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by Robert Louis Stevenson
Treasure Island Chapter 1 Summary
The Old Sea-dog at the Admiral Benbow Squire Trelawney, Doctor Livesey, and others have asked Jim Hawkins (our hero and first-person narrator) to write down his adventures. So Jim is going to start where it all began: at the Admiral Benbow inn, owned by Jim's father. One day, a tall, ragged, suntanned sailor walks into the inn. He is singing a song: "Fifteen men on the dead man's chest – Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!" (1.2). The man asks Jim's father if they get many customers. When he hears that business is slow, he decides to stay at the inn. Even though the man's clothes are ragged, his manner is proud and commanding. He tells Jim's father he is a captain, but he won't say much more about himself. He spends all day looking out at the sea through his telescope and spying on the few sailors who pass through the area. The captain takes Jim aside and promises to pay him an allowance each month if Jim will help him keep an eye out for a one-legged sailor. The captain tells terrible stories about the violent life on the high seas, which terrify and fascinate all the men of the neighborhood. The captain keeps staying at the Admiral Benbow inn long after his money runs out. Jim's father is too afraid to ask him to leave. Jim's father is sick, and one evening Doctor Livesey comes by the inn to see him. After seeing Jim's father, Doctor Livesey sits talking to Taylor, the gardener. The captain is singing as usual – the same old song about the "dead man's chest." The captain signals for the whole inn to be quiet, and everyone shuts up except Doctor Livesey. The captain tells Doctor Livesey directly to be quiet. Doctor Livesey asks if the captain is talking to him. When the captain says yes, Doctor Livesey tells him that if the captain doesn't knock off drinking so much rum, the world will have one less "very dirty scoundrel" (1.14) in it. (Oooh, snap!) The captain jumps up and draws a knife. Doctor Livesey doesn't bat an eyelid. He just warns that captain that if he doesn't put the knife away, he'll hang for it. The captain knuckles under, grumbling. Doctor Livesey warns that he's going to keep an eye on the captain from now on. Doctor Livesey is also the local magistrate (kind of like a judge). If he hears any complaints about the captain, he's going to have him thrown out of the district. Doctor Livesey rides away, and the captain continues to sit quietly.
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