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by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Old Sea-dog at the Admiral Benbow
SQUIRE TRELAWNEY, Dr. Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having
asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from
the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the
island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I
take up my pen in the year of grace 17__ and go back to the time when
my father kept the Admiral Benbow inn and the brown old seaman with the
sabre cut first took up his lodging under our roof.
I remember him as if it were yesterday, as he came plodding to the
inn door, his sea-chest following behind him in a hand-barrow--a
tall, strong, heavy, nut-brown man, his tarry pigtail falling over the
shoulder of his soiled blue coat, his hands ragged and scarred, with
black, broken nails, and the sabre cut across one cheek, a dirty, livid
white. I remember him looking round the cover and whistling to himself
as he did so, and then breaking out in that old sea-song that he sang so
"Fifteen men on the dead man's chest--
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!"
in the high, old tottering voice that seemed to have been tuned and
broken at the capstan bars. Then he rapped on the door with a bit of
stick like a handspike that he carried, and when my father appeared,
called roughly for a glass of rum. This, when it was brought to him,
he drank slowly, like a connoisseur, lingering on the taste and still
looking about him at the cliffs and up at our signboard.
"This is a handy cove," says he at length; "and a pleasant sittyated
grog-shop. Much company, mate?"
My father told him no, very little company, the more was the pity.
"Well, then," said he, "this is the berth for me. Here you, matey," he
cried to the man who trundled the barrow; "bring up alongside and help
up my chest. I'll stay here a bit," he continued. "I'm a plain man; rum
and bacon and eggs is what I want, and that head up there for to watch
ships off. What you mought call me? You mought call me captain. Oh, I
see what you're at--there"; and he threw down three or four gold pieces
on the threshold. "You can tell me when I've worked through that," says
he, looking as fierce as a commander.
And indeed bad as his clothes were and coarsely as he spoke, he had none
of the appearance of a man who sailed before the mast, but seemed like
a mate or skipper accustomed to be obeyed or to strike. The man who came
with the barrow told us the mail had set him down the morning before at
the Royal George, that he had inquired what inns there were along the
coast, and hearing ours well spoken of, I suppose, and described as
lonely, had chosen it from the others for his place of residence. And
that was all we could learn of our guest.
He was a very silent man by custom. All day he hung round the cove or
upon the cliffs with a brass telescope; all evening he sat in a corner
of the parlour next the fire and drank rum and water very strong. Mostly
he would not speak when spoken to, only look up sudden and fierce and
blow through his nose like a fog-horn; and we and the people who came
about our house soon learned to let him be. Every day when he came back
from his stroll he would ask if any seafaring men had gone by along the
road. At first we thought it was the want of company of his own kind
that made him ask this question, but at last we began to see he was
desirous to avoid them. When a seaman did put up at the Admiral Benbow
(as now and then some did, making by the coast road for Bristol) he
would look in at him through the curtained door before he entered the
parlour; and he was always sure to be as silent as a mouse when any such
was present. For me, at least, there was no secret about the matter, for
I was, in a way, a sharer in his alarms. He had taken me aside one day
and promised me a silver fourpenny on the first of every month if I
would only keep my "weather-eye open for a seafaring man with one leg"
and let him know the moment he appeared. Often enough when the first
of the month came round and I applied to him for my wage, he would only
blow through his nose at me and stare me down, but before the week was
out he was sure to think better of it, bring me my four-penny piece, and
repeat his orders to look out for "the seafaring man with one leg."
How that personage haunted my dreams, I need scarcely tell you. On
stormy nights, when the wind shook the four corners of the house and
the surf roared along the cove and up the cliffs, I would see him in a
thousand forms, and with a thousand diabolical expressions. Now the leg
would be cut off at the knee, now at the hip; now he was a monstrous
kind of a creature who had never had but the one leg, and that in the
middle of his body. To see him leap and run and pursue me over hedge and
ditch was the worst of nightmares. And altogether I paid pretty dear for
my monthly fourpenny piece, in the shape of these abominable fancies.
But though I was so terrified by the idea of the seafaring man with one
leg, I was far less afraid of the captain himself than anybody else who
knew him. There were nights when he took a deal more rum and water
than his head would carry; and then he would sometimes sit and sing his
wicked, old, wild sea-songs, minding nobody; but sometimes he would call
for glasses round and force all the trembling company to listen to his
stories or bear a chorus to his singing. Often I have heard the house
shaking with "Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum," all the neighbours joining
in for dear life, with the fear of death upon them, and each singing
louder than the other to avoid remark. For in these fits he was the most
overriding companion ever known; he would slap his hand on the table for
silence all round; he would fly up in a passion of anger at a question,
or sometimes because none was put, and so he judged the company was not
following his story. Nor would he allow anyone to leave the inn till he
had drunk himself sleepy and reeled off to bed.
His stories were what frightened people worst of all. Dreadful stories
they were--about hanging, and walking the plank, and storms at sea, and
the Dry Tortugas, and wild deeds and places on the Spanish Main. By his
own account he must have lived his life among some of the wickedest men
that God ever allowed upon the sea, and the language in which he told
these stories shocked our plain country people almost as much as the
crimes that he described. My father was always saying the inn would be
ruined, for people would soon cease coming there to be tyrannized over
and put down, and sent shivering to their beds; but I really believe his
presence did us good. People were frightened at the time, but on looking
back they rather liked it; it was a fine excitement in a quiet country
life, and there was even a party of the younger men who pretended to
admire him, calling him a "true sea-dog" and a "real old salt" and
such like names, and saying there was the sort of man that made England
terrible at sea.
In one way, indeed, he bade fair to ruin us, for he kept on staying week
after week, and at last month after month, so that all the money had
been long exhausted, and still my father never plucked up the heart to
insist on having more. If ever he mentioned it, the captain blew through
his nose so loudly that you might say he roared, and stared my poor
father out of the room. I have seen him wringing his hands after such a
rebuff, and I am sure the annoyance and the terror he lived in must have
greatly hastened his early and unhappy death.
All the time he lived with us the captain made no change whatever in his
dress but to buy some stockings from a hawker. One of the cocks of his
hat having fallen down, he let it hang from that day forth, though it
was a great annoyance when it blew. I remember the appearance of his
coat, which he patched himself upstairs in his room, and which, before
the end, was nothing but patches. He never wrote or received a letter,
and he never spoke with any but the neighbours, and with these, for the
most part, only when drunk on rum. The great sea-chest none of us had
ever seen open.
He was only once crossed, and that was towards the end, when my poor
father was far gone in a decline that took him off. Dr. Livesey came
late one afternoon to see the patient, took a bit of dinner from my
mother, and went into the parlour to smoke a pipe until his horse should
come down from the hamlet, for we had no stabling at the old Benbow. I
followed him in, and I remember observing the contrast the neat, bright
doctor, with his powder as white as snow and his bright, black eyes and
pleasant manners, made with the coltish country folk, and above all,
with that filthy, heavy, bleared scarecrow of a pirate of ours, sitting,
far gone in rum, with his arms on the table. Suddenly he--the captain,
that is--began to pipe up his eternal song:
"Fifteen men on the dead man's chest--
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest--
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!"
At first I had supposed "the dead man's chest" to be that identical big
box of his upstairs in the front room, and the thought had been mingled
in my nightmares with that of the one-legged seafaring man. But by this
time we had all long ceased to pay any particular notice to the song; it
was new, that night, to nobody but Dr. Livesey, and on him I observed it
did not produce an agreeable effect, for he looked up for a moment quite
angrily before he went on with his talk to old Taylor, the gardener, on
a new cure for the rheumatics. In the meantime, the captain gradually
brightened up at his own music, and at last flapped his hand upon
the table before him in a way we all knew to mean silence. The voices
stopped at once, all but Dr. Livesey's; he went on as before speaking
clear and kind and drawing briskly at his pipe between every word or
two. The captain glared at him for a while, flapped his hand again,
glared still harder, and at last broke out with a villainous, low oath,
"Silence, there, between decks!"
"Were you addressing me, sir?" says the doctor; and when the ruffian had
told him, with another oath, that this was so, "I have only one thing to
say to you, sir," replies the doctor, "that if you keep on drinking rum,
the world will soon be quit of a very dirty scoundrel!"
The old fellow's fury was awful. He sprang to his feet, drew and opened
a sailor's clasp-knife, and balancing it open on the palm of his hand,
threatened to pin the doctor to the wall.
The doctor never so much as moved. He spoke to him as before, over his
shoulder and in the same tone of voice, rather high, so that all the
room might hear, but perfectly calm and steady: "If you do not put that
knife this instant in your pocket, I promise, upon my honour, you shall
hang at the next assizes."
Then followed a battle of looks between them, but the captain soon
knuckled under, put up his weapon, and resumed his seat, grumbling like
a beaten dog.
"And now, sir," continued the doctor, "since I now know there's such a
fellow in my district, you may count I'll have an eye upon you day and
night. I'm not a doctor only; I'm a magistrate; and if I catch a breath
of complaint against you, if it's only for a piece of incivility like
tonight's, I'll take effectual means to have you hunted down and routed
out of this. Let that suffice."
Soon after, Dr. Livesey's horse came to the door and he rode away, but
the captain held his peace that evening, and for many evenings to come.
Black Dog Appears and Disappears
IT was not very long after this that there occurred the first of the
mysterious events that rid us at last of the captain, though not, as you
will see, of his affairs. It was a bitter cold winter, with long, hard
frosts and heavy gales; and it was plain from the first that my poor
father was little likely to see the spring. He sank daily, and my mother
and I had all the inn upon our hands, and were kept busy enough without
paying much regard to our unpleasant guest.
It was one January morning, very early--a pinching, frosty morning--the
cove all grey with hoar-frost, the ripple lapping softly on the stones,
the sun still low and only touching the hilltops and shining far to
seaward. The captain had risen earlier than usual and set out down the
beach, his cutlass swinging under the broad skirts of the old blue coat,
his brass telescope under his arm, his hat tilted back upon his head. I
remember his breath hanging like smoke in his wake as he strode off, and
the last sound I heard of him as he turned the big rock was a loud snort
of indignation, as though his mind was still running upon Dr. Livesey.
Well, mother was upstairs with father and I was laying the
breakfast-table against the captain's return when the parlour door
opened and a man stepped in on whom I had never set my eyes before. He
was a pale, tallowy creature, wanting two fingers of the left hand, and
though he wore a cutlass, he did not look much like a fighter. I
had always my eye open for seafaring men, with one leg or two, and I
remember this one puzzled me. He was not sailorly, and yet he had a
smack of the sea about him too.
I asked him what was for his service, and he said he would take rum; but
as I was going out of the room to fetch it, he sat down upon a table
and motioned me to draw near. I paused where I was, with my napkin in my
"Come here, sonny," says he. "Come nearer here."
I took a step nearer.
"Is this here table for my mate Bill?" he asked with a kind of leer.
I told him I did not know his mate Bill, and this was for a person who
stayed in our house whom we called the captain.
"Well," said he, "my mate Bill would be called the captain, as like
as not. He has a cut on one cheek and a mighty pleasant way with him,
particularly in drink, has my mate Bill. We'll put it, for argument
like, that your captain has a cut on one cheek--and we'll put it, if you
like, that that cheek's the right one. Ah, well! I told you. Now, is my
mate Bill in this here house?"
I told him he was out walking.
"Which way, sonny? Which way is he gone?"
And when I had pointed out the rock and told him how the captain was
likely to return, and how soon, and answered a few other questions,
"Ah," said he, "this'll be as good as drink to my mate Bill."
The expression of his face as he said these words was not at all
pleasant, and I had my own reasons for thinking that the stranger was
mistaken, even supposing he meant what he said. But it was no affair of
mine, I thought; and besides, it was difficult to know what to do. The
stranger kept hanging about just inside the inn door, peering round the
corner like a cat waiting for a mouse. Once I stepped out myself into
the road, but he immediately called me back, and as I did not obey quick
enough for his fancy, a most horrible change came over his tallowy face,
and he ordered me in with an oath that made me jump. As soon as I
was back again he returned to his former manner, half fawning, half
sneering, patted me on the shoulder, told me I was a good boy and he had
taken quite a fancy to me. "I have a son of my own," said he, "as like
you as two blocks, and he's all the pride of my 'art. But the great
thing for boys is discipline, sonny--discipline. Now, if you had sailed
along of Bill, you wouldn't have stood there to be spoke to twice--not
you. That was never Bill's way, nor the way of sich as sailed with him.
And here, sure enough, is my mate Bill, with a spy-glass under his arm,
bless his old 'art, to be sure. You and me'll just go back into the
parlour, sonny, and get behind the door, and we'll give Bill a little
surprise--bless his 'art, I say again."
So saying, the stranger backed along with me into the parlour and put me
behind him in the corner so that we were both hidden by the open door. I
was very uneasy and alarmed, as you may fancy, and it rather added to my
fears to observe that the stranger was certainly frightened himself. He
cleared the hilt of his cutlass and loosened the blade in the sheath;
and all the time we were waiting there he kept swallowing as if he felt
what we used to call a lump in the throat.
At last in strode the captain, slammed the door behind him, without
looking to the right or left, and marched straight across the room to
where his breakfast awaited him.
"Bill," said the stranger in a voice that I thought he had tried to make
bold and big.
The captain spun round on his heel and fronted us; all the brown had
gone out of his face, and even his nose was blue; he had the look of a
man who sees a ghost, or the evil one, or something worse, if anything
can be; and upon my word, I felt sorry to see him all in a moment turn
so old and sick.
"Come, Bill, you know me; you know an old shipmate, Bill, surely," said
The captain made a sort of gasp.
"Black Dog!" said he.
"And who else?" returned the other, getting more at his ease. "Black
Dog as ever was, come for to see his old shipmate Billy, at the Admiral
Benbow inn. Ah, Bill, Bill, we have seen a sight of times, us two, since
I lost them two talons," holding up his mutilated hand.
"Now, look here," said the captain; "you've run me down; here I am;
well, then, speak up; what is it?"
"That's you, Bill," returned Black Dog, "you're in the right of it,
Billy. I'll have a glass of rum from this dear child here, as I've took
such a liking to; and we'll sit down, if you please, and talk square,
like old shipmates."
When I returned with the rum, they were already seated on either side
of the captain's breakfast-table--Black Dog next to the door and
sitting sideways so as to have one eye on his old shipmate and one, as I
thought, on his retreat.
He bade me go and leave the door wide open. "None of your keyholes for
me, sonny," he said; and I left them together and retired into the bar.
"For a long time, though I certainly did my best to listen, I could hear
nothing but a low gattling; but at last the voices began to grow higher,
and I could pick up a word or two, mostly oaths, from the captain.
"No, no, no, no; and an end of it!" he cried once. And again, "If it
comes to swinging, swing all, say I."
Then all of a sudden there was a tremendous explosion of oaths and
other noises--the chair and table went over in a lump, a clash of steel
followed, and then a cry of pain, and the next instant I saw Black
Dog in full flight, and the captain hotly pursuing, both with drawn
cutlasses, and the former streaming blood from the left shoulder. Just
at the door the captain aimed at the fugitive one last tremendous
cut, which would certainly have split him to the chine had it not been
intercepted by our big signboard of Admiral Benbow. You may see the
notch on the lower side of the frame to this day.
That blow was the last of the battle. Once out upon the road, Black
Dog, in spite of his wound, showed a wonderful clean pair of heels and
disappeared over the edge of the hill in half a minute. The captain, for
his part, stood staring at the signboard like a bewildered man. Then he
passed his hand over his eyes several times and at last turned back into
"Jim," says he, "rum"; and as he spoke, he reeled a little, and caught
himself with one hand against the wall.
"Are you hurt?" cried I.
"Rum," he repeated. "I must get away from here. Rum! Rum!"
I ran to fetch it, but I was quite unsteadied by all that had fallen
out, and I broke one glass and fouled the tap, and while I was still
getting in my own way, I heard a loud fall in the parlour, and running
in, beheld the captain lying full length upon the floor. At the same
instant my mother, alarmed by the cries and fighting, came running
downstairs to help me. Between us we raised his head. He was breathing
very loud and hard, but his eyes were closed and his face a horrible
"Dear, deary me," cried my mother, "what a disgrace upon the house! And
your poor father sick!"
In the meantime, we had no idea what to do to help the captain, nor any
other thought but that he had got his death-hurt in the scuffle with
the stranger. I got the rum, to be sure, and tried to put it down his
throat, but his teeth were tightly shut and his jaws as strong as iron.
It was a happy relief for us when the door opened and Doctor Livesey
came in, on his visit to my father.
"Oh, doctor," we cried, "what shall we do? Where is he wounded?"
"Wounded? A fiddle-stick's end!" said the doctor. "No more wounded than
you or I. The man has had a stroke, as I warned him. Now, Mrs. Hawkins,
just you run upstairs to your husband and tell him, if possible, nothing
about it. For my part, I must do my best to save this fellow's trebly
worthless life; Jim, you get me a basin."
When I got back with the basin, the doctor had already ripped up the
captain's sleeve and exposed his great sinewy arm. It was tattooed
in several places. "Here's luck," "A fair wind," and "Billy Bones his
fancy," were very neatly and clearly executed on the forearm; and up
near the shoulder there was a sketch of a gallows and a man hanging from
it--done, as I thought, with great spirit.
"Prophetic," said the doctor, touching this picture with his finger.
"And now, Master Billy Bones, if that be your name, we'll have a look at
the colour of your blood. Jim," he said, "are you afraid of blood?"
"No, sir," said I.
"Well, then," said he, "you hold the basin"; and with that he took his
lancet and opened a vein.
A great deal of blood was taken before the captain opened his eyes
and looked mistily about him. First he recognized the doctor with
an unmistakable frown; then his glance fell upon me, and he looked
relieved. But suddenly his colour changed, and he tried to raise
himself, crying, "Where's Black Dog?"
"There is no Black Dog here," said the doctor, "except what you have
on your own back. You have been drinking rum; you have had a stroke,
precisely as I told you; and I have just, very much against my own will,
dragged you headforemost out of the grave. Now, Mr. Bones--"
"That's not my name," he interrupted.
"Much I care," returned the doctor. "It's the name of a buccaneer of my
acquaintance; and I call you by it for the sake of shortness, and what I
have to say to you is this; one glass of rum won't kill you, but if
you take one you'll take another and another, and I stake my wig if you
don't break off short, you'll die--do you understand that?--die, and go
to your own place, like the man in the Bible. Come, now, make an effort.
I'll help you to your bed for once."
Between us, with much trouble, we managed to hoist him upstairs, and
laid him on his bed, where his head fell back on the pillow as if he
were almost fainting.
"Now, mind you," said the doctor, "I clear my conscience--the name of
rum for you is death."
And with that he went off to see my father, taking me with him by the
"This is nothing," he said as soon as he had closed the door. "I have
drawn blood enough to keep him quiet awhile; he should lie for a week
where he is--that is the best thing for him and you; but another stroke
would settle him."
The Black Spot
ABOUT noon I stopped at the captain's door with some cooling drinks
and medicines. He was lying very much as we had left him, only a little
higher, and he seemed both weak and excited.
"Jim," he said, "you're the only one here that's worth anything, and you
know I've been always good to you. Never a month but I've given you a
silver fourpenny for yourself. And now you see, mate, I'm pretty low,
and deserted by all; and Jim, you'll bring me one noggin of rum, now,
won't you, matey?"
"The doctor--" I began.
But he broke in cursing the doctor, in a feeble voice but heartily.
"Doctors is all swabs," he said; "and that doctor there, why, what do
he know about seafaring men? I been in places hot as pitch, and mates
dropping round with Yellow Jack, and the blessed land a-heaving like the
sea with earthquakes--what to the doctor know of lands like that?--and I
lived on rum, I tell you. It's been meat and drink, and man and wife,
to me; and if I'm not to have my rum now I'm a poor old hulk on a lee
shore, my blood'll be on you, Jim, and that doctor swab"; and he ran on
again for a while with curses. "Look, Jim, how my fingers fidges,"
he continued in the pleading tone. "I can't keep 'em still, not I. I
haven't had a drop this blessed day. That doctor's a fool, I tell you.
If I don't have a drain o' rum, Jim, I'll have the horrors; I seen some
on 'em already. I seen old Flint in the corner there, behind you; as
plain as print, I seen him; and if I get the horrors, I'm a man that
has lived rough, and I'll raise Cain. Your doctor hisself said one glass
wouldn't hurt me. I'll give you a golden guinea for a noggin, Jim."
He was growing more and more excited, and this alarmed me for my father,
who was very low that day and needed quiet; besides, I was reassured by
the doctor's words, now quoted to me, and rather offended by the offer
of a bribe.
"I want none of your money," said I, "but what you owe my father. I'll
get you one glass, and no more."
When I brought it to him, he seized it greedily and drank it out.
"Aye, aye," said he, "that's some better, sure enough. And now, matey,
did that doctor say how long I was to lie here in this old berth?"
"A week at least," said I.
"Thunder!" he cried. "A week! I can't do that; they'd have the black
spot on me by then. The lubbers is going about to get the wind of me
this blessed moment; lubbers as couldn't keep what they got, and want to
nail what is another's. Is that seamanly behaviour, now, I want to know?
But I'm a saving soul. I never wasted good money of mine, nor lost it
neither; and I'll trick 'em again. I'm not afraid on 'em. I'll shake out
another reef, matey, and daddle 'em again."
As he was thus speaking, he had risen from bed with great difficulty,
holding to my shoulder with a grip that almost made me cry out, and
moving his legs like so much dead weight. His words, spirited as they
were in meaning, contrasted sadly with the weakness of the voice in
which they were uttered. He paused when he had got into a sitting
position on the edge.
"That doctor's done me," he murmured. "My ears is singing. Lay me back."
Before I could do much to help him he had fallen back again to his
former place, where he lay for a while silent.
"Jim," he said at length, "you saw that seafaring man today?"
"Black Dog?" I asked.
"Ah! Black Dog," says he. "HE'S a bad un; but there's worse that put him
on. Now, if I can't get away nohow, and they tip me the black spot, mind
you, it's my old sea-chest they're after; you get on a horse--you can,
can't you? Well, then, you get on a horse, and go to--well, yes,
I will!--to that eternal doctor swab, and tell him to pipe all
hands--magistrates and sich--and he'll lay 'em aboard at the Admiral
Benbow--all old Flint's crew, man and boy, all on 'em that's left. I was
first mate, I was, old Flint's first mate, and I'm the on'y one as knows
the place. He gave it me at Savannah, when he lay a-dying, like as if I
was to now, you see. But you won't peach unless they get the black spot
on me, or unless you see that Black Dog again or a seafaring man with
one leg, Jim--him above all."
"But what is the black spot, captain?" I asked.
"That's a summons, mate. I'll tell you if they get that. But you keep
your weather-eye open, Jim, and I'll share with you equals, upon my
He wandered a little longer, his voice growing weaker; but soon after I
had given him his medicine, which he took like a child, with the remark,
"If ever a seaman wanted drugs, it's me," he fell at last into a heavy,
swoon-like sleep, in which I left him. What I should have done had all
gone well I do not know. Probably I should have told the whole story to
the doctor, for I was in mortal fear lest the captain should repent of
his confessions and make an end of me. But as things fell out, my poor
father died quite suddenly that evening, which put all other matters
on one side. Our natural distress, the visits of the neighbours, the
arranging of the funeral, and all the work of the inn to be carried on
in the meanwhile kept me so busy that I had scarcely time to think of
the captain, far less to be afraid of him.
He got downstairs next morning, to be sure, and had his meals as usual,
though he ate little and had more, I am afraid, than his usual supply of
rum, for he helped himself out of the bar, scowling and blowing through
his nose, and no one dared to cross him. On the night before the funeral
he was as drunk as ever; and it was shocking, in that house of mourning,
to hear him singing away at his ugly old sea-song; but weak as he was,
we were all in the fear of death for him, and the doctor was suddenly
taken up with a case many miles away and was never near the house after
my father's death. I have said the captain was weak, and indeed he
seemed rather to grow weaker than regain his strength. He clambered up
and down stairs, and went from the parlour to the bar and back again,
and sometimes put his nose out of doors to smell the sea, holding on to
the walls as he went for support and breathing hard and fast like a man
on a steep mountain. He never particularly addressed me, and it is my
belief he had as good as forgotten his confidences; but his temper was
more flighty, and allowing for his bodily weakness, more violent than
ever. He had an alarming way now when he was drunk of drawing his
cutlass and laying it bare before him on the table. But with all that,
he minded people less and seemed shut up in his own thoughts and rather
wandering. Once, for instance, to our extreme wonder, he piped up to a
different air, a king of country love-song that he must have learned in
his youth before he had begun to follow the sea.
So things passed until, the day after the funeral, and about three
o'clock of a bitter, foggy, frosty afternoon, I was standing at the door
for a moment, full of sad thoughts about my father, when I saw someone
drawing slowly near along the road. He was plainly blind, for he tapped
before him with a stick and wore a great green shade over his eyes and
nose; and he was hunched, as if with age or weakness, and wore a huge
old tattered sea-cloak with a hood that made him appear positively
deformed. I never saw in my life a more dreadful-looking figure.
He stopped a little from the inn, and raising his voice in an odd
sing-song, addressed the air in front of him, "Will any kind friend
inform a poor blind man, who has lost the precious sight of his eyes in
the gracious defence of his native country, England--and God bless King
George!--where or in what part of this country he may now be?"
"You are at the Admiral Benbow, Black Hill Cove, my good man," said I.
"I hear a voice," said he, "a young voice. Will you give me your hand,
my kind young friend, and lead me in?"
I held out my hand, and the horrible, soft-spoken, eyeless creature
gripped it in a moment like a vise. I was so much startled that I
struggled to withdraw, but the blind man pulled me close up to him with
a single action of his arm.
"Now, boy," he said, "take me in to the captain."
"Sir," said I, "upon my word I dare not."
"Oh," he sneered, "that's it! Take me in straight or I'll break your
And he gave it, as he spoke, a wrench that made me cry out.
"Sir," said I, "it is for yourself I mean. The captain is not what he
used to be. He sits with a drawn cutlass. Another gentleman--"
"Come, now, march," interrupted he; and I never heard a voice so cruel,
and cold, and ugly as that blind man's. It cowed me more than the pain,
and I began to obey him at once, walking straight in at the door and
towards the parlour, where our sick old buccaneer was sitting, dazed
with rum. The blind man clung close to me, holding me in one iron fist
and leaning almost more of his weight on me than I could carry. "Lead me
straight up to him, and when I'm in view, cry out, 'Here's a friend
for you, Bill.' If you don't, I'll do this," and with that he gave me a
twitch that I thought would have made me faint. Between this and that, I
was so utterly terrified of the blind beggar that I forgot my terror of
the captain, and as I opened the parlour door, cried out the words he
had ordered in a trembling voice.
The poor captain raised his eyes, and at one look the rum went out of
him and left him staring sober. The expression of his face was not so
much of terror as of mortal sickness. He made a movement to rise, but I
do not believe he had enough force left in his body.
"Now, Bill, sit where you are," said the beggar. "If I can't see, I can
hear a finger stirring. Business is business. Hold out your left hand.
Boy, take his left hand by the wrist and bring it near to my right."
We both obeyed him to the letter, and I saw him pass something from the
hollow of the hand that held his stick into the palm of the captain's,
which closed upon it instantly.
"And now that's done," said the blind man; and at the words he suddenly
left hold of me, and with incredible accuracy and nimbleness,
skipped out of the parlour and into the road, where, as I still stood
motionless, I could hear his stick go tap-tap-tapping into the distance.
It was some time before either I or the captain seemed to gather our
senses, but at length, and about at the same moment, I released his
wrist, which I was still holding, and he drew in his hand and looked
sharply into the palm.
"Ten o'clock!" he cried. "Six hours. We'll do them yet," and he sprang
to his feet.
Even as he did so, he reeled, put his hand to his throat, stood swaying
for a moment, and then, with a peculiar sound, fell from his whole
height face foremost to the floor.
I ran to him at once, calling to my mother. But haste was all in vain.
The captain had been struck dead by thundering apoplexy. It is a curious
thing to understand, for I had certainly never liked the man, though of
late I had begun to pity him, but as soon as I saw that he was dead, I
burst into a flood of tears. It was the second death I had known, and
the sorrow of the first was still fresh in my heart.
I LOST no time, of course, in telling my mother all that I knew, and
perhaps should have told her long before, and we saw ourselves at once
in a difficult and dangerous position. Some of the man's money--if
he had any--was certainly due to us, but it was not likely that our
captain's shipmates, above all the two specimens seen by me, Black
Dog and the blind beggar, would be inclined to give up their booty in
payment of the dead man's debts. The captain's order to mount at
once and ride for Doctor Livesey would have left my mother alone
and unprotected, which was not to be thought of. Indeed, it seemed
impossible for either of us to remain much longer in the house; the fall
of coals in the kitchen grate, the very ticking of the clock, filled
us with alarms. The neighbourhood, to our ears, seemed haunted by
approaching footsteps; and what between the dead body of the captain
on the parlour floor and the thought of that detestable blind beggar
hovering near at hand and ready to return, there were moments when, as
the saying goes, I jumped in my skin for terror. Something must speedily
be resolved upon, and it occurred to us at last to go forth together
and seek help in the neighbouring hamlet. No sooner said than done.
Bare-headed as we were, we ran out at once in the gathering evening and
the frosty fog.
The hamlet lay not many hundred yards away, though out of view, on the
other side of the next cove; and what greatly encouraged me, it was
in an opposite direction from that whence the blind man had made his
appearance and whither he had presumably returned. We were not many
minutes on the road, though we sometimes stopped to lay hold of each
other and hearken. But there was no unusual sound--nothing but the low
wash of the ripple and the croaking of the inmates of the wood.
It was already candle-light when we reached the hamlet, and I shall
never forget how much I was cheered to see the yellow shine in doors and
windows; but that, as it proved, was the best of the help we were likely
to get in that quarter. For--you would have thought men would have been
ashamed of themselves--no soul would consent to return with us to the
Admiral Benbow. The more we told of our troubles, the more--man, woman,
and child--they clung to the shelter of their houses. The name of
Captain Flint, though it was strange to me, was well enough known to
some there and carried a great weight of terror. Some of the men who
had been to field-work on the far side of the Admiral Benbow remembered,
besides, to have seen several strangers on the road, and taking them to
be smugglers, to have bolted away; and one at least had seen a little
lugger in what we called Kitt's Hole. For that matter, anyone who was a
comrade of the captain's was enough to frighten them to death. And the
short and the long of the matter was, that while we could get several
who were willing enough to ride to Dr. Livesey's, which lay in another
direction, not one would help us to defend the inn.
They say cowardice is infectious; but then argument is, on the other
hand, a great emboldener; and so when each had said his say, my mother
made them a speech. She would not, she declared, lose money that
belonged to her fatherless boy; "If none of the rest of you dare,"
she said, "Jim and I dare. Back we will go, the way we came, and small
thanks to you big, hulking, chicken-hearted men. We'll have that chest
open, if we die for it. And I'll thank you for that bag, Mrs. Crossley,
to bring back our lawful money in."
Of course I said I would go with my mother, and of course they all cried
out at our foolhardiness, but even then not a man would go along with
us. All they would do was to give me a loaded pistol lest we were
attacked, and to promise to have horses ready saddled in case we were
pursued on our return, while one lad was to ride forward to the doctor's
in search of armed assistance.
My heart was beating finely when we two set forth in the cold night upon
this dangerous venture. A full moon was beginning to rise and peered
redly through the upper edges of the fog, and this increased our haste,
for it was plain, before we came forth again, that all would be as
bright as day, and our departure exposed to the eyes of any watchers.
We slipped along the hedges, noiseless and swift, nor did we see or hear
anything to increase our terrors, till, to our relief, the door of the
Admiral Benbow had closed behind us.
I slipped the bolt at once, and we stood and panted for a moment in the
dark, alone in the house with the dead captain's body. Then my mother
got a candle in the bar, and holding each other's hands, we advanced
into the parlour. He lay as we had left him, on his back, with his eyes
open and one arm stretched out.
"Draw down the blind, Jim," whispered my mother; "they might come and
watch outside. And now," said she when I had done so, "we have to get
the key off THAT; and who's to touch it, I should like to know!" and she
gave a kind of sob as she said the words.
I went down on my knees at once. On the floor close to his hand there
was a little round of paper, blackened on the one side. I could not
doubt that this was the BLACK SPOT; and taking it up, I found written
on the other side, in a very good, clear hand, this short message: "You
have till ten tonight."
"He had till ten, Mother," said I; and just as I said it, our old clock
began striking. This sudden noise startled us shockingly; but the news
was good, for it was only six.
"Now, Jim," she said, "that key."
I felt in his pockets, one after another. A few small coins, a thimble,
and some thread and big needles, a piece of pigtail tobacco bitten away
at the end, his gully with the crooked handle, a pocket compass, and a
tinder box were all that they contained, and I began to despair.
"Perhaps it's round his neck," suggested my mother.
Overcoming a strong repugnance, I tore open his shirt at the neck, and
there, sure enough, hanging to a bit of tarry string, which I cut with
his own gully, we found the key. At this triumph we were filled with
hope and hurried upstairs without delay to the little room where he had
slept so long and where his box had stood since the day of his arrival.
It was like any other seaman's chest on the outside, the initial "B"
burned on the top of it with a hot iron, and the corners somewhat
smashed and broken as by long, rough usage.
"Give me the key," said my mother; and though the lock was very stiff,
she had turned it and thrown back the lid in a twinkling.
A strong smell of tobacco and tar rose from the interior, but nothing
was to be seen on the top except a suit of very good clothes, carefully
brushed and folded. They had never been worn, my mother said. Under
that, the miscellany began--a quadrant, a tin canikin, several sticks of
tobacco, two brace of very handsome pistols, a piece of bar silver, an
old Spanish watch and some other trinkets of little value and mostly of
foreign make, a pair of compasses mounted with brass, and five or six
curious West Indian shells. I have often wondered since why he should
have carried about these shells with him in his wandering, guilty, and
In the meantime, we had found nothing of any value but the silver and
the trinkets, and neither of these were in our way. Underneath there
was an old boat-cloak, whitened with sea-salt on many a harbour-bar. My
mother pulled it up with impatience, and there lay before us, the last
things in the chest, a bundle tied up in oilcloth, and looking like
papers, and a canvas bag that gave forth, at a touch, the jingle of
"I'll show these rogues that I'm an honest woman," said my mother. "I'll
have my dues, and not a farthing over. Hold Mrs. Crossley's bag." And
she began to count over the amount of the captain's score from the
sailor's bag into the one that I was holding.
It was a long, difficult business, for the coins were of all countries
and sizes--doubloons, and louis d'ors, and guineas, and pieces of eight,
and I know not what besides, all shaken together at random. The guineas,
too, were about the scarcest, and it was with these only that my mother
knew how to make her count.
When we were about half-way through, I suddenly put my hand upon her
arm, for I had heard in the silent frosty air a sound that brought my
heart into my mouth--the tap-tapping of the blind man's stick upon the
frozen road. It drew nearer and nearer, while we sat holding our breath.
Then it struck sharp on the inn door, and then we could hear the handle
being turned and the bolt rattling as the wretched being tried to enter;
and then there was a long time of silence both within and without.
At last the tapping recommenced, and, to our indescribable joy and
gratitude, died slowly away again until it ceased to be heard.
"Mother," said I, "take the whole and let's be going," for I was sure
the bolted door must have seemed suspicious and would bring the whole
hornet's nest about our ears, though how thankful I was that I had
bolted it, none could tell who had never met that terrible blind man.
But my mother, frightened as she was, would not consent to take a
fraction more than was due to her and was obstinately unwilling to be
content with less. It was not yet seven, she said, by a long way; she
knew her rights and she would have them; and she was still arguing with
me when a little low whistle sounded a good way off upon the hill. That
was enough, and more than enough, for both of us.
"I'll take what I have," she said, jumping to her feet.
"And I'll take this to square the count," said I, picking up the oilskin
Next moment we were both groping downstairs, leaving the candle by
the empty chest; and the next we had opened the door and were in full
retreat. We had not started a moment too soon. The fog was rapidly
dispersing; already the moon shone quite clear on the high ground on
either side; and it was only in the exact bottom of the dell and round
the tavern door that a thin veil still hung unbroken to conceal the
first steps of our escape. Far less than half-way to the hamlet, very
little beyond the bottom of the hill, we must come forth into the
moonlight. Nor was this all, for the sound of several footsteps running
came already to our ears, and as we looked back in their direction, a
light tossing to and fro and still rapidly advancing showed that one of
the newcomers carried a lantern.
"My dear," said my mother suddenly, "take the money and run on. I am
going to faint."
This was certainly the end for both of us, I thought. How I cursed the
cowardice of the neighbours; how I blamed my poor mother for her honesty
and her greed, for her past foolhardiness and present weakness! We were
just at the little bridge, by good fortune; and I helped her, tottering
as she was, to the edge of the bank, where, sure enough, she gave a sigh
and fell on my shoulder. I do not know how I found the strength to do it
at all, and I am afraid it was roughly done, but I managed to drag her
down the bank and a little way under the arch. Farther I could not move
her, for the bridge was too low to let me do more than crawl below it.
So there we had to stay--my mother almost entirely exposed and both of
us within earshot of the inn.
The Last of the Blind Man
MY curiosity, in a sense, was stronger than my fear, for I could not
remain where I was, but crept back to the bank again, whence, sheltering
my head behind a bush of broom, I might command the road before our
door. I was scarcely in position ere my enemies began to arrive, seven
or eight of them, running hard, their feet beating out of time along
the road and the man with the lantern some paces in front. Three men ran
together, hand in hand; and I made out, even through the mist, that the
middle man of this trio was the blind beggar. The next moment his voice
showed me that I was right.
