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.