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I asked him what was for his service, and he said he would take
rum; but as I was going out of the room to fetch it, he sat down
upon a table and motioned me to draw near. I paused where I was,
with my napkin in my hand.
“Come here, sonny,” says he. “Come nearer here.”
I took a step nearer.
“Is this here table for my mate Bill?” he asked with a kind of
I told him I did not know his mate Bill, and this was for a
person who stayed in our house whom we called the captain.
“Well,” said he, “my mate Bill would be called the captain, as
like as not. He has a cut on one cheek and a mighty pleasant way
with him, particularly in drink, has my mate Bill. We’ll put it, for
argument like, that your captain has a cut on one cheek--and we’ll
put it, if you like, that that cheek’s the right one. Ah, well! I told
you. Now, is my mate Bill in this here house?”
I told him he was out walking.
“Which way, sonny? Which way is he gone?”
And when I had pointed out the rock and told him how the
captain was likely to return, and how soon, and answered a few
other questions, “Ah,” said he, “this’ll be as good as drink to my
The expression of his face as he said these words was not at all
pleasant, and I had my own reasons for thinking that the stranger
was mistaken, even supposing he meant what he said. But it was
no affair of mine, I thought; and besides, it was difficult to know
what to do. The stranger kept hanging about just inside the inn
door, peering round the corner like a cat waiting for a mouse.
Once I stepped out myself into the road, but he immediately called