces me it must have been
, planted by man."
Very likely," replied Jack. "From all we have seen,
I'm inclined to think that some of the savages must have
dwelt here long ago."
We found no small difficulty in making up our minds
how we were to cook the pig. None of us had ever cut
up one before, and, we did not know exactly how to
begin; besides, we had nothing but the axe to do it
with, our knife having been forgotten. At last Jack
started up and said,-
Don't let us waste more time talking about it, boys.
-Hold it up, Peterkin. There, lay the hind leg on this
block of wood-so;" and he cut it off, with a large






THE CORAL ISLAND.


portion of the haunch, at a single blow of the axe.
"Now the other-that's it." And having thus cut off
the two hind legs, he made several deep gashes in them,
thrust a sharp-pointed stick through each, and stuck
them up before the blaze to roast. The wood-pigeon
was then split open, quite flat, washed clean in salt
water, and treated in a similar manner. While these
were cooking, we scraped a hole in the sand and ashes
under the fire, into which we put our vegetables, and
covered them up.
The taro-root was of an oval shape, about ten inches
long and four or five thick. It was of a mottled-gray
colour, and had a thick rind. We found it somewhat
like an Irish potato, and exceedingly good. The yam
was roundish, and had a rough brown skin. It was
very sweet and well flavoured. The potato, we were
surprised to find, was quite sweet and exceedingly
palatable, as also were the plums; and, indeed, the pork
and pigeon too, when we came to taste them. Altogether
this was decidedly the most luxurious supper we had
enjoyed for many a day; and Jack said it was out-of-
sight better than we ever got on board ship; and
Peterkin said he feared that if we should remain long
on the island he would infallibly become a glutton or an
epicure- .-heread Jack remarked that he need not fear
that, for he was both already! And so, having eaten
our fill, not forgetting to finish off with a plum, we laid
ourselves comfortably down to sleep upon a couch of
branches, under the overhanging ledge of a coral rock.
















CHAPTER XI.


Effects of over-eating, and reflections thereon-Humble advice regarding cold
water-The horrible cry" accounted for-The curious birds called pen-
guins-Peculiarity of the cocoa-nut palm-Questions on the formation of
coral islands-Mysterious footsteps-Strange discoveries and sad sights.

W HEN we awoke on the following morning, we
found that the sun was already a good way
above the horizon, so I came to the conclusion that a
heavy supper is not conducive to early rising. Never-
theless, we felt remarkably strong and well, and much
disposed to have our breakfast. First, however, we
had our customary morning bathe, which refreshed us
greatly.
I have often wondered very much in after years that
the inhabitants of my own dear land did not make more
frequent use of this most charming element, water. I
mean in the way of cold bathing. Of course, I have
perceived that it is not convenient for them to go into
the sea or the rivers in winter, as we used to do on the
Coral Island; but then I knew from experience that a
large washing-tub and a sponge do form a most pleasant
substitute. The feelings of freshness, of cleanliness, of
vigour, and extreme hilarity, that always followed my
bathes in the sea, and even, when in England, my ablu-
tions in the wash-tub, were so delightful, that I would
sooner have gone without my breakfast than without my
bathe in cold water. My readers will forgive me for






THE CORAL ISLAND.


asking whether they are in the habit of bathing thus
every morning; and if they answer No," they will
pardon me for recommending them to begin at once.
Of late years,, since retiring from the stirring life of
adventure which I have led so long in foreign climes, I
have heard of a system called the.cold-water cure. Now,
I do not know much about that system, so I do not mean
to uphold it, neither do I intend to run it down. Per-
haps, in reference to it, I may just hint that there may
be too much of a good thing. I know not; but of this
I am quite certain, that there may also be too little of a
good thing; and the great delight I have had in cold
bathing during the course of my adventurous career
inclines me to think that it is better to risk taking too
much than to content one's self with too little. Such is
my opinion, derived from much experience; but I put it
before my readers with the utmost diffidence and with
profound modesty, knowing that it may possibly jar
with their feelings of confidence in their own ability to
know and judge as to what is best and fittest in refer-
ence to their own affairs. But, to return from this
digression, for which I humbly crave forgiveness :
We had not advanced on our journey much above a
mile or so, and were just beginning to feel the pleasant
glow that usually accompanies vigorous exercise, when,
on turning a point that revealed to us a new and beauti-
ful cluster of islands, we were suddenly arrested by the
appalling cry which had so alarmed us a few nights
before. But this time we were by no means so much
alarmed as on the previous occasion, because, whereas at
that time it was night, now it was day; and I have
always found, though I am unable to account for it, that
daylight banishes many of the fears that are apt to assail
us in the dark.






THE CORAL ISLAND.


On hearing the sound, Peterkin instantly threw for-
ward his spear.
Now, what can it be ?" said he, looking round at
Jack. I tell you what it is: if we are to go on being
pulled up in a constant state of horror and astonishment,
as we have been for the last week, the sooner we're out
o' this island the better, notwithstanding the yams and
lemonade, and pork and plums !"
Peterkin's remark was followed by a repetition of the
cry, louder than before.
It comes from one of these islands," said Jack.
"It must be -the ghost of a jackass, then," said
Peterkin, for I never heard anything so like."
We all turned our eyes towards the cluster of islands,
where, on the largest, we observed curious objects
moving on the shore.
Soldiers they are-that's flat! cried Peterkin, gaz-
ing at them in the utmost amazement.
And, in truth, Peterkin's remark seemed to me to be
correct; for, at the distance from which we saw them,
they appeared to be an army of soldiers. There they
stood, rank and file, in lines and in squares, marching
and countermarching, with blue coats and white trousers.
While we were looking at them, the dreadful cry came
again over the water, and Peterkin suggested that it
must be a regiment sent out to massacre the natives in
cold blood. At this remark Jack laughed and said,-
Why, Peterkin, they are penguins !"
Penguins ?" repeated Peterkin.
"Ay, penguins, Peterkin, penguins-nothing more or
less than big sea-birds, as you shall see one of these
days, when we pay them a visit in our boat, which
I mean to set about building the moment we return to
our bower."







THE CORAL ISLAND.


"So, then, our dreadful yelling ghosts and our
murdering army of soldiers," remarked Peterkin, have
dwindled down to penguins-big sea-birds Very good.
Then I propose that we continue our journey as fast as
possible, lest our island should be converted into a dream
before we get completely round it."
Now, as we continued on our way, I pondered much
over this new discovery, and the singular appearance of
these birds, of which Jack could only give us a very
slight and vague account; and I began to long to
commence to our boat, in order that we might go and
inspect them more narrowly. But by degrees these
thoughts left me, and I began to be much taken up
again with the interesting peculiarities of the country
which we were passing through.
The second night we passed in a manner somewhat
similar to the first, at about two-thirds of the way round
the island, as we calculated, and we hoped to sleep on
the night following at our bower. I will not here note
so particularly all that we said and saw during the
course of this second day, as we did not make any
further discoveries of great importance. The shore
along which we travelled, and the various parts of the
woods through which we passed, were similar to those
which have been already treated of. There were one or
two observations that we made, however, and these were
as follows:-
We saw that, while many of the large fruit-bearing
trees grew only in the valleys, and some of them only
near the banks of the streams, where the soil was
peculiarly rich, the cocoa-nut palm grew in every place
whatsoever; not only on the hillsides, but also on the
sea-shore, and even, as has been already stated, on the
coral reef itself, where the soil, if we may use the name,




University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs