Part 3 out of 5
But before she had crossed the veranda she was stopped by the
sound of a horse's hoofs galloping over the hard sun-baked road
that led from the city, and before she had stepped forward out of
the shadow in which she stood the horse had reached the steps and
his rider had pulled him back on his haunches and swung himself
off before the forefeet had touched the ground.
Hope had guessed that it was Clay by his riding, and she feared
from his haste that some one of her people were ill. So she ran
anxiously forward and asked if anything were wrong.
Clay started at her sudden appearance, and gave a short boyish
laugh of pleasure.
``I'm so glad you're still up,'' he said. ``No, nothing is
wrong.'' He stopped in some embarrassment. He had been moved to
return by the fact that the little girl he knew was in trouble,
and now that he was suddenly confronted by this older and
statelier young person, his action seemed particularly silly, and
he was at a loss to explain it in any way that would not give
``No, nothing is wrong,'' he repeated. ``I came after
Clay had borrowed one of the cloaks the troopers wore at night
from the same man who had lent him the horse, and as he stood
bareheaded before her, with the cloak hanging from his
shoulders to the floor and the star and ribbon across his breast,
Hope felt very grateful to him for being able to look like a
Prince or a hero in a book, and to yet remain her Mr. Clay at the
``I came to get your sister's fan,'' Clay explained. ``She
The young girl looked at him for a moment in surprise and then
straightened herself slightly. She did not know whether she was
the more indignant with Alice for sending such a man on so
foolish an errand, or with Clay for submitting to such a service.
``Oh, is that it?'' she said at last. ``I will go and find
you one.'' She gave him a dignified little bow and moved away
toward the door, with every appearance of disapproval.
``Oh, I don't know,'' she heard Clay say, doubtfully; ``I don't
have to go just yet, do I? May I not stay here a little while?''
Hope stood and looked at him in some perplexity.
``Why, yes,'' she answered, wonderingly. ``But don't you want to
go back? You came in a great hurry. And won't Alice want her
``Oh, she has it by this time. I told Stuart to find it. She
left it in the carriage, and the carriage is waiting at the end
of the plaza.''
``Then why did you come?'' asked Hope, with rising suspicion.
``Oh, I don't know,'' said Clay, helplessly. ``I thought I'd
just like a ride in the moonlight. I hate balls and dances
anyway, don't you? I think you were very wise not to go.''
Hope placed her hands on the back of the big arm-chair and looked
steadily at him as he stood where she could see his face in the
moonlight. ``You came back,'' she said, ``because they thought I
was crying, and they sent you to see. Is that it? Did Alice
send you?'' she demanded.
Clay gave a gasp of consternation.
``You know that no one sent me,'' he said. ``I thought they
treated you abominably, and I wanted to come and say so. That's
all. And I wanted to tell you that I missed you very much, and
that your not coming had spoiled the evening for me, and I came
also because I preferred to talk to you than to stay where I was.
No one knows that I came to see you. I said I was going to get
the fan, and I told Stuart to find it after I'd left. I just
wanted to see you, that's all. But I will go back again at
While he had been speaking Hope had lowered her eyes from his
face and had turned and looked out across the harbor. There was
a strange, happy tumult in her breast, and she was breathing so
rapidly that she was afraid he would notice it. She also felt an
absurd inclination to cry, and that frightened her. So she
laughed and turned and looked up into his face again. Clay saw
the same look in her eyes that he had seen there the day when she
had congratulated him on his work at the mines. He had seen it
before in the eyes of other women and it troubled him. Hope
seated herself in the big chair, and Clay tossed his cloak on the
floor at her feet and sat down with his shoulders against one of
the pillars. He glanced up at her and found that the look that
had troubled him was gone, and that her eyes were now smiling
with excitement and pleasure.
``And did you bring me something from the ball in your pocket to
comfort me,'' she asked, mockingly.
``Yes, I did,'' Clay answered, unabashed. ``I brought you some
``You didn't, really!'' Hope cried, with a shriek of delight.
``How absurd of you! The sort you pull?''
``The sort you pull,'' Clay repeated, gravely. ``And also a
dance-card, which is a relic of barbarism still existing in this
Southern capital. It has the arms of Olancho on it in gold, and
I thought you might like to keep it as a souvenir.'' He pulled
the card from his coat-pocket and said, ``May I have this
``You may,'' Hope answered. ``But you wouldn't mind if we sat it
out, would you?''
``I should prefer it,'' Clay said, as he scrawled his name across
the card. ``It is so crowded inside, and the company is rather
mixed.'' They both laughed lightly at their own foolishness, and
Hope smiled down upon him affectionately and proudly. ``You may
smoke, if you choose; and would you like something cool to
drink?'' she asked, anxiously. ``After your ride, you know,''
she suggested, with hospitable intent. Clay said that he was
very comfortable without a drink, but lighted a cigar and watched
her covertly through the smoke, as she sat smiling happily
and quite unconsciously upon the moonlit world around them. She
caught Clay's eye fixed on her, and laughed lightly.
``What is it?'' he said.
``Oh, I was just thinking,'' Hope replied, ``that it was much
better to have a dance come to you, than to go to the dance.''
``Does one man and a dance-card and three bonbons constitute your
idea of a ball?''
``Doesn't it? You see, I am not out yet, I don't know.''
``I should think it might depend a good deal upon the man,'' Clay
``That sounds as though you were hinting,'' said Hope,
doubtfully. ``Now what would I say to that if I were out?''
``I don't know, but don't say it,'' Clay answered. ``It would
probably be something very unflattering or very forward, and in
either case I should take you back to your chaperon and leave you
Hope had not been listening. Her eyes were fixed on a level with
his tie, and Clay raised his hand to it in some trepidation.
``Mr. Clay,'' she began abruptly and leaning eagerly forward,
``would you think me very rude if I asked you what you did to get
all those crosses? I know they mean something, and I do so
want to know what. Please tell me.''
``Oh, those!'' said Clay. ``The reason I put them on to-night is
because wearing them is supposed to be a sort of compliment to
your host. I got in the habit abroad--''
``I didn't ask you that,'' said Hope, severely. ``I asked you
what you did to get them. Now begin with the Legion of Honor on
the left, and go right on until you come to the end, and please
don't skip anything. Leave in all the bloodthirsty parts, and
please don't be modest.''
``Like Othello,'' suggested Clay.
``Yes,'' said Hope; ``I will be Desdemona.''
``Well, Desdemona, it was like this,'' said Clay, laughing. ``I
got that medal and that star for serving in the Nile campaign,
under Wolseley. After I left Egypt, I went up the coast to
Algiers, where I took service under the French in a most
disreputable organization known as the Foreign Legion--''
``Don't tell me,'' exclaimed Hope, in delight, ``that you have
been a Chasseur d'Afrique! Not like the man in `Under Two
``No, not at all like that man,'' said Clay, emphatically. ``I
was just a plain, common, or garden, sappeur, and I showed the
other good-for-nothings how to dig trenches. Well, I
contaminated the Foreign Legion for eight months, and then I
went to Peru, where I--''
``You're skipping,'' said Hope. ``How did you get the Legion of
``Oh, that?'' said Clay. ``That was a gallery play I made once
when we were chasing some Arabs. They took the French flag away
from our color-bearer, and I got it back again and waved it
frantically around my head until I was quite certain the Colonel
had seen me doing it, and then I stopped as soon as I knew that I
was sure of promotion.''
``Oh, how can you?'' cried Hope. ``You didn't do anything of the
sort. You probably saved the entire regiment.''
``Well, perhaps I did,'' Clay returned. ``Though I don't
remember it, and nobody mentioned it at the time.''
``Go on about the others,'' said Hope. ``And do try to be
``Well, I got this one from Spain, because I was President of an
International Congress of Engineers at Madrid. That was the
ostensible reason, but the real reason was because I taught the
Spanish Commissioners to play poker instead of baccarat. The
German Emperor gave me this for designing a fort, and the Sultan
of Zanzibar gave me this, and no one but the Sultan knows
why, and he won't tell. I suppose he's ashamed. He gives them
away instead of cigars. He was out of cigars the day I called.''
``What a lot of places you have seen,'' sighed Hope. ``I have
been in Cairo and Algiers, too, but I always had to walk about
with a governess, and she wouldn't go to the mosques because she
said they were full of fleas. We always go to Homburg and Paris
in the summer, and to big hotels in London. I love to travel,
but I don't love to travel that way, would you?''
``I travel because I have no home,'' said Clay. ``I'm different
from the chap that came home because all the other places were
shut. I go to other places because there is no home open.''
``What do you mean?'' said Hope, shaking her head. ``Why have
you no home?''
``There was a ranch in Colorado that I used to call home,'' said
Clay, ``but they've cut it up into town lots. I own a plot in
the cemetery outside of the town, where my mother is buried, and
I visit that whenever I am in the States, and that is the only
piece of earth anywhere in the world that I have to go back to.''
Hope leaned forward with her hands clasped in front of her and
her eyes wide open.
``And your father?'' she said, softly; ``is he--is he there,
Clay looked at the lighted end of his cigar as he turned it
between his fingers.
``My father, Miss Hope,'' he said, ``was a filibuster, and went
out on the `Virginius' to help free Cuba, and was shot, against a
stone wall. We never knew where he was buried.''
``Oh, forgive me; I beg your pardon,'' said Hope. There was such
distress in her voice that Clay looked at her quickly and saw the
tears in her eyes. She reached out her hand timidly, and touched
for an instant his own rough, sunburned fist, as it lay clenched
on his knee. ``I am so sorry,'' she said, ``so sorry.'' For the
first time in many years the tears came to Clay's eyes and
blurred the moonlight and the scene before him, and he sat
unmanned and silent before the simple touch of a young girl's
An hour later, when his pony struck the gravel from beneath his
hoofs on the race back to the city, and Clay turned to wave his
hand to Hope in the doorway, she seemed, as she stood with the
moonlight falling about her white figure, like a spirit beckoning
the way to a new paradise.
Clay reached the President's Palace during the supper-hour, and
found Mr. Langham and his daughter at the President's table.
