3. The Gun Runners
"We'll land here, Mrs. Dunlap."
Ramon Santos, terror of the Washington State Department and of a half
dozen consulates in New York, stuck a pin in a map of Central America
spread out on a table before Constance.
"Insurrectos will meet us," he pursued, then added, "but we must have
money, first, my dear Senora, plenty of money."
Dark of eye and skin, with black imperial and mustache, tall, straight as an
arrow, Santos had risen and was now gazing down with rapt attention, not at
the map, but at Constance herself.
Every curve of her face and wave of her hair, every line of her trim figure
which her filmy gown seemed to accentuate rather than conceal added fire to
his ardent glances.
He touched lightly another pin sticking in a little, almost microscopic island of
"Our plan, it is simple," he continued with animation in spite of his foreign
accent. "On this island a plant to print paper money, to coin silver. With that
we shall land, pay our men as they flock to us, collect forces, seize cities,
appropriate the customs. Once we start, it is easy."
Constance looked up quickly. "But that is counterfeiting," she exclaimed.
"No," rejoined Santos, "it is a war measure. We--the provisional government--
merely coin our own money. Besides, it will not be done in this country. It will
not come under your laws."
There was a magnetism about the man that fascinated her, as he stood
watching the effect of his words. Instinctively she knew that it was not alone
enthusiasm over his scheme that inspired his confidences.
"Though we are not counterfeiters," he went on, "we do not know what
moment our opponents may set your Secret Service to destroy all our hopes.
Besides, we must have money--now--to buy machinery, arms, ammunition.
We must find some one," he lowered his voice, "who can persuade American
bankers and merchants to take risks to gain valuable concessions in the new
Santos was talking rapidly and earnestly, urging his case on her.
"We are prepared," he hurried on confidentially, "to give you, Senora, half the
money that you can raise for these purposes."
He paused and stood before her. He was certainly a handsome figure, this
soldier of fortune, and he was at his best now.
Constance looked out of the window of her sitting room. This was a business
proposition, not to be influenced by any sentiment.
She watched the lights moving up and down the river and bay. There were
craft from the ends of the earth. She speculated on the romantic secrets
hidden in liner and tramp. Surely they could scarcely be more romantic than
the appeal Santos was making.