“Who are you?”
“I’m a friend. Don’t be alarmed.” Johnnie summoned his most agreeable smile, then he extended the sodden package he had carried beneath his arm. “I come from your brother Tomas. He asked me to hand you this book and to say that he is returning it with his thanks.”
“What are you saying?” Plainly the speaker did not comprehend; there was nothing but apprehension in his voice.
O’Reilly tore the wet paper from the volume and laid it in Alvarado’s hand. “Look at it, please, and you’ll understand. I didn’t take time to knock, for fear I might be followed.”
Alvarado stared first at the book, then at his caller. After a moment he made a sign to his wife, who left the room. Wetting his lips, he inquired, with an effort, “What do you want?”
O’Reilly told him in a few words. Alvarado showed relief; he even smiled. “I see, but—Caramba! You gave me a start. And this book! Ha! Tomas will have his jokes. It is well you took precautions, for I am under surveillance. I’ll help you, yes! But you must not come here again. Return to your hotel and—Let me think.” Senor Alvarado frowned in deepest thought; then he said: “I have it! Every morning at half past nine a man wearing a Panama hat and a gray silk necktie with a large gold pin will pass along the sidewalk across the street from the Isla de Cuba. You will know him. One day, I cannot promise how soon, he will lift his hat thus, and wipe his face. You understand? Good. Follow him. He will give you final directions. Meanwhile I will make known your presence to certain of our friends who can be trusted. You know Manin, the druggist? Well, you can talk to him, and he will keep you posted as to our progress. Now go before some one comes.”
O’Reilly wrung the Cuban’s hand. Then he stepped out into the night, leaving a pool of water on the clean blue tiles where he had stood.
O’REILLY TALKS HOG LATIN
In the days that followed his call on Ignacio Alvarado, O’Reilly behaved so openly that the Secret Service agent detailed to watch him relaxed his vigilance. Certainly there was nothing suspicious in the conduct of a fellow who sat all the morning tipped back in a hotel chair, languidly scanning the passers-by, whose afternoons were spent on the streets or at the soda-fountain in Martin’s drug-store, and whose evenings were devoted to aimless gossip with his countryman, the newspaper writer. Manifestly this O’Reilly was a harmless person. But the spy did not guess how frantic Johnnie was becoming at this delay, how he inwardly chafed and fretted when two weeks had rolled by and still no signal had come. Manin told him to be patient; he assured him that word had been sent into the Cubitas hills, and that friends were busy in his behalf; but Johnnie was eager to be up and doing. This inaction paralyzed him; it made him almost ill to think how much time had slipped away. Then, too, his money was running low.