The Romance of Elaine HTML version

15. The Flash
Alone in the doorway before his rude shack on the shore of the promontory sat an old
fisherman, gazing out fixedly at the harbor as though deeply concerned over the weather,
which, as usual, was unseasonable.
Suddenly he started and would have disappeared into his hut but for the fact that,
although he could not himself be seen, he had already seen the intruder.
It was a trooper from Fort Dale. He galloped up and, as though obeying to the letter his
instructions, deliberately dropped an envelope at the feet of the fisherman. Then, without
a word, he galloped away again.
The fisherman picked up the envelope and opened it quickly. Inside was a photograph
and a note. He read:
J. Smith, clerk in the War Department, has disappeared. We are not sure, but fear that he
has a copy of the new Sandy Hook Defense Plans. It is believed he is headed your way.
He walks with a slight limp. Look out for him.
For a long time the fisherman appeared to study the face on the photograph until he had it
indelibly implanted in his memory, as if by some system such as that of the immortal
Bertillon and his clever "portrait parle," or spoken picture, for scientific identification and
apprehension. It was not a pleasant face and there were features that were not easily
Finally he turned and entered his hut. Hastily he took off his stained reefer. From a
wooden chest he drew another outfit of clothes. The transformation was complete. When
he issued forth from his hut again, it was no longer the aged disciple of Izaac Walton. He
was now a trim chauffeur, bearded and goggled.
. . . . . . .
In the library of his bungalow, Del Mar was pacing up and down, now and then scowling
to himself, as though there flashed over his mind stray recollections of how some of his
most cherished plans were miscarrying.
Still, on the whole, he had nothing to complain of. For, a moment later the valet entered
with a telegram for which he had evidently been waiting. Del Mar seized it eagerly and
tore open the yellow envelope. On the blank was printed in the usual way the following
non-committal message: