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CHAPTER IX.


SEÑ0R RAMON DELVEREZ.


"I certainly would like to block the Spaniard," said Oliver. "I've not forgotten how he treated us and poor Longley at Manila."

"You want to be careful of what you are doing," I put in. "Remember, we are not in the Philippines now, but in the Hawaiian Islands."

"Yes; but we are under Uncle Sam's protection, and nobody will give such a rascally Spaniard leeway, and I know it. Come on and follow them."

We talked the matter over for half a minute, and decided to go after the trio and learn, if possible, more concerning the investment urged upon Messrs. Carson and Palmer.

"We can at least caution the Americans to be careful," said Oliver, as we hurried along. "There will be no harm in that."

"And tell them what we know of Delverez," finished Dan, with a grin that meant a good deal.

The trio had passed out of a side gateway to the grounds and were walking to one of the main thoroughfares. Soon Fort Street was gained, and they passed into a restaurant and wine shop not far from the trim-appearing post-office building.

"As I'm a bit hungry myself, I guess we can have a bite to eat, too," said Oliver, with a wink in his eye, and I could not help but laugh. But then I grew serious.

"Be careful," I whispered. "Spaniards are great for striking one a blow in the dark. I found that out when I was down in Cuba."

"I never travel without my pistol—now," was the significant return. The warlike times all of us had met with had made the carrying of a concealed weapon seem like a very common thing.

"All of us know the Spaniards thoroughly," finished Dan. "This way," and he led the way to a side table. Close at hand was a large post, ornamented by flowers and a hanging banner, and this hid us pretty well from the table Ramon Delverez and the Americans had selected.

A waiter soon presented himself, from whom we ordered some ice-cream and cakes. The man had previously received the order of the other party and now left us to ourselves.

"Here is the whole scheme in detail," said Delverez, unfolding a legal-looking document. "I had it inspected by an American lawyer living in this city, so I am certain it is correct. You cannot lose by the investment."

"And your references?" questioned the man named Palmer.

"I have the names and addresses here. I am widely and honorably known throughout Manila and Hong Kong, as you will soon learn."

"Oh, what nerve!" murmured Dan.

"You were certainly well introduced," observed Paul Carson, the other American.

"Why don't you go into this scheme alone?" asked John Palmer. "I don't think I would be in for sharing such a good thing with others."

"That's where he is level-headed," I whispered.

"But Oliver has taken us into his scheme," answered Dan.

"Oh, that's—well, it's different."

"Of course it is," said Oliver quickly. "We are the closest of friends, and this search may prove fruitless."

"I'll wager it's a surer thing than old Delverez's scheme," retorted Dan, and there we stopped to listen again.

"I cannot manage the scheme alone—I must have American citizens to represent the company. You, I feel sure, are legal citizens, are you not?"

"I am—a native of California," answered John Palmer.

"And I am a native of Chicago, Ill.," put in Paul Carson.

"Then that is just what is wanted. But no time must be lost, as my option on the land closes to-morrow at noon."

"Well, we can easily raise the money before that time," answered the Californian, who, I afterward learned, was very wealthy.

"Yes, there won't be any trouble about that," added the gentleman from the city of the great lakes.

The waiter now came forward with what had been ordered, and as all three of us were fond of ice-cream we lost no time in attacking the dishes set before us. In the meantime the three men made themselves comfortable over some wine and cigars.

"He is plying the Americans with drink," I whispered presently. "If he doesn't try to get some money or a check out of them before he leaves them then I miss my guess."

"Mark is right," answered Dan. "The Californian is rich and will be an easy victim. I've a good mind to go up to the table and introduce myself."

"I have a better scheme than that," I whispered. "There is no use in creating a row here. Come outside with me."

"And leave them?" queried Oliver.

"Only for a few minutes. Come," and I got up, strode to the door, paid the amount of our bill, and walked out. Wondering what I was up to my chums followed.

Taking a notebook from my pocket I scribbled the following:


"Mr. Palmer: Please come outside at once. A friend wants to see you in private for a few minutes. Please don't let the Spaniard know of this."


This I tore from the book, folded up, and addressed to Mr. Palmer. Then I hailed a passing native boy and asked him to deliver it in the restaurant. "Here is a quarter," I said. "Give it to Mr. Palmer and to nobody else. He is a tall man with a black mustache and beard."

"Yes, sir," answered the young Kanaka readily, and ran off with the agility of a New York street arab. Catching my friends by the arm, I led them around a convenient corner and there we waited impatiently.

Soon we saw the boy emerge from the restaurant. Mr. John Palmer followed, looking up and down the street in a questioning way. As soon as Dan could catch his eye he waved him over to us.

"We are strangers to you, sir," said Dan, without hesitation. "But we saw you in company with Señor Ramon Delverez, and we think it our duty to warn you against the Spaniard. He is nothing less than a swindler."

"Indeed!" Mr. Palmer grew interested on the spot. "You are certain of this? You know him well?"

"I know him, and so does my friend here, Oliver Raymond. My name is Dan Holbrook, and our fathers belong to the firm of Raymond, Holbrook & Carter, formerly Raymond, Holbrook & Smith, of San Francisco, Hong Kong, Manila, and other cities."

"I know of that firm, Mr. Holbrook."

"This is Mark Carter, the son of Mr. Carter of the same firm," then went on Dan, introducing me.

"And I am John Palmer of San Francisco," laughed the wealthy man. "But you already know my name."

"Señor Delverez is a villain who did his best to swindle our firm out of some land in Manila," continued Dan. "We can easily prove that he is not honest, and we want to warn two fellow Americans to watch him in any dealing you may have."

"He didn't strike me as being just right," was John Palmer's slow reply. "He's too smooth to suit me." He looked at us earnestly. "You look like square chaps, and I reckon I owe you one for this hint."

"That's all right," said Dan, and Oliver and I nodded in agreement with him.

"I'll go back and get Carson away from the fellow," went on the tall Californian. "Then I want to see you fellows again," and he shook hands all around. "Where can I meet you?"

"We are stopping at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel," said Oliver. "But we shall leave for Maui in a day or two."

"Then I'll come around to-night," said John Palmer, and with this we separated. In a minute more he had re-entered the restaurant, and then we sauntered back to the hotel grounds.