The Castaways

Author: Captain Thomas Mayne Reid (1818-83)

Published: 1870

The book starts off with a group of people in a ship's boat, the ship itself having foundered in a typhoon in the Celebes sea. The ship's captain and his two children, the Irish ship's carpenter, and the Malay pilot, are all that finally come to shore, though when the book starts there are a body that has to be thrown overboard, and a seaman who has gone mad and who throws himself there.

Thereafter we are introduced to one natural history topic per chapter, be it a plant, a tree or an animal. There are various perils that have to be overcome--the upas tree, an ourang-outang, a tree that drops its fruit like a heavy bomb, a python, and quite a few more. Luckily they don't meet any unfriendly Dyaks during the journey they undertake to get from their landing-place to the town of Bruni, many hundreds of miles away.

On the whole they are saved by the courage, knowledge and skill of the co-hero, the Malay pilot, who is one of the best in that region with a blow-pipe. He makes himself one, and it is just as well he did, as you will see.


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