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with his eyelids lowered as though he were too weak to bear the
light. He looked up, however, at my coming, knocked the neck off
the bottle like a man who had done the same thing often, and took
a good swig, with his favourite toast of “Here’s luck!” Then he lay
quiet for a little, and then, pulling out a stick of tobacco, begged
me to cut him a quid.

“Cut me a junk o’ that,” says he, “for I haven’t no knife and
hardly strength enough, so be as I had. Ah, Jim, Jim, I reckon I’ve
missed stays! Cut me a quid, as’ll likely be the last, lad, for I’m for
my long home, and no mistake.”

“Well,” said I, “I’ll cut you some tobacco, but if I was you and
thought myself so badly, I would go to my prayers like a Christian

“Why?” said he. “Now, you tell me why.”
“Why?” I cried. “You were asking me just now about the dead.
You’ve broken your trust; you’ve lived in sin and lies and blood;
there’s a man you killed lying at your feet this moment, and you
ask me why! For God’s mercy, Mr. Hands, that’s why.”

I spoke with a little heat, thinking of the bloody dirk he had
hidden in his pocket and designed, in his ill thoughts, to end me
with. He, for his part, took a great draught of the wine and spoke
with the most unusual solemnity.

“For thirty years,” he said, “I’ve sailed the seas and seen good
and bad, better and worse, fair weather and foul, provisions
running out, knives going, and what not. Well, now I tell you, I
never seen good come o’ goodness yet. Him as strikes first is my
fancy; dead men don’t bite; them’s my views--amen, so be it. And
now, you look here,” he added, suddenly changing his tone, “we’ve
had about enough of this foolery. The tide’s made good enough by

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