JOHNNY CARR IS WILLFUL.
The next three days were on the whole the most uncomfortable I have ever spent in my life. I got little sleep and no rest; I went about with a revolver handy all day, and jumped every time I heard a sound. I expended much change in buying every edition of all the papers; I listened with dread to the distant cries of news-venders, fearing, as the words gradually became distinguishable, to hear that our secret was a secret no longer. I was bound to show myself, and yet shrank from all gatherings of men. I transacted my business with an absent mind and a face of such superhuman innocence that, had anyone been watching me, he must at once have suspected something wrong. I was incapable of adding up a row of figures, and Jones became most solicitous about the state of my brain. In a word, my nerves were quite shattered, and I registered a vow never to upset a Government again as long I lived. In future, the established constitution would have to be good enough for me. I invoked impartial curses on the President, the colonel, the directors, and myself! and I verily believe that only the thought of the signorina prevented me making a moonlight flitting across the frontier with a whole skin at least, if with an empty pocket, and leaving the rival patriots of Aureataland to fight it out among themselves.
Happily, however, nothing occurred to justify my fears. The other side seemed to be sunk in dull security. The President went often to the Ministry of Finance, and was closeted for hours with Don Antonio; I suppose they were perfecting their nefarious scheme. There were no signs of excitement or activity at the barracks; the afternoon gatherings on the Piazza were occupied with nothing more serious than the prospects of lawn tennis and the grievous dearth of dances. The official announcements relative to the debt had had a quieting effect; and all classes seemed inclined to wait and see what the President’s new plan was.
So passed Wednesday and Thursday. On neither day had I heard anything from my fellow-conspirators; our arrangements for writing had so far proved unnecessary—or unsuccessful. The latter possibility sent a shiver down my back, and my lively fancy pictured his Excellency’s smile as he perused the treasonable documents. If I heard nothing on the morning of Friday, I was determined at all risks to see the colonel. With the dawn of that eventful day, however, I was relieved of this necessity. I was lying in bed about half-past nine (for I never add to the woes of life by early rising) when my servant brought in three letters.
“Sent on from the bank, sir,” he said, “with Mr. Jones’ compliments, and are you going there this morning?”
“My compliments to Mr. Jones, and he may expect me in five minutes,” I replied.
The letters were all marked “Immediate”; one from the signorina, one from the colonel, one from the barracks. I opened the last first and read as follows: