PART SIX: Captain Silver
Chapter 33: The Fall of a Chieftain
As we passed the two-pointed hill, we could see the
black mouth of Ben Gunn's cave and a figure standing by
it, leaning on a musket. It was the squire, and we
waved a handkerchief and gave him three cheers, in
which the voice of Silver joined as heartily as any.
Three miles farther, just inside the mouth of North
Inlet, what should we meet but the HISPANIOLA,
cruising by herself? The last flood had lifted her,
and had there been much wind or a strong tide current,
as in the southern anchorage, we should never have
found her more, or found her stranded beyond help. As
it was, there was little amiss beyond the wreck of the
main-sail. Another anchor was got ready and dropped in
a fathom and a half of water. We all pulled round
again to Rum Cove, the nearest point for Ben Gunn's
treasure-house; and then Gray, single-handed, returned
with the gig to the HISPANIOLA, where he was to
pass the night on guard.
A gentle slope ran up from the beach to the entrance of
the cave. At the top, the squire met us. To me he was
cordial and kind, saying nothing of my escapade either
in the way of blame or praise. At Silver's polite
salute he somewhat flushed.
"John Silver," he said, "you're a prodigious villain
and imposter--a monstrous imposter, sir. I am told I
am not to prosecute you. Well, then, I will not. But
the dead men, sir, hang about your neck like mill-stones."
"Thank you kindly, sir," replied Long John, again saluting.
"I dare you to thank me!" cried the squire. "It is a
gross dereliction of my duty. Stand back."
And thereupon we all entered the cave. It was a large,
airy place, with a little spring and a pool of clear
water, overhung with ferns. The floor was sand.
Before a big fire lay Captain Smollett; and in a far
corner, only duskily flickered over by the blaze, I
beheld great heaps of coin and quadrilaterals built of
bars of gold. That was Flint's treasure that we had
come so far to seek and that had cost already the lives
of seventeen men from the HISPANIOLA. How many it
had cost in the amassing, what blood and sorrow, what
good ships scuttled on the deep, what brave men walking
the plank blindfold, what shot of cannon, what shame
and lies and cruelty, perhaps no man alive could tell.
Yet there were still three upon that island--Silver,
and old Morgan, and Ben Gunn--who had each taken his
share in these crimes, as each had hoped in vain to
share in the reward.