Council of War
THERE was a great rush of feet across the deck. I could
people tumbling up from the cabin and the forecastle, and
in an instant outside my barrel, I dived behind the fore-sail,
made a double towards the stern, and came out upon the
in time to join Hunter and Dr. Livesey in the rush for
There all hands were already congregated. A belt of fog
almost simultaneously with the appearance of the moon.
Away to the south-west of us we saw two low hills,
about a couple of miles apart, and rising behind one of
a third and higher hill, whose peak was still buried in
All three seemed sharp and conical in figure.
So much I saw, almost in a dream, for I had not yet recovered
from my horrid fear of a minute or two before. And then
the voice of Captain Smollett issuing orders. The HISPANIOLA
was laid a couple of points nearer the wind and now sailed
a course that would just clear the island on the east.
"And now, men," said the captain, when all was
"has any one of you ever seen that land ahead?"
"I have, sir," said Silver. "I've watered
there with a trader
I was cook in."
"The anchorage is on the south, behind an islet, I
asked the captain.
"Yes, sir; Skeleton Island they calls it. It were
a main place
for pirates once, and a hand we had on board knowed all
names for it. That hill to the nor'ard they calls the Fore-mast
there are three hills in a row running south'ard--fore,
mizzen, sir. But the main--that's the big un, with the
cloud on it--
they usually calls the Spy-glass, by reason of a lookout
when they was in the anchorage cleaning, for it's there
cleaned their ships, sir, asking your pardon."
"I have a chart here," says Captain Smollett.
"See if that's the place."
Long John's eyes burned in his head as he took the chart,
but by the fresh look of the paper I knew he was doomed
to disappointment. This was not the map we found in
Billy Bones's chest, but an accurate copy, complete in
all things --
names and heights and soundings--with the single exception
of the red crosses and the written notes. Sharp as must
his annoyance, Silver had the strength of mind to hide
"Yes, sir," said he, "this is the spot,
to be sure, and very prettily
drawed out. Who might have done that, I wonder?
The pirates were too ignorant, I reckon. Aye, here it is:
'Capt. Kidd's Anchorage'--just the name my shipmate called
There's a strong current runs along the south, and then
nor'ard up the west coast. Right you was, sir," says
"to haul your wind and keep the weather of the island.
Leastways, if such was your intention as to enter and careen,
and there ain't no better place for that in these waters."
"Thank you, my man," says Captain Smollett. "I'll
ask you later on
to give us a help. You may go."
I was surprised at the coolness with which John avowed
his knowledge of the island, and I own I was half-frightened
when I saw him drawing nearer to myself. He did not know,
to be sure, that I had overheard his council from the apple
and yet I had by this time taken such a horror of his cruelty,
duplicity, and power that I could scarce conceal a shudder
when he laid his hand upon my arm.
"Ah," says he, "this here is a sweet spot,
this island--a sweet spot
for a lad to get ashore on. You'll bathe, and you'll climb
and you'll hunt goats, you will; and you'll get aloft on
like a goat yourself. Why, it makes me young again. I was
to forget my timber leg, I was. It's a pleasant thing to
and have ten toes, and you may lay to that. When you want
a bit of exploring, you just ask old John, and he'll put
up a snack
for you to take along."
And clapping me in the friendliest way upon the shoulder,
he hobbled off forward and went below.
Captain Smollett, the squire, and Dr. Livesey were talking
on the quarter-deck, and anxious as I was to tell them
I durst not interrupt them openly. While I was still casting
in my thoughts to find some probable excuse, Dr. Livesey
me to his side. He had left his pipe below, and being a
to tobacco, had meant that I should fetch it; but as soon
as I was
near enough to speak and not to be overheard, I broke immediately,
"Doctor, let me speak. Get the captain and squire
to the cabin, and then make some pretence to send for me.
I have terrible news."
The doctor changed countenance a little, but next moment
master of himself.
"Thank you, Jim," said he quite loudly, "that
was all I wanted
to know," as if he had asked me a question.
