“Ivory-nuts grow upon trees, sar, in the Darien region.”
Anthony regarded him sourly. “The Brunswick-Balke people never turned out anything half so round and half so hard. That burr of yours is a curio. I told you Chiquita was small and beautiful and dainty and—Oh, what’s the use! This dame is a truck-horse. She’s the color of a saddle.”
“Oh, she is not too dark, sar.” Allan came loyally to the defence of Miss Torres. “Some of the finest people in Panama is blacker than that. There is but few who are h’all w’ite.”
“Well, she’s all white, and I want you to find her to-day—to-day, understand? You gallop out to the Savannas and make some inquiries.” He shook his fist in Allan’s face. “If you don’t learn something this trip, I’ll have your lignum-vitae cranium in a bowling-alley by dark. Lord! If I only spoke Spanish!”
Allan reluctantly departed, and Kirk went back to his quarters in high displeasure. It seemed as if the affair had actually left a bad taste in his mouth. He could not compose his features into anything like a decently amiable expression, but went about with a bitter smile upon his lips. Every time some new aspect of his grotesque and humiliating mistake occurred to him he suffered a nervous twinge. That afternoon a card was brought to him bearing the ornate inscription in a beautiful Spencerian hand:
Reconciling himself as best he could to the prospect of an interview with some importunate stranger, he grudgingly consented to have the visitor brought in. Professor Herara was not alone. He was accompanied by a very short, very fat man, whose smooth skin had the rich, dark coloring of a nice, oily Cuban cigar.
“Senor Anthony, it is?” inquired the Professor, bowing ceremoniously.
“That’s my name.”
“It is my privilege to consult you upon a business of importance.”
“I’m afraid you have the wrong party. I don’t care to learn shorthand.”
“Ah, no, it is not concerning my academy. Allow me to present Senor Luis Torres.”
Kirk felt the room begin to revolve slowly.
“My friend does not possess a card at the moment, eh?” continued the Professor.
The little, rotund man bowed, his hand-polished, mahogany features widening in a smile.
“’Sveree hot wedder!” he exclaimed.
“He begs one thousand pardons for not speaking of your language the more perfectly, and so he is request of me to be his interpreter.”