AS soon as Silver disappeared, the
captain, who had been closely
watching him, turned towards the
interior of the house and found not
a man of us at his post but Gray. It
was the first time we had ever seen
"Quarters!" he roared. And then, as
we all slunk back to our places,
"Gray," he said, "I'll put your name
in the log; you've stood by your
duty like a seaman. Mr. Trelawney,
I'm surprised at you, sir. Doctor, I
thought you had worn the king's
coat! If that was how you served at
Fontenoy, sir, you'd have been
better in your berth."
The doctor's watch were all back at
their loopholes, the rest were busy
loading the spare muskets, and
everyone with a red face, you may be
certain, and a flea in his ear, as
the saying is.
The captain looked on for a while in
silence. Then he spoke.
"My lads," said he, "I've given
Silver a broadside. I pitched it in
red-hot on purpose; and before the
hour's out, as he said, we shall be
boarded. We're outnumbered, I
needn't tell you that, but we fight
in shelter; and a minute ago I
should have said we fought with
discipline. I've no manner of doubt
that we can drub them, if you
Then he went the rounds and saw, as
he said, that all was clear.
On the two short sides of the house,
east and west, there were only two
loopholes; on the south side where
the porch was, two again; and on the
north side, five. There was a round
score of muskets for the seven of
us; the firewood had been built into
four piles—tables, you might say—one
about the middle of each side, and
on each of these tables some
ammunition and four loaded muskets
were laid ready to the hand of the
defenders. In the middle, the
cutlasses lay ranged.
"Toss out the fire," said the
captain; "the chill is past, and we
mustn't have smoke in our eyes."
The iron fire-basket was carried
bodily out by Mr. Trelawney, and the
embers smothered among sand.
"Hawkins hasn't had his breakfast.
Hawkins, help yourself, and back to
your post to eat it," continued
Captain Smollett. "Lively, now, my
lad; you'll want it before you've
done. Hunter, serve out a round of
brandy to all hands."
And while this was going on, the
captain completed, in his own mind,
the plan of the defence.
"Doctor, you will take the door," he
resumed. "See, and don't expose
yourself; keep within, and fire
through the porch. Hunter, take the
east side, there. Joyce, you stand
by the west, my man. Mr. Trelawney,
you are the best shot—you and Gray
will take this long north side, with
the five loopholes; it's there the
danger is. If they can get up to it
and fire in upon us through our own
ports, things would begin to look
dirty. Hawkins, neither you nor I
are much account at the shooting;
we'll stand by to load and bear a
As the captain had said, the chill
was past. As soon as the sun had
climbed above our girdle of trees,
it fell with all its force upon the
clearing and drank up the vapours at
a draught. Soon the sand was baking
and the resin melting in the logs of
the block house. Jackets and coats
were flung aside, shirts thrown open
at the neck and rolled up to the
shoulders; and we stood there, each
at his post, in a fever of heat and
An hour passed away.
"Hang them!" said the captain. "This
is as dull as the doldrums. Gray,
whistle for a wind."
And just at that moment came the
first news of the attack.
"If you please, sir," said Joyce,
"if I see anyone, am I to fire?"
"I told you so!" cried the captain.
"Thank you, sir," returned Joyce
with the same quiet civility.
Nothing followed for a time, but the
remark had set us all on the alert,
straining ears and eyes—the
musketeers with their pieces
balanced in their hands, the captain
out in the middle of the block house
with his mouth very tight and a
frown on his face.
So some seconds passed, till
suddenly Joyce whipped up his musket
and fired. The report had scarcely
died away ere it was repeated and
repeated from without in a
scattering volley, shot behind shot,
like a string of geese, from every
side of the enclosure. Several
bullets struck the log-house, but
not one entered; and as the smoke
cleared away and vanished, the
stockade and the woods around it
looked as quiet and empty as before.
Not a bough waved, not the gleam of
a musket-barrel betrayed the
presence of our foes.
"Did you hit your man?" asked the
"No, sir," replied Joyce. "I believe
"Next best thing to tell the truth,"
muttered Captain Smollett. "Load his
gun, Hawkins. How many should say
there were on your side, doctor?"
"I know precisely," said Dr. Livesey.
"Three shots were fired on this
side. I saw the three flashes—two
close together—one farther to the
"Three!" repeated the captain. "And
how many on yours, Mr. Trelawney?"
But this was not so easily answered.
There had come many from the
north—seven by the squire's
computation, eight or nine according
to Gray. From the east and west only
a single shot had been fired. It was
plain, therefore, that the attack
would be developed from the north
and that on the other three sides we
were only to be annoyed by a show of
hostilities. But Captain Smollett
made no change in his arrangements.
