There was a little murmur of
regret amongst the five hundred
and eighty-seven saloon passengers
on board the steamship Lusitania,
mingled, perhaps, with a few
expressions of a more violent
character. After several hours
of doubt, the final verdict had
at last been pronounced. They
had missed the tide, and no attempt
was to be made to land passengers
that night. Already the engines
had ceased to throb, the period
of unnatural quietness had commenced.
Slowly, and without noticeable
motion, the great liner swung
round a little in the river.
A small tug, which had been
hovering about for some time,
came screaming alongside. There
was a hiss from its wave-splashed
deck, and a rocket with a blue
light flashed up into the sky.
A man who had formed one of the
long line of passengers, leaning
over the rail, watching the tug
since it had come into sight,
now turned away and walked briskly
to the steps leading to the bridge.
As it happened, the captain himself
was in the act of descending.
The passenger accosted him, and
held out what seemed to be a
"Captain Goodfellow," he said, "I
should be glad if you would glance
at the contents of that note."
The captain, who had just finished
a long discussion with the pilot
and was not in the best of humor,
looked a little surprised.
"What, now?" he
"If you please," was the quiet
answer. "The matter is urgent."
"Who are you?" the
"My name is Hamilton Fynes," the
other answered. "I am a saloon
passenger on board your ship,
although my name does not appear
in the list. That note has been
in my pocket since we left New
York, to deliver to you in the
event of a certain contingency
"The contingency being?" the
captain asked, tearing open the
envelope and moving a little
nearer the electric light which
shone out from the smoking room.
"That the Lusitania
did not land her passengers
The captain read the note,
examined the signature carefully,
and whistled softly to himself.
"You know what is inside this?" he
asked, looking into his companion's
face with some curiosity.
the brief reply.
is Mr. Hamilton Fynes, the
Mr. Hamilton Fynes
mentioned in this letter?"
"That is so," the
The captain nodded.
"Well," he said, "you
had better get down on the
lower deck, port
side. By the bye, have you any
friends with you?"
"I am quite alone," he
"So much the better," the captain
declared. "Don't tell any one
that you are going ashore if
you can help it."
"I certainly will not, sir," the
other answered. "Thank you very
"Of course, you know that you
can't take your luggage with
you?" the captain remarked.
"That is of no consequence
at all, sir," Mr. Hamilton Fynes
answered. "I will leave instructions
for my trunk to be sent on after
me. I have all that I require,
for the moment, in this suitcase."
The captain blew his whistle.
Mr. Hamilton Fynes made his way
quietly to the lower deck, which
was almost deserted. In a very
few minutes he was joined by
half a dozen sailors, dragging
a rope ladder. The little tug
came screaming around, and before
any of the passengers on the
deck above had any idea of what
was happening, Mr. Hamilton Fynes
was on board the Anna Maria,
and on his way down the river,
seated in a small, uncomfortable
cabin, lit by a single oil lamp.
No one spoke more than a casual
word to him from the moment he
stepped to the deck until the
short journey was at an end.
He was shown at once into the
cabin, the door of which he closed
without a moment's delay. A very
brief examination of the interior
convinced him that he was indeed
alone. Thereupon he seated himself
with his back to the wall and
his face to the door, and finding
an English newspaper on the table,
read it until they reached the
docks. Arrived there, he exchanged
a civil good-night with the captain,
and handed a sovereign to the
seaman who held his bag while
For several minutes after he
had stepped on to the wooden
platform, Mr. Hamilton Fynes
showed no particular impatience
to continue his journey. He stood
in the shadow of one of the sheds,
looking about him with quick
furtive glances, as though anxious
to assure himself that there
was no one around who was taking
a noticeable interest in his
movements. Having satisfied himself
at length upon this point, he
made his way to the London and
North Western Railway Station,
and knocked at the door of the
station-master's office. The
station-master was busy, and
although Mr. Hamilton Fynes had
the appearance of a perfectly
respectable transatlantic man
of business, there was nothing
about his personality remarkably
striking,--nothing, at any rate,
to inspire an unusual amount
"You wished to see me, sir?" the
official asked, merely glancing
up from the desk at which he
was sitting with a pile of papers
Mr. Hamilton Fynes leaned over
the wooden counter which separated
him from the interior of the
office. Before he spoke, he glanced
around as though to make sure
that he had not forgotten to
close the door.
"I require a special train
to London as quickly as possible," he
announced. "I should be glad
if you could let me have one
within half an hour, at any rate.
The station-master rose to
"Quite impossible, sir," he
declared a little brusquely. "Absolutely
out of the question!"
