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The Artificial Paradise
by [?]

It was, I recall, at that period of the late unpleasantness in the little Central American republic of Vespuccia, when things looked darkest for American investors, that I hurried home one evening to Kennedy, bursting with news.

By way of explanation, I may add that during the rubber boom Kennedy had invested in stock of a rubber company in Vespuccia, and that its value had been shrinking for some time with that elasticity which a rubber band shows when one party suddenly lets go his end. Kennedy had been in danger of being snapped rather hard by the recoil, and I knew he had put in an order with his broker to sell and take his loss when a certain figure was reached. My news was a first ray of light in an otherwise dark situation, and I wanted to advise him to cancel the selling order and stick for a rise.

Accordingly I hurried unceremoniously into our apartment with the words on my lips before I had fairly closed the door. “What do you think, Craig” I shouted. “It is rumoured that the revolutionists have captured half a million dollars from the government and are sending it to–” I stopped short. I had no idea that Kennedy had a client, and a girl, too.

With a hastily mumbled apology I checked myself and backed out toward my own room. I may as well confess that I did not retreat very fast, however. Kennedy’s client was not only a girl, but a very pretty one, I found, as she turned her head quickly at my sudden entrance and betray a lively interest at the mention of the revolution. She was a Latin-American, and the Latin-American type of feminine beauty is fascinating at least to me. I did not retreat very fast.

As I hoped, Kennedy rose to the occasion. “Miss Guerrero,” he said, “let me introduce Mr. Jameson, who has helped me very much in solving some of my most difficult cases. Miss Guerrero’s father, Walter, is the owner of a plantation which sells its product to the company I am interested in.”

She bowed graciously, but there was a moment of embarrassment until Kennedy came to the rescue.

“I shall need Mr. Jameson in handling your case, Miss Guerrero,” he explained. “Would it be presuming to ask you to repeat to him briefly what you have already told me about the mysterious disappearance of your father? Perhaps some additional details will occur to you, things that you may consider trivial, but which, I assure you, may be of the utmost importance.”

She assented, and in a low, tremulous, musical voice bravely went through her story.

“We come,” she began, “my father and I–for my mother died when I was a little girl–we come from the northern part of Vespuccia, where foreign capitalists are much interested in the introduction of a new rubber plant. I am an only child and have been the constant companion of my father for years, ever since I could ride a pony, going with him about our hacienda and on business trips to Europe and the States.

“I may as well say at the start, Mr. Jameson, that although my father is a large land-owner, he has very liberal political views and is deeply in sympathy with the revolution that is now going on in Vespuccia. In fact, we were forced to flee very early in the trouble, and as there seemed to be more need of his services here in New York than in any of the neighbouring countries, we came here. So you see that if the revolution is not successful his estate will probably be confiscated and we shall be penniless. He is the agent–the head of the junta, I suppose you would call it–here in New York.”

“Engaged in purchasing arms and ammunition,” put in Kennedy, as she paused, “and seeing that they are shipped safely to New Orleans as agricultural machinery, where another agent receives them and attends to their safe transit across the Gulf.”