Treasure Island: Chapter XVIII


Author: Jane Austen

Format: online reading

Category: Novel


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

Description

  • Author: Jane Austen

WE made our best speed across the strip of wood that now divided us from the stockade;
and at every step we took the voices of the buccaneers rang nearer. Soon we could hear
their footfalls as they ran, and the cracking of the branches as they breasted across a
bit of thicket.



I began to see we should have a brush for it in earnest, and looked to my priming.



`Captain,' said I, `Trelawney is the dead shot. Give him your gun; his own is useless.'



They exchanged guns, and Trelawney, silent and cool as he had been since the beginning
of the bustle, hung a moment on his heel to see that all was fit for service. At the same
time, observing Gray to be unarmed, I handed him my cutlass. It did all our hearts good to
see him spit in his hand, knit his brows, and make the blade sing through the air. It was
plain from every line of his body that our new hand was worth his salt.



Forty paces farther we came to the edge of the wood and saw the stockade in front of
us. We struck the enclosure about the middle of the south side, and, almost at the same
time, seven mutineers - Job Anderson, the boatswain, at their head - appeared in full cry
at the south-western corner.



They paused, as if taken aback; and before they recovered, not only the squire and I,
but Hunter and Joyce from the block house, had time to fire. The four shots came in rather
a scattering volley; but they did the business: one of the enemy actually fell, and the
rest, without hesitation, turned and plunged into the trees.



After reloading, we walked down the outside of the palisade to see the fallen enemy. He
was stone dead - shot through the heart.



We began to rejoice over our good success, when just at that moment a pistol cracked in
the bush, a ball whistled close past my ear, and poor Tom Redruth stumbled and fell his
length on the ground. Both the squire and I returned the shot; but as we had nothing to
aim at, it is probable we only wasted powder. Then we reloaded, and turned our attention
to poor Tom.



The captain and Gray were already examining him; and I saw with half an eye that all
was over.



I believe the readiness of our return volley had scattered the mutineers once more, for
we were suffered without further molestation to get the poor old gamekeeper hoisted over
the stockade, and carried, groaning and bleeding, into the log-house.



Poor old fellow, he had not uttered one word of surprise, complaint, fear, or even
acquiescence, from the very beginning of our troubles till now, when we had laid him down
in the log-house to die. He had lain like a Trojan behind his mattress in the gallery; he
had followed every order silently doggedly, and well; he was the oldest of our party by a
score of years; and now, sullen, old, serviceable servant, it was he that was to die.



The squire dropped down beside him on his knees and kissed his hand, crying like a
child.



`Be I going, doctor?' he asked.



`Tom, my man,' said I, `you're going home.'



`I wish I had had a lick at them with the gun first,' he replied.



`Tom,' said the squire, `say you forgive me, won't you?'



`Would that be respectful like, from me to you, squire?' was the answer. `Howsoever, so
be it, amen!'



After a little while of silence, he said he thought somebody might read a prayer. `It's
the custom, sir,' he added apologetically. And not long after, without another word, he
passed away.



In the meantime the captain, whom I had observed to be wonderfully swollen about the
chest and pockets, had turned out a great many various stores - the British colours, a
Bible a coil of stoutish rope, pen, ink, the log-book, and pounds of tobacco. He had found
a longish fir-tree lying felled an trimmed in the enclosure, and, with the help of Hunter,
he had set it up at the corner of the log-house where the trunks crossed and made an
angle. Then, climbing on the roof, he had with his own hand bent and run up the colours.



This seemed mightily to relieve him. He re-entered the log-house, and set about
counting up the stores, as if nothing else existed. But he had an eye on Tom's passage for
all that; and as soon as all was over, came forward with another flag, and reverently
spread it on the body.



`Don't you take on, sir,' he said, shaking the squire's hand. `All's well with him; no
fear for a hand that's been shot down in his duty to captain and owner. It mayn't be good
divinity, but it's a fact.'



Then he pulled me aside.



`Dr Livesey,' he said, `in how many weeks do you and squire expect the consort?'



I told him it was a question, not of weeks, but of months; that if we were not back by
the end of August, Blandly was to send to find us; but neither sooner nor later. `You can
calculate for yourself,' I said.



`Why, yes,' returned the captain, scratching his head, `and making a large allowance,
sir, for all the gifts of Providence, I should say we were pretty close hauled.'



`How do you mean?' I asked.



`It's a pity, sir, we lost that second load. That's what I mean,' replied the captain.
`As for powder and shot, we'll do. But the rations are short, very short - so short, Dr
Livesey, that we're, perhaps, as well without that extra mouth.'



And he pointed to the dead body under the flag.



Just then, with a roar and a whistle, a round-shot passed high above the roof of the
log-house and plumped far beyond us in the wood.



`Oho!' said the captain. `Blaze away! You've little enough powder already my lads.'



At the second trial, the aim was better, and the ball descended inside the stockade,
scattering a cloud of sand, but doing no further damage.



`Captain,' said the squire, `the house is quite invisible from the ship. It must be the
flag they are aiming at. Would it not be wiser to take it in?'



`Strike my colours!' cried the captain. `No, sir, not I;' and as soon as he had said
the words, I think we all agreed with him. For it was not only a piece of stout, seamanly,
good feeling; it was good policy besides, and showed our enemies that we despised their
cannonade.



All through the evening they kept thundering away. Ball after ball flew over or fell
short, or kicked up the sand in the enclosure; but they had to fire so high that the shot
fell dead and buried itself in the soft sand. We had no ricochet to fear; and though one
popped in through the roof of the log-house and out again through the floor, we soon got
used to that sort of horse-play, and minded it no more than cricket.



`There is one thing good about all this,' observed the captain; `the wood in front of
us is likely clear. The ebb has made a good while; our stores should be uncovered.
Volunteers to go and bring in pork.'



Gray and Hunter were the first to come forward. Well armed, they stole out of the
stockade; but it proved a useless mission. The mutineers were bolder than we fancied, or
they put more trust in Israel's gunnery. For four or five of the were busy carrying off
our stores, and wading out with the to one of the gigs that lay close by, pulling an oar
on so hold her steady against the current. Silver was in the stern-sheets in command; and
every man of them was now provided with a musket from some secret magazine of their own.'



The captain sat down to his log, and here is the beginning of the entry:--



`Alexander Smollett, master; David Livesey, ship's doctor; Abraham Gray, carpenter's
mate; John Trelawney, owner; John Hunter and Richard Joyce, owner's servant, landsmen -
being all that is left faithful of the ship's company - with stores for ten days at short
rations, came ashore this day, and flew British colours on the log-house in Treasure
Island. Thomas Redruth, owner's servant landsman, shot by the mutineers; James Hawkins,
cabin-boy--'



And at the same time I was wondering over poor Jim Hawkins's fate.



A hail on the land side.



`Somebody hailing us,' said Hunter, who was on guard. `Doctor! squire! captain! Hullo,
Hunter, is that you?' came the cries.



And I ran to the door in time to see Jim Hawkins, safe and sound, come climbing over
the stockade.


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More on This Book:
  1. Treasure Island: Chapter XXXIII
  2. Treasure Island: Chapter XXXII
  3. Treasure Island: Chapter XXXI
  4. Treasure Island: Chapter XXX
  5. Treasure Island: Chapter XXIX
  6. Treasure Island: Chapter XXVIII
  7. Treasure Island: Chapter XXVII
  8. Treasure Island: Chapter XXVI
  9. Treasure Island: Chapter XXV
  10. Treasure Island: Chapter XXIII
  11. Treasure Island: Chapter XXII
  12. Treasure Island: Chapter XXI
  13. Treasure Island: Chapter XX
  14. Treasure Island: Chapter XIX
  15. Treasure Island: Chapter XVII
  16. Treasure Island: Chapter XVI
  17. Treasure Island: Chapter XV
  18. Treasure Island: Chapter XIV
  19. Treasure Island: Chapter XIII
  20. Treasure Island: Chapter XI
  21. Treasure Island: Chapter X
  22. Treasure Island: Chapter IX
  23. Treasure Island: Chapter VIII
  24. Treasure Island: Chapter VII
  25. Treasure Island: Chapter VI
  26. Treasure Island: Chapter V
  27. Treasure Island: Chapter IV
  28. Treasure Island: Chapter II
  29. Treasure Island: Chapter III
  30. Treasure Island: Chapter I
  31. Treasure Island: Chapter XII
  32. Treasure Island: Chapter XXIV

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