Treasure Island: Chapter VII


Author: Jane Austen

Format: online reading

Category: Novel


Posted on 2007-05-11, updated at 2007-05-27. By anonymous.

Description

  • Author: Jane Austen

IT was longer than the squire imagined ere we were ready for the sea, and none of our
first plans - not even Dr Livesey's of keeping me beside him - could be carried out as we
intended. The doctor had to go to London for a physician to take charge of his practice;
the squire was hard at work a Bristol; and I lived on at the Hall under the charge of old
Redruth, the gamekeeper, almost a prisoner, but full of sea dreams and the most charming
anticipations of strange island and adventures. I brooded by the hour together over the
map, all the details of which I well remembered. Sitting by the fire in the house-
keeper's room, I approached that island my fancy, from every possible direction; I
explored every acre of its surface; I climbed a thousand times to that tall hill the call
the Spy-glass, and from the top enjoyed the most wonderful and changing prospects.
Sometimes the isle was thick with savages, with whom we fought; sometimes full of
dangerous animals that hunted us; but in all my fancies nothing occurred to me so strange
and tragic as our actual adventures.

So the weeks passed on, till one fine day there came a letter addressed to Dr Livesey,
with this addition, `To be opened in the case of his absence, by Tom Redruth, or young
Hawkins.' Obeying this order, we found, or rather, I found - for the gamekeeper was a poor
hand at reading anything but print - the following important news:--



`Old Anchor Inn, Bristol

`March 1, 17 - .



`DEAR LIVESEY , - As I do not know whether you are at the Hall or still in London, I
send this in double to both places.



`The ship is bought and fitted. She lies at anchor, ready for sea. You never imagined a
sweeter schooner - a child might sail her - two hundred tons; name, Hispaniola.



`I got her through my old friend, Blandly, who has proved himself throughout the most
surprising trump. The admirable fellow literally slaved in my interest, and so, I may say,
did everyone in Bristol, as soon as they got wind of the port we sailed for - treasure, I
mean.'



`Redruth,' said I, interrupting the letter, `Doctor Livesey will not like that. The
squire has been talking, after all.'



`Well, who's a better right?' growled the gamekeeper. `A pretty rum go if squire ain't
to talk for Doctor Livesey, I should think.'



At that I gave up all attempt at commentary, and read straight on:--



`Blandly himself found the Hispaniola, and by the most admirable management got her for
the merest trifle. There is a class of men in Bristol monstrously prejudiced against
Blandly. They go the length of declaring that this honest creature would do anything for
money, that the Hispaniola belonged to him, and that he sold it me absurdly high - the
most transparent calumnies. None of them dare, however, to deny the merits of the ship.



`So far there was not a hitch. The workpeople, to be sure - riggers and what not - were
most annoyingly slow; but time cured that. It was the crew that troubled me.



`I wished a round score of men - in case of natives, buccaneers, or the odious French -
and I had the worry of the deuce itself to find so much as half a dozen, till the most
remarkable stroke of fortune brought me the very man that I required.



`I was standing on the dock, when, by the merest accident, I fell in talk with him. I
found he was an old sailor, kept a public - house, knew all the seafaring men in Bristol,
had lost his health ashore, and wanted a good berth as cook to get to sea again. He had
hobbled down there that morning, he said to get a smell of the salt.



`I was monstrously touched - so would you have been - and, out of pure pity, I engaged
him on the spot to be ship's cook. Long John Silver, he is called, and has lost a leg; but
that I regarded as a recommendation, since he lost it in hi country's service, under the
immortal Hawke. He has no pension, Livesey. Imagine the abominable age we live in!



`Well, sir, I thought I had only found a cook, but it was a crew I had discovered.
Between Silver and myself we go together in a few days a company of the toughest old salt
imaginable - not pretty to look at, but fellows, by their faces, of the most indomitable
spirit. I declare we could fight frigate.



`Long John even got rid of two out of the six or seven had already engaged. He showed
me in a moment that the were just the sort of fresh-water swabs we had to fear in an
adventure of importance.



`I am in the most magnificent health and spirits, eating like a bull, sleeping like a
tree, yet I shall not enjoy a moment till I hear my old tarpaulins tramping round the
capstan Seaward ho! Hang the treasure! It's the glory of the sea that has turned my head.
So now, Livesey, come post; do not lose an hour, if you respect me.



`Let young Hawkins go at once to see his mother, wit Redruth for a guard; and then both
come full speed to Bristol.



`JOHN TRELAWNEY.



`Postscript. - I did not tell you that Blandly, who, by the was) is to send a consort
after us if we don't turn up by the en of August, had found an admirable fellow for
sailing master - a stiff man, which I regret, but, in all other respects, treasure. Long
John Silver unearthed a very competent man for a mate, a man named Arrow. I have a
boatswain who pipes, Livesey; so things shall go man-o'-war fashion on boar the good ship
Hispaniola.



