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The Buried Treasure of Cobre by Richard Harding Davis

 

Young Everett at last was a minister plenipotentiary. In London as third secretary he had splashed around in the rain to find the ambassador's carriage. In Rome as a second secretary he had served as a clearing-house for the Embassy's visiting-cards; and in Madrid as first secretary he had acted as interpreter for a minister who, though valuable as a national chairman, had much to learn of even his own language. But although surrounded by all the wonders and delights of Europe, although he walked, talked, wined, and dined with statesmen and court beauties, Everett was not happy. He was never his own master. Always he answered the button pressed by the man higher up. Always over him loomed his chief; always, for his diligence and zeal, his chief received credit.

As His Majesty's naval attache put it sympathetically, "Better be a top-side man on a sampan than First Luff on the Dreadnought. Don't be another man's right hand. Be your own right hand." Accordingly when the State Department offered to make him minister to the Republic of Amapala, Everett gladly deserted the flesh-pots of Europe, and, on mule-back over trails in the living rock, through mountain torrents that had never known the shadow of a bridge, through swamp and jungle, rode sunburnt and saddle-sore into his inheritance.

When giving him his farewell instructions, the Secretary of State had not attempted to deceive him.

"Of all the smaller republics of Central America," he frankly told him, "Amapala is the least desirable, least civilized, least acceptable. It offers an ambitious young diplomat no chance. But once a minister, always a minister. Having lifted you out of the secretary class we can't demote you. Your days of deciphering cablegrams are over, and if you don't die of fever, of boredom, or brandy, call us up in a year or two and we will see what we can do."

Everett regarded the Secretary blankly.

"Has the department no interest in Amapala?" he begged. "Is there nothing you want there?"

"There is one thing we very much want," returned the Secretary, "but we can't get it. We want a treaty to extradite criminals."

The young minister laughed confidently.

"Why!" he exclaimed, "that should be easy."

The Secretary smiled.

"You have our full permission to get it," he said. "This department," he explained, "under three administrations has instructed four ministers to arrange such a treaty. The Bankers' Association wants it; the Merchants' Protective Alliance wants it. Amapala is the only place within striking distance of our country where a fugitive is safe. It is the only place where a dishonest cashier, swindler, or felon can find refuge. Sometimes it seems almost as though when a man planned a crime he timed it exactly so as to catch the boat for Amapala. And, once there, we can't lay our hands on him; and, what's more, we can't lay our hands on the money he takes with him. I have no right to make a promise," said the great man, "but the day that treaty is signed you can sail for a legation in Europe. Do I make myself clear?"

"So clear, sir," cried Everett, laughing, "that if I don't arrange that treaty I will remain in Amapala until I do."

"Four of your predecessors," remarked the Secretary, "made exactly the same promise, but none of them got us the treaty."

"Probably none of them remained in Amapala, either," retorted Everett.

"Two did," corrected the Secretary; "as you ride into Camaguay you see their tombstones."

Everett found the nine-day mule-ride from the coast to the capital arduous, but full of interest. After a week at his post he appreciated that until he left it and made the return journey nothing of equal interest was again likely to occur. For life in Camaguay, the capital of Amapala, proved to be one long, dreamless slumber. In the morning each of the inhabitants engaged in a struggle to get awake; after the second breakfast he ceased struggling, and for a siesta sank into his hammock. After dinner, at nine o'clock, he was prepared to sleep in earnest, and went to bed. The official life as explained to Everett by Garland, the American consul, was equally monotonous. When President Mendoza was not in the mountains deer-hunting, or suppressing a revolution, each Sunday he invited the American minister to dine at the palace. In return His Excellency expected once a week to be invited to breakfast with the minister. He preferred that the activities of that gentleman should go no further. Life in the diplomatic circle was even less strenuous. Everett was the doyen of the diplomatic corps because he was the only diplomat. All other countries were represented by consuls who were commission merchants and shopkeepers. They were delighted at having among them a minister plenipotentiary. When he took pity on them and invited them to tea, which invitations he delivered in person to each consul at the door of each shop, the entire diplomatic corps, as the consuls were pleased to describe themselves, put up the shutters, put on their official full-dress uniforms and arrived in a body. The first week at his post Everett spent in reading the archives of the legation. They were most discouraging. He found that for the sixteen years prior to his arrival the only events reported to the department by his predecessors were revolutions and the refusals of successive presidents to consent to a treaty of extradition. On that point all Amapalans were in accord. Though overnight the government changed hands, though presidents gave way to dictators, and dictators to military governors, the national policy of Amapala continued to be "No extradition!" The ill success of those who had preceded him appalled Everett. He had promised himself by a brilliant assault to secure the treaty and claim the legation in Europe. But the record of sixteen years of failure caused him to alter his strategy. Instead of an attack he prepared for a siege. He unpacked his books, placed the portrait of his own President over the office desk, and proceeded to make friends with his fellow exiles.

Of the foreign colony in Camaguay some fifty were Americans, and from the rest of the world they were as hopelessly separated as the crew of a light-ship. From the Pacific they were cut off by the Cordilleras, from the Caribbean by a nine-day mule-ride. To the north and south, jungle, forests, swamp-lands, and mountains hemmed them in.

Of the fifty Americans, one-half were constantly on the trail; riding to the coast to visit their plantations, or into the mountains to inspect their mines. When Everett arrived, of those absent the two most important were Chester Ward and Colonel Goddard. Indeed, so important were these gentlemen that Everett was made to understand that, until they approved, his recognition as the American minister was in a manner temporary.

Chester Ward, or "Chet," as the exiles referred to him, was one of the richest men in Amapala, and was engaged in exploring the ruins of the lost city of Cobre, which was a one-hour ride from the capital. Ward possessed the exclusive right to excavate that buried city and had held it against all comers. The offers of American universities, of archaeological and geographical societies that also wished to dig up the ancient city and decipher the hieroglyphs on her walls, were met with a curt rebuff. That work, the government of Amapala would reply, was in the trained hands of Senor Chester Ward. In his chosen effort the government would not disturb him, nor would it permit others coming in at the eleventh hour to rob him of his glory. This Everett learned from the consul, Garland.

"Ward and Colonel Goddard," the consul explained, "are two of five countrymen of ours who run the American colony, and, some say, run the government. The others are Mellen, who has the asphalt monopoly; Jackson, who is building the railroads, and Major Feiberger, of the San Jose silver-mines. They hold monopolies and pay President Mendoza ten per cent of the earnings, and, on the side, help him run the country. Of the five, the Amapalans love Goddard best, because he's not trying to rob them. Instead, he wants to boost Amapala. His ideas are perfectly impracticable, but he doesn't know that, and neither do they. He's a kind of Colonel Mulberry Sellers and a Southerner. Not the professional sort, that fight elevator-boys because they're colored, and let off rebel yells in rathskellers when a Hungarian band plays 'Dixie,' but the sort you read about and so seldom see. He was once State Treasurer of Alabama."

"What's he doing down here?" asked the minister.

"Never the same thing two months together," the consul told him; "railroads, mines, rubber. He says all Amapala needs is developing."

As men who can see a joke even when it is against themselves, the two exiles smiled ruefully.

"That's all it needs," said Everett.

For a moment the consul regarded him thoughtfully.

"I might as well tell you," he said, "you'll learn it soon enough anyway, that the men who will keep you from getting your treaty are these five, especially old man Goddard and Ward."

Everett exclaimed indignantly:

"Why should they interfere?"

"Because," explained the consul, "they are fugitives from justice, and they don't want to go home. Ward is wanted for forgery or some polite crime, I don't know which. And Colonel Goddard for appropriating the State funds of Alabama. Ward knew what he was doing and made a lot out of it. He's still rich. No one's weeping over him. Goddard's case is different. He was imposed on and made a catspaw. When he was State treasurer the men who appointed him came to him one night and said they must have some of the State's funds to show a bank examiner in the morning. They appealed to him on the ground of friendship, as the men who'd given him his job. They would return the money the next evening. Goddard believed they would. They didn't, and when some one called for a show-down the colonel was shy about fifty thousand dollars of the State's money. He lost his head, took the boat out of Mobile to Porto Cortez, and hid here. He's been here twenty years and all the Amapalans love him. He's the adopted father of their country. They're so afraid he'll be taken back and punished that they'll never consent to an extradition treaty even if the other Americans, Mellen, Jackson, and Feiberger, weren't paying them big money not to consent. President Mendoza himself told me that as long as Colonel Goddard honored his country by remaining in it, he was his guest, and he would never agree to extradition. 'I could as soon,' he said, 'sign his death-warrant.'"

Everett grinned dismally.

"That's rather nice of them," he said, "but it's hard on me. But," he demanded, "why Ward? What has he done for Amapala? Is it because of Cobre, because of his services as an archaeologist?"

The consul glanced around the patio and dragged his chair nearer to Everett.

"This is my own dope," he whispered; "it may be wrong. Anyway, it's only for your private information."

He waited until, with a smile, Everett agreed to secrecy.

"Chet Ward," protested the consul, "is no more an archaeologist than I am! He talks well about Cobre, and he ought to, because every word he speaks is cribbed straight from Hauptmann's monograph, published in 1855. And he has dug up something at Cobre; something worth a darned sight more than stone monkeys and carved altars. But his explorations are a bluff. They're a blind to cover up what he's really after; what I think he's found!"

As though wishing to be urged, the young man paused, and Everett nodded for him to continue. He was wondering whether life in Amapala might not turn out to be more interesting than at first it had appeared, or whether Garland was not a most charming liar.

"Ward visits the ruins every month," continued Garland. "But he takes with him only two mule-drivers to cook and look after the pack-train, and he doesn't let even the drivers inside the ruins. He remains at Cobre three or four days and, to make a show, fills his saddle-bags with broken tiles and copper ornaments. He turns them over to the government, and it dumps them in the back yard of the palace. You can't persuade me that he holds his concession with that junk. He's found something else at Cobre and he shares it with Mendoza, and I believe it's gold."

The minister smiled delightedly.

"What kind of gold?

"Maybe in the rough," said the consul. "But I prefer to think it's treasure. The place is full of secret chambers, tombs, and passage-ways cut through the rock, deep under the surface. I believe Ward has stumbled on some vault where the priests used to hide their loot. I believe he's getting it out bit by bit and going shares with Mendoza."

"If that were so," ventured Everett, "why wouldn't Mendoza take it all?"

"Because Ward," explained the consul, "is the only one who knows where it is. The ruins cover two square miles. You might search for years. They tried to follow and spy on him, but Ward was too clever for them. He turned back at once. If they don't take what he gives, they get nothing. So they protect him from real explorers and from extradition. The whole thing is unfair. A real archaeologist turned up here a month ago. He had letters from the Smithsonian Institute and several big officials at Washington, but do you suppose they would let him so much as smell of Cobre? Not they! Not even when I spoke for him as consul. Then he appealed to Ward, and Ward turned him down hard. You were arriving, so he's hung on here hoping you may have more influence. His name is Peabody; he's a professor, but he's young and full of 'get there,' and he knows more about the ruins of Cobre now than Ward does after having them all to himself for two years. He's good people and I hope you'll help him."

Everett shook his head doubtfully.

"If the government has given the concession to him," he pointed out, "no matter who Ward may be, or what its motives were for giving it to him, I can't ask it to break its promise. As an American citizen Ward is as much entitled to my help-- officially--as Professor Peabody, whatever his standing."

"Ward's a forger," protested Garland, "a fugitive from justice; and Peabody is a scholar and a gentleman. I'm not keen about dead cities myself--this one we're in now is dead enough for me--but if civilization is demanding to know what Cobre was like eight hundred years ago, civilization is entitled to find out, and Peabody seems the man for the job. It's a shame to turn him down for a gang of grafters."

"Tell him to come and talk to me," said the minister.

"He rode over to the ruins of Copan last week," explained Garland, "where the Harvard expedition is. But he's coming back to-morrow on purpose to see you."

The consul had started toward the door when he suddenly returned.

"And there's some one else coming to see you," he said. "Some one," he added anxiously, "you want to treat right. That's Monica Ward. She's Chester Ward's sister, and you mustn't get her mixed up with anything I told you about her brother. She's coming to ask you to help start a Red Cross Society. She was a volunteer nurse in the hospital in the last two revolutions, and what she saw makes her want to be sure she won't see it again. She's taught the native ladies the 'first aid' drill, and they expect you to be honorary president of the society. You'd better accept."

Shaking his head, Garland smiled pityingly upon the new minister.

"You've got a swell chance to get your treaty," he declared. "Monica is another one who will prevent it."

Everett sighed patiently.

"What," he demanded, "might her particular crime be; murder, shoplifting, treason--"

"If her brother had to leave this country," interrupted Garland, "she'd leave with him. And the people don't want that. Her pull is the same as old man Goddard's. Everybody loves him and everybody loves her. I love her," exclaimed the consul cheerfully; "the President loves her, the sisters in the hospital, the chain-gang in the street, the washerwomen in the river, the palace guard, everybody in this flea-bitten, God-forsaken country loves Monica Ward--and when you meet her you will, too."

Garland had again reached the door to the outer hall before Everett called him back.

"If it is not a leading question," asked the minister, "what little indiscretion in your life brought you to Amapala?"

Garland grinned appreciatively.

"I know they sound a queer lot," he assented, "but when you get to know 'em, you like 'em. My own trouble," he added, "was a horse. I never could see why they made such a fuss about him. He was lame when I took him."

Disregarding Garland's pleasantry, for some time His Excellency sat with his hands clasped behind his head, frowning up from the open patio into the hot, cloudless sky. On the ridge of his tiled roof a foul buzzard blinked at him from red-rimmed eyes, across the yellow wall a lizard ran for shelter, at his elbow a macaw compassing the circle of its tin prison muttered dreadful oaths. Outside, as the washerwomen beat their linen clubs upon the flat rocks of the river, the hot, stale air was spanked with sharp reports. In Camaguay theirs was the only industry, the only sign of cleanliness; and recognizing that another shirt had been thrashed into subjection and rags, Everett winced. No less visibly did his own thoughts cause him to wince. Garland he had forgotten, and he was sunk deep in self-pity. His thoughts were of London, with its world politics, its splendid traditions, its great and gracious ladies; of Paris in the spring sunshine, when he cantered through the Bois; of Madrid, with its pomp and royalty, and the gray walls of its galleries proclaiming Murillo and Velasquez. These things he had forsaken because he believed he was ambitious; and behold into what a cul-de-sac his ambition had led him! A comic-opera country that was not comic, but dead and buried from the world; a savage people, unread, unenlightened, unclean; and for society of his countrymen, pitiful derelicts in hiding from the law. In his soul he rebelled. In words he exploded bitterly.

"This is one hell of a hole, Garland," cried the diplomat. His jaws and his eyes hardened. "I'm going back to Europe. And the only way I can go is to get that treaty. I was sent here to get it. Those were my orders. And I'll get it if I have to bribe them out of my own pocket; if I have to outbid Mr. Ward, and send him and your good Colonel Goddard and all the rest of the crew to the jails where they belong!"

Garland heard him without emotion. From long residence near the equator he diagnosed the outbreak as a case of tropic choler, aggravated by nostalgia and fleas.

"I'll bet you don't," he said.

"I'll bet you your passage-money home," shouted Everett, "against my passage-money to Europe."

"Done!" said Garland. "How much time do you want--two years?"

The diplomat exclaimed mockingly:

"Two months!"

"I win now, "said the consul. "I'll go home and pack."

The next morning his clerk told Everett that in the outer office Monica Ward awaited him.

Overnight Everett had developed a prejudice against Miss Ward. What Garland had said in her favor had only driven him the wrong way. Her universal popularity he disliked. He argued that to gain popularity one must concede and capitulate. He felt that the sister of an acknowledged crook, no matter how innocent she might be, were she a sensitive woman, would wish to efface herself. And he had found that, as a rule, women who worked in hospitals and organized societies bored him. He did not admire the militant, executive sister. He pictured Miss Ward as probably pretty, but with the coquettish effrontery of the village belle and with the pushing, "good-fellow" manners of the new school. He was prepared either to have her slap him on the back or, from behind tilted eye-glasses, make eyes at him. He was sure she wore eye-glasses, and was large, plump, and Junoesque. With reluctance he entered the outer office. He saw, all in white, a girl so young that she was hardly more than a child, but with the tall, slim figure of a boy. Her face was lovely as the face of a violet, and her eyes were as shy. But shy not through lack of confidence in Everett, nor in any human being, but in herself. They seemed to say, "I am a very unworthy, somewhat frightened young person; but you, who are so big and generous, will overlook that, and you are going to be my friend. Indeed, I see you are my friend."

Everett stood quite still. He nodded gloomily.

"Garland was right," he exclaimed; "I do!"

The young lady was plainly distressed.

"Do what?" she stammered.

"Some day I will tell you," said the young man. "Yes," he added, without shame, "I am afraid I will." He bowed her into the inner office.

"I am sorry," apologized Monica, "but I am come to ask a favor-- two favors; one of you and one of the American minister."

Everett drew his armchair from his desk and waved Monica into it.

"I was sent here," he said, "to do exactly what you want. The last words the President addressed to me were, 'On arriving at your post report to Miss Monica Ward."'

Fearfully, Monica perched herself on the edge of the armchair; as though for protection she clasped the broad table before her.

"The favor I want," she hastily assured him, "is not for myself."

"I am sorry," said Everett, "for it is already granted."

"You are very good," protested Monica.

"No," replied Everett, "I am only powerful. I represent ninety-five million Americans, and they are all entirely at your service. So is the army and navy."

Monica smiled and shook her head. The awe she felt was due an American minister was rapidly disappearing, and in Mr. Everett himself her confidence was increasing. The other ministers plenipotentiary she had seen at Camaguay had been old, with beards like mountain-goats, and had worn linen dusters. They always were very red in the face and very damp. Monica decided Mr. Everett also was old; she was sure he must be at least thirty-five; but in his silk pongee and pipe-clayed tennis-shoes he was a refreshing spectacle. Just to look at him turned one quite cool.

"We have a very fine line of battle-ships this morning at Guantanamo," urged Everett; "if you want one I'll cable for it."

Monica laughed softly. It was good to hear nonsense spoken. The Amapalans had never learned it, and her brother said just what he meant and no more.

"Our sailors were here once," Monica volunteered. She wanted Mr. Everett to know he was not entirely cut off from the world. "During the revolution," she explained. "We were so glad to see them; they made us all feel nearer home. They set up our flag in the plaza, and the color-guard let me photograph it, with them guarding it. And when they marched away the archbishop stood on the cathedral steps and blessed them, and we rode out along the trail to where it comes to the jungle. And then we waved good-by, and they cheered us. We all cried."

For a moment, quite unconsciously, Monica gave an imitation of how they all cried. It made the appeal of the violet eyes even more disturbing. "Don't you love our sailors?" begged Monica.

Fearful of hurting the feelings of others, she added hastily, "And, of course, our marines, too."

Everett assured her if there was one thing that meant more to him than all else, it was an American bluejacket, and next to him an American leatherneck.

It took a long time to arrange the details of the Red Cross Society. In spite of his reputation for brilliancy, it seemed to Monica Mr. Everett had a mind that plodded. For his benefit it was necessary several times to repeat the most simple proposition. She was sure his inability to fasten his attention on her League of Mercy was because his brain was occupied with problems of state. It made her feel selfish and guilty. When his visitor decided that to explain further was but to waste his valuable time and had made her third effort to go, Everett went with her. He suggested that she take him to the hospital and introduce him to the sisters. He wanted to talk to them about the Red Cross League. It was a charming walk. Every one lifted his hat to Monica; the beggars, the cab-drivers, the barefooted policemen, and the social lights of Camaguay on the sidewalks in front of the cafes rose and bowed.

"It is like walking with royalty!" exclaimed Everett.

While at the hospital he talked to the Mother Superior--his eyes followed Monica. As she moved from cot to cot he noted how the younger sisters fluttered happily around her, like bridesmaids around a bride, and how as she passed, the eyes of those in the cots followed her jealously, and after she had spoken with them smiled in content.

"She is good," the Mother Superior was saying, "and her brother, too, is very good."

Everett had forgotten the brother. With a start he lifted his eyes and found the Mother Superior regarding him.

"He is very good," she repeated. "For us, he built this wing of the hospital. It was his money. We should be very sorry if any harm came to Mr. Ward. Without his help we would starve." She smiled, and with a gesture signified the sick. "I mean they would starve; they would die of disease and fever." The woman fixed upon him grave, inscrutable eyes. "Will Your Excellency remember?" she said. It was less of a question than a command. "Where the church can forgive--" she paused.

Like a real diplomat Everett sought refuge in mere words.

"The church is all-powerful, Mother," he said. "Her power to forgive is her strongest weapon. I have no such power. It lies beyond my authority. I am just a messenger-boy carrying the wishes of the government of one country to the government of another."

The face of the Mother Superior remained grave, but undisturbed.

"Then, as regards our Mr. Ward," she said, "the wishes of your government are--"

Again she paused; again it was less of a question than a command. With interest Everett gazed at the whitewashed ceiling.

"I have not yet," he said, "communicated them to any one."

That night, after dinner in the patio, he reported to Garland the words of the Mother Superior.

"That was my dream, 0 Prophet," concluded Everett; "you who can read this land of lotus-eaters, interpret! What does it mean?"

"It only means what I've been telling you," said the consul. "It means that if you're going after that treaty, you've only got to fight the Catholic Church. That's all it means!"

Later in the evening Garland said: "I saw you this morning crossing the plaza with Monica. When I told you everybody in this town loved her, was I right?"

"Absolutely!" assented Everett. "But why didn't you tell me she was a flapper?"

"I don't know what a flapper is," promptly retorted Garland. "And if I did, I wouldn't call Monica one."

"A flapper is a very charming person," protested Everett. "I used the term in its most complimentary sense. It means a girl between fourteen and eighteen. It's English slang, and in England at the present the flapper is very popular. She is driving her sophisticated elder sister, who has been out two or three seasons, and the predatory married woman to the wall. To men of my years the flapper is really at the dangerous age."

In his bamboo chair Garland tossed violently and snorted.

"I sized you up," he cried, "as a man of the finest perceptions. I was wrong. You don't appreciate Monica! Dangerous! You might as well say God's sunshine is dangerous, or a beautiful flower is dangerous."

Everett shook his head at the other man reproachfully:

"Did you ever hear of a sunstroke?" he demanded. "Don't you know if you smell certain beautiful flowers you die? Can't you grasp any other kind of danger than being run down by a trolley-car? Is the danger of losing one's peace of mind nothing, of being unfaithful to duty, nothing! Is--"

Garland raised his arms.

"Don't shoot!" he begged. "I apologize. You do appreciate Monica. You have your consul's permission to walk with her again."

The next day young Professor Peabody called and presented his letters. He was a forceful young man to whom the delays of diplomacy did not appeal, and one apparently accustomed to riding off whatever came in his way. He seemed to consider any one who opposed him, or who even disagreed with his conclusions, as offering a personal affront. With indignation he launched into his grievance.

"These people," he declared, "are dogs in the manger, and Ward is the worst of the lot. He knows no more of archaeology than a congressman. The man's a faker! He showed me a spear-head of obsidian and called it flint; and he said the Aztecs borrowed from the Mayas, and that the Toltecs were a myth. And he got the Aztec solar calendar mixed with the Ahau. He's as ignorant as that."

"I can't believe it!" exclaimed Everett.

"You may laugh," protested the professor, "but the ruins of Cobre hold secrets the students of two continents are trying to solve. They hide the history of a lost race, and I submit it's not proper one man should keep that knowledge from the world, certainly not for a few gold armlets!"

Everett raised his eyes.

"What makes you say that?"' he demanded.

"I've been kicking my heels in this town for a month," Peabody told him, "and I've talked to the people here, and to the Harvard expedition at Copan, and everybody tells me this fellow has found treasure." The archaeologist exclaimed with indignation: "What's gold," he snorted, "compared to the discovery of a lost race?"

"I applaud your point of view," Everett assured him. "I am to see the President tomorrow, and I will lay the matter before him. I'll ask him to give you a look in."

To urge his treaty of extradition was the reason for the audience with the President, and with all the courtesy that a bad case demanded Mendoza protested against it. He pointed out that governments entered into treaties only when the ensuing benefits were mutual. For Amapala in a treaty of extradition he saw no benefit. Amapala was not so far "advanced" as to produce defaulting bank presidents, get-rich-quick promoters, counterfeiters, and thieving cashiers. Her fugitives were revolutionists who had fought and lost, and every one was glad to have them go, and no one wanted them back.

"Or," suggested the President, "suppose I am turned out by a revolution, and I seek asylum in your country? My enemies desire my life. They would ask for my extradition--"

"If the offense were political," Everett corrected, "my government would surrender no one."

"But my enemies would charge me with murder," explained the President. "Remember Castro. And by the terms of the treaty your government would be forced to surrender me. And I am shot against the wall." The President shrugged his shoulders. "That treaty would not be nice for me!"

"Consider the matter as a patriot," said the diplomat. "Is it good that the criminals of my country should make their home in yours? When you are so fortunate as to have no dishonest men of your own, why import ours? We don't seek the individual. We want to punish him only as a warning to others. And we want the money he takes with him. Often it is the savings of the very poor."

The President frowned. It was apparent that both the subject and Everett bored him.

"I name no names," exclaimed Mendoza, "but to those who come here we owe the little railroads we possess. They develop our mines and our coffee plantations. In time they will make this country very modern, very rich. And some you call criminals we have learned to love. Their past does not concern us. We shut our ears. We do not spy. They have come to us as to a sanctuary, and so long as they claim the right of sanctuary, I will not violate it."

As Everett emerged from the cool, dark halls of the palace into the glare of the plaza he was scowling; and he acknowledged the salute of the palace guard as though those gentlemen had offered him an insult.

Garland was waiting in front of a cafe and greeted him with a mocking grin.

"Congratulations," he shouted.

"I have still twenty-two days," said Everett .

The aristocracy of Camaguay invited the new minister to formal dinners of eighteen courses, and to picnics less formal. These latter Everett greatly enjoyed, because while Monica Ward was too young to attend the state dinners, she was exactly the proper age for the all-day excursions to the waterfalls, the coffee plantations, and the asphalt lakes. The native belles of Camaguay took no pleasure in riding farther afield than the military parade-ground. Climbing a trail so steep that you viewed the sky between the ears of your pony, or where with both hands you forced a way through hanging vines and creepers, did not appeal. But to Monica, with the seat and balance of a cowboy, riding astride, with her leg straight and the ball of her foot just feeling the stirrup, these expeditions were the happiest moments in her exile. So were they to Everett; and that on the trail one could ride only in single file was a most poignant regret. In the column the place of honor was next to whoever rode at the head, but Everett relinquished this position in favor of Monica. By this manoeuvre she always was in his sight, and he could call upon her to act as his guide and to explain what lay on either hand. His delight and wonder in her grew daily. He found that her mind leaped instantly and with gratitude to whatever was most fair. Just out of reach of her pony's hoofs he pressed his own pony forward, and she pointed out to him what in the tropic abundance about them she found most beautiful. Sometimes it was the tumbling waters of a cataract; sometimes, high in the topmost branches of a ceiba-tree, a gorgeous orchid; sometimes a shaft of sunshine as rigid as a search-light, piercing the shadow of the jungle. At first she would turn in the saddle and call to him, but as each day they grew to know each other better she need only point with her whip-hand and he would answer, "Yes," and each knew the other understood.

As a body, the exiles resented Everett. They knew his purpose in regard to the treaty, and for them he always must be the enemy. Even though as a man they might like him, they could not forget that his presence threatened their peace and safety. Chester Ward treated him with impeccable politeness; but, although his house was the show-place of Camaguay, he never invited the American minister to cross the threshold. On account of Monica, Everett regretted this and tried to keep the relations of her brother and himself outwardly pleasant. But Ward made it difficult. To no one was his manner effusive, and for Monica only he seemed to hold any real feeling. The two were alone in the world; he was her only relative, and to the orphan he had been father and mother. When she was a child he had bought her toys and dolls; now, had the sisters permitted, he would have dressed her in imported frocks, and with jewels killed her loveliness. He seemed to understand how to spend his money as little as did the gossips of Camaguay understand from whence it came.

That Monica knew why her brother lived in Camaguay Everett was uncertain. She did not complain of living there, but she was not at rest, and constantly she was asking Everett of foreign lands. As Everett was homesick for them, he was most eloquent.

"I should like to see them for myself," said Monica, "but until my brother's work here is finished we must wait. And I am young, and after a few years Europe will be just as old. When my brother leaves Amapala, he promises to take me wherever I ask to go: to London, to Paris, to Rome. So I read and read of them; books of history, books about painting, books about the cathedrals. But the more I read the more I want to go at once, and that is disloyal."

"Disloyal?" asked Everett.

"To my brother," explained Monica. "He does so much for me. I should think only of his work. That is all that really counts. For the world is waiting to learn what he has discovered. It is like having a brother go in search of the North Pole. You are proud of what he is doing, but you want him back to keep him to yourself. Is that selfish?"

Everett was a trained diplomat, but with his opinion of Chester Ward he could not think of the answer. Instead, he was thinking of Monica in Europe; of taking her through the churches and galleries which she had seen only in black and white. He imagined himself at her side facing the altar of some great cathedral, or some painting in the Louvre, and watching her face lighten and the tears come to her eyes, as they did now, when things that were beautiful hurt her. Or he imagined her rid of her half-mourning and accompanying him through a cyclonic diplomatic career that carried them to Japan, China, Persia; to Berlin, Paris, and London. In these imaginings Monica appeared in pongee and a sun-hat riding an elephant, in pearls and satin receiving royalty, in tweed knickerbockers and a woollen jersey coasting around the hairpin curve at Saint Moritz.

Of course he recognized that except as his wife Monica could not accompany him to all these strange lands and high diplomatic posts. And of course that was ridiculous. He had made up his mind for the success of what he called his career, that he was too young to marry; but he was sure, should he propose to marry Monica, every one would say he was too old. And there was another consideration. What of the brother? Would his government send him to a foreign post when his wife was the sister of a man they had just sent to the penitentiary?

He could hear them say in London, "We know your first secretary, but who is Mrs. Everett?" And the American visitor would explain: "She is the sister of 'Inky Dink,' the forger. He is bookkeeping in Sing Sing."

Certainly it would be a handicap. He tried to persuade himself that Monica so entirely filled his thoughts because in Camaguay there was no one else; it was a case of propinquity; her loneliness and the fact that she lay under a shadow for which she was not to blame appealed to his chivalry. So, he told himself, in thinking of Monica except as a charming companion, he was an ass. And then, arguing that in calling himself an ass he had shown his saneness and impartiality, he felt justified in seeing her daily.

One morning Garland came to the legation to tell Everett that Peabody was in danger of bringing about international complications by having himself thrust into the cartel.

"If he qualifies for this local jail," said Garland, "you will have a lot of trouble setting him free. You'd better warn him it's easier to keep out than to get out."

"What has he been doing?" asked the minister.

"Poaching on Ward's ruins," said the consul. "He certainly is a hustler. He pretends to go to Copan, but really goes to Cobre. Ward had him followed and threatened to have him arrested. Peabody claims any tourist has a right to visit the ruins so long as he does no excavating. Ward accused him of exploring the place by night and taking photographs by flash-light of the hieroglyphs. He's put an armed guard at the ruins, and he told Peabody they are to shoot on sight. So Peabody went to Mendoza and said if anybody took a shot at him he'd bring warships down here and blow Amapala off the map."

"A militant archaeologist," said Everett, "is something new. Peabody is too enthusiastic. He and his hieroglyphs are becoming a bore."

He sent for Peabody and told him unless he curbed his spirit his minister could not promise to keep him out of a very damp and dirty dungeon.

"I am too enthusiastic," Peabody admitted, "but to me this fellow Ward is like a red flag to the bull. His private graft is holding up the whole scientific world. He won't let us learn the truth, and he's too ignorant to learn it himself. Why, he told me Cobre dated from 1578, when Palacio wrote of it to Philip the Second, not knowing that in that very letter Palacio states that he found Cobre in ruins. Is it right a man as ignorant--"

Everett interrupted by levelling his finger.

"You," he commanded, "keep out of those ruins! My dear professor," he continued reproachfully, "you are a student, a man of peace. Don't try to wage war on these Amapalans. They're lawless, they're unscrupulous. So is Ward. Besides, you are in the wrong, and if they turn ugly, your minister cannot help you." He shook his head and smiled doubtfully. "I can't understand," he exclaimed, "why you're so keen. It's only a heap of broken pottery. Sometimes I wonder if your interest in Cobre is that only of the archaeologist."

"What other interest--" demanded Peabody.

"Doesn't Ward's buried treasure appeal at all?" asked the minister. "I mean, of course, to your imagination. It does to mine."

The young professor laughed tolerantly.

"Buried treasure!" he exclaimed. "If Ward has found treasure, and I think he has, he's welcome to it. What we want is what you call the broken pottery. It means nothing to you, but to men like myself, who live eight hundred years behind the times, it is much more precious than gold."

A few moments later Professor Peabody took his leave, and it was not until he had turned the corner of the Calle Morazan that he halted and, like a man emerging from water, drew a deep breath.

"Gee!" muttered the distinguished archeologist, "that was a close call!"

One or two women had loved Everett, and after five weeks, in which almost daily he had seen Monica, he knew she cared for him. This discovery made him entirely happy and filled him with dismay. It was a complication he had not foreseen. It left him at the parting of two ways, one of which he must choose. For his career he was willing to renounce marriage, but now that Monica loved him, even though he had consciously not tried to make her love him, had he the right to renounce it for her also? He knew that the difference between Monica and his career lay in the fact that he loved Monica and was in love with his career. Which should he surrender? Of this he thought long and deeply, until one night, without thinking at all, he chose.

Colonel Goddard had given a dance, and, as all invited were Americans, the etiquette was less formal than at the gatherings of the Amapalans. For one thing, the minister and Monica were able to sit on the veranda overlooking the garden without his having to fight a duel in the morning.

It was not the moonlight, or the music, or the palms that made Everett speak. It was simply the knowledge that it was written, that it had to be. And he heard himself, without prelude or introduction, talking easily and assuredly of the life they would lead as man and wife. From this dream Monica woke him. The violet eyes were smiling at him through tears.

"When you came," said the girl, "and I loved you, I thought that was the greatest happiness. Now that I know you love me I ask nothing more. And I can bear it."

Everett felt as though an icy finger had moved swiftly down his spine. He pretended not to understand.

"Bear what?" he demanded roughly.

"That I cannot marry you," said the girl. "Even had you not asked me, in loving you I would have been happy. Now that I know you thought of me as your wife, I am proud. I am grateful. And the obstacle--"

Everett laughed scornfully.

"There is no obstacle."

Monica shook her head. Unafraid, she looked into his eyes, her own filled with her love for him.

"Don't make it harder," she said. "My brother is hiding from the law. What he did I don't know. When it happened I was at the convent, and he did not send for me until he had reached Amapala. I never asked why we came, but were I to marry you, with your name and your position, every one else would ask. And the scandal would follow you; wherever you went it would follow; it would put an end to your career."

His career, now that Monica urged it as her rival, seemed to Everett particularly trivial.

"I don't know what your brother did either," he said. "His sins are on his own head. They're not on yours, nor on mine. I don't judge him; neither do I intend to let him spoil my happiness. Now that I have found you I will never let you go."

Sadly Monica shook her head and smiled.

"When you leave here," she said, "for some new post, you won't forget me, but you'll be grateful that I let you go alone; that I was not a drag on you. When you go back to your great people and your proud and beautiful princesses, all this will seem a strange dream, and you will be glad you are awake--and free."

"The idea of marrying you, Monica," said Everett, "is not new. It did not occur to me only since we moved out here into the moonlight. Since I first saw you I've thought of you, and only of you. I've thought of you with me in every corner of the globe, as my wife, my sweetheart, my partner, riding through jungles as we ride here, sitting opposite me at our own table, putting the proud and beautiful princesses at their ease. And in all places, at all moments, you make all other women tawdry and absurd. And I don't think you are the most wonderful person I ever met because I love you, but I love you because you are the most wonderful person I ever met."

"I am young," said Monica, "but since I began to love you I am very old. And I see clearly that it cannot be."

"Dear heart," cried Everett, "that is quite morbid. What the devil do I care what your brother has done! I am not marrying your brother."

For a long time, leaning forward with her elbows on her knees and her face buried in her hands, the girl sat silent. It was as though she were praying. Everett knew it was not of him, but of her brother, she was thinking, and his heart ached for her. For him to cut the brother out of his life was not difficult; what it meant to her he could guess.

When the girl raised her eyes they were eloquent with distress.

"He has been so good to me," she said; "always so gentle. He has been mother and father to me. He is the first person I can remember. When I was a child he put me to bed, he dressed me, and comforted me. When we became rich there was nothing he did not wish to give me. I cannot leave him. He needs me more than ever I needed him. I am all he has. And there is this besides. Were I to marry, of all the men in the world it would be harder for him if I married you. For if you succeed in what you came here to do, the law will punish him, and he will know it was through you he was punished. And even between you and me there always would be that knowledge, that feeling."

"That is not fair," cried Everett. "I am not an individual fighting less fortunate individuals. I am an insignificant wheel in a great machine. You must not blame me because I-"

With an exclamation the girl reproached him.

"Because you do your duty!" she protested. "Is that fair to me? If for my sake or my brother you failed in your duty, if you were less vigilant, less eager, even though we suffer, I could not love you."

Everett sighed happily.

"As long as you love me," he said, "neither your brother nor any one else can keep us apart."

"My brother," said the girl, as though she were pronouncing a sentence, "always will keep us apart, and I will always love you."

It was a week before he again saw her, and then the feeling he had read in her eyes was gone--or rigorously concealed. Now her manner was that of a friend, of a young girl addressing a man older than herself, one to whom she looked up with respect and liking, but with no sign of any feeling deeper or more intimate.

It upset Everett completely. When he pleaded with her, she asked:

"Do you think it is easy for me? But--" she protested, "I know I am doing right. I am doing it to make you happy."

"You are succeeding," Everett assured her, "in making us both damned miserable."

For Everett, in the second month of his stay in Amapala, events began to move quickly. Following the example of two of his predecessors, the Secretary of State of the United States was about to make a grand tour of Central America. He came on a mission of peace and brotherly love, to foster confidence and good-will, and it was secretly hoped that, in the wake of his escort of battle-ships, trade would follow fast. There would be salutes and visits of ceremony, speeches, banquets, reviews. But in these rejoicings Amapala would have no part.

For, so Everett was informed by cable, unless, previous to the visit of the Secretary, Amapala fell into line with her sister republics and signed a treaty of extradition, from the itinerary of the great man Amapala would find herself pointedly excluded. It would be a humiliation. In the eyes of her sister republics it would place her outside the pale. Everett saw that in his hands his friend the Secretary had placed a powerful weapon; and lost no time in using it. He caught the President alone, sitting late at his dinner, surrounded by bottles, and read to him the Secretary's ultimatum. General Mendoza did not at once surrender. Before he threw over the men who fed him the golden eggs that made him rich, and for whom he had sworn never to violate the right of sanctuary, he first, for fully half an hour, raged and swore. During that time, while Everett sat anxiously expectant, the President paced and repaced the length of the dining-hall. When to relight his cigar, or to gulp brandy from a tumbler, he halted at the table, his great bulk loomed large in the flickering candle-flames, and when he continued his march, he would disappear into the shadows, and only his scabbard clanking on the stone floor told of his presence. At last he halted and shrugged his shoulders so that the tassels of his epaulets tossed like wheat.

"You drive a hard bargain, sir," he said. "And I have no choice. To-morrow bring the treaty and I will sign."

Everett at once produced it and a fountain pen.

"I should like to cable to-night," he urged, "that you have signed. They are holding back the public announcement of the Secretary's route until hearing from Your Excellency. This is only tentative," he pointed out; "the Senate must ratify. But our Senate will ratify it, and when you sign now, it is a thing accomplished."

Over the place at which Everett pointed, the pen scratched harshly; and then, throwing it from him, the President sat in silence. With eyes inflamed by anger and brandy he regarded the treaty venomously. As though loath to let it go, his hands played with it, as a cat plays with the mouse between her paws. Watching him breathlessly, Everett feared the end was not yet. He felt a depressing premonition that if ever the treaty were to reach Washington he best had snatch it and run. Even as he waited, the end came. An orderly, appearing suddenly in the light of the candles, announced the arrival, in the room adjoining, of "the Colonel Goddard and Senor Mellen." They desired an immediate audience. Their business with the President was most urgent. Whether from Washington their agents had warned them, whether in Camaguay they had deciphered the cablegram from the State Department, Everett could only guess, but he was certain the cause of their visit was the treaty. That Mendoza also believed this was most evident.

Into the darkness, from which the two exiles might emerge, he peered guiltily. With an oath he tore the treaty in half. Crushing the pieces of paper into a ball, he threw it at Everett's feet. His voice rose to a shriek. It was apparent he intended his words to carry to the men outside. Like an actor on a stage he waved his arms.

"That is my answer!" he shouted. "Tell your Secretary the choice he offers is an insult! It is blackmail. We will not sign his treaty. We do not desire his visit to our country." Thrilled by his own bravado, his voice rose higher. "Nor," he shouted, "do we desire the presence of his representative. Your usefulness is at an end. You will receive your passports in the morning."

As he might discharge a cook, he waved Everett away. His hand, trembling with excitement, closed around the neck of the brandy- bottle. Everett stooped and secured the treaty. On his return to Washington, torn and rumpled as it was, it would be his justification. It was his "Exhibit A."

As he approached the legation he saw drawn up in front of it three ponies ready saddled. For an instant he wondered if Mendoza intended further to insult him, if he planned that night to send him under guard to the coast. He determined hotly sooner than submit to such an indignity he would fortify the legation, and defend himself. But no such heroics were required of him. As he reached the door, Garland, with an exclamation of relief, hailed him, and Monica, stepping from the shadow, laid an appealing hand upon his sleeve.

"My brother!" she exclaimed. "The guard at Cobre has just sent word that they found Peabody prowling in the ruins and fired on him. He fired back, and he is still there hiding. My brother and others have gone to take him. I don't know what may happen if he resists. Chester is armed, and he is furious; he is beside himself; he would not listen to me. But he must listen to you. Will you go," the girl begged, "and speak to him; speak to him, I mean," she added, "as the American minister?"

Everett already had his foot in the stirrup. "I'm the American minister only until to-morrow," he said. "I've got my walking-papers. But I'll do all I can to stop this to-night. Garland," he asked, "will you take Miss Ward home, and then follow me?"

"If I do not go with you," said Monica, "I will go alone."

Her tone was final. With a clatter of hoofs that woke alarmed echoes in the sleeping streets the three horses galloped abreast toward Cobre. In an hour they left the main trail and at a walk picked their way to where the blocks of stone, broken columns, and crumbling temples of the half-buried city checked the jungle.

The moon made it possible to move in safety, and at different distances the lights of torches told them the man-hunt still was in progress.

"Thank God," breathed Monica, "we are in time."

Everett gave the ponies in care of one of the guards. He turned to Garland.

"Catch up with those lights ahead of us," he said, "and we will join this party to the right. If you find Ward, tell him I forbid him taking the law into his own hands; tell him I will protect his interests. If you meet Peabody, make him give up his gun, and see that the others don't harm him!"

Everett and the girl did not overtake the lights they had seen flashing below them. Before they were within hailing distance, that searching party had disappeared, and still farther away other torches beckoned.

Stumbling and falling, now in pursuit of one will-o'-the-wisp, now of another, they scrambled forward. But always the lights eluded them. From their exertions and the moist heat they were breathless, and their bodies dripped with water. Panting, they halted at the entrance of what once had been a tomb. From its black interior came a damp mist; above them, alarmed by their intrusion, the vampire bats whirled blindly in circles. Monica, who by day possessed some slight knowledge of the ruins, had, in the moonlight, lost all sense of direction.

"We're lost," said Monica, in a low tone. Unconsciously both were speaking in whispers. "I thought we were following what used to be the main thoroughfare of the city; but I have never seen this place before. From what I have read I think we must be among the tombs of the kings."

She was silenced by Everett placing one hand quickly on her arm, and with the other pointing. In the uncertain moonlight she saw moving cautiously away from them, and unconscious of their presence, a white, ghostlike figure.

"Peabody," whispered Everett.

"Call him," commanded Monica.

"The others might hear," objected Everett. "We must overtake him. If we're with him when they meet, they wouldn't dare--"

With a gasp of astonishment, his words ceased.

Like a ghost, the ghostlike figure had vanished.

"He walked through that rock!" cried Monica.

Everett caught her by the wrist. "Come!" he commanded.

Over the face of the rock, into which Peabody had dived as into water, hung a curtain of vines. Everett tore it apart. Concealed by the vines was the narrow mouth to a tunnel; and from it they heard, rapidly lessening in the distance, the patter of footsteps.

"Will you wait," demanded Everett, "or come with me?"

With a shudder of distaste, Monica answered by seizing his hand.

With his free arm Everett swept aside the vines, and, Monica following, they entered the tunnel. It was a passageway cleanly cut through the solid rock and sufficiently wide to permit of their moving freely. At the farther end, at a distance of a hundred yards, it opened into a great vault, also hollowed from the rock and, as they saw to their surprise, brilliantly lighted.

For an instant, in black silhouette, the figure of Peabody blocked the entrance to this vault, and then, turning to the right, again vanished. Monica felt an untimely desire to laugh. Now that they were on the track of Peabody she no longer feared the outcome of the adventure. In the presence of the American minister and of herself there would be no violence; and as they trailed the archaeologist through the tunnel she was reminded of Alice and her pursuit of the white rabbit. This thought, and her sense of relief that the danger was over, caused her to laugh aloud.

They had gained the farther end of the tunnel and the entrance to the vault, when at once her amusement turned to wonder. For the vault showed every evidence of use and of recent occupation. In brackets, and burning brightly, were lamps of modern make; on the stone floor stood a canvas cot, saddle-bags, camp-chairs, and in the centre of the vault a collapsible table. On this were bottles filled with chemicals, trays, and presses such as are used in developing photographs, and apparently hung there to dry,

swinging from strings, the proofs of many negatives.

Loyal to her brother, Monica exclaimed indignantly. At the proofs she pointed an accusing finger.

"Look!" she whispered. "This is Peabody's darkroom, where he develops the flash-lights he takes of the hieroglyphs! Chester has a right to be furious!"

Impulsively she would have pushed past Everett; but with an exclamation he sprang in front of her.

"No!" he commanded, "come away!"

He had fallen into a sudden panic. His tone spoke of some catastrophe, imminent and overwhelming. Monica followed the direction of his eyes. They were staring in fear at the proofs.

The girl leaned forward; and now saw them clearly.

Each was a United States Treasury note for five hundred dollars.

Around the turn of the tunnel, approaching the vault apparently from another passage, they heard hurrying footsteps; and then, close to them from the vault itself, the voice of Professor Peabody.

It was harsh, sharp, peremptory.

"Hands up!" it commanded. "Drop that gun!"

As though halted by a precipice, the footsteps fell into instant silence. There was a pause, and then the ring of steel upon the stone floor. There was another pause, and Monica heard the voice of her brother. Broken, as though with running, it still retained its level accent, its note of insolence.

"So," it said, "I have caught you?"

Monica struggled toward the lighted vault, but around her Everett threw his arm.

"Come away!" he begged.

Monica fought against the terror of something unknown. She could not understand. They had come only to prevent a meeting between her brother and Peabody; and now that they had met, Everett was endeavoring to escape.

It was incomprehensible.

And the money in the vault, the yellow bills hanging from a cobweb of strings; why should they terrify her; what did they threaten? Dully, and from a distance, Monica heard the voice of Peabody.

"No," he answered; "I have caught you! And I've had a hell of a time doing it!"

Monica tried to call out, to assure her brother of her presence. But, as though in a nightmare, she could make no sound. Fingers of fear gripped at her throat. To struggle was no longer possible.

The voice of Peabody continued:

"Six months ago we traced these bills to New Orleans. So we guessed the plant was in Central America. We knew only one man who could make them. When I found you were in Amapala and they said you had struck 'buried treasure'--the rest was easy."

Monica heard the voice of her brother answer with a laugh.

"Easy?" he mocked. "There's no extradition. You can't touch me. You're lucky if you get out of here alive. I've only to raise my voice--"

"And, I'll kill you!"

This was danger Monica could understand.

Freed from the nightmare of doubt, with a cry she ran forward. She saw Peabody, his back against a wall, a levelled automatic in his hand; her brother at the entrance to a tunnel like the one from which she had just appeared. His arms were raised above his head. At his feet lay a revolver. For an instant, with disbelief, he stared at Monica, and then, as though assured that it was she, his eyes dilated. In them were fear and horror. So genuine was the agony in the face of the counterfeiter that Everett, who had followed, turned his own away. But the eyes of the brother and sister remained fixed upon each other, hers, appealingly; his, with despair. He tried to speak, but the words did not come. When he did break the silence his tone was singularly wistful, most tenderly kind.

"Did you hear?" he asked.

Monica slowly bowed her head. With the same note of gentleness her brother persisted:

"Did you understand?"

Between them stretched the cobweb of strings hung with yellow certificates; each calling for five hundred dollars, payable in gold. Stirred by the night air from the open tunnels, they fluttered and flaunted.

Against the sight of them, Monica closed her eyes. Heavily, as though with a great physical effort, again she bowed her head.

The eyes of her brother searched about him wildly. They rested on the mouth of the tunnel.

With his lowered arm he pointed.

"Who is that?" he cried.

Instinctively the others turned.

It was for an instant. The instant sufficed.

Monica saw her brother throw himself upon the floor, felt herself flung aside as Everett and the detective leaped upon him; saw her brother press his hands against his heart, the two men dragging at his arms.

The cavelike room was shaken with a report, an acrid smoke assailed her nostrils. The men ceased struggling. Her brother lay still.

Monica sprang toward the body, but a black wave rose and submerged her. As she fainted, to save herself she threw out her arms, and as she fell she dragged down with her the buried treasure of Cobre.

Stretched upon the stone floor beside her brother, she lay motionless. Beneath her, and wrapped about and covering her, as the leaves covered the babes in the wood, was a vast cobweb of yellow bills, each for five hundred dollars, payable in gold.

A month later the harbor of Porto Cortez in Honduras was shaken with the roar of cannon. In comparison, the roaring of all the cannon of all the revolutions that that distressful country ever had known, were like fire-crackers under a barrel.

Faithful to his itinerary, the Secretary of State of the United States was paying his formal visit to Honduras, and the President of that republic, waiting upon the Fruit Company's wharf to greet him, was receiving the salute of the American battle-ships. Back of him, on the wharf, his own barefooted artillerymen in their turn were saluting, excitedly and spasmodically, the distinguished visitor. As an honor he had at last learned to accept without putting a finger in each ear, the Secretary of State smiled with gracious calm. Less calm was the President of Honduras. He knew something the Secretary did not know. He knew that at any moment a gun of his saluting battery might turn turtle, or blow into the harbor himself, his cabinet, and the larger part of his standing army.

Made fast to the wharf on the side opposite to the one at which the Secretary had landed was one of the Fruit Company's steamers. She was on her way north, and Porto Cortez was a port of call. That her passengers might not intrude upon the ceremonies, her side of the wharf was roped off and guarded by the standing army. But from her decks and from behind the ropes the passengers, with a battery of cameras, were perpetuating the historic scene.

Among them, close to the ropes, viewing the ceremony with the cynical eye of one who in Europe had seen kings and emperors meet upon the Field of the Cloth of Gold, was Everett. He made no effort to bring himself to the attention of his former chief. But when the introductions were over, the Secretary of State turned his eyes to his fellow countrymen crowding the rails of the American steamer. They greeted him with cheers. The great man raised his hat, and his eyes fell upon Everett. The Secretary advanced quickly, his hand extended, brushing to one side the standing army.

"What are you doing here?" he demanded.

"On my way home, sir," said Everett. "I couldn't leave sooner; there were--personal reasons. But I cabled the department my resignation the day Mendoza gave me my walking-papers. You may remember," Everett added dryly, "the department accepted by cable."

The great man showed embarrassment.

"It was most unfortunate," he sympathized. "We wanted that treaty, and while, no doubt, you made every effort--"

He became aware of the fact that Everett's attention was not exclusively his own. Following the direction of the young man's eyes the Secretary saw on the deck just above them, leaning upon the rail, a girl in deep mourning.

She was very beautiful. Her face was as lovely as a violet and as shy. To the Secretary a beautiful woman was always a beautiful woman. But he had read the papers. Who had not? He was sure there must be some mistake. This could not be the sister of a criminal; the woman for whom Everett had smashed his career.

The Secretary masked his astonishment, but not his admiration.

"Mrs. Everett?" he asked. His very tone conveyed congratulations.

"Yes," said the ex-diplomat. "Some day I shall be glad to present you."

The Secretary did not wait for an introduction. Raising his eyes to the ship's rail, he made a deep and courtly bow. With a gesture worthy of d'Artagnan, his high hat swept the wharf. The members of his staff, the officers from the war-ships, the President of Honduras and the members of his staff endeavored to imitate his act of homage, and in confusion Mrs. Everett blushed becomingly.

"When I return to Washington," said the Secretary hastily, "come and see me. You are too valuable to lose. Your career--"

Again Everett was looking at his wife. Her distress at having been so suddenly drawn into the lime-light amused him, and he was smiling. Then, as though aware of the Secretary's meaning, he laughed.

"My dear sir!" he protested. His tone suggested he was about to add "mind your own business," or "go to the devil."

Instead he said: "I'm not worrying about my career. My career has just begun."

 
 
 

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