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  • Chapter 11

  • What I Heard in the Apple Barrel

  • "NO, not I," said Silver.

  • "Flint was cap'n; I was quartermaster,

  • along of my timber leg.

  • The same broadside I lost my leg, old Pew

  • lost his deadlights.

  • It was a master surgeon, him that ampytated

  • me--out of college and all--Latin by the

  • bucket, and what not; but he was hanged

  • like a dog, and sun-dried like the rest, at

  • Corso Castle.

  • That was Roberts' men, that was, and comed

  • of changing names to their ships--ROYAL

  • FORTUNE and so on.

  • Now, what a ship was christened, so let her

  • stay, I says.

  • So it was with the CASSANDRA, as brought us

  • all safe home from Malabar, after England

  • took the viceroy of the Indies; so it was

  • with the old WALRUS, Flint's old ship, as

  • I've seen amuck with the red blood and fit

  • to sink with gold."

  • "Ah!" cried another voice, that of the

  • youngest hand on board, and evidently full

  • of admiration.

  • "He was the flower of the flock, was

  • Flint!"

  • "Davis was a man too, by all accounts,"

  • said Silver.

  • "I never sailed along of him; first with

  • England, then with Flint, that's my story;

  • and now here on my own account, in a manner

  • of speaking.

  • I laid by nine hundred safe, from England,

  • and two thousand after Flint.

  • That ain't bad for a man before the mast--

  • all safe in bank.

  • 'Tain't earning now, it's saving does it,

  • you may lay to that.

  • Where's all England's men now?

  • I dunno.

  • Where's Flint's?

  • Why, most on 'em aboard here, and glad to

  • get the duff--been begging before that,

  • some on 'em.

  • Old Pew, as had lost his sight, and might

  • have thought shame, spends twelve hundred

  • pound in a year, like a lord in Parliament.

  • Where is he now?

  • Well, he's dead now and under hatches; but

  • for two year before that, shiver my

  • timbers, the man was starving!

  • He begged, and he stole, and he cut

  • throats, and starved at that, by the

  • powers!"

  • "Well, it ain't much use, after all," said

  • the young seaman.

  • "'Tain't much use for fools, you may lay to

  • it--that, nor nothing," cried Silver.

  • "But now, you look here: you're young, you

  • are, but you're as smart as paint.

  • I see that when I set my eyes on you, and

  • I'll talk to you like a man."

  • You may imagine how I felt when I heard

  • this abominable old rogue addressing

  • another in the very same words of flattery

  • as he had used to myself.

  • I think, if I had been able, that I would

  • have killed him through the barrel.

  • Meantime, he ran on, little supposing he

  • was overheard.

  • "Here it is about gentlemen of fortune.

  • They lives rough, and they risk swinging,

  • but they eat and drink like fighting-cocks,

  • and when a cruise is done, why, it's

  • hundreds of pounds instead of hundreds of

  • farthings in their pockets.

  • Now, the most goes for rum and a good

  • fling, and to sea again in their shirts.

  • But that's not the course I lay.

  • I puts it all away, some here, some there,

  • and none too much anywheres, by reason of

  • suspicion.

  • I'm fifty, mark you; once back from this

  • cruise, I set up gentleman in earnest.

  • Time enough too, says you.

  • Ah, but I've lived easy in the meantime,

  • never denied myself o' nothing heart

  • desires, and slep' soft and ate dainty all

  • my days but when at sea.

  • And how did I begin?

  • Before the mast, like you!"

  • "Well," said the other, "but all the other

  • money's gone now, ain't it?

  • You daren't show face in Bristol after

  • this."

  • "Why, where might you suppose it was?"

  • asked Silver derisively.

  • "At Bristol, in banks and places," answered

  • his companion.

  • "It were," said the cook; "it were when we

  • weighed anchor.

  • But my old missis has it all by now.

  • And the Spy-glass is sold, lease and

  • goodwill and rigging; and the old girl's

  • off to meet me.

  • I would tell you where, for I trust you,

  • but it'd make jealousy among the mates."

  • "And can you trust your missis?" asked the

  • other.

  • "Gentlemen of fortune," returned the cook,

  • "usually trusts little among themselves,

  • and right they are, you may lay to it.

  • But I have a way with me, I have.

  • When a mate brings a slip on his cable--one

  • as knows me, I mean--it won't be in the

  • same world with old John.

  • There was some that was feared of Pew, and

  • some that was feared of Flint; but Flint

  • his own self was feared of me.

  • Feared he was, and proud.

  • They was the roughest crew afloat, was

  • Flint's; the devil himself would have been

  • feared to go to sea with them.

  • Well now, I tell you, I'm not a boasting

  • man, and you seen yourself how easy I keep

  • company, but when I was quartermaster,

  • LAMBS wasn't the word for Flint's old

  • buccaneers.

