No indeed, my dear Louis, I am neither dead nor ruined, nor have I turned pirate, trappist, or rural guard, as you might imagine in order to explain my silence these four months since I last appeared at your illustrious studio. No, you witty giber, my fabulous heritage has not taken wings! I am dwelling neither in China on the Blue River, nor in Red Oceania, nor in White Lapland. My yacht, built of teak, still lies in harbour, and is not swaying me over the vasty deep. It is no good your spinning out laborious and far-fetched hyperboles on the subject of my uncle's will: your ironical shafts all miss the mark. My uncle's will surpasses the most astonishing feat of its kind ever accomplished by notary's pen; and your poor imagination could not invent, or come anywhere near inventing, such remarkable adventures as those into which this registered document has led me. First of all, in order that your feeble intellect may be enabled to rise to the level of the subject, I must give you some description of "the Corsair," as you called him after you met him in Paris last winter; for it is only by comprehending the peculiarities of his life and character that you can ever hope to understand my adventures.