Part 5 out of 5
approaching the brow of the plateau when the man upon
the farthest left began to cry aloud, as if in terror.
Shout after shout came from him, and the others began
to run in his direction.
"He can't 'a found the treasure," said old Morgan, hurrying
past us from the right, "for that's clean a-top."
Indeed, as we found when we also reached the spot, it
was something very different. At the foot of a pretty
big pine and involved in a green creeper, which had even
partly lifted some of the smaller bones, a human skeleton
lay, with a few shreds of clothing, on the ground. I
believe a chill struck for a moment to every heart.
"He was a seaman," said George Merry, who, bolder than
the rest, had gone up close and was examining the rags
of clothing. "Leastways, this is good sea-cloth."
"Aye, aye," said Silver; "like enough; you wouldn't
look to find a bishop here, I reckon. But what sort of
a way is that for bones to lie? 'Tain't in natur'."
Indeed, on a second glance, it seemed impossible to
fancy that the body was in a natural position. But for
some disarray (the work, perhaps, of the birds that had
fed upon him or of the slow-growing creeper that had
gradually enveloped his remains) the man lay perfectly
straight--his feet pointing in one direction, his
hands, raised above his head like a diver's, pointing
directly in the opposite.
"I've taken a notion into my old numbskull," observed
Silver. "Here's the compass; there's the tip-top p'int
o' Skeleton Island, stickin' out like a tooth. Just
take a bearing, will you, along the line of them bones."
It was done. The body pointed straight in the
direction of the island, and the compass read duly
E.S.E. and by E.
"I thought so," cried the cook; "this here is a
p'inter. Right up there is our line for the Pole Star
and the jolly dollars. But, by thunder! If it don't
make me cold inside to think of Flint. This is one of
HIS jokes, and no mistake. Him and these six was
alone here; he killed 'em, every man; and this one he
hauled here and laid down by compass, shiver my
timbers! They're long bones, and the hair's been
yellow. Aye, that would be Allardyce. You mind
Allardyce, Tom Morgan?"
"Aye, aye," returned Morgan; "I mind him; he owed me
money, he did, and took my knife ashore with him."
"Speaking of knives," said another, "why don't we find his'n
lying round? Flint warn't the man to pick a seaman's pocket;
and the birds, I guess, would leave it be."
"By the powers, and that's true!" cried Silver.
"There ain't a thing left here," said Merry, still
feeling round among the bones; "not a copper doit nor a
baccy box. It don't look nat'ral to 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 already."
"Come, come," said Silver; "stow this talk. He's dead,
and he don't walk, that I know; leastways, he won't
walk by day, and you may lay to that. Care killed a
cat. Fetch ahead for the doubloons."
We started, certainly; but in spite of the hot sun and
the staring daylight, the pirates no longer ran
separate and shouting through the wood, but kept side
by side and spoke with bated breath. The terror of the
dead buccaneer had fallen on their spirits.
The Treasure-hunt--The Voice Among the Trees
PARTLY from the damping influence of this alarm, partly
to rest Silver and the sick folk, the whole party sat
down as soon as they had gained the brow of the ascent.
The plateau being somewhat tilted towards the west,
this spot on which we had paused commanded a wide
prospect on either hand. Before us, over the tree-
tops, we beheld the Cape of the Woods fringed with
surf; behind, we not only looked down upon the
anchorage and Skeleton Island, but saw--clear across
the spit and the eastern lowlands--a great field of
open sea upon the east. Sheer above us rose the 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 solitude.
Silver, as he sat, took certain bearings with his compass.
"There are three 'tall trees'" said he, "about in the right
line from Skeleton Island. 'Spy-glass shoulder,' I take it,
means that lower p'int there. It's child's play to find the
stuff now. I've half a mind to dine 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,"
"He were an ugly devil," cried a third pirate with a
shudder; "that blue in the face too!"
"That was how the rum took him," added Merry. "Blue!
Well, I reckon he was blue. That's a true word."
Ever since they had found the skeleton and got upon
this train of thought, they had spoken lower and lower,
and they had almost got to whispering by now, so that
the sound of their talk hardly interrupted the silence
of the wood. All of a sudden, out of the middle of the
trees in front of us, a thin, high, trembling voice
struck up the well-known air and words:
"Fifteen men on the dead man's chest--
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!"
I never have seen men more dreadfully affected than the
pirates. The colour went from their six faces like
enchantment; some leaped to their feet, some clawed
hold of others; Morgan grovelled on the ground.
"It's Flint, by ----!" cried Merry.
