Treasure island, p.7
Treasure Island, p.7Robert Louis Stevenson
At last Mr. Dance finished the story.
“Mr. Dance,” said the squire, “you are a very noble fellow. And as for riding down that black, atrocious miscreant, I regard it as an act of virtue, sir, like stamping on a cockroach. This lad Hawkins is a trump, I perceive. Hawkins, will you ring that bell? Mr. Dance must have some ale.”
“And so, Jim,” said the doctor, “you have the thing that they were after, have you?”
“Here it is, sir,” said I, and gave him the oilskin packet.
The doctor looked it all over, as if his fingers were itching to open it; but, instead of doing that, he put it quietly in the pocket of his coat.
“Squire,” said he, “when Dance has had his ale he must, of course, be off on his Majesty’s service; but I mean to keep Jim Hawkins here to sleep at my house, and, with your permission, I propose we should have up the cold pie, and let him sup.”
“As you will, Livesey,” said the squire; “Hawkins has earned better than cold pie.”
So a big pigeon pie was brought in and put on a side-table, and I made a hearty supper, for I was as hungry as a hawk, while Mr. Dance was further complimented, and at last dismissed.
“And now, squire,” said the doctor.
“And now, Livesey,” said the squire in the same breath.
“One at a time, one at a time,” laughed Dr. Livesey. “You have heard of this Flint, I suppose?”
“Heard of him!” cried the squire. “Heard of him, you say! He was the bloodthirstiest buccaneer that sailed, Blackbeard was a child to Flint. The Spaniards were so prodigiously afraid of him, that, I tell you, sir, I was sometimes proud he was an Englishman. I’ve seen his top-sails with these eyes, off Trinidad, and the cowardly son of a rum-puncheon that I sailed with put back—put back, sir, into Port of Spain.”
“Well, I’ve heard of him myself, in England,” said the doctor. “But the point is, had he money?”
“Money!” cried the squire. “Have you heard the story? What were these villains after but money? What do they care for but money? For what would they risk their rascal carcasses but money?”
“That we shall soon know,” replied the doctor. “But you are so confoundedly hot-headed and exclamatory that I cannot get a word in. What I want to know is this: Supposing that I have here in my pocket some clue to where Flint buried his treasure, will that treasure amount to much?”
“Amount, sir!” cried the squire. “It will amount to this: if we have the clue you talk about, I fit out a ship in Bristol dock, and take you and Hawkins here along, and I’ll have that treasure if I search a year.”
“Very well,” said the doctor. “Now, then, if Jim is agreeable, we’ll open the packet;” and he laid it before him on the table.
The bundle was sewn together, and the doctor had to get out his instrument-case, and cut the stitches with his medical scissors. It contained two things—a book and a sealed paper.
“First of all we’ll try the book,” observed the doctor.
The squire and I were both peering over his shoulder as he opened it, for Dr. Livesey had kindly motioned me to come round from the side-table, where I had been eating, to enjoy the sport of the search. On the first page there were only some scraps of writing, such as a man with a pen in his hand might make for idleness or practice. One was the same as the tattoo mark, “Billy Bones his fancy;” then there was “Mr. W. Bones, mate.” “No more rum.” “Off Palm Key he got itt;” and some other snatches, mostly single words and unintelligible. I could not help wondering who it was that had “got itt,” and what “itt” was that he got. A knife in his back as like as not.
“Not much instruction there,” said Dr. Livesey, as he passed on.
The next ten or twelve pages were filled with a curious series of entries. There was a date at one end of the line and at the other a sum of money, as in common account-books; but instead of explanatory writing, only a varying number of crosses between the two. On the 12th of June, 1745, for instance, a sum of seventy pounds had plainly become due to some one, and there was nothing but six crosses to explain the cause. In a few cases, to be sure, the name of a place would be added, as “Offe Caraccas;” or a mere entry of latitude and longitude, as “62° 17? 20?, 19° 2? 40?.”
The record lasted over nearly twenty years, the amount of the separate entries growing larger as time went on, and at the end a grand total had been made out after five or six wrong additions, and these words appended, “Bones, his pile.”
“I can’t make head or tail of this,” said Dr. Livesey.
“The thing is as clear as noonday,” cried the squire. “This is the black-hearted hound’s account-book. These crosses stand for the names of ships or towns that they sank or plundered. The sums are the scoundrel’s share, and where he feared an ambiguity, you see he added something clearer. ‘Offe Caraccas,’ now; you see, here was some unhappy vessel boarded off that coast. God help the poor souls that manned her—coral long ago.”
“Right!” said the doctor. “See what it is to be a traveller. Right! And the amounts increase, you see, as he rose in rank.”
There was little else in the volume but a few bearings of places noted in the blank leaves towards the end, and a table for reducing French, English, and Spanish moneys to a common value.
“Thrifty man!” cried the doctor. “He wasn’t the one to be cheated.”
“And now,” said the squire, “for the other.”
