The Adventures of Swiss Family Robinson – Plot Synopsis – Book Five: Captives
As always, through Ernst’s narration and his diary we view life on the island though his eyes and realise that the Robinsons have been shipwrecked for approximately six months.
The family celebrate their first harvest. All seems peaceful and idyllic, but while out hunting Joanna and Ernst discover animal spoor of a seemingly large ape like creature. David is keen to investigate, but Elizabeth is concerned for her family’s safety.
Christina is captured by Ben and Parsons, who take her back to their island. When Parsons sees her black pearl, he becomes convinced that the Robinsons have a treasure hoard. He persuades Ben they should go after it.
Running from a wild cat in the forest Billy gets lost, and is stung by a strange insect in a swamp. Escaping a rain squall Billy hides in a small cave in the hills. When he wakes there is a large gorilla sitting in the mouth of the cave.
With David and Ernst away searching for Billy, Parsons storms the treehouse and demands the treasure. Emily hides her private jewels that she has kept hidden. Finding no treasure, Parsons demands that David gives himself up in exchange for Christina’s safe return. Parsons takes the family’s raft so they won’t be able to pursue him.
Looking for Billy, David slips into a swamp and is also bitten by a strange insect. Meanwhile, the gorilla has discovered Billy. At first the creature shows aggression, but sensing Billy is helpless, it quietens down. Unable to escape from the cave, Billy settles down to wait, but begins to feel very ill and discovers purple blotches on his skin.
When Emily’s jewels are accidentally discovered, David demands that they try to buy Parsons off with them, despite Emily’s protests that they are her dowry. But how to get a message to Parsons? Despite the family’s misgivings that the swim may be too far for their dog, Bruno is sent to Parsons island with a message tied to his collar. As they wait for a response, David Robinson also falls ill with purple blotches on his skin. Elizabeth’s remedies cannot cure him.
Billy, ill, but desperately hungry eats some leaves the gorilla has brought as food. After a while he recovers and with the gorilla away, he escapes. He returns to the treehouse and finds David gravely ill. Elizabeth gleans that Billy had the same illness, and realises that the leaves he ate must be a cure. More leaves are found and David is given an infusion.
Parsons takes Christina to rendezvous with the family. Parsons is given Emily’s jewels, but demands David Robinson as well. As the ailing David prepares to give himself up, Christina gives Parsons the slip and he and Ben are chased off by Ernst and Billy. David recovers and the family rejoice.