SURE enough, there were two men just
outside the stockade, one of them
waving a white cloth, the other, no
less a person than Silver himself,
standing placidly by.
It was still quite early, and the
coldest morning that I think 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
lieutenant, all was still in shadow,
and they waded knee-deep in a low
white 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,
"Keep indoors, men," said the
captain. "Ten to one this is a
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
lookout. Dr. Livesey take the north
side, if you please; Jim, the east;
Gray, west. The watch below, all
hands to load muskets. Lively, men,
And then he turned again to the
"And what do you want with your flag
of truce?" he cried.
This time it was the other man who
"Cap'n Silver, sir, to come on board
and make terms," he shouted.
"Cap'n Silver! Don't know him. Who's
he?" cried the captain. And we could
hear him adding to himself, "Cap'n,
is it? My heart, and here's
Long John answered for himself. "Me,
sir. These poor lads 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' shot 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, that's all. 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
back 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 the
fence and dropping safely to the
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
Silver had terrible hard work
getting up the knoll. What with the
steepness of the incline, the thick
tree stumps, 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 low 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 his head. "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 outside 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 up again, that's all.
A sweet pretty place you have of it
here. Ah, there's Jim! The top of
the morning to you, Jim. Doctor,
here's my service. Why, there you
all are together like a happy
family, in a manner of speaking."
"If you have anything to say, my
man, better say it," said the
"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 was 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 shook—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 do twice, by
thunder! We'll have to do sentry-go
and ease off a point or so on the
rum. Maybe you think we were all a
sheet in the wind's eye. 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 be.
All that Silver said was a riddle to
him, but you would never have
guessed it from his tone. As for me,
I began to have an inkling. Ben
Gunn's last words came back to my
mind. I began to suppose that he had
paid the buccaneers a visit while
they all lay drunk 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 that treasure, and we'll have
it—that's our point! You would just
as soon save your lives, I reckon;
and that's yours. You have a chart,
"That's as may be," replied the
"Oh, well, you have, I know that,"
returned Long John. "You needn't be
so husky with a man; there ain't a
particle of service in that, and you
may lay to it. What I mean is, we
want your chart. Now, I never meant
you no harm, myself."
"That won't do with me, my man,"
interrupted the captain. "We know
exactly what you meant to do, and we
don't care, for now, you see, you
can't do it."
And the captain looked at him calmly
and proceeded to fill a pipe.
"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 him and this whole
island blown clean out of the water
into blazes first. 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 himself together.
"Like enough," said he. "I would set
no limits to what gentlemen might
consider shipshape, or might not, as
the case were. 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 silently smoking
for quite a while, now looking each
other in the face, 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 of us, once the
treasure shipped, and then I'll give
you my affy-davy, upon my word of
honour, to clap you somewhere safe
ashore. Or if that ain't to your
fancy, some of my hands being rough
and having old scores on account of
hazing, then you can stay here, you
can. We'll divide stores with you,
man for man; and I'll give 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 talking. Handsomer you
couldn't look to get, now you. And I
hope"—raising his voice—"that all
hands in this here block house will
overhaul my words, for what is spoke
to one is spoke to all."
Captain Smollett rose from his seat
and knocked out the ashes of his
pipe in the palm of his left hand.
"Is that all?" he asked.
"Every last word, by thunder!"
answered John. "Refuse that, and
you've seen the last of me but
"Very good," said the captain. "Now
you'll hear me. If you'll come up
one by one, unarmed, I'll engage to
clap you all 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
colours, and I'll see you all to
Davy Jones. You can't find the
treasure. 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
of you. 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 the last
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
Silver's face was a picture; his
eyes started in his head with wrath.
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
Not a man among us moved. Growling
the foulest imprecations, he crawled
along the sand till he got hold of
the porch and could hoist himself
again upon his crutch. Then he spat
into the spring.
"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
And with a dreadful oath he stumbled
off, ploughed down the sand, was
helped across the stockade, after
four or five failures, by the man
with the flag of truce, and
disappeared in an instant afterwards
among the trees.