Chapter 40 Summary
Lying on the sailboat's deck, the family is awakened by strange, ferocious howls and roars from the neighboring woods. Fritz jumps up and adds wood to the beach fire to increase the flames. He tells everyone to stay on the boat as he attempts to find out what is making the noise. Everyone loads their guns, staying watchful.
The first thing they see are the dogs running from the woods to huddle on the opposite side of the fire. They stare toward the woods, bodies erect as the roars come closer. The father remembers the boar they killed and thinks that whatever animal is making the sounds is coming because of the scent of the boar's blood.
Then a magnificent lion emerges out of the dark shadows. The animal paces in front of the fire, staring at the dogs. When it appears about to pounce, Fritz jumps out of the woods and shoots, striking the lion in the heart. The father jumps off the boat, but he is cautious as the dogs continue whining.
When the father turns around, he sees a lioness. She walks to her mate's body and paws at it, as if to awaken him. The father shoots the lioness but does not deliver a fatal wound. The dogs, sensing that the animal is weakened, jump on her. The father is poised to deliver a knife stab but not before the lioness swipes her paw across a dog's chest. The dog dies, as does the lioness from the father's knife.
The family's sleep is fitful for the rest of the night. The excitement of the day was overwhelming. They also mourn the loss of their dog, Juno, who had been with the family since the shipwreck. In the morning, they skin the lions, pack the dog's body, and prepare to return home.
The father asks Fritz to lead them safely through the channels. Under his breath, the father also bids farewell to Fritz. Fritz enters his boat and leads them away from the island, leaving the lion carcasses for scavengers. As they move away, the boys are busy handling the sails in the wind and do not see Fritz. Fritz then turns in the opposite direction and vanishes beyond a rocky point, which the father now will call Cape Farewell. When the other boys notice Fritz's absence, the father tells them Fritz wanted to do a little more exploring before coming home.