“Immediately, and if you don’t move like lightning it will take effect upon your person.”
“Mr. Carter would never—”
“Bother Mr. Carter! Now stiffen your spine long enough to write my check. If you don’t—” O’Reilly compressed his lips and breathed ominously through his nostrils. He laid a heavy and persuasive hand upon the secretary’s shoulder. “Hump yourself, old jellyfish!”
There was a queer, wild light in O’Reilly’s eye and for once Mr. Slack took orders from an underling. He humped himself.
Johnnie’s other preparations were conducted with equal vigor and promptitude; within two hours his belongings were packed. But for all his haste his mind was working clearly. Rosa’s warning not to come to Matanzas was no doubt warranted, and his own unpleasant experiences with the customs men at Havana were still fresh enough to be vivid. The Spaniards were intensely suspicious of all Americans, especially incoming ones, as he had reason to know, and since he was nearly as well acquainted in the one place as in the other it seemed to be the part of wisdom to slip into the country through a side door. The seat of war was in the east. The rebels held that part of the island. Once there and in touch with them it would surely be no difficult task to evade the local authorities and join Colonel Lopez.
O’Reilly pondered these thoughts briefly, then seized his hat and hastened down-town to the office of the Cuban Junta.
At this time the newspapers of the United States were devoting much space to the insular uprising; the first stories of Spanish atrocities later, alas! destined to become all too familiar, were gaining public attention, and there were few readers who did not know something about the activities of that body of patriots who made their headquarters at 56 New Street. It was from this place that the revolution was largely financed, so the papers said. It was there that the filibustering expeditions supplying arms and ammunition originated. To 56 New Street O’Reilly went.
There was nothing martial about the atmosphere of the Junta’s offices; there were no war maps on the walls, no stands of arms nor recruiting officers in evidence—not even a hint of intrigue or conspiracy. The place was rather meanly furnished, and it was disappointingly commonplace. A business-like young man inquired O’Reilly’s errand.
Johnnie made known a part of it, and then asked to see some one in authority. In consequence, perhaps, of his Irish smile or of that persuasiveness which he could render almost irresistible when he willed, it was not long before he gained admittance to the presence of Mr. Enriquez, a distinguished, scholarly Cuban of middle age.
“You say you have important business with me?” the latter inquired, speaking with an accent of refinement.
O’Reilly plunged boldly into the heart of the matter which had brought him thither. When he had finished his tale Mr. Enriquez inquired: