"Tip Me The Black Spot"

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Last Updated on May 10, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 321

Context: Bill Bones, a pirate, hides out at a little inn, the Admiral Benbow, on a cove along the English coast. Bones was first mate with Captain Flint, the notorious buccaneer, and has in his possession the map showing where Flint's treasure has been hidden. Bones fears the other men still alive from the captain's crew will come looking for him, guessing that Flint, before he died at Savannah, told his first mate about the treasure's hiding place. The old pirate suffers a stroke himself, although warned by Dr. Livesey not to drink so much rum. In his weakness Bones takes Jim, the innkeeper's son, into his confidence and tells the boy of his fears. He tells Jim that the black spot is a summons among the pirates; it turns out to be a paper with a black spot that, even among illiterates, carries its message clearly. The old pirate says to Jim that a previous visitor, Black Dog, may return:

. . . "He's a bad'un; but there's worse that put him on. Now, if I can't get away nohow, and they tip me the black spot, mind you, it's my old sea-chest they're after; you get on a horse–you can, can't you? Well, then, you get on a horse, and go to–well, yes, I will!–to that eternal Doctor swab, and tell him to pipe all hands–magistrates and sich–and he'll lay 'em aboard at the 'Admiral Benbow'–all old Flint's crew, man and boy, all on 'em that's left. I was first mate, I was, old Flint's first mate, and I'm the on'y one as knows the place. He gave it me to Savannah, when he lay a-dying, like as if I was to now, you see. But you won't peach unless they get the black spot on me, or unless you see that Black Dog again, or a seafaring man with one leg, Jim–him above all."

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