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“Leave out your ‘great mind,’ Herbert,” cried Louis—“we’ll believe anything but that—and give us the story—that is, Le Blanc, if you will be so very good as to move your very handsome but slightly opaque head, so that I can watch the distinguished mud-dauber’s face while he talks. Fire away, Herbert!”

“I was a lad of twenty at the time,” resumed Herbert, pausing for a moment until the unembarrassed Le Blanc had pushed back his chair, “and for reasons which then seemed good to me ran away from home, and for two years served as common sailor aboard an English merchantman, bunking in the forecastle, eating hardtack, and doing work aloft like any of the others. I had the world before me, was strong and sturdily built, and, being a happy-hearted young fellow, was on good terms with every one of the crew except a dark, murderous-looking young Portuguese of about my own age, active as a cat, and continually quarrelling with every one. When you get a low-down Portuguese with negro blood in his veins you have reached the bottom of cunning and cruelty. I’ve come across several of them since—some in dress suits—and know.

“For some reason this fellow hated me as