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  • PART THREE--My Shore Adventure

  • Chapter 13

  • How My Shore Adventure Began

  • THE appearance of the island when I came on

  • deck next morning was altogether changed.

  • Although the breeze had now utterly ceased,

  • we had made a great deal of way during the

  • night and were now lying becalmed about

  • half a mile to the south-east of the low

  • eastern coast.

  • Grey-coloured woods covered a large part of

  • the surface.

  • This even tint was indeed broken up by

  • streaks of yellow sand-break in the lower

  • lands, and by many tall trees of the pine

  • family, out-topping the others--some

  • singly, some in clumps; but the general

  • colouring was uniform and sad.

  • The hills ran up clear above the vegetation

  • in spires of naked rock.

  • All were strangely shaped, and the Spy-

  • glass, which was by three or four hundred

  • feet the tallest on the island, was

  • likewise the strangest in configuration,

  • running up sheer from almost every side and

  • then suddenly cut off at the top like a

  • pedestal to put a statue on.

  • The HISPANIOLA was rolling scuppers under

  • in the ocean swell.

  • The booms were tearing at the blocks, the

  • rudder was banging to and fro, and the

  • whole ship creaking, groaning, and jumping

  • like a manufactory.

  • I had to cling tight to the backstay, and

  • the world turned giddily before my eyes,

  • for though I was a good enough sailor when

  • there was way on, this standing still and

  • being rolled about like a bottle was a

  • thing I never learned to stand without a

  • qualm or so, above all in the morning, on

  • an empty stomach.

  • Perhaps it was this--perhaps it was the

  • look of the island, with its grey,

  • melancholy woods, and wild stone spires,

  • and the surf that we could both see and

  • hear foaming and thundering on the steep

  • beach--at least, although the sun shone

  • bright and hot, and the shore birds were

  • fishing and crying all around us, and you

  • would have thought anyone would have been

  • glad to get to land after being so long at

  • sea, my heart sank, as the saying is, into

  • my boots; and from the first look onward, I

  • hated the very thought of Treasure Island.

  • We had a dreary morning's work before us,

  • for there was no sign of any wind, and the

  • boats had to be got out and manned, and the

  • ship warped three or four miles round the

  • corner of the island and up the narrow

  • passage to the haven behind Skeleton

  • Island.

  • I volunteered for one of the boats, where I

  • had, of course, no business.

  • The heat was sweltering, and the men

  • grumbled fiercely over their work.

  • Anderson was in command of my boat, and

  • instead of keeping the crew in order, he

  • grumbled as loud as the worst.

  • "Well," he said with an oath, "it's not

  • forever."

  • I thought this was a very bad sign, for up

  • to that day the men had gone briskly and

  • willingly about their business; but the

  • very sight of the island had relaxed the

  • cords of discipline.

  • All the way in, Long John stood by the

  • steersman and conned the ship.

  • He knew the passage like the palm of his

  • hand, and though the man in the chains got

  • everywhere more water than was down in the

  • chart, John never hesitated once.

  • "There's a strong scour with the ebb," he

  • said, "and this here passage has been dug

  • out, in a manner of speaking, with a

  • spade."

  • We brought up just where the anchor was in

  • the chart, about a third of a mile from

  • each shore, the mainland on one side and

  • Skeleton Island on the other.

  • The bottom was clean sand.

  • The plunge of our anchor sent up clouds of

  • birds wheeling and crying over the woods,

  • but in less than a minute they were down

  • again and all was once more silent.

  • The place was entirely land-locked, buried

  • in woods, the trees coming right down to

  • high-water mark, the shores mostly flat,

  • and the hilltops standing round at a

  • distance in a sort of amphitheatre, one

  • here, one there.

  • Two little rivers, or rather two swamps,

  • emptied out into this pond, as you might

  • call it; and the foliage round that part of

  • the shore had a kind of poisonous

  • brightness.

  • From the ship we could see nothing of the

  • house or stockade, for they were quite

  • buried among trees; and if it had not been

  • for the chart on the companion, we might

  • have been the first that had ever anchored

  • there since the island arose out of the

  • seas.

  • There was not a breath of air moving, nor a

  • sound but that of the surf booming half a

  • mile away along the beaches and against the

  • rocks outside.

  • A peculiar stagnant smell hung over the

  • anchorage--a smell of sodden leaves and

  • rotting tree trunks.

  • I observed the doctor sniffing and

  • sniffing, like someone tasting a bad egg.

  • "I don't know about treasure," he said,

  • "but I'll stake my wig there's fever here."

  • If the conduct of the men had been alarming

  • in the boat, it became truly threatening

  • when they had come aboard.

  • They lay about the deck growling together

  • in talk.

