Chapter 21 Summary

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After Long John Silver leaves, Captain Smollett comes inside and sees that everyone except Abraham Gray has disobeyed orders and left his post. The men were all so excited to hear what Silver said that they simply forgot to stay ready to fight. This makes the captain furious, and he shouts at them.

The men feel embarrassed as they get to work preparing the house for the upcoming battle. The captain orders Mr. Trelawney to move the fire outside so they will not have smoke in their eyes during the battle. He orders Jim, who has not yet had his breakfast, to eat. Finally, the captain considers how to arrange his defense.

After thinking a few moments, the captain places Mr. Trelawney and Abraham Gray, the two best shots, on the longest side of the bunkhouse, where the pirates are most likely to focus their attack. Each of these men is given two muskets so that he can shoot more often. The captain puts the doctor at the doorway, a man named Hunter on the east side, and a man named Joyce on the west side. Meanwhile, Jim and the captain—who are both bad shots—are supposed to stand in the center of the room and help everyone else with the slow process of reloading muskets. Finally, the captain places a stack of cutlasses in the center of the room, ready in case the battle comes down to hand-to-hand fighting.

The captain’s men wait and wait, growing nervous and jittery as time passes. Finally, after more than an hour, they hear gunshots and feel musket balls hit the sides of the house. The attack comes from the cover of the trees, so although the captain’s men return fire, they have nowhere to aim.

Suddenly, seven or eight pirates climb into the stockade. The captain’s men shoot as fast as they can, killing two pirates and scaring one away. More shots hit the house, and four pirates run toward the bunkhouse, storming inside. The house fills with the smoke of gunfire, so nobody can see where to shoot.

“Out, lads, out, and fight ’em in the open. Cutlasses!” shouts Captain Smollett. Rushing to obey, Jim grabs a cutlass and rushes out the door. He takes a swing at a pirate and gets tripped. By the time he gets back to his feet, the battle is already over. Three pirates are down, and one is running away. The doctor shouts at the others to shoot the fleeing man, but nobody can get to a musket in time. When the last pirate is gone, Jim and his friends run back inside.

In the bunkhouse, they find Joyce shot dead and Hunter knocked out by a blow to the head. The captain is injured, as well, unable to stand on his own. This means the captain’s men have lost three fighters, whereas the pirates have lost five. The loyal men now have four able men left, including Jim. The pirates, they believe, have nine.

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