PRIDE OF GRAFT. A TALE OF PANAMA
(Copyright, 1914, by the Newspaper Enterprise Association.)
BY HENRY C. ROWLAND
" Jim Morgan, grafter, went to the
Isthmus, drawn by" the same lure
which had led his early prototype,
Sir Henry Morgan, buccaneer. It
was loot which led them both.
i Jim was sprung from a line of
looters. Father and grandfather both
died in jail. Jim was a policeman,
by instinct and actual service. But
at heart Jim was an artist, a poet, a
dreamer of dreams, and idealist
Jim loved his profession, but even
more he loved the things which
stirred his fantasy; books, music,
flowers, animals and great wastes.
Perhaps it was this love of the primi
tive as much as the tales of big graft
which led him to the Isthmus.
Still, these tidings had reached
him, and so he took passage for
When he had been two days in
Panama, Jim presented himself be
fore the chief of the I. C. C. police
and asked for a billetl" The qfficer
looked curiously at the boyish face
"What do you want?" he demand
ed. Jim's pale eyes flashed up for
an instant, then fell again.
"A sergeant's billet, sir," he an
swered, in his soft, low-pitched voice.
The man raised his eyebrows, but
some quality in Jim's swift look
smothered his irony.
"What experience have you had?"
he asked dryly.
"Sergeant of Honolulu police for
one year; eighteen months under
Captain O'Brien of San Francisco in
Nagasaki, when he was sent o'ut
there reconstructing the Japanese
police; two years as opium tracker in
Seattle and San Francisco. I have
also done some work as private de
"Very well," he said finally,
". . . . bring me your papers and
well give you a chance. . . ."
Before he had been.ta week far the
police he began to make his pressure
felt. He talked little, seldom smoked
or drank, never looked directly at any
one for more than an instant, yet in
a fortnight's time he had taken the
criminal inventory of the Zone.
But all of this time Jim was watch
ing and waiting; very little escaped
him, yet he saw no sign of the "big
graft" which he had come to the
Isthmus td find. Once or twice he
thought that he had struck a hot
trail, but the hope proved futile.
In the course of time he. was sent
out to the Culebra station, and there
he formed the habit of wandering
about the-works and talking with the
workmen, and little by little there
began to grow in him a strange, new
interest, an odd feeling of proprietor
ship and responsibility in the achieve
ment itself. -Heretofore the canal
had been to him a helpless, full
blooded monster capable of nourish
ing thousands of parasites, but as day
after day he watched the workers
and sat in their tents and listened to
their plans and projects, an honest
wonder fell upon him when he real
ized that these men were not there
for graft nor entirely, for pay, but to
dig the canal!
The discovery puzzled him; these
were intelligent men, men of sound
wisdom. They were far from fools
in any sense, yet were they not sac
rificing pleasure and risking health
for less money than he took each
month from the divekeepers?
It was a Sunday and he had climb
ed alone to the summit of Gold Hill,
where for a- while he leaned against
a tree trunk and let his pale eyes rest
upon the marvelous view. Far below
him on the slope there was a splash
of movement and color, punctuated
by tiny jets of steam; one of the big
American shovels had been half
buried in a slide and was plucldly
xml | txt