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Chapter 3 On Parole

  • I was wakened—indeed, we were all wakened, for I could see even the sentine_hake himself together from where he had fallen against the door-post—by _lear, 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 gladnes_as not without admixture. I remembered with confusion my insubordinate an_tealthy conduct, and when I saw where it had brought me—among what companion_nd 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 t_ loophole and looked out, I saw him standing, like Silver once before, up t_he mid-leg in creeping vapour.
  • "You, doctor! Top o' the morning to you, sir!" cried Silver, broad awake an_eaming with good nature in a moment. "Bright and early, to be sure; and it'_he early bird, as the saying goes, that gets the rations. George, shake u_our 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 hilltop with his crutch under his elbow an_ne 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 littl_tranger here—he! he! A noo boarder and lodger, sir, and looking fit and tau_s a fiddle; slep' like a supercargo, he did, right alongside of John—stem t_tem we was, all night."
  • Dr. Livesey was by this time across the stockade and pretty near the cook, an_ 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 som_econds before he seemed able to move on.
  • "Well, well," he said at last, "duty first and pleasure afterwards, as yo_ight 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 m_roceeded 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 a_rdinary 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 i_e 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 a_ard 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 tak_hat medicine, men?"
  • "Aye, aye, sir, he took it, sure enough," returned Morgan.
  • "Because, you see, since I am mutineers' doctor, or prison doctor as I prefe_o call it," says Doctor Livesey in his pleasantest way, "I make it a point o_onour 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 you_ongue. No, I should be surprised if he did! The man's tongue is fit t_righten the French. Another fever."
  • "Ah, there," said Morgan, "that comed of sp'iling Bibles."
  • "That comes—as you call it—of being arrant asses," retorted the doctor, "an_ot having sense enough to know honest air from poison, and the dry land fro_ vile, pestiferous slough. I think it most probable—though of course it'_nly an opinion—that you'll all have the deuce to pay before you get tha_alaria out of your systems. Camp in a bog, would you? Silver, I'm surprise_t you. You're less of a fool than many, take you all round; but you don'_ppear 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 hi_rescriptions, with really laughable humility, more like charit_choolchildren than blood-guilty mutineers and pirates—"well, that's done fo_oday. 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-taste_edicine; but at the first word of the doctor's proposal he swung round with _eep 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 yo_ad a fancy for the boy. We're all humbly grateful for your kindness, and a_ou see, puts faith in you and takes the drugs down like that much grog. And _ake it I've found a way as'll suit all. Hawkins, will you give me your wor_f honour as a young gentleman—for a young gentleman you are, although poo_orn—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 onc_ou're there I'll bring the boy down on the inside, and I reckon you can yar_hrough the spars. Good day to you, sir, and all our dooties to the squire an_ap'n Smollett."
  • The explosion of disapproval, which nothing but Silver's black looks ha_estrained, broke out immediately the doctor had left the house. Silver wa_oundly accused of playing double—of trying to make a separate peace fo_imself, of sacrificing the interests of his accomplices and victims, and, i_ne word, of the identical, exact thing that he was doing. It seemed to me s_bvious, in this case, that I could not imagine how he was to turn thei_nger. But he was twice the man the rest were, and his last night's victor_ad given him a huge preponderance on their minds. He called them all th_ools and dolts you can imagine, said it was necessary I should talk to th_octor, fluttered the chart in their faces, asked them if they could afford t_reak the treaty the very day they were bound a-treasure-hunting.
  • "No, by thunder!" he cried. "It's us must break the treaty when the tim_omes; and till then I'll gammon that doctor, if I have to ile his boots wit_randy."
  • And then he bade them get the fire lit, and stalked out upon his crutch, wit_is hand on my shoulder, leaving them in a disarray, and silenced by hi_olubility rather than convinced.
  • "Slow, lad, slow," he said. "They might round upon us in a twinkle of an ey_f we was seen to hurry."
  • Very deliberately, then, did we advance across the sand to where the docto_waited us on the other side of the stockade, and as soon as we were withi_asy speaking distance Silver stopped.
  • "You'll make a note of this here also, doctor," says he, "and the boy'll tel_ou how I saved his life, and were deposed for it too, and you may lay t_hat. 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 to_uch, mayhap, to give him one good word? You'll please bear in mind it's no_y 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 friend_nd 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 m_or the gallows. You're a good man and a true; I never seen a better man! An_ou'll not forget what I done good, not any more than you'll forget the bad, _now. And I step aside—see here—and leave you and Jim alone. And you'll pu_hat 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 ther_at down upon a tree-stump and began to whistle, spinning round now and agai_pon his seat so as to command a sight, sometimes of me and the doctor an_ometimes of his unruly ruffians as they went to and fro in the sand betwee_he fire—which they were busy rekindling—and the house, from which the_rought forth pork and bread to make the breakfast.
  • "So, Jim," said the doctor sadly, "here you are. As you have brewed, so shal_ou 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 wa_ell, 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. _ave blamed myself enough; my life's forfeit anyway, and I should have bee_ead by now if Silver hadn't stood for me; and doctor, believe this, I ca_ie—and I dare say I deserve it—but what I fear is torture. If they come t_orture me—"
  • "Jim," the doctor interrupted, and his voice was quite changed, "Jim, I can'_ave 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 m_houlders, holus bolus, blame and shame, my boy; but stay here, I cannot le_ou. 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 thin_ourself—neither you nor squire nor captain; and no more will I. Silve_rusted me; I passed my word, and back I go. But, doctor, you did not let m_inish. If they come to torture me, I might let slip a word of where the shi_s, for I got the ship, part by luck and part by risking, and she lies i_orth Inlet, on the southern beach, and just below high water. At half tid_he 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 ar_oing to let you lose yours? That would be a poor return, my boy. You foun_ut 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, thi_s the mischief in person. Silver!" he cried. "Silver! I'll give you a piec_f advice," he continued as the cook drew near again; "don't you be in an_reat hurry after that treasure."
  • "Why, sir, I do my possible, which that ain't," 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 ther_hart, I don't know, now, do I? And yet I done your bidding with my eyes shu_nd never a word of hope! But no, this here's too much. If you won't tell m_hat 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 m_ecret, you see, Silver, or, I give you my word, I'd tell it you. But I'll g_s far with you as I dare go, and a step beyond, for I'll have my wig sorte_y 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 sav_ou, short of perjury."
  • Silver's face was radiant. "You couldn't say more, I'm sure, sir, not if yo_as my mother," he cried.
  • "Well, that's my first concession," added the doctor. "My second is a piece o_dvice: keep the boy close beside you, and when you need help, halloo. I'm of_o seek it for you, and that itself will show you if I speak at random. Good- bye, Jim."
  • And Dr. Livesey shook hand s with me through the stockade, nodded to Silver, and set off at a brisk pace into the wood.