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found written on the other side, in a very good, clear hand, this
short message: “You have till ten tonight.”
“He had till ten, Mother,” said I; and just as I said it, our old
clock began striking. This sudden noise startled us shockingly; but
the news was good, for it was only six.
“Now, Jim,” she said, “that key.”
I felt in his pockets, one after another. A few small coins, a
thimble, and some thread and big needles, a piece of pigtail
tobacco bitten away at the end, his gully with the crooked handle,
a pocket compass, and a tinder box were all that they contained,
and I began to despair.
“Perhaps it’s round his neck,” suggested my mother.
Overcoming a strong repugnance, I tore open his shirt at the
neck, and there, sure enough, hanging to a bit of tarry string,
which I cut with his own gully, we found the key. At this triumph
we were filled with hope and hurried upstairs without delay to the
little room where he had slept so long and where his box had stood
since the day of his arrival.
It was like any other seaman’s chest on the outside, the initial
“B” burned on the top of it with a hot iron, and the corners
somewhat smashed and broken as by long, rough usage.
“Give me the key,” said my mother; and though the lock was
very stiff, she had turned it and thrown back the lid in a twinkling.
A strong smell of tobacco and tar rose from the interior, but
nothing was to be seen on the top except a suit of very good
clothes, carefully brushed and folded. They had never been worn,
my mother said. Under that, the miscellany began--a quadrant, a
tin canikin, several sticks of tobacco, two brace of very handsome
pistols, a piece of bar silver, an old Spanish watch and some other