Roy Glashan's Library
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First published in Blue Book, October 1938

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2023
Version Date: 2023-12-19

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Blue Book, October 1938,
with "The Return of the Man Who Was Killed"


MR. BRAND is another shy fellow when it comes to having his photograph published, and we have to offer you instead a word-picture of him written by Mr. Edward H. Dodd, Jr., for the March 26th, 1938, issue of the Publisher's Weekly. After telling of Mr. Brand's first conspicuous success with "The Untamed" in 1918, and estimating that in the years since then he has written nearly twenty-five million words for his many admirers in America and Europe, Mr. Dodd concludes:

"What manner of man do you conjure up with all these figures whirling around in your head? Do you see a tall fellow, six feet two, with broad shoulders and a massive head? Do you hear a resonant, cultured voice, and sense the predilection of a gourmet for rare wines and fine victuals? Do you visualize him living in a villa in the Italian hills with a surpassingly beautiful wife, with two children of college age? Do you think of him as a dreamy talker of boundless imagination who could hold you spellbound by the hour as he discoursed on anything from Omar Khayyam to China Clippers? If you do, you're good. For that is just the sort of man Max Brand is!"


LIFE, like curiously blended ten-year-old whiskies, had a fine flavor for Jimmy Gavvigan. In fact, he had been out in the world for just ten years; and though he was only twenty-four, he had heaped up at compounded interest a treasure of knowledge about Canadian brush, Central American jungles, Mexican deserts and the street life of a dozen American cities. He was an expert with either machine-gun or revolver; but above all he was a master of all means of transport, whether it meant power-diving a high-speed plane or riding the rods or blind baggage of a train, or bringing a rusted marine motor to life, or riding the hurricane deck of a mustang.

When men saw Jimmy Gavvigan, they put back their shoulders and wished they were in hard training. When women saw him, they straightened their hats and reached for their lipsticks. He was not exceedingly big; but as his friends and all his enemies agreed, he was quite big enough.

At this moment he had nothing on his mind, five hundred poker dollars in his pocket, and a pleasant thirst which he nursed along with a gentle anticipation as he strolled through the old Latin Quarter of New Orleans. He was in no haste because he was in one of the most pleasant provinces of his empire. Those stuccoed walls were cool to the eye, and through the arched gateways he saw the parterres of inner courts and fountain bowls with silver shining fountains at play, and statues adrip with climbing vines. But above all, he enjoyed the balconies and jalousies, the gratings, the huge locks and hinges, the iron lattices with which the Creole shuts the world out and shuts virtue in. The last part of this thought was what lightened his step and kept him smiling; for no matter how Gavvigan found New Orleans, it always seemed to him that a carnival had just ended or was about to begin.

He was walking just a little faster than the crowd until he came up behind a tall, heavy man dressed in flawless white, with white gloves and a walking-stick idling in his hand. And when this gentleman paused at a corner to turn in his leisure and survey the amusing world, Gavvigan saw, in addition, the red flower in the buttonhole, the sun-darkened face, the softness of the expansive jowls, and the little black mustache which gave so much life and accent to the smile. He was not more than thirty; but high-living had given him a patina that made him seem older. Without knowing more of this man than his binding, so to speak, one would look to him for information about wine, good restaurants in Paris, international news, and what the well-dressed man should wear.

HE had with him a girl who looked as sleek and slim as a trick seal. She walked like a dancer, but the turning of her head toward the big man was so sensitive and almost shy, and her hands were so still, and her bearing was so full of the lady, that Gavvigan was moved.

He stepped up beside them and said: "Hai, Benvill!"

"Ah? Ah, yes," said John Benvill. "And Miss Melendez—this is Jimmy Gavvigan, Alicia."

Her hair was black, but her eyes were blue. How could a girl called Melendez have so much Irish in the blue of her eyes? She had a sweet face. You saw the sweetness even before the beauty.

"Can I see you somewhere?" asked Benvill cheerfully.

"Yeah. You can see me now!" stated Gavvigan.

"Excuse me for half a moment, Alicia," said Benvill. "This is quite important news. If you don't mind, we'll fall back a few steps behind you."

She lifted her big, happy, unsuspecting eyes to Gavvigan, and smiled in assent.

Gavvigan said, as they fell back: "You've put on ten pounds since I last saw you, Benvill."

