|The Coral Island|
Author: R.M. Ballantyne
For many months after this we continued to live on our island in uninterrupted harmony and happiness. Sometimes we went out afishing in the lagoon, and sometimes went ahunting in the woods, or ascended to the mountain-top, by way of variety, although Peterkin always asserted that we went for the purpose of hailing any ship that might chance to heave in sight. But I am certain that none of us wished to be delivered from our captivity, for we were extremely happy, and Peterkin used to say that as we were very young we should not feel the loss of a year or two.
The story starts off with a wild storm in the South Pacific, in which three English boys who are on a cruise, are shipwrecked. The survivors are Jack Martin, Ralph Rover and Peterkin Gay. Together they make do with whatever resources they have left and create an idyllic island home in true Robinson Crusoe fashion.
Together they learn to trawl for food and build a suitable shelter and thus live happily for a few months. Until one fateful day the war canoes arrive. The tribals of the South Pacific islands are wild cannibals and in the best of times not too kind to strangers. Even then, the boys manage to charm them and win the favour of Tararo, the chief.
All goes well until a shipload of pirates swoops down on the island and abducts Ralph. While aboard, Ralph meets Bill, a man who, just like him, was also kidnapped by the pirates years back. Together they formulate a plan and escape.
Ralph returns to his beloved Coral Island but Bill dies. Upon arrival, Ralph hears disturbing news about the Island of Mango. Jack, Ralph and Peterkin sail together to Mango where they encounter the native missionary. He tells them of the conflict going on between the Christians and the heathens of Mango. Amatea, a member of Tararo’s tribe is a heathen but has fallen deeply in love with a missionary chief who lives south of the islands.
The three heroes with help from the native missionary convince the natives to give up their savage ways and their gods and accept Christianity. Eventually Tararo is persuaded to take up Christian faith and agrees to let Amatea to go back and live with the chief she loves.
At long last the three boys are finally ready to go back to their beloved homeland, England. the wiser for their experience.
— Reviewed by Deblina Mittra
The author R.M. Ballantyne was the son of a newspaper editor and was born in Edinburgh on 24th April 1825. From 1856 he devoted himself entirely to free-lance writing and giving lectures. Ballantyne’s first stories depicted the life in Canada, later works dealt with adventures in Britain, Africa, and elsewhere. During his career Ballantyne wrote over 80 books. In 1866 he married Jane Dickson Grant; they had four sons and two daughters. Ballantyne died in Rome, Italy, on February 8, 1894.