Part 2 out of 4
sloop, white-winged like some snowy sea fowl. Its course lay within
twenty points of the wind's eye; so it veered in and out again in
long, slow strokes like the movements of a graceful skater.
Again the tactics of its crew brought it close in shore, this time
nearly opposite the consulate; and then there blew from the sloop
clear and surprising notes as if from a horn of elfland. A fairy
bugle it might have been, sweet and silvery and unexpected, playing
with spirit the familiar air of "Home, Sweet Home."
It was a scene set for the land of the lotus. The authority of the
sea and the tropics, the mystery that attends unknown sails, and the
prestige of drifting music on moonlit waters gave it an anodynous
charm. Johnny Atwood felt it, and thought of Dalesburg; but as soon
as Keogh's mind had arrived at a theory concerning the peripatetic
solo he sprang to the railing, and his ear-rending yawp fractured
the silence of Coralio like a cannon shot.
The sloop was now on its outward tack; but from it came a clear,
"Good-bye, Billy... go-ing home--bye!"
The ~Andador~ was the sloop's destination. No doubt some passenger
with a sailing permit from some up-the-coast point had come down
in this sloop to catch the regular fruit steamer on its return trip.
Like a coquettish pigeon the little boat tacked on its eccentric way
until at last its white sail was lost to sight against the larger
bulk of the fruiter's side.
"That's old H. P. Mellinger," explained Keogh, dropping back into his
chair. "He's going back to New York. He was a private secretary of
the late hot-foot president of this grocery and fruit stand that they
call a country. His job's over now; and I guess old Mellinger is
"Why does he disappear to music, like Zo-zo, the magic queen?" asked
Johnny. "Just to show 'em that he doesn't care?"
"That noise you heard is a phonograph," said Keogh. "I sold him
that. Mellinger had a graft in this country that was the only thing
of its kind in the world. The tooting machine saved it for him once,
and he always carried it around with him afterward."
"Tell me about it," demanded Johnny, betraying interest.
"I'm no disseminator of narratives," said Keogh. "I can use language
for purposes of speech; but when I attempt a discourse the words come
out as they will, and they may make sense when they strike the
atmosphere, or they may not."
"I want to hear about the graft," persisted Johnny, "You've got no
right to refuse. I've told you all about every man, woman and
hitching post in Dalesburg."
"You shall hear it," said Keogh. "I said my instincts of narrative
were perplexed. Don't you believe it. It's an art I've acquired
along with many other of the graces and sciences."
The Phonograph and the Graft
"What was this this graft? asked Johnny, with the impatience of
the great public to whom tales are told.
"'Tis contrary to art and philosophy to give you the information,"
said Keogh, calmly. "The art of narrative consists in concealing
from your audience everything it wants to know until after you expose
your favorite opinions on topics foreign to the subject. A good
story is like a bitter pill with the sugar coating inside of it.
I will begin, if you please, with a horoscope located in the Cherokee
Nation; and end with a moral tune on the phonograph.
"Me and Henry Horsecollar brought the first phonograph to this
country. Henry was a quarter-breed, quarter-back cherokee, educated
East in the idioms of football, and West in contraband whiskey, and
a gentleman, the same as you and me. He was easy and romping in
his ways; a man about six foot, with a kind of rubber-tire movement.
Yes, he was a little man about five foot five, or five foot eleven.
He was what you would call a medium tall man of average smallness.
Henry had quit college once, and the Muscogee jail three times--the
last-named institution on account of introducing and selling whisky
in the territories. Henry Horsecollar never let any cigar stores
come up and stand behind him. He didn't belong to that tribe of
"Henry and me met at Texarkana, and figured out this phonograph
scheme. He had $360 which came to him out of a land allotment
in the reservation. I had run down from Little Rock on account
of a distressful scene I had witnessed on the street there. A man
stood on a box and passed around some gold watches, screw case,
stem-winders, Elgin movement, very elegant. Twenty bucks they cost
you over the counter. At three dollars the crowd fought for the
tickers. The man happened to find a valise full of them handy, and
he passed them out like putting hot biscuits on a plate. The backs
were hard to unscrew, but the crowd put its ear to the case, and
they ticked mollifying and agreeable. Three of these watches were
genuine tickers; the rest were only kickers. Hey? Why, empty cases
with one of them horny black bugs that fly around electric lights
in 'em. Them bugs kick off minutes and seconds industrious and
beautiful. So, this man I was speaking of cleaned up $288; and then
he went away, because he knew that when it came time to wind watches
in Little Rock an entomologist would be needed, and he wasn't one.
"So, as I say, Henry had $360 and I had $288. The idea of introducing
the phonograph to South America was Henry's; but I took to it freely,
being fond of machinery of all kinds.
"'The Latin races,' says Henry, explaining easy in the idioms he
learned at college, 'are peculiarly adapted to be victims of the
phonograph. They yearn for music and color and gaiety. They give
wampum to the hand-organ man and the four-legged chicken in the tent
when they're three months behind with the grocery and the bread-fruit
"'Then,' says I, 'we'll export canned music to the Latins; but I'm
mindful of Mr. Julius Caesar's account of 'em where he says: ~"Omnia
Gallia in tres partes divisa est"~; which is the same as to say, "We
will need all of our gall in devising means to tree them parties."'
"I hated to make a show of education; but I was disinclined to be
overdone in syntax by a mere Indian, a member of a race to which we
owe nothing except the land on which the United States is situated.
"We bought a fine phonograph in Texarkana--one of the best make--and
half a trunkful of records. We packed up, and took the T. and P.
for New Orleans. From that celebrated center of molasses and
disfranchised coon songs we took a steamer for South America.
"We landed at Solitas, forty miles up the coast from here. 'Twas
a palatable enough place to look at. The houses were clean and white;
and to look at 'em stuck around among the scenery they reminded you
of hard-boiled eggs served with lettuce. There was a block of
skyscraper mountains in the suburbs; and they kept pretty quiet,
like they had crept up there and were watching the town. And the sea
was remarking 'Sh-sh-sh' on the beach; and now and then a ripe coconut
would drop kerblip in the sand; and that was all there was doing.
Yes, I judge that town was considerably on the quiet. I judge that
after Gabriel quits blowing his horn, and the car starts, with
Philadelphia swinging to the last strap, and Pine Gully, Arkansas,
hanging onto the rear step, this town of Solitas will wake up and ask
if anybody spoke.
"The captain went ashore with us, and offered to conduct what he
seemed to like to call the obsequies. He introduced Henry and me to
the United States Consul, and a roan man, the head of the Department
of Mercenary and Licentious Dispostions, the way it read upon his
"'I thouch here again a week from today,' says the captain.
"'By that time,' we told him, 'we'll be amassing wealth in the
interior towns with our galvanized prima donna and correct imitations
of Sousa's band excavating a march from a tin mine.'
"'Ye'll not,' says the captain. 'Ye'll be hypnotized. Any gentleman
in the audience who kindly steps upon the stage and looks this country
in the eye will be converted to the hypothesis that he's but a fly
in the Elgin creamery. Ye'll be standing knee deep in the surf
waiting for me, and your machine for making Hamburger steak out of
the hitherto respected art of music will be playing "There's no place
"Henry skinned a twenty off his roll, and received from the Bureau
of Mercenary Dispositions a paper bearing a red seal and a dialect
story, and no change.
"Then we got the consul full of red wine, and struck him for a
horoscope. He was a thin, youngish kind of man, I should say past
fifty, sort of French-Irish in his affections, and puffed up with
disconsolation. Yes, he was a flattened kind of man, in whom drink
lay stagnant, inclined to corpulence and misery. Yes, I think he
was a kind of Dutchman, being very sad and genial in his ways.
"'The marvelous invention,' he says, 'entitled the phonograph, has
never invaded these shores. The people have never heard it. They
would not believe it if they should. Simple-hearted children of
nature, progress has never condemned them to accept the work of
a can-opener as an overture, and rag-time might incite them to a
bloody revolution. But you can try the experiment. The best chance
you have is that the populace may not wake up when you play. There's
two ways,' says the consul, 'they may take it. They may become
inebriated with attention, like an Atlanta colonel listening to
"Marching Through Georgia," or they will get excited and transpose
the key of the music with an axe and yourselves into a dungeon. In
the latter case,' says the consul, 'I'll do my duty by cabling to the
State Department, and I'll wrap the Stars and Stripes around you when
you come to be shot, and threaten them with the vengeance of the
greatest gold export and financial reserve nation on earth. The flag
is full of bullet holes now,' says the consul, 'made in that way.
