Chapter 15 Summary
Jim is not sure who or what is hiding in the trees. He thinks it might be a cannibal or a monster, so he turns back toward the pirates, reasoning that a danger he understands is better than one he does not. The mysterious figure follows Jim, hiding behind one tree after another. He catches several more glimpses of it and becomes sure that it is a human being. He also remembers that he is carrying a pistol. This makes him feel a bit more confident, so he decides to approach the strange person.
The person turns out to be a former sailor, Ben Gunn, who was marooned—left alone to fend for himself or die—on the island three years ago. Ben used to be a member of Captain Flint’s crew, so he knew that Flint had buried treasure on this island. After Flint’s death, Ben returned with another group of sailors to look for the gold. When he was unable to find it, his fellow sailors grew angry at him and sailed away without him. He has been alone, living on goats and oysters, ever since. He says he is hungry for “Christian diet” and asks hopefully if Jim has any cheese. Jim does not, but he promises to give Ben a piece of cheese if they ever get back on board the Hispaniola.
Jim tells Ben about his adventures with Long John Silver. Ben is scared when he hears that many of Flint’s former men are on the island. Ben knows the pirates will kill him if they see him, so he offers to fight on Jim’s side in exchange for a share of the treasure and a ride home. Jim says he is sure his friends will accept this arrangement. The group is planning to share the treasure equally in any case, and they need more men who can fight and sail.
When Jim says he does not know how to get back to the Hispaniola without getting murdered by mutineers, Ben suggests using a little boat he has built. During this conversation, they hear the sound of a cannon. The battle has begun. Jim, hoping to see what is going on, leads Ben back toward the pirates. As they walk, Ben talks nonsense, a habit that he seems to have developed in his time alone on the island. Amid the gunshots, Jim sees a flag raised above the woods. It is the British flag, the Union Jack.