Treasure Island By Robert Louis Stevenson Part II - The Sea Cook (Chapters 7–12)

PART TWO — The Sea-cook

Chapter 7

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

required.

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

importance.

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.

John Trelawney

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

HISPANIOLA.

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.

J. T.

P.P.S. — Hawkins may stay one night with his

mother.

J. T.

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