Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

“Well, we three make a sneak around the edge of town so as not to be seen. We got tangled in vines and ferns and the banana bushes and tropical scenery a good deal.

The monkey suburbs was as wild as places in Central Park. We came out on the beach a good half mile below. A brown chap was lying asleep under a cocoanut tree, with a ten-foot musket beside him. Mr. Wahrfield takes up the gun and pitches it into the sea. "The coast is guarded,' he says. “Rebellion and plots ripen like fruit.' He pointed to the sleeping man, who never stirred. ‘Thus,' he says, 'they perform trusts. Children!

"I saw our boat coming, and I struck a match and lit a piece of newspaper to show them where we were. In thirty minutes we were on board the yacht.

“The first thing, Mr. Wahrfield and his daughter and I took the grip into the owner's cabin, opened it up, and took an inventory. There was one hundred and five thousand dollars, United States treasury notes, in it, besides a lot of diamond jewelry and a couple of hundred Havana cigars. I gave the old man the cigars and a receipt for the rest of the lot, as agent for the company, and locked the stuff up in my private quarters.

“I never had a pleasanter trip than that one. After we got to sea the young lady turned out to be

me

and says,

the jolliest ever. The

very

first time we sat down to dinner, and the steward filled her glass with champagne — that director's yacht was a regular floating Waldorf-Astoria -- she winks at “What's the use to borrow trouble, Mr. Fly Cop? Here's hoping you may live to eat the hen that scratches on your grave.' There was a piano on board, and she sat down to it and sung better than you give up two cases to hear plenty times. She knew about nine operas clear through. She was sure enough bon ton and swell. She wasn't one of the ‘among others present kind; she belonged on the special mention list!

“The old man, too, perked up amazingly on the way. He passed the cigars, and says to me once, quite chipper, out of a cloud of smoke, 'Mr. O'Day, somehow I think the Republic Company will not give me the much trouble. Guard well the gripvalise of the money, Mr. O'Day, for that it must be returned to them that it belongs whien we finish to arrive.'

“When we landed in New York I 'phoned to the chief to meet us in that director's office. We got in a cab and went there. I carried the grip, and we walked in, and I was pleased to see that the chief had got together that same old crowd of moneybugs with pink faces and white vests to see us march in. I

set the grip on the table. "There's the money,' I said.

“And your prisoner?' said the chief.

I pointed to Mr. Wahrfield, and he stepped forward and says:

"The honour of a word with you, sir, to explain.' “He and the chief went into another room and stayed ten ininutes. When they came back the chief looked as black as a ton of coal.

“ 'Did this gentleman,' he says to me, ‘have this valise in his possession when you first saw him?'

“ 'He did,' said I.

“The chief took up the grip and handed it to the prisoner with a bow, and says to the director crowd: ‘Do any of you recognize this gentleman?'

“They all shook their pink faces.

“ “Allow me to present,' he goes on, Señor Miraflores, president of the republic of Anchuria. The señor has generously consented to overlook this outrageous blunder, on condition that we undertake to secure him against the annoyance of public comment. It is a concession on his part to overlook an insult for which he might claim international redress. I think we can gratefully promise him secrecy in the matter.'

“They gave him a pink nod all round. ““O'Day,' he says to me. ‘As a private detective

you’re wasted. In a war, where kidnapping governments is in the rules, you'd be invaluable. Come down to the office at eleven.'

“I knew what that mcant.

“ 'So that's the president of the monkeys,' says I. 'Well, why couldn't he have said so ?'

“Wouldn't it jar you?”

XVIII

THE VITAGRAPHOSCOPE

VAUDEVILLE is intrinsically episodic and discontinuous. Its audiences do not demand dénoûements. Sufficient unto each “turn" is the evil thereof. No one cares how many romances the singing comédienne may have had if she can capably sustain the limelight and a high note or two. The audiences reck not if the performing dogs get to the pound the moment they have jumped through their last hoop. They do not desire bulletins about the possible injuries received by the comic bicyclist who retires head-first from the stage in a crash of (property) china-ware. Neither do they consider that their seat coupons entitle them to be instructed whether or no there is a sentiment between the lady solo banjoist and the Irish monologist.

Therefore let us have no lifting of the curtain upon a tableau of the united lovers, backgrounded by defeated villainy and derogated by the comic, osculating maid and butler, thrown in as a sop to the Cerberi of the fifty-cent seats.

« IndietroContinua »