THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ
BOOK NINE: BOOK of the JAGUAR PRIEST
CHAPTER THIRTY FIVE
The British bank occupied the ground floor of a formidable old building; dimly lit, with heavy curtains drawn to allow only small portion of the light to enter and its funereal aspects were magnified by the somber portraits that had been placed on the wall to hide the damage from the shelling of the Decena Trageda.
Silvestro had presented his documents... the bonds redeemable in the name of the territory, a copy of Carranza's contract with the President's signature and his own mark, and some other letters of introduction and evidence... to one Charles Beckley, a senior bank officer who took his instructions directly from London. Beckley, a stout old white-haired gentleman with the florid complexion of one who enjoyed his pipe and his claret, peered through these documents for the better part of an hour before pushing his spectacles back over his brow, frowning and tapping the President's contract with his knuckles.
"These seem in order, and I certainly can wire Belize City where the funds were placed on deposit to verify their authenticity. But," he harrumphed, "we're speaking of a small fortune here, two accounts of eighty thousand pounds sterling, or over a half million Mexican pesos, each. I hardly need say that London will not look kindly on our operation here if we were to simply hand these funds over to... well, beg my pardon, but you do seem a little, well, rough around the edges, even for Mexico. There would be objections, hence there shall have to be inquiry."
"Why?" asked the Tatoob. "Here are the bonds, here is Carranza's signature and here are the papers naming me Governor of the Territory and Jefe in Chan Santa Cruz. Here is Bravo's letter authorizing Colonel José Macias, and that of Macias, authorizing myself. Do you want more?" He opened his coat. "Here is a watch, given me by President Carranza. That is his inscription."
"Oh nice, sir, very nice," said Beckley, raising his hands as if to ward off a machete blow.
"Besides," Silvestro said, "I am asking you to withdraw only a fraction of the money." This was true. His agreement with Colonel Macias was for half the proceeds of the bonds, Silvestro's half... less fifty pounds... to remain in the British bank, although under his own name and redeemable in either Merida or Belize City. The other half was to be transferred to an account in the name of José Macias in New Orleans, save for cash in the amount of five hundred pounds, which José had directed the Tatoob to bring to the Hotel Londres.
"For five hundred pounds, the Devil himself could escape confinement," the Colonel had said, with a wink. His intent was as clear as his destination.
"The primary point against your credibility is this contract of President Carranza," Beckley said. "When these deposits were made, the principal... that would be General Ignacio Bravo in some instances, less often this Major José Macias... stipulated as to their redemption by, and I shall quote "the Governor of the Territory of Quintana Roo, in its capital of Santa Cruz del Bravo". Now this contract here did contain most of this such language, but the location Santa Cruz del Bravo has been crossed out, replaced with Chan Santa Cruz, and initialed by someone whom I only see as O.S. as well as a V.C., whom we may assume to be the President. There is, in consequence, an inconsistency. All that I can offer is a commitment to see this matter placed in the Chancery of London and, if you are willing, I can wire a solicitor there who may assist you with your case. But we are speaking of a process of many years."
"Years?" the Tatoob blanched. "That cannot be!" His own eyes behind the spectacles Maria had found him furiously scanned the document with its tiny, foreign script. "You say that the matter is the capital in which the Governor resides... that change may not have been made into the law. If... if Carranza's contract were to be changed back, back to the old name, then would I be able to receive my money?" He frowned, but did not add that the offer of Colonel Macias would not last even weeks, let alone years.
"In that case," Beckley said, "I think it could be done, provided I receive confirmation from London and Belize, a matter of a few days, at the most." He spread his palms. "One hundred sixty thousand pounds! It is a lot of money and it just can't be handed out over the counter to just anyone..."
"Notify those men in London and Belize," Silvestro said, gathering up the papers. "I shall see to it that it is the Governor of the Territory in Santa Cruz... Santa Cruz del Bravo... who redeems the bonds." A sour taste filled his mouth at the mention of the hated old Mexican capital and the Tatoob looked up, as though a cold shadow had passed across his back. The bank was dark, silent. Charles Beckley nodded. Clutching his contracts to his chest, Silvestro Kaak hurried out of this gloomy place but, with the sunlight and the noise that surrounded him as he gained the street, he felt no peace, only a deeper fear.
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