Treasure island, p.9
Treasure Island, p.9Robert Louis Stevenson
We were all hard at work, changing the powder and the berths, when the last man or two, and Long John along with them, came off in a shore-boat.
The cook came up the side like a monkey for cleverness, and, as soon as he saw what was doing, “So ho, mates!” says he, “what’s this?”
“We’re a-changing of the powder, Jack,” answers one.
“Why, by the powers,” cried Long John, “if we do, we’ll miss the morning tide!”
“My orders!” said the captain shortly. “You may go below, my man. Hands will want supper.”
“Ay, ay, sir,” answered the cook; and, touching his forelock, he disappeared at once in the direction of his galley.
“That’s a good man, captain,” said the doctor.
“Very likely, sir,” replied Captain Smollett. “Easy with that, men—easy,” he ran on, to the fellows who were shifting the powder; and then suddenly observing me examining the swivel we carried amidships, a long brass nine—”Here, you ship’s boy,” he cried, “out o’ that! Off with you to the cook and get some work.”
And then as I was hurrying off I heard him say, quite loudly, to the doctor:—
“I’ll have no favourites on my ship.”
I assure you I was quite of the squire’s way of thinking, and hated the captain deeply.
All that night we were in a great bustle getting things stowed in their place, and boatfuls of the squire’s friends, Mr. Blandly and the like, coming off to wish him a good voyage and a safe return. We never had a night at the “Admiral Benbow” when I had half the work; and I was dog-tired when, a little before dawn, the boatswain sounded his pipe, and the crew began to man the capstan-bars. I might have been twice as weary, yet I would not have left the deck; all was so new and interesting to me—the brief commands, the shrill note of the whistle, the men bustling to their places in the glimmer of the ship’s lanterns.
“Now, Barbecue, tip us a stave,” cried one voice.
“The old one,” cried another.
“Ay, ay, mates,” said Long John, who was standing by, with his crutch under his arm, and at once broke out in the air and words I knew so well—
“Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest”—
And then the whole crew bore chorus:—
“Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!”
And at the third “ho!” drove the bars before them with a will.
Even at that exciting moment it carried me back to the old “Admiral Benbow” in a second; and I seemed to hear the voice of the captain piping in the chorus. But soon the anchor was short up; soon it was hanging dripping at the bows; soon the sails began to draw, and the land and shipping to flit by on either side; and before I could lie down to snatch an hour of slumber the Hispaniola had begun her voyage to the Isle of Treasure.
I am not going to relate that voyage in detail. It was fairly prosperous. The ship proved to be a good ship, the crew were capable seamen, and the captain thoroughly understood his business. But before we came the length of Treasure Island, two or three things had happened which require to be known.
Mr. Arrow, first of all, turned out even worse than the captain had feared. He had no command among the men, and people did what they pleased with him. But that was by no means the worst of it; for after a day or two at sea he began to appear on deck with hazy eye, red cheeks, stuttering tongue, and other marks of drunkenness. Time after time he was ordered below in disgrace. Sometimes he fell and cut himself; sometimes he lay all day long in his little bunk at one side of the companion; sometimes for a day or two he would be almost sober and attend to his work at least passably.
In the meantime, we could never make out where he got the drink. That was the ship’s mystery. Watch him as we pleased, we could do nothing to solve it; and when we asked him to his face, he would only laugh, if he were drunk, and if he were sober, deny solemnly that he ever tasted anything but water.
He was not only useless as an officer, and a bad influence amongst the men, but it was plain that at this rate he must soon kill himself outright; so nobody was much surprised, nor very sorry, when one dark night, with a head sea, he disappeared entirely and was seen no more.
“Overboard!” said the captain. “Well, gentlemen, that saves the trouble of putting him in irons.”
But there we were, without a mate; and it was necessary, of course, to advance one of the men. The boatswain, Job Anderson, was the likeliest man aboard, and, though he kept his old title, he served in a way as mate. Mr. Trelawney had followed the sea, and his knowledge made him very useful, for he often took a watch himself in easy weather. And the coxswain, Israel Hands, was a careful, wily, old, experienced seaman, who could be trusted at a pinch with almost anything.
