About the Book

Also by Robert Louis Stevenson


Title Page


Part I: The Old Buccaneer

1. The Old Sea-Dog at the ‘Admiral Benbow’

2. Black Dog Appears and Disappears

3. The Black Spot

4. The Sea Chest

5. The Last of the Blind Man

6. The Captain’s Papers

Part II: The Sea Cook

7. I Go to Bristol

8. At the Sign of the ‘Spy-Glass’

9. Powder and Arms

10. The Voyage

11. What I Heard in the Apple-Barrel

12. Council of War

Part III: My Shore Adventure

13. How I Began my Shore Adventure

14. The First Blow

15. The Man of the Island

Part IV: The Stockade

16. Narrative continued by the Doctor: How the Ship was Abandoned

17. Narrative continued by the Doctor: The Jolly-Boat’s Last Trip

18. Narrative continued by the Doctor: End of the First Day’s Fighting

19. Narrative resumed by Jim Hawkins: The Garrison in the Stockade

20. Silver’s Embassy

21. The Attack

Part V: My Sea Adventure

22. How I Began my Sea Adventure

23. The Ebb-Tide runs

24. The Cruise of the Coracle

25. I Strike the Jolly Roger

26. Israel Hands

27. ‘Pieces of Eight’

Part VI: Captain Silver

28. In the Enemy’s Camp

29. The Black Spot Again

30. On Parole

31. The Treasure Hunt – Flint’s Pointer

32. The Treasure Hunt – The Voice among the Trees

33. The Fall of a Chieftain

34. And Last

The Backstory


About the Book

Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest –

Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!

When young Jim Hawkins discovers a map showing the way to Captain Flint’s treasure, he and Squire Trelawney set sail on the Hispaniola to search for the gold. Little do they know that among their crew is the dastardly pirate Long John Silver. Silver has a devious plan to keep the gold all to himself. Can brave Jim outwit the most infamous pirate ever to sail the high seas? Will he escape from Treasure Island alive?

Backstory: Learn the truth about pirates and add to your seafaring vocabulary!

Who was Robert Louis Stevenson?

Robert Louis Stevenson was born in 1850 in Edinburgh, an only child raised by devoutly Christian parents. He suffered from illness throughout his entire life and so he had to spend large parts of his childhood in bed. As a result, he was quite eccentric and didn’t learn to read until he was seven or eight. But he loved to dictate stories to his mother and nurse and later on wrote stories throughout his childhood. His father was secretly proud of his story-writing son.

Robert went to the University of Edinburgh and whilst there decided that he would like to become a professional writer. He made friends with some important literary figures in London, who helped him get some of his essays published in magazines. He became quite bohemian, growing his hair long and wearing velveteen jackets. He also began to reject Christianity, which caused him to argue terribly with his parents.

Robert loved to travel and he spent a lot of time in his twenties travelling in Europe and writing about his experiences. When he was twenty-six, whilst on a canoeing trip in France and Belgium, Robert met an American woman called Fanny. They married in San Francisco in 1880 and returned to Britain with Fanny’s twelve-year-old son Lloyd. That same year, during a rainy holiday in Scotland, Robert and Lloyd drew a treasure map for fun and it was this that inspired Robert to write the novel Treasure Island. When the book was published in 1883 he dedicated it to his stepson.

Throughout the 1880s Robert, Fanny and Lloyd travelled around a lot. Robert was still often ill but was producing some of his best work including Treasure Island, Kidnapped and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. In 1888 the family set off for a three year long tour of the south Pacific which eventually ended when they bought a house in Samoa. Robert became a beloved figure to the Samoan people and continued to write until the day he died, very suddenly, aged just forty-four.

Is Treasure Island a real place?

Many people have speculated about whether Treasure Island is a real place. Legend has it that when Robert Louis Stevenson was a boy, his mariner uncle told him about his travels to Norman Island in the Caribbean. Some say this might have inspired the image of a ‘treasure island’ in Robert’s mind.