Twice before,' says the consul, 'I have cabled our government for a
couple of gunboats to protect American citizens. The first time the
Department sent me a pair of gum boots. The other time was when a man
named Pease was going to be executed here. They referred that appeal
to the Secretary of Agriculture. Let us now disturb the senor behind
the bar for a subsequence of the red wine.'
"Thus soliloquized the consul of Solitas to me and Henry Horsecollar.
"But, notwithstanding, we hired a room that afternoon in the Calle de
los Angeles, the main street that runs along the shore, and put our
trunks there. 'Twas a good-sized room, dark and cheerful, but small.
'Twas on a various street, diversified by houses and conservatory
plants. The peasantry of the city passed to and fro on the fine
pasturage between the sidewalks. 'Twas, for the world, like an opera
chorus when the Royal Kafoozlum is about to enter.
"We were rubbing the dust off the machine and getting fixed to start
business the next day, when a big, fine-looking white man in white
clothes stopped at the door and looked in. We extended the
invitations, and he walked inside and sized us up. He was chewing
a long cigar, and wrinkling his eyes, meditative, like a girl trying
to decide which dress to wear to the party.
"'New York?' he says to me finally.
"'Originally, and from time to time,' I says. 'Hasn't it rubbed off
"'It's simple,' says he, 'when you know how. It's the fit of
the vest. They don't cut vests right anywhere else. Coats, maybe,
but not vests.'
"The white man looks at Henry Horsecollar and hesitates.
"'Injun,' says Henry; 'tame Injun.'
"'Mellinger,' says the man--'Homer P. Mellinger. Boys, you're
confiscated. You're babes in the wood without a chaperon or referee,
and it's my duty to start you going. I'll knock out the props and
launch you proper in the pellucid waters of this tropical mud puddle.
You'll have to be christened, and if you'll come with me I'll break
a bottle of wine across your bows, according to Hoyle.'
"Well, for two days Homer P. Mellinger did the honors. That man cut
ice in Anchuria. He was It. He was the Royal Kafoozlum. If me and
Henry was babes in the wood, he was a Robin Redbreast from the topmost
bough. Him and me and Henry Horsecollar locked arms, and toted that
phonograph around, and had wassail and diversions. Everywhere we
found doors open we went inside and set the machine going, and
Mellinger called upon the people to observe the artful music and his
two lifelong friends, the Senores Americanos. The opera chorus was
agitated with esteem, and followed us from house to house. There was
a different kind of drink to be had with every tune. The natives
had acquirements of a pleasant thing in the way of a drink that gums
itself to the recollection. They chop off the end of a green coconut,
and pour in on the juice of it French brandy and other adjuvants.
We had them and other things.
"Mine and Henry's money was counterfeit. Everything was on Homer
P. Mellinger. That man could find rolls of bills concealed in places
on his person where Hermann the Wizard couldn't have conjured out a
rabbit or an omelette. He could have founded universities, and made
orchid collections, and then had enough left to purchase the colored
vote of his country. Henry and me wondered what his graft was. One
evening he told us.
"'Boys, said he, I've deceived you. You think I'm a painted
butterfly; but in fact I'm the hardest worked man in this country.
Ten years ago I landed on its shores; and two years ago on the point
of its jaw. Yes, I guess I can get the decision over this ginger cake
commonwealth at the end of any round I choose. I'll confide in you
because you are my countrymen and guests, even if you have assaulted
my adopted shores with the worst system of noises ever set to music.
"'My job is private secretary to the president of this republic;
and my duties are running it. I'm not headlined in the bills, but I'm
the mustard in the salad dressing just the same. There isn't a law
goes before Congress, there isn't a concession granted, there isn't
an import duty levied but what H. P. Mellinger he cooks and seasons
it. In the front office I fill the president's inkstand and search
visiting statesmen for dirks and dynamite; but in the back room I
dictate the policy of the government. You'd never guess in the world
how I got my pull. It's the only graft of its kind on earth. I'll
put you wise. You remember the old top-liner in the copy book--
Honesty is the Best Policy?" That's it. I'm working honestly for a
graft. I'm the only honest man in the republic. The government knows
it; the people know it; the boodlers know it; the foreign investors
know it. I make the government keep its faith. If a man is promised
a job he gets it. If outside capital buys a concession it gets
the goods. I run the monopoly of square dealing here. There's no
competition. If Colonel Diogenes were to flash his lantern in this
precinct he'd have my address inside of two minutes. There isn't big
money in it, but it's a sure thing, and lets a man sleep of nights.'
"Thus Homer P. Mellinger made oration to me and Henry Horsecollar.
And, later, he divested himself of this remark:
"'Boys, I'm to hold a ~soiree~ this evening with a gang of leading
citizens, and I want your assistance. You bring the musical corn
sheller and give the affair the outside appearance of a function.
There's important business on hand, but it mustn't show. I can talk
to you people. I've been pained for years on account of not having
anybody to blow off and brag to. I get homesick sometimes, and I'd
swap the entire perquisites of office for just one hour to have a
stein and a caviar sandwich somewhere on Thirty-fourth Street, and
stand and watch the street cars go by, and smell the peanut roaster
at old Giuseppe's fruit stand.'
"'Yes,' said I, 'there's fine caviar at Billy Renfrew's cafe, corner
of Thirty-fourth and--'
"'God knows it,' interrupts Mellinger, 'and if you'd told me you knew
Billy Renfrew I'd have invented tons of ways of making you happy.
Billy was my side-kicker in New York. There is a man who never knew
what crooked was. Here I am working Honesty for a graft, but that
man loses money on it. Carrambos! I get sick at times of this
country. Everything's rotten. From the executive down to the coffee
pickers, they're plotting to down each other and skin their friends.
If a mule driver takes off his hat to an official, that man figures
it out that he's a popular idol, and set his pegs to stir up a
revolution and upset the administration. It's one of my little chores
as private secretary to smell out these revolutions and affix the
kibosh before they break out and scratch the paint off the government
property. That's why I'm down here now in this mildewed coast town.
The governor of the district and his crew are plotting to uprise.
I've got every one of their names, and they're invited to listen
to the phonograph tonight, compliments of H. P. M. That's the way
I'll get them in a bunch, and things are on the program to happen
"We three were sitting at table in the cantina of the Purified Saints.
Mellinger poured out wine, and was looking some worried; I was
"'They're a sharp crowd,' he says, kind of fretful. 'They're
capitalized by a foreign syndicate after rubber, and they're loaded
to the muzzle for bribing. I'm sick,' goes on Mellinger, 'of comic
opera. I want to smell East River and wear suspenders again. At
times I feel loke throwing up my job, but I'm d--n fool enough to
be sort of proud of it. "There's Mellinger," they say here. "~Por
dios!~ you can't touch him with a million." I'd like to take that
record back and show it to Billy Renfrow some day; and that tightens
my grip whenever I see a fat thing that I could corral just by
winking one eye--and losing my graft. By--, they can't monkey
with me. They know it. What money I get I make honest and spend it.
Some day, I'll make a pile and go back and eat caviar with Billy.
Tonight I'll show you how to handle a bunch of corruptionists. I'll
show them what Mellinger, private secretary, means when you spell it
with the cotton and tissue paper off.'
"Mellinger appears shaky, and breaks his glass against the neck of
"I says to myself, 'White man, if I'm not mistaken there's been a
bait laid out where the tail of your eye could see it.'
"That night, according to arrangements, me and Henry took the
phonograph to a room in a 'dobe house in a dirty side street, where
the grass was knee high. 'Twas a long room, lit with smoky oil lamps.
There was plenty of chairs, and a table at the back end. We set the
phonograph on the table. Mellinger was there, walking up and down,
disturbed in his predicaments. He chewed cigars and spat 'em out,
and he bit the thumb nail of his left hand.
"By and by the invitations to the musicale come sliding in by pairs
and threes and spade flushes. Their color was of a diversity, running
from a three-day's smoked meerschaum to a patent-leather polish.
They were as polite as wax, being devastated with enjoyments to give
Senor Mellinger the good evenings. I understood their Spanish talk
--I ran a pumping engine two years in a Mexican silver mine, and had
it pat--but I never let on.
