The three stood at some little distance from the sailors, who were now talking with Cheditafa, and Edna read the letter aloud:
“Lima, May 14, 1884.
“My dear wife: I reached this city about ten days ago. When I left you all I did not sail down the coast, but stood directly out to sea. My object was to reach a shipping-port, and to do this my best plan was to get into the track of coasting-vessels. This plan worked well, and in three days we were picked up by a Mexican guano brig, and were taken to Callao, which is the port of Lima. We all arrived in good health and condition.
“This letter will be brought to you by the bark Mary Bartlett, which vessel I have engaged to stop for you, and take you and the whole party to Acapulco, which is the port of the City of Mexico, from which place I advise you to go as soon as possible to San Francisco. I have paid the passage of all of you to Acapulco, and I inclose a draft for one thousand dollars for your expenses. I would advise you to go to the Palmetto Hotel, which is a good family house, and I will write to you there and send another draft. In fact, I expect you will find my letter when you arrive, for the mail-steamer will probably reach San Francisco before you do. Please write to me as soon as you get there, and address me here, care of Nasco, Parmley & Co.”
An exclamation of impatience here escaped from Mrs. Cliff. In her opinion, the reasons for the non-appearance of the captain should, have been the first thing in the letter.
“When I reached Lima, which is six miles from Callao,” the letter continued, “I disposed of some of the property I brought with me, and expect to sell it all before long. Being known as a Californian, I find no difficulty in disposing of my property, which is in demand here, and in a very short time I shall have turned the whole of it into drafts or cash. There is a vessel expected here shortly which I shall be able to charter, and as soon as I can do so I shall sail in her to attend to the disposition of the rest of my property. I shall write as frequently as possible, and keep you informed of my operations.
“Of course, you understand that I could not go on the Mary Bartlett to join you and accompany you to Acapulco, for that would have involved too great a loss of time. My business must be attended to without delay, and I can get the vessel I want here.
“The people of the Mary Bartlett will not want to wait any longer than can be helped, so you would all better get your baggage together as soon as possible and go on board. The two negroes will bring down your baggage, so there will be no need for any of the sailors to go up to the caves. Tell Ralph not to forget the charge I gave him if they do go up. When you have taken away your clothes, you can leave just as they are the cooking-utensils, the blankets, and everything else. I will write