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| Home | Reading Room TREASURE ISLAND

by Robert Louis Stevenson

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The Stockade


Narrative Continued by the Doctor:

How the Ship Was Abandoned


IT was about half past one--three bells in the sea phrase--


that the two boats went ashore from the HISPANIOLA.


The captain, the squire, and I were talking matters over


in the cabin. Had there been a breath of wind, we should have


fallen on the six mutineers who were left aboard with us,


slipped our cable, and away to sea. But the wind was wanting;


and to complete our helplessness, down came Hunter with


the news that Jim Hawkins had slipped into a boat and was


gone ashore with the rest.




It never occurred to us to doubt Jim Hawkins, but we were alarmed


for his safety. With the men in the temper they were in,


it seemed an even chance if we should see the lad again.


We ran on deck. The pitch was bubbling in the seams;


the nasty stench of the place turned me sick; if ever a man


smelt fever and dysentery, it was in that abominable anchorage.


The six scoundrels were sitting grumbling under a sail


in the forecastle; ashore we could see the gigs made fast


and a man sitting in each, hard by where the river runs in.


One of them was whistling "Lillibullero."




Waiting was a strain, and it was decided that Hunter and I should


go ashore with the jolly-boat in quest of information.




The gigs had leaned to their right, but Hunter and I pulled


straight in, in the direction of the stockade upon the chart.


The two who were left guarding their boats seemed in a bustle


at our appearance; "Lillibullero" stopped off, and I could see


the pair discussing what they ought to do. Had they gone


and told Silver, all might have turned out differently;


but they had their orders, I suppose, and decided to sit quietly


where they were and hark back again to "Lillibullero."




There was a slight bend in the coast, and I steered so as


to put it between us; even before we landed we had thus lost sight


of the gigs. I jumped out and came as near running as I durst,


with a big silk handkerchief under my hat for coolness' sake


and a brace of pistols ready primed for safety.




I had not gone a hundred yards when I reached the stockade.




This was how it was: a spring of clear water rose almost at the top


of a knoll. Well, on the knoll, and enclosing the spring,


they had clapped a stout log-house fit to hold two score of people


on a pinch and loopholed for musketry on either side.


All round this they had cleared a wide space, and then the thing


was completed by a paling six feet high, without door or opening,


too strong to pull down without time and labour and too open


to shelter the besiegers. The people in the log-house had them


in every way; they stood quiet in shelter and shot the others


like partridges. All they wanted was a good watch and food;


for, short of a complete surprise, they might have held the place


against a regiment.




What particularly took my fancy was the spring. For though we


had a good enough place of it in the cabin of the HISPANIOLA,


with plenty of arms and ammunition, and things to eat,


and excellent wines, there had been one thing overlooked--


we had no water. I was thinking this over when there came ringing


over the island the cry of a man at the point of death.


I was not new to violent death--I have served his Royal Highness


the Duke of Cumberland, and got a wound myself at Fontenoy--


but I know my pulse went dot and carry one. "Jim Hawkins is


gone," was my first thought.




It is something to have been an old soldier, but more still


to have been a doctor. There is no time to dilly-dally in our work.


And so now I made up my mind instantly, and with no time lost


returned to the shore and jumped on board the jolly-boat.




By good fortune Hunter pulled a good oar. We made the water fly,


and the boat was soon alongside and I aboard the schooner.




I found them all shaken, as was natural. The squire was sitting


down, as white as a sheet, thinking of the harm he had led us to,


the good soul! And one of the six forecastle hands was little better.




"There's a man," says Captain Smollett, nodding towards him,


"new to this work. He came nigh-hand fainting, doctor, when he


heard the cry. Another touch of the rudder and that man would


join us."




I told my plan to the captain, and between us we settled


on the details of its accomplishment.




We put old Redruth in the gallery between the cabin and


the forecastle, with three or four loaded muskets and a mattress


for protection. Hunter brought the boat round under the stern-port,


and Joyce and I set to work loading her with powder tins,


muskets, bags of biscuits, kegs of pork, a cask of cognac,


and my invaluable medicine chest.




In the meantime, the squire and the captain stayed on deck, and


the latter hailed the coxswain, who was the principal man aboard.




"Mr. Hands," he said, "here are two of us with a brace of pistols


each. If any one of you six make a signal of any description,


that man's dead."




They were a good deal taken aback, and after a little consultation


one and all tumbled down the fore companion, thinking no doubt


to take us on the rear. But when they saw Redruth waiting for them


in the sparred galley, they went about ship at once, and a head


popped out again on deck.




"Down, dog!" cries the captain.




And the head popped back again; and we heard no more,


for the time, of these six very faint-hearted seamen.




By this time, tumbling things in as they came, we had the


jolly-boat loaded as much as we dared. Joyce and I got out


through the stern-port, and we made for shore again as fast as oars


could take us.




This second trip fairly aroused the watchers along shore.


"Lillibullero" was dropped again; and just before we lost


sight of them behind the little point, one of them whipped ashore


and disappeared. I had half a mind to change my plan


and destroy their boats, but I feared that Silver and the others


might be close at hand, and all might very well be lost


by trying for too much.




We had soon touched land in the same place as before and


set to provision the block house. All three made the first journey,


heavily laden, and tossed our stores over the palisade.


Then, leaving Joyce to guard them--one man, to be sure,


but with half a dozen muskets-- Hunter and I returned to the


jolly-boat and loaded ourselves once more. So we proceeded


without pausing to take breath, till the whole cargo was bestowed,


when the two servants took up their position in the block house,


and I, with all my power, sculled back to the HISPANIOLA.




That we should have risked a second boat load seems more daring


than it really was. They had the advantage of numbers, of course,


but we had the advantage of arms. Not one of the men ashore


had a musket, and before they could get within range


for pistol shooting, we flattered ourselves we should be able


to give a good account of a half-dozen at least.




The squire was waiting for me at the stern window,


all his faintness gone from him. He caught the painter


and made it fast, and we fell to loading the boat for our very lives.


Pork, powder, and biscuit was the cargo, with only a musket


and a cutlass apiece for the squire and me and Redruth and the


captain. The rest of the arms and powder we dropped overboard


in two fathoms and a half of water, so that we could see


the bright steel shining far below us in the sun, on the clean,


sandy bottom.




By this time the tide was beginning to ebb, and the ship was


swinging round to her anchor. Voices were heard faintly halloaing


in the direction of the two gigs; and though this reassured us


for Joyce and Hunter, who were well to the eastward,


it warned our party to be off.




Redruth retreated from his place in the gallery and dropped


into the boat, which we then brought round to the ship's counter,


to be handier for Captain Smollett.




"Now, men," said he, "do you hear me?"




There was no answer from the forecastle.




"It's to you, Abraham Gray--it's to you I am speaking."




Still no reply.




"Gray," resumed Mr. Smollett, a little louder, "I am leaving


this ship, and I order you to follow your captain. I know you are


a good man at bottom, and I dare say not one of the lot of you's


as bad as he makes out. I have my watch here in my hand;


I give you thirty seconds to join me in."




There was a pause.




"Come, my fine fellow," continued the captain; "don't hang so long


in stays. I'm risking my life and the lives of these good gentlemen


every second."




There was a sudden scuffle, a sound of blows, and out burst


Abraham Gray with a knife cut on the side of the cheek,


and came running to the captain like a dog to the whistle.




"I'm with you, sir," said he.




And the next moment he and the captain had dropped aboard of us,


and we had shoved off and given way.




We were clear out of the ship, but not yet ashore in our stockade.



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