PART TWO—The Sea-cook
I Go to Bristol
IT was longer than the squire imagined ere we were ready for the sea, and none of our first plans— not even Dr. Livesey's, of keeping me beside him— could be carried out as we intended. The doctor had to go to London for a physician to take charge of his practice; the squire was hard at work at Bristol; and I lived on at the hall under the charge of old Redruth, the gamekeeper, almost a prisoner, but full of sea-dreams and the most charming anticipations of strange islands and adventures. I brooded by the hour together over the map, all the details of which I well remembered. Sitting by the fire in the housekeeper's room, I approached that island in my fancy from every possible direction; I explored every acre of its surface; I climbed a thousand times to that tall hill they call the Spy-glass, and from the top enjoyed the most wonderful and changing prospects. Sometimes the isle was thick with savages, with whom we fought, sometimes full of dangerous animals that hunted us, but in all my fancies nothing occurred to me so strange and tragic as our actual adventures.
So the weeks passed on, till one fine day there came a letter addressed to Dr. Livesey, with this addition, “To be opened, in the case of his absence, by Tom Redruth or young Hawkins. ” Obeying this order, we found, or rather I found— for the gamekeeper was a poor hand at reading anything but print— the following important news:
Old Anchor Inn, Bristol, March 1, 17—
Dear Livesey— As I do not know whether you
are at the hall or still in London, I send this in
double to both places.
The ship is bought and fitted. She lies at
anchor, ready for sea. You never imagined a
sweeter schooner— a child might sail her— two
hundred tons; name, HISPANIOLA.
I got her through my old friend, Blandly, who
has proved himself throughout the most surprising
trump. The admirable fellow literally slaved in
my interest, and so, I may say, did everyone in
Bristol, as soon as they got wind of the port we
sailed for— treasure, I mean.
“Redruth, ” said I, interrupting the letter, “Dr. Livesey will not like that. The squire has been talking, after all. ”
“Well, who's a better right? ” growled the gamekeeper. “A pretty rum go if squire ain't to talk for Dr. Livesey, I should think. ”
At that I gave up all attempts at commentary and read straight on:
Blandly himself found the HISPANIOLA, and
by the most admirable management got her for the
merest trifle. There is a class of men in Bristol
monstrously prejudiced against Blandly. They go
the length of declaring that this honest creature
would do anything for money, that the HISPANIOLA
belonged to him, and that he sold it me absurdly
high— the most transparent calumnies. None of them
dare, however, to deny the merits of the ship.
So far there was not a hitch. The
workpeople, to be sure— riggers and what not— were
most annoyingly slow; but time cured that. It was
the crew that troubled me.
I wished a round score of men— in case of
natives, buccaneers, or the odious French— and I
had the worry of the deuce itself to find so much
as half a dozen, till the most remarkable stroke
of fortune brought me the very man that I
I was standing on the dock, when, by the
merest accident, I fell in talk with him. I found
he was an old sailor, kept a public-house, knew
all the seafaring men in Bristol, had lost his
health ashore, and wanted a good berth as cook to
get to sea again. He had hobbled down there that
morning, he said, to get a smell of the salt.
I was monstrously touched— so would you have
been— and, out of pure pity, I engaged him on the
spot to be ship's cook. Long John Silver, he is
called, and has lost a leg; but that I regarded as
a recommendation, since he lost it in his
country's service, under the immortal Hawke. He
has no pension, Livesey. Imagine the abominable
age we live in!
Well, sir, I thought I had only found a cook,
but it was a crew I had discovered. Between
Silver and myself we got together in a few days a
company of the toughest old salts imaginable— not
pretty to look at, but fellows, by their faces, of
the most indomitable spirit. I declare we could
fight a frigate.
Long John even got rid of two out of the six
or seven I had already engaged. He showed me in a
moment that they were just the sort of fresh-water
swabs we had to fear in an adventure of
I am in the most magnificent health and
spirits, eating like a bull, sleeping like a tree,
yet I shall not enjoy a moment till I hear my old
tarpaulins tramping round the capstan. Seaward,
ho! Hang the treasure! It's the glory of the sea
that has turned my head. So now, Livesey, come
post; do not lose an hour, if you respect me.
Let young Hawkins go at once to see his
mother, with Redruth for a guard; and then both
come full speed to Bristol.
Postscript— I did not tell you that Blandly,
who, by the way, is to send a consort after us if
we don't turn up by the end of August, had found
an admirable fellow for sailing master— a stiff
man, which I regret, but in all other respects a
treasure. Long John Silver unearthed a very
competent man for a mate, a man named Arrow. I
have a boatswain who pipes, Livesey; so things
shall go man-o'-war fashion on board the good ship
I forgot to tell you that Silver is a man of
substance; I know of my own knowledge that he has
a banker's account, which has never been
overdrawn. He leaves his wife to manage the inn;
and as she is a woman of colour, a pair of old
bachelors like you and I may be excused for
guessing that it is the wife, quite as much as the
health, that sends him back to roving.
P. P. S. — Hawkins may stay one night with his
You can fancy the excitement into which that letter put me. I was half beside myself with glee; and if ever I despised a man, it was old Tom Redruth, who could do nothing but grumble and lament. Any of the under-gamekeepers would gladly have changed places with him; but such was not the squire's pleasure, and the squire's pleasure was like law among them all. Nobody but old Redruth would have dared so much as even to grumble.
The next morning he and I set out on foot for the Admiral Benbow, and there I found my mother in good health and spirits. The captain, who had so long been a cause of so much discomfort, was gone where the wicked cease from troubling. The squire had had everything repaired, and the public rooms and the sign repainted, and had added some furniture— above all a beautiful armchair for mother in the bar. He had found her a boy as an apprentice also so that she should not want help while I was gone.
It was on seeing that boy that I understood, for the first time, my situation. I had thought up to that moment of the adventures before me, not at all of the home that I was leaving; and now, at sight of this...