Madame Alvarez pointed to a place for him beside Alice Langham,
who held up her hand in welcome. ``You were very foolish to rush
off like that,'' she said.
``It wasn't there,'' said Clay, crowding into the place beside
``No, it was here in the carriage all the time. Captain Stuart
found it for me.''
``Oh, he did, did he?'' said Clay; ``that's why I couldn't find
it. I am hungry,'' he laughed, ``my ride gave me an appetite.''
He looked over and grinned at Stuart, but that gentleman was
staring fixedly at the candles on the table before him, his eyes
filled with concern. Clay observed that Madame Alvarez was
covertly watching the young officer, and frowning her disapproval
at his preoccupation. So he stretched his leg under the table
and kicked viciously at Stuart's boots. Old General Rojas, the
Vice-President, who sat next to Stuart, moved suddenly and then
blinked violently at the ceiling with an expression of
patient suffering, but the exclamation which had escaped him
brought Stuart back to the present, and he talked with the woman
next him in a perfunctory manner.
Miss Langham and her father were waiting for their carriage in
the great hall of the Palace as Stuart came up to Clay, and
putting his hand affectionately on his shoulder, began pointing
to something farther back in the hall. To the night-birds of the
streets and the noisy fiacre drivers outside, and to the crowd of
guests who stood on the high marble steps waiting for their turn
to depart, he might have been relating an amusing anecdote of the
ball just over.
``I'm in great trouble, old man,'' was what he said. ``I must
see you alone to-night. I'd ask you to my rooms, but they watch
me all the time, and I don't want them to suspect you are in this
until they must. Go on in the carriage, but get out as you pass
the Plaza Bolivar and wait for me by the statue there.''
Clay smiled, apparently in great amusement. ``That's very
good,'' he said.
He crossed over to where King stood surveying the powdered
beauties of Olancho and their gowns of a past fashion, with an
intensity of admiration which would have been suspicious to those
who knew his tastes. ``When we get into the carriage,''
said Clay, in a low voice, ``we will both call to Stuart that we
will see him to-morrow morning at breakfast.''
``All right,'' assented King. ``What's up?''
Stuart helped Miss Langham into her carriage, and as it moved
away King shouted to him in English to remember that he was
breakfasting with him on the morrow, and Clay called out in
Spanish, ``Until to-morrow at breakfast, don't forget.'' And
Stuart answered, steadily, ``Good night until to-morrow at one.''
As their carriage jolted through the dark and narrow street,
empty now of all noise or movement, one of Stuart's troopers
dashed by it at a gallop, with a lighted lantern swinging at his
side. He raised it as he passed each street crossing, and held
it high above his head so that its light fell upon the walls of
the houses at the four corners. The clatter of his horse's hoofs
had not ceased before another trooper galloped toward them riding
more slowly, and throwing the light of his lantern over the
trunks of the trees that lined the pavements. As the carriage
passed him, he brought his horse to its side with a jerk of the
bridle, and swung his lantern in the faces of its occupants.
``Who lives?'' he challenged.
``Olancho,'' Clay replied.
``Free men,'' Clay answered again, and pointed at the star on his
The soldier muttered an apology, and striking his heels into his
horse's side, dashed noisily away, his lantern tossing from side
to side, high in the air, as he drew rein to scan each tree and
passed from one lamp-post to the next.
``What does that mean?'' said Mr. Langham; ``did he take us for
``It is the custom,'' said Clay. ``We are out rather late, you
``If I remember rightly, Clay,'' said King, ``they gave a ball at
Brussels on the eve of Waterloo.''
``I believe they did,'' said Clay, smiling. He spoke to the
driver to stop the carriage, and stepped down into the street.
``I have to leave you here,'' he said; ``drive on quickly,
please; I can explain better in the morning.''
The Plaza Bolivar stood in what had once been the centre of the
fashionable life of Olancho, but the town had moved farther up
the hill, and it was now far in the suburbs, its walks neglected
and its turf overrun with weeds. The houses about it had fallen
into disuse, and the few that were still occupied at the time
Clay entered it showed no sign of life. Clay picked his way
over the grass-grown paths to the statue of Bolivar, the
hero of the sister republic of Venezuela, which still stood on
its pedestal in a tangle of underbrush and hanging vines. The
iron railing that had once surrounded it was broken down, and the
branches of the trees near were black with sleeping buzzards.
Two great palms reared themselves in the moonlight at either
side, and beat their leaves together in the night wind,
whispering and murmuring together like two living conspirators.
``This ought to be safe enough,'' Clay murmured to himself.
``It's just the place for plotting. I hope there are no
snakes.'' He seated himself on the steps of the pedestal, and
lighting a cigar, remained smoking and peering into the shadows
about him, until a shadow blacker than the darkness rose at his
feet, and a voice said, sternly, ``Put out that light. I saw it
half a mile away.''
Clay rose and crushed his cigar under his foot. ``Now then, old
man,'' he demanded briskly, ``what's up? It's nearly daylight
and we must hurry.''
Stuart seated himself heavily on the stone steps, like a man
tired in mind and body, and unfolded a printed piece of paper.
Its blank side was damp and sticky with paste.
``It is too dark for you to see this,'' he began, in a
strained voice, ``so I will translate it to you. It is an attack
on Madame Alvarez and myself. They put them up during the ball,
when they knew my men would be at the Palace. I have had them
scouring the streets for the last two hours tearing them down,
but they are all over the place, in the cafe's and clubs. They
have done what they were meant to do.''
Clay took another cigar from his pocket and rolled it between his
lips. ``What does it say?'' he asked.
``It goes over the old ground first. It says Alvarez has given
the richest birthright of his country to aliens--that means the
mines and Langham--and has put an alien in command of the army--
that is meant for me. I've no more to do with the army than you
have--I only wish I had! And then it says that the boundary
aggressions of Ecuador and Venezuela have not been resented in
consequence. It asks what can be expected of a President who is
as blind to the dishonor of his country as he is to the dishonor
of his own home?''
Clay muttered under his breath, ``Well, go on. Is it explicit?
More explicit than that?''
``Yes,'' said Stuart, grimly. ``I can't repeat it. It is quite
clear what they mean.''
``Have you got any of them?'' Clay asked. Can you fix it on
some one that you can fight?''
``Mendoza did it, of course,'' Stuart answered, ``but we cannot
prove it. And if we could, we are not strong enough to take him.
He has the city full of his men now, and the troops are pouring
in every hour.''
``Well, Alvarez can stop that, can't he?''
``They are coming in for the annual review. He can't show the
people that he is afraid of his own army.''
``What are you going to do?''
``What am I going to do?'' Stuart repeated, dully. ``That is
what I want you to tell me. There is nothing I can do now. I've
brought trouble and insult on people who have been kinder to me
than my own blood have been. Who took me in when I was naked and
clothed me, when I hadn't a friend or a sixpence to my name. You
remember--I came here from that row in Colombia with my wound,
and I was down with the fever when they found me, and Alvarez
gave me the appointment. And this is how I reward them. If I
stay I do more harm. If I go away I leave them surrounded by
enemies, and not enemies who fight fair, but damned thieves and
scoundrels, who stab at women and who fight in the dark. I
wouldn't have had it happen, old man, for my right arm!
They--they have been so kind to me, and I have been so happy
here--and now!'' The boy bowed his face in his hands and sat
breathing brokenly while Clay turned his unlit cigar between his
teeth and peered at him curiously through the darkness. ``Now I
have made them both unhappy, and they hate me, and I hate myself,
and I have brought nothing but trouble to every one. First I
made my own people miserable, and now I make my best friends
miserable, and I had better be dead. I wish I were dead. I wish
I had never been born.''
Clay laid his hand on the other's bowed shoulder and shook him
gently. ``Don't talk like that,'' he said; ``it does no good.
Why do you hate yourself?''
``What?'' asked Stuart, wearily, without looking up. ``What did
``You said you had made them hate you, and you added that you
hated yourself. Well, I can see why they naturally would be
angry for the time, at least. But why do you hate yourself?
Have you reason to?''
``I don't understand,'' said Stuart.
``Well, I can't make it any plainer,'' Clay replied. ``It isn't
a question I will ask. But you say you want my advice. Well, my
advice to my friend and to a man who is not my friend, differ.
And in this case it depends on whether what that thing--''
Clay kicked the paper which had fallen on the ground--``what that
thing says is true.''
The younger man looked at the paper below him and then back at
Clay, and sprang to his feet.
``Why, damn you,'' he cried, ``what do you mean?''
He stood above Clay with both arms rigid at his side and his head
bent forward. The dawn had just broken, and the two men saw each
other in the ghastly gray light of the morning. ``If any man,''
cried Stuart thickly, ``dares to say that that blackguardly lie
is true I'll kill him. You or any one else. Is that what you
mean, damn you? If it is, say so, and I'll break every bone of
``Well, that's much better,'' growled Clay, sullenly. ``The way
you went on wishing you were dead and hating yourself made me
almost lose faith in mankind. Now you go make that speech to the
President, and then find the man who put up those placards, and
if you can't find the right man, take any man you meet and make
him eat it, paste and all, and beat him to death if he doesn't.
Why, this is no time to whimper--because the world is full of
liars. Go out and fight them and show them you are not afraid.
Confound you, you had me so scared there that I almost thrashed
you myself. Forgive me, won't you?'' he begged earnestly.
He rose and held out his hand and the other took it, doubtfully.
``It was your own fault, you young idiot,'' protested Clay.
``You told your story the wrong way. Now go home and get some
sleep and I'll be back in a few hours to help you. Look!'' he
said. He pointed through the trees to the sun that shot up like
a red hot disk of heat above the cool green of the mountains.
``See,'' said Clay, ``God has given us another day. Seven
battles were fought in seven days once in my country. Let's be
thankful, old man, that we're NOT dead, but alive to fight our
own and other people's battles.''
The younger man sighed and pressed Clay's hand again before he
``You are very good to me,'' he said. ``I'm not just quite
myself this morning. I'm a bit nervous, I think. You'll surely
come, won't you?''
