After a long council, one of the pirates enters again and asks for the torch. Jim peers out, and sees a kneeling figure with a book and knife in his hand. Then they all march back towards the house, where one pirate slips something into Silver’s hand and then steps back. It’s the black spot—Silver declares that he’s not surprised, but they’ve cut the paper out of a Bible, which is deeply unlucky. He asks who had a bible, and one says that it was Dick.
Jim’s observations initially remain obscure, but soon enough it becomes clear what the pirates were doing—preparing the black spot in order to depose Silver and replace him, now that they no longer trust him. Silver’s talk about luck may be earnest, or may be simply be a way for him to try to gain time for himself.
Silver continues to taunt Dick and George Merry, the pirate who wrote “deposed” on the slip, but Merry sullenly tells him he’s no longer captain, and he now has to help vote. Silver says the rules are that he waits, still as captain, while the others air their grievances and then choose a new leader. Merry cries that Silver has ruined the voyage, has let the enemy slip away, and prevented the pirates from murdering them during the truce—besides, there’s the boy Jim. One by one, Silver answers the complaints, identifying Anderson, Hands, and Merry as the pirates who have made mischief and meddled from the start. He says that “tailors” is a better word for these men than “gentlemen of fortune.” Finally, he says it’s idiotic to kill Jim, a hostage, who might be their last chance, or to kill the doctor, who has been taking care of the wounded. Finally, he throws the treasure map onto the ground. Jim still can’t imagine why the doctor gave it to Silver.
Even while his own safety becomes ever more precarious, Silver continues to act cheerfully and treat the others scornfully, refusing to show fear or anxiety. He also uses his familiarity with the pirates’ code skillfully, while Merry lets his emotions dictate how he responds to his frustrations with Silver. Silver’s responses to these emotional complaints are, once again, rational and cool-headed, and reflect his pragmatic attitude towards their situation, as well as his remarkable capacity to evade guilt or blame for himself. Still, it’s not entirely clear whether Silver really wants to save Jim and the doctor, or if he’s just using them as he’s used the pirates.
But the pirates, with a cry, grab hold of the map and pass it from hand to hand. Merry wonders aloud how they’ll get the treasure out with no ship. It was Merry’s men who lost the ship and Silver’s who found the treasure, Silver reminds them, saying that he now resigns for anyone to replace him as captain. But now the pirates cry that they do want him: satisfied, Silver tells Merry that he’ll have to wait his turn a little longer. Silver tosses Jim the black spot to examine: one side contains a verse from Revelations, including “Without are dogs and murderers,” while on the other side has been scrawled, “Depposed.”
The pirates, apart from Long John Silver, haven’t exactly thought very far ahead beyond getting their hands on the treasure. They’re also fickle and easily manipulated by Silver, who takes advantage of their frantic greed for the treasure to suggest that only he can lead them to it. Silver also returns to his role of educator and mentor to Jim, letting him look at the black spot and learn a little more about how the pirates’ traditions work.
Jim lies awake late that night, amazed by Silver’s careful game, keeping the pirates content even while desperately trying to save his own life. Jim knows Silver is wicked but still feels sorry for the “gibbet” (gallows) that awaits him.
Jim’s feelings about Silver have shifted from admiration to hatred to confusion and ambivalence: he at once respects his intelligence and fears his double-sided nature.