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story of the bottle, rejecting each in turn.
Ships in danger of wreck or disablement sometimes cast forth such
precarious messengers calling for aid. But he had seen the ~Idalia~
not three hours before, safe and speeding. Suppose the crew had
mutinied and imprisoned the passengers below, and the message was one
begging for succor! But, premising such an improbable outrage, would
the agitated captives have taken the pains to fill four pages of
note-paper with carefully penned arguments to their rescue.
Thus by elimination he soon rid the matter of the more unlikely
theories, and was reduced--though aversely--to the less assailable
ones that the bottle contained a message to himself. Ida knew he
was in Coralio; she must have launched the bottle while the yacht
was passing and the wind blowing fairly toward the shore.
As soon as Geddie reached this conclusion a wrinkle came between his
brows and a stubborn look settled around his mouth. He sat looking
out through the doorway at the gigantic fire-flies traversing the
If this was a message to him from Ida, what could it mean save an
overture at reconciliation? And if that, why had she not used the
same methods of the post instead of this uncertain and even flippant
means of communication? A note in an empty bottle, cast into the
sea! There was something light and frivolous about it, if not
The thought stirred his pride, and subdued whatever emotions had been
resurrected by the finding of the bottle.
Geddie put on his coat and hat and walked out. He followed a street
that led him along the border of the little plaza where a band was
playing and people were rambling, care-free and indolent. Some
timorous ~senoritas~ scurrying past with fire-flies tangled in the
jetty braids of their hair glanced at him with shy, flattering eyes.
The air was languorous with the scent of jasmin and orange-blossoms.
The consul stayed his steps at the house of Bernard Brannigan. Paula
was swinging in a hammock on the gallery. She rose from it like a
bird from its nest. The color came to her cheeck at the sound of
He was charmed at the sight of her costume--a flounced muslin dress,
with a little jacket of white flannel, all made with neatness and
style. He suggested a stroll, and they walked out to the old Indian
well on the hill road. They sat on the curb, and there Geddie made
the expected but long-deferred speech. Certain though he had been
that she would not say him nay, he was still thrilled at the
completeness and sweetness of her surrender. Here was surely a heart
made for love and steadfastness. Here was no caprice or questionings
or captious standards of convention.
When Geddie kissed Paula at her door that night he was happier than
he had ever been before. "Here in this hollow lotus land, ever
to live and lie reclined" seemed to him, as it has seemed to many
mariners, the best as well as the easiest. His future would be
an ideal one. He had attained a Paradise without a serpent. His
Eve would be indeed a part of him, unbeguiled, and therefore more
beguiling. He had made his decision tonight, and his heart was full
of serene, assured content.
Geddie went back to his house whistling that finest and saddest love
song, "La Golondrina." At the door his tame monkey leaped down from
his shelf, chattering briskly. The consul turned to his desk to get
him some nuts he usually kept there. Reaching in the half-darkness,
his hand struck against the bottle. He started as if he had touched
the cold rotundity of a serpent.
He had forgotten that the bottle was there.
He lighted the lamp and fed the monkey. Then, very deliberately,
he lighted a cigar, and took the bottle in his hand, and walked down
the path to the beach.
There was a moon, and the sea was glorious. The breeze had shifted,
as it did each evening, and was now rushing steadily seaward.
Stepping to the water's edge, Geddie hurled the unopened bottle far
out into the sea. It disappeared for a moment, and then shot upward
twice its length. Geddie stood still, watching it. The moonlight
was so bright that he could see it bobbing up and down with the
little waves. Slowly it receded from the shore, flashing and turning
as it went. The wind was carrying it out to sea. Soon it became a
mere speck, doubtfully discerned at irregular intervals; and then the
mystery of it was swallowed up by the greater mystery of the ocean.
Geddie stood still upon the beach, smoking and looking out upon the
"Simon!--Oh, Simon!--Wake up there, Simon!" bawled a sonorous voice
at the edge of the water.
Old Simon Cruz was a half-breed fisherman and smuggler who lived in a
hut on the beach. Out of his earliest nap Simon was thus awakened.
