There was a craneman in Bas Obispo “cut” whose testimony was wanted. I reached him by two short walks and a ride. His statements suggested the advisability of questioning his room-mate, a towerman in Miraflores freight-yards. Luck would have it that my chauffeur friend——was just then passing with an I. C. C. motor-car and only a photographer for a New York weekly aboard. I found room to squeeze in. The car raced away through the “cut,” up the declivity, and dropped me at the foot of the tower. The room-mate referred me to a locomotive engineer and, being a towerman, gave me the exact location of his engine. I found it at the foot of Cucaracha slide with a train nearly loaded. By the time the engineer had added his whit of information, we were swinging around toward the Pacific dump. I dropped off and, climbing up the flank of Ancon hill, descended through the hospital grounds.
Where the royal palms are finest and there opens out the broadest view of Panama, Ancon, and the bay, I gave myself five minutes’ pause, after which a carriage bore me to a shop near Cathedral Plaza where second-hand goods are bought—and no questions asked. On the way back to Ancon station I visited two similar establishments.
I had been lolling in the swivel-chair a full ten minutes, perhaps, when the telephone rang. It was “the Captain” calling for me. When I reached the third-story back he handed me extradition papers to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs in Panama. A half-hour later, wholly outstripping the manana idea, I had signed a receipt for the Jap in question and transferred him from Panama to Ancon jail. Whereupon I descended to the evening passenger and rode to Pedro Miguel for five minutes’ conversation, and caught the labor-train Panamaward. At Corozal I stepped off for a word with the officer on the platform and the labor-train plunged on again, after the fashion of labor-trains, spilling the last half of its disembarking passengers along the way. Ten minutes later the headlight of the last passenger swung around the curve and carried me away to Panama.
That might have done for the day, but I had gathered a momentum it was hard to check. Not long after returning from the police mess to the swivel chair a slight omission in the day’s program occurred to me. I called up Corozal police station.
“What?” said a mashed-potato voice at the other end of the wire.
“Policeman Green, sah.”
“Station commander there?”
“No, sah. Station commander he gone just over to de Y. M. to play billiards, sah. Dey one big match on to-night.”
Of course I could have “got” him there. But on second thoughts it would be better to see him in person and clear up at the same time a little matter in one of the labor camps, and not run the risk of causing the loss of the billiard championship. Besides Corozal is cooler to sleep in than Ancon. In a black starry night I set out along the invisible railroad for the first station.