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by Robert Louis Stevenson
If sailor tales to sailor tunes,
Storm and adventure, heat and cold,
If schooners, islands, and maroons,
And buccaneers, and buried gold,
And all the old romance, retold
Exactly in the ancient way,
Can please, as me they pleased of old,
The wiser youngsters of today:
--So be it, and fall on! If not,
If studious youth no longer crave,
His ancient appetites forgot,
Kingston, or Ballantyne the brave,
Or Cooper of the wood and wave:
So be it, also! And may I
And all my pirates share the grave
Where these and their creations lie!
To S. Lloyd Osbourne, an American gentleman
in accordance with whose classic taste the
following narrative has been designed, it
is now, in return for numerous delightful
hours, and with the kindest wishes,
dedicated by his affectionate friend, the
PART ONE--The Old Buccaneer
The Old Sea-dog at the Admiral Benbow
SQUIRE TRELAWNEY, Dr. Livesey, and the rest
of these gentlemen having asked me to write
down the whole particulars about Treasure
Island, from the beginning to the end,
keeping nothing back but the bearings of
the island, and that only because there is
still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my
pen in the year of grace 17__ and go back
to the time when my father kept the Admiral
Benbow inn and the brown old seaman with
the sabre cut first took up his lodging
under our roof.
I remember him as if it were yesterday, as
he came plodding to the inn door, his sea-
chest following behind him in a hand-
barrow--a tall, strong, heavy, nut-brown
man, his tarry pigtail falling over the
shoulder of his soiled blue coat, his hands
ragged and scarred, with black, broken
nails, and the sabre cut across one cheek,
a dirty, livid white.
I remember him looking round the cover and
whistling to himself as he did so, and then
breaking out in that old sea-song that he
sang so often afterwards:
"Fifteen men on the dead man's chest--
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!"
in the high, old tottering voice that
seemed to have been tuned and broken at the
capstan bars.
Then he rapped on the door with a bit of
stick like a handspike that he carried, and
when my father appeared, called roughly for
a glass of rum.
This, when it was brought to him, he drank
slowly, like a connoisseur, lingering on
the taste and still looking about him at
the cliffs and up at our signboard.
"This is a handy cove," says he at length;
"and a pleasant sittyated grog-shop.
Much company, mate?"
My father told him no, very little company,
the more was the pity.
"Well, then," said he, "this is the berth
for me.
Here you, matey," he cried to the man who
trundled the barrow; "bring up alongside
and help up my chest.
I'll stay here a bit," he continued.
"I'm a plain man; rum and bacon and eggs is
what I want, and that head up there for to
watch ships off.
What you mought call me?
You mought call me captain.
Oh, I see what you're at--there"; and he
threw down three or four gold pieces on the
"You can tell me when I've worked through
that," says he, looking as fierce as a
And indeed bad as his clothes were and
coarsely as he spoke, he had none of the
appearance of a man who sailed before the
mast, but seemed like a mate or skipper
accustomed to be obeyed or to strike.
The man who came with the barrow told us
the mail had set him down the morning
before at the Royal George, that he had
inquired what inns there were along the
coast, and hearing ours well spoken of, I
suppose, and described as lonely, had
chosen it from the others for his place of
And that was all we could learn of our
He was a very silent man by custom.
All day he hung round the cove or upon the
cliffs with a brass telescope; all evening
he sat in a corner of the parlour next the
fire and drank rum and water very strong.
Mostly he would not speak when spoken to,
only look up sudden and fierce and blow
through his nose like a fog-horn; and we
and the people who came about our house
soon learned to let him be.
Every day when he came back from his stroll
he would ask if any seafaring men had gone
by along the road.
At first we thought it was the want of
company of his own kind that made him ask
this question, but at last we began to see
he was desirous to avoid them.
When a seaman did put up at the Admiral
Benbow (as now and then some did, making by
the coast road for Bristol) he would look
in at him through the curtained door before
he entered the parlour; and he was always
sure to be as silent as a mouse when any
such was present.
