Chapter 22 Summary
The pirates do not attack again right away, so the captain’s men work at cleaning the bunkhouse and tending the wounded. One pirate is not quite dead at the end of the battle, but he dies soon afterward. Hunter’s head wound kills him as well. Captain Smollett, however, survives. His wounds are not life threatening, but they are bad enough to prevent him from fighting and working for a long time.
When he has done what he can to care for the captain, Dr. Livesey straps on some pistols and strides off into the woods. Jim is sure he has gone to meet Ben Gunn. As Jim works at scouring pots and scrubbing blood stains in the house, he wishes that he, too, had a chance to go out walking in the forest.
Jim soon makes up an excuse to get away for a few hours. He remembers that Ben Gunn mentioned owning a small homemade boat, and he knows that it would be useful to have access to such an asset. Jim resolves to go and look for it, but he does not ask permission because he strongly suspects it will be denied. He just fills his pockets with food, grabs a couple of pistols, and sneaks away without telling anyone where he is going. This is an unwise thing for Jim to do, considering that only two able men remain in the bunkhouse to fight if the pirates attack, but he means no harm.
Careful not to be spotted by the pirates, Jim makes his way through the trees toward a big white rock he has noticed at the top of a hill. It fits the description of the place where Ben said he hid his little boat—and sure enough, Jim finds the boat quite quickly. It is a small, round, woven contraption that is barely seaworthy. Jim doubts that it could carry a full-grown man, but it is big enough to hold a boy.
Now that Jim is outside, he is itching for an adventure. Watching the pirates, he sees them leave two watchmen on the Hispaniola without a lifeboat. Jim decides to take Ben’s little boat out to the ship and cut it loose. This, he reasons, will prevent the pirates from sailing away to freedom. He waits for darkness to fall, and the night turns out to be calm and foggy—perfect for a reconnaissance job. He carries the boat to the water and sets off.