Author: Jane Austen
Format: online reading
Posted on 2007-05-11, updated at 2007-05-27. By anonymous.
- Author: Jane Austen
AS soon as Silver disappeared, the captain, who had been closely watching him, turned
towards the interior of the house, and found not a man of us at his post but Gray. It was
the first time we had ever seen him angry.
`Quarters!' he roared. And then, as we all slunk back to our places, `Gray,' he said,
`I'll put your name in the log; you've stood by your duty like a seaman. Mr Trelawney, I'm
surprised at you, sir. Doctor, I thought you had worn the king's coat! If that was how you
served at Fontenoy, sir, you'd have been better in your berth.'
The doctor's watch were all back at their loopholes, the rest were busy loading the
spare muskets, and every one with a red face, you may be certain, and a flea in his ear,
as the saying is.
The captain looked on for a while in silence. Then he spoke. `My lads,' said he, `I've
given Silver a broadside. I pitched it in red-hot on purpose; and before the hour's out,
as he said, we shall be boarded. We're outnumbered, I needn't tell you that, but we fight
in shelter; and, a minute ago, I should have said we fought with discipline. I've no
manner of doubt that we can drub them, if you choose.'
Then he went the rounds, and saw, as he said, that all was clear.
On the two short sides of the house, east and west, there were only two loopholes; on
the south side where the porch was, two again; and on the north side, five. There was a
round score of muskets for the seven of us; the firewood had been built into four piles -
tables, you might say - one about the middle of each side, and on each of these tables
some ammunition and four loaded muskets were laid ready to the hand of the defenders. In
the middle, the cutlasses lay ranged.
`Toss out the fire,' said the captain; `the chill is past, and we mustn't have smoke in
The iron fire-basket was carried bodily out by Mr Trelawney, and the embers smothered
`Hawkins hasn't had his breakfast. Hawkins, help yourself, and back to your post to eat
it,' continued Captain Smollett. `Lively, now, my lad; you'll want it before you've done.
Hunter, serve out a round of brandy to all hands.'
And while this was going on, the captain completed, in his own mind, the plan of the
`Doctor, you will take the door,' he resumed. `See, and don't expose yourself; keep
within, and fire through the porch. Hunter, take the east side, there. Joyce, you stand by
the west, my man. Mr Trelawney, you are the best shot - you and Gray will take this long
north side, with the five loopholes; it's there the danger is. If they can get up to it,
and fire in upon us through our own ports, things would begin to look dirty. Hawkins,
neither you nor I are much account at the shooting we'll stand by to load and bear a
As the captain had said, the chill was past. As soon as the sun had climbed above our
girdle of trees, it fell with all its force upon the clearing, and drank up the vapours at
draught. Soon the sand was baking, and the resin melting in the logs of the block-house.
Jackets and coats were flung aside; shirts thrown open at the neck, and rolled up to the
shoulders; and we stood there, each at his post, in a fever of heat and anxiety.
An hour passed away.
`Hang them!' said the captain. `This is as dull as the doldrums. Gray, whistle for a
And just at that moment came the first news of the attack.
`If you please, sir,' said Joyce, `if I see anyone am I to fire?'
`I told you so!' cried the captain.
`Thank you, sir,' returned Joyce, with the same quiet civility.
Nothing followed for a time; but the remark had set us all on the alert, straining ears
and eyes - the musketeers with their pieces balanced in their hands, the captain out in
the middle of the block-house, with his mouth very tight and frown on his face.
So some seconds passed, till suddenly Joyce whipped up his musket and fired. The report
had scarcely died away ere it was repeated and repeated from without in a scattering
volley, shot behind shot, like a string of geese, from every side of the enclosure.
Several bullets struck the log-house, but not one entered; and, as the smoke cleared away
and vanished, the stockade and the woods around it looked as quiet and empty as before.
Not a bough waved, not the gleam of a musket-barrel betrayed the presence of our foes.
`Did you hit your man?' asked the captain.
`No, sir,' replied Joyce. `I believe not, sir.'
