On the following morning Mr.
Coulson received what he termed
his mail from America. Locked
in his room on the fifth floor
of the hotel, he carefully perused
the contents of several letters.
A little later he rang and ordered
his bill. At four o'clock he
left the Gare du Nord for London.
Like many other great men,
Mr. Coulson was not without his
weakness. He was brave, shrewd,
and far-seeing. He enjoyed excellent
health, and he scarcely knew
the meaning of the word nerves.
Nevertheless he suffered from
seasickness. The first thing
he did, therefore, when aboard
the boat at Boulogne, was to
bespeak a private cabin. The
steward to whom he made his application
shook his head with regret. The
last two had just been engaged.
Mr. Coulson tried a tip, and
then a larger tip, with equal
lack of success. He was about
to abandon the effort and retire
gloomily to the saloon, when
a man who had been standing by,
wrapped in a heavy fur overcoat,
"I am afraid, sir," he said, "that
it is I who have just secured
the last cabin. If you care to
share it with me, however, I
shall be delighted. As a matter
of fact, I use it very little
myself. The night has turned
out so fine that I shall probably
promenade all the time."
"If you will allow me to divide
the expense," Mr. Coulson replied, "I
shall be exceedingly obliged
to you, and will accept your
offer. I am, unfortunately, a
"That is as you will, sir," the
gentleman answered. "The amount
is only trifling."
The night was a bright one,
but there was a heavy sea running,
and even in the harbor the boat
was rocking. Mr. Coulson groaned
as he made his way across the
threshold of the cabin.
"I am going to have a horrible
time," he said frankly. "I am
afraid you'll repent your offer
before you've done with me."
His new friend smiled.
"I have never been seasick
in my life," he said, "and I
only engage a cabin for fear
of wet weather. A fine night
like this I shall not trouble
you, so pray be as ill as you
"It's nothing to laugh at," Mr.
Coulson remarked gloomily.
"Let me give you a little advice," his
friend said, "and I can assure
you that I know something of
these matters, for I have been
on the sea a great deal. Let
me mix you a stiff brandy and
soda. Drink it down and eat only
a dry biscuit. I have some brandy
of my own here."
"Nothing does me any good," Mr.
"This," the stranger remarked,
producing a flask from his case
and dividing the liquor into
equal parts, "may send you to
sleep. If so, you'll be across
before you wake up. "Here's luck!"
Mr. Coulson drained his glass.
His companion was in the act
of raising his to his lips when
the ship gave a roll, his elbow
caught the back of a chair, and
the tumbler slipped from his
"It's of no consequence," he
declared, ringing for the steward. "I'll
go into the smoking room and
get a drink. I was only going
to have some to keep you company.
As a matter of fact, I prefer
Mr. Coulson sat down upon the
berth. He seemed indisposed for
"I'll leave you now, then," his
friend said, buttoning his coat
around him. "You lie flat down
on your back, and I think you'll
find yourself all right."
"That brandy," Mr. Coulson
muttered, "was infernally---
His companion smiled and went
out. In a quarter of an hour
he returned and locked the door.
They were out in the Channel
now, and the boat was pitching
heavily. Mr. James B. Coulson,
however, knew nothing of it.
He was sleeping like one who
wakes only for the Judgment Day.
Over his coat and waistcoat the
other man's fingers travelled
with curious dexterity. The oilskin
case in which Mr. Coulson was
in the habit of keeping his private
correspondence was reached in
a very few minutes. The stranger
turned out the letters and read
them, one by one, until he came
to the one he sought. He held
it for a short time in his hand,
looked at the address with a
faint smile, and slipped his
fingers lightly along the gummed
edge of the envelope.
"No seal," he said softly to
himself. "My friend Mr. Coulson
plays the game of travelling
agent to perfection."
He glided out of the cabin
with the letter in his hand.
In about ten minutes he returned.
Mr. Coulson was still sleeping.
He replaced the letter, pressing
down the envelope carefully.
"My friend," he whispered,
looking down upon Mr. Coulson's
uneasy figure, "on the whole,
I have been perhaps a little
premature. I think you had better
deliver this document to its
proper destination. If only there
was to have been a written answer,
we might have met again! It would
have been most interesting."
He slipped the oilskin case
back into the exact position
in which he had found it, and
watched his companion for several
minutes in silence. Then he went
to his dressing bag and from
a phial mixed a little draught.
Lifting the sleeping man's head,
he forced it down his throat.
"I think," he said, "I
think, Mr. Coulson, that you
He unlocked the door and resumed
his promenade of the deck. In
the bows he stood for some time,
leaning with folded arms against
a pillar, his eyes fixed upon
the line of lights ahead. The
great waves now leaped into the
moonlight, the wind sang in the
rigging and came booming across
the waters, the salt spray stung
his cheeks. High above his head,
the slender mast, with its Marconi
attachment, swang and dived,
reached out for the stars, and
fell away with a shudder. The
man who watched, stood and dreamed
until the voyage was almost over.
Then he turned on his heel and
went back to see how his cabin
companion was faring.
Mr. Coulson was sitting on
the edge of his bunk. He had
awakened with a terrible headache
and a sense of some hideous indiscretion.
It was not until he had examined
every paper in his pocket and
all his money that he had begun
to feel more comfortable. And
in the meantime he had forgotten
altogether to be seasick.
"Well, how has the remedy worked?" the
Mr. Coulson looked him in the
face. Then he drew a short breath
of relief. He had been indiscreet,
but he had alarmed himself unnecessarily.
There was nothing about the appearance
of the quiet, dark little man,
with the amiable eyes and slightly
foreign manner, in the least
"It's given me a brute of a
headache," he declared, "but
I certainly haven't been seasick
up till now, and I must say I've
never crossed before without
The stranger laughed soothingly.
"That brandy and soda would
keep you right." He said. "When
we get to Folkestone, you'll
be wanting a supper basket. Make
yourself at home. I don't need
the cabin. It's a glorious night
outside. I shouldn't have come
in at all except to see how you
were getting on."
"How long before we are in?" Mr.
"About a quarter of an hour," was
the answer. "I'll come for you,
if you like. Have a few minute's
nap if you feel sleepy."
Mr. Coulson got up.
"Not I!" he said. "I
am going to douse my head in
water. That must have been the
strongest brandy and soda that
was ever brewed, to send me off
His friend laughed as he helped
him out on to the deck.
"I shouldn't grumble at it,
if I were you," he said carelessly. "It
saved you from a bad crossing."
Mr. Coulson washed his face
and hands in the smoking room
lavatory, and was so far recovered,
even, as to be able to drink
a cup of coffee before they reached
the harbor. At Folkestone he
looked everywhere for his friend,
but in vain. At Charing Cross
he searched once more. The little
dark gentleman, with the distinguished
air and the easy, correct speech,
who had mixed his brandy and
soda, had disappeared.
"And I owe the little beggar
for half that cabin," Mr. Coulson
thought with a sensation of annoyance. "I
wonder where he's hidden himself!"