The Silent Bullet HTML version

11. The Artificial Paradise
It was, I recall, at that period of the late unpleasantness in the little Central American
republic of Vespuccia, when things looked darkest for American investors, that I hurried
home one evening to Kennedy, bursting with news.
By way of explanation, I may add that during the rubber boom Kennedy had invested in
stock of a rubber company in Vespuccia, and that its value bad been shrinking for some
time with that elasticity which a rubber band shows when one party suddenly lets go his
end. Kennedy had been in danger of being snapped rather hard by the recoil, and I knew
he had put in an order with his broker to sell and take his loss when a certain figure was
reached. My news was a first ray of light in an otherwise dark situation, and I wanted to
advise him to cancel the selling order and stick for a rise.
Accordingly I hurried unceremoniously into our apartment with the words on my lips
before I had fairly closed the door. "What do you think, Craig" I shouted. "It is rumoured
that the revolutionists have captured half a million dollars from the government and are
sending it to--" I stopped short. I had no idea that Kennedy had a client, and a girl, too.
With a hastily mumbled apology I checked myself and backed out toward my own room.
I may as well confess that I did not retreat very fast, however. Kennedy's client was not
only a girl, but a very pretty one, I found, as she turned her head quickly at my sudden
entrance and betray a lively interest at the mention of the revolution. She was a Latin-
American, and the Latin-American type of feminine beauty is fascinating at least to me. I
did not retreat very fast.
As I hoped, Kennedy rose to the occasion. "Miss Guerrero," he said, "let me introduce
Mr. Jameson, who has helped me very much in solving some of my most difficult cases.
Miss Guerrero's father, Walter, is the owner of a plantation which sells its product to the
company I am interested in."
She bowed graciously, but there was a moment of embarrassment until Kennedy came to
the rescue.
"I shall need Mr. Jameson in handling your case, Miss Guerrero," he explained. "Would it
be presuming to ask you to repeat to him briefly what you have already told me about the
mysterious disappearance of your father? Perhaps some additional details will occur to
you, things that you may consider trivial, but which, I assure you, may be of the utmost
She assented, and in a low, tremulous, musical voice bravely went through her story.
"We come," she began, "my father and I--for my mother died when I was a little girl--we
come from the northern part of Vespuccia, where foreign capitalists are much interested
in the introduction of a new rubber plant. I am an only child and have been the constant