"Down with the door!" he cried.
"Aye, aye, sir!" answered two or three; and a rush was made upon the
Admiral Benbow, the lantern-bearer following; and then I could see
them pause, and hear speeches passed in a lower key, as if they were
surprised to find the door open. But the pause was brief, for the blind
man again issued his commands. His voice sounded louder and higher, as
if he were afire with eagerness and rage.
"In, in, in!" he shouted, and cursed them for their delay.
Four or five of them obeyed at once, two remaining on the road with the
formidable beggar. There was a pause, then a cry of surprise, and then a
voice shouting from the house, "Bill's dead."
But the blind man swore at them again for their delay.
"Search him, some of you shirking lubbers, and the rest of you aloft and
get the chest," he cried.
I could hear their feet rattling up our old stairs, so that the
house must have shook with it. Promptly afterwards, fresh sounds of
astonishment arose; the window of the captain's room was thrown open
with a slam and a jingle of broken glass, and a man leaned out into the
moonlight, head and shoulders, and addressed the blind beggar on the
road below him.
"Pew," he cried, "they've been before us. Someone's turned the chest out
alow and aloft."
"Is it there?" roared Pew.
"The money's there."
The blind man cursed the money.
"Flint's fist, I mean," he cried.
"We don't see it here nohow," returned the man.
"Here, you below there, is it on Bill?" cried the blind man again.
At that another fellow, probably him who had remained below to search
the captain's body, came to the door of the inn. "Bill's been overhauled
a'ready," said he; "nothin' left."
"It's these people of the inn--it's that boy. I wish I had put his eyes
out!" cried the blind man, Pew. "There were no time ago--they had the
door bolted when I tried it. Scatter, lads, and find 'em."
"Sure enough, they left their glim here," said the fellow from the
"Scatter and find 'em! Rout the house out!" reiterated Pew, striking
with his stick upon the road.
Then there followed a great to-do through all our old inn, heavy feet
pounding to and fro, furniture thrown over, doors kicked in, until the
very rocks re-echoed and the men came out again, one after another, on
the road and declared that we were nowhere to be found. And just
the same whistle that had alarmed my mother and myself over the dead
captain's money was once more clearly audible through the night,
but this time twice repeated. I had thought it to be the blind man's
trumpet, so to speak, summoning his crew to the assault, but I now found
that it was a signal from the hillside towards the hamlet, and from its
effect upon the buccaneers, a signal to warn them of approaching danger.
"There's Dirk again," said one. "Twice! We'll have to budge, mates."
"Budge, you skulk!" cried Pew. "Dirk was a fool and a coward from the
first--you wouldn't mind him. They must be close by; they can't be far;
you have your hands on it. Scatter and look for them, dogs! Oh, shiver
my soul," he cried, "if I had eyes!"
This appeal seemed to produce some effect, for two of the fellows began
to look here and there among the lumber, but half-heartedly, I thought,
and with half an eye to their own danger all the time, while the rest
stood irresolute on the road.
"You have your hands on thousands, you fools, and you hang a leg! You'd
be as rich as kings if you could find it, and you know it's here, and
you stand there skulking. There wasn't one of you dared face Bill, and
I did it--a blind man! And I'm to lose my chance for you! I'm to be a
poor, crawling beggar, sponging for rum, when I might be rolling in a
coach! If you had the pluck of a weevil in a biscuit you would catch
"Hang it, Pew, we've got the doubloons!" grumbled one.
"They might have hid the blessed thing," said another. "Take the
Georges, Pew, and don't stand here squalling."
Squalling was the word for it; Pew's anger rose so high at these
objections till at last, his passion completely taking the upper hand,
he struck at them right and left in his blindness and his stick sounded
heavily on more than one.
These, in their turn, cursed back at the blind miscreant, threatened him
in horrid terms, and tried in vain to catch the stick and wrest it from
This quarrel was the saving of us, for while it was still raging,
another sound came from the top of the hill on the side of the
hamlet--the tramp of horses galloping. Almost at the same time a
pistol-shot, flash and report, came from the hedge side. And that was
plainly the last signal of danger, for the buccaneers turned at once
and ran, separating in every direction, one seaward along the cove, one
slant across the hill, and so on, so that in half a minute not a sign of
them remained but Pew. Him they had deserted, whether in sheer panic
or out of revenge for his ill words and blows I know not; but there he
remained behind, tapping up and down the road in a frenzy, and groping
and calling for his comrades. Finally he took a wrong turn and ran a few
steps past me, towards the hamlet, crying, "Johnny, Black Dog, Dirk,"
and other names, "you won't leave old Pew, mates--not old Pew!"
Just then the noise of horses topped the rise, and four or five riders
came in sight in the moonlight and swept at full gallop down the slope.
At this Pew saw his error, turned with a scream, and ran straight for
the ditch, into which he rolled. But he was on his feet again in a
second and made another dash, now utterly bewildered, right under the
nearest of the coming horses.
The rider tried to save him, but in vain. Down went Pew with a cry that
rang high into the night; and the four hoofs trampled and spurned him
and passed by. He fell on his side, then gently collapsed upon his face
and moved no more.
I leaped to my feet and hailed the riders. They were pulling up, at any
rate, horrified at the accident; and I soon saw what they were. One,
tailing out behind the rest, was a lad that had gone from the hamlet to
Dr. Livesey's; the rest were revenue officers, whom he had met by the
way, and with whom he had had the intelligence to return at once. Some
news of the lugger in Kitt's Hole had found its way to Supervisor Dance
and set him forth that night in our direction, and to that circumstance
my mother and I owed our preservation from death.
Pew was dead, stone dead. As for my mother, when we had carried her up
to the hamlet, a little cold water and salts and that soon brought her
back again, and she was none the worse for her terror, though she still
continued to deplore the balance of the money. In the meantime the
supervisor rode on, as fast as he could, to Kitt's Hole; but his men
had to dismount and grope down the dingle, leading, and sometimes
supporting, their horses, and in continual fear of ambushes; so it was
no great matter for surprise that when they got down to the Hole the
lugger was already under way, though still close in. He hailed her. A
voice replied, telling him to keep out of the moonlight or he would get
some lead in him, and at the same time a bullet whistled close by his
arm. Soon after, the lugger doubled the point and disappeared. Mr. Dance
stood there, as he said, "like a fish out of water," and all he could do
was to dispatch a man to B---- to warn the cutter. "And that," said he,
"is just about as good as nothing. They've got off clean, and there's
an end. Only," he added, "I'm glad I trod on Master Pew's corns," for by
this time he had heard my story.
I went back with him to the Admiral Benbow, and you cannot imagine a
house in such a state of smash; the very clock had been thrown down
by these fellows in their furious hunt after my mother and myself;
and though nothing had actually been taken away except the captain's
money-bag and a little silver from the till, I could see at once that we
were ruined. Mr. Dance could make nothing of the scene.
"They got the money, you say? Well, then, Hawkins, what in fortune were
they after? More money, I suppose?"
"No, sir; not money, I think," replied I. "In fact, sir, I believe I
have the thing in my breast pocket; and to tell you the truth, I should
like to get it put in safety."
"To be sure, boy; quite right," said he. "I'll take it, if you like."
"I thought perhaps Dr. Livesey--" I began.
"Perfectly right," he interrupted very cheerily, "perfectly right--a
gentleman and a magistrate. And, now I come to think of it, I might as
well ride round there myself and report to him or squire. Master Pew's
dead, when all's done; not that I regret it, but he's dead, you see, and
people will make it out against an officer of his Majesty's revenue,
if make it out they can. Now, I'll tell you, Hawkins, if you like, I'll
take you along."
I thanked him heartily for the offer, and we walked back to the hamlet
where the horses were. By the time I had told mother of my purpose they
were all in the saddle.
"Dogger," said Mr. Dance, "you have a good horse; take up this lad
As soon as I was mounted, holding on to Dogger's belt, the supervisor
gave the word, and the party struck out at a bouncing trot on the road
to Dr. Livesey's house.
The Captain's Papers
WE rode hard all the way till we drew up before Dr. Livesey's door. The
house was all dark to the front.
Mr. Dance told me to jump down and knock, and Dogger gave me a stirrup
to descend by. The door was opened almost at once by the maid.
"Is Dr. Livesey in?" I asked.
No, she said, he had come home in the afternoon but had gone up to the
hall to dine and pass the evening with the squire.
"So there we go, boys," said Mr. Dance.
This time, as the distance was short, I did not mount, but ran with
Dogger's stirrup-leather to the lodge gates and up the long, leafless,
moonlit avenue to where the white line of the hall buildings looked on
either hand on great old gardens. Here Mr. Dance dismounted, and taking
me along with him, was admitted at a word into the house.
The servant led us down a matted passage and showed us at the end into a
great library, all lined with bookcases and busts upon the top of them,
where the squire and Dr. Livesey sat, pipe in hand, on either side of a
I had never seen the squire so near at hand. He was a tall man, over six
feet high, and broad in proportion, and he had a bluff, rough-and-ready
face, all roughened and reddened and lined in his long travels. His
eyebrows were very black, and moved readily, and this gave him a look of
some temper, not bad, you would say, but quick and high.
"Come in, Mr. Dance," says he, very stately and condescending.
"Good evening, Dance," says the doctor with a nod. "And good evening to
you, friend Jim. What good wind brings you here?"
The supervisor stood up straight and stiff and told his story like a
lesson; and you should have seen how the two gentlemen leaned forward
and looked at each other, and forgot to smoke in their surprise and
interest. When they heard how my mother went back to the inn, Dr.
Livesey fairly slapped his thigh, and the squire cried "Bravo!" and
broke his long pipe against the grate. Long before it was done, Mr.
Trelawney (that, you will remember, was the squire's name) had got up
from his seat and was striding about the room, and the doctor, as if to
hear the better, had taken off his powdered wig and sat there looking
very strange indeed with his own close-cropped black poll.
At last Mr. Dance finished the story.
"Mr. Dance," said the squire, "you are a very noble fellow. And as for
riding down that black, atrocious miscreant, I regard it as an act of
virtue, sir, like stamping on a cockroach. This lad Hawkins is a trump,
I perceive. Hawkins, will you ring that bell? Mr. Dance must have some
"And so, Jim," said the doctor, "you have the thing that they were
after, have you?"
"Here it is, sir," said I, and gave him the oilskin packet.
The doctor looked it all over, as if his fingers were itching to open
it; but instead of doing that, he put it quietly in the pocket of his
"Squire," said he, "when Dance has had his ale he must, of course, be
off on his Majesty's service; but I mean to keep Jim Hawkins here to
sleep at my house, and with your permission, I propose we should have up
the cold pie and let him sup."
"As you will, Livesey," said the squire; "Hawkins has earned better than
So a big pigeon pie was brought in and put on a sidetable, and I made
a hearty supper, for I was as hungry as a hawk, while Mr. Dance was
further complimented and at last dismissed.
"And now, squire," said the doctor.
"And now, Livesey," said the squire in the same breath.
"One at a time, one at a time," laughed Dr. Livesey. "You have heard of
this Flint, I suppose?"
"Heard of him!" cried the squire. "Heard of him, you say! He was the
bloodthirstiest buccaneer that sailed. Blackbeard was a child to Flint.
The Spaniards were so prodigiously afraid of him that, I tell you, sir,
I was sometimes proud he was an Englishman. I've seen his top-sails with
these eyes, off Trinidad, and the cowardly son of a rum-puncheon that I
sailed with put back--put back, sir, into Port of Spain."
"Well, I've heard of him myself, in England," said the doctor. "But the
point is, had he money?"
"Money!" cried the squire. "Have you heard the story? What were these
villains after but money? What do they care for but money? For what
would they risk their rascal carcasses but money?"
"That we shall soon know," replied the doctor. "But you are so
confoundedly hot-headed and exclamatory that I cannot get a word in.
What I want to know is this: Supposing that I have here in my pocket
some clue to where Flint buried his treasure, will that treasure amount
"Amount, sir!" cried the squire. "It will amount to this: If we have the
clue you talk about, I fit out a ship in Bristol dock, and take you and
Hawkins here along, and I'll have that treasure if I search a year."
"Very well," said the doctor. "Now, then, if Jim is agreeable, we'll
open the packet"; and he laid it before him on the table.
The bundle was sewn together, and the doctor had to get out his
instrument case and cut the stitches with his medical scissors. It
contained two things--a book and a sealed paper.
"First of all we'll try the book," observed the doctor.
The squire and I were both peering over his shoulder as he opened
it, for Dr. Livesey had kindly motioned me to come round from the
side-table, where I had been eating, to enjoy the sport of the search.
On the first page there were only some scraps of writing, such as a man
with a pen in his hand might make for idleness or practice. One was the
same as the tattoo mark, "Billy Bones his fancy"; then there was "Mr. W.
Bones, mate," "No more rum," "Off Palm Key he got itt," and some other
snatches, mostly single words and unintelligible. I could not help
wondering who it was that had "got itt," and what "itt" was that he got.
A knife in his back as like as not.
"Not much instruction there," said Dr. Livesey as he passed on.
The next ten or twelve pages were filled with a curious series of
entries. There was a date at one end of the line and at the other a
sum of money, as in common account-books, but instead of explanatory
writing, only a varying number of crosses between the two. On the 12th
of June, 1745, for instance, a sum of seventy pounds had plainly become
due to someone, and there was nothing but six crosses to explain the
cause. In a few cases, to be sure, the name of a place would be added,
as "Offe Caraccas," or a mere entry of latitude and longitude, as "62o
17' 20", 19o 2' 40"."
The record lasted over nearly twenty years, the amount of the separate
entries growing larger as time went on, and at the end a grand total
had been made out after five or six wrong additions, and these words
appended, "Bones, his pile."
"I can't make head or tail of this," said Dr. Livesey.
"The thing is as clear as noonday," cried the squire. "This is the
black-hearted hound's account-book. These crosses stand for the names of
ships or towns that they sank or plundered. The sums are the scoundrel's
share, and where he feared an ambiguity, you see he added something
clearer. 'Offe Caraccas,' now; you see, here was some unhappy vessel
boarded off that coast. God help the poor souls that manned her--coral
"Right!" said the doctor. "See what it is to be a traveller. Right! And
the amounts increase, you see, as he rose in rank."
There was little else in the volume but a few bearings of places noted
in the blank leaves towards the end and a table for reducing French,
English, and Spanish moneys to a common value.
"Thrifty man!" cried the doctor. "He wasn't the one to be cheated."
"And now," said the squire, "for the other."
The paper had been sealed in several places with a thimble by way of
seal; the very thimble, perhaps, that I had found in the captain's
pocket. The doctor opened the seals with great care, and there fell out
the map of an island, with latitude and longitude, soundings, names of
hills and bays and inlets, and every particular that would be needed
to bring a ship to a safe anchorage upon its shores. It was about nine
miles long and five across, shaped, you might say, like a fat dragon
standing up, and had two fine land-locked harbours, and a hill in the
centre part marked "The Spy-glass." There were several additions of a
later date, but above all, three crosses of red ink--two on the north
part of the island, one in the southwest--and beside this last, in
the same red ink, and in a small, neat hand, very different from the
captain's tottery characters, these words: "Bulk of treasure here."
Over on the back the same hand had written this further information:
Tall tree, Spy-glass shoulder, bearing a point to
the N. of N.N.E.
Skeleton Island E.S.E. and by E.
The bar silver is in the north cache; you can find
it by the trend of the east hummock, ten fathoms
south of the black crag with the face on it.
The arms are easy found, in the sand-hill, N.
point of north inlet cape, bearing E. and a
That was all; but brief as it was, and to me incomprehensible, it filled
the squire and Dr. Livesey with delight.
"Livesey," said the squire, "you will give up this wretched practice
at once. Tomorrow I start for Bristol. In three weeks' time--three
weeks!--two weeks--ten days--we'll have the best ship, sir, and the
choicest crew in England. Hawkins shall come as cabin-boy. You'll make
a famous cabin-boy, Hawkins. You, Livesey, are ship's doctor; I am
admiral. We'll take Redruth, Joyce, and Hunter. We'll have favourable
winds, a quick passage, and not the least difficulty in finding the
spot, and money to eat, to roll in, to play duck and drake with ever
"Trelawney," said the doctor, "I'll go with you; and I'll go bail for
it, so will Jim, and be a credit to the undertaking. There's only one
man I'm afraid of."
"And who's that?" cried the squire. "Name the dog, sir!"
"You," replied the doctor; "for you cannot hold your tongue. We are not
the only men who know of this paper. These fellows who attacked the
inn tonight--bold, desperate blades, for sure--and the rest who stayed
aboard that lugger, and more, I dare say, not far off, are, one and all,
through thick and thin, bound that they'll get that money. We must none
of us go alone till we get to sea. Jim and I shall stick together in the
meanwhile; you'll take Joyce and Hunter when you ride to Bristol, and
from first to last, not one of us must breathe a word of what we've
"Livesey," returned the squire, "you are always in the right of it. I'll
be as silent as the grave."
PART TWO--The Sea-cook
I Go to Bristol
IT was longer than the squire imagined ere we were ready for the sea,
and none of our first plans--not even Dr. Livesey's, of keeping me
beside him--could be carried out as we intended. The doctor had to go
to London for a physician to take charge of his practice; the squire was
hard at work at Bristol; and I lived on at the hall under the charge of
old Redruth, the gamekeeper, almost a prisoner, but full of sea-dreams
and the most charming anticipations of strange islands and adventures.
I brooded by the hour together over the map, all the details of which
I well remembered. Sitting by the fire in the housekeeper's room, I
approached that island in my fancy from every possible direction; I
explored every acre of its surface; I climbed a thousand times to that
tall hill they call the Spy-glass, and from the top enjoyed the most
wonderful and changing prospects. Sometimes the isle was thick with
savages, with whom we fought, sometimes full of dangerous animals that
hunted us, but in all my fancies nothing occurred to me so strange and
tragic as our actual adventures.
So the weeks passed on, till one fine day there came a letter addressed
to Dr. Livesey, with this addition, "To be opened, in the case of his
absence, by Tom Redruth or young Hawkins." Obeying this order, we
found, or rather I found--for the gamekeeper was a poor hand at reading
anything but print--the following important news:
Old Anchor Inn, Bristol, March 1, 17--
Dear Livesey--As I do not know whether you
are at the hall or still in London, I send this in
double to both places.
The ship is bought and fitted. She lies at
anchor, ready for sea. You never imagined a
sweeter schooner--a child might sail her--two
hundred tons; name, HISPANIOLA.
I got her through my old friend, Blandly, who
has proved himself throughout the most surprising
trump. The admirable fellow literally slaved in
my interest, and so, I may say, did everyone in
Bristol, as soon as they got wind of the port we
sailed for--treasure, I mean.
"Redruth," said I, interrupting the letter, "Dr. Livesey will not like
that. The squire has been talking, after all."
"Well, who's a better right?" growled the gamekeeper. "A pretty rum go
if squire ain't to talk for Dr. Livesey, I should think."
At that I gave up all attempts at commentary and read straight on:
Blandly himself found the HISPANIOLA, and
by the most admirable management got her for the
merest trifle. There is a class of men in Bristol
monstrously prejudiced against Blandly. They go
the length of declaring that this honest creature
would do anything for money, that the HISPANIOLA
belonged to him, and that he sold it me absurdly
high--the most transparent calumnies. None of them
dare, however, to deny the merits of the ship.
So far there was not a hitch. The
workpeople, to be sure--riggers and what not--were
most annoyingly slow; but time cured that. It was
the crew that troubled me.
I wished a round score of men--in case of
natives, buccaneers, or the odious French--and I
had the worry of the deuce itself to find so much
as half a dozen, till the most remarkable stroke
of fortune brought me the very man that I
I was standing on the dock, when, by the
merest accident, I fell in talk with him. I found
he was an old sailor, kept a public-house, knew
all the seafaring men in Bristol, had lost his
health ashore, and wanted a good berth as cook to
get to sea again. He had hobbled down there that
morning, he said, to get a smell of the salt.
I was monstrously touched--so would you have
been--and, out of pure pity, I engaged him on the
spot to be ship's cook. Long John Silver, he is
called, and has lost a leg; but that I regarded as
a recommendation, since he lost it in his
country's service, under the immortal Hawke. He
has no pension, Livesey. Imagine the abominable
age we live in!
Well, sir, I thought I had only found a cook,
but it was a crew I had discovered. Between
Silver and myself we got together in a few days a
company of the toughest old salts imaginable--not
pretty to look at, but fellows, by their faces, of
the most indomitable spirit. I declare we could
fight a frigate.
Long John even got rid of two out of the six
or seven I had already engaged. He showed me in a
moment that they were just the sort of fresh-water
swabs we had to fear in an adventure of
I am in the most magnificent health and
spirits, eating like a bull, sleeping like a tree,
yet I shall not enjoy a moment till I hear my old
tarpaulins tramping round the capstan. Seaward,
ho! Hang the treasure! It's the glory of the sea
that has turned my head. So now, Livesey, come
post; do not lose an hour, if you respect me.
Let young Hawkins go at once to see his
mother, with Redruth for a guard; and then both
come full speed to Bristol.
Postscript--I did not tell you that Blandly,
who, by the way, is to send a consort after us if
we don't turn up by the end of August, had found
an admirable fellow for sailing master--a stiff
man, which I regret, but in all other respects a
treasure. Long John Silver unearthed a very
competent man for a mate, a man named Arrow. I
have a boatswain who pipes, Livesey; so things
shall go man-o'-war fashion on board the good ship
I forgot to tell you that Silver is a man of
substance; I know of my own knowledge that he has
a banker's account, which has never been
overdrawn. He leaves his wife to manage the inn;
and as she is a woman of colour, a pair of old
bachelors like you and I may be excused for
guessing that it is the wife, quite as much as the
health, that sends him back to roving.
P.P.S.--Hawkins may stay one night with his
You can fancy the excitement into which that letter put me. I was half
beside myself with glee; and if ever I despised a man, it was old
Tom Redruth, who could do nothing but grumble and lament. Any of the
under-gamekeepers would gladly have changed places with him; but such
was not the squire's pleasure, and the squire's pleasure was like law
among them all. Nobody but old Redruth would have dared so much as even
The next morning he and I set out on foot for the Admiral Benbow, and
there I found my mother in good health and spirits. The captain, who had
so long been a cause of so much discomfort, was gone where the wicked
cease from troubling. The squire had had everything repaired, and the
public rooms and the sign repainted, and had added some furniture--above
all a beautiful armchair for mother in the bar. He had found her a boy
as an apprentice also so that she should not want help while I was gone.
It was on seeing that boy that I understood, for the first time, my
situation. I had thought up to that moment of the adventures before me,
not at all of the home that I was leaving; and now, at sight of this
clumsy stranger, who was to stay here in my place beside my mother, I
had my first attack of tears. I am afraid I led that boy a dog's life,
for as he was new to the work, I had a hundred opportunities of setting
him right and putting him down, and I was not slow to profit by them.
The night passed, and the next day, after dinner, Redruth and I were
afoot again and on the road. I said good-bye to Mother and the
cove where I had lived since I was born, and the dear old Admiral
Benbow--since he was repainted, no longer quite so dear. One of my last
thoughts was of the captain, who had so often strode along the beach
with his cocked hat, his sabre-cut cheek, and his old brass telescope.
Next moment we had turned the corner and my home was out of sight.
The mail picked us up about dusk at the Royal George on the heath. I was
wedged in between Redruth and a stout old gentleman, and in spite of the
swift motion and the cold night air, I must have dozed a great deal from
the very first, and then slept like a log up hill and down dale through
stage after stage, for when I was awakened at last it was by a punch
in the ribs, and I opened my eyes to find that we were standing still
before a large building in a city street and that the day had already
broken a long time.
"Where are we?" I asked.
"Bristol," said Tom. "Get down."
Mr. Trelawney had taken up his residence at an inn far down the docks to
superintend the work upon the schooner. Thither we had now to walk, and
our way, to my great delight, lay along the quays and beside the great
multitude of ships of all sizes and rigs and nations. In one, sailors
were singing at their work, in another there were men aloft, high over
my head, hanging to threads that seemed no thicker than a spider's.
Though I had lived by the shore all my life, I seemed never to have been
near the sea till then. The smell of tar and salt was something new.
I saw the most wonderful figureheads, that had all been far over the
ocean. I saw, besides, many old sailors, with rings in their ears, and
whiskers curled in ringlets, and tarry pigtails, and their swaggering,
clumsy sea-walk; and if I had seen as many kings or archbishops I could
not have been more delighted.
And I was going to sea myself, to sea in a schooner, with a piping
boatswain and pig-tailed singing seamen, to sea, bound for an unknown
island, and to seek for buried treasure!
While I was still in this delightful dream, we came suddenly in front
of a large inn and met Squire Trelawney, all dressed out like a
sea-officer, in stout blue cloth, coming out of the door with a smile on
his face and a capital imitation of a sailor's walk.
"Here you are," he cried, "and the doctor came last night from London.
Bravo! The ship's company complete!"
"Oh, sir," cried I, "when do we sail?"
"Sail!" says he. "We sail tomorrow!"
At the Sign of the Spy-glass
WHEN I had done breakfasting the squire gave me a note addressed to John
Silver, at the sign of the Spy-glass, and told me I should easily
find the place by following the line of the docks and keeping a bright
lookout for a little tavern with a large brass telescope for sign. I
set off, overjoyed at this opportunity to see some more of the ships and
seamen, and picked my way among a great crowd of people and carts and
bales, for the dock was now at its busiest, until I found the tavern in
It was a bright enough little place of entertainment. The sign was
newly painted; the windows had neat red curtains; the floor was cleanly
sanded. There was a street on each side and an open door on both, which
made the large, low room pretty clear to see in, in spite of clouds of
The customers were mostly seafaring men, and they talked so loudly that
I hung at the door, almost afraid to enter.
As I was waiting, a man came out of a side room, and at a glance I was
sure he must be Long John. His left leg was cut off close by the hip,
and under the left shoulder he carried a crutch, which he managed with
wonderful dexterity, hopping about upon it like a bird. He was very tall
and strong, with a face as big as a ham--plain and pale, but intelligent
and smiling. Indeed, he seemed in the most cheerful spirits, whistling
as he moved about among the tables, with a merry word or a slap on the
shoulder for the more favoured of his guests.
Now, to tell you the truth, from the very first mention of Long John in
Squire Trelawney's letter I had taken a fear in my mind that he might
prove to be the very one-legged sailor whom I had watched for so long at
the old Benbow. But one look at the man before me was enough. I had seen
the captain, and Black Dog, and the blind man, Pew, and I thought I knew
what a buccaneer was like--a very different creature, according to me,
from this clean and pleasant-tempered landlord.
I plucked up courage at once, crossed the threshold, and walked right up
to the man where he stood, propped on his crutch, talking to a customer.
"Mr. Silver, sir?" I asked, holding out the note.
"Yes, my lad," said he; "such is my name, to be sure. And who may you
be?" And then as he saw the squire's letter, he seemed to me to give
something almost like a start.
"Oh!" said he, quite loud, and offering his hand. "I see. You are our
new cabin-boy; pleased I am to see you."
And he took my hand in his large firm grasp.
Just then one of the customers at the far side rose suddenly and made
for the door. It was close by him, and he was out in the street in a
moment. But his hurry had attracted my notice, and I recognized him at
glance. It was the tallow-faced man, wanting two fingers, who had come
first to the Admiral Benbow.
"Oh," I cried, "stop him! It's Black Dog!"
"I don't care two coppers who he is," cried Silver. "But he hasn't paid
his score. Harry, run and catch him."
One of the others who was nearest the door leaped up and started in
"If he were Admiral Hawke he shall pay his score," cried Silver; and
then, relinquishing my hand, "Who did you say he was?" he asked. "Black
"Dog, sir," said I. "Has Mr. Trelawney not told you of the buccaneers?
He was one of them."
"So?" cried Silver. "In my house! Ben, run and help Harry. One of those
swabs, was he? Was that you drinking with him, Morgan? Step up here."
The man whom he called Morgan--an old, grey-haired, mahogany-faced
sailor--came forward pretty sheepishly, rolling his quid.
"Now, Morgan," said Long John very sternly, "you never clapped your eyes
on that Black--Black Dog before, did you, now?"
"Not I, sir," said Morgan with a salute.
"You didn't know his name, did you?"
"By the powers, Tom Morgan, it's as good for you!" exclaimed the
landlord. "If you had been mixed up with the like of that, you would
never have put another foot in my house, you may lay to that. And what
was he saying to you?"
"I don't rightly know, sir," answered Morgan.
"Do you call that a head on your shoulders, or a blessed dead-eye?"
cried Long John. "Don't rightly know, don't you! Perhaps you don't
happen to rightly know who you was speaking to, perhaps? Come, now, what
was he jawing--v'yages, cap'ns, ships? Pipe up! What was it?"
"We was a-talkin' of keel-hauling," answered Morgan.
"Keel-hauling, was you? And a mighty suitable thing, too, and you may
lay to that. Get back to your place for a lubber, Tom."
And then, as Morgan rolled back to his seat, Silver added to me in a
confidential whisper that was very flattering, as I thought, "He's
quite an honest man, Tom Morgan, on'y stupid. And now," he ran on again,
aloud, "let's see--Black Dog? No, I don't know the name, not I. Yet I
kind of think I've--yes, I've seen the swab. He used to come here with a
blind beggar, he used."
"That he did, you may be sure," said I. "I knew that blind man too. His
name was Pew."
"It was!" cried Silver, now quite excited. "Pew! That were his name for
certain. Ah, he looked a shark, he did! If we run down this Black Dog,
now, there'll be news for Cap'n Trelawney! Ben's a good runner; few
seamen run better than Ben. He should run him down, hand over hand, by
the powers! He talked o' keel-hauling, did he? I'LL keel-haul him!"
All the time he was jerking out these phrases he was stumping up and
down the tavern on his crutch, slapping tables with his hand, and giving
such a show of excitement as would have convinced an Old Bailey judge
or a Bow Street runner. My suspicions had been thoroughly reawakened on
finding Black Dog at the Spy-glass, and I watched the cook narrowly. But
he was too deep, and too ready, and too clever for me, and by the time
the two men had come back out of breath and confessed that they had lost
the track in a crowd, and been scolded like thieves, I would have gone
bail for the innocence of Long John Silver.
"See here, now, Hawkins," said he, "here's a blessed hard thing on a
man like me, now, ain't it? There's Cap'n Trelawney--what's he to think?
Here I have this confounded son of a Dutchman sitting in my own house
drinking of my own rum! Here you comes and tells me of it plain; and
here I let him give us all the slip before my blessed deadlights! Now,
Hawkins, you do me justice with the cap'n. You're a lad, you are, but
you're as smart as paint. I see that when you first come in. Now, here
it is: What could I do, with this old timber I hobble on? When I was an
A B master mariner I'd have come up alongside of him, hand over hand,
and broached him to in a brace of old shakes, I would; but now--"
And then, all of a sudden, he stopped, and his jaw dropped as though he
had remembered something.
"The score!" he burst out. "Three goes o' rum! Why, shiver my timbers,
if I hadn't forgotten my score!"
And falling on a bench, he laughed until the tears ran down his cheeks.
I could not help joining, and we laughed together, peal after peal,
until the tavern rang again.
"Why, what a precious old sea-calf I am!" he said at last, wiping his
cheeks. "You and me should get on well, Hawkins, for I'll take my davy
I should be rated ship's boy. But come now, stand by to go about. This
won't do. Dooty is dooty, messmates. I'll put on my old cockerel hat,
and step along of you to Cap'n Trelawney, and report this here affair.
For mind you, it's serious, young Hawkins; and neither you nor me's come
out of it with what I should make so bold as to call credit. Nor you
neither, says you; not smart--none of the pair of us smart. But dash my
buttons! That was a good un about my score."
And he began to laugh again, and that so heartily, that though I did not
see the joke as he did, I was again obliged to join him in his mirth.
On our little walk along the quays, he made himself the most interesting
companion, telling me about the different ships that we passed by,
their rig, tonnage, and nationality, explaining the work that was going
forward--how one was discharging, another taking in cargo, and a third
making ready for sea--and every now and then telling me some little
anecdote of ships or seamen or repeating a nautical phrase till I had
learned it perfectly. I began to see that here was one of the best of
When we got to the inn, the squire and Dr. Livesey were seated together,
finishing a quart of ale with a toast in it, before they should go
aboard the schooner on a visit of inspection.
Long John told the story from first to last, with a great deal of spirit
and the most perfect truth. "That was how it were, now, weren't it,
Hawkins?" he would say, now and again, and I could always bear him
The two gentlemen regretted that Black Dog had got away, but we all
agreed there was nothing to be done, and after he had been complimented,
Long John took up his crutch and departed.
"All hands aboard by four this afternoon," shouted the squire after him.
"Aye, aye, sir," cried the cook, in the passage.
"Well, squire," said Dr. Livesey, "I don't put much faith in your
discoveries, as a general thing; but I will say this, John Silver suits
"The man's a perfect trump," declared the squire.
"And now," added the doctor, "Jim may come on board with us, may he
"To be sure he may," says squire. "Take your hat, Hawkins, and we'll see
Powder and Arms
THE HISPANIOLA lay some way out, and we went under the figureheads and
round the sterns of many other ships, and their cables sometimes grated
underneath our keel, and sometimes swung above us. At last, however,
we got alongside, and were met and saluted as we stepped aboard by the
mate, Mr. Arrow, a brown old sailor with earrings in his ears and a
squint. He and the squire were very thick and friendly, but I soon
observed that things were not the same between Mr. Trelawney and the
This last was a sharp-looking man who seemed angry with everything on
board and was soon to tell us why, for we had hardly got down into the
cabin when a sailor followed us.
"Captain Smollett, sir, axing to speak with you," said he.
"I am always at the captain's orders. Show him in," said the squire.
The captain, who was close behind his messenger, entered at once and
shut the door behind him.
"Well, Captain Smollett, what have you to say? All well, I hope; all
shipshape and seaworthy?"
"Well, sir," said the captain, "better speak plain, I believe, even at
the risk of offence. I don't like this cruise; I don't like the men; and
I don't like my officer. That's short and sweet."
"Perhaps, sir, you don't like the ship?" inquired the squire, very
angry, as I could see.
"I can't speak as to that, sir, not having seen her tried," said the
captain. "She seems a clever craft; more I can't say."
"Possibly, sir, you may not like your employer, either?" says the
But here Dr. Livesey cut in.
"Stay a bit," said he, "stay a bit. No use of such questions as that but
to produce ill feeling. The captain has said too much or he has said too
little, and I'm bound to say that I require an explanation of his words.
You don't, you say, like this cruise. Now, why?"
"I was engaged, sir, on what we call sealed orders, to sail this ship
for that gentleman where he should bid me," said the captain. "So far
so good. But now I find that every man before the mast knows more than I
do. I don't call that fair, now, do you?"
"No," said Dr. Livesey, "I don't."
"Next," said the captain, "I learn we are going after treasure--hear
it from my own hands, mind you. Now, treasure is ticklish work; I don't
like treasure voyages on any account, and I don't like them, above all,
when they are secret and when (begging your pardon, Mr. Trelawney) the
secret has been told to the parrot."
"Silver's parrot?" asked the squire.
"It's a way of speaking," said the captain. "Blabbed, I mean. It's my
belief neither of you gentlemen know what you are about, but I'll tell
you my way of it--life or death, and a close run."
"That is all clear, and, I dare say, true enough," replied Dr. Livesey.
"We take the risk, but we are not so ignorant as you believe us. Next,
you say you don't like the crew. Are they not good seamen?"
"I don't like them, sir," returned Captain Smollett. "And I think I
should have had the choosing of my own hands, if you go to that."
"Perhaps you should," replied the doctor. "My friend should, perhaps,
have taken you along with him; but the slight, if there be one, was
unintentional. And you don't like Mr. Arrow?"
"I don't, sir. I believe he's a good seaman, but he's too free with
the crew to be a good officer. A mate should keep himself to
himself--shouldn't drink with the men before the mast!"
"Do you mean he drinks?" cried the squire.
"No, sir," replied the captain, "only that he's too familiar."
"Well, now, and the short and long of it, captain?" asked the doctor.
"Tell us what you want."
"Well, gentlemen, are you determined to go on this cruise?"
"Like iron," answered the squire.
"Very good," said the captain. "Then, as you've heard me very patiently,
saying things that I could not prove, hear me a few words more. They are
putting the powder and the arms in the fore hold. Now, you have a good
place under the cabin; why not put them there?--first point. Then, you
are bringing four of your own people with you, and they tell me some of
them are to be berthed forward. Why not give them the berths here beside
the cabin?--second point."
"Any more?" asked Mr. Trelawney.
"One more," said the captain. "There's been too much blabbing already."
"Far too much," agreed the doctor.
"I'll tell you what I've heard myself," continued Captain Smollett:
"that you have a map of an island, that there's crosses on the map to
show where treasure is, and that the island lies--" And then he named
the latitude and longitude exactly.
"I never told that," cried the squire, "to a soul!"
"The hands know it, sir," returned the captain.
"Livesey, that must have been you or Hawkins," cried the squire.
"It doesn't much matter who it was," replied the doctor. And I could
see that neither he nor the captain paid much regard to Mr. Trelawney's
protestations. Neither did I, to be sure, he was so loose a talker; yet
in this case I believe he was really right and that nobody had told the
situation of the island.
"Well, gentlemen," continued the captain, "I don't know who has this
map; but I make it a point, it shall be kept secret even from me and Mr.
Arrow. Otherwise I would ask you to let me resign."
"I see," said the doctor. "You wish us to keep this matter dark and to
make a garrison of the stern part of the ship, manned with my friend's
own people, and provided with all the arms and powder on board. In other
words, you fear a mutiny."
"Sir," said Captain Smollett, "with no intention to take offence, I
deny your right to put words into my mouth. No captain, sir, would be
justified in going to sea at all if he had ground enough to say that. As
for Mr. Arrow, I believe him thoroughly honest; some of the men are the
same; all may be for what I know. But I am responsible for the ship's
safety and the life of every man Jack aboard of her. I see things going,
as I think, not quite right. And I ask you to take certain precautions
or let me resign my berth. And that's all."
"Captain Smollett," began the doctor with a smile, "did ever you hear
the fable of the mountain and the mouse? You'll excuse me, I dare say,
but you remind me of that fable. When you came in here, I'll stake my
wig, you meant more than this."
"Doctor," said the captain, "you are smart. When I came in here I meant
to get discharged. I had no thought that Mr. Trelawney would hear a
"No more I would," cried the squire. "Had Livesey not been here I should
have seen you to the deuce. As it is, I have heard you. I will do as you
desire, but I think the worse of you."
"That's as you please, sir," said the captain. "You'll find I do my
And with that he took his leave.
"Trelawney," said the doctor, "contrary to all my notions, I believed
you have managed to get two honest men on board with you--that man and
"Silver, if you like," cried the squire; "but as for that intolerable
humbug, I declare I think his conduct unmanly, unsailorly, and downright
"Well," says the doctor, "we shall see."
When we came on deck, the men had begun already to take out the arms and
powder, yo-ho-ing at their work, while the captain and Mr. Arrow stood
The new arrangement was quite to my liking. The whole schooner had been
overhauled; six berths had been made astern out of what had been the
after-part of the main hold; and this set of cabins was only joined to
the galley and forecastle by a sparred passage on the port side. It had
been originally meant that the captain, Mr. Arrow, Hunter, Joyce, the
doctor, and the squire were to occupy these six berths. Now Redruth and
I were to get two of them and Mr. Arrow and the captain were to sleep
on deck in the companion, which had been enlarged on each side till you
might almost have called it a round-house. Very low it was still, of
course; but there was room to swing two hammocks, and even the mate
seemed pleased with the arrangement. Even he, perhaps, had been doubtful
as to the crew, but that is only guess, for as you shall hear, we had
not long the benefit of his opinion.
We were all hard at work, changing the powder and the berths, when
the last man or two, and Long John along with them, came off in a
The cook came up the side like a monkey for cleverness, and as soon as
he saw what was doing, "So ho, mates!" says he. "What's this?"
"We're a-changing of the powder, Jack," answers one.
"Why, by the powers," cried Long John, "if we do, we'll miss the morning
"My orders!" said the captain shortly. "You may go below, my man. Hands
will want supper."
"Aye, aye, sir," answered the cook, and touching his forelock, he
disappeared at once in the direction of his galley.
"That's a good man, captain," said the doctor.
"Very likely, sir," replied Captain Smollett. "Easy with that,
men--easy," he ran on, to the fellows who were shifting the powder; and
then suddenly observing me examining the swivel we carried amidships,
a long brass nine, "Here you, ship's boy," he cried, "out o' that! Off
with you to the cook and get some work."
And then as I was hurrying off I heard him say, quite loudly, to the
doctor, "I'll have no favourites on my ship."
I assure you I was quite of the squire's way of thinking, and hated the
ALL that night we were in a great bustle getting things stowed in their
place, and boatfuls of the squire's friends, Mr. Blandly and the like,
coming off to wish him a good voyage and a safe return. We never had
a night at the Admiral Benbow when I had half the work; and I was
dog-tired when, a little before dawn, the boatswain sounded his pipe
and the crew began to man the capstan-bars. I might have been twice
as weary, yet I would not have left the deck, all was so new and
interesting to me--the brief commands, the shrill note of the whistle,
the men bustling to their places in the glimmer of the ship's lanterns.
"Now, Barbecue, tip us a stave," cried one voice.
"The old one," cried another.
"Aye, aye, mates," said Long John, who was standing by, with his crutch
under his arm, and at once broke out in the air and words I knew so
"Fifteen men on the dead man's chest--"
And then the whole crew bore chorus:--
"Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!"
And at the third "Ho!" drove the bars before them with a will.
Even at that exciting moment it carried me back to the old Admiral
Benbow in a second, and I seemed to hear the voice of the captain piping
in the chorus. But soon the anchor was short up; soon it was hanging
dripping at the bows; soon the sails began to draw, and the land and
shipping to flit by on either side; and before I could lie down to
snatch an hour of slumber the HISPANIOLA had begun her voyage to the
Isle of Treasure.
I am not going to relate that voyage in detail. It was fairly
prosperous. The ship proved to be a good ship, the crew were capable
seamen, and the captain thoroughly understood his business. But before
we came the length of Treasure Island, two or three things had happened
which require to be known.
Mr. Arrow, first of all, turned out even worse than the captain had
feared. He had no command among the men, and people did what they
pleased with him. But that was by no means the worst of it, for after a
day or two at sea he began to appear on deck with hazy eye, red cheeks,
stuttering tongue, and other marks of drunkenness. Time after time
he was ordered below in disgrace. Sometimes he fell and cut himself;
sometimes he lay all day long in his little bunk at one side of the
companion; sometimes for a day or two he would be almost sober and
attend to his work at least passably.
In the meantime, we could never make out where he got the drink. That
was the ship's mystery. Watch him as we pleased, we could do nothing to
solve it; and when we asked him to his face, he would only laugh if
he were drunk, and if he were sober deny solemnly that he ever tasted
anything but water.
He was not only useless as an officer and a bad influence amongst
the men, but it was plain that at this rate he must soon kill himself
outright, so nobody was much surprised, nor very sorry, when one dark
night, with a head sea, he disappeared entirely and was seen no more.
"Overboard!" said the captain. "Well, gentlemen, that saves the trouble
of putting him in irons."
But there we were, without a mate; and it was necessary, of course, to
advance one of the men. The boatswain, Job Anderson, was the likeliest
man aboard, and though he kept his old title, he served in a way as
mate. Mr. Trelawney had followed the sea, and his knowledge made him
very useful, for he often took a watch himself in easy weather. And the
coxswain, Israel Hands, was a careful, wily, old, experienced seaman who
could be trusted at a pinch with almost anything.
He was a great confidant of Long John Silver, and so the mention of
his name leads me on to speak of our ship's cook, Barbecue, as the men
Aboard ship he carried his crutch by a lanyard round his neck, to have
both hands as free as possible. It was something to see him wedge the
foot of the crutch against a bulkhead, and propped against it, yielding
to every movement of the ship, get on with his cooking like someone safe
ashore. Still more strange was it to see him in the heaviest of weather
cross the deck. He had a line or two rigged up to help him across the
widest spaces--Long John's earrings, they were called; and he would hand
himself from one place to another, now using the crutch, now trailing it
alongside by the lanyard, as quickly as another man could walk. Yet some
of the men who had sailed with him before expressed their pity to see
him so reduced.
"He's no common man, Barbecue," said the coxswain to me. "He had good
schooling in his young days and can speak like a book when so minded;
and brave--a lion's nothing alongside of Long John! I seen him grapple
four and knock their heads together--him unarmed."
All the crew respected and even obeyed him. He had a way of talking
to each and doing everybody some particular service. To me he was
unweariedly kind, and always glad to see me in the galley, which he kept
as clean as a new pin, the dishes hanging up burnished and his parrot in
a cage in one corner.
"Come away, Hawkins," he would say; "come and have a yarn with John.
Nobody more welcome than yourself, my son. Sit you down and hear the
news. Here's Cap'n Flint--I calls my parrot Cap'n Flint, after the
famous buccaneer--here's Cap'n Flint predicting success to our v'yage.
Wasn't you, cap'n?"
And the parrot would say, with great rapidity, "Pieces of eight! Pieces
of eight! Pieces of eight!" till you wondered that it was not out of
breath, or till John threw his handkerchief over the cage.
"Now, that bird," he would say, "is, maybe, two hundred years
old, Hawkins--they live forever mostly; and if anybody's seen more
wickedness, it must be the devil himself. She's sailed with England,
the great Cap'n England, the pirate. She's been at Madagascar, and at
Malabar, and Surinam, and Providence, and Portobello. She was at the
fishing up of the wrecked plate ships. It's there she learned 'Pieces
of eight,' and little wonder; three hundred and fifty thousand of 'em,
Hawkins! She was at the boarding of the viceroy of the Indies out of
Goa, she was; and to look at her you would think she was a babby. But
you smelt powder--didn't you, cap'n?"
"Stand by to go about," the parrot would scream.
"Ah, she's a handsome craft, she is," the cook would say, and give her
sugar from his pocket, and then the bird would peck at the bars and
swear straight on, passing belief for wickedness. "There," John would
add, "you can't touch pitch and not be mucked, lad. Here's this poor old
innocent bird o' mine swearing blue fire, and none the wiser, you may
lay to that. She would swear the same, in a manner of speaking, before
chaplain." And John would touch his forelock with a solemn way he had
that made me think he was the best of men.
In the meantime, the squire and Captain Smollett were still on pretty
distant terms with one another. The squire made no bones about the
matter; he despised the captain. The captain, on his part, never spoke
but when he was spoken to, and then sharp and short and dry, and not a
word wasted. He owned, when driven into a corner, that he seemed to have
been wrong about the crew, that some of them were as brisk as he wanted
to see and all had behaved fairly well. As for the ship, he had taken a
downright fancy to her. "She'll lie a point nearer the wind than a man
has a right to expect of his own married wife, sir. But," he would add,
"all I say is, we're not home again, and I don't like the cruise."
The squire, at this, would turn away and march up and down the deck,
chin in air.
"A trifle more of that man," he would say, "and I shall explode."
We had some heavy weather, which only proved the qualities of the
HISPANIOLA. Every man on board seemed well content, and they must have
been hard to please if they had been otherwise, for it is my belief
there was never a ship's company so spoiled since Noah put to sea.
Double grog was going on the least excuse; there was duff on odd days,
as, for instance, if the squire heard it was any man's birthday, and
always a barrel of apples standing broached in the waist for anyone to
help himself that had a fancy.
"Never knew good come of it yet," the captain said to Dr. Livesey.
"Spoil forecastle hands, make devils. That's my belief."
But good did come of the apple barrel, as you shall hear, for if it had
not been for that, we should have had no note of warning and might all
have perished by the hand of treachery.
This was how it came about.
We had run up the trades to get the wind of the island we were after--I
am not allowed to be more plain--and now we were running down for it
with a bright lookout day and night. It was about the last day of our
outward voyage by the largest computation; some time that night, or at
latest before noon of the morrow, we should sight the Treasure Island.
We were heading S.S.W. and had a steady breeze abeam and a quiet sea.
The HISPANIOLA rolled steadily, dipping her bowsprit now and then with
a whiff of spray. All was drawing alow and aloft; everyone was in the
bravest spirits because we were now so near an end of the first part of
Now, just after sundown, when all my work was over and I was on my way
to my berth, it occurred to me that I should like an apple. I ran on
deck. The watch was all forward looking out for the island. The man at
the helm was watching the luff of the sail and whistling away gently
to himself, and that was the only sound excepting the swish of the sea
against the bows and around the sides of the ship.
In I got bodily into the apple barrel, and found there was scarce an
apple left; but sitting down there in the dark, what with the sound of
the waters and the rocking movement of the ship, I had either fallen
asleep or was on the point of doing so when a heavy man sat down with
rather a clash close by. The barrel shook as he leaned his shoulders
against it, and I was just about to jump up when the man began to speak.
It was Silver's voice, and before I had heard a dozen words, I would
not have shown myself for all the world, but lay there, trembling and
listening, in the extreme of fear and curiosity, for from these dozen
words I understood that the lives of all the honest men aboard depended
upon me alone.
What I Heard in the Apple Barrel
"NO, not I," said Silver. "Flint was cap'n; I was quartermaster, along
of my timber leg. The same broadside I lost my leg, old Pew lost his
deadlights. It was a master surgeon, him that ampytated me--out of
college and all--Latin by the bucket, and what not; but he was hanged
like a dog, and sun-dried like the rest, at Corso Castle. That
was Roberts' men, that was, and comed of changing names to their
ships--ROYAL FORTUNE and so on. Now, what a ship was christened, so let
her stay, I says. So it was with the CASSANDRA, as brought us all safe
home from Malabar, after England took the viceroy of the Indies; so it
was with the old WALRUS, Flint's old ship, as I've seen amuck with the
red blood and fit to sink with gold."
"Ah!" cried another voice, that of the youngest hand on board, and
evidently full of admiration. "He was the flower of the flock, was
"Davis was a man too, by all accounts," said Silver. "I never sailed
along of him; first with England, then with Flint, that's my story;
and now here on my own account, in a manner of speaking. I laid by nine
hundred safe, from England, and two thousand after Flint. That ain't bad
for a man before the mast--all safe in bank. 'Tain't earning now, it's
saving does it, you may lay to that. Where's all England's men now? I
dunno. Where's Flint's? Why, most on 'em aboard here, and glad to get
the duff--been begging before that, some on 'em. Old Pew, as had lost
his sight, and might have thought shame, spends twelve hundred pound in
a year, like a lord in Parliament. Where is he now? Well, he's dead now
and under hatches; but for two year before that, shiver my timbers,
the man was starving! He begged, and he stole, and he cut throats, and
starved at that, by the powers!"
"Well, it ain't much use, after all," said the young seaman.
"'Tain't much use for fools, you may lay to it--that, nor nothing,"
cried Silver. "But now, you look here: you're young, you are, but you're
as smart as paint. I see that when I set my eyes on you, and I'll talk
to you like a man."
You may imagine how I felt when I heard this abominable old rogue
addressing another in the very same words of flattery as he had used
to myself. I think, if I had been able, that I would have killed
him through the barrel. Meantime, he ran on, little supposing he was
"Here it is about gentlemen of fortune. They lives rough, and they risk
swinging, but they eat and drink like fighting-cocks, and when a cruise
is done, why, it's hundreds of pounds instead of hundreds of farthings
in their pockets. Now, the most goes for rum and a good fling, and to
sea again in their shirts. But that's not the course I lay. I puts it
all away, some here, some there, and none too much anywheres, by reason
of suspicion. I'm fifty, mark you; once back from this cruise, I set up
gentleman in earnest. Time enough too, says you. Ah, but I've lived easy
in the meantime, never denied myself o' nothing heart desires, and slep'
soft and ate dainty all my days but when at sea. And how did I begin?
Before the mast, like you!"
"Well," said the other, "but all the other money's gone now, ain't it?
You daren't show face in Bristol after this."
"Why, where might you suppose it was?" asked Silver derisively.
"At Bristol, in banks and places," answered his companion.
"It were," said the cook; "it were when we weighed anchor. But my old
missis has it all by now. And the Spy-glass is sold, lease and goodwill
and rigging; and the old girl's off to meet me. I would tell you where,
for I trust you, but it'd make jealousy among the mates."
"And can you trust your missis?" asked the other.
"Gentlemen of fortune," returned the cook, "usually trusts little among
themselves, and right they are, you may lay to it. But I have a way with
me, I have. When a mate brings a slip on his cable--one as knows me, I
mean--it won't be in the same world with old John. There was some that
was feared of Pew, and some that was feared of Flint; but Flint his own
self was feared of me. Feared he was, and proud. They was the roughest
crew afloat, was Flint's; the devil himself would have been feared to go
to sea with them. Well now, I tell you, I'm not a boasting man, and you
seen yourself how easy I keep company, but when I was quartermaster,
LAMBS wasn't the word for Flint's old buccaneers. Ah, you may be sure of
yourself in old John's ship."
"Well, I tell you now," replied the lad, "I didn't half a quarter like
the job till I had this talk with you, John; but there's my hand on it
"And a brave lad you were, and smart too," answered Silver, shaking
hands so heartily that all the barrel shook, "and a finer figurehead for
a gentleman of fortune I never clapped my eyes on."
By this time I had begun to understand the meaning of their terms. By a
"gentleman of fortune" they plainly meant neither more nor less than a
common pirate, and the little scene that I had overheard was the last
act in the corruption of one of the honest hands--perhaps of the last
one left aboard. But on this point I was soon to be relieved, for Silver
giving a little whistle, a third man strolled up and sat down by the
"Dick's square," said Silver.
"Oh, I know'd Dick was square," returned the voice of the coxswain,
Israel Hands. "He's no fool, is Dick." And he turned his quid and spat.
"But look here," he went on, "here's what I want to know, Barbecue: how
long are we a-going to stand off and on like a blessed bumboat? I've had
a'most enough o' Cap'n Smollett; he's hazed me long enough, by thunder!
I want to go into that cabin, I do. I want their pickles and wines, and
"Israel," said Silver, "your head ain't much account, nor ever was. But
you're able to hear, I reckon; leastways, your ears is big enough.
Now, here's what I say: you'll berth forward, and you'll live hard, and
you'll speak soft, and you'll keep sober till I give the word; and you
may lay to that, my son."
"Well, I don't say no, do I?" growled the coxswain. "What I say is,
when? That's what I say."
"When! By the powers!" cried Silver. "Well now, if you want to know,
I'll tell you when. The last moment I can manage, and that's when.
Here's a first-rate seaman, Cap'n Smollett, sails the blessed ship for
us. Here's this squire and doctor with a map and such--I don't know
where it is, do I? No more do you, says you. Well then, I mean this
squire and doctor shall find the stuff, and help us to get it aboard,
by the powers. Then we'll see. If I was sure of you all, sons of double
Dutchmen, I'd have Cap'n Smollett navigate us half-way back again before
"Why, we're all seamen aboard here, I should think," said the lad Dick.
"We're all forecastle hands, you mean," snapped Silver. "We can steer
a course, but who's to set one? That's what all you gentlemen split on,
first and last. If I had my way, I'd have Cap'n Smollett work us back
into the trades at least; then we'd have no blessed miscalculations and
a spoonful of water a day. But I know the sort you are. I'll finish with
'em at the island, as soon's the blunt's on board, and a pity it is. But
you're never happy till you're drunk. Split my sides, I've a sick heart
to sail with the likes of you!"
"Easy all, Long John," cried Israel. "Who's a-crossin' of you?"
"Why, how many tall ships, think ye, now, have I seen laid aboard? And
how many brisk lads drying in the sun at Execution Dock?" cried Silver.
"And all for this same hurry and hurry and hurry. You hear me? I seen
a thing or two at sea, I have. If you would on'y lay your course, and a
p'int to windward, you would ride in carriages, you would. But not you!
I know you. You'll have your mouthful of rum tomorrow, and go hang."
"Everybody knowed you was a kind of a chapling, John; but there's others
as could hand and steer as well as you," said Israel. "They liked a bit
o' fun, they did. They wasn't so high and dry, nohow, but took their
fling, like jolly companions every one."
"So?" says Silver. "Well, and where are they now? Pew was that sort,
and he died a beggar-man. Flint was, and he died of rum at Savannah. Ah,
they was a sweet crew, they was! On'y, where are they?"
"But," asked Dick, "when we do lay 'em athwart, what are we to do with
"There's the man for me!" cried the cook admiringly. "That's what I call
business. Well, what would you think? Put 'em ashore like maroons? That
would have been England's way. Or cut 'em down like that much pork? That
would have been Flint's, or Billy Bones's."
"Billy was the man for that," said Israel. "'Dead men don't bite,' says
he. Well, he's dead now hisself; he knows the long and short on it now;
and if ever a rough hand come to port, it was Billy."
"Right you are," said Silver; "rough and ready. But mark you here,
I'm an easy man--I'm quite the gentleman, says you; but this time it's
serious. Dooty is dooty, mates. I give my vote--death. When I'm in
Parlyment and riding in my coach, I don't want none of these sea-lawyers
in the cabin a-coming home, unlooked for, like the devil at prayers.
Wait is what I say; but when the time comes, why, let her rip!"
"John," cries the coxswain, "you're a man!"
"You'll say so, Israel when you see," said Silver. "Only one thing I
claim--I claim Trelawney. I'll wring his calf's head off his body with
these hands, Dick!" he added, breaking off. "You just jump up, like a
sweet lad, and get me an apple, to wet my pipe like."
You may fancy the terror I was in! I should have leaped out and run for
it if I had found the strength, but my limbs and heart alike misgave me.
I heard Dick begin to rise, and then someone seemingly stopped him, and
the voice of Hands exclaimed, "Oh, stow that! Don't you get sucking of
that bilge, John. Let's have a go of the rum."
"Dick," said Silver, "I trust you. I've a gauge on the keg, mind.
There's the key; you fill a pannikin and bring it up."
Terrified as I was, I could not help thinking to myself that this must
have been how Mr. Arrow got the strong waters that destroyed him.
Dick was gone but a little while, and during his absence Israel spoke
straight on in the cook's ear. It was but a word or two that I could
catch, and yet I gathered some important news, for besides other scraps
that tended to the same purpose, this whole clause was audible: "Not
another man of them'll jine." Hence there were still faithful men on
When Dick returned, one after another of the trio took the pannikin and
drank--one "To luck," another with a "Here's to old Flint," and Silver
himself saying, in a kind of song, "Here's to ourselves, and hold your
luff, plenty of prizes and plenty of duff."
Just then a sort of brightness fell upon me in the barrel, and looking
up, I found the moon had risen and was silvering the mizzen-top and
shining white on the luff of the fore-sail; and almost at the same time
the voice of the lookout shouted, "Land ho!"
Council of War
THERE was a great rush of feet across the deck. I could hear people
tumbling up from the cabin and the forecastle, and slipping in an
instant outside my barrel, I dived behind the fore-sail, made a double
towards the stern, and came out upon the open deck in time to join
Hunter and Dr. Livesey in the rush for the weather bow.
There all hands were already congregated. A belt of fog had lifted
almost simultaneously with the appearance of the moon. Away to the
south-west of us we saw two low hills, about a couple of miles apart,
and rising behind one of them a third and higher hill, whose peak was
still buried in the fog. All three seemed sharp and conical in figure.
So much I saw, almost in a dream, for I had not yet recovered from my
horrid fear of a minute or two before. And then I heard the voice of
Captain Smollett issuing orders. The HISPANIOLA was laid a couple of
points nearer the wind and now sailed a course that would just clear the
island on the east.
"And now, men," said the captain, when all was sheeted home, "has any
one of you ever seen that land ahead?"
"I have, sir," said Silver. "I've watered there with a trader I was cook
"The anchorage is on the south, behind an islet, I fancy?" asked the
"Yes, sir; Skeleton Island they calls it. It were a main place for
pirates once, and a hand we had on board knowed all their names for it.
That hill to the nor'ard they calls the Fore-mast Hill; there are three
hills in a row running south'ard--fore, main, and mizzen, sir. But the
main--that's the big un, with the cloud on it--they usually calls
the Spy-glass, by reason of a lookout they kept when they was in the
anchorage cleaning, for it's there they cleaned their ships, sir, asking
"I have a chart here," says Captain Smollett. "See if that's the place."
Long John's eyes burned in his head as he took the chart, but by the
fresh look of the paper I knew he was doomed to disappointment. This
was not the map we found in Billy Bones's chest, but an accurate copy,
complete in all things--names and heights and soundings--with the single
exception of the red crosses and the written notes. Sharp as must have
been his annoyance, Silver had the strength of mind to hide it.
"Yes, sir," said he, "this is the spot, to be sure, and very prettily
drawed out. Who might have done that, I wonder? The pirates were too
ignorant, I reckon. Aye, here it is: 'Capt. Kidd's Anchorage'--just
the name my shipmate called it. There's a strong current runs along the
south, and then away nor'ard up the west coast. Right you was, sir,"
says he, "to haul your wind and keep the weather of the island.
Leastways, if such was your intention as to enter and careen, and there
ain't no better place for that in these waters."
"Thank you, my man," says Captain Smollett. "I'll ask you later on to
give us a help. You may go."
I was surprised at the coolness with which John avowed his knowledge
of the island, and I own I was half-frightened when I saw him drawing
nearer to myself. He did not know, to be sure, that I had overheard his
council from the apple barrel, and yet I had by this time taken such a
horror of his cruelty, duplicity, and power that I could scarce conceal
a shudder when he laid his hand upon my arm.
"Ah," says he, "this here is a sweet spot, this island--a sweet spot for
a lad to get ashore on. You'll bathe, and you'll climb trees, and you'll
hunt goats, you will; and you'll get aloft on them hills like a goat
yourself. Why, it makes me young again. I was going to forget my timber
leg, I was. It's a pleasant thing to be young and have ten toes, and you
may lay to that. When you want to go a bit of exploring, you just ask
old John, and he'll put up a snack for you to take along."
And clapping me in the friendliest way upon the shoulder, he hobbled off
forward and went below.
Captain Smollett, the squire, and Dr. Livesey were talking together on
the quarter-deck, and anxious as I was to tell them my story, I durst
not interrupt them openly. While I was still casting about in my
thoughts to find some probable excuse, Dr. Livesey called me to his
side. He had left his pipe below, and being a slave to tobacco, had
meant that I should fetch it; but as soon as I was near enough to speak
and not to be overheard, I broke immediately, "Doctor, let me speak. Get
the captain and squire down to the cabin, and then make some pretence to
send for me. I have terrible news."
The doctor changed countenance a little, but next moment he was master
"Thank you, Jim," said he quite loudly, "that was all I wanted to know,"
as if he had asked me a question.
And with that he turned on his heel and rejoined the other two. They
spoke together for a little, and though none of them started, or raised
his voice, or so much as whistled, it was plain enough that Dr. Livesey
had communicated my request, for the next thing that I heard was the
captain giving an order to Job Anderson, and all hands were piped on
"My lads," said Captain Smollett, "I've a word to say to you. This
land that we have sighted is the place we have been sailing for. Mr.
Trelawney, being a very open-handed gentleman, as we all know, has just
asked me a word or two, and as I was able to tell him that every man on
board had done his duty, alow and aloft, as I never ask to see it done
better, why, he and I and the doctor are going below to the cabin to
drink YOUR health and luck, and you'll have grog served out for you to
drink OUR health and luck. I'll tell you what I think of this: I think
it handsome. And if you think as I do, you'll give a good sea-cheer for
the gentleman that does it."
The cheer followed--that was a matter of course; but it rang out so full
and hearty that I confess I could hardly believe these same men were
plotting for our blood.
"One more cheer for Cap'n Smollett," cried Long John when the first had
And this also was given with a will.
On the top of that the three gentlemen went below, and not long after,
word was sent forward that Jim Hawkins was wanted in the cabin.
I found them all three seated round the table, a bottle of Spanish wine
and some raisins before them, and the doctor smoking away, with his wig
on his lap, and that, I knew, was a sign that he was agitated. The stern
window was open, for it was a warm night, and you could see the moon
shining behind on the ship's wake.
"Now, Hawkins," said the squire, "you have something to say. Speak up."
I did as I was bid, and as short as I could make it, told the whole
details of Silver's conversation. Nobody interrupted me till I was done,
nor did any one of the three of them make so much as a movement, but
they kept their eyes upon my face from first to last.
"Jim," said Dr. Livesey, "take a seat."
And they made me sit down at table beside them, poured me out a glass of
wine, filled my hands with raisins, and all three, one after the other,
and each with a bow, drank my good health, and their service to me, for
my luck and courage.
"Now, captain," said the squire, "you were right, and I was wrong. I own
myself an ass, and I await your orders."
"No more an ass than I, sir," returned the captain. "I never heard of a
crew that meant to mutiny but what showed signs before, for any man that
had an eye in his head to see the mischief and take steps according. But
this crew," he added, "beats me."
"Captain," said the doctor, "with your permission, that's Silver. A very
"He'd look remarkably well from a yard-arm, sir," returned the captain.
"But this is talk; this don't lead to anything. I see three or four
points, and with Mr. Trelawney's permission, I'll name them."
"You, sir, are the captain. It is for you to speak," says Mr. Trelawney
"First point," began Mr. Smollett. "We must go on, because we can't turn
back. If I gave the word to go about, they would rise at once. Second
point, we have time before us--at least until this treasure's found.
Third point, there are faithful hands. Now, sir, it's got to come
to blows sooner or later, and what I propose is to take time by the
forelock, as the saying is, and come to blows some fine day when they
least expect it. We can count, I take it, on your own home servants, Mr.
"As upon myself," declared the squire.
"Three," reckoned the captain; "ourselves make seven, counting Hawkins
here. Now, about the honest hands?"
"Most likely Trelawney's own men," said the doctor; "those he had picked
up for himself before he lit on Silver."
"Nay," replied the squire. "Hands was one of mine."
"I did think I could have trusted Hands," added the captain.
"And to think that they're all Englishmen!" broke out the squire. "Sir,
I could find it in my heart to blow the ship up."
"Well, gentlemen," said the captain, "the best that I can say is not
much. We must lay to, if you please, and keep a bright lookout. It's
trying on a man, I know. It would be pleasanter to come to blows. But
there's no help for it till we know our men. Lay to, and whistle for a
wind, that's my view."
"Jim here," said the doctor, "can help us more than anyone. The men are
not shy with him, and Jim is a noticing lad."
"Hawkins, I put prodigious faith in you," added the squire.
I began to feel pretty desperate at this, for I felt altogether
helpless; and yet, by an odd train of circumstances, it was indeed
through me that safety came. In the meantime, talk as we pleased, there
were only seven out of the twenty-six on whom we knew we could rely; and
out of these seven one was a boy, so that the grown men on our side were
six to their nineteen.
PART THREE--My Shore Adventure
How My Shore Adventure Began
THE appearance of the island when I came on deck next morning was
altogether changed. Although the breeze had now utterly ceased, we had
made a great deal of way during the night and were now lying becalmed
about half a mile to the south-east of the low eastern coast.
Grey-coloured woods covered a large part of the surface. This even tint
was indeed broken up by streaks of yellow sand-break in the lower lands,
and by many tall trees of the pine family, out-topping the others--some
singly, some in clumps; but the general colouring was uniform and sad.
The hills ran up clear above the vegetation in spires of naked rock.
All were strangely shaped, and the Spy-glass, which was by three or four
hundred feet the tallest on the island, was likewise the strangest in
configuration, running up sheer from almost every side and then suddenly
cut off at the top like a pedestal to put a statue on.
The HISPANIOLA was rolling scuppers under in the ocean swell. The booms
were tearing at the blocks, the rudder was banging to and fro, and the
whole ship creaking, groaning, and jumping like a manufactory. I had
to cling tight to the backstay, and the world turned giddily before my
eyes, for though I was a good enough sailor when there was way on, this
standing still and being rolled about like a bottle was a thing I never
learned to stand without a qualm or so, above all in the morning, on an
Perhaps it was this--perhaps it was the look of the island, with its
grey, melancholy woods, and wild stone spires, and the surf that we
could both see and hear foaming and thundering on the steep beach--at
least, although the sun shone bright and hot, and the shore birds were
fishing and crying all around us, and you would have thought anyone
would have been glad to get to land after being so long at sea, my heart
sank, as the saying is, into my boots; and from the first look onward, I
hated the very thought of Treasure Island.
We had a dreary morning's work before us, for there was no sign of any
wind, and the boats had to be got out and manned, and the ship warped
three or four miles round the corner of the island and up the narrow
passage to the haven behind Skeleton Island. I volunteered for one of
the boats, where I had, of course, no business. The heat was sweltering,
and the men grumbled fiercely over their work. Anderson was in command
of my boat, and instead of keeping the crew in order, he grumbled as
loud as the worst.
"Well," he said with an oath, "it's not forever."
I thought this was a very bad sign, for up to that day the men had gone
briskly and willingly about their business; but the very sight of the
island had relaxed the cords of discipline.
All the way in, Long John stood by the steersman and conned the ship.
He knew the passage like the palm of his hand, and though the man in the
chains got everywhere more water than was down in the chart, John never
"There's a strong scour with the ebb," he said, "and this here passage
has been dug out, in a manner of speaking, with a spade."
We brought up just where the anchor was in the chart, about a third of
a mile from each shore, the mainland on one side and Skeleton Island on
the other. The bottom was clean sand. The plunge of our anchor sent up
clouds of birds wheeling and crying over the woods, but in less than a
minute they were down again and all was once more silent.
The place was entirely land-locked, buried in woods, the trees coming
right down to high-water mark, the shores mostly flat, and the hilltops
standing round at a distance in a sort of amphitheatre, one here, one
there. Two little rivers, or rather two swamps, emptied out into this
pond, as you might call it; and the foliage round that part of the shore
had a kind of poisonous brightness. From the ship we could see nothing
of the house or stockade, for they were quite buried among trees; and if
it had not been for the chart on the companion, we might have been the
first that had ever anchored there since the island arose out of the
There was not a breath of air moving, nor a sound but that of the
surf booming half a mile away along the beaches and against the rocks
outside. A peculiar stagnant smell hung over the anchorage--a smell of
sodden leaves and rotting tree trunks. I observed the doctor sniffing
and sniffing, like someone tasting a bad egg.
"I don't know about treasure," he said, "but I'll stake my wig there's
If the conduct of the men had been alarming in the boat, it became truly
threatening when they had come aboard. They lay about the deck growling
together in talk. The slightest order was received with a black look and
grudgingly and carelessly obeyed. Even the honest hands must have caught
the infection, for there was not one man aboard to mend another. Mutiny,
it was plain, hung over us like a thunder-cloud.
And it was not only we of the cabin party who perceived the danger. Long
John was hard at work going from group to group, spending himself in
good advice, and as for example no man could have shown a better. He
fairly outstripped himself in willingness and civility; he was all
smiles to everyone. If an order were given, John would be on his crutch
in an instant, with the cheeriest "Aye, aye, sir!" in the world; and
when there was nothing else to do, he kept up one song after another, as
if to conceal the discontent of the rest.
Of all the gloomy features of that gloomy afternoon, this obvious
anxiety on the part of Long John appeared the worst.
We held a council in the cabin.
"Sir," said the captain, "if I risk another order, the whole ship'll
come about our ears by the run. You see, sir, here it is. I get a rough
answer, do I not? Well, if I speak back, pikes will be going in two
shakes; if I don't, Silver will see there's something under that, and
the game's up. Now, we've only one man to rely on."
"And who is that?" asked the squire.
"Silver, sir," returned the captain; "he's as anxious as you and I to
smother things up. This is a tiff; he'd soon talk 'em out of it if he
had the chance, and what I propose to do is to give him the chance.
Let's allow the men an afternoon ashore. If they all go, why we'll fight
the ship. If they none of them go, well then, we hold the cabin, and God
defend the right. If some go, you mark my words, sir, Silver'll bring
'em aboard again as mild as lambs."
It was so decided; loaded pistols were served out to all the sure men;
Hunter, Joyce, and Redruth were taken into our confidence and received
the news with less surprise and a better spirit than we had looked for,
and then the captain went on deck and addressed the crew.
"My lads," said he, "we've had a hot day and are all tired and out of
sorts. A turn ashore'll hurt nobody--the boats are still in the water;
you can take the gigs, and as many as please may go ashore for the
afternoon. I'll fire a gun half an hour before sundown."
I believe the silly fellows must have thought they would break their
shins over treasure as soon as they were landed, for they all came out
of their sulks in a moment and gave a cheer that started the echo in a
faraway hill and sent the birds once more flying and squalling round the
The captain was too bright to be in the way. He whipped out of sight
in a moment, leaving Silver to arrange the party, and I fancy it was as
well he did so. Had he been on deck, he could no longer so much as
have pretended not to understand the situation. It was as plain as day.
Silver was the captain, and a mighty rebellious crew he had of it. The
honest hands--and I was soon to see it proved that there were such on
board--must have been very stupid fellows. Or rather, I suppose the
truth was this, that all hands were disaffected by the example of the
ringleaders--only some more, some less; and a few, being good fellows in
the main, could neither be led nor driven any further. It is one thing
to be idle and skulk and quite another to take a ship and murder a
number of innocent men.
At last, however, the party was made up. Six fellows were to stay on
board, and the remaining thirteen, including Silver, began to embark.
Then it was that there came into my head the first of the mad notions
that contributed so much to save our lives. If six men were left by
Silver, it was plain our party could not take and fight the ship; and
since only six were left, it was equally plain that the cabin party
had no present need of my assistance. It occurred to me at once to go
ashore. In a jiffy I had slipped over the side and curled up in the
fore-sheets of the nearest boat, and almost at the same moment she
No one took notice of me, only the bow oar saying, "Is that you, Jim?
Keep your head down." But Silver, from the other boat, looked sharply
over and called out to know if that were me; and from that moment I
began to regret what I had done.
The crews raced for the beach, but the boat I was in, having some start
and being at once the lighter and the better manned, shot far ahead of
her consort, and the bow had struck among the shore-side trees and I
had caught a branch and swung myself out and plunged into the nearest
thicket while Silver and the rest were still a hundred yards behind.
"Jim, Jim!" I heard him shouting.
But you may suppose I paid no heed; jumping, ducking, and breaking
through, I ran straight before my nose till I could run no longer.
The First Blow
I WAS so pleased at having given the slip to Long John that I began to
enjoy myself and look around me with some interest on the strange land
that I was in.
I had crossed a marshy tract full of willows, bulrushes, and odd,
outlandish, swampy trees; and I had now come out upon the skirts of an
open piece of undulating, sandy country, about a mile long, dotted with
a few pines and a great number of contorted trees, not unlike the oak
in growth, but pale in the foliage, like willows. On the far side of
the open stood one of the hills, with two quaint, craggy peaks shining
vividly in the sun.
I now felt for the first time the joy of exploration. The isle was
uninhabited; my shipmates I had left behind, and nothing lived in front
of me but dumb brutes and fowls. I turned hither and thither among the
trees. Here and there were flowering plants, unknown to me; here and
there I saw snakes, and one raised his head from a ledge of rock and
hissed at me with a noise not unlike the spinning of a top. Little did
I suppose that he was a deadly enemy and that the noise was the famous
Then I came to a long thicket of these oaklike trees--live, or
evergreen, oaks, I heard afterwards they should be called--which grew
low along the sand like brambles, the boughs curiously twisted, the
foliage compact, like thatch. The thicket stretched down from the top of
one of the sandy knolls, spreading and growing taller as it went, until
it reached the margin of the broad, reedy fen, through which the nearest
of the little rivers soaked its way into the anchorage. The marsh was
steaming in the strong sun, and the outline of the Spy-glass trembled
through the haze.
All at once there began to go a sort of bustle among the bulrushes;
a wild duck flew up with a quack, another followed, and soon over the
whole surface of the marsh a great cloud of birds hung screaming and
circling in the air. I judged at once that some of my shipmates must be
drawing near along the borders of the fen. Nor was I deceived, for soon
I heard the very distant and low tones of a human voice, which, as I
continued to give ear, grew steadily louder and nearer.
This put me in a great fear, and I crawled under cover of the nearest
live-oak and squatted there, hearkening, as silent as a mouse.
Another voice answered, and then the first voice, which I now recognized
to be Silver's, once more took up the story and ran on for a long while
in a stream, only now and again interrupted by the other. By the sound
they must have been talking earnestly, and almost fiercely; but no
distinct word came to my hearing.
At last the speakers seemed to have paused and perhaps to have sat down,
for not only did they cease to draw any nearer, but the birds themselves
began to grow more quiet and to settle again to their places in the
And now I began to feel that I was neglecting my business, that since
I had been so foolhardy as to come ashore with these desperadoes, the
least I could do was to overhear them at their councils, and that my
plain and obvious duty was to draw as close as I could manage, under the
favourable ambush of the crouching trees.
I could tell the direction of the speakers pretty exactly, not only by
the sound of their voices but by the behaviour of the few birds that
still hung in alarm above the heads of the intruders.
Crawling on all fours, I made steadily but slowly towards them, till at
last, raising my head to an aperture among the leaves, I could see clear
down into a little green dell beside the marsh, and closely set about
with trees, where Long John Silver and another of the crew stood face to
face in conversation.
The sun beat full upon them. Silver had thrown his hat beside him on the
ground, and his great, smooth, blond face, all shining with heat, was
lifted to the other man's in a kind of appeal.
"Mate," he was saying, "it's because I thinks gold dust of you--gold
dust, and you may lay to that! If I hadn't took to you like pitch, do
you think I'd have been here a-warning of you? All's up--you can't make
nor mend; it's to save your neck that I'm a-speaking, and if one of the
wild uns knew it, where'd I be, Tom--now, tell me, where'd I be?"
"Silver," said the other man--and I observed he was not only red in the
face, but spoke as hoarse as a crow, and his voice shook too, like a
taut rope--"Silver," says he, "you're old, and you're honest, or has the
name for it; and you've money too, which lots of poor sailors hasn't;
and you're brave, or I'm mistook. And will you tell me you'll let
yourself be led away with that kind of a mess of swabs? Not you! As sure
as God sees me, I'd sooner lose my hand. If I turn agin my dooty--"
And then all of a sudden he was interrupted by a noise. I had found
one of the honest hands--well, here, at that same moment, came news of
another. Far away out in the marsh there arose, all of a sudden, a sound
like the cry of anger, then another on the back of it; and then one
horrid, long-drawn scream. The rocks of the Spy-glass re-echoed it a
score of times; the whole troop of marsh-birds rose again, darkening
heaven, with a simultaneous whirr; and long after that death yell was
still ringing in my brain, silence had re-established its empire, and
only the rustle of the redescending birds and the boom of the distant
surges disturbed the languor of the afternoon.
Tom had leaped at the sound, like a horse at the spur, but Silver had
not winked an eye. He stood where he was, resting lightly on his crutch,
watching his companion like a snake about to spring.
"John!" said the sailor, stretching out his hand.
"Hands off!" cried Silver, leaping back a yard, as it seemed to me, with
the speed and security of a trained gymnast.
"Hands off, if you like, John Silver," said the other. "It's a black
conscience that can make you feared of me. But in heaven's name, tell
me, what was that?"
"That?" returned Silver, smiling away, but warier than ever, his eye
a mere pin-point in his big face, but gleaming like a crumb of glass.
"That? Oh, I reckon that'll be Alan."
And at this point Tom flashed out like a hero.
"Alan!" he cried. "Then rest his soul for a true seaman! And as for you,
John Silver, long you've been a mate of mine, but you're mate of mine
no more. If I die like a dog, I'll die in my dooty. You've killed Alan,
have you? Kill me too, if you can. But I defies you."
And with that, this brave fellow turned his back directly on the cook
and set off walking for the beach. But he was not destined to go far.
With a cry John seized the branch of a tree, whipped the crutch out of
his armpit, and sent that uncouth missile hurtling through the air.
It struck poor Tom, point foremost, and with stunning violence, right
between the shoulders in the middle of his back. His hands flew up, he
gave a sort of gasp, and fell.
Whether he were injured much or little, none could ever tell. Like
enough, to judge from the sound, his back was broken on the spot. But he
had no time given him to recover. Silver, agile as a monkey even without
leg or crutch, was on the top of him next moment and had twice buried
his knife up to the hilt in that defenceless body. From my place of
ambush, I could hear him pant aloud as he struck the blows.
I do not know what it rightly is to faint, but I do know that for the
next little while the whole world swam away from before me in a whirling
mist; Silver and the birds, and the tall Spy-glass hilltop, going
round and round and topsy-turvy before my eyes, and all manner of bells
ringing and distant voices shouting in my ear.
When I came again to myself the monster had pulled himself together,
his crutch under his arm, his hat upon his head. Just before him Tom
lay motionless upon the sward; but the murderer minded him not a whit,
cleansing his blood-stained knife the while upon a wisp of grass.
Everything else was unchanged, the sun still shining mercilessly on the
steaming marsh and the tall pinnacle of the mountain, and I could scarce
persuade myself that murder had been actually done and a human life
cruelly cut short a moment since before my eyes.
But now John put his hand into his pocket, brought out a whistle, and
blew upon it several modulated blasts that rang far across the heated
air. I could not tell, of course, the meaning of the signal, but
it instantly awoke my fears. More men would be coming. I might be
discovered. They had already slain two of the honest people; after Tom
and Alan, might not I come next?
Instantly I began to extricate myself and crawl back again, with what
speed and silence I could manage, to the more open portion of the
wood. As I did so, I could hear hails coming and going between the old
buccaneer and his comrades, and this sound of danger lent me wings. As
soon as I was clear of the thicket, I ran as I never ran before, scarce
minding the direction of my flight, so long as it led me from the
murderers; and as I ran, fear grew and grew upon me until it turned into
a kind of frenzy.
Indeed, could anyone be more entirely lost than I? When the gun fired,
how should I dare to go down to the boats among those fiends, still
smoking from their crime? Would not the first of them who saw me wring
my neck like a snipe's? Would not my absence itself be an evidence to
them of my alarm, and therefore of my fatal knowledge? It was all over,
I thought. Good-bye to the HISPANIOLA; good-bye to the squire, the
doctor, and the captain! There was nothing left for me but death by
starvation or death by the hands of the mutineers.
All this while, as I say, I was still running, and without taking any
notice, I had drawn near to the foot of the little hill with the two
peaks and had got into a part of the island where the live-oaks grew
more widely apart and seemed more like forest trees in their bearing and
dimensions. Mingled with these were a few scattered pines, some fifty,
some nearer seventy, feet high. The air too smelt more freshly than down
beside the marsh.
And here a fresh alarm brought me to a standstill with a thumping heart.
The Man of the Island
FROM the side of the hill, which was here steep and stony, a spout of
gravel was dislodged and fell rattling and bounding through the trees.
My eyes turned instinctively in that direction, and I saw a figure leap
with great rapidity behind the trunk of a pine. What it was, whether
bear or man or monkey, I could in no wise tell. It seemed dark and
shaggy; more I knew not. But the terror of this new apparition brought
me to a stand.
I was now, it seemed, cut off upon both sides; behind me the murderers,
before me this lurking nondescript. And immediately I began to prefer
the dangers that I knew to those I knew not. Silver himself appeared
less terrible in contrast with this creature of the woods, and I turned
on my heel, and looking sharply behind me over my shoulder, began to
retrace my steps in the direction of the boats.
Instantly the figure reappeared, and making a wide circuit, began to
head me off. I was tired, at any rate; but had I been as fresh as when I
rose, I could see it was in vain for me to contend in speed with such an
adversary. From trunk to trunk the creature flitted like a deer, running
manlike on two legs, but unlike any man that I had ever seen, stooping
almost double as it ran. Yet a man it was, I could no longer be in doubt
I began to recall what I had heard of cannibals. I was within an ace of
calling for help. But the mere fact that he was a man, however wild,
had somewhat reassured me, and my fear of Silver began to revive in
proportion. I stood still, therefore, and cast about for some method of
escape; and as I was so thinking, the recollection of my pistol flashed
into my mind. As soon as I remembered I was not defenceless, courage
glowed again in my heart and I set my face resolutely for this man of
the island and walked briskly towards him.
He was concealed by this time behind another tree trunk; but he must
have been watching me closely, for as soon as I began to move in his
direction he reappeared and took a step to meet me. Then he hesitated,
drew back, came forward again, and at last, to my wonder and
confusion, threw himself on his knees and held out his clasped hands in
At that I once more stopped.
"Who are you?" I asked.
"Ben Gunn," he answered, and his voice sounded hoarse and awkward,
like a rusty lock. "I'm poor Ben Gunn, I am; and I haven't spoke with a
Christian these three years."
I could now see that he was a white man like myself and that his
features were even pleasing. His skin, wherever it was exposed, was
burnt by the sun; even his lips were black, and his fair eyes looked
quite startling in so dark a face. Of all the beggar-men that I had seen
or fancied, he was the chief for raggedness. He was clothed with tatters
of old ship's canvas and old sea-cloth, and this extraordinary patchwork
was all held together by a system of the most various and incongruous
fastenings, brass buttons, bits of stick, and loops of tarry gaskin.
About his waist he wore an old brass-buckled leather belt, which was the
one thing solid in his whole accoutrement.
"Three years!" I cried. "Were you shipwrecked?"
"Nay, mate," said he; "marooned."
I had heard the word, and I knew it stood for a horrible kind of
punishment common enough among the buccaneers, in which the offender
is put ashore with a little powder and shot and left behind on some
desolate and distant island.
"Marooned three years agone," he continued, "and lived on goats since
then, and berries, and oysters. Wherever a man is, says I, a man can
do for himself. But, mate, my heart is sore for Christian diet. You
mightn't happen to have a piece of cheese about you, now? No? Well,
many's the long night I've dreamed of cheese--toasted, mostly--and woke
up again, and here I were."
"If ever I can get aboard again," said I, "you shall have cheese by the
All this time he had been feeling the stuff of my jacket, smoothing
my hands, looking at my boots, and generally, in the intervals of
his speech, showing a childish pleasure in the presence of a fellow
creature. But at my last words he perked up into a kind of startled
"If ever you can get aboard again, says you?" he repeated. "Why, now,
who's to hinder you?"
"Not you, I know," was my reply.
"And right you was," he cried. "Now you--what do you call yourself,
"Jim," I told him.
"Jim, Jim," says he, quite pleased apparently. "Well, now, Jim, I've
lived that rough as you'd be ashamed to hear of. Now, for instance, you
wouldn't think I had had a pious mother--to look at me?" he asked.
"Why, no, not in particular," I answered.
"Ah, well," said he, "but I had--remarkable pious. And I was a civil,
pious boy, and could rattle off my catechism that fast, as you couldn't
tell one word from another. And here's what it come to, Jim, and it
begun with chuck-farthen on the blessed grave-stones! That's what it
begun with, but it went further'n that; and so my mother told me, and
predicked the whole, she did, the pious woman! But it were Providence
that put me here. I've thought it all out in this here lonely island,
and I'm back on piety. You don't catch me tasting rum so much, but just
a thimbleful for luck, of course, the first chance I have. I'm bound
I'll be good, and I see the way to. And, Jim"--looking all round him and
lowering his voice to a whisper--"I'm rich."
I now felt sure that the poor fellow had gone crazy in his solitude, and
I suppose I must have shown the feeling in my face, for he repeated the
statement hotly: "Rich! Rich! I says. And I'll tell you what: I'll make
a man of you, Jim. Ah, Jim, you'll bless your stars, you will, you was
the first that found me!"
And at this there came suddenly a lowering shadow over his face, and he
tightened his grasp upon my hand and raised a forefinger threateningly
before my eyes.
"Now, Jim, you tell me true: that ain't Flint's ship?" he asked.
At this I had a happy inspiration. I began to believe that I had found
an ally, and I answered him at once.
"It's not Flint's ship, and Flint is dead; but I'll tell you true, as
you ask me--there are some of Flint's hands aboard; worse luck for the
rest of us."
"Not a man--with one--leg?" he gasped.
"Silver?" I asked.
"Ah, Silver!" says he. "That were his name."
"He's the cook, and the ringleader too."
He was still holding me by the wrist, and at that he give it quite a
"If you was sent by Long John," he said, "I'm as good as pork, and I
know it. But where was you, do you suppose?"
I had made my mind up in a moment, and by way of answer told him
the whole story of our voyage and the predicament in which we found
ourselves. He heard me with the keenest interest, and when I had done he
patted me on the head.
"You're a good lad, Jim," he said; "and you're all in a clove hitch,
ain't you? Well, you just put your trust in Ben Gunn--Ben Gunn's the man
to do it. Would you think it likely, now, that your squire would prove
a liberal-minded one in case of help--him being in a clove hitch, as you
I told him the squire was the most liberal of men.
"Aye, but you see," returned Ben Gunn, "I didn't mean giving me a gate
to keep, and a suit of livery clothes, and such; that's not my mark,
Jim. What I mean is, would he be likely to come down to the toon of, say
one thousand pounds out of money that's as good as a man's own already?"
"I am sure he would," said I. "As it was, all hands were to share."
"AND a passage home?" he added with a look of great shrewdness.
"Why," I cried, "the squire's a gentleman. And besides, if we got rid of
the others, we should want you to help work the vessel home."
"Ah," said he, "so you would." And he seemed very much relieved.
"Now, I'll tell you what," he went on. "So much I'll tell you, and no
more. I were in Flint's ship when he buried the treasure; he and
six along--six strong seamen. They was ashore nigh on a week, and us
standing off and on in the old WALRUS. One fine day up went the signal,
and here come Flint by himself in a little boat, and his head done up in
a blue scarf. The sun was getting up, and mortal white he looked about
the cutwater. But, there he was, you mind, and the six all dead--dead
and buried. How he done it, not a man aboard us could make out. It was
battle, murder, and sudden death, leastways--him against six. Billy
Bones was the mate; Long John, he was quartermaster; and they asked him
where the treasure was. 'Ah,' says he, 'you can go ashore, if you like,
and stay,' he says; 'but as for the ship, she'll beat up for more, by
thunder!' That's what he said.
"Well, I was in another ship three years back, and we sighted this
island. 'Boys,' said I, 'here's Flint's treasure; let's land and find
it.' The cap'n was displeased at that, but my messmates were all of a
mind and landed. Twelve days they looked for it, and every day they had
the worse word for me, until one fine morning all hands went aboard. 'As
for you, Benjamin Gunn,' says they, 'here's a musket,' they says, 'and
a spade, and pick-axe. You can stay here and find Flint's money for
yourself,' they says.
"Well, Jim, three years have I been here, and not a bite of Christian
diet from that day to this. But now, you look here; look at me. Do I
look like a man before the mast? No, says you. Nor I weren't, neither, I
And with that he winked and pinched me hard.
"Just you mention them words to your squire, Jim," he went on. "Nor he
weren't, neither--that's the words. Three years he were the man of this
island, light and dark, fair and rain; and sometimes he would maybe
think upon a prayer (says you), and sometimes he would maybe think of
his old mother, so be as she's alive (you'll say); but the most part
of Gunn's time (this is what you'll say)--the most part of his time was
took up with another matter. And then you'll give him a nip, like I do."
And he pinched me again in the most confidential manner.
"Then," he continued, "then you'll up, and you'll say this: Gunn is a
good man (you'll say), and he puts a precious sight more confidence--a
precious sight, mind that--in a gen'leman born than in these gen'leman
of fortune, having been one hisself."
"Well," I said, "I don't understand one word that you've been saying.
But that's neither here nor there; for how am I to get on board?"
"Ah," said he, "that's the hitch, for sure. Well, there's my boat, that
I made with my two hands. I keep her under the white rock. If the worst
come to the worst, we might try that after dark. Hi!" he broke out.
For just then, although the sun had still an hour or two to run, all the
echoes of the island awoke and bellowed to the thunder of a cannon.
"They have begun to fight!" I cried. "Follow me."
And I began to run towards the anchorage, my terrors all forgotten,
while close at my side the marooned man in his goatskins trotted easily
"Left, left," says he; "keep to your left hand, mate Jim! Under the
trees with you! Theer's where I killed my first goat. They don't come
down here now; they're all mastheaded on them mountings for the fear
of Benjamin Gunn. Ah! And there's the cetemery"--cemetery, he must have
meant. "You see the mounds? I come here and prayed, nows and thens, when
I thought maybe a Sunday would be about doo. It weren't quite a chapel,
but it seemed more solemn like; and then, says you, Ben Gunn was
short-handed--no chapling, nor so much as a Bible and a flag, you says."
So he kept talking as I ran, neither expecting nor receiving any answer.
The cannon-shot was followed after a considerable interval by a volley
of small arms.
Another pause, and then, not a quarter of a mile in front of me, I
beheld the Union Jack flutter in the air above a wood.
PART FOUR--The Stockade
Narrative Continued by the Doctor: How the Ship Was Abandoned
IT was about half past one--three bells in the sea phrase--that the two
boats went ashore from the HISPANIOLA. The captain, the squire, and I
were talking matters over in the cabin. Had there been a breath of wind,
we should have fallen on the six mutineers who were left aboard with
us, slipped our cable, and away to sea. But the wind was wanting; and
to complete our helplessness, down came Hunter with the news that Jim
Hawkins had slipped into a boat and was gone ashore with the rest.
It never occurred to us to doubt Jim Hawkins, but we were alarmed for
his safety. With the men in the temper they were in, it seemed an even
chance if we should see the lad again. We ran on deck. The pitch was
bubbling in the seams; the nasty stench of the place turned me sick;
if ever a man smelt fever and dysentery, it was in that abominable
anchorage. The six scoundrels were sitting grumbling under a sail in the
forecastle; ashore we could see the gigs made fast and a man sitting
in each, hard by where the river runs in. One of them was whistling
Waiting was a strain, and it was decided that Hunter and I should go
ashore with the jolly-boat in quest of information.
The gigs had leaned to their right, but Hunter and I pulled straight in,
in the direction of the stockade upon the chart. The two who were
left guarding their boats seemed in a bustle at our appearance;
"Lillibullero" stopped off, and I could see the pair discussing what
they ought to do. Had they gone and told Silver, all might have turned
out differently; but they had their orders, I suppose, and decided to
sit quietly where they were and hark back again to "Lillibullero."
There was a slight bend in the coast, and I steered so as to put it
between us; even before we landed we had thus lost sight of the gigs.
I jumped out and came as near running as I durst, with a big silk
handkerchief under my hat for coolness' sake and a brace of pistols
ready primed for safety.
I had not gone a hundred yards when I reached the stockade.
This was how it was: a spring of clear water rose almost at the top of a
knoll. Well, on the knoll, and enclosing the spring, they had clapped a
stout loghouse fit to hold two score of people on a pinch and loopholed
for musketry on either side. All round this they had cleared a wide
space, and then the thing was completed by a paling six feet high,
without door or opening, too strong to pull down without time and labour
and too open to shelter the besiegers. The people in the log-house had
them in every way; they stood quiet in shelter and shot the others like
partridges. All they wanted was a good watch and food; for, short of a
complete surprise, they might have held the place against a regiment.
What particularly took my fancy was the spring. For though we had a good
enough place of it in the cabin of the HISPANIOLA, with plenty of arms
and ammunition, and things to eat, and excellent wines, there had been
one thing overlooked--we had no water. I was thinking this over when
there came ringing over the island the cry of a man at the point of
death. I was not new to violent death--I have served his Royal Highness
the Duke of Cumberland, and got a wound myself at Fontenoy--but I know
my pulse went dot and carry one. "Jim Hawkins is gone," was my first
It is something to have been an old soldier, but more still to have been
a doctor. There is no time to dilly-dally in our work. And so now I made
up my mind instantly, and with no time lost returned to the shore and
jumped on board the jolly-boat.
By good fortune Hunter pulled a good oar. We made the water fly, and the
boat was soon alongside and I aboard the schooner.
I found them all shaken, as was natural. The squire was sitting down, as
white as a sheet, thinking of the harm he had led us to, the good soul!
And one of the six forecastle hands was little better.
"There's a man," says Captain Smollett, nodding towards him, "new to
this work. He came nigh-hand fainting, doctor, when he heard the cry.
Another touch of the rudder and that man would join us."
I told my plan to the captain, and between us we settled on the details
of its accomplishment.
We put old Redruth in the gallery between the cabin and the forecastle,
with three or four loaded muskets and a mattress for protection. Hunter
brought the boat round under the stern-port, and Joyce and I set to work
loading her with powder tins, muskets, bags of biscuits, kegs of pork, a
cask of cognac, and my invaluable medicine chest.
In the meantime, the squire and the captain stayed on deck, and the
latter hailed the coxswain, who was the principal man aboard.
"Mr. Hands," he said, "here are two of us with a brace of pistols each.
If any one of you six make a signal of any description, that man's
They were a good deal taken aback, and after a little consultation one
and all tumbled down the fore companion, thinking no doubt to take us
on the rear. But when they saw Redruth waiting for them in the sparred
galley, they went about ship at once, and a head popped out again on
"Down, dog!" cries the captain.
And the head popped back again; and we heard no more, for the time, of
these six very faint-hearted seamen.
By this time, tumbling things in as they came, we had the jolly-boat
loaded as much as we dared. Joyce and I got out through the stern-port,
and we made for shore again as fast as oars could take us.
This second trip fairly aroused the watchers along shore. "Lillibullero"
was dropped again; and just before we lost sight of them behind the
little point, one of them whipped ashore and disappeared. I had half a
mind to change my plan and destroy their boats, but I feared that Silver
and the others might be close at hand, and all might very well be lost
by trying for too much.
We had soon touched land in the same place as before and set to
provision the block house. All three made the first journey, heavily
laden, and tossed our stores over the palisade. Then, leaving Joyce to
guard them--one man, to be sure, but with half a dozen muskets--Hunter
and I returned to the jolly-boat and loaded ourselves once more. So
we proceeded without pausing to take breath, till the whole cargo was
bestowed, when the two servants took up their position in the block
house, and I, with all my power, sculled back to the HISPANIOLA.
That we should have risked a second boat load seems more daring than it
really was. They had the advantage of numbers, of course, but we had the
advantage of arms. Not one of the men ashore had a musket, and before
they could get within range for pistol shooting, we flattered ourselves
we should be able to give a good account of a half-dozen at least.
The squire was waiting for me at the stern window, all his faintness
gone from him. He caught the painter and made it fast, and we fell to
loading the boat for our very lives. Pork, powder, and biscuit was the
cargo, with only a musket and a cutlass apiece for the squire and me
and Redruth and the captain. The rest of the arms and powder we dropped
overboard in two fathoms and a half of water, so that we could see
the bright steel shining far below us in the sun, on the clean, sandy
By this time the tide was beginning to ebb, and the ship was swinging
round to her anchor. Voices were heard faintly halloaing in the
direction of the two gigs; and though this reassured us for Joyce and
Hunter, who were well to the eastward, it warned our party to be off.
Redruth retreated from his place in the gallery and dropped into the
boat, which we then brought round to the ship's counter, to be handier
for Captain Smollett.
"Now, men," said he, "do you hear me?"
There was no answer from the forecastle.
"It's to you, Abraham Gray--it's to you I am speaking."
Still no reply.
"Gray," resumed Mr. Smollett, a little louder, "I am leaving this ship,
and I order you to follow your captain. I know you are a good man at
bottom, and I dare say not one of the lot of you's as bad as he makes
out. I have my watch here in my hand; I give you thirty seconds to join
There was a pause.
"Come, my fine fellow," continued the captain; "don't hang so long in
stays. I'm risking my life and the lives of these good gentlemen every
There was a sudden scuffle, a sound of blows, and out burst Abraham
Gray with a knife cut on the side of the cheek, and came running to the
captain like a dog to the whistle.
"I'm with you, sir," said he.
And the next moment he and the captain had dropped aboard of us, and we
had shoved off and given way.
We were clear out of the ship, but not yet ashore in our stockade.
Narrative Continued by the Doctor: The Jolly-boat's Last Trip
THIS fifth trip was quite different from any of the others. In the
first place, the little gallipot of a boat that we were in was gravely
overloaded. Five grown men, and three of them--Trelawney, Redruth, and
the captain--over six feet high, was already more than she was meant
to carry. Add to that the powder, pork, and bread-bags. The gunwale was
lipping astern. Several times we shipped a little water, and my breeches
and the tails of my coat were all soaking wet before we had gone a
The captain made us trim the boat, and we got her to lie a little more
evenly. All the same, we were afraid to breathe.
In the second place, the ebb was now making--a strong rippling current
running westward through the basin, and then south'ard and seaward down
the straits by which we had entered in the morning. Even the ripples
were a danger to our overloaded craft, but the worst of it was that we
were swept out of our true course and away from our proper landing-place
behind the point. If we let the current have its way we should come
ashore beside the gigs, where the pirates might appear at any moment.
"I cannot keep her head for the stockade, sir," said I to the captain.
I was steering, while he and Redruth, two fresh men, were at the oars.
"The tide keeps washing her down. Could you pull a little stronger?"
"Not without swamping the boat," said he. "You must bear up, sir, if you
please--bear up until you see you're gaining."
I tried and found by experiment that the tide kept sweeping us westward
until I had laid her head due east, or just about right angles to the
way we ought to go.
"We'll never get ashore at this rate," said I.
"If it's the only course that we can lie, sir, we must even lie it,"
returned the captain. "We must keep upstream. You see, sir," he went on,
"if once we dropped to leeward of the landing-place, it's hard to say
where we should get ashore, besides the chance of being boarded by the
gigs; whereas, the way we go the current must slacken, and then we can
dodge back along the shore."
"The current's less a'ready, sir," said the man Gray, who was sitting in
the fore-sheets; "you can ease her off a bit."
"Thank you, my man," said I, quite as if nothing had happened, for we
had all quietly made up our minds to treat him like one of ourselves.
Suddenly the captain spoke up again, and I thought his voice was a
"The gun!" said he.
"I have thought of that," said I, for I made sure he was thinking of a
bombardment of the fort. "They could never get the gun ashore, and if
they did, they could never haul it through the woods."
"Look astern, doctor," replied the captain.
We had entirely forgotten the long nine; and there, to our horror, were
the five rogues busy about her, getting off her jacket, as they called
the stout tarpaulin cover under which she sailed. Not only that, but
it flashed into my mind at the same moment that the round-shot and the
powder for the gun had been left behind, and a stroke with an axe would
put it all into the possession of the evil ones abroad.
"Israel was Flint's gunner," said Gray hoarsely.
At any risk, we put the boat's head direct for the landing-place. By
this time we had got so far out of the run of the current that we kept
steerage way even at our necessarily gentle rate of rowing, and I could
keep her steady for the goal. But the worst of it was that with the
course I now held we turned our broadside instead of our stern to the
HISPANIOLA and offered a target like a barn door.
I could hear as well as see that brandy-faced rascal Israel Hands
plumping down a round-shot on the deck.
"Who's the best shot?" asked the captain.
"Mr. Trelawney, out and away," said I.
"Mr. Trelawney, will you please pick me off one of these men, sir?
Hands, if possible," said the captain.
Trelawney was as cool as steel. He looked to the priming of his gun.
"Now," cried the captain, "easy with that gun, sir, or you'll swamp the
boat. All hands stand by to trim her when he aims."
The squire raised his gun, the rowing ceased, and we leaned over to the
other side to keep the balance, and all was so nicely contrived that we
did not ship a drop.
They had the gun, by this time, slewed round upon the swivel, and Hands,
who was at the muzzle with the rammer, was in consequence the most
exposed. However, we had no luck, for just as Trelawney fired, down he
stooped, the ball whistled over him, and it was one of the other four
The cry he gave was echoed not only by his companions on board but by a
great number of voices from the shore, and looking in that direction
I saw the other pirates trooping out from among the trees and tumbling
into their places in the boats.
"Here come the gigs, sir," said I.
"Give way, then," cried the captain. "We mustn't mind if we swamp her
now. If we can't get ashore, all's up."
"Only one of the gigs is being manned, sir," I added; "the crew of the
other most likely going round by shore to cut us off."
"They'll have a hot run, sir," returned the captain. "Jack ashore, you
know. It's not them I mind; it's the round-shot. Carpet bowls! My lady's
maid couldn't miss. Tell us, squire, when you see the match, and we'll
In the meanwhile we had been making headway at a good pace for a boat so
overloaded, and we had shipped but little water in the process. We were
now close in; thirty or forty strokes and we should beach her, for the
ebb had already disclosed a narrow belt of sand below the clustering
trees. The gig was no longer to be feared; the little point had already
concealed it from our eyes. The ebb-tide, which had so cruelly delayed
us, was now making reparation and delaying our assailants. The one
source of danger was the gun.
"If I durst," said the captain, "I'd stop and pick off another man."
But it was plain that they meant nothing should delay their shot. They
had never so much as looked at their fallen comrade, though he was not
dead, and I could see him trying to crawl away.
"Ready!" cried the squire.
"Hold!" cried the captain, quick as an echo.
And he and Redruth backed with a great heave that sent her stern bodily
under water. The report fell in at the same instant of time. This was
the first that Jim heard, the sound of the squire's shot not having
reached him. Where the ball passed, not one of us precisely knew, but I
fancy it must have been over our heads and that the wind of it may have
contributed to our disaster.
At any rate, the boat sank by the stern, quite gently, in three feet of
water, leaving the captain and myself, facing each other, on our feet.
The other three took complete headers, and came up again drenched and
So far there was no great harm. No lives were lost, and we could wade
ashore in safety. But there were all our stores at the bottom, and to
make things worse, only two guns out of five remained in a state for
service. Mine I had snatched from my knees and held over my head, by
a sort of instinct. As for the captain, he had carried his over his
shoulder by a bandoleer, and like a wise man, lock uppermost. The other
three had gone down with the boat.
To add to our concern, we heard voices already drawing near us in the
woods along shore, and we had not only the danger of being cut off from
the stockade in our half-crippled state but the fear before us whether,
if Hunter and Joyce were attacked by half a dozen, they would have the
sense and conduct to stand firm. Hunter was steady, that we knew; Joyce
was a doubtful case--a pleasant, polite man for a valet and to brush
one's clothes, but not entirely fitted for a man of war.
With all this in our minds, we waded ashore as fast as we could, leaving
behind us the poor jolly-boat and a good half of all our powder and
Narrative Continued by the Doctor: End of the First Day's Fighting
WE made our best speed across the strip of wood that now divided us from
the stockade, and at every step we took the voices of the buccaneers
rang nearer. Soon we could hear their footfalls as they ran and the
cracking of the branches as they breasted across a bit of thicket.
I began to see we should have a brush for it in earnest and looked to my
"Captain," said I, "Trelawney is the dead shot. Give him your gun; his
own is useless."
They exchanged guns, and Trelawney, silent and cool as he had been since
the beginning of the bustle, hung a moment on his heel to see that all
was fit for service. At the same time, observing Gray to be unarmed, I
handed him my cutlass. It did all our hearts good to see him spit in his
hand, knit his brows, and make the blade sing through the air. It was
plain from every line of his body that our new hand was worth his salt.
Forty paces farther we came to the edge of the wood and saw the stockade
in front of us. We struck the enclosure about the middle of the south
side, and almost at the same time, seven mutineers--Job Anderson, the
boatswain, at their head--appeared in full cry at the southwestern
They paused as if taken aback, and before they recovered, not only the
squire and I, but Hunter and Joyce from the block house, had time to
fire. The four shots came in rather a scattering volley, but they did
the business: one of the enemy actually fell, and the rest, without
hesitation, turned and plunged into the trees.
After reloading, we walked down the outside of the palisade to see to
the fallen enemy. He was stone dead--shot through the heart.
We began to rejoice over our good success when just at that moment a
pistol cracked in the bush, a ball whistled close past my ear, and poor
Tom Redruth stumbled and fell his length on the ground. Both the squire
and I returned the shot, but as we had nothing to aim at, it is probable
we only wasted powder. Then we reloaded and turned our attention to poor
The captain and Gray were already examining him, and I saw with half an
eye that all was over.
I believe the readiness of our return volley had scattered the mutineers
once more, for we were suffered without further molestation to get the
poor old gamekeeper hoisted over the stockade and carried, groaning and
bleeding, into the log-house.
Poor old fellow, he had not uttered one word of surprise, complaint,
fear, or even acquiescence from the very beginning of our troubles till
now, when we had laid him down in the log-house to die. He had lain like
a Trojan behind his mattress in the gallery; he had followed every order
silently, doggedly, and well; he was the oldest of our party by a score
of years; and now, sullen, old, serviceable servant, it was he that was
The squire dropped down beside him on his knees and kissed his hand,
crying like a child.
"Be I going, doctor?" he asked.
"Tom, my man," said I, "you're going home."
"I wish I had had a lick at them with the gun first," he replied.
"Tom," said the squire, "say you forgive me, won't you?"
"Would that be respectful like, from me to you, squire?" was the answer.
"Howsoever, so be it, amen!"
After a little while of silence, he said he thought somebody might read
a prayer. "It's the custom, sir," he added apologetically. And not long
after, without another word, he passed away.
In the meantime the captain, whom I had observed to be wonderfully
swollen about the chest and pockets, had turned out a great many various
stores--the British colours, a Bible, a coil of stoutish rope, pen, ink,
the log-book, and pounds of tobacco. He had found a longish fir-tree
lying felled and trimmed in the enclosure, and with the help of Hunter
he had set it up at the corner of the log-house where the trunks crossed
and made an angle. Then, climbing on the roof, he had with his own hand
bent and run up the colours.
This seemed mightily to relieve him. He re-entered the log-house and set
about counting up the stores as if nothing else existed. But he had an
eye on Tom's passage for all that, and as soon as all was over, came
forward with another flag and reverently spread it on the body.
"Don't you take on, sir," he said, shaking the squire's hand. "All's
well with him; no fear for a hand that's been shot down in his duty to
captain and owner. It mayn't be good divinity, but it's a fact."
Then he pulled me aside.
"Dr. Livesey," he said, "in how many weeks do you and squire expect the
I told him it was a question not of weeks but of months, that if we
were not back by the end of August Blandly was to send to find us, but
neither sooner nor later. "You can calculate for yourself," I said.
"Why, yes," returned the captain, scratching his head; "and making a
large allowance, sir, for all the gifts of Providence, I should say we
were pretty close hauled."
"How do you mean?" I asked.
"It's a pity, sir, we lost that second load. That's what I mean,"
replied the captain. "As for powder and shot, we'll do. But the rations
are short, very short--so short, Dr. Livesey, that we're perhaps as well
without that extra mouth."
And he pointed to the dead body under the flag.
Just then, with a roar and a whistle, a round-shot passed high above the
roof of the log-house and plumped far beyond us in the wood.
"Oho!" said the captain. "Blaze away! You've little enough powder
already, my lads."
At the second trial, the aim was better, and the ball descended inside
the stockade, scattering a cloud of sand but doing no further damage.
"Captain," said the squire, "the house is quite invisible from the ship.
It must be the flag they are aiming at. Would it not be wiser to take it
"Strike my colours!" cried the captain. "No, sir, not I"; and as soon
as he had said the words, I think we all agreed with him. For it was
not only a piece of stout, seamanly, good feeling; it was good policy
besides and showed our enemies that we despised their cannonade.
All through the evening they kept thundering away. Ball after ball flew
over or fell short or kicked up the sand in the enclosure, but they had
to fire so high that the shot fell dead and buried itself in the soft
sand. We had no ricochet to fear, and though one popped in through the
roof of the log-house and out again through the floor, we soon got used
to that sort of horse-play and minded it no more than cricket.
"There is one good thing about all this," observed the captain; "the
wood in front of us is likely clear. The ebb has made a good while; our
stores should be uncovered. Volunteers to go and bring in pork."
Gray and hunter were the first to come forward. Well armed, they stole
out of the stockade, but it proved a useless mission. The mutineers were
bolder than we fancied or they put more trust in Israel's gunnery. For
four or five of them were busy carrying off our stores and wading out
with them to one of the gigs that lay close by, pulling an oar or so to
hold her steady against the current. Silver was in the stern-sheets in
command; and every man of them was now provided with a musket from some
secret magazine of their own.
The captain sat down to his log, and here is the beginning of the entry:
Alexander Smollett, master; David Livesey, ship's
doctor; Abraham Gray, carpenter's mate; John
Trelawney, owner; John Hunter and Richard Joyce,
owner's servants, landsmen--being all that is left
faithful of the ship's company--with stores for ten
days at short rations, came ashore this day and flew
British colours on the log-house in Treasure Island.