For me, at least, there was no secret about
the matter, for I was, in a way, a sharer
in his alarms.
He had taken me aside one day and promised
me a silver fourpenny on the first of every
month if I would only keep my "weather-eye
open for a seafaring man with one leg" and
let him know the moment he appeared.
Often enough when the first of the month
came round and I applied to him for my
wage, he would only blow through his nose
at me and stare me down, but before the
week was out he was sure to think better of
it, bring me my four-penny piece, and
repeat his orders to look out for "the
seafaring man with one leg."
How that personage haunted my dreams, I
need scarcely tell you.
On stormy nights, when the wind shook the
four corners of the house and the surf
roared along the cove and up the cliffs, I
would see him in a thousand forms, and with
a thousand diabolical expressions.
Now the leg would be cut off at the knee,
now at the hip; now he was a monstrous kind
of a creature who had never had but the one
leg, and that in the middle of his body.
To see him leap and run and pursue me over
hedge and ditch was the worst of
And altogether I paid pretty dear for my
monthly fourpenny piece, in the shape of
these abominable fancies.
But though I was so terrified by the idea
of the seafaring man with one leg, I was
far less afraid of the captain himself than
anybody else who knew him.
There were nights when he took a deal more
rum and water than his head would carry;
and then he would sometimes sit and sing
his wicked, old, wild sea-songs, minding
nobody; but sometimes he would call for
glasses round and force all the trembling
company to listen to his stories or bear a
chorus to his singing.
Often I have heard the house shaking with
"Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum," all the
neighbours joining in for dear life, with
the fear of death upon them, and each
singing louder than the other to avoid
For in these fits he was the most
overriding companion ever known; he would
slap his hand on the table for silence all
round; he would fly up in a passion of
anger at a question, or sometimes because
none was put, and so he judged the company
was not following his story.
Nor would he allow anyone to leave the inn
till he had drunk himself sleepy and reeled
off to bed.
His stories were what frightened people
worst of all.
Dreadful stories they were--about hanging,
and walking the plank, and storms at sea,
and the Dry Tortugas, and wild deeds and
places on the Spanish Main.
By his own account he must have lived his
life among some of the wickedest men that
God ever allowed upon the sea, and the
language in which he told these stories
shocked our plain country people almost as
much as the crimes that he described.
My father was always saying the inn would
be ruined, for people would soon cease
coming there to be tyrannized over and put
down, and sent shivering to their beds; but
I really believe his presence did us good.
People were frightened at the time, but on
looking back they rather liked it; it was a
fine excitement in a quiet country life,
and there was even a party of the younger
men who pretended to admire him, calling
him a "true sea-dog" and a "real old salt"
and such like names, and saying there was
the sort of man that made England terrible
at sea.
In one way, indeed, he bade fair to ruin
us, for he kept on staying week after week,
and at last month after month, so that all
the money had been long exhausted, and
still my father never plucked up the heart
to insist on having more.
If ever he mentioned it, the captain blew
through his nose so loudly that you might
say he roared, and stared my poor father
out of the room.
I have seen him wringing his hands after
such a rebuff, and I am sure the annoyance
and the terror he lived in must have
greatly hastened his early and unhappy
All the time he lived with us the captain
made no change whatever in his dress but to
buy some stockings from a hawker.
One of the cocks of his hat having fallen
down, he let it hang from that day forth,
though it was a great annoyance when it
I remember the appearance of his coat,
which he patched himself upstairs in his
room, and which, before the end, was
nothing but patches.
He never wrote or received a letter, and he
never spoke with any but the neighbours,
and with these, for the most part, only
when drunk on rum.
The great sea-chest none of us had ever
seen open.
He was only once crossed, and that was
towards the end, when my poor father was
far gone in a decline that took him off.
