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Treasure Island

Jake Arnott

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Epub ISBN 9781407074597
Published by Vintage 2008
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Introduction copyright © Jake Arnott 2008
Treasure Island was first published in 1881–2
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About the Book

About the Author

Also by Robert Louis Stevenson






I. The Old Sea-Dog at the “Admiral Benbow”

II. Black Dog appears and disappears

III. The Black Spot

IV. The Sea Chest

V. The Last of the Blind Man

VI. The Captain’s Papers


VII. I go to Bristol

VIII. At the Sign of the “Spy Glass”

IX. Powder and Arms

X. The Voyage

XI. What I heard in the Apple-Barrel

XII. Council of War


XIII. How I began my Shore Adventure

XIV. The First Blow

XV. The Man of the Island


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

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

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

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

XX. Silver’s Embassy

XXI. The Attack


XXII. How I began my Sea Adventure

XXIII. The Ebb-Tide runs

XXIV. The Cruise of the Coracle

XXV. I strike the Jolly Roger

XXVI. Israel Hands

XXVII. “Pieces of Eight”


XXVIII. In the Enemy’s Camp

XXIX. The Black Spot again

XXX. On Parole

XXXI. The Treasure Hunt – Flint’s Pointer

XXXII. The Treasure Hunt – The Voice among the Trees

XXXIII. The Fall of a Chieftain

XXXIV. And Last



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


When young Jim Hawkins discovers a treasure map in a pirate’s chest in his parents’ inn, he is drawn into a world of danger and adventure. He joins the crew setting sail to the Caribbean to seek out the booty and over the course of the voyage confronts mutiny, murder and the charismatic and devious Long John Silver.


Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh on 13 November 1850. He studied at Edinburgh University and also qualified as a lawyer. He travelled extensively in Europe and began his writing career during these years. He met his future wife, Fanny, in France in 1876 and they were married in 1880. In 1883 he published Treasure Island to great acclaim. ‘Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ and Kidnapped were both published in 1886. Problems with his health meant that Stevenson frequently travelled in the warmer climates of the South Seas. He died in Samoa on 3 December 1894.

An Inland Voyage
Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes
Virginibus Puerisque and Other Papers
Familiar Studies of Men and Books
New Arabian Nights
The Silverado Squatters
Prince Otto
The Black Arrow
A Child’s Garden of Verses
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables
Memories and Portraits
The Master of Ballantrae
Father Damian
Across the Plains
A Footnote to History
Island Nights’ Entertainment
Vailima Letters
The Amateur Emigrant
Songs of Travel and Other Verses
Weir of Hermiston


‘I am told there are people who do not care for maps,’ declared Robert Louis Stevenson ‘and find it hard to believe.’ He was explaining the enchanted inspiration of one rainy morning when he and his stepson made a ‘beautifully coloured’ chart with a box of paints and named it ‘Treasure Island’ with the ‘unconsciousness of the predestined’. Stevenson was right to doubt that he was alone in his childlike wonder in geography. In the late Victorian era it was an empire-wide occupation. The British male had imagined himself into the ‘sweet, just, boyish master of the world’, and the whole atlas seemed shaded with a pinkish hue. But the business of adventure was already beginning to become problematic. The delicate shading of the map foreshadows another childhood memory, that of Marlow in Heart of Darkness who laments that ‘when I was a little chap I had a passion for maps’, until in adulthood the charm of the map fades and it ‘ceased to be a blank space of delightful mystery – a white patch for a boy to dream gloriously over. It had become a place of darkness.’

Stevenson’s cartography seems to retain its innocence. Written at the height of a global struggle between competing imperial powers, the location designated by the precious chart is never disclosed. The island itself is conveniently unoccupied but for a hapless maroon and, of course, abundant unseen riches. Stevenson steers a course into a wistfully imagined past, towards the possibility of guiltless colonialism. But there is a mutiny within by all of our more wild and avaricious desires: the pirates subvert the quest by being part of the ship’s crew. They represent a primal sense of private enterprise and an embodiment of the brutality necessary for empire – Billy Bones is described as ‘the sort of man that made England terrible at sea’ – and they are, of course, wonderfully garish and flamboyant.

Treasure Island is the classic pirate story, outliving its handful of antecedents and the myriad tales it spawned. Robert Louis Stevenson takes marvellous command over this peculiar form with a perverse ingenuity. In his essay ‘A Note on Realism’ Stevenson insisted that a successful romance should ‘suppress much and omit more’. In the adventure story the art of sublimation is essential. What is hidden or just off the charted course is what compels us. All the plundered influences, the booty of the collective imagination are merely loot if left on the surface: it is only when they are buried that they truly become treasure.

Our boy-hero Jim Hawkins’s motives may be straightforward, but his actions seem driven by strange and capricious instincts. He has a truant sensibility, constantly deserting the company of the official fortune hunters with mad schemes that force him to make contact with the other side. Through him we are drawn in by a seductive horror, away from the shipshape conventions of maritime imperialism towards the anarchic and self-destructive world of the pirates, utterly irrational but emotionally honest. By the end all our sympathies lie with the double-dealing, charmingly ruthless Long John Silver.