"Maybe fifty of 'em had come, and was seated, when in slid the king
bee, the governor of the district. Mellinger met him at the door,
and escorted him to the grand stand. When I saw that Latin man I
knew that Mellinger, private secretary, had all the dances on his card
taken. That was a big, squashy man, the color of a rubber overshoe,
and he had an eye like a head waiter's.
"Mellinger explained, fluent, in the Castilian idioms, that his soul
was disconcerted with joy at introducing to his respected friends
America's greatest invention, the wonder of the age. Henry got the
cue and run on an elegant brass-band record and the festivities became
initiated. The governor man had a bit of English under his hat, and
when the music was choked off he says:
"'Ver-r-ree fine. ~Gr-r'r-r-racias~, the American gentlemen, the so
esplendeed moosic as to playee.'
"The table was a long one, and Henry and me sat at the end of it next
the wall. The governor sat at the other end. Homer P. Mellinger
stood at the side of it. I was just wondering how Mellinger was
going to handle his crowd, when the home talent suddenly opened the
"That governor man was suitable for uprisings and policies. I judge
he was a ready kind of man, who took his own time. Yes, he was full
of attention and immediateness. He leaned his hands on the table and
imposed his face toward the secretary man.
"'Do the American senors understand Spanish?' he asks in his native
"'They do not,' says Mellinger.
"'Then listen,' goes on the Latin man, prompt. 'The musics are
of sufficient prettiness, but not of necessity. Let us speak
of business. I well know why we are here, since I observe my
compatriots. You had a whisper yesterday, Senor Mellinger, of our
proposals. Tonight we will speak out. We know that you stand in
the president's favor, and we know your influence. The government
will be changed. We know the worth of your services. We esteem
your friendship and aid so much that'--Mellinger praises his hand,
but the governor man bottles him up. 'Do not speak until I have
"The governor man then draws a package wrapped in paper from his
pocket, and lays it on the table by Mellinger's hand.
"'In that you will find fifty thousand dollars in money of your
country. You can do nothing against us, but you can be worth that
for us. Go back to the capital and obey our instructions. Take
that money now. We trust you. You will find with it a paper giving
in detail the work you will be expected to do for us. Do not have
the unwiseness to refuse.'
"'The governor man paused, with his eyes fixed on Mellinger, full
of expressions and observances. I looked at Mellinger, and was glad
Billy Renfrew couldn't see him then. The sweat was popping out on his
forehead, and he stood dumb, tapping the little package with the ends
of his fingers. The colorado-maduro gang was after his graft. He had
only to change his politics, and stuff five fingers in his inside
"Henry whispers to me and wants the pause in the program interpreted.
I whisper back: 'H. P. is up against a bribe, senator's size, and the
coons have got him going.' I saw Mellinger's hand moving closer to
the package. 'He's weakening,' I whispered to Henry. 'We'll remind
him,' says Henry, 'of the peanut-roaster on Thirty-fourth Street,
"Henry stooped down and got a record from the basketful we'd brought,
slid it in the phonograph, and started her off. It was a cornet solo,
very neat and beautiful, and the name of it was 'Home, Sweet Home.'
Not one of them fifty odd men in the room moved while it was playing,
and the governor man kept his eyes steady on Mellinger. I saw
Mellinger's head go up little by little and his hand came creeping
away from the package. Not until the last note sounded did anybody
stir. And there Homer P. Mellinger takes up the bundle of boodle
and slams it in the governor man's face.
"'That's my answer,' says Mellinger, private secretary, 'and there'll
be another in the morning. I have proofs of conspiracy against every
man of you. The show is over, gentlemen.'
"'There's one more act,' puts in the governor man. 'You are a
servant, I believe, employed by the president to copy letters and
answer raps at the door. I am governor here. Senores, I call upon
you in the name of the cause to seize this man.'
"That brindled gang of conspirators shoved back their chairs and
advanced in force. I could see where Mellinger had made a mistake in
massing his enemy so as to make a grand-stand play. I think he made
another one, too; but we can pass that, Mellinger's idea of a graft
and mine being different, according to estimations and points of view.
"There was only one window and door in that room, and they were in
the front end. Here was fifty odd Latin men coming in a bunch to
obstruct the legislation of Mellinger. You may say there were three
of us, for me and Henry, simultaneous, declared New York City and
the Cherokee Nation in sympathy with the weaker party.
"Then it was that Henry Horsecollar rose to a point of disorder and
intervened, showing, admirable, the advantages of education as applied
to the American Indian's natural intellect and native refinement.
He stood up and smoothed back his hair on each side with his hands
as you have seen little girls do when they play.
"'Get behind me, both of you,' says Henry
"'What's it to be, chief?' I asked.
"'I'm going to buck center,' says Henry, in his football idioms.
There isn't a tackle in the lot of them. Follow me close, and rush
"'Then that cultured Red Man exhaled an arrangement of sounds with
his mouth that made the Latin aggregation pause, with thoughtfulness
and hesitations. The matter of his proclamation seemed to be a
cooperation of the Carlisle war-whoop with the Cherokee college yell.
He went at the chocolate team like a bean out of a little boy's nigger
shooter. His right elbow laid out the governor man on the gridiron,
and he made a lane the length of the crowd so wide that a woman
could have carried a stepladder through it without striking against
anything. All Mellinger and me had to do was to follow.
"It took us just three minutes to get out of that street around
to military headquarters, where Mellinger had things his own way.
A colonel and a battalion of bare-toed infantry turned out and went
back to the scene of the musicale with us, but the conspirator gang
was gone. But we recaptured the phonograph with honors of war, and
marched back to the ~cuartel~ with it playing 'All Coons Look Alike
"The next day Mellinger takes me and Henry to one side, and begins
to shed tens and twenties.
"'I want to buy that phonograph,' says he. I liked that last tune
it played at the ~soiree~.'
"'This is more money than the machine is worth,' says I.
"'Tis government expense money,' says Mellinger. The government pays
for it, and it's getting the tune-grinder cheap.'
"Me and Henry knew that pretty well. We knew that it had saved Homer
P. Mellinger's graft when he was on the point of losing it; but we
never let him know we knew it.
"'Now you boys better slide off further down the coast for a while,'
says Mellinger, 'till I get the screws put on these fellows here.
If you don't they'll give you trouble. And if you ever happen to see
Billy Renfrew again before I do, tell him I'm coming back to New York
as soon as I can make a stake--honest.'
"Me and Henry laid low until the day the steamer came back. When we
saw the captain's boat on the beach we went down and stood in the edge
of the water. The captain grinned when he saw us.
"'I told you you'd be waiting,' he says. 'Where's the Hamburger
"'It stays behind,' I says, 'to play "Home, Sweet Home."'
"'I told you so,' says the captain again. 'Climb in the boat.'
"And that," said Keogh, "is the way me and Henry Horsecollar
introduced the phonograph into this country. Henry went back to
the States, but I've been rummaging around in the tropics ever since.
They say Mellinger never travelled a mile after that without his
phonograph. I guess it kept him reminded about his graft whenever
he saw the siren voice of the boodler tip him the wink with a bribe
in his hand."
"I suppose he's taking it home with him as a souvenir, remarked the
"Not as a souvenir," said Keogh. "He'll need two of 'em in New York,
running day and night."
The new administration of Anchuria entered upon its duties and
privileges with enthusiasm. Its first act was to send an agent
to Coralio with imperative orders to recover, if possible, the sum
of money ravished from the treasury by the ill-fated Miraflores.
Colonel Emilio Falcon, the private secretary of Losada, the new
president, was despatched from the capital upon this important
The position of private secretary to a tropical president is
a responsible one. He must be a diplomat, a spy, a ruler of men,
a body-guard to his chief, and a smeller-out of plots and nascent
revolutions. Often he is the power behind the throne, the dictator
of policy; and a president chooses him with a dozen times the care
with which he selects a matrimonial mate.
Colonel Falcon, a handsome and urbane gentleman of Castilian courtesy
and debonnaire manners, came to Coralio with the task before him of
striking upon the cold trail of the lost money. There he conferred
with the military authorities, who had received instructions to
cooperate with him in the search.
Colonel Falcon established his headquarters in one of the rooms of
the Casa Morena. Here for a week he held informal sittings--much as
if he were a kind of unified grand jury--and summoned before him all
those whose testimony might illumine the financial tragedy that had
accompanied the less momentous one of the late president's death.
Two or three who were thus examined, among whom was the barber
Esteban, declared that they had identified the body of the president
before its burial.
