Winked through the keyhole, then a key was turned,

And through the open door Max went toward

Another door, whence sound of voices came.

He entered a large room where candelabra burned.


An aged man in quilted dressing gown

Rose up to greet him. "Sir," said Max, "you sent

Your messenger to seek throughout the town

A lawyer. I have small accomplishment,

But I am at your service, and my name

Is Max Breuck, Counsellor, at your command."

"Mynheer," replied the aged man, "obliged

Am I, and count myself much privileged.

I am Cornelius Kurler, and my fame

Is better known on distant oceans than on land.


My ship has tasted water in strange seas,

And bartered goods at still uncharted isles.

She's oft coquetted with a tropic breeze,

And sheered off hurricanes with jaunty smiles."

"Tush, Kurler," here broke in the other man,

"Enough of poetry, draw the deed and sign."

The old man seemed to wizen at the voice,

"My good friend, Grootver,--" he at once began.

"No introductions, let us have some wine,

And business, now that you at last have made your choice."


A harsh and disagreeable man he proved to be,

This Grootver, with no single kindly thought.

Kurler explained, his old hands nervously

Twisting his beard. His vessel he had bought

From Grootver. He had thought to soon repay

The ducats borrowed, but an adverse wind

Had so delayed him that his cargo brought

But half its proper price, the very day

He came to port he stepped ashore to find

The market glutted and his counted profits naught.


Little by little Max made out the way

That Grootver pressed that poor harassed old man.

His money he must have, too long delay

Had turned the usurer to a ruffian.

"But let me take my ship, with many bales

Of cotton stuffs dyed crimson, green, and blue,

Cunningly patterned, made to suit the taste

Of mandarin's ladies; when my battered sails

Open for home, such stores will I bring you

That all your former ventures will be counted waste.


Such light and foamy silks, like crinkled cream,

And indigo more blue than sun-whipped seas,

Spices and fragrant trees, a massive beam

Of sandalwood, and pungent China teas,

Tobacco, coffee!" Grootver only laughed.

Max heard it all, and worse than all he heard

The deed to which the sailor gave his word.

He shivered, 'twas as if the villain gaffed

The old man with a boat-hook; bleeding, spent,

He begged for life nor knew at all the road he went.


For Kurler had a daughter, young and gay,

Carefully reared and shielded, rarely seen.

But on one black and most unfriendly day

Grootver had caught her as she passed between

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