"May I ask why it is out of
the question?" Mr. Hamilton Fynes
"In the first place," the station-master
answered, "a special train to
London would cost you a hundred
and eighty pounds, and in the
second place, even if you were
willing to pay that sum, it would
be at least two hours before
I could start you off. We could
not possibly disorganize the
whole of our fast traffic. The
ordinary mail train leaves here
at midnight with sleeping-cars."
Mr. Hamilton Fynes held out
a letter which he had produced
from his breast pocket, and which
was, in appearance, very similar
to the one which he had presented,
a short time ago, to the captain
of the Lusitania.
"Perhaps you will kindly read
this," he said. "I am perfectly
willing to pay the hundred and
The station-master tore open
the envelope and read the few
lines contained therein. His
manner underwent at once a complete
change, very much as the manner
of the captain of the Lusitania
had done. He took the letter
over to his green-shaded writing
lamp, and examined the signature
carefully. When he returned,
he looked at Mr. Hamilton Fynes
curiously. There was, however,
something more than curiosity
in his glance. There was also
"I will give this matter my
personal attention at once, Mr.
Fynes," he said, lifting the
flap of the counter and coming
out. "Do you care to come inside
and wait in my private office?"
"Thank you," Mr. Hamilton Fynes
answered; "I will walk up and
down the platform."
"There is a refreshment room
just on the left," the station-master
remarked, ringing violently at
a telephone. "I dare say we shall
get you off in less than half
an hour. We will do our best,
at any rate. It's an awkward
time just now to command an absolutely
clear line, but if we can once
get you past Crewe you'll be
all right. Shall we fetch you
from the refreshment room when
we are ready?"
"If you please," the
intending passenger answered.
Mr. Hamilton Fynes discovered
that place of entertainment without
difficulty, ordered for himself
a cup of coffee and a sandwich,
and drew a chair close up to
the small open fire, taking care,
however, to sit almost facing
the only entrance to the room.
He laid his hat upon the counter,
close to which he had taken up
his position, and smoothed back
with his left hand his somewhat
thick black hair. He was a man,
apparently of middle age, of
middle height, clean-shaven,
with good but undistinguished
features, dark eyes, very clear
and very bright, which showed,
indeed, but little need of the
pince-nez which hung by a thin
black cord from his neck. His
hat, low in the crown and of
soft gray felt, would alone have
betrayed his nationality. His
clothes, however, were also American
in cut. His boots were narrow
and of unmistakable shape. He
ate his sandwich with suspicion,
and after his first sip of coffee
ordered a whiskey and soda. Afterwards
he sat leaning back in his chair,
glancing every now and then at
the clock, but otherwise manifesting
no signs of impatience. In less
than half an hour an inspector,
cap in hand, entered the room
and announced that everything
was ready. Mr. Hamilton Fynes
put on his hat, picked up his
suitcase, and followed him on
to the platform. A long saloon
carriage, with a guard's brake
behind and an engine in front,
was waiting there.
"We've done our best, sir," the
station-master remarked with
a note of self-congratulation
in his tone. "It's exactly twenty-two
minutes since you came into the
office, and there she is. Finest
engine we've got on the line,
and the best driver. You've a
clear road ahead too. Wish you
a pleasant journey, sir."
"You are very good, sir," Mr.
Hamilton Fynes declared. "I am
sure that my friends on the other
side will appreciate your attention.
By what time do you suppose that
we shall reach London?"
The station-master glanced
at the clock.
"It is now eight o'clock, sir," he
announced. "If my orders down
the line are properly attended
to, you should be there by twenty
minutes to twelve."
Mr. Hamilton Fynes nodded gravely
and took his seat in the car.
He had previously walked its
entire length and back again.
"The train consists only of
this carriage?" he asked. "There
is no other passenger, for instance,
travelling in the guard's brake?"
"Certainly not, sir," the station-master
declared. "Such a thing would
be entirely against the regulations.
There are five of you, all told,
on board,--driver, stoker, guard,
saloon attendant, and yourself."
Mr. Hamilton Fynes nodded,
and appeared satisfied.
"No more luggage,
sir? the guard asked.
"I was obliged to leave what
I had, excepting this suitcase,
upon the steamer," Mr. Hamilton
Fynes explained. "I could not
very well expect them to get
my trunk up from the hold. It
will follow me to the hotel tomorrow."
"You will find that the attendant
has light refreshments on board,
sir, if you should be wanting
anything," the station-master
announced. "We'll start you off
now, then. Good-night, sir!"
Mr. Fynes nodded genially.
"Good-night, Station-master!" he
said. "Many thanks to you."