The big man did not pause in his step as he answered: "Right you are, old fellow. It's the curse of Creole cooking that it likes me too well. The moment I come into a house, the cook feels a change in the air and puts extra butter in the sauce.... But we were John and Jimmy to one another before this, weren't we?"

"We were," stated Gavvigan; "and that's why you'd better walk dead slow, because when we come to the end of this block, I'm going to knock your damned ears off your head. The gal can admire 'em in the gutter."

"Can she?" murmured Benvill. "You know, Jimmy, if any other man in the world spoke like that to me, I'd either have to knock him down or draw a gun on him."

"Why don't you do it now?"

"Because you're too strong for me in the first place, and too quick in the second," replied John Benvill. "I tell you this without shame, Jimmy. Let's say that I'm an inch or so taller and twenty pounds heavier than you; but who thinks of pounds and dimensions when it's a question of man versus panther.... There's one thing I beg you to tell me."

Gavvigan answered: "Ruega de grande, fuerza es que te hace." He said it ironically for the meaning is: "A great man's entreaty is a command."

"My dear old man, how you change when you speak Spanish!" said Benvill, who now was walking very slowly, as though overcome by thought. "The old culture slips onto your back like a well-tailored coat. What I beg is information about your bad temper, just now. Why are you hating me, Jimmy?"

"Well, I'll tell you," said Gavvigan: "I didn't mind the way you blew out of town with the money, but it kind of irritated me to be sent to keep that appointment with the three of those Mexicans, not knowing that you'd finished trimming them the day before."

"Do you know that I've often thought of that meeting?" nodded Benvill.

"I'll lay money you've thought of it," agreed Gavvigan. "You've even wondered where they dropped me in the Rio Grande, and what they used for weights in my pockets."

"Ah, Jimmy, not at all!" exclaimed Benvill. He held up a hand in polite protest. "I've only wondered if you had time to draw a gun, or if you had to take them on with your bare hands; that is to say, I've wondered if the greasers escaped with broken heads, merely, or if one or two of them had to die. What actually happened?"

"I dived at their feet," explained Gavvigan carelessly, "and it didn't last long.... And we're getting closer to the end of the block, Benvill—damn you!"

"You're really upset about that," remarked Benvill. "But even you must admit that all's fair in love or war."

"There wasn't any war, till you left town," answered Gavvigan.

"There was love, though."

"The hell there was!" snapped Gavvigan. "I was all over that town with a fine-toothed comb."

"You didn't find her, because she was resting in her room in the Grand Hotel," stated Benvill. "Small, blonde, lovely. Very lovely, Jimmy, and a thousand acres in Iowa corn and pork. When I saw her, I forgot everything else. I left town. I left you. I followed her, blindly. I thought I was rushing toward an eternal happiness, Jimmy, but there was an insuperable obstacle. A young Nebraskan ruined everything for me; an absolutely inconsiderable youth, but he had a football reputation even longer than his hair."

They were coming momently closer to the end of the block, and Benvill was walking slower and slower, when the girl turned and awaited them.

"Tell her to walk on!" directed Gavvigan softly. "I'm going to take her off your hands, Benvill."

But she came up to them before Benvill could speak, saying: "Did you see that old beggar at the mouth of the alley, back there?"

"The one with dark glasses? I saw you give him money," answered Benvill.

"He reminded me of some one out of my father's life," said the girl. "You were through those last frightful days of Oñate's revolution, and perhaps you can remember his face better than I can from photographs. Does he make you think of anyone?"

"He reminds me of any hungry old man," said Benvill. "I don't spot him."

"Think of our lost leader!" said the girl.

She said it in a softly impassioned voice that opened the heart of Gavvigan like a door.

"You don't mean Garcías himself?" said Benvill sharply.

"Garcías died in a marsh—he died in the black marsh at San Jacinto," remarked Gavvigan.

"Were you there, señor?" asked the girl, pouring more blue into her eyes.

"I was only fifteen," said Gavvigan, "but I was there. I was on the working end of a machine-gun, but it wasn't working for Garcías. I was taking money from that other crook, Oñate."

"Garcías—Garcías!" murmured Benvill. "Jimmy, there is just an angle, a glint, of Garcías about that old fellow."

THE name walked its way home into the mind of Gavvigan with separate steps.

"Gold-dust Pedro.... General Twenty-million-dollar Garcías.... El Liberador!" he said slowly. "He died at San Jacinto."

The girl, as though fascinated, was going back toward the beggar.

