PUBLISHED BY DUNGAN BOOKS
by Robert Louis
S.L.O., an American gentleman in accordance with whose classic taste the
following narrative has been designed, it is now, in return for numerous
delightful hours, and with the kindest wishes, dedicated by his affectionate
friend, the author.
THE HESITATING PURCHASER
sailor tales to sailor
Storm and adventure, heat and
And buccaneers, and buried
And all the old
Exactly in the ancient
Can please, as me
they pleased of
The wiser youngsters of today:
it, and fall on! If
If studious youth no longer
Kingston, or Ballantyne the
Or Cooper of
the wood and
So be it, also! And may
And all my pirates
Where these and their creations lie!
The Old Buccaneer
1. THE OLD SEA-DOG
AT THE ADMIRAL
BLACK DOG APPEARS AND DISAPPEARS
3. THE BLACK SPOT
5. THE LAST OF THE BLIND
6. THE CAPTAIN'S
The Sea Cook
7. I GO TO
8. AT THE SIGN OF THE
9. POWDER AND
11. WHAT I HEARD IN THE APPLE
12. COUNCIL OF WAR
My Shore Adventure
13. HOW MY SHORE
14. THE FIRST
15. THE MAN OF THE
16. NARRATIVE CONTINUED
HOW THE SHIP WAS ABANDONED
CONTINUED BY THE
THE JOLLY-BOAT'S LAST TRIP
CONTINUED BY THE
END OF THE FIRST DAY'S FIGHTING
NARRATIVE RESUMED BY JIM
THE GARRISON IN THE STOCKADE
My Sea Adventure
22. HOW MY SEA ADVENTURE
23. THE EBB-TIDE
24. THE CRUISE OF THE
25. I STRIKE THE JOLLY
27. "PIECES OF EIGHT"
28. IN THE ENEMY'S
29. THE BLACK SPOT
31. THE TREASURE-HUNT--FLINT'S
32. THE TREASURE-HUNT--THE VOICE
33. THE FALL OF A
34. AND LAST
The Old Buccaneer
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 often
"Fifteen men on the dead man's
chest— Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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 hand.
"Come here, sonny," says he. "Come nearer
I took a step nearer.
"Is this here table for my mate Bill?" he asked with a kind
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
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
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 stranger.
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
"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
"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 the house.
"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.
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
"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? 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
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
"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.
"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 arm.
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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 honour."
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
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
"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 arm."
And he gave it, as he spoke, a wrench that made me cry
"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
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
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
"Perhaps it's round his neck," suggested my
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
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
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 hunted
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 gold.
"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
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
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
"And I'll take this to square the count," said I, picking
up the oilskin packet.
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
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
But the blind man swore at them again for their
"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
"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
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
"Sure enough, they left their glim here," said the fellow
from the window.
"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
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 them still."
"Hang it, Pew, we've got the doubloons!" grumbled
"They might have hid the blessed thing," said
another. "Take the Georges, Pew, and don't stand here
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 his grasp.
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
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
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 behind you."
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
"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
"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 bright fire.
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
"Come in, Mr. Dance," says he, very stately and
"Good evening, Dance," says the doctor with a nod. "And
good evening to you, friend Jim. What good wind brings you
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 ale."
"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
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 coat.
"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 cold pie."
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
"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
"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 to much?"
"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
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
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
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.
"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 long ago."
"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
Tall tree, Spy-glass shoulder,
bearing a point to the N. of N.N.E.
Skeleton Island E.S.E. and by
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
The arms are easy found, in the
sand-hill, N. point of north inlet cape, bearing E.
and a quarter
That was all; but brief as it was, and to
me incomprehensible, it filled the squire and Dr. Livesey with
"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 after."
"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,
"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 found."
"Livesey," returned the squire, "you are always in
the right of it. I'll be as silent as the grave."
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
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,
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
"Well, who's a better right?" growled the gamekeeper. "A
pretty rum go if squire ain't to talk for Dr. Livesey, I should
At that I gave up all attempts at commentary and
read straight on:
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
required. 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
importance. 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
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
HISPANIOLA. 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
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 to grumble.
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
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
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
"Here you are," he cried, "and the doctor came last
night from London. Bravo! The ship's company
"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 question.
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 tobacco smoke.
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
"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
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 pursuit.
"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 what?"
"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,
"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
"We was a-talkin' of keel-hauling," answered
"Keel-hauling, was you? And a mighty suitable
thing, too, and you may lay to that. Get back to your place for a
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
"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
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 possible shipmates.
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 entirely out.
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
"The man's a perfect trump," declared the squire.