"Of a truth," testified Esteban before the mighty secretary, "it was
he, the president. Consider!--how could I shave a man and not see his
face? He sent for me to shave him in a small house. He had a beard
very black and thick. Had I ever seen the president before? Why not?
I saw him once ride forth in a carriage from the ~vapor~ in Solitas.
When I shaved him he gave me a gold piece, and said there was to be no
talk. But I am a Liberal--I am devoted to my country--and I spake of
these things to Senor Goodwin."
"It is known," said Colonel Falcon, smoothly, "that the late President
took with him an American leather valise, containing a large amount of
money. Did you see that?"
"~De veras~--no," Esteban answered. "The light in the little house
was but a small lamp by which I could scarcely see to shave the
President. Such a thing there may have been, but I did not see it.
No. Also in the room was a young lady--a senorita of much beauty--
that I could see even in so small a light. But the money, senor, or
the thing in which it was carried--that I did not see."
The ~comandante~ and other officers gave testimony that they had been
awakened and alarmed by the noise of a pistol-shot in the Hotel de
los Extranjeros. Hurrying thither to protect the peace and dignity
of the republic, they found a man lying dead, with a pistol clutched
in his hand. Beside him was a young woman, weeping sorely. Senor
Goodwin was also in the room when they entered it. But of the valise
of money they saw nothing.
Madame Timotea Ortiz, the proprietress of the hotel in which the game
of Fox-in-the-Morning had been played out, told of the coming of the
two guests to her house.
"To my house they came," said she--"one ~senor~ not quite old, and
one ~senorita~ of sufficient handsomeness. They desired not to eat
or to drink--not even of my ~aguardiente~, which is the best. To
their rooms they ascended--~Numero Nueve~ and ~Numero Diez~. Later
came Senor Goodwin, who ascended to speak with them. Then I heard
a great noise like that of a ~canon~, and they said that the ~pobre
Presidente~ had shot himself. ~Esta bueno~. I saw nothing of money
or of the thing you call ~veliz~ that you say he carried it in."
Colonel Falcon soon came to the reasonable conclusion that if any one
in Coralio could furnish a clue to the vanished money, Frank Goodwin
must be the man. But the wise secretary pursued a different course
in seeking information from the American. Goodwin was a powerful
friend to the new administration, and one who was not to be carelessly
dealt with in respect to either his honesty or his courage. Even
the private secretary of His Excellency hesitated to have this rubber
prince and mahogany baron haled before him as a common citizen
of Anchuria. So he sent Goodwin a flowery epistle, each word-petal
dripping with honey, requesting the favor of an interview. Goodwin
replied with an invitation to dinner at his own house.
Before the hour named the American walked over to the Casa Morena,
and greeted his guest frankly and friendly. Then the two strolled,
in the cool of the afternoon, to Goodwin's home in the environs.
The American left Colonel Falcon in a big, cool, shadowed room
with a floor of inlaid and polished woods that any millionaire
in the States Would have envied, excusing himself for a few minutes.
He crossed a ~patio~, shaded with deftly arranged awnings and plants,
and entered a long room looking upon the sea in the opposite wing
of the house. The broad jalousies were opened wide, and the ocean
breeze flowed in through the room, an invisible current of coolness
and health. Goodwin's wife sat near one of the windows, making
a water-color sketch of the afternoon seascape.
Here was a woman who looked to be happy. And more--she looked to
be content. Had a poet been inspired to pen just similes concerning
her favor, he would have likened her full, clear eyes, with their
white-encircled, gray irises, to moonflowers. With none of the
goddesses whose traditional charms have become coldly classic
would the discerning rhymester have compared her. She was purely
Paradisaic, not Olympian. If you can imagine Eve, after the eviction,
beguiling the flaming warriors and serenely reentering the Garden,
you will have her. Just so human, and still so harmonious with Eden
seemed Mrs. Goodwin.
When her husband entered she looked up, and her lips curved and
parted; her eyelids fluttered twice or thrice--a movement remindful
(Proesy forgive us!) of the tail-wagging of a faithful dog--and a
little ripple went through her like the commotion set up in a weeping
willow by a puff of wind. Thus she ever acknowledged his coming,
were it twenty times a day. If they who sometimes sat over their wine
in Coralio, reshaping old, diverting stories of the madcap career
of Isabel Guilbert, could have seen the wife of Frank Goodwin that
afternoon in the estimable aura of her happy wifehood, they might
have disbelieved, or have agreed to forget, those graphic annals of
the life of the one for whom their president gave up his country and
"I have brought a guest to dinner," said Goodwin. "One Colonel
Falcon, from San Mateo. He is come on government business. I do not
think you will care to see him, so I prescribe for you one of those
convenient and indisputable feminine headaches."
"He has come to inquire about the lost money, has he not?" asked
Mrs. Goodwin, going on with her sketch.
"A good guess!" acknowledged Goodwin. "He has been holding an
inquisition among the natives for three days. I am next on his list
of witnesses, but as he feels shy about dragging one of Uncle Sam's
subjects before him, he consents to give it the outward appearance
of a social function. He will apply the torture over my own wine
"Has he found any one who saw the valise of money?"
"Not a soul. Even Madama Ortiz, whose eyes are so sharp for the sight
of a revenue official, does not remember that there was any baggage."
Mrs. Goodwin laid down her brush and sighed.
"I am so sorry, Frank," she said, "that they are giving you so much
trouble about the money. But we can't let them know about it, can
"Not without doing our intelligence a great injustice," said Goodwin,
with a smile and a shrug that he had picked up from the natives.
"~Americano~, though I am, they would have me in the ~calaboza~ in
half an hour if they knew we had appropriated that valise. No; we
must appear as ignorant about the money as the other ignoramuses in
"Do you think that this man they have sent suspects you?" she asked,
with a little pucker of her brows. "He'd better not," said the
American, carelessly. "It's lucky that no one caught a sight of the
valise except myself. As I was in the rooms when the shot was fired,
it is not surprising that they should want to investigate my part
in the affair rather closely. But there's no cause for alarm.
This colonel is down on the list of events for a good dinner, with
a dessert of American 'bluff' that will end the matter, I think."
Mrs. Goodwin rose and walked to the window. Goodwin followed and
stood by her side. She leaned to him, and rested in the protection
of his strength, as she had always rested since that dark night
on which he had first made himself her tower of refuge. Thus they
stood for a little while.
Straight through the lavish growth of tropical branch and leaf and
vine that confronted them had been cunningly trimmed a vista, that
ended at the cleared environs of Coralio, on the banks of the mangrove
swamp. At the other end of the aerial tunnel they could see the grave
and wooden headpiece that bore the name of the unhappy President
Miraflores. From this window when the rains forbade the open,
and from the green and shady slopes of Goodwin's fruitful lands when
the skies were smiling, his wife was wont to look upon that grave
with a gentle sadness that was now scarcely a mar to her happiness.
"I loved him so, Frank!" she said, "even after that terrible flight
and its awful ending. And you have been so good to me, and have made
me so happy. It has all grown into such a strange puzzle. If they
were to find out that we got the money do you think they would force
you to make the amount good to the government?"
"They would undoubtedly try," answered Goodwin. "You are right about
its being a puzzle. And it must remain a puzzle to Falcon and all
his countrymen until it solves itself. You and I, who know more than
any one else, only know half of the solution. We must not let even
a hint about this money get abroad. Let them come to the theory that
the president concealed it in the mountains during his journey, or
that he found means to ship it out of the country before he reached
Coralio. I don't think that Falcon suspects me. He is making
a closer investigation, according to his orders, but he will find out
Thus they spake together. Had any one overheard or overseen them
as they discussed the lost funds of Anchuria there would have been
a second puzzle presented. For upon the faces and in the bearing
of each of them was visible (if countenances are to be believed) Saxon
honesty and pride and honorable thoughts. In Goodwin's steady eye
and firm lineaments, molded into material shape by the inward spirit
of kindness and generosity and courage, there was nothing reconcilable
with his words.
As for his wife, physiognomy championed her even in the face of their
accusive talk. Nobility was in her guise; purity was in her glance.
The devotion that she manifested had not even the appearance of that
feeling that now and then inspires a woman to share the guilt of
her partner out of the pathetic greatness other love. No, there was
a discrepancy here between what the eye would have seen and the ear
Dinner was served to Goodwin and his guest in the patio, under cool
foliage and flowers. The American begged the illustrious secretary
to excuse the absence of Mrs. Goodwin, who was suffering, he said,
from a headache brought on by a slight ~calentura~.
