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A Protegee of Jack Hamlin's and Other Stories by Bret Harte
page 2 of 200 (01%)
The steamer Silveropolis was sharply and steadily cleaving the broad,
placid shallows of the Sacramento River. A large wave like an eagre,
diverging from its bow, was extending to either bank, swamping the tules
and threatening to submerge the lower levees. The great boat itself--a
vast but delicate structure of airy stories, hanging galleries, fragile
colonnades, gilded cornices, and resplendent frescoes--was throbbing
throughout its whole perilous length with the pulse of high pressure and
the strong monotonous beat of a powerful piston. Floods of foam pouring
from the high paddle-boxes on either side and reuniting in the wake of
the boat left behind a track of dazzling whiteness, over which trailed
two dense black banners flung from its lofty smokestacks.

Mr. Jack Hamlin had quietly emerged from his stateroom on deck and was
looking over the guards. His hands were resting lightly on his hips over
the delicate curves of his white waistcoat, and he was whistling softly,
possibly some air to which he had made certain card-playing passengers
dance the night before. He was in comfortable case, and his soft brown
eyes under their long lashes were veiled with gentle tolerance of all
things. He glanced lazily along the empty hurricane deck forward; he
glanced lazily down to the saloon deck below him. Far out against the
guards below him leaned a young girl. Mr. Hamlin knitted his brows

He remembered her at once. She had come on board that morning with one
Ned Stratton, a brother gambler, but neither a favorite nor intimate of
Jack's. From certain indications in the pair, Jack had inferred that she
was some foolish or reckless creature whom "Ed" had "got on a string,"
and was spiriting away from her friends and family. With the abstract
morality of this situation Jack was not in the least concerned. For
himself he did not indulge in that sort of game; the inexperience and
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