`Next best thing to tell the truth,' muttered Captain Smollett. `Load his gun, Hawkins.
How many should you say there were on your side, doctor?'
`I know precisely,' said Dr Livesey. `Three shots were fired on this side. I saw the
three flashes - two close together - one farther to the west.'
`Three!' repeated the captain. `And how many on yours, Mr Trelawney?'
But this was not so easily answered. There had come many from the north - seven, by the
squire's computation; eight or nine, according to Gray. From the east and west only a
single shot had been fired. It was plain, therefore, that the attack would be developed
from the north, and that on the other three sides we were only to be annoyed by a show of
hostilities. But Captain Smollett made no change in his arrangements. If the mutineers
succeeded in crossing the stockade, he argued, they would take possession of any
unprotected loophole, and shoot us down like rats in our own stronghold.
Nor had we much time left to us for thought. Suddenly, with a loud huzza, a little
cloud of pirates leaped from the woods on the north side, and ran straight on the
stockade. At the same moment, the fire was once more opened from the woods, and a
rifle-ball sang through the doorway, and knocked the doctor's musket into bits.
The boarders swarmed over the fence like monkeys. Squire and Gray fired again and yet
again; three men fell, one forwards into the enclosure, two back on the outside. But of
these, one was evidently more frightened than hurt, for he was on his feet again in a
crack, and instantly disappeared among the trees.
Two had bit the dust, one had fled, four had made good their footing inside our
defences; while from the shelter of the woods seven or eight men, each evidently supplied
with several muskets, kept up a hot though useless fire on the log-house.
The four who had boarded made straight before them for the building, shouting as they
ran, and the men among the trees shouted back to encourage them. Several shots were fired;
but, such was the hurry of the marksmen, that not one appeared to have taken effect. In a
moment, the four pirates had swarmed up the mound and were upon us.
The head of Job Anderson, the boatswain, appeared at the middle loophole.
`At 'em, all hands - all hands!' he roared, in a voice of thunder.
At the same moment, another pirate grasped Hunter's musket by the muzzle, wrenched it
from his hands, plucked it through the loophole, and, with one stunning blow, laid the
poor fellow senseless on the floor. Meanwhile a third, running unharmed all round the
house, appeared suddenly in the doorway, and fell with his cutlass on the doctor.
Our position was utterly reversed. A moment since we were firing, under cover, at an
exposed enemy; now it was we who lay uncovered, and could not return a blow.
The log-house was full of smoke, to which we owed our comparative safety. Cries and
confusion, the flashes and reports of pistol-shots, and one loud groan, rang in my ears.
`Out, lads, out, and fight 'em in the open! Cutlasses!' cried the captain.
I snatched a cutlass from the pile, and someone, at the same time snatching another,
gave me a cut across the knuckles which I hardly felt. I dashed out of the door into the
clear sunlight. Someone was close behind, I knew not whom. Right in front, the doctor was
pursuing his assailant down the hill, and, just as my eyes fell upon him, beat down his
guard, and sent him sprawling on his back, with a great slash across the face.
`Round the house, lads! round the house!' cried the captain and even in the hurly-burly
I perceived a change in his voice.
Mechanically I obeyed, turned eastwards, and with my cutlass raised, ran round the
corner of the house. Next moment I was face to face with Anderson. He roared aloud, and
his hanger went up above his head, flashing in the sunlight. I had not time to be afraid,
but, as the blow still hung impending, leaped in a trice upon one side, and missing my
foot in the soft sand, rolled headlong down the slope.
When I had first sallied from the door, the other mutineers had been already swarming
up the palisade to make an end of us. One man, in a red night-cap, with his cutlass in his
mouth, had even got upon the top and thrown a leg across. Well, so short had been the
interval, that when I found my feet again all was in the same posture, the fellow with the
red night-cap still half-way over, another still just showing his head above the top of
the stockade. And yet, in this breath of time, the fight was over, and the victory was
Gray, following close behind me, had cut down the big boatswain ere he had time to
recover from his lost blow. Another had been shot at a loophole in the very act of firing
into the house, and now lay in agony, the pistol still smoking in his hand. A third, as I
had seen, the doctor had disposed of at a blow. Of the four who had scaled the palisade,
one only remained unaccounted for, and he, having left his cutlass on the field, was now
clambering out again with the fear of death upon him.
