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Two Renegades
by [?]

“You know that was about the time they staged them property revolutions down there, that wound up in the fifth act with the thrilling canal scene where Uncle Sam has nine curtain-calls holding Miss Panama by the hand, while the bloodhounds keep Senator Morgan treed up in a cocoanut-palm.

“That’s the way it wound up; but at first it seemed as if Colombia was going to make Panama look like one of the $3.98 kind, with dents made in it in the factory, like they wear at North Beach fish fries. For mine, I played the straw-hat crowd to win; and they gave me a colonel’s commission over a brigade of twenty-seven men in the left wing and second joint of the insurgent army.

“The Colombian troops were awfully rude to us. One day when I had my brigade in a sandy spot, with its shoes off doing a battalion drill by squads, the Government army rushed from behind a bush at us, acting as noisy and disagreeable as they could.

“My troops enfiladed, left-faced, and left the spot. After enticing the enemy for three miles or so we struck a brier-patch and had to sit down. When we were ordered to throw up our toes and surrender we obeyed. Five of my best staff-officers fell, suffering extremely with stone-bruised heels.

“Then and there those Colombians took your friend Barney, sir, stripped him of the insignia of his rank, consisting of a pair of brass knuckles and a canteen of rum, and dragged him before a military court. The presiding general went through the usual legal formalities that sometimes cause a case to hang on the calendar of a South American military court as long as ten minutes. He asked me my age, and then sentenced me to be shot.

“They woke up the court interpreter, an American named Jenks, who was in the rum business and vice versa, and told him to translate the verdict.

“Jenks stretched himself and took a morphine tablet.

“‘You’ve got to back up against th’ ‘dobe, old man,’ says he to me. ‘Three weeks, I believe, you get. Haven’t got a chew of fine-cut on you, have you?’

“‘Translate that again, with foot-notes and a glossary,’ says I. ‘I don’t know whether I’m discharged, condemned, or handed over to the Gerry Society.’

“‘Oh,’ says Jenks, ‘don’t you understand? You’re to be stood up against a ‘dobe wall and shot in two or three weeks–three, I think, they said.’

“‘Would you mind asking ’em which?’ says I. ‘A week don’t amount to much after you’re dead, but it seems a real nice long spell while you are alive.’

“‘It’s two weeks,’ says the interpreter, after inquiring in Spanish of the court. ‘Shall I ask ’em again?’

“‘Let be,’ says I. ‘Let’s have a stationary verdict. If I keep on appealing this way they’ll have me shot about ten days before I was captured. No, I haven’t got any fine-cut.’

“They sends me over to the /calaboza/ with a detachment of coloured postal-telegraph boys carrying Enfield rifles, and I am locked up in a kind of brick bakery. The temperature in there was just about the kind mentioned in the cooking recipes that call for a quick oven.

“Then I gives a silver dollar to one of the guards to send for the United States consul. He comes around in pajamas, with a pair of glasses on his nose and a dozen or two inside of him.

“‘I’m to be shot in two weeks,’ says I. ‘And although I’ve made a memorandum of it, I don’t seem to get it off my mind. You want to call up Uncle Sam on the cable as quick as you can and get him all worked up about it. Have ’em send the /Kentucky/ and the /Kearsage/ and the /Oregon/ down right away. That’ll be about enough battleships; but it wouldn’t hurt to have a couple of cruisers and a torpedo-boat destroyer, too. And–say, if Dewey isn’t busy, better have him come along on the fastest one of the fleet.’