Stevenson protested that ‘it was to be a story for boys; no need of psychology’, yet right at the beginning of the book, when Billy Bones warns Jim to look out for a ‘seafaring man with one leg’ an image of Silver prefigures itself in the boy’s dreams with a frightening sensuality:

… 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 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.

It was the author’s friend the poet and editor W.E. Henley who provided the template for the wondrous rogue. Henley was by all accounts robust and vigorous, despite an amputation of the leg in early adulthood. ‘It was the sight of your maimed strength and masterfulness,’ Stevenson wrote to him in acknowledgment, ‘that begot John Silver.’ His vivid characterisation draws real power from this affectionate homage. Perhaps Stevenson identified with that sense of ‘maimed strength’, having suffered from ill-health all his life and he is certainly determined that we are never permitted to despise, nor even feel pity for, Long John because of his impairment. Indeed, he is physically agile (his crutch at one point becomes a deadly weapon), attractive, full of guile and something of the dandy. Although so often portrayed in ghastly caricature, he is never presented in the text as grotesque. He is much more interesting than that.

Morally complex with an ambiguity that goes beyond the rest of the pirates, Silver has benefited from some education: ‘he had some schooling in his young days,’ we are told at one point, ‘and can speak like a book when so minded’. Often his real deviancy is displayed in his very use of language: ‘Dooty is dooty’, he repeats as an artful mantra, usually at the very moment that he is about to commit a shocking act of rebellion. And in a narrative confined to an artificially exclusive world of white men, Silver’s reality allows us the briefest glimpse of other possibilities. His wife is described by Squire Trelawney (with an astonishingly prescient grasp of political correctness) as a ‘woman of colour’. It appears that she runs the business side of his enterprises and is to meet him in South America once he has secured the treasure, in an intriguing subplot completely off the map of the novel.

Silver shows Jim how to negotiate a way through the pirate anarchy. It is an unconscious world – often quite literally from extreme and constant drunkenness – a place of desire and terror, always at the brink of chaos. Stevenson takes great pleasure in the creation of his anti-system, where strange ‘councils’ are held with decisions delivered by the ‘black spot’. At one point a spot is cut from the page of a bible with a quote left on it from Revelation, the book most treasured by the Free Presbyterian Church, the faith of Stevenson’s father that he so soundly rejected. The mutineer Israel Hands, when told by Jim that a companion he has murdered ‘is in another world’ declares in frustration that it ‘appears as if killing parties was a waste of time’. Hands goes on to declare, with a crazed exuberance, that in thirty years at sea he has ‘never seen good come o’ goodness yet’. And though ungodly, the pirates are comically plagued with idolatry, falling into a panic as they approach the treasure and fear that Flint’s ghost will come and get them.

The official ship’s company too have their own superstitions. Captain Smollett insists on raising the Union Jack in the stockade, despite it offering a prime target for the pirate gunners. Squire Trelawney comes into conflict with the Captain early on, uneasy at taking orders from a social inferior. And when Smollett expresses what turn out to be well-founded doubts about their mission, Trelawney condemns the man’s conduct as ‘un-English’. Is there a hint of the author’s equivocation here, as a Scottish writer? After all, as well as including no women nor black characters in the text, Stevenson appears to have excluded any of his own countrymen from the tale. Indeed, it is revealed that Dr Livesey has in the past served with the Duke of Cumberland, who ruthlessly crushed the Scottish Jacobite rebellion at Culloden with a bloody aftermath that earned him the nickname ‘Butcher’. Stevenson presents them all as upstanding figures of authority, but allows himself a little distance to play both sides. In the end it is Silver’s duplicity that saves the day and gains these fine gentlemen the treasure.

The key to the map seems clearly to be the dictum of Stevenson’s great hero Balzac, that ‘behind every great fortune there is a crime’. And so we are left wondering who the treasure really belongs to. Does gentlemanly recovery of loot legitimise it? Despite their eagerness to show the flag the only real authority of Trelawney, Livesey et al., appears to be the profit motive. All very respectable, of course. But there are no tiresome worries about audit trails, compensation or, god forbid, taxation. The money has been nicely laundered in an archaic offshore banking system. And what wealth it is – we witness the luxuriant commodities of global capital when it is finally revealed to Jim:

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 round your neck – nearly every variety of money in the world …

Stevenson wrote Treasure Island with a hopeful eye on the market, confiding to Henley that he believed there to be ‘coin in it’. But he acknowledged his debt to earlier writers, listing some of his influences in an introductory ode ‘To the Hesitating Purchaser’ – W.H. Kingston, R.M. Ballantyne and James Fenimore Cooper. And he shares out the spoils with those of us that have come after. His first novel continues to be influential, inspirational, mapping out new courses and adventures. As Jim says of the island in the very first sentence ‘there is still treasure not yet lifted’.

Jake Arnott, 2008

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 apetites 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!



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 any one 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.