In the Enemy's Camp
THE red glare of the torch, lighting up the interior of
the block house, showed me the worst of my apprehensions
realized. The pirates were in possession of the house and
there was the cask of cognac, there were the pork and bread,
as before, and what tenfold increased my horror, not a
of any prisoner. I could only judge that all had perished,
and my heart smote me sorely that I had not been there
to perish with them.
There were six of the buccaneers, all told; not another
was left alive. Five of them were on their feet, flushed
suddenly called out of the first sleep of drunkenness.
The sixth had only risen upon his elbow; he was deadly
and the blood-stained bandage round his head told that
recently been wounded, and still more recently dressed.
I remembered the man who had been shot and had run back
among the woods in the great attack, and doubted not
that this was he.
The parrot sat, preening her plumage, on Long John's shoulder.
He himself, I thought, looked somewhat paler and more stern
than I was used to. He still wore the fine broadcloth suit
he had fulfilled his mission, but it was bitterly the worse
daubed with clay and torn with the sharp briers of the
"So," said he, "here's Jim Hawkins, shiver
Dropped in, like, eh? Well, come, I take that friendly."
And thereupon he sat down across the brandy cask and
began to fill a pipe.
"Give me a loan of the link, Dick," said he;
when he had a good light, "That'll do, lad,"
"stick the glim in the wood heap; and you, gentlemen,
bring yourselves to! You needn't stand up for Mr. Hawkins;
HE'LL excuse you, you may lay to that. And so, Jim"--
stopping the tobacco--"here you were, and quite a
for poor old John. I see you were smart when first I set
on you, but this here gets away from me clean, it do."
To all this, as may be well supposed, I made no answer.
They had set me with my back against the wall, and I stood
looking Silver in the face, pluckily enough, I hope, to
appearance, but with black despair in my heart.
Silver took a whiff or two of his pipe with great composure
and then ran on again.
"Now, you see, Jim, so be as you ARE here," says
"I'll give you a piece of my mind. I've always liked
you, I have,
for a lad of spirit, and the picter of my own self when
I was young
and handsome. I always wanted you to jine and take your
and die a gentleman, and now, my cock, you've got to.
Cap'n Smollett's a fine seaman, as I'll own up to any day,
but stiff on discipline. 'Dooty is dooty,' says he, and
right he is.
Just you keep clear of the cap'n. The doctor himself is
again you--'ungrateful scamp' was what he said; and the
and the long of the whole story is about here: you can't
to your own lot, for they won't have you; and without you
start a third ship's company all by yourself, which might
you'll have to jine with Cap'n Silver."
So far so good. My friends, then, were still alive,
and though I partly believed the truth of Silver's statement,
that the cabin party were incensed at me for my desertion,
I was more relieved than distressed by what I heard.
"I don't say nothing as to your being in our hands,"
continued Silver, "though there you are, and you may
lay to it.
I'm all for argyment; I never seen good come out o' threatening.
If you like the service, well, you'll jine; and if you
why, you're free to answer no--free and welcome, shipmate;
and if fairer can be said by mortal seaman, shiver my sides!"
"Am I to answer, then?" I asked with a very tremulous
Through all this sneering talk, I was made to feel the
threat of death
that overhung me, and my cheeks burned and my heart beat
painfully in my breast.
"Lad," said Silver, "no one's a-pressing
of you. Take your bearings.
None of us won't hurry you, mate; time goes so pleasant
company, you see."
"Well," says I, growing a bit bolder, "if
I'm to choose,
I declare I have a right to know what's what, and why you're
and where my friends are."
"Wot's wot?" repeated one of the buccaneers in
a deep growl.
"Ah, he'd be a lucky one as knowed that!"
"You'll perhaps batten down your hatches till you're
my friend," cried Silver truculently to this speaker.
