Chapter 3 Summary

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Around noon, Jim checks on Billy Bones in his room. Billy begs for rum, saying that he has traveled through places with horrible diseases, “and I lived on rum. It’s been meat and drink, and man and wife, to me.” He shows Jim how his hands are shaking and promises to pay a gold coin for just one glass. Jim refuses the coin, saying he wants no money except what his father is owed. However, he agrees to bring a single glass of rum and no more.

After drinking, Billy tries to get up and leave, but he finds that he is too weak. He explains that his former crew, who sailed with a famous pirate named Captain Flint, wants his old sea-chest. Jim glances curiously at the chest, which, as far as he knows, has not been opened since Billy’s arrival. Billy admits that he is terrified of his crew, who will bring him “the black spot”—a summons. This alarms Jim, who wishes he could go find Dr. Livesey and relate the story. Unfortunately, Jim’s duties at the Admiral Benbow prevent him from leaving home.

That night, Jim’s father suddenly dies. In the following days, Jim and his mother are so busy grieving and planning the funeral that nobody has much time to think about Billy Bones. The captain drags himself out of bed and begins helping himself to rum from the bar. Nobody likes this, but nobody has the courage or energy to stop it. He is constantly drunk, and he sings his old rum song through the funeral preparations. This is shocking to everyone around him, but nobody is brave enough to stand up to Billy.

The day after the funeral, a hunched old blind man in a sea-cloak taps his way up to the Admiral Benbow’s door and asks to be led inside. When Jim moves to obey, the blind man grabs him and demands to see Billy. Jim balks, worrying that the drunken pirate might hurt the blind man. But the blind man refuses to take no for an answer. He twists Jim’s arm, forcing the boy inside.

When Billy sees the visitor, his drunkenness leaves him. He tries to stand up, but he is suddenly too weak. He holds out his hand and accepts a piece of paper. “And now it’s done,” says the blind man. He releases Jim and leaves.

Jim and Billy stay silent for some time. Then Billy looks into his palm at the paper from the blind man. “Ten o’clock!” he says. “Six hours.” He leaps to his feet, claiming he still has time—but he does not. He falls on his face and dies.

Jim calls his mother, who comes running. Jim, although he never liked the captain, bursts out crying. He cannot explain this except to say that he has only known two people who died, and he is not yet used to the fact that his father is gone.

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