I was seven years old…
and I walked round the garden reading Treasure Island. When I got to the bit about the musket and cutlass battle I was so engrossed I walked into a tree. I was proud of my bleeding nose – I imagined I got it in a fight with a pirate.
What intrigued me most about that classic book by Robert Louis Stevenson were all the references to Captain Flint, a pirate king who was brutal, intimidating and quite likely an alcoholic – yet obviously very clever.
Without Flint there would have been no Treasure Island for he was the man who had buried the Treasure on the Island. Yet in that book we hear about Flint only in reminiscences from some of the protagonists because Flint is dead by the time the story begins.
Stevenson’s narrative tells us Flint took six men ashore with him to stash the loot. But, having apparently murdered the others, only Flint came back to the ship, giving him the security of being the only man who knew where the cache was.
There had to be a story around that. For me, Flint deserved a biography of his own. What’s more, it should answer all those other questions posed by Treasure Island. If, as Stevenson tells us, Long John Silver had lost his leg in the same broadside as Old Pew lost his ‘deadlights’, what were the circumstances of that broadside?
And how come that Billy Bones, the first mate, came into possession of Flint’s map where X marked the spot of the buried loot?
It’s taken me a long time but now I have supplied my own answers. I hope you enjoy them and I hope you identify with the experiences of the other characters I’ve created when you read Tread Carefully on the Sea.