Dr. Livesey came late one afternoon to see
the patient, took a bit of dinner from my
mother, and went into the parlour to smoke
a pipe until his horse should come down
from the hamlet, for we had no stabling at
the old Benbow.
I followed him in, and I remember observing
the contrast the neat, bright doctor, with
his powder as white as snow and his bright,
black eyes and pleasant manners, made with
the coltish country folk, and above all,
with that filthy, heavy, bleared scarecrow
of a pirate of ours, sitting, far gone in
rum, with his arms on the table.
Suddenly he--the captain, that is--began to
pipe up his eternal song:
"Fifteen men on the dead man's chest
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!"
At first I had supposed "the dead man's
chest" to be that identical big box of his
upstairs in the front room, and the thought
had been mingled in my nightmares with that
of the one-legged seafaring man.
But by this time we had all long ceased to
pay any particular notice to the song; it
was new, that night, to nobody but Dr.
Livesey, and on him I observed it did not
produce an agreeable effect, for he looked
up for a moment quite angrily before he
went on with his talk to old Taylor, the
gardener, on a new cure for the rheumatics.
In the meantime, the captain gradually
brightened up at his own music, and at last
flapped his hand upon the table before him
in a way we all knew to mean silence.
The voices stopped at once, all but Dr.
Livesey's; he went on as before speaking
clear and kind and drawing briskly at his
pipe between every word or two.
The captain glared at him for a while,
flapped his hand again, glared still
harder, and at last broke out with a
villainous, low oath, "Silence, there,
between decks!"
"Were you addressing me, sir?" says the
doctor; and when the ruffian had told him,
with another oath, that this was so, "I
have only one thing to say to you, sir,"
replies the doctor, "that if you keep on
drinking rum, the world will soon be quit
of a very dirty scoundrel!"
The old fellow's fury was awful.
He sprang to his feet, drew and opened a
sailor's clasp-knife, and balancing it open
on the palm of his hand, threatened to pin
the doctor to the wall.
The doctor never so much as moved.
He spoke to him as before, over his
shoulder and in the same tone of voice,
rather high, so that all the room might
hear, but perfectly calm and steady: "If
you do not put that knife this instant in
your pocket, I promise, upon my honour, you
shall hang at the next assizes."
Then followed a battle of looks between
them, but the captain soon knuckled under,
put up his weapon, and resumed his seat,
grumbling like a beaten dog.
"And now, sir," continued the doctor,
"since I now know there's such a fellow in
my district, you may count I'll have an eye
upon you day and night.
I'm not a doctor only; I'm a magistrate;
and if I catch a breath of complaint
against you, if it's only for a piece of
incivility like tonight's, I'll take
effectual means to have you hunted down and
routed out of this.
Let that suffice."
Soon after, Dr. Livesey's horse came to the
door and he rode away, but the captain held
his peace that evening, and for many
evenings to come.
Chapter 2
Black Dog Appears and Disappears
IT was not very long after this that there
occurred the first of the mysterious events
that rid us at last of the captain, though
not, as you will see, of his affairs.
It was a bitter cold winter, with long,
hard frosts and heavy gales; and it was
plain from the first that my poor father
was little likely to see the spring.
He sank daily, and my mother and I had all
the inn upon our hands, and were kept busy
enough without paying much regard to our
unpleasant guest.
It was one January morning, very early--a
pinching, frosty morning--the cove all grey
with hoar-frost, the ripple lapping softly
on the stones, the sun still low and only
touching the hilltops and shining far to
The captain had risen earlier than usual
and set out down the beach, his cutlass
swinging under the broad skirts of the old
blue coat, his brass telescope under his
arm, his hat tilted back upon his head.
I remember his breath hanging like smoke in
his wake as he strode off, and the last
sound I heard of him as he turned the big
rock was a loud snort of indignation, as
though his mind was still running upon Dr.
Well, mother was upstairs with father and I
was laying the breakfast-table against the
captain's return when the parlour door
opened and a man stepped in on whom I had
never set my eyes before.
