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In truth, the firm was a mystery in Wall Street, and its largest creditors were in the greatest darkness concerning it. Some one has truly said that in a great commercial city men are known only by their enterprises and their successes; that their antecedents become lost in the magnitude and rapidity with which events revolve. This is particularly so with us. The firm of Topman & Gusher had fixed itself in Pearl Street, and gone quietly into business without friends, acquaintances, or endorsers; and in a single year had secured both credit and respectability. And it had done this on what is too frequently mistaken for energy and enterprise--show and pretension.

When Tite had finished his story, the old man began his by saying: "Heaven forgive me, for I am a great sinner, and have much to answer for in the next world. I was born in Bristol, England. My father was a clergyman of the established church. I have no remembrance of my mother, for she died when I was an infant. When I was fifteen years old I was sent to sea as a means of bettering my morals. I served first on board an Indiaman, made two voyages to China, and was wrecked on the coast of Malabar; and when I got home my father or friends procured me the position of midshipman on board a man-of-war. I served on board the frigate Winchester, and other of His Majesty's ships, I did, for fifteen years, and was only a midshipman at the end. Heaven forgive me for my sins. It seemed there was no promotion for me. I was then transferred to His Majesty's packet service, and assigned to the brig Storm, carrying six guns, and the mails between Plymouth and the North American provinces. She was a beauty of a craft, that Storm was. She used to carry a crowd of canvas, and jump the seas like a sea-bird. I was four years first officer of that craft, was proud of what she could do, and the devil took advantage of my ambition, and created within me a longing to be in command of her, and make myself heroic by roaming unrestrained on the free sea. That feeling kept increasing until it become a passion with me. Then it was my misfortune to fall in love. Yes, love was a misfortune to me. I had courted and was engaged to the daughter of a rich old man who had made all his money in the West Indies, and still had plantations there.

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