And with that he turned on his heel and rejoined the other
They spoke together for a little, and though none of them
or raised his voice, or so much as whistled, it was plain
that Dr. Livesey had communicated my request, for the next
that I heard was the captain giving an order to Job Anderson,
and all hands were piped on deck.
"My lads," said Captain Smollett, "I've
a word to say to you.
This land that we have sighted is the place we have been
Mr. Trelawney, being a very open-handed gentleman, as we
know, has just asked me a word or two, and as I was able
him that every man on board had done his duty, alow and
as I never ask to see it done better, why, he and I and
are going below to the cabin to drink YOUR health and luck,
and you'll have grog served out for you to drink OUR health
and luck. I'll tell you what I think of this: I think it
And if you think as I do, you'll give a good sea-cheer
gentleman that does it."
The cheer followed--that was a matter of course; but it
so full and hearty that I confess I could hardly believe
men were plotting for our blood.
"One more cheer for Cap'n Smollett," cried Long
when the first had subsided.
And this also was given with a will.
On the top of that the three gentlemen went below, and
not long after, word was sent forward that Jim Hawkins
was wanted in the cabin.
I found them all three seated round the table,
a bottle of Spanish wine and some raisins before them,
and the doctor smoking away, with his wig on his lap,
and that, I knew, was a sign that he was agitated.
The stern window was open, for it was a warm night,
and you could see the moon shining behind on the ship's
"Now, Hawkins," said the squire, "you have
something to say.
I did as I was bid, and as short as I could make it,
told the whole details of Silver's conversation.
Nobody interrupted me till I was done, nor did any one
of the three of them make so much as a movement,
but they kept their eyes upon my face from first to last.
"Jim," said Dr. Livesey, "take a seat."
And they made me sit down at table beside them, poured
a glass of wine, filled my hands with raisins, and all
one after the other, and each with a bow, drank my good
and their service to me, for my luck and courage.
"Now, captain," said the squire, "you were
right, and I was wrong.
I own myself an ass, and I await your orders."
"No more an ass than I, sir," returned the captain.
"I never heard
of a crew that meant to mutiny but what showed signs before,
for any man that had an eye in his head to see the mischief
and take steps according. But this crew," he added,
"Captain," said the doctor, "with your permission,
A very remarkable man."
"He'd look remarkably well from a yard-arm, sir,"
returned the captain. "But this is talk; this don't
lead to anything.
I see three or four points, and with Mr. Trelawney's permission,
I'll name them."
"You, sir, are the captain. It is for you to speak,"
says Mr. Trelawney grandly.
"First point," began Mr. Smollett. "We must
because we can't turn back. If I gave the word to go about,
they would rise at once. Second point, we have time before
at least until this treasure's found. Third point, there
hands. Now, sir, it's got to come to blows sooner or later,
what I propose is to take time by the forelock, as the
and come to blows some fine day when they least expect
We can count, I take it, on your own home servants,
"As upon myself," declared the squire.
"Three," reckoned the captain; "ourselves
counting Hawkins here. Now, about the honest hands?"
"Most likely Trelawney's own men," said the doctor;
"those he had picked up for himself before he lit
"Nay," replied the squire. "Hands was one
"I did think I could have trusted Hands," added
"And to think that they're all Englishmen!" broke
out the squire.
"Sir, I could find it in my heart to blow the ship
"Well, gentlemen," said the captain, "the
best that I can say
is not much. We must lay to, if you please, and keep a
lookout. It's trying on a man, I know. It would be pleasanter
to come to blows. But there's no help for it till we know
Lay to, and whistle for a wind, that's my view."
"Jim here," said the doctor, "can help us
more than anyone.
The men are not shy with him, and Jim is a noticing lad."
"Hawkins, I put prodigious faith in you," added
I began to feel pretty desperate at this, for I felt altogether
and yet, by an odd train of circumstances, it was indeed
through me that safety came. In the meantime, talk as we
there were only seven out of the twenty-six on whom we
we could rely; and out of these seven one was a boy,
so that the grown men on our side were six to their nineteen.
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