The new administration of Anchuria entered upon its duties and
privileges with enthusiasm. Its first act was to send an agent
to Coralio with imperative orders to recover, if possible, the sum
of money ravished from the treasury by the ill-fated Miraflores.
Colonel Emilio Falcon, the private secretary of Losada, the new
president, was despatched from the capital upon this important
The position of private secretary to a tropical president is
a responsible one. He must be a diplomat, a spy, a ruler of men,
a body-guard to his chief, and a smeller-out of plots and nascent
revolutions. Often he is the power behind the throne, the dictator
of policy; and a president chooses him with a dozen times the care
with which he selects a matrimonial mate.
Colonel Falcon, a handsome and urbane gentleman of Castilian courtesy
and debonnaire manners, came to Coralio with the task before him of
striking upon the cold trail of the lost money. There he conferred
with the military authorities, who had received instructions to
cooperate with him in the search.
Colonel Falcon established his headquarters in one of the rooms of
the Casa Morena. Here for a week he held informal sittings--much as
if he were a kind of unified grand jury--and summoned before him all
those whose testimony might illumine the financial tragedy that had
accompanied the less momentous one of the late president's death.
Two or three who were thus examined, among whom was the barber
Esteban, declared that they had identified the body of the president
before its burial.
"Of a truth," testified Esteban before the mighty secretary, "it was
he, the president. Consider!--how could I shave a man and not see his
face? He sent for me to shave him in a small house. He had a beard
very black and thick. Had I ever seen the president before? Why not?
I saw him once ride forth in a carriage from the ~vapor~ in Solitas.
When I shaved him he gave me a gold piece, and said there was to be no
talk. But I am a Liberal--I am devoted to my country--and I spake of
these things to Senor Goodwin."
"It is known," said Colonel Falcon, smoothly, "that the late President
took with him an American leather valise, containing a large amount of
money. Did you see that?"
"~De veras~--no," Esteban answered. "The light in the little house
was but a small lamp by which I could scarcely see to shave the
President. Such a thing there may have been, but I did not see it.
No. Also in the room was a young lady--a senorita of much beauty--
that I could see even in so small a light. But the money, senor, or
the thing in which it was carried--that I did not see."
The ~comandante~ and other officers gave testimony that they had been
awakened and alarmed by the noise of a pistol-shot in the Hotel de
los Extranjeros. Hurrying thither to protect the peace and dignity
of the republic, they found a man lying dead, with a pistol clutched
in his hand. Beside him was a young woman, weeping sorely. Senor
Goodwin was also in the room when they entered it. But of the valise
of money they saw nothing.
Madame Timotea Ortiz, the proprietress of the hotel in which the game
of Fox-in-the-Morning had been played out, told of the coming of the
two guests to her house.
"To my house they came," said she--"one ~senor~ not quite old, and
one ~senorita~ of sufficient handsomeness. They desired not to eat
or to drink--not even of my ~aguardiente~, which is the best. To
their rooms they ascended--~Numero Nueve~ and ~Numero Diez~. Later
came Senor Goodwin, who ascended to speak with them. Then I heard
a great noise like that of a ~canon~, and they said that the ~pobre
Presidente~ had shot himself. ~Esta bueno~. I saw nothing of money
or of the thing you call ~veliz~ that you say he carried it in."
Colonel Falcon soon came to the reasonable conclusion that if any one
in Coralio could furnish a clue to the vanished money, Frank Goodwin
must be the man. But the wise secretary pursued a different course
in seeking information from the American. Goodwin was a powerful
friend to the new administration, and one who was not to be carelessly
dealt with in respect to either his honesty or his courage. Even
the private secretary of His Excellency hesitated to have this rubber
prince and mahogany baron haled before him as a common citizen
of Anchuria. So he sent Goodwin a flowery epistle, each word-petal
dripping with honey, requesting the favor of an interview. Goodwin
replied with an invitation to dinner at his own house.
Before the hour named the American walked over to the Casa Morena,
and greeted his guest frankly and friendly. Then the two strolled,
in the cool of the afternoon, to Goodwin's home in the environs.
The American left Colonel Falcon in a big, cool, shadowed room
with a floor of inlaid and polished woods that any millionaire
in the States Would have envied, excusing himself for a few minutes.