He was a pale, tallowy creature, wanting
two fingers of the left hand, and though he
wore a cutlass, he did not look much like a
I had always my eye open for seafaring men,
with one leg or two, and I remember this
one puzzled me.
He was not sailorly, and yet he had a smack
of the sea about him too.
I asked him what was for his service, and
he said he would take rum; but as I was
going out of the room to fetch it, he sat
down upon a table and motioned me to draw
I paused where I was, with my napkin in my
"Come here, sonny," says he.
"Come nearer here."
I took a step nearer.
"Is this here table for my mate Bill?" he
asked with a kind of leer.
I told him I did not know his mate Bill,
and this was for a person who stayed in our
house whom we called the captain.
"Well," said he, "my mate Bill would be
called the captain, as like as not.
He has a cut on one cheek and a mighty
pleasant way with him, particularly in
drink, has my mate Bill.
We'll put it, for argument like, that your
captain has a cut on one cheek--and we'll
put it, if you like, that that cheek's the
right one.
Ah, well!
I told you.
Now, is my mate Bill in this here house?"
I told him he was out walking.
"Which way, sonny?
Which way is he gone?"
And when I had pointed out the rock and
told him how the captain was likely to
return, and how soon, and answered a few
other questions, "Ah," said he, "this'll be
as good as drink to my mate Bill."
The expression of his face as he said these
words was not at all pleasant, and I had my
own reasons for thinking that the stranger
was mistaken, even supposing he meant what
he said.
But it was no affair of mine, I thought;
and besides, it was difficult to know what
to do.
The stranger kept hanging about just inside
the inn door, peering round the corner like
a cat waiting for a mouse.
Once I stepped out myself into the road,
but he immediately called me back, and as I
did not obey quick enough for his fancy, a
most horrible change came over his tallowy
face, and he ordered me in with an oath
that made me jump.
As soon as I was back again he returned to
his former manner, half fawning, half
sneering, patted me on the shoulder, told
me I was a good boy and he had taken quite
a fancy to me.
"I have a son of my own," said he, "as like
you as two blocks, and he's all the pride
of my 'art.
But the great thing for boys is discipline,
Now, if you had sailed along of Bill, you
wouldn't have stood there to be spoke to
twice--not you.
That was never Bill's way, nor the way of
sich as sailed with him.
And here, sure enough, is my mate Bill,
with a spy-glass under his arm, bless his
old 'art, to be sure.
You and me'll just go back into the
parlour, sonny, and get behind the door,
and we'll give Bill a little surprise--
bless his 'art, I say again."
So saying, the stranger backed along with
me into the parlour and put me behind him
in the corner so that we were both hidden
by the open door.
I was very uneasy and alarmed, as you may
fancy, and it rather added to my fears to
observe that the stranger was certainly
frightened himself.
He cleared the hilt of his cutlass and
loosened the blade in the sheath; and all
the time we were waiting there he kept
swallowing as if he felt what we used to
call a lump in the throat.
At last in strode the captain, slammed the
door behind him, without looking to the
right or left, and marched straight across
the room to where his breakfast awaited
"Bill," said the stranger in a voice that I
thought he had tried to make bold and big.
The captain spun round on his heel and
fronted us; all the brown had gone out of
his face, and even his nose was blue; he
had the look of a man who sees a ghost, or
the evil one, or something worse, if
anything can be; and upon my word, I felt
sorry to see him all in a moment turn so
old and sick.
"Come, Bill, you know me; you know an old
shipmate, Bill, surely," said the stranger.
The captain made a sort of gasp.
"Black Dog!" said he.
"And who else?" returned the other, getting
more at his ease.
"Black Dog as ever was, come for to see his
old shipmate Billy, at the Admiral Benbow
Ah, Bill, Bill, we have seen a sight of
times, us two, since I lost them two
talons," holding up his mutilated hand.
