« IndietroContinua »
When the captain had departed Dicky called the sergeant of the jail squad and asked:
“Am I preso by the military or by the civil authority?"
“Surely there is no martial law in effect now, señor."
“Bueno. Now go or send to the alcalde, the Juez de la Paz and the Jefe de los Policios. Tell them I am prepared at once to satisfy the demands of justice.” A folded bill of the "long green” slid into the sergeant's hand.
Then Dicky's smile came back again, for he knew that the hours of his captivity were numbered; and he hummed, in time with the sentry's tread:
“They're hanging men and women now,
For lacking of the green.” So, that night Dicky sat by the window of the room over his shop and his little saint sat close by, working at something silken and dainty. Dicky was thoughtful and grave. His red hair was in an unusual state of disorder. Pasa's fingers often ached to smooth and arrange it, but Dicky would never allow it. He was poring, to-night, over a great litter of maps and books and papers on his table until that perpendicular line came between his brows that always distressed Pasa. Presently she went and brought his hat, and stood with it until he looked up, inquiringly.
“It is sad for you here,” she explained. “Go out and drink vino blanco. Come back when you get that smile you used to wear. That is what I wish to
Dicky laughed and threw down his
“The vino blanco 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."
ROUGE ET NOIR
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 steamers and with a cash capital somewhat larger than Anchuria's surplus and debt combined.
Rcasonably 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 Anchuria 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 Trindad 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 Anchuria 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