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Look what Pussy’s brought in,” leers a Half-Breed with a braided Queue.

“Brit, by the look of him,” cries a short, freckl’d seaman in whom Stature and Pugnacity enjoy an inverse relation. “– long way from, ain’t you old Gloak?”

“Who does your Wigs, Coz?”

“There there, my Lads, think of the Impression we must be making when we ought to be showing our Guest that here in Brooklyn, we can be just as warm and friendly as they are over in New-York. We’re not Country-folk, after all. We’ve sen ‘em all, all manner of Traveler, saints and sinners, green and season’d, some who could teach Eels to wriggle and some who were pure with fiduciary Edge, and I’ll tell you, this one… I don’t know. What do you think, Patsy? He’s not so easy to read. You’ve done the Ferry-boatLurk, you know all the Kiddies, what say you?”

Someone who in different Costume might easily be taken for a Pirate of the Century past, gives Mason the up-and-down. “New one on me, Cap’n. The diff’rently-siz’d Eye-balls suggest a life spent peeing into small Op’nings. Yet he’s not a Bum-bailiff, nor a bum’s assisstant,– lacks that, what you would call, cool disinterest.”

“Amen to that,” cries the lewd Half-Breed.

“Where would his Interests lie, do you think?” inquires Uncle. Ev’ry-one looks at Amelia.

“‘Xcuse me? I’m suppos’d to know? I’m sure I was, as ‘Ahoy, Sailor,’ and Stuff she exclaims at last.

“What’s he been peeping into, then?” the truculent Sailor yells. General again is the Merriment.

“I observe the Heavens,” Mason seeking thro’ the force of his upward gaze some self-Elevation, “I am a Cadastral Surveyor, upon a Contractual Assignment,” in a tone inviting a respectful hush.

— from Thomas Pynchon Mason & Dixon (1997)

“After The Burning of Chambersburg,” photograph by Amber Tides, Summer 2010

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