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who never knew what crooked was. Here I am working Honesty for a graft, but that man loses money on it. Carrambos ! I get sick at times of this country. Everything's rotten. From the executive down to the coffee pickers, they're plotting to down each other and skin their friends. If a mule driver takes off his hat to an official, that man figures it out that he's a popular idol, and sets his pegs to stir up a revolution and upset the administration. It's one of
my little chores as private secretary to smell out these revolutions and affix the kibosh before they break out and scratch the paint off the government property. That's why I'm down here now in this mildewed coast town. The governor of the district and his crew are plotting to uprise. I've got every one of their names, and they're invited to listen to the phonograph to-night, compliments of H. P. M. That's the way I'll get them in a bunch, and things are on the programme to happen to them.'
“We three were sitting at table in the cantina of the Purified Saints. Mellinger poured out wine, and was looking some worried; I was thinking.
“ 'They're a sharp crowd,' he says, kind of fretful. “They're capitalized by a foreign syndicate after rubber, and they're loaded to the muzzle for bribing. I'm sick,' goes on Mellinger, 'of comic opera. I want
to smell East River and wear suspenders again. At times I feel like throwing up my job, but I'm d-n fool enough to be sort of proud of it. “There's Mellinger," they say here. “Por Dios! you can't touch him with a million.” I'd like to take that record back and show it to Billy Renfrow some day; and that tightens my grip whenever I see a fat thing that I could corral just by winking one eye — and losing my graft. By-, they can't monkey with me. They know it. What money I get I make honest and spend it. Some day I'll make a pile and go back and cat caviare with Billy. To-night I'll show you how to handle a bunch of corruptionists. I'll show them what Mellinger, private secretary, means when you spell it with the cotton and tissue paper off.'
“Mellinger appears shaky, and breaks his glass against the neck of the bottle.
“I says to myself, “White man, if I'm not mistaken there's been a bait laid out where the tail of your eye could see it.'
“That night, according to arrangements, me and Henry took the phonograph to a room in a 'dobe house in a dirty side street, where the grass was knee high. 'Twas a long room, lit with smoky oil lamps. There was plenty of chairs, and a table at the back
end. We set the phonograph on the table. Mellinger was there, walking up and down, disturbed in his predicaments. He chewed cigars and spat 'em out, and he bit the thumb nail of his left hand.
“By and by the invitations to the musicale came sliding in by pairs and threes and spade flushes. Their colour was of a diversity, running from a three-days' smoked meerschaum to a patent-leather polish. They were as polite as wax, being devastated with enjoyments to give Señor Mellinger the good evenings. I understood their Spanish talk — I ran a pumping engine two years in a Mexican silver mine, and had it pat — but I never let on.
“Maybe fifty of 'em had come, and was seated, when in slid the king bec, the governor of the district. Mellinger met him at the door, and escorted him to the grand stand. When I saw that Latin man I knew that Mellinger, private secretary, had all the dances on his card taken. That was a big, squashy man, the colour of a rubber overshoe, and he had an eye like a head waiter's.
“Mellinger explained, fluent, in the Castilian idioms, that his soul was disconcerted with joy at introducing to his respected friends America's greatest invention, the wonder of the age. Henry got the cue and run on an elegant brass-band record and the
festivities became initiated. The governor man had a bit of English under his hat, and when the music was choked off he
says: “Ver-r-ree fine. Gr-r-r-r-racias, the American gentleemen, the so esplendeed moosic as to playec.'
“The table was a long one, and Henry and me sat at the end of it next the wall. The governor sat at the other end. Homer P. Mellinger stood at the side of it. I was just wondering how Mellinger was going to handle his crowd, when the home talent suddenly opened the services.
“That governor man was suitable for uprisings and policies. I judge he was a ready kind of man, who took his own time. Yes, he was full of attention and immediateness. He leaned his hands on the table and imposed his face toward the secretary
“ “Do the American señors understand Spanish?' he asks in his native accents.
“ "They do not,' says Mellinger.
“ “Then listen,' goes on the Latin man, prompt. “The musics are of sufficient prettiness, but not of necessity. Let us speak of business. why we are here, since I observe my compatriots. You had a whisper yesterday, Señor Mellinger, of our proposals. To-night we will speak out. We
tles him up.
know that you stand in the president's favour, and we know your influence. The government will be changed. We know the worth of your services. We esteem your friendship and aid so much that'-Mellinger raises his hand, but the governor man bot
‘Do not speak until I have done.' “The governor
then draws a package wrapped in
paper from his pocket, and lays it on the table by Mellinger's hand.
“ 'In that you will find fifty thousand dollars in money of your country. You can do nothing against us, but you can be worth that for us. Go back to the capital and obey our instructions. Take that money now. We trust you. You will find with it a paper giving in detail the work you will be expected to do for us. Do not have the unwiseness to refuse.'
“The governor man paused, with his eyes fixed on Mellinger, full of expressions and observances. I looked at Mellinger, and was glad Billy Renfrow couldn't see him then. The sweat was popping out on his forehead, and he stood dumb, tapping the little package with the ends of his fingers. The coloradomaduro gang was after his graft. He had only to change his politics, and stuff five fingers in his inside pocket.