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The Master Of Silence: A Romance
by Irving Bacheller
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Near the end of my fourteenth year I was apprenticed to Valentine, King & Co., cotton importers, Liverpool, as a "pair of legs." My father had died suddenly, leaving me and his property in the possession of my stepmother and my guardian. It was in deference to their urgent advice that I left my home in London (with little reluctance, since my life there had never been happy) to study the art of money-making. On arriving at the scene of my expected triumphs I was assigned to the somewhat humble position of errand boy. In common with other boys who performed a like service for the firm I was known as "a pair of legs." Lodgings of a rather modest character had been secured for me in the western outskirts of the city near the banks of the Mersey. I was slow to make friends, and my evenings were spent in the perusal of some story books, which I had brought with me from London. One night, not long after the beginning of my new life in Liverpool, I was lying in bed listening to the wind and rain beating over the housetops and driving against the windows, when suddenly there came a loud rap at my door.
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