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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?
That would have been Flint's, or Billy
Bones's."
"Billy was the man for that," said Israel.
"'Dead men don't bite,' says he.
Well, he's dead now hisself; he knows the
long and short on it now; and if ever a
rough hand come to port, it was Billy."
"Right you are," said Silver; "rough and
ready.
But mark you here, I'm an easy man--I'm
quite the gentleman, says you; but this
time it's serious.
Dooty is dooty, mates.
I give my vote--death.
When I'm in Parlyment and riding in my
coach, I don't want none of these sea-
lawyers in the cabin a-coming home,
unlooked for, like the devil at prayers.
Wait is what I say; but when the time
comes, why, let her rip!"
"John," cries the coxswain, "you're a man!"
"You'll say so, Israel when you see," said
Silver.
"Only one thing I claim--I claim Trelawney.
I'll wring his calf's head off his body
with these hands, Dick!" he added, breaking
off.
"You just jump up, like a sweet lad, and
get me an apple, to wet my pipe like."
You may fancy the terror I was in!
I should have leaped out and run for it if
I had found the strength, but my limbs and
heart alike misgave me.
I heard Dick begin to rise, and then
someone seemingly stopped him, and the
voice of Hands exclaimed, "Oh, stow that!
Don't you get sucking of that bilge, John.
Let's have a go of the rum."
"Dick," said Silver, "I trust you.
I've a gauge on the keg, mind.
There's the key; you fill a pannikin and
bring it up."
Terrified as I was, I could not help
thinking to myself that this must have been
how Mr. Arrow got the strong waters that
destroyed him.
Dick was gone but a little while, and
during his absence Israel spoke straight on
in the cook's ear.
It was but a word or two that I could
catch, and yet I gathered some important
news, for besides other scraps that tended
to the same purpose, this whole clause was
audible: "Not another man of them'll jine."
Hence there were still faithful men on
board.
When Dick returned, one after another of
the trio took the pannikin and drank--one
"To luck," another with a "Here's to old
Flint," and Silver himself saying, in a
kind of song, "Here's to ourselves, and
hold your luff, plenty of prizes and plenty
of duff."
Just then a sort of brightness fell upon me
in the barrel, and looking up, I found the
moon had risen and was silvering the
mizzen-top and shining white on the luff of
the fore-sail; and almost at the same time
the voice of the lookout shouted, "Land
ho!"
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Chapter 11 - Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson - What I Heard In The Apple Barrel

4146 Folder Collection
Bryan published on July 24, 2014
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