After the meal they lingered, according to the custom, over their
coffee and cigars. Colonel Falcon, with true Castilian delicacy,
waited for his host to open the question that they had met to discuss.
He had not long to wait. As soon as the cigars were lighted,
the American cleared the way by inquiring whether the secretary's
investigations in the town had furnished him with any clue to
the lost funds.
"I have found no one yet," admitted Colonel Falcon, "who even had
sight of the valise or the money. Yet I have persisted. It has
been proven in the capital that President Miraflores set out
from San Mateo with one hundred thousand dollars belonging to the
government, accompanied by Senorita Isabel Guilbert, the opera singer.
The Government, officially and personally, is loathe to believe,"
concluded Colonel Falcon, with a smile, "that our late President's
tastes would have permitted him to abandon on the route, as excess
baggage, either of the desirable articles with which his flight was
"I suppose you would like to hear what I have to say about the
affair," said Goodwin, coming directly to the point. "It will not
require many words."
"On that night, with others of our friends here, I was keeping
a lookout for the president, having been notified of his flight
by a telegram in our national cipher from Englehart, one of our
leaders in the capital. About ten o'clock that night I saw a man
and a woman hurrying along the streets. They went to the Hotel de
los Extranjeros, and engaged rooms. I followed them upstairs, leaving
Esteban, who had come up, to watch outside. The barber had told me
that he had shaved the beard from the president's face that night;
therefore I was prepared, when I entered the rooms, to find him
with a smooth face. When I apprehended him in the name of the people
he drew a pistol and shot himself instantly. In a few minutes many
officers and citizens were on the spot. I suppose you have been
informed of the subsequent facts."
Goodwin paused. Losada's agent maintained an attitude of waiting,
as if he expected a continuance.
"And now," went on the American, looking steadily into the eyes of
the other man, and giving each word a deliberate emphasis, "you will
oblige me by attending carefully to what I have to add. I saw no
valise or receptacle of any kind, or any money belonging to the
Republic of Anchuria. If President Miraflores decamped with any funds
belonging to the treasury of this country, or to himself, or to any
one else, I saw no trace of it in the house or elsewhere, at that time
or at any other. Does that statement cover the ground of the inquiry
you wished to make of me?"
Colonel Falcon bowed, and described a fluent curve with his cigar.
His duty was performed. Goodwin was not to be disputed. He was
a loyal supporter of the government, and enjoyed the full confidence
of the new president. His rectitude had been the capital that had
brought him fortune in Anchuria, just as it had formed the lucrative
"graft" of Mellinger, the secretary of Miraflores.
"I thank you, ~Senor~ Goodwin, " said Falcon, "for speaking plainly.
But, ~Senor~ Goodwin, I am instructed to pursue every clue that
presents itself in this matter. There is one that I have not yet
touched upon. Our friends in France, senor, have a saying, '~Cherchez
la femme~,' when there is a mystery without a clue. But here we do
not have to search. The woman who accompanied the late President
in his flight must surely--"
"I must interrupt you there," interposed Goodwin. "It is true that
when I entered the hotel for the purpose of intercepting President
Miraflores I found a lady there. I must beg of you to remember that
that lady is now my wife. I speak for her as I do for myself. She
knows nothing of the fate of the valise or of the money that you
are seeking. You will say to his excellency that I guarantee her
innocence. I do not need to add to you, Colonel Falcon, that I do
not care to have her questioned or disturbed."
Colonel Falcon bowed again.
"~Por supuesto~, no!" he cried. And to indicate that the inquiry
was ended he added: "And now, senor, let me beg of you to show me
that sea view from your galeria of which you spoke. I am a lover
of the sea."
In the early evening Goodwin walked back to the town with his guest,
leaving him at the corner of the Calle Grande. As he was returning
homeward one "Beelzebub" Blythe, with the air of a courtier and
the outward aspect of a scarecrow, pounced upon him hopefully from
the door of a ~pulperia~.
Blythe had been re-christened "Beelzebub" as an acknowledgement of
the greatness of his fall. Once in some distant Paradise Lost, he had
foregathered with the angels of the earth. But Fate had hurled him
headlong down to the tropics, where flamed in his bosom a fire that
was seldom quenched. In Coralio they called him a beach-comber; but
he was, in reality, a categorical idealist who strove to anamorphosize
the dull verities of life by the means of brandy and rum. As
Beelzebub, himself, might have held in his clutch with unwitting
tenacity his harp or crown during his tremendous fall, so his namesake
had clung to his gold-rimmed eyeglasses as the only souvenir of his
lost estate. These he wore with impressiveness and distinction while
he combed beaches and extracted toll from his friends. By some
mysterious means he kept his drink-reddened face always smoothly
shaven. For the rest he sponged gracefully upon whomsoever he could
for enough to keep him pretty drunk, and sheltered from the rains and
"Hallo, Goodwin!" called the derelict, airily. "I was hoping I'd
strike you. I wanted to see you particularly. Suppose we go where
we can talk. Of course you know there's a chap down here looking up
the money old Miraflores lost."
"Yes," said Goodwin, "I've been talking with him. Let's go into
Espada's place. I can spare you ten minutes."
They went into the ~pulperia~ and sat at a little table upon stools
with rawhide tops.
"Have a drink?" said Goodwin.
"They can't bring it too quickly," said Blythe. "I've been in
a drought ever since morning. Hi!--~muchacho!--el aguardiente por
"Now, what do you want to see me about?" asked Goodwin, when the
drinks were before them.
"Confound it, old man," drawled Blythe, "why do you spoil a golden
moment like this with business? I wanted to see you--well, this
has the preference." He gulped down his brandy, and gazed longingly
into the empty glass.
"Have another?" suggested Goodwin.
"Between gentlemen," said the fallen angel, "I don't quite like
your use of that word 'another.' It isn't quite delicate. But
the concrete idea that the word represents is not displeasing."
The glasses were refilled. Blythe sipped blissfully from his, as
he began to enter the state of a true idealist.
"I must trot along in a minute or two," hinted Goodwin. "Was there
anything in particular?"
Blythe did not reply at once.
"Old Losada would make it a hot country," he remarked at length, "for
the man who swiped that gripsack of treasury boodle, don't you think?"
"Undoubtedly, he would," agreed Goodwin calmly, as he rose leisurely
to his feet. "I'll be running over to the house, now old man. Mrs.
Goodwin is alone. There was nothing important you had to say, was
"That's all," said Blythe. "Unless you wouldn't mind sending in
another drink from the bar as you go out. Old Espada has closed my
account to profit and loss. And pay for the lot, will you, like a
"All right," said Goodwin. "~Buenas noches~."
"Beezlebub" Blythe lingered over his cups, polishing his eyeglasses
with a disreputable handkerchief.
"I thought I could do it, but I couldn't," he muttered to himself
after a time. "A gentleman can't blackmail the man that he drinks
Spilled milk draws few tears from an Anchurian administration.
Many are its lacteal sources; and the clocks' hands point forever
to milking time. Even the rich cream skimmed from the treasury by
the bewitched Miraflores did not cause the newly installed patriots
to waste time in unprofitable regrets. The government philosophically
set about supplying the deficiency by increasing the import duties
and by "suggesting" to wealthy private citizens that contributions
according to their means would be considered patriotic and in order.
Prosperity was expected to attend the reign of Losada, the new
president. The ousted office-holders and military favorites
organized a new "Liberal" party, and began to lay their plans
for a re-succession. Thus the game of Anchurian politics began, like
a Chinese comedy, to unwind slowly its serial length. Here and there
Mirth peeps for an instant from the wings and illumines the florid
A dozen quarts of champagne in conjunction with an informal sitting
of the president and his cabinet led to the establishment of the navy
and the appointment of Felipe Carrera as its admiral.
Next to the champagne the credit of the appointment belongs to Don
Sabas Placido, the newly confirmed Minister of War.
The president had requested a convention of his cabinet for the
discussion of questions politic and for the transaction of certain
routine matters of state. The session had been signally tedious;
the business and the wine prodigiously dry. A sudden, prankish humor
of Don Sabas, impelling him to the deed, spiced the grave affairs
of state with a whiff of agreeable playfulness. In the dilatory
order of business had come a bulletin from the coast department
of Orilla del Mar reporting the seizure by the custom-house officers
at the town of Coralio of the sloop ~Estrella del Noche~ and her cargo
of drygoods, patent medicines, granulated sugar and three-star brandy.
Also six Martini rifles and a barrel of American whiskey. Caught
in the act of smuggling, the sloop with its cargo was now, according
to law, the property of the republic.
The Collector of Customs, in making his report, departed from the
conventional forms so far as to suggest that the confiscated vessel
be converted to the use of the government. The prize was the first
capture to the credit of the department in ten years. The collector
took opportunity to pat his department on the back.
It often happened that government officers required transportation
from point to point along the coast, and means were usually lacking.
Furthermore, the sloop could be manned by a loyal crew and employed
as a coast guard to discourage the pernicious art of smuggling. The
collector also ventured to nominate one to whom the charge of the boat
could be safely intrusted--a young man of Coralio, Felipe Carrera--
not, be it understood, one of extreme wisdom, but loyal and the best
sailor along the coast.
It was upon this hint that the Minister of War acted, executing a
rare piece of drollery that so enlivened the tedium of the executive
In the consultation of this small, maritime banana republic was
a forgotten section that provided for the maintenance of a navy.
This provision--with many other wiser ones--had lain inert since
the establishment of the republic. Anchuria had no navy and had
no use for one. It was characteristic of Don Sabas—a man at once
merry, learned, whimsical and audacious--that he should have disturbed
the dust of this musty and sleeping statute to increase the humor
of the world by so much as a smile from his indulgent colleagues.
With delightful mock seriousness the Minister of War proposed the
creation of a navy. He argued its need and the glories it might
achieve with such gay and witty zeal that the travesty overcame with
its humor even the swart dignity of President Losada himself.
The champagne was bubbling trickily in the veins of the mercurial
statesmen. It was not the custom of the grave governors of Anchuria
to enliven their sessions with a beverage so apt to cast a veil
of disparagement over sober affairs. The wine had been a thoughtful
compliment tendered by the agent of the Vesuvius Fruit Company as
a token of amicable relations--and certain consummated deals--between
that company and the republic of Anchuria.
The jest was carried to its end. A formidable, official document was
prepared, encrusted with chromatic seals and jaunty with fluttering
ribbons, bearing the florid signatures of state. This commission
conferred upon el Senor Don Felipe Carrera the title of Flag Admiral
of the Republic of Anchuria. Thus within the space of a few minutes
and the dominion of a dozen "extra dry" the country took its place
among the naval powers of the world, and Felipe Carrera became
entitled to a salute of nineteen guns whenever he might enter port.
The southern races are lacking in that particular kind of humor that
finds entertainment in the defects and misfortunes bestowed by Nature.
Owing to this defect in their constitution they are not moved to
laughter (as are their northern brothers) by the spectacle of the
deformed, the feeble-minded or the insane.
Felipe Carrera was sent upon earth with but half his wits. Therefore,
the people of Coralio called him "~El pobrecito loco~" the poor little
crazed one"--saying that God had sent but half of him to earth,
retaining the other half.
A sombre youth, glowering, and speaking only at the rarest times,
Felipe was but negatively "loco." On shore he generally refused all
conversation. He seemed to know that he was badly handicapped on
land, where so many kinds of understanding are needed; but on the
water his one talent set him equal with most men. Few sailors whom
God had carefully and completely made could handle a sailboat as well.
Five points nearer the wind than the best of them he could sail his
sloop. When the elements raged and set other men to cowering, the
deficiencies of Felipe seemed of little importance. He was a perfect
sailor, if an imperfect man. He owned no boat, but worked among the
crews of the schooners and sloops that skimmed the coast, trading and
freighting fruit out to the steamers where there was no harbor. It
was through his famous skill and boldness on the sea, as well as for
the pity felt for his mental imperfections, that he was recommended by
the collector as a suitable custodian of the captured sloop.
When the outcome of Don Sabas' little pleasantry arrived in the form
of the imposing and preposterous commission, the collector smiled.
He had not expected such prompt and overwhelming response to
his recommendation. He despatched a ~muchacho~ at once to fetch
the future admiral.
The collector waited in his official quarters. His office was in
the Calle Grande, and the sea breezes hummed through its windows all
day. The collector, in white linen and canvas shoes, philandered with
papers on an antique desk. A parrot, perched on a pen rack, seasoned
the official tedium with a fire of choice Castilian imprecations.
Two rooms opened into the Collector's. In one the clerical force of
young men of variegated complexions transacted with glitter and parade
their several duties. Through the open door of the other room could
be seen a bronze babe, guiltless of clothing, that rollicked upon the
floor. In a grass hammock a thin woman, tinted a pale lemon, played
a guitar and swung contentedly in the breeze. Thus surrounded by
the routine of his high duties and the visible tokens of agreeable
domesticity, the collector's heart was further made happy by the power
placed in his hands to brighten the fortunes of the "innocent" Felipe.
Felipe came and stood before the collector. He was a lad of twenty,
not ill-favored in looks, but with an expression of distant and
pondering vacuity. He wore white cotton trousers, down the seams
of which he had sewed red stripes with some vague aim at military
decoration. A flimsy blue shirt fell open at his throat; his feet
were bare; he held in his hand the cheapest of straw hats from the
"Senor Carrera," said the collector, gravely, producing the showy
commission, "I have sent for you at the president's bidding. This
document that I present to you confers upon you the title of Admiral
of this great republic, and gives you absolute command of the naval
forces and fleet of our country. You may think, friend Felipe, that
we have no navy--but yes! The sloop the ~Estrella del Noche~, that
my brave men captured from the coast smugglers, is to be placed under
your command. The boat is to be devoted to the services of your
country. You will be ready at all times to convey officials of the
government to points along the coast where they may be obliged to
visit. You will also act as a coast-guard to prevent, as far as you
may be able, the crime of smuggling. You will uphold the honor and
prestige of your country at sea, and endeavor to place Anchuria among
the proudest naval powers of the world. These are your instructions
as the Minister of War desires me to convey them to you. ~Por Dios!~
I do not know how all this is to be accomplished, for not one word
did his letter contain in respect to a crew or to the expenses of this
navy. Perhaps you are to provide a crew yourself, Senor Admiral--I do
not know--but it is a very high honor that has descended upon you. I
now hand you your commission. When you are ready for the boat I will
give orders that she shall be made over into your charge. That is as
far as my instructions go."
Felipe took the commission that the collector handed to him. He gazed
through the open window at the sea for a moment, with his customary
expression of deep but vain pondering. Then he turned without having
spoken a word, and walked swiftly away through the hot sand of the
"~Pobrecito loco!~" sighed the collector; and the parrot on the pen
racks screeched "Loco!—loco!—loco!"
The next morning a strange procession filed through the streets
to the collector's office. At its head was the admiral of the navy.
Somewhere Felipe had raked together a pitiful semblance of a military
uniform--a pair of red trousers, a dingy blue short jacket heavily
ornamented with gold braid, and an old fatigue cap that must have been
cast away by one of the British soldiers in Belize and brought away
by Felipe on one of his coasting voyages. Buckled around his waist
was an ancient ship's cutlass contributed to his equipment by Pedro
Lafitte, the baker, who proudly asserted its inheritance from his
ancestor, the illustrious buccaneer. At the admiral's heels tagged
his newly shipped crew--three grinning, glossy, black Caribs, bare to
the waist, the sand spurting in showers from the spring of their naked
Briefly and with dignity Felipe demanded his vessel of the collector.
And now a fresh honor awaited him. The collector's wife, who played
the guitar and read novels in the hammock all day, had more than
a little romance in her placid, yellow bosom. She had found in
an old book an engraving of a flag that purported to be the naval
flag of Anchuria. Perhaps it had so been designed by the founders
of the nation; but, as no navy had ever been established, oblivion
had claimed the flag. Laboriously with her own hands she had made
a flag after the pattern--a red cross upon a blue-and-white ground.
he presented it to Felipe with these words: "Brave sailor, this flag
is of your country. Be true, and defend it with your life. Go you
For the first time since his appointment the admiral showed a flicker
of emotion. He took the silken emblem, and passed his hand reverently
over its surface, "I am the admiral," he said to the collector's lady.
Being on land he could bring himself to no more exuberant expression
of sentiment. At sea with the flag at the masthead of his navy, some
more eloquent exposition of feelings might be forthcoming.
