Then followed much that need not be written, and at the end a postscript which ran:
“I am glad to hear that you have succeeded in shifting the mortgage on Yarleys, although the interest is so high. Write to me whenever you get a chance, to the care of the lawyer, for then the letters will reach me, but never to this house, or they may be stopped. I will do the same to you to the address you give. Good-bye, dearest Alan, my true and only lover. I wonder where and when we shall meet again. God be with us both and enable us to bear our trial.
“P.P.S. I hear that the Sahara flotation was really a success, notwithstanding the Judge attacks. Sir Robert and my uncle have made millions. I wonder how long they will keep them.”
A week after he received this letter Alan was on the seas heading for the shores of Western Africa.
THE DWARF FOLK
It was dawn at last. All night it had rained as it can rain in West Africa, falling on the wide river with a hissing splash, sullen and continuous. Now, towards morning, the rain had ceased and everywhere rose a soft and pearly mist that clung to the face of the waters and seemed to entangle itself like strands of wool among the branches of the bordering trees. On the bank of the river at a spot that had been cleared of bush, stood a tent, and out of this tent emerged a white man wearing a sun helmet and grey flannel shirt and trousers. It was Alan Vernon, who in these surroundings looked larger and more commanding than he had done at the London office, or even in his own house of Yarleys. Perhaps the moustache and short brown beard which he had grown, or his skin, already altered and tanned by the tropics, had changed his appearance for the better. At any rate it was changed. So were his manner and bearing, whereof all the diffidence had gone. Now they were those of a man accustomed to command who found himself in his right place.
“Jeekie,” he called, “wake up those fellows and come and light the oil-stove. I want my coffee.”
Thereon a deep voice was heard speaking in some native tongue and saying:
“Cease your snoring, you black dogs, and arouse yourselves, for your lord calls you,” an invocation that was followed by the sound of kicks, thumps, and muttered curses.
A minute or two later Jeekie himself appeared, and he also was much changed in appearance, for now instead of his smart, European clothes, he wore a white robe and sandals that gave him an air at once dignified and patriarchal.
“Good-morning, Major,” he said cheerfully. “I hope you sleep well, Major, in this low-lying and accursed situation, which is more than we do in boat that half full of water, to say nothing of smell of black man and prevalent mosquito. But the rain it over and gone, and presently the sun shine out, so might be much worse, no cause at all complain.”