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Jones went to work the next day, and as he was a competent man he had no trouble with the workmen of superior grade or the bosses of the shop, who were all white men. He was pleasantly surprised to find that these bosses were quite easy in their manner, speaking in a friendly and encouraging fashion to the men who were under them. They were far more familiar during working hours than any Englishman in their position would have been in Jamaica. Later on he added to his experience. Whereas the Englishman would have recognized him outside of the shop, and would even have been affable, his American chief did not seem to be aware of his existence after work was over. Jones did not think that this was at all correct.

But the pay here was nearly double what it was in Jamaica, and the work was not so hard. Jones was too loyal to concede, even to himself, that any American could be a better worker or organizer than an Englishman. But he liked the eight-hour day of the Zone workshops and the liberal wages. He felt too that he deserved these things. He deserved them in his character of British subject and by virtue of being Samuel Josiah Jones.

In the meantime Susan was picking up some acquaintances. This was not difficult; she had money to spend; and as she lived in an apartment of a distinctly decent type, she was regarded as a desirable person to know by young women of more or less her own class. Some of these she had known in Jamaica, but had lost sight of for quite a long time. These young women were either married or “engaged,” and their menfolk were all in fairly good positions.

What with visiting one another, going to church on Sundays when so inclined, taking chances in the National Lottery, and gathering at the park on those nights when the National Band insisted upon playing, Susan and her friends passed their days pleasantly. Those who could obtain a girl from Jamaica had a very easy time of it; but in a country where the men outnumbered the women no girl remained a servant for long. Even so, Susan found that she could send some of her washing to the laundry, and could easily wash and iron the lighter things at home. Cooking she liked, and she could make her own clothes. Samuel was generous, and now that she knew Colon she found that the cost of living need not be very high if one did not wish to be extravagant. She saved money.

But she had one trouble that grew as the weeks went on. After his first few days in Colon, Samuel had begun to leave her every night, and sometimes he did not return until eleven or twelve o’clock. She was of a jealous disposition: one night she followed him. She tracked him to a café near by, where he played for money with some other men. He had fallen in with a few of the wilder spirits of the town, but as these men played fair and he was clever at cards, he won more often than he lost. This encouraged him to continue, and sometimes he would come home with as much as ten dollars more than he had taken out with him. He was always a little tipsy then, and disposed to contend loudly that Panama was the finest country in the world.

She rated him bitterly at times, and always took good care to subtract a portion of his winnings, which she put away in some place where he could not easily get at it. But he minded the loss far less than her nagging; he would have given her the money for the asking. When she upbraided him he would bark back at her and swear to leave her if she did not behave herself. But this threat disturbed her not at all; she knew he did not mean it. The next night, however, he would go to meet his comrades again.

Mackenzie was a frequent visitor, and Mackenzie made no secret of his liking for Susan. He even went so far, once or twice, as to remonstrate with Jones about his leaving her so much to herself at nights. But Jones was glad when Mackenzie came to see them, for that gave him the opportunity of pointing out to Susan that, with friends of both sexes coming to see her, she should not complain of neglect. Susan welcomed Mackenzie always: she could talk to him freely about the shortcomings of Sam, and he habitually sympathized with her. It was he, too, who had first begun to address her as Mrs. Jones in company, an example which was speedily followed by some of her less intimate acquaintances. His tact flattered Susan.

There were nights when Jones did not leave the house before eight o’clock; on those occasions, if Mackenzie happened to be there, Jones would pour into his ear a long recital of his grievances; and, as Mackenzie was not much of a talker, Samuel had an attentive if somewhat amused audience. Jones now pretended to a fine contempt for all things American, and as the colour line was somewhat strictly drawn in Christobal he was moved to frequent protests when supported by his friends. He objected to white men being better paid than coloured men, to there being separate white and coloured quarters in the Zone, and to the Americans not permitting coloured people to attend their sports. One evening he especially enlarged upon these grievances to Mackenzie. Mackenzie making no comment, Jones was nettled. He put a question pointedly. “What do you think of all these differences?” he asked.

