Page:Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates (1921).djvu/230

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Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates

the Holy Eternal, Hi, if that isn’t a piece of your tarnal luck. Burned by Blueskin, was it?” He paused for a moment, as though turning it over in his mind. Then he laughed again. “All the same,” said he presently, “d’ye see, I can’t suffer for Blueskin’s doings. The money was willed to me, fair and true, and you have got to pay it, Hiram White, burn or sink, Blueskin or no Blueskin.” Again he puffed for a moment or two in reflective silence. “All the same, Hi,” said he, once more resuming the thread of talk, “I don’t reckon to be too hard on you. You be only half-witted, anyway, and I sha’n’t be too hard on you. I give you a month to raise that money, and while you’re doing it I’ll jest hang around here. I’ve been in trouble, Hi, d’ye see. I’m under a cloud and so I want to keep here, as quiet as may be. I’ll tell ye how it came about: I had a set-to with a land pirate in Philadelphia, and somebody got hurt. That’s the reason I’m here now, and don’t you say anything about it. Do you understand?”

Hiram opened his lips as though it was his intent to answer, then seemed to think better of it and contented himself by nodding his head.

That Thursday night was the first for a six-month that Hiram White did not scrape his feet clean at Billy Martin’s doorstep.

 

VI

Within a week Levi West had pretty well established himself among his old friends and acquaintances, though upon a different footing from that of nine years before, for this was a very different Levi from that other. Nevertheless, he was none the less popular in the barroom of the tavern and at the country store, where he was always the center of a group of loungers. His nine years seemed to have been crowded full of the wildest of wild adventures and happenings, as well by land as by sea, and, given an appreciative audience, he would reel off his yarns by the hour, in a reckless, devil-may-care fashion that set agape even old sea dogs who had

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