They had the gun, by this time, slewed round upon the swivel, and Hands, who was at the muzzle with the rammer, was in consequence the most exposed. However, we had no luck, for just as Trelawney fired, down he stooped, the ball whistled over him, and it was one of the other four who fell. The cry he gave was echoed not only by his companions on board but by a great number of voices from the shore, and looking in that direction I saw the other pirates trooping out from among the trees and tumbling into their places in the boats. Here come the gigs, sir, said I. Give way, then, cried the captain. We mustn't mind if we swamp her now. If we can't get ashore, all's up.
Only one of the gigs is being manned, sir, I added; the crew of the other most likely going round by shore to cut us off.
The rest had long been up and had already breakfasted and increased the pile of firewood by about half as much again when I was wakened by a bustle and the sound of voices. Flag of truce! I heard someone say; and then, immediately after, with a cry of surprise, Silver himself! And at that, up I jumped, and rubbing my eyes, ran to a loophole in the wall. SURE enough, there were two men just outside the stockade, one of them waving a white cloth, the other, no less a person than Silver himself, standing placidly by. It was still quite early, and the coldest morning that I think I ever was abroad in--a chill that pierced into the marrow. The sky was bright and cloudless
overhead, and the tops of the trees shone rosily in the sun. But where Silver stood with his lieutenant, all was still in shadow, and they waded knee-deep in a low white vapour that had crawled during the night out of the morass. The chill and the vapour taken together told a poor tale of the island.
Then, climbing on the roof, he had with his own hand bent and run up the colours. This seemed mightily to relieve him. He re-entered the log-house and set about counting up the stores as if nothing else existed. But he had an eye on Tom's passage for all that, and as soon as all was over, came forward with another flag and reverently spread it on the body. Don't you take on, sir, he said, shaking the squire's hand. All's well with him; no fear for a hand that's been shot down in his
duty to captain and owner. It mayn't be good divinity, but it's a fact. Then he pulled me aside.
Cap'n Silver! Don't know him. Who's he? cried the captain. And we could hear him adding to himself, Cap'n, is it? My heart, and here's promotion! Long John answered for himself. Me, sir. These poor lads have chosen me cap'n, after your desertion, sir-- laying a particular emphasis upon the word desertion. We're willing to submit, if we can come to terms, and no bones about it. All I ask is your word, Cap'n Smollett, to let me safe and sound out of this here stockade, and one minute to get out o' shot before a gun is fired.
They'll have a hot run, sir, returned the captain. Jack ashore, you know. It's not them I mind; it's the round-shot. Carpet bowls! My lady's maid couldn't miss. Tell
us, squire, when you see the match, and we'll hold water. In the meanwhile we had been making headway at a good pace for a boat so overloaded, and we had shipped but little water in the process. We were now close in; thirty or forty strokes and we should beach her, for the ebb had already disclosed a narrow belt of sand below the clustering trees. The gig was no longer to be feared; the little point had already concealed it from our eyes.
So some seconds passed, till suddenly Joyce whipped up his musket and fired. The report had scarcely died away ere it was repeated and repeated from without in a scattering volley, shot behind shot, like a string of geese, from every side of the enclosure. Several bullets struck the log-house, but not one entered; and as the smoke cleared away and vanished, the stockade and the woods around it
looked as quiet and empty as before. Not a bough waved, not the gleam of a musket- barrel betrayed the presence of our foes. Did you hit your man? asked the captain. No, sir, replied Joyce. I believe not, sir. Next best thing to tell the truth, muttered Captain Smollett.
Not a man among us moved. Growling the foulest imprecations, he crawled along the sand till he got hold of the porch and could hoist himself again upon his crutch. Then he spat into the spring. There! he cried. That's what I think of ye. Before an hour's out, I'll
stove in your old block house like a rum puncheon. Laugh, by thunder, laugh! Before an hour's out, ye'll laugh upon the other side. Them that die'll be the lucky ones.
By this time, tumbling things in as they came, we had the jolly-boat loaded as much as we dared. Joyce and I got out through the stern-port, and we made for shore again as fast as oars could take us. This second trip fairly aroused the watchers along shore. Lillibullero was dropped again; and just before we lost sight of them behind the little point, one of them whipped ashore and disappeared. I had half a mind to change my plan and destroy their boats, but I feared that Silver and the others might be close at hand, and all might very well be lost by trying for too much. We had soon touched land in the same place as before and set to provision the block house. All three made the first journey, heavily laden, and tossed our stores over the palisade. Then, leaving Joyce to guard them--one man, to be sure, but with half a dozen muskets--Hunter and I returned to the jolly-boat and loaded ourselves once more.
So we proceeded without
pausing to take breath, till the whole cargo was bestowed, when the two servants took up their position in the block house, and I, with all my power, sculled back to the HISPANIOLA. That we should have risked a second boat load seems more daring than it really was. They had the advantage of numbers, of course, but we had the advantage of arms. Not one of the men ashore had a musket, and before they could get within range for pistol shooting, we flattered ourselves we should be able to give a good account of a half-dozen at least. The squire was waiting for me at the stern window, all his faintness gone from him. He caught the painter and made it fast, and we fell to loading the boat for our very lives. Pork, powder, and biscuit was the cargo, with only a musket and a cutlass apiece for the
squire and me and Redruth and the captain. The rest of the arms and powder we dropped overboard in two fathoms and a half of water, so that we could see the bright steel shining far below us in the sun, on the clean, sandy bottom.
Tom, said the squire, say you forgive me, won't you? Would that be respectful like, from me to you, squire? was the answer. Howsoever, so be it, amen! After a little while of silence, he said he thought somebody might read a prayer. It's the custom, sir, he added apologetically. And not long after, without another word, he passed away. In the meantime the captain, whom I had observed to be wonderfully swollen about the chest and pockets, had turned out a great many various stores--the British colours, a Bible, a coil of stoutish rope, pen, ink, the log-book, and pounds of tobacco. He had
found a longish fir-tree lying felled and trimmed in the enclosure, and with the help of Hunter he had set it up at the corner of the log-house where the trunks crossed and made an angle.