Truly, this was pleasant!
DIVIDING THE SPOILS.
The habit of reading having penetrated, as we are told, to all classes of the community, I am not without hope that some who peruse this chronicle will be able, from personal experience, to understand the feelings of a man when he first finds a reward offered for his apprehension. It is true that our police are not in the habit of imitating the President’s naked brutality by expressly adding “Alive or Dead,” but I am informed that the law, in case of need, leaves the alternative open to the servants of justice. I am not ashamed to confess that my spirits were rather dashed by his Excellency’s Parthian shot, and I could see that the colonel himself was no less perturbed. The escape of Fleance seemed to Macbeth to render his whole position unsafe, and no one who knew General Whittingham will doubt that he was a more dangerous opponent than Fleance. We both felt, in fact, as soon as we saw the white sail of The Songstress bearing our enemy out of our reach, that the revolution could not yet be regarded as safely accomplished. But the uncertainty of our tenure of power did not paralyze our energies; on the contrary, we determined to make hay while the sun shone, and, if Aureataland was doomed to succumb once more to tyranny, I, for one, was very clear that her temporary emancipation might be turned to good account.
Accordingly, on arriving again at the Golden House, we lost no time in instituting a thorough inquiry into the state of the public finances. We ransacked the house from top to bottom and found nothing! Was it possible that the President had carried off with him all the treasure that had inspired our patriotic efforts? The thought was too horrible. The drawers of his escritoire and the safe that stood in his library revealed nothing to our eager eyes. A foraging party, dispatched to the Ministry of Finance (where, by the way, they did not find Don Antonio or his fair daughter), returned with the discouraging news that nothing was visible but ledgers and bills (not negotiable securities—the other sort). In deep dejection I threw myself into his Excellency’s chair and lit one of his praiseworthy cigars with the doleful reflection that this pleasure seemed all I was likely to get out of the business. The colonel stood moodily with his back to the fireplace, looking at me as if I were responsible for the state of things.
At this point in came the signorina. We greeted her gloomily, and she was as startled as ourselves at the news of the President’s escape; at the same time I thought I detected an undercurrent of relief, not unnatural if we recollect her personal relations with the deposed ruler. When, however, we went on to break to her the nakedness of the land, she stopped us at once.
“Oh, you stupid men! you haven’t looked in the right place. I suppose you expected to find it laid out for you on the dining-room table. Come with me.”