``By noon,'' Clay promised. ``And if it does come,'' he added,
``don't forget my fifteen hundred men at the mines.''
``Good! I won't,'' Stuart replied. ``I'll call on you if I need
them.'' He raised his fingers mechanically to his helmet in
salute, and catching up his sword turned and strode away erect
and soldierly through the debris and weeds of the deserted plaza.
Clay remained motionless on the steps of the pedestal and
followed the younger man with his eyes. He drew a long breath
and began a leisurely search through his pockets for his match-
box, gazing about him as he did so, as though looking for some
one to whom he could speak his feelings. He lifted his eyes to
the stern, smooth-shaven face of the bronze statue above him that
seemed to be watching Stuart's departing figure.
``General Bolivar,'' Clay said, as he lit his cigar, ``observe
that young man. He is a soldier and a gallant gentleman. You,
sir, were a great soldier--the greatest this God-forsaken country
will ever know--and you were, sir, an ardent lover. I ask you to
salute that young man as I do, and to wish him well.'' Clay
lifted his high hat to the back of the young officer as it was
hidden in the hanging vines, and once again, with grave respect
to the grim features of the great general above him, and then
smiling at his own conceit, he ran lightly down the steps and
disappeared among the trees of the plaza.
Clay slept for three hours. He had left a note on the floor
instructing MacWilliams and young Langham not to go to the mines,
but to waken him at ten o'clock, and by eleven the three men were
galloping off to the city. As they left the Palms they met Hope
returning from a morning ride on the Alameda, and Clay begged
her, with much concern, not to ride abroad again. There was a
difference in his tone toward her. There was more anxiety in it
than the occasion seemed to justify, and he put his request in
the form of a favor to himself, while the day previous he would
simply have told her that she must not go riding alone.
``Why?'' asked Hope, eagerly. ``Is there going to be trouble?''
``I hope not,'' Clay said, ``but the soldiers are coming in from
the provinces for the review, and the roads are not safe.''
``I'd be safe with you, though,'' said Hope, smiling persuasively
upon the three men. ``Won't you take me with you, please?''
``Hope,'' said young Langham in the tone of the elder
brother's brief authority, ``you must go home at once.''
Hope smiled wickedly. ``I don't want to,'' she said.
``I'll bet you a box of cigars I can beat you to the veranda by
fifty yards,'' said MacWilliams, turning his horse's head.
Hope clasped her sailor hat in one hand and swung her whip with
the other. ``I think not,'' she cried, and disappeared with a
flutter of skirts and a scurry of flying pebbles.
``At times,'' said Clay, ``MacWilliams shows an unexpected
knowledge of human nature.''
``Yes, he did quite right,'' assented Langham, nodding his head
mysteriously. ``We've no time for girls at present, have we?''
``No, indeed,'' said Clay, hiding any sign of a smile.
Langham breathed deeply at the thought of the part he was to play
in this coming struggle, and remained respectfully silent as they
trotted toward the city. He did not wish to disturb the plots
and counterplots that he was confident were forming in Clay's
brain, and his devotion would have been severely tried had he
known that his hero's mind was filled with a picture of a young
girl in a blue shirt-waist and a whipcord riding-skirt.
Clay sent for Stuart to join them at the restaurant, and
MacWilliams arriving at the same time, the four men seated
themselves conspicuously in the centre of the cafe' and sipped
their chocolate as though unconscious of any imminent danger, and
in apparent freedom from all responsibilities and care. While
MacWilliams and Langham laughed and disputed over a game of
dominoes, the older men exchanged, under cover of their chatter,
the few words which they had met to speak.
The manifestoes, Stuart said, had failed of their purpose. He
had already called upon the President, and had offered to resign
his position and leave the country, or to stay and fight his
maligners, and take up arms at once against Mendoza's party.
Alvarez had treated him like a son, and bade him be patient. He
held that Caesar's wife was above suspicion because she was
Caesar's wife, and that no canards posted at midnight could
affect his faith in his wife or in his friend. He refused to
believe that any coup d'etat was imminent, save the one
which he himself meditated when he was ready to proclaim the
country in a state of revolution, and to assume a military
``What nonsense!'' exclaimed Clay. ``What is a military
dictatorship without soldiers? Can't he see that the army is
``No,'' Stuart replied. ``Rojas and I were with him all the
morning. Rojas is an old trump, Clay. He's not bright and he's
old-fashioned; but he is honest. And the people know it. If I
had Rojas for a chief instead of Alvarez, I'd arrest Mendoza with
my own hand, and I wouldn't be afraid to take him to the carcel
through the streets. The people wouldn't help him. But the
President doesn't dare. Not that he hasn't pluck,'' added the
young lieutenant, loyally, ``for he takes his life in his hands
when he goes to the review tomorrow, and he knows it. Think of
it, will you, out there alone with a field of five thousand men
around him! Rojas thinks he can hold half of them, as many as
Mendoza can, and I have my fifty. But you can't tell what any
one of them will do for a drink or a dollar. They're no more
soldiers than these waiters. They're bandits in uniform, and
they'll kill for the man that pays best.''
``Then why doesn't Alvarez pay them?'' Clay growled.
Stuart looked away and lowered his eyes to the table. ``He
hasn't the money, I suppose,'' he said, evasively. ``He--he has
transferred every cent of it into drafts on Rothschild. They are
at the house now, representing five millions of dollars in gold--
and her jewels, too--packed ready for flight.''
``Then he does expect trouble?'' said Clay. ``You told me--''
``They're all alike; you know them,'' said Stuart. ``They won't
believe they're in danger until the explosion comes, but they
always have a special train ready, and they keep the funds of the
government under their pillows. He engaged apartments on the
Avenue Kleber six months ago.''
``Bah!'' said Clay. ``It's the old story. Why don't you quit
Stuart raised his eyes and dropped them again, and Clay sighed.
``I'm sorry,'' he said.
MacWilliams interrupted them in an indignant stage-whisper.
``Say, how long have we got to keep up this fake game?'' he
asked. ``I don't know anything about dominoes, and neither does
Ted. Tell us what you've been saying. Is there going to be
trouble? If there is, Ted and I want to be in it. We are
looking for trouble.''
Clay had tipped back his chair, and was surveying the restaurant
and the blazing plaza beyond its open front with an expression of
cheerful unconcern. Two men were reading the morning papers near
the door, and two others were dragging through a game of dominoes
in a far corner. The heat of midday had settled on the place,
and the waiters dozed, with their chairs tipped back against the
walls. Outside, the awning of the restaurant threw a broad
shadow across the marble-topped tables on the sidewalk, and half
a dozen fiacre drivers slept peacefully in their carriages before
The town was taking its siesta, and the brisk step of a stranger
who crossed the tessellated floor and rapped with his knuckles on
the top of the cigar-case was the only sign of life. The
newcomer turned with one hand on the glass case and swept the
room carelessly with his eyes. They were hard blue eyes under
straight eyebrows. Their owner was dressed unobtrusively in a
suit of rough tweed, and this and his black hat, and the fact
that he was smooth-shaven, distinguished him as a foreigner.
As he faced them the forelegs of Clay's chair descended slowly to
the floor, and he began to smile comprehendingly and to nod his
head as though the coming of the stranger had explained something
of which he had been in doubt. His companions turned and
followed the direction of his eyes, but saw nothing of interest
in the newcomer. He looked as though he might be a concession
hunter from the States, or a Manchester drummer, prepared to
offer six months' credit on blankets and hardware.
Clay rose and strode across the room, circling the tables in such
a way that he could keep himself between the stranger and
the door. At his approach the new-comer turned his back and
fumbled with his change on the counter.
``Captain Burke, I believe?'' said Clay. The stranger bit the
cigar he had just purchased, and shook his head. ``I am very
glad to see you,'' Clay continued. ``Sit down, won't you? I
want to talk with you.''
``I think you've made a mistake,'' the stranger answered,
quietly. ``My name is--''
``Colonel, perhaps, then,'' said Clay. ``I might have known it.
I congratulate you, Colonel.''
The man looked at Clay for an instant, with the cigar clenched
between his teeth and his blue eyes fixed steadily on the other's
face. Clay waved his hand again invitingly toward a table, and
the man shrugged his shoulders and laughed, and, pulling a chair
toward him, sat down.
``Come over here, boys,'' Clay called. ``I want you to meet an
old friend of mine, Captain Burke.''
The man called Burke stared at the three men as they crossed the
room and seated themselves at the table, and nodded to them in
``We have here,'' said Clay, gayly, but in a low voice, ``the key
to the situation. This is the gentleman who supplies Mendoza
with the sinews of war. Captain Burke is a brave soldier and a
citizen of my own or of any country, indeed, which happens
to have the most sympathetic Consul-General.''
Burke smiled grimly, with a condescending nod, and putting away
the cigar, took out a brier pipe and began to fill it from his
tobacco-pouch. ``The Captain is a man of few words and extremely
modest about himself,'' Clay continued, lightly; ``so I must tell
you who he is myself. He is a promoter of revolutions. That is
his business,--a professional promoter of revolutions, and that
is what makes me so glad to see him again. He knows all about
the present crisis here, and he is going to tell us all he knows
as soon as he fills his pipe. I ought to warn you, Burke,'' he
added, ``that this is Captain Stuart, in charge of the police and
the President's cavalry troop. So, you see, whatever you say,
you will have one man who will listen to you.''
Burke crossed one short fat leg over the other, and crowded the
tobacco in the bowl of his pipe with his thumb.
``I thought you were in Chili, Clay,'' he said.
``No, you didn't think I was in Chili,'' Clay replied, kindly.
``I left Chili two years ago. The Captain and I met there,'' he
explained to the others, ``when Balmaceda was trying to make
himself dictator. The Captain was on the side of the
Congressionalists, and was furnishing arms and dynamite.
The Captain is always on the winning side, at least he always has
been--up to the present. He is not a creature of sentiment; are
you, Burke? The Captain believes with Napoleon that God is on
the side that has the heaviest artillery.''
Burke lighted his pipe and drummed absentmindedly on the table
with his match-box.
