THE MINE IS LAID.
The morning meeting had been devoted to principles and to the awakening of enthusiasm; in the evening the conspirators condescended upon details, and we held a prolonged and anxious conference at the signorina’s. Mrs. Carrington was commanded to have a headache after dinner, and retired with it to bed; and from ten till one we sat and conspired. The result of our deliberations was a very pretty plan, of which the main outlines were as follows:
This was Tuesday. On Friday night the colonel, with twenty determined ruffians (or resolute patriots) previously bound to him, body and soul, by a donation of no less than fifty dollars a man, was to surprise the Golden House, seize the person of the President and all cash and securities on the premises; no killing, if it could be avoided, but on the other hand no shilly-shally. McGregor wanted to put the President out of the way at once, as a precautionary measure, but I strongly opposed this proposal, and, finding the signorina was absolutely inflexible on the same side, he yielded. I had a strong desire to be present at this midnight surprise, but another duty called for my presence. There was a gala supper at the barracks that evening, to commemorate some incident or other in the national history, and I was to be present and to reply to the toast of “The Commerce of Aureataland.” My task was, at all hazards, to keep this party going till the colonel’s job was done, when he would appear at the soldiers’ quarters, bribe in hand, and demand their allegiance. Our knowledge of the character of the troops made us regard the result as a certainty, if once the President was a prisoner and the dollars before their eyes. The colonel and the troops were to surround the officers’ messroom, and offer them life and largesse, or death and destruction. Here again we anticipated their choice with composure. The army was then to be paraded in the Piazza, the town overawed or converted, and, behold, the Revolution was accomplished! The success of this design entirely depended on its existence remaining a dead secret from the one man we feared, and on that one man being found alone and unguarded at twelve o’clock on Friday night. If he discovered the plot, we were lost. If he took it into his head to attend the supper, our difficulties would be greatly increased. At this point we turned to the signorina, and I said briefly:
“This appears to be where you come in, signorina. Permit me to invite you to dine with his Excellency on Friday evening, at eight precisely.”
“You mean,” she said slowly, “that I am to keep him at home, and, but for myself, alone, on Friday?”
“Yes,” said I. “Is there any difficulty?”
“I do not think there is great difficulty,” she said, “but I don’t like it; it looks so treacherous.”
Of course it did. I didn’t like her doing it myself, but how else was the President to be secured?