Another inspiration, which Robert wrote about himself, came from Dead Man’s Chest Island, a place he stumbled upon in a book by Charles Kingsley which contained lists of islands. Robert later wrote: ‘Treasure Island came out of Kingsley’s At Last: A Christmas in the West Indies (1871); where I got the ‘Dead Man’s Chest’ – that was the seed.’ The name of this small, barren island in the Caribbean inspired the idea of Billy Bones’s old sea chest with which the story of Treasure Island begins. Billy also repeatedly sings: ‘Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest’. Although Robert never explained the meaning of this song himself, this line may refer to men being marooned on an island. It certainly brings to mind the image of a barren island rising from the sea like a dead man’s chest.

Were any of the characters real people?

Long John Silver himself was modelled on a real person called William Ernest Henley, who Robert met when he was twenty-five. William had one leg but was very active, clever and full of vitality. Robert wrote to Henley after the publication of Treasure Island and said: ‘I will now make a confession. It was the sight of your maimed strength and masterfulness that begot Long John Silver…the idea of the maimed man, ruling and dreaded by the sound, was entirely taken from you’.

Israel Hands was also the name of a real person – an eighteenth century pirate. He is famous for working under the infamous pirate Blackbeard, also mentioned in Treasure Island. Robert Louis Stevenson brings Israel Hands to life as an evil, murdering pirate in his fictional version.

It is possible that Dr Livesey was named after Joseph Livesey, a nineteenth century politician and writer who campaigned against the drinking of alcohol. Dr Livesey is certainly very tough on Billy Bones’s fondness for rum in Treasure Island. He says ‘the name of rum for you is death’.

How did Treasure Island influence popular culture?

Treasure Island was largely responsible for creating the popular perception of pirates as daring, swashbuckling adventurers. Many of the story’s central images – a one-legged pirate with a parrot on his shoulder, a treasure map where X marks the spot, the black spot – were the inventions of Robert Louis Stevenson. These days they are is so ingrained in our culture that it’s easy to forget that these images are not historical facts.

The story has also inspired hundreds of adaptations into films, television shows, plays and even computer games. It has also influenced hundreds of writers – from Arthur Ransome, the author of Swallows and Amazons to the scriptwriters of Pirates of the Caribbean. Once you start looking you will find references to Treasure Island everywhere.

Books by Robert Louis Stevenson

A Child’s Garden of Verses



To The Hesitating Purchaser

If sailor tales to sailor tunes,

Storm and adventure, heat and cold,

If schooners, islands, and maroons

And Buccaneers and buried Gold,

And all the old romance, retold

Exactly in the ancient way,

Can please, as me they pleased of old,

The wiser youngsters of today:

–So be it, and fall on! If not,

If studious youth no longer crave,

His ancient appetites forgot,

Kingston, or Ballantyne the brave,

Or Cooper of the wood and wave.

So be it, also! And may I

And all my pirates share the grave

Where these and their creations lie!

To Lloyd Osbourne

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



Part I

The Old Buccaneer



The Old Sea-Dog at the ‘Admiral Benbow

SQUIRE TRELAWNEY, DR Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen, having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17—, and go back to the time when my father kept the “Admiral Benbow” inn, and the brown old seaman, with the sabre-cut, first took up his lodging under our roof.

I remember him as if it were yesterday, as he came plodding to the inn-door, his sea-chest following behind him in a hand-barrow; a tall, strong, heavy, nut-brown man; his tarry pigtail falling over the shoulders 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 cove and whistling to himself as he did so, and then breaking out in that old sea-song that he sang so often afterwards:

‘Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest –

Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!’

in the high, old tottering voice that seemed to have been tuned and broken at the capstan bars. Then he rapped on the door with a bit of stick like a handspike that he carried, and when my father appeared, called roughly for a glass of rum. This, when it was brought to him, he drank slowly, like a connoisseur, lingering on the taste, and still looking about him at the cliffs and up at our signboard.