"The Liberator.... Maybe. There he stands, now, minus his three-ship navy and his Customhouse and his brass-trimmed army and his newspaper and his congress," said Benvill. "There he stands minus everything but dark glasses, holding out his hand for charity. Naked as a flag-pole without a flag. Pitiful. 'Tis true, 'tis pity, and pity 'tis, 'tis true.'"

"Why pity?" asked Gavvigan, looking back through the shadows at the beggar. "El Liberador used to collect taxes with a bayonet. Still, it gives me a queer feeling to think of him all washed up."

"You say that he's washed up," said Benvill; "but many a mine has been closed for a generation, and then reopened and worked for a handsome profit with modern methods."

"What kind of a profit would you get out of that old relic?" demanded Gavvigan. "If he took a step, he'd crack at the joints. He's gone blind, and he's probably deaf too. What could you use him for?"

"For a trade-name," answered Benvill. "Suppose you found a trade-mark like 'Standard Oil,' would you throw it away? Well, there's three million people in Honduragua who haven't seen the Liberator for ten years. That means they remember his name, not his face. Stain his hair, grow him a beard, put some brass epaulets on his shoulders—and General Garcías, the Liberator, might take a great many tricks down there."

"They were fed up with him when they kicked him out," said Gavvigan. "And they'd kick him out if he went back again."

"My dear old Jimmy," smiled Benvill, "down there in Honduragua they never hate anybody except the fellow in power."

"Who's this Melendez child?" asked Gavvigan. "How does she hook in with old Pedro Garcías and Honduragua?"

"Her father was Pedro's treasurer. When Garcías got the boot, Melendez got the treasury; maybe the gal has a conscience, and wants to split up, since her father died. She floats in dough, Jimmy. That movement works on nothing but jewels. Why shouldn't you and I have some of them?"

"IT'S a great thing to watch a brain like yours working," declared Gavvigan. "It's better than watching a rattlesnake kill a rat behind plate glass. But what makes you think that I'd ever throw in with you again?"

"Ever since I left you," explained the big man, "I've been a brain without hands; and you've never had a piece of work big enough to suit you. We're made to work together, and we'll make a great show out of this. Dimly before me I see a glorious picture: It has a brass band in it. I hear twenty-one-gun salutes. I hear the soft and silken rustlings of the long green."

"Let's go back and take another look at him," said Gavvigan.

They went back, past Alicia Melendez. Gavvigan took off the dark glasses of the beggar.

"Gentlemen," said the beggar, "you take away the last ray of light from an old, unhappy man!"

"It's almost him," said Gavvigan. He took the beggar by the arm. "Come with us, brother," urged Gavvigan.

"What will you have with Barrientos?" asked the old man. He had a dry, gray old face, and there was no flesh in his cheeks. "I am a broken thing: a blinded, helpless, and very old man, gentlemen. Do you take me in the name of the law?"

"Barrientos," said Benvill, "we think we can use you. What will you be willing to do for all expenses and five dollars a day? Give him his glasses, Jimmy."

"Let the glasses be," said the beggar. "Wait till I take this bandage off my leg, and I can walk well enough; and I still can see the faces of friends without glasses."

"Forward, then," said Benvill, very heartily. "Toward the future!"

THEY went briskly down the street, Benvill with his arm through that of the revived old man, and Alicia Melendez hurrying beside Gavvigan, turning a little toward him as she looked up into his face with ardent questioning.

"And can it be that he's only pretending to be Barrientos? Can he really be Garcías?" she pleaded.

"Wait till Benvill gets through with him," answered Gavvigan. "He might be almost anything."

A moment later she was saying: "Shall I stop here at home? May I go on with you, please, please?"

Benvill, turning at the entrance of a big old house, answered: "You'd better stop here. But we'll let you know everything."

So she stepped into the shadows under the arch of the patio gate. Gavvigan hated the very shadow that tarnished her. He was lifting his hat to her. And then he was striding on after Benvill and Barrientos....

The rooms of Benvill were just around the corner in a house with walls thick enough to make a fortress, and with iron gratings and lattice to keep the whole world out of the windows. There was plenty of honeysuckle and humming-birds and a drowsy, moldering sense of ease. Barrientos, when he was posted in a comfortable chair, stole glances to either side, as though he were assuring himself of the reality of this setting; he did not begin to smile until a glass of fundador was placed in his hand.

He said: "Gentlemen, five dollars a day is an honorable stipend, if the work is possible for this very old man."