Thomas Redruth, owner's servant, landsman, shot by the
mutineers; James Hawkins, cabin-boy--
And at the same time, I was wondering over poor Jim Hawkins' fate.
A hail on the land side.
"Somebody hailing us," said Hunter, who was on guard.
"Doctor! Squire! Captain! Hullo, Hunter, is that you?" came the cries.
And I ran to the door in time to see Jim Hawkins, safe and sound, come
climbing over the stockade.
Narrative Resumed by Jim Hawkins: The Garrison in the Stockade
AS soon as Ben Gunn saw the colours he came to a halt, stopped me by the
arm, and sat down.
"Now," said he, "there's your friends, sure enough."
"Far more likely it's the mutineers," I answered.
"That!" he cried. "Why, in a place like this, where nobody puts in but
gen'lemen of fortune, Silver would fly the Jolly Roger, you don't make
no doubt of that. No, that's your friends. There's been blows too, and I
reckon your friends has had the best of it; and here they are ashore in
the old stockade, as was made years and years ago by Flint. Ah, he was
the man to have a headpiece, was Flint! Barring rum, his match were
never seen. He were afraid of none, not he; on'y Silver--Silver was that
"Well," said I, "that may be so, and so be it; all the more reason that
I should hurry on and join my friends."
"Nay, mate," returned Ben, "not you. You're a good boy, or I'm mistook;
but you're on'y a boy, all told. Now, Ben Gunn is fly. Rum wouldn't
bring me there, where you're going--not rum wouldn't, till I see your
born gen'leman and gets it on his word of honour. And you won't forget
my words; 'A precious sight (that's what you'll say), a precious sight
more confidence'--and then nips him."
And he pinched me the third time with the same air of cleverness.
"And when Ben Gunn is wanted, you know where to find him, Jim. Just
wheer you found him today. And him that comes is to have a white thing
in his hand, and he's to come alone. Oh! And you'll say this: 'Ben
Gunn,' says you, 'has reasons of his own.'"
"Well," said I, "I believe I understand. You have something to propose,
and you wish to see the squire or the doctor, and you're to be found
where I found you. Is that all?"
"And when? says you," he added. "Why, from about noon observation to
about six bells."
"Good," said I, "and now may I go?"
"You won't forget?" he inquired anxiously. "Precious sight, and reasons
of his own, says you. Reasons of his own; that's the mainstay; as
between man and man. Well, then"--still holding me--"I reckon you can
go, Jim. And, Jim, if you was to see Silver, you wouldn't go for to sell
Ben Gunn? Wild horses wouldn't draw it from you? No, says you. And if
them pirates camp ashore, Jim, what would you say but there'd be widders
in the morning?"
Here he was interrupted by a loud report, and a cannonball came tearing
through the trees and pitched in the sand not a hundred yards from where
we two were talking. The next moment each of us had taken to his heels
in a different direction.
For a good hour to come frequent reports shook the island, and
balls kept crashing through the woods. I moved from hiding-place to
hiding-place, always pursued, or so it seemed to me, by these terrifying
missiles. But towards the end of the bombardment, though still I durst
not venture in the direction of the stockade, where the balls fell
oftenest, I had begun, in a manner, to pluck up my heart again, and
after a long detour to the east, crept down among the shore-side trees.
The sun had just set, the sea breeze was rustling and tumbling in the
woods and ruffling the grey surface of the anchorage; the tide, too, was
far out, and great tracts of sand lay uncovered; the air, after the heat
of the day, chilled me through my jacket.
The HISPANIOLA still lay where she had anchored; but, sure enough, there
was the Jolly Roger--the black flag of piracy--flying from her peak.
Even as I looked, there came another red flash and another report that
sent the echoes clattering, and one more round-shot whistled through the
air. It was the last of the cannonade.
I lay for some time watching the bustle which succeeded the attack. Men
were demolishing something with axes on the beach near the stockade--the
poor jolly-boat, I afterwards discovered. Away, near the mouth of the
river, a great fire was glowing among the trees, and between that point
and the ship one of the gigs kept coming and going, the men, whom I
had seen so gloomy, shouting at the oars like children. But there was a
sound in their voices which suggested rum.
At length I thought I might return towards the stockade. I was pretty
far down on the low, sandy spit that encloses the anchorage to the east,
and is joined at half-water to Skeleton Island; and now, as I rose to my
feet, I saw, some distance further down the spit and rising from among
low bushes, an isolated rock, pretty high, and peculiarly white in
colour. It occurred to me that this might be the white rock of which Ben
Gunn had spoken and that some day or other a boat might be wanted and I
should know where to look for one.
Then I skirted among the woods until I had regained the rear, or
shoreward side, of the stockade, and was soon warmly welcomed by the
I had soon told my story and began to look about me. The log-house was
made of unsquared trunks of pine--roof, walls, and floor. The latter
stood in several places as much as a foot or a foot and a half above the
surface of the sand. There was a porch at the door, and under this porch
the little spring welled up into an artificial basin of a rather odd
kind--no other than a great ship's kettle of iron, with the bottom
knocked out, and sunk "to her bearings," as the captain said, among the
Little had been left besides the framework of the house, but in one
corner there was a stone slab laid down by way of hearth and an old
rusty iron basket to contain the fire.
The slopes of the knoll and all the inside of the stockade had been
cleared of timber to build the house, and we could see by the stumps
what a fine and lofty grove had been destroyed. Most of the soil had
been washed away or buried in drift after the removal of the trees; only
where the streamlet ran down from the kettle a thick bed of moss and
some ferns and little creeping bushes were still green among the sand.
Very close around the stockade--too close for defence, they said--the
wood still flourished high and dense, all of fir on the land side, but
towards the sea with a large admixture of live-oaks.
The cold evening breeze, of which I have spoken, whistled through every
chink of the rude building and sprinkled the floor with a continual rain
of fine sand. There was sand in our eyes, sand in our teeth, sand in our
suppers, sand dancing in the spring at the bottom of the kettle, for all
the world like porridge beginning to boil. Our chimney was a square hole
in the roof; it was but a little part of the smoke that found its way
out, and the rest eddied about the house and kept us coughing and piping
Add to this that Gray, the new man, had his face tied up in a bandage
for a cut he had got in breaking away from the mutineers and that poor
old Tom Redruth, still unburied, lay along the wall, stiff and stark,
under the Union Jack.
If we had been allowed to sit idle, we should all have fallen in the
blues, but Captain Smollett was never the man for that. All hands were
called up before him, and he divided us into watches. The doctor and
Gray and I for one; the squire, Hunter, and Joyce upon the other. Tired
though we all were, two were sent out for firewood; two more were set to
dig a grave for Redruth; the doctor was named cook; I was put sentry at
the door; and the captain himself went from one to another, keeping up
our spirits and lending a hand wherever it was wanted.
From time to time the doctor came to the door for a little air and to
rest his eyes, which were almost smoked out of his head, and whenever he
did so, he had a word for me.
"That man Smollett," he said once, "is a better man than I am. And when
I say that it means a deal, Jim."
Another time he came and was silent for a while. Then he put his head on
one side, and looked at me.
"Is this Ben Gunn a man?" he asked.
"I do not know, sir," said I. "I am not very sure whether he's sane."
"If there's any doubt about the matter, he is," returned the doctor. "A
man who has been three years biting his nails on a desert island, Jim,
can't expect to appear as sane as you or me. It doesn't lie in human
nature. Was it cheese you said he had a fancy for?"
"Yes, sir, cheese," I answered.
"Well, Jim," says he, "just see the good that comes of being dainty in
your food. You've seen my snuff-box, haven't you? And you never saw me
take snuff, the reason being that in my snuff-box I carry a piece of
Parmesan cheese--a cheese made in Italy, very nutritious. Well, that's
for Ben Gunn!"
Before supper was eaten we buried old Tom in the sand and stood round
him for a while bare-headed in the breeze. A good deal of firewood had
been got in, but not enough for the captain's fancy, and he shook his
head over it and told us we "must get back to this tomorrow rather
livelier." Then, when we had eaten our pork and each had a good stiff
glass of brandy grog, the three chiefs got together in a corner to
discuss our prospects.
It appears they were at their wits' end what to do, the stores being so
low that we must have been starved into surrender long before help came.
But our best hope, it was decided, was to kill off the buccaneers until
they either hauled down their flag or ran away with the HISPANIOLA. From
nineteen they were already reduced to fifteen, two others were wounded,
and one at least--the man shot beside the gun--severely wounded, if he
were not dead. Every time we had a crack at them, we were to take it,
saving our own lives, with the extremest care. And besides that, we had
two able allies--rum and the climate.
As for the first, though we were about half a mile away, we could hear
them roaring and singing late into the night; and as for the second,
the doctor staked his wig that, camped where they were in the marsh
and unprovided with remedies, the half of them would be on their backs
before a week.
"So," he added, "if we are not all shot down first they'll be glad to
be packing in the schooner. It's always a ship, and they can get to
buccaneering again, I suppose."
"First ship that ever I lost," said Captain Smollett.
I was dead tired, as you may fancy; and when I got to sleep, which was
not till after a great deal of tossing, I slept like a log of wood.
The rest had long been up and had already breakfasted and increased the
pile of firewood by about half as much again when I was wakened by a
bustle and the sound of voices.
"Flag of truce!" I heard someone say; and then, immediately after, with
a cry of surprise, "Silver himself!"
And at that, up I jumped, and rubbing my eyes, ran to a loophole in the
SURE enough, there were two men just outside the stockade, one of them
waving a white cloth, the other, no less a person than Silver himself,
standing placidly by.
It was still quite early, and the coldest morning that I think I ever
was abroad in--a chill that pierced into the marrow. The sky was bright
and cloudless overhead, and the tops of the trees shone rosily in
the sun. But where Silver stood with his lieutenant, all was still in
shadow, and they waded knee-deep in a low white vapour that had crawled
during the night out of the morass. The chill and the vapour taken
together told a poor tale of the island. It was plainly a damp,
feverish, unhealthy spot.
"Keep indoors, men," said the captain. "Ten to one this is a trick."
Then he hailed the buccaneer.
"Who goes? Stand, or we fire."
"Flag of truce," cried Silver.
The captain was in the porch, keeping himself carefully out of the way
of a treacherous shot, should any be intended. He turned and spoke to
us, "Doctor's watch on the lookout. Dr. Livesey take the north side,
if you please; Jim, the east; Gray, west. The watch below, all hands to
load muskets. Lively, men, and careful."
And then he turned again to the mutineers.
"And what do you want with your flag of truce?" he cried.
This time it was the other man who replied.
"Cap'n Silver, sir, to come on board and make terms," he shouted.
"Cap'n Silver! Don't know him. Who's he?" cried the captain. And we
could hear him adding to himself, "Cap'n, is it? My heart, and here's
Long John answered for himself. "Me, sir. These poor lads have chosen me
cap'n, after your desertion, sir"--laying a particular emphasis upon the
word "desertion." "We're willing to submit, if we can come to terms,
and no bones about it. All I ask is your word, Cap'n Smollett, to let me
safe and sound out of this here stockade, and one minute to get out o'
shot before a gun is fired."
"My man," said Captain Smollett, "I have not the slightest desire to
talk to you. If you wish to talk to me, you can come, that's all. If
there's any treachery, it'll be on your side, and the Lord help you."
"That's enough, cap'n," shouted Long John cheerily. "A word from you's
enough. I know a gentleman, and you may lay to that."
We could see the man who carried the flag of truce attempting to hold
Silver back. Nor was that wonderful, seeing how cavalier had been the
captain's answer. But Silver laughed at him aloud and slapped him on the
back as if the idea of alarm had been absurd. Then he advanced to the
stockade, threw over his crutch, got a leg up, and with great vigour
and skill succeeded in surmounting the fence and dropping safely to the
I will confess that I was far too much taken up with what was going on
to be of the slightest use as sentry; indeed, I had already deserted
my eastern loophole and crept up behind the captain, who had now seated
himself on the threshold, with his elbows on his knees, his head in his
hands, and his eyes fixed on the water as it bubbled out of the old iron
kettle in the sand. He was whistling "Come, Lasses and Lads."
Silver had terrible hard work getting up the knoll. What with the
steepness of the incline, the thick tree stumps, and the soft sand, he
and his crutch were as helpless as a ship in stays. But he stuck to it
like a man in silence, and at last arrived before the captain, whom
he saluted in the handsomest style. He was tricked out in his best;
an immense blue coat, thick with brass buttons, hung as low as to his
knees, and a fine laced hat was set on the back of his head.
"Here you are, my man," said the captain, raising his head. "You had
better sit down."
"You ain't a-going to let me inside, cap'n?" complained Long John. "It's
a main cold morning, to be sure, sir, to sit outside upon the sand."
"Why, Silver," said the captain, "if you had pleased to be an honest
man, you might have been sitting in your galley. It's your own doing.
You're either my ship's cook--and then you were treated handsome--or
Cap'n Silver, a common mutineer and pirate, and then you can go hang!"
"Well, well, cap'n," returned the sea-cook, sitting down as he was
bidden on the sand, "you'll have to give me a hand up again, that's all.
A sweet pretty place you have of it here. Ah, there's Jim! The top of
the morning to you, Jim. Doctor, here's my service. Why, there you all
are together like a happy family, in a manner of speaking."
"If you have anything to say, my man, better say it," said the captain.
"Right you were, Cap'n Smollett," replied Silver. "Dooty is dooty, to be
sure. Well now, you look here, that was a good lay of yours last
night. I don't deny it was a good lay. Some of you pretty handy with a
handspike-end. And I'll not deny neither but what some of my people was
shook--maybe all was shook; maybe I was shook myself; maybe that's
why I'm here for terms. But you mark me, cap'n, it won't do twice, by
thunder! We'll have to do sentry-go and ease off a point or so on the
rum. Maybe you think we were all a sheet in the wind's eye. But I'll
tell you I was sober; I was on'y dog tired; and if I'd awoke a second
sooner, I'd 'a caught you at the act, I would. He wasn't dead when I got
round to him, not he."
"Well?" says Captain Smollett as cool as can be.
All that Silver said was a riddle to him, but you would never have
guessed it from his tone. As for me, I began to have an inkling. Ben
Gunn's last words came back to my mind. I began to suppose that he had
paid the buccaneers a visit while they all lay drunk together round
their fire, and I reckoned up with glee that we had only fourteen
enemies to deal with.
"Well, here it is," said Silver. "We want that treasure, and we'll have
it--that's our point! You would just as soon save your lives, I reckon;
and that's yours. You have a chart, haven't you?"
"That's as may be," replied the captain.
"Oh, well, you have, I know that," returned Long John. "You needn't be
so husky with a man; there ain't a particle of service in that, and you
may lay to it. What I mean is, we want your chart. Now, I never meant
you no harm, myself."
"That won't do with me, my man," interrupted the captain. "We know
exactly what you meant to do, and we don't care, for now, you see, you
can't do it."
And the captain looked at him calmly and proceeded to fill a pipe.
"If Abe Gray--" Silver broke out.
"Avast there!" cried Mr. Smollett. "Gray told me nothing, and I asked
him nothing; and what's more, I would see you and him and this whole
island blown clean out of the water into blazes first. So there's my
mind for you, my man, on that."
This little whiff of temper seemed to cool Silver down. He had been
growing nettled before, but now he pulled himself together.
"Like enough," said he. "I would set no limits to what gentlemen might
consider shipshape, or might not, as the case were. And seein' as how
you are about to take a pipe, cap'n, I'll make so free as do likewise."
And he filled a pipe and lighted it; and the two men sat silently
smoking for quite a while, now looking each other in the face, now
stopping their tobacco, now leaning forward to spit. It was as good as
the play to see them.
"Now," resumed Silver, "here it is. You give us the chart to get the
treasure by, and drop shooting poor seamen and stoving of their heads in
while asleep. You do that, and we'll offer you a choice. Either you come
aboard along of us, once the treasure shipped, and then I'll give you my
affy-davy, upon my word of honour, to clap you somewhere safe ashore. Or
if that ain't to your fancy, some of my hands being rough and having
old scores on account of hazing, then you can stay here, you can. We'll
divide stores with you, man for man; and I'll give my affy-davy, as
before to speak the first ship I sight, and send 'em here to pick you
up. Now, you'll own that's talking. Handsomer you couldn't look to get,
now you. And I hope"--raising his voice--"that all hands in this here
block house will overhaul my words, for what is spoke to one is spoke to
Captain Smollett rose from his seat and knocked out the ashes of his
pipe in the palm of his left hand.
"Is that all?" he asked.
"Every last word, by thunder!" answered John. "Refuse that, and you've
seen the last of me but musket-balls."
"Very good," said the captain. "Now you'll hear me. If you'll come up
one by one, unarmed, I'll engage to clap you all in irons and take you
home to a fair trial in England. If you won't, my name is Alexander
Smollett, I've flown my sovereign's colours, and I'll see you all
to Davy Jones. You can't find the treasure. You can't sail the
ship--there's not a man among you fit to sail the ship. You can't fight
us--Gray, there, got away from five of you. Your ship's in irons, Master
Silver; you're on a lee shore, and so you'll find. I stand here and tell
you so; and they're the last good words you'll get from me, for in the
name of heaven, I'll put a bullet in your back when next I meet you.
Tramp, my lad. Bundle out of this, please, hand over hand, and double
Silver's face was a picture; his eyes started in his head with wrath. He
shook the fire out of his pipe.
"Give me a hand up!" he cried.
"Not I," returned the captain.
"Who'll give me a hand up?" he roared.
Not a man among us moved. Growling the foulest imprecations, he crawled
along the sand till he got hold of the porch and could hoist himself
again upon his crutch. Then he spat into the spring.
"There!" he cried. "That's what I think of ye. Before an hour's out,
I'll stove in your old block house like a rum puncheon. Laugh, by
thunder, laugh! Before an hour's out, ye'll laugh upon the other side.
Them that die'll be the lucky ones."
And with a dreadful oath he stumbled off, ploughed down the sand, was
helped across the stockade, after four or five failures, by the man with
the flag of truce, and disappeared in an instant afterwards among the
AS soon as Silver disappeared, the captain, who had been closely
watching him, turned towards the interior of the house and found not a
man of us at his post but Gray. It was the first time we had ever seen
"Quarters!" he roared. And then, as we all slunk back to our places,
"Gray," he said, "I'll put your name in the log; you've stood by your
duty like a seaman. Mr. Trelawney, I'm surprised at you, sir. Doctor,
I thought you had worn the king's coat! If that was how you served at
Fontenoy, sir, you'd have been better in your berth."
The doctor's watch were all back at their loopholes, the rest were busy
loading the spare muskets, and everyone with a red face, you may be
certain, and a flea in his ear, as the saying is.
The captain looked on for a while in silence. Then he spoke.
"My lads," said he, "I've given Silver a broadside. I pitched it in
red-hot on purpose; and before the hour's out, as he said, we shall be
boarded. We're outnumbered, I needn't tell you that, but we fight in
shelter; and a minute ago I should have said we fought with discipline.
I've no manner of doubt that we can drub them, if you choose."
Then he went the rounds and saw, as he said, that all was clear.
On the two short sides of the house, east and west, there were only two
loopholes; on the south side where the porch was, two again; and on the
north side, five. There was a round score of muskets for the seven
of us; the firewood had been built into four piles--tables, you might
say--one about the middle of each side, and on each of these tables some
ammunition and four loaded muskets were laid ready to the hand of the
defenders. In the middle, the cutlasses lay ranged.
"Toss out the fire," said the captain; "the chill is past, and we
mustn't have smoke in our eyes."
The iron fire-basket was carried bodily out by Mr. Trelawney, and the
embers smothered among sand.
"Hawkins hasn't had his breakfast. Hawkins, help yourself, and back to
your post to eat it," continued Captain Smollett. "Lively, now, my lad;
you'll want it before you've done. Hunter, serve out a round of brandy
to all hands."
And while this was going on, the captain completed, in his own mind, the
plan of the defence.
"Doctor, you will take the door," he resumed. "See, and don't expose
yourself; keep within, and fire through the porch. Hunter, take the east
side, there. Joyce, you stand by the west, my man. Mr. Trelawney, you
are the best shot--you and Gray will take this long north side, with the
five loopholes; it's there the danger is. If they can get up to it and
fire in upon us through our own ports, things would begin to look dirty.
Hawkins, neither you nor I are much account at the shooting; we'll stand
by to load and bear a hand."
As the captain had said, the chill was past. As soon as the sun had
climbed above our girdle of trees, it fell with all its force upon the
clearing and drank up the vapours at a draught. Soon the sand was baking
and the resin melting in the logs of the block house. Jackets and coats
were flung aside, shirts thrown open at the neck and rolled up to the
shoulders; and we stood there, each at his post, in a fever of heat and
An hour passed away.
"Hang them!" said the captain. "This is as dull as the doldrums. Gray,
whistle for a wind."
And just at that moment came the first news of the attack.
"If you please, sir," said Joyce, "if I see anyone, am I to fire?"
"I told you so!" cried the captain.
"Thank you, sir," returned Joyce with the same quiet civility.
Nothing followed for a time, but the remark had set us all on the alert,
straining ears and eyes--the musketeers with their pieces balanced in
their hands, the captain out in the middle of the block house with his
mouth very tight and a frown on his face.
So some seconds passed, till suddenly Joyce whipped up his musket
and fired. The report had scarcely died away ere it was repeated and
repeated from without in a scattering volley, shot behind shot, like
a string of geese, from every side of the enclosure. Several bullets
struck the log-house, but not one entered; and as the smoke cleared away
and vanished, the stockade and the woods around it looked as quiet and
empty as before. Not a bough waved, not the gleam of a musket-barrel
betrayed the presence of our foes.
"Did you hit your man?" asked the captain.
"No, sir," replied Joyce. "I believe not, sir."
"Next best thing to tell the truth," muttered Captain Smollett. "Load
his gun, Hawkins. How many should say there were on your side, doctor?"
"I know precisely," said Dr. Livesey. "Three shots were fired on this
side. I saw the three flashes--two close together--one farther to the
"Three!" repeated the captain. "And how many on yours, Mr. Trelawney?"
But this was not so easily answered. There had come many from the
north--seven by the squire's computation, eight or nine according to
Gray. From the east and west only a single shot had been fired. It was
plain, therefore, that the attack would be developed from the north and
that on the other three sides we were only to be annoyed by a show of
hostilities. But Captain Smollett made no change in his arrangements. If
the mutineers succeeded in crossing the stockade, he argued, they would
take possession of any unprotected loophole and shoot us down like rats
in our own stronghold.
Nor had we much time left to us for thought. Suddenly, with a loud
huzza, a little cloud of pirates leaped from the woods on the north side
and ran straight on the stockade. At the same moment, the fire was once
more opened from the woods, and a rifle ball sang through the doorway
and knocked the doctor's musket into bits.
The boarders swarmed over the fence like monkeys. Squire and Gray fired
again and yet again; three men fell, one forwards into the enclosure,
two back on the outside. But of these, one was evidently more frightened
than hurt, for he was on his feet again in a crack and instantly
disappeared among the trees.
Two had bit the dust, one had fled, four had made good their footing
inside our defences, while from the shelter of the woods seven or eight
men, each evidently supplied with several muskets, kept up a hot though
useless fire on the log-house.
The four who had boarded made straight before them for the building,
shouting as they ran, and the men among the trees shouted back to
encourage them. Several shots were fired, but such was the hurry of the
marksmen that not one appears to have taken effect. In a moment, the
four pirates had swarmed up the mound and were upon us.
The head of Job Anderson, the boatswain, appeared at the middle
"At 'em, all hands--all hands!" he roared in a voice of thunder.
At the same moment, another pirate grasped Hunter's musket by the
muzzle, wrenched it from his hands, plucked it through the loophole,
and with one stunning blow, laid the poor fellow senseless on the floor.
Meanwhile a third, running unharmed all around the house, appeared
suddenly in the doorway and fell with his cutlass on the doctor.
Our position was utterly reversed. A moment since we were firing, under
cover, at an exposed enemy; now it was we who lay uncovered and could
not return a blow.
The log-house was full of smoke, to which we owed our comparative
safety. Cries and confusion, the flashes and reports of pistol-shots,
and one loud groan rang in my ears.
"Out, lads, out, and fight 'em in the open! Cutlasses!" cried the
I snatched a cutlass from the pile, and someone, at the same time
snatching another, gave me a cut across the knuckles which I hardly
felt. I dashed out of the door into the clear sunlight. Someone was
close behind, I knew not whom. Right in front, the doctor was pursuing
his assailant down the hill, and just as my eyes fell upon him, beat
down his guard and sent him sprawling on his back with a great slash
across the face.
"Round the house, lads! Round the house!" cried the captain; and even in
the hurly-burly, I perceived a change in his voice.
Mechanically, I obeyed, turned eastwards, and with my cutlass raised,
ran round the corner of the house. Next moment I was face to face
with Anderson. He roared aloud, and his hanger went up above his head,
flashing in the sunlight. I had not time to be afraid, but as the blow
still hung impending, leaped in a trice upon one side, and missing my
foot in the soft sand, rolled headlong down the slope.
When I had first sallied from the door, the other mutineers had been
already swarming up the palisade to make an end of us. One man, in a red
night-cap, with his cutlass in his mouth, had even got upon the top and
thrown a leg across. Well, so short had been the interval that when I
found my feet again all was in the same posture, the fellow with the red
night-cap still half-way over, another still just showing his head above
the top of the stockade. And yet, in this breath of time, the fight was
over and the victory was ours.
Gray, following close behind me, had cut down the big boatswain ere
he had time to recover from his last blow. Another had been shot at a
loophole in the very act of firing into the house and now lay in agony,
the pistol still smoking in his hand. A third, as I had seen, the doctor
had disposed of at a blow. Of the four who had scaled the palisade, one
only remained unaccounted for, and he, having left his cutlass on the
field, was now clambering out again with the fear of death upon him.
"Fire--fire from the house!" cried the doctor. "And you, lads, back into
But his words were unheeded, no shot was fired, and the last boarder
made good his escape and disappeared with the rest into the wood. In
three seconds nothing remained of the attacking party but the five who
had fallen, four on the inside and one on the outside of the palisade.
The doctor and Gray and I ran full speed for shelter. The survivors
would soon be back where they had left their muskets, and at any moment
the fire might recommence.
The house was by this time somewhat cleared of smoke, and we saw at
a glance the price we had paid for victory. Hunter lay beside his
loophole, stunned; Joyce by his, shot through the head, never to move
again; while right in the centre, the squire was supporting the captain,
one as pale as the other.
"The captain's wounded," said Mr. Trelawney.
"Have they run?" asked Mr. Smollett.
"All that could, you may be bound," returned the doctor; "but there's
five of them will never run again."
"Five!" cried the captain. "Come, that's better. Five against three
leaves us four to nine. That's better odds than we had at starting. We
were seven to nineteen then, or thought we were, and that's as bad to
*The mutineers were soon only eight in number, for the man shot by Mr.
Trelawney on board the schooner died that same evening of his wound. But
this was, of course, not known till after by the faithful party.
PART FIVE--My Sea Adventure
How My Sea Adventure Began
THERE was no return of the mutineers--not so much as another shot out of
the woods. They had "got their rations for that day," as the captain put
it, and we had the place to ourselves and a quiet time to overhaul the
wounded and get dinner. Squire and I cooked outside in spite of the
danger, and even outside we could hardly tell what we were at, for
horror of the loud groans that reached us from the doctor's patients.
Out of the eight men who had fallen in the action, only three still
breathed--that one of the pirates who had been shot at the loophole,
Hunter, and Captain Smollett; and of these, the first two were as good
as dead; the mutineer indeed died under the doctor's knife, and Hunter,
do what we could, never recovered consciousness in this world. He
lingered all day, breathing loudly like the old buccaneer at home in his
apoplectic fit, but the bones of his chest had been crushed by the
blow and his skull fractured in falling, and some time in the following
night, without sign or sound, he went to his Maker.
As for the captain, his wounds were grievous indeed, but not dangerous.
No organ was fatally injured. Anderson's ball--for it was Job that
shot him first--had broken his shoulder-blade and touched the lung, not
badly; the second had only torn and displaced some muscles in the calf.
He was sure to recover, the doctor said, but in the meantime, and for
weeks to come, he must not walk nor move his arm, nor so much as speak
when he could help it.
My own accidental cut across the knuckles was a flea-bite. Doctor
Livesey patched it up with plaster and pulled my ears for me into the
After dinner the squire and the doctor sat by the captain's side awhile
in consultation; and when they had talked to their hearts' content, it
being then a little past noon, the doctor took up his hat and pistols,
girt on a cutlass, put the chart in his pocket, and with a musket over
his shoulder crossed the palisade on the north side and set off briskly
through the trees.
Gray and I were sitting together at the far end of the block house, to
be out of earshot of our officers consulting; and Gray took his pipe out
of his mouth and fairly forgot to put it back again, so thunder-struck
he was at this occurrence.
"Why, in the name of Davy Jones," said he, "is Dr. Livesey mad?"
"Why no," says I. "He's about the last of this crew for that, I take
"Well, shipmate," said Gray, "mad he may not be; but if HE'S not, you
mark my words, I am."
"I take it," replied I, "the doctor has his idea; and if I am right,
he's going now to see Ben Gunn."
I was right, as appeared later; but in the meantime, the house being
stifling hot and the little patch of sand inside the palisade ablaze
with midday sun, I began to get another thought into my head, which was
not by any means so right. What I began to do was to envy the doctor
walking in the cool shadow of the woods with the birds about him and the
pleasant smell of the pines, while I sat grilling, with my clothes
stuck to the hot resin, and so much blood about me and so many poor
dead bodies lying all around that I took a disgust of the place that was
almost as strong as fear.
All the time I was washing out the block house, and then washing up
the things from dinner, this disgust and envy kept growing stronger
and stronger, till at last, being near a bread-bag, and no one then
observing me, I took the first step towards my escapade and filled both
pockets of my coat with biscuit.
I was a fool, if you like, and certainly I was going to do a foolish,
over-bold act; but I was determined to do it with all the precautions in
my power. These biscuits, should anything befall me, would keep me, at
least, from starving till far on in the next day.
The next thing I laid hold of was a brace of pistols, and as I already
had a powder-horn and bullets, I felt myself well supplied with arms.
As for the scheme I had in my head, it was not a bad one in itself. I
was to go down the sandy spit that divides the anchorage on the east
from the open sea, find the white rock I had observed last evening, and
ascertain whether it was there or not that Ben Gunn had hidden his boat,
a thing quite worth doing, as I still believe. But as I was certain I
should not be allowed to leave the enclosure, my only plan was to take
French leave and slip out when nobody was watching, and that was so bad
a way of doing it as made the thing itself wrong. But I was only a boy,
and I had made my mind up.
Well, as things at last fell out, I found an admirable opportunity. The
squire and Gray were busy helping the captain with his bandages, the
coast was clear, I made a bolt for it over the stockade and into the
thickest of the trees, and before my absence was observed I was out of
cry of my companions.
This was my second folly, far worse than the first, as I left but two
sound men to guard the house; but like the first, it was a help towards
saving all of us.
I took my way straight for the east coast of the island, for I was
determined to go down the sea side of the spit to avoid all chance of
observation from the anchorage. It was already late in the afternoon,
although still warm and sunny. As I continued to thread the tall woods,
I could hear from far before me not only the continuous thunder of the
surf, but a certain tossing of foliage and grinding of boughs which
showed me the sea breeze had set in higher than usual. Soon cool
draughts of air began to reach me, and a few steps farther I came forth
into the open borders of the grove, and saw the sea lying blue and sunny
to the horizon and the surf tumbling and tossing its foam along the
I have never seen the sea quiet round Treasure Island. The sun might
blaze overhead, the air be without a breath, the surface smooth and
blue, but still these great rollers would be running along all the
external coast, thundering and thundering by day and night; and I scarce
believe there is one spot in the island where a man would be out of
earshot of their noise.
I walked along beside the surf with great enjoyment, till, thinking
I was now got far enough to the south, I took the cover of some thick
bushes and crept warily up to the ridge of the spit.
Behind me was the sea, in front the anchorage. The sea breeze, as though
it had the sooner blown itself out by its unusual violence, was already
at an end; it had been succeeded by light, variable airs from the south
and south-east, carrying great banks of fog; and the anchorage, under
lee of Skeleton Island, lay still and leaden as when first we entered
it. The HISPANIOLA, in that unbroken mirror, was exactly portrayed from
the truck to the waterline, the Jolly Roger hanging from her peak.
Alongside lay one of the gigs, Silver in the stern-sheets--him I could
always recognize--while a couple of men were leaning over the stern
bulwarks, one of them with a red cap--the very rogue that I had seen
some hours before stride-legs upon the palisade. Apparently they were
talking and laughing, though at that distance--upwards of a mile--I
could, of course, hear no word of what was said. All at once there began
the most horrid, unearthly screaming, which at first startled me badly,
though I had soon remembered the voice of Captain Flint and even thought
I could make out the bird by her bright plumage as she sat perched upon
her master's wrist.
Soon after, the jolly-boat shoved off and pulled for shore, and the man
with the red cap and his comrade went below by the cabin companion.
Just about the same time, the sun had gone down behind the Spy-glass,
and as the fog was collecting rapidly, it began to grow dark in earnest.
I saw I must lose no time if I were to find the boat that evening.
The white rock, visible enough above the brush, was still some eighth of
a mile further down the spit, and it took me a goodish while to get up
with it, crawling, often on all fours, among the scrub. Night had almost
come when I laid my hand on its rough sides. Right below it there was
an exceedingly small hollow of green turf, hidden by banks and a thick
underwood about knee-deep, that grew there very plentifully; and in the
centre of the dell, sure enough, a little tent of goat-skins, like what
the gipsies carry about with them in England.
I dropped into the hollow, lifted the side of the tent, and there was
Ben Gunn's boat--home-made if ever anything was home-made; a rude,
lop-sided framework of tough wood, and stretched upon that a covering of
goat-skin, with the hair inside. The thing was extremely small, even
for me, and I can hardly imagine that it could have floated with a
full-sized man. There was one thwart set as low as possible, a kind of
stretcher in the bows, and a double paddle for propulsion.
I had not then seen a coracle, such as the ancient Britons made, but
I have seen one since, and I can give you no fairer idea of Ben Gunn's
boat than by saying it was like the first and the worst coracle ever
made by man. But the great advantage of the coracle it certainly
possessed, for it was exceedingly light and portable.
Well, now that I had found the boat, you would have thought I had had
enough of truantry for once, but in the meantime I had taken another
notion and become so obstinately fond of it that I would have carried
it out, I believe, in the teeth of Captain Smollett himself. This was
to slip out under cover of the night, cut the HISPANIOLA adrift, and let
her go ashore where she fancied. I had quite made up my mind that the
mutineers, after their repulse of the morning, had nothing nearer their
hearts than to up anchor and away to sea; this, I thought, it would be
a fine thing to prevent, and now that I had seen how they left their
watchmen unprovided with a boat, I thought it might be done with little
Down I sat to wait for darkness, and made a hearty meal of biscuit. It
was a night out of ten thousand for my purpose. The fog had now buried
all heaven. As the last rays of daylight dwindled and disappeared,
absolute blackness settled down on Treasure Island. And when, at last,
I shouldered the coracle and groped my way stumblingly out of the hollow
where I had supped, there were but two points visible on the whole
One was the great fire on shore, by which the defeated pirates lay
carousing in the swamp. The other, a mere blur of light upon the
darkness, indicated the position of the anchored ship. She had swung
round to the ebb--her bow was now towards me--the only lights on board
were in the cabin, and what I saw was merely a reflection on the fog of
the strong rays that flowed from the stern window.
The ebb had already run some time, and I had to wade through a long belt
of swampy sand, where I sank several times above the ankle, before I
came to the edge of the retreating water, and wading a little way in,
with some strength and dexterity, set my coracle, keel downwards, on the
The Ebb-tide Runs
THE coracle--as I had ample reason to know before I was done with
her--was a very safe boat for a person of my height and weight, both
buoyant and clever in a seaway; but she was the most cross-grained,
lop-sided craft to manage. Do as you pleased, she always made more
leeway than anything else, and turning round and round was the manoeuvre
she was best at. Even Ben Gunn himself has admitted that she was "queer
to handle till you knew her way."
Certainly I did not know her way. She turned in every direction but the
one I was bound to go; the most part of the time we were broadside on,
and I am very sure I never should have made the ship at all but for the
tide. By good fortune, paddle as I pleased, the tide was still sweeping
me down; and there lay the HISPANIOLA right in the fairway, hardly to be
First she loomed before me like a blot of something yet blacker than
darkness, then her spars and hull began to take shape, and the next
moment, as it seemed (for, the farther I went, the brisker grew the
current of the ebb), I was alongside of her hawser and had laid hold.
The hawser was as taut as a bowstring, and the current so strong she
pulled upon her anchor. All round the hull, in the blackness, the
rippling current bubbled and chattered like a little mountain stream.
One cut with my sea-gully and the HISPANIOLA would go humming down the
So far so good, but it next occurred to my recollection that a taut
hawser, suddenly cut, is a thing as dangerous as a kicking horse. Ten to
one, if I were so foolhardy as to cut the HISPANIOLA from her anchor, I
and the coracle would be knocked clean out of the water.
This brought me to a full stop, and if fortune had not again
particularly favoured me, I should have had to abandon my design. But
the light airs which had begun blowing from the south-east and south
had hauled round after nightfall into the south-west. Just while I was
meditating, a puff came, caught the HISPANIOLA, and forced her up into
the current; and to my great joy, I felt the hawser slacken in my grasp,
and the hand by which I held it dip for a second under water.
