“And don’t call her a ‘female,’ it sounds indecent. Remember, she has a Bajan with her, six feet tall, named Stephanie. Who knows? Maybe you can win Stephanie for yourself.” Kirk chuckled at the thought.
“No, sar, if you please. Those Bajan ’oomen is all very disagreeable.”
“You understand, I can’t quit work to go looking for the girl, because I’ve simply got to tend to business. But I’ll spend Sunday out there if you haven’t already discovered her. Now, I’ll chant this all over again on the way out, so you won’t forget anything.”
GARAVEL THE BANKER
These were busy days for the Cortlandts. They entertained constantly, and the occasions when they dined without from one to a dozen guests became so exceptional as to elicit remark around the hotel. Most of their efforts were devoted to certain Panamanians of the influential class, and in company with one or more of these Cortlandt made frequent trips to the various quarters of the Republic, sometimes absenting himself for days at a time.
During these intervals his wife assumed the direction of affairs, and continued to entertain or be entertained. Her energy and resource seemed inexhaustible. The officials of both governments treated her with punctilious respect, and the prestige gained in this way she used to enhance her reputation as a hostess. Soon she became the social dictator of the city, and the most exclusive circles, American and Panamanian alike, allowed her to assume control.
The result was just what had been designed. Tourists and visiting newspaper people spoke glowingly of the amity between the two nations, and wondered at the absence of that Spanish prejudice of which they had heard so much. Those who chanced to know the deeper significance of it all, and were aware of the smouldering resentment that lay in the Latin mind, commented admiringly upon her work, and wondered what effect it would have upon the coming election. Already this event had cast its shadow ahead, bringing memories of the last election with its disturbances and ragged uncertainty. That had been a pregnant epoch. Armed guards, hidden behind American walls, had listened to the growing clamor and prepared to fire. American marines had been held in readiness to take such action as might have convulsed the other watchful World Powers.
Since then the fuse had burned steadily, if slowly. As the time drew near, there were those who openly predicted trouble. Others scoffed at the idea, although they claimed that this would be the last election ever held in Panama. But all united in declaring that, whatever the work to which the Cortlandts had been assigned, they were doing it well.