Chapter 14 Summary

The Islet

The worst part of David’s adventures begins when he steps ashore on the islet of Earraid that night. He paces in the sand until dawn to keep from freezing and then climbs a hill but cannot find any sign of the Covenant. When he looks out over the land, he sees no houses or men. David is afraid to think about what has happened to his shipmates.

The boy begins walking, but it is difficult terrain. He hopes the sun will dry his clothes; instead it begins to rain and David is most miserable. Due to his inexperience, David cannot find a way to cross from the islet to the mainland. In stories, people who have adventures miraculously have chests of supplies or pockets full of useful things, but David has nothing but his money and the silver button Stewart gave him. The only things he finds to eat are cold, raw shellfish, but he is so hungry he finds them delicious at first. Unfortunately, he soon discovers that he has a hole in his pocket and the fifty pounds which he had in Queen’s Ferry have been reduced to three pounds and five shillings.

By the third morning on the islet, David’s clothes are beginning to rot, he is weak and he has a sore throat; however, worse is to come. As he suns himself on a rock, a fishing vessel passes by but ignores his cries for help. The boy weeps for the second time since being shipwrecked. Suddenly just the sight of the raw shellfish is repugnant; he should have fasted, as he gets food poison from eating it. That night David thinks he is going to die. Just as he is about to give up, he recovers and sleeps gratefully.

On the fourth day David feels better and sees another ship approaching, though he is afraid to hope for rescue. It is the same fishing ship which passed by yesterday. The fishermen struggle to communicate with the boy and the men laugh heartily at him; however, one of the men manages to tell David that he can leave the islet now because it is low tide. David feels foolish and knows a “sea-bred boy” would not have had to remain trapped here. If only he had stopped to think, he might have found his way off the islet much earlier. It is a miracle that the fisherman not only guessed his predicament but that they bothered to come back to help him. Without them, David might have spent his last days here; now he looks like a beggar and can barely walk, but he is alive.