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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 536 pages of information about Jack Tier.

“Jack Tier,” demanded the captain, now that he found himself once more alone with the other, desirous of obtaining his opinion on a point that harassed him, though he knew not why; “Jack Tier, answer me one thing.  Do you believe that we saw the form of a dead or of a living man at the foot of the light-house?”

“The dead are never seen leaning against walls in that manner, Stephen Spike,” answered Jack, coolly, not even taking the trouble to uncoil his arms.  “What you saw was a living man; and you would do well to be on your guard against him.  Harry Mulford is not your friend—­and there is reason for it.”

“Harry Mulford, and living!  How can that be, Jack?  You know the port in which he chose to run.”

“I know the rock on which you chose to abandon him, Captain Spike.”

“If so, how could he be living and at the Dry Tortugas.  The thing is impossible!”

“The thing is so.  You saw Harry Mulford, living and well, and ready to hunt you to the gallows.  Beware of him, then; and beware of his handsome wife!”

“Wife! the fellow has no wife—­he has always professed to be a single man!”

“The man is married—­and I bid you beware of his handsome wife.  She, too, will be a witness ag’in you.”

“This will be news, then, for Rose Budd.  I shall delight in telling it to her, at least.”

“’T will be no news to Rose Budd.  She was present at the wedding, and will not be taken by surprise.  Rose loves Harry too well to let him marry, and she not present at the wedding.”

“Jack, you talk strangely!  What is the meaning of all this?  I am captain of this craft, and will not be trifled with—­tell me at once your meaning, fellow.”

“My meaning is simple enough, and easily told.  Rose Budd is the wife of Harry Mulford.”

“You’re dreaming, fellow, or are wishing to trifle with me!”

“It may be a dream, but it is one that will turn out to be true.  If they have found the Poughkeepsie sloop-of-war, as I make no doubt they have by this time, Mulford and Rose are man and wife.”

“Fool! you know not what you say!  Rose is at this moment in her berth, sick at heart on account of the young gentleman who preferred to live on the Florida Reef rather than to sail in the Molly!”

“Rose is not in her berth, sick or well; neither is she on board this brig at all.  She went off in the light-house boat to deliver her lover from the naked rock—­and well did she succeed in so doing.  God was of her side, Stephen Spike; and a body seldom fails with such a friend to support one.”

Spike was astounded at these words, and not less so at the cool and confident manner with which they were pronounced.  Jack spoke in a certain dogmatical, oracular manner, it is true, one that might have lessened his authority with a person over whom he had less influence; but this in no degree diminished its effect on Spike.  On the contrary, it even disposed the captain to yield an implicit faith to what he heard, and all so much the more because the facts he was told appeared of themselves to be nearly impossible.  It was half a minute before he had sufficiently recovered from his surprise to continue the discourse.

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