THE council of buccaneers had
lasted some time, when one of them
re-entered the house, and with a
repetition of the same salute, which
had in my eyes an ironical air,
begged for a moment's loan of the
torch. Silver briefly agreed, and
this emissary retired again, leaving
us together in the dark.
"There's a breeze coming, Jim," said
Silver, who had by this time adopted
quite a friendly and familiar tone.
I turned to the loophole nearest me
and looked out. The embers of the
great fire had so far burned
themselves out and now glowed so low
and duskily that I understood why
these conspirators desired a torch.
About half-way down the slope to the
stockade, they were collected in a
group; one held the light, another
was on his knees in their midst, and
I saw the blade of an open knife
shine in his hand with varying
colours in the moon and torchlight.
The rest were all somewhat stooping,
as though watching the manoeuvres of
this last. I could just make out
that he had a book as well as a
knife in his hand, and was still
wondering how anything so
incongruous had come in their
possession when the kneeling figure
rose once more to his feet and the
whole party began to move together
towards the house.
"Here they come," said I; and I
returned to my former position, for
it seemed beneath my dignity that
they should find me watching them.
"Well, let 'em come, lad—let 'em
come," said Silver cheerily. "I've
still a shot in my locker."
The door opened, and the five men,
standing huddled together just
inside, pushed one of their number
forward. In any other circumstances
it would have been comical to see
his slow advance, hesitating as he
set down each foot, but holding his
closed right hand in front of him.
"Step up, lad," cried Silver. "I
won't eat you. Hand it over, lubber.
I know the rules, I do; I won't hurt
Thus encouraged, the buccaneer
stepped forth more briskly, and
having passed something to Silver,
from hand to hand, slipped yet more
smartly back again to his
The sea-cook looked at what had been
"The black spot! I thought so," he
observed. "Where might you have got
the paper? Why, hillo! Look here,
now; this ain't lucky! You've gone
and cut this out of a Bible. What
fool's cut a Bible?"
"Ah, there!" said Morgan. "There!
Wot did I say? No good'll come o'
that, I said."
"Well, you've about fixed it now,
among you," continued Silver.
"You'll all swing now, I reckon.
What soft-headed lubber had a
"It was Dick," said one.
"Dick, was it? Then Dick can get to
prayers," said Silver. "He's seen
his slice of luck, has Dick, and you
may lay to that."
But here the long man with the
yellow eyes struck in.
"Belay that talk, John Silver," he
said. "This crew has tipped you the
black spot in full council, as in
dooty bound; just you turn it over,
as in dooty bound, and see what's
wrote there. Then you can talk."
"Thanky, George," replied the
sea-cook. "You always was brisk for
business, and has the rules by
heart, George, as I'm pleased to
see. Well, what is it, anyway? Ah!
'Deposed'—that's it, is it? Very
pretty wrote, to be sure; like
print, I swear. Your hand o' write,
George? Why, you was gettin' quite a
leadin' man in this here crew.
You'll be cap'n next, I shouldn't
wonder. Just oblige me with that
torch again, will you? This pipe
"Come, now," said George, "you don't
fool this crew no more. You're a
funny man, by your account; but
you're over now, and you'll maybe
step down off that barrel and help
"I thought you said you knowed the
rules," returned Silver
contemptuously. "Leastways, if you
don't, I do; and I wait here—and I'm
still your cap'n, mind—till you outs
with your grievances and I reply; in
the meantime, your black spot ain't
worth a biscuit. After that, we'll
"Oh," replied George, "you don't be
under no kind of apprehension; WE'RE
all square, we are. First, you've
made a hash of this cruise—you'll be
a bold man to say no to that.
Second, you let the enemy out o'
this here trap for nothing. Why did
they want out? I dunno, but it's
pretty plain they wanted it. Third,
you wouldn't let us go at them upon
the march. Oh, we see through you,
John Silver; you want to play booty,
that's what's wrong with you. And
then, fourth, there's this here
"Is that all?" asked Silver quietly.
"Enough, too," retorted George.
"We'll all swing and sun-dry for
"Well now, look here, I'll answer
these four p'ints; one after another
I'll answer 'em. I made a hash o'
this cruise, did I? Well now, you
all know what I wanted, and you all
know if that had been done that we'd
'a been aboard the HISPANIOLA this
night as ever was, every man of us
alive, and fit, and full of good
plum-duff, and the treasure in the
hold of her, by thunder! Well, who
crossed me? Who forced my hand, as
was the lawful cap'n? Who tipped me
the black spot the day we landed and
began this dance? Ah, it's a fine
dance—I'm with you there—and looks
mighty like a hornpipe in a rope's
end at Execution Dock by London
town, it does. But who done it? Why,
it was Anderson, and Hands, and you,
George Merry! And you're the last
above board of that same meddling
crew; and you have the Davy Jones's
insolence to up and stand for cap'n
over me—you, that sank the lot of
us! By the powers! But this tops the
stiffest yarn to nothing."
Silver paused, and I could see by
the faces of George and his late
comrades that these words had not
been said in vain.
"That's for number one," cried the
accused, wiping the sweat from his
brow, for he had been talking with a
vehemence that shook the house.