‘This is a handy cove,’ says he, at length; ‘and a pleasant sittyated grog-shop. – Much company, mate?’

My father told him no – very little company, the more was the pity.

‘Well then,’ said he, ‘this is the berth for me. – Here you, matey,’ he cried to the man who trundled the barrow; ‘bring up alongside and help up my chest I’ll stay here a bit,’ he continued. ‘I’m a plain man; rum and bacon and eggs is what I want, and that head up there for to watch ships off. – What you mought call me? You mought call me captain. Oh, I see what you’re at – there;’ and he threw down three or four gold pieces on the threshold. ‘You can tell me when I’ve worked through that,’ says he, looking as fierce as a commander.

And, indeed, bad as his clothes were, and coarsely as he spoke, he had none of the appearance of a man who sailed before the mast; but seemed like a mate or skipper, accustomed to be obeyed or to strike. The man who came with the barrow told us the mail had set him down the morning before at the ‘Royal George’; that he had inquired what inns there were along the coast, and hearing ours well spoken of, I suppose, and described as lonely, had chosen it from the others for his place of residence. And that was all we could learn of our guest.

He was a very silent man by custom. All day he hung round the cove, or upon the cliffs, with a brass telescope; all evening he sat in a corner of the parlour next the fire, and drank rum and water very strong. Mostly he would not speak when spoken to; only look up sudden and fierce, and blow through his nose like a fog-horn; and we and the people who came about our house soon learned to let him be. Every day, when he came back from his stroll, he would ask if any seafaring men had gone by along the road. At first we thought it was the want of company of his own kind that made him ask this question; but at last we began to see he was desirous to avoid them. When a seaman 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 fourpenny-piece, and repeat his orders to look out for ‘the seafaring man with one leg’.

How that personage haunted my dreams I need scarcely tell you. On stormy nights, when the wind shook the four corners of the house, and the surf roared along the cove and up the cliffs, I would see him in a thousand forms, and with a thousand diabolical expressions. Now the leg would be cut off at the knee, now at the hip; now he was a monstrous kind of a creature who had never had but the one leg, and that in the middle of his body. To see him leap and run and pursue me over hedge and ditch was the worst of nightmares. And altogether I paid pretty dear for my monthly fourpenny-piece, in the shape of these abominable fancies.

But though I was so terrified by the idea of the seafaring man with one leg, I was far less afraid of the captain himself than anybody else who knew him. There were nights when he took a deal more rum and water than his head would carry; and then he would sometimes sit and sing his wicked old wild sea-songs, minding nobody; but sometimes he would call for glasses round, and force all the trembling company to listen to his stories or bear a chorus to his singing. Often I have heard the house shaking with ‘Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum’; all the neighbours joining in for dear life, with the fear of death upon them, and each singing louder than the other, to avoid remark. For in these fits he was the most overriding companion ever known; he would slap his hand on the table, for silence all round; he would fly up in a passion of anger at a question, or sometimes because none was put, and so he judged the company was not following his story. Nor would he allow anyone to leave the inn till he had drunk himself sleepy and reeled off to bed.

His stories were what frightened people worst of all. Dreadful stories they were; about hanging, and walking the plank, and storms at sea, and the Dry Tortugas, and wild deeds and places on the Spanish Main. By his own account he must have lived his life among some of the wickedest men that God ever allowed upon the sea; and the language in which he told these stories shocked our plain country people almost as much as the crimes that he described. My father was always saying the inn would be ruined, for people would soon cease coming there to be tyrannised 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 suchlike names, and saying there was the sort of man that made England terrible at sea.

In one way, indeed, he bade fair to ruin us; for he kept on staying week after week, and at last month after month, so that all the money had been long exhausted, and still my father never plucked up the heart to insist on having more. If ever he mentioned it, the captain blew through his nose so loudly that you might say he roared, and stared my poor father out of the room. I have seen him wringing his hands after such a rebuff, and I am sure the annoyance and the terror he lived in must have greatly hastened his early and unhappy death.