With that I made my mind up, took out my gully, opened it with my teeth,
and cut one strand after another, till the vessel swung only by two.
Then I lay quiet, waiting to sever these last when the strain should be
once more lightened by a breath of wind.
All this time I had heard the sound of loud voices from the cabin, but
to say truth, my mind had been so entirely taken up with other thoughts
that I had scarcely given ear. Now, however, when I had nothing else to
do, I began to pay more heed.
One I recognized for the coxswain's, Israel Hands, that had been Flint's
gunner in former days. The other was, of course, my friend of the red
night-cap. Both men were plainly the worse of drink, and they were still
drinking, for even while I was listening, one of them, with a drunken
cry, opened the stern window and threw out something, which I divined to
be an empty bottle. But they were not only tipsy; it was plain that they
were furiously angry. Oaths flew like hailstones, and every now and
then there came forth such an explosion as I thought was sure to end
in blows. But each time the quarrel passed off and the voices grumbled
lower for a while, until the next crisis came and in its turn passed
away without result.
On shore, I could see the glow of the great camp-fire burning warmly
through the shore-side trees. Someone was singing, a dull, old, droning
sailor's song, with a droop and a quaver at the end of every verse,
and seemingly no end to it at all but the patience of the singer. I had
heard it on the voyage more than once and remembered these words:
"But one man of her crew alive,
What put to sea with seventy-five."
And I thought it was a ditty rather too dolefully appropriate for a
company that had met such cruel losses in the morning. But, indeed, from
what I saw, all these buccaneers were as callous as the sea they sailed
At last the breeze came; the schooner sidled and drew nearer in the
dark; I felt the hawser slacken once more, and with a good, tough
effort, cut the last fibres through.
The breeze had but little action on the coracle, and I was almost
instantly swept against the bows of the HISPANIOLA. At the same time,
the schooner began to turn upon her heel, spinning slowly, end for end,
across the current.
I wrought like a fiend, for I expected every moment to be swamped; and
since I found I could not push the coracle directly off, I now shoved
straight astern. At length I was clear of my dangerous neighbour, and
just as I gave the last impulsion, my hands came across a light cord
that was trailing overboard across the stern bulwarks. Instantly I
Why I should have done so I can hardly say. It was at first mere
instinct, but once I had it in my hands and found it fast, curiosity
began to get the upper hand, and I determined I should have one look
through the cabin window.
I pulled in hand over hand on the cord, and when I judged myself near
enough, rose at infinite risk to about half my height and thus commanded
the roof and a slice of the interior of the cabin.
By this time the schooner and her little consort were gliding pretty
swiftly through the water; indeed, we had already fetched up level with
the camp-fire. The ship was talking, as sailors say, loudly, treading
the innumerable ripples with an incessant weltering splash; and until I
got my eye above the window-sill I could not comprehend why the watchmen
had taken no alarm. One glance, however, was sufficient; and it was
only one glance that I durst take from that unsteady skiff. It showed me
Hands and his companion locked together in deadly wrestle, each with a
hand upon the other's throat.
I dropped upon the thwart again, none too soon, for I was near
overboard. I could see nothing for the moment but these two furious,
encrimsoned faces swaying together under the smoky lamp, and I shut my
eyes to let them grow once more familiar with the darkness.
The endless ballad had come to an end at last, and the whole diminished
company about the camp-fire had broken into the chorus I had heard so
"Fifteen men on the dead man's chest--
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest--
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!"
I was just thinking how busy drink and the devil were at that very
moment in the cabin of the HISPANIOLA, when I was surprised by a sudden
lurch of the coracle. At the same moment, she yawed sharply and seemed
to change her course. The speed in the meantime had strangely increased.
I opened my eyes at once. All round me were little ripples, combing
over with a sharp, bristling sound and slightly phosphorescent. The
HISPANIOLA herself, a few yards in whose wake I was still being whirled
along, seemed to stagger in her course, and I saw her spars toss a
little against the blackness of the night; nay, as I looked longer, I
made sure she also was wheeling to the southward.
I glanced over my shoulder, and my heart jumped against my ribs. There,
right behind me, was the glow of the camp-fire. The current had turned
at right angles, sweeping round along with it the tall schooner and
the little dancing coracle; ever quickening, ever bubbling higher, ever
muttering louder, it went spinning through the narrows for the open sea.
Suddenly the schooner in front of me gave a violent yaw, turning,
perhaps, through twenty degrees; and almost at the same moment one
shout followed another from on board; I could hear feet pounding on
the companion ladder and I knew that the two drunkards had at last been
interrupted in their quarrel and awakened to a sense of their disaster.
I lay down flat in the bottom of that wretched skiff and devoutly
recommended my spirit to its Maker. At the end of the straits, I
made sure we must fall into some bar of raging breakers, where all my
troubles would be ended speedily; and though I could, perhaps, bear to
die, I could not bear to look upon my fate as it approached.
So I must have lain for hours, continually beaten to and fro upon the
billows, now and again wetted with flying sprays, and never ceasing to
expect death at the next plunge. Gradually weariness grew upon me; a
numbness, an occasional stupor, fell upon my mind even in the midst of
my terrors, until sleep at last supervened and in my sea-tossed coracle
I lay and dreamed of home and the old Admiral Benbow.
The Cruise of the Coracle
IT was broad day when I awoke and found myself tossing at the south-west
end of Treasure Island. The sun was up but was still hid from me behind
the great bulk of the Spy-glass, which on this side descended almost to
the sea in formidable cliffs.
Haulbowline Head and Mizzen-mast Hill were at my elbow, the hill bare
and dark, the head bound with cliffs forty or fifty feet high and
fringed with great masses of fallen rock. I was scarce a quarter of a
mile to seaward, and it was my first thought to paddle in and land.
That notion was soon given over. Among the fallen rocks the breakers
spouted and bellowed; loud reverberations, heavy sprays flying and
falling, succeeded one another from second to second; and I saw myself,
if I ventured nearer, dashed to death upon the rough shore or spending
my strength in vain to scale the beetling crags.
Nor was that all, for crawling together on flat tables of rock or
letting themselves drop into the sea with loud reports I beheld huge
slimy monsters--soft snails, as it were, of incredible bigness--two
or three score of them together, making the rocks to echo with their
I have understood since that they were sea lions, and entirely harmless.
But the look of them, added to the difficulty of the shore and the
high running of the surf, was more than enough to disgust me of that
landing-place. I felt willing rather to starve at sea than to confront
In the meantime I had a better chance, as I supposed, before me. North
of Haulbowline Head, the land runs in a long way, leaving at low tide
a long stretch of yellow sand. To the north of that, again, there comes
another cape--Cape of the Woods, as it was marked upon the chart--buried
in tall green pines, which descended to the margin of the sea.
I remembered what Silver had said about the current that sets northward
along the whole west coast of Treasure Island, and seeing from my
position that I was already under its influence, I preferred to leave
Haulbowline Head behind me and reserve my strength for an attempt to
land upon the kindlier-looking Cape of the Woods.
There was a great, smooth swell upon the sea. The wind blowing steady
and gentle from the south, there was no contrariety between that and the
current, and the billows rose and fell unbroken.
Had it been otherwise, I must long ago have perished; but as it was,
it is surprising how easily and securely my little and light boat could
ride. Often, as I still lay at the bottom and kept no more than an eye
above the gunwale, I would see a big blue summit heaving close above me;
yet the coracle would but bounce a little, dance as if on springs, and
subside on the other side into the trough as lightly as a bird.
I began after a little to grow very bold and sat up to try my skill at
paddling. But even a small change in the disposition of the weight will
produce violent changes in the behaviour of a coracle. And I had hardly
moved before the boat, giving up at once her gentle dancing movement,
ran straight down a slope of water so steep that it made me giddy, and
struck her nose, with a spout of spray, deep into the side of the next
I was drenched and terrified, and fell instantly back into my old
position, whereupon the coracle seemed to find her head again and led
me as softly as before among the billows. It was plain she was not to be
interfered with, and at that rate, since I could in no way influence her
course, what hope had I left of reaching land?
I began to be horribly frightened, but I kept my head, for all that.
First, moving with all care, I gradually baled out the coracle with my
sea-cap; then, getting my eye once more above the gunwale, I set myself
to study how it was she managed to slip so quietly through the rollers.
I found each wave, instead of the big, smooth glossy mountain it looks
from shore or from a vessel's deck, was for all the world like any range
of hills on dry land, full of peaks and smooth places and valleys. The
coracle, left to herself, turning from side to side, threaded, so to
speak, her way through these lower parts and avoided the steep slopes
and higher, toppling summits of the wave.
"Well, now," thought I to myself, "it is plain I must lie where I am and
not disturb the balance; but it is plain also that I can put the paddle
over the side and from time to time, in smooth places, give her a shove
or two towards land." No sooner thought upon than done. There I lay on
my elbows in the most trying attitude, and every now and again gave a
weak stroke or two to turn her head to shore.
It was very tiring and slow work, yet I did visibly gain ground; and as
we drew near the Cape of the Woods, though I saw I must infallibly
miss that point, I had still made some hundred yards of easting. I was,
indeed, close in. I could see the cool green tree-tops swaying together
in the breeze, and I felt sure I should make the next promontory without
It was high time, for I now began to be tortured with thirst. The glow
of the sun from above, its thousandfold reflection from the waves, the
sea-water that fell and dried upon me, caking my very lips with salt,
combined to make my throat burn and my brain ache. The sight of the
trees so near at hand had almost made me sick with longing, but the
current had soon carried me past the point, and as the next reach of sea
opened out, I beheld a sight that changed the nature of my thoughts.
Right in front of me, not half a mile away, I beheld the HISPANIOLA
under sail. I made sure, of course, that I should be taken; but I was
so distressed for want of water that I scarce knew whether to be glad
or sorry at the thought, and long before I had come to a conclusion,
surprise had taken entire possession of my mind and I could do nothing
but stare and wonder.
The HISPANIOLA was under her main-sail and two jibs, and the beautiful
white canvas shone in the sun like snow or silver. When I first
sighted her, all her sails were drawing; she was lying a course about
north-west, and I presumed the men on board were going round the island
on their way back to the anchorage. Presently she began to fetch more
and more to the westward, so that I thought they had sighted me and were
going about in chase. At last, however, she fell right into the wind's
eye, was taken dead aback, and stood there awhile helpless, with her
"Clumsy fellows," said I; "they must still be drunk as owls." And I
thought how Captain Smollett would have set them skipping.
Meanwhile the schooner gradually fell off and filled again upon another
tack, sailed swiftly for a minute or so, and brought up once more dead
in the wind's eye. Again and again was this repeated. To and fro, up and
down, north, south, east, and west, the HISPANIOLA sailed by swoops
and dashes, and at each repetition ended as she had begun, with idly
flapping canvas. It became plain to me that nobody was steering. And if
so, where were the men? Either they were dead drunk or had deserted her,
I thought, and perhaps if I could get on board I might return the vessel
to her captain.
The current was bearing coracle and schooner southward at an equal rate.
As for the latter's sailing, it was so wild and intermittent, and she
hung each time so long in irons, that she certainly gained nothing, if
she did not even lose. If only I dared to sit up and paddle, I made
sure that I could overhaul her. The scheme had an air of adventure
that inspired me, and the thought of the water breaker beside the fore
companion doubled my growing courage.
Up I got, was welcomed almost instantly by another cloud of spray, but
this time stuck to my purpose and set myself, with all my strength and
caution, to paddle after the unsteered HISPANIOLA. Once I shipped a sea
so heavy that I had to stop and bail, with my heart fluttering like
a bird, but gradually I got into the way of the thing and guided my
coracle among the waves, with only now and then a blow upon her bows and
a dash of foam in my face.
I was now gaining rapidly on the schooner; I could see the brass glisten
on the tiller as it banged about, and still no soul appeared upon her
decks. I could not choose but suppose she was deserted. If not, the men
were lying drunk below, where I might batten them down, perhaps, and do
what I chose with the ship.
For some time she had been doing the worse thing possible for
me--standing still. She headed nearly due south, yawing, of course, all
the time. Each time she fell off, her sails partly filled, and these
brought her in a moment right to the wind again. I have said this was
the worst thing possible for me, for helpless as she looked in this
situation, with the canvas cracking like cannon and the blocks trundling
and banging on the deck, she still continued to run away from me, not
only with the speed of the current, but by the whole amount of her
leeway, which was naturally great.
But now, at last, I had my chance. The breeze fell for some seconds,
very low, and the current gradually turning her, the HISPANIOLA revolved
slowly round her centre and at last presented me her stern, with the
cabin window still gaping open and the lamp over the table still burning
on into the day. The main-sail hung drooped like a banner. She was
stock-still but for the current.
For the last little while I had even lost, but now redoubling my
efforts, I began once more to overhaul the chase.
I was not a hundred yards from her when the wind came again in a clap;
she filled on the port tack and was off again, stooping and skimming
like a swallow.
My first impulse was one of despair, but my second was towards joy.
Round she came, till she was broadside on to me--round still till she
had covered a half and then two thirds and then three quarters of the
distance that separated us. I could see the waves boiling white under
her forefoot. Immensely tall she looked to me from my low station in the
And then, of a sudden, I began to comprehend. I had scarce time to
think--scarce time to act and save myself. I was on the summit of one
swell when the schooner came stooping over the next. The bowsprit was
over my head. I sprang to my feet and leaped, stamping the coracle under
water. With one hand I caught the jib-boom, while my foot was lodged
between the stay and the brace; and as I still clung there panting, a
dull blow told me that the schooner had charged down upon and struck the
coracle and that I was left without retreat on the HISPANIOLA.
I Strike the Jolly Roger
I HAD scarce gained a position on the bowsprit when the flying jib
flapped and filled upon the other tack, with a report like a gun. The
schooner trembled to her keel under the reverse, but next moment, the
other sails still drawing, the jib flapped back again and hung idle.
This had nearly tossed me off into the sea; and now I lost no time,
crawled back along the bowsprit, and tumbled head foremost on the deck.
I was on the lee side of the forecastle, and the mainsail, which was
still drawing, concealed from me a certain portion of the after-deck.
Not a soul was to be seen. The planks, which had not been swabbed since
the mutiny, bore the print of many feet, and an empty bottle, broken by
the neck, tumbled to and fro like a live thing in the scuppers.
Suddenly the HISPANIOLA came right into the wind. The jibs behind me
cracked aloud, the rudder slammed to, the whole ship gave a sickening
heave and shudder, and at the same moment the main-boom swung inboard,
the sheet groaning in the blocks, and showed me the lee after-deck.
There were the two watchmen, sure enough: red-cap on his back, as stiff
as a handspike, with his arms stretched out like those of a crucifix and
his teeth showing through his open lips; Israel Hands propped against
the bulwarks, his chin on his chest, his hands lying open before him on
the deck, his face as white, under its tan, as a tallow candle.
For a while the ship kept bucking and sidling like a vicious horse, the
sails filling, now on one tack, now on another, and the boom swinging to
and fro till the mast groaned aloud under the strain. Now and again too
there would come a cloud of light sprays over the bulwark and a heavy
blow of the ship's bows against the swell; so much heavier weather was
made of it by this great rigged ship than by my home-made, lop-sided
coracle, now gone to the bottom of the sea.
At every jump of the schooner, red-cap slipped to and fro, but--what was
ghastly to behold--neither his attitude nor his fixed teeth-disclosing
grin was anyway disturbed by this rough usage. At every jump too, Hands
appeared still more to sink into himself and settle down upon the
deck, his feet sliding ever the farther out, and the whole body canting
towards the stern, so that his face became, little by little, hid
from me; and at last I could see nothing beyond his ear and the frayed
ringlet of one whisker.
At the same time, I observed, around both of them, splashes of dark
blood upon the planks and began to feel sure that they had killed each
other in their drunken wrath.
While I was thus looking and wondering, in a calm moment, when the ship
was still, Israel Hands turned partly round and with a low moan writhed
himself back to the position in which I had seen him first. The moan,
which told of pain and deadly weakness, and the way in which his jaw
hung open went right to my heart. But when I remembered the talk I had
overheard from the apple barrel, all pity left me.
I walked aft until I reached the main-mast.
"Come aboard, Mr. Hands," I said ironically.
He rolled his eyes round heavily, but he was too far gone to express
surprise. All he could do was to utter one word, "Brandy."
It occurred to me there was no time to lose, and dodging the boom as it
once more lurched across the deck, I slipped aft and down the companion
stairs into the cabin.
It was such a scene of confusion as you can hardly fancy. All the
lockfast places had been broken open in quest of the chart. The floor
was thick with mud where ruffians had sat down to drink or consult after
wading in the marshes round their camp. The bulkheads, all painted in
clear white and beaded round with gilt, bore a pattern of dirty hands.
Dozens of empty bottles clinked together in corners to the rolling of
the ship. One of the doctor's medical books lay open on the table, half
of the leaves gutted out, I suppose, for pipelights. In the midst of all
this the lamp still cast a smoky glow, obscure and brown as umber.
I went into the cellar; all the barrels were gone, and of the bottles
a most surprising number had been drunk out and thrown away. Certainly,
since the mutiny began, not a man of them could ever have been sober.
Foraging about, I found a bottle with some brandy left, for Hands; and
for myself I routed out some biscuit, some pickled fruits, a great bunch
of raisins, and a piece of cheese. With these I came on deck, put down
my own stock behind the rudder head and well out of the coxswain's
reach, went forward to the water-breaker, and had a good deep drink of
water, and then, and not till then, gave Hands the brandy.
He must have drunk a gill before he took the bottle from his mouth.
"Aye," said he, "by thunder, but I wanted some o' that!"
I had sat down already in my own corner and begun to eat.
"Much hurt?" I asked him.
He grunted, or rather, I might say, he barked.
"If that doctor was aboard," he said, "I'd be right enough in a couple
of turns, but I don't have no manner of luck, you see, and that's what's
the matter with me. As for that swab, he's good and dead, he is," he
added, indicating the man with the red cap. "He warn't no seaman anyhow.
And where mought you have come from?"
"Well," said I, "I've come aboard to take possession of this ship,
Mr. Hands; and you'll please regard me as your captain until further
He looked at me sourly enough but said nothing. Some of the colour had
come back into his cheeks, though he still looked very sick and still
continued to slip out and settle down as the ship banged about.
"By the by," I continued, "I can't have these colours, Mr. Hands; and by
your leave, I'll strike 'em. Better none than these."
And again dodging the boom, I ran to the colour lines, handed down their
cursed black flag, and chucked it overboard.
"God save the king!" said I, waving my cap. "And there's an end to
He watched me keenly and slyly, his chin all the while on his breast.
"I reckon," he said at last, "I reckon, Cap'n Hawkins, you'll kind of
want to get ashore now. S'pose we talks."
"Why, yes," says I, "with all my heart, Mr. Hands. Say on." And I went
back to my meal with a good appetite.
"This man," he began, nodding feebly at the corpse "--O'Brien were his
name, a rank Irelander--this man and me got the canvas on her, meaning
for to sail her back. Well, HE'S dead now, he is--as dead as bilge; and
who's to sail this ship, I don't see. Without I gives you a hint, you
ain't that man, as far's I can tell. Now, look here, you gives me food
and drink and a old scarf or ankecher to tie my wound up, you do, and
I'll tell you how to sail her, and that's about square all round, I take
"I'll tell you one thing," says I: "I'm not going back to Captain Kidd's
anchorage. I mean to get into North Inlet and beach her quietly there."
"To be sure you did," he cried. "Why, I ain't sich an infernal lubber
after all. I can see, can't I? I've tried my fling, I have, and I've
lost, and it's you has the wind of me. North Inlet? Why, I haven't no
ch'ice, not I! I'd help you sail her up to Execution Dock, by thunder!
So I would."
Well, as it seemed to me, there was some sense in this. We struck our
bargain on the spot. In three minutes I had the HISPANIOLA sailing
easily before the wind along the coast of Treasure Island, with good
hopes of turning the northern point ere noon and beating down again as
far as North Inlet before high water, when we might beach her safely and
wait till the subsiding tide permitted us to land.
Then I lashed the tiller and went below to my own chest, where I got a
soft silk handkerchief of my mother's. With this, and with my aid, Hands
bound up the great bleeding stab he had received in the thigh, and after
he had eaten a little and had a swallow or two more of the brandy, he
began to pick up visibly, sat straighter up, spoke louder and clearer,
and looked in every way another man.
The breeze served us admirably. We skimmed before it like a bird, the
coast of the island flashing by and the view changing every minute.
Soon we were past the high lands and bowling beside low, sandy country,
sparsely dotted with dwarf pines, and soon we were beyond that again
and had turned the corner of the rocky hill that ends the island on the
I was greatly elated with my new command, and pleased with the bright,
sunshiny weather and these different prospects of the coast. I had now
plenty of water and good things to eat, and my conscience, which had
smitten me hard for my desertion, was quieted by the great conquest I
had made. I should, I think, have had nothing left me to desire but for
the eyes of the coxswain as they followed me derisively about the deck
and the odd smile that appeared continually on his face. It was a smile
that had in it something both of pain and weakness--a haggard old man's
smile; but there was, besides that, a grain of derision, a shadow of
treachery, in his expression as he craftily watched, and watched, and
watched me at my work.
THE wind, serving us to a desire, now hauled into the west. We could run
so much the easier from the north-east corner of the island to the mouth
of the North Inlet. Only, as we had no power to anchor and dared not
beach her till the tide had flowed a good deal farther, time hung on our
hands. The coxswain told me how to lay the ship to; after a good many
trials I succeeded, and we both sat in silence over another meal.
"Cap'n," said he at length with that same uncomfortable smile, "here's
my old shipmate, O'Brien; s'pose you was to heave him overboard. I ain't
partic'lar as a rule, and I don't take no blame for settling his hash,
but I don't reckon him ornamental now, do you?"
"I'm not strong enough, and I don't like the job; and there he lies, for
me," said I.
"This here's an unlucky ship, this HISPANIOLA, Jim," he went on,
blinking. "There's a power of men been killed in this HISPANIOLA--a
sight o' poor seamen dead and gone since you and me took ship to
Bristol. I never seen sich dirty luck, not I. There was this here
O'Brien now--he's dead, ain't he? Well now, I'm no scholar, and you're a
lad as can read and figure, and to put it straight, do you take it as a
dead man is dead for good, or do he come alive again?"
"You can kill the body, Mr. Hands, but not the spirit; you must know
that already," I replied. "O'Brien there is in another world, and may be
"Ah!" says he. "Well, that's unfort'nate--appears as if killing parties
was a waste of time. Howsomever, sperrits don't reckon for much, by what
I've seen. I'll chance it with the sperrits, Jim. And now, you've spoke
up free, and I'll take it kind if you'd step down into that there cabin
and get me a--well, a--shiver my timbers! I can't hit the name on 't;
well, you get me a bottle of wine, Jim--this here brandy's too strong
for my head."
Now, the coxswain's hesitation seemed to be unnatural, and as for the
notion of his preferring wine to brandy, I entirely disbelieved it. The
whole story was a pretext. He wanted me to leave the deck--so much was
plain; but with what purpose I could in no way imagine. His eyes never
met mine; they kept wandering to and fro, up and down, now with a look
to the sky, now with a flitting glance upon the dead O'Brien. All the
time he kept smiling and putting his tongue out in the most guilty,
embarrassed manner, so that a child could have told that he was bent on
some deception. I was prompt with my answer, however, for I saw where
my advantage lay and that with a fellow so densely stupid I could easily
conceal my suspicions to the end.
"Some wine?" I said. "Far better. Will you have white or red?"
"Well, I reckon it's about the blessed same to me, shipmate," he
replied; "so it's strong, and plenty of it, what's the odds?"
"All right," I answered. "I'll bring you port, Mr. Hands. But I'll have
to dig for it."
With that I scuttled down the companion with all the noise I could,
slipped off my shoes, ran quietly along the sparred gallery, mounted the
forecastle ladder, and popped my head out of the fore companion. I
knew he would not expect to see me there, yet I took every precaution
possible, and certainly the worst of my suspicions proved too true.
He had risen from his position to his hands and knees, and though his
leg obviously hurt him pretty sharply when he moved--for I could hear
him stifle a groan--yet it was at a good, rattling rate that he trailed
himself across the deck. In half a minute he had reached the port
scuppers and picked, out of a coil of rope, a long knife, or rather a
short dirk, discoloured to the hilt with blood. He looked upon it for
a moment, thrusting forth his under jaw, tried the point upon his hand,
and then, hastily concealing it in the bosom of his jacket, trundled
back again into his old place against the bulwark.
This was all that I required to know. Israel could move about, he was
now armed, and if he had been at so much trouble to get rid of me,
it was plain that I was meant to be the victim. What he would do
afterwards--whether he would try to crawl right across the island from
North Inlet to the camp among the swamps or whether he would fire Long
Tom, trusting that his own comrades might come first to help him--was,
of course, more than I could say.
Yet I felt sure that I could trust him in one point, since in that
our interests jumped together, and that was in the disposition of
the schooner. We both desired to have her stranded safe enough, in a
sheltered place, and so that, when the time came, she could be got off
again with as little labour and danger as might be; and until that was
done I considered that my life would certainly be spared.
While I was thus turning the business over in my mind, I had not been
idle with my body. I had stolen back to the cabin, slipped once more
into my shoes, and laid my hand at random on a bottle of wine, and now,
with this for an excuse, I made my reappearance on the deck.
Hands lay as I had left him, all fallen together in a bundle and with
his eyelids lowered as though he were too weak to bear the light. He
looked up, however, at my coming, knocked the neck off the bottle like
a man who had done the same thing often, and took a good swig, with his
favourite toast of "Here's luck!" Then he lay quiet for a little, and
then, pulling out a stick of tobacco, begged me to cut him a quid.
"Cut me a junk o' that," says he, "for I haven't no knife and hardly
strength enough, so be as I had. Ah, Jim, Jim, I reckon I've missed
stays! Cut me a quid, as'll likely be the last, lad, for I'm for my long
home, and no mistake."
"Well," said I, "I'll cut you some tobacco, but if I was you and thought
myself so badly, I would go to my prayers like a Christian man."
"Why?" said he. "Now, you tell me why."
"Why?" I cried. "You were asking me just now about the dead. You've
broken your trust; you've lived in sin and lies and blood; there's a man
you killed lying at your feet this moment, and you ask me why! For God's
mercy, Mr. Hands, that's why."
I spoke with a little heat, thinking of the bloody dirk he had hidden
in his pocket and designed, in his ill thoughts, to end me with. He,
for his part, took a great draught of the wine and spoke with the most
"For thirty years," he said, "I've sailed the seas and seen good and
bad, better and worse, fair weather and foul, provisions running out,
knives going, and what not. Well, now I tell you, I never seen good come
o' goodness yet. Him as strikes first is my fancy; dead men don't bite;
them's my views--amen, so be it. And now, you look here," he added,
suddenly changing his tone, "we've had about enough of this foolery. The
tide's made good enough by now. You just take my orders, Cap'n Hawkins,
and we'll sail slap in and be done with it."
All told, we had scarce two miles to run; but the navigation was
delicate, the entrance to this northern anchorage was not only narrow
and shoal, but lay east and west, so that the schooner must be nicely
handled to be got in. I think I was a good, prompt subaltern, and I am
very sure that Hands was an excellent pilot, for we went about and about
and dodged in, shaving the banks, with a certainty and a neatness that
were a pleasure to behold.
Scarcely had we passed the heads before the land closed around us. The
shores of North Inlet were as thickly wooded as those of the southern
anchorage, but the space was longer and narrower and more like, what in
truth it was, the estuary of a river. Right before us, at the southern
end, we saw the wreck of a ship in the last stages of dilapidation. It
had been a great vessel of three masts but had lain so long exposed to
the injuries of the weather that it was hung about with great webs of
dripping seaweed, and on the deck of it shore bushes had taken root and
now flourished thick with flowers. It was a sad sight, but it showed us
that the anchorage was calm.
"Now," said Hands, "look there; there's a pet bit for to beach a ship
in. Fine flat sand, never a cat's paw, trees all around of it, and
flowers a-blowing like a garding on that old ship."
"And once beached," I inquired, "how shall we get her off again?"
"Why, so," he replied: "you take a line ashore there on the other side
at low water, take a turn about one of them big pines; bring it back,
take a turn around the capstan, and lie to for the tide. Come high
water, all hands take a pull upon the line, and off she comes as sweet
as natur'. And now, boy, you stand by. We're near the bit now, and she's
too much way on her. Starboard a little--so--steady--starboard--larboard
So he issued his commands, which I breathlessly obeyed, till, all of a
sudden, he cried, "Now, my hearty, luff!" And I put the helm hard up,
and the HISPANIOLA swung round rapidly and ran stem on for the low,
The excitement of these last manoeuvres had somewhat interfered with the
watch I had kept hitherto, sharply enough, upon the coxswain. Even then
I was still so much interested, waiting for the ship to touch, that I
had quite forgot the peril that hung over my head and stood craning over
the starboard bulwarks and watching the ripples spreading wide before
the bows. I might have fallen without a struggle for my life had not a
sudden disquietude seized upon me and made me turn my head. Perhaps I
had heard a creak or seen his shadow moving with the tail of my eye;
perhaps it was an instinct like a cat's; but, sure enough, when I looked
round, there was Hands, already half-way towards me, with the dirk in
his right hand.
We must both have cried out aloud when our eyes met, but while mine
was the shrill cry of terror, his was a roar of fury like a charging
bully's. At the same instant, he threw himself forward and I leapt
sideways towards the bows. As I did so, I let go of the tiller, which
sprang sharp to leeward, and I think this saved my life, for it struck
Hands across the chest and stopped him, for the moment, dead.
Before he could recover, I was safe out of the corner where he had me
trapped, with all the deck to dodge about. Just forward of the main-mast
I stopped, drew a pistol from my pocket, took a cool aim, though he had
already turned and was once more coming directly after me, and drew the
trigger. The hammer fell, but there followed neither flash nor sound;
the priming was useless with sea-water. I cursed myself for my neglect.
Why had not I, long before, reprimed and reloaded my only weapons? Then
I should not have been as now, a mere fleeing sheep before this butcher.
Wounded as he was, it was wonderful how fast he could move, his grizzled
hair tumbling over his face, and his face itself as red as a red ensign
with his haste and fury. I had no time to try my other pistol, nor
indeed much inclination, for I was sure it would be useless. One thing I
saw plainly: I must not simply retreat before him, or he would speedily
hold me boxed into the bows, as a moment since he had so nearly boxed
me in the stern. Once so caught, and nine or ten inches of the
blood-stained dirk would be my last experience on this side of eternity.
I placed my palms against the main-mast, which was of a goodish bigness,
and waited, every nerve upon the stretch.
Seeing that I meant to dodge, he also paused; and a moment or two passed
in feints on his part and corresponding movements upon mine. It was such
a game as I had often played at home about the rocks of Black Hill Cove,
but never before, you may be sure, with such a wildly beating heart as
now. Still, as I say, it was a boy's game, and I thought I could hold
my own at it against an elderly seaman with a wounded thigh. Indeed my
courage had begun to rise so high that I allowed myself a few darting
thoughts on what would be the end of the affair, and while I saw
certainly that I could spin it out for long, I saw no hope of any
Well, while things stood thus, suddenly the HISPANIOLA struck,
staggered, ground for an instant in the sand, and then, swift as a
blow, canted over to the port side till the deck stood at an angle
of forty-five degrees and about a puncheon of water splashed into the
scupper holes and lay, in a pool, between the deck and bulwark.
We were both of us capsized in a second, and both of us rolled, almost
together, into the scuppers, the dead red-cap, with his arms still
spread out, tumbling stiffly after us. So near were we, indeed, that my
head came against the coxswain's foot with a crack that made my teeth
rattle. Blow and all, I was the first afoot again, for Hands had got
involved with the dead body. The sudden canting of the ship had made the
deck no place for running on; I had to find some new way of escape,
and that upon the instant, for my foe was almost touching me. Quick as
thought, I sprang into the mizzen shrouds, rattled up hand over hand,
and did not draw a breath till I was seated on the cross-trees.
I had been saved by being prompt; the dirk had struck not half a foot
below me as I pursued my upward flight; and there stood Israel Hands
with his mouth open and his face upturned to mine, a perfect statue of
surprise and disappointment.
Now that I had a moment to myself, I lost no time in changing the
priming of my pistol, and then, having one ready for service, and to
make assurance doubly sure, I proceeded to draw the load of the other
and recharge it afresh from the beginning.
My new employment struck Hands all of a heap; he began to see the dice
going against him, and after an obvious hesitation, he also hauled
himself heavily into the shrouds, and with the dirk in his teeth, began
slowly and painfully to mount. It cost him no end of time and groans
to haul his wounded leg behind him, and I had quietly finished my
arrangements before he was much more than a third of the way up. Then,
with a pistol in either hand, I addressed him.
"One more step, Mr. Hands," said I, "and I'll blow your brains out! Dead
men don't bite, you know," I added with a chuckle.
He stopped instantly. I could see by the working of his face that he was
trying to think, and the process was so slow and laborious that, in my
new-found security, I laughed aloud. At last, with a swallow or two, he
spoke, his face still wearing the same expression of extreme perplexity.
In order to speak he had to take the dagger from his mouth, but in all
else he remained unmoved.
"Jim," says he, "I reckon we're fouled, you and me, and we'll have to
sign articles. I'd have had you but for that there lurch, but I don't
have no luck, not I; and I reckon I'll have to strike, which comes hard,
you see, for a master mariner to a ship's younker like you, Jim."
I was drinking in his words and smiling away, as conceited as a cock
upon a wall, when, all in a breath, back went his right hand over his
shoulder. Something sang like an arrow through the air; I felt a blow
and then a sharp pang, and there I was pinned by the shoulder to the
mast. In the horrid pain and surprise of the moment--I scarce can say
it was by my own volition, and I am sure it was without a conscious
aim--both my pistols went off, and both escaped out of my hands. They
did not fall alone; with a choked cry, the coxswain loosed his grasp
upon the shrouds and plunged head first into the water.
"Pieces of Eight"
OWING to the cant of the vessel, the masts hung far out over the water,
and from my perch on the cross-trees I had nothing below me but the
surface of the bay. Hands, who was not so far up, was in consequence
nearer to the ship and fell between me and the bulwarks. He rose once to
the surface in a lather of foam and blood and then sank again for good.
As the water settled, I could see him lying huddled together on the
clean, bright sand in the shadow of the vessel's sides. A fish or two
whipped past his body. Sometimes, by the quivering of the water, he
appeared to move a little, as if he were trying to rise. But he was dead
enough, for all that, being both shot and drowned, and was food for fish
in the very place where he had designed my slaughter.
I was no sooner certain of this than I began to feel sick, faint, and
terrified. The hot blood was running over my back and chest. The dirk,
where it had pinned my shoulder to the mast, seemed to burn like a hot
iron; yet it was not so much these real sufferings that distressed me,
for these, it seemed to me, I could bear without a murmur; it was the
horror I had upon my mind of falling from the cross-trees into that
still green water, beside the body of the coxswain.
I clung with both hands till my nails ached, and I shut my eyes as if to
cover up the peril. Gradually my mind came back again, my pulses quieted
down to a more natural time, and I was once more in possession of
It was my first thought to pluck forth the dirk, but either it stuck too
hard or my nerve failed me, and I desisted with a violent shudder. Oddly
enough, that very shudder did the business. The knife, in fact, had come
the nearest in the world to missing me altogether; it held me by a mere
pinch of skin, and this the shudder tore away. The blood ran down the
faster, to be sure, but I was my own master again and only tacked to the
mast by my coat and shirt.
These last I broke through with a sudden jerk, and then regained the
deck by the starboard shrouds. For nothing in the world would I have
again ventured, shaken as I was, upon the overhanging port shrouds from
which Israel had so lately fallen.
I went below and did what I could for my wound; it pained me a good deal
and still bled freely, but it was neither deep nor dangerous, nor did it
greatly gall me when I used my arm. Then I looked around me, and as the
ship was now, in a sense, my own, I began to think of clearing it from
its last passenger--the dead man, O'Brien.
He had pitched, as I have said, against the bulwarks, where he lay
like some horrible, ungainly sort of puppet, life-size, indeed, but how
different from life's colour or life's comeliness! In that position
I could easily have my way with him, and as the habit of tragical
adventures had worn off almost all my terror for the dead, I took him
by the waist as if he had been a sack of bran and with one good heave,
tumbled him overboard. He went in with a sounding plunge; the red cap
came off and remained floating on the surface; and as soon as the splash
subsided, I could see him and Israel lying side by side, both wavering
with the tremulous movement of the water. O'Brien, though still quite a
young man, was very bald. There he lay, with that bald head across the
knees of the man who had killed him and the quick fishes steering to and
fro over both.
I was now alone upon the ship; the tide had just turned. The sun was
within so few degrees of setting that already the shadow of the pines
upon the western shore began to reach right across the anchorage and
fall in patterns on the deck. The evening breeze had sprung up, and
though it was well warded off by the hill with the two peaks upon the
east, the cordage had begun to sing a little softly to itself and the
idle sails to rattle to and fro.
I began to see a danger to the ship. The jibs I speedily doused and
brought tumbling to the deck, but the main-sail was a harder matter. Of
course, when the schooner canted over, the boom had swung out-board, and
the cap of it and a foot or two of sail hung even under water. I thought
this made it still more dangerous; yet the strain was so heavy that I
half feared to meddle. At last I got my knife and cut the halyards. The
peak dropped instantly, a great belly of loose canvas floated broad upon
the water, and since, pull as I liked, I could not budge the downhall,
that was the extent of what I could accomplish. For the rest, the
HISPANIOLA must trust to luck, like myself.
