The Ships of Tarshish
Chapter VIII. A Summons
Chapter VIII. A Summons.
"Light has been once more granted to me; but the time of my departure is at hand. Haste—haste, ere it be too late. Travel night and day. Yet four nights are permitted to me. That which I have, I must render into thine own hands, otherwise it cannot be delivered at all—for, I may not—I dare not leave it behind me unappropriated. Lastly, there is that within me which tells me that after the fourth night it will be too late.
"Samuel." "To John Mandevil!"
The communication bore date two days before. And it had been lying in Stuttgart, waiting for him a day. It was then two o'clock, Mandevil having just arrived from Heidelberg. to-page 33morrow night was the last night, and the express train—the only train that could possibly take him in time had started two hours before! With the first rush of emotions, after realizing his situation, he felt as though he should go mad. He was certain at the moment that it was truth—the chance of the inheritance—as certain as that he, by his careless folly, had lost it all. Why had he not, besides leaving a general address with Samuel's family, also given them notice beforehand of every fresh place he was going to?
With his brain in a whirl be approached the window, and looked into the street. Box was just then passing, and glanced up. The sight of Box's cool, quizzical face brought back Mandevil's presence of mind somewhat. He gathered comfort from it, and called to him,—
"Come up, Box! I am in great tribulation."
"Sorry for that, my dear fellow. In a moment."
Box entered the room.
"What is it? Can I do anything to help you?" he said.
"I must be in Paris by to-morrow evening. I must—I must— I can't tell you of what importance it is to me to be there by then."
"That's awkward. The express left at twelve; there's no other till twelve to-morrow, and that will bring you too late."
"Can't I do it by starting at once and taking the ordinary trains one after another?" asked Mandevil.
"One couldn't say on the spur of the moment," answered Box. "Anyhow, I don't think it could be depended upon."
"Then what shall I do?" said Mandevil.
"I know what might he done," said Box, "that is, if money were no object with you."
"Haven't I told you money is no object with me in this case?" cried Mandevil.
"Well, then, you might take an express train."
"An express train? You know the express train has gone already. What do you mean?" said Mandevil, whose brain was still confused by the great excitement.
"I mean a special train—all to your own cheek. But it would be expensive," answered Box.
Mandevil drew a deep breath of relief. "Box," he said. "you are my angel of deliverance. What a fool I was not to think of page 34it. But," he added, as the doubting of fear struck him, "do you think they will let me have one?"
"Just you try them," said Box, "with the money in your hand. Have you ever known it to fail before? If twenty pounds won't do it, then forty will. If forty won't, then eighty is certain to. You know the principle of double or quits. Heads I win, tails you lose, as we used to say?"
"You are right," said Mandevil; "and I shall have a little time to spare as well. Come along to Marquadt's; I'll stand champagne after this. Then we'll look in at the railway office and arrange about the train. I don't know how to thank you, Box! Had I not happened to see you, I should have bewildered myself till it was too late."