The party climbs a hill and then stops to rest. Before them is a vista of much of the island, with Skeleton Island and the sea on the east, its emptiness underlining the sense of solitude on this island. Silver takes his bearings and cheerfully says they must be close to finding the treasure. But Morgan mutters that thinking of Flint has chilled him, and the other pirates agree.
Treasure Island, while the setting of much of the book, has remained mostly instrumental to most of the characters. Jim is seemingly the only one to have enjoyed its novelty for itself, while for the rest it is only the treasure hidden on the island that makes it alluring.
All at once, a thin, high voice rings out, singing the classic sailor song, finishing “Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!” The pirates all go pale, and Merry cries that it’s Flint. To Jim, the voice sounded simply sweet, but Silver too seems shaken, though he tells the others that it must be someone trying to fool them. They’re cheered, but then the voice cries, “Fetch aft the rum, Darby!”—the final words, Morgan whispers, that Flint ever spoke. Even Silver mutters that no one on this island but them had ever heard of Darby—but he’ll still face Flint dead if he must, for the 700,000 pounds hidden close by are worth it.
Jim is skeptical of the dangerous power of the voice, which the pirates seem to fear so much—usually he follows Silver in this rational perspective, although now even Silver isn’t sure how to reconcile what he hears with his knowledge that no one on the island has heard of the man cited by the voice. Still, Silver is not nearly as willing as the pirates to take this event as a sign to turn back.
Merry tells Silver not to cross a spirit, and the others seem ready to run, though they fear separating even more. Silver says that the voice had an echo—and just like no spirit has a shadow, so this must mean it was a living man. Jim thinks this is a weak argument, but Merry and Morgan seem cheered. Suddenly Silver shouts that it sounded just like Ben Gunn’s voice. But Dick says that doesn’t help, since Ben Gunn’s not on the island either—but Merry cries that Gunn doesn’t frighten anyone, dead or alive. They all feel more encouraged and they set off once again, only Dick still fearful, and, it appears, beginning to fall ill.
Once again, Silver uses all the clever tools in his arsenal to try to have his own way among the other pirates, and despite Jim’s skepticism, Silver does seem to know what will work. Ultimately, however, his recognition of Ben Gunn’s voice is what proves most successful in convincing the pirates that they have little to fear, since both Silver and Captain Flint are far more frightening than Gunn to them.
The group marches across the plateau and attempts to dig under several trees in their path, each turning up nothing. Finally they approach a huge, 200-foot tree, and the pirates’ eyes burn with excitement. Silver grunts and limps, glancing every so often to Jim shrewdly: Jim is certain that all Silver’s promises have been forgotten now that he’s so close to the treasure. As they speed up, Jim sometimes stumbles, and Silver pulls roughly at the rope. Jim is also troubled and sobered by thinking of Flint’s six-fold murder on the very plateau they just passed.
Here Silver, too, is not exempt from the blinding greed and fascination with treasure that motivate the pirates. Jim is left as the only one thinking calmly and rationally, though in his case too he’s learned from Silver to focus on his own survival above anything else. It’s this potential for survival that Jim thinks might be threatened now that Silver is so close to the treasure he’s spent so long seeking.
As they reach the tree, the pirates halt: the ground has been dug up, though not recently—grass has begun to sprout in the hole. Several packing-case boards are strewn about with the name Walrus, the name of Flint’s ship. The treasure is gone.
Once again, things turn out to be more complicated than they first seemed—the confusing actions and words of Dr. Livesey perhaps have something to do with this development.