  • The slightest order was received with a

  • black look and grudgingly and carelessly

  • obeyed.

  • Even the honest hands must have caught the

  • infection, for there was not one man aboard

  • to mend another.

  • Mutiny, it was plain, hung over us like a

  • thunder-cloud.

  • And it was not only we of the cabin party

  • who perceived the danger.

  • Long John was hard at work going from group

  • to group, spending himself in good advice,

  • and as for example no man could have shown

  • a better.

  • He fairly outstripped himself in

  • willingness and civility; he was all smiles

  • to everyone.

  • If an order were given, John would be on

  • his crutch in an instant, with the

  • cheeriest "Aye, aye, sir!" in the world;

  • and when there was nothing else to do, he

  • kept up one song after another, as if to

  • conceal the discontent of the rest.

  • Of all the gloomy features of that gloomy

  • afternoon, this obvious anxiety on the part

  • of Long John appeared the worst.

  • We held a council in the cabin.

  • "Sir," said the captain, "if I risk another

  • order, the whole ship'll come about our

  • ears by the run.

  • You see, sir, here it is.

  • I get a rough answer, do I not?

  • Well, if I speak back, pikes will be going

  • in two shakes; if I don't, Silver will see

  • there's something under that, and the

  • game's up.

  • Now, we've only one man to rely on."

  • "And who is that?" asked the squire.

  • "Silver, sir," returned the captain; "he's

  • as anxious as you and I to smother things

  • up.

  • This is a tiff; he'd soon talk 'em out of

  • it if he had the chance, and what I propose

  • to do is to give him the chance.

  • Let's allow the men an afternoon ashore.

  • If they all go, why we'll fight the ship.

  • If they none of them go, well then, we hold

  • the cabin, and God defend the right.

  • If some go, you mark my words, sir,

  • Silver'll bring 'em aboard again as mild as

  • lambs."

  • It was so decided; loaded pistols were

  • served out to all the sure men; Hunter,

  • Joyce, and Redruth were taken into our

  • confidence and received the news with less

  • surprise and a better spirit than we had

  • looked for, and then the captain went on

  • deck and addressed the crew.

  • "My lads," said he, "we've had a hot day

  • and are all tired and out of sorts.

  • A turn ashore'll hurt nobody--the boats are

  • still in the water; you can take the gigs,

  • and as many as please may go ashore for the

  • afternoon.

  • I'll fire a gun half an hour before

  • sundown."

  • I believe the silly fellows must have

  • thought they would break their shins over

  • treasure as soon as they were landed, for

  • they all came out of their sulks in a

  • moment and gave a cheer that started the

  • echo in a faraway hill and sent the birds

  • once more flying and squalling round the

  • anchorage.

  • The captain was too bright to be in the

  • way.

  • He whipped out of sight in a moment,

  • leaving Silver to arrange the party, and I

  • fancy it was as well he did so.

  • Had he been on deck, he could no longer so

  • much as have pretended not to understand

  • the situation.

  • It was as plain as day.

  • Silver was the captain, and a mighty

  • rebellious crew he had of it.

  • The honest hands--and I was soon to see it

  • proved that there were such on board--must

  • have been very stupid fellows.

  • Or rather, I suppose the truth was this,

  • that all hands were disaffected by the

  • example of the ringleaders--only some more,

  • some less; and a few, being good fellows in

  • the main, could neither be led nor driven

  • any further.

  • It is one thing to be idle and skulk and

  • quite another to take a ship and murder a

  • number of innocent men.

  • At last, however, the party was made up.

  • Six fellows were to stay on board, and the

  • remaining thirteen, including Silver, began

  • to embark.

  • Then it was that there came into my head

  • the first of the mad notions that

  • contributed so much to save our lives.

  • If six men were left by Silver, it was

  • plain our party could not take and fight

  • the ship; and since only six were left, it

  • was equally plain that the cabin party had

  • no present need of my assistance.

  • It occurred to me at once to go ashore.

  • In a jiffy I had slipped over the side and

  • curled up in the fore-sheets of the nearest

  • boat, and almost at the same moment she

  • shoved off.

  • No one took notice of me, only the bow oar

  • saying, "Is that you, Jim?

  • Keep your head down."

  • But Silver, from the other boat, looked

  • sharply over and called out to know if that

  • were me; and from that moment I began to

  • regret what I had done.

  • The crews raced for the beach, but the boat

  • I was in, having some start and being at

  • once the lighter and the better manned,

  • shot far ahead of her consort, and the bow

  • had struck among the shore-side trees and I

  • had caught a branch and swung myself out

  • and plunged into the nearest thicket while

  • Silver and the rest were still a hundred

  • yards behind.

  • "Jim, Jim!"