"And now," added the doctor, "Jim may come on board with
us, may he not?"
"To be sure he may," says squire. "Take your
hat, Hawkins, and we'll see the ship."
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
"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
"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
"Possibly, sir, you may not like your employer, either?"
says the squire.
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
"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
"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
"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.
"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
"Do you mean he drinks?" cried the squire.
"No, sir," replied the captain, "only that he's too
"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
"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
"The hands know it, sir," returned the captain.
"Livesey, that must have been you or Hawkins," cried the
"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
"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 word."
"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
"That's as you please, sir," said the captain.
"You'll find I do my duty."
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 John Silver."
"Silver, if you like," cried the squire; "but as for that
intolerable humbug, I declare I think his conduct unmanly, unsailorly, and
"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 by superintending.
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 shore-boat.
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
"We're a-changing of the powder, Jack," answers
"Why, by the powers," cried Long John, "if we do,
we'll miss the morning tide!"
"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
"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 captain deeply.
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
"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 well:
"Fifteen men on the dead man's
And then the whole crew bore chorus:—
"Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of
And at the third "Ho!" drove the bars before them with a
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 called him.
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
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
"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
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
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
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 our adventure.
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
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
"Ah!" cried another voice, that of the youngest hand
on board, and evidently full of admiration. "He was the flower of
the flock, was Flint!"
"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
"'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
"Well," said the other, "but all the other money's gone
now, ain't it? You daren't show face in Bristol after
"Why, where might you suppose it was?" asked Silver
"At Bristol, in banks and places," answered his
"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 now."
"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 that."
"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 I struck."
"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
"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 'em, anyhow?"
"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
"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
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
"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
Terrified as I was, I could not help thinking to
myself that this must have been how Mr. Arrow got the strong waters that
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
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 in."
"The anchorage is on the south, behind an islet, I fancy?"
asked the captain.
"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 your pardon."
"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
"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
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 of himself.
"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 subsided.
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
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 remarkable man."
"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
"You, sir, are the captain. It is for you to
speak," says Mr. Trelawney grandly.
"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. Trelawney?"
"As upon myself," declared the squire.
"Three," reckoned the captain; "ourselves make
seven, counting Hawkins here. Now, about the honest
"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
"I did think I could have trusted Hands," added the
"And to think that they're all Englishmen!" broke out the
squire. "Sir, I could find it in my heart to blow the ship
"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
"Hawkins, I put prodigious faith in you," added the
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.
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 empty stomach.
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 hesitated once.
"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
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
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
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 fever here."
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
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
Of all the gloomy features of that gloomy afternoon,
this obvious anxiety on the part of Long John appeared the
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
"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
"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 far- away hill and sent the birds once more flying and squalling round
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 shoved
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
"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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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 about that.
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
"Three years!" I cried. "Were you
"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 stone."
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, mate?"
"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
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
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
"He's the cook, and the ringleader too."
He was still holding me by the wrist, and at that he give
it quite a wring.
"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
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 remark?"
I told him the squire was the most liberal of
"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
"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
"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
"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 says."
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
"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
"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. "What's that?"
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
"They have begun to fight!" I cried. "Follow
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 and lightly.
"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.
Narrative Continued by the
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
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
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
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 log- house 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 thought.
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
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
"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
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
In the meantime, the squire and the captain stayed on deck,
and the latter hailed the coxswain, who was the principal man
"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 dead."
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 deck.
"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
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
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
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
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 me in."
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 second."
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
Narrative Continued by the Doctor: The
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 hundred yards.
The captain made us trim the boat, and we got her to lie a
little more evenly. All the same, we were afraid to
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
"Not without swamping the boat," said he. "You
must bear up, sir, if you please—bear up until you see you're
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 little changed.
"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
"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
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 who fell.
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
"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
"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 hold water."
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
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 bubbling.
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 provisions.
Narrative Continued by the Doctor:
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
I began to see we should have a brush for it in earnest and
looked to my priming.
"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
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
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
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 Tom.
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 to die.
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
"Tom," said the squire, "say you forgive me, won't
"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
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
"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 consort?"
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
"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
"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 in?"
"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
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
"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,
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
"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
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
"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 genteel."
"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
And he pinched me the third time with the same air of
"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
"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
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
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 faithful party.
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 sand.
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 the eye.
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
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
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
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 wall.
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
This time it was the other man who replied.
"Cap'n Silver, sir, to come on board and make terms," he
"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 promotion!"
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
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 other side.
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
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
"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
"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,
"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
"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
"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 all."
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 quick."
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
"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
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 him angry.
"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
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
"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
Then he went the rounds and saw, as he said, that all was
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
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 anxiety.
