The plans for the detention of the flying President Miraflores and
his companion at the coast line seemed hardly likely to fail. Doctor
Zavalla himself had gone to the port of Alazan to establish a guard
at that point. At Solitas the Liberal patriot Varras could be
depended upon to keep close watch. Goodwin held himself responsible
for the district about Coralio.
The news of the president's flight had been disclosed to no one in
the coast towns save trusted members of the ambitious political party
that was desirous of succeeding to power. The telegraph wire running
from San Mateo to the coast had been cut far up on the mountain trail
by an emissary of Zavalla's. Long before this could be repaired and
word received along it from the capital the fugitives would have
reached the coast and the question of escape or capture been solved.
Goodwin had stationed armed sentinels at frequent intervals along
the shore for a mile in each direction from Coralio. They were
instructed to keep a vigilant lookout during the night to prevent
Miraflores from attempting to embark stealthily by means of some boat
or sloop found by chance at the water's edge. A dozen patrols walked
the streets of Coralio unsuspected, ready to intercept the truant
official should he show himself there.
Goodwin was very well convinced that no precautions had been
overlooked. He strolled about the streets that bore such high-
sounding names and were but narrow, grass-covered lanes, lending his
own aid to the vigil that had been intrusted to him by Bob Englehart.
The town had begun the tepid round of its nightly diversions. A few
leisurely dandies, cald in white duck, with flowing neckties, and
swinging slim bamboo canes, threaded the grassy by-ways toward the
houses of their favored senoritas. Those who wooed the art of music
dragged tirelessly at whining concertinas, or fingered lugubrious
guitars at doors and windows. An occasional soldier from the
~cuartel~, with flapping straw hat, without coat or shoes, hurried
by, balancing his long gun like a lance in one hand. From every
density of the foliage the giant tree frogs sounded their loud and
irritating clatter. Further out, the guttural cries of marauding
baboons and the coughing of the alligators in the black estuaries
fractured the vain silence of the wood.
By ten o'clock the streets were deserted. The oil lamps that had
burned, a sickly yellow, at random corners, had been extinguished
by some economical civic agent. Coralio lay sleeping calmly between
toppling mountains and encroaching sea like a stolen babe in the arms
of its abductors. Somewhere over in that tropical darkness--perhaps
already threading the profundities of the alluvial lowlands--the high
adventurer and his mate were moving toward land's end. The game of
Fox-in-the-Morning should be coming soon to its close.
Goodwin, at his deliberate gait, passed the long, low ~cuartel~ where
Coralio's contingent of Anchuria's military force slumbered, with its
bare toes pointed heavenward. There was a law that no civilian might
come so near the headquarters of that citadel of war after nine
o'clock, but Goodwin was always forgetting the minor statutes.
"~Quien vive,~" shrieked the sentinel, wrestling prodigiously with
his lengthy musket.
"~Americano,~" growled Goodwin, without turning his head, and passed
To the right he turned, and to the left up the street that ultimately
reached the Plaza Nacional. When within the toss of a cigar stump
from the intersecting Street of the Holy Sepulchre, he stopped
suddenly in the pathway.
He saw the form of a tall man, clothed in black and carrying a large
valise, hurry down the cross-street in the direction of the beach.
And Goodwin's second glance made him aware of a woman at the man's
elbow on the farther side, who seemed to urge forward, if not even
to assist, her companion in their swift but silent progress. They
were no Coralians, those two.
Goodwin followed at increased speed, but without any of the artful
tactics that are so dear to the heart of the sleuth. The American
was too broad to feel the instinct of the detective. He stood as
an agent for the people of Anchuria, and but for political reasons
he would have demanded then and there the money. It was the design
of his party to secure the imperilled fund, to restore it to the
treasury of the country, and to declare itself in power without
bloodshed or resistance.
The couple halted at the door of the Hotel de los Extranjeros,
and the man struck upon the wood with the impatience of one unused
to his entry being stayed. Madama was long in response, but after
a time her light showed, the door was opened, and the guests housed.
