My Shore Adventure
How My Shore Adventure Began
THE appearance of the island when I came on deck next morning
was altogether changed. Although the breeze had now utterly
ceased, we had made a great deal of way during the night
were now lying becalmed about half a mile to the south-east
of the low eastern coast. Grey-coloured woods covered a
of the surface. This even tint was indeed broken up by
of yellow sand-break in the lower lands, and by many tall
of the pine family, out-topping the others--some singly,
clumps; but the general colouring was uniform and sad.
The hills ran up clear above the vegetation in spires of
All were strangely shaped, and the Spy-glass, which was
or four hundred feet the tallest on the island, was likewise
strangest in configuration, running up sheer from almost
and then suddenly cut off at the top like a pedestal to
put a statue
The HISPANIOLA was rolling scuppers under in the ocean
The booms were tearing at the blocks, the rudder was banging
to and fro, and the whole ship creaking, groaning, and
like a manufactory. I had to cling tight to the backstay,
and the world turned giddily before my eyes, for though
a good enough sailor when there was way on, this standing
and being rolled about like a bottle was a thing I never
to stand without a qualm or so, above all in the morning,
Perhaps it was this--perhaps it was the look of the island,
with its grey, melancholy woods, and wild stone spires,
and the surf that we could both see and hear foaming and
thundering on the steep beach--at least, although the sun
bright and hot, and the shore birds were fishing and crying
all around us, and you would have thought anyone would
been glad to get to land after being so long at sea, my
as the saying is, into my boots; and from the first look
I hated the very thought of Treasure Island.
We had a dreary morning's work before us, for there was
of any wind, and the boats had to be got out and manned,
ship warped three or four miles round the corner of the
and up the narrow passage to the haven behind Skeleton
I volunteered for one of the boats, where I had, of course,
no business. The heat was sweltering, and the men grumbled
fiercely over their work. Anderson was in command of my
and instead of keeping the crew in order, he grumbled as
"Well," he said with an oath, "it's not
I thought this was a very bad sign, for up to that day
the men had
gone briskly and willingly about their business; but the
of the island had relaxed the cords of discipline.
All the way in, Long John stood by the steersman and conned
the ship. He knew the passage like the palm of his hand,
though the man in the chains got everywhere more water
than was down in the chart, John never hesitated once.
"There's a strong scour with the ebb," he said,
"and this here
passage has been dug out, in a manner of speaking, with
We brought up just where the anchor was in the chart, about
of a mile from each shore, the mainland on one side and
Skeleton Island on the other. The bottom was clean sand.
The plunge of our anchor sent up clouds of birds wheeling
and crying over the woods, but in less than a minute
they were down again and all was once more silent.
The place was entirely land-locked, buried in woods, the
coming right down to high-water mark, the shores mostly
and the hilltops standing round at a distance in a sort
amphitheatre, one here, one there. Two little rivers, or
two swamps, emptied out into this pond, as you might call
and the foliage round that part of the shore had a kind
brightness. From the ship we could see nothing of the house
or stockade, for they were quite buried among trees; and
had not been for the chart on the companion, we might have
the first that had ever anchored there since the island
of the seas.
There was not a breath of air moving, nor a sound but that
of the surf booming half a mile away along the beaches
against the rocks outside. A peculiar stagnant smell hung
anchorage--a smell of sodden leaves and rotting tree trunks.
I observed the doctor sniffing and sniffing, like someone
"I don't know about treasure," he said, "but
I'll stake my wig
there's fever here."
If the conduct of the men had been alarming in the boat,
it became truly threatening when they had come aboard.
They lay about the deck growling together in talk. The
order was received with a black look and grudgingly and
obeyed. Even the honest hands must have caught the infection,
for there was not one man aboard to mend another.
Mutiny, it was plain, hung over us like a thunder-cloud.
And it was not only we of the cabin party who perceived
danger. Long John was hard at work going from group to
spending himself in good advice, and as for example no
have shown a better. He fairly outstripped himself in willingness
and civility; he was all smiles to everyone. If an order
John would be on his crutch in an instant, with the cheeriest
"Aye, aye, sir!" in the world; and when there
was nothing else
to do, he kept up one song after another, as if to conceal
discontent of the rest.
Of all the gloomy features of that gloomy afternoon, this
obvious anxiety on the part of Long John appeared the worst.
We held a council in the cabin.
"Sir," said the captain, "if I risk another
order, the whole ship'll
come about our ears by the run. You see, sir, here it is.
I get a rough answer, do I not? Well, if I speak back,
be going in two shakes; if I don't, Silver will see there's
under that, and the game's up. Now, we've only one man
"And who is that?" asked the squire.
"Silver, sir," returned the captain; "he's
as anxious as you and I
to smother things up. This is a tiff; he'd soon talk 'em
out of it
if he had the chance, and what I propose to do is to give
the chance. Let's allow the men an afternoon ashore. If
they all go,
why we'll fight the ship. If they none of them go, well
we hold the cabin, and God defend the right. If some go,
you mark my words, sir, Silver'll bring 'em aboard again
It was so decided; loaded pistols were served out to all
men; Hunter, Joyce, and Redruth were taken into our confidence
and received the news with less surprise and a better spirit
than we had looked for, and then the captain went on deck
and addressed the crew.
"My lads," said he, "we've had a hot day
and are all tired
and out of sorts. A turn ashore'll hurt nobody-- the boats
in the water; you can take the gigs, and as many as please
may go ashore for the afternoon. I'll fire a gun half an
I believe the silly fellows must have thought they would
their shins over treasure as soon as they were landed,
for they all
came out of their sulks in a moment and gave a cheer that
the echo in a far-away hill and sent the birds once more
and squalling round the anchorage.
The captain was too bright to be in the way. He whipped
sight in a moment, leaving Silver to arrange the party,
and I fancy
it was as well he did so. Had he been on deck, he could
so much as have pretended not to understand the situation.
It was as plain as day. Silver was the captain, and a mighty
rebellious crew he had of it. The honest hands--and I was
to see it proved that there were such on board--must have
very stupid fellows. Or rather, I suppose the truth was
that all hands were disaffected by the example of the ringleaders--
only some more, some less; and a few, being good fellows
in the main, could neither be led nor driven any further.
It is one thing to be idle and skulk and quite another
to take a ship
and murder a number of innocent men.
At last, however, the party was made up. Six fellows were
on board, and the remaining thirteen, including Silver,
began to embark.
Then it was that there came into my head the first of the
mad notions that contributed so much to save our lives.
If six men were left by Silver, it was plain our party
could not take
and fight the ship; and since only six were left, it was
that the cabin party had no present need of my assistance.
It occurred to me at once to go ashore. In a jiffy I had
over the side and curled up in the fore-sheets of the nearest
and almost at the same moment she shoved off.
No one took notice of me, only the bow oar saying, "Is
Jim? Keep your head down." But Silver, from the other
looked sharply over and called out to know if that were
and from that moment I began to regret what I had done.
The crews raced for the beach, but the boat I was in,
having some start and being at once the lighter and the
manned, shot far ahead of her consort, and the bow had
among the shore-side trees and I had caught a branch
and swung myself out and plunged into the nearest thicket
while Silver and the rest were still a hundred yards behind.
"Jim, Jim!" I heard him shouting.
But you may suppose I paid no heed; jumping, ducking,
and breaking through, I ran straight before my nose
till I could run no longer.
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