Chapter 4 Summary

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Now that Billy is dead, Jim tells his mother everything he knows about the old pirate. They are in a difficult situation: they need money to pay for Billy’s expenses over the past few months, but if they disturb the old pirate’s things, they may anger the murderous men of his crew. Jim cannot go get help and leave his mother alone, so the two of them run to the village together.

In the village, Jim’s mother begs all the men to come with her to the inn and protect her from Billy’s old crew while she searches his chest for money. The men refuse. They have heard of the pirate Captain Flint, and they are terrified of his crew’s cruelty. Angry, Jim’s mother announces that she and her son will go back alone with no protection. She is hoping to shame some of the men into helping them, but everybody is too cowardly. They give Jim a pistol, and they send another boy to get Dr. Livesey, who lives in the opposite direction from the inn. But that is all they will do.

There is nothing left for Jim and his mother to do but return to the inn alone. There Jim studies the paper the blind man delivered to Billy. A large black mark is drawn on one side, and the words “You have till ten tonight” are written on the other. It is only six o’clock now, so Jim and his mother hope they can finish their business and get away before the crew arrives.

Jim searches Billy’s body and eventually finds a key around the neck. His mother uses it to open the chest, and she takes out a variety of objects: a brand-new suit, some pistols, a bar of silver, and so on. Eventually she finds a bag of gold. She insists on counting out exactly the amount Billy owes. However, the coins are from several different countries, and she struggles to figure out how much they are worth. As time passes, Jim grows more and more nervous. He begs her to take the whole bag of gold and run, but she refuses.

Suddenly, Jim and his mother hear a ship’s whistle. This sound scares them both, and finally Jim’s mother gives up her task. She takes the money she has counted out—which is not yet enough to pay the bill—and leaves the rest. Jim grabs a bundle of papers wrapped in oilskin, hoping that something inside will be worth enough to make up the difference.

Jim and his mother run toward town as fast as they can, looking over their shoulders often to see who might be following them. They have the legal right to keep the money they have taken—but they do not expect Captain Flint’s crew to care much about the law. Halfway to the town, Jim’s mother faints. She tells him to run on, but he cannot leave her. He drags her out of the road and hides under a bridge.

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