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Rites of Passage in Classical Literature for Boys, Part 3: Treasure Island

“’One more step, Mr. Hands,’ said I, ‘and I’ll blow your brains out!  Dead men don’t bite, you know,’ I added, with a chuckle….  Something sang like an arrow through the air; I felt a blow and then a sharp pang, and there I was pinned by the shoulder to the mast.  In the horrid pain and surprise of the moment – I scarce can say it was by my own volition, and I am sure it was without a conscious aim – both my pistols went off, and both escaped out of my hands.  They did not fall alone; with a choked cry the coxswain loosed his grasp upon the shrouds, and plunged head first into the water.”

What inspired the author, Robert Louis Stevenson, to place his protagonist in such a precarious position; high up the mizzenmast, looking down upon a half-drunk, half hungover pirate twice his size, bent upon seeing the young Jim Hawkins to “Davy Jones’ locker?”