Treasure Island: Chapter XVI


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 about half-past one - three bells in the sea phrase that the two boats went
ashore from the Hispaniola. The captain, the squire, and I were talking matters over in
the cabin. Had there been a breath of wind we should have fall' on the six mutineers who
were left aboard with us, slipped our cable, and away to sea. But the wind was wanting; an
to complete our helplessness, down came Hunter with the news that Jim Hawkins had slipped
into a boat and go ashore with the rest.



It never occurred to us to doubt Jim Hawkins; but we were alarmed for his safety. With
the men in the temper they we in, it seemed an even chance if we should see the lad again.
We ran on deck. The pitch was bubbling in the seams; the nasty stench of the place turned
me sick; if ever a man smelt fever and dysentery, it was in that abominable anchorage. The
six scoundrels were sitting grumbling under a sail in the forecastle; ashore we could see
the gigs made fast, and a man sitting in each, hard by where the river runs in. One of
them was whistling `Lillibullero.'



Waiting was a strain; and it was decided that Hunter and I should go ashore with the
jolly-boat, in quest of information. The gigs had leaned to their right; but Hunter and I
pulled straight in, in the direction of the stockade upon the chart. The two who were left
guarding their boats seemed in a bustle at our appearance; `Lillibullero' stopped off, and
I could see the pair discussing what they ought to do. Had they gone an told Silver, all
might have turned out differently; but they had their orders, I suppose and decided to sit
quietly where they were and hark back again to `Lillibullero.'



There was a slight bend in the coast, and I steered so as to put it between us; even
before we landed we had thus lost sight of the gigs. I jumped out, and came as near
running as I durst, with a big silk handkerchief under my hat for coolness' sake, and a
brace of pistols ready primed for safety.



I had not gone a hundred yards when I reached the stockade.



This was how it was: a spring of clear water rose almost at the top of a knoll. Well,
on the knoll, and enclosing the spring, they had clapped a stout log-house, fit to hold
two score of people on a pinch, and loop-holed for musketry on every side. All round this
they had cleared a wide space, and then the thing was completed by a paling six feet high,
without door or opening, too strong to pull down without time and labour, and too open to
shelter the besiegers. The people in the log-house had them in every way; they stood quiet
in shelter and shot the others like partridges. All they wanted was a good watch and food;
for, short of a complete surprise, they might have held the place against a regiment.



What particularly took my fancy was the spring. For, though we had a good enough place
of it in the cabin of the Hispaniola, with plenty of arms and ammunition, and things to
eat, and excellent wines, there had been one thing overlooked - we had no water. I was
thinking this over, when there came ringing over the island the cry of a man at the point
of death. I was not new to violent death - I have served his Royal Highness the Duke of
Cumberland, and got a wound myself at Fontenoy - but I know my pulse went dot and carry
one. `Jim Hawkins is gone' was my first thought.



It is something to have been an old soldier, but more still to have been a doctor.
There is no time to dilly-dally in our work. And so now I made up my mind instantly, and
with no time lost returned to the shore, and jumped on board the jolly-boat.



By good fortune Hunter pulled a good oar. We made the water fly; and the boat was soon
alongside, and I aboard the schooner.



I found them all shaken, as was natural. The squire was sitting down, as white as a
sheet, thinking of the harm he had led us to, the good soul! and one of the six forecastle
hands was little better.



`There's a man,' says Captain Smollett, nodding towards him, `new to this work. He came
nigh-hand fainting, doctor when he heard the cry. Another touch of the rudder and that man
would join us.'



I told my plan to the captain, and between us we settle on the details of its
accomplishment.



We put old Redruth in the gallery between the cabin and the forecastle, with three or
four loaded muskets and mattress for protection. Hunter brought the boat round under the
stern-port, and Joyce and I set to work loading her with powder tins, muskets, bags of
biscuits, kegs of pork, a cask of cognac, and my invaluable medicine chest.



In the meantime, the squire and the captain stayed on deck and the latter hailed the
coxswain, who was the principal man aboard.



`Mr Hands,' he said, `here are two of us with a brace of pistols each. If any one of
you six make a signal of any description, that man's dead.'



They were a good deal taken aback; and, after a little consultation, one and all
tumbled down the fore companion thinking, no doubt, to take us on the rear. But when they
saw Redruth waiting for them in the sparred gallery, they went about ship at once, and a
head popped out again on deck.



`Down, dog!' cries the captain.



And the head popped back again; and we heard no more, for the time, of these six very
faint-hearted seamen.



By this time, tumbling things in as they came, we had the jolly-boat loaded as much as
we dared. Joyce and I got out through the stern-port, and we made for shore again, as fast
as oars could take us.



This second trip fairly aroused the watchers along shore. `Lillibullero' was dropped
again; and just before we lost sight of them behind the little point, one of them whipped
ashore and disappeared. I had half a mind to change my plan and destroy their boats, but I
feared that Silver and the others might be close at hand, and all might very well be lost
by trying for too much.



We had soon touched land in the same place as before, and set to provision the block
house. All three made the first journey, heavily laden, and tossed our stores over the
palisade. Then, leaving Joyce to guard them - one man, to be sure, but with half a dozen
muskets - Hunter and I returned to the jolly- boat, and loaded ourselves once more. So we
proceeded without pausing to take breath, till the whole cargo was bestowed, when the two
servants took up their position in the block house, and I, with all my power, sculled back
to the Hispaniola.



That we should have risked a second boat load seems more daring than it really was.
They had the advantage of numbers, of course, but we had the advantage of arms. Not one of
the men ashore had a musket, and before they could get within range for pistol shooting,
we flattered ourselves we should be able to give a good account of a half-dozen at least.



The squire was waiting for me at the stern window, all his faintness gone from him. He
caught the painter and made it fast, and we fell to loading the boat for our very lives.
Pork, powder, and biscuit was the cargo, with only a musket and a cutlass apiece for the
squire and me and Redruth and the captain. The rest of the arms and powder we dropped
overboard in two fathoms and a half of water, so that we could see the bright steel
shining far below us in the sun, on the clean, sandy bottom.



By this time the tide was beginning to ebb, and the ship was swinging round to her
anchor. Voices were heard faintly halloaing in the direction of the two gigs; and though
this reassured us for Joyce and Hunter, who were well to the eastward, it warned our party
to be off.



Redruth retreated from his place in the gallery, and dropped into the boat, which we
then brought round to the ship's counter, to be handier for Captain Smollett.



`Now men,' said he, `do you hear me?'



There was no answer from the forecastle.



`It's to you, Abraham Gray - it's to you, I am speaking.'



Still no reply.



`Gray,' resumed Mr Smollett, a little louder, `I am leaving this ship, and I order you
to follow your captain. I know you are a good man at bottom, and I daresay not one of the
lot of you's as bad as he makes out. I have my watch here in my hand; I give you thirty
seconds to join me in.'



There was a pause.



`Come, my fine fellow,' continued the captain, `don't hang so long in stays. I'm
risking my life, and the lives of these good gentlemen every second.'



There was a sudden scuffle, a sound of blows, and out burst Abraham Gray with a
knife-cut on the side of the cheek, and came running to the captain, like a dog to the
whistle.



`I'm with you, sir,' said he.



And the next moment he and the captain had dropped aboard of us, and we had shoved off
and given way.



We were clear out of the ship; but not yet ashore in our stockade.


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

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