He slipped on his shoes and went outside. Just landing from one of
the ~Valhalla's~ boats was the third mate of that vessel, who was an
acquaintance of Simon's, and three sailors from the fruiter.
"Go up, Simon," called the mate, "and find Doctor Gregg or Mr.
Goodwin or anybody that's a friend to Mr. Geddie, and bring 'em here
"Saints of the skies!" said Simon, sleepily, "nothing has happened
to Mr. Geddie?"
"He's under that tarpauling," said the mate, pointing to the boat,
"and he's rather more than half drowned. We seen him from the
steamer nearly a mile out from shore, swimmin' like mad after a
bottle that was floatin' in the water, outward bound. We lowered the
gig and started for him. He nearly had his hand on the bottle, when
he gave out and went under. We pulled him out in time to save him,
maybe; but the doctor is the one to decide that."
"A bottle?" said the old man, rubbing his eyes. He was not yet fully
awake. "Where is the bottle?"
"Driftin' along out there some'eres," said the mate, jerking his
thumb toward the sea. "Get on with you, Simon."
Goodwin and the ardent patriot, Zavalla, took all the precautions
that their foresight could contrive to prevent the escape of
President Miraflores and his companion. The sent trusted messengers
up the coast to Solitas and Alazan to warn the local leaders of
the flight, and to instruct them to patrol the water line and arrest
the fugitives at all hazards should they reveal themselves in that
territory. After this was done there remained only to cover
the district about Coralio and await the coming of the quarry.
The nets were well spread. The roads were so few, the opportunities
for embarkation so limited, and the two or three probable points of
exit so well guarded that it would be strange indeed if there should
slip through the meshes so much of the country's dignity, romance,
and collateral. The president would, without doubt, move as secretly
as possible, and endeavor to board a vessel by stealth from some
secluded point along the shore.
On the fourth day after the receipt of Englehart's telegram the
~Karlsefin~, a Norwegian steamer chartered by the New Orleans fruit
trade, anchored off Coralio with three horse toots of her siren.
The ~Karlesfin~ ws not one of the line operated by the Vesuvius Fruit
Company. She was something of a dilettante, doing odd jobs for a
company that was scarcely important enough to figure as a rival to
the Vesuvius. The movements of the ~Karlesfin~ were dependent upon
the state of the market. Sometimes she would ply steadily between
the Spanish Main and New Orleans in the regular transport of fruit;
next she would be maing erratic trips to Mobile or Charleston, or
even as far north as New York, according to the distribution of
the fruit supply.
Goodwin lounged upon the beach with the susual crowd of idlers that
had gathered to view the steamer. Now that President Miraflores
might be expected to reach the borders of his abjured country at any
time, the orders were to keep a strict and unrelenting watch. Every
vessel that approached the shores might now be considered a possible
means of escape for the fugitives; and an eye was kept even on
the slopes and dories that belonged to the sea-going contingent
of Coralio. Goodwin and Zavalla moved everywhere, but without
ostentation, watching the loopholes of escape.
The customs official crowded importantly into their boat and rowed
out to the ~Karlesfin~. A boat from the steamer landed her purser
with his papers, and took out the quarantine doctor with his green
umbrella and clinical thermometer. Next a swarm of Caribs began
to load upon lighters the thousands of bunches of bananas heaped
upon the shore and row them out to the steamer. The ~Karlesfin~
had no passenger list, and was soon done with the attention of
the authorities. The purser declared that the steamer would remain
at anchor until morning, taking on her fruit during the night.
The ~Karlesfin~ had come, he said, from New York, to which port her
latest load of oranges and coconuts had been conveyed. Two or three
of the freighter sloops were engaged to assist in the work, for
the captain was anxious to make a quick return in order to reap
the advantage offered by a certain dearth of fruit in the States.
About four o'clock in the afternoon another of those marine monsters,
not very familiar in those waters, hove in sight, following the
fateful ~Idalia~--a graceful steam yacht, painted a light buff,
clean-cut as a steel engraving. The beautiful vessel hovered off
shore, see-sawing the waves as lightly as a duck in a rain barrel.
A swift boat manned by a crew in uniform came ashore, and a stocky-
built man leaped to the sands.