Benvill, who had been studying Barrientos solemnly, now broke out: "Let that mustache grow for two weeks—use some black dye—fill out your face with good food—and we can give you a new name, my friend; a name that's worth hard cash and lots of it."

Barrientos stiffened in his chair. He regarded Benvill with large eyes which refused to swallow the idea.

"What name do you choose for me?" he broke out at last.

"Did you ever hear of Pedro Garcías, who was head-man in Honduragua ten years ago?" asked Gavvigan.

"Pedro Garcías? Pedro the tyrant?" echoed Barrientos. He laughed, his head nodding, his mouth foolishly wide. At that moment he looked terribly old. "Am I to be Garcías?" he asked. "If I can look like as great a man as that—but what will you use to stuff me out?"

He kept on laughing as he talked. Gavvigan watched with disgust. Afterward, when Barrientos had gone to get his clothes, Gavvigan said to Benvill: "You're a smooth fella, but you can't push over this phony. There's too many people that remember old Garcías."

"They're never going to get a close-up of Barrientos. You and I are going to be too foxy to let them see him," answered Benvill.

"You and me?" snapped Gavvigan. "What makes you think I'd ever throw in with you again, mug? All I get out of you I'll take with my hands."

"You're not fool enough to say no to your luck," insisted Benvill. "As a team, we're a natural, Jimmy. The doors I can't open with talk, you can kick in. Once I was a half-wit and let you down, but I've never been in the big money since that day."

"Neither have I," admitted Gavvigan thoughtfully.

"Of course you haven't," said Benvill. "Now you head for a bookstore and buy everything that ever was written about Pedro Garcías and about Oñate's revolution that turned him out. Barrientos will need to study his part."

ON a Thursday, that was; on a Sunday ten days later Gavvigan, in shorts, in the tropical warmth of New Orleans, took a swallow of cold rum punch and then leaned back in his chair with his hands folded behind his head. All of his attitudes were unconscious, but this one lifted the bigness of his chest and set the muscles swelling and flowing down his arms. Benvill studied the picture but he studied it aside. His chief attention was fixed upon the front page of a newspaper which carried a three column headline, reading:



With heavy financial backing, soon
Garcías plans to return to native country.


Set under the big heading appeared a two-column cut which showed the uniformed figure of a man in the later prime of life, with medals weighing down the arch of his chest. His lifted head looked forth with an air of stern command.

"It's a funny thing," said Gavvigan, "how fast hair grows on that old face. His mustaches are the stuff. But how did you smooth up his cheeks?"

"He held something in his mouth," answered Benvill. "It prevented him from speaking; and silence is more than golden, particularly when you deal with a newspaper photographer.... This picture, my dear fellow, is his passport back to Honduragua; this picture and a few others I had taken at the same time."

He opened a package and passed to Gavvigan a number of photographs, some of which were identical with the news photo; but others showed the General reining in a prancing charger; again he shook hands with a gentleman who looked marvelously like the President of the United States; again he was seen walking down an official-looking flight of steps surrounded by dignitaries in high hats.

"This looks like a good set of gags," agreed Gavvigan; "but how are you going to raise the wind with them?"

"You'll be seeing before long," said Benvill. "A dozen people in New Orleans have a lot of hard cash and a hankering to get back to Honduragua. Garcías will seem like good news to them. We'll hear from some of them, Jimmy."

"They'll want to know why he waited ten years before showing his head," declared Gavvigan. "They'll want to know how he came to life after being shot in that last battle."

"He crawled away from the battlefield, almost dead but not quite," suggested Benvill. "Love for his dear Honduragua kept him from death. And he's kept under cover ever since to avoid the knives of Oñate's assassins."

"If he's afraid of Oñate's strong-arm boys," said Gavvigan, "why does he start a ruction now?"

"Because he's decided to free his country from the tyrant or die. He's decided that Honduragua will be free, or Garcías will be dead," declared Benvill with a magnificent gesture.

"Have you coached him in that?" asked Gavvigan.

"I've coached him in everything. He's getting letter-perfect," asserted Benvill. "We're going to make a great deal out of this, Jimmy!"

"We'd better," remarked Gavvigan, as he started to dress. "I'm running out of funds.... But there'll never be anything big in this job. Old Barrientos is too much of a half-wit. The look and the sound of him laughing makes me sour. What's he doing now in his room?"

