by Richard Harding Davis
For over forty years, in one part of the world or another, old man
Marshall had, served his country as a United States consul. He had
been appointed by Lincoln. For a quarter of a century that fact was
his distinction. It was now his epitaph. But in former years, as
each new administration succeeded the old, it had again and again
saved his official head. When victorious and voracious
place-hunters, searching the map of the world for spoils, dug out
his hiding-place and demanded his consular sign as a reward for a
younger and more aggressive party worker, the ghost of the dead
President protected him. In the State Department, Marshall had
become a tradition. "You can't touch Him!" the State Department
would say; "why, HE was appointed by Lincoln!" Secretly, for this
weapon against the hungry headhunters, the department was
infinitely grateful. Old man Marshall was a consul after its own
heart. Like a soldier, he was obedient, disciplined; wherever he
was sent, there, without question, he would go. Never against
exile, against ill-health, against climate did he make complaint.
Nor when he was moved on and down to make way for some
ne'er-do-well with influence, with a brother-in- law in the Senate,
with a cousin owning a newspaper, with rich relatives who desired
him to drink himself to death at the expense of the government
rather than at their own, did old man Marshall point to his record
as a claim for more just treatment.
And it had been an excellent record. His official reports, in a
quaint, stately hand, were models of English; full of information,
intelligent, valuable, well observed. And those few of his
countrymen, who stumbled upon him in the out-of- the-world places
to which of late he had been banished, wrote of him to the
department in terms of admiration and awe. Never had he or his
friends petitioned for promotion, until it was at last apparent
that, save for his record and the memory of his dead patron, he had
no friends. But, still in the department the tradition held and,
though he was not advanced, he was not dismissed.
"If that old man's been feeding from the public trough ever since
the Civil War," protested a "practical" politician, "it seems to
me, Mr. Secretary, that he's about had his share. Ain't it time he
give some one else a bite? Some of us that has, done the work, that
has borne the brunt----"
"This place he now holds," interrupted the Secretary of State
suavely, "is one hardly commensurate with services like yours. I
can't pronounce the name of it, and I'm not sure just where it is,
but I see that, of the last six consuls we sent there, three
resigned within a month and the other three died of yellow-fever.
Still, if you. insist----"
The practical politician reconsidered hastily. "I'm not the sort,"
he protested, "to turn out a man appointed by our martyred
President. Besides, he's so old now, if the fever don't catch him,
he'll die of old age, anyway."
The Secretary coughed uncomfortably. "And they say," he murmured,
"republics are ungrateful."
"I don't quite get that," said the practical politician.
Of Porto Banos, of the Republic of Colombia, where as consul Mr.
Marshall was upholding the dignity of the United States, little
could be said except that it possessed a sure harbor. When driven
from the Caribbean Sea by stress of weather, the largest of ocean
tramps, and even battle-ships, could find in its protecting arms of
coral a safe shelter. But, as young Mr. Aiken, the wireless
operator, pointed out, unless driven by a hurricane and the fear of
death, no one ever visited it. Back of the ancient wharfs, that
dated from the days when Porto Banos was a receiver of stolen goods
for buccaneers and pirates, were rows of thatched huts, streets,
according to the season, of dust or mud, a few iron-barred,
jail-like barracks, customhouses, municipal buildings, and the
whitewashed adobe houses of the consuls. The backyard of the town
was a swamp. Through this at five each morning a rusty engine
pulled a train of flat cars to the base of the mountains, and, if
meanwhile the rails had not disappeared into the swamp, at five in
the evening brought back the flat cars laden with odorous
In the daily life of Porto Banos, waiting for the return of the
train, and betting if it would return, was the chief interest. Each
night the consuls, the foreign residents, the wireless operator,
the manager of the rusty railroad met for dinner. There at the head
of the long table, by virtue of his years, of his courtesy and
distinguished manner, of his office, Mr. Marshall presided. Of the
little band of exiles he was the chosen ruler. His rule was gentle.
By force of example he had made existence in Porto Banos more
possible. For women and children Porto Banos was a death-trap, and
before "old man Marshall" came there had been no influence to
remind the enforced bachelors of other days.
They had lost interest, had grown lax, irritable, morose. Their
white duck was seldom white. Their cheeks were unshaven. When the
sun sank into the swamp and the heat still turned Porto Banos into
a Turkish bath, they threw dice on the greasy tables of the Cafe
Bolivar for drinks. The petty gambling led to petty quarrels; the
drinks to fever. The coming of Mr. Marshall changed that. His
standard of life, his tact, his worldly wisdom, his cheerful
courtesy, his fastidious personal neatness shamed the younger men;
the desire to please him, to, stand well in his good opinion,
brought back pride and self-esteem.
