Narrative Continued by the Doctor:
The Jolly-boat's Last Trip
THIS fifth trip was quite different from any of the others.
In the first place, the little gallipot of a boat that
we were in
was gravely overloaded. Five grown men, and three of them--
Trelawney, Redruth, and the captain--over six feet high,
was already more than she was meant to carry. Add to that
the powder, pork, and bread-bags. The gunwale was lipping
Several times we shipped a little water, and my breeches
tails of my coat were all soaking wet before we had gone
a hundred yards.
The captain made us trim the boat, and we got her to lie
a little more evenly. All the same, we were afraid to breathe.
In the second place, the ebb was now making--a strong
rippling current running westward through the basin,
and then south'ard and seaward down the straits by which
we had entered in the morning. Even the ripples were a
to our overloaded craft, but the worst of it was that
we were swept out of our true course and away from our
landing-place behind the point. If we let the current have
we should come ashore beside the gigs, where the pirates
might appear at any moment.
"I cannot keep her head for the stockade, sir,"
said I to the captain.
I was steering, while he and Redruth, two fresh men,
were at the oars. "The tide keeps washing her down.
Could you pull a little stronger?"
"Not without swamping the boat," said he. "You
must bear up, sir,
if you please--bear up until you see you're gaining."
I tried and found by experiment that the tide kept sweeping
westward until I had laid her head due east, or just about
right angles to the way we ought to go.
"We'll never get ashore at this rate," said I.
"If it's the only course that we can lie, sir, we
must even lie it,"
returned the captain. "We must keep upstream. You
he went on, "if once we dropped to leeward of the
it's hard to say where we should get ashore, besides the
of being boarded by the gigs; whereas, the way we go
the current must slacken, and then we can dodge back
along the shore."
"The current's less a'ready, sir," said the man
Gray, who was sitting
in the fore-sheets; "you can ease her off a bit."
"Thank you, my man," said I, quite as if nothing
for we had all quietly made up our minds to treat him like
Suddenly the captain spoke up again, and I thought his
was a little changed.
"The gun!" said he.
"I have thought of that," said I, for I made
sure he was thinking
of a bombardment of the fort. "They could never get
ashore, and if they did, they could never haul it through
"Look astern, doctor," replied the captain.
We had entirely forgotten the long nine; and there, to
were the five rogues busy about her, getting off her jacket,
as they called the stout tarpaulin cover under which she
Not only that, but it flashed into my mind at the same
that the round-shot and the powder for the gun had been
left behind, and a stroke with an axe would put it all
into the possession of the evil ones abroad.
"Israel was Flint's gunner," said Gray hoarsely.
At any risk, we put the boat's head direct for the landing-place.
By this time we had got so far out of the run of the current
that we kept steerage way even at our necessarily gentle
rate of rowing, and I could keep her steady for the goal.
But the worst of it was that with the course I now held
we turned our broadside instead of our stern to the HISPANIOLA
and offered a target like a barn door.
I could hear as well as see that brandy-faced rascal Israel
plumping down a round-shot on the deck.
"Who's the best shot?" asked the captain.
"Mr. Trelawney, out and away," said I.
"Mr. Trelawney, will you please pick me off one of
these men, sir?
Hands, if possible," said the captain.
Trelawney was as cool as steel. He looked to the priming
of his gun.
"Now," cried the captain, "easy with that
gun, sir, or you'll swamp
the boat. All hands stand by to trim her when he aims."
The squire raised his gun, the rowing ceased,
and we leaned over to the other side to keep the balance,
and all was so nicely contrived that we did not ship a
They had the gun, by this time, slewed round upon the swivel,
and Hands, who was at the muzzle with the rammer, was in
consequence the most exposed. However, we had no luck,
for just as Trelawney fired, down he stooped, the ball
over him, and it was one of the other four who fell.
The cry he gave was echoed not only by his companions on
but by a great number of voices from the shore, and looking
in that direction I saw the other pirates trooping out
the trees and tumbling into their places in the boats.
"Here come the gigs, sir," said I.
"Give way, then," cried the captain. "We
mustn't mind if we
swamp her now. If we can't get ashore, all's up."
"Only one of the gigs is being manned, sir,"
"the crew of the other most likely going round by
to cut us off."
"They'll have a hot run, sir," returned the captain.
"Jack ashore, you know. It's not them I mind; it's
Carpet bowls! My lady's maid couldn't miss. Tell us,
squire, when you see the match, and we'll hold water."
In the meanwhile we had been making headway at a good pace
for a boat so overloaded, and we had shipped but little
in the process. We were now close in; thirty or forty strokes
and we should beach her, for the ebb had already disclosed
a narrow belt of sand below the clustering trees. The gig
no longer to be feared; the little point had already concealed
from our eyes. The ebb-tide, which had so cruelly delayed
was now making reparation and delaying our assailants.
The one source of danger was the gun.
"If I durst," said the captain, "I'd stop
and pick off another man."
But it was plain that they meant nothing should delay their
They had never so much as looked at their fallen comrade,
though he was not dead, and I could see him trying to crawl
"Ready!" cried the squire.
"Hold!" cried the captain, quick as an echo.
And he and Redruth backed with a great heave that sent
bodily under water. The report fell in at the same instant
This was the first that Jim heard, the sound of the squire's
not having reached him. Where the ball passed, not one
precisely knew, but I fancy it must have been over our
and that the wind of it may have contributed to our disaster.
At any rate, the boat sank by the stern, quite gently,
in three feet of water, leaving the captain and myself,
facing each other, on our feet. The other three took
complete headers, and came up again drenched and bubbling.
So far there was no great harm. No lives were lost, and
wade ashore in safety. But there were all our stores at
and to make things worse, only two guns out of five
remained in a state for service. Mine I had snatched
from my knees and held over my head, by a sort of instinct.
As for the captain, he had carried his over his shoulder
by a bandoleer, and like a wise man, lock uppermost.
The other three had gone down with the boat.
To add to our concern, we heard voices already drawing
in the woods along shore, and we had not only the danger
of being cut off from the stockade in our half-crippled
but the fear before us whether, if Hunter and Joyce were
by half a dozen, they would have the sense and conduct
firm. Hunter was steady, that we knew; Joyce was a doubtful
case--a pleasant, polite man for a valet and to brush one's
but not entirely fitted for a man of war.
With all this in our minds, we waded ashore as fast as
leaving behind us the poor jolly-boat and a good half of
powder and provisions.
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