Chapter 14 Summary
Proud of himself for giving the pirates “the slip,” Jim sets out to explore the island. It is unlike any other place he has ever seen, and his interest in the landscape soon drives Long John Silver and the other mutineers out of his mind. Jim hikes through marshes and over hills. He sees birds and snakes. One of the snakes makes a strange sound—but Jim does not learn until long afterward that this is the rattlesnake’s way of giving a warning before it strikes.
When Jim sees Long John Silver and another crewman walking together, he remembers that he needs to find out what the pirates are planning. He sneaks up on the men and listens to their conversation. Silver’s companion is a man named Tom, who turns out to be one of the last honest men of the crew. Tom insists that he will never turn disloyal, and he pleads with Silver not to rebel against Captain Smollett.
This conversation is interrupted by a shout and a cry of pain in the distance. Jim knows instantly that the person he is hearing is probably another loyal crewman being murdered. Silver does not pretend otherwise. “I recon that’ll be Alan,” he says calmly. Tom understands that he is about to be killed too—if he does not join the mutiny. Still, he refuses to join in the crime. He runs away, but Long John Silver throws a log at him, knocking him down. Jim does not know whether or not the force of this impact kills the man, but it does not turn out to matter. Long John Silver hobbles toward the fallen man and stabs him twice in the back.
This cold-blooded murder horrifies Jim. For several moments, he cannot seem to breathe properly or focus his eyes. Then Silver blows a whistle, and Jim hears the other pirates running toward the sound. Quickly—but without letting himself be seen—Jim scrambles in the opposite direction, staying in the cover of the trees. He runs as far and as fast as he can. Now, he knows, he is in the worst possible spot. If he goes back to the boats, the pirates will kill him. If he stays away, they will realize he suspects their plans, and they will find him and kill him anyway.
Hardly noticing where he is going, Jim runs up a little hill with two peaks. He comes into a little forest and sees something—a man, maybe, or a monkey?—jump out of sight behind a pine.