"Why, I give you my word, I'm sick
to speak to you. You've neither
sense nor memory, and I leave it to
fancy where your mothers was that
let you come to sea. Sea! Gentlemen
o' fortune! I reckon tailors is your
"Go on, John," said Morgan. "Speak
up to the others."
"Ah, the others!" returned John.
"They're a nice lot, ain't they? You
say this cruise is bungled. Ah! By
gum, if you could understand how bad
it's bungled, you would see! We're
that near the gibbet that my neck's
stiff with thinking on it. You've
seen 'em, maybe, hanged in chains,
birds about 'em, seamen p'inting 'em
out as they go down with the tide.
'Who's that?' says one. 'That! Why,
that's John Silver. I knowed him
well,' says another. And you can
hear the chains a-jangle as you go
about and reach for the other buoy.
Now, that's about where we are,
every mother's son of us, thanks to
him, and Hands, and Anderson, and
other ruination fools of you. And if
you want to know about number four,
and that boy, why, shiver my
timbers, isn't he a hostage? Are we
a-going to waste a hostage? No, not
us; he might be our last chance, and
I shouldn't wonder. Kill that boy?
Not me, mates! And number three? Ah,
well, there's a deal to say to
number three. Maybe you don't count
it nothing to have a real college
doctor to see you every day—you,
John, with your head broke—or you,
George Merry, that had the ague
shakes upon you not six hours agone,
and has your eyes the colour of
lemon peel to this same moment on
the clock? And maybe, perhaps, you
didn't know there was a consort
coming either? But there is, and not
so long till then; and we'll see
who'll be glad to have a hostage
when it comes to that. And as for
number two, and why I made a
bargain—well, you came crawling on
your knees to me to make it—on your
knees you came, you was that
downhearted—and you'd have starved
too if I hadn't—but that's a trifle!
You look there—that's why!"
And he cast down upon the floor a
paper that I instantly
recognized—none other than the chart
on yellow paper, with the three red
crosses, that I had found in the
oilcloth at the bottom of the
captain's chest. Why the doctor had
given it to him was more than I
But if it were inexplicable to me,
the appearance of the chart was
incredible to the surviving
mutineers. They leaped upon it like
cats upon a mouse. It went from hand
to hand, one tearing it from
another; and by the oaths and the
cries and the childish laughter with
which they accompanied their
examination, you would have thought,
not only they were fingering the
very gold, but were at sea with it,
besides, in safety.
"Yes," said one, "that's Flint, sure
enough. J. F., and a score below,
with a clove hitch to it; so he done
"Mighty pretty," said George. "But
how are we to get away with it, and
us no ship."
Silver suddenly sprang up, and
supporting himself with a hand
against the wall: "Now I give you
warning, George," he cried. "One
more word of your sauce, and I'll
call you down and fight you. How?
Why, how do I know? You had ought to
tell me that—you and the rest, that
lost me my schooner, with your
interference, burn you! But not you,
you can't; you hain't got the
invention of a cockroach. But civil
you can speak, and shall, George
Merry, you may lay to that."
"That's fair enow," said the old man
"Fair! I reckon so," said the
sea-cook. "You lost the ship; I
found the treasure. Who's the better
man at that? And now I resign, by
thunder! Elect whom you please to be
your cap'n now; I'm done with it."
"Silver!" they cried. "Barbecue
forever! Barbecue for cap'n!"
"So that's the toon, is it?" cried
the cook. "George, I reckon you'll
have to wait another turn, friend;
and lucky for you as I'm not a
revengeful man. But that was never
my way. And now, shipmates, this
black spot? 'Tain't much good now,
is it? Dick's crossed his luck and
spoiled his Bible, and that's about
"It'll do to kiss the book on still,
won't it?" growled Dick, who was
evidently uneasy at the curse he had
brought upon himself.
"A Bible with a bit cut out!"
returned Silver derisively. "Not it.
It don't bind no more'n a
"Don't it, though?" cried Dick with
a sort of joy. "Well, I reckon
that's worth having too."
"Here, Jim—here's a cur'osity for
you," said Silver, and he tossed me
It was around about the size of a
crown piece. One side was blank, for
it had been the last leaf; the other
contained a verse or two of
Revelation—these words among the
rest, which struck sharply home upon
my mind: "Without are dogs and
murderers." The printed side had
been blackened with wood ash, which
already began to come off and soil
my fingers; on the blank side had
been written with the same material
the one word "Depposed." I have that
curiosity beside me at this moment,
but not a trace of writing now
remains beyond a single scratch,
such as a man might make with his
That was the end of the night's
business. Soon after, with a drink
all round, we lay down to sleep, and
the outside of Silver's vengeance
was to put George Merry up for
sentinel and threaten him with death
if he should prove unfaithful.
It was long ere I could close an
eye, and heaven knows I had matter
enough for thought in the man whom I
had slain that afternoon, in my own
most perilous position, and above
all, in the remarkable game that I
saw Silver now engaged upon—keeping
the mutineers together with one hand
and grasping with the other after
every means, possible and
impossible, to make his peace and
save his miserable life. He himself
slept peacefully and snored aloud,
yet my heart was sore for him,
wicked as he was, to think on the
dark perils that environed and the
shameful gibbet that awaited him.