The darky grinned and obeyed. This was a strenuous passenger truly, not averse to stiff rowing, after a stiff walk, “jest for pleasure”. But the dusky pilot had met these anomalous white beings before—“spo’tsmen”, they called themselves. And a certain sense of humor, as Mr. Heatherbloom sat down to the oars, caused the colored man involuntarily to hum: I’se got a white man a-workin’ for me. He had only finished a bar or two, however, when the tune abruptly ceased on his lips. “Dat’s too bad,” he said. “I guess de deal’s off, boss.” Regretfully.
“Eh?” Mr. Heatherbloom looked around. He meant to keep the man to his bargain now, by force if necessary.
“Look dar!” continued the darky.
Mr. Heatherbloom did look in the direction indicated. A puff of black smoke could be seen rising over the island, and—significant fact!—the dark smudge seemed to be crawling along beyond the sky-line of the sand-hill. The young man turned pale.
“It’s de Russian yacht, boss. She’s under way all right!”
Mr. Heatherbloom continued to gaze. Where the island was lower he saw the topmasts moving along—then the boat herself, white, beautiful, swinging out from behind, with bow pointed seaward and steaming fast.
“Dat’s too bad,” murmured the colored man. “I done be powerful disappointed, boss!”
The other did not answer. Going! going! He had waited too long to board her. He could not reach her now—he would never reach her. The flame of the dying sun flared in Mr. Heatherbloom’s face, but he continued motionless.
ON THE ROAD
Gone! It was the only word he, could think of. Every thought, every emotion centered around it. He could not reason or argue. No plan occurred to him now. He continued to sit still, seeing but one picture—a boat vanishing. Night had begun to fall as they returned to the city. Its lights played mockingly in the darkness. Mr. Heatherbloom viewed them with apathetic gaze. The secret-service man, the chief of police and his assistants were on shore somewhere waiting to capture him, but he did not care. Let them take him now! What did it matter?
When the boat reached land he got out like an automaton. Perhaps he made answer to the darky’s last cheerful good night, but if so he spoke without knowing it. The boatman let him go, willingly; Mr. Heatherbloom hadn’t asked for his last bill back again and the other overlooked reminding him of his remissness. The greenback was considerably more than the fare.