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"They're a tough crowd, them copper fellers." understan';" said the Frenchman. "They pickle people's heads," said the old sailor, "in the sand or somethin'. They keep for ever pretty near when once they're pickled. They pickle every one's head and sell 'em in Lima: I've knowed 'em get a matter of three pound for a good head." "Heads?" said another sailor. "I had one myself once. I got it at Tacna, but it wasn't properly pickled or something it was a red-headed beggar the chap as owned it —— I had to throw it away. It got too strong for the crowd," he explained. "Ah zose Indians," said the Frenchman. "I 'ave 'eard; zey tell me, zey tell me at Valparaiso. But ah, it ees a fool; it ees a fool; zere is no Indians." "Beg pardon, sir,” said the old sailor, "but if you go up among them jokers, you'll have to look slippy with a gun, sir," "Ah, a gon," he answered, "a gon. I was not to be bozzered wiz a gon. I'ave what you call 'eem peestol." He pro
duced a boy's derringer, which might have cost about ten dollars, Spanish dollars, in the pawnshops of Santiago. "Peestol," murmured a sailor, gasping, as he shambled forward to laugh, "peestol, the gawdem Dago's balmy."
During the next few days I saw the Frenchman frequently. He was a wonder to us, and his plans were discussed at every meal, and in every watch below. In the dog-watches he would come forward, with his eternal questions: "What is wizzin? In ze contry?" We would tell him, "Indians, or highwaymen," or "a push of highbinders;" and he would answer: "It ees nozzin, it ees a fool." Once he asked us if we had heard of any gold being found "wizzen." "Gold?" said one of "Gold? O' course there's gold, any God's quantity. Them Incas ate gold; they're buried in it." ""Ave you know zem, ze Incas? he asked eagerly. "I seen
a tomb of theirs once," said the sailor; "it were in a cove, like the fo'c'sle yonder, and full of knittin'-needles." "What is zem ?" said the Frenchman. The sailor shambled below to his chest, and returned with a handful of little sticks round which some balls of coloured threads were bound. "Knittin'-needles," said the sailor. "Them ain't no knittin'-needles. Writin'? How could them be writin'? "Well, I heard tell once." replied the other. "It ees zeir way of writing," said the Frenchman; "I 'ave seen; zat is zeir way of writing; ze knots is zeir letters." "Bleedin' funny letters, I call 'em," said the needles-theorist. "You and your needles," said the other. "Now, what d'ye call 'em?" The bell upon the bridge clanged. "Eight bells," said the company; "aft to muster, boys." The bugle at the saloon-door announced supper.
We were getting pretty well to the north-Mollendo, or thereabouts—when I had my last conversation with the Frenchman. He came up to me one night, as I sat on the deck to leeward of the winch, keeping the first watch as snugly as I could. long?" he asked. I had not.
"You know zees coast Then came the never
ceasing, "Ave you know of ze Incas?" Yes, lot of general talk; and I had seen Incas curios, mostly earthware, in every port in Peru.
No; there was never any gold.
"You 'ave seen gold?"
The Spaniards made a
pretty general average of any gold there was.
a fool," he answered. "I tell you," he went on, "it ees a fool. Zay have say zat; zey 'ave all say zat; it ees a fool. Zere is gold. Zere is a hundred million pounds; zere is twenty tousan' million dollars; zere is El Dorado. Beyond ze mountains zere is El Dorado; zere is a town. of gold. Zay say zere is no gold? Zere is. I go to find ze gold; zat is what I do; I fin' ze gold, I, Paul Bac." "Alone?" I asked. "I, Paul Bac," he answered. He was a little red-haired
I looked at him a moment.