The newcomer seemed to turn a disapproving eye upon the rather motley
congregation of native Anchurians, and made his way at once toward
Goodwin, who was the most conspicuously Anglo-Saxon figure present.
Goodwin greeted him with courtesy.
Conversation developed that the newly landed one was named Smith,
and that he had come in a yacht. A meagre biography, truly; for
the yacht was most apparent; and the "Smith" not beyond a reasonable
guess before the revelation. Yet to the eye of Goodwin, who has
seen several things, there was a discrepancy between Smith and his
yacht. A bullet-headed man Smith was, with an oblique, dead eye
and the moustache of a cocktail-mixer. And unless he had shifted
costumes before putting off for shore he had affronted the deck of
his correct vessel clad in a pearl-gray derby, a gay plaid suit and
vaudeville neckwear. Men owning pleasure yachts generally harmonize
better with them.
Smith looked business, but he was no advertiser. He commented upon
the scenery, remarking upon its fidelity to the pictures in the
geography; and then inquired for the United States consul. Goodwin
pointed out the starred-and-striped bunting hanging from above the
little consulate, which was concealed behind the orange-trees.
"Mr. Geddie, the consul, will be sure to be there," said Goodwin.
"He was very nearly drowned a few days ago while taking a swim in the
sea, and the doctor has ordered him to remain indoors for some time."
Smith ploughed his way through the sand to the consulate, his
haberdashery creating violent discord against the smooth tropical
blues and greens.
Geddie was lounging in his hammock, somewhat pale of face and languid
in pose. On that night when the ~Valhalla's~ boat had brought him
ashore apparently drenched to death by the sea, Doctor Gregg and his
other friends had toiled for hours to preserve the little spark of
life that remained to him. The bottle, with its impotent message,
was gone out to sea, and the problem that it had provoked was reduced
to a simple sum in addition--one and one make two, by the rule of
arithmetic; one by the rule of romance.
There is a quaint old theory that man may have two souls--a
peripheral one which serves ordinarily, and a central one which
is stirred only at certain times, but then with activity and vigor.
While under the domination of the former a man will shave, vote, pay
taxes, give money to his family, buy subscription books and comport
himself on the average plan. But let the central soul suddenly
become dominant, and he may, in the twinkling of an eye, turn upon
the partner of his joys with furious execration; he may change his
politics while you could snap your fingers; he may deal out deadly
insult to his dearest friend; he may get him, instanter, to a
monastery or a dance hall; he may elope, or hang himself--or he may
write a song or poem, or kiss his wife unasked, or give his funds
to the search of a microbe. Then the peripheral soul will return;
and we have our safe, sane citizen again. It is but the revolt of
the Ego against Order; and its effect is to shake up the atoms only
that they may settle where they belong.
Geddie's revulsion had been a mild one--no more than a swim in
a summer sea after so inglorious an object as a drifting bottle.
And now he was himself again. Upon his desk, ready for the post,
was a letter to his government tendering his resignation as consul,
to be effective as soon as another could be appointed in his place.
For Bernard Brannigan, who never did things in a half-way manner,
was to take Geddie at once for a partner in his very profitable
and various enterprises; and Paula was happily engaged in plans for
refurnishing and decorating the upper story of the Brannigan house.
The consul rose from his hammock when he saw the conspicuous stranger
at this door.
"Keep your seat, old man," said the visitor, with an airy wave of his
large hand. "My name's Smith; and I've come in a yacht. You are the
consul--is that right? A big, cool guy on the beach directed me here.
Thought I'd pay my respects to the flag."
"Sit down, said Geddie. "I've been admiring your craft ever since it
came in sight. Looks like a fast sailer. What's her tonnage?"
"Search me!" said Smith. "I don't know what she weighs in at. But
she's got a tidy gait. The ~Rambler~--that's her name--don't take
the dust of anything afloat. This is my first trip on her. I'm
taking a squint along this coast just to get an idea of the countries
where the rubber and red pepper and revolutions come from. I had no
idea there was so much scenery down here. Why, Central Park ain't
in it with this neck of the woods. I'm from New York. They get
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