Treasure Island


Robert Louis Stevenson

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Treasure Island: Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

This time, the small jolly-boat is overloaded, and begins to list to and fro. Terrified, they all keep still, but Dr. Livesey can’t manage to keep the boat going straight towards the stockade (the log-house). Smollett tells the doctor they must continue upstream, otherwise they can’t know where they’ll end up. Looking back to the Hispaniola, they realize that the long-gun (a cannon) has been left on the ship with Hands, who’s a great shot. Dr. Livesey can hear Hands preparing the gun on deck.
As the captain and his men make their escape, the hastiness of their plan becomes evident, as they’ve left behind a powerful and lethal weapon that their enemies will now be able to use. On a rickety boat heading ashore, it’s difficult to know how they’ll avoid any shots fired by Israel Hands.
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Smollett asks Trelawney to pick off Hands: he shoots, but just at that moment Hands stoops down, and the bullet hits another one of the men, who screams—causing some of the pirates ashore to run out and climb back into their small boats. The captain cries that now they must get ashore however possible. They all duck just as the men on the ship shoot a cannon at them: it misses them, but the boat begins to sink. They all wade ashore, leaving the jolly-boat with all its loaded provisions and powder behind.
The captain hopes that by killing or wounding Hands immediately, they’ll be able to buy some time without them all being killed themselves. But the plan backfires out of pure bad fortune, and, even worse, they’ve now called attention to themselves. Although the jolly boat was stocked with provisions, such preparation turns out to be mostly useless.
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