John Bangs.

Peeps at People



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The General snapped his fingers.

"But why Ohio, General?" I asked.

"The most important city in the American Union," he replied. "Ohio captured, we have the home of McKinley. Ohio captured, we have captured eighty per cent. of the Yankees' public officials. Your Minister of State comes from there; all the vocal powers of the Senate; all their political resource. Ah!" he cried, ecstatically, rubbing his hands together, "they little know me! Let them destroy our navy. Let them take the Philippines. Let them blockade Cuba. Let them do what they please. Spain will wait. Spain will wait a day, a week, a month, a year, a decade, a century – but when least expected, a new fleet, built secretly, a new army, recruiting now on the D. Q." (this is a translation) "will dash into New York Harbor, up the Missouri River, through the Raritan Canal, and Ohio will lie at our mercy."

"And then?" said I, overwhelmed.

"We'll hold Ohio until the pig gives back the Philippines and Cuba," said the General, suavely.

"Now, General," said I, pursing my lips, "your plan is a mighty good one, and I hope you'll try to put it through. But let me tell you one thing – your time-tables have misled you. In the first place, any part of Ohio worth talking of is eighteen hours from New York by rail, not twelve. New York Harbor is mined all the way from Fortress Monroe to the Golden Gate; and you can't get to Ohio by a dash up the Missouri River and the Raritan Canal, because those two waterways above Los Angeles are not navigable. It is very evident that you, in studying a railroad map, have forgotten that they are designed to advertise railroads, and have no geographical significance whatsoever."

"Are you sure?" he asked.

"Perfectly," said I. "I have lived in the country, as I have told you, for three years, and I know what I am talking about."

"Then what shall I do to attack Ohio?" he demanded.

"Well," said I, "the question is not easy to answer, but I think if you would first capture Hoboken – "

"Yes," he said, making a note of my suggestion.

"And then take your transports, guarded by your fighting-ships, out as far as Rahway – " I continued.

"I have it here," said he, putting it down.

"Land your troops there, and send 150,000 south to Bangor, and 100,000 north to Louisville, Kentucky, with a mere handful of sharp-shooters to overawe the Seminoles at Seattle, and then let these troops close in" – said I.

"I understand," said he, enthusiastically.

"If you will do that," I put in, "you'll come as near to capturing Ohio as any man can come."

The General rose up and excitedly paced the floor.

"Se?orita!" he said, at length, "you have done your country a service. But for you my plans would all have fallen through, because based upon the unreliable information put forth upon an ignorant people by corrupt railway officials. I have studied with care every railway map issued in the United States for ten years past.

I had supposed that Ohio could be reached by way of the Missouri and the Raritan. I had supposed that to bring about the fall of Nebraska where their immortal General – for I admit that those pigs have occasionally produced a man – O'Bryan lives, it could be attacked by a land and sea force simultaneously, should the land forces approach the city from the Chicago side, and the fleet pass the forts at Galveston and sail up Chesapeake Bay without further molestation. I see, from what you have told me, that these maps are falsus in uno anyhow. I am wondering now if they are not falsus in omnibus."

"I shouldn't be surprised if they were even falsus in trolleybus," I put in, with a feeble attempt at humor. "Certainly they have misled you, General."

"But," he cried, angrily, "I am not to be thwarted. My ultimate idea remains unchanged. On to Ohio is my watchword. When that falls, the rest will be easy. Thanks to the information you have given, I now know how it may be done, and I assure you, se?orita, that you will not be forgotten in the – ah – the – " here his sallow features grew animated, and a flush of real pleasure crossed them as he finished – "in the – ah – reorganization."

"There is to be a reorganization, then?" I asked.

"Yes," he answered. "That is certain, and, on the whole, it is good that there is to be. People are always pleased with that which is novel, and up to this time there have been no kings on the throne bearing the name of Valeriano. I think Valeriano the First will make a very pretty autograph. Don't you?"

"Indeed I do!" I cried. "Write one for me, won't you?"

But the sagacious warrior merely winked his eye, and by a swish of his machete courteously gave me to understand that the audience was over.

I immediately cabled to Washington the results of my interview, and, by the time I got back to London, had the pleasure of reading in the newspapers that the United States Senate had confirmed my appointment of First Assistant Vivandi?re to the Department of Manila, with the rank of captain, for services rendered, wherefore I have given up the pleasant task of interviewing celebrities for the sterner duties of war.

I was glad also to learn that the Administration, acting upon my advices, had taken steps to make Ohio impregnable by sea in any event. The Gibraltar of American politics should not be allowed to fall into the hands of a ruthless Castilian like Weyler, and, frankly, whatever else our government will permit, I do not think it will ever do this, and as long as we possess Ohio we need have no fear that we shall be governed by foreign people.

THE END

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