Treasure Island: Chapter V


Author: Jane Austen

Format: online reading

Category: Novel


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

Description

  • Author: Jane Austen

My curiosity, in a sense, was stronger than my fear; for I could not remain where I
was, but crept back to the bank again, whence, sheltering my head behind a bush of broom,
I might command the road before our door. I was scarcely in position ere my enemies began
to arrive, seven or eight of them, running hard, their feet beating out of time along the
road, and the man with the lantern some paces in front. Three men ran together, hand in
hand; and I made out, even through the mist, that the middle man of this trio was the
blind beggar. The next moment his voice showed me that I was right.

`Down with the door!' he cried.



`Ay, ay, sir!' answered two or three; and a rush was made upon the `Admiral Benbow,'
the lantern-bearer following; and then I could see them pause, and hear speeches passed in
a lower key, as if they were surprised to find the door open. But the pause was brief, for
the blind man again issued his commands. His voice sounded louder and higher, as if he
were afire with eagerness and rage.



`In, in, in!' he shouted, and cursed them for their delay. Four or five of them obeyed
at once, two remaining on the road with the formidable beggar. There was a pause, then a
cry of surprise, and then a voice shouting from the house:--



`Bill's dead!'



But the blind man swore at them again for their delay.



`Search him, some of you shirking lubbers, and the rest of you aloft and get the
chest,' he cried.



I could hear their feet rattling up our old stairs, so that the house must have shook
with it. Promptly afterwards, fresh sounds of astonishment arose; the window of the
captain's room was thrown open with a slam and a jingle of broken glass; and a man leaned
out into the moonlight, head and shoulders, and addressed the blind beggar on the road
below him.



`Pew,' he cried, `they've been before us. Someone's turned the chest out alow and
aloft.'



`Is it there?' roared Pew.



`The money's there.'



The blind man cursed the money.



`Flint's fist, I mean,' he cried.



`We don't see it here nohow,' returned the man.



`Here, you below there, is it on Bill?' cried the blind man again.



At that, another fellow, probably him who had remained below to search the captain's
body, came to the door of the inn. `Bill's been overhauled a'ready,' said he, `nothin'
left.'



`It's these people of the inn - it's that boy. I wish I had put his eyes out!' cried
the blind man, Pew. `They were here no time ago - they had the door bolted when I tried
it. Scatter lads, and find 'em.'



`Sure enough, they left their glim here,' said the fellow from the window.



`Scatter and find 'em! Rout the house out!' reiterated Pew striking with his stick upon
the road.



Then there followed a great to-do through all our old inn heavy feet pounding to and
fro, furniture thrown over, door: kicked in, until the very rocks re-echoed, and the men
came out again, one after another, on the road, and declared that we were nowhere to be
found. And just then the same whistle that had alarmed my mother and myself over the dead
captain's money was once more clearly audible through the night, but this time twice
repeated. I had thought it to be the blind man's trumpet, so to speak, summoning his crew
to the assault; but I now found that it was a signal from the hillside towards the hamlet,
and, from its effect upon the buccaneers a signal to warn them of approaching danger.



`There's Dirk again,' said one. `Twice! We'll have to budge, mates.'



`Budge, you skulk!' cried Pew. Dirk was a fool and coward from the first - you wouldn't
mind him. They must be close by; they can't be far; you have your hands on it Scatter and
look for them, dogs! Oh, shiver my soul,' he cried `if I had eyes!'



This appeal seemed to produce some effect, for two of the fellows began to look here
and there among the lumber, but halfheartedly, I thought, and with half an eye to their
own danger all the time, while the rest stood irresolute on the road.



`You have your hands on thousands, you fools, and you hang a leg! You'd be as rich as
kings if you could find it, and you know it's here, and you stand there skulking. There
wasn't one of you dared face Bill, and I did it - a blind man! And I'm to lose my chance
for you! I'm to be a poor, crawling beggar, sponging for rum, when I might be rolling in a
coach! If you had the pluck of a weevil in a biscuit you would catch them still.'



`Hang it, Pew, we've got the doubloons!' grumbled one. `They might have hid the blessed
thing,' said another.



`Take the Georges, Pew, and don't stand here squalling.'



Squalling was the word for it, Pew's anger rose so high at these objections; till at
last, his passion completely taking the upper hand, he struck at them right and left in
his blindness, and his stick sounded heavily on more than one.



