There was something very beautiful about the opium dens. Bernard had known drunks who swaggered, drunks who sang, drunks who made merry and then dissolved into fiendish violence. In the navy he had seen men smoke hashish. It did resemble the opium in its method of intoxication but the hash sailors he’d known and their hash brethren on the Muhammadin shores could scarcely be compared to the placid opium addict. They capered like clowns. Only the most excessive hashishans found the narcotic peace China now enjoyed.

Bernard liked to tour the opium dens that bordered the harbor after he delivered a shipment. It was a pleasant excursion that allowed him to stretch his legs. The captain would not pull anchor until he returned and he was, after all, investigating the sanctity of their import. He did not wish for a single Celestial to be troubled by contaminated product.

He was very surprised when he was stabbed in the chest.

There was something very beautiful about the opium dens. The smell in the more ramshackle estates was hardly salon-worthy but Bernard imagined a French sensibility infused the foggy rooms. Men at peace, attended by soft, silent women, the slow burn of the coals, the elegance of the pipe, the colorful dreams, it was an egalitarian endeavor, an Oriental fraternity. And if he saw English sailors amongst the Orientals, well, if this was Rome…

He was very surprised when the lads rose as one and stabbed him.

He managed to crawl out of the harbor house, trailing his blood behind him like her majesty’s carpet, fleeing the gibberish jeers of his attackers. One of the soft silent women kicked him into the street and he cried out for the captain. But the captain’s ship was on fire.

He was very surprised to be murdered by men in the throes of their blessed addiction. It struck him as very bad form indeed.

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