The song had stopped as suddenly as it began--broken off,
you would have said, in the middle of a note, as though
someone had laid his hand upon the singer's mouth. Coming
through the clear, sunny atmosphere among the green tree-tops,
I thought it had sounded airily and sweetly; and the effect
on my companions was the stranger.
"Come," said Silver, struggling with his ashen lips to
get the word out; "this won't do. Stand by to go
about. This is a rum start, and I can't name the
voice, but it's someone skylarking--someone that's
flesh and blood, and you may lay to that."
His courage had come back as he spoke, and some of the
colour to his face along with it. Already the others
had begun to lend an ear to this encouragement and were
coming a little to themselves, when the same voice
broke out again--not this time singing, but in a faint
distant hail that echoed yet fainter among the clefts
of the Spy-glass.
"Darby M'Graw," it wailed--for that is the word that
best describes the sound--"Darby M'Graw! Darby
M'Graw!" again and again and again; and then rising a
little higher, and with an oath that I leave out:
"Fetch aft the rum, Darby!"
The buccaneers remained rooted to the ground, their eyes
starting from their heads. Long after the voice had died
away they still stared in silence, dreadfully, before them.
"That fixes it!" gasped one. "Let's go."
"They was his last words," moaned Morgan, "his last
words above board."
Dick had his Bible out and was praying volubly. He had
been well brought up, had Dick, before he came to sea
and fell among bad companions.
Still Silver was unconquered. I could hear his teeth
rattle in his head, but he had not yet surrendered.
"Nobody in this here island ever heard of Darby," he
muttered; "not one but us that's here." And then,
making a great effort: "Shipmates," he cried, "I'm here
to get that stuff, and I'll not be beat by man or
devil. I never was feared of Flint in his life, and,
by the powers, I'll face him dead. There's seven
hundred thousand pound not a quarter of a mile from
here. When did ever a gentleman o' fortune show his
stern to that much dollars for a boozy old seaman with
a blue mug--and him dead too?"
But there was no sign of reawakening courage in his
followers, rather, indeed, of growing terror at the
irreverence of his words.
"Belay there, John!" said Merry. "Don't you
cross a sperrit."
And the rest were all too terrified to reply. They
would have run away severally had they dared; but fear
kept them together, and kept them close by John, as if
his daring helped them. He, on his part, had pretty
well fought his weakness down.
"Sperrit? Well, maybe," he said. "But there's one
thing not clear to me. There was an echo. Now, no man
ever seen a sperrit with a shadow; well then, what's he
doing with an echo to him, I should like to know? That
ain't in natur', surely?"
This argument seemed weak enough to me. But you can
never tell what will affect the superstitious, and to
my wonder, George Merry was greatly 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 liker--"
"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 scorn.
"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 Ben Gunn.
Dick alone still held his Bible, and looked around him
as he went, with fearful glances; but he found no
sympathy, and Silver even joked him on 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
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 dead halt.
Before us was a great excavation, not very recent, for
the sides had fallen in and grass had sprouted on the
bottom. In this were the shaft of a pick broken in two
and the boards of several packing-cases strewn around.
On one of these boards I saw, branded with a hot iron,
the name WALRUS--the name of Flint's ship.
All was clear to probation. The CACHE had been found
and rifled; the seven hundred thousand pounds were gone!
The Fall of a Chieftain
THERE never was such an overturn in this world. Each
of these six men was as though he had been struck. But
with Silver the blow passed almost instantly. Every
thought of his soul had been set full-stretch, like a
racer, on that money; well, he was brought up, in a
single second, dead; and he kept his head, found his
temper, and changed his plan before the others had had
time to realize the disappointment.
"Jim," he whispered, "take that, and stand by for trouble."
And he passed me a double-barrelled pistol.
At the same time, he began quietly moving northward,
and in a few steps had put the hollow between us two
and the other five. Then he looked at me and nodded,
as much as to say, "Here is a narrow corner," as,
indeed, I thought it was. His looks were not quite
friendly, and I was so revolted at these constant
changes that I could not forbear whispering, "So you've
changed sides again."
There was no time left for him to answer in. The
buccaneers, with oaths and cries, began to leap, one
after another, into the pit and to dig with their fingers,
throwing the boards aside as they did so. Morgan found a
piece of gold. He held it up with a perfect spout of oaths.
It was a two-guinea piece, and it went from hand to hand
among them for a quarter of a minute.
"Two guineas!" roared Merry, shaking it at Silver.
"That's your seven hundred thousand pounds, is it?
