SURE enough, there were two men just outside the stockade,
one of them waving a white cloth, the other, no less a
than Silver himself, standing placidly by.
It was still quite early, and the coldest morning that
I ever was abroad in--a chill that pierced into the marrow.
The sky was bright and cloudless overhead, and the tops
of the trees
shone rosily in the sun. But where Silver stood with his
all was still in shadow, and they waded knee-deep in a
vapour that had crawled during the night out of the morass.
The chill and the vapour taken together told a poor tale
of the island.
It was plainly a damp, feverish, unhealthy spot.
"Keep indoors, men," said the captain. "Ten
to one this is a trick."
Then he hailed the buccaneer.
"Who goes? Stand, or we fire."
"Flag of truce," cried Silver.
The captain was in the porch, keeping himself carefully
out of the way of a treacherous shot, should any be intended.
He turned and spoke to us, "Doctor's watch on the
Dr. Livesey take the north side, if you please; Jim, the
Gray, west. The watch below, all hands to load muskets.
Lively, men, and careful."
And then he turned again to the mutineers.
"And what do you want with your flag of truce?"
This time it was the other man who replied.
"Cap'n Silver, sir, to come on board and make terms,"
"Cap'n Silver! Don't know him. Who's he?" cried
And we could hear him adding to himself, "Cap'n, is
My heart, and here's promotion!"
Long John answered for himself. "Me, sir. These poor
have chosen me cap'n, after your desertion, sir"--
laying a particular
emphasis upon the word "desertion." "We're
willing to submit,
if we can come to terms, and no bones about it. All I ask
is your word, Cap'n Smollett, to let me safe and sound
out of this here stockade, and one minute to get out o'
before a gun is fired."
"My man," said Captain Smollett, "I have
not the slightest desire
to talk to you. If you wish to talk to me, you can come,
If there's any treachery, it'll be on your side, and the
Lord help you."
"That's enough, cap'n," shouted Long John cheerily.
"A word from you's enough. I know a gentleman,
and you may lay to that."
We could see the man who carried the flag of truce
attempting to hold Silver back. Nor was that wonderful,
seeing how cavalier had been the captain's answer.
But Silver laughed at him aloud and slapped him on the
as if the idea of alarm had been absurd. Then he advanced
to the stockade, threw over his crutch, got a leg up,
and with great vigour and skill succeeded in surmounting
and dropping safely to the other side.
I will confess that I was far too much taken up
with what was going on to be of the slightest use as sentry;
indeed, I had already deserted my eastern loophole and
crept up behind the captain, who had now seated himself
on the threshold, with his elbows on his knees,
his head in his hands, and his eyes fixed on the water
as it bubbled out of the old iron kettle in the sand.
He was whistling "Come, Lasses and Lads."
Silver had terrible hard work getting up the knoll.
What with the steepness of the incline, the thick tree
and the soft sand, he and his crutch were as helpless
as a ship in stays. But he stuck to it like a man in silence,
and at last arrived before the captain, whom he saluted
in the handsomest style. He was tricked out in his best;
an immense blue coat, thick with brass buttons, hung as
to his knees, and a fine laced hat was set on the back
of his head.
"Here you are, my man," said the captain, raising
"You had better sit down."
"You ain't a-going to let me inside, cap'n?"
complained Long John.
"It's a main cold morning, to be sure, sir, to sit
upon the sand."
"Why, Silver," said the captain, "if you
had pleased to be
an honest man, you might have been sitting in your galley.
It's your own doing. You're either my ship's cook--
and then you were treated handsome--or Cap'n Silver,
a common mutineer and pirate, and then you can go hang!"
"Well, well, cap'n," returned the sea-cook, sitting
down as he was
bidden on the sand, "you'll have to give me a hand
that's all. A sweet pretty place you have of it here. Ah,
The top of the morning to you, Jim. Doctor, here's my service.
Why, there you all are together like a happy family, in
"If you have anything to say, my man, better say it,"
said the captain.
"Right you were, Cap'n Smollett," replied Silver.
"Dooty is dooty, to be sure. Well now, you look here,
that was a good lay of yours last night. I don't deny it
a good lay. Some of you pretty handy with a handspike-end.