He crossed a ~patio~, shaded with deftly arranged awnings and plants,
and entered a long room looking upon the sea in the opposite wing
of the house. The broad jalousies were opened wide, and the ocean
breeze flowed in through the room, an invisible current of coolness
and health. Goodwin's wife sat near one of the windows, making
a water-color sketch of the afternoon seascape.
Here was a woman who looked to be happy. And more--she looked to
be content. Had a poet been inspired to pen just similes concerning
her favor, he would have likened her full, clear eyes, with their
white-encircled, gray irises, to moonflowers. With none of the
goddesses whose traditional charms have become coldly classic
would the discerning rhymester have compared her. She was purely
Paradisaic, not Olympian. If you can imagine Eve, after the eviction,
beguiling the flaming warriors and serenely reentering the Garden,
you will have her. Just so human, and still so harmonious with Eden
seemed Mrs. Goodwin.
When her husband entered she looked up, and her lips curved and
parted; her eyelids fluttered twice or thrice--a movement remindful
(Proesy forgive us!) of the tail-wagging of a faithful dog--and a
little ripple went through her like the commotion set up in a weeping
willow by a puff of wind. Thus she ever acknowledged his coming,
were it twenty times a day. If they who sometimes sat over their wine
in Coralio, reshaping old, diverting stories of the madcap career
of Isabel Guilbert, could have seen the wife of Frank Goodwin that
afternoon in the estimable aura of her happy wifehood, they might
have disbelieved, or have agreed to forget, those graphic annals of
the life of the one for whom their president gave up his country and
"I have brought a guest to dinner," said Goodwin. "One Colonel
Falcon, from San Mateo. He is come on government business. I do not
think you will care to see him, so I prescribe for you one of those
convenient and indisputable feminine headaches."
"He has come to inquire about the lost money, has he not?" asked
Mrs. Goodwin, going on with her sketch.
"A good guess!" acknowledged Goodwin. "He has been holding an
inquisition among the natives for three days. I am next on his list
of witnesses, but as he feels shy about dragging one of Uncle Sam's
subjects before him, he consents to give it the outward appearance
of a social function. He will apply the torture over my own wine
"Has he found any one who saw the valise of money?"
"Not a soul. Even Madama Ortiz, whose eyes are so sharp for the sight
of a revenue official, does not remember that there was any baggage."
Mrs. Goodwin laid down her brush and sighed.
"I am so sorry, Frank," she said, "that they are giving you so much
trouble about the money. But we can't let them know about it, can
"Not without doing our intelligence a great injustice," said Goodwin,
with a smile and a shrug that he had picked up from the natives.
"~Americano~, though I am, they would have me in the ~calaboza~ in
half an hour if they knew we had appropriated that valise. No; we
must appear as ignorant about the money as the other ignoramuses in
"Do you think that this man they have sent suspects you?" she asked,
with a little pucker of her brows. "He'd better not," said the
American, carelessly. "It's lucky that no one caught a sight of the
valise except myself. As I was in the rooms when the shot was fired,
it is not surprising that they should want to investigate my part
in the affair rather closely. But there's no cause for alarm.
This colonel is down on the list of events for a good dinner, with
a dessert of American 'bluff' that will end the matter, I think."
Mrs. Goodwin rose and walked to the window. Goodwin followed and
stood by her side. She leaned to him, and rested in the protection
of his strength, as she had always rested since that dark night
on which he had first made himself her tower of refuge. Thus they
stood for a little while.
Straight through the lavish growth of tropical branch and leaf and
vine that confronted them had been cunningly trimmed a vista, that
ended at the cleared environs of Coralio, on the banks of the mangrove
swamp. At the other end of the aerial tunnel they could see the grave
and wooden headpiece that bore the name of the unhappy President
Miraflores. From this window when the rains forbade the open,
and from the green and shady slopes of Goodwin's fruitful lands when
the skies were smiling, his wife was wont to look upon that grave
with a gentle sadness that was now scarcely a mar to her happiness.
"I loved him so, Frank!" she said, "even after that terrible flight
and its awful ending. And you have been so good to me, and have made
me so happy. It has all grown into such a strange puzzle. If they
were to find out that we got the money do you think they would force
you to make the amount good to the government?"
