Cabbages and Kings HTML version

VII. Money Maze
The new administration of Anchuria entered upon its duties and privileges with
enthusiasm. Its first act was to send an agent to Coralio with imperative orders to recover,
if possible, the sum of money ravished from the treasury by the ill-fated Miraflores.
Colonel Emilio Falcon, the private secretary of Losada, the new president, was
despatched from the capital upon this important mission.
The position of private secretary to a tropical president is a responsible one. He must be a
diplomat, a spy, a ruler of men, a body-guard to his chief, and a smeller-out of plots and
nascent revolutions. Often he is the power behind the throne, the dictator of policy; and a
president chooses him with a dozen times the care with which he selects a matrimonial
Colonel Falcon, a handsome and urbane gentleman of Castilian courtesy and debonnaire
manners, came to Coralio with the task before him of striking upon the cold trail of the
lost money. There he conferred with the military authorities, who had received
instructions to cooperate with him in the search.
Colonel Falcon established his headquarters in one of the rooms of the Casa Morena.
Here for a week he held informal sittings--much as if he were a kind of unified grand
jury--and summoned before him all those whose testimony might illumine the financial
tragedy that had accompanied the less momentous one of the late president's death.
Two or three who were thus examined, among whom was the barber Esteban, declared
that they had identified the body of the president before its burial.
"Of a truth," testified Esteban before the mighty secretary, "it was he, the president.
Consider!--how could I shave a man and not see his face? He sent for me to shave him in
a small house. He had a beard very black and thick. Had I ever seen the president before?
Why not? I saw him once ride forth in a carriage from the ~vapor~ in Solitas. When I
shaved him he gave me a gold piece, and said there was to be no talk. But I am a Liberal-
-I am devoted to my country--and I spake of these things to Senor Goodwin."
"It is known," said Colonel Falcon, smoothly, "that the late President took with him an
American leather valise, containing a large amount of money. Did you see that?"
"~De veras~--no," Esteban answered. "The light in the little house was but a small lamp
by which I could scarcely see to shave the President. Such a thing there may have been,
but I did not see it. No. Also in the room was a young lady--a senorita of much beauty--
that I could see even in so small a light. But the money, senor, or the thing in which it
was carried--that I did not see."