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“Overboard!” said the captain. “Well, gentlemen, that saves the
trouble of putting him in irons.”
But there we were, without a mate; and it was necessary, of
course, to advance one of the men. The boatswain, Job Anderson,
was the likeliest man aboard, and though he kept his old title, he
served in a way as mate. Mr. Trelawney had followed the sea, and
his knowledge made him very useful, for he often took a watch
himself in easy weather. And the coxswain, Israel Hands, was a
careful, wily, old, experienced seaman who could be trusted at a
pinch with almost anything.
He was a great confidant of Long John Silver, and so the
mention of his name leads me on to speak of our ship’s cook,
Barbecue, as the men called him.
Aboard ship he carried his crutch by a lanyard round his neck,
to have both hands as free as possible. It was something to see him
wedge the foot of the crutch against a bulkhead, and propped
against it, yielding to every movement of the ship, get on with his
cooking like someone safe ashore. Still more strange was it to see
him in the heaviest of weather cross the deck. He had a line or two
rigged up to help him across the widest spaces--Long John’s
earrings, they were called; and he would hand himself from one
place to another, now using the crutch, now trailing it alongside by
the lanyard, as quickly as another man could walk. Yet some of the
men who had sailed with him before expressed their pity to see
him so reduced.
“He’s no common man, Barbecue,” said the coxswain to me.
“He had good schooling in his young days and can speak like a
book when so minded; and brave--a lion’s nothing alongside of
Long John! I seen him grapple four and knock their heads