That night, both sides rest. One more of the pirates, who had been wounded, dies, leaving only eight left. Captain Smollett is also wounded: his wounds are serious but not fatal, requiring weeks of rest. Dr. Livesey patches up Jim’s cut across the knuckles.
During this night of rest, both sides recover from battle, and the captain’s group realizes that Smollett will be unable to lead the party as directly as he once did.
After dinner Dr. Livesey slips out and sets off through the trees. Gray is shocked and tells Jim he must be mad, but Jim suggests he’s going to see Ben Gunn. Jim begins to envy the doctor, who’s probably walking in the cool woods while he’s stuck in the sweltering log-house doing mindless errands.
Jim has been able to sneak out and explore in the past, and now he resents having to perform the boring, day-to-day adult tasks that nonetheless have to be done, while the doctor has his own adventure.
The older Jim narrating the tale acknowledges that his next moves are those of a foolish young boy: he plans to go find the white rock mentioned by Ben Gunn and the boat hidden beside it—a worthy goal itself, but not worth slipping out in secrecy (since Jim worries he won’t be allowed if he asks permission). Still, he’s only a boy, though a clever one: he fills his pockets with biscuits to eat, and sneaks out the next afternoon while no one is looking.
This section reminds us that Jim is recording the tale of Treasure Island and looking back on the past, realizing all that this adventure made him learn—such that he’s able to recognize moments at which he still acted like a boy, not a man (even if the younger Jim does have a natural instinct for survival).
Jim heads for the east coast of the island and finally reaches the sea, beginning to stroll beside the surf and enjoying the sea breeze. He catches sight of the Hispaniola with the Jolly Roger flag waving, and Silver and some of his men prowling the decks. Suddenly he hears horrible screaming: he is frightened, thinking of Flint, but then sees Silver’s parrot, who’s capable of mimicking anything.
Now Jim has followed the doctor, at least in spirit, and once again feels free and adventurous. He also uses this opportunity to learn more about what’s happened elsewhere on the island while they’ve been at battle: the pirates have taken control of the Hispaniola.
The sun begins to set, and Jim continues towards the white rock, crawling on all fours through the brush so as not to be seen. Almost at nightfall, he finds it, and discovers Gunn’s homemade boat of wood and goat-skin. It’s so small that it looks like it would barely fit a grown man. Jim thinks of the coracle boats of ancient Britain, and thinks this is the worst version of the coracle he’s seen—though it is light and portable.
A coracle is a small, round wicker boat associated with Scotland, but here it is especially useful to Jim given that it seems almost to be made for a young boy rather than a man. Rickety and not exactly seaworthy, the boat still gives Jim a chance to explore further and with more independence.
Then it crosses Jim’s mind to slip out at night and cut the Hispaniola adrift so that she runs ashore, preventing the pirates from escaping to sea after their defeat. He sits and waits for full darkness and eats his biscuits. Finally, when all is black, he gropes his way out of the hollow, catching sight of two points of light: one a fire on shore where the pirates are drinking and carousing, the other coming from the ship—Jim’s target.
While the captain has, in the past, developed his own plans and given orders to the others, Jim now enjoys concocting his own plots, enabling him to potentially achieve glory while also being able to have an independent adventure. He paddles straight towards the danger, rather than away from it.