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US AND THE BOTTLEMAN
My father's house stood on a rambling street in an old waterside town, and from the windows of my room I could see the topmasts of sailing ships thrusting upward above gray roofs. Small marvel that my head should be filled with the ways of the sea and the wonder of it, or that I should spend long hours dreaming over books that told of adventures thereon. It was over such a book that I was poring one summer's evening as I sat in the library bow-window, The breeze from the harbor came in and stirred the curtains beside my head, and brought with it the last westering ripple of sunlight and a smell of climbing roses. The book had dropped from my hand and I was well-nigh drowsing, when I saw, as plain as day, the queerest figure possible clicking open our garden gate. He looked to be some sort of South American half-breed,—swart face under rough black hair, and striped blanket gathered over dirty white trousers. Now I had seen many a strange man disembark from ships, but never such a one as this, and when I saw that he was coming straight toward my window, I was half tempted to make an escape.
He leaned on the sill of the open casement with his dark face just below mine and began to pour