You're the man for bargains, ain't you? You're him
that never bungled nothing, you wooden-headed lubber!"
"Dig away, boys," said Silver with the coolest insolence;
"you'll find some pig-nuts and I shouldn't wonder."
"Pig-nuts!" repeated Merry, in a scream. "Mates, do
you hear that? I tell you now, that man there knew it
all along. Look in the face of him and you'll see it
"Ah, Merry," remarked Silver, "standing for cap'n
again? You're a pushing lad, to be sure."
But this time everyone was entirely in Merry's favour.
They began to scramble out of the excavation, darting
furious glances behind them. One thing I observed,
which looked well for us: they all got out upon the
opposite side from Silver.
Well, there we stood, two on one side, five on the
other, the pit between us, and nobody screwed up high
enough to offer the first blow. Silver never moved; he
watched them, very upright on his crutch, and looked as
cool as ever I saw him. He was brave, and no mistake.
At last Merry seemed to think a speech might help matters.
"Mates," says he, "there's two of them alone there;
one's the old cripple that brought us all here and
blundered us down to this; the other's that cub that I
mean to have the heart of. Now, mates--"
He was raising his arm and his voice, and plainly meant
to lead a charge. But just then--crack! crack! crack!--
three musket-shots flashed out of the thicket. Merry
tumbled head foremost into the excavation; the man with
the bandage spun round like a teetotum and fell all his
length upon his side, where he lay dead, but still
twitching; and the other three turned and ran for it
with all their might.
Before you could wink, Long John had fired two barrels
of a pistol into the struggling Merry, and as the man
rolled up his eyes at him in the last agony, "George,"
said he, "I reckon I settled you."
At the same moment, the doctor, Gray, and Ben Gunn joined
us, with smoking muskets, from among the nutmeg-trees.
"Forward!" cried the doctor. "Double quick, my lads.
We must head 'em off the boats."
And we set off at a great pace, sometimes plunging
through the bushes to 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 me!"
The doctor sent back Gray for one of the pick-axes
deserted, in their flight, by the mutineers, and then
as we proceeded leisurely downhill to where the boats
were lying, related in a few words what had taken
place. It was a story that profoundly interested
Silver; and Ben Gunn, the half-idiot maroon, was the
hero from beginning to end.
Ben, in his long, lonely wanderings about the island,
had found the skeleton--it was he that had rifled it;
he had found the treasure; he had dug it up (it was the
haft of his pick-axe that lay broken in the
excavation); he had carried it on his back, in many
weary journeys, from the foot of the tall pine to a
cave he had on the two-pointed hill at the north-east
angle of the island, and there it had lain stored in
safety since two months before the arrival of the HISPANIOLA.
When the doctor had wormed this secret from him on the
afternoon of the attack, and when next morning he saw
the anchorage deserted, he had gone to Silver, given
him the chart, which was now useless--given him the
stores, for Ben Gunn's cave was well supplied with
goats' meat salted by himself--given anything and
everything to get a chance of moving in safety from the
stockade to the two-pointed hill, there to be clear of
malaria and keep a guard upon the money.
"As for you, Jim," he said, "it went against my heart,
but I did what I thought best for those who had stood
by their duty; and if you were not one of these, whose
fault was it?"
That morning, finding that I was to be involved in the
horrid disappointment he had prepared for the
mutineers, he had run all the way to the cave, and
leaving the squire to guard the captain, had taken Gray
and the maroon and started, making the diagonal across
the island to be at hand beside the pine. Soon,
however, he saw that our party had the start of him;
and Ben Gunn, being fleet of foot, had been dispatched
in front to do his best alone. Then it had occurred to
him to work upon the superstitions of his former
shipmates, and he was so far successful that Gray and
the doctor had come up and were already ambushed before
the arrival of the treasure-hunters.
"Ah," said Silver, "it were fortunate for me that I had
Hawkins here. You would have let old John be cut to
bits, and never given it a 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 any.
Three miles farther, just inside the mouth of North
Inlet, what should we meet but the HISPANIOLA,
cruising by herself? The last flood had lifted her,
and had there been much wind or a strong tide current,
as in the southern anchorage, we should never have
found her more, or found her stranded beyond help. As
it was, there was little amiss beyond the wreck of the
main-sail. Another anchor was got ready and dropped in
a fathom and a half of water. We all pulled round
again to Rum Cove, the nearest point for Ben Gunn's
treasure-house; and then Gray, single-handed, returned
with the gig to the HISPANIOLA, where he was to
pass the night on guard.
