— 3. The Black Spot
ABOUT noon I stopped at the captain's door with some cooling drinks and medicines. He was lying very much as we had left him, only a little higher, and he seemed both weak and excited.
«Jim,» he said, «you're the only one here that's worth anything, and you know I've been always good to you. Never a month but I've given you a silver fourpenny for yourself. And now you see, mate, I'm pretty low, and deserted by all; and Jim, you'll bring me one noggin of rum, now, won't you, matey?»
«The doctor — « I began.
But he broke in cursing the doctor, in a feeble voice but heartily. «Doctors is all swabs,» he said; «and that doctor there, why, what do he know about seafaring men? I been in places hot as pitch, and mates dropping round with Yellow Jack, and the blessed land a-heaving like the sea with earthquakes — what do the doctor know of lands like that? — and I lived on rum, I tell you. It's been meat and drink, and man and wife, to me; and if I'm not to have my rum now I'm a poor old hulk on a lee shore, my blood'll be on you, Jim, and that doctor swab»; and he ran on again for a while with curses.
«Look, Jim, how my fingers fidges,» he continued in the pleading tone. «I can't keep 'em still, not I. I haven't had a drop this blessed day. That doctor's a fool, I tell you. If I don't have a drain o' rum, Jim, I'll have the horrors; I seen some on 'em already. I seen old Flint in the corner there, behind you; as plain as print, I seen him; and if I get the horrors, I'm a man that has lived rough, and I'll raise Cain. Your doctor hisself said one glass wouldn't hurt me. I'll give you a golden guinea for a noggin, Jim.»
He was growing more and more excited, and this alarmed me for my father, who was very low that day and needed quiet; besides, I was reassured by the doctor's words, now quoted to me, and rather offended by the offer of a bribe.
«I want none of your money,» said I, «but what you owe my father. I'll get you one glass, and no more.»
When I brought it to him, he seized it greedily and drank it out.
«Aye, aye,» said he, «that's some better, sure enough. And now, matey, did that doctor say how long I was to lie here in this old berth?»
«A week at least,» said I.