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
"If you please, sir," said Joyce, "if I see anyone, am I to
"I told you so!" cried the captain.
"Thank you, sir," returned Joyce with the same quiet
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,
"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 west."
"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
"At 'em, all hands—all hands!" he roared in a voice of
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 captain.
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
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
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 cover."
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
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 bear."*
*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
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
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 bargain.
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
"Why no," says I. "He's about the last of this
crew for that, I take it."
"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
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
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
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
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
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 anchorage.
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
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 surface.
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 sea- way; 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 missed.
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
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 tide.
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
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
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
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 on.
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 grasped it.
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 often:
"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
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
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
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
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 such perils.
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
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
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 wave.
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
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 fail.
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 sails
"Clumsy fellows," said I; "they must still be drunk
as owls." And I thought how Captain Smollett would have set them
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
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 coracle.
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
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
I was on the lee side of the forecastle, and the
main- sail, 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
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
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
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,
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
"Aye," said he, "by thunder, but I wanted some o'
I had sat down already in my own corner and begun to
"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
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
"By the by," I continued, "I can't have these colours, Mr.
Hands; and by your leave, I'll strike 'em. Better none than
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 Captain Silver!"
He watched me keenly and slyly, his chin all the while on
"I reckon," he said at last, "I reckon, Cap'n
Hawkins, you'll kind of want to get ashore now. S'pose we
"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 it."
"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
"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 north.
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
"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
"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 watching us."
"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
"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
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
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
"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 unusual solemnity.
"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
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
"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
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, wooded shore.
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,
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
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
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
"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,
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
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 myself.
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
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
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 watercourse.
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
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
At last I came right down upon the borders of
the clearing. The western end was already steeped in moon- shine;
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
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
I stole round by the eastern end, keeping close in shadow,
and at a convenient place, where the darkness was thickest, crossed the
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
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
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
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 darkness:
"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
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 tight.
"Bring a torch, Dick," said Silver when my capture was thus
And one of the men left the log-house and
presently returned with a lighted brand.
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
"So," said he, "here's Jim Hawkins, shiver my
timbers! Dropped in, like, eh? Well, come, I take that
And thereupon he sat down across the brandy cask and began
to fill a pipe.
"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 on again.
"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 Cap'n Silver."
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, you see."
"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 words.
"Is that all?" I asked.
"Well, it's all that you're to hear, my son," returned
"And now I am to choose?"
"And now you are to choose, and you may lay to that," said
"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
"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
"Then here goes!" said Morgan with an oath.
And he sprang up, drawing his knife as if he had been
"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
"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
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
"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 chart, Jim?"
My face expressed a wonder so unaffected that he saw the
needlessness of further questions.
"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
"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
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
But here the long man with the yellow eyes struck
"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
"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 bungling."
"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
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
"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
"A Bible with a bit cut out!" returned
Silver derisively. "Not it. It don't bind no more'n
"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 the paper.
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
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
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
"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
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 yours."
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
"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 silence.
"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
"Ah, there," said Morgan, "that comed of sp'iling
"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
"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
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 with brandy."
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.
"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
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
"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 like antelopes."
"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 silence.
"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 treasure."
"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.
"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
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
"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
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. Ten feet.
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
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
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
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
"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 bones."
It was done. The body pointed straight in
the direction of the island, and the compass read duly E.S.E. and by
"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 me."
"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
"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
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
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 Spy- glass,
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
Silver, as he sat, took certain bearings with his
"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 first."
"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
"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
"Fifteen men on the dead man's
chest— Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of
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
"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
"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
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
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 too?"
But there was no sign of reawakening courage in
his followers, rather, indeed, of growing terror at the irreverence of his
"Belay there, John!" said Merry. "Don't you cross a
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 relieved.
"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
"By the powers, Ben Gunn!" roared Silver.
"Aye, and so it were," cried Morgan, springing on
his knees. "Ben Gunn it were!"
"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
"Why, nobody minds Ben Gunn," cried Merry; "dead or alive,
nobody minds him."
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
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 his precautions.
"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 crutch.
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 swiftly higher.
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 chart.
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 a run.
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
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
"Jim," he whispered, "take that, and stand by for
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
"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
"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
At last Merry seemed to think a speech might help
"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,
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 the chest.
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 Mizzen- mast 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
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 thought, doctor."
"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
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 mill-stones."
"Thank you kindly, sir," replied Long John, again
"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, man?"
"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
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
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
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
"All drunk, sir," struck in the voice of Silver from behind
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 skill."
"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
"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
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
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 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
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
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
With one man of her crew
alive, What put to sea with
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