judge by what I hear from home--stories of unemployment, industrialstrife, class warfare, and all that. In due course we'll get overthat. The British Empire isn't done yet--not by a long chalk. Do youknow why I wrote and suggested that you should come out to Rioguay?"Peter shook his head."You'll be very much surprised when I tell you, Peter," said UncleBrian. "It's this."At that moment there was a knock on the door. A servant entered andsaid something to his master."We'll have to defer explanations," remarked Brian Strong. "I've avisitor--Don Ramon Diaz. He'll interest you, I'm sure."CHAPTER IVDon Ramon DiazUncle and nephew rose to receive the belated caller.Don Ramon Diaz was a tall, swarthy individual, with rather plumpfeatures, loose lipped, and with a nose that bore a resemblance to aparrot's beak. His dark hair was long and plastered down withpomade. When he smiled, which was very frequently, the effort was"like the grin of a sea-sick monkey", as Peter afterwards describedit.He wore evening dress, with a broad crimson sash over his shoulderand the Order of the Sun of Rioguay on his breast. Histobacco-stained fingers were glittering with diamond rings.
"Here is my nephew, Peter Corbold, Señor Diaz," announced Brian.Both men bowed--Ramon Diaz with the grace and dignity of an hidalgoof Old Spain, Peter with as much display of cordiality as he couldmuster."S'pose he's a natural product of the country," thought Peter."Dashed if I like the cut of his jib; but since he's my uncle'sfriend, I must take him at his own valuation--not mine.""So you have arrived in Rioguay, young man," exclaimed Don RamonDiaz, speaking in tolerable English."Yes, I blew in quite unexpectedly this evening," replied Peter,unconsciously using a general naval term."Blew in, ah!" exclaimed Don Ramon. "You are an aviator then?""No," corrected Peter. "I was a naval officer. 'Blew in' means'dropped in'.""Dropped in what?" inquired Diaz.Peter went into explanations.The Rioguayan listened intently, and, pulling a notebook from hispocket, made a note of the term Peter had used."I know most of the English slang words," he declared. "For sevenyears I lived in London. I do not like it. What is your opinion ofRioguay?""I haven't seen very much of it," said Peter. "It's rather too earlyfor me to give an opinion."Don Ramon smiled superciliously."Your nephew, Mr. Strong, is more discreet than the majority of yourcountrymen," he remarked. "I believe he is here to assist you inyour work?""I hope so," replied Uncle Brian. "Up to the present, we have hadlittle time to discuss matters."For some moments there was an awkward pause. Apparently Don Ramonwanted to ask a question, but hesitated to do so. Peter, havingtaken a dislike to the man--although he refrained as much aspossible from showing it--was quite in the dark as to who and whatDon Ramon Diaz was, and whether his uncle regarded the Rioguayanmerely as an acquaintance, or a person with whom he had businessrelations.
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