If the mutineers succeeded in
crossing the stockade, he argued,
they would take possession of any
unprotected loophole and shoot us
down like rats in our own
Nor had we much time left to us for
thought. Suddenly, with a loud
huzza, a little cloud of pirates
leaped from the woods on the north
side and ran straight on the
stockade. At the same moment, the
fire was once more opened from the
woods, and a rifle ball sang through
the doorway and knocked the doctor's
musket into bits.
The boarders swarmed over the fence
like monkeys. Squire and Gray fired
again and yet again; three men fell,
one forwards into the enclosure, two
back on the outside. But of these,
one was evidently more frightened
than hurt, for he was on his feet
again in a crack and instantly
disappeared among the trees.
Two had bit the dust, one had fled,
four had made good their footing
inside our defences, while from the
shelter of the woods seven or eight
men, each evidently supplied with
several muskets, kept up a hot
though useless fire on the
The four who had boarded made
straight before them for the
building, shouting as they ran, and
the men among the trees shouted back
to encourage them. Several shots
were fired, but such was the hurry
of the marksmen that not one appears
to have taken effect. In a moment,
the four pirates had swarmed up the
mound and were upon us.
The head of Job Anderson, the
boatswain, appeared at the middle
"At 'em, all hands—all hands!" he
roared in a voice of thunder.
At the same moment, another pirate
grasped Hunter's musket by the
muzzle, wrenched it from his hands,
plucked it through the loophole, and
with one stunning blow, laid the
poor fellow senseless on the floor.
Meanwhile a third, running unharmed
all around the house, appeared
suddenly in the doorway and fell
with his cutlass on the doctor.
Our position was utterly reversed. A
moment since we were firing, under
cover, at an exposed enemy; now it
was we who lay uncovered and could
not return a blow.
The log-house was full of smoke, to
which we owed our comparative
safety. Cries and confusion, the
flashes and reports of pistol-shots,
and one loud groan rang in my ears.
"Out, lads, out, and fight 'em in
the open! Cutlasses!" cried the
I snatched a cutlass from the pile,
and someone, at the same time
snatching another, gave me a cut
across the knuckles which I hardly
felt. I dashed out of the door into
the clear sunlight. Someone was
close behind, I knew not whom. Right
in front, the doctor was pursuing
his assailant down the hill, and
just as my eyes fell upon him, beat
down his guard and sent him
sprawling on his back with a great
slash across the face.
"Round the house, lads! Round the
house!" cried the captain; and even
in the hurly-burly, I perceived a
change in his voice.
Mechanically, I obeyed, turned
eastwards, and with my cutlass
raised, ran round the corner of the
house. Next moment I was face to
face with Anderson. He roared aloud,
and his hanger went up above his
head, flashing in the sunlight. I
had not time to be afraid, but as
the blow still hung impending,
leaped in a trice upon one side, and
missing my foot in the soft sand,
rolled headlong down the slope.
When I had first sallied from the
door, the other mutineers had been
already swarming up the palisade to
make an end of us. One man, in a red
night-cap, with his cutlass in his
mouth, had even got upon the top and
thrown a leg across. Well, so short
had been the interval that when I
found my feet again all was in the
same posture, the fellow with the
red night-cap still half-way over,
another still just showing his head
above the top of the stockade. And
yet, in this breath of time, the
fight was over and the victory was
Gray, following close behind me, had
cut down the big boatswain ere he
had time to recover from his last
blow. Another had been shot at a
loophole in the very act of firing
into the house and now lay in agony,
the pistol still smoking in his
hand. A third, as I had seen, the
doctor had disposed of at a blow. Of
the four who had scaled the
palisade, one only remained
unaccounted for, and he, having left
his cutlass on the field, was now
clambering out again with the fear
of death upon him.
"Fire—fire from the house!" cried
the doctor. "And you, lads, back
But his words were unheeded, no shot
was fired, and the last boarder made
good his escape and disappeared with
the rest into the wood. In three
seconds nothing remained of the
attacking party but the five who had
fallen, four on the inside and one
on the outside of the palisade.
The doctor and Gray and I ran full
speed for shelter. The survivors
would soon be back where they had
left their muskets, and at any
moment the fire might recommence.
The house was by this time somewhat
cleared of smoke, and we saw at a
glance the price we had paid for
victory. Hunter lay beside his
loophole, stunned; Joyce by his,
shot through the head, never to move
again; while right in the centre,
the squire was supporting the
captain, one as pale as the other.
"The captain's wounded," said Mr.
"Have they run?" asked Mr. Smollett.
"All that could, you may be bound,"
returned the doctor; "but there's
five of them will never run again."
"Five!" cried the captain. "Come,
that's better. Five against three
leaves us four to nine. That's
better odds than we had at starting.
We were seven to nineteen then, or
thought we were, and that's as bad
*The mutineers were soon only eight
in number, for the man shot by Mr.
Trelawney on board the schooner died
that same evening of his wound. But
this was, of course, not known till
after by the faithful party.