And then, in his first gracious tones, he replied to me,
"Yesterday morning, Mr. Hawkins," said he, "in
down came Doctor Livesey with a flag of truce. Says he,
'Cap'n Silver, you're sold out. Ship's gone.' Well, maybe
taking a glass, and a song to help it round. I won't say
Leastways, none of us had looked out. We looked out,
and by thunder, the old ship was gone! I never seen a pack
look fishier; and you may lay to that, if I tells you that
the fishiest. 'Well,' says the doctor, 'let's bargain.'
him and I, and here we are: stores, brandy, block house,
the firewood you was thoughtful enough to cut, and in a
of speaking, the whole blessed boat, from cross-trees to
As for them, they've tramped; I don't know where's they
He drew again quietly at his pipe.
"And lest you should take it into that head of yours,"
he went on,
"that you was included in the treaty, here's the last
that was said: 'How many are you,' says I, 'to leave?'
'Four,' says he; 'four, and one of us wounded. As for that
I don't know where he is, confound him,' says he, 'nor
much care. We're about sick of him.' These was his words.
"Is that all?" I asked.
"Well, it's all that you're to hear, my son,"
"And now I am to choose?"
"And now you are to choose, and you may lay to that,"
"Well," said I, "I am not such a fool but
I know pretty well
what I have to look for. Let the worst come to the worst,
it's little I care. I've seen too many die since I fell
in with you.
But there's a thing or two I have to tell you," I
and by this time I was quite excited; "and the first
here you are, in a bad way--ship lost, treasure lost, men
your whole business gone to wreck; and if you want to know
who did it--it was I! I was in the apple barrel the night
land, and I heard you, John, and you, Dick Johnson, and
who is now at the bottom of the sea, and told every word
before the hour was out. And as for the schooner, it was
I who cut
her cable, and it was I that killed the men you had aboard
and it was I who brought her where you'll never see her
not one of you. The laugh's on my side; I've had the top
of this business from the first; I no more fear you than
I fear a fly.
Kill me, if you please, or spare me. But one thing I'll
and no more; if you spare me, bygones are bygones, and
you fellows are in court for piracy, I'll save you all
It is for you to choose. Kill another and do yourselves
or spare me and keep a witness to save you from the gallows."
I stopped, for, I tell you, I was out of breath, and to
not a man of them moved, but all sat staring at me like
sheep. And while they were still staring, I broke out again,
"And now, Mr. Silver," I said, "I believe
you're the best man here,
and if things go to the worst, I'll take it kind of you
the doctor know the way I took it."
"I'll bear it in mind," said Silver with an accent
curious that I could not, for the life of me, decide
whether he were laughing at my request or had been
favourably affected by my courage.
"I'll put one to that," cried the old mahogany-faced
Morgan by name--whom I had seen in Long John's public-house
upon the quays of Bristol. "It was him that knowed
"Well, and see here," added the sea-cook. "I'll
put another again
to that, by thunder! For it was this same boy that faked
from Billy Bones. First and last, we've split upon Jim
"Then here goes!" said Morgan with an oath.
And he sprang up, drawing his knife as if he had been twenty.
"Avast, there!" cried Silver. "Who are you,
Maybe you thought you was cap'n here, perhaps.
By the powers, but I'll teach you better! Cross me,
and you'll go where many a good man's gone before you,
first and last, these thirty year back--some to the yard-arm,
shiver my timbers, and some by the board, and all to feed
the fishes. There's never a man looked me between the eyes
and seen a good day a'terwards, Tom Morgan, you may lay
Morgan paused, but a hoarse murmur rose from the others.
"Tom's right," said one.
"I stood hazing long enough from one," added
"I'll be hanged if I'll be hazed by you, John Silver."
"Did any of you gentlemen want to have it out with
roared Silver, bending far forward from his position on
with his pipe still glowing in his right hand. "Put
a name on what
you're at; you ain't dumb, I reckon. Him that wants shall
Have I lived this many years, and a son of a rum puncheon
cock his hat athwart my hawse at the latter end of it?
the way; you're all gentlemen o' fortune, by your account.
Well, I'm ready. Take a cutlass, him that dares, and I'll
the colour of his inside, crutch and all, before that pipe's
Not a man stirred; not a man answered.
"That's your sort, is it?" he added, returning
his pipe to his mouth.
