Chapter 10 Summary

The crew spends the whole night preparing to leave on the morning tide. Jim works twice as hard as he has ever worked in his life, but he does not go to sleep when the ship sets sail. Instead he stays on deck and watches the sailors, enjoying the feeling of adventure. As the ship moves away from shore, Long John Silver begins to sing:

Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest—

Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum.

The rest of the crew joins in, and for a moment Jim has the creepy feeling that he can hear Billy singing along.

The voyage goes well. The Hispaniola turns out to be a wonderful ship, and the crew is made up of excellent sailors. Only Mr. Arrow, the first mate, is a problem. He repeatedly gets so drunk that he is unable to fulfill his responsibilities. Over and over, Captain Smollett has to send him to his bunk and take over his work. Nobody can figure out where the mate is getting his liquor, no matter how closely they watch him. Then one night, he simply disappears. Everyone figures that he has fallen overboard and drowned.

In some ways, Long John Silver is the most impressive man on the ship. Silver is hardly slowed by the fact that he has only one leg. He hops gracefully across the rocking decks, only occasionally using his crutch or grabbing a line he has tied up for steadying himself. Everywhere he goes, he carries his green parrot, named Captain Flint “after the famous buccaneer,” on his shoulder. The parrot loves to talk and often squawks, “Pieces of eight! pieces of eight!”

Although Mr. Trelawney and Captain Smollett clearly dislike each other, the rest of the men on the ship are happy. The sailors are treated unusually well, as is Jim. There is always enough to eat, and there are often small treats that would not be available on most ships. For example, a barrel of apples is always kept open, and anyone is allowed to grab one whenever he wants. One night when Jim finishes all of his tasks, he decides to go get a snack. The barrel happens to be almost empty, and he climbs inside to look for an apple.

Lulled by the rocking of the boat, Jim falls asleep inside the apple barrel, but soon Long John Silver’s voice wakes him up. Jim is about to get up and say hello when he realizes that Silver is saying something terribly disturbing. Jim freezes and listens.