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and drink vino bianco. Come back when you get that smile you used to wear. That is what I wish to see."
Dicky laughed and threw down his papers. "The vino bianco stage is past. It has served its turn. Perhaps, after all, there was less entered my mouth and more my ears than people thought. But, there will be no more maps or frowns to-night. I promise you that. Come."
They sat upon a reed silleta at the window and watched the quivering gleams from the lights of the Catarina reflected in the harbour.
Presently Pasa rippled out one of her infrequent chirrups of audible laughter.
"I was thinking," she began, anticipating Dicky's question, "of the foolish things girls have in their minds. Because I went to school in the States I used to have ambitions. Nothing less than to be the president's wife would satisfy me. And, look, thou red picaroon, to what obscure fate thou hast stolen me!"
"Don't give up hope," said Dicky, smiling. "More than one Irishman has been the ruler of a South American country. There was a dictator of Chili named O'Higgins. Why not a President Maloney, of Anchuria? Say the word, santita mia, and we'll make the race."
"No, no, no, thou red-haired, reckless one!" sighed Pasa; "I am content "— she laid her head against his arm —" here."
IT has been indicated that disaffection followed the elevation of Losada to the presidency. This feeling continued to grow. Throughout the entire republic there seemed to be a spirit of silent, sullen discontent. Even the old Liberal party to which Goodwin, Zavalla and other patriots had lent their aid was disappointed. Losada had failed to become a popular idol. Fresh taxes, fresh import duties and, more than all, his tolerance of the outrageous oppression of citizens by the military had rendered him the most obnoxious president since the despicable Alforan. The majority of his own cabinet were out of sympathy with him. The army, which he had courted by giving it license to tyrannize, had been his main, and thus far adequate support.
But the most impolitic of the administration's moves had been when it antagonized the Vesuvius Fruit Company, an organization plying twelve steam
ers and with a cash capital somewhat larger than Anchuria's surplus and debt combined.
Reasonabty, an established concern like the Vesuvius would become irritated at having a small, retail republic with no rating at all attempt to squeeze it. So, when the government proxies applied for a subsidy they encountered a polite refusal. The president at once retaliated by clapping an export duty of one real per bunch on bananas — a thing unprecedented in fruit-growing countries. The Vesuvius Company had invested large sums in wharves and plantations along the Anchurian coast, their agents had erected fine homes in the towns where they had their headquarters, and heretofore had worked with the republic in good-will and with advantage to both. It would lose an immense sum if compelled to move out. The selling price of bananas from Vera Cruz to Trinidad was three reals per bunch. This new duty of one real would have ruined the fruit growers in Anchuria and have seriously discommoded the Vesuvius Company had it declined to pay it. But for some reason, the Vesuvius continued to buy Anchurian fruit, paying four reals for it; and not suffering the growers to bear the loss.
This apparent victory deceived His Excellency; and he began to hunger for more of it. He sent an emissary to request a conference with a representative of the fruit company. The Vesuvius sent Mr. Franzoni, a little, stout, cheerful man, always cool, and whistling airs from Verdi's operas. Senor Espirition, of the office of the Minister of Finance, attempted the sandbagging in behalf of Anchuria. The meeting took place in the cabin of the Salvador, of the Vesuvius line.
Senor Espirition opened negotiations by announcing that the government contemplated the building of a railroad to skirt the alluvial coast lands. After touching upon the benefits such a road would confer upon the interests of the Vesuvius, he reached the definite suggestion that a contribution to the road's expenses of, say, fifty thousand pesos would not be more than an equivalent to benefits received.
Mr. Franzoni denied that his company would receive any benefits from a contemplated road. As its representative he must decline to contribute fifty thousand pesos. But he would assume the responsibility of offering twenty-five.
Did Senor Espirition understand Senor Franzoni to mean twenty-five thousand pesos?
By no means. Twenty-five pesos. And in silver; not in gold.