PARTLY from the damping influence of
this alarm, partly to rest Silver
and the sick folk, the whole party
sat down as soon as they had gained
the brow of the ascent.
The plateau being somewhat tilted
towards the west, this spot on which
we had paused commanded a wide
prospect on either hand. Before us,
over the tree-tops, we beheld the
Cape of the Woods fringed with surf;
behind, we not only looked down upon
the anchorage and Skeleton Island,
but saw—clear across the spit and
the eastern lowlands—a great field
of open sea upon the east. Sheer
above us rose the Spyglass, here
dotted with single pines, there
black with precipices. There was no
sound but that of the distant
breakers, mounting from all round,
and the chirp of countless insects
in the brush. Not a man, not a sail,
upon the sea; the very largeness of
the view increased the sense of
Silver, as he sat, took certain
bearings with his compass.
"There are three 'tall trees'" said
he, "about in the right line from
Skeleton Island. 'Spy-glass
shoulder,' I take it, means that
lower p'int there. It's child's play
to find the stuff now. I've half a
mind to dine first."
"I don't feel sharp," growled
Morgan. "Thinkin' o' Flint—I think
it were—as done me."
"Ah, well, my son, you praise your
stars he's dead," said Silver.
"He were an ugly devil," cried a
third pirate with a shudder; "that
blue in the face too!"
"That was how the rum took him,"
added Merry. "Blue! Well, I reckon
he was blue. That's a true word."
Ever since they had found the
skeleton and got upon this train of
thought, they had spoken lower and
lower, and they had almost got to
whispering by now, so that the sound
of their talk hardly interrupted the
silence of the wood. All of a
sudden, out of the middle of the
trees in front of us, a thin, high,
trembling voice struck up the
well-known air and words:
"Fifteen men on the dead man's
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!"
I never have seen men more
dreadfully affected than the
pirates. The colour went from their
six faces like enchantment; some
leaped to their feet, some clawed
hold of others; Morgan grovelled on
"It's Flint, by ——!" cried Merry.
The song had stopped as suddenly as
it began—broken off, you would have
said, in the middle of a note, as
though someone had laid his hand
upon the singer's mouth. Coming
through the clear, sunny atmosphere
among the green tree-tops, I thought
it had sounded airily and sweetly;
and the effect on my companions was
"Come," said Silver, struggling with
his ashen lips to get the word out;
"this won't do. Stand by to go
about. This is a rum start, and I
can't name the voice, but it's
someone skylarking—someone that's
flesh and blood, and you may lay to
His courage had come back as he
spoke, and some of the colour to his
face along with it. Already the
others had begun to lend an ear to
this encouragement and were coming a
little to themselves, when the same
voice broke out again—not this time
singing, but in a faint distant hail
that echoed yet fainter among the
clefts of the Spy-glass.
"Darby M'Graw," it wailed—for that
is the word that best describes the
sound—"Darby M'Graw! Darby M'Graw!"
again and again and again; and then
rising a little higher, and with an
oath that I leave out: "Fetch aft
the rum, Darby!"
The buccaneers remained rooted to
the ground, their eyes starting from
their heads. Long after the voice
had died away they still stared in
silence, dreadfully, before them.
"That fixes it!" gasped one. "Let's
"They was his last words," moaned
Morgan, "his last words above
Dick had his Bible out and was
praying volubly. He had been well
brought up, had Dick, before he came
to sea and fell among bad
Still Silver was unconquered. I
could hear his teeth rattle in his
head, but he had not yet
"Nobody in this here island ever
heard of Darby," he muttered; "not
one but us that's here." And then,
making a great effort: "Shipmates,"
he cried, "I'm here to get that
stuff, and I'll not be beat by man
or devil. I never was feared of
Flint in his life, and, by the
powers, I'll face him dead. There's
seven hundred thousand pound not a
quarter of a mile from here. When
did ever a gentleman o' fortune show
his stern to that much dollars for a
boozy old seaman with a blue mug—and
him dead too?"
But there was no sign of reawakening
courage in his followers, rather,
indeed, of growing terror at the
irreverence of his words.
"Belay there, John!" said Merry.
"Don't you cross a sperrit."
And the rest were all too terrified
to reply. They would have run away
severally had they dared; but fear
kept them together, and kept them
close by John, as if his daring
helped them. He, on his part, had
pretty well fought his weakness
"Sperrit? Well, maybe," he said.
"But there's one thing not clear to
me. There was an echo. Now, no man
ever seen a sperrit with a shadow;
well then, what's he doing with an
echo to him, I should like to know?
That ain't in natur', surely?"
This argument seemed weak enough to
me. But you can never tell what will
affect the superstitious, and to my
wonder, George Merry was greatly
"Well, that's so," he said. "You've
a head upon your shoulders, John,
and no mistake. 'Bout ship, mates!
