Davis' Short Stories Vol. 3
My going to Valencia was entirely an accident. But the more often I stated that fact, the
more satisfied was everyone at the capital that I had come on some secret mission. Even
the venerable politician who acted as our minister, the night of my arrival, after dinner,
said confidentially, "Now, Mr. Crosby, between ourselves, what's the game?"
"What's what game?" I asked.
"You know what I mean," he returned. "What are you here for?"
But when, for the tenth time, I repeated how I came to be marooned in Valencia he
showed that his feelings were hurt, and said stiffly: "As you please. Suppose we join the
And the next day his wife reproached me with: "I should think you could trust your own
minister. My husband NEVER talks--not even to me."
"So I see," I said.
And then her feelings were hurt also, and she went about telling people I was an agent of
the Walker-Keefe crowd.
My only reason for repeating here that my going to Valencia was an accident is that it
was because Schnitzel disbelieved that fact, and to drag the hideous facts from me
followed me back to New York. Through that circumstance I came to know him, and am
able to tell his story.
The simple truth was that I had been sent by the State Department to Panama to "go,
look, see," and straighten out a certain conflict of authority among the officials of the
canal zone. While I was there the yellow-fever broke out, and every self-respecting
power clapped a quarantine on the Isthmus, with the result that when I tried to return to
New York no steamer would take me to any place to which any white man would care to
go. But I knew that at Valencia there was a direct line to New York, so I took a tramp
steamer down the coast to Valencia. I went to Valencia only because to me every other
port in the world was closed. My position was that of the man who explained to his wife
that he came home because the other places were shut.
But, because, formerly in Valencia I had held a minor post in our legation, and because
the State Department so constantly consults our firm on questions of international law, it
was believed I revisited Valencia on some mysterious and secret mission.
As a matter of fact, had I gone there to sell phonographs or to start a steam laundry, I
should have been as greatly suspected. For in Valencia even every commercial salesman,