Treasure Island: Chapter XXX


Author: Jane Austen

Format: online reading

Category: Novel


Posted on 2007-05-11, updated at 2007-05-27. By anonymous.

Description

  • Author: Jane Austen

I WAS wakened - Indeed, we were all wakened, for I could see even the sentinel shake
himself together from where he had fallen against the door-post - by a clear, hearty voice
hailing us from the margin of the wood:--



`Block-house, ahoy!' it cried. `Here's the doctor.'



And the doctor it was. Although I was glad to hear the sound, yet my gladness was not
without admixture. I remembered with confusion my insubordinate and stealthy conduct; and
when I saw where it had brought me - among what companions and surrounded by what dangers
- I felt ashamed to look him in the face.



He must have risen in the dark, for the day had hardly come; and when I ran to a
loophole and looked out, I saw him standing, like Silver once before, up to the mid-leg in
creeping vapour.



`You, doctor! Top o' the morning to you, sir!' cried Silver, broad awake and beaming
with good-nature in a moment. `Bright and early, to be sure; and it's the early bird, as
the saying goes, that gets the rat.ions. George, shake up your timbers, son, and help Dr
Livesey over the ship's side. All a-doin' well, your patients was - all well and merry.'



So he pattered on, standing on the hill-top, with his crutch under his elbow, and one
hand upon the side of the log-house - quite the old John in voice, manner, and expression.



`We've quite a surprise for you, too, sir,' he continued. `We've a little stranger here
- he! he! A noo boarder and lodger, sir, and looking fit and taut as a fiddle; slep' like
a supercargo, he did, right alongside of John - stem to stem we was, all night.'



Dr Livesey was by this time across the stockade and pretty near the cook; and I could
hear the alteration in his voice as he said:--



`Not Jim?'



`The very same Jim as ever was,' says Silver.



The doctor stopped outright, although he did not speak, and it was some seconds before
he seemed able to move on.



`Well, well,' he said, at last, `duty first and pleasure afterwards, as you might have
said yourself, Silver. Let us overhaul these patients of yours.'



A moment afterwards he had entered the block-house, and, with one grim nod to me,
proceeded with his work among the sick. He seemed under no apprehension, though he must
have known that his life, among these treacherous demons, depended on a hair; and he
rattled on to his patients as if he were paying an ordinary professional visit in a quiet
English family. His manner, I suppose, reacted on the men; for they behaved to him as if
nothing had occurred - as if he were still ship's doctor, and they still faithful hands
before the mast.



`You're doing well, my friend,' he said to the fellow with the bandaged head, `and if
ever any person had a close shave, it was you; your head must be as hard as iron. Well,
George, how goes it? You're a pretty colour, certainly; why, your liver, man, is upside
down. Did you take that medicine? Did he take that medicine, men?'



`Ay, ay, sir, he took it, sure enough,' returned Morgan.



`Because, you see, since I am mutineers' doctor, or prison doctor, as I prefer to call
it,' says Dr Livesey, in his pleasantest way, `I make it a point of honour not to lose a
man for King George (God bless him!) and the gallows.'



The rogues looked at each other, but swallowed the home-thrust in silence.



`Dick don't feel well, sir,' said one.



`Don't he?' replied the doctor. `Well, step up here, Dick, and let me see your tongue.
No, I should be surprised if he did! the man's tongue is fit to frighten the French.
Another fever.'



`Ah, there,' said Morgan, `that comed of sp'iling Bibles.'



`That comed - as you call it - of being arrant asses, retorted the doctor, `and not
having sense enough to know honest air from poison, and the dry land from a vile,
pestiferous slough. I think it most probable - though, of course, it's only an opinion -
that you'll all have the deuce to pay before you get that malaria out of your systems.
Camp in a bog, would you? Silver, I'm surprised at you. You're less of a fool than many,
take you all round; but you don't appear to me to have the rudiments of a notion of the
rules of health.'



`Well,' he added, after he had dosed them round, and they had taken his prescriptions,
with really laughable humility, more like charity school-children than blood-guilty
mutineers and pirates - `well, that's done for to-day. And now I should wish to have a
talk with that boy, please.'



And he nodded his head in my direction carelessly.



George Merry was at the door, spitting and spluttering over some bad-tasted medicine;
but at the first word of the doctor's proposal he swung round with a deep flush, and cried
`No!' and swore.



