All are awakened the next morning by the doctor’s voice. Jim is glad to hear it but also feels ashamed. Silver greets the doctor cheerfully, telling him that a little stranger has arrived. The doctor asks disbelievingly if it’s Jim, and Silver concurs. The doctor pauses, shocked, but then says he’ll do his duty first. He tends to Merry, saying he’ll do all he can to save him for the gallows. He dispenses medications to the others before asking Silver to have a word with Jim outside: he leaves. Merry sputters, “No!” but Silver orders him to be silent, and asks Jim for his word of honor not to run away. Jim gives it, and he begins to head outside with Silver. But the pirates roar with disapproval, accusing Silver of playing double (a charge Jim can’t imagine Silver will successfully evade). Still, Silver defends himself handily, saying he’ll keep the doctor till he no longer needs him, then kill Livesey himself.
As Jim prepares to meet the doctor for the first time since he’s snuck away, he remembers just how immature it was for him to fail to ask permission and to leave his fellow crewmen behind, especially now that he is imprisoned rather than returning in triumph with the stolen ship. The doctor, like Silver, is able to hide his true feelings and act in according to his own best interests, while maintaining an attitude of cool, sometimes scornful indifference. While Silver had appeased the pirates’ discontent earlier, now he nearly loses their loyalty once again, as the careful game he’s playing continues to grow more complicated.
Jim and Silver advance across the sand to where the doctor is waiting. Silver tells the doctor that Jim will tell him how Silver saved his life and was given the black spot for it: he hopes the doctor will take this into account in judging Silver. Never has the pirate seemed more in earnest: Dr. Livesey asks if he’s afraid, and Silver declares he’s no coward, but wants to avoid the gallows all the same. He leaves them.
Now it seems to become clear what Silver’s true, earnest desires really are—survival, pure and simple. Silver seems to have realized that the other pirates are not as clever as Jim, the doctor, and the captain, and that it’s better for him to cast his lot with them.
The doctor greets Jim sadly, saying he can’t truly blame him, but it was cowardly for him to slip off while Smollett was unwell. Jim begins to cry, saying that he’s blamed himself enough: he’s willing, now, to die, but is only afraid of torture. In a changed voice, the doctor suggests that they run for it, but Jim says he’s given his word, and cannot. He tells the doctor where he’s hidden the ship, and that he worries he might let the location slip if the pirates torture him.
Jim’s fears come true to a certain extent as the doctor lectures him for his cowardly behavior—a rebuke that Jim can only counter with the revelation that he’s stolen the ship and hidden it. His tears remind us of his young age once again, even though he’s been thrust into very adult challenges.
When Jim tells the doctor of his adventures, the doctor marvels that at every turn it’s been Jim who has saved their lives. In return, he says, they’ll be sure to protect him. Livesey also starts to mention Ben Gunn, but at that moment Silver returns, and the doctor tells him not to hurry after the treasure. Silver replies that only by doing so can he hope to save his life and Jim’s. In that case, the doctor says, he must watch out for “squalls,” or violent cries. He won’t say any more, despite Silver’s protest, but promises to do his best to save Silver if they both survive. Livesey sets off.
While the doctor has called Jim’s decision to flee cowardly, Jim’s tale of his adventure makes the doctor (like the pirates, though from the opposite perspective) acknowledge what a crucial role Jim has played in the pursuit of the island’s treasure and battle against their enemies. At the same time, the doctor continues to mystify both Jim and Silver with confusing statements and acts.