``I can't afford to be sentimental,'' he said. ``Not in my
``Of course not,'' Clay assented, cheerfully. He looked at Burke
and laughed, as though the sight of him recalled pleasant
memories. ``I wish I could give these boys an idea of how clever
you are, Captain,'' he said. ``The Captain was the first man,
for instance, to think of packing cartridges in tubs of lard, and
of sending rifles in piano-cases. He represents the Welby
revolver people in England, and half a dozen firms in the States,
and he has his little stores in Tampa and Mobile and Jamaica,
ready to ship off at a moment's notice to any revolution in
Central America. When I first met the Captain,'' Clay continued,
gleefully, and quite unmindful of the other's continued silence,
``he was starting off to rescue Arabi Pasha from the island of
Ceylon. You may remember, boys, that when Dufferin saved Arabi
from hanging, the British shipped him to Ceylon as a
political prisoner. Well, the Captain was sent by Arabi's
followers in Egypt to bring him back to lead a second rebellion.
Burke had everybody bribed at Ceylon, and a fine schooner fitted
out and a lot of ruffians to do the fighting, and then the good,
kind British Government pardoned Arabi the day before Burke
arrived in port. And you never got a cent for it; did you,
Burke shook his head and frowned.
``Six thousand pounds sterling I was to have got for that,'' he
said, with a touch of pardonable pride in his voice, ``and they
set him free the day before I got there, just as Mr. Clay tells
``And then you headed Granville Prior's expedition for buried
treasure off the island of Cocos, didn't you?'' said Clay. ``Go
on, tell them about it. Be sociable. You ought to write a book
about your different business ventures, Burke, indeed you ought;
but then,'' Clay added, smiling, ``nobody would believe you.''
Burke rubbed his chin, thoughtfully, with his fingers, and looked
modestly at the ceiling, and the two younger boys gazed at him
with open-mouthed interest.
``There ain't anything in buried treasure,'' he said, after a
pause, ``except the money that's sunk in the fitting out. It
sounds good, but it's all foolishness.''
``All foolishness, eh?'' said Clay, encouragingly. ``And
what did you do after Balmaceda was beaten?--after I last saw
``Crespo,'' Burke replied, after a pause, during which he pulled
gently on his pipe. `` `Caroline Brewer'--cleared from Key West
for Curacao, with cargo of sewing-machines and ploughs--
beached below Maracaibo--thirty-five thousand rounds and two
thousand rifles--at twenty bolivars apiece.''
``Of course,'' said Clay, in a tone of genuine appreciation. ``I
might have known you'd be in that. He says,'' he explained,
``that he assisted General Crespo in Venezuela during his
revolution against Guzman Blanco's party, and loaded a tramp
steamer called the `Caroline Brewer' at Key West with arms, which
he landed safely at a place for which he had no clearance papers,
and he received forty thousand dollars in our money for the job--
and very good pay, too, I should think,'' commented Clay.
``Well, I don't know,'' Burke demurred. ``You take in the cost
of leasing the boat and provisioning her, and the crew's wages,
and the cost of the cargo; that cuts into profits. Then I had to
stand off shore between Trinidad and Curacao for over three
weeks before I got the signal to run in, and after that I was
chased by a gun-boat for three days, and the crazy fool put a
shot clean through my engine-room. Cost me about twelve
hundred dollars in repairs.''
There was a pause, and Clay turned his eyes to the street, and
then asked, abruptly, ``What are you doing now?''
``Trying to get orders for smokeless powder,'' Burke answered,
promptly. He met Clay's look with eyes as undisturbed as his
own. ``But they won't touch it down here,'' he went on. ``It
doesn't appeal to 'em. It's too expensive, and they'd rather see
the smoke. It makes them think--''
``How long did you expect to stay here?'' Clay interrupted.
``How long?'' repeated Burke, like a man in a witness-box who is
trying to gain time. ``Well, I was thinking of leaving by
Friday, and taking a mule-train over to Bogota instead of waiting
for the steamer to Colon.'' He blew a mouthful of smoke into the
air and watched it drifting toward the door with apparent
``The `Santiago' leaves here Saturday for New York. I guess you
had better wait over for her,'' Clay said. ``I'll engage your
passage, and, in the meantime, Captain Stuart here will see that
they treat you well in the cuartel.''
The men around the table started, and sat motionless looking at
Clay, but Burke only took his pipe from his mouth and
knocked the ashes out on the heel of his boot. ``What am I going
to the cuartel for?'' he asked.
``Well, the public good, I suppose,'' laughed Clay. ``I'm sorry,
but it's your own fault. You shouldn't have shown yourself here
``What have you got to do with it?'' asked Burke, calmly, as he
began to refill his pipe. He had the air of a man who saw
nothing before him but an afternoon of pleasant discourse and
``You know what I've got to do with it,'' Clay replied. ``I've
got our concession to look after.''
``Well, you're not running the town, too, are you?'' asked Burke.
``No, but I'm going to run you out of it,'' Clay answered.
``Now, what are you going to do,--make it unpleasant for us and
force our hand, or drive down quietly with our friend MacWilliams
here? He is the best one to take you, because he's not so well
Burke turned his head and looked over his shoulder at Stuart.
``You taking orders from Mr. Clay, to-day, Captain Stuart?'' he
``Yes,'' Stuart answered, smiling. ``I agree with Mr. Clay in
whatever he thinks right.''
``Oh, well, in that case,'' said Burke, rising reluctantly,
with a protesting sigh, ``I guess I'd better call on the American
``You can't. He's in Ecuador on his annual visit,'' said Clay.
``Indeed! That's bad for me,'' muttered Burke, as though in much
concern. ``Well, then, I'll ask you to let me see our consul
``Certainly,'' Clay assented, with alacrity. ``Mr. Langham, this
young gentleman's father, got him his appointment, so I've no
doubt he'll be only too glad to do anything for a friend of
Burke raised his eyes and looked inquiringly at Clay, as though
to assure himself that this was true, and Clay smiled back at
``Oh, very well,'' Burke said. ``Then, as I happen to be an
Irishman by the name of Burke, and a British subject, I'll try
Her Majesty's representative, and we'll see if he will allow me
to be locked up without a reason or a warrant.''
``That's no good, either,'' said Clay, shaking his head. ``You
fixed your nationality, as far as this continent is concerned, in
Rio harbor, when Peixoto handed you over to the British admiral,
and you claimed to be an American citizen, and were sent on board
the `Detroit.' If there's any doubt about that we've only got to
cable to Rio Janeiro--to either legation. But what's the use?
They know me here, and they don't know you, and I do.
You'll have to go to jail and stay there.''
``Oh, well, if you put it that way, I'll go,'' said Burke.
``But,'' he added, in a lower voice, ``it's too late, Clay.''
The expression of amusement on Clay's face, and his ease of
manner, fell from him at the words, and he pulled Burke back into
the chair again. ``What do you mean?'' he asked, anxiously.
``I mean just that, it's too late,'' Burke answered. ``I don't
mind going to jail. I won't be there long. My work's all done
and paid for. I was only staying on to see the fun at the
finish, to see you fellows made fools of.''
``Oh, you're sure of that, are you?'' asked Clay.
``My dear boy!'' exclaimed the American, with a suggestion in his
speech of his Irish origin, as his interest rose. ``Did you ever
know me to go into anything of this sort for the sentiment of it?
Did you ever know me to back the losing side? No. Well, I tell
you that you fellows have no more show in this than a parcel of
Sunday-school children. Of course I can't say when they mean to
strike. I don't know, and I wouldn't tell you if I did. But
when they do strike there'll be no striking back. It'll be all
over but the cheering.''
Burke's tone was calm and positive. He held the centre of the
stage now, and he looked from one to the other of the
serious faces around him with an expression of pitying amusement.
``Alvarez may get off, and so may Madame Alvarez,'' he added,
lowering his voice and turning his face away from Stuart. ``But
not if she shows herself in the streets, and not if she tries to
take those drafts and jewels with her.''
``Oh, you know that, do you?'' interrupted Clay.
``I know nothing,'' Burke replied. ``At least, nothing to what
the rest of them know. That's only the gossip I pick up at
headquarters. It doesn't concern me. I've delivered my goods
and given my receipt for the money, and that's all I care about.
But if it will make an old friend feel any more comfortable to
have me in jail, why, I'll go, that's all.''
Clay sat with pursed lips looking at Stuart. The two boys leaned
with their elbows on the tables and stared at Burke, who was
searching leisurely through his pockets for his match-box. From
outside came the lazy cry of a vendor of lottery tickets, and the
swift, uneven patter of bare feet, as company after company of
dust-covered soldiers passed on their way from the provinces,
with their shoes swinging from their bayonets.
Clay slapped the table with an exclamation of impatience.
``After all, this is only a matter of business,'' he said,
``with all of us. What do you say, Burke, to taking a ride with
me to Stuart's rooms, and having a talk there with the President
and Mr. Langham? Langham has three millions sunk in these mines,
and Alvarez has even better reasons than that for wanting to hold
his job. What do you say? That's better than going to jail.
Tell us what they mean to do, and who is to do it, and I'll let
you name your own figure, and I'll guarantee you that they'll
meet it. As long as you've no sentiment, you might as well fight
on the side that will pay best.''
Burke opened his lips as though to speak, and then shut them
again, closely. If the others thought that he was giving Clay's
proposition a second and more serious thought, he was quick to
``There ARE men in the business who do that sort of thing,''
he said. ``They sell arms to one man, and sell the fact that
he's got them to the deputy-marshals, and sell the story of how
smart they've been to the newspapers. And they never make any
more sales after that. I'd look pretty, wouldn't I, bringing
stuff into this country, and getting paid for it, and then
telling you where it was hid, and everything else I knew? I've
no sentiment, as you say, but I've got business instinct, and
that's not business. No, I've told you enough, and if you
think I'm not safe at large, why I'm quite ready to take a ride
with your young friend here.''
MacWilliams rose with alacrity, and beaming with pleasure at the
importance of the duty thrust upon him.
