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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 342 pages of information about The Ne'er-Do-Well.

“My dear,” she returned, coolly, “I was quite aware of the time.  I was talking to Mr. Anthony.”

“Do you find him so amusing?”

“Very much so.”

“He’s such a boy.  By-the-way, some of the passengers are remarking about your friendship for him.”

Mrs. Cortlandt shrugged.  “I expected that.  Does it interest you?”

The man favored her with his wintry smile.  “Not at all.”

“If he should need assistance while in Panama, I should be obliged if you would accommodate him.”

“Money?”

“Yes, or anything else.  He left New York unexpectedly.”

“Don’t you think that is going a bit too far?  You know I don’t fancy him.”

Mrs. Cortlandt frowned slightly.  “We won’t discuss it,” she said.  “I assured him he was at liberty to call on us for anything and—­ naturally that ends the matter.”

“Naturally!” he agreed, but his colorless cheeks flushed dully.

VI

IN WHICH KIRK ANTHONY IS GREATLY SURPRISED

When Kirk came on deck early the following morning, he found the Santa Cruz nosing her way into Colony harbor.  A land fog obscured his view somewhat, but through it he beheld a low, irregular line of mountains in the background, and close at hand a town.  The ship came to anchor abreast of a point upon which he descried a squat little spider-legged lighthouse and long rows of frame dwellings half hidden behind slender palm-trees.  Beyond were warehouses and docks and the funnels of many ships; on either side of the bay was a dense tropic wilderness.  As the sun dissipated the morning haze, he saw that the hills were matted with a marvellous vivid green.  There were no clearings on the slopes, no open spaces dotted with farm-houses or herds, the jungle flowed down to the water’s edge in an unbroken sweep, and the town was cut out of it.

A launch came plunging through the swells, and the deck steward made his rounds requesting the passengers to assemble for medical examination.

Kirk found the Cortlandts ahead of him.

“What’s coming off?” he inquired.

“Vaccination,” Cortlandt explained, briefly.  “They are very particular about disease.”

His wife added:  “This used to be the worst fever-spot in the world, you know.  When we were here five years ago, we saw car-loads of dead people nearly every day.  A funeral train was a familiar sight.”

“What a pleasant place to spend my vacation!” exclaimed Kirk.  “Now if I can rent a room over the morgue and board with the village undertaker, I’ll have a nice time.”

“Oh, there’s no more yellow fever—­no sickness at all, in fact,” said Mr. Cortlandt.  “Will you go over to Panama City, or will you stay in Colon?”

“I think I’ll remain on the ship; then she can’t get away without me,” Kirk answered.  But when, after taking his turn before the doctors, he explained his desire to the purser, that worthy replied: 

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