The lieutenant of her Majesty's gun-boat PLOVER noted the change.
"Used to be," he exclaimed, "you couldn't get out of the Cafe
Bolivar without some one sticking a knife in you; now it's a
debating club. They all sit round a table and listen to an old
gentleman talk world politics."
If Henry Marshall brought content to the exiles of Porto Banos,
there was little in return that Porto Banos could give to him.
Magazines and correspondents in six languages kept him in touch
with those foreign lands in which he had represented his country,
but of the country he had represented, newspapers and periodicals
showed him only too clearly that in forty years it had grown away
from him, had changed beyond recognition.
When last he had called at the State Department, he had been made
to feel he was a man without a country, and when he visited his
home town in Vermont, he was looked upon as a Rip Van Winkle. Those
of his boyhood friends who were not dead had long thought of him as
dead. And the sleepy, pretty village had become a bustling
commercial centre. In the lanes where, as a young man, he had
walked among wheatfields, trolley-cars whirled between rows of
mills and factories. The children had grown to manhood, with
children of their own.
Like a ghost, he searched for house after house, where once he had
been made welcome, only to find in its place a towering office
building. "All had gone, the old familiar faces." In vain he
scanned even the shop fronts for a friendly, homelike name. Whether
the fault was his, whether he would better have served his own
interests than those of his government, it now was too late to
determine. In his own home, he was a stranger among strangers. In
the service he had so faithfully followed, rank by rank, he had
been dropped, until now he, who twice had been a consul-general,
was an exile, banished to a fever swamp. The great Ship of State
had dropped him overside, had "marooned" him, and sailed away.
Twice a day he walked along the shell road to the Cafe Bolivar, and
back again to the consulate. There, as he entered the outer office,
Jose" the Colombian clerk, would rise and bow profoundly.
"Any papers for me to sign, Jose? " the consul would ask.
"Not to-day, Excellency, "the clerk would reply. Then Jose would
return to writing a letter to his lady-love; not that there was
any-thing to tell her, but because writing on the official paper of
the consulate gave him importance in his eyes, and in hers. And in
the inner office the consul would continue to gaze at the empty
harbor, the empty coral reefs, the empty, burning sky.
The little band of exiles were at second break fast when the
wireless man came in late to announce that a Red D. boat and the
island of Curacao had both reported a hurricane coming north. Also,
that much concern was felt for the safety of the yacht SERAPIS.
Three days before, in advance of her coming, she had sent a
wireless to Wilhelmstad, asking the captain of the port to reserve
a berth for her. She expected to arrive the following morning. But
for forty-eight hours nothing had been heard from her, and it was
believed she had been overhauled by the hurricane. Owing to the
presence on board of Senator Hanley, the closest friend of the new
President, the man who had made him president, much concern was
felt at Washington. To try to pick her up by wireless, the gun-boat
NEWARK had been ordered from Culebra, the cruiser RALEIGH, with
Admiral Hardy on board, from Colon. It was possible she would seek
shelter at Porto Banos. The consul was ordered to report.
As Marshall wrote out his answer, the French consul exclaimed with
"He is of importance, then, this senator?" he asked. "Is it that in
your country ships of war are at the service of a senator?"
Aiken, the wireless operator, grinned derisively.
"At the service of THIS senator, they are!" he answered. "They call
him the 'king-maker,' the man behind the throne."
"But in your country," protested the Frenchman, "there is no
throne. I thought your president was elected by the people?"
"That's what the people think," answered Aiken. "In God's country,"
he explained, "the trusts want a rich man in the Senate, with the
same interests as their own, to represent them. They chose Hanley.
He picked out of the candidates for the presidency the man he
thought would help the interests. He nominated him, and the people
voted for him. Hanley is what we call a 'boss.' "
The Frenchman looked inquiringly at Marshall.
"The position of the boss is the more dangerous," said Marshall
gravely, "because it is unofficial, because there are no laws to
curtail his powers. Men like Senator Hanley are a menace to good
government. They see in public office only a reward for party
"That's right," assented Aiken. "Your forty years' service, Mr.
Consul, wouldn't count with Hanley. If he wanted your job, he'd
throw you out as quick as he would a drunken cook."
