Alfred Edward Woodley Mason (1865-1948), who wrote as A.E.W. Mason, had a long and productive career. He wrote many novels and short stories, ranging from mysteries and courtroom thrillers to the classic adventure novel, THE FOUR FEATHERS.
The destruction of shipping by German submarines in this western section of the Mediterranean had an intermittent regularity. There would be ten successive days-hardly ever more than ten days-during which ships were sunk. Thereafter for three weeks, steamships and sailing ships would follow the course upon which they were ordered, without hurt or loss. After three weeks, the murderous business would begin again. There was but one explanation in Hillyard's opinion.
"The submarines come out of Pola. When they reach the line between the Balearics and the Spanish coast, they have oil for ten days' cruising, and then return to their base," he argued.
Now, if a submarine had been provisioned by Jos Medina in a creek of Mallorca, the ten days' cruise would be extended to three weeks. This had never happened. Moreover, the date fixed by Pontiana Tabor happened to fall precisely in the middle of one of those periods of three weeks during which the terror did not haunt those seas. Pontiana Tabor had not known enough. He had fixed his date at a venture.
"Yes," said Hillyard, rising from his chair. "I agree with you, Seor Ramon. Tabor is a liar. What troubled me was that I had no clue as to why he should lie. You have given me it, and with all my heart I thank you."
He shook the stevedore's hand and stood for a moment talking and joking with him upon other subjects. Hillyard knew the value of a smile and a jest and a friendly manner. Your very enemy in Spain will do you a good turn if you meet him thus. Then he turned to Baeza. "I shall be back, perhaps, in a week, but perhaps not. I will let you know in the usual way."