"Now, look here," said the captain; "you've
run me down; here I am; well, then, speak
up; what is it?"
"That's you, Bill," returned Black Dog,
"you're in the right of it, Billy.
I'll have a glass of rum from this dear
child here, as I've took such a liking to;
and we'll sit down, if you please, and talk
square, like old shipmates."
When I returned with the rum, they were
already seated on either side of the
captain's breakfast-table--Black Dog next
to the door and sitting sideways so as to
have one eye on his old shipmate and one,
as I thought, on his retreat.
He bade me go and leave the door wide open.
"None of your keyholes for me, sonny," he
said; and I left them together and retired
into the bar.
For a long time, though I certainly did my
best to listen, I could hear nothing but a
low gattling; but at last the voices began
to grow higher, and I could pick up a word
or two, mostly oaths, from the captain.
"No, no, no, no; and an end of it!" he
cried once.
And again, "If it comes to swinging, swing
all, say I."
Then all of a sudden there was a tremendous
explosion of oaths and other noises--the
chair and table went over in a lump, a
clash of steel followed, and then a cry of
pain, and the next instant I saw Black Dog
in full flight, and the captain hotly
pursuing, both with drawn cutlasses, and
the former streaming blood from the left
Just at the door the captain aimed at the
fugitive one last tremendous cut, which
would certainly have split him to the chine
had it not been intercepted by our big
signboard of Admiral Benbow.
You may see the notch on the lower side of
the frame to this day.
That blow was the last of the battle.
Once out upon the road, Black Dog, in spite
of his wound, showed a wonderful clean pair
of heels and disappeared over the edge of
the hill in half a minute.
The captain, for his part, stood staring at
the signboard like a bewildered man.
Then he passed his hand over his eyes
several times and at last turned back into
the house.
"Jim," says he, "rum"; and as he spoke, he
reeled a little, and caught himself with
one hand against the wall.
"Are you hurt?" cried I.
"Rum," he repeated.
"I must get away from here.
Rum! Rum!"
I ran to fetch it, but I was quite
unsteadied by all that had fallen out, and
I broke one glass and fouled the tap, and
while I was still getting in my own way, I
heard a loud fall in the parlour, and
running in, beheld the captain lying full
length upon the floor.
At the same instant my mother, alarmed by
the cries and fighting, came running
downstairs to help me.
Between us we raised his head.
He was breathing very loud and hard, but
his eyes were closed and his face a
horrible colour.
"Dear, deary me," cried my mother, "what a
disgrace upon the house!
And your poor father sick!"
In the meantime, we had no idea what to do
to help the captain, nor any other thought
but that he had got his death-hurt in the
scuffle with the stranger.
I got the rum, to be sure, and tried to put
it down his throat, but his teeth were
tightly shut and his jaws as strong as
It was a happy relief for us when the door
opened and Doctor Livesey came in, on his
visit to my father.
"Oh, doctor," we cried, "what shall we do?
Where is he wounded?"
A fiddle-stick's end!" said the doctor.
"No more wounded than you or I.
The man has had a stroke, as I warned him.
Now, Mrs. Hawkins, just you run upstairs to
your husband and tell him, if possible,
nothing about it.
For my part, I must do my best to save this
fellow's trebly worthless life; Jim, you
get me a basin."
When I got back with the basin, the doctor
had already ripped up the captain's sleeve
and exposed his great sinewy arm.
It was tattooed in several places.
"Here's luck," "A fair wind," and "Billy
Bones his fancy," were very neatly and
clearly executed on the forearm; and up
near the shoulder there was a sketch of a
gallows and a man hanging from it--done, as
I thought, with great spirit.
"Prophetic," said the doctor, touching this
picture with his finger.
"And now, Master Billy Bones, if that be
your name, we'll have a look at the colour
of your blood.
Jim," he said, "are you afraid of blood?"
"No, sir," said I.
"Well, then," said he, "you hold the
basin"; and with that he took his lancet
and opened a vein.
