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The Unspeakable Perk

The Better Part Of Valor
Night fell with the iron clangor of bells, and day broke to the accompaniment of further
insensate jangling, for Caracuna City has the noisiest cathedral in the world; and still the
graceful gray yacht Polly lay in the harbor at Puerto del Norte, hemmed in by a thin film
of smoke along the horizon where the Dutch warship promenaded.
In one of the side caverns off the main dining-room of the Hotel Kast, the yacht's owner,
breakfasting with the yacht's tutelary goddess and the goddess's determined pursuer,
discussed the blockade. Though Miss Polly Brewster kept up her end of the conversation,
her thoughts were far upon a breeze-swept mountain- side. How, she wondered, had that
dry and strange hermit of the wilds known the news before the city learned it? With her
wonder came annoyance over her lost wager. The beetle man, she judged, would be
coolly superior about it. So she delivered herself of sundry stinging criticisms regarding
the conduct of the Caracunan Administration in having stupidly involved itself in a
blockade. She even spoke of going to see the President and apprising him of her views.
"I'd like to tell him how to run this foolish little island," said she, puckering a quaintly
severe brow.
"Now is the appointed time for you to plunge in and change the course of empire," her
father suggested to her. "There's an official morning reception at ten o'clock. We're
invited."
"Then I shan't go. I wouldn't give the old goose the satisfaction of going to his fiesta."
"Meaning the noble and patriotic President?" said Carroll. "Treason most foul! The
cuartels are full of chained prisoners who have said less."
"Father can go with Mr. Sherwen. I shall do some important shopping," announced Miss
Brewster. "And I don't want any one along."
Thus apprised of her intentions, Carroll wrapped himself in gloom, and retired to write a
letter.
Miss Polly's shopping, being conducted mainly through the medium of the sign language,
presently palled upon her sensibilities, and about twelve o'clock she decided upon a drive.
Accordingly she stepped into one of the pretty little toy victorias with which the city
swarms.
"Para donde?" inquired the driver.
His fare made an expansive gesture, signifying "Anywhere." Being an astute person in
his own opinion, the Jehu studied the pretty foreigner's attire with an appraising eye,
profoundly estimated that so much style and elegance could be designed for only one
function of the day, whirled her swiftly along the two-mile drive of the Calvario Road,
and landed her at the President's palace, half an hour after the reception was over.
Supposing from the coachman's signs that she was expected to go in and view some
 
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