The Unspeakable Perk
The Yellow Flag
The departing whistle of the yacht Polly struck sharply to the heart of a desolate figure
seated on a bench in the blazing, dusty, public square of Puerto del Norte, waiting out his
first day of pain. A kiskadee bird, the only other creature foolish enough to risk the hot
bleakness of the plaza at that hour, flitted into a dust-coated palm, inspected him, put a
tentative query or two, decided that he was of no possible interest, and left the
Unspeakable Perk to his own cogitations.
So deep in wretchedness were the cogitations that he did not hear the light, hesitant
footstep. But he felt in every vein and fiber the appealing touch on his shoulder.
"Good God! What are YOU doing here?" he cried, leaping to his feet. There was no
awkwardness or shyness in his speech now; only wonder-stricken joy.
"I came back to see you."
"But the yacht! Your ship!"
"She has left."
"No! She mustn't! Not without you! You can't stay here. It's too dangerous."
"I must. They think I'm aboard. I left a note for papa. He won't get it until they're at sea.
And they can't come back for me, can they?"
"No--yes--they must! I must see Stark and Wisner at once."
"To send me away?"
"Without forgiving me?"
"Forgiving? There's no question of that between you and me."
"There is. Fitzhugh told me everything--all about the poor dead woman."
"Ah, he shouldn't have done that."
"He should!" She stamped a little willful foot. "What else could he do?"
"Why, yes," he agreed thoughtfully. "I suppose that's so. After all, a man can't bear the
names that Carroll does and go wrong on the big inner things. He has met his test, and
stood it. For he cares very deeply for you."
"Poor Fitz!" she sighed.