R.M Ballantyne was born in 1825 and was one of the most popular authors of the 19th century. He wrote stories of daring adventure, narrow escapes, and faith in God. He believed that the boys of his time were too sheltered and pampered and wimpy, so he wrote inspiring stories meant to show how much of a hard knock world it was. His stories are meant to highlight how dangerous and treacherous the world is/was and how important it is to trust in God to know best.
So far my favorites are:
Red Rooney is an Irishman who is helping with some evangelical efforts towards the Eskimos when his ship sinks and he is stranded on the antarctic ice to starve, But an Eskimo named Okiok find him and takes him to his house to recuperate.
While he sojourns with the family of Okiok, Red Rooney makes among his many new friends, an enemy: Ujarak the Angekok (medicine man) who is a complete scoundrel- and who also wants to marry Okiok’s daughter Nunaga. But Ujarak is not the only one who wishes for Nunaga’s affections. Angut who the Eskimos call an Angekok is Ujarak’s enemy and rival, but he is an honorable man and does not lie and cheat everyone like Ujarak and his weak minded side kick Ippegoo.
One of my favorite parts in the book is when Red Rooney is talking to Angut about the Eskimo beliefs and he asks Angut what he believes since he thinks that the beliefs that the other eskimos hold to are foolishness. Angut says:
“Yes I believe in One,” returned the Eskimo in a low voice, “One who made me, and all things, and who must be good.”
“There are people in my land who deny that there is One, because they never saw, or felt, or heard Him so they say they cannot know,” said Rooney. Angut looked surprised.
“They must be fools,” he said . “I see a sledge, and I know that some man made it, for whoever heard of a sledge making itself? I see a world, and I know that the Great Spirit made it, because a world cannot make itself. The greatest Spirit must be One, because two greatests are impossible , and he is good, because good is better than evil, and the greatest includes the Best.”
The Lonely Island is about some sailors who are under a brutish tyrannical captain who abuses them for no good reason. They decide that they’ve had enough and they mutiny, sending their captain and the officers who wouldn’t join them in a life boat with a minimal supply of food and water. They sail back to Tahiti where they had been coming from when they mutinied and get supplies before they sail off in search of a place to live out their lives since they cannot return home.
They land on an island that had had people on it who had died out leaving food that they had planted to grow wild, so the fifteen men, five of whom are married to native women decide to settle down. Six of the men are natives who had come with the mutineers and they kind of over time became the servants of some of the white men two of which were scoundrels. The leader of the mutiny, Fletcher Christian, is consumed by guilt over leading the other men astray, so he takes to sitting up in a cave that overlooks the ocean and reads a Bible that someone had brought off of the ship before they burned it, and he for the first time believes in it.
Meanwhile things aren’t going so good down in the colony. One of the men named Quintal decides to steal the wife of one of the native men after his wife dies while gathering eggs, and the man isn’t too jazzed about that, although his wife doesn’t mind. So he runs off and starts plotting revenge and sowing discord among the other native men until they decide to kill the white men. Quintal hears about this and has his new wife and one of the other women kill the two ringleaders of the plot. They have no problem with this, and the deed is soon done.
The four remaining native men return soon after that, and things settle into more or less a normal rhythm but underneath, bitterness and resentment are building up again, for Quintal, and his friend McCoy are mercilessly beating and abusing their servants, until they decide that they just won’t take it. So they run away again this time taking guns and ammunition with them and they murder all except four of the men, including Christian who was teaching one of the other men what he had learned while reading the Bible.
Young, the man he was teaching was one of the men who managed not to get killed and he, and Adams, and Quintal, and McCoy are the only ones left alive with all of the women and about six or seven children. Unfortunately McCoy figures out how to make whiskey, and he and Quintal drink themselves to death, leaving Adams and Young with several widows and even more children on their hands. Fortunately Young had taken what Christian taught him to heart, and he taught Adams and everyone else what he himself learned before he dies from the strenuous life of living in Pitcairn (the island) coupled with asthma.
The rest of the story is about how Adams single handedly raised that whole pack of kids in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and how God blessed his huge family and himself for many, many generations.