"Well, you're a gay lot to look at, anyway. Not much
to fight, you ain't. P'r'aps you can understand King George's
English. I'm cap'n here by 'lection. I'm cap'n here because
I'm the best man by a long sea-mile. You won't fight,
as gentlemen o' fortune should; then, by thunder, you'll
and you may lay to it! I like that boy, now; I never seen
boy than that. He's more a man than any pair of rats of
in this here house, and what I say is this: let me see
that'll lay a hand on him--that's what I say, and you may
lay to it."
There was a long pause after this. I stood straight up
against the wall, my heart still going like a sledge-hammer,
but with a ray of hope now shining in my bosom. Silver
against the wall, his arms crossed, his pipe in the corner
of his mouth, as calm as though he had been in church;
yet his eye kept wandering furtively, and he kept the tail
on his unruly followers. They, on their part, drew gradually
together towards the far end of the block house, and the
of their whispering sounded in my ear continuously, like
One after another, they would look up, and the red light
of the torch would fall for a second on their nervous faces;
but it was not towards me, it was towards Silver that they
"You seem to have a lot to say," remarked Silver,
spitting far into the air. "Pipe up and let me hear
it, or lay to."
"Ax your pardon, sir," returned one of the men;
"you're pretty free
with some of the rules; maybe you'll kindly keep an eye
upon the rest. This crew's dissatisfied; this crew don't
bullying a marlin-spike; this crew has its rights like
I'll make so free as that; and by your own rules, I take
it we can
talk together. I ax your pardon, sir, acknowledging you
for to be
captaing at this present; but I claim my right, and steps
for a council."
And with an elaborate sea-salute, this fellow, a long,
ill-looking, yellow-eyed man of five and thirty,
stepped coolly towards the door and disappeared out of
One after another the rest followed his example,
each making a salute as he passed, each adding some apology.
"According to rules," said one. "Forecastle
council," said Morgan.
And so with one remark or another all marched out
and left Silver and me alone with the torch.
The sea-cook instantly removed his pipe.
"Now, look you here, Jim Hawkins," he said in
a steady whisper
that was no more than audible, "you're within half
a plank of death,
and what's a long sight worse, of torture. They're going
me off. But, you mark, I stand by you through thick and
I didn't mean to; no, not till you spoke up. I was about
to lose that much blunt, and be hanged into the bargain.
But I see you was the right sort. I says to myself, you
Hawkins, John, and Hawkins'll stand by you. You're his
and by the living thunder, John, he's yours! Back to back,
You save your witness, and he'll save your neck!"
I began dimly to understand.
"You mean all's lost?" I asked.
"Aye, by gum, I do!" he answered. "Ship
gone, neck gone--
that's the size of it. Once I looked into that bay, Jim
and seen no schooner--well, I'm tough, but I gave out.
As for that lot and their council, mark me, they're outright
and cowards. I'll save your life--if so be as I can--from
But, see here, Jim--tit for tat--you save Long John from
I was bewildered; it seemed a thing so hopeless he was
he, the old buccaneer, the ringleader throughout.
"What I can do, that I'll do," I said.
"It's a bargain!" cried Long John. "You
speak up plucky,
and by thunder, I've a chance!"
He hobbled to the torch, where it stood propped among
the firewood, and took a fresh light to his pipe.
"Understand me, Jim," he said, returning. "I've
a head on my
shoulders, I have. I'm on squire's side now. I know you've
that ship safe somewheres. How you done it, I don't know,
but safe it is. I guess Hands and O'Brien turned soft.
I never much believed in neither of THEM. Now you mark
I ask no questions, nor I won't let others. I know when
up, I do; and I know a lad that's staunch. Ah, you that's
you and me might have done a power of good together!"
He drew some cognac from the cask into a tin cannikin.
"Will you taste, messmate?" he asked; and when
I had refused:
"Well, I'll take a drain myself, Jim," said he.
"I need a caulker,
for there's trouble on hand. And talking o' trouble, why
doctor give me the chart, Jim?"
My face expressed a wonder so unaffected that he saw
the needlessness of further questions.
"Ah, well, he did, though," said he.
"And there's something under that, no doubt--
something, surely, under that, Jim--bad or good."
And he took another swallow of the brandy, shaking his
great fair head like a man who looks forward to the worst.
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