  • Ah, you may be sure of yourself in old

  • John's ship."

  • "Well, I tell you now," replied the lad, "I

  • didn't half a quarter like the job till I

  • had this talk with you, John; but there's

  • my hand on it now."

  • "And a brave lad you were, and smart too,"

  • answered Silver, shaking hands so heartily

  • that all the barrel shook, "and a finer

  • figurehead for a gentleman of fortune I

  • never clapped my eyes on."

  • By this time I had begun to understand the

  • meaning of their terms.

  • By a "gentleman of fortune" they plainly

  • meant neither more nor less than a common

  • pirate, and the little scene that I had

  • overheard was the last act in the

  • corruption of one of the honest hands--

  • perhaps of the last one left aboard.

  • But on this point I was soon to be

  • relieved, for Silver giving a little

  • whistle, a third man strolled up and sat

  • down by the party.

  • "Dick's square," said Silver.

  • "Oh, I know'd Dick was square," returned

  • the voice of the coxswain, Israel Hands.

  • "He's no fool, is Dick."

  • And he turned his quid and spat.

  • "But look here," he went on, "here's what I

  • want to know, Barbecue: how long are we a-

  • going to stand off and on like a blessed

  • bumboat?

  • I've had a'most enough o' Cap'n Smollett;

  • he's hazed me long enough, by thunder!

  • I want to go into that cabin, I do.

  • I want their pickles and wines, and that."

  • "Israel," said Silver, "your head ain't

  • much account, nor ever was.

  • But you're able to hear, I reckon;

  • leastways, your ears is big enough.

  • Now, here's what I say: you'll berth

  • forward, and you'll live hard, and you'll

  • speak soft, and you'll keep sober till I

  • give the word; and you may lay to that, my

  • son."

  • "Well, I don't say no, do I?" growled the

  • coxswain.

  • "What I say is, when?

  • That's what I say."

  • "When!

  • By the powers!" cried Silver.

  • "Well now, if you want to know, I'll tell

  • you when.

  • The last moment I can manage, and that's

  • when.

  • Here's a first-rate seaman, Cap'n Smollett,

  • sails the blessed ship for us.

  • Here's this squire and doctor with a map

  • and such--I don't know where it is, do I?

  • No more do you, says you.

  • Well then, I mean this squire and doctor

  • shall find the stuff, and help us to get it

  • aboard, by the powers.

  • Then we'll see.

  • If I was sure of you all, sons of double

  • Dutchmen, I'd have Cap'n Smollett navigate

  • us half-way back again before I struck."

  • "Why, we're all seamen aboard here, I

  • should think," said the lad Dick.

  • "We're all forecastle hands, you mean,"

  • snapped Silver.

  • "We can steer a course, but who's to set

  • one?

  • That's what all you gentlemen split on,

  • first and last.

  • If I had my way, I'd have Cap'n Smollett

  • work us back into the trades at least; then

  • we'd have no blessed miscalculations and a

  • spoonful of water a day.

  • But I know the sort you are.

  • I'll finish with 'em at the island, as

  • soon's the blunt's on board, and a pity it

  • is.

  • But you're never happy till you're drunk.

  • Split my sides, I've a sick heart to sail

  • with the likes of you!"

  • "Easy all, Long John," cried Israel.

  • "Who's a-crossin' of you?"

  • "Why, how many tall ships, think ye, now,

  • have I seen laid aboard?

  • And how many brisk lads drying in the sun

  • at Execution Dock?" cried Silver.

  • "And all for this same hurry and hurry and

  • hurry.

  • You hear me?

  • I seen a thing or two at sea, I have.

  • If you would on'y lay your course, and a

  • p'int to windward, you would ride in

  • carriages, you would.

  • But not you!

  • I know you.

  • You'll have your mouthful of rum tomorrow,

  • and go hang."

  • "Everybody knowed you was a kind of a

  • chapling, John; but there's others as could

  • hand and steer as well as you," said

  • Israel.

  • "They liked a bit o' fun, they did.

  • They wasn't so high and dry, nohow, but

  • took their fling, like jolly companions

  • every one."

  • "So?" says Silver.

  • "Well, and where are they now?

  • Pew was that sort, and he died a beggar-

  • man.

  • Flint was, and he died of rum at Savannah.

  • Ah, they was a sweet crew, they was!

  • On'y, where are they?"

  • "But," asked Dick, "when we do lay 'em

  • athwart, what are we to do with 'em,

  • anyhow?"

  • "There's the man for me!" cried the cook

  • admiringly.

  • "That's what I call business.

  • Well, what would you think?

  • Put 'em ashore like maroons?

  • That would have been England's way.

  • Or cut 'em down like that much pork?