Burke smiled. ``The young 'un seems to like the job,'' he said.
``It's an honor to be associated with Captain Burke in any way,''
said MacWilliams, as he followed him into a cab, while Stuart
galloped off before them in the direction of the cuartel.
``You wouldn't think so if you knew better,'' said Burke. ``My
friends have been watching us while we have been talking in there
for the last hour. They're watching us now, and if I were to nod
my head during this ride, they'd throw you out into the street
and set me free, if they had to break the cab into kindling-wood
while they were doing it.''
MacWilliams changed his seat to the one opposite his prisoner,
and peered up and down the street in some anxiety.
``I suppose you know there's an answer to that, don't you?'' he
asked. ``Well, the answer is, that if you nod your head once,
you lose the top of it.''
Burke gave an exclamation of disgust, and gazed at his zealous
guardian with an expression of trepidation and unconcealed
disapproval. ``You're not armed, are you?'' he asked.
MacWilliams nodded. ``Why not?'' he said; ``these are rather
heavy weather times, just at present, thanks to you and your
friends. Why, you seem rather afraid of fire-arms,'' he added,
with the intolerance of youth.
The Irish-American touched the young man on the knee, and lifted
his hat. ``My son,'' he said, ``when your hair is as gray as
that, and you have been through six campaigns, you'll be brave
enough to own that you're afraid of fire-arms, too.''
Clay and Langham left MacWilliams and Stuart to look after their
prisoner, and returned to the Palms, where they dined in state,
and made no reference, while the women were present, to the
events of the day.
The moon rose late that night, and as Hope watched it, from where
she sat at the dinner-table facing the open windows, she saw the
figure of a man standing outlined in silhouette upon the edge of
the cliff. He was dressed in the uniform of a sailor, and the
moonlight played along the barrel of a rifle upon which he
leaned, motionless and menacing, like a sentry on a rampart.
Hope opened her lips to speak, and then closed them again, and
smiled with pleasurable excitement. A moment later King, who sat
on her right, called one of the servants to his side and
whispered some instructions, pointing meanwhile at the wine upon
the table. And a minute after, Hope saw the white figure of the
servant cross the garden and approach the sentinel. She saw the
sentry fling his gun sharply to his hip, and then, after a
moment's parley, toss it up to his shoulder and disappear from
sight among the plants of the garden.
The men did not leave the table with the ladies, as was their
custom, but remained in the dining-room, and drew their chairs
Mr. Langham would not believe that the downfall of the Government
was as imminent as the others believed it to be. It was only
after much argument, and with great reluctance, that he had even
allowed King to arm half of his crew, and to place them on guard
around the Palms. Clay warned him that in the disorder that
followed every successful revolution, the homes of unpopular
members of the Cabinet were often burned, and that he feared,
should Mendoza succeed, and Alvarez fall, that the mob might
possibly vent its victorious wrath on the Palms because it was
the home of the alien, who had, as they thought, robbed the
country of the iron mines. Mr. Langham said he did not think the
people would tramp five miles into the country seeking vengeance.
There was an American man-of-war lying in the harbor of Truxillo,
a seaport of the republic that bounded Olancho on the south, and
Clay was in favor of sending to her captain by Weimer, the
Consul, and asking him to anchor off Valencia, to protect
American interests. The run would take but a few hours, and
the sight of the vessel's white hull in the harbor would, he
thought, have a salutary effect upon the revolutionists. But Mr.
Langham said, firmly, that he would not ask for help until he
``Well, I'm sorry,'' said Clay. ``I should very much like to
have that man-of-war here. However, if you say no, we will try
to get along without her. But, for the present, I think you had
better imagine yourself back in New York, and let us have an
entirely free hand. We've gone too far to drop out,'' he went
on, laughing at the sight of Mr. Langham's gloomy countenance.
``We've got to fight them now. It's against human nature not to
Mr. Langham looked appealingly at his son and at King.
They both smiled back at him in unanimous disapproval of his
policy of non-interference.
``Oh, very well,'' he said, at last. ``You gentlemen can go
ahead, kill, burn, and destroy if you wish. But, considering the
fact that it is my property you are all fighting about, I really
think I might have something to say in the matter.'' Mr. Langham
gazed about him helplessly, and shook his head.
``My doctor sends me down here from a quiet, happy home,'' he
protested, with humorous pathos, ``that I may rest and get
away from excitement, and here I am with armed men patrolling my
garden-paths, with a lot of filibusters plotting at my own
dinner-table, and a civil war likely to break out, entirely on my
account. And Dr. Winter told me this was the only place that
would cure my nervous prostration!''
Hope joined Clay as soon as the men left the dining-room, and
beckoned him to the farther end of the veranda. ``Well, what is
it?'' she said.
``What is what?'' laughed Clay. He seated himself on the rail of
the veranda, with his face to the avenue and the driveway leading
to the house. They could hear the others from the back of the
house, and the voice of young Langham, who was giving an
imitation of MacWilliams, and singing with peculiar emphasis,
``There is no place like Home, Sweet Home.''
``Why are the men guarding the Palms, and why did you go to the
Plaza Bolivar this morning at daybreak? Alice says you left them
there. I want to know what it means. I am nearly as old as Ted,
and he knows. The men wouldn't tell me.''
``King's men from the `Vesta'. I saw some of them dodging around
in the bushes, and I went to find out what they were doing, and I
walked into fifteen of them at your office. They have
hammocks swung all over the veranda, and a quick-firing gun made
fast to the steps, and muskets stacked all about, just like real
soldiers, but they wouldn't tell me why.''
``We'll put you in the carcel,'' said Clay, ``if you go spying on
our forces. Your father doesn't wish you to know anything about
it, but, since you have found it out for yourself, you might as
well know what little there is to know. It's the same story.
Mendoza is getting ready to start his revolution, or, rather, he
has started it.''
``Why don't you stop him?'' asked Hope.
``You are very flattering,'' said Clay. ``Even if I could stop
him, it's not my business to do it as yet. I have to wait until
he interferes with me, or my mines, or my workmen. Alvarez is
the man who should stop him, but he is afraid. We cannot do
anything until he makes the first move. If I were the President,
I'd have Mendoza shot to-morrow morning and declare martial law.
Then I'd arrest everybody I didn't like, and levy forced loans on
all the merchants, and sail away to Paris and live happy ever
after. That's what Mendoza would do if he caught any one
plotting against him. And that's what Alvarez should do, too,
according to his lights, if he had the courage of his
convictions, and of his education. I like to see a man play
his part properly, don't you? If you are an emperor, you ought
to conduct yourself like one, as our German friend does. Or if
you are a prize-fighter, you ought to be a human bulldog.
There's no such thing as a gentlemanly pugilist, any more than
there can be a virtuous burglar. And if you're a South American
Dictator, you can't afford to be squeamish about throwing your
enemies into jail or shooting them for treason. The way to
dictate is to dictate,--not to hide indoors all day while your
wife plots for you.''
``Does she do that?'' asked Hope. ``And do you think she will be
in danger--any personal danger, if the revolution comes?''
``Well, she is very unpopular,'' Clay answered, ``and unjustly
so, I think. But it would be better, perhaps, for her if she
went as quietly as possible, when she does go.''
``Is our Captain Stuart in danger, too?'' the girl continued,
anxiously. ``Alice says they put up placards about him all over
the city last night. She saw his men tearing them down as she
was coming home. What has he done?''
``Nothing,'' Clay answered, shortly. ``He happens to be in a
false position, that's all. They think he is here because he is
not wanted in his own country; that is not so. That is not
the reason he remains here. When he was even younger than
he is now, he was wild and foolish, and spent more money than he
could afford, and lent more money to his brother-officers, I have
no doubt, than they ever paid back. He had to leave the regiment
because his father wouldn't pay his debts, and he has been
selling his sword for the last three years to one or another king
or sultan or party all over the world, in China and Madagascar,
and later in Siam. I hope you will be very kind to Stuart and
believe well of him, and that you will listen to no evil against
him. Somewhere in England Stuart has a sister like you--about
your age, I mean, that loves him very dearly, and a father whose
heart aches for him, and there is a certain royal regiment that
still drinks his health with pride. He is a lonely little chap,
and he has no sense of humor to help him out of his difficulties,
but he is a very brave gentleman. And he is here fighting for
men who are not worthy to hold his horse's bridle, because of a
woman. And I tell you this because you will hear many lies about
him--and about her. He serves her with the same sort of
chivalric devotion that his ancestors felt for the woman whose
ribbons they tied to their lances, and for whom they fought in
``I understand,'' Hope said, softly. ``I am glad you told
me. I shall not forget.'' She sighed and shook her head. ``I
wish they'd let you manage it for them,'' she said.
Clay laughed. ``I fear my executive ability is not of so high an
order; besides, as I haven't been born to it, my conscience might
trouble me if I had to shoot my enemies and rob the worthy
merchants. I had better stick to digging holes in the ground.
That is all I seem to be good for.''
Hope looked up at him, quickly, in surprise.
``What do you mean by that?'' she demanded. There was a tone of
such sharp reproach in her voice that Clay felt himself put on
``I mean nothing by it,'' he said. ``Your sister and I had a
talk the other day about a man's making the best of himself, and
it opened my eyes to--to many things. It was a very healthy
``It could not have been a very healthy lesson,'' Hope replied,
severely, ``if it makes you speak of your work slightingly, as
you did then. That didn't sound at all natural, or like you. It
sounded like Alice. Tell me, did Alice say that?''
The pleasure of hearing Hope take his part against himself was so
comforting to Clay that he hesitated in answering in order to
enjoy it the longer. Her enthusiasm touched him deeply, and he
wondered if she were enthusiastic because she was young, or
because she was sure she was right, and that he was in the wrong.
``It started this way,'' Clay began, carefully. He was anxious
to be quite fair to Miss Langham, but he found it difficult to
give her point of view correctly, while he was hungering for a
word that would re-establish him in his own good opinion. ``Your
sister said she did not think very much of what I had done, but
she explained kindly that she hoped for better things from me.
But what troubles me is, that I will never do anything much
better or very different in kind from the work I have done
lately, and so I am a bit discouraged about it in consequence.
You see,'' said Clay, ``when I come to die, and they ask me what
I have done with my ten fingers, I suppose I will have to say,
`Well, I built such and such railroads, and I dug up so many tons
of ore, and opened new countries, and helped make other men
rich.' I can't urge in my behalf that I happen to have been so
fortunate as to have gained the good-will of yourself or your
sister. That is quite reason enough to me, perhaps, for having
lived, but it might not appeal to them. I want to feel that I
have accomplished something outside of myself--something that
will remain after I go. Even if it is only a breakwater or a
patent coupling. When I am dead it will not matter to any one
what I personally was, whether I was a bore or a most
charming companion, or whether I had red hair or blue. It is the
work that will tell. And when your sister, whose judgment is the
judgment of the outside world, more or less, says that the work
is not worth while, I naturally feel a bit discouraged. It meant
so much to me, and it hurt me to find it meant so little to
Hope remained silent for some time, but the rigidity of her
attitude, and the tightness with which she pressed her lips
together, showed that her mind was deeply occupied. They both
sat silent for some few moments, looking down toward the distant
lights of the city. At the farther end of the double row of
bushes that lined the avenue they could see one of King's
sentries passing to and fro across the roadway, a long black
shadow on the moonlit road.
``You are very unfair to yourself,'' the girl said at last, ``and
Alice does not represent the opinion of the world, only of a very
small part of it--her own little world. She does not know how
little it is. And you are wrong as to what they will ask you at
the end. What will they care whether you built railroads or
painted impressionist pictures? They will ask you `What have you
made of yourself? Have you been fine, and strong, and sincere?'
That is what they will ask. And we like you because you are
all of these things, and because you look at life so cheerfully,
and are unafraid. We do not like men because they build
railroads, or because they are prime ministers. We like them for
what they are themselves. And as to your work!'' Hope added, and
then paused in eloquent silence. ``I think it is a grand work,
and a noble work, full of hardships and self-sacrifices. I do
not know of any man who has done more with his life than you have
done with yours.'' She stopped and controlled her voice before
she spoke again. ``You should be very proud,'' she said.
Clay lowered his eyes and sat silent, looking down the roadway.
The thought that the girl felt what she said so deeply, and that
the fact that she had said it meant more to him than anything
else in the world could mean, left him thrilled and trembling.
He wanted to reach out his hand and seize both of hers, and tell
her how much she was to him, but it seemed like taking advantage
of the truths of a confessional, or of a child's innocent
``No, Miss Hope,'' he answered, with an effort to speak lightly,
``I wish I could believe you, but I know myself better than any
one else can, and I know that while my bridges may stand
Hope turned and looked at him with eyes full of such sweet
meaning that he was forced to turn his own away.
``I could trust both, I think,'' the girl said.
Clay drew a quick, deep breath, and started to his feet, as
though he had thrown off the restraint under which he had held
It was not a girl, but a woman who had spoken then, but, though
he turned eagerly toward her, he stood with his head bowed, and
did not dare to read the verdict in her eyes.
The clatter of horses' hoofs coming toward them at a gallop broke
in rudely upon the tense stillness of the moment, but neither
noticed it. ``How far,'' Clay began, in a strained voice, ``how
far,'' he asked, more steadily, ``could you trust me?''
Hope's eyes had closed for an instant, and opened again, and she
smiled upon him with a look of perfect confidence and content.
The beat of the horses' hoofs came now from the end of the
driveway, and they could hear the men at the rear of the house
pushing back their chairs and hurrying toward them. Hope raised
her head, and Clay moved toward her eagerly. The horses were
within a hundred yards. Before Hope could speak, the sentry's
voice rang out in a hoarse, sharp challenge, like an alarm of
fire on the silent night. ``Halt!'' they heard him cry.
And as the horses tore past him, and their riders did not turn to
look, he shouted again, ``Halt, damn you!'' and fired. The flash
showed a splash of red and yellow in the moonlight, and the
report started into life hundreds of echoes which carried it far
out over the waters of the harbor, and tossed it into sharp
angles, and distant corners, and in an instant a myriad of sounds
answered it; the frightened cry of night-birds, the barking of
dogs in the village below, and the footsteps of men running.
Clay glanced angrily down the avenue, and turned beseechingly to
``Go,'' she said. ``See what is wrong,'' and moved away as
though she already felt that he could act more freely when she
was not near him.
The two horses fell back on their haunches before the steps, and
MacWilliams and Stuart tumbled out of their saddles, and
started, running back on foot in the direction from which the
shot had come, tugging at their revolvers.
``Come back,'' Clay shouted to them. ``That's all right. He was
only obeying orders. That's one of King's sentries.''
``Oh, is that it?'' said Stuart, in matter-of-fact tones, as he
turned again to the house. ``Good idea. Tell him to fire lower
next time. And, I say,'' he went on, as he bowed curtly to
the assembled company on the veranda, ``since you have got a
picket out, you had better double it. And, Clay, see that no one
leaves here without permission--no one. That's more important,
even, than keeping them out.''
``King, will you--'' Clay began.
``All right, General,'' laughed King, and walked away to meet his
sailors, who came running up the hill in great anxiety.
MacWilliams had not opened his lips, but he was bristling with
importance, and his effort to appear calm and soldierly, like
Stuart, told more plainly than speech that he was the bearer of
some invaluable secret. The sight filled young Langham with a
disquieting fear that he had missed something.
Stuart looked about him, and pulled briskly at his gauntlets.
King and his sailors were grouped together on the grass before
the house. Mr. Langham and his daughters, and Clay, were
standing on the steps, and the servants were peering around the
corners of the house.
Stuart saluted Mr. Langham, as though to attract his especial
attention, and then addressed himself in a low tone to Clay.
``It's come,'' he said. ``We've been in it since dinner-time,
and we've got a whole night's work cut out for you.'' He
was laughing with excitement, and paused for a moment to gain
breath. ``I'll tell you the worst of it first. Mendoza has sent
word to Alvarez that he wants the men at the mines to be present
at the review to-morrow. He says they must take part. He wrote
a most insolent letter. Alvarez got out of it by saying that the
men were under contract to you, and that you must give your
permission first. Mendoza sent me word that if you would not let
the men come, he would go out and fetch them in him self.''
``Indeed!'' growled Clay. ``Kirkland needs those men to-morrow
to load ore-cars for Thursday's steamer. He can't spare them.
That is our answer, and it happens to be a true one, but if it
weren't true, if to-morrow was All Saints' Day, and the men had
nothing to do but to lie in the sun and sleep, Mendoza couldn't
get them. And if he comes to take them to-morrow, he'll have to
bring his army with him to do it. And he couldn't do it then,
Mr. Langham,'' Clay cried, turning to that gentleman, ``if I had
better weapons. The five thousand dollars I wanted you to spend
on rifles, sir, two months ago, might have saved you several
Clay's words seemed to bear some special significance to Stuart
and MacWilliams, for they both laughed, and Stuart pushed
Clay up the steps before him.
``Come inside,'' he said. ``That is why we are here.
MacWilliams has found out where Burke hid his shipment of arms.
We are going to try and get them to-night.'' He hurried into the
dining-room, and the others grouped themselves about the table.
``Tell them about it, MacWilliams,'' Stuart commanded. ``I will
see that no one overhears you.''
MacWilliams was pushed into Mr. Langham's place at the head of
the long table, and the others dragged their chairs up close
around him. King put the candles at the opposite end of the
table, and set some decanters and glasses in the centre. ``To
look as though we were just enjoying ourselves,'' he explained,
Mr. Langham, with his fine, delicate fingers beating nervously on
the table, observed the scene as an on-looker, rather than as the
person chiefly interested. He smiled as he appreciated the
incongruity of the tableau, and the contrast which the actors
presented to the situation. He imagined how much it would amuse
his contemporaries of the Union Club, at home, if they could see
him then, with the still, tropical night outside, the candles
reflected on the polished table and on the angles of the
decanters, and showing the intent faces of the young girls
and the men leaning eagerly forward around MacWilliams, who sat
conscious and embarrassed, his hair dishevelled, and his face
covered with dust, while Stuart paced up and down in the shadow,
his sabre clanking as he walked.
``Well, it happened like this,'' MacWilliams began, nervously,
and addressing himself to Clay. ``Stuart and I put Burke safely
in a cell by himself. It was one of the old ones that face the
street. There was a narrow window in it, about eight feet above
the floor, and no means of his reaching it, even if he stood on a
chair. We stationed two troopers before the door, and sent out
to a cafe' across the street for our dinners. I finished mine
about nine o'clock, and said `Good night' to Stuart, and started
to come out here. I went across the street first, however, to
give the restaurant man some orders about Burke's breakfast. It
is a narrow street, you know, with a long garden-wall and a row
of little shops on one side, and with the jail-wall taking up all
of the other side. The street was empty when I left the jail,
except for the sentry on guard in front of it, but just as I was
leaving the restaurant I saw one of Stuart's police come out and
peer up and down the street and over at the shops. He looked
frightened and anxious, and as I wasn't taking chances on
anything, I stepped back into the restaurant and watched him
through the window. He waited until the sentry had turned his
back, and started away from him on his post, and then I saw him
drop his sabre so that it rang on the sidewalk. He was standing,
I noticed then, directly under the third window from the door of
the jail. That was the window of Burke's cell. When I grasped
that fact I got out my gun and walked to the door of the
restaurant. Just as I reached it a piece of paper shot out
through the bars of Burke's cell and fell at the policeman's
feet, and he stamped his boot down on it and looked all around
again to see if any one had noticed him. I thought that was my
cue, and I ran across the street with my gun pointed, and shouted
to him to give me the paper. He jumped about a foot when he
first saw me, but he was game, for he grabbed up the paper and
stuck it in his mouth and began to chew on it. I was right up on
him then, and I hit him on the chin with my left fist and knocked
him down against the wall, and dropped on him with both knees and
choked him till I made him spit out the paper--and two teeth,''
MacWilliams added, with a conscientious regard for details.
