“That helps me, ma’am,” said Captain Cai, “to tell you it’s like that with my friend ’Bias—”
A whistle sounded up the valley. “The three-thirty coming!” said Mrs Bosenna. “It’s at the signal-box outside the tunnel.”
“The three-thirty?” Captain Cai gasped and pulled out his watch. “But that’s ’Bias’s train—and I was to meet him!”
“You might just do it,” hazarded Mrs Bosenna. “We count it half a mile to the station, and by the time they have the luggage out—”
“I must do it, ma’am! To think that—” Captain Cai held out a hand. “I’d no notion—the time has flown so!”
“Dinah! Dinah!” called Mrs Bosenna, and as Dinah appeared at the back door with a promptitude almost suspicious,—“Run and fetch Captain Hocken’s hat, girl! He has to catch a train.”
Dinah vanished, and in the twinkling of an eye came running with the hat; with a clothes-brush, too. “Confound her!” Captain Cai swore inwardly as she insisted on brushing his coat, paying special attention to a dry spot of mud on the right hip-pocket. Feminine attentions may be overdone, and Mrs Bosenna showed more tactfulness than her maid.
“Have finished, you silly woman! Cannot you see that Captain Hocken is dying to leave us? . . . But you are to bring your friend, sir, at the first opportunity!”
She repeated this, calling it after him as he raced down the path. At the footbridge he remembered the musical box in the bushes. But it was too late. Mrs Bosenna had followed him to the head of the slope, and stood watching, waving her handkerchief.
As he glanced back and up at her over his shoulder, his ear caught the rumble of a train, not far up the valley. He must run! . . .
He ran, sticking his elbow to his sides. But soon the rumble of the train grew to a roar. It was upon him. . . . It overtook him some three hundred yards from the station, and the carriage windows, as he staggered down the high road, went past him in a blur.
Captain Tobias Hunken sat patiently and ponderously upon a wooden sea-chest, alone on the platform, but stacked about by such a miscellany of luggage as gave him no slight resemblance to Crusoe on his raft. Besides parcels, boxes, carpet-bags, canvas-bags, tarpaulin-bags, it included a pile of furniture swathed in straw, a parrot-cage covered with baize, and a stone jar calculated to hold nine gallons of liquor.
He was a dark-bearded man, heavy shouldered, of great bulk, and by temperament apparently phlegmatic; for when Captain Cai arrived, panting, red in the face, stammering contrition, he betrayed neither emotion nor surprise.
“’Twas all my thoughtlessness!” cried Captain Cai.
“What’s the matter?” asked Captain Tobias. “No hurry, is there? We’ve retired.”