of a modern instance to the contrary in prose. Mr. H. G.，
"Yes, sir," I replied very coldly; "only I behave thus with those who owe me money, not those to whom I owe it."
This reply, and the word "sir," frightened him so much that he was at great pains to excuse himself from sitting down to table. However, I insisted, as I wished to give him the measure of my character at once. I treated him as a man I was raising to my own level, not as one to whom I wished to descend. I forced him to be cleanly in his jokes, but allowed him to be free and facetious within the limits of decent mirth. He was a frank, jovial man. I questioned him minutely to discover if he was not in league with the phantom who was in the habit of leaving his cloak upon the bed. This, however, seemed far from probable; the man evidently had such an aversion for the Hamstringers, that, had not a regard for my relationship held him back, he would have been only too glad to have given them such a dressing in my presence as they deserved. But I could not allow him any license on this point; so I requested him to give me an account of my property, which he did with intelligence, accuracy, and honesty.
As he withdrew I noticed that the Madeira had had considerable effect on him; he seemed to have no control over his legs, which kept catching in the furniture; and yet he had been in sufficient possession of his faculties to reason correctly. I have always observed that wine acts much more powerfully on the muscles of peasants than on their nerves; that they rarely lose their heads, and that, on the contrary, stimulants produce in them a bliss unknown to us; the pleasure they derive from drunkenness is quite different from ours and very superior to our febrile exaltation.
When Marcasse and I found ourselves alone, though we were not drunk, we realized that the wine had filled us with gaiety and light- heartedness which we should not have felt at Roche-Mauprat, even without the adventure of the ghost. Accustomed as we were to speak our thoughts freely, we confessed mutually, and agreed that we were much better prepared than before supper to receive all the bogies of Varenne.
This word "bogey" reminded me of the adventure which had brought me into far from friendly contact with Patience at the age of thirteen. Marcasse knew about it already, but he knew very little of my character at that time, and I amused myself by telling him of my wild rush across the fields after being thrashed by the sorcerer.
"This makes me think," I concluded by saying, "that I have an imagination which easily gets overexcited, and that I am not above fear of the supernatural. Thus the apparition just now . . ."
"No matter, no matter," said Marcasse, looking at the priming of my pistols, and putting them on the table by my bed. "Do not forget that all the Hamstringers are not dead; that, if John is in this world, he will do harm until he is under the ground, and trebly locked in hell."
The wine was loosening the hidalgo's tongue; on those rare occasions when he allowed himself to depart from his usual sobriety, he was not wanting in wit. He was unwilling to leave me, and made a bed for himself by the side of mine. My nerves were excited by the incidents of the day, and I allowed myself, therefore, to speak of Edmee, not in such a way as to deserve the shadow of a reproach from her if she had heard my words, but more freely than I might have spoken with a man who was as yet my inferior and not my friend, as he became later. I could not say exactly how much I confessed to him of my sorrows and hopes and anxieties; but those confidences had a disastrous effect, as you will soon see.
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