Goodwin stoodin the quiet street, lighting another cigar. In
two minutes, a faint gleam began to show between the slats of the
jalousies in the upper story of the hotel. "They have engaged rooms,"
said Goodwin to himself. "So, then, their arrangements for sailing
have yet to be made."
At the moment there came along one Esteban Delgado, a barber,
an enemy to existing government, a jovial plotter against stagnation
in any form. This barber was one of Coralio's saddest dogs, often
remaining out of doors as late as eleven, post meridian. He was
a partisan Liberal; and he greeted Goodwin with flatulent importance
as a brother in the cause. But he had something important to tell.
"What think you, Don Frank!" he cried, in the universal tone of the
conspirator. "I have tonight shaved ~la barba~--what you call the
'weeskers' of the ~Presidente~ himself, of this countree! Consider!
He sent for me to come. In the poor ~casita~ of an old woman he
awaited me--in a verree leetle house in a dark place. ~Carramba!~
--el Senor Presidente to make himself thus secret and obscured!
I shave a man and not see his face? This gold piece he gave me, and
said it was to be all quite still. I think, Don Frank, there is what
you call a chip over the bug."
"Have you ever seen President Miraflores before?" asked Goodwin.
"But once," answered Esteban. "He is tall; and he had weeskers,
verree black and sufficient."
"Was any one else present when you shaved him?"
"An old Indian woman, Senor, that belonged with the ~casa~, and one
senorita--a ladee of so much beautee!--~ah, Dios!~"
"All right, Esteban," said Goodwin. "It's very lucky that you
happened along with your tonsorial information. The new
administration will be likely to remember you for this."
Then in a few words he made the barber acquainted with the crisis
into which the affairs of the nation had culminated, and instructed
him to remain outside, keeping watch upon the two sides of the hotel
that looked upon the street, and observing whether any one should
attempt to leave the house by any door or window. Goodwin himself
went to the door through which the guests had entered, opened it and
Madama had returned downstairs from her journey above to see after
the comfort of her lodgers. Her candle stood upon the bar. She was
about to take a thimbleful of rum as a solace for having her rest
disturbed. She looked up without surprise or alarm as her third
"Ah! it is the Senor Goodwin. Not often does he honor my poor house
with his presence."
"I must come oftener," said Goodwin, with a Goodwin smile. "I hear
that your cognac is the best between Belize to the north and Rio to
the south. Set out the bottle, Madama, and let us have the proof in
~un vasito~ for each of us."
"My ~aguardiente~," said Madama, with pride, "is the best. It grows,
in beautiful bottles, in the dark places among the banana-trees.
~Si, Senor~. Only at midnight can they be picked by sailor-men
who bring them, before daylight comes, to your back door. Good
~aguardiente~ is a verree difficult fruit to handle, Senor Goodwin."
Smuggling, in Coralio, was much nearer than competition to being the
life of trade. One spoke of it slyly, yet with a certain conceit,
when it had been well accomplished.
"You have guests in the house tonight," said Goodwin, laying a silver
dollar upon the counter.
"Why not?" said Madama, counting the change. "Two; but the smallest
while finished to arrive. One senor, not quite old, and one senorita
of sufficient hadsomeness. To their rooms they have ascended, not
desiring the to-eat nor the to-drink. Two rooms--~Numero~9 and
"I was expecting that gentleman and that lady," said Goodwin. "I have
important ~negocios~ that must be transacted. Will you allow me
to see them?"
"Why not?" sighed Madama, placidly. "Why should not Senor Goodwin
ascend and speak to his friends? ~Esta bueno~. Romm ~Numero~ 9 and
romm ~Numero~ 10."
Goodwin loosened in his coat pocket the American revolver that he
carried, and ascended the steep, dark stairway.
In the hallway above, the saffron light from a hanging lamp allowed
him to select the gaudy numbers on the doors. He turned the knob on
Number 9, entered and closed the door behind him.
