Study Guide

Treasure Island Chapter 17

By Robert Louis Stevenson

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Chapter 17

Narrative Continued by the Doctor: The Jolly-boat's Last Trip

  • The tiny rowboat is having some trouble with the changing tide and the weight of the men aboard (Doctor Livesey, Squire Trelawney, Captain Smollett, Redruth, and Abraham Gray), so it starts to seem like it's going to sink.
  • Captain Smollett suddenly remembers the ship's cannon: could the pirates use it to attack the fort?
  • Doctor Livesey says the pirates couldn't possibly get it ashore.
  • But he has forgotten the "long nine," a relatively light nine-foot-long cast-iron gun that they accidentally left on board the Hispaniola.
  • And the little rowboat's course has left it totally exposed and in range of the long nine.
  • Abraham Gray comments that Israel Hands (the ringleader of the sailors left aboard) was a gunner for Captain Flint back in the day.
  • Squire Trelawney is the best shot of the group on the rowboat, so he starts loading his gun.
  • They all brace themselves, and Squire Trelawney fires his shot at Israel Hands aboard the Hispaniola.
  • Unfortunately, the Squire misses, and one of the other four sailors on board the Hispaniola drops.
  • Israel Hands quickly continues working to load the long nine, ignoring his injured comrade.
  • The group aboard the tiny rowboat can see one of the pirates' two boats in sight.
  • They realize the other one must have rowed around to try and cut them off from the shore.
  • But the Captain says they can't worry about that now – their biggest concern should be the long nine.
  • They decide the safest thing to do would be to overturn their rowboat (and the supplies) because they are so close to the shore. That way they won't be such an easy target for the long nine.
  • So they overturn the boat and wade onto the island – with only two of their five guns and none of the supplies they had hoped to bring with them.
  • They also hear voices coming upon them, so they hurry up to the stockade to find out what's happened to Hunter and Joyce while they were on board the Hispaniola.

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