“Well,” answered Mackenzie deliberately, “this place don’t belong to we. It belong to the Americans, an’ I am quite satisfied if I get a chance to earn a good bread from them.”

Jones snorted contemptuously, despising such prudence.

“I couldn’t earn as much in Jamaica as I earn here,” Mackenzie continued, “an’ the same is true of everybody who come to Panama. Then what is the use of complaining? I do me work, an’ go to me own sports, an’ I don’t care what de Americans do so long as them pay me an’ don’t interfere with me after workin’ time. That is the only way to get on when you not in you’ own country.”

Jones felt the rebuke conveyed in Mackenzie’s homely remarks. He was further disconcerted when Susan expressed her agreement with their friend.

“You right, Mr. Mac,” she said sharply. “If people did mind them own business, an’ didn’t go out gamblin’ every night, it would ’elp them better than interfering wid what don’t concern them. All that Jamaica people know to do is to say that the Americans don’t treat them good. Then what them come here for? If you know you goin’ to find fault, you better stay home. I don’t want to go where the American people don’t want me. If I was in me own country it would be different; but I am foreign, an’ I can’t expect everything me own way.”

Mackenzie looked pleased when he heard his opinions thus openly appreciated. Jones looked still more disdainful.

“There is no accounting for diverse tastes,” he remarked loftily. “I read one time in a book that if you bray a pig in a motor he will return to his wallow, and though present company is always exceptional I must beg to convey my entire dissension from the opinions that present company have expressed. These Americans are a rude set of men, an’ I don’t temporize with them. But, of course, if some people like to be treated like a dog, they can continue to put up with it.”

Mackenzie frowned and would have answered, but Susan was before him.

“You goin’ to be rude to Mr. Mac now, after all his kindness to us?” she asked tartly, and Jones, who guessed that Mackenzie, for all his placid exterior, was a man who could not be insulted with impunity, denied that he had any such intention. He informed Susan that he had known Mackenzie for years, whereas she had only known him for months, and that he would not allow any female to suggest that he could think of insulting so firm and tried a friend as Mac. Susan was satisfied with this speech, and Mackenzie was glad not to be compelled to take offence. He did not want his friendship with Susan and her lover to end abruptly. A few minutes afterwards the two men went out quite amicably together.

On another occasion—Jones had now been four months in Panama—he complained of the difficulty which every one experienced of saving money in that country.

“You can save if you really want to,” was Mackenzie’s reply. “I know plenty of men who send money home to Jamaica regular. Some things is dear, but if you are economical you don’t need to buy dear things all the time.”

“You are warm you’self, eh, Mr. Mac?” asked Susan, who had a great respect for the power of money, and no little curiosity concerning those who possessed it.

“So-so,” he replied, smiling. “I save a little when I was in Jamaica, an’ I been working steady in the Zone for about four years. Them pay me pretty well, an’ I don’t spend all I earn.”

“I don’t believe in living mean,” was Jones’s remark, which he strove to make appear as a statement applicable only to himself and his inclinations, but which Mackenzie knew was intended as a reflection on the disposition and habits of John Mackenzie. On this occasion, too, Susan took him up sharply.

“It’s not living mean to try an’ save money,” she snapped. “Fools make feast for wise man to come an’ eat. An’ when you spend out all you’ money an’ don’t ’ave one farthing to rub against another, you will begin to say, ‘I wish I did know.’ Better you save what you ’ave, than cry when you don’t ’ave it.”

Jones made no reply to this, but sulked a little. He was beginning to dislike Mackenzie and his prudence and his sensible way of looking upon life. Mackenzie was embodied criticism, eloquent even in his silence, and no man likes a critic on his hearth. And though Jones did not think that Susan had any particular liking for Mackenzie, yet her agreement with that person’s remarks, especially when those remarks were intended as a soft of rebuke to Samuel Josiah Jones, annoyed him more and more every day. He was no longer pleased when Mackenzie came to see them. He avoided Mackenzie now.


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