By this time the whole anchorage had fallen into shadow--the last rays,
I remember, falling through a glade of the wood and shining bright as
jewels on the flowery mantle of the wreck. It began to be chill; the
tide was rapidly fleeting seaward, the schooner settling more and more
on her beam-ends.
I scrambled forward and looked over. It seemed shallow enough, and
holding the cut hawser in both hands for a last security, I let myself
drop softly overboard. The water scarcely reached my waist; the sand was
firm and covered with ripple marks, and I waded ashore in great spirits,
leaving the HISPANIOLA on her side, with her main-sail trailing wide
upon the surface of the bay. About the same time, the sun went fairly
down and the breeze whistled low in the dusk among the tossing pines.
At least, and at last, I was off the sea, nor had I returned thence
empty-handed. There lay the schooner, clear at last from buccaneers
and ready for our own men to board and get to sea again. I had nothing
nearer my fancy than to get home to the stockade and boast of my
achievements. Possibly I might be blamed a bit for my truantry, but the
recapture of the HISPANIOLA was a clenching answer, and I hoped that
even Captain Smollett would confess I had not lost my time.
So thinking, and in famous spirits, I began to set my face homeward for
the block house and my companions. I remembered that the most easterly
of the rivers which drain into Captain Kidd's anchorage ran from the
two-peaked hill upon my left, and I bent my course in that direction
that I might pass the stream while it was small. The wood was pretty
open, and keeping along the lower spurs, I had soon turned the corner
of that hill, and not long after waded to the mid-calf across the
This brought me near to where I had encountered Ben Gunn, the maroon;
and I walked more circumspectly, keeping an eye on every side. The dusk
had come nigh hand completely, and as I opened out the cleft between the
two peaks, I became aware of a wavering glow against the sky, where, as
I judged, the man of the island was cooking his supper before a roaring
fire. And yet I wondered, in my heart, that he should show himself so
careless. For if I could see this radiance, might it not reach the eyes
of Silver himself where he camped upon the shore among the marshes?
Gradually the night fell blacker; it was all I could do to guide myself
even roughly towards my destination; the double hill behind me and the
Spy-glass on my right hand loomed faint and fainter; the stars were few
and pale; and in the low ground where I wandered I kept tripping among
bushes and rolling into sandy pits.
Suddenly a kind of brightness fell about me. I looked up; a pale glimmer
of moonbeams had alighted on the summit of the Spy-glass, and soon after
I saw something broad and silvery moving low down behind the trees, and
knew the moon had risen.
With this to help me, I passed rapidly over what remained to me of my
journey, and sometimes walking, sometimes running, impatiently drew near
to the stockade. Yet, as I began to thread the grove that lies before
it, I was not so thoughtless but that I slacked my pace and went a
trifle warily. It would have been a poor end of my adventures to get
shot down by my own party in mistake.
The moon was climbing higher and higher, its light began to fall here
and there in masses through the more open districts of the wood, and
right in front of me a glow of a different colour appeared among
the trees. It was red and hot, and now and again it was a little
darkened--as it were, the embers of a bonfire smouldering.
For the life of me I could not think what it might be.
At last I came right down upon the borders of the clearing. The western
end was already steeped in moonshine; the rest, and the block house
itself, still lay in a black shadow chequered with long silvery streaks
of light. On the other side of the house an immense fire had burned
itself into clear embers and shed a steady, red reverberation,
contrasted strongly with the mellow paleness of the moon. There was not
a soul stirring nor a sound beside the noises of the breeze.
I stopped, with much wonder in my heart, and perhaps a little terror
also. It had not been our way to build great fires; we were, indeed,
by the captain's orders, somewhat niggardly of firewood, and I began to
fear that something had gone wrong while I was absent.
I stole round by the eastern end, keeping close in shadow, and at a
convenient place, where the darkness was thickest, crossed the palisade.
To make assurance surer, I got upon my hands and knees and crawled,
without a sound, towards the corner of the house. As I drew nearer, my
heart was suddenly and greatly lightened. It is not a pleasant noise in
itself, and I have often complained of it at other times, but just
then it was like music to hear my friends snoring together so loud and
peaceful in their sleep. The sea-cry of the watch, that beautiful "All's
well," never fell more reassuringly on my ear.
In the meantime, there was no doubt of one thing; they kept an infamous
bad watch. If it had been Silver and his lads that were now creeping
in on them, not a soul would have seen daybreak. That was what it
was, thought I, to have the captain wounded; and again I blamed myself
sharply for leaving them in that danger with so few to mount guard.
By this time I had got to the door and stood up. All was dark within,
so that I could distinguish nothing by the eye. As for sounds, there
was the steady drone of the snorers and a small occasional noise, a
flickering or pecking that I could in no way account for.
With my arms before me I walked steadily in. I should lie down in my own
place (I thought with a silent chuckle) and enjoy their faces when they
found me in the morning.
My foot struck something yielding--it was a sleeper's leg; and he turned
and groaned, but without awaking.
And then, all of a sudden, a shrill voice broke forth out of the
"Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!
Pieces of eight!" and so forth, without pause or change, like the
clacking of a tiny mill.
Silver's green parrot, Captain Flint! It was she whom I had heard
pecking at a piece of bark; it was she, keeping better watch than any
human being, who thus announced my arrival with her wearisome refrain.
I had no time left me to recover. At the sharp, clipping tone of the
parrot, the sleepers awoke and sprang up; and with a mighty oath, the
voice of Silver cried, "Who goes?"
I turned to run, struck violently against one person, recoiled, and ran
full into the arms of a second, who for his part closed upon and held me
"Bring a torch, Dick," said Silver when my capture was thus assured.
And one of the men left the log-house and presently returned with a
PART SIX--Captain Silver
In the Enemy's Camp
THE red glare of the torch, lighting up the interior of the block house,
showed me the worst of my apprehensions realized. The pirates were in
possession of the house and stores: there was the cask of cognac,
there were the pork and bread, as before, and what tenfold increased
my horror, not a sign of any prisoner. I could only judge that all had
perished, and my heart smote me sorely that I had not been there to
perish with them.
There were six of the buccaneers, all told; not another man was left
alive. Five of them were on their feet, flushed and swollen, suddenly
called out of the first sleep of drunkenness. The sixth had only risen
upon his elbow; he was deadly pale, and the blood-stained bandage round
his head told that he had recently been wounded, and still more recently
dressed. I remembered the man who had been shot and had run back among
the woods in the great attack, and doubted not that this was he.
The parrot sat, preening her plumage, on Long John's shoulder. He
himself, I thought, looked somewhat paler and more stern than I was used
to. He still wore the fine broadcloth suit in which he had fulfilled his
mission, but it was bitterly the worse for wear, daubed with clay and
torn with the sharp briers of the wood.
"So," said he, "here's Jim Hawkins, shiver my timbers! Dropped in, like,
eh? Well, come, I take that friendly."
And thereupon he sat down across the brandy cask and began to fill a
"Give me a loan of the link, Dick," said he; and then, when he had a
good light, "That'll do, lad," he added; "stick the glim in the wood
heap; and you, gentlemen, bring yourselves to! You needn't stand up
for Mr. Hawkins; HE'LL excuse you, you may lay to that. And so,
Jim"--stopping the tobacco--"here you were, and quite a pleasant
surprise for poor old John. I see you were smart when first I set my
eyes on you, but this here gets away from me clean, it do."
To all this, as may be well supposed, I made no answer. They had set me
with my back against the wall, and I stood there, looking Silver in the
face, pluckily enough, I hope, to all outward appearance, but with black
despair in my heart.
Silver took a whiff or two of his pipe with great composure and then ran
"Now, you see, Jim, so be as you ARE here," says he, "I'll give you a
piece of my mind. I've always liked you, I have, for a lad of spirit,
and the picter of my own self when I was young and handsome. I always
wanted you to jine and take your share, and die a gentleman, and now, my
cock, you've got to. Cap'n Smollett's a fine seaman, as I'll own up to
any day, but stiff on discipline. 'Dooty is dooty,' says he, and right
he is. Just you keep clear of the cap'n. The doctor himself is gone dead
again you--'ungrateful scamp' was what he said; and the short and the
long of the whole story is about here: you can't go back to your own
lot, for they won't have you; and without you start a third ship's
company all by yourself, which might be lonely, you'll have to jine with
So far so good. My friends, then, were still alive, and though I partly
believed the truth of Silver's statement, that the cabin party were
incensed at me for my desertion, I was more relieved than distressed by
what I heard.
"I don't say nothing as to your being in our hands," continued Silver,
"though there you are, and you may lay to it. I'm all for argyment; I
never seen good come out o' threatening. If you like the service, well,
you'll jine; and if you don't, Jim, why, you're free to answer no--free
and welcome, shipmate; and if fairer can be said by mortal seaman,
shiver my sides!"
"Am I to answer, then?" I asked with a very tremulous voice. Through all
this sneering talk, I was made to feel the threat of death that overhung
me, and my cheeks burned and my heart beat painfully in my breast.
"Lad," said Silver, "no one's a-pressing of you. Take your bearings.
None of us won't hurry you, mate; time goes so pleasant in your company,
"Well," says I, growing a bit bolder, "if I'm to choose, I declare I
have a right to know what's what, and why you're here, and where my
"Wot's wot?" repeated one of the buccaneers in a deep growl. "Ah, he'd
be a lucky one as knowed that!"
"You'll perhaps batten down your hatches till you're spoke to, my
friend," cried Silver truculently to this speaker. And then, in
his first gracious tones, he replied to me, "Yesterday morning, Mr.
Hawkins," said he, "in the dog-watch, down came Doctor Livesey with a
flag of truce. Says he, 'Cap'n Silver, you're sold out. Ship's gone.'
Well, maybe we'd been taking a glass, and a song to help it round. I
won't say no. Leastways, none of us had looked out. We looked out, and
by thunder, the old ship was gone! I never seen a pack o' fools look
fishier; and you may lay to that, if I tells you that looked the
fishiest. 'Well,' says the doctor, 'let's bargain.' We bargained, him
and I, and here we are: stores, brandy, block house, the firewood you
was thoughtful enough to cut, and in a manner of speaking, the whole
blessed boat, from cross-trees to kelson. As for them, they've tramped;
I don't know where's they are."
He drew again quietly at his pipe.
"And lest you should take it into that head of yours," he went on, "that
you was included in the treaty, here's the last word that was said: 'How
many are you,' says I, 'to leave?' 'Four,' says he; 'four, and one of us
wounded. As for that boy, I don't know where he is, confound him,' says
he, 'nor I don't much care. We're about sick of him.' These was his
"Is that all?" I asked.
"Well, it's all that you're to hear, my son," returned Silver.
"And now I am to choose?"
"And now you are to choose, and you may lay to that," said Silver.
"Well," said I, "I am not such a fool but I know pretty well what I have
to look for. Let the worst come to the worst, it's little I care. I've
seen too many die since I fell in with you. But there's a thing or two
I have to tell you," I said, and by this time I was quite excited; "and
the first is this: here you are, in a bad way--ship lost, treasure lost,
men lost, your whole business gone to wreck; and if you want to know who
did it--it was I! I was in the apple barrel the night we sighted land,
and I heard you, John, and you, Dick Johnson, and Hands, who is now at
the bottom of the sea, and told every word you said before the hour was
out. And as for the schooner, it was I who cut her cable, and it was I
that killed the men you had aboard of her, and it was I who brought her
where you'll never see her more, not one of you. The laugh's on my side;
I've had the top of this business from the first; I no more fear you
than I fear a fly. Kill me, if you please, or spare me. But one thing
I'll say, and no more; if you spare me, bygones are bygones, and when
you fellows are in court for piracy, I'll save you all I can. It is for
you to choose. Kill another and do yourselves no good, or spare me and
keep a witness to save you from the gallows."
I stopped, for, I tell you, I was out of breath, and to my wonder, not
a man of them moved, but all sat staring at me like as many sheep. And
while they were still staring, I broke out again, "And now, Mr. Silver,"
I said, "I believe you're the best man here, and if things go to the
worst, I'll take it kind of you to let the doctor know the way I took
"I'll bear it in mind," said Silver with an accent so curious that I
could not, for the life of me, decide whether he were laughing at my
request or had been favourably affected by my courage.
"I'll put one to that," cried the old mahogany-faced seaman--Morgan
by name--whom I had seen in Long John's public-house upon the quays of
Bristol. "It was him that knowed Black Dog."
"Well, and see here," added the sea-cook. "I'll put another again to
that, by thunder! For it was this same boy that faked the chart from
Billy Bones. First and last, we've split upon Jim Hawkins!"
"Then here goes!" said Morgan with an oath.
And he sprang up, drawing his knife as if he had been twenty.
"Avast, there!" cried Silver. "Who are you, Tom Morgan? Maybe you
thought you was cap'n here, perhaps. By the powers, but I'll teach you
better! Cross me, and you'll go where many a good man's gone before you,
first and last, these thirty year back--some to the yard-arm, shiver
my timbers, and some by the board, and all to feed the fishes. There's
never a man looked me between the eyes and seen a good day a'terwards,
Tom Morgan, you may lay to that."
Morgan paused, but a hoarse murmur rose from the others.
"Tom's right," said one.
"I stood hazing long enough from one," added another. "I'll be hanged if
I'll be hazed by you, John Silver."
"Did any of you gentlemen want to have it out with ME?" roared Silver,
bending far forward from his position on the keg, with his pipe still
glowing in his right hand. "Put a name on what you're at; you ain't
dumb, I reckon. Him that wants shall get it. Have I lived this many
years, and a son of a rum puncheon cock his hat athwart my hawse at the
latter end of it? You know the way; you're all gentlemen o' fortune, by
your account. Well, I'm ready. Take a cutlass, him that dares, and I'll
see the colour of his inside, crutch and all, before that pipe's empty."
Not a man stirred; not a man answered.
"That's your sort, is it?" he added, returning his pipe to his mouth.
"Well, you're a gay lot to look at, anyway. Not much worth to fight, you
ain't. P'r'aps you can understand King George's English. I'm cap'n here
by 'lection. I'm cap'n here because I'm the best man by a long sea-mile.
You won't fight, as gentlemen o' fortune should; then, by thunder,
you'll obey, and you may lay to it! I like that boy, now; I never seen
a better boy than that. He's more a man than any pair of rats of you in
this here house, and what I say is this: let me see him that'll lay a
hand on him--that's what I say, and you may lay to it."
There was a long pause after this. I stood straight up against the wall,
my heart still going like a sledge-hammer, but with a ray of hope
now shining in my bosom. Silver leant back against the wall, his arms
crossed, his pipe in the corner of his mouth, as calm as though he had
been in church; yet his eye kept wandering furtively, and he kept the
tail of it on his unruly followers. They, on their part, drew gradually
together towards the far end of the block house, and the low hiss of
their whispering sounded in my ear continuously, like a stream. One
after another, they would look up, and the red light of the torch would
fall for a second on their nervous faces; but it was not towards me, it
was towards Silver that they turned their eyes.
"You seem to have a lot to say," remarked Silver, spitting far into the
air. "Pipe up and let me hear it, or lay to."
"Ax your pardon, sir," returned one of the men; "you're pretty free with
some of the rules; maybe you'll kindly keep an eye upon the rest. This
crew's dissatisfied; this crew don't vally bullying a marlin-spike; this
crew has its rights like other crews, I'll make so free as that; and by
your own rules, I take it we can talk together. I ax your pardon, sir,
acknowledging you for to be captaing at this present; but I claim my
right, and steps outside for a council."
And with an elaborate sea-salute, this fellow, a long, ill-looking,
yellow-eyed man of five and thirty, stepped coolly towards the door and
disappeared out of the house. One after another the rest followed his
example, each making a salute as he passed, each adding some apology.
"According to rules," said one. "Forecastle council," said Morgan. And
so with one remark or another all marched out and left Silver and me
alone with the torch.
The sea-cook instantly removed his pipe.
"Now, look you here, Jim Hawkins," he said in a steady whisper that was
no more than audible, "you're within half a plank of death, and what's
a long sight worse, of torture. They're going to throw me off. But, you
mark, I stand by you through thick and thin. I didn't mean to; no, not
till you spoke up. I was about desperate to lose that much blunt, and
be hanged into the bargain. But I see you was the right sort. I says to
myself, you stand by Hawkins, John, and Hawkins'll stand by you. You're
his last card, and by the living thunder, John, he's yours! Back to
back, says I. You save your witness, and he'll save your neck!"
I began dimly to understand.
"You mean all's lost?" I asked.
"Aye, by gum, I do!" he answered. "Ship gone, neck gone--that's the
size of it. Once I looked into that bay, Jim Hawkins, and seen no
schooner--well, I'm tough, but I gave out. As for that lot and their
council, mark me, they're outright fools and cowards. I'll save your
life--if so be as I can--from them. But, see here, Jim--tit for tat--you
save Long John from swinging."
I was bewildered; it seemed a thing so hopeless he was asking--he, the
old buccaneer, the ringleader throughout.
"What I can do, that I'll do," I said.
"It's a bargain!" cried Long John. "You speak up plucky, and by thunder,
I've a chance!"
He hobbled to the torch, where it stood propped among the firewood, and
took a fresh light to his pipe.
"Understand me, Jim," he said, returning. "I've a head on my shoulders,
I have. I'm on squire's side now. I know you've got that ship safe
somewheres. How you done it, I don't know, but safe it is. I guess Hands
and O'Brien turned soft. I never much believed in neither of THEM. Now
you mark me. I ask no questions, nor I won't let others. I know when
a game's up, I do; and I know a lad that's staunch. Ah, you that's
young--you and me might have done a power of good together!"
He drew some cognac from the cask into a tin cannikin.
"Will you taste, messmate?" he asked; and when I had refused: "Well,
I'll take a drain myself, Jim," said he. "I need a caulker, for there's
trouble on hand. And talking o' trouble, why did that doctor give me the
My face expressed a wonder so unaffected that he saw the needlessness of
"Ah, well, he did, though," said he. "And there's something under that,
no doubt--something, surely, under that, Jim--bad or good."
And he took another swallow of the brandy, shaking his great fair head
like a man who looks forward to the worst.
The Black Spot Again
THE council of buccaneers had lasted some time, when one of them
re-entered the house, and with a repetition of the same salute, which
had in my eyes an ironical air, begged for a moment's loan of the torch.
Silver briefly agreed, and this emissary retired again, leaving us
together in the dark.
"There's a breeze coming, Jim," said Silver, who had by this time
adopted quite a friendly and familiar tone.
I turned to the loophole nearest me and looked out. The embers of the
great fire had so far burned themselves out and now glowed so low and
duskily that I understood why these conspirators desired a torch. About
half-way down the slope to the stockade, they were collected in a group;
one held the light, another was on his knees in their midst, and I saw
the blade of an open knife shine in his hand with varying colours in
the moon and torchlight. The rest were all somewhat stooping, as though
watching the manoeuvres of this last. I could just make out that he
had a book as well as a knife in his hand, and was still wondering how
anything so incongruous had come in their possession when the kneeling
figure rose once more to his feet and the whole party began to move
together towards the house.
"Here they come," said I; and I returned to my former position, for it
seemed beneath my dignity that they should find me watching them.
"Well, let 'em come, lad--let 'em come," said Silver cheerily. "I've
still a shot in my locker."
The door opened, and the five men, standing huddled together just
inside, pushed one of their number forward. In any other circumstances
it would have been comical to see his slow advance, hesitating as he set
down each foot, but holding his closed right hand in front of him.
"Step up, lad," cried Silver. "I won't eat you. Hand it over, lubber. I
know the rules, I do; I won't hurt a depytation."
Thus encouraged, the buccaneer stepped forth more briskly, and having
passed something to Silver, from hand to hand, slipped yet more smartly
back again to his companions.
The sea-cook looked at what had been given him.
"The black spot! I thought so," he observed. "Where might you have got
the paper? Why, hillo! Look here, now; this ain't lucky! You've gone and
cut this out of a Bible. What fool's cut a Bible?"
"Ah, there!" said Morgan. "There! Wot did I say? No good'll come o'
that, I said."
"Well, you've about fixed it now, among you," continued Silver. "You'll
all swing now, I reckon. What soft-headed lubber had a Bible?"
"It was Dick," said one.
"Dick, was it? Then Dick can get to prayers," said Silver. "He's seen
his slice of luck, has Dick, and you may lay to that."
But here the long man with the yellow eyes struck in.
"Belay that talk, John Silver," he said. "This crew has tipped you the
black spot in full council, as in dooty bound; just you turn it over, as
in dooty bound, and see what's wrote there. Then you can talk."
"Thanky, George," replied the sea-cook. "You always was brisk for
business, and has the rules by heart, George, as I'm pleased to see.
Well, what is it, anyway? Ah! 'Deposed'--that's it, is it? Very pretty
wrote, to be sure; like print, I swear. Your hand o' write, George? Why,
you was gettin' quite a leadin' man in this here crew. You'll be cap'n
next, I shouldn't wonder. Just oblige me with that torch again, will
you? This pipe don't draw."
"Come, now," said George, "you don't fool this crew no more. You're a
funny man, by your account; but you're over now, and you'll maybe step
down off that barrel and help vote."
"I thought you said you knowed the rules," returned Silver
contemptuously. "Leastways, if you don't, I do; and I wait here--and I'm
still your cap'n, mind--till you outs with your grievances and I reply;
in the meantime, your black spot ain't worth a biscuit. After that,
"Oh," replied George, "you don't be under no kind of apprehension; WE'RE
all square, we are. First, you've made a hash of this cruise--you'll be
a bold man to say no to that. Second, you let the enemy out o' this here
trap for nothing. Why did they want out? I dunno, but it's pretty plain
they wanted it. Third, you wouldn't let us go at them upon the march.
Oh, we see through you, John Silver; you want to play booty, that's
what's wrong with you. And then, fourth, there's this here boy."
"Is that all?" asked Silver quietly.
"Enough, too," retorted George. "We'll all swing and sun-dry for your
"Well now, look here, I'll answer these four p'ints; one after another
I'll answer 'em. I made a hash o' this cruise, did I? Well now, you all
know what I wanted, and you all know if that had been done that we'd
'a been aboard the HISPANIOLA this night as ever was, every man of us
alive, and fit, and full of good plum-duff, and the treasure in the hold
of her, by thunder! Well, who crossed me? Who forced my hand, as was the
lawful cap'n? Who tipped me the black spot the day we landed and began
this dance? Ah, it's a fine dance--I'm with you there--and looks mighty
like a hornpipe in a rope's end at Execution Dock by London town, it
does. But who done it? Why, it was Anderson, and Hands, and you, George
Merry! And you're the last above board of that same meddling crew;
and you have the Davy Jones's insolence to up and stand for cap'n over
me--you, that sank the lot of us! By the powers! But this tops the
stiffest yarn to nothing."
Silver paused, and I could see by the faces of George and his late
comrades that these words had not been said in vain.
"That's for number one," cried the accused, wiping the sweat from his
brow, for he had been talking with a vehemence that shook the house.
"Why, I give you my word, I'm sick to speak to you. You've neither sense
nor memory, and I leave it to fancy where your mothers was that let you
come to sea. Sea! Gentlemen o' fortune! I reckon tailors is your trade."
"Go on, John," said Morgan. "Speak up to the others."
"Ah, the others!" returned John. "They're a nice lot, ain't they? You
say this cruise is bungled. Ah! By gum, if you could understand how bad
it's bungled, you would see! We're that near the gibbet that my neck's
stiff with thinking on it. You've seen 'em, maybe, hanged in chains,
birds about 'em, seamen p'inting 'em out as they go down with the tide.
'Who's that?' says one. 'That! Why, that's John Silver. I knowed him
well,' says another. And you can hear the chains a-jangle as you go
about and reach for the other buoy. Now, that's about where we are,
every mother's son of us, thanks to him, and Hands, and Anderson, and
other ruination fools of you. And if you want to know about number four,
and that boy, why, shiver my timbers, isn't he a hostage? Are we a-going
to waste a hostage? No, not us; he might be our last chance, and I
shouldn't wonder. Kill that boy? Not me, mates! And number three? Ah,
well, there's a deal to say to number three. Maybe you don't count it
nothing to have a real college doctor to see you every day--you, John,
with your head broke--or you, George Merry, that had the ague shakes
upon you not six hours agone, and has your eyes the colour of lemon peel
to this same moment on the clock? And maybe, perhaps, you didn't know
there was a consort coming either? But there is, and not so long till
then; and we'll see who'll be glad to have a hostage when it comes to
that. And as for number two, and why I made a bargain--well, you came
crawling on your knees to me to make it--on your knees you came, you was
that downhearted--and you'd have starved too if I hadn't--but that's a
trifle! You look there--that's why!"
And he cast down upon the floor a paper that I instantly
recognized--none other than the chart on yellow paper, with the three
red crosses, that I had found in the oilcloth at the bottom of the
captain's chest. Why the doctor had given it to him was more than I
But if it were inexplicable to me, the appearance of the chart was
incredible to the surviving mutineers. They leaped upon it like cats
upon a mouse. It went from hand to hand, one tearing it from another;
and by the oaths and the cries and the childish laughter with which they
accompanied their examination, you would have thought, not only they
were fingering the very gold, but were at sea with it, besides, in
"Yes," said one, "that's Flint, sure enough. J. F., and a score below,
with a clove hitch to it; so he done ever."
"Mighty pretty," said George. "But how are we to get away with it, and
us no ship."
Silver suddenly sprang up, and supporting himself with a hand against
the wall: "Now I give you warning, George," he cried. "One more word
of your sauce, and I'll call you down and fight you. How? Why, how do I
know? You had ought to tell me that--you and the rest, that lost me my
schooner, with your interference, burn you! But not you, you can't; you
hain't got the invention of a cockroach. But civil you can speak, and
shall, George Merry, you may lay to that."
"That's fair enow," said the old man Morgan.
"Fair! I reckon so," said the sea-cook. "You lost the ship; I found the
treasure. Who's the better man at that? And now I resign, by thunder!
Elect whom you please to be your cap'n now; I'm done with it."
"Silver!" they cried. "Barbecue forever! Barbecue for cap'n!"
"So that's the toon, is it?" cried the cook. "George, I reckon you'll
have to wait another turn, friend; and lucky for you as I'm not a
revengeful man. But that was never my way. And now, shipmates, this
black spot? 'Tain't much good now, is it? Dick's crossed his luck and
spoiled his Bible, and that's about all."
"It'll do to kiss the book on still, won't it?" growled Dick, who was
evidently uneasy at the curse he had brought upon himself.
"A Bible with a bit cut out!" returned Silver derisively. "Not it. It
don't bind no more'n a ballad-book."
"Don't it, though?" cried Dick with a sort of joy. "Well, I reckon
that's worth having too."
"Here, Jim--here's a cur'osity for you," said Silver, and he tossed me
It was around about the size of a crown piece. One side was blank,
for it had been the last leaf; the other contained a verse or two of
Revelation--these words among the rest, which struck sharply home upon
my mind: "Without are dogs and murderers." The printed side had been
blackened with wood ash, which already began to come off and soil my
fingers; on the blank side had been written with the same material the
one word "Depposed." I have that curiosity beside me at this moment, but
not a trace of writing now remains beyond a single scratch, such as a
man might make with his thumb-nail.
That was the end of the night's business. Soon after, with a drink all
round, we lay down to sleep, and the outside of Silver's vengeance was
to put George Merry up for sentinel and threaten him with death if he
should prove unfaithful.
It was long ere I could close an eye, and heaven knows I had matter
enough for thought in the man whom I had slain that afternoon, in my own
most perilous position, and above all, in the remarkable game that I saw
Silver now engaged upon--keeping the mutineers together with one hand
and grasping with the other after every means, possible and impossible,
to make his peace and save his miserable life. He himself slept
peacefully and snored aloud, yet my heart was sore for him, wicked as he
was, to think on the dark perils that environed and the shameful gibbet
that awaited him.
I WAS wakened--indeed, we were all wakened, for I could see even the
sentinel shake himself together from where he had fallen against the
door-post--by a clear, hearty voice hailing us from the margin of the
"Block house, ahoy!" it cried. "Here's the doctor."
And the doctor it was. Although I was glad to hear the sound, yet my
gladness was not without admixture. I remembered with confusion my
insubordinate and stealthy conduct, and when I saw where it had brought
me--among what companions and surrounded by what dangers--I felt ashamed
to look him in the face.
He must have risen in the dark, for the day had hardly come; and when I
ran to a loophole and looked out, I saw him standing, like Silver once
before, up to the mid-leg in creeping vapour.
"You, doctor! Top o' the morning to you, sir!" cried Silver, broad awake
and beaming with good nature in a moment. "Bright and early, to be sure;
and it's the early bird, as the saying goes, that gets the rations.
George, shake up your timbers, son, and help Dr. Livesey over the ship's
side. All a-doin' well, your patients was--all well and merry."
So he pattered on, standing on the hilltop with his crutch under his
elbow and one hand upon the side of the log-house--quite the old John in
voice, manner, and expression.
"We've quite a surprise for you too, sir," he continued. "We've a little
stranger here--he! he! A noo boarder and lodger, sir, and looking fit
and taut as a fiddle; slep' like a supercargo, he did, right alongside
of John--stem to stem we was, all night."
Dr. Livesey was by this time across the stockade and pretty near the
cook, and I could hear the alteration in his voice as he said, "Not
"The very same Jim as ever was," says Silver.
The doctor stopped outright, although he did not speak, and it was some
seconds before he seemed able to move on.
"Well, well," he said at last, "duty first and pleasure afterwards, as
you might have said yourself, Silver. Let us overhaul these patients of
A moment afterwards he had entered the block house and with one grim
nod to me proceeded with his work among the sick. He seemed under no
apprehension, though he must have known that his life, among these
treacherous demons, depended on a hair; and he rattled on to his
patients as if he were paying an ordinary professional visit in a quiet
English family. His manner, I suppose, reacted on the men, for they
behaved to him as if nothing had occurred, as if he were still ship's
doctor and they still faithful hands before the mast.
"You're doing well, my friend," he said to the fellow with the bandaged
head, "and if ever any person had a close shave, it was you; your head
must be as hard as iron. Well, George, how goes it? You're a pretty
colour, certainly; why, your liver, man, is upside down. Did you take
that medicine? Did he take that medicine, men?"
"Aye, aye, sir, he took it, sure enough," returned Morgan.
"Because, you see, since I am mutineers' doctor, or prison doctor as I
prefer to call it," says Doctor Livesey in his pleasantest way, "I make
it a point of honour not to lose a man for King George (God bless him!)
and the gallows."
The rogues looked at each other but swallowed the home-thrust in
"Dick don't feel well, sir," said one.
"Don't he?" replied the doctor. "Well, step up here, Dick, and let me
see your tongue. No, I should be surprised if he did! The man's tongue
is fit to frighten the French. Another fever."
"Ah, there," said Morgan, "that comed of sp'iling Bibles."
"That comes--as you call it--of being arrant asses," retorted the
doctor, "and not having sense enough to know honest air from poison,
and the dry land from a vile, pestiferous slough. I think it most
probable--though of course it's only an opinion--that you'll all have
the deuce to pay before you get that malaria out of your systems. Camp
in a bog, would you? Silver, I'm surprised at you. You're less of a fool
than many, take you all round; but you don't appear to me to have the
rudiments of a notion of the rules of health.
"Well," he added after he had dosed them round and they had taken
his prescriptions, with really laughable humility, more like charity
schoolchildren than blood-guilty mutineers and pirates--"well, that's
done for today. And now I should wish to have a talk with that boy,
And he nodded his head in my direction carelessly.
George Merry was at the door, spitting and spluttering over some
bad-tasted medicine; but at the first word of the doctor's proposal he
swung round with a deep flush and cried "No!" and swore.
Silver struck the barrel with his open hand.
"Si-lence!" he roared and looked about him positively like a lion.
"Doctor," he went on in his usual tones, "I was a-thinking of that,
knowing as how you had a fancy for the boy. We're all humbly grateful
for your kindness, and as you see, puts faith in you and takes the drugs
down like that much grog. And I take it I've found a way as'll suit all.
Hawkins, will you give me your word of honour as a young gentleman--for
a young gentleman you are, although poor born--your word of honour not
to slip your cable?"
I readily gave the pledge required.
"Then, doctor," said Silver, "you just step outside o' that stockade,
and once you're there I'll bring the boy down on the inside, and I
reckon you can yarn through the spars. Good day to you, sir, and all our
dooties to the squire and Cap'n Smollett."
The explosion of disapproval, which nothing but Silver's black looks had
restrained, broke out immediately the doctor had left the house. Silver
was roundly accused of playing double--of trying to make a separate
peace for himself, of sacrificing the interests of his accomplices and
victims, and, in one word, of the identical, exact thing that he was
doing. It seemed to me so obvious, in this case, that I could not
imagine how he was to turn their anger. But he was twice the man
the rest were, and his last night's victory had given him a huge
preponderance on their minds. He called them all the fools and dolts
you can imagine, said it was necessary I should talk to the doctor,
fluttered the chart in their faces, asked them if they could afford to
break the treaty the very day they were bound a-treasure-hunting.
"No, by thunder!" he cried. "It's us must break the treaty when the time
comes; and till then I'll gammon that doctor, if I have to ile his boots
And then he bade them get the fire lit, and stalked out upon his crutch,
with his hand on my shoulder, leaving them in a disarray, and silenced
by his volubility rather than convinced.
"Slow, lad, slow," he said. "They might round upon us in a twinkle of an
eye if we was seen to hurry."
Very deliberately, then, did we advance across the sand to where the
doctor awaited us on the other side of the stockade, and as soon as we
were within easy speaking distance Silver stopped.
"You'll make a note of this here also, doctor," says he, "and the boy'll
tell you how I saved his life, and were deposed for it too, and you
may lay to that. Doctor, when a man's steering as near the wind as
me--playing chuck-farthing with the last breath in his body, like--you
wouldn't think it too much, mayhap, to give him one good word? You'll
please bear in mind it's not my life only now--it's that boy's into the
bargain; and you'll speak me fair, doctor, and give me a bit o' hope to
go on, for the sake of mercy."
Silver was a changed man once he was out there and had his back to his
friends and the block house; his cheeks seemed to have fallen in, his
voice trembled; never was a soul more dead in earnest.
"Why, John, you're not afraid?" asked Dr. Livesey.
"Doctor, I'm no coward; no, not I--not SO much!" and he snapped his
fingers. "If I was I wouldn't say it. But I'll own up fairly, I've the
shakes upon me for the gallows. You're a good man and a true; I never
seen a better man! And you'll not forget what I done good, not any more
than you'll forget the bad, I know. And I step aside--see here--and
leave you and Jim alone. And you'll put that down for me too, for it's a
long stretch, is that!"
So saying, he stepped back a little way, till he was out of earshot, and
there sat down upon a tree-stump and began to whistle, spinning round
now and again upon his seat so as to command a sight, sometimes of me
and the doctor and sometimes of his unruly ruffians as they went to and
fro in the sand between the fire--which they were busy rekindling--and
the house, from which they brought forth pork and bread to make the
"So, Jim," said the doctor sadly, "here you are. As you have brewed, so
shall you drink, my boy. Heaven knows, I cannot find it in my heart to
blame you, but this much I will say, be it kind or unkind: when Captain
Smollett was well, you dared not have gone off; and when he was ill and
couldn't help it, by George, it was downright cowardly!"
I will own that I here began to weep. "Doctor," I said, "you might spare
me. I have blamed myself enough; my life's forfeit anyway, and I should
have been dead by now if Silver hadn't stood for me; and doctor,
believe this, I can die--and I dare say I deserve it--but what I fear is
torture. If they come to torture me--"
"Jim," the doctor interrupted, and his voice was quite changed, "Jim, I
can't have this. Whip over, and we'll run for it."
"Doctor," said I, "I passed my word."
"I know, I know," he cried. "We can't help that, Jim, now. I'll take it
on my shoulders, holus bolus, blame and shame, my boy; but stay here,
I cannot let you. Jump! One jump, and you're out, and we'll run for it
"No," I replied; "you know right well you wouldn't do the thing
yourself--neither you nor squire nor captain; and no more will I. Silver
trusted me; I passed my word, and back I go. But, doctor, you did not
let me finish. If they come to torture me, I might let slip a word of
where the ship is, for I got the ship, part by luck and part by risking,
and she lies in North Inlet, on the southern beach, and just below high
water. At half tide she must be high and dry."
"The ship!" exclaimed the doctor.
Rapidly I described to him my adventures, and he heard me out in
"There is a kind of fate in this," he observed when I had done. "Every
step, it's you that saves our lives; and do you suppose by any chance
that we are going to let you lose yours? That would be a poor return, my
boy. You found out the plot; you found Ben Gunn--the best deed that
ever you did, or will do, though you live to ninety. Oh, by Jupiter, and
talking of Ben Gunn! Why, this is the mischief in person. Silver!" he
cried. "Silver! I'll give you a piece of advice," he continued as
the cook drew near again; "don't you be in any great hurry after that
"Why, sir, I do my possible, which that ain't," said Silver. "I can
only, asking your pardon, save my life and the boy's by seeking for that
treasure; and you may lay to that."
"Well, Silver," replied the doctor, "if that is so, I'll go one step
further: look out for squalls when you find it."
"Sir," said Silver, "as between man and man, that's too much and too
little. What you're after, why you left the block house, why you given
me that there chart, I don't know, now, do I? And yet I done your
bidding with my eyes shut and never a word of hope! But no, this here's
too much. If you won't tell me what you mean plain out, just say so and
I'll leave the helm."
