Soon after the gig shoved off and pulled for shore and the man with the red cap and his comrade went below by the cabin companion.
Just about the same time the sun had gone down behind the Spy-glass, and as the fog was collecting rapidly it began to grow dark in earnest. I saw I must lose no time if I were to find the boat that evening.
The white rock, visible enough above the brush, was still some eighth of a mile farther down the spit, and it took me a goodish while to get up with it, crawling, often on all-fours, among the scrub. Night had almost come when I laid my hand on its rough sides. Right below it there was an exceedingly small hollow of green turf, hidden by banks and a thick underwood about knee-deep that grew there very plentifully; and in the center of the dell, sure enough, a little tent of goatskins, like what the gipsies carry about with them in England.
I dropped into the hollow, lifted the side of the tent, and there was Ben Gunn's boat—home-made if ever anything was home-made; a rude, lopsided framework of tough wood, and stretched upon that a covering of goatskin, with the hair inside. The thing was extremely small, even for me, and I can hardly imagine that it could have floated with a full-sized man. There was one thwart set as low as possible, a kind of stretcher in the bows, and a double paddle for propulsion.
I had not then seen a coracle, such as the ancient Britons made, but I have seen one since, and I can give you no fairer idea of Ben Gunn's boat than by saying it was like the first and the worst coracle ever made by man. But the great advantage of the coracle it certainly possessed, for it was exceedingly light and portable.
Well, now that I had found the boat, you would have thought I had had enough of truantry for once; but in the mean time I had taken another notion, and became so obstinately fond of it that I would have carried it out, I believe, in the teeth of Captain Smollett himself. This was to slip out under cover of the night, cut the Hispaniola adrift, and let her go ashore where she fancied. i3