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But though I was so terrified by the idea of the seafaring man
with one leg, I was far less afraid of the captain himself than
anybody else who knew him. There were nights when he took a
deal more rum and water than his head would carry; and then he
would sometimes sit and sing his wicked, old, wild sea-songs,
minding nobody; but sometimes he would call for glasses round
and force all the trembling company to listen to his stories or bear
a chorus to his singing. Often I have heard the house shaking with
“Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum,” all the neighbours joining in for
dear life, with the fear of death upon them, and each singing
louder than the other to avoid remark. For in these fits he was the
most overriding companion ever known; he would slap his hand
on the table for silence all round; he would fly up in a passion of
anger at a question, or sometimes because none was put, and so he
judged the company was not following his story. Nor would he
allow anyone to leave the inn till he had drunk himself sleepy and
reeled off to bed.

His stories were what frightened people worst of all. Dreadful
stories they were--about hanging, and walking the plank, and
storms at sea, and the Dry Tortugas, and wild deeds and places on
the Spanish Main. By his own account he must have lived his life
among some of the wickedest men that God ever allowed upon the
sea, and the language in which he told these stories shocked our
plain country people almost as much as the crimes that he
described. My father was always saying the inn would be ruined,
for people would soon cease coming there to be tyrannized over
and put down, and sent shivering to their beds; but I really believe
his presence did us good. People were frightened at the time, but
on looking back they rather liked it; it was a fine excitement in a

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