"He's hand-writing some proclamations and signing some photographs for people who ought to be his friends," answered Benvill with a grin.

"You mean to say you're going to let the world see specimens of his handwriting?" shouted Gavvigan.

"He does a pretty good job of it," declared Benvill. "There's a bit of a shake and a stagger in his hand, but it almost looks the way Garcías' hand might have been ten years after."

"He has brains in spots," agreed Gavvigan. "But what scares me is his confidence. He's either a champion or a first-round sucker. Has he memorized the whole history?"

"Try him, if you don't think so," answered Benvill.

They went in through Benvill's room to the door beyond, upon which Gavvigan knocked and then walked in.

"General Garcías" sat at a table before a big mirror, sometimes writing and sometimes lifting his head to study in the glass his thoughts and his own image. He no longer was the gray-faced old man of the dark glasses and the broad shoulders. The sleek of the black dye took years from him, and a white uniform coat braced him as erect in his chair as the youngest athlete. Now he discovered the grinning face of Gavvigan in the farthest depths of the mirror.

"Ah, ha, Colonel!" he called. "Have you come to laugh at me again?"

"I was only a captain yesterday," said Gavvigan. "And I never laugh at you; I only laugh at the world when I think what we're going to do.... General, where were you the night of July 14th, 1927, at five-thirty in the afternoon?"

"In my cabinet at the presidential palace in Honduragua, interviewing Foreign Minister José Galvados," said "Garcías" blandly.

"That's good. That's right," nodded Gavvigan.

"What three men made the cabal against you in '23?" snapped Benvill.

"Estrados, Vicente and Mirando!" answered the "General."

"Right again," agreed Benvill. "It's wonderful! You've learned every one of those books by heart. You should have been a lawyer, old fellow!"

The General leaned back in his chair, linked his hands together, and smiled on them both with ineffable self-content. Absently he selected a slender brown Havana from the humidor that stood beside him; and still smiling, he bit off the end of it with the snowy whiteness of his false teeth. He recollected himself with a start to offer the cigars with a stately hand to his friends. They refused. Benvill bowed deeply as he lighted the presidential cigar.

"Thanks, General," murmured "Garcías."

"You're promoted today, too," grinned Gavvigan. "But look here, Garcías: who was with the reserve at the battle of San Jacinto?"

GARCÍAS started from his chair with a groan, as though that name had wounded him to the heart; and with a hand against his breast and a face of pain he muttered: "Oh, my people, my people! My poor countrymen!"

"That's damned good!" applauded Gavvigan. "And who commanded the reserve?"

"Who commanded the soldiers who never marched?" cried "Garcías" in a changed voice. "Who let them wait on the hill while the rest of them—all my braves, all my heroes, and old Don Hernando with his white hair blowing, and all my noble fellows crushed back into the marsh, to drown, to die—who commanded the reserve that watched us perish there? Who commanded it except that traitor to his God, his country and his president? Who commanded it but Francisco Diaz, that dog who fawned at my feet and kissed my hand! Give him to the grip of my fingers, God, and I still shall find a young and living strength to throttle!"

"Good, good, good!" shouted Gavvigan and Benvill together.

"But don't overdo it! It's perfect that way!" commented Benvill.

"Garcías" had sunk into his chair again and sheltered his eyes with his hand.

"If that were on the stage, it would knock 'em right out of their chairs," said Gavvigan.

THERE was a tap at the door of the apartment. The porter was there to say Señorita Melendez and her duenna were calling. He was told to usher them up. For almost every day Alicia Melendez walked or drove or dined with Benvill or Gavvigan, always to ask: "Is it he, do you think? Is it Pedro Garcías, really?"

What Benvill told her, Gavvigan could not tell; for his own part, he used every moment of his time with her in making love as well as he could; and the devil of it was that he did not know, in the end, whether he were a single step more forward with her; for all was friendship, and all was enthusiasm for "the cause."

She came in, today, with a different look about her. She went straight up to Barrientos and said: "I've just come from my lawyer. There is two hundred thousand dollars in my estate. My General, will you take half of that for the cause?"

"Not one penny!" said the "General." "For Pedro Garcías, not one penny; but for my country, how can I refuse?"

At the thought of such a fortune, even that optimist Benvill changed color and gripped the back of a chair for support.... Gavvigan took the girl and her duenna not only to the street but all the way home across the Latin Quarter. Then they had tea in a little garden court, with the duenna looking out upon them from her years with a sort of contemptuous pleasure.

The girl, as usual, could talk of nothing but "Garcías." She never had seen a face so wise, so tragic and so good, as though all the sorrows of Honduragua were carried in his bosom. She kept turning to Gavvigan and saying: "Tell me more about him! You never talk of him, but I know that he has poured out his soul to you. When his eyes fell on you today, I saw that he loved you, and it made me love you also!"

Here the duenna said: "When you talk like this, you make a little fool out of yourself; and that will make a great fool out of him. Amar y saber, no puede ser!"

"Señora, you're wrong," broke in Gavvigan. "The only time an Irishman is wise is when he's in love!"

"Come, come! We are talking too easily of a very hard thing!" declared the old woman. "You two have not taken three steps together in life, and already you think you can dance!"

The girl, at this word, jumped up and cried: "Yes, yes! And there is the music for us!"

The violin and guitar of two beggars had been coming down the street slowly; and now, as they struck into a waltz, they were quite close at hand. Gavvigan, in an instant, was spinning around the little court with the girl. It was wonderful that her entire body and soul could be so given over to laughter, and yet her feet perfectly keep the time. But the duenna was not smiling when the music grew faint, and the dance ended.

She said: "Alicia, you have been in a strange land so long that your blood has changed. You are a Yankee, now!... Senor, it is very late, and we take our leave of you with a thousand regrets."

Gavvigan went back with a fine madness spinning in his brain faster than the dance; but he felt that he still was a vast distance from the girl. If he had presumed in the least past the nonsense of the moment, he would have been in outer darkness on the instant. And this curious dilemma tortured him: her devotion to the false Garcías would cost her half her fortune before many days; but it was that same devotion that had made her accept him like a brother in the great cause! The moment he warned her of the truth, that moment she was gone from him.

He found Benvill in a calm ecstasy, a dream of easy money. Gavvigan could not endure the face of the man, and went rushing out to fill his mind and his hands with other things. For three days he saw nothing of Benvill and "Garcías," but every morning he walked with Alicia Melendez, and every afternoon he sat in the dim fragrance of the little court for tea; and every morning he roused himself with a gigantic determination to tell her the truth about that imposture; and every day when he met her, her fiery eagerness in "the cause" locked up the confession behind his teeth.

Old Barrientos, on instructions from Benvill, expressed a desire to talk with her every day; and the sound of her gay voice tinkling through the door of the General's room used to ring ghostly bells in the brain of Gavvigan. She could not speak of "Garcías" without a new lift of her head and a new music in her throat that tortured Gavvigan; but still he did not dare to be open with her, for fear that the bond between them would be broken. Sometimes he felt that she was on the very verge of love, but always it was Garcías and "the cause" that was in her eyes and her voice.

THERE was plenty to occupy him, in the meantime. Since the newspaper spread brought "Garcías" to the attention of the public, the American Government agents were extremely curious, naturally. Thundering telegrams of protest had come from President Oñate of Honduragua, to ask if a revolution aimed at the heart of his country and his own head was actually being cherished in a supposedly friendly land; and Washington wanted to find out all about the future plans of "Garcías." On that occasion he was magnificent, referring lightly to "the headstrong exaggerations of the public press."

But suspicion did not end, of course. Even more dangerous than Government inquiry, there appeared in New Orleans certain gentry who in the old days had been a part of the régime of Pedro Garcías in Honduragua. Most of them were threadbare, but some of them had brought away their fortunes in jewels and cash when the old régime failed; and all were hungry to see the former dictator face to face. When the two stanch old generals, Estéban Romero and Diego Montanez, appeared on the scene, Benvill was in a frenzy of excitement. He groaned to Gavvigan: "If I let them have a glimpse of Barrientos, we're ruined. But I can't have Barrientos disappear until I've given their pocketbooks a twist and a wring! Gavvigan, what shall I do? I'm getting fifty thousand from that sweet lamb, that Alicia Melendez, tomorrow.... But by God, Jimmy, there's a million in this if I can have time enough to play my cards!"

IT was well after dark when Gavvigan heard this, and he knew that after sun-fall Alicia was housed as securely as a bird in a darkened cage; but he went straight to her house. A warm wind was blowing in strongly from the gulf, with thin drenchings and volleys of rain; but he found his way up the side of the house to the iron lattice which fenced in her balcony from the world. When he whistled, the light went out suddenly in her room; then her voice bloomed softly in the darkness of the balcony, saying: "Jimmy, Jimmy! Where are you?"

"How did you know it was Jimmy?" he asked.

"Who else is there as crazy in the world as Jimmy?" she answered. "Why have you come? Is there trouble for General Garcías?"

"Alicia, I love you!" said Gavvigan.

"Of course, of course! And I love you, dear Jimmy!" she said. "But General Garcías?"

He reached a long arm through the bars. She made no attempt to avoid it. It was a simple gesture to bring her close.

"Alicia," he said, "I mean it's forever that I'm talking of."

She kissed him most willingly, finding his lips with a wonderful surety through the obscure splintering of the street lights; but even as she kissed him, she was saying: "Yes, yes! Forever! You and I—and the Cause, Jimmy!"

He wanted to damn the Cause with all his heart. But he dared not ask her if he meant more than the revolution. Besides, to tell the truth, his hand that kept hold on the bars was aching from the grip he was forced to keep.

And he said: "Tomorrow morning—at eleven—I'm coming for you, Alicia, and we're going to Garcías. Tomorrow I'm going to deal the cards!"

And then he was climbing down from slippery grip to grip along the wall.

He thought of telling Benvill what was coming; but after all, he decided that Benvill deserved worse than was to fall on him. So, exact to his promise, he took Alicia at eleven the next morning straight to Benvill's apartment. She asked no questions, but the grimness of his face silenced her happy chattering long before they reached the place.

WHEN they entered, they found Benvill himself talking with two elderly men with dark faces and Southern eyes; and were introduced to those two old Spartans of the Garcías régime, Diego Montafiez and Estéban Romero. Then Romero was saying crisply: "But we cannot wait forever to see His Excellency the General!"

"My very dear friends," said Benvill, "General Garcías is struck to the heart because he cannot see you at this moment, but tomorrow—"

"Wait a minute, Benvill," broke in Gavvigan. "I've got to speak to you alone.... And you wait here for us, gentlemen," he added to the old revolutionaries. Then he took Benvill into the next room.

"They're cornering us!" muttered Benvill. "It's getting tough!" He walked up and down with rapid steps.

"Hell's to pay, Jimmy," went on Benvill, drawing him to one side. "These two damned old ravens want proof that the real Garcías didn't drown in the marsh at San Jacinto. I haven't told the old fool. What are we going to do about it?"

"Is the game worth playing? Did you get anything out of the girl?" asked Gavvigan.

"Fifty grand!" said Benvill, and forgot his troubles to laugh for a moment. "It's only a beginning!" he went on. "We can get every penny she has in the world if only we can shuffle those two damned old cronies out of the cards! Have you any ideas?"

"I've got a fine idea," said Gavvigan. "I'm going to take 'Garcías' out right now and let 'em have a look at him!

"You're crazy!" breathed Benvill. "Jimmy, you're not double-crossing me—any more than yourself!"

"General!" called Gavvigan at the inner door, "I want you to step out and meet a couple of dear old friends of yours."

"Are you going to rat it after all?" sighed Benvill.

He was not foolish enough to try the strength of his hands on Gavvigan; but close by a stout walking-stick, a favorite of the General's, leaned against the wall. Benvill turned, caught it up, and smashed right at the head of Gavvigan. The blow landed. If that cane had been half as strong as its promise Gavvigan should have gone down with a cracked skull. Instead, the wood smashed like a bread-stick, and Gavvigan stepped into Benvill with his fists.... For Gavvigan it was all too short. He had one exquisite moment of pleasure when big Benvill was plastered against the wall, hanging flat as a picture. After that, Benvill lay on the floor on his face and did not move.

Gavvigan jerked open the door of the inner room, unannounced. Barrientos, at his table as usual, hastily covered a paper he had been reading and exclaimed: "What's this, young man? What do you mean by—?"

"Important visitors for you!" snapped Jimmy. "This way, Barrientos!"

The old fellow started as though that name were an affront; but he allowed Jimmy to take his arm and lead him through the next room. There Benvill was beginning to struggle to his feet.

Old Barrientos was perfectly calm and chipper about it. One could have thought that his carpet was littered every day with prostrate bodies.

"What shall I do about this?" he chuckled. "When my colonels thrash my generals, do I have to keep shifting the commissions?"

"This way!" said Jimmy through his teeth; and holding "Garcías" firmly by an arm, he threw open the door into the living-room and called out in a loud, ironical voice: "Gentlemen, you are in the presence of El Liberador!"

