EM EM : monthly magazine - 01.07.1941, Blaðsíða 30

EM EM : monthly magazine - 01.07.1941, Blaðsíða 30
Fm Fm 3Q WUPIRRPAl VI imT'^WHITMAN X vAKIddLAJ >1 LAJU1 7 CHAMBERS CHAPTER l i It was just 10 o’clock that eve-( ning, and the Alderbaron had bccn under way for two hours, when the room steward brought tlie letter to my cabin. “Sorry about the delay, sir,” the steward said. “Somebody brought it aboard at Caimora, but I guess the purser forgot it, and—” I glanced at the solled envelope on which was written, in a school- boyish scrawl: Lieut. Ray Leslie, U. S. N. Steamer Alderbaron, “Sorry, sir,” the man said. “That’s all right.” The steward bowed, backed outl of the cabin and closed the door. Puzzled, I tore open the envelope. The note was on the stationery of the American club of Caimora. It was signed by Pedro Gonzales, the club’s wizened, bright-eyed íittle porter. I read: Dear Patron: You will pleez not take off your cloz or go to bed tonite. The Alderbaron will sink befor morn- ing. I no this to be tru. Pleeze beleev me, w Yor frend 1 ' Pedro Gonzales. I I stared at the note for a long ttme, wondering what the devil had come over old Pedro. In two years I had lived at the American Club, while stationed as naval attache to the American Legation in Cai- mora, I had come to know Pedro pretty welL Though he was lazy and not too dependable, he was not a fool. And he had been, ever since I got him out of a kniflng scrape with some American sailors, my loyal friend. I read the waming again. I sald to myself: “Has Pedro gone screwy? , , . Or is this his idea of a joke?” S I knew instinctively that the an- swer to each question was “No.” And yet the whole thing was ut-j terly absurd. The Alderbaron,' 15,000-ton pride of the White Stack Line, was as steady as a hotel. Through my open port I could see the gleam of stars on a flat and oily sea. An orchestra was playing in the lounge, and people were dancing. In the smoking room men and women were sitting at bridge, and drinking highballs, and gmmbling about the heat. The Alderbaron sink before n'oming? Uttrr nonsense! “Tomorrow at midnight,” 1 as- sured myself, "this packet will drop her hook in Limon Bay. And the next mornmg I’H go ashore and drive out to Coco Solo and climb aboard the old S-52. I’ll put on a suit of dungarees, good dirty ones that smell of sweat, and I’U have a nice little prowl for myself about a pig-boat. I’ll get my hands dirty, and I’ll get grease in my hair, and I’ll have me one whale of a good time.” You see, two years In the foul heat of Caimora is a lonsr tlma Miiareo tuair. Klie brougnt up short, her lovely lips parted m surprise. I felt my heart tum over and I heard my teeth grind faintly as I clamped my jaw. For two weeks, since I had made such a fool of myself at Gen. Rico’s ball, I had been trying to forget Mil- dred Baird. “Why—why, Ray!” she ex- claimed. I tcld mvself I ought to brush I tooked around finally and saw Francisco Carretos standlng In th® doorway. Ana 1 was sick, very, very sicr of it. I thrust the letter in my pocket and went out on deck. Colon was 26 hours away, there was no wind, no fog and the sea was mirror- smooth. The Alderbaron sink to- night? What rot At the entrance of the smoking room I came face to face wltb by ner auu go on aooui uie ousi- ness of getting a drink. But I couldn’t. Mildred was not a girl one brushes by. I looked at her now and felt my heart finish tuming over and start rising in my throat. Why did God have to make a woman so beauti- ful and so desirable? “What in the world Rav. ara


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