The paper had been sealed in several places with a thimble by way of seal; the very thimble, perhaps, that I had found in the captain’s pocket. The doctor opened the seals with great care, and there fell out the map of an island, with latitude and longitude, soundings, names of hills, and bays and inlets, and every particular that would be needed to bring a ship to a safe anchorage upon its shores. It was about nine miles long and five across, shaped, you might say, like a fat dragon standing up, and had two fine land-locked harbours, and a hill in the centre part marked “The Spy-glass.” There were several additions of a later date; but, above all, three crosses of red ink—two on the north part of the island, one in the south-west, and, beside this last, in the same red ink, and in a small, neat hand, very different from the captain’s tottery characters, these words:—”Bulk of treasure here.”
Over on the back the same hand had written this further information:—
“Tall tree, Spy-glass shoulder, bearing a point to the N. of N.N.E.
“Skeleton Island E.S.E. and by E.
“The bar silver is in the north cache; you can find it by the trend of the east hummock, ten fathoms south of the black crag with the face on it.
“The arms are easy found, in the sand hill, N. point of north inlet cape, bearing E. and a quarter N.
That was all; but brief as it was, and, to me, incomprehensible, it filled the squire and Dr. Livesey with delight.
“Livesey,” said the squire, “you will give up this wretched practice at once. To-morrow I start for Bristol. In three weeks’ time—three weeks!—two weeks—ten days—we’ll have the best ship, sir, and the choicest crew in England. Hawkins shall come as cabin-boy. You’ll make a famous cabin-boy, Hawkins. You, Livesey, are ship’s doctor; I am admiral. We’ll take Redruth, Joyce, and Hunter. We’ll have favourable winds, a quick passage, and not the least difficulty in finding the spot, and money to eat—to roll in—to play duck and drake with ever after.”
“Trelawney,” said the doctor, “I’ll go with you; and I’ll go bail for it, so will Jim, and be a credit to the undertaking. There’s only one man I’m afraid of.”
“And who’s that?” cried the squire. “Name the dog, sir!”
“You,” replied the doctor; “for you cannot hold your tongue. We are not the only men who know of this paper. These fellows who attacked the inn to-night—bold, desperate blades, for sure—and the rest who stayed aboard that lugger, and more, I dare say, not far off, are, one and all, through thick and thin, bound tha
“Livesey,” returned the squire, “you are always in the right of it. I’ll be as silent as the grave.”
THE SEA COOK
I Go to Bristol
It was longer than the squire imagined ere we were ready for the sea, and none of our first plans—not even Dr. Livesey’s, of keeping me beside him—could be carried out as we intended. The doctor had to go to London for a physician to take charge of his practice; the squire was hard at work at Bristol; and I lived on at the Hall under the charge of old Redruth, the gamekeeper, almost a prisoner, but full of sea-dreams and the most charming anticipations of strange islands and adventures. I brooded by the hour together over the map, all the details of which I well remembered. Sitting by the fire in the housekeeper’s room, I approached that island in my fancy, from every possible direction; I explored every acre of its surface; I climbed a thousand times to that tall hill they call the Spyglass, and from the top enjoyed the most wonderful and changing prospects. Sometimes the isle was thick with savages, with whom we fought; sometimes full of dangerous animals that hunted us; but in all my fancies nothing occurred to me so strange and tragic as our actual adventures.
So the weeks passed on, till one fine day there came a letter addressed to Dr. Livesey, with this addition, “To be opened, in the case of his absence, by Tom Redruth, or young Hawkins.” Obeying this order, we found, or rather, I found—for the gamekeeper was a poor hand at reading anything but print—the following important news:—
“Old Anchor Inn, Bristol, March 1, 17—.
“Dear Livesey,—As I do not know whether you are at the Hall or still in London, I send this in double to both places.
“The ship is bought and fitted. She lies at anchor, ready for sea. You never imagined a sweeter schooner—a child might sail her—two hundred tons; name, Hispaniola.
“I got her through my old friend, Blandly, who has proved himself throughout the most surprising trump. The admirable fellow literally slaved in my interest, and so, I may say, did every one in Bristol, as soon as they got wind of the port we sailed for—treasure, I mean.”
“Redruth,” said I, interrupting the letter, “Doctor Livesey will not like that. The squire has been talking, after all.”
“Well, who’s a better right?” growled the gamekeeper. “A pretty rum go if squire ain’t to talk for Doctor Livesey, I should think.”
At that I gave up all attempt at commentary, and read straight on:—
“Blandly himself found the Hispaniola, and by the most admirable management got her for the merest trifle. There is a class of men in Bristol monstrously prejudiced against Blandly. They go the length of declaring that this honest creature would do anything for money, that the Hispaniola belonged to him, and that he sold it me absurdly high—the most transparent calumnies. None of them dare, however, to deny the merits of the ship.
“So far there was not a hitch. The workpeople, to be sure—riggers and what not—were most annoyingly slow; but time cured that. It was the crew that troubled me.
“I wished a round score of men—in case of natives, buccaneers, or the odious French—and I had the worry of the deuce itself to find so much as half a dozen, till the most remarkable stroke of fortune brought me the very man that I required.