If that was Isabel Guilbert seated by the table in that poorly
furnished room, report had failed to do her charms justice. She
rested her head upon one hand. Extreme fatigue was signified in
every line of her figure; and upon her countenance a deep perplexity
was written. Her eyes were gray-irised, and of that mold that seems
to have belonged to the orbs of all the famous queens of hearts.
Their whites were singularly clear and brilliant, concealed above
the irises by heavy horizontal lids, and showing a snowy line between
them. Such eyes denote great nobility, vigor, and, if you can
conceive of it, a most generous selfishness. She looked up when
the American entered, with an expression of surprised inquiry, but
Goodwin took off his hat and seated himself, with his characteristic
deliberate ease, upon a corner of the table. He held a lighted cigar
between his fingers. He took this familiar course because he was
sure that preliminaries would be wasted upon Miss Guilbert. He knew
her history, and the small part that the conventions had played in it.
"Good evening," he said. "Now, madame, let us come to business at
once. You will observe that I mention no names, but I know who is in
the next room, and what he carries in that valise. That is the point
which brings me here. I have come to dictate terms of surrender."
The lady neither moved nor replied, but steadily regarded the cigar
in Goodwin's hand.
"We," continued the dictator, thoughtfully regarding the neat buckskin
shoe on his gently swinging foot--"I speak for a considerable majority
of the people--demand the return of the stolen funds belonging to
them. Our terms go very little further than that. They are very
simple. As an accredited spokesman, I promise that our interference
will cease if they are accepted. Give up the money, and you and your
companion will be permitted to proceed wherever you will. In fact,
assistance will be given you in the matter of securing a passage
by any outgoing vessel you may choose. It is on my personal
responsibility that I add congratulations to the gentleman in Number
10 upon his taste in feminine charms."
Returning his cigar to his mouth, Goodwin observed her, and saw that
her eyes followed it and rested upon it with icy and significant
concentration. Apparently she had not heard a word he had said.
He understood, tossed the cigar out the window, and, with an amused
laugh, slid from the table to his feet.
"That is better," said the lady. "It makes it possible for me to
listen to you. For a second lesson in good manners, you might now
tell me by whom I am being insulted."
"I am sorry," said Goodwin, leaning one hand on the table, "that my
time is too brief for devoting much of it to a course of etiquette.
Come, now; I appeal to you good sense. You have shown yourself,
in more than one instance, to be well aware of what is to your
advantage. This is an occasion that demands the exercise of your
undoubted intelligence. There is no mystery here. I am Frank
Goodwin; and I have come for the money. I entered this room at a
venture. Had I entered the other I would have had it before me now.
Do you want it in words? The gentleman in Number 10 has betrayed
a great trust. He has robbed his people of a large sum, and it is
I who will prevent their losing it. I do not say who that gentleman
is; but if I should be forced to see him and he should prove to be
a certain high official of the republic, it will be my duty to arrest
him. The house is guarded. I am offering you liberal terms. It is
not absolutely necessary that I confer personally with the gentleman
in the next room. Bring me the valise containing the money, and we
will call the affair ended."
The lady arose from her chair and stood for a moment, thinking
"Do you live here, Mr. Goodwin?" she asked, presently.
"What is your authority for this intrusion?"
"I am an instrument of the republic. I was advised by wire of the
movements of the--gentleman in Number 10."
"May I ask you two or three questions? I believe you to be a man
more apt to be truthful than--timid. What sort of town is this--
Coralio, I think they call it?"
"Not much of a town," said Goodwin, smiling. "A banana town, as they
run. Grass huts, 'dobes, five or six two-story houses, accomodations
limited, population half-breed Spanish and Indian, Caribs and
blackamoors. No sidewalks to speak of, no amusements. Rather
unmoral. That'a an offhand sketch, of course."
"Are there any inducements, say in a social or in a business way,
for people to reside here?"
"Oh, yes," answered Goodwin, smiling broadly. "There are no
afternoon teas, no hand-organs, no department stores--and there
is no extradition treaty."
"He told me," went on the lady, speaking as if to herself, and with
a slight frown, "that there were towns on this coast of beauty and
importance; that there was a pleasing social order--especially an
American colony of cultured residents."
"There is an American colony," said Goodwin, gazing at her in some
wonder. "Some of the members are all right. Some are fugitives from
justice from the States. I recall two exiled bank presidents, one
army paymaster under a cloud, a couple of manslayers, and a widow--
arsenic, I believe, was the suspicion in her case. I myself complete
the colony, but, as yet, I have not distinguished myself by any
"Do not lose hope," said the lady, dryly; "I see nothing in your
actions tonight to guarantee you further obscurity. Some mistake has
been made; I do not know just where. But ~him~ you shall not disturb
tonight. The journey has fatigued him so that he has fallen asleep,
I think, in his clothes. You talk of stolen money! I do not
understand you. Some mistake has been made. I will convince you.
Remain where you are and I will bring you the valise that you seem
to covet so, and show it to you."
She moved toward the closed door that connected the two rooms, but
stopped, and half turned and bestowed upon Goodwin a grave, searching
look that ended in a quizzical smile.
"You force my door," she said, "and you follow your ruffianly behavior
with the basest accusations; and yet"--she hesitated, as if to
reconsider what she was about to say--"and yet--it is a puzzling
thing--I am sure there has been some mistake."
She took a step toward the door, but Goodwin stayed her by a light
touch upon her arm. I have said before that women turned to look
at him in the streets. He was the viking sort of man, big, good-
looking, and with an air of kindly truculence. She was dark and
proud, glowing or pale as her mood moved her. I do not know if Eve
were light or dark, but if such a woman had stood in the garden
I know that the apple would have been eaten. This woman was to be
Goodwin's fate, and he did not know it; but he must have felt the
first throes of destiny, for, as he faced her, the knowledge of what
report named her turned bitter in her throat.
"If there has been any mistake," he said, hotly, "it was yours. I do
not blame the man who has lost his country, his honor, and is about
to lose the poor consolation of his stolen riches as much as I blame
you, for, by Heaven! I can very well see how he was brought to it.
I can understand, and pity him. It is such women as you that strew
this degraded coast with wretched exiles, that make men forget their
trusts, that drag--"
The lady interrupted him with a weary gesture.
"There is no need to continue your insults," she said, coldly.
"I do not understand what you are saying, nor do I know what mad
blunder you are making; but if the inspection of the contents of
a gentleman's portmanteau will rid me of you, let us delay it no
She passed quickly and noiselessly into the other room, and returned
with the heavy leather valise, which she handed to the American with
an air of patient contempt.
Goodwin set the valise quickly upon the table and began to unfasten
the straps. The Lady stood by, with an expression of infinite scorn
and weariness upon her face.
The valise opened wide to a powerful, sidelong wrench. Goodwin
dragged out two or three articles of clothing, exposing the bulk of
its contents--package after package of tightly packed United States
bank and treasury notes of large denomination. Reckoning from the
high figures written upon the paper bands that bound them, the total
must have come closely upon the hundred thousand mark.
Goodwin glanced swiftly at the woman, and saw, with surprise and
a thrill of pleasure that he wondered at, that she had experienced
an unmistakeable shock. Her eyes grew wide, she gasped, and leaned
heavily against the table. She had been ignorant, then, he inferred,
that her companion had looted the government treasury. But why,
he angrily asked himself, should he be so well pleased to think this
wandering and unscrupulous singer not so black as report had painted
A noise in the other room startled them both. The door swung open,
and a tall, elderly, dark complexioned man, recently shaven, hurried
into the room.
All the pictures of President Miraflores represent him as the
possessor of a luxuriant supply of dark and carefully tended whiskers;
but the story of the barber, Esteban, had prepared Goodwin for
The man stumbled in from the dark room, his eyes blinking at the
lamplight, and heavy from sleep.
"What does this mean?" he demanded in excellent English, with a keen
and perturbed look at the American--"robbery?"