Mr. Marshall flushed painfully, and the French consul hastened to
"Then, let us pray," he exclaimed, with fervor, "that the hurricane
has sunk the SERAPIS, and all on board."
Two hours later, the SERAPIS, showing she had met the hurricane and
had come out second best, steamed into the harbor.
Her owner was young Herbert Livingstone, of Washington. He once had
been in the diplomatic service, and, as minister to The Hague,
wished to return to it. In order to bring this about he had
subscribed liberally to the party campaign fund.
With him, among other distinguished persons, was the all- powerful
Hanley. The kidnapping of Hanley for the cruise, in itself,
demonstrated the ability of Livingstone as a diplomat. It was the
opinion of many that it would surely lead to his appointment as a
minister plenipotentiary. Livingstone was of the same opinion. He
had not lived long in the nation's capital without observing the
value of propinquity. How many men he knew were now paymasters, and
secretaries of legation, solely because those high in the
government met them daily at the Metropolitan Club, and preferred
them in almost any other place. And if, after three weeks as his
guest on board what the newspapers called his floating palace, the
senator could refuse him even the prize, legation of Europe, there
was no value in modest merit. As yet, Livingstone had not hinted at
his ambition. There was no need. To a statesman of Hanley's
astuteness, the largeness of Livingstone's contribution to the
campaign fund was self- explanatory.
After her wrestling-match with the hurricane, all those on board
the SERAPIS seemed to find in land, even in the swamp land of Porto
Banos, a compelling attraction. Before the anchors hit the water,
they were in the launch. On reaching shore, they made at once for
the consulate. There were many cables they wished to start on their
way by wireless; cables to friends, to newspapers, to the
Jose, the Colombian clerk, appalled by the unprecedented invasion
of visitors, of visitors so distinguished, and Marshall, grateful
for a chance to serve his fellow- countrymen, and especially his
countrywomen, were ubiquitous, eager, indispensable. At Jose's desk
the great senator, rolling his cigar between his teeth, was using,
to Jose's ecstasy, Jose's own pen to write a reassuring message to
the White House. At the consul's desk a beautiful creature, all in
lace and pearls, was struggling to compress the very low opinion
she held of a hurricane into ten words. On his knee, Henry Cairns,
the banker, was inditing instructions to his Wall Street office,
and upon himself Livingstone had taken the responsibility of
replying to the inquiries heaped upon Marshall's desk, from many
It was just before sunset, and Marshall produced his tea things,
and the young person in pearls and lace, who was Miss Cairns, made
tea for the women, and the men mixed gin and limes with tepid
water. The consul apologized for proposing a toast in which they
could not join. He begged to drink to those who had escaped the
perils of the sea. Had they been his oldest and nearest friends,
his little speech could not have been more heart-felt and sincere.
To his distress, it moved one of the ladies to tears, and in
embarrassment he turned to the men.
"I regret there is no ice," he said, "but you know the rule of the
tropics; as soon as a ship enters port, the ice- machine bursts."
"I'll tell the steward to send you some, sir," said Livingstone,
"and as long as we're here."
The senator showed his concern.
"As long as we're here?" he gasped.
"Not over two days," answered the owner nervously. "The chief says
it will take all of that to get her in shape. As you ought to know,
Senator, she was pretty badly mauled."
The senator gazed blankly out of the window. Beyond it lay the
naked coral reefs, the empty sky, and the ragged palms of Porto
Livingstone felt that his legation was slipping from him.
"That wireless operator," he continued hastily, "tells me there is
a most amusing place a few miles down the coast, Las Bocas, a sort
of Coney Island, where the government people go for the summer.
There's surf bathing and roulette and cafes chantants. He says
there's some Spanish dancers----"
The guests of the SERAPIS exclaimed with interest; the senator
smiled. To Marshall the general enthusiasm over the thought of a
ride on a merry-go-round suggested that the friends of Mr.
Livingstone had found their own society far from satisfying.
Greatly encouraged, Livingstone continued, with enthusiasm:
"And that wireless man said," he added, "that with the launch we
can get there in half an hour. We might run down after dinner." He
turned to Marshall.
"Will you join us, Mr. Consul?" he asked, "and dine with us,
Marshall accepted with genuine pleasure. It had been many months
since he had sat at table with his own people. But he shook his
"I was wondering about Las Bocas," he explained, "if your going
there might not get you in trouble at the next port. With a yacht,
I think it is different, but Las Bocas is under quarantine"
There was a chorus of exclamations.
"It's not serious," Marshall explained. "There was bubonic plague
there, or something like it. You would be in no danger from that.
It is only that you might be held up by the regulations. Passenger
steamers can't land any one who has been there at any other port of
West Indies. The English are especially strict. The Royal Mail
won't even receive any one on board here without a certificate from
the English consul saying he has not visited Las Bocas. For an
American they would require the same guarantee from me. But I don't
think the regulations extend to yachts. I will inquire. I don't
wish to deprive you of any of the many pleasures of Porto Banos,"
he added, smiling, "but if you were refused a landing at your next
port I would blame myself."
"It's all right," declared Livingstone decidedly. "It's just as you
say; yachts and warships are exempt. Besides, I carry my own
doctor, and if he won't give us a clean bill of health, I'll make
him walk the plank. At eight, then, at dinner. I'll send the cutter
for you. I can't give you a salute, Mr. Consul, but you shall have
all the side boys I can muster."
Those from the yacht parted from their consul in the most friendly
"I think he's charming!" exclaimed Miss Cairns. "And did you notice
his novels? They were in every language. It must be terribly lonely
down here, for a man like that."
"He's the first of our consuls we've met on this trip," growled her
father, "that we've caught sober."
"Sober!" exclaimed his wife indignantly.
"He's one of the Marshalls of Vermont. I asked him."
"I wonder," mused Hanley, "how much the place is worth? Hamilton,
one of the new senators, has been deviling the life out of me to
send his son somewhere. Says if he stays in Washington he'll
disgrace the family. I should think this place would drive any man
to drink himself to death in three months, and young Hamilton, from
what I've seen of him, ought to be able to do it in a week. That
would leave the place open for the next man."
"There's a postmaster in my State thinks he carried it." The
senator smiled grimly. "He has consumption, and wants us to give
him a consulship in the tropics. I'll tell him I've seen Porto
Banos, and that it's just the place for him."
The senator's pleasantry was not well received. But Miss Cairns
alone had the temerity to speak of what the others were thinking.
"What would become of Mr. Marshall?" she asked. The senator smiled
"I don't know that I was thinking of Mr. Marshall," he said. "I
can't recall anything he has done for this administration. You see,
Miss Cairns," he explained, in the tone of one addressing a small
child, "Marshall has been abroad now for forty years, at the
expense of the taxpayers. Some of us think men who have lived that
long on their fellow-countrymen had better come home and get to
Livingstone nodded solemnly in assent. He did not wish a post
abroad at the expense of the taxpayers. He was willing to pay for
it. And then, with "ex-Minister" on his visiting cards, and a sense
of duty well performed, for the rest of his life he could join the
other expatriates in Paris.
Just before dinner, the cruiser RALEIGH having discovered the
whereabouts of the SERAPIS by wireless, entered the harbor, and
Admiral Hardy came to the yacht to call upon the senator, in whose
behalf he had been scouring the Caribbean Seas. Having paid his
respects to that personage, the admiral fell boisterously upon
The two old gentlemen were friends of many years. They had met,
officially and unofficially, in many strange parts of the world. To
each the chance reunion was a piece of tremendous good fortune. And
throughout dinner the guests of Livingstone, already bored with
each other, found in them and their talk of former days new and
delightful entertainment. So much so that when, Marshall having
assured them that the local quarantine regulations did not extend
to a yacht, the men departed for Las Bocas, the women insisted that
he and admiral remain behind.
It was for Marshall a wondrous evening. To foregather with his old
friend whom he had known since Hardy was a mad midshipman, to sit
at the feet of his own charming countrywomen, to listen to their
soft, modulated laughter, to note how quickly they saw that to him
the evening was a great event, and with what tact each contributed
to make it the more memorable; all served to wipe out the months of
bitter loneliness, the stigma of failure, the sense of undeserved
neglect. In the moonlight, on the cool quarter- deck, they sat, in
a half-circle, each of the two friends telling tales out of school,
tales of which the other was the hero or the victim, "inside"
stories of great occasions, ceremonies, bombardments, unrecorded
Hardy had helped to open the Suez Canal. Marshall had assisted the
Queen of Madagascar to escape from the French invaders. On the
Barbary Coast Hardy had chased pirates. In Edinburgh Marshall had
played chess with Carlyle. He had seen Paris in mourning in the
days of the siege, Paris in terror in the days of the Commune; he
had known Garibaldi, Gambetta, the younger Dumas, the creator of
"Do you remember that time in Tangier," the admiral urged, when I
was a midshipman, and got into the bashaw's harem?"
"Do you remember how I got you out? Marshall replied grimly.