These, in their turn, cursed back at the blind miscreant, threatened him in horrid
terms, and tried in vain to catch the stick and wrest it from his grasp.



This quarrel was the saving of us; for while it was still raging, another sound came
from the top of the hill on the side of the hamlet - the tramp of horses galloping. Almost
at the same time a pistol-shot, flash and report, came from the hedge-side. And that was
plainly the last signal of danger; for the buccaneers turned at once and ran, separating
in every direction, one seaward along the cove, one slant across the hill, and so on, so
that in half a minute not a sign of them remained but Pew. Him they had deserted, whether
in sheer panic or out of revenge for his ill words and blows, I know not; but there he
remained behind, tapping up and down the road in a frenzy, and groping and calling for his
comrades. Finally he took the wrong turn, and ran a few steps past me, towards the hamlet,
crying:--



`Johnny, Black Dog, Dirk,' and other names, `you won't leave old Pew, mates - not old
Pew!'



Just then the noise of horses topped the rise, and four or five riders came in sight in
the moonlight, and swept at full gallop down the slope.



At this Pew saw his error, turned with a scream, and ran straight for the ditch, into
which he rolled. But he was on his feet again in a second, and made another dash, now
utterly bewildered, right under the nearest of the coming horses.



The rider tried to save him, but in vain. Down went Pew with a cry that rang high into
the night; and the four hoofs trampled and spurned him and passed by. He fell on his side
then gently collapsed upon his face, and moved no more.



I leaped to my feet and hailed the riders. They were pulling up, at any rate, horrified
at the accident; and I soon saw what they were. One, tailing out behind the rest, was a
lad this had gone from the hamlet to Dr Livesey's; the rest were revenue officers, whom he
had met by the way, and with whom he had had the intelligence to return at once. Some news
of the lugger in Kitt's Hole had found its way to Supervisor Dance, and set him forth that
night in our direction, and to that circumstance my mother and I owe our preservation from
death.



Pew was dead, stone dead. As for my mother, when we had carried her up to the hamlet, a
little cold water and salts and that soon brought her back again, and she was none the
worse for her terror, though she still continued to deplore the balance of the money. In
the meantime the supervisor rode on, as fast as he could, to Kitt's Hole but his men had
to dismount and grope down the dingle leading, and sometimes supporting, their horses, and
in continual fear of ambushes; so it was no great matter for surprise that when they got
down to the Hole the lugger was already under way, though still close in. He hailed her. A
voice replied, telling him to keep out of the moonlight or he would get some lead in him,
and at the same time bullet whistled close by his arm. Soon after, the lugger doubled the
point and disappeared. Mr Dance stood there as he said, `like a fish out of water,' and
all he could do was to despatch a man to B - to warn the cutter. `And that,' said he, `is
just about as good as nothing. They've got off clean, and there's an end. Only,' he added,
`I'm glad I trod on Master Pew's corns;' for by this time he had heard my story.



I went back with him to the `Admiral Benbow,' and you cannot imagine a house in such a
state of smash; the very clock had been thrown down by these fellows in their furious hunt
after my mother and myself; and though nothing had actually been taken away except the
captain's money-bag and a little silver from the till, I could see at once that we were
ruined. Mr Dance could make nothing of the scene.



`They got the money, you say? Well, then, Hawkins, what in fortune were they after?
More money, I suppose?'



`No, sir; not money, I think,' replied I. `In fact, sir, I believe I have the thing in
my breast-pocket; and, to tell you the truth, I should like to get it put in safety.'



`To be sure, boy; quite right,' said he. `I'll take it, if you like.'



`I thought, perhaps, Dr Livesey--' I began.



`Perfectly right,' he interrupted, very cheerily, `perfectly right - a gentleman and a
magistrate. And, now I come to think of it, I might as well ride round there myself and
report to him or squire. Master Pew's dead, when all's done; not that I regret it, but
he's dead, you see, and people will make it out against an officer of his Majesty's
revenue, if make it out they can. Now, I'll tell you, Hawkins: if you like, I'll take you
along.'



I thanked him heartily for the offer, and we walked back to the hamlet where the horses
were. By the time I had told mother of my purpose they were all in the saddle.



`Dogger,' said Mr Dance, `you have a good horse; take up this lad behind you.'



As soon as I was mounted, holding on to Dogger's belt, the supervisor gave the word,
and the party struck out at a bouncing trot on the road to Dr Livesey's house.


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

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