Treasure Island


Robert Louis Stevenson

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Treasure Island: Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

This section is narrated by Dr. Livesey, who describes how he, Smollett, and the squire wondered if they could conquer the six pirates left on the Hispaniola and sail off, but there was no wind, and they realized Jim had slipped ashore too. Dr. Livesey decides to go ashore as well with Hunter: as they approach, several of the sailors catch sight of them and stop talking.
As the narration switches to the doctor’s point of view, it becomes clearer just how thoughtless Jim’s decision to slip away had been. Still, it gives the doctor and another crewman more of an opportunity to develop another plan.
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Dr. Livesey begins to explore the island and soon, atop a knoll, he comes across a log-house: it was, at some point, set up as a defense and shelter, and with easy access to a spring. Suddenly the doctor hears a death-cry and immediately fears it’s Jim. He quickly returns to the shore with Hunter. They paddle back to the ship and begin to load the small boat with arms and food.
Although the island had seemed austere and uninhabited, the presence of Ben Gunn, plus this log-house, proves that others have explored the place before. Now the doctor is preparing for a more drawn-out battle with the pirates.
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Meanwhile Smollett tells Hands, who has stayed aboard, not to make any signal or he’ll be killed. Hands sees that Redruth is armed, and sneaks back down below-deck. Dr. Livesey and Joyce, this time, paddle back to shore and begin to stock the log-house with provisions. The doctor leaves Joyce there, confident that their side has the advantage in arms. Once he’s back on the ship, the doctor hears the captain order Abraham Gray to leave the ship with him. He gives him thirty seconds, and finally Gray rushes out to deck and declares his loyalty to the captain. They all leave the ship behind.
The captain is playing a delicate balancing act: he and Hands both know that they are evenly matched aboard the ship, and now both sides recognize the other to be the enemy, and yet it makes more sense to hold off a real battle until better plans emerge later on. Although the captain’s side is still disadvantaged in terms of numbers, Gray shows a last-minute sign of loyalty to the group.
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