Chapter 12 Summary

Everyone rushes up on deck to see the land. Jim looks out over a little island that has just appeared in the fog, the tip of its tallest hill still hidden among clouds. The view is beautiful, but his mind is full of the evil plot he has just heard. This contrast makes him feel like he is stuck in a strange dream.

Captain Smollett asks the men if anyone knows the island, and Long John Silver says that he does. He appears confident—not at all like he is hiding anything—as he explains that he stopped at this island once in the past, when he was sailing on a trading ship. He describes where to anchor the Hispaniola, and the captain lets him look at a map of the landscape. Jim watches Silver carefully during this exchange, but the pirate is clever, and he gives nothing away.

The men mill around, glad to have arrived at their destination. Jim hovers on the sidelines, wondering how to warn his friends of the danger without arousing the suspicion of Silver and his men. When Dr. Livesey asks Jim to go get him some tobacco, Jim whispers, “I have terrible news.” He asks the doctor to go to a private cabin with Captain Smollett and Mr. Trelawney—and then to find an excuse to call for the cabin boy.

Pretending nothing is wrong, Dr. Livesey does exactly what Jim suggests. As soon as everyone is behind closed doors together, Jim tells them about Silver’s plot for mutiny, theft, and murder. Captain Smollett is shocked. He says that a captain normally sees signs of mutiny brewing—but no such signs exist now. Dr. Livesey says that Silver is a good leader who can keep the crew under control.

Captain Smollett says they will have no choice but to fight the crew. He would rather turn around and sail home, but he is sure the men would rebel. However, Jim and his friends have one advantage: time to plan a surprise attack. The captain is sure that the men will not mutiny until they know where the treasure is hidden.

Next, the conversation turns to odds. Mr. Trelawney brought a few men with him from home, and they are sure to be loyal. But nobody knows which other crew members are honest. As the matter stands, the group of loyal men consists of six men and a boy. Before the journey is done, this small force may have to battle nineteen pirates.