Hiram’s look turned inquiringly toward the jagged scar and Levi caught the slow glance. “You’re lookin’ at this,” said he, running his finger down the crooked seam. “That looks bad, but it wasn’t so close as this”—laying his hand for a moment upon the livid stain. “A cooly devil off Singapore gave me that cut when we fell foul of an opium junk in the China Sea four years ago last September. This,” touching the disfiguring blue patch again, “was a closer miss, Hi. A Spanish captain fired a pistol at me down off Santa Catharina. He was so nigh that the powder went under the skin and it’ll never come out again. —— his eyes—he had better have fired the pistol into his own head that morning. But never mind that. I reckon I’m changed, ain’t I, Hi?”
He took his pipe out of his mouth and looked inquiringly at Hiram, who nodded.
Levi laughed. “Devil doubt it,” said he, “but whether I’m changed or no, I’ll take my affidavy that you are the same old half-witted Hi that you used to be. I remember dad used to say that you hadn’t no more than enough wits to keep you out of the rain. And, talking of dad, Hi, I hearn tell he’s been dead now these nine years gone. D’ye know what I’ve come home for?”
Hiram shook his head.
“I’ve come for that five hundred pounds that dad left me when he died, for I hearn tell of that, too.”
Hiram sat quite still for a second or two and then he said, “I put that money out to venture and lost it all.”
Levi’s face fell and he took his pipe out of his mouth, regarding Hiram sharply and keenly. “What d’ye mean?” said he presently.
“I thought you was dead—and I put—seven hundred pounds—into Nancy Lee—and Blueskin burned her—off Currituck.”
“Burned her off Currituck!” repeated Levi. Then suddenly a light seemed to break upon his comprehension. “Burned by Blueskin!” he repeated, and thereupon flung himself back in his chair and burst into a short, boisterous fit of laughter. “Well, by