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"The next day Mellinger takes me and Henry to one side, and begins to shed tens and twenties.
"'I want to buy that phonograph,' says he. 'I liked that last tune it played at the soiree.'
"'This is more money than the machine is worth,' says I.
"' 'Tis government expense money,' says Mellinger. 'The government pays for it, and it's getting the tune-grinder cheap.'
"Me and Henry knew that pretty well. We knew that it had saved Homer P. Mellinger's graft when he was on the point of losing it; but we never let him know we knew it.
"'Now you boys better slide off further down the coast for a while,' says Mellinger, 'till I get the screws put on these fellows here. If you don't they'll give you trouble. And if you ever happen to see Billy Renfrew again before I do, tell him I'm coming back to New York as soon as I can make a stake — honest.'
"Me and Henry laid low until the day the steamer came back. When we saw the captain's boat on the beach we went down and stood in the edge of the water. The captain grinned when he saw us.
"'1 told you you'd be waiting,' he says. 'Where's the Hamburger machine?'
"'It stays behind,' I says,'to play "Home, Sweet Home."'
"'1 told you so,' says the captain again. 'Climb in the boat.'
"And that," said Keogh, "is the way me and Henry Horsecollar introduced the phonograph into this country. Henry went back to the States, but I've been rummaging around in the tropics ever since. They say Mellinger never travelled a mile after that without his phonograph. I guess it kept him reminded about his graft whenever he saw the siren voice of the boodler tip him the wink with a bribe in its hand."
"I suppose he's taking it home with him as a souvenir," remarked the consul.
"Not as a souvenir," said Keogh. "He'll need two of 'em in New York, running day and night."
The new administration of Anchuria entered upon its duties and privileges with enthusiasm. Its first act was to send an agent to Coralio with imperative orders to recover, if possible, the sum of money ravished from the treasury by the ill-fated Miraflores.
Colonel Emilio Falcon, the private secretary of Losada, the new president, was despatched from the capital upon this important mission.
The position of private secretary to a tropical president is a responsible one. He must be a dipplomat, a spy, a ruler of men, a body-guard to his chief, and a smeller-out of plots and nascent revolutions. Often he is the power behind the throne, the dictator of policy; and a president chooses him with a dozen times the care with which he selects a matrimonial mate.
Colonel Falcon, a handsome and urbane gentleman of Castilian courtesy and debonnaire manners, came to Coralio with the task before him of striking upon the cold trail of the lost money. There he conferred with the military authorities, who had received instructions to co-operate with him in the search.
Colonel Falcon established his headquarters in one of the rooms of the Casa Morena. Here for a week he held informal sittings — much as if he were a kind of unified grand jury — and summoned before him all those whose testimony might illumine the financial tragedy that had accompanied the less momentous one of the late president's death.
Two or three who were thus examined, among whom was the barber Esteban, declared that they had identified the body of the president before its burial.
"Of a truth," testified Esteban before the mighty secretary, "it was he, the president. Consider! — how could I shave a man and not see his face? He sent for me to shave him in a small house. He had a beard very black and thick. Had I ever seen the president before? Why not? I saw him once ride forth in a carriage from the vapor in Solitas. When I shaved him he gave me a gold piece, and said there was to be no talk. But I am a Liberal — I am devoted to my country — and I spake of these things to Senor Goodwin."
"It is known," said Colonel Falcon, smoothly, "that the late President took with him an American leather valise, containing a large amount of money. Did you see that?"
"De veras — no," Esteban answered. "The light in the little house was but a small lamp by which I could scarcely see to shave the President. Such a thing there may have been, but I did not see it. No. Also in the room was a young lady — a senorita of much beauty — that I could see even in so small a light. But the money, senor, or the thing in which it was carried — that I did not see."
The comandante and other officers gave testimony that they had been awakened and alarmed by the noise of a pistol-shot in the Hotel de los Estranjeros. Hurrying thither to protect the peace and dignity of the republic, they found a man lying dead, with a pistol clutched in his hand. Beside him was a young woman, weeping sorely. Senor Goodwin was also in the room when they entered it. But of the valise of money they saw nothing.
Madame Timotea Ortiz, the proprietress of the hotel in which the game of Fox-in-the-Morning had been played out, told of the coming of the two guests to her house.
"To my house they came," said she—"one senor, not quite old, and one senorita of sufficient handsome