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three o’clock of a bitter, foggy, frosty afternoon, I was standing at
the door for a moment, full of sad thoughts about my father, when
I saw someone drawing slowly near along the road. He was plainly
blind, for he tapped before him with a stick and wore a great green
shade over his eyes and nose; and he was hunched, as if with age
or weakness, and wore a huge old tattered sea-cloak with a hood
that made him appear positively deformed. I never saw in my life a
more dreadful-looking figure. He stopped a little from the inn, and
raising his voice in an odd sing-song, addressed the air in front of
him, “Will any kind friend inform a poor blind man, who has lost
the precious sight of his eyes in the gracious defence of his native
country, England--and God bless King George!--where or in what
part of this country he may now be?”

“You are at the Admiral Benbow, Black Hill Cove, my good
man,” said I.

“I hear a voice,” said he, “a young voice. Will you give me your
hand, my kind young friend, and lead me in?”

I held out my hand, and the horrible, soft-spoken, eyeless
creature gripped it in a moment like a vise. I was so much startled
that I struggled to withdraw, but the blind man pulled me close up
to him with a single action of his arm.

“Now, boy,” he said, “take me in to the captain.”
“Sir,” said I, “upon my word I dare not.”

“Oh,” he sneered, “that’s it! Take me in straight or I’ll break
your arm.”

And he gave it, as he spoke, a wrench that made me cry out.
“Sir,” said I, “it is for yourself I mean. The captain is not what
he used to be. He sits with a drawn cutlass. Another gentleman--”

“Come, now, march,” interrupted he; and I never heard a voice

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