"No," said the doctor musingly; "I've no right to say more; it's not my
secret, you see, Silver, or, I give you my word, I'd tell it you. But
I'll go as far with you as I dare go, and a step beyond, for I'll have
my wig sorted by the captain or I'm mistaken! And first, I'll give you a
bit of hope; Silver, if we both get alive out of this wolf-trap, I'll do
my best to save you, short of perjury."
Silver's face was radiant. "You couldn't say more, I'm sure, sir, not if
you was my mother," he cried.
"Well, that's my first concession," added the doctor. "My second is a
piece of advice: keep the boy close beside you, and when you need help,
halloo. I'm off to seek it for you, and that itself will show you if I
speak at random. Good-bye, Jim."
And Dr. Livesey shook hands with me through the stockade, nodded to
Silver, and set off at a brisk pace into the wood.
The Treasure-hunt--Flint's Pointer
"JIM," said Silver when we were alone, "if I saved your life, you saved
mine; and I'll not forget it. I seen the doctor waving you to run for
it--with the tail of my eye, I did; and I seen you say no, as plain as
hearing. Jim, that's one to you. This is the first glint of hope I had
since the attack failed, and I owe it you. And now, Jim, we're to go in
for this here treasure-hunting, with sealed orders too, and I don't like
it; and you and me must stick close, back to back like, and we'll save
our necks in spite o' fate and fortune."
Just then a man hailed us from the fire that breakfast was ready, and
we were soon seated here and there about the sand over biscuit and fried
junk. They had lit a fire fit to roast an ox, and it was now grown so
hot that they could only approach it from the windward, and even there
not without precaution. In the same wasteful spirit, they had cooked,
I suppose, three times more than we could eat; and one of them, with an
empty laugh, threw what was left into the fire, which blazed and roared
again over this unusual fuel. I never in my life saw men so careless of
the morrow; hand to mouth is the only word that can describe their way
of doing; and what with wasted food and sleeping sentries, though they
were bold enough for a brush and be done with it, I could see their
entire unfitness for anything like a prolonged campaign.
Even Silver, eating away, with Captain Flint upon his shoulder, had not
a word of blame for their recklessness. And this the more surprised me,
for I thought he had never shown himself so cunning as he did then.
"Aye, mates," said he, "it's lucky you have Barbecue to think for you
with this here head. I got what I wanted, I did. Sure enough, they have
the ship. Where they have it, I don't know yet; but once we hit the
treasure, we'll have to jump about and find out. And then, mates, us
that has the boats, I reckon, has the upper hand."
Thus he kept running on, with his mouth full of the hot bacon; thus he
restored their hope and confidence, and, I more than suspect, repaired
his own at the same time.
"As for hostage," he continued, "that's his last talk, I guess, with
them he loves so dear. I've got my piece o' news, and thanky to him
for that; but it's over and done. I'll take him in a line when we go
treasure-hunting, for we'll keep him like so much gold, in case of
accidents, you mark, and in the meantime. Once we got the ship and
treasure both and off to sea like jolly companions, why then we'll talk
Mr. Hawkins over, we will, and we'll give him his share, to be sure, for
all his kindness."
It was no wonder the men were in a good humour now. For my part, I
was horribly cast down. Should the scheme he had now sketched prove
feasible, Silver, already doubly a traitor, would not hesitate to adopt
it. He had still a foot in either camp, and there was no doubt he
would prefer wealth and freedom with the pirates to a bare escape from
hanging, which was the best he had to hope on our side.
Nay, and even if things so fell out that he was forced to keep his faith
with Dr. Livesey, even then what danger lay before us! What a moment
that would be when the suspicions of his followers turned to certainty
and he and I should have to fight for dear life--he a cripple and I a
boy--against five strong and active seamen!
Add to this double apprehension the mystery that still hung over the
behaviour of my friends, their unexplained desertion of the stockade,
their inexplicable cession of the chart, or harder still to understand,
the doctor's last warning to Silver, "Look out for squalls when you
find it," and you will readily believe how little taste I found in my
breakfast and with how uneasy a heart I set forth behind my captors on
the quest for treasure.
We made a curious figure, had anyone been there to see us--all in soiled
sailor clothes and all but me armed to the teeth. Silver had two guns
slung about him--one before and one behind--besides the great cutlass
at his waist and a pistol in each pocket of his square-tailed coat.
To complete his strange appearance, Captain Flint sat perched upon his
shoulder and gabbling odds and ends of purposeless sea-talk. I had a
line about my waist and followed obediently after the sea-cook, who
held the loose end of the rope, now in his free hand, now between his
powerful teeth. For all the world, I was led like a dancing bear.
The other men were variously burthened, some carrying picks and
shovels--for that had been the very first necessary they brought ashore
from the HISPANIOLA--others laden with pork, bread, and brandy for the
midday meal. All the stores, I observed, came from our stock, and I
could see the truth of Silver's words the night before. Had he not
struck a bargain with the doctor, he and his mutineers, deserted by the
ship, must have been driven to subsist on clear water and the proceeds
of their hunting. Water would have been little to their taste; a sailor
is not usually a good shot; and besides all that, when they were so
short of eatables, it was not likely they would be very flush of powder.
Well, thus equipped, we all set out--even the fellow with the broken
head, who should certainly have kept in shadow--and straggled, one after
another, to the beach, where the two gigs awaited us. Even these bore
trace of the drunken folly of the pirates, one in a broken thwart, and
both in their muddy and unbailed condition. Both were to be carried
along with us for the sake of safety; and so, with our numbers divided
between them, we set forth upon the bosom of the anchorage.
As we pulled over, there was some discussion on the chart. The red cross
was, of course, far too large to be a guide; and the terms of the note
on the back, as you will hear, admitted of some ambiguity. They ran, the
reader may remember, thus:
Tall tree, Spy-glass shoulder, bearing a point to
the N. of N.N.E.
Skeleton Island E.S.E. and by E.
A tall tree was thus the principal mark. Now, right before us the
anchorage was bounded by a plateau from two to three hundred feet high,
adjoining on the north the sloping southern shoulder of the Spy-glass
and rising again towards the south into the rough, cliffy eminence
called the Mizzen-mast Hill. The top of the plateau was dotted thickly
with pine-trees of varying height. Every here and there, one of a
different species rose forty or fifty feet clear above its neighbours,
and which of these was the particular "tall tree" of Captain Flint could
only be decided on the spot, and by the readings of the compass.
Yet, although that was the case, every man on board the boats had
picked a favourite of his own ere we were half-way over, Long John alone
shrugging his shoulders and bidding them wait till they were there.
We pulled easily, by Silver's directions, not to weary the hands
prematurely, and after quite a long passage, landed at the mouth of
the second river--that which runs down a woody cleft of the Spy-glass.
Thence, bending to our left, we began to ascend the slope towards the
At the first outset, heavy, miry ground and a matted, marish vegetation
greatly delayed our progress; but by little and little the hill began
to steepen and become stony under foot, and the wood to change its
character and to grow in a more open order. It was, indeed, a most
pleasant portion of the island that we were now approaching. A
heavy-scented broom and many flowering shrubs had almost taken the place
of grass. Thickets of green nutmeg-trees were dotted here and there with
the red columns and the broad shadow of the pines; and the first mingled
their spice with the aroma of the others. The air, besides, was fresh
and stirring, and this, under the sheer sunbeams, was a wonderful
refreshment to our senses.
The party spread itself abroad, in a fan shape, shouting and leaping to
and fro. About the centre, and a good way behind the rest, Silver and
I followed--I tethered by my rope, he ploughing, with deep pants, among
the sliding gravel. From time to time, indeed, I had to lend him a hand,
or he must have missed his footing and fallen backward down the hill.
We had thus proceeded for about half a mile and were approaching the
brow of the plateau when the man upon the farthest left began to cry
aloud, as if in terror. Shout after shout came from him, and the others
began to run in his direction.
"He can't 'a found the treasure," said old Morgan, hurrying past us from
the right, "for that's clean a-top."
Indeed, as we found when we also reached the spot, it was something
very different. At the foot of a pretty big pine and involved in a green
creeper, which had even partly lifted some of the smaller bones, a human
skeleton lay, with a few shreds of clothing, on the ground. I believe a
chill struck for a moment to every heart.
"He was a seaman," said George Merry, who, bolder than the rest, had
gone up close and was examining the rags of clothing. "Leastways, this
is good sea-cloth."
"Aye, aye," said Silver; "like enough; you wouldn't look to find a
bishop here, I reckon. But what sort of a way is that for bones to lie?
'Tain't in natur'."
Indeed, on a second glance, it seemed impossible to fancy that the body
was in a natural position. But for some disarray (the work, perhaps, of
the birds that had fed upon him or of the slow-growing creeper that had
gradually enveloped his remains) the man lay perfectly straight--his
feet pointing in one direction, his hands, raised above his head like a
diver's, pointing directly in the opposite.
"I've taken a notion into my old numbskull," observed Silver. "Here's
the compass; there's the tip-top p'int o' Skeleton Island, stickin'
out like a tooth. Just take a bearing, will you, along the line of them
It was done. The body pointed straight in the direction of the island,
and the compass read duly E.S.E. and by E.
"I thought so," cried the cook; "this here is a p'inter. Right up there
is our line for the Pole Star and the jolly dollars. But, by thunder!
If it don't make me cold inside to think of Flint. This is one of HIS
jokes, and no mistake. Him and these six was alone here; he killed 'em,
every man; and this one he hauled here and laid down by compass, shiver
my timbers! They're long bones, and the hair's been yellow. Aye, that
would be Allardyce. You mind Allardyce, Tom Morgan?"
"Aye, aye," returned Morgan; "I mind him; he owed me money, he did, and
took my knife ashore with him."
"Speaking of knives," said another, "why don't we find his'n lying
round? Flint warn't the man to pick a seaman's pocket; and the birds, I
guess, would leave it be."
"By the powers, and that's true!" cried Silver.
"There ain't a thing left here," said Merry, still feeling round among
the bones; "not a copper doit nor a baccy box. It don't look nat'ral to
"No, by gum, it don't," agreed Silver; "not nat'ral, nor not nice, says
you. Great guns! Messmates, but if Flint was living, this would be a hot
spot for you and me. Six they were, and six are we; and bones is what
they are now."
"I saw him dead with these here deadlights," said Morgan. "Billy took me
in. There he laid, with penny-pieces on his eyes."
"Dead--aye, sure enough he's dead and gone below," said the fellow with
the bandage; "but if ever sperrit walked, it would be Flint's. Dear
heart, but he died bad, did Flint!"
"Aye, that he did," observed another; "now he raged, and now he hollered
for the rum, and now he sang. 'Fifteen Men' were his only song, mates;
and I tell you true, I never rightly liked to hear it since. It was
main hot, and the windy was open, and I hear that old song comin' out as
clear as clear--and the death-haul on the man already."
"Come, come," said Silver; "stow this talk. He's dead, and he don't
walk, that I know; leastways, he won't walk by day, and you may lay to
that. Care killed a cat. Fetch ahead for the doubloons."
We started, certainly; but in spite of the hot sun and the staring
daylight, the pirates no longer ran separate and shouting through the
wood, but kept side by side and spoke with bated breath. The terror of
the dead buccaneer had fallen on their spirits.
The Treasure-hunt--The Voice Among the Trees
PARTLY from the damping influence of this alarm, partly to rest Silver
and the sick folk, the whole party sat down as soon as they had gained
the brow of the ascent.
The plateau being somewhat tilted towards the west, this spot on which
we had paused commanded a wide prospect on either hand. Before us,
over the tree-tops, we beheld the Cape of the Woods fringed with surf;
behind, we not only looked down upon the anchorage and Skeleton Island,
but saw--clear across the spit and the eastern lowlands--a great field
of open sea upon the east. Sheer above us rose the Spyglass, here dotted
with single pines, there black with precipices. There was no sound but
that of the distant breakers, mounting from all round, and the chirp of
countless insects in the brush. Not a man, not a sail, upon the sea; the
very largeness of the view increased the sense of solitude.
Silver, as he sat, took certain bearings with his compass.
"There are three 'tall trees'" said he, "about in the right line from
Skeleton Island. 'Spy-glass shoulder,' I take it, means that lower p'int
there. It's child's play to find the stuff now. I've half a mind to dine
"I don't feel sharp," growled Morgan. "Thinkin' o' Flint--I think it
were--as done me."
"Ah, well, my son, you praise your stars he's dead," said Silver.
"He were an ugly devil," cried a third pirate with a shudder; "that blue
in the face too!"
"That was how the rum took him," added Merry. "Blue! Well, I reckon he
was blue. That's a true word."
Ever since they had found the skeleton and got upon this train of
thought, they had spoken lower and lower, and they had almost got to
whispering by now, so that the sound of their talk hardly interrupted
the silence of the wood. All of a sudden, out of the middle of the trees
in front of us, a thin, high, trembling voice struck up the well-known
air and words:
"Fifteen men on the dead man's chest--
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!"
I never have seen men more dreadfully affected than the pirates. The
colour went from their six faces like enchantment; some leaped to their
feet, some clawed hold of others; Morgan grovelled on the ground.
"It's Flint, by ----!" cried Merry.
The song had stopped as suddenly as it began--broken off, you would have
said, in the middle of a note, as though someone had laid his hand upon
the singer's mouth. Coming through the clear, sunny atmosphere among the
green tree-tops, I thought it had sounded airily and sweetly; and the
effect on my companions was the stranger.
"Come," said Silver, struggling with his ashen lips to get the word out;
"this won't do. Stand by to go about. This is a rum start, and I can't
name the voice, but it's someone skylarking--someone that's flesh and
blood, and you may lay to that."
His courage had come back as he spoke, and some of the colour to his
face along with it. Already the others had begun to lend an ear to this
encouragement and were coming a little to themselves, when the same
voice broke out again--not this time singing, but in a faint distant
hail that echoed yet fainter among the clefts of the Spy-glass.
"Darby M'Graw," it wailed--for that is the word that best describes the
sound--"Darby M'Graw! Darby M'Graw!" again and again and again; and then
rising a little higher, and with an oath that I leave out: "Fetch aft
the rum, Darby!"
The buccaneers remained rooted to the ground, their eyes starting from
their heads. Long after the voice had died away they still stared in
silence, dreadfully, before them.
"That fixes it!" gasped one. "Let's go."
"They was his last words," moaned Morgan, "his last words above board."
Dick had his Bible out and was praying volubly. He had been well brought
up, had Dick, before he came to sea and fell among bad companions.
Still Silver was unconquered. I could hear his teeth rattle in his head,
but he had not yet surrendered.
"Nobody in this here island ever heard of Darby," he muttered; "not one
but us that's here." And then, making a great effort: "Shipmates,"
he cried, "I'm here to get that stuff, and I'll not be beat by man or
devil. I never was feared of Flint in his life, and, by the powers, I'll
face him dead. There's seven hundred thousand pound not a quarter of a
mile from here. When did ever a gentleman o' fortune show his stern to
that much dollars for a boozy old seaman with a blue mug--and him dead
But there was no sign of reawakening courage in his followers, rather,
indeed, of growing terror at the irreverence of his words.
"Belay there, John!" said Merry. "Don't you cross a sperrit."
And the rest were all too terrified to reply. They would have run away
severally had they dared; but fear kept them together, and kept them
close by John, as if his daring helped them. He, on his part, had pretty
well fought his weakness down.
"Sperrit? Well, maybe," he said. "But there's one thing not clear to me.
There was an echo. Now, no man ever seen a sperrit with a shadow; well
then, what's he doing with an echo to him, I should like to know? That
ain't in natur', surely?"
This argument seemed weak enough to me. But you can never tell what will
affect the superstitious, and to my wonder, George Merry was greatly
"Well, that's so," he said. "You've a head upon your shoulders, John,
and no mistake. 'Bout ship, mates! This here crew is on a wrong tack, I
do believe. And come to think on it, it was like Flint's voice, I
grant you, but not just so clear-away like it, after all. It was liker
somebody else's voice now--it was liker--"
"By the powers, Ben Gunn!" roared Silver.
"Aye, and so it were," cried Morgan, springing on his knees. "Ben Gunn
"It don't make much odds, do it, now?" asked Dick. "Ben Gunn's not here
in the body any more'n Flint."
But the older hands greeted this remark with scorn.
"Why, nobody minds Ben Gunn," cried Merry; "dead or alive, nobody minds
It was extraordinary how their spirits had returned and how the natural
colour had revived in their faces. Soon they were chatting together,
with intervals of listening; and not long after, hearing no further
sound, they shouldered the tools and set forth again, Merry walking
first with Silver's compass to keep them on the right line with Skeleton
Island. He had said the truth: dead or alive, nobody minded Ben Gunn.
Dick alone still held his Bible, and looked around him as he went, with
fearful glances; but he found no sympathy, and Silver even joked him on
"I told you," said he--"I told you you had sp'iled your Bible. If it
ain't no good to swear by, what do you suppose a sperrit would give for
it? Not that!" and he snapped his big fingers, halting a moment on his
But Dick was not to be comforted; indeed, it was soon plain to me that
the lad was falling sick; hastened by heat, exhaustion, and the shock
of his alarm, the fever, predicted by Dr. Livesey, was evidently growing
It was fine open walking here, upon the summit; our way lay a little
downhill, for, as I have said, the plateau tilted towards the west. The
pines, great and small, grew wide apart; and even between the clumps of
nutmeg and azalea, wide open spaces baked in the hot sunshine. Striking,
as we did, pretty near north-west across the island, we drew, on the
one hand, ever nearer under the shoulders of the Spy-glass, and on the
other, looked ever wider over that western bay where I had once tossed
and trembled in the oracle.
The first of the tall trees was reached, and by the bearings proved the
wrong one. So with the second. The third rose nearly two hundred feet
into the air above a clump of underwood--a giant of a vegetable, with
a red column as big as a cottage, and a wide shadow around in which a
company could have manoeuvred. It was conspicuous far to sea both on
the east and west and might have been entered as a sailing mark upon the
But it was not its size that now impressed my companions; it was the
knowledge that seven hundred thousand pounds in gold lay somewhere
buried below its spreading shadow. The thought of the money, as they
drew nearer, swallowed up their previous terrors. Their eyes burned in
their heads; their feet grew speedier and lighter; their whole soul
was found up in that fortune, that whole lifetime of extravagance and
pleasure, that lay waiting there for each of them.
Silver hobbled, grunting, on his crutch; his nostrils stood out and
quivered; he cursed like a madman when the flies settled on his hot and
shiny countenance; he plucked furiously at the line that held me to
him and from time to time turned his eyes upon me with a deadly look.
Certainly he took no pains to hide his thoughts, and certainly I read
them like print. In the immediate nearness of the gold, all else had
been forgotten: his promise and the doctor's warning were both things
of the past, and I could not doubt that he hoped to seize upon the
treasure, find and board the HISPANIOLA under cover of night, cut
every honest throat about that island, and sail away as he had at first
intended, laden with crimes and riches.
Shaken as I was with these alarms, it was hard for me to keep up with
the rapid pace of the treasure-hunters. Now and again I stumbled, and it
was then that Silver plucked so roughly at the rope and launched at me
his murderous glances. Dick, who had dropped behind us and now brought
up the rear, was babbling to himself both prayers and curses as his
fever kept rising. This also added to my wretchedness, and to crown all,
I was haunted by the thought of the tragedy that had once been acted
on that plateau, when that ungodly buccaneer with the blue face--he who
died at Savannah, singing and shouting for drink--had there, with his
own hand, cut down his six accomplices. This grove that was now so
peaceful must then have rung with cries, I thought; and even with the
thought I could believe I heard it ringing still.
We were now at the margin of the thicket.
"Huzza, mates, all together!" shouted Merry; and the foremost broke into
And suddenly, not ten yards further, we beheld them stop. A low cry
arose. Silver doubled his pace, digging away with the foot of his crutch
like one possessed; and next moment he and I had come also to a dead
Before us was a great excavation, not very recent, for the sides had
fallen in and grass had sprouted on the bottom. In this were the shaft
of a pick broken in two and the boards of several packing-cases strewn
around. On one of these boards I saw, branded with a hot iron, the name
WALRUS--the name of Flint's ship.
All was clear to probation. The CACHE had been found and rifled; the
seven hundred thousand pounds were gone!
The Fall of a Chieftain
THERE never was such an overturn in this world. Each of these six men
was as though he had been struck. But with Silver the blow passed almost
instantly. Every thought of his soul had been set full-stretch, like a
racer, on that money; well, he was brought up, in a single second, dead;
and he kept his head, found his temper, and changed his plan before the
others had had time to realize the disappointment.
"Jim," he whispered, "take that, and stand by for trouble."
And he passed me a double-barrelled pistol.
At the same time, he began quietly moving northward, and in a few steps
had put the hollow between us two and the other five. Then he looked at
me and nodded, as much as to say, "Here is a narrow corner," as, indeed,
I thought it was. His looks were not quite friendly, and I was so
revolted at these constant changes that I could not forbear whispering,
"So you've changed sides again."
There was no time left for him to answer in. The buccaneers, with oaths
and cries, began to leap, one after another, into the pit and to dig
with their fingers, throwing the boards aside as they did so. Morgan
found a piece of gold. He held it up with a perfect spout of oaths. It
was a two-guinea piece, and it went from hand to hand among them for a
quarter of a minute.
"Two guineas!" roared Merry, shaking it at Silver. "That's your seven
hundred thousand pounds, is it? You're the man for bargains, ain't you?
You're him that never bungled nothing, you wooden-headed lubber!"
"Dig away, boys," said Silver with the coolest insolence; "you'll find
some pig-nuts and I shouldn't wonder."
"Pig-nuts!" repeated Merry, in a scream. "Mates, do you hear that? I
tell you now, that man there knew it all along. Look in the face of him
and you'll see it wrote there."
"Ah, Merry," remarked Silver, "standing for cap'n again? You're a
pushing lad, to be sure."
But this time everyone was entirely in Merry's favour. They began to
scramble out of the excavation, darting furious glances behind them. One
thing I observed, which looked well for us: they all got out upon the
opposite side from Silver.
Well, there we stood, two on one side, five on the other, the pit
between us, and nobody screwed up high enough to offer the first blow.
Silver never moved; he watched them, very upright on his crutch, and
looked as cool as ever I saw him. He was brave, and no mistake.
At last Merry seemed to think a speech might help matters.
"Mates," says he, "there's two of them alone there; one's the old
cripple that brought us all here and blundered us down to this; the
other's that cub that I mean to have the heart of. Now, mates--"
He was raising his arm and his voice, and plainly meant to lead a
charge. But just then--crack! crack! crack!--three musket-shots flashed
out of the thicket. Merry tumbled head foremost into the excavation; the
man with the bandage spun round like a teetotum and fell all his length
upon his side, where he lay dead, but still twitching; and the other
three turned and ran for it with all their might.
Before you could wink, Long John had fired two barrels of a pistol into
the struggling Merry, and as the man rolled up his eyes at him in the
last agony, "George," said he, "I reckon I settled you."
At the same moment, the doctor, Gray, and Ben Gunn joined us, with
smoking muskets, from among the nutmeg-trees.
"Forward!" cried the doctor. "Double quick, my lads. We must head 'em
off the boats."
And we set off at a great pace, sometimes plunging through the bushes to
I tell you, but Silver was anxious to keep up with us. The work that man
went through, leaping on his crutch till the muscles of his chest were
fit to burst, was work no sound man ever equalled; and so thinks the
doctor. As it was, he was already thirty yards behind us and on the
verge of strangling when we reached the brow of the slope.
"Doctor," he hailed, "see there! No hurry!"
Sure enough there was no hurry. In a more open part of the plateau, we
could see the three survivors still running in the same direction as
they had started, right for Mizzenmast Hill. We were already between
them and the boats; and so we four sat down to breathe, while Long John,
mopping his face, came slowly up with us.
"Thank ye kindly, doctor," says he. "You came in in about the nick, I
guess, for me and Hawkins. And so it's you, Ben Gunn!" he added. "Well,
you're a nice one, to be sure."
"I'm Ben Gunn, I am," replied the maroon, wriggling like an eel in his
embarrassment. "And," he added, after a long pause, "how do, Mr. Silver?
Pretty well, I thank ye, says you."
"Ben, Ben," murmured Silver, "to think as you've done me!"
The doctor sent back Gray for one of the pick-axes deserted, in their
flight, by the mutineers, and then as we proceeded leisurely downhill to
where the boats were lying, related in a few words what had taken place.
It was a story that profoundly interested Silver; and Ben Gunn, the
half-idiot maroon, was the hero from beginning to end.
Ben, in his long, lonely wanderings about the island, had found the
skeleton--it was he that had rifled it; he had found the treasure; he
had dug it up (it was the haft of his pick-axe that lay broken in the
excavation); he had carried it on his back, in many weary journeys, from
the foot of the tall pine to a cave he had on the two-pointed hill at
the north-east angle of the island, and there it had lain stored in
safety since two months before the arrival of the HISPANIOLA.
When the doctor had wormed this secret from him on the afternoon of the
attack, and when next morning he saw the anchorage deserted, he had gone
to Silver, given him the chart, which was now useless--given him the
stores, for Ben Gunn's cave was well supplied with goats' meat salted
by himself--given anything and everything to get a chance of moving in
safety from the stockade to the two-pointed hill, there to be clear of
malaria and keep a guard upon the money.
"As for you, Jim," he said, "it went against my heart, but I did what I
thought best for those who had stood by their duty; and if you were not
one of these, whose fault was it?"
That morning, finding that I was to be involved in the horrid
disappointment he had prepared for the mutineers, he had run all the way
to the cave, and leaving the squire to guard the captain, had taken Gray
and the maroon and started, making the diagonal across the island to be
at hand beside the pine. Soon, however, he saw that our party had the
start of him; and Ben Gunn, being fleet of foot, had been dispatched in
front to do his best alone. Then it had occurred to him to work upon the
superstitions of his former shipmates, and he was so far successful that
Gray and the doctor had come up and were already ambushed before the
arrival of the treasure-hunters.
"Ah," said Silver, "it were fortunate for me that I had Hawkins here.
You would have let old John be cut to bits, and never given it a
"Not a thought," replied Dr. Livesey cheerily.
And by this time we had reached the gigs. The doctor, with the pick-axe,
demolished one of them, and then we all got aboard the other and set out
to go round by sea for North Inlet.
This was a run of eight or nine miles. Silver, though he was almost
killed already with fatigue, was set to an oar, like the rest of us, and
we were soon skimming swiftly over a smooth sea. Soon we passed out
of the straits and doubled the south-east corner of the island, round
which, four days ago, we had towed the HISPANIOLA.
As we passed the two-pointed hill, we could see the black mouth of Ben
Gunn's cave and a figure standing by it, leaning on a musket. It was the
squire, and we waved a handkerchief and gave him three cheers, in which
the voice of Silver joined as heartily as any.
Three miles farther, just inside the mouth of North Inlet, what should
we meet but the HISPANIOLA, cruising by herself? The last flood had
lifted her, and had there been much wind or a strong tide current, as
in the southern anchorage, we should never have found her more, or found
her stranded beyond help. As it was, there was little amiss beyond the
wreck of the main-sail. Another anchor was got ready and dropped in a
fathom and a half of water. We all pulled round again to Rum Cove,
the nearest point for Ben Gunn's treasure-house; and then Gray,
single-handed, returned with the gig to the HISPANIOLA, where he was to
pass the night on guard.
A gentle slope ran up from the beach to the entrance of the cave. At the
top, the squire met us. To me he was cordial and kind, saying nothing
of my escapade either in the way of blame or praise. At Silver's polite
salute he somewhat flushed.
"John Silver," he said, "you're a prodigious villain and imposter--a
monstrous imposter, sir. I am told I am not to prosecute you. Well,
then, I will not. But the dead men, sir, hang about your neck like
"Thank you kindly, sir," replied Long John, again saluting.
"I dare you to thank me!" cried the squire. "It is a gross dereliction
of my duty. Stand back."
And thereupon we all entered the cave. It was a large, airy place, with
a little spring and a pool of clear water, overhung with ferns. The
floor was sand. Before a big fire lay Captain Smollett; and in a far
corner, only duskily flickered over by the blaze, I beheld great heaps
of coin and quadrilaterals built of bars of gold. That was Flint's
treasure that we had come so far to seek and that had cost already the
lives of seventeen men from the HISPANIOLA. How many it had cost in the
amassing, what blood and sorrow, what good ships scuttled on the deep,
what brave men walking the plank blindfold, what shot of cannon, what
shame and lies and cruelty, perhaps no man alive could tell. Yet there
were still three upon that island--Silver, and old Morgan, and Ben
Gunn--who had each taken his share in these crimes, as each had hoped in
vain to share in the reward.
"Come in, Jim," said the captain. "You're a good boy in your line, Jim,
but I don't think you and me'll go to sea again. You're too much of the
born favourite for me. Is that you, John Silver? What brings you here,
"Come back to my dooty, sir," returned Silver.
"Ah!" said the captain, and that was all he said.
What a supper I had of it that night, with all my friends around me; and
what a meal it was, with Ben Gunn's salted goat and some delicacies and
a bottle of old wine from the HISPANIOLA. Never, I am sure, were people
gayer or happier. And there was Silver, sitting back almost out of the
firelight, but eating heartily, prompt to spring forward when anything
was wanted, even joining quietly in our laughter--the same bland,
polite, obsequious seaman of the voyage out.
THE next morning we fell early to work, for the transportation of this
great mass of gold near a mile by land to the beach, and thence three
miles by boat to the HISPANIOLA, was a considerable task for so small
a number of workmen. The three fellows still abroad upon the island did
not greatly trouble us; a single sentry on the shoulder of the hill was
sufficient to ensure us against any sudden onslaught, and we thought,
besides, they had had more than enough of fighting.
Therefore the work was pushed on briskly. Gray and Ben Gunn came and
went with the boat, while the rest during their absences piled treasure
on the beach. Two of the bars, slung in a rope's end, made a good load
for a grown man--one that he was glad to walk slowly with. For my part,
as I was not much use at carrying, I was kept busy all day in the cave
packing the minted money into bread-bags.
It was a strange collection, like Billy Bones's hoard for the diversity
of coinage, but so much larger and so much more varied that I think I
never had more pleasure than in sorting them. English, French, Spanish,
Portuguese, Georges, and Louises, doubloons and double guineas and
moidores and sequins, the pictures of all the kings of Europe for the
last hundred years, strange Oriental pieces stamped with what looked
like wisps of string or bits of spider's web, round pieces and square
pieces, and pieces bored through the middle, as if to wear them round
your neck--nearly every variety of money in the world must, I think,
have found a place in that collection; and for number, I am sure they
were like autumn leaves, so that my back ached with stooping and my
fingers with sorting them out.
Day after day this work went on; by every evening a fortune had been
stowed aboard, but there was another fortune waiting for the morrow; and
all this time we heard nothing of the three surviving mutineers.
At last--I think it was on the third night--the doctor and I were
strolling on the shoulder of the hill where it overlooks the lowlands of
the isle, when, from out the thick darkness below, the wind brought us
a noise between shrieking and singing. It was only a snatch that reached
our ears, followed by the former silence.
"Heaven forgive them," said the doctor; "'tis the mutineers!"
"All drunk, sir," struck in the voice of Silver from behind us.
Silver, I should say, was allowed his entire liberty, and in spite of
daily rebuffs, seemed to regard himself once more as quite a privileged
and friendly dependent. Indeed, it was remarkable how well he bore
these slights and with what unwearying politeness he kept on trying to
ingratiate himself with all. Yet, I think, none treated him better than
a dog, unless it was Ben Gunn, who was still terribly afraid of his old
quartermaster, or myself, who had really something to thank him for;
although for that matter, I suppose, I had reason to think even worse of
him than anybody else, for I had seen him meditating a fresh treachery
upon the plateau. Accordingly, it was pretty gruffly that the doctor
"Drunk or raving," said he.
"Right you were, sir," replied Silver; "and precious little odds which,
to you and me."
"I suppose you would hardly ask me to call you a humane man," returned
the doctor with a sneer, "and so my feelings may surprise you, Master
Silver. But if I were sure they were raving--as I am morally certain
one, at least, of them is down with fever--I should leave this camp,
and at whatever risk to my own carcass, take them the assistance of my
"Ask your pardon, sir, you would be very wrong," quoth Silver. "You
would lose your precious life, and you may lay to that. I'm on your side
now, hand and glove; and I shouldn't wish for to see the party weakened,
let alone yourself, seeing as I know what I owes you. But these men down
there, they couldn't keep their word--no, not supposing they wished to;
and what's more, they couldn't believe as you could."
"No," said the doctor. "You're the man to keep your word, we know that."
Well, that was about the last news we had of the three pirates. Only
once we heard a gunshot a great way off and supposed them to be hunting.
A council was held, and it was decided that we must desert them on the
island--to the huge glee, I must say, of Ben Gunn, and with the strong
approval of Gray. We left a good stock of powder and shot, the bulk
of the salt goat, a few medicines, and some other necessaries, tools,
clothing, a spare sail, a fathom or two of rope, and by the particular
desire of the doctor, a handsome present of tobacco.
That was about our last doing on the island. Before that, we had got the
treasure stowed and had shipped enough water and the remainder of the
goat meat in case of any distress; and at last, one fine morning, we
weighed anchor, which was about all that we could manage, and stood out
of North Inlet, the same colours flying that the captain had flown and
fought under at the palisade.
The three fellows must have been watching us closer than we thought for,
as we soon had proved. For coming through the narrows, we had to
lie very near the southern point, and there we saw all three of
them kneeling together on a spit of sand, with their arms raised in
supplication. It went to all our hearts, I think, to leave them in that
wretched state; but we could not risk another mutiny; and to take them
home for the gibbet would have been a cruel sort of kindness. The doctor
hailed them and told them of the stores we had left, and where they were
to find them. But they continued to call us by name and appeal to us,
for God's sake, to be merciful and not leave them to die in such a
At last, seeing the ship still bore on her course and was now swiftly
drawing out of earshot, one of them--I know not which it was--leapt to
his feet with a hoarse cry, whipped his musket to his shoulder, and sent
a shot whistling over Silver's head and through the main-sail.
After that, we kept under cover of the bulwarks, and when next I looked
out they had disappeared from the spit, and the spit itself had almost
melted out of sight in the growing distance. That was, at least, the end
of that; and before noon, to my inexpressible joy, the highest rock of
Treasure Island had sunk into the blue round of sea.
We were so short of men that everyone on board had to bear a hand--only
the captain lying on a mattress in the stern and giving his orders, for
though greatly recovered he was still in want of quiet. We laid her
head for the nearest port in Spanish America, for we could not risk the
voyage home without fresh hands; and as it was, what with baffling winds
and a couple of fresh gales, we were all worn out before we reached it.
It was just at sundown when we cast anchor in a most beautiful
land-locked gulf, and were immediately surrounded by shore boats full
of Negroes and Mexican Indians and half-bloods selling fruits and
vegetables and offering to dive for bits of money. The sight of so many
good-humoured faces (especially the blacks), the taste of the tropical
fruits, and above all the lights that began to shine in the town made a
most charming contrast to our dark and bloody sojourn on the island;
and the doctor and the squire, taking me along with them, went ashore
to pass the early part of the night. Here they met the captain of an
English man-of-war, fell in talk with him, went on board his ship, and,
in short, had so agreeable a time that day was breaking when we came
alongside the HISPANIOLA.
Ben Gunn was on deck alone, and as soon as we came on board he began,
with wonderful contortions, to make us a confession. Silver was gone.
The maroon had connived at his escape in a shore boat some hours ago,
and he now assured us he had only done so to preserve our lives, which
would certainly have been forfeit if "that man with the one leg
had stayed aboard." But this was not all. The sea-cook had not gone
empty-handed. He had cut through a bulkhead unobserved and had removed
one of the sacks of coin, worth perhaps three or four hundred guineas,
to help him on his further wanderings.
I think we were all pleased to be so cheaply quit of him.
Well, to make a long story short, we got a few hands on board, made a
good cruise home, and the HISPANIOLA reached Bristol just as Mr. Blandly
was beginning to think of fitting out her consort. Five men only of
those who had sailed returned with her. "Drink and the devil had done
for the rest," with a vengeance, although, to be sure, we were not quite
in so bad a case as that other ship they sang about:
With one man of her crew alive,
What put to sea with seventy-five.
All of us had an ample share of the treasure and used it wisely or
foolishly, according to our natures. Captain Smollett is now retired
from the sea. Gray not only saved his money, but being suddenly smit
with the desire to rise, also studied his profession, and he is now
mate and part owner of a fine full-rigged ship, married besides, and the
father of a family. As for Ben Gunn, he got a thousand pounds, which he
spent or lost in three weeks, or to be more exact, in nineteen days, for
he was back begging on the twentieth. Then he was given a lodge to keep,
exactly as he had feared upon the island; and he still lives, a great
favourite, though something of a butt, with the country boys, and a
notable singer in church on Sundays and saints' days.
Of Silver we have heard no more. That formidable seafaring man with one
leg has at last gone clean out of my life; but I dare say he met his old
Negress, and perhaps still lives in comfort with her and Captain Flint.
It is to be hoped so, I suppose, for his chances of comfort in another
world are very small.
The bar silver and the arms still lie, for all that I know, where
Flint buried them; and certainly they shall lie there for me. Oxen and
wain-ropes would not bring me back again to that accursed island; and
the worst dreams that ever I have are when I hear the surf booming about
its coasts or start upright in bed with the sharp voice of Captain Flint
still ringing in my ears: "Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!"
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