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The Second Class Passenger Fifteen Stories   By: (1879-1926)

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E text prepared by Charles Klingman

THE SECOND CLASS PASSENGER

Fifteen Stories

by

Perceval Gibbon

London Chapman & Dodd, Ltd. 25 Denmark Street, W.C. 2 First Published (Methuen & Co.) 6s. 1913 First Published in the Abbey Library 1922

CONTENTS

I. THE SECOND CLASS PASSENGER II. THE SENSE OF CLIMAX III. THE TRADER OF LAST NOTCH IV. THE MURDERER V. THE VICTIM VI. BETWEEN THE LIGHTS VII. THE MASTER VIII. "PARISIENNE" IX. LOLA X. THE POOR IN HEART XI. THE MAN WHO KNEW XII. THE HIDDEN WAY XIII. THE STRANGE PATIENT XIV. THE CAPTAIN'S ARM XV. THE WIDOWER

I

THE SECOND CLASS PASSENGER

The party from the big German mail boat had nearly completed their inspection of Mozambique, they had walked up and down the main street, admired the palms, lunched at the costly table of Lazarus, and purchased "curios" Indian silks, Javanese; knives, Birmingham metal work, and what not as mementoes of their explorations. In particular, Miss Paterson had invested in a heavy bronze image apparently Japanese concerning which she entertained the thrilling delusion that it was an object of local worship. It was a grotesque thing, massive and bulky, weighing not much less than ten or twelve pounds. Hence it was confided to the careful porterage of Dawson, an assiduous and favored courtier of Miss Paterson; and he, having lunched, was fated to leave it behind at Lazarus' Hotel.

Miss Paterson shook her fluffy curls at him. They were drawing towards dinner, and the afternoon was wearing stale.

"I did so want that idol," she said plaintively. She had the childish quality of voice, the insipidity of intonation, which is best appreciated in steamboat saloons. "Oh, Mr. Dawson, don't you think you could get it back for me?"

"I'm frightfully sorry," said the contrite Dawson. "I'll go back at once. You don't know when the ship goes, do you?"

Another of Miss Paterson's cavaliers assured him that he had some hours yet. "The steward told me so," he added authoritatively.

"Then I'll go at once," said Dawson, hating him.

"Mind, don't lose the boat," Miss Paterson called after him.

He went swiftly back up the wide main street in which they had spent the day. Lamps were beginning to shine everywhere, and the dull peace of the place was broken by a new life. Those that dwell in darkness were going abroad now, and the small saloons were filling. Dawson noted casually that evening was evidently the lively time of Mozambique. He passed men of a type he had missed during the day, men of all nationalities, by their faces, and every shade of color. They were lounging on the sidewalk in knots of two or three, sitting at the little tables outside the saloons, or lurking at the entrances of narrow alleys that ran aside from the main street every few paces. All were clad in thin white suits, and some wore knives in full sight, while there was that about them that would lead even the most innocent and conventional second class passenger to guess at a weapon concealed somewhere. Some of them looked keenly at Dawson as he passed along; and although he met their eyes impassively, he even he was conscious of an implied estimate in their glance, as though they classified him with a look. Once he stepped aside to let a woman pass. She was large, flamboyantly southern and calm. She lounged along, a cloak over her left arm, her head thrown back, a cigarette between her wide, red lips. She, too, looked at Dawson looked down at him with a superb lazy nonchalance, laughed a little, and walked on. The loungers on the sidewalk laughed too, but rather with her than at Dawson.

"I seem rather out of it here," he told himself patiently, and was glad to enter the wide portals of Lazarus' Hotel. A grand, swarthy Greek, magnificent in a scarlet jacket and gold braid, pulled open the door for him, and heard his mission smilingly... Continue reading book >>




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