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20 March 2022
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The Coral Island
The Coral Island by Robert Michael Ballantyne (bill gates books recommendations .Pdf) 📖
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The Coral Island by Robert Michael Ballantyne (bill gates books recommendations .Pdf) 📖 brief summary

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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 honey-suckle 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, with a look of intense anxiety, was gazing into my face.

"Speak to us, my dear Ralph," whispered Jack, tenderly, "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 impressi

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The Coral Island


A Tale of the Pacific Ocean


by R. M. Ballantyne


I was a boy when I went through the wonderful adventures 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.






The beginning - My early life and character - I thirst for

adventure in 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-grandfather 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 anyrate

we knew that, as far back as our family could be traced, it had

been intimately connected with the great watery waste. Indeed 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 roving

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 distant,

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 apprentice to a coasting vessel, and let me go to



For some years I was happy in visiting the sea-ports, and in

coasting along the shores of my native land. My 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 witticism 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



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 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 imagination 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 mess-mate of his own, a merchant captain, who was on the point

of sailing to the South Seas in his own ship, the Arrow. My 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 promised, 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.




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

canvass 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, giving 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 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



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

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