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The Coral Island - R.M. Ballantyne

The story starts off with a wild storm, in which three boys are perilously shipwrecked while on a cruise. The survivors are Jack Martin, Ralph Rover and Peterkin Gay. Together they make do the best with whatever resources they have left and pretty soon create an idyllic society in the true Robinson Crusoe fashion.

Together they learn to trawl for food and 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, cannibalistic and in the best of times not too kind to strangers. Even then, they manage to conquer them and win the favor of Tararo, the chief.

All goes well until a shipload of pirates scoop down on them and abduct Ralph. While aboard, Ralph meets Bill, a man who, just like him, was also kidnapped by the pirates years back. Together they formulate a plot and escape from the hands of the treacherous and menacing pirates.

Ralph returns to his beloved Coral Island but Bill dies while on his way to freedom. Upon arrival, Ralph hears disturbing news about the Island of Mango. United again, 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 Tararos 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 her lover-chief. At long last the three boys are finally ready to go back to their beloved homeland, England. When they return they are much wiser and mature for the adventure was an enlightening experience.

 R.M. BallantyneThe author R.M. Ballantyne was  the son of a newspaper editor and was born in Edinburgh on 24th April 1825. In 1848 appeared Ballantynes "HUDSONS BAY, OR, THE LIFE IN THE WILDS OF NORTH AMERICA". The autobiographical work depicted his youth and adventures in Canada. From 1856 he devoted himself entirely to free-lance writing and giving lectures. Ballantynes 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.

Excerpt:
"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."    
( Reviewed By Deblina Mittra )

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