The tattoo (after o'henry)

The trouble began in a gambling house. Greaser, a hot-blooded youth quarrelled with his neighbour, whose nickname was the Kid, and the latter shot him on the spot.

A minute later Greaser's friends were at the Kid's heels. They overtook him at the station, but the young man turned and raised his revolver. He was a good shot. Seeing his revolver, the pursuers stopped, turned and vanished.

The same afternoon the Kid got on a passenger train, and three days later he was sailing to Buenas Tierras, coast of South America.

Thacker, the United States consul at Buenas Tierras, was not yet drunk. It was eleven o'clock in the morning and he was never drunk until the middle of the afternoon. On hearing a slight noise he looked up and saw the Kid standing at the door.

"Good morning," said the young man. "They told me it was customary to call on you before having a look at the town. I have just come on a ship from Texas."

"Glad to see you, Mr. — ?" said the consul.

The young man laughed. "Dalton," he said. "But it sounds funny to me to hear it. They simply call me the Kid."

"I'm Thacker," said the consul, motioning the young man to a chair. "I suppose you want somebody to advise you. And, besides, they speak Spanish here and you'll need an interpreter. If there is anything I can do for you, I'll be delighted. If you are buying fruit lands or looking for a concession, you will want somebody to help you."

"I speak Spanish," said the Kid, "about nine times better than I speak English. Everybody speaks Spanish on the ranch where I come from. And I am not buying anything."

76

"You speak Spanish?" said Thacker thoughtfully. He looked at the young man in silence. "You look like a Spaniard, too," he continued, "and you are from Texas. And you can't be more than twenty or twenty-one. I wonder if you are game enough…"

"What do you mean?" asked the Kid, suddenly rising and approaching the consul.

"Are you ready to undertake any kind of job?" asked Thacker.

"What's the use of denying it," said the young man. "I got into a little trouble in my country and killed a man, I was afraid that some of his friends might try to get even with me, so I thought I'd better leave the place and come here. So you see that I'm game for any kind of work."

Thacker got up and closed the door.

"Come here," said the consul. Through the window he pointed to a two-story white house. "In that house," said Thacker, "an old Castilian gentleman and his wife are waiting to embrace you and fill your pockets with money. Old Santos Urique lives there. He owns half the gold mines in the country."

"You're not drunk, are you?" said the Kid.

"Sit down," said Thacker, "and I'll tell you. Twelve years ago the old gentleman and his wife lost their only child. He was a wild little devil and but eight years old. Some Americans who were looking for gold called on Don Urique and made much of the boy. They filled his head with wonderful stories about the United States; and a month after they left, the boy disappeared. It was said he was seen once afterwards in Texas, but they never heard anything more of him. Old Urique sent men to look for him. He spent thousands of dollars, but in vain. The mother was quite broken. The child was her life. She still wears mourning. They say she believes that her son will come back to her some day, and never gives up hope. On the back of the boy's left hand was tattooed a flying eagle."

The Kid looked at the consul, but said nothing.

"I can help you," continued Thacker.