Climbing aboard the Hispaniola, Jim is surprised to see no one on deck. A bit later, however, he finds two watchmen—one is Israel Hands, who lies splashed with blood in a drunken stupor; the other is dead. Jim addresses Hands, who begs for a little brandy. Descending into the cellar, Jim finds that most of the ship’s store of alcohol has been consumed. He returns with a drink for Hands and asks that Hands consider him the captain, since Jim has taken possession of the ship. In a symbolic gesture, Jim throws the pirates’ flag, the Jolly Roger, overboard.
Hands offhandedly refers to the corpse next to him, insulting the dead man’s Irish nationality and noting that the dead man is unable to help navigate. Hands then asserts his own navigational expertise and strikes a deal with Jim: if Jim gives Hands food, drink, and medical help, Hands will assist Jim in sailing the ship. They steer the ship toward the North Inlet of the island, enjoying a favorable wind. Jim is delighted with his new position of command, though wary of Hands’s careful watch over him.
Jim and Hands approach the North Inlet but must wait for a favorable tide to cast anchor. Hands proposes throwing the Irishman’s dead body overboard, as he objects to the corpse’s presence on deck. Jim replies that he does not like the idea, and Hands responds that a dead man is simply dead. Jim retorts that the spirit never dies. Suspiciously, Hands claims that the brandy is too strong for his head and asks Jim for wine instead. Jim feigns innocence and goes to fetch some port wine, but watches Hands in secret and observes him extract a long knife from a hiding place and place it under his jacket.
Jim knows that he needs Hands to guide the ship safely into the inlet and remains wary of him. As he becomes absorbed by the effort of maneuvering the ship into its anchorage, he relaxes his vigilance and Hands attacks him. They engage in a fierce scuffle. Jim climbs up a mast and Hands follows. Jim pulls his pistol on Hands, who flings his knife, piercing Jim’s shoulder and pinning him to the mast. Jim’s gun goes off and Hands falls into the water.
Gradually my mind came back again, my pulses quieted down to a more natural time, and I was once more in possession of myself.See Important Quotations Explained
The knife still pinning him against the mast, Jim watches as Hands’s body rises once in the water and then sinks down. Covered in blood but not seriously wounded, Jim initially feels faint and terrified but manages to regain his composure. Shuddering, he frees himself by ripping the bit of shoulder skin that the knife has pinned to the mast. He climbs down the mast to care for his wound and, seeing the dead Irishman on deck, pushes him overboard and watches the body in the water.
Now alone on the ship, Jim decides that he is close enough to the island to swim to shore safely. He reaches the island and treks through the woods in search of Captain Smollett’s stockade on the other side of the island. He finally glimpses the glow of a fire in the distance, and finds that it is coming from campfires in the stockade. Jim is surprised that Smollett would allow such a waste of firewood. Creeping into the stockade, Jim finds the men asleep. A voice suddenly cries out, “Pieces of eight!” and Jim recognizes the voice of Silver’s parrot, Cap’n Flint. Realizing that the pirates have taken over the stockade, Jim tries to flee but is held tight.