Study Guide

Treasure Island Chapter 33

By Robert Louis Stevenson

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Chapter 33

The Fall of a Chieftain

  • With this disappointment, the pirates turn against Long John Silver again.
  • Long John Silver quietly hands Jim a pistol and tells him to prepare for trouble.
  • Meanwhile the pirates have jumped into the pit looking for any traces of the treasure.
  • All they find is a two-guinea piece – worth just over two British pounds.
  • George Merry accuses Long John Silver of having known all along that the treasure was gone.
  • The pirates climb out of the pit and approach Long John Silver.
  • George Merry is about to charge when three shots from the forest take him down.
  • Doctor Livesey, Abraham Gray, and Ben Gunn join Long John Silver and Jim.
  • They set off quickly to stop the pirates from getting away in their rowboats.
  • Eventually they realize that they're already between the three remaining pirates and their rowboats, and that the pirates are running away from their boats rather than toward them, so they settle down for a rest.
  • It turns out that it was Ben Gunn who first found the skeleton pointer and figured out where the treasure was.
  • Ben Gunn carried all the gold from the treasure chests to his cave two months before the Hispaniola even arrived on the island.
  • That's why Doctor Livesey gave Long John Silver the treasure map – he had heard from Ben Gunn that the treasure had already been moved, so he knew the map was useless.
  • Doctor Livesey also explains why they gave up the fort to the pirates: Ben Gunn has plenty of salted goat meat stored away, so Doctor Livesey and his friends didn't need the supplies they had brought. What's more, Doctor Livesey didn't think it was safe to stay at the fort with its marshland and malaria (a bad fever you can get from mosquitoes, which breed in damp places).
  • Doctor Livesey admits that he felt bad about abandoning Jim to his fate, but Jim left without telling anyone, so what was he supposed to do?
  • However, once Doctor Livesey realized Jim would be there when the pirates discovered that the treasure was gone, he knew that Jim would probably be killed.
  • To save Jim, Doctor Livesey ran to get Abraham Gray and Ben Gunn (leaving Squire Trelawney to guard the injured Captain Smollett).
  • Ben Gunn ran ahead to spook the superstitious pirates, which so distracted them that they didn't notice the sounds of Abraham Gray and Doctor Livesey approaching with their guns. That's how they were able to successful ambush them.
  • The group reaches the two rowboats the pirates have been using.
  • Doctor Livesey destroys one with a pickax and they use the other one to row the eight or nine miles to the cove where the Hispaniola is beached.
  • Squire Trelawney greets Jim politely, then tells Long John Silver he's a liar and a villain.
  • Squire Trelawney says he won't try Long John Silver for murder right now, but he wishes he could.
  • The group enters the cave where Captain Smollett is lying by a fire.
  • There are huge stacks of gold in the cave.
  • Jim starts thinking about how much death and loss has happened just to find this gold.
  • Captain Smollett greets Jim. He says Jim's a good boy by and large, but he doesn't want to go to sea with him again.
  • Captain Smollett says Jim is too much "the born favorite" (33.41) for him. This wasn't a common expression even back in the 19th century, but we think Captain Smollett means that Jim is too independent and lucky to be trustworthy.
  • They eat a fine dinner that night.
  • Long John Silver helps out whenever needed and laughs at their jokes – just as he had when he was playing the loyal cook on their voyage out.

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