The hard-drinking captain Billy Bones was obviously well past his prime when he made his first appearance at the Admiral Benbow Inn. He drank rum constantly, and after his short bout with Black Dog, he caught himself against the wall of the inn for support, "breathing very loud and hard, but his eyes were closed and his face a horrible color." Jim noticed his declining health.
There were nights when he took a deal more rum and water than his head would carry.
The doctor had previously warned him about his drinking.
“I have only one thing to say to you, sir, that if you keep on drinking rum, the world will soon be quit of a very dirty scoundrel!”
After the fight with Black Dog, the doctor was called into the captain's room to see him. He had no visible wounds, which perplexed Jim.
“Wounded? A fiddle-stick's end!” said the doctor. “No more wounded than you or I. The man has had a stroke, as I warned him... For my part, I must do my best to save this fellow's trebly worthless life..."
According to the doctor, it was Bones' excessive rum drinking that caused the stroke, and he warned him to cut off his sonsumption. But Billy Bones continued to drink and grow weaker. One day, shortly after the visit by the blind man, Billy Bones
... reeled, put his hand to his throat, stood swaying for a moment, and then, with a peculiar sound, fell from his whole height face foremost to the floor.
Assuming the articulate and competent Dr. Livesey was correct, Billy Bones died of a stroke and no doubt suffered from liver damage from his constant drinking.