Silver tells Jim that he guessed Dr. Livesey told him to run for it, and he’s grateful that Jim kept his word. Now they must follow Livesey’s treasure hunt orders, though he has little idea what he meant. They eat breakfast, and Jim marvels at how wasteful and careless the pirates are—how ill-suited for a long battle. Silver pays their recklessness little heed, only cheering them up with grand notions of treasure. Then he says that they’ll use Jim as hostage to get back the ship, and sail off in the ship with the treasure.
Silver has been watching Jim and Livesey’s conversation from afar, and he now respects Jim even more for keeping his word (something that can not usually be said for Silver himself). Now Jim begins to recognize Silver’s desire to bet on the captain’s crew more than on his own pirates, given their revelry and various weaknesses.
Jim’s heart sinks, as he realizes that Silver won’t hesitate to be a double traitor, and would probably prefer wealth and a pirate life to a mere chance he’ll face the gallows. Jim also dreads the moment when he, a boy, and a one-legged man might have to face five bloodthirsty pirates. He’s also still confused by his friends’ abandonment of the stockade, and by the doctor’s last warning about the “squalls.”
Still, Jim recognizes that ultimately, Silver cares about himself more than about anyone else, and will casually use people to his advantage despite any protestations of loyalty. As a result, Jim understands that he must be similarly selfish and single-minded.
A cord is strung around Jim’s waist and he’s led outside the log-house. The others carry the provisions with them, and march slowly to the beach. They discuss, on the way, the chart: the red crosses are large enough to be confusing, and the directions are somewhat ambiguous, mentioning a tall tree, Spy-glass shoulder, the direction E.S.E. and Skeleton Island. They see a number of tall trees, and each man picks his favorite. Silver orders them to continue straight ahead anyway.
Still a prisoner, Jim is nonetheless able to pay attention to the pirates as they begin the search for treasure in earnest. While he still struggles to understand the doctor’s decision to give the treasure map to the pirates, and Silver is similarly suspicious, the pirates themselves lend little attention to this strange choice.
After about half a mile, the pirate furthest to the left begins to shout in terror, and the others run towards him. At the foot of a tall pine lies a human skeleton in an unnatural position, his feet pointing in one direction, his hands, raised and clasped, in the other. All are terrified, and Silver remarks that this body must be a kind of compass: indeed, it points E.S.E. It must have been Flint, having killed the six men, who dragged this one to the tree, Silver says.
The human skeleton is a reminder that other lives have been sacrificed in order to hide the treasure. If Flint was the person who hid this treasure, as Silver reasons, it’s not entirely clear whether the body was meant to guide future treasure hunters, strike fear into them, or both.
The pirates begin to recollect about the frightful Flint and the men he killed: one almost thinks he hears Flint’s sailor song. Silver chides him, saying Flint is dead and can’t walk or sing, but still the pirates remain frightened.
As usual, the pirates are highly superstitious, and fear the dead as or almost as much as they fear the living—an attitude that contrasts with Silver’s reasoned approach.