Chapter 28 Summary
The pirates light a torch, and Jim sees his worst nightmare realized. Long John Silver and his men are in control of the stockade, along with all the food and drink the captain’s men brought to shore. Even worse, Jim sees no sign that the pirates are keeping prisoners. Could his friends all be dead?
Long John Silver tells Jim that he has spoken to Dr. Livesey, who called Jim an “ungrateful scamp.” Jim’s friends will not take him back after his desertion, so now he has no choice but to join the pirates.
Although this speech is grim, Jim is relieved to hear it. If his friends hate him, then at least they are still alive. He demands to know what is going on. Long John Silver explains that, after the Hispaniola disappeared, Dr. Livesey visited the pirates’ camp and offered to give up the stockade and supplies if the pirates would refrain from further fighting. When Silver agreed, Jim’s friends promptly moved out of the stockade. Silver does not know where they have gone.
Silver repeats his statement that Jim should join the pirates, but Jim refuses. He tells them that he has undone their plans. He stole the Hispaniola, so now they have no way home. He gives them a choice: they can kill him, or they can turn themselves in. Jim promises that if they let him live, he will testify to that effect back in England. This, perhaps, will save them from being hanged.
Most of the pirates want to torture Jim to death on the spot, but Silver forbids it. His men storm outside to hold a meeting without him. When they are gone, Silver confesses that the game is over. Without the ship, he cannot get away with the treasure. As far as Silver is concerned, his best option now is to go back to England and hope that Jim will keep his promise to testify in his defense.
Listening to Silver’s plea, Jim feels overwhelmed. Silver has been the mutineers’ leader—and the cleverest opponent of Jim and his friends—since the beginning of their adventure at sea. It is almost hard to hear the man admit that he has lost. However, Jim repeats his promise to do his best for Silver’s defense.
Hearing this, Silver pledges to fight on the side of the captain and Mr. Trelawney. To seal the deal, he pours himself a glass of cognac and drinks it. Then, almost as an afterthought, he mentions that the doctor gave him Captain Flint’s treasure map.