A great deal of blood was taken before the
captain opened his eyes and looked mistily
about him.
First he recognized the doctor with an
unmistakable frown; then his glance fell
upon me, and he looked relieved.
But suddenly his colour changed, and he
tried to raise himself, crying, "Where's
Black Dog?"
"There is no Black Dog here," said the
doctor, "except what you have on your own
You have been drinking rum; you have had a
stroke, precisely as I told you; and I have
just, very much against my own will,
dragged you headforemost out of the grave.
Now, Mr. Bones--"
"That's not my name," he interrupted.
"Much I care," returned the doctor.
"It's the name of a buccaneer of my
acquaintance; and I call you by it for the
sake of shortness, and what I have to say
to you is this; one glass of rum won't kill
you, but if you take one you'll take
another and another, and I stake my wig if
you don't break off short, you'll die--do
you understand that?--die, and go to your
own place, like the man in the Bible.
Come, now, make an effort.
I'll help you to your bed for once."
Between us, with much trouble, we managed
to hoist him upstairs, and laid him on his
bed, where his head fell back on the pillow
as if he were almost fainting.
"Now, mind you," said the doctor, "I clear
my conscience--the name of rum for you is
And with that he went off to see my father,
taking me with him by the arm.
"This is nothing," he said as soon as he
had closed the door.
"I have drawn blood enough to keep him
quiet awhile; he should lie for a week
where he is--that is the best thing for him
and you; but another stroke would settle
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
"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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
is my belief he had as good as forgotten
his confidences; but his temper was more
flighty, and allowing for his bodily
weakness, more violent than ever.
He had an alarming way now when he was
drunk of drawing his cutlass and laying it
bare before him on the table.
But with all that, he minded people less
and seemed shut up in his own thoughts and
rather wandering.
Once, for instance, to our extreme wonder,
he piped up to a different air, a kind of
country love-song that he must have learned
in his youth before he had begun to follow
the sea.
So things passed until, the day after the
funeral, and about three o'clock of a
bitter, foggy, frosty afternoon, I was
standing at the door for a moment, full of
sad thoughts about my father, when I saw
someone drawing slowly near along the road.
He was plainly blind, for he tapped before
him with a stick and wore a great green
shade over his eyes and nose; and he was
hunched, as if with age or weakness, and
wore a huge old tattered sea-cloak with a
hood that made him appear positively
I never saw in my life a more dreadful-
looking figure.
He stopped a little from the inn, and
raising his voice in an odd sing-song,
addressed the air in front of him, "Will
any kind friend inform a poor blind man,
who has lost the precious sight of his eyes
in the gracious defence of his native
country, England--and God bless King
George!--where or in what part of this
country he may now be?"
"You are at the Admiral Benbow, Black Hill
Cove, my good man," said I.
"I hear a voice," said he, "a young voice.
Will you give me your hand, my kind young
friend, and lead me in?"
I held out my hand, and the horrible, soft-
spoken, eyeless creature gripped it in a
moment like a vise.
I was so much startled that I struggled to
withdraw, but the blind man pulled me close
up to him with a single action of his arm.
"Now, boy," he said, "take me in to the
"Sir," said I, "upon my word I dare not."
"Oh," he sneered, "that's it!
Take me in straight or I'll break your
And he gave it, as he spoke, a wrench that
made me cry out.
"Sir," said I, "it is for yourself I mean.
The captain is not what he used to be.
He sits with a drawn cutlass.
Another gentleman--"
"Come, now, march," interrupted he; and I
never heard a voice so cruel, and cold, and
ugly as that blind man's.
It cowed me more than the pain, and I began
to obey him at once, walking straight in at
the door and towards the parlour, where our
sick old buccaneer was sitting, dazed with
The blind man clung close to me, holding me
in one iron fist and leaning almost more of
his weight on me than I could carry.
"Lead me straight up to him, and when I'm
in view, cry out, 'Here's a friend for you,