The Coral Island by R. M. Ballantyne

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The Coral Island by R. M. Ballantyne

Three young Englishmen, 15-year-old Ralph Rover, Jack, who is older than him for three years, and the cheerful 14-year-old Peter, were got on a desert island after their ship was wrecked. They made their life in the spirit of Robinson Crusoe, and despite the typhoons, wild boar attacks and hostile visitors to the island, they lived an almost perfect life. The boys made fire by rubbing two sticks and climb the palm trees for coconuts. The boys were building a boat with sails of copra to get to a nearby island, where Jack won the battle of the leader of the tribe Taror. Then the pirates kidnapped Ralph whose adventures continued in the southern islands.

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The Coral Island by R. M. Ballantyne

For three days and nights our ship had driven before the storm, and now the end was near. Death looked us in the face.

There could be no doubt of that. The ship was breaking up. The first blast of the gale had carried away two of our masts: the frightful walls of water that came sweeping across the Pacific Ocean had torn off our rudder and left us at the mercy of wind and waves. Everything had been swept off the decks except one small boat, and we had been blown far out of our course. I knew that we might find ourselves among dangerous coral reefs-and I, Ralph Rover, fifteen years old and mad about the sea, was terribly afraid.

The Coral Island by R. M. Ballantyne

Then, at the dawn of the third day, there came a cry from the look-out:

“Land! Land ahead!”

I tried to peer through the sheeted rain. Its drops struck at me like bullets. I had never dreamed it could blow so hard. The wind was a screaming fury that rushed in through my mouth and strangled me as I faced it…

And then the ship rose on a mountainous wave, and I saw the dark mass of land that lay ahead. It was an island, encircled by a reef of pounded coral on which the waves were breaking in a fury of flying foam. There was calm water within the reef, but I could see only one narrow opening into the lagoon. My heart sank. We had no chance of winning through without a rudder.

I felt hopeless.

I turned my head and stared at the two boys who clung to the rigging beside me. There were three of us serving as apprentices on board the Arrow: Jack Martin, a tall, strong lad of eighteen, Peterkin Gay, who was little and quick and funny, and about fourteen years old, and myself. Even in that awful moment, Jack’s face showed no sign of fear, though Peterkin looked sick and scared, and there were tears of pain in his eyes from the hard slaps of wind and spray, and the long driving spears of rain.

Above the roar of the gale I heard the captain give a shout. “It’s all up with us, lads! Stand by to launch the boat! We’ll be on the rocks any minute now!”

Jack grabbed hold of my arm.

“Never mind the boat!” he screamed in my ear. “It’s sure to upset in this. When I give the word, make a dash for it and grab that big oar in the bows. If it’s driven over the breakers we might get to the shore…

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