A story with a moral appended is like the bill of a mosquito. It bores
you, and then injects a stinging drop to irritate your conscience.
Therefore let us have the moral first and be done with it. All is not
gold that glitters, but it is a wise child that keeps the stopper in his
bottle of testing acid.
Where Broadway skirts the corner of the square presided over by George
the Veracious is the Little Rialto. Here stand the actors of that
quarter, and this is their shibboleth: "'Nit,' says I to Frohman, 'you
can't touch me for a kopeck less than two-fifty per,' and out I walks."
Westward and southward from the Thespian glare are one or two streets
where a Spanish-American colony has huddled for a little tropical
warmth in the nipping North. The centre of life in this precinct is "El
Refugio," a café and restaurant that caters to the volatile exiles from
the South. Up from Chili, Bolivia, Colombia, the rolling republics of
Central America and the ireful islands of the Western Indies flit the
cloaked and sombreroed señores, who are scattered like burning lava by
the political eruptions of their several countries. Hither they come to
lay counterplots, to bide their time, to solicit funds, to enlist
filibusterers, to smuggle out arms and ammunitions, to play the game at
long taw. In El Refugio, they find the atmosphere in which they thrive.
In the restaurant of El Refugio are served compounds delightful to the
palate of the man from Capricorn or Cancer. Altruism must halt the story
thus long. On, diner, weary of the culinary subterfuges of the Gallic
chef, hie thee to El Refugio! There only will you find a fish--bluefish,
shad or pompano from the Gulf--baked after the Spanish method. Tomatoes
give it color, individuality and soul; chili colorado bestows upon
it zest, originality and fervor; unknown herbs furnish piquancy and
mystery, and--but its crowning glory deserves a new sentence. Around
it, above it, beneath it, in its vicinity--but never in it--hovers an
ethereal aura, an effluvium so rarefied and delicate that only the
Society for Psychical Research could note its origin. Do not say that
garlic is in the fish at El Refugio. It is not otherwise than as if the
spirit of Garlic, flitting past, has wafted one kiss that lingers in the
parsley-crowned dish as haunting as those kisses in life, "by hopeless
fancy feigned on lips that are for others." And then, when Conchito, the
waiter, brings you a plate of brown frijoles and a carafe of wine that
has never stood still between Oporto and El Refugio--ah, Dios!
One day a Hamburg-American liner deposited upon Pier No. 55 Gen. Perrico
Ximenes Villablanca Falcon, a passenger from Cartagena. The General
was between a claybank and a bay in complexion, had a 42-inch waist
and stood 5 feet 4 with his Du Barry heels. He had the mustache of
a shooting-gallery proprietor, he wore the full dress of a Texas
congressman and had the important aspect of an uninstructed delegate.
Gen. Falcon had enough English under his hat to enable him to inquire
his way to the street in which El Refugio stood. When he reached that
neighborhood he saw a sign before a respectable red-brick house that
read, "Hotel Español." In the window was a card in Spanish, "Aqui se
habla Español." The General entered, sure of a congenial port.
In the cozy office was Mrs. O'Brien, the proprietress. She had
blond--oh, unimpeachably blond hair. For the rest she was amiability,
and ran largely to inches around. Gen. Falcon brushed the floor with
his broad-brimmed hat, and emitted a quantity of Spanish, the syllables
sounding like firecrackers gently popping their way down the string of
"Spanish or Dago?" asked Mrs. O'Brien, pleasantly.
"I am a Colombian, madam," said the General, proudly. "I speak the
Spanish. The advisement in your window say the Spanish he is spoken
here. How is that?"
"Well, you've been speaking it, ain't you?" said the madam. "I'm sure I
At the Hotel Español General Falcon engaged rooms and established
himself. At dusk he sauntered out upon the streets to view the wonders
of this roaring city of the North. As he walked he thought of the
wonderful golden hair of Mme. O'Brien. "It is here," said the General
to himself, no doubt in his own language, "that one shall find the most
beautiful señoras in the world. I have not in my Colombia viewed among
our beauties one so fair. But no! It is not for the General Falcon to
think of beauty. It is my country that claims my devotion."
At the corner of Broadway and the Little Rialto the General became
involved. The street cars bewildered him, and the fender of one upset
him against a pushcart laden with oranges. A cab driver missed him an
inch with a hub, and poured barbarous execrations upon his head. He
scrambled to the sidewalk and skipped again in terror when the whistle
of a peanut-roaster puffed a hot scream in his ear. "Válgame Dios! What
devil's city is this?"
As the General fluttered out of the streamers of passers like a wounded
snipe he was marked simultaneously as game by two hunters. One was
"Bully" McGuire, whose system of sport required the use of a strong arm
and the misuse of an eight-inch piece of lead pipe. The other Nimrod of
the asphalt was "Spider" Kelley, a sportsman with more refined methods.
In pouncing upon their self-evident prey, Mr. Kelley was a shade the
quicker. His elbow fended accurately the onslaught of Mr. McGuire.
"G'wan!" he commanded harshly. "I saw it first." McGuire slunk away,
awed by superior intelligence.
"Pardon me," said Mr. Kelley, to the General, "but you got balled up in
the shuffle, didn't you? Let me assist you." He picked up the General's
hat and brushed the dust from it.
The ways of Mr. Kelley could not but succeed. The General, bewildered
and dismayed by the resounding streets, welcomed his deliverer as a
caballero with a most disinterested heart.
"I have a desire," said the General, "to return to the hotel of O'Brien,
in which I am stop. Caramba! señor, there is a loudness and rapidness of
going and coming in the city of this Nueva York."
Mr. Kelley's politeness would not suffer the distinguished Colombian to
brave the dangers of the return unaccompanied. At the door of the Hotel
Español they paused. A little lower down on the opposite side of the
street shone the modest illuminated sign of El Refugio. Mr. Kelley, to
whom few streets were unfamiliar, knew the place exteriorly as a "Dago
joint." All foreigners Mr. Kelley classed under the two heads of
"Dagoes" and Frenchmen. He proposed to the General that they repair
thither and substantiate their acquaintance with a liquid foundation.
An hour later found General Falcon and Mr. Kelley seated at a table in
the conspirator's corner of El Refugio. Bottles and glasses were between
them. For the tenth time the General confided the secret of his mission
to the Estados Unidos. He was here, he declared, to purchase arms--2,000
stands of Winchester rifles--for the Colombian revolutionists. He
had drafts in his pocket drawn by the Cartagena Bank on its New York
correspondent for $25,000. At other tables other revolutionists were
shouting their political secrets to their fellow-plotters; but none was
as loud as the General. He pounded the table; he hallooed for some wine;
he roared to his friend that his errand was a secret one, and not to be
hinted at to a living soul. Mr. Kelley himself was stirred to
sympathetic enthusiasm. He grasped the General's hand across the table.
"Monseer," he said, earnestly, "I don't know where this country of yours
is, but I'm for it. I guess it must be a branch of the United States,
though, for the poetry guys and the schoolmarms call us Columbia, too,
sometimes. It's a lucky thing for you that you butted into me to-night.
I'm the only man in New York that can get this gun deal through for you.
The Secretary of War of the United States is me best friend. He's in the
city now, and I'll see him for you to-morrow. In the meantime, monseer,
you keep them drafts tight in your inside pocket. I'll call for you
to-morrow, and take you to see him. Say! that ain't the District of
Columbia you're talking about, is it?" concluded Mr. Kelley, with a
sudden qualm. "You can't capture that with no 2,000 guns--it's been
tried with more."
"No, no, no!" exclaimed the General. "It is the Republic of Colombia--it
is a g-r-reat republic on the top side of America of the South. Yes.
"All right," said Mr. Kelley, reassured. "Now suppose we trek along home
and go by-by. I'll write to the Secretary to-night and make a date with
him. It's a ticklish job to get guns out of New York. McClusky himself
can't do it."
They parted at the door of the Hotel Español. The General rolled his
eyes at the moon and sighed.
"It is a great country, your Nueva York," he said. "Truly the cars in
the streets devastate one, and the engine that cooks the nuts terribly
makes a squeak in the ear. But, ah, Señor Kelley--the señoras with hair
of much goldness, and admirable fatness--they are magnificas! Muy
Kelley went to the nearest telephone booth and called up McCrary's café,
far up on Broadway. He asked for Jimmy Dunn.
"Is that Jimmy Dunn?" asked Kelley.
"Yes," came the answer.
"You're a liar," sang back Kelley, joyfully. "You're the Secretary of
War. Wait there till I come up. I've got the finest thing down here in
the way of a fish you ever baited for. It's a Colorado-maduro, with a
gold band around it and free coupons enough to buy a red hall lamp and a
statuette of Psyche rubbering in the brook. I'll be up on the next car."
Jimmy Dunn was an A. M. of Crookdom. He was an artist in the confidence
line. He never saw a bludgeon in his life; and he scorned knockout
drops. In fact, he would have set nothing before an intended victim but
the purest of drinks, if it had been possible to procure such a thing in
New York. It was the ambition of "Spider" Kelley to elevate himself into
These two gentlemen held a conference that night at McCrary's. Kelley
"He's as easy as a gumshoe. He's from the Island of Colombia, where
there's a strike, or a feud, or something going on, and they've sent him
up here to buy 2,000 Winchesters to arbitrate the thing with. He showed
me two drafts for $10,000 each, and one for $5,000 on a bank here. 'S
truth, Jimmy, I felt real mad with him because he didn't have it in
thousand-dollar bills, and hand it to me on a silver waiter. Now, we've
got to wait till he goes to the bank and gets the money for us."
They talked it over for two hours, and then Dunn said; "Bring him to
No. ---- Broadway, at four o'clock to-morrow afternoon."
In due time Kelley called at the Hotel Español for the General. He found
the wily warrior engaged in delectable conversation with Mrs. O'Brien.
"The Secretary of War is waitin' for us," said Kelley.
