The effect of a cannon-shot—A happy reunion of a somewhat moist nature—Retrospect and
explanations—An awful dive—New plans—The last of the Coral Island.
 I almost fell upon the deck with the tumult of mingled emotions that filled my heart as I gazed
ardently towards my beautiful island. It was still many miles away, but sufficiently near to enable
me to trace distinctly the well-remembered outlines of the two mountains. My first impulse was to
utter an exclamation of gratitude for being carried to my former happy home in safety; my second, to
jump up, clap my hands, shout, and run up and down the deck, with no other object in view than that
of giving vent to my excited feelings. Then I went below for the telescope, and spent nearly ten
minutes of the utmost impatience in vainly trying to get a focus, and in rubbing the skin nearly off
my eyes, before I discovered that having taken off the large glass to examine the phosphoric water
with I had omitted to put it on again.
After that I looked up impatiently at the sails, which I now regretted having lowered so hastily,
and for a moment thought of hoisting the main top-sail again; but recollecting that it would take me
full half a day to accomplish, and that, at the present rate of sailing, two hours would bring me to
the island, I immediately dismissed the idea.
 The remainder of the time I spent in making feverish preparations for arriving and seeing my dear
comrades. I remembered that they were not in the habit of rising before six, and as it was now only
three, I hoped to arrive before they were awake. Moreover, I set about making ready to let go the
anchor, resolving in my own mind that, as I knew the depth of water in the passage of the reef and
within the lagoon, I would run the schooner in and bring up opposite the bower. Fortunately the
anchor was hanging at the cat-head, otherwise I should never have been able to use it. Now, I had
only to cut the tackling, and it would drop of its own weight. After searching among the flags, I
found the terrible black one, which I ran up to the peak. While I was doing this a thought struck
me. I went to the powder-magazine, brought up a blank cartridge and loaded the big brass gun, which,
it will be remembered, was unhoused when we set sail, and as I had no means of housing it, there it
had stood, bristling alike at fair weather and foul all the voyage. I took care to grease its mouth
well, and before leaving the fore part of the ship, thrust the poker into the fire.
All was now ready. A steady five-knot breeze was blowing, so that I was now not more than quarter of
a mile from the reef. I was soon at the entrance, and as the schooner glided quickly through, I
glanced affectionately at the huge breaker, as if it had been the same one I had seen there when I
bade adieu, as I feared for ever, to the island. On coming opposite the Water Garden, I put the helm
hard down. The schooner came round with a rapid, graceful bend, and lost way just opposite the
bower. Running forward, I let go the anchor, caught up the red-hot poker, applied it to the brass
gun, and saluted the mountains with a bang
 such as had only once before broke their slumbering echoes!
Effective although it was, however, it was scarcely equal to the bang with which, instantly after,
Peterkin bounded from the bower, in scanty costume, his eyeballs starting from his head with
surprise and terror. One gaze he gave, one yell, and then fled into the bushes like a wild cat. The
next moment Jack went through exactly the same performance, the only difference being that his
movements were less like those of Jack-in-the-box, though not less vigorous and rapid than those of
"Hallo!" I shouted, almost mad with joy, "what ho! Peterkin! Jack I hallo! it's me!"
My shout was just in time to arrest them. They halted and turned round, and the instant I repeated
the cry I saw that they recognised my voice, by both of them running at full speed towards the
beach. I could no longer contain myself. Throwing off my jacket, I jumped overboard at the same
moment that Jack bounded into the sea. In another moment we met in deep water, clasped each other
round the neck, and sank, as a matter of course, to the bottom! We were well-nigh choked, and
instantly struggled to the surface, where Peterkin was sputtering about like a wounded duck,
laughing and crying by turns, and choking himself with salt water!
It would be impossible to convey to my reader, by description, an adequate conception of the scene
that followed my landing on the beach, as we stood embracing each other indiscriminately in our
dripping garments, and giving utterance to incoherent rhapsodies, mingled with wild shouts. It can
be more easily imagined than described, so I will draw a curtain over this part of my
 history, and carry the reader forward over an interval of three days.