All the time he lived with us the captain made no change whatever in his dress but to buy some stockings from a hawker. One of the cocks of his hat having fallen down, he let it hang from that day forth, though it was a great annoyance when it blew. I remember the appearance of his coat, which he patched himself upstairs in his room, and which, before the end, was nothing but patches. He never wrote or received a letter, and he never spoke with any but the neighbours, and with these, for the most part, only when drunk on rum. The great sea-chest none of us had ever seen open.

He was only once crossed, and that was towards the end, when my poor father was far gone in a decline that took him off. Dr Livesey came late one afternoon to see the patient, took a bit of dinner from my mother, and went into the parlour to smoke a pipe until his horse should come down from the hamlet, for we had no stabling at the old ‘Benbow’. I followed him in, and I remember observing the contrast the neat, bright doctor, with his powder as white as snow, and his bright black eyes and pleasant manners, made with the coltish country folk, and above all, with that filthy, heavy, bleared scarecrow of a pirate of ours, sitting far gone in rum, with his arms on the table. Suddenly he – the captain, that is – began to pipe up his eternal song:

‘Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest –

Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!

Drink and the devil had done for the rest –

Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!’

At first I had supposed ‘the dead man’s chest’ to be that identical big box of his upstairs in the front room, and the thought had been mingled in my nightmares with that of the one-legged seafaring man. But by this time we had all long ceased to pay any particular notice to the song; it was new, that night, to nobody but Dr Livesey, and on him I observed it did not produce an agreeable effect, for he looked up for a moment quite angrily before he went on with his talk to old Taylor, the gardener, on a new cure for the rheumatics. In the meantime, the captain gradually brightened up at his own music, and at last flapped his hand upon the table before him in a way we all knew to mean – silence. The voices stopped at once, all but Dr Livesey’s; he went on as before, speaking clear and kind, and drawing briskly at his pipe between every word or two. The captain glared at him for a while, flapped his hand again, glared still harder, and at last broke out with a villainous, low oath: ‘Silence, there, between decks!’

‘Were you addressing me, sir?’ says the doctor; and when the ruffian had told him, with another oath, that this was so, ‘I have only one thing to say to you, sir,’ replies the doctor, ‘that if you keep on drinking rum, the world will soon be quit of a very dirty scoundrel!’

The old fellow’s fury was awful. He sprang to his feet, drew and opened a sailor’s clasp-knife, and, balancing it open on the palm of his hand, threatened to pin the doctor to the wall.

The doctor never so much as moved. He spoke to him, as before, over his shoulder, and in the same tone of voice; rather high, so that all the room might hear, but perfectly calm and steady:

‘If you do not put that knife this instant in your pocket, I promise, upon my honour, you shall hang at 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 hill-tops and shining far to seaward. The captain had risen earlier than usual, and set out down the beach, his cutlass swinging under the broad skirts of the old blue coat, his brass telescope under his arm, his hat tilted back upon his head. I remember his breath hanging like smoke in his wake as he strode off, and the last sound I heard of him, as he turned the big rock, was a loud snort of indignation, as though his mind was still running upon Dr Livesey.

Well, mother was upstairs with father; and I was laying the breakfast-table against the captain’s return, when the parlour door opened, and a man stepped in on whom I had never set my eyes before. He was a pale, tallowy creature, wanting two fingers of the left hand; and, though he wore a cutlass, he did not look much like a fighter. I had always my eye open for seafaring men, with one leg or two, and I remember this one puzzled me. He was not sailorly, and yet he had a smack of the sea about him too.

I asked him what was for his service, and he said he would take rum; but as I was going out of the room to fetch it he sat down upon a table and motioned me to draw near. I paused where I was with my napkin in my hand.

‘Come here, sonny,’ says he. ‘Come nearer here.’

I took a step nearer.

