« IndietroContinua »
"'I'm going to buck centre,' says Henry, in his football idioms. 'There isn't a tackle in the lot of them. Follow me close, and rush the game.'
"Then that cultured Red Man exhaled an arrangement of sounds with his mouth that made the Latin aggregation pause, with thoughtfulness and hesitations. The matter of his proclamation seemed to be a co-operation of the Carlisle war-whoop with the Cherokee college yell. He went at the chocolate team like a bean out of a little boy's nigger shooter. His right elbow laid out the governor man on the gridiron, and he made a lane the length of the crowd so wide that a woman could have carried a step-ladder through it without striking against anything. All Mellinger and me had to do was to follow.
"It took us just three -minutes to get out of that street around to military headquarters, where Mellinger had things his own way. A colonel and a battalion of bare-toed infantry turned out and went back to the scene of the musicale with us, but the conspirator gang was gone. But we recaptured the phonograph with honours of war, and marched back to the cuartel with it playing 'All Coons Look Alike to Me.'
"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 Renfrow 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.
"'I told you you'd be waiting,' he says. 'Where's the Hamburger machine?'
"'It stays behind,' I says, 'to play "Home, Sweet Home.",
"'I 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 boodlcr 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 diplomat, 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 Sefior Goodwin."
"It is known," said Colonel Falcon, smoothly, "that