Chapter 16 Summary
After collecting many bags of wax berries, they declare themselves candlemakers and set to work. The father is not certain about how to make them, although he has seen the process. Elizabeth makes wicks from fibers pulled from sailcloth while the father boils the berries and skims off wax. Next they dip the wicks and hang them to dry. Once the wicks cool, they dip again, repeating this several times until the wax has the desired thickness. They let the candles harden, and for the first time since arriving, they have enough light to illuminate their quarters and stay up past sundown.
The next day, the father and boys work to attach wheels from the ship to the sledge. Although not perfect, the new cart will be easier for their donkey to pull. They load the cart with more trees to plant and head for Tentholm on the beach, which the father is determined to make a refuge from danger.
They plant a thick, prickly hedge around the entrances, where they also mount two guns. It takes six weeks to complete the project. When finished, the father notices how ragged everyone's clothes are and plans a final trip to the ship for a new wardrobe.
On the ship, they find trunks filled with sailors' outfits and bales of cloth. They take all weapons and ammunition; this will be their last trip to the disintegrating ship. Before they leave, the father sets an explosive device with a long fuse so there will be no explosion until they reach shore. Back on the beach, they say a sad goodbye to their last link to their European home. The next morning their spirits are raised when they gather objects that have floated to shore. Elizabeth announces a discovery that pleases everyone: Several ducks and geese have returned to Tentholm, bringing new families. Their flock will flourish on the island.
Back at Falconhurst, the family quickly plans another expedition to a wide expanse of meadow spread over a hill, with a magnificent ocean view. They decide to camp for a few days. The boys show off a new skill. Using ropes wrapped around the trunks of coconut trees and grasped in each hand, and pieces of shark skins attached to their pants at the inside of their knees, they climb the tall coconut trees. No longer must they wait for monkeys or crabs to throw them tasty coconuts.