Oh, sunny old Madrid is the place where I was did
The smoking-compartment of the through sleeper to Memphis had been empty, save for myself, until the Chicago flier paused for one broiling moment at Koko Junction. Inside, the thermometer registered ninety-eight degrees; outside, the air shimmering above the cinder-colored landscape indicated that the mercury, though lost to sight, was still to memory dear. Across the main street the green-baize door of the "Smile-with-Grandfather" saloon suddenly swung outward and a dashing figure with a pair of waving mustachios, carrying a carpet-bag with a stag's head worked upon it in pink worsted, leaped across the platform to the train. In my momentary glimpse of his parabola I recognized the newcomer as an old acquaintance toward whose support I had involuntarily contributed at various intervals in the past through the innocently rural media of euchre and seven-upin short, none other than "Koko Jim" of Koko Junction.
"Como ay star, mio amigo!" he cried, tossing the bag lightly into the rack above and grasping me enthusiastically by both hands. "What luck to find you here! Caramba!"
It was difficult to cherish the past against one so impulsively warm hearted. "Been doing the Spanish?" I asked by way of hot, airy persiflage.
"Nayrather they have been doing me!" he replied with his customary bon esprit.
I smiled incredulously, while he twirled his mustachios in a reminiscent manner.
"You wouldn't be interested in a little game of euchre?" he inquired tentatively. No?" He removed from his breast pocket and lit a rat-tailed cigar about nine inches in length. "I don't blame you," he continued sympathetically. "We must all learn by experience. I have had to pay for mine, just like yourself. I've come way back to sit down for good and 'smile-with-grandfather.' Koko Junct. is good enough for me. Why, I can remember when all a Christian needed was three little walnut-shells and a pea to work his way from here clear to Seattle. But the good old times are past and gone. They have got my numbersame as you have. But the meanest, most humiliating Say, do I look easy? Do you see any straw protruding from my gambrel? Are there any pin-feathers sprouting on my Adam's apple? What? There must be some indicia of senile dementia, for I dropped as easy as doth the yokel to the man who puts his linotype in the galaxy of celebrated men of Buncombe County for fifteen dollars. One fine morning I arose as usual at seven up and found amid the silver of my breakfast set a letter from Spain. Do you savvy? A letter to muh from Espagna! 'James,' says I to myself, 'what foreign duchess of high altitude is seeking a matrimonial alliance with Koko Junct?' So I quickly opened the missive, and my horse-hide double-covered heart leaped, for it proved to be from a millionaire planter of the Canary Isles confined in a loathsome Spanish prison. Sure thing. Here it is." He fumbled in his pocket and produced the following:
"Wasn't that all to the de luxetwo hundred and fifty thousand dollars! I swallowed that letter with my Mocha and Java, and it looked so good to me that after my tortilla I inquired casually of my friend the telegraph operator the price of a cable to Madrid. Six dollars and seventy-five cents was the cash damage and no credit allowed, and not being in funds I had to restrain my impatience until an obliging traveling gentleman in punkin-seed by-products reimbursed me in a quiet game. Then I let myself go and had a wild debauch at twenty-five cents per mot.
"'Sure thing,' I cabled. 'I will assist. Write full particulars. Mir.'
"Say, Koko Junct. seemed a sad, sad place during the dreary days that followed. I began to think Don Jose Carlos was a myth or had died of an acute attack of revolution or that he had moved out of Plaza Cortes 8 Primero to elude his rent. But at last the prisoner replied. This time he gave me eight pages of small pica containing detailed instructions.
"He was Don Antonio Ramos, of the Canary Isles, he was, and he was locked up tight in a dreary dungeon in old Madrid. My seven-dollar cablegram had reached him all right through the faithful old Carlos, who was still boarding at 8 Primero, and he was ready to open up and deliver the goods. He had been a banker in the Canaries, but had gone short of the market in yams, eau de sucre, cocoanuts, or something, and had 'done bankruptcy and being near of arrestation was obliged to escape to a foreign country.' Before he flew the coop he cashed in all his worldly goods for two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, lined the secret compartment of his little leather bandbox with long green, and slipped away on a low rakish schooner with his only daughter, a beautiful damsel of nineteen, and the faithful old Carlos. Beautiful daughter! Wasn't that a touch? If you won, you got the kitty as well as the stakes!
"In due course they reached Gibraltar in safety and took a cross-town steamer for Marseilles, whence Don Antonio and daughter had intended to sail for England, but when they were off Barcelona the tub sprang a leak in her boilers, and they were obliged to land. Don Antonio was in dire fear of being captured by the police, so he bought tickets to London via Paris and checked through the trunk with the two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and was just getting safely over the French boundary when, bing! he was nabbed by the Spanish constabulary. Wasn't it sad? You see 'doing bankruptcy' in a Spanish possession is a high crime. So back to Madrid they dragged poor Don Antonio and locked him up in prison, while the dough-box was whisked merrily on via Calais-Dover to dear old Lunnon. Caramba! and Hoyos de Monterey! The beautiful daughter was sent to an orphan-asylum, and Don Antonio's only means of communication with the outside world became the faithful Carlos.
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