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death, and what’s a long sight worse, of torture. They’re going to
throw me off. But, you mark, I stand by you through thick and
thin. I didn’t mean to; no, not till you spoke up. I was about
desperate to lose that much blunt, and be hanged into the bargain.
But I see you was the right sort. I says to myself, you stand by
Hawkins, John, and Hawkins’ll stand by you. You’re his last card,
and by the living thunder, John, he’s yours! Back to back, says I.
You save your witness, and he’ll save your neck!”

I began dimly to understand.
“You mean all’s lost?” I asked.
“Aye, by gum, I do!” he answered. “Ship gone, neck gone --
that’s the size of it. Once I looked into that bay, Jim Hawkins, and
seen no schooner--well, I’m tough, but I gave out. As for that lot
and their council, mark me, they’re outright fools and cowards. I’ll
save your life--if so be as I can--from them. But, see here, Jim--tit
for tat--you save Long John from swinging.”

I was bewildered; it seemed a thing so hopeless he was asking--
he, the old buccaneer, the ringleader throughout.

“What I can do, that I’ll do,” I said.
“It’s a bargain!” cried Long John. “You speak up plucky, and by
thunder, I’ve a chance!”

He hobbled to the torch, where it stood propped among the
firewood, and took a fresh light to his pipe.

“Understand me, Jim,” he said, returning. “I’ve a head on my
shoulders, I have. I’m on squire’s side now. I know you’ve got that
ship safe somewheres. How you done it, I don’t know, but safe it is.
I guess Hands and O’Brien turned soft. I never much believed in
neither of them. Now you mark me. I ask no questions, nor I won’t
let others. I know when a game’s up, I do; and I know a lad that’s

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