Page 3. " Fifteen men on the dead man's chest-Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum! "

A fictional sea shanty from which only fragments are offered, the longest being

Fifteen men on the dead man's chest-

Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!

Drink and the devil had done for the rest-

Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!

This fragment was developed into a full length poem by Young E. Allison, which was published under the name 'Derelict' in 1891. It tells the story of a ship floating adrift, laden with treasure and the bodies of fifteen pirates who have evidently done themselves in. The first verse is shown below. You can read the full version here or read the lyrics as they are sung in the clip below.

Fifteen men on the Dead Man's Chest

Drink and the devil had done for the rest—

The mate was fixed by the bos'n's pike,

The bos'n brained with a marlin spike,

And Cookey's throat was marked belike

It had been gripped By fingers ten;

And there they lay,

All good dead men

Like break-o'-day in a boozing-ken— 

Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

 As Stevenson says: "Treasure Island came out of Kingsley's At Last: A Christmas in the West Indies (1871); where I got the 'Dead Man's Chest' - that was the seed". There have been various musical incarnations of the poem: the earliest was composed for a 1901 Broadway production of Treasure Island. The clip below offers a record reprisal of the original.

 

 

Page 5. " Dreadful stories they were; about hanging, and walking the plank, and storms at sea, and the Dry Tortugas, "
Fort Jefferson (Dry Tortugas) is very popular with divers - for obvious reasons.
Public DomainFort Jefferson (Dry Tortugas) is very popular with divers - for obvious reasons. - Credit: U.S. National Park Service

The Dry Tortugas are a small group of islands off the west coast of Florida. They were first discovered by the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León in 1513. They are so called because of the sea turtles that were found on the island (Tortuga - turtle). These were stored on board, upside down, and eaten at various stages of the voyage. The islands later earned the epithet 'dry' due to an absence of fresh water.

Google Map

 

 

 

Page 22. " I could not doubt that this was the black spot; "

Stevenson's Black Spot device may have its origins in the old tradition of Carribean pirates flashing an Ace of Spades to a man condemned as an informer or traitor. Some more early illustrations for the book may be found here.