A gentle slope ran up from the beach to the entrance of
the cave. At the top, the squire met us. To me he was
cordial and kind, saying nothing of my escapade either
in the way of blame or praise. At Silver's polite
salute he somewhat flushed.
"John Silver," he said, "you're a prodigious villain
and imposter--a monstrous imposter, sir. I am told I
am not to prosecute you. Well, then, I will not. But
the dead men, sir, hang about your neck like mill-stones."
"Thank you kindly, sir," replied Long John, again saluting.
"I dare you to thank me!" cried the squire. "It is a
gross dereliction of my duty. Stand back."
And thereupon we all entered the cave. It was a large,
airy place, with a little spring and a pool of clear
water, overhung with ferns. The floor was sand.
Before a big fire lay Captain Smollett; and in a far
corner, only duskily flickered over by the blaze, I
beheld great heaps of coin and quadrilaterals built of
bars of gold. That was Flint's treasure that we had
come so far to seek and that had cost already the lives
of seventeen men from the HISPANIOLA. How many it
had cost in the amassing, what blood and sorrow, what
good ships scuttled on the deep, what brave men walking
the plank blindfold, what shot of cannon, what shame
and lies and cruelty, perhaps no man alive could tell.
Yet there were still three upon that island--Silver,
and old Morgan, and Ben Gunn--who had each taken his
share in these crimes, as each had hoped in vain to
share in the reward.
"Come in, Jim," said the captain. "You're a good boy in
your line, Jim, but I don't think you and me'll go to sea
again. You're too much of the born favourite for me. Is
that you, John Silver? What brings you here, 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 fighting.
Therefore the work was pushed on briskly. Gray and Ben
Gunn came and went with the boat, while the rest during
their absences piled treasure on the beach. Two of the
bars, slung in a rope's end, made a good load for a
grown man--one that he was glad to walk slowly with.
For my part, as I was not much use at carrying, I was
kept busy all day in the cave packing the minted money
It was a strange collection, like Billy Bones's hoard
for the diversity of coinage, but so much larger and so
much more varied that I think I never had more pleasure
than in sorting them. English, French, Spanish,
Portuguese, Georges, and Louises, doubloons and double
guineas and moidores and sequins, the pictures of all
the kings of Europe for the last hundred years, strange
Oriental pieces stamped with what looked like wisps of
string or bits of spider's web, round pieces and square
pieces, and pieces bored through the middle, as if to
wear them round your neck--nearly every variety of
money in the world must, I think, have found a place in
that collection; and for number, I am sure they were
like autumn leaves, so that my back ached with stooping
and my fingers with sorting them out.
Day after day this work went on; by every evening a
fortune had been stowed aboard, but there was another
fortune waiting for the morrow; and all this time we
heard nothing of the three surviving mutineers.
At last--I think it was on the third night--the doctor
and I were strolling on the shoulder of the hill where
it overlooks the lowlands of the isle, when, from out
the thick darkness below, the wind brought us a noise
between shrieking and singing. It was only a snatch
that reached our ears, followed by the former silence.
"Heaven forgive them," said the doctor; "'tis
"All drunk, sir," struck in the voice of Silver
from behind us.
Silver, I should say, was allowed his entire liberty,
and in spite of daily rebuffs, seemed to regard himself
once more as quite a privileged and friendly dependent.
Indeed, it was remarkable how well he bore these
slights and with what unwearying politeness he kept on
trying to ingratiate himself with all. Yet, I think,
none treated him better than a dog, unless it was Ben
Gunn, who was still terribly afraid of his old
quartermaster, or myself, who had really something to
thank him for; although for that matter, I suppose, I
had reason to think even worse of him than anybody
else, for I had seen him meditating a fresh treachery
upon the plateau. Accordingly, it was pretty gruffly
that the doctor answered him.
"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 could."
"No," said the doctor. "You're the man to keep your
word, we know that."
Well, that was about the last news we had of the three
pirates. Only once we heard a gunshot a great way off
and supposed them to be hunting. A council was held,
and it was decided that we must desert them on the island
--to the huge glee, I must say, of Ben Gunn, and with the
strong approval of Gray. We left a good stock of powder
and shot, the bulk of the salt goat, a few medicines, and
some other necessaries, tools, clothing, a spare sail, a
fathom or two of rope, and by the particular desire of the
doctor, a handsome present of tobacco.
