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The Illustrious Prince

1. Mr. Hamilton Fynes, Urgent
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 letter.
"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 asked.
"If you please," was the quiet answer. "The matter is urgent."
"Who are you?" the captain asked.
"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
happening."
"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 this evening."
The captain read the note, examined the signature carefully, and whistled softly to
himself.
 
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