"And," demanded Hardy, "do you remember when Adelina Patti paid a
visit to the KEARSARGE at Marseilles in '65--George Dewey was our
second officer--and you were bowing and backing away from her, and
you backed into an open hatch, and she said 'my French isn't up to
it' what was it she said?"
"I didn't hear it," said Marshall; "I was too far down the hatch."
"Do you mean the old KEARSARGE?" asked Mrs. Cairns. "Were you in
the service then, Mr. Marshall? "
With loyal pride in his friend, the admiral answered for him:
"He was our consul-general at Marseilles!"
There was an uncomfortable moment. Even those denied imagination
could not escape the contrast, could see in their mind's eye the
great harbor of Marseilles, crowded with the shipping of the world,
surrounding it the beautiful city, the rival of Paris to the north,
and on the battleship the young consul-general making his bow to
the young Empress of Song. And now, before their actual eyes, they
saw the village of Porto Banos, a black streak in the night, a row
of mud shacks, at the end of the wharf a single lantern yellow in
the clear moonlight.
Later in the evening Miss Cairns led the admiral to one side.
"Admiral," she began eagerly, "tell me about your friend. Why is he
here? Why don't they give him a place worthy of him? I've seen many
of our representatives abroad, and I know we cannot afford to waste
men like that." The girl exclaimed indignantly: " He's one of the
most interesting men I've ever met! He's lived everywhere, known
every one. He's a distinguished man, a cultivated man; even I can
see he knows his work, that he's a diplomat, born, trained, that
he's----" The admiral interrupted with a growl.
"You don't have to tell ME about Henry," he protested. "I've known
Henry twenty-five years. If Henry got his deserts," he exclaimed
hotly, "he wouldn't be a consul on this coral reef; he'd be a
minister in Europe. Look at me! We're the same age. We started
together. When Lincoln sent him to Morocco as consul, he signed my
commission as a midshipman. Now I'm an admiral. Henry has twice my
brains and he's been a consul- general, and he's HERE, back at the
foot of the ladder!"
"Why?" demanded the girl.
"Because the navy is a service and the consular service isn't a
service. Men like Senator Hanley use it to pay their debts. While
Henry's been serving his country abroad, he's lost his friends,
lost his 'pull.' Those politicians up at Washington have no use for
him. They don't consider that a consul like Henry can make a
million dollars for his countrymen. He can keep them from shipping
goods where there's no market, show them where there is a market."
The admiral snorted contemptuously. "You don't have to tell ME the
value of a good consul. But those politicians don't consider that.
They only see that he has a job worth a few hundred dollars, and
they want it, and if he hasn't other politicians to protect him,
they'll take it." The girl raised her head.
"Why don't you speak to the senator?" she asked. "Tell him you've
known him for years, that----"
"Glad to do it!" exclaimed the admiral heartily. " It won't be the
first time. But Henry mustn't know. He's too confoundedly touchy.
He hates the IDEA of influence, hates men like Hanley, who abuse
it. If he thought anything was given to him except on his merits,
he wouldn't take it."
"Then we won't tell him, " said the girl. For a moment she
"If I spoke to Mr. Hanley," she asked, "told him what I learned
to-night of Mr. Marshall, "would it have any effect?"
"Don't know how it will affect Hanley, said the sailor, "but if you
asked me to make anybody a consul-general, I'd make him an
Later in the evening Hanley and Livingstone were seated alone on
deck. The visit to Las Bocas had not proved amusing, but, much to
Livingstone's relief, his honored guest was now in good-humor. He
took his cigar from his lips, only to sip at a long cool drink. He
was in a mood flatteringly confidential and communicative.
"People have the strangest idea of what I can do for them," he
laughed. It was his pose to pretend he was without authority. "They
believe I've only to wave a wand, and get them anything they want.
I thought I'd be safe from them on board a yacht."
Livingstone, in ignorance of what was coming, squirmed
"But it seems," the senator went on, " I'm at the mercy of a
conspiracy. The women folk want me to do something for this fellow
Marshall. If they had their way, they'd send him to the Court of
St. James. And old Hardy, too, tackled me about him. So did Miss
And then Marshall himself got me behind the wheel-house, and I
thought he was going to tell me how good he was, too I But he
As though the joke were on himself, the senator laughed
"Told me, instead, that Hardy ought to be a vice-admiral."
Livingstone, also, laughed, with the satisfied air of one who
cannot be tricked.
"They fixed it up between them," he explained, " each was to put in
a good word for the other." He nodded eagerly. "That's what I
There were moments during the cruise when Senator Hanley would have
found relief in dropping his host overboard. With mock deference,
the older man inclined his head.
"That's what you think, is it?" he asked. "Livingstone," he added,
"you certainly are a great judge of men!"
The next morning, old man Marshall woke with a lightness at his
heart that had been long absent. For a moment, conscious only that
he was happy, he lay between sleep and waking, frowning up at his
canopy of mosquito net, trying to realize what change had come to
him. Then he remembered. His old friend had returned. New friends
had come into his life and welcomed him kindly. He was no longer
lonely. As eager as a boy, he ran to the window. He had not been
dreaming. In the harbor lay the pretty yacht, the stately,
white-hulled war- ship. The flag that drooped from the stern of
each caused his throat to tighten, brought warm tears to his eyes,
fresh resolve to his discouraged, troubled spirit. When he knelt
beside his bed, his heart poured out his thanks in gratitude and
While he was dressing, a blue-jacket brought a note from the
admiral. It invited him to tea on board the war-ship, with the
guests of the SERAPIS. His old friend added that he was coming to
lunch with his consul, and wanted time reserved for a long talk.
The consul agreed gladly. He was in holiday humor. The day promised
to repeat the good moments of the night previous.
At nine o'clock, through the open door of the consulate, Marshall
saw Aiken, the wireless operator, signaling from the wharf
excitedly to the yacht, and a boat leave the ship and return.
Almost immediately the launch, carrying several passengers, again
made the trip shoreward.
Half an hour later, Senator Hanley, Miss Cairns, and Livingstone
came up the waterfront, and entering the consulate, seated
themselves around Marshall's desk. Livingstone was sunk in
melancholy. The senator, on. the contrary, was smiling broadly. His
manner was one of distinct relief. He greeted the consul with
"I'm ordered home!" he announced gleefully. Then, remembering the
presence of Livingstone, he hastened to add: "I needn't say how
sorry I am to give up my yachting trip, but orders are orders. The
President," he explained to Marshall, " cables me this morning to
come back and take my coat off." The prospect, as a change from
playing bridge on a pleasure boat, seemed far from depressing him.
"Those filibusters in the Senate," he continued genially, "are
making trouble again. They think they've got me out of the way for
another month, but they'll find they're wrong. When that bill comes
up, they'll find me at the old stand and ready for business!"
Marshall did not attempt to conceal his personal disappointment.
"I am so sorry you are leaving," he said; "selfishly sorry, I mean.
I'd hoped you all would be here for several days." He looked
inquiringly toward Livingstone.
"I understood the SERAPIS was disabled," he explained.
"She is," answered Hanley. "So's the RALEIGH. At a pinch, the
admiral might have stretched the regulations and carried me to
Jamaica, but the RALEIGH's engines are knocked about too. I've GOT
to reach Kingston Thursday. The German boat leaves there Thursday
for New York. At first it looked as though I couldn't do it, but we
find that the Royal Mail is due to- day, and she can get to
Kingston Wednesday night. It's a great piece of luck. I wouldn't
bother you with my troubles, "the senator explained pleasantly,
"but the agent of the Royal Mail here won't sell me a ticket until
you've put your seal to this." He extended a piece of printed
As Hanley had been talking, the face of the consul had grown grave.
He accepted the paper, but did not look at it. Instead, he regarded
the senator with troubled eyes. When he spoke, his tone was one of
"It is most unfortunate," he said. "But I am afraid the ROYAL MAIL
will not take you on board. Because of Las Bocas," he explained.
"If we had only known!" he added remorsefully. "It is MOST
"Because of Las Bocas?" echoed Hanley.
"You don't mean they'll refuse to take me to Jamaica because I
spent half an hour at the end of a wharf listening to a squeaky
"The trouble," explained Marshall, "is this: if they carried you,
all the other passengers would be held in quarantine for ten days,
and there are fines to pay, and there would be difficulties over
the mails. But," he added hopefully, "maybe the regulations have
been altered. I will see her captain, and tell him----"
"See her captain!" objected Hanley. "Why see the captain? He
doesn't know I've been to that place. Why tell him? All I need is
a clean bill of health from you. That's all HE wants. You have only
to sign that paper." Marshall regarded the senator with surprise.
"But I can't," he said.
"You can't? Why not?"
"Because it certifies to the fact that you have not visited Las
Bocas. Unfortunately, you have visited Las Bocas."
The senator had been walking up and down the room. Now he seated
himself, and stared at Marshall curiously.
"It's like this, Mr. Marshall," he began quietly. "The President
desires my presence in Washington, thinks I can be of some use to
him there in helping carry out certain party measures--measures to
which he pledged himself before his election. Down here, a British
steamship line has laid down local rules which, in my case anyway,
are ridiculous. The question is, are you going to be bound by the
red tape of a ha'penny British colony, or by your oath to the
President of the United States?"
The sophistry amused Marshall. He smiled good-naturedly and shook
"I'm afraid, Senator," he said, "that way of putting it is hardly
fair. Unfortunately, the question is one of fact. I will explain to
"You will explain nothing to the captain!" interrupted Hanley.
"This is a matter which concerns no one but our two selves. I am
not asking favors of steamboat captains. I am asking an American
consul to assist an American citizen in trouble, and, "he added,
with heavy sarcasm, "incidentally, to carry out the wishes of his
Marshall regarded the senator with an expression of both surprise
"Are you asking me to put my name to what is not so?" he said. "Are
"That paper, Mr. Marshall," returned Hanley steadily, "is a mere
form, a piece of red tape. There's no more danger of my carrying
the plague to Jamaica than of my carrying a dynamite bomb. You KNOW
"I DO know that," assented Marshall heartily."I appreciate your
position, and I regret it exceedingly. You are the innocent victim
of a regulation which is a wise regulation, but which is most
unfair to you. My own position," he added, "is not important, but
you can believe me, it is not easy. It is certainly no pleasure for
me to be unable to help you."
Hanley was leaning forward, his hands on his knees, his eyes
watching Marshall closely. "Then you refuse?" he said. "Why?"
Marshall regarded the senator steadily. His manner was untroubled.
The look he turned upon Hanley was one of grave disapproval.
"You know why," he answered quietly. "It is impossible."
In sudden anger Hanley rose. Marshall, who had been seated behind
his desk, also rose. For a moment, in silence, the two men
confronted each other. Then Hanley spoke; his tone was harsh and
"Then I am to understand," he exclaimed, "that you refuse to carry
out the wishes of a United States Senator and of the President of
the United States?"
In front of Marshall, on his desk, was the little iron stamp of the
consulate. Protectingly, almost caressingly, he laid his hand upon
"I refuse," he corrected, "to place the seal of this consulate on
There was a moment's pause. Miss Cairns, unwilling to remain, and
unable to withdraw, clasped her hands unhappily and stared at the
floor. Livingstone exclaimed in indignant protest. Hanley moved a
step nearer and, to emphasize what he said, tapped his knuckles on
the desk. With the air of one confident of his advantage, he spoke
slowly and softly.
"Do you appreciate," he asked, "that, while you may be of some
importance down here in this fever swamp, in Washington I am
supposed to carry some weight? Do you appreciate that I am a
senator from a State that numbers four millions of people, and that
you are preventing me from serving those people?"
Marshall inclined his head gravely and politely.
"And I want you to appreciate," he said, "that while I have no
weight at Washington, in this fever swamp I have the honor to
represent eighty millions of people, and as long as that consular
sign is over my door I don't intend to prostitute it for YOU, or
the President of the United States, or any one of those eighty
Of the two men, the first to lower his eyes was Hanley. He laughed
shortly, and walked to the door. There he turned, and
indifferently, as though the incident no longer interested him,
drew out his watch.
"Mr. Marshall," he said, "if the cable is working, I'll take your
tin sign away from you by sunset."
For one of Marshall's traditions, to such a speech there was no
answer save silence. He bowed, and, apparently serene and
undismayed, resumed his seat. From the contest, judging from the
manner of each, it was Marshall, not Hanley, who had emerged
But Miss Cairns was not deceived. Under the unexpected blow,
Marshall had turned older. His clear blue eyes had grown less
alert, his broad shoulders seemed to stoop. In sympathy, her own
eyes filled with sudden tears.
"What will you do?" she whispered.
"I don't know what I shall do," said Marshall simply. "I should
have liked to have resigned. It's a prettier finish. After forty
years--to be dismissed by cable is--it's a poor way of ending it."
Miss Cairns rose and walked to the door. There she turned and
"I am sorry," she said. And both understood that in saying no more
than that she had best shown her sympathy.
An hour later the sympathy of Admiral Hardy was expressed more
"If he comes on board my ship," roared that gentleman, "I'll push
him down an ammunition hoist and break his damned neck!"
Marshall laughed delightedly. The loyalty of his old friend was
never so welcome.
"You'll treat him with every courtesy," he said. "The only
satisfaction he gets out of this is to see that he has hurt me. We
will not give him that satisfaction."
But Marshall found that to conceal his wound was more difficult
than he had anticipated. When, at tea time, on the deck of the
war-ship, he again met Senator Hanley and the guests of the
SERAPIS, he could not forget that his career had come to an end.
There was much to remind him that this was so. He was made aware of
it by the sad, sympathetic glances of the women; by their tactful
courtesies; by the fact that Livingstone, anxious to propitiate
Hanley, treated him rudely; by the sight of the young officers,
each just starting upon a career of honor, and possible glory, as
his career ended in humiliation; and by the big war-ship herself,
that recalled certain crises when he had only to press a button and
war-ships had come at his bidding.
At five o'clock there was an awkward moment. The Royal Mail boat,
having taken on her cargo, passed out of the harbor on her way to
Jamaica, and dipped her colors. Senator Hanley, abandoned to his
fate, observed her departure in silence.
Livingstone, hovering at his side, asked sympathetically: "Have
they answered your cable, sir?" "They have," said Hanley gruffly.
"Was it--was it satisfactory?" pursued the diplomat. "It WAS," said
the senator, with emphasis.
Far from discouraged, Livingstone continued his inquiries.
"And when," he asked eagerly, "are you going to tell him?"
"Now!" said the senator.
The guests were leaving the ship. When all were seated in the
admiral's steam launch, the admiral descended the accommodation
ladder and himself picked up the tiller ropes.
"Mr. Marshall," he called, "when I bring the launch broadside to
the ship and stop her, you will stand ready to receive the consul's
Involuntarily, Marshall uttered an exclamation of protest. He had
forgotten that on leaving the war-ship, as consul, he was entitled
to seven guns. Had he remembered, he would have insisted that the
ceremony be omitted. He knew that the admiral wished to show his
loyalty, knew that his old friend was now paying him this honor
only as a rebuke to Hanley. But the ceremony was no longer an
honor. Hanley had made of it a mockery. It served only to emphasize
what had been taken from him. But, without a scene, it now was too
late to avoid it. The first of the seven guns had roared from the
bow, and, as often he had stood before, as never he would so stand
again, Marshall took his place at the gangway of the launch. His
eyes were fixed on the flag, his gray head was uncovered, his hat
was pressed above his heart.
For the first time since Hanley had left the consulate, he fell
into sudden terror lest he might give way to his emotions.
Indignant at the thought, he held himself erect. His face was set
like a mask, his eyes were untroubled. He was determined they
should not see that he was suffering.
Another gun spat out a burst of white smoke, a stab of flame. There
was an echoing roar. Another and another followed. Marshall counted
seven, and then, with a bow to the admiral, backed from the
And then another gun shattered the hot, heavy silence. Marshall,
confused, embarrassed, assuming he had counted wrong, hastily
returned to his place. But again before he could leave it, in
savage haste a ninth gun roared out its greeting. He could not
still be mistaken. He turned appealingly to his friend. The eyes of
the admiral were fixed upon the war-ship. Again a gun shattered the
silence. Was it a jest? Were they laughing at him? Marshall flushed
miserably. He gave a swift glance toward the others. They were
smiling. Then it was a jest. Behind his back, something of which
they all were cognizant was going forward. The face of Livingstone
alone betrayed a like bewilderment to his own. But the others, who
knew, were mocking him.
For the thirteenth time a gun shook the brooding swamp land of
Porto Banos. And then, and not until then, did the flag crawl
slowly from the mast-head. Mary Cairns broke the tenseness by
bursting into tears. But Marshall saw that every one else, save she
and Livingstone, were still smiling. Even the bluejackets in charge
of the launch were grinning at him. He was beset by smiling faces.
And then from the war-ship, unchecked, came, against all
regulations, three long, splendid cheers.
Marshall felt his lips quivering, the warm tears forcing their way
to his eyes. He turned beseechingly to his friend. His voice
"Charles," he begged, "are they laughing at me?"
Eagerly, before the other would answer, Senator Hanley tossed his
cigar into the water and, scrambling forward, seized Marshall by
"Mr. Marshall," he cried, "our President has great faith in Abraham
Lincoln's judgment of men. And this salute means that this morning
he appointed you our new minister to The Hague. I'm one of those
politicians who keeps his word. I TOLD YOU I'd take your tin sign
away from you by sunset. I've done it!"