One cold January morning, Jim is setting the breakfast table when the door opens and a pale man, two fingers on his left hand missing, enters. He beckons Jim over and asks if he’s setting the table for his mate, Bill. Jim says he only knows of “the captain” who will be eating there. The man asks a few more questions, then lingers on the threshold, telling Jim about his own son, until he sees the captain approach.
The captain’s life and history is growing even stranger, as this new mysterious figure enters. These scenes also remind us that already, before his adventure, Jim possesses a good deal of responsibility as he helps out at the inn, especially with his father’s illness.
The stranger makes Jim hide with him behind the door, which makes Jim uncomfortable, though he’s not sure what to do. When the captain marches in, the man calls out, “Bill,” and he spins around as if he’s seen a ghost. The captain gasps, “Black Dog!” and Black Dog greets him jovially, referring to their past adventures. The two go into the bar alone.
Jim is witness to this scene of reunion, which seems to be much happier on Black Dog’s side than on the captain’s. It appears that the captain is troubled by more than an addiction to rum, though we still don’t know exactly what.
Though Jim tries his best to eavesdrop, he can’t hear the two: finally he hears the captain repeat “No!” followed by the crash of the chair and table. Then Black Dog races out, bleeding, with the captain following him behind and trying to knife him again. But Black Dog escapes and the captain stops, staring after him.
Black Dog seems to have given the captain some kind of message or announcement that upsets him. Although the captain is more afraid of Black Dog, he can clearly be violent enough himself.
The captain asks Jim for rum, but soon falls to the floor, his face ashen. Jim’s mother races downstairs and they try to treat him, but soon Dr. Livesey arrives to treat Jim’s father, and says the captain has had a stroke just like he warned. He looks at the captain and sees the name “Billy Bones” tattooed on his arm, assuming that’s his name. After asking if Jim is afraid of blood, he has the boy help him drain a vein.
In the captain’s fit, it becomes clearer than ever that the rum addiction has only been a sign of a more profound anxiety or affliction with which the captain has been dealing. The doctor now treats Jim like someone much older than his years, and Jim has little choice but to acquiesce.
Finally the captain opens his eyes and cries out asking where Black Dog is. The doctor begins to lecture him about the dangers of drinking rum, and once they get the captain to bed, he tells Jim that another stroke would kill the man.
Once again the doctor proves that he has little fear even of pirates, since he sees how their dangerous habits can cause them to harm themselves more than anyone else.