Abruptly the admiral departed with his crew. For the next three days
they were busy giving the ~Estrella del Noche~ a new coat of white
paint trimmed with blue. And then Felipe further adorned himself by
fastening a handful of brilliant parrot's plumes in his cap. Again
he tramped with his faithful crew to the collector's office and
formally notified him that the sloop's name had been changed to ~El
During the next few months the navy had its troubles. Even an admiral
is perplexed to know what to do without any orders. But none came.
Neither did any salaries. ~El Nacional~ swung idly at anchor.
When Felipe's little store of money was exhausted he went to the
collector and raised the question of finances.
"Salaries!" exclaimed the collector, with hands raised; "~Valgame
Dios~! not one ~centavo~ of my own pay have I received for the last
seven months. The pay of an admiral, do you ask? ~Quien sabe~?
Should it be less than three thousand ~pesos~? ~Mira~! you will see
a revolution in this country very soon. A good sign of it is when
the government calls all the time for ~pesos, pesos, pesos~, and pays
Felipe left the collector's office with a look almost of content
on his sombre face. A revolution would mean fighting, and then
the government would need his services. It was rather humiliating
to be an admiral without anything to do, and have a hungry crew at your
heels begging for ~reales~ to buy plantains and tobacco with.
When he returned to where his happy-go-lucky Caribs were waiting
they sprang up and saluted, as he had drilled them to do. "Come,
~muchachos~," said the admiral; "it seems that the government is poor.
It has no money to give us. We will earn what we need to live upon.
Thus will we serve our country. Soon"--his heavy eyes almost lighted
up--"it may gladly call upon us for help."
Thereafter ~El Nacional~ turned out with the other coast craft and
became a wage-earner. She worked with the lighters freighting bananas
and oranges out to the fruit steamers that could not approach nearer
than a mile from the shore. Surely a self-supporting navy deserves
red letters in the budget of any nation.
After earning enough at freighting to keep himself and his crew
in provisions for a week Felipe would anchor the navy and hang about
the little telegraph office, looking like one of the chorus of an
insolvent comic opera troupe besieging the manager's den. A hope for
orders from the capital was always in his heart. That his services
as admiral had never been called into requirement hurt his pride and
patriotism. At every call he would inquire, gravely and expectantly,
for despatches. The operator would pretend to make a search, and
"Not yet, it seems, ~Senor el Almirante--poco tiempo~!"
Outside in the shade of the lime-trees the crew chewed sugar cane
or slumbered, well content to serve a country that was contented
with so little service.
One day in the early summer the revolution predicted by the collector
flamed out suddenly. It had long been smoldering. At the first note
of alarm the admiral of the navy force and fleet made all sail for
a larger port on the coast of a neighboring republic, where he traded
a hastily collected cargo of fruit for its value in cartridges for the
five Martini rifles, the only guns that the navy could boast. Then
to the telegraph office sped the admiral. Sprawling in his favorite
corner, in his fast-decaying uniform, with his prodigious sabre
distributed between his red legs, he waited for the long-delayed,
but now soon expected, orders.
"Not yet, ~Senor el Almirante~" the telegraph clerk would call to him
At the answer the admiral would plump himself down with a great
rattling of scabbard to await the infrequent tick of the little
instrument on the table.
"They will come," would be his unshaken reply; "I am the admiral."
The Flag Paramount
At the head of the insurgent party appeared that Hector and learned
Theban of the southern republics, Don Sabas Placido. A traveller,
a soldier, a poet, a scientist, a statesman and a connoisseur--the
wonder was that he could content himself with the petty, remote life
of his native country.
"It is a whim of Placido's," said a friend who knew him well,
"to take up political intrigue. It is not otherwise than as if he
had come upon a new tempo in music, a new bacillus in the air, a new
scent, or rhyme, or explosive. He will squeeze this revolution dry
of sensations, and a week afterward will forget it, skimming the seas
of the world in his brigantine to add to his already world-famous
collections. Collections of what? ~Por Dios~! of everything from
postage stamps to prehistoric stone idols."
But, for a mere dilettante, the aesthetic Placido seemed to be
creating a lively row. The people admired him; they were fascinated
by his brilliancy and flattered by his taking an interest in so small
a thing as his native country. They rallied to the call of his
lieutenants in the capital, where (somewhat contrary to arrangements)
the army remained faithful to the government. There was also lively
skirmishing in the coast towns. It was rumored that the revolution
was aided by the Vesuvius Fruit Company, the power that forever stood
with chiding smile and uplifted finger to keep Anchuria in the class
of good children. Two of its steamers, the ~Traveler~ and the
~Salvador~, were known to have conveyed insurgent troops from point
to point along the coast.
As yet there had been no actual uprising in Coralio. Military law
prevailed, and the ferment was bottled for the time. And then came
the word that everywhere the revolutionists were encountering defeat.
In the capital the president's forces triumphed; and there was a rumor
that the leaders of the revolt had been forced to fly, hotly pursued.
In the little telegraph office at Coralio there was always
a gathering of officials and loyal citizens, awaiting news from
the seat of government. One morning the telegraph key began clicking,
and presently the operator called, loudly: "One telegram for
~el Almirante~, Don Senor Felipe Carrera!"
There was a shuffling sound, a great rattling of tin scabbard, and
the admiral, prompt at his spot of waiting, leaped across the room
to receive it.
The message was handed to him. Slowly spelling it out, he found it
to be his first official order--thus running:
"Proceed immediately with your vessel to mouth of Rio Ruiz;
transport beef and provisions to barracks at Alforan.
Small glory, to be sure, in this, his country's first call. But
it had called, and joy surged in the admiral's breast. He drew his
cutlass belt to another buckle hole, roused his dozing crew, and in
a quarter of an hour ~El Nacional~ was tacking swiftly down coast in
a stiff landward breeze.
The Rio Ruiz is a small river, emptying into the sea ten miles below
Coralio. That portion of the coast is wild and solitary. Through
a gorge in the Cordilleras rushes the Rio Ruiz, cold and bubbling,
to glide at last, with breadth and leisure, through an alluvial morass
into the sea.
In two hours ~El Nacional~ entered the river's mouth. The banks
were crowded with a disposition of formidable trees. The sumptuous
undergrowth of the tropics overflowed the land, and drowned itself
in the fallow waters.
Silently the sloop entered there, and met a deeper silence. Brilliant
with greens and ochres and floral, scarlets, the umbrageous mouth
of the Rio Ruiz furnished no sound or movement save of the sea-going
water as it purled against the prow of the vessel. Small chance there
seemed of wresting beef or provisions from that empty solitude.
The admiral decided to cast anchor, and, at the chain's rattle,
the forest was stimulated to instant and resounding uproar. The mouth
of the Rio Ruiz had only been taking a morning nap. Parrots and
baboons screeched and barked in the trees; a whirring and a hissing
and a booming marked the awakening of animal life; a dark blue bulk
was visible for an instant, as a startled tapir fought his way through
The navy, under orders, hung in the mouth of the little river for
hours. The crew served the dinner of shark's fin soup, plantains,
crab gumbo and sour wine. The admiral, with a three-foot telescope,
closely scanned the impervious foliage fifty yards away.
It was nearly sunset when a reverberating "hal-lo-o-o!" came from
the forest to their left. It was answered; and three men, mounted
upon mules, crashed through the tropic tangle to within a dozen yards
of the river's bank. There they dismounted; and one, unbuckling
his belt, struck each mule a violent blow with his sword scabbard,
so that they, with a fling of heels, dashed back again into
Those were strange-looking men to be conveying beef and provisions.
One was a large and exceedingly active man, of striking presence. He
was of the purest Spanish type, with curling, gray-besprinkled, dark
hair, blue, sparkling eyes, and the pronounced air of a ~caballero
grande~. The other two were small, brown-faced men, wearing white
military uniforms, high riding boots and swords. The clothes of all
were drenched, bespattered and rent by the thicket. Some stress of
circumstance must have driven them, ~diable a quatre~, through flood,
mire and jungle.
"~O-he! Senor Almirante~," called the large man. "Send to us your
The dory was lowered, and Felipe, with one of the Caribs, rowed toward
the left bank.
The large man stood near the water's brink, waist deep in the curling
vines. As he gazed upon the scarecrow figure in the stern of the dory
a sprightly interest beamed upon his mobile face.
Months of wageless and thankless service had dimmed the admiral's
splendor. His red trousers were patched and ragged. Most of the
bright buttons and yellow braid were gone from his jacket. The visor
of his cap was torn, and depended almost to his eyes. The admiral's
feet were bare.
