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boy, why, shiver my timbers, isn’t he a hostage? Are we a-going to
waste a hostage? No, not us; he might be our last chance, and I
shouldn’t wonder. Kill that boy? Not me, mates! And number
three? Ah, well, there’s a deal to say to number three. Maybe you
don’t count it nothing to have a real college doctor to see you every
day--you, John, with your head broke--or you, George Merry, that
had the ague shakes upon you not six hours agone, and has your
eyes the colour of lemon peel to this same moment on the clock?
And maybe, perhaps, you didn’t know there was a consort coming
either? But there is, and not so long till then; and we’ll see who’ll
be glad to have a hostage when it comes to that. And as for
number two, and why I made a bargain--well, you came crawling
on your knees to me to make it--on your knees you came, you was
that downhearted--and you’d have starved too if I hadn’t--but
that’s a trifle! You look there--that’s why!”

And he cast down upon the floor a paper that I instantly
recognized--none other than the chart on yellow paper, with the
three red crosses, that I had found in the oilcloth at the bottom of
the captain’s chest. Why the doctor had given it to him was more
than I could fancy.

But if it were inexplicable to me, the appearance of the chart
was incredible to the surviving mutineers. They leaped upon it
like cats upon a mouse. It went from hand to hand, one tearing it
from another; and by the oaths and the cries and the childish
laughter with which they accompanied their examination, you
would have thought, not only they were fingering the very gold,
but were at sea with it, besides, in safety.

“Yes,” said one, “that’s Flint, sure enough. J. F., and a score
below, with a clove hitch to it; so he done ever.”

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