The General tore himself away with an effort.
"Ay, señor," he said, with a sigh, "duty makes a call. But, señor, the
señoras of your Estados Unidos--how beauties! For exemplification, take
you la Madame O'Brien--que magnifica! She is one goddess--one Juno--what
you call one ox-eyed Juno."
Now Mr. Kelley was a wit; and better men have been shriveled by the fire
of their own imagination.
"Sure!" he said with a grin; "but you mean a peroxide Juno, don't you?"
Mrs. O'Brien heard, and lifted an auriferous head. Her businesslike eye
rested for an instant upon the disappearing form of Mr. Kelley. Except
in street cars one should never be unnecessarily rude to a lady.
When the gallant Colombian and his escort arrived at the Broadway
address, they were held in an anteroom for half an hour, and then
admitted into a well-equipped office where a distinguished looking man,
with a smooth face, wrote at a desk. General Falcon was presented to the
Secretary of War of the United States, and his mission made known by his
old friend, Mr. Kelley.
"Ah--Colombia!" said the Secretary, significantly, when he was made to
understand; "I'm afraid there will be a little difficulty in that case.
The President and I differ in our sympathies there. He prefers the
established government, while I--" the secretary gave the General a
mysterious but encouraging smile. "You, of course, know, General Falcon,
that since the Tammany war, an act of Congress has been passed requiring
all manufactured arms and ammunition exported from this country to pass
through the War Department. Now, if I can do anything for you I will be
glad to do so to oblige my old friend, Mr. Kelley. But it must be in
absolute secrecy, as the President, as I have said, does not regard
favorably the efforts of your revolutionary party in Colombia. I will
have my orderly bring a list of the available arms now in the
The Secretary struck a bell, and an orderly with the letters A. D. T. on
his cap stepped promptly into the room.
"Bring me Schedule B of the small arms inventory," said the Secretary.
The orderly quickly returned with a printed paper. The Secretary studied
"I find," he said, "that in Warehouse 9, of Government stores, there is
shipment of 2,000 stands of Winchester rifles that were ordered by the
Sultan of Morocco, who forgot to send the cash with his order. Our rule
is that legal-tender money must be paid down at the time of purchase.
My dear Kelley, your friend, General Falcon, shall have this lot of
arms, if he desires it, at the manufacturer's price. And you will
forgive me, I am sure, if I curtail our interview. I am expecting the
Japanese Minister and Charles Murphy every moment!"
As one result of this interview, the General was deeply grateful to his
esteemed friend, Mr. Kelley. As another, the nimble Secretary of War was
extremely busy during the next two days buying empty rifle cases and
filling them with bricks, which were then stored in a warehouse rented
for that purpose. As still another, when the General returned to the
Hotel Español, Mrs. O'Brien went up to him, plucked a thread from his
lapel, and said:
"Say, señor, I don't want to 'butt in,' but what does that monkey-faced,
cat-eyed, rubber-necked tin horn tough want with you?"
"Sangre de mi vida!" exclaimed the General. "Impossible it is that you
speak of my good friend, Señor Kelley."
"Come into the summer garden," said Mrs. O'Brien. "I want to have a talk
Let us suppose that an hour has elapsed.
"And you say," said the General, "that for the sum of $18,000 can be
purchased the furnishment of the house and the lease of one year with
this garden so lovely--so resembling unto the patios of my cara
"And dirt cheap at that," sighed the lady.
"Ah, Dios!" breathed General Falcon. "What to me is war and politics?
This spot is one paradise. My country it have other brave heroes to
continue the fighting. What to me should be glory and the shooting of
mans? Ah! no. It is here I have found one angel. Let us buy the Hotel
Español and you shall be mine, and the money shall not be waste on
Mrs. O'Brien rested her blond pompadour against the shoulder of the
"Oh, señor," she sighed, happily, "ain't you terrible!"
Two days later was the time appointed for the delivery of the arms to
the General. The boxes of supposed rifles were stacked in the rented
warehouse, and the Secretary of War sat upon them, waiting for his
friend Kelley to fetch the victim.
Mr. Kelley hurried, at the hour, to the Hotel Español. He found the
General behind the desk adding up accounts.
"I have decide," said the General, "to buy not guns. I have to-day buy
the insides of this hotel, and there shall be marrying of the General
Perrico Ximenes Villablanca Falcon with la Madame O'Brien."
Mr. Kelley almost strangled.
"Say, you old bald-headed bottle of shoe polish," he spluttered, "you're
a swindler--that's what you are! You've bought a boarding house with
money belonging to your infernal country, wherever it is."
"Ah," said the General, footing up a column, "that is what you call
politics. War and revolution they are not nice. Yes. It is not best that
one shall always follow Minerva. No. It is of quite desirable to keep
hotels and be with that Juno--that ox-eyed Juno. Ah! what hair of the
gold it is that she have!"
Mr. Kelley choked again.
"Ah, Senor Kelley!" said the General, feelingly and finally, "is it that
you have never eaten of the corned beef hash that Madame O'Brien she