as frequently happens, was much shattered and broken into

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The following night I had toothache, and could not sleep. It was too hot to breathe under cover, so I got up, lit a pipe, and walked on the after-deck to ease the pain. The air was very still, save for the whish of water from the screws and the steady beat of the engines. Above, a great yellow moon looked down on me, and a host of pale stars.

as frequently happens, was much shattered and broken into

The moonlight set me remembering the old affair of the Dyve Burn, and my mind began to run on the Rev. John Laputa. It pleased me to think that I was on the track of some mystery of which I alone had the clue. I promised myself to search out the antecedents of the minister when I got to Durban, for I had a married cousin there, who might know something of his doings. Then, as I passed by the companion- way to the lower deck, I heard voices, and peeping over the rail, I saw two men sitting in the shadow just beyond the hatch of the hold.

as frequently happens, was much shattered and broken into

I thought they might be two of the sailors seeking coolness on the open deck, when something in the figure of one of them made me look again. The next second I had slipped back and stolen across the after-deck to a point just above them. For the two were the black minister and that ugly yellow villain, Henriques.

as frequently happens, was much shattered and broken into

I had no scruples about eavesdropping, but I could make nothing of their talk. They spoke low, and in some tongue which may have been Kaffir or Portuguese, but was in any case unknown to me. I lay, cramped and eager, for many minutes, and was just getting sick of it when a familiar name caught my ear. Henriques said something in which I caught the word 'Blaauwildebeestefontein.' I listened intently, and there could be no mistake. The minister repeated the name, and for the next few minutes it recurred often in their talk. I went back stealthily to bed, having something to make me forget my aching tooth. First of all, Laputa and Henriques were allies. Second, the place I was bound for had something to do with their schemes.

I said nothing to Mr Wardlaw, but spent the next week in the assiduous toil of the amateur detective. I procured some maps and books from my friend, the second engineer, and read all I could about Blaauwildebeestefontein. Not that there was much to learn; but I remember I had quite a thrill when I discovered from the chart of the ship's run one day that we were in the same latitude as that uncouthly-named spot. I found out nothing, however, about Henriques or the Rev. John Laputa. The Portuguese still smoked in the stern, and thumbed his greasy notebook; the minister sat in his deck- chair, and read heavy volumes from the ship's library. Though I watched every night, I never found them again together.

At Cape Town Henriques went ashore and did not return. The minister did not budge from the ship the three days we lay in port, and, indeed, it seemed to me that he kept his cabin. At any rate I did not see his great figure on deck till we were tossing in the choppy seas round Cape Agulhas. Sea- sickness again attacked me, and with short lulls during our stoppages at Port Elizabeth and East London, I lay wretchedly in my bunk till we sighted the bluffs of Durban harbour.

Here it was necessary for me to change my ship, for in the interests of economy I was going by sea to Delagoa Bay, and thence by the cheap railway journey into the Transvaal. I sought out my cousin, who lived in a fine house on the Berea, and found a comfortable lodging for the three days of my stay there. I made inquiries about Mr Laputa, but could hear nothing. There was no native minister of that name, said my cousin, who was a great authority on all native questions. I described the man, but got no further light. No one had seen or heard of such a being, 'unless,' said my cousin, 'he is one of those American Ethiopian rascals.'

My second task was to see the Durban manager of the firm which I had undertaken to serve. He was a certain Mr Colles, a big fat man, who welcomed me in his shirt-sleeves, with a cigar in his mouth. He received me pleasantly, and took me home to dinner with him.



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