And I'll not deny neither but what some of my people was
maybe all was shook; maybe I was shook myself; maybe that's
why I'm here for terms. But you mark me, cap'n, it won't
by thunder! We'll have to do sentry-go and ease off a point
on the rum. Maybe you think we were all a sheet in the
But I'll tell you I was sober; I was on'y dog tired; and
if I'd awoke
a second sooner, I'd 'a caught you at the act, I would.
He wasn't dead when I got round to him, not he."
"Well?" says Captain Smollett as cool as can
All that Silver said was a riddle to him, but you would
guessed it from his tone. As for me, I began to have an
Ben Gunn's last words came back to my mind. I began to
that he had paid the buccaneers a visit while they all
together round their fire, and I reckoned up with glee
that we had
only fourteen enemies to deal with.
"Well, here it is," said Silver. "We want
and we'll have it--that's our point! You would just as
save your lives, I reckon; and that's yours. You have a
"That's as may be," replied the captain.
"Oh, well, you have, I know that," returned Long
"You needn't be so husky with a man; there ain't a
of service in that, and you may lay to it. What I mean
we want your chart. Now, I never meant you no harm, myself."
"That won't do with me, my man," interrupted
"We know exactly what you meant to do, and we don't
for now, you see, you can't do it."
And the captain looked at him calmly and proceeded to fill
"If Abe Gray--" Silver broke out.
"Avast there!" cried Mr. Smollett. "Gray
told me nothing,
and I asked him nothing; and what's more, I would see you
and this whole island blown clean out of the water into
So there's my mind for you, my man, on that."
This little whiff of temper seemed to cool Silver down.
He had been growing nettled before, but now he pulled
"Like enough," said he. "I would set no
limits to what gentlemen might consider shipshape, or might not, as the
And seein' as how you are about to take a pipe, cap'n,
I'll make so free as do likewise."
And he filled a pipe and lighted it; and the two men sat
smoking for quite a while, now looking each other in the
now stopping their tobacco, now leaning forward to spit.
It was as good as the play to see them.
"Now," resumed Silver, "here it is. You
give us the chart
to get the treasure by, and drop shooting poor seamen
and stoving of their heads in while asleep. You do that,
and we'll offer you a choice. Either you come aboard along
once the treasure shipped, and then I'll give you my
upon my word of honour, to clap you somewhere safe ashore.
Or if that ain't to your fancy, some of my hands being
having old scores on account of hazing, then you can stay
you can. We'll divide stores with you, man for man; and
my affy-davy, as before to speak the first ship I sight,
and send 'em here to pick you up. Now, you'll own that's
Handsomer you couldn't look to get, now you. And I hope"--
raising his voice-- "that all hands in this here block
will overhaul my words, for what is spoke to one is spoke
Captain Smollett rose from his seat and knocked out the
of his pipe in the palm of his left hand.
"Is that all?" he asked.
"Every last word, by thunder!" answered John.
and you've seen the last of me but musket-balls."
"Very good," said the captain. "Now you'll
If you'll come up one by one, unarmed, I'll engage to clap
in irons and take you home to a fair trial in England.
If you won't,
my name is Alexander Smollett, I've flown my sovereign's
and I'll see you all to Davy Jones. You can't find the
You can't sail the ship-- there's not a man among you fit
to sail the
ship. You can't fight us--Gray, there, got away from five
Your ship's in irons, Master Silver; you're on a lee shore,
and so you'll find. I stand here and tell you so; and they're
good words you'll get from me, for in the name of heaven,
I'll put a bullet in your back when next I meet you.
Tramp, my lad. Bundle out of this, please, hand over hand,
and double quick."
Silver's face was a picture; his eyes started in his head
He shook the fire out of his pipe.
"Give me a hand up!" he cried.
"Not I," returned the captain.
"Who'll give me a hand up?" he roared.
Not a man among us moved. Growling the foulest imprecations,
he crawled along the sand till he got hold of the porch
hoist himself again upon his crutch. Then he spat into
"There!" he cried. "That's what I think
of ye. Before an hour's out,
I'll stove in your old block house like a rum puncheon.
Laugh, by thunder, laugh! Before an hour's out, ye'll laugh
upon the other side. Them that die'll be the lucky ones."
And with a dreadful oath he stumbled off, ploughed down
was helped across the stockade, after four or five failures,
by the man with the flag of truce, and disappeared in an
afterwards among the trees.
Top of Page
Room | TREASURE