I JUMPED OVERBOARD AT THE SAME MOMENT THAT JACK
BOUNDED INTO THE SEA.
During the greater part of that period Peterkin did nothing but roast pigs, taro, and bread-fruit,
and ply me with plantains, plums, potatoes, and cocoa-nuts, while I related to him and Jack the
terrible and wonderful adventures I had gone through since we last met. After I had finished the
account, they made me go all over it again; and when I had concluded the second recital, I had to go
over it again, while they commented upon it piecemeal. They were much affected by what I told them
of the probable fate of Avatea, and Peterkin could by no means brook the idea of the poor girl being
converted into a long pig! As for Jack, he clinched his teeth, and shook his fist towards the
sea, saying at the same time that he was sorry he had not broken Tararo's head, and he only hoped
that one day he should be able to plant his knuckles on the bridge of that chiefs nose! After they
had "pumped me dry," as Peterkin said, I begged to be informed of what had happened to them during
my long absence, and particularly as to how they got out of the Diamond Cave.
"Well, you must know," began Jack, "after you had dived out of the cave, on the day you were taken
away from us, we waited very patiently for half-an-hour, not expecting you to return before the end
of that time. Then we began to upbraid you for staying so long, when you knew we would be anxious;
but when an hour passed, we became alarmed, and I resolved at all hazards to dive out, and see what
had become of you, although I felt for poor Peterkin, because, as he truly said, 'If you never come
back I'm shut up here for life.' However, I promised not to run any risk, and he let me go; which,
to say truth, I thought very courageous of him!"
 "I should just think it was," interrupted Peterkin, looking at Jack over the edge of a monstrous
potato which he happened to be devouring at the time.
"Well," continued Jack, "you may guess my consternation when you did not answer to my halloo. At
first I imagined that the pirates must have killed you, and left you in the bush or thrown you into
the sea; then it occurred to me that this would have served no end of theirs, so I came to the
conclusion that they must have carried you away with them. As this thought struck me, I observed the
pirate schooner standing away to the nor'ard, almost hull down on the horizon, and I sat down on the
rocks to watch her as she slowly sank from my sight. And I tell you, Ralph my boy, that I shed more
tears that time at losing you than I have done, I verily believe, all my life before—"
"Pardon me, Jack, for interrupting," said Peterkin; "surely you must be mistaken in that: you've
often told me that when you were a baby you used to howl and roar from morning to—"
"Hold your tongue, Peterkin," cried Jack. "Well, after the schooner had disappeared, I dived back
into the cave, much to Peterkin's relief, and told him what I had seen. We sat down and had a long
talk over this matter, and then we agreed to make a regular, systematic search through the woods, so
as to make sure at least that you had not been killed. But now we thought of the difficulty of
getting out of the cave without your help. Peterkin became dreadfully nervous when he thought of
this; and I must confess I felt some alarm, for, of course, I could not hope alone to take him out
so quickly as we two together had brought him in; and he himself vowed that, if we had been a moment
longer with him that time, he would have had to take a breath
 of salt water. However, there was no help for it, and I endeavoured to calm his fears as well as I
could; 'For,' said I, 'you can't live here, Peterkin;' to which he replied,' Of course not, Jack, I
can only die here, and as that's not at all desirable, you had better propose something.' So I
suggested that he should take a good long breath, and trust himself to me.
"'Might we not make a large bag of cocoa-nut cloth, into which I could shove my head, and tie it
tight round my neck?' he asked with a haggard smile. 'It might let me get one breath under water!'
"'No use,' said I, 'it would fill in a moment and suffocate you. I see nothing for it, Peterkin, if
you really can't keep your breath so long, but to let me knock you down, and carry you out while in
a state of insensibility.'
"But Peterkin didn't relish this idea. He seemed to fear that I would not be able to measure the
exact force of the blow, and might, on the one hand, hit him so softly as to render a second or
third blow necessary, which would be very uncomfortable; or, on the other hand, give him such a
smash as would entirely spoil his figure-head, or mayhap knock the life out of him altogether! At
last I got him persuaded to try to hold his breath, and commit himself to me; so he agreed, and down
we went. But I had not got half-way through, when he began to struggle and kick like a wild bull,
burst from my grasp, and hit against the roof of the tunnel. I was therefore obliged to force him
violently back into the cave again, where he rose panting to the surface. In short, he had lost his
presence of mind, and—"
"Nothing of the sort," cried Peterkin indignantly, "I only lost my wind; and if I had not had
 of mind enough to kick as I did, I should have bu'st in your arms!"
"Well, well, so be it," resumed Jack with a smile; "but the upshot of it was, that we had to hold
another consultation on the point, and I really believe that, had it not been for a happy thought of
mine, we should have been consulting there yet."
"I wish we had," again interrupted Peterkin with a sigh.—"I'm sure, Ralph, if I had thought
that you were coming back again, I would willingly have awaited your return for months rather than
have endured the mental agony which I went through. But proceed."
"The thought was this," continued Jack, "that I should tie Peterkin's hands and feet with cords, and
then lash him firmly to a stout pole about five feet long, in order to render him quite powerless,
and keep him straight and stiff. You should have seen his face of horror, Ralph, when I suggested
this; but he came to see that it was his only chance, and told me to set about it as fast as I
could; 'For,' said he, 'this is no jokin', Jack, I can tell you, and the sooner it's done the
better.' I soon procured the cordage and a suitable pole, with which I returned to the cave, and
lashed him as stiff and straight as an Egyptian mummy; and, to say truth, he was no bad
representation of what an English mummy would be, if there were such things, for he was as white as
a dead man."
"'Now,' said Peterkin in a tremulous voice, 'swim with me as near to the edge of the hole as you can
before you dive, then let me take a long breath, and as I shan't be able to speak after I've taken
it, you'll watch my face, and the moment you see me wink—dive! And oh,' he added earnestly,
'pray don't be long!'
 "I promised to pay the strictest attention to his wishes, and swam with him to the outlet of the
cave. Here I paused. 'Now then', said I, 'pull away at the wind, lad.'
"Peterkin drew in a breath so long that I could not help thinking of the frog in the fable, that
wanted to swell itself as big as the ox. Then I looked into his face earnestly. Slap went the lid of
his right eye; down went my head, and up went my heels. We shot through the passage like an arrow,
and rose to the surface of the open sea before you could count twenty.
"Peterkin had taken in such an awful load of wind that, on reaching the free air, he let it out with
a yell loud enough to have been heard a mile off, and then the change in his feelings was so sudden
and great, that he did not wait till we landed, but began, tied up as he was, to shout and sing for
joy as I supported him, with my left arm, to the shore. However, in the middle of a laugh that a
hyena might have envied, I let him accidentally slip, which extinguished him in a moment.
"After this happy deliverance, we immediately began our search for your dead body, Ralph; and you
have no idea how low our hearts sank as we set off, day after day, to examine the valleys and
mountain sides with the utmost care. In about three weeks we completed the survey of the whole
island, and had at least the satisfaction of knowing that you had not been killed. But it occurred
to us that you might have been thrown into the sea, so we examined the sands and the lagoon
carefully, and afterwards went all round the outer reef. One day, while we were upon the reef,
Peterkin espied a small, dark object lying among the rocks, which seemed to be quite different from
 surrounding stones. We hastened towards the spot, and found it to be a small keg. On knocking out
the head we discovered that it was gunpowder."
"It was I who sent you that, Jack," said I with a smile.
"Fork out!" cried Peterkin energetically, starting to his feet and extending his open hand to Jack.
"Down with the money, sir, else I'll have you shut up for life in a debtor's prison the moment we
return to England!"
"I'll give you an I O U in the meantime," returned Jack, laughing, "so sit down and be
quiet.—The fact is, Ralph, when we discovered this keg of powder, Peterkin immediately took me
a bet of a thousand pounds that you had something to do with it, and I took him a bet of ten
thousand that you had not."
"Peterkin was right then," said I, explaining how the thing had occurred.
 "Well, we found it very useful," continued Jack, "although some of it had got a little damp; and we
furbished up the old pistol, with which Peterkin is a crack shot now. But to continue. We did not
find any other vestige of you on the reef, and finally gave up all hope of ever seeing you again.
After this the island became a dreary place to us, and we began to long for a ship to heave in sight
and take us off. But now that you're back again, my dear fellow, it looks as bright and cheerful as
it used to do, and I love it as much as ever.
"And now," continued Jack, "I have a great desire to visit some of the other islands of the South
Seas. Here we have a first-rate schooner at our disposal, so I don't see what should hinder us."
"Just the very thing I was going to propose," cried Peterkin. "I vote for starting at once."
"Well, then," said Jack, "it seems to me that we could not do better than shape our course for the
island on which Avatea lives, and endeavour to persuade Tararo to let her marry the black fellow to
whom she is engaged, instead of making a long pig of her. If he has a spark of gratitude in him,
he'll do it. Besides, having become champions for this girl once before, it behoves us, as true
knights, not to rest until we set her free; at least, all the heroes in all the story-books I have
ever read would count it foul disgrace to leave such a work unfinished."
"I'm sure I don't know or care what your knights in story-books would do," said Peterkin; "but I'm
certain that it would be capital fun, so I'm your man whenever you want me."
This plan of Jack's was quite in accordance with his romantic, impulsive nature; and having made up
his mind to save this black girl, he could not rest until the thing was commenced.
"But there may be great danger in this attempt," he said, at the end of a long consultation on the
subject. "Will you, lads, go with me in spite of this?"
"Go with you!" we repeated in the same breath.
"Can you doubt it?" said I.
"For a moment," added Peterkin.
I need scarcely say that, having made up our minds to go on this enterprise, we lost no time in
making preparations to quit the island; and as the schooner was well laden with stores of every kind
for a long cruise, we had little to do except to add to our abundant supply a quantity of
cocoa-nuts, bread-fruit, taro, yams, plums, and potatoes, chiefly with the view of carrying the
fragrance of our dear island along with us as long as we could.
 When all was ready, we paid a farewell visit to the different familiar spots where most of our time
had been spent. We ascended the mountain top, and gazed for the last time at the rich green foliage
in the valleys, the white sandy beach, the placid lagoon, and the barrier coral reef with its
crested breakers. Then we descended to Spouting Cliff, and looked down at the pale-green monster
which we had made such fruitless efforts to spear in days gone by. From this we hurried to the Water
Garden, and took a last dive into its clear waters, and a last gambol amongst its coral groves. I
hurried out before my companions, and dressed in haste, in order to have a long examination of my
tank, which Peterkin, in the fulness of his heart, had tended with the utmost care, as being a vivid
remembrancer of me, rather than out of love for natural history. It was in superb
condition—the water as clear and pellucid as crystal; the red and green seaweed of the most
brilliant hues; the red, purple, yellow, green, and striped anemones fully expanded, and stretching
out their arms as if to welcome and embrace their former master; the star-fish, zoophytes, sea-pens,
and other innumerable marine insects looking fresh and beautiful; and the crabs, as Peterkin said,
looking as wide awake, impertinent, rampant, and pugnacious as ever. It was, indeed, so lovely and
so interesting that I would scarcely allow myself to be torn away from it.
Last of all, we returned to the bower and collected the few articles we possessed, such as the axe,
the pencil-case, the broken telescope, the penknife, the hook made from the brass ring, and the
sail-needle, with which we had landed on the island; also the long boots and the pistol, besides
several curious articles of costume which we had manufactured from time to time.
 These we conveyed on board in our little boat, after having carved our names on a chip of ironwood,
JACK MARTIN, RALPH ROVER, PETERKIN GAY
which we fixed up inside of the bower. The boat was then hoisted on board and the anchor weighed;
which latter operation cost us great labour and much time, as the anchor was so heavy that we could
not move it without the aid of my complex machinery of blocks and pulleys. A steady breeze was
blowing off shore when we set sail, at a little before sunset. It swept us quickly past the reef and
out to sea. The shore grew rapidly more indistinct as the shades of evening fell, while our clipper
bark bounded lightly over the waves. Slowly the mountain top sank on the horizon, until it became a
mere speck. In another moment the sun and the Coral Island sank together into the broad bosom of the