`I forgot to tell you that Silver is a man of substance; I know of my own knowledge
that he has a banker's account, which has never been overdrawn. He leaves his wife to
manage the inn; and as she is a woman of colour, a pair of old bachelors like you and I
may be excused for guessing that it is the wife, quite as much as the health, that sends
him back to roving.



`J. T.



`P.P.S. - Hawkins may stay one night with his mother.



`J. T.'



You can fancy the excitement into which that letter put me. I was half beside myself
with glee; and if ever I despised a man, it was old Tom Redruth, who could do nothing but
grumble and lament. Any of the under-gamekeepers would gladly have changed places with
him; but such was not the squire's pleasure, and the squire's pleasure was like law among
them all. Nobody but old Redruth would have dared so much as even to grumble.



The next morning he and I set out on foot for the `Admiral Benbow,' and there I found
my mother in good health and spirits. The captain, who had so long been a cause of so much
discomfort, was gone where the wicked cease from troubling. The squire had had everything
repaired, and the public rooms and the sign repainted, and had added some furniture -
above all a beautiful arm-chair for mother in the bar. He had found her a boy as an
apprentice also, so that she should not want help while I was gone.



It was on seeing that boy that I understood, for the first time, my situation. I had
thought up to that moment of the adventures before me, not at all of the home that I was
leaving; and now, at the sight of this clumsy stranger, who was to stay here in my place
beside my mother, I had my first attack of tears. I am afraid I led that boy a dog's life;
for as he was new to the work, I had a hundred opportunities of setting him right and
putting him down, and I was not slow to profit by them.



The night passed, and the next day, after dinner, Redruth and I were afoot again, and
on the road. I said good-bye to mother and the cove where I had lived since I was born,
and the dear old `Admiral Benbow' - since he was repainted, no longer quite so dear. One
of my last thoughts was of the captain, who had so often strode along the beach with his
cocked hat, his sabre-cut cheek, and his old brass telescope. Next moment we had turned
the corner, and my home was out of sight.



The mail picked us up about dusk at the `Royal George' on the heath. I was wedged in
between Redruth and stout old gentleman, and in spite of the swift motion and the cold
night air, I must have dozed a great deal from the very first, and then slept like a log
up hill and down dale through stage after stage; for when I was awakened at last, it was
by a punch in the ribs, and I opened my eyes to find that we were standing still before a
large building in a city street, and that the day had already broken long time.



`Where are we?' I asked.



`Bristol,' said Tom. `Get down.'



Mr Trelawney had taken up his residence at an inn far down the docks, to superintend
the work upon the schooner. Thither we had now to walk, and our way, to my great delight
lay along the quays and beside the great multitude o ships of all sizes and rigs and
nations. In one, sailors. were singing at their work; in another, there were men aloft
high over my head, hanging to threads that seemed no thicker than a spider's. Though I had
lived by the shore all my life, I seemed never to have been near the sea till then. The
smell of tar and salt was something new. I saw the most wonderful figureheads, that had
all been far over the ocean. I saw, besides, many old sailors, with rings in their ears,
and whiskers curled in ringlets, and tarry pigtails, and their swaggering, clumsy
sea-walk; and if I had seen as many kings or archbishops I could not have been more
delighted.



And I was going to sea myself; to sea in a schooner, with a piping boatswain, and
pig-tailed singing seamen; to sea, bound for an unknown island, and to seek for buried
treasures!



While I was still in this delightful dream, we came suddenly in front of a large inn,
and met Squire Trelawney, all dressed out like a sea-officer, in stout blue cloth, coming
out of the door with a smile on his face, and a capital imitation of a sailor's walk.



`Here you are,' he cried, `and the doctor came last night from London. Bravo! the
ship's company complete!'



`Oh, sir,' cried I, `when do we sail?'



`Sail!' says he. `We sail to-morrow!'


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More on This Book:
  1. Treasure Island: Chapter XXII
  2. Treasure Island: Chapter XXI
  3. Treasure Island: Chapter XX
  4. Treasure Island: Chapter XIX
  5. Treasure Island: Chapter XVIII
  6. Treasure Island: Chapter XVII
  7. Treasure Island: Chapter XVI
  8. Treasure Island: Chapter XV
  9. Treasure Island: Chapter XIV
  10. Treasure Island: Chapter XIII
  11. Treasure Island: Chapter XI
  12. Treasure Island: Chapter X
  13. Treasure Island: Chapter IX
  14. Treasure Island: Chapter VIII
  15. Treasure Island: Chapter VI
  16. Treasure Island: Chapter V
  17. Treasure Island: Chapter IV
  18. Treasure Island: Chapter II
  19. Treasure Island: Chapter III
  20. Treasure Island: Chapter I
  21. Treasure Island: Chapter XII
  22. Treasure Island: Chapter XXIV

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