Louis Tracy.

The Message

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Warden and Evelyn were married at Old Calabar, with Colville as best man and the Earl of Fairholme in loco parentis. The bride’s dress was merely a confection of white muslin, but she wore a ruby brooch, roughly contrived by a native jeweler, that would have evoked the envy of many a royal dame. The finest wedding present to the happy pair was the bequest of Rosamund Laing’s estate. Poor woman! she had fenced in her gift with no restrictions. Indeed, in her will she hinted at remorse, for she expressed the hope that Arthur Warden would be happy with the woman of his choice.

No one – least of all those acquainted with West Africa – will be surprised to learn that Warden resigned his commission when the affairs of Oku were settled. His first care was to visit Lisbon, and insure that the name of Domenico Garcia should never again be forgotten in the memorial services for the dead, while every year, in August, a special mass is sung in the Cathedral of the Patriarch for the “repose of the soul“ of the ill–fated artist. Two years later, Evelyn and he were on board the Nancy, running into Falmouth before a lively breeze, when Peter Evans pointed to a steam yacht.

“There’s the old San Sowsy,” he said.

Evelyn instantly turned her binoculars that way.

“You are mistaken, Peter,” she cried. “The Baumgartners sold her before they went to South America. She is like the Sans Souci, but that vessel’s name is Rover.”

“Beggin’ your pardon, mum, but us pilots never troubles about a craft’s name. W’y, I’ve known ‘em to be re–christened w’en they was on’y fit for the extry insurance of a castaway. That’s the San Sowsy right enough. Chris, there’s a picter postcard of ‘er in my locker. Fetch it, an’ we’ll run close alongside.”

“By Jove, you went to a yacht’s agent to get that card for me when I forgot to note the Sans Souci’s exact lines, although I was asked by the Under Secretary to observe them carefully,” said Warden.

“That’s it, sir. It’s an old sayin’ an’ a true one – Keep a thing ten years an’ it’ll come in useful at larst.”

“Fancy you forgetting anything, Arthur!” cried his wife. “You are the one man in the world whom I should never have suspected of missing an item like that – it might have been so important.”

“Some places have a phenomenal effect on the memory, my dear. I went to Plymouth with the special object of jotting down all the Sans Souci’s features, but I took a stroll on the Hoe, and my mind at once became utterly obtuse to every consideration save one.”

“Oh, don’t be silly! How could I guess you would bring Peter’s postcard in evidence against me?”

But she blushed most delightfully, so the recollection of that evening at Plymouth must have been very pleasant, and present happiness is apt to shed its golden light on the days that are past.


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