Part 5: My Sea Adventure
Chapter XXII - Chapter XXVII
Chapter XXII: How My Sea Adventure Began
Dr. Livesey treats the wounded. One pirate dies, as does Hunter. The captain has shoulder and leg injuries, and is told he should not walk or move his arm for weeks, and should speak as little as possible. After dinner, to the surprise of everyone, the doctor leaves the stockade and goes off alone into the woods. Jim realizes that Livesey has gone to meet Ben Gunn. Jim also decides to slip out when no one is watching, so that he can search for Ben's boat under the white rock. It is afternoon when he leaves and by the evening he finds the very small, crude homemade boat. Then Jim has another idea, to take the boat out at night and cut the Hispaniola adrift. This would prevent the mutineers sailing away to sea.
Chapter XXIII: The Ebb Tide Turns
The small boat (called a coracle) proves difficult to manage, turning in every direction except the one Jim wants to go in. Nonetheless, he reaches the Hispaniola and cuts the hawser (the anchor rope). He also hears the two drunken crew members on board quarreling fiercely. As schooner and coracle glide through the water, Jim grabs a light cord that trails from the ship, and pulls himself alongside it. He takes a peek through the cabin window and sees the two men fighting. One of them is the coxswain Israel Hands. The Hispaniola is swept by the current towards the open sea, and Jim is terrified, expecting that the raging breakers will destroy both ship and coracle. He lies flat at the bottom of his boat for hours, and eventually manages to sleep.
Chapter XXIV: The Cruise of the Coracle
Jim wakes up and it is morning. His coracle is at the southwest corner of the island. Realizing the dangers of trying to get ashore at that point, he allows the current to take him north, hoping to find an easier landing spot. But although the coracle rides the waves well it proves difficult to steer. Jim paddles as best he can, and gets close to the shore. Then less than half a mile ahead of him he sees the Hispaniola under sail. But he guesses from the erratic course of the ship that nobody is steering it. He decides to board the ship himself. He gets closer and closer to it, and when the moment is right, he catches the jibboom and clings to it. (Jibs are small triangular sails; a jibboom is a wooden beam that extends along the front of the jib.) At the same time, the Hispaniola strikes the coracle, leaving Jim on the Hispaniola with no line of retreat.
Chapter XXV: I Strike the Jolly Roger
Jim tumbles onto the deck. He sees the two men who had been fighting. One lies on his back; the other, Israel Hands, is propped against the bulwarks. There are bloodstains around both of them, and Jim is sure that they have killed each other. It transpires, however, that although one man, whose name was O'Brien, is dead, Hands is only wounded. Jim fetches him some brandy. He announces to Hands that he has taken possession of the ship. He takes down the Jolly Roger, the black pirates' flag that the ship had been flying. Hands offers to tell Jim how to sail the ship if Jim will give him food and water and tend to his wounds. They make an agreement, and within minutes the ship is sailing toward the North Inlet, where Jim hopes to beach it. But he does not trust Hands, and fears treachery.
Chapter XXVI: Israel Hands
As Jim and Hands talk over a meal, Hands asks Jim to go below deck to the cabin to fetch him a bottle of wine. Jim suspects this is a trick. Jim pretends to go for the wine, but instead climbs the forecastle ladder and watches to see what Hands will do. Hands fetches a knife that was concealed in a coil of rope, and hides it in his jacket. Jim then runs to the cabin, fetches the wine and returns to the deck. He guesses that Hands will not act until the ship is safely ashore, since he needs Jim's assistance. With Hands giving the instructions, Jim navigates the ship to the shore. In the excitement of these maneuvers, Jim almost forgets the danger he is in. He turns his head to see Hands bearing down on him, knife at the ready. Jim lets go of the tiller, which hits Hands and stops him. Jim draws a pistol from his pocket and tries to fire it, but sea water has made it useless. Hands recovers and chases him again. Then they both stop, as Jim readies himself to dodge out of his pursuer's path.
The Hispaniola lurches as it strikes the sand. The deck is at an angle of forty-five degrees, and both Jim and Hands lose their footing. Jim is first up, and he climbs up to the cross-trees (a cross-piece high on a mast), where he sits down. He prepares his second pistol for firing. Hands attempts to climb to where Jim is, but Jim stops him by threatening to shoot him dead. Hands pretends that he is beaten, but then suddenly throws a knife at Jim, hitting him in the shoulder and pinning him to the mast. Jim fires both his pistols, almost without knowing what he is doing. Hands is hit. He loses his grip and falls into the water dead.
Chapter XXVII: "Pieces of Eight"
The knife holds Jim to the mast only by a sliver of skin, and he soon breaks free. He returns to the deck and tends to his wound, which is bleeding freely. He heaves the body of O'Brien overboard. It is now early evening, and in good spirits Jim wades ashore. He leaves the ship on its side and heads for the stockade to rejoin his companions. As night falls he finds it hard to keep his bearings, but then the moon rises and makes his task easier. He walks into the loghouse, where everyone appears to be asleep. He is horrified to hear a voice call out "Pieces of eight!" three times. He realizes that the voice belongs to Silver's parrot. The loghouse has been taken over by Silver's men, and Jim is trapped.
Analysis: Part V
Part V centers around Jim's escapades at sea, which are vital to the success of the mission since they involve the recapturing of the Hispaniola. As earlier in the story, when Jim went ashore without permission, he again acts on his own initiative by slipping out of the stockade without telling anyone. Jim is now hardly recognizable as the young boy who was frightened by events at the Admiral Benbow inn at the beginning of the novel. He has been forced to mature rapidly, and in Part V he faces his biggest test, and he passes it with flying colors. His skill and daring make the difference between success and failure for the mission of the Hispaniola. At the end of chapter XXXIII, for example, he shows great presence of mind when he is able to sleep in the coracle even though he is scared for his life. In chapters XXV and XXVI he shows he can outwit a cunning and treacherous adversary in Israel Hands, and that he can kill a man when he has to. When Jim steps ashore on the island again he has been through experiences that testify to his courage and ingenuity, and these qualities will stand him in good stead as he faces yet more adversity in the final part of the novel.