For a long time the mind of the good African had been exercised upon the subject of the great deed he had done just before the captain had sailed away from the Peruvian coast. In San Francisco and Paris he had asked many questions quietly, and apparently without purpose, concerning the marriage ceremonies of America and other civilized countries. He had not learned enough to enable him, upon an emergency, to personate an orthodox clergyman, but he had found out this and that—little things, perhaps, but things which made a great impression upon him—which had convinced him that in the ceremony he had performed there had been much remissness—how much, he did not clearly know. But about one thing that had been wanting he had no doubts.
Advancing toward Edna and the captain, who sat near each other, Cheditafa took from his pocket a large gold ring, which he had purchased with his savings. “There was a thing we didn’t do,” he said, glancing from one to the other. “It was the ring part—nobody thinked of that. Will captain take it now, and put it on the lady?”
Edna and the captain looked at each other. For a moment no one spoke. Then Edna said, “Take it.” The captain rose and took the ring from the hand of Cheditafa, and Edna stood beside him. Then he took her hand, and reverently placed the ring upon her fourth finger. Fortunately, it fitted. It had not been without avail that Cheditafa had so often scanned with a measuring eye the rings upon the hands of his mistress.
A light of pleasure shone in the eyes of the old negro. Now he had done his full duty—now all things had been made right. As he had seen the priests stand in the churches of Paris, he now stood for a moment with his hands outspread. “Very good,” he said, “that will do.” Then, followed by Mok, he bowed himself out of the room.
For some moments there was silence in the salon. Nobody thought of laughing, or even smiling. In the eyes of Mrs. Cliff there were a few tears. She was the first to speak. “He is a good man,” said she, “and he now believes that he has done everything that ought to be done. But you will be married to-morrow, all the same, of course.”
“Yes,” said Edna. “But it will be with this ring.”
“Yes,” said the captain, “with that ring. You must always wear it.”
“And now,” said Mrs. Cliff, when they had all reseated themselves, “you must really tell us your story, captain. You know I have heard nothing yet.”
And so he told his story—much that Edna had heard before, a great deal she had not heard. About the treasure, almost everything he said was new to her. Mrs. Cliff was very eager on this point. She wanted every detail.
“How about the ownership of it?” she said. “After all, that is the great point. What do people here think of your right to use that gold as your own?”