He was a great confidant of Long John Silver, and so the mention of his name leads me on to speak of our ship’s cook, Barbecue, as the men called him.
Aboard ship he carried his crutch by a lanyard round his neck, to have both hands as free as possible. It was something to see him wedge the foot of the crutch against a bulkhead, and, propped against it, yielding to every movement of the ship, get on with his cooking like some one safe ashore. Still more strange was it to see him in the heaviest of weather cross the deck. He had a line or two rigged up to help him across the widest spaces—Long John’s earrings, they were called; and he would hand himself from one place to another, now using the crutch, now trailing it alongside by the lanyard, as quickly as another man could walk. Yet some of the men who had sailed with him before expressed their pity to see him so reduced.
“He’s no common man, Barbecue,” said the coxswain to me. “He had good schooling in his young days, and can speak like a book when so minded; and brave—a lion’s nothing alongside of Long John! I seen him grapple four, and knock their heads together—him unarmed.”
All the crew respected and even obeyed him. He had a way of talking to each, and doing everybody some particular service. To me he was unweariedly kind; and always glad to see me in the galley, which he kept as clean as a new pin; the dishes hanging up burnished, and his parrot in a cage in one corner.
“Come away, Hawkins,” he would say; “come and have a yarn with John. Nobody more welcome than yourself, my son. Sit you down and hear the news. Here’s Cap’n Flint—I calls my parrot Cap’n Flint, after the famous buccaneer—here’s Cap’n Flint predicting success to our v’yage. Wasn’t you, cap’n?”
And the parrot would say, with great rapidity, “Pieces of eight! pieces of eight! pieces of eight!” till you wondered that it was not out of breath, or till John threw his handkerchief over the cage.
“Now, that bird,” he would say, “is, may be, two hundred years old, Hawkins—they lives for ever mostly; and if anybody’s seen more wickedness, it must be the devil himself. She’s sailed with England, the great Cap’n England, the pirate. She’s been at Madagascar, and at Malabar, and Surinam, and Providence, and Portobello. She was at the fishing up of the wrecked plate ships. It’s there she learned ‘Pieces of eight,’ and little wonder; three hundred and fifty thousand of ’em, Hawkins! She was at the boarding of the Viceroy of the Indies out of Goa, she was; and to look at her you would think she was a babby. But you smelt powder—didn’t you, cap’n?”
“Stand by to go about,” the parrot would scream.
“Ah, she’s a handsome craft, she is,” the cook would say, and give her sugar from his pocket, and then the bird would peck at the bars and swear straight on, passing belief for wickedness. “There,” John would add, “you can’t touch pitch and not be mucked, lad. Here’s this poor old innocent bird o’ mine swearing blue fire, and none the wiser, you may lay to that. She would swear the same, in a manner of speaking, before chaplain.” And John would touch his forelock with a solemn way he had, that made me think he was the best of men.
In the meantime, the squire and Captain Smollett were still on pretty distant terms with one another. The squire made no bones about the matt
The squire, at this, would turn away and march up and down the deck, chin in air.
“A trifle more of that man,” he would say, “and I shall explode.”
We had some heavy weather, which only proved the qualities of the Hispaniola. Every man on board seemed well content, and they must have been hard to please if they had been otherwise; for it is my belief there was never a ship’s company so spoiled since Noah put to sea. Double grog was going on the least excuse; there was duff on odd days, as, for instance, if the squire heard it was any man’s birthday; and always a barrel of apples standing broached in the waist, for any one to help himself that had a fancy.
“Never knew good come of it yet,” the captain said to Dr. Livesey. “Spoil foc’s’le hands, make devils. That’s my belief.”
But good did come of the apple barrel, as you shall hear; for if it had not been for that, we should have had no note of warning, and might all have perished by the hand of treachery.
This was how it came about.
We had run up the trades to get the wind of the island we were after—I am not allowed to be more plain—and now we were running down for it with a bright look-out day and night. It was about the last day of our outward voyage, by the largest computation; some time that night, or, at latest, before noon of the morrow, we should sight the Treasure Island. We were heading S.S.W., and had a steady breeze abeam and a quiet sea. The Hispaniola rolled steadily, dipping her bowsprit now and then with a whiff of spray. All was drawing alow and aloft; every one was in the bravest spirits, because we were now so near an end of the first part of our adventure.
Now, just after sundown, when all my work was over, and I was on my way to my berth, it occurred to me that I should like an apple. I ran on deck. The watch was all forward looking out for the island. The man at the helm was watching the luff of the sail, and whistling away gently to himself; and that was the only sound excepting the swish of the sea against the bows and around the sides of the ship.
In I got bodily into the apple barrel, and found there was scarce an apple left; but, sitting down there in the dark, what with the sound of the waters and the rocking movement of the ship, I had either fallen asleep, or was on the point of doing so, when a heavy man sat down with rather a clash close by. The barrel shook as he leaned his shoulders against it, and I was just about to jump up when the man began to speak. It was Silver’s voice, and, before I had heard a dozen words, I would not have shown myself for all the world, but lay there, trembling and listening, in the extreme of fear and curiosity; for from these dozen words I understood that the lives of all the honest men aboard depended upon me alone.
What I Heard in the Apple Barrel
“No, not I,” said Silver. “Flint was cap’n; I was quartermaster, along of my timber leg. The same broadside I lost my leg, old Pew lost his dead-lights. It was a master surgeon, him that ampytated me—out of college and all—Latin by the bucket, and what not; but he was hanged like a dog, and sun-dried like the rest, at Corso Castle. That was Roberts’ men, that was, and corned of changing names to their ships—Royal Fortune and so on. Now, what a ship was christened, so let her stay, I says. So it was with the Cassandra, as brought us all safe home from Malabar, after England took the Viceroy of the Indies; so it was with the old Walrus, Flint’s old ship, as I’ve seen a-muck with the red blood and fit to sink with gold.”
“Ah!” cried another voice, that of the youngest hand on board, and evidently full of admiration, “he was the flower of the flock, was Flint!”
“Davis was a man, too, by all accounts,” said Silver. “I never sailed along of him; first with England, then with Flint, that’s my story; and now here on my own account, in a manner of speaking. I laid by nine hundred safe, from England, and two thousand after Flint. That ain’t bad for a man before the mast—all safe in bank. ’Tain’t earning now, it’s saving does it, you may lay to that. Where’s all England’s men now? I dunno. Where’s Flint’s? Why, most on ’em aboard here, and glad to get the duff—been begging before that, some on ’em. Old Pew, as had lost his sight, and might have thought shame, spends twelve hundred pound in a year, like a lord in Parliament. Where is he now? Well, he’s dead now and under hatches; but for two year before that, shiver my timbers! the man was starving. He begged, and he stole, and he cut throats, and starved at that, by the powers!”
“Well, it ain’t much use, after all,” said the young seaman.
“‘Tain’t much use for fools, you may lay to it—that, nor nothing,” cried Silver. “But now, you look here: you’re young, you are, but you’re as smart as paint. I see that when I set my eyes on you, and I’ll talk to you like a man.”
You may imagine how I felt when I heard this abominable old rogue addressing another in the very same words of flattery as he had used to myself. I think, if I had been able, that I would have killed him through the barrel. Meantime, he ran on, little supposing he was overheard.
“Here it is about gentlemen of fortune. They lives rough, and they risk swinging, but they eat and drink like fighting-cocks, and when a cruise is done, why, it’s hundreds of pounds instead of hundreds of farthings in their pockets. Now, the most goes for rum and a good fling, and to sea again in their shirts. But that’s not the course I lay. I puts it all away, some here, some there, and none too much anywheres, by reason of suspicion. I’m fifty, mark you; once back from this cruise, I set up gentleman in earnest. Time enough, too, says you. Ah, but I’ve lived easy in the meantime; never denied myself o’ nothing heart desires, and slep’ soft and ate dainty all my days, but when at sea. And how did I begin? Before the mast, like you!”
“Well,” said the other, “but all the other money’s gone now, ain’t it? You daren’t show face in Bristol after this.”
“Why, where might you suppose it was?” asked Silver, derisively.
“At Bristol, in banks and places,” answered his companion.
“It were,” said the cook; “it were when we weighed anchor. But my old missis has it all by now. And the ‘Spy-glass’ is sold, lease and goodwill and rigging; and the old girl’s off to meet me. I would tell you where, for I trust you; but it ’u’d make jealousy among the mates.”
“And can you trust your missis?” asked the other.
“Gentlemen of fortune,” returned the cook, “usually trusts little among themselves, and right they are, you may lay to it. But I have a way with me, I have. When a mate brings a slip on his cable—one as knows me, I mean—it won’t be in the same world with old John. There was some that was feared of Pew, and some that was feared of Flint; but Flint his own self was feared of me. Feared he was, and proud. They was the roughest crew afloat, was Flint’s; the devil himself would have been feared to go to sea with them. Well, now, I tell you, I’m not a boasting man, and you seen yourself how easy I keep company; but when I was quartermaster, lambs wasn’t the word for Flint’s old buccaneers. Ah, you may be sure of yourself in old John’s ship.”
“Well, I tell you now,” replied the lad, “I didn’t half a quarter like the job till I had this talk with you, John; but there’s my hand on it now.”
“And a brave lad you were, and smart, too,” answered Silver, shaking hands so heartily that all the barrel shook, “and a finer figurehead for a gentleman of fortune I never clapped my eyes on.”
By this time I had begun to understand the meaning of their terms. By a “gentleman of fortune” they plainly meant neither more nor l
“Dick’s square,” said Silver.
“Oh, I know’d Dick was square,” returned the voice of the coxswain, Israel Hands. “He’s no fool, is Dick.” And he turned his quid and spat. “But, look here,” he went on, “here’s what I want to know, Barbecue: how long are we a-going to stand off and on like a blessed bumboat? I’ve had a’most enough o’ Cap’n Smollett; he’s hazed me long enough, by thunder! I want to go into that cabin, I do. I want their pickles and wines, and that.”
“Israel,” said Silver, “your head ain’t much account, nor ever was. But you’re able to hear, I reckon; leastways, your ears is big enough. Now, here’s what I say: you’ll berth forward, and you’ll live hard, and you’ll speak soft, and you’ll keep sober, till I give the word; and you may lay to that, my son.”
“Well, I don’t say no, do I?” growled the coxswain. “What I say is, when? That’s what I say.”
“When! by the powers!” cried Silver. “Well, now, if you want to know, I’ll tell you when. The last moment I can manage; and that’s when. Here’s a first-rate seaman, Cap’n Smollett, sails the blessed ship for us. Here’s this squire and doctor with a map and such—I don’t know where it is, do I? No more do you, says you. Well, then, I mean this squire and doctor shall find the stuff, and help us to get it aboard, by the powers! Then we’ll see. If I was sure of you all, sons of double Dutchmen, I’d have Cap’n Smollett navigate us half-way back again before I struck.”
“Why, we’re all seamen aboard here, I should think,” said the lad Dick.
“We’re all foc’s’le hands, you mean,” snapped Silver. “We can steer a course, but who’s to set one? That’s what all you gentlemen split on, first and last. If I had my way, I’d have Cap’n Smollett work us back into the trades at least; then we’d have no blessed miscalculations and a spoonful of water a day. But I know the sort you are. I’ll finish with ’em at the island, as soon’s the blunt’s on board, and a pity it is. But you’re never happy till you’re drunk. Split my sides, I’ve a sick heart to sail with the likes of you!”
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson / History & Fiction / Actions & Adventure / Young Adult have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes