« IndietroContinua »
beach for a while, and then I walked around and investigated that town some, and it was enough to give you the lions. If a man could stay in New York and be honest, he'd better do it than to hit that monkey town with a million.
“Dinky little mud houses; grass over your shoe tops in the streets; ladies in low-neck-an-shortsleeves walking around smoking cigars; tree frogs rattling like a hose cart going to a ten blow; big mountains dropping gravel in the back yards, and the sea licking the paint off in front - no, sir - a man had better be in God's country living on free lunch than there.
“The main street ran along the beach, and I walked down it, and then turned up a kind of lane where the houses were made of poles and straw. I wanted to see what the monkeys did when they weren't climbing cocoanut trees. The
very first shack I looked in I saw my people. They must have come ashore while I was promenading. A man about fifty, smooth face, heavy eyebrows, dressed in black broadcloth, looking like he was just about to say, 'Can any little boy in the Sunday school answer that?' He was freezing on to a grip that weighed like a dozen gold bricks, and a swell girl -- a regular peach, with a Fifth Avenue cut was sitting on a wooden chair. An old
black woman was fixing some coffee and beans on a table. The light they had came from a lantern hung on a nail.
I went and stood in the door, and they looked at me, and I said:
“Mr. Wahrfield, you are my prisoner. I hope, for the lady's sake, you will take the matter sensibly. You know why I want you.'
“ “Who are you?' says the old gent.
“'O'Day,' says I, ‘of the Columbia Detective Agency. And
sir, let me give you a piece of good advice.
go back and take your medicine like a man.
Hand 'em back the boodle; and maybe they'll let you off light. Go back casy, and I'll put in a word for you. I'll give you five minutes to decide. I pulled out my watch and waited.
“Then the young lady chipped in. She was one of the genuine high-steppers. You could tell by the way her clothes fit and the style she had that Fifth Avenue was made for her.
“ 'Come inside,' she says. “Don't stand in the door and disturb the whole street with that suit of clothes. Now, what is it
want?' “ 'Three minutes gonc,' I said. *I'll tell you agair while the other two tick off.
“You'll admit being the president of the Republic, won't you?'
“ 'I am,' says he.
« «Well, then,' says I, “it ought to be plain to you. Wanted, in New York, J. Churchill Wahrfield, president of the Republic Insurance Company.
“ Also the funds belonging to said company, now in that grip, in the unlawful possession of said J. Churchill Wahrfield.'
“ “Oh-h-h-h! says the young lady, as if she was thinking, "you want to take us back to New York?
“To take Mr. Wahrfield. There's no charge against you, miss. There'll be no objection, of course, to your returning with your father.'
“Of a sudden the girl gave a tiny scream and grabbed the old boy around the neck. 'Oh, father, father !' she says, kind of contralto, 'can this be true? Have you taken money
that is not yours? Speak, father! It made you shiver to hear the tremolo stop she put on her voice.
“The old boy looked pretty bughouse when she first grappled him, but she went on, whispering in his car and patting his off shoulder till he stood still, but sweating a little.
“She got him to one side and they talked together a minute, and then he put on some gold eyeglasses and walked up and handed me the grip.
“Mr. Detective,' he says, talking a little broken,
“I conclude to return with you. I have finished to discover that life on this desolate and displeased coast would be worse than to die, itself. I will go back and hurl myself upon the mercy of the Republic Company. Have you brought a sheep?'
‘Sheep!' says I; 'I haven't a single –
“ “Ship,' cut in the young lady. “Don't get funny. Father is of German birth, and doesn't speak perfect English. How did
come?' “The girl was all broke
She had a handkerchief to her face, and kept saying every little bit, ‘Oh, father, father! She walked up to me and laid her lily-white hand on the clothes that had pained her at first. I smelt a million violets. She was a lulu. I told her I came in a private yacht.
“ 'Mr. O'Day,' she says. “Oh, take us away from this horrid country at once. Can you! Will you ! Say you will.'
“I'll try,' I said, concealing the fact that I was dying to get them on salt water before they could change their mind.
“One thing they both kicked against was going through the town to the boat landing. Said they dreaded publicity, and now that they were going to return, they had a hope that the thing might yet be kept out of the papers. They swore they wouldn't
go unless I got them out to the yacht without any one knowing it, so I agreed to humour them.
“The sailors who rowed me ashore were playing billiards in a bar-room near the water, waiting for orders, and I proposed to have them take the boat down the beach half a mile or so, and take us up there. How to get them word was the question, for I couldn't leave the grip with the prisoner, and I couldn't take it with me, not knowing but what the monkeys might stick me up.
"The young lady says the old coloured woman would take them a note. I sat down and wrote it, and gave it to the dame with plain directions'what to do, and she grins like a baboon and shakes her head.
“Then Mr. Walrfield handed her a string of foreign dialect, and she nods her head and says, “See, señor,' maybe fifty times, and lights out with the note.
“Old Augusta only understands German,' said Miss Wahrfield, smiling at me. 'We stopped in her house to ask where we could find lodging, and she insisted upon our having coffee.
She tells us she was raised in a German family in San Domingo.'
“ “Very likely,' I said. ‘But you can search me for German words, except nix verstay and noch einst. I would have called that "See, señor" French, though, on a gamble.