"Very near it," answered Goodwin. "But I rather think I'm in time
to prevent it. I represent the people to whom this money belongs,
and I have come to convey it back to them." He thrust his hand into
a pocket of his loose, linen coat.
The other man's hand went quickly behind him.
"Don't draw," called Goodwin, sharply; "I've got you covered from
The lady stepped forward, and laid one hand upon the shoulder of her
hesitating companion. She pointed to the table. "Tell me the truth
--the truth," she said, in a low voice. "Whose money is that?"
The man did not answer. He gave a deep, long-drawn sigh, leaned
and kissed her on the forehead, stepped back into the other room
and closed the door.
Goodwin foresaw his purpose, and jumped for the door, but the report
of the pistol echoed as his hand touched the knob. A heavy fall
followed, and some one swept him aside and struggled into the room
of the fallen man.
A desolation, thought Goodwin, greater than that derived from
the loss of cavalier and gold must have been in the heart of the
enchantress to have wrung from her, in that moment, the cry of one
turning to the all-forgiving, all-comforting earthly consoler--to
have made her call out from that bloody and dishonored room--"Oh,
mother, mother, mother!"
But there was an alarm outside. The barber, Esteban, at the sound
of the shot, had raised his voice; and the shot itself had aroused
half the town. A pattering of feet came up the street, and official
orders rang out on the still air. Goodwin had a duty to perform.
Circumstances had made him the custodian of his adopted country's
treasure. Swiftly cramming the money into the valise, he closed it,
leaned far out of the window and dropped it into a thick orange-tree
in the little inclosure below.
They will tell you in Coralio, as they delight in telling the
stranger, of the conclusion of that tragic flight. They will tell
you how the upholders of the law came apace when the alarm was
sounded--the ~Comandante~ in red slippers and a jacket like a head
waiter's and girded sword, the soldiers with their interminable guns,
followed by outnumbering officers struggling into their gold and lace
epaulettes; the bare-footed policemen (the only capables in the lot),
and ruffled citizens of every hue and description.
They say that the countenance of the dead man was marred sadly by
the effects of the shot; but he was identified as the fallen president
by both Goodwin and the barber Esteban. On the next morning messages
began to come over the mended telegraph wire; and the story of the
flight from the capital was given out to the public. In San Mateo
the revolutionary party had seized the sceptre of government, without
opposition, and the ~vivas~ of the mercurial populace quickly effaced
the interest belonging to the unfortunate Miraflores.
They will relate to you how the new government sifted the towns
and raked the roads to find the valise containing Anchuria's surplus
capital, which the president was known to have carried with him,
but all in vain. In Coralio Senor Goodwin himself led the searching
party which combed that town as carefully as a woman combs her hair;
but the money was not found.
So they buried the dead man, without honors, back of the town near
the little bridge that spans the mangrove swamp; and for a ~real~
a boy will show you his grave. They say that the old woman in whose
hut the barber shaved the president placed the wooden slab at his
head, and burned the inscription upon it with a hot iron.
You will hear also that Senor Goodwin, like a tower of strength,
shielded Dona Isabel Guilbert through those subsequent distressful
days; and that his scruples as to her past career (if he had any)
vanished; and her adventuresome waywardness (if she had any) left
her, and they were wedded and were happy.
The American built a home on a little foothill near the town. It is
a conglomerate structure of native woods that, exported, would be
worth a fortune, and of brick, palm, glass, bamboo and adobe. There
is a paradise of nature about it; and something of the same sort
within. The natives speak of its interior with hands uplifted in
admiration. There are floors polished like mirrors and covered with
hand-woven Indian rugs of silk fibre, tall ornaments and pictures,
musical instruments and papered walls--"figure-it-to-yourself!"
But they cannot tell you in Coralio (as you shall learn) what became
of the money that Frank Goodwin dropped into the orange-tree. But
that shall come later; for the palms are fluttering in the breeze,
bidding us to sport and gaiety.