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Chapter 2 Black Dog Appears and Disappears

  • It was not very long after this that there occurred the first of th_ysterious events that rid us at last of the captain, though not, as you wil_ee, of his affairs. It was a bitter cold winter, with long, hard frosts an_eavy gales; and it was plain from the first that my poor father was littl_ikely to see the spring. He sank daily, and my mother and I had all the in_pon our hands, and were kept busy enough without paying much regard to ou_npleasant guest.
  • It was one January morning, very early—a pinching, frosty morning—the cove al_rey with hoar-frost, the ripple lapping softly on the stones, the sun stil_ow and only touching the hilltops and shining far to seaward. The captain ha_isen earlier than usual and set out down the beach, his cutlass swingin_nder the broad skirts of the old blue coat, his brass telescope under hi_rm, his hat tilted back upon his head. I remember his breath hanging lik_moke in his wake as he strode off, and the last sound I heard of him as h_urned the big rock was a loud snort of indignation, as though his mind wa_till running upon Dr. Livesey.
  • Well, mother was upstairs with father and I was laying the breakfast-tabl_gainst the captain's return when the parlour door opened and a man stepped i_n 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 no_ook much like a fighter. I had always my eye open for seafaring men, with on_eg or two, and I remember this one puzzled me. He was not sailorly, and ye_e 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 near. I paused where I was, with my napkin in my hand.
  • "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 staye_n our house whom we called the captain. "Well," said he, "my mate Bill woul_e called the captain, as like as not. He has a cut on one cheek and a might_leasant 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 m_ate 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 t_eturn, 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, an_ had my own reasons for thinking that the stranger was mistaken, eve_upposing he meant what he said. But it was no affair of mine, I thought; an_esides, it was difficult to know what to do. The stranger kept hanging abou_ust inside the inn door, peering round the corner like a cat waiting for _ouse. Once I stepped out myself into the road, but he immediately called m_ack, and as I did not obey quick enough for his fancy, a most horrible chang_ame over his tallowy face, and he ordered me in with an oath that made m_ump. As soon as I was back again he returned to his former manner, hal_awning, half sneering, patted me on the shoulder, told me I was a good bo_nd he had taken quite a fancy to me. "I have a son of my own," said he, "a_ike you as two blocks, and he's all the pride of my 'art. But the great thin_or boys is discipline, sonny—discipline. Now, if you had sailed along o_ill, you wouldn't have stood there to be spoke to twice—not you. That wa_ever Bill's way, nor the way of sich as sailed with him. And here, sur_nough, 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 behin_he 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 m_ehind him in the corner so that we were both hidden by the open door. I wa_ery uneasy and alarmed, as you may fancy, and it rather added to my fears t_bserve that the stranger was certainly frightened himself. He cleared th_ilt of his cutlass and loosened the blade in the sheath; and all the time w_ere waiting there he kept swallowing as if he felt what we used to call _ump in the throat.
  • At last in strode the captain, slammed the door behind him, without looking t_he right or left, and marched straight across the room to where his breakfas_waited him.
  • "Bill," said the stranger in a voice that I thought he had tried to make bol_nd big.
  • The captain spun round on his heel and fronted us; all the brown had gone ou_f his face, and even his nose was blue; he had the look of a man who sees _host, or the evil one, or something worse, if anything can be; and upon m_ord, 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 th_tranger.
  • The captain made a sort of gasp.
  • "Black Dog!" said he.
  • "And who else?" returned the other, getting more at his ease. "Black Dog a_ver was, come for to see his old shipmate Billy, at the Admiral Benbow inn.
  • Ah, Bill, Bill, we have seen a sight of times, us two, since I lost them tw_alons," 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 likin_o; 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 th_aptain's breakfast-table—Black Dog next to the door and sitting sideways s_s 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 hea_othing but a low gattling; but at last the voices began to grow higher, and _ould 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 t_winging, swing all, say I."
  • Then all of a sudden there was a tremendous explosion of oaths and othe_oises—the chair and table went over in a lump, a clash of steel followed, an_hen a cry of pain, and the next instant I saw Black Dog in full flight, an_he captain hotly pursuing, both with drawn cutlasses, and the forme_treaming blood from the left shoulder. Just at the door the captain aimed a_he fugitive one last tremendous cut, which would certainly have split him t_he 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, i_pite of his wound, showed a wonderful clean pair of heels and disappeare_ver the edge of the hill in half a minute. The captain, for his part, stoo_taring at the signboard like a bewildered man. Then he passed his hand ove_is 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 himsel_ith 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, an_ broke one glass and fouled the tap, and while I was still getting in my ow_ay, I heard a loud fall in the parlour, and running in, beheld the captai_ying full length upon the floor. At the same instant my mother, alarmed b_he cries and fighting, came running downstairs to help me. Between us w_aised his head. He was breathing very loud and hard, but his eyes were close_nd his face a horrible colour.
  • "Dear, deary me," cried my mother, "what a disgrace upon the house! And you_oor father sick!"
  • In the meantime, we had no idea what to do to help the captain, nor any othe_hought but that he had got his death-hurt in the scuffle with the stranger. _ot the rum, to be sure, and tried to put it down his throat, but his teet_ere tightly shut and his jaws as strong as iron. It was a happy relief for u_hen 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?"
  • "Wounded? A fiddle-stick's end!" said the doctor. "No more wounded than you o_. The man has had a stroke, as I warned him. Now, Mrs. Hawkins, just you ru_pstairs to your husband and tell him, if possible, nothing about it. For m_art, I must do my best to save this fellow's trebly worthless life; Jim, yo_et me a basin."
  • When I got back with the basin, the doctor had already ripped up the captain'_leeve 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 neatl_nd clearly executed on the forearm; and up near the shoulder there was _ketch of a gallows and a man hanging from it—done, as I thought, with grea_pirit.
  • "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 o_our 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 lance_nd opened a vein.
  • A great deal of blood was taken before the captain opened his eyes and looke_istily about him. First he recognized the doctor with an unmistakable frown; then his glance fell upon me, and he looked relieved. But suddenly his colou_hanged, 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 you_wn back. You have been drinking rum; you have had a stroke, precisely as _old you; and I have just, very much against my own will, dragged yo_eadforemost 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 m_cquaintance; and I call you by it for the sake of shortness, and what I hav_o say to you is this; one glass of rum won't kill you, but if you take on_ou'll take another and another, and I stake my wig if you don't break of_hort, you'll die—do you understand that?—die, and go to your own place, lik_he man in the Bible. Come, now, make an effort. I'll help you to your bed fo_nce."
  • Between us, with much trouble, we managed to hoist him upstairs, and laid hi_n his bed, where his head fell back on the pillow as if he were almos_ainting.
  • "Now, mind you," said the doctor, "I clear my conscience—the name of rum fo_ou is death."
  • 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 draw_lood enough to keep him quiet awhile; he should lie for a week where h_s—that is the best thing for him and you; but another stroke would settl_im."