"They would undoubtedly try," answered Goodwin. "You are right about
its being a puzzle. And it must remain a puzzle to Falcon and all
his countrymen until it solves itself. You and I, who know more than
any one else, only know half of the solution. We must not let even
a hint about this money get abroad. Let them come to the theory that
the president concealed it in the mountains during his journey, or
that he found means to ship it out of the country before he reached
Coralio. I don't think that Falcon suspects me. He is making
a closer investigation, according to his orders, but he will find out
Thus they spake together. Had any one overheard or overseen them
as they discussed the lost funds of Anchuria there would have been
a second puzzle presented. For upon the faces and in the bearing
of each of them was visible (if countenances are to be believed) Saxon
honesty and pride and honorable thoughts. In Goodwin's steady eye
and firm lineaments, molded into material shape by the inward spirit
of kindness and generosity and courage, there was nothing reconcilable
with his words.
As for his wife, physiognomy championed her even in the face of their
accusive talk. Nobility was in her guise; purity was in her glance.
The devotion that she manifested had not even the appearance of that
feeling that now and then inspires a woman to share the guilt of
her partner out of the pathetic greatness other love. No, there was
a discrepancy here between what the eye would have seen and the ear
Dinner was served to Goodwin and his guest in the patio, under cool
foliage and flowers. The American begged the illustrious secretary
to excuse the absence of Mrs. Goodwin, who was suffering, he said,
from a headache brought on by a slight ~calentura~.
After the meal they lingered, according to the custom, over their
coffee and cigars. Colonel Falcon, with true Castilian delicacy,
waited for his host to open the question that they had met to discuss.
He had not long to wait. As soon as the cigars were lighted,
the American cleared the way by inquiring whether the secretary's
investigations in the town had furnished him with any clue to
the lost funds.
"I have found no one yet," admitted Colonel Falcon, "who even had
sight of the valise or the money. Yet I have persisted. It has
been proven in the capital that President Miraflores set out
from San Mateo with one hundred thousand dollars belonging to the
government, accompanied by Senorita Isabel Guilbert, the opera singer.
The Government, officially and personally, is loathe to believe,"
concluded Colonel Falcon, with a smile, "that our late President's
tastes would have permitted him to abandon on the route, as excess
baggage, either of the desirable articles with which his flight was
"I suppose you would like to hear what I have to say about the
affair," said Goodwin, coming directly to the point. "It will not
require many words."
"On that night, with others of our friends here, I was keeping
a lookout for the president, having been notified of his flight
by a telegram in our national cipher from Englehart, one of our
leaders in the capital. About ten o'clock that night I saw a man
and a woman hurrying along the streets. They went to the Hotel de
los Extranjeros, and engaged rooms. I followed them upstairs, leaving
Esteban, who had come up, to watch outside. The barber had told me
that he had shaved the beard from the president's face that night;
therefore I was prepared, when I entered the rooms, to find him
with a smooth face. When I apprehended him in the name of the people
he drew a pistol and shot himself instantly. In a few minutes many
officers and citizens were on the spot. I suppose you have been
informed of the subsequent facts."
Goodwin paused. Losada's agent maintained an attitude of waiting,
as if he expected a continuance.
"And now," went on the American, looking steadily into the eyes of
the other man, and giving each word a deliberate emphasis, "you will
oblige me by attending carefully to what I have to add. I saw no
valise or receptacle of any kind, or any money belonging to the
Republic of Anchuria. If President Miraflores decamped with any funds
belonging to the treasury of this country, or to himself, or to any
one else, I saw no trace of it in the house or elsewhere, at that time
or at any other. Does that statement cover the ground of the inquiry
you wished to make of me?"
Colonel Falcon bowed, and described a fluent curve with his cigar.
His duty was performed. Goodwin was not to be disputed. He was
a loyal supporter of the government, and enjoyed the full confidence
of the new president. His rectitude had been the capital that had
brought him fortune in Anchuria, just as it had formed the lucrative
"graft" of Mellinger, the secretary of Miraflores.
"I thank you, ~Senor~ Goodwin, " said Falcon, "for speaking plainly.
