“I hope our country won’t go that far,” Dave exclaimed, with a gesture of disgust. “I should hate to think of having to welcome the Mexicans as fellow citizens of the great republic.”
“I don’t believe that we need worry about it,” smiled the consul. “It is only the jingo papers that are talking in that vein.”
“How does Congress feel about the situation?” Dave asked.
“Why, I am glad to say that Congress appears to be in line for as strong action as the government may wish to take.”
“It really looks like war, then.”
“It looks as though our troops might land on the Mexican coast by way of reprisal,” replied the consul. “That would bring stubborn resistance from the Mexicans, and then, as a result, intervention would surely follow. There may be men with minds bright enough to see the difference between armed intervention and war.”
“I’m stupid then,” Ensign Dave smiled. “I can’t see any difference in the actual results. So you believe, sir, that the people of the United States are practically a unit for taking a strong hand in Mexican affairs?”
“The people of the United States have wanted just that action for at least two years,” the consul answered.
“That was the way it looked to me,” Dave nodded. “By the way, sir, did you hear anything about an armed encounter between a naval party and Cosetta’s bandits last night?”
“Why, yes,” cried the consul, “and now I remember that the landing party was sent from your ship. What can you tell me about that?”
Dave Darrin gave a brief account of the doings of the night before, though he did not mention the fact that he, himself, was in command of the landing party of rescuers.
“It was a plucky bit of work,” commented the consul.
“Will that fight with Cosetta inflame the Mexican mind?” Dave asked.
“It is likely to have something of that effect upon the Mexicans,” the consul replied, “though Mexico can hardly make any legal objection to the affair, for Cosetta is a notorious bandit, and bandits have no rights. The Mexican government appears to have been unable to rescue the prisoners, so the United States forces had an undoubted right to do so. Do you know anything about this fellow, Cosetta, Mr. Darrin?”
“I never heard of him before yesterday,” Dave confessed.
“He is a troublesome fellow, and rather dangerous. More than once he has extorted large sums of ransom money for prisoners. He has a large following, even here in Vera Cruz, where he maintains his little force of spies and assassins. Whenever a wealthy Mexican hereabouts has had an enemy that he wanted ‘removed,’ he has always been able to accomplish his wish with the aid of this same fellow, Cosetta.”
“Cosetta is in town to-day,” Dave remarked.
“Are you sure of that?”
“I saw him here,” Darrin replied, quietly.
“Then you must have been the officer in command of last night’s landing party.”