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| Home | Reading Room TREASURE ISLAND

by Robert Louis Stevenson

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The Voyage



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.




"Aye, aye, 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 someone 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, maybe, two hundred years old,


Hawkins--they live forever 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 matter; he despised the captain. The captain, on his part,


never spoke but when he was spoken to, and then sharp and short


and dry, and not a word wasted. He owned, when driven


into a corner, that he seemed to have been wrong about the crew,


that some of them were as brisk as he wanted to see and all had


behaved fairly well. As for the ship, he had taken a downright


fancy to her. "She'll lie a point nearer the wind than a man has a


right to expect of his own married wife, sir. But," he would add,


"all I say is, we're not home again, and I don't like the cruise."




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 anyone to help himself that had a fancy.




"Never knew good come of it yet," the captain said to Dr. Livesey.


"Spoil forecastle 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 lookout


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; everyone was in the bravest spirits


because we were now so near an end of the first part of our






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.



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