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and tried to hold me up until I paid it—only a vulgar brawl, don’t you see? The landlord had his head in splints when I passed him the next day.”

“You were lucky to escape,” said The Engineer. “They have a way of knifing you while you are asleep. I had a friend who just got out of one of those Italian dives with his life.”

“Yes, that was why I was swinging the chair. Hard for any three men to get at you if its legs and back hold out. Of course a fellow can sneak up behind you with a knife and then you— By Jingo!—come to think of it, I can tell you a story! It just popped into my head. You have brought it all back”—and he nodded to our guest—“about the closest shave—so I thought at the time—that I ever had in my life. Your ghost stories don’t hold a candle to it—stealthy assassin—intended victim sound asleep—miraculous escape!—Oh! a blood-curdler!—I was scared blue.”

Everybody shifted their chairs and craned their heads to watch Louis’ face the better, overjoyed that he had at last wakened up. Louis scared blue—and he a match for any five men—meant a tale worth hearing.