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him be. Every day when he came back from his stroll he would ask
if any seafaring men had gone by along the road. At first we
thought it was the want of company of his own kind that made him
ask this question, but at last we began to see he was desirous to
avoid them. When a seaman did put up at the Admiral Benbow (as
now and then some did, making by the coast road for Bristol) he
would look in at him through the curtained door before he entered
the parlour; and he was always sure to be as silent as a mouse
when any such was present. For me, at least, there was no secret
about the matter, for I was, in a way, a sharer in his alarms. He
had taken me aside one day and promised me a silver fourpenny
on the first of every month if I would only keep my “weather-eye
open for a seafaring man with one leg” and let him know the
moment he appeared. Often enough when the first of the month
came round and I applied to him for my wage, he would only blow
through his nose at me and stare me down, but before the week
was out he was sure to think better of it, bring me my four-penny
piece, and repeat his orders to look out for “the seafaring man
with one leg.”

How that personage haunted my dreams, I need scarcely tell
you. On stormy nights, when the wind shook the four corners of
the house and the surf roared along the cove and up the cliffs, I
would see him in a thousand forms, and with a thousand diabolical
expressions. Now the leg would be cut off at the knee, now at the
hip; now he was a monstrous kind of a creature who had never
had but the one leg, and that in the middle of his body. To see him
leap and run and pursue me over hedge and ditch was the worst of
nightmares. And altogether I paid pretty dear for my monthly
fourpenny piece, in the shape of these abominable fancies.

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