"Dear Admiral," cried the large man, and his voice was like a blast
from a horn, "I kiss your hands. I knew we could build upon your
fidelity. You had our despatch--from General Martinez. A little
nearer with your boat, dear Admiral. Upon these devils of shifting
vines we stand with the smallest security."
Felipe regarded him with a stolid face.
"Provisions and beef for the barracks at Alforan," he quoted.
"No fault of the butchers, ~Almirante mio~, that the beef awaits you
not. But you are come in time to save the cattle. Get us aboard your
vessel, senor, at once. You first, ~caballeros--a priesa!~ Come back
for me. The boat is too small."
The dory conveyed the two officers to the sloop, and returned for
the large man.
"Have you so gross a thing as food, good Admiral?" he cried, when
aboard. "And, perhaps, coffee? Beef and provisions! ~Nombre de
Dios!~ a little longer and we could have eaten one of those mules that
you, Colonel Rafael, saluted so feelingly with your sword scabbard at
parting. Let us have food; and then we will sail--for the barracks
The Caribs prepared a meal, to which the three passengers of ~El
Nacional~ set themselves with famished delight. About sunset, as was
its custom, the breeze veered and swept back from the mountains, cool
and steady, bringing a taste of the stagnant lagoons and mangrove
swamps that guttered the lowlands. The mainsail of the sloop was
hoisted and swelled to it, and at that moment they heard shouts and
a waxing clamor from the bosky profundities of the shore.
"The butchers, my dear Admiral," said the large man, smiling, "too
late for the slaughter."
Further than his orders to his crew, the admiral was saying nothing.
The topsail and jib were spread, and the sloop elided out of the
estuary. The large man and his companions had bestowed themselves
with what comfort they could about the bare deck. Belike, the thing
big in their minds had been their departure from that critical shore;
and now that the hazard was so far reduced their thoughts were loosed
to the consideration of further deliverance. But when they saw the
sloop turn and fly up coast again they relaxed, satisfied with the
course the admiral had taken.
The large man sat at ease, his spirited blue eye engaged in
the contemplation of the navy's commander. He was trying to estimate
this sombre and fantastic lad, whose impenetrable stolidity puzzled
him. Himself a fugitive, his life sought, and chafing under the smart
of defeat and failure, it was characteristic of him to transfer
instantly his interest to the study of a thing new to him. It was
like him, too, to have conceived and risked all upon this last
desperate and madcap scheme--this message to a poor, crazed ~fanatico~
cruising about with his grotesque uniform and his farcical title.
But his companions had been at their wits' end; escape had seemed
incredible; and now he was pleased with the success of the plan they
had called crack-brained and precarious.
The brief, tropic twilight seemed to slide swiftly into the pearly
splendor of a moonlit night. And now the lights of Coralio appeared,
distributed against the darkening shore to their right. The admiral
stood, silent, at the tiller; the Caribs, like black panthers, held
the sheets, leaping noiselessly at his short commands. The three
passengers were watching intently the sea before them, and when at
length they came in sight of the bulk of a steamer lying a mile out
from the town, with her lights radiating deep into the water, they
held a sudden voluble and close-headed converse. The sloop was
speeding as if to strike midway between ship and shore.
The large man suddenly separated from his companions and approached
the scarecrow at the helm.
"My dear Admiral," he said, "the government has been exceedingly
remiss. I feel all the shame for it that only its ignorance of your
devoted service has prevented it from sustaining. An inexcusable
oversight has been made. A vessel, a uniform and a crew worthy
of your fidelity shall be furnished you. But just now, dear Admiral,
there is business of moment afoot. The steamer lying there is the
~Salvador~. I and my friends desire to be conveyed to her, where we
are sent on the government's business. Do us the favor to shape your
Without replying, the admiral gave a sharp command, and put the tiller
hard to port. ~El Nacional~ swerved, and headed straight as an
arrow's course for the shore.
"Do me the favor," said the large man, a trifle restively,
"to acknowledge, at least, that you catch the sound of my words."
It was possible that the fellow might be lacking in senses as well
The admiral emitted a croaking, harsh laugh, and spake.
"They will stand you," he said, "with your face to a wall and shoot
you dead. That is the way they kill traitors. I knew you when you
stepped into my boat. I have seen your picture in a book. You are
Sabas Placido, traitor to your country. With your face to a wall.
So, you will die. I am the admiral, and I will take you to them.
With your face to a wall. Yes."
Don Sabas half turned and waved his hand, with a ringing laugh,
toward his fellow fugitives. "To you, ~caballeros~, I have related
the history of that session when we issued that 0! so ridiculous
commission. Of a truth our jest has been turned against us. Behold
the Frankenstein's monster we have created!"
Don Sabas glanced toward the shore. The lights of Coralio were
drawing near. He could see the beach, the warehouse of the ~Bodega
Nacional~, the long, low ~cuartel~ occupied by the soldiers, and
behind that, gleaming in the moonlight, a stretch of high adobe wall.
He had seen men stood with their faces to that wall and shot dead.
Again he addressed the extravagant figure at the helm.
"It is true," he said, "that I am fleeing the country. But, receive
the assurance that I care very little for that. Courts and camps
everywhere are open to Sabas Placido. ~Vaya!~ what is this molehill
of a republic--this pig's head of a country--to a man like me? I am
a ~paisano~ of everywhere. In Rome, in London, in Paris, in Vienna,
you will hear them say: 'Welcome back, Don Sabas.' Come!--~tonto~--
baboon of a boy--admiral, whatever you call yourself, turn your boat.
Put us on board the ~Salvador~, and here is your pay--five hundred
pesos in money of the ~Estados Unidos~--more than your lying
government will pay you in twenty years."
Don Sabas pressed a plump purse against the youth's hand. The admiral
gave no heed to the words or the movement. Braced against the helm,
he was holding the sloop dead on her shoreward course. His dull face
was lit almost to intelligence by some inward conceit that seemed to
afford him joy, and found utterance in another parrot-like cackle.
"That is why they do it," he said--"so that you will not see the guns.
They fire--boom!--and you fall dead. With your face to the wall.
The admiral called a sudden order to his crew. The lithe, silent
Caribs made fast the sheets they held, and slipped down the hatchway
into the hold of the sloop. When the last one had disappeared, Don
Sabas, like a big, brown leopard, leaped forward, closed and fastened
the hatch and stood, smiling.
"No rifles, if you please, dear admiral," he said. "It was a whimsey
of mine once to compile a dictionary of the Carib ~lengua~. So,
I understood your order. Perhaps now you will--"
He cut short his words, for he heard the dull "swish" of iron scraping
along tin. The admiral had drawn the cutlass of Pedro Lafitte,
and was darting upon him. The blade descended, and it was only by
a display of surprising agility that the large man escaped, with only
a bruised shoulder, the glancing weapon. He was drawing his pistol
as he sprang, and the next instant he shot the admiral down.
Don Sabas stooped over him, and rose again.
"In the heart," he said briefly. "~Senores~, the navy is abolished."
Colonel Rafael sprang to the helm, and the other officer hastened to
loose the mainsail sheets. The boom swung round; ~El Nacional~ veered
and began to tack industriously for the ~Salvador~.
"Strike that flag, senor," called Colonel Rafael. "Our friends on
the steamer will wonder why we are sailing under it."
"Well said," cried Don Sabas. Advancing to the mast he lowered the
flag to the deck, where lay its too loyal supporter. Thus ended the
Minister of War's little piece of after-dinner drollery, and by the
same hand that began it.
Suddenly Don Sabas gave a great cry of joy, and ran down the slanting
deck to the side of Colonel Rafael. Across his arm he carried the
flag of the extinguished navy.
"~Mire! mire! senor. Ah, ~Dios!~ Already can I hear that great bear
of an Oestreicher~ shout, ~'Du hast mein herz gebrochen!' Mire!~
Of my friend, Herr Grunitz, of Vienna, you have heard me relate.
That man has travelled to Ceylon for an orchid--to Patagonia for
a headdress --to Benares for a slipper--to Mozambique for a spearhead
to add to his famous collections. Thou knowest, also, ~amigo~ Rafael,
that I have been a gatherer of curios. My collection of battle flags
of the world's navies was the most complete in existence until last
year. Then Herr Grunitz secured two, 0! such rare specimens. One
of a Barberry state, and one of the Makarooroos, a tribe on the west
coast of Africa. I have not those, but they can be procured. But
this flag, senor--do you know what it is? Name of God! