The Filigree Ball HTML version

19. In Tampa
When I started on this desperate search after a witness, war had been declared, but no
advance as yet ordered on Cuba. But during my journey south the long expected event
happened, and on my arrival in Tampa I found myself in the midst of departure and
everything in confusion.
Of course, under such conditions it was difficult to find my man on the instant.
Innumerable inquiries yielded no result, and in the absence of any one who would or
could give me the desired information I wandered from one end of the camp to the other
till I finally encountered a petty officer who gave signs of being a Rough Rider. Him I
stopped, and, with some hint of my business, asked where James Calvert could be found.
His answer was a stare and a gesture toward the hospital tents.
Nothing could have astonished me more.
"Sick?" I cried.
"Dying," was his answer.
Dying! Curly Jim! Impossible. I had misled my informant as to the exact man I wanted,
or else there were two James Calverts in Tampa. Curly Jim, the former cowboy, was not
the fellow to succumb in camp before he had ever smelt powder.
"It is James Calvert of the First Volunteer Corps I am after," said I. "A sturdy fellow -"
"No doubt, no doubt. Many sturdy fellows are down. He's down to stay. Typhoid, you
know. Bad case. No hope from the start. Pity, but -"
I heard no more. Dying! Curly Jim. He who was considered to be immune! He who held
the secret -
"Let me see him," I demanded. "It is important - a police matter - a word from him may
save a life. He is still breathing?"
"Yes, but I do not think there is any chance of his speaking. He did not recognize his
nurse five minutes ago."
As bad as that! But I did not despair. I did not dare to. I had staked everything on this
interview, and I was not going to lose its promised results from any lack of effort on my
own part.
"Let me see him," I repeated.