The scientist stared. “Do you want me to thank you for to-night’s work?” he countered.
The two men, different in every quality except that of essential manhood, smiled at each other with a profound mutual understanding. There was a silent handshake, and Carroll set off down the mountain toward the sunrise glow.
Dawn crested, poised, and broke in a surf of splendor upon the great mountain-line that overhangs Puerto del Norte. Where, at the corporation dock, there had lurked the shadow of a yacht, gray-black against blue-black, there now swung a fairy ship of purest silver, cradled upon a swaying mirror. Tiny insects, touched to life by the radiance, scuttled busily about her decks and swarmed out upon the dock. The seagoing yacht Polly had awakened early.
Down the mule path that forms the shortest cut from the railway station straggled a group of minute creatures. To one watching from the mountain-side with powerful field-glasses—such as, for example, a convinced and ardent hater of the Caribbean Sea, curled up with his back against a cold and Voiceless rock—it might have appeared that the group was carrying an unusual quantity of hand luggage. Yet they were not porters; so much, even at a great distance, their apparel proclaimed. The pirates of porterdom do not get up to meet five-o’clock-in-the-morning specials in Caracuna.
The little group gathered close at the pier, then separated, two going aboard, and the others disappearing into sundry streets and reappearing presently at the water-front with other figures. The human form cannot be distinctly seen, at a distance of three miles, to rub its eyes; neither can it be heard to curse; but there was that in the newer figures which suggested a sudden and reluctant surrender of sleeping privileges. Had our supposititious watcher possessed an intimate and contemptuous knowledge of Caracuna officialdom, he would have surmised that lavish sums of money had been employed to stir the port and customs officials to such untimely activity.
But not money or any other agency is potent to stir Caracunan officialdom to undue speed. Hence the observer from the heights, supposing that he had a personal interest in the proceedings, might have assured himself of ample time to reach the coast before the formalities could be completed and the ship put forth to sea. Had he presently humped himself to his feet with a sluggish effort, abandoned his field-glasses in favor of a pair of large greenish-brown goggles, and set out on a trail straight down the mountains, staggering a bit at the start, a second supposititious observer of the first supposititious observer—if such cumulative hypothesis be permissible—might have divined that the first supposititious observer was the Unspeakable Perk, going about other people’s business when he ought to have been in bed. And so, not to keep any reader in unendurable suspense, it was.