But, ~Senor~ Goodwin, I am instructed to pursue every clue that
presents itself in this matter. There is one that I have not yet
touched upon. Our friends in France, senor, have a saying, '~Cherchez
la femme~,' when there is a mystery without a clue. But here we do
not have to search. The woman who accompanied the late President
in his flight must surely--"
"I must interrupt you there," interposed Goodwin. "It is true that
when I entered the hotel for the purpose of intercepting President
Miraflores I found a lady there. I must beg of you to remember that
that lady is now my wife. I speak for her as I do for myself. She
knows nothing of the fate of the valise or of the money that you
are seeking. You will say to his excellency that I guarantee her
innocence. I do not need to add to you, Colonel Falcon, that I do
not care to have her questioned or disturbed."
Colonel Falcon bowed again.
"~Por supuesto~, no!" he cried. And to indicate that the inquiry
was ended he added: "And now, senor, let me beg of you to show me
that sea view from your galeria of which you spoke. I am a lover
of the sea."
In the early evening Goodwin walked back to the town with his guest,
leaving him at the corner of the Calle Grande. As he was returning
homeward one "Beelzebub" Blythe, with the air of a courtier and
the outward aspect of a scarecrow, pounced upon him hopefully from
the door of a ~pulperia~.
Blythe had been re-christened "Beelzebub" as an acknowledgement of
the greatness of his fall. Once in some distant Paradise Lost, he had
foregathered with the angels of the earth. But Fate had hurled him
headlong down to the tropics, where flamed in his bosom a fire that
was seldom quenched. In Coralio they called him a beach-comber; but
he was, in reality, a categorical idealist who strove to anamorphosize
the dull verities of life by the means of brandy and rum. As
Beelzebub, himself, might have held in his clutch with unwitting
tenacity his harp or crown during his tremendous fall, so his namesake
had clung to his gold-rimmed eyeglasses as the only souvenir of his
lost estate. These he wore with impressiveness and distinction while
he combed beaches and extracted toll from his friends. By some
mysterious means he kept his drink-reddened face always smoothly
shaven. For the rest he sponged gracefully upon whomsoever he could
for enough to keep him pretty drunk, and sheltered from the rains and
"Hallo, Goodwin!" called the derelict, airily. "I was hoping I'd
strike you. I wanted to see you particularly. Suppose we go where
we can talk. Of course you know there's a chap down here looking up
the money old Miraflores lost."
"Yes," said Goodwin, "I've been talking with him. Let's go into
Espada's place. I can spare you ten minutes."
They went into the ~pulperia~ and sat at a little table upon stools
with rawhide tops.
"Have a drink?" said Goodwin.
"They can't bring it too quickly," said Blythe. "I've been in
a drought ever since morning. Hi!--~muchacho!--el aguardiente por
"Now, what do you want to see me about?" asked Goodwin, when the
drinks were before them.
"Confound it, old man," drawled Blythe, "why do you spoil a golden
moment like this with business? I wanted to see you--well, this
has the preference." He gulped down his brandy, and gazed longingly
into the empty glass.
"Have another?" suggested Goodwin.
"Between gentlemen," said the fallen angel, "I don't quite like
your use of that word 'another.' It isn't quite delicate. But
the concrete idea that the word represents is not displeasing."
The glasses were refilled. Blythe sipped blissfully from his, as
he began to enter the state of a true idealist.
"I must trot along in a minute or two," hinted Goodwin. "Was there
anything in particular?"
Blythe did not reply at once.
"Old Losada would make it a hot country," he remarked at length, "for
the man who swiped that gripsack of treasury boodle, don't you think?"
"Undoubtedly, he would," agreed Goodwin calmly, as he rose leisurely
to his feet. "I'll be running over to the house, now old man. Mrs.
Goodwin is alone. There was nothing important you had to say, was
"That's all," said Blythe. "Unless you wouldn't mind sending in
another drink from the bar as you go out. Old Espada has closed my
account to profit and loss. And pay for the lot, will you, like a
"All right," said Goodwin. "~Buenas noches~."
"Beezlebub" Blythe lingered over his cups, polishing his eyeglasses
with a disreputable handkerchief.
"I thought I could do it, but I couldn't," he muttered to himself
after a time. "A gentleman can't blackmail the man that he drinks