``The sentry turned just then and came at me with his bayonet,
but I put my finger to my lips, and that surprised him, so
that he didn't know just what to do, and hesitated. You
see, I didn't want Burke to hear the row outside, so I grabbed my
policeman by the collar and pointed to the jail-door, and the
sentry ran back and brought out Stuart and the guard. Stuart was
pretty mad when he saw his policeman all bloody. He thought it
would prejudice his other men against us, but I explained out
loud that the man had been insolent, and I asked Stuart to take
us both to his private room for a hearing, and, of course, when I
told him what had happened, he wanted to punch the chap, too. We
put him ourselves into a cell where he could not communicate with
any one, and then we read the paper. Stuart has it,'' said
MacWilliams, pushing back his chair, ``and he'll tell you the
rest.'' There was a pause, in which every one seemed to take
time to breathe, and then a chorus of questions and explanations.
King lifted his glass to MacWilliams, and nodded.
`` `Well done, Condor,' '' he quoted, smiling.
``Yes,'' said Clay, tapping the younger man on the shoulder as he
passed him. ``That's good work. Now show us the paper,
Stuart pulled the candles toward him, and spread a slip of paper
on the table.
``Burke did this up in one of those paper boxes for wax
matches,'' he explained, ``and weighted it with a twenty-
dollar gold piece. MacWilliams kept the gold piece, I believe.''
``Going to use it for a scarf-pin,'' explained MacWilliams, in
parenthesis. ``Sort of war-medal, like the Chief's,'' he added,
``This is in Spanish,'' Stuart explained. ``I will translate it.
It is not addressed to any one, and it is not signed, but it was
evidently written to Mendoza, and we know it is in Burke's
handwriting, for we compared it with some notes of his that we
took from him before he was locked up. He says, `I cannot keep
the appointment, as I have been arrested.' The line that follows
here,'' Stuart explained, raising his head, ``has been scratched
out, but we spent some time over it, and we made out that it
read: `It was Mr. Clay who recognized me, and ordered my arrest.
He is the best man the others have. Watch him.' We think he
rubbed that out through good feeling toward Clay. There seems to
be no other reason. He's a very good sort, this old Burke, I
``Well, never mind him; it was very decent of him, anyway,'' said
Clay. ``Go on. Get to Hecuba.''
`` `I cannot keep the appointment, as I have been arrested,' ''
repeated Stuart. `` `I landed the goods last night in safety. I
could not come in when first signalled, as the wind and tide
were both off shore. But we got all the stuff stored away
by morning. Your agent paid me in full and got my receipt.
Please consider this as the same thing--as the equivalent'--it is
difficult to translate it exactly,'' commented Stuart--`` `as the
equivalent of the receipt I was to have given when I made my
report to-night. I sent three of your guards away on my own
responsibility, for I think more than that number might attract
attention to the spot, and they might be seen from the ore-
trains.' That is the point of the note for us, of course,''
Stuart interrupted himself to say. ``Burke adds,'' he went on,
`` `that they are to make no effort to rescue him, as he is quite
comfortable, and is willing to remain in the carcel until they
are established in power.' ''
``Within sight of the ore-trains!'' exclaimed Clay. ``There are
no ore-trains but ours. It must be along the line of the road.''
``MacWilliams says he knows every foot of land along the
railroad,'' said Stuart, ``and he is sure the place Burke means
is the old fortress on the Platta inlet, because--''
``It is the only place,'' interrupted MacWilliams, ``where there
is no surf. They could run small boats up the inlet and unload
in smooth water within twenty feet of the ramparts; and another
thing, that is the only point on the line with a wagon road
running direct from it to the Capital. It's an old road, and
hasn't been travelled over for years, but it could be used.
No,'' he added, as though answering the doubt in Clay's mind,
``there is no other place. If I had a map here I could show you
in a minute; where the beach is level there is a jungle between
it and the road, and wherever there is open country, there is a
limestone formation and rocks between it and the sea, where no
boat could touch.''
``But the fortress is so conspicuous,'' Clay demurred; ``the
nearest rampart is within twenty feet of the road. Don't you
remember we measured it when we thought of laying the double
``That is just what Burke says,'' urged Stuart. ``That is the
reason he gives for leaving only three men on guard--`I think
more than that number might attract attention to the spot, as
they might be seen from the ore-trains.' ''
``Have you told any one of this?'' Clay asked. ``What have you
done so far?''
``We've done nothing,'' said Stuart. ``We lost our nerve when we
found out how much we knew, and we decided we'd better leave it
``Whatever we do must be done at once,'' said Clay. ``They will
come for the arms to-night, most likely, and we must be there
first. I agree with you entirely about the place. It is only
a question now of our being on time. There are two things
to do. The first thing is, to keep them from getting the arms,
and the second is, if we are lucky, to secure them for ourselves.
If we can pull it off properly, we ought to have those rifles in
the mines before midnight. If we are hurried or surprised, we
must dump them off the fort into the sea.'' Clay laughed and
looked about him at the men. ``We are only following out General
Bolivar's saying `When you want arms take them from the enemy.'
Now, there are three places we must cover. This house, first of
all,'' he went on, inclining his head quickly toward the two
sisters, ``then the city, and the mines. Stuart's place, of
course, is at the Palace. King must take care of this house and
those in it, and MacWilliams and Langham and I must look after
the arms. We must organize two parties, and they had better
approach the fort from here and from the mines at the same time.
I will need you to do some telegraphing for me, Mac; and, King, I
must ask you for some more men from the yacht. How many have
King answered that there were fifteen men still on board, ten of
whom would be of service. He added that they were all well
equipped for fighting.
``I believe King's a pirate in business hours,'' Clay said,
smiling. ``All right, that's good. Now go tell ten of them to
meet me at the round-house in half an hour. I will get
MacWilliams to telegraph Kirkland to run an engine and flat cars
to within a half mile of the fort on the north, and we will come
up on it with the sailors and Ted, here, from the south. You
must run the engine yourself, MacWilliams, and perhaps it would
be better, King, if your men joined us at the foot of the grounds
here and not at the round-house. None of the workmen must see
our party start. Do you agree with me?'' he asked, turning to
those in the group about him. ``Has anybody any criticism to
Stuart and King looked at one another ruefully and laughed. ``I
don't see what good I am doing in town,'' protested Stuart.
``Yes, and I don't see where I come in, either,'' growled King,
in aggrieved tones. ``These youngsters can't do it all; besides
I ought to have charge of my own men.''
``Mutiny,'' said Clay, in some perplexity, ``rank mutiny. Why,
it's only a picnic. There are but three men there. We don't
need sixteen white men to frighten off three Olanchoans.''
``I'll tell you what to do,'' cried Hope, with the air of having
discovered a plan which would be acceptable to every one, ``let's
``Well, I certainly mean to go,'' said Mr. Langham,
decidedly. ``So some one else must stay here. Ted, you will
have to look after your sisters.''
The son and heir smiled upon his parent with a look of
affectionate wonder, and shook his head at him in fond and
``I'll stay,'' said King. ``I have never seen such ungallant
conduct. Ladies,'' he said, ``I will protect your lives and
property, and we'll invent something exciting to do ourselves,
even if we have to bombard the Capital.''
The men bade the women good-night, and left them with King and
Mr. Langham, who had been persuaded to remain overnight, while
Stuart rode off to acquaint Alvarez and General Rojas with what
was going on.
There was no chance for Clay to speak to Hope again, though he
felt the cruelty of having to leave her with everything between
them in this interrupted state. But their friends stood about
her, interested and excited over this expedition of smuggled
arms, unconscious of the great miracle that had come into his
life and of his need to speak to and to touch the woman who had
wrought it. Clay felt how much more binding than the laws of
life are the little social conventions that must be observed at
times, even though the heart is leaping with joy or racked with
sorrow. He stood within a few feet of the woman he loved,
wanting to cry out at her and to tell her all the wonderful
things which he had learned were true for the first time that
night, but he was forced instead to keep his eyes away from her
face and to laugh and answer questions, and at the last to go
away content with having held her hand for an instant, and to
have heard her say ``good-luck.''
MacWilliams called Kirkland to the office at the other end
of the Company's wire, and explained the situation to him. He
was instructed to run an engine and freight-cars to a point a
quarter of a mile north of the fort, and to wait there until he
heard a locomotive whistle or pistol shots, when he was to run on
to the fort as quickly and as noiselessly as possible. He was
also directed to bring with him as many of the American workmen
as he could trust to keep silent concerning the events of the
evening. At ten o'clock MacWilliams had the steam up in a
locomotive, and with his only passenger-car in the rear, ran it
out of the yard and stopped the train at the point nearest the
cars where ten of the `Vesta's' crew were waiting. The sailors
had no idea as to where they were going, or what they were to do,
but the fact that they had all been given arms filled them with
satisfaction, and they huddled together at the bottom of the car
smoking and whispering, and radiant with excitement and
The train progressed cautiously until it was within a half mile
below the fort, when Clay stopped it, and, leaving two men on
guard, stepped off the remaining distance on the ties, his little
band following noiselessly behind him like a procession of ghosts
in the moonlight. They halted and listened from time to time as
they drew near the ruins, but there was no sound except the
beating of the waves on the rocks and the rustling of the
sea-breeze through the vines and creepers about them.
Clay motioned to the men to sit down, and, beckoning to
MacWilliams, directed him to go on ahead and reconnoitre.
``If you fire we will come up,'' he said. ``Get back here as
soon as you can.''
``Aren't you going to make sure first that Kirkland is on the
other side of the fort?'' MacWilliams whispered.
Clay replied that he was certain Kirkland had already arrived.
``He had a shorter run than ours, and he wired you he was ready
to start when we were, didn't he?'' MacWilliams nodded.
``Well, then, he is there. I can count on Kirk.''
MacWilliams pulled at his heavy boots and hid them in the bushes,
with his helmet over them to mark the spot. ``I feel as though I
was going to rob a bank,'' he chuckled, as he waved his hand and
crept off into the underbrush.
