The commandant spoke up with ingratiating politeness: “The prisoner say he is reech man’s son. Now, of course, it is too bad he is injure’ wit’ the clob of the policeman; but those officer is ver’ polite, senor, and if he is explain biffore—”
Weeks snorted indignantly. “He gave you that fairy tale, eh? He said his name was Anthony and his father was a railroad president, didn’t he? Well, he imposed on me, too, but his name is Locke, and, as near as I can learn, he practically stowed away on the Santa Cruz.”
“Ah-h!” The officer’s eyes widened as he turned them upon his prisoner. “He is then a w’at you call tramp.”
“All I know is, he stuck me for a lot of bills. I’ll have to see that he gets fair treatment, I suppose, because he’s an American, but that ends my duty.”
“Is this the best you’ll do for me?” Kirk inquired, as Weeks made ready to go.
“Will you tell some of the men at the Wayfarers that I’m here?”
“Oh, that won’t do any good. You’re in for it, Locke, so don’t holler. I’ll be on hand at your hearing.”
“Will you cable my father?”
“At twenty-five cents a word? Hardly!” The speaker mopped his face, exclaiming: “There’s no use of talking, I’ve got to get out in the air; it’s too hot in here for me.” Then he waddled out ahead of Senor Alfarez, who slammed the door behind him as he followed to escort his caller to the street.
But a half-hour later the commandant returned to the cell, and this time he brought with him a number of his little policemen, each armed with a club. Feeling some menace in their coming, Kirk, who had seated himself dejectedly, arose to ask: “What’s coming off?”
Alfarez merely issued some directions in Spanish, and chain handcuffs were once more snapped upon the prisoner’s wrists.
“So! you’re going to hold my trial, eh?” cried Kirk.
But the other snarled: “Senor Locke, you ‘ave force’ the water of the ’ose-wagon upon my body for making the people laugh. Bueno! Now I shall laugh.” He seated himself, then nodded at his men to begin.
Mrs. Cortlandt answered her telephone for the second time, repeating with some impatience: “Tell the man I can’t see him.”
“But he refuses to leave—says he must see you at once; it’s important,” came the voice of the clerk.
“Oh, very well. I’ll come down.” She hung up the receiver with a snap.
“Why don’t they send him up?” queried her husband from the sitting-room.
“It’s a negro, and the clerk says he’d rather not allow him up-stairs. Another sick family, I suppose.”
“They’re beginning to impose on you. It’s usually that way with charities,” said Cortlandt.
With unfeminine neglect of the chance for petty discussion, his wife left the room without replying, and descended to the hotel lobby. Here she was directed toward a very ragged, very woe-begone young black on the rear porch, who, at sight of her, began to fumble his hat and run his words together so excitedly that she was forced to calm him.