Silver struck the barrel with his open hand.



`Si-lence!' he roared, and looked about him positively like a lion. `Doctor,' he went
on, in his usual tones, `I was a-thinking of that, knowing as how you had a fancy for the
boy. We're all humbly grateful for your kindness, and, as you see, puts faith in you, and
takes the drugs down like that much grog. And I take it I've found a way as'll suit all.
Hawkins, will you give me your word of honour as a young gentleman - for a young gentleman
you are, although poor born - your word of honour not to slip your cable?



I readily gave the pledge required.



`Then, doctor,' said Silver, `you just step outside o' that stockade, and once you're
there, I'll the bring the boy down on the inside, and I reckon you can yarn through the
spars. Good-day to you, sir, and all our dooties to the squire and Cap'n Smollett.'



The explosion of disapproval, which nothing but Silver's black looks had restrained,
broke out immediately the doctor had left the house. Silver was roundly accused of playing
double - of trying to make a separate peace for himself - of sacrificing the interests of
his accomplices and victims; and, in one word, of the identical, exact thing that he was
doing. It seemed to me so obvious, in this case, that I could not imagine how he was to
turn their anger. But he was twice the man the rest were; and his last night's victory had
given him a huge preponderance on their minds. He called them all the fools and dolts you
can imagine, said it was necessary I should talk to the doctor, fluttered the chart in
their faces, asked the if they could afford to break the treaty the very day they we bound
a-treasure-hunting.



`No, by thunder!' he cried, `it's us must break the treaty when the time comes; and
till then I'll gammon that doctor, if I have to ile his boots with brandy.'



And then he bade them get the fire lit, and stalked out upon his crutch, with his hand
on my shoulder, leaving them in a disarray, and silenced by his volubility rather than
convinced.



`Slow, lad, slow,' he said. `They might round upon us in a twinkle of an eye, if we was
seen to hurry.'



Very deliberately, then, did we advance across the sand to where the doctor awaited us
on the other side of the stockade, and as soon as we were within easy speaking distance,
Silver stopped.



`You `Il make a note of this here also, doctor,' says he, `and the boy'll tell you how
I saved his life, and were deposed for it, too, and you may lay to that. Doctor, when a
man's steering as near the wind as me - playing chuck-farthing with the last breath in his
body, like - you wouldn't think it too much, mayhap, to give him one good word? You'll
please bear in mind it's not my life only now - it's that boy's into the bargain; and
you'll speak me fair, doctor, and give me a bit o' hope to go on, for the sake of mercy.'



Silver was a changed man, once he was out there and had his back to his friends and the
block-house; his cheeks seemed to have fallen in, his voice trembled; never was a soul
more dead in earnest.



`Why, John, you're not afraid?' asked Dr Livesey.



`Doctor, I'm no coward; no, not I - not so much!' and he snapped his fingers. `If I was
I wouldn't say it. But I'll own up fairly, I've the shakes upon me for the gallows. You're
a good man and a true; I never seen a better man! And you'll not forget what I done good,
not any more than you'll forget the bad, I know. And I step aside - see here - and leave
you and Jim alone. And you'll put that down for me, too, for it's a long stretch, is
that!'



So saying, he stepped back a little way, till he was out of earshot, and there sat down
upon a tree-stump and began to whistle; spinning round now and again upon his seat so as
to command a sight, sometimes of me and the doctor, and sometimes of his unruly ruffians
as they went to and fro in the sand, between the fire - which they were busy rekindling -
and the house, from which they brought forth pork and bread to make the breakfast.



`So, Jim,' said the doctor, sadly, `here you are. As you have brewed, so shall you
drink, my boy. Heaven knows, I cannot find it in my heart to blame you; but this much I
will say, be it kind or unkind: when Captain Smollett was well, you dared not have gone
off; and when he was ill, and couldn't help it, by George, it was downright cowardly!'



I will own that I here began to weep. `Doctor,' I said, `you might spare me. I have
blamed myself enough; my life's forfeit anyway, and I should have been dead by now, if
Silver hadn't stood for me; and doctor, believe this, I can die - and I daresay I deserve
it - but what I fear is torture. If they come to torture me--'



`Jim,' the doctor interrupted, and his voice was quite changed, `Jim I can't have this.
Whip over, and we'll run for it.'



`Doctor,' said I, `I passed my word.'



`I know, I know,' he cried. `We can't help that, Jim, now. I'll take it on my
shoulders, holus bolus, blame and shame, my boy; but stay here, I cannot let you. Jump!
One jump, and you're out, and we'll run for it like antelopes.'



`No,' I replied, `you know right well you wouldn't do the thing yourself; neither you,
nor squire, nor captain; and no more will I. Silver trusted me; I passed my word, and back
I go. But, doctor, you did not let me finish. If they come to torture me, I might let slip
a word of where the ship is; for I got the ship, part by luck and part by risking, and she
lies in North Inlet, on the southern beach, and just below high water. At half- tide she
must be high and dry.'



`The ship!' exclaimed the doctor.



Rapidly I described to him my adventures, and he heard me out in silence.



`There is a kind of fate in this,' he observed, when I had done `Every step, it's you
that saves our lives; and do you suppose by any chance that we are going to let you lose
yours? That would be a poor return,



my boy. You found out the plot; you found Ben Gunn - the best deed that ever you did,
or will do, though you live to ninety. Oh, by Jupiter, and talking of Ben Gunn! why this
is the mischief in person. Silver!' he cried, `Silver - I'll give you a piece of advice,'
he continued, as the cook drew near again; `don't you be in any great hurry after that
treasure.'



`Why, sir, I do my possible, which that aint,' said Silver. `I can only, asking your
pardon, save my life and the boy's by seeking for that treasure; and you may lay to that.'



`Well, Silver,' replied the doctor, `if that is so, I'll go one step further: look out
for squalls when you find it.'



`Sir,' said Silver, `as between man and man, that's too much and too little. What
you're after, why you left the block-house, why you given me that there chart, I don't
know, now, do I? and yet I done your bidding with my eyes shut and never a word of hope!
But no, this here's too much. If you won't tell me what you mean plain out, just say so,
and I'll leave the helm.'



`No,' said the doctor, musingly, `I've no right to say more; it's not my secret, you
see, Silver, or, I give you my word, I'd tell it you. But I'll go as far with you as I
dare go, and a step beyond; for I'll have my wig sorted by the captain or I'm mistaken!
And, first, I'll give you a bit of hope: Silver, if we both get alive out of this
wolf-trap, I'll do my best to save you, short of perjury.'



Silver's face was radiant. `You couldn't say more, I'm sure, sir, not if you was my
mother,' he cried.



`Well, that's my first concession,' added the doctor. `My second is a piece of advice:
Keep the boy close beside you, and when you need help, halloo. I'm off to seek it for you,
and that itself will show you if I speak at random. Good-bye, Jim.'



And Dr Livesey shook hands with me through the stockade, nodded to Silver, and set off
at a brisk pace into the wood.


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More on This Book:
  1. Treasure Island: Chapter XXXIV
  2. Treasure Island: Chapter XXXIII
  3. Treasure Island: Chapter XXXII
  4. Treasure Island: Chapter XXXI
  5. Treasure Island: Chapter XXIX
  6. Treasure Island: Chapter XXVIII
  7. Treasure Island: Chapter XXVII
  8. Treasure Island: Chapter XXVI
  9. Treasure Island: Chapter XXV
  10. Treasure Island: Chapter XXIII
  11. Treasure Island: Chapter XXII
  12. Treasure Island: Chapter XXI
  13. Treasure Island: Chapter XX
  14. Treasure Island: Chapter XIX
  15. Treasure Island: Chapter XVIII
  16. Treasure Island: Chapter XVII
  17. Treasure Island: Chapter XVI
  18. Treasure Island: Chapter XV
  19. Treasure Island: Chapter XIV
  20. Treasure Island: Chapter XIII
  21. Treasure Island: Chapter XI
  22. Treasure Island: Chapter X
  23. Treasure Island: Chapter IX
  24. Treasure Island: Chapter VIII
  25. Treasure Island: Chapter VII
  26. Treasure Island: Chapter VI
  27. Treasure Island: Chapter V
  28. Treasure Island: Chapter IV
  29. Treasure Island: Chapter II
  30. Treasure Island: Chapter III
  31. Treasure Island: Chapter I
  32. Treasure Island: Chapter XII
  33. Treasure Island: Chapter XXIV

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