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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
mate Bill.”

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

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