That was about our last doing on the island. Before
that, we had got the treasure stowed and had shipped
enough water and the remainder of the goat meat in case
of any distress; and at last, one fine morning, we weighed
anchor, which was about all that we could manage, and stood
out of North Inlet, the same colours flying that the captain
had flown and fought under at the palisade.
The three fellows must have been watching us closer
than we thought for, as we soon had proved. For coming
through the narrows, we had to lie very near the
southern point, and there we saw all three of them
kneeling together on a spit of sand, with their arms
raised in supplication. It went to all our hearts, I
think, to leave them in that wretched state; but we
could not risk another mutiny; and to take them home
for the gibbet would have been a cruel sort of
kindness. The doctor hailed them and told them of the
stores we had left, and where they were to find them.
But they continued to call us by name and appeal to us,
for God's sake, to be merciful and not leave them to
die in such a place.
At last, seeing the ship still bore on her course and
was now swiftly drawing out of earshot, one of them--I
know not which it was--leapt to his feet with a hoarse
cry, whipped his musket to his shoulder, and sent a shot
whistling over Silver's head and through the main-sail.
After that, we kept under cover of the bulwarks, and
when next I looked out they had disappeared from the
spit, and the spit itself had almost melted out of
sight in the growing distance. That was, at least, the
end of that; and before noon, to my inexpressible joy,
the highest rock of Treasure Island had sunk into the
blue round of sea.
We were so short of men that everyone on board had to
bear a hand--only the captain lying on a mattress in
the stern and giving his orders, for though greatly
recovered he was still in want of quiet. We laid her
head for the nearest port in Spanish America, for we
could not risk the voyage home without fresh hands; and
as it was, what with baffling winds and a couple of
fresh gales, we were all worn out before we reached it.
It was just at sundown when we cast anchor in a most
beautiful land-locked gulf, and were immediately
surrounded by shore boats full of Negroes and Mexican
Indians and half-bloods selling fruits and vegetables
and offering to dive for bits of money. The sight of
so many good-humoured faces (especially the blacks),
the taste of the tropical fruits, and above all the
lights that began to shine in the town made a most
charming contrast to our dark and bloody sojourn on the
island; and the doctor and the squire, taking me along
with them, went ashore to pass the early part of the
night. Here they met the captain of an English man-of-
war, fell in talk with him, went on board his ship,
and, in short, had so agreeable a time that day was
breaking when we came alongside the HISPANIOLA.
Ben Gunn was on deck alone, and as soon as we came on
board he began, with wonderful contortions, to make us
a confession. Silver was gone. The maroon had
connived at his escape in a shore boat some hours ago,
and he now assured us he had only done so to preserve
our lives, which would certainly have been forfeit if
"that man with the one leg had stayed aboard." But
this was not all. The sea-cook had not gone empty-
handed. He had cut through a bulkhead unobserved and
had removed one of the sacks of coin, worth perhaps
three or four hundred guineas, to help him on his
I think we were all pleased to be so cheaply quit of him.
Well, to make a long story short, we got a few hands on
board, made a good cruise home, and the HISPANIOLA
reached Bristol just as Mr. Blandly was beginning to
think of fitting out her consort. Five men only of
those who had sailed returned with her. "Drink and the
devil had done for the rest," with a vengeance,
although, to be sure, we were not quite in so bad a
case as that other ship they sang about:
With one man of her crew alive,
What put to sea with seventy-five.
All of us had an ample share of the treasure and used
it wisely or foolishly, according to our natures.
Captain Smollett is now retired from the sea. Gray not
only saved his money, but being suddenly smit with the
desire to rise, also studied his profession, and he is
now mate and part owner of a fine full-rigged ship,
married besides, and the father of a family. As for
Ben Gunn, he got a thousand pounds, which he spent or
lost in three weeks, or to be more exact, in nineteen
days, for he was back begging on the twentieth. Then
he was given a lodge to keep, exactly as he had feared
upon the island; and he still lives, a great favourite,
though something of a butt, with the country boys, and
a notable singer in church on Sundays and saints' days.
Of Silver we have heard no more. That formidable
seafaring man with one leg has at last gone clean out
of my life; but I dare say he met his old Negress, and
perhaps still lives in comfort with her and Captain
Flint. It is to be hoped so, I suppose, for his
chances of comfort in another world are very small.
The bar silver and the arms still lie, for all that I
know, where Flint buried them; and certainly they shall
lie there for me. Oxen and wain-ropes would not bring
me back again to that accursed island; and the worst
dreams that ever I have are when I hear the surf
booming about its coasts or start upright in bed with
the sharp voice of Captain Flint still ringing in my
ears: "Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!"