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  • Chapter 3

  • The Black Spot

  • ABOUT noon I stopped at the captain's door

  • with some cooling drinks and medicines.

  • He was lying very much as we had left him,

  • only a little higher, and he seemed both

  • weak and excited.

  • "Jim," he said, "you're the only one here

  • that's worth anything, and you know I've

  • been always good to you.

  • Never a month but I've given you a silver

  • fourpenny for yourself.

  • And now you see, mate, I'm pretty low, and

  • deserted by all; and Jim, you'll bring me

  • one noggin of rum, now, won't you, matey?"

  • "The doctor--" I began.

  • But he broke in cursing the doctor, in a

  • feeble voice but heartily.

  • "Doctors is all swabs," he said; "and that

  • doctor there, why, what do he know about

  • seafaring men?

  • I been in places hot as pitch, and mates

  • dropping round with Yellow Jack, and the

  • blessed land a-heaving like the sea with

  • earthquakes--what to the doctor know of

  • lands like that?--and I lived on rum, I

  • tell you.

  • It's been meat and drink, and man and wife,

  • to me; and if I'm not to have my rum now

  • I'm a poor old hulk on a lee shore, my

  • blood'll be on you, Jim, and that doctor

  • swab"; and he ran on again for a while with

  • curses.

  • "Look, Jim, how my fingers fidges," he

  • continued in the pleading tone.

  • "I can't keep 'em still, not I.

  • I haven't had a drop this blessed day.

  • That doctor's a fool, I tell you.

  • If I don't have a drain o' rum, Jim, I'll

  • have the horrors; I seen some on 'em

  • already.

  • I seen old Flint in the corner there,

  • behind you; as plain as print, I seen him;

  • and if I get the horrors, I'm a man that

  • has lived rough, and I'll raise Cain.

  • Your doctor hisself said one glass wouldn't

  • hurt me.

  • I'll give you a golden guinea for a noggin,

  • Jim."

  • He was growing more and more excited, and

  • this alarmed me for my father, who was very

  • low that day and needed quiet; besides, I

  • was reassured by the doctor's words, now

  • quoted to me, and rather offended by the

  • offer of a bribe.

  • "I want none of your money," said I, "but

  • what you owe my father.

  • I'll get you one glass, and no more."

  • When I brought it to him, he seized it

  • greedily and drank it out.

  • "Aye, aye," said he, "that's some better,

  • sure enough.

  • And now, matey, did that doctor say how

  • long I was to lie here in this old berth?"

  • "A week at least," said I.

  • "Thunder!" he cried.

  • "A week!

  • I can't do that; they'd have the black spot

  • on me by then.

  • The lubbers is going about to get the wind

  • of me this blessed moment; lubbers as

  • couldn't keep what they got, and want to

  • nail what is another's.

  • Is that seamanly behaviour, now, I want to

  • know?

  • But I'm a saving soul.

  • I never wasted good money of mine, nor lost

  • it neither; and I'll trick 'em again.

  • I'm not afraid on 'em.

  • I'll shake out another reef, matey, and

  • daddle 'em again."

  • As he was thus speaking, he had risen from

  • bed with great difficulty, holding to my

  • shoulder with a grip that almost made me

  • cry out, and moving his legs like so much

  • dead weight.

  • His words, spirited as they were in

  • meaning, contrasted sadly with the weakness

  • of the voice in which they were uttered.

  • He paused when he had got into a sitting

  • position on the edge.

  • "That doctor's done me," he murmured.

  • "My ears is singing.

  • Lay me back."

  • Before I could do much to help him he had

  • fallen back again to his former place,

  • where he lay for a while silent.

  • "Jim," he said at length, "you saw that

  • seafaring man today?"

  • "Black Dog?" I asked.

  • "Ah! Black Dog," says he.

  • "HE'S a bad un; but there's worse that put

  • him on.

  • Now, if I can't get away nohow, and they

  • tip me the black spot, mind you, it's my

  • old sea-chest they're after; you get on a

  • horse--you can, can't you?

  • Well, then, you get on a horse, and go to--

  • well, yes, I will!--to that eternal doctor

  • swab, and tell him to pipe all hands--

  • magistrates and sich--and he'll lay 'em

  • aboard at the Admiral Benbow--all old

  • Flint's crew, man and boy, all on 'em

  • that's left.

  • I was first mate, I was, old Flint's first

  • mate, and I'm the on'y one as knows the

  • place.

  • He gave it me at Savannah, when he lay a-

  • dying, like as if I was to now, you see.

  • But you won't peach unless they get the

  • black spot on me, or unless you see that

  • Black Dog again or a seafaring man with one

  • leg, Jim--him above all."

  • "But what is the black spot, captain?"

  • I asked.

  • "That's a summons, mate.

  • I'll tell you if they get that.

  • But you keep your weather-eye open, Jim,

  • and I'll share with you equals, upon my

  • honour."

  • He wandered a little longer, his voice

  • growing weaker; but soon after I had given

  • him his medicine, which he took like a

  • child, with the remark, "If ever a seaman

  • wanted drugs, it's me," he fell at last

  • into a heavy, swoon-like sleep, in which I

  • left him.

  • What I should have done had all gone well I

  • do not know.

  • Probably I should have told the whole story

  • to the doctor, for I was in mortal fear

  • lest the captain should repent of his

  • confessions and make an end of me.

  • But as things fell out, my poor father died

  • quite suddenly that evening, which put all

  • other matters on one side.

  • Our natural distress, the visits of the

  • neighbours, the arranging of the funeral,

  • and all the work of the inn to be carried

  • on in the meanwhile kept me so busy that I

  • had scarcely time to think of the captain,

  • far less to be afraid of him.

  • He got downstairs next morning, to be sure,

  • and had his meals as usual, though he ate

  • little and had more, I am afraid, than his

  • usual supply of rum, for he helped himself

  • out of the bar, scowling and blowing

  • through his nose, and no one dared to cross

  • him.

  • On the night before the funeral he was as

  • drunk as ever; and it was shocking, in that

  • house of mourning, to hear him singing away

  • at his ugly old sea-song; but weak as he

  • was, we were all in the fear of death for

  • him, and the doctor was suddenly taken up

  • with a case many miles away and was never

  • near the house after my father's death.

  • I have said the captain was weak, and

  • indeed he seemed rather to grow weaker than

  • regain his strength.

  • He clambered up and down stairs, and went

  • from the parlour to the bar and back again,

  • and sometimes put his nose out of doors to

  • smell the sea, holding on to the walls as

  • he went for support and breathing hard and

  • fast like a man on a steep mountain.

  • He never particularly addressed me, and it