“I was standing on the dock, when, by the merest accident, I fell in talk with him. I found he was an old sailor, kept a public-house, knew all the seafaring men in Bristol, had lost his health ashore, and wanted a good berth as cook to get to sea again. He had hobbled down there that morning, he said, to get a smell of the salt.
“I was monstrously touched—so would you have been—and, out of pure pity, I engaged him on the spot to be ship’s cook. Long John Silver, he is called, and has lost a leg; but that I regarded as a recommendation, since he lost it in his country’s service, under the immortal Hawke. He has no pension, Livesey. Imagine the abominable age we live in!
“Well, sir, I thought I had only found a cook, but it was a crew I had discovered. Between Silver and myself we got together in a few days a company of the toughest old salts imaginable—not pretty to look at, but fellows, by their faces, of the most indomitable spirit. I declare we could fight a frigate.
“Long John even got rid of two out of the six or seven I had already engaged. He showed me in a moment that they were just the sort of fresh-water swabs we had to fear in an adventure of importance.
“I am in the most magnificent health and spirits, eating like a bull, sleeping like a tree, yet I shall not enjoy a moment till I hear my old tarpaulins tramping round the capstan. Seaward ho! Hang the treasure! It’s the glory of the sea that has turned my head. So now, Livesey, come post; do not lose an hour, if you respect me.
“Let young Hawkins go at once to see his mother, with Redruth for a guard; and then both come full speed to Bristol.
“Postscript.—I did not tell you that Blandly, who, by the way, is to send a consort after us if we don’t turn up by the end of August, had found an admirable fellow for sailing-master—a stiff man, which I regret, but, in all other respects, a treasure. Long John Silver unearthed a very competent man for a mate, a man named Arrow. I have a boatswain who pipes, Livesey; so things shall go man-o’-war fashion on board the good ship Hispaniola.
“I forgot to tell you that Silver is a man of substance; I know of my own knowledge that he has a banker’s account, which has never been overdrawn. He leaves his wife to manage the inn; and as she is a woman of colour, a pair of old bachelors like you and I may be excused for guessing that it is the wife, quite as much as the health, that sends him back to roving.
“P. P. S.—Hawkins may stay one night with his mother.
You can fancy the excitement into which that letter put me. I was half beside myself with glee; and if ever I despised a man, it was old Tom Redruth, who could do nothing but grumble and lament. Any of the under-gamekeepers would gladly have changed places with him; but such was not the squire’s pleasure, and the squire’s pleasure was like law among them all. Nobody but old Redruth would have dared so much as even to grumble.
The next morning he and I set out on foot for the “Admiral Ben-bow,” and there I found my mother in good health and spirits. The captain, who had so long been a cause of so much discomfort, was gone where the wicked cease from troubling. The squire had had everything repaired, and the public rooms and the sign repainted, and had added some furniture—above all a beautiful arm-chair for mother in the bar. He had found her a boy as an apprentice also, so that she should not want help while I was gone.
It was on seeing that boy that I understood, for the first time, my situation. I had thought up to that moment of the adventures before me, not at all of the home that I was leaving; and now, at sight of this clumsy stranger, who was to stay here in my place beside my mother, I had my first attack of tears. I am afraid I led that boy a dog’s life; for as he was new to the work, I had a hundred opportunities of setting him right and putting him down, and I was not slow to profit by them.
The night passed, and the next day, after dinner, Redruth and I were afoot again, and on the road. I said good-bye to mother and the cove where I had lived since I was born, and the dear old “Admiral Benbow”—since he was repainted, no longer quite so dear. One of my last thoughts was of the captain, who had so often strode along the beach with his cocked hat, his sabre-cut cheek, and his old brass telescope. Next moment we had turned the corner, and my home was out of sight.
The mail picked us up about dusk at the “Royal George” on the heath. I was wedged in between Redruth and a stout old gentleman, and in spite of the swift motion and the cold night a
“Where are we?” I asked.
“Bristol,” said Tom. “Get down.”
Mr. Trelawney had taken up his residence at an inn far down the docks, to superintend the work upon the schooner. Thither we had now to walk, and our way, to my great delight, lay along the quays and beside the great multitude of ships of all sizes and rigs and nations. In one, sailors were singing at their work; in another, there were men aloft, high over my head, hanging to threads that seemed no thicker than a spider’s. Though I had lived by the shore all my life, I seemed never to have been near the sea till then. The smell of tar and salt was something new. I saw the most wonderful figure-heads, that had all been far over the ocean. I saw, besides, many old sailors, with rings in their ears, and whiskers curled in ringlets, and tarry pigtails, and their swaggering, clumsy sea-walk; and if I had seen as many kings or archbishops I could not have been more delighted.
And I was going to sea myself; to sea in a schooner, with a piping boatswain, and pig-tailed singing seamen; to sea, bound for an unknown island, and to seek for buried treasures!
While I was still in this delightful dream, we came suddenly in front of a large inn, and met Squire Trelawney, all dressed out like a sea-officer, in stout blue cloth, coming out of the door with a smile on his face, and a capital imitation of a sailor’s walk.
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson / History & Fiction / Actions & Adventure / Young Adult have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes