Книга Treasure island. Содержание - — 21. The Attack

«Well?» says Captain Smollett as cool as can be.

All that Silver said was a riddle to him, but you would never have guessed it from his tone. As for me, I began to have an inkling. Ben Gunn's last words came back to my mind. I began to suppose that he had paid the buccaneers a visit while they all lay drunk together round their fire, and I reckoned up with glee that we had only fourteen enemies to deal with.

«Well, here it is,» said Silver. «We want that treasure, and we'll have it — that's our point! You would just as soon save your lives, I reckon; and that's yours. You have a chart, haven't you?»

«That's as may be,» replied the captain.

«Oh, well, you have, I know that,» returned Long John. «You needn't be so husky with a man; there ain't a particle of service in that, and you may lay to it. What I mean is, we want your chart. Now, I never meant you no harm, myself.»

«That won't do with me, my man,» interrupted the captain. «We know exactly what you meant to do, and we don't care, for now, you see, you can't do it.» And the captain looked at him calmly and proceeded to fill a pipe.

«If Abe Gray — « Silver broke out.

«Avast there!» cried Mr. Smollett. «Gray told me nothing, and I asked him nothing; and what's more, I would see you and him and this whole island blown clean out of the water into blazes first. So there's my mind for you, my man, on that.»

This little whiff of temper seemed to cool Silver down. He had been growing nettled before, but now he pulled himself together.

«Like enough,» said he. «I would set no limits to what gentlemen might consider shipshape, or might not, as the case were. And seein' as how you are about to take a pipe, cap'n, I'll make so free as do likewise.»

And he filled a pipe and lighted it; and the two men sat silently smoking for quite a while, now looking each other in the face, now stopping their tobacco, now leaning forward to spit. It was as good as the play to see them.

«Now,» resumed Silver, «here it is. You give us the chart to get the treasure by, and drop shooting poor seamen and stoving of their heads in while asleep. You do that, and we'll offer you a choice. Either you come aboard along of us, once the treasure shipped, and then I'll give you my affy-davy, upon my word of honour, to clap you somewhere safe ashore. Or if that ain't to your fancy, some of my hands being rough and having old scores on account of hazing, then you can stay here, you can. We'll divide stores with you, man for man; and I'll give my affy-davy, as before to speak the first ship I sight, and send 'em here to pick you up. Now, you'll own that's talking. Handsomer you couldn't look to get, now you. And I hope» — raising his voice — «that all hands in this here block house will overhaul my words, for what is spoke to one is spoke to all.»

Captain Smollett rose from his seat and knocked out the ashes of his pipe in the palm of his left hand.

«Is that all?» he asked.

«Every last word, by thunder!» answered John. «Refuse that, and you've seen the last of me but musket-balls.»

«Very good,» said the captain. «Now you'll hear me. If you'll come up one by one, unarmed, I'll engage to clap you all in irons and take you home to a fair trial in England. If you won't, my name is Alexander Smollett, I've flown my sovereign's colours, and I'll see you all to Davy Jones. You can't find the treasure. You can't sail the ship — there's not a man among you fit to sail the ship. You can't fight us — Gray, there, got away from five of you. Your ship's in irons, Master Silver; you're on a lee shore, and so you'll find. I stand here and tell you so; and they're the last good words you'll get from me, for in the name of heaven, I'll put a bullet in your back when next I meet you. Tramp, my lad. Bundle out of this, please, hand over hand, and double quick.»

Silver's face was a picture; his eyes started in his head with wrath. He shook the fire out of his pipe.

«Give me a hand up!» he cried.

«Not I,» returned the captain.

«Who'll give me a hand up?» he roared.

Not a man among us moved. Growling the foulest imprecations, he crawled along the sand till he got hold of the porch and could hoist himself again upon his crutch. Then he spat into the spring.

«There!» he cried. «That's what I think of ye. Before an hour's out, I'll stove in your old block house like a rum puncheon. Laugh, by thunder, laugh! Before an hour's out, ye'll laugh upon the other side. Them that die'll be the lucky ones.»

And with a dreadful oath he stumbled off, ploughed down the sand, was helped across the stockade, after four or five failures, by the man with the flag of truce, and disappeared in an instant afterwards among the trees.

— 21. The Attack

AS soon as Silver disappeared, the captain, who had been closely watching him, turned towards the interior of the house and found not a man of us at his post but Gray. It was the first time we had ever seen him angry. «Quarters!» he roared. And then, as we all slunk back to our places, «Gray,» he said, «I'll put your name in the log; you've stood by your duty like a seaman. Mr. Trelawney, I'm surprised at you, sir. Doctor, I thought you had worn the king's coat! If that was how you served at Fontenoy, sir, you'd have been better in your berth.» The doctor's watch were all back at their loopholes, the rest were busy loading the spare muskets, and everyone with a red face, you may be certain, and a flea in his ear, as the saying is.

The captain looked on for a while in silence. Then he spoke.

«My lads,» said he, «I've given Silver a broadside. I pitched it in red-hot on purpose; and before the hour's out, as he said, we shall be boarded. We're outnumbered, I needn't tell you that, but we fight in shelter; and a minute ago I should have said we fought with discipline. I've no manner of doubt that we can drub them, if you choose.»

Then he went the rounds and saw, as he said, that all was clear.

On the two short sides of the house, east and west, there were only two loopholes; on the south side where the porch was, two again; and on the north side, five. There was a round score of muskets for the seven of us; the firewood had been built into four piles — tables, you might say — one about the middle of each side, and on each of these tables some ammunition and four loaded muskets were laid ready to the hand of the defenders. In the middle, the cutlasses lay ranged.

«Toss out the fire,» said the captain; «the chill is past, and we mustn't have smoke in our eyes.»

The iron fire-basket was carried bodily out by Mr. Trelawney, and the embers smothered among sand.

«Hawkins hasn't had his breakfast. Hawkins, help yourself, and back to your post to eat it,» continued Captain Smollett. «Lively, now, my lad; you'll want it before you've done. Hunter, serve out a round of brandy to all hands.»

And while this was going on, the captain completed, in his own mind, the plan of the defence.

«Doctor, you will take the door,» he resumed. «See, and don't expose yourself; keep within, and fire through the porch. Hunter, take the east side, there. Joyce, you stand by the west, my man. Mr. Trelawney, you are the best shot — you and Gray will take this long north side, with the five loopholes; it's there the danger is. If they can get up to it and fire in upon us through our own ports, things would begin to look dirty. Hawkins, neither you nor I are much account at the shooting; we'll stand by to load and bear a hand.»

As the captain had said, the chill was past. As soon as the sun had climbed above our girdle of trees, it fell with all its force upon the clearing and drank up the vapours at a draught. Soon the sand was baking and the resin melting in the logs of the block house. Jackets and coats were flung aside, shirts thrown open at the neck and rolled up to the shoulders; and we stood there, each at his post, in a fever of heat and anxiety. An hour passed away.

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