Then he stepped back to caress the bump that was rising along the side of his head. He wanted to keep an eye, also, on Benvill, as that "general" came to his feet. But the next moment he heard the voice of old Barrientos crying out: "Estéban! Diego! Amigos de me alma! To my arms, my brothers!"

FOR a dizzy moment it seemed to Gavvigan that the confidence of the old rascal would sweep everything before it. Old Romero had started forward with his hands outstretched; but that tall fellow Diego Montafiez drew himself up with an extra yard of dignity and exclaimed: "Garcías—if you are Garcías, —who was it that died in a general's uniform in the marshes of San Jacinto? Who rode the gray horse into the mud, and was covered and lost when the shell exploded?"

That old rascal Barrientos showed not the slightest annoyance. Alicia Melendez, in the meantime, was agape and agasp, with her hands clasped. But of course Gavvigan had known that it would be almost a mortal wound for her. It was Barrientos who interested him more, in this pinch. The old fellow walked slowly straight toward Montanez, as he said: "Diego, long, long ago, in the time of Ricardo Blanco, once we charged together up the face of a little muddy hill; and I stumbled and dropped in the mud. But it wasn't a stone I had stumbled over. Do you remember?"

Diego Montanez, with a sleep-walker's face of bewilderment, stared earnestly at Barrientos, holding him by both shoulders at arm's-length, with Barrientos still laughing and nodding very cheerfully, until Montanez cried out in a great voice: "It is true! I see the scar! My dear Pedro—my general—my president!"

And suddenly he had his long arms clasped around Pedro Garcías.

Gavvigan, his knees giving weakly beneath him, staggered back into the farther room. He saw Benvill, with a sagging jaw, staring agape at the wild little group which was beginning to sob and shout "Viva Garcías!"

"Fundador! I sure need a drink!" breathed Benvill, and went reeling into the General's bedroom, where a bottle of the thick sweet brandy was always at hand. Gavvigan, in need of equal support, followed him; and it was while Benvill was pouring the drink that Gavvigan drew out with an absent hand the stack of small blue note-paper which the General had covered hastily when Gavvigan looked in upon him a moment before.

The writing was stunningly familiar to Gavvigan. It was the hand of Alicia Melendez. The swift screed said:


My dear General,

To me it seems perfectly obvious that Benvill is entirely dishonest. He has been pressing for money for some time. Tomorrow I give him a check, but payment already is stopped on it.

As for Gavvigan, I think he's a whole man and only a half thief. Ask him more questions.

Affectionately yours to command,

Alicia Melendez.

Gavvigan turned without the drink which Benvill held out to him, and went with dreaming eyes into that room where Romero and the girl and old Montanez were still embracing that happy fellow Pedro Garcías. Alicia Melendez tried to draw Gavvigan into the circle to join the vivas, but he said to her, quietly:

"Old dear, why do you people want a fellow who's at least half a thief?"

He saw recognition of her own words narrow her eyes for an instant; and then she was laughing again.

"So he can steal my country and give it back to my General!" she cried to him. "These hands—they are so big—they can take whatever they will, Jimmy."

"Beginning with you?" asked Gavvigan grimly.

BENVILL, appearing seemingly from nowhere, was busily pouring glasses of the brandy.

"Of course beginning with me," said the girl; and she held up her face to him, still laughing.

"Will you be serious?" demanded Gavvigan.

She drew one of his arms around her, saying: "Of course I'm serious! The whole world can see!" But still she was laughing.

"You had spotted this fellow long before. You steered Benvill past him on purpose, that day. You wanted somebody to take up the Cause, even if you could get only a crooked gambler like Benvill!"

"Jimmy, Jimmy, when there are many corners to dodge around, who wants a very straight man?" she asked.

"Stop babying me with those damned blue eyes of yours," said Gavvigan. "You knew from the first that it was the real Garcías!"

"No, no," cried the girl, "I was not at all sure. How could I be? It was only ten minutes ago that I was sure.... But I made the dear General think that I was sure from the first."

"And you spied on Benvill and me?"

She put a finger over his lips.

"Viva, viva Garcías!" shouted the chorus.

"Darling, is it true? Do you love me?" asked Gavvigan.

She could not stop laughing as she answered: "Viva, viva Garcías!"

And she lifted the little glass of brandy which Benvill had put into her hand.


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
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