‘Is this here table for my mate Bill?’ he asked, with a kind of leer.

I told him I did not know his mate Bill; and this was for a person who stayed in our house, whom we called the captain.

‘Well,’ said he, ‘my mate Bill would be called the captain, as like as not. He has a cut on one cheek, and a mighty pleasant way with him, particularly in drink, has my mate Bill. We’ll put it, for argument like, that your captain has a cut on one cheek – and well put it, if you like, that that cheek’s the right one. Ah, well I told you. Now, is my mate Bill in this here house?’

I told him he was out walking.

‘Which way, sonny? Which way is he gone?’

And when I had pointed out the rock, and told him how the captain was likely to return, and how soon, and answered a few other questions, – ‘Ah,’ said he, ‘this’ll be as good as drink to my mate Bill:’

The expression of his face as he said these words was not at all pleasant, and I had my own reasons for thinking that the stranger was mistaken, even supposing he meant what he said. But it was no affair of mine, I thought; and, besides, it was difficult to know what to do. The stranger kept hanging about just inside the inn-door, peering round the corner like a cat waiting for a mouse. Once I stepped out myself into the road, but he immediately called me back, and, as I did not obey quick enough for his fancy, a most horrible change came over his tallowy face, and he ordered me in, with an oath that made me jump. As soon as I was back again he returned to his former manner, half-fawning, half-sneering, patted me on the shoulder, told me I was a good boy, and he had taken quite a fancy to me. ‘I have a son of my own,’ said he, ‘as like you as two blocks, and he’s all the pride of my ’art. But the great thing for boys is discipline, sonny – discipline. Now, if you had sailed along of Bill, you wouldn’t have stood there to be spoke to twice – not you. That was never Bill’s way, nor the way of sich as sailed with him. – And here, sure enough, is my mate Bill, with a spy-glass under his arm, bless his old ’art, to be sure. You and me’ll just go back into the parlour, sonny, and get behind the door, and we’ll give Bill a little surprise – bless his ’art, I say again.’

So saying, the stranger backed along with me into the parlour, and put me behind him in the corner, so that we were both hidden by the open door. I was very uneasy and alarmed, as you may fancy, and it rather added to my fears to observe that the stranger was certainly frightened himself. He cleared the hilt of his cutlass and loosened the blade in the sheath; and all the time we were waiting there he kept swallowing as if he felt what we used to call a lump in the throat.

At last in strode the captain, slammed the door behind him, without looking to the right or left, and marched straight across the room to where his breakfast awaited him.

‘Bill,’ said the stranger, in a voice that I thought he had tried to make bold and big.

The captain spun round on his heel and fronted us; all the brown had gone out of his face, and even his nose was blue; he had the look of a man who sees a ghost, or the evil one, or something worse, if anything can be; and, upon my word, I felt sorry to see him, all in a moment, turn so old and sick.

‘Come, Bill, you know me; you know an old shipmate, Bill, surely,’ said the stranger.

The captain gave a sort of gasp.

‘Black Dog!’ said he.

‘And who else?’ returned the other, getting more at his ease. ‘Black Dog as ever was, come for to see his old shipmate Billy, at the “Admiral Benbow” inn. Ah, Bill, Bill, we have seen a sight of times, us two, since I lost them two talons,’ holding up his mutilated hand.

‘Now, look here,’ said the captain; ‘you’ve run me down; here I am; well, then, speak up: what is it?’

‘That’s you, Bill,’ returned Black Dog, ‘you’re in the right of it, Billy. I’ll have a glass of rum from this dear child here, as I’ve took such a liking to; and we’ll sit down, if you please, and talk square, like old shipmates.’

When I returned with the rum, they were already seated on either side of the captain’s breakfast-table – Black Dog next to the door, and sitting sideways, so as to have one eye on his old shipmate, and one, as I thought, on his retreat.

He bade me go, and leave the door wide open. ‘None of your keyholes for me, sonny,’ he said; and I left them together, and retired into the bar.

For a long time, though I certainly did my best to listen, I could hear nothing but a low gabbling; but at last the voices began to grow higher, and I could pick up a word or two, mostly oaths, from the captain.

‘No, no, no, no; and an end of it!’ he cried once. And again, ‘If it comes to swinging, swing all, say I.’

Then all of a sudden there was a tremendous explosion of oaths and other noises – the chair and table went over in a lump, a clash of steel followed, and then a cry of pain, and the next instant I saw Black Dog in full flight, and the captain hotly pursuing, both with drawn cutlasses, and the former streaming blood from the left shoulder. Just at the door, the captain aimed at the fugitive one last tremendous cut, which would certainly have split him to the chine had it not been intercepted by our big signboard of Admiral Benbow. You may see the notch on the lower side of the frame to this day.

That blow was the last of the battle. Once out upon the road, Black Dog, in spite of his wound, showed a wonderful clean pair of heels, and disappeared over the edge of the hill in half a minute. The captain, for his part, stood staring at the signboard like a bewildered man. Then he passed his hand over his eyes several times, and at last turned back into 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. Rum! Rum!’

I ran to fetch it; but I was quite unsteadied by all that had fallen out, and I broke one glass and fouled the tap, and while I was still getting in my own way, I heard a loud fall in the parlour, and, running in, beheld the captain lying full-length upon the floor. At the same instant my mother, alarmed by the cries and fighting, came running downstairs to help me. Between us we raised his head. He was breathing very loud and hard; but his eyes were closed, and his face a horrible colour.

‘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 Dr Livesey came in, on his visit to my father.

‘Oh, doctor,’ we cried, ‘what shall we do? Where is he wounded?’

‘Wounded? A fiddle-stick’s end!’ said the doctor. ‘No more wounded than you or I. The man has had a stroke, as I warned him. – Now, Mrs Hawkins, just you run upstairs to your husband, and tell him, if possible, nothing about it. For my part, I must do my best to save this fellow’s trebly worthless life; and Jim here will get me a basin.’

When I got back with the basin, the doctor had already ripped up the captain’s sleeve, and exposed his great sinewy arm. It was tattooed in several places. ‘Here’s luck’, ‘A fair wind’, and ‘Billy Bones his fancy’, were very neatly and clearly executed on the forearm; and up near the shoulder there was a sketch of a gallows and a man hanging from it – done, as I thought, with great spirit.

‘Prophetic,’ said the doctor, touching this picture with his finger. ‘And now, Master Billy Bones, if that be your name, we’ll have a look at the colour of your blood. – Jim,’ he said, ‘are you afraid of blood?’

‘No, sir,’ said I.

‘Well, then,’ said he, ‘you hold the basin;’ and with that he took his lancet and opened a vein.

A great deal of blood was taken before the captain opened his eyes and looked mistily about him. First he recognised 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 head-foremost out of the grave. Now, Mr Bones –’

‘That’s not my name,’ he interrupted.

‘Much I care,’ returned the doctor. ‘It’s the name of a buccaneer of my acquaintance; and I call you by it for the sake of shortness, and what I have to say to you is this: one glass of rum won’t kill you, but if you take one you’ll take another and another, and I stake my wig if you don’t break off short, you’ll die – do you understand that? – die, and go to your own place, like the man in the Bible. Come, now, make an effort. I’ll help you to your bed for once.’

Between us, with much trouble, we managed to hoist him upstairs, and laid him on his bed, where his head fell back on the pillow, as if he were almost fainting.

‘Now, mind you,’ said the doctor, ‘I clear my conscience – the name of rum for you is death.’

And with that he went off to see my father, taking me with him by the arm.

‘This is nothing,’ he said, as soon as he had closed the door. ‘I have drawn blood enough to keep him quiet a while; he should lie for a week where he is – that is the best thing for him and you; but another stroke would settle him.’



The Black Spot

ABOUT NOON I stopped at the captain’s door with some cooling drinks and medicines. He was lying very much as we had left him, only a little higher, and he seemed both weak and excited.

‘Jim,’ he said, ‘you’re the only one here that’s worth anything; and you know I’ve been always good to you. Never a month but I’ve given you a silver fourpenny for yourself. And now you see, mate, I’m pretty low, and deserted by all; and Jim, you’ll bring me one noggin of rum, now, won’t you, matey?’

‘The doctor –’ I began.

But he broke in cursing the doctor, in a feeble voice, but heartily. ‘Doctors is all swabs,’ he said; ‘and that doctor there – why, what do he know about seafaring men? I been in places hot as pitch, and mates dropping round with Yellow Jack, and the blessed land a-heaving like the sea with earthquakes – what do the doctor know of lands like that? – and I lived on rum, I tell you. It’s been meat and drink, and man and wife, to me; and if I’m not to have my rum now I’m a poor old hulk on a lee-shore, my blood’ll be on you, Jim, and that doctor swab;’ and he ran on again for a while with curses. ‘Look, Jim, how my fingers fidges,’ he continued, in the pleading tone. ‘I can’t keep ’em still, not I. I haven’t had a drop this blessed day. That doctor’s a fool, I tell you. If I don’t have a drain o’ rum, Jim, I’ll have the horrors; I seen some on ’em already. I seen old Flint in the corner there, behind you; as plain as print, I seen him; and if I get the horrors, I’m a man that has lived rough, and I’ll raise Cain. Your doctor hisself said one glass wouldn’t hurt me. I’ll give you a golden guinea for a noggin, Jim.’

He was growing more and more excited, and this alarmed me for my father, who was very low that day, and needed quiet; besides, I was reassured by the doctor’s words, now quoted to me, and rather offended by the offer of a bribe.

‘I want none of your money,’ said I, ‘but what you owe my father. I’ll get you one glass and no more.’

When I brought it to him, he seized it greedily, and drank it out.

‘Ay, ay,’ said he, ‘that’s some better, sure enough. And now, matey, did that doctor say how long I was to lie here in this old berth?’

‘A week at least,’ said I.

‘Thunder!’ he cried. ‘A week! I can’t do that: they’d have the black spot on me by then. The lubbers is going about to get the wind of me this blessed moment; lubbers as couldn’t keep what they got, and want to nail what is another’s. Is that seamanly behaviour, now, I want to know? But I’m a saving soul. I never wasted good money of mine, nor lost it neither; and I’ll trick ’em again. I’m not afraid on ’em. I’ll shake out another reef, matey, and daddle ’em again.’

As he was thus speaking, he had risen from bed with great difficulty, holding to my shoulder with a grip that almost made me cry out, and moving his legs like so much dead weight. His words, spirited as they were in meaning, contrasted sadly with the weakness of the voice in which they were uttered. He paused when he had got into a sitting position on the edge.

‘That doctor’s done me,’ he murmured. ‘My ears is singing. Lay me back.’

Before I could do much to help him he had fallen back again to his former place, where he lay for a while silent.

‘Jim,’ he said, at length, ‘you saw that seafaring man today?’

‘Black Dog?’ I asked.

‘Ah! Black Dog,’ says he. ‘He’s a bad ’un; but there’s worse that put him on. Now, if I can’t get away nohow, and they tip me the black spot, mind you, it’s my old sea-chest they’re after; you get on a horse – you can, can’t you? Well, then, you get on a horse, and go to – well, yes, I will! – to that eternal doctor swab, and tell him to pipe all hands – magistrates and sich – and he’ll lay ’em aboard at the “Admiral Benbow” – all old Flint’s crew, man and boy, all on ’em that’s left. I was first mate, I was – old Flint’s first mate, and I’m the on’y one as knows the place. He gave it me to 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 kind of country love-song, that he must have learned in his youth before he had begun to follow the sea.