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The fact that most of this story is told as by the boy Jim Hawkins will not diminish its interest for young readers.
The bearings of the island are not given. But all indications are that Stevenson was thinking of the Spanish Main, that is, the Atlantic Ocean in the vicinity of Spanish America, or the West Indies. This was the great region for piracy and treasure. See the Introduction.
Admiral Benbow. In the early days, before the ability to read became general, inns were designated by signs bearing pictures of objects. An inn by the sea-shore might naturally be named for Admiral Benbow (1653-1702), one of England's famous naval heroes.
Hand-barrow. That is, a wheel-barrow.
Pig-tail. The hair, or wig, plaited and hanging down behind.
Cove. A hollow curve in the sea-shore; a tiny bay.
Capstan. A heavy cylinder of wood or iron, fixed upright on the deck of a vessel. It is revolved by levers, and the heavy anchors raised or lowered by ropes, or cables, wound around the capstan.
Handspike. A heavy bar or lever of wood, such as were used in revolving the capstan.
Mought. Dialect form of might.
Had sailed before the mast. That is, had been a common sailor. The quarters of the officers of a ship were back of the mast.
Skipper, captain; mate, second officer.
Royal George, a common name for English inns.
Walking the plank. Pirates frequently compelled the unfortunate people on a captured ship to walk blindfolded off a plank into the sea. For this the cant name was to walk the plank.
Dry Tortugas. A group of small coral islands in the Gulf of Mexico, southwest of. Florida.
Spanish Main. See note on The bearings of the island above.
Cocks. Soft hats used to be worn, with one or more of the sides drawn up and fastened to the crown, These flaps were called cocks.
Powder. When wigs were in fashion they were frequently powdered white.
Assizes. Courts of justice. The judges traveled from place to place and held these courts.
Cutlass. A short, heavy, curved sword.
Swinging. Hanging. Criminals of all types have the habit of indicating certain unpleasant things by other than the common names.
Showed a clean pair of heels. Ran well.
Opened a vein. Bleeding the patient was one of the most common forms of treatment by physicians up to fifty years ago.
On your own back. To have a black dog on one's back was an old expression for trouble, despondency and the like.
Noggin. A small cup; or, as here, a portion or drink.
Yellow-jack. Yellow fever. Another of the indications as to where Treasure Island lay.
Hulk. A shipwrecked and stranded vessel.
Lee shore. A shore beaten upon by the wind.
Fidges. Trembles, fidgets.
Lubbers. A seaman's term of contempt for an incompetent person.
Shake out a reef. Let out more sail, get under way.
Daddle. To fool, delude.
Peach. Slang for betray.
Eat. The old form of the past tense; pronounced ët.
Tap-tap-tapping. Note here and again later how the tap-tapping of the blind man's stick is made to arouse terror.
Lugger. A sailing vessel of two or three masts, so called from the manner in which the sails are hung.
Gully. A sailor's sheath-knife.
Doubloons, etc. The doubloon was a Spanish-American gold coin worth about eight dollars; the louis d'or (gold louis) a French coin worth about four dollars and a half; the guinea, an English coin, worth twenty-one shillings, or about five dollars and a quarter; and pieces of eight were the old Spanish silver dollars, so called because of the value of eight reäls, a reäl being worth about twelve and a half cents.
Malingering. A soldiers' and sailors' term for shirking duty, generally by skulking or pretending to be sick.
Georges. Coins; so called from the image of the king's head stamped upon them.
Blackbeard. The popular name for Edward Teach (or Thatch), a notorious pirate, who died in 1718.
Palm Key. An island just off the west coast of Florida.
Caraccas. In the eighteenth century this name designated Venezuela and some of the adjoining colonies.
Map of an island. A map of the island, it will be remembered, was the thing with which Stevenson began in writing this story.
Play duck and drake with. To throw around, to waste lavishly. The old game alluded to was played by setting up a stone, and then knocking it down by tossing other stones at it.
Blades. Daring and reckless fellows.
Rum go. A queer thing. A bit of slang common in England.
Hawke. An English admiral (1705-1781), famous for his victory over the French.
Tarpaulins. A cant name for sailors.
Come post. Come hastily, without delay.
You may lay to that. A phrase common in John Silver's dialect, and meaning "You may depend upon that".
Dead-eye. A round, flat, wooden block, or pulley, used to extend the sails and for various purposes.
Keel-hauling. A method of punishment in the English navy. The culprit was drawn by ropes through the water from one side of the ship to the other by way of the keel or bottom of the ship.
Old Bailey. The principal criminal court of England, situated in Old Bailey Street, London.
Bow Street runner. Bow Street is the name of the chief police court of London. A runner is a sheriff's messenger, or bailiff.
