It was a prediction full of ghastly possibilities for Ensign Dave Darrin!
“AFTER THE RASCAL!”
Seaman Rogers led the way briskly to the American consulate.
“The consul is engaged, sir, with the Jefe Politico,” explained a clerk at a desk in an outer office. “Will you wait, or have you papers that can be left with me?”
“Thank you; I shall he obliged to wait,” Dave decided, “since I was instructed to hand the papers to the consul himself.”
He took a chair at a vacant desk, picking up a late issue of a New Orleans daily paper and scanning the front page.
Seaman Rogers strolled to the entrance, watching the passing crowds of Mexicans.
“Is there any very late news from Tampico?” Darrin inquired, presently.
“Nothing later than the news received this morning,” the clerk replied.
“The bare details of the dispute there over the insult to the Flag?” Darrin inquired.
“That is all, sir,” the clerk replied.
So Dave turned again to the newspaper. Several things were happening in the home country that interested him.
“It was half an hour before the Jefe Politico, a Mexican official, corresponding somewhat to a mayor in an American city, passed through on his way out.
“You will be able to see the consul, now,” suggested the clerk, so Dave rose at once, passing into the inner office, where he was pleasantly greeted.
Dave laid a sealed packet of papers on the desk before the consul.
“If you have time to wait, pardon me while I glance at the enclosures,” said the consul.
Ensign Darrin took a seat near a window, while the official went rapidly through the papers submitted to him.
Some were merely communications to go forward to the United States in the consular mailbag.
Still other papers required careful consideration.
“If you will excuse me,” said the consul, rising, “I will go into another room to dictate a letter that I wish to send to your captain.”
Dave passed through another half hour of waiting.
“It will be some time before the papers are ready,” reported the consul, on his return. “In the meantime, Mr. Darrin, I am quite at your service.”
“I wonder if you have received any further news about the Tampico incident,” Dave smiled, questioningly.
“Nothing further, I fancy, than was sent by wireless to all the American warships in these waters.”
“Is that incident going to lead to war?” Darrin asked.
“It is hard to say,” replied the consul, musingly. “But the people at home are very much worked up over it.”
“They are?” asked Dave, eagerly.
“Indeed, yes! In general, the American press predicts that now nothing is so likely as United States intervention in this distracted country. Some of our American editors even declare boldly that the time has come to bring about the permanent occupation and annexation of Mexico.”