Chapter 43 Summary
One evening as the brothers and Jenny practice shooting, they hear three guns booming across the water. This stops everyone. Never have they heard such sounds coming from the island. What if the guns belong to pirates who intend to do them harm?
As their initial fears subside, they consider that the guns could be signals from a friendly ship. Fritz and Franz are the most excited. When their father hears the longing in their voices, he realizes they must be craving a more civilized life. Having Jenny in their presence might have spawned these desires.
The father decides to sleep on the matter and its consequences, although he sits on the porch all night, keeping vigil.
The next day, a hurricane-force storm creates dangerous swells. Everyone fears the ship might be in danger. The storm lasts two days. When it subsides, the men are concerned the ship might be gone. They go to the tower and search the horizon. They also fire their guns and wait, but they hear nothing. Then, when they hear the guns again, they rejoice. To decide whether the ship is friend or foe, Fritz and his father decide to sail in search of the source.
Finally they see the ship, which has laid anchor. An encampment is set up on one of the smaller islands. After checking the people through their spyglass, Fritz and his father decide to announce themselves after they return home and clean up. They do not want the crew to think they are savages.
The next day, Fritz and his father, after donning their best clothes, meet with the captain and tell him their own history as well as Jenny's. It was Jenny's father who had inspired the captain's search; he believed his daughter was still alive after three years. The captain had heard her story and, knowing he was in the vicinity of where the ship had capsized, decided to attempt to find her.
With a burst of celebration, the family, passengers, and crew of the British vessel head to New Switzerland. Everyone is amazed by the prosperity and good health of the survivors. The family is also enthralled with the possibilities that the British ship might offer them.
As the day ends, the father realizes that decisions must be made about who wants to stay on the island or return with the ship. It will be difficult to choose.