Dead-lights. Slang for eyes. In nautical use it is a wooden or iron block used to close the port holes.
Broached. A word of many meanings, the most common being to open, or to accost. Silver's speech has many queer twists in it. It is hard here to give his exact meaning, if, indeed, he had one.
Davy. Affidavit, solemn affirmation made on oath.
Stand by to go about. Another of Silver's favorite sea expressions. To go about is to turn round, and to stand by is to get ready for a nautical manoeuvre. The whole phrase seems to mean, "attend to business."
Figureheads. Old sailing vessels often had wooden images carved upon their prows or beaks. Hawthorne has a story of one of these: Drowne's Wooden Image.
Cables. The heavy ropes to which the anchor was attached.
Every man Jack. Jack (or Jack Tar) is a common nickname for sailors. The phrase here is simply an emphatic way of saying every man.
Galley. The ship's kitchen.
Forecastle. The forward part of the ship, where the quarters of the sailors were.
Tip us a stave. Give us a song.
Lanyard. A small rope.
Bulkhead. A partition in the ship below decks.
Cap'n England. Edward England was a famous pirate of the first part of the eighteenth century.
A point nearer the wind. That is, will sail almost against the wind, with the angle between the wind and her course very small.
Since Noah put to sea. Since the first voyage made.
Grog. The sailors' name for liquor.
Duff. A stiff flour pudding boiled in a bag; as, plum duff.
Waist. The centre of the ship.
The trades. That is, the trade winds, which blow constantly in the same direction during certain seasons of the year.
Abeam. At right angles to the side of the ship.
All was drawing alow and aloft. All sails were set, and were filled with the wind.
Luff. A nautical term of half-a-dozen meanings; here, apparently, the distention of the sail.
Along of. In consequence of.
Corso Castle. Perhaps on Cape Corso, on the northern end of the island of Corsica.
Hatches. Covers to close openings in the deck of a ship.
Gentlemen of fortune. Their euphemism for pirates. 111, 1. Set up gentleman. Note the idiom.
A slip on his cable. A wrong or tricky action.
Execution Dock. A place in London where criminals were hanged.
Sheeted home. Sails spread to the full extent.
Captain Kidd. A notorious pirate of the seventeenth century; hanged at Execution Dock in 1701.
Careen. To tip the vessel over on the sand.
Look well from a yard-arm. Mutinous sailors were sometimes hanged from the yard-arms, the cross beams running out from the masts.
Scuppers. Holes in the sides of a ship, on the deck.
Warped. Moved forward by throwing a rope over some object and hauling the ship up to it.
Gaskin. A kind of hempen packing-cloth.
Chuck-farthen. A kind of pitch-penny game.
Clove-hitch. A kind of sailor's knot; here, of course,meaning "a tight place."
Cutwater. The portion of a ship's prow which cuts the water; here, perhaps, the lower part of the man's face; as we now say, "White about the gills."
Lillibullero. A political song written in 1686 to satirize James II of England. It had an immense popularity, and is said to have hastened the Revolution of 1688 in which James lost his kingship. It is often referred to in english literature.
Dot and carry one. An irregular "thump, thump."
Painter. The rope at the prow of a boat.
Gallipot. A glazed earthen pot used by druggists to hold medicines.
Lipping astern. Dipping under a little in the stern.
Davy Jones. A sailor's name for either death or the devil.
Doldrums. Certain regions about the equator which have either no winds or light and uncertain ones.
Thwart. A piece of timber across the frame.
Hawser. Rope used in warping the vessel.
Yawing. Going unsteadily from side to side.
Doused. Loosened and dropped.
Midcalf. A small island near a larger one is sometimes called a calf. The reference here is probably to the small island in the middle of the harbor. See the map.
Batten down your hatches. Keep silent.
Till you're spoke. Until you are addressed. This is a nautical use of the word speak.
Cross-trees to keelson. A crosstree is the cross-bar of wood or iron near the top of the mast. The keelson is the heavy timber placed along the keel, or bottom, of the ship, to strengthen it.
Avast. Hold, stop.
Blunt. Slang for money.
Caulker. To caulk a boat is to stop up its leaks, and make it fit for use. Silver's meaning here is, of course, clear.
Supercargo. An officer on a merchant vessel whose business it is to sell and purchase the cargoes or freight.
Gammon. To cajole, to deceive.
Clear to probation. Clear to the point of proof.
Cache. A hiding place; also the thing hidden.
Scuttled. Sunk by making a hole in the keel.
Moidores. A Portuguese gold coin worth about six dollars and a half.
Sequins. An Italian gold coin worth about two dollars and a half.
Wain-ropes. Wain is an old name for wagon.
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