For the first few moments the men who were left behind sat
silent, but as the minutes wore on, and MacWilliams made no sign,
they grew restless, and shifted their positions, and began to
whisper together, until Clay shook his head at them, and there
was silence again until one of them, in trying not to cough,
almost strangled, and the others tittered and those nearest
pummelled him on the back.
Clay pulled out his revolver, and after spinning the cylinder
under his finger-nail, put it back in its holder again, and the
men, taking this as an encouraging promise of immediate action,
began to examine their weapons again for the twentieth time, and
there was a chorus of short, muffled clicks as triggers were
drawn back and cautiously lowered and levers shot into place and
One of the men farthest down the track raised his arm, and all
turned and half rose as they saw MacWilliams coming toward them
on a run, leaping noiselessly in his stocking feet from tie to
tie. He dropped on his knees between Clay and Langham.
``The guns are there all right,'' he whispered, panting, ``and
there are only three men guarding them. They are all sitting on
the beach smoking. I hustled around the fort and came across the
whole outfit in the second gallery. It looks like a row of
coffins, ten coffins and about twenty little boxes and kegs. I'm
sure that means they are coming for them to-night. They've not
tried to hide them nor to cover them up. All we've got to do is
to walk down on the guards and tell them to throw up their hands.
It's too easy.''
Clay jumped to his feet. ``Come on,'' he said.
``Wait till I get my boots on first,'' begged MacWilliams. ``I
wouldn't go over those cinders again in my bare feet for all the
buried treasure in the Spanish Main. You can make all the noise
you want; the waves will drown it.''
With MacWilliams to show them the way, the men scrambled up the
outer wall of the fort and crossed the moss-covered ramparts at
the run. Below them, on the sandy beach, were three men sitting
around a driftwood fire that had sunk to a few hot ashes. Clay
nodded to MacWilliams. ``You and Ted can have them,'' he said.
``Go with him, Langham.''
The sailors levelled their rifles at the three lonely figures on
the beach as the two boys slipped down the wall and fell on their
hands and feet in the sand below, and then crawled up to within a
few feet of where the men were sitting.
As MacWilliams raised his revolver one of the three, who was
cooking something over the fire, raised his head and with a yell
of warning flung himself toward his rifle.
``Up with your hands!'' MacWilliams shouted in Spanish, and
Langham, running in, seized the nearest sentry by the neck and
shoved his face down between his knees into the sand.
There was a great rattle of falling stones and of breaking vines
as the sailors tumbled down the side of the fort, and in a half
minute's time the three sentries were looking with angry,
frightened eyes at the circle of armed men around them.
``Now gag them,'' said Clay. ``Does anybody here know how to gag
a man?'' he asked. ``I don't.''
``Better make him tell what he knows first,'' suggested Langham.
But the Spaniards were too terrified at what they had done, or at
what they had failed to do, to further commit themselves.
``Tie us and gag us,'' one of them begged. ``Let them find us
so. It is the kindest thing you can do for us.''
``Thank you, sir,'' said Clay. ``That is what I wanted to know.
They are coming to-night, then. We must hurry.''
The three sentries were bound and hidden at the base of the wall,
with a sailor to watch them. He was a young man with a high
sense of the importance of his duties, and he enlivened the
prisoners by poking them in the ribs whenever they moved.
Clay deemed it impossible to signal Kirkland as they had arranged
to do, as they could not know now how near those who were coming
for the arms might be. So MacWilliams was sent back for his
engine, and a few minutes later they heard it rumble heavily past
the fort on its way to bring up Kirkland and the flat cars. Clay
explored the lower chambers of the fort and found the boxes as
MacWilliams had described them. Ten men, with some effort, could
lift and carry the larger coffin-shaped boxes, and Clay guessed
that, granting their contents to be rifles, there must be a
hundred pieces in each box, and that there were a thousand rifles
They had moved half of the boxes to the side of the track when
the train of flat cars and the two engines came crawling and
twisting toward them, between the walls of the jungle, like a
great serpent, with no light about it but the glow from the hot
ashes as they fell between the rails. Thirty men, equally
divided between Irish and negroes, fell off the flat cars before
the wheels had ceased to revolve, and, without a word of
direction, began loading the heavy boxes on the train and passing
the kegs of cartridges from hand to hand and shoulder to
shoulder. The sailors spread out up the road that led to the
Capital to give warning in case the enemy approached, but they
were recalled before they had reason to give an alarm, and in a
half hour Burke's entire shipment of arms was on the ore-cars,
the men who were to have guarded them were prisoners in the
cab of the engine, and both trains were rushing at full speed
toward the mines. On arriving there Kirkland's train was
switched to the siding that led to the magazine in which was
stored the rack-arock and dynamite used in the blasting. By
midnight all of the boxes were safely under lock in the zinc
building, and the number of the men who always guarded the place
for fear of fire or accident was doubled, while a reserve,
composed of Kirkland's thirty picked men, were hidden in the
surrounding houses and engine-sheds.
Before Clay left he had one of the boxes broken open, and found
that it held a hundred Mannlicher rifles.
``Good!'' he said. ``I'd give a thousand dollars in gold if I
could bring Mendoza out here and show him his own men armed with
his own Mannlichers and dying for a shot at him. How old Burke
will enjoy this when he hears of it!''
The party from the Palms returned to their engine after many
promises of reward to the men for their work ``over-time,'' and
were soon flying back with their hearts as light as the smoke
MacWilliams slackened speed as they neared the fort, and moved up
cautiously on the scene of their recent victory, but a warning
cry from Clay made him bring his engine to a sharp stop.
Many lights were flashing over the ruins and they could see
in their reflection the figures of men running over the same
walls on which the lizards had basked in undisturbed peace for
``They look like a swarm of hornets after some one has chucked a
stone through their nest,'' laughed MacWilliams. ``What shall we
do now? Go back, or wait here, or run the blockade?''
``Oh, ride them out,'' said Langham; ``the family's anxious, and
I want to tell them what's happened. Go ahead.''
Clay turned to the sailors in the car behind them. ``Lie down,
men,'' he said. ``And don't any of you fire unless I tell you
to. Let them do all the shooting. This isn't our fight yet,
and, besides, they can't hit a locomotive standing still,
certainly not when it's going at full speed.''
``Suppose they've torn the track up?'' said MacWilliams,
grinning. ``We'd look sort of silly flying through the air.''
``Oh, they've not sense enough to think of that,'' said Clay.
``Besides, they don't know it was we who took their arms away,
MacWilliams opened the throttle gently, and the train moved
slowly forward, gaining speed at each revolution of the wheels.
As the noise of its approach beat louder and louder on the
air, a yell of disappointed rage and execration rose into the
night from the fort, and a mass of soldiers swarmed upon the
track, leaping up and down and shaking the rifles in their hands.
``That sounds a little as though they thought we had something to
do with it,'' said MacWilliams, grimly. ``If they don't look out
some one will get hurt.''
There was a flash of fire from where the mass of men stood,
followed by a dozen more flashes, and the bullets rattled on the
smokestack and upon the boiler of the engine.
``Low bridge,'' cried MacWilliams, with a fierce chuckle. ``Now,
He threw open the throttle as far as it would go, and the engine
answered to his touch like a race-horse to the whip. It seemed
to spring from the track into the air. It quivered and shook
like a live thing, and as it shot in between the soldiers they
fell back on either side, and MacWilliams leaned far out of his
cab-window shaking his fist at them.
``You got left, didn't you?'' he shouted. ``Thank you for the
As the locomotive rushed out of the jungle, and passed the point
on the road nearest to the Palms, MacWilliams loosened three long
triumphant shrieks from his whistle and the sailors stood up
``Let them shout,'' cried Clay. ``Everybody will have to know
now. It's begun at last,'' he said, with a laugh of relief.
``And we took the first trick,'' said MacWilliams, as he ran his
engine slowly into the railroad yard.
The whistles of the engine and the shouts of the sailors had
carried far through the silence of the night, and as the men came
hurrying across the lawn to the Palms, they saw all of those who
had been left behind grouped on the veranda awaiting them.
``Do the conquering heroes come?'' shouted King.
``They do,'' young Langham cried, joyously. ``We've got all
their arms, and they shot at us. We've been under fire!''
``Are any of you hurt?'' asked Miss Langham, anxiously, as she
and the others hurried down the steps to welcome them, while
those of the `Vesta's' crew who had been left behind looked at
their comrades with envy.
``We have been so frightened and anxious about you,'' said Miss
Hope held out her hand to Clay and greeted him with a quiet,
happy smile, that was in contrast to the excitement and
confusion that reigned about them.
``I knew you would come back safely,'' she said. And the
pressure of her hand seemed to add ``to me.''
The day of the review rose clear and warm, tempered by a light
breeze from the sea. As it was a fete day, the harbor wore an
air of unwonted inactivity; no lighters passed heavily from the
levees to the merchantmen at anchor, and the warehouses along the
wharves were closed and deserted. A thin line of smoke from the
funnels of the `Vesta' showed that her fires were burning, and
the fact that she rode on a single anchor chain seemed to promise
that at any moment she might slip away to sea.
As Clay was finishing his coffee two notes were brought to him
from messengers who had ridden out that morning, and who sat in
their saddles looking at the armed force around the office with
One note was from Mendoza, and said he had decided not to call
out the regiment at the mines, as he feared their long absence
from drill would make them compare unfavorably with their
comrades, and do him more harm than credit. ``He is afraid of
them since last night,'' was Clay's comment, as he passed the
note on to MacWilliams. ``He's quite right, they might do
The second note was from Stuart. He said the city was already
wide awake and restless, but whether this was due to the fact
that it was a fete day, or to some other cause which would
disclose itself later, he could not tell. Madame Alvarez, the
afternoon before, while riding in the Alameda, had been insulted
by a group of men around a cafe', who had risen and shouted
after her, one of them throwing a wine-glass into her lap as she
rode past. His troopers had charged the sidewalk and carried off
six of the men to the carcel. He and Rojas had urged the
President to make every preparation for immediate flight, to have
the horses put to his travelling carriage, and had warned him