`fire - fire from the house!' cried the doctor. `And you, lads, back into cover.'
But his words were unheeded, no shot was fired, and the last boarder made good his
escape, and disappeared with the rest into the wood. In three seconds nothing remained of
the attacking party but the five who had fallen, four on the inside, and one on the
outside, of the palisade.
The doctor and Gray and I ran full speed for shelter. The survivors would soon be back
where they had left their muskets, and at any moment the fire might recommence.
The house was by this time somewhat cleared of smoke, and we saw at a glance the price
we had paid for victory. Hunter lay beside his loophole, stunned; Joyce by his, shot
through the head, never to move again; while right in the centre, the squire was
supporting the captain, one as pale as the other.
`The captain's wounded,' said Mr Trelawney.
`Have they run?' asked Mr Smollett.
`All that could, you may be bound,' returned the doctor `but there's five of them will
never run again.'
`Five!' cried the captain. `Come, that's better. Five against three leaves us four to
nine. That's better odds than we had at starting. We were seven to nineteen then, or
thought we were, and that's as bad to bear.'
The mutineers were soon only eight in number, for the man shot by Mr Trelawney on board
the schooner died that same evening of his wound. But this was, of course, not known till
after by the faithful party.
- Treasure Island: Chapter XXXIV
- Treasure Island: Chapter XXXIII
- Treasure Island: Chapter XXXII
- Treasure Island: Chapter XXXI
- Treasure Island: Chapter XXX
- Treasure Island: Chapter XXIX
- Treasure Island: Chapter XXVIII
- Treasure Island: Chapter XXVII
- Treasure Island: Chapter XXVI
- Treasure Island: Chapter XXV
- Treasure Island: Chapter XXIII
- Treasure Island: Chapter XXII
- Treasure Island: Chapter XX
- Treasure Island: Chapter XIX
- Treasure Island: Chapter XVIII
- Treasure Island: Chapter XVII
- Treasure Island: Chapter XVI
- Treasure Island: Chapter XV
- Treasure Island: Chapter XIV
- Treasure Island: Chapter XIII
- Treasure Island: Chapter XI
- Treasure Island: Chapter X
- Treasure Island: Chapter IX
- Treasure Island: Chapter VIII
- Treasure Island: Chapter VII
- Treasure Island: Chapter VI
- Treasure Island: Chapter V
- Treasure Island: Chapter IV
- Treasure Island: Chapter II
- Treasure Island: Chapter III
- Treasure Island: Chapter I
- Treasure Island: Chapter XII
- Treasure Island: Chapter XXIV
- Ebooks list page : 86
- 2007-05-11Treasure Island: Chapter XXIV
- 2007-05-11Treasure Island: Chapter XII
- 2007-05-11Treasure Island: Chapter I
- 2007-05-11Treasure Island: Chapter III
- 2007-05-11Treasure Island: Chapter II
- 2007-05-11Treasure Island: Chapter IV
- 2007-05-11Treasure Island: Chapter V
- 2007-05-11Treasure Island: Chapter VI
- 2007-05-11Treasure Island: Chapter VII
- 2007-05-11Treasure Island: Chapter VIII
- 2007-05-11Treasure Island: Chapter IX
- 2007-05-11Treasure Island: Chapter X
- 2007-05-11Treasure Island: Chapter XI
- 2007-05-11Treasure Island: Chapter XIII
- 2007-05-11Treasure Island: Chapter XIV
- 2007-05-11Treasure Island: Chapter XV
- 2007-05-11Treasure Island: Chapter XVI
- 2007-05-11Treasure Island: Chapter XVII
- 2007-05-11Treasure Island: Chapter XVIII
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