This here crew is on a wrong tack, I
do believe. And come to think on it,
it was like Flint's voice, I grant
you, but not just so clear-away like
it, after all. It was liker somebody
else's voice now—it was liker—"
"By the powers, Ben Gunn!" roared
"Aye, and so it were," cried Morgan,
springing on his knees. "Ben Gunn it
"It don't make much odds, do it,
now?" asked Dick. "Ben Gunn's not
here in the body any more'n Flint."
But the older hands greeted this
remark with scorn.
"Why, nobody minds Ben Gunn," cried
Merry; "dead or alive, nobody minds
It was extraordinary how their
spirits had returned and how the
natural colour had revived in their
faces. Soon they were chatting
together, with intervals of
listening; and not long after,
hearing no further sound, they
shouldered the tools and set forth
again, Merry walking first with
Silver's compass to keep them on the
right line with Skeleton Island. He
had said the truth: dead or alive,
nobody minded Ben Gunn.
Dick alone still held his Bible, and
looked around him as he went, with
fearful glances; but he found no
sympathy, and Silver even joked him
on his precautions.
"I told you," said he—"I told you
you had sp'iled your Bible. If it
ain't no good to swear by, what do
you suppose a sperrit would give for
it? Not that!" and he snapped his
big fingers, halting a moment on his
But Dick was not to be comforted;
indeed, it was soon plain to me that
the lad was falling sick; hastened
by heat, exhaustion, and the shock
of his alarm, the fever, predicted
by Dr. Livesey, was evidently
growing swiftly higher.
It was fine open walking here, upon
the summit; our way lay a little
downhill, for, as I have said, the
plateau tilted towards the west. The
pines, great and small, grew wide
apart; and even between the clumps
of nutmeg and azalea, wide open
spaces baked in the hot sunshine.
Striking, as we did, pretty near
north-west across the island, we
drew, on the one hand, ever nearer
under the shoulders of the
Spy-glass, and on the other, looked
ever wider over that western bay
where I had once tossed and trembled
in the oracle.
The first of the tall trees was
reached, and by the bearings proved
the wrong one. So with the second.
The third rose nearly two hundred
feet into the air above a clump of
underwood—a giant of a vegetable,
with a red column as big as a
cottage, and a wide shadow around in
which a company could have
manoeuvred. It was conspicuous far
to sea both on the east and west and
might have been entered as a sailing
mark upon the chart.
But it was not its size that now
impressed my companions; it was the
knowledge that seven hundred
thousand pounds in gold lay
somewhere buried below its spreading
shadow. The thought of the money, as
they drew nearer, swallowed up their
previous terrors. Their eyes burned
in their heads; their feet grew
speedier and lighter; their whole
soul was found up in that fortune,
that whole lifetime of extravagance
and pleasure, that lay waiting there
for each of them.
Silver hobbled, grunting, on his
crutch; his nostrils stood out and
quivered; he cursed like a madman
when the flies settled on his hot
and shiny countenance; he plucked
furiously at the line that held me
to him and from time to time turned
his eyes upon me with a deadly look.
Certainly he took no pains to hide
his thoughts, and certainly I read
them like print. In the immediate
nearness of the gold, all else had
been forgotten: his promise and the
doctor's warning were both things of
the past, and I could not doubt that
he hoped to seize upon the treasure,
find and board the HISPANIOLA under
cover of night, cut every honest
throat about that island, and sail
away as he had at first intended,
laden with crimes and riches.
Shaken as I was with these alarms,
it was hard for me to keep up with
the rapid pace of the
treasure-hunters. Now and again I
stumbled, and it was then that
Silver plucked so roughly at the
rope and launched at me his
murderous glances. Dick, who had
dropped behind us and now brought up
the rear, was babbling to himself
both prayers and curses as his fever
kept rising. This also added to my
wretchedness, and to crown all, I
was haunted by the thought of the
tragedy that had once been acted on
that plateau, when that ungodly
buccaneer with the blue face—he who
died at Savannah, singing and
shouting for drink—had there, with
his own hand, cut down his six
accomplices. This grove that was now
so peaceful must then have rung with
cries, I thought; and even with the
thought I could believe I heard it
We were now at the margin of the
"Huzza, mates, all together!"
shouted Merry; and the foremost
broke into a run.
And suddenly, not ten yards further,
we beheld them stop. A low cry
arose. Silver doubled his pace,
digging away with the foot of his
crutch like one possessed; and next
moment he and I had come also to a
Before us was a great excavation,
not very recent, for the sides had
fallen in and grass had sprouted on
the bottom. In this were the shaft
of a pick broken in two and the
boards of several packing-cases
strewn around. On one of these
boards I saw, branded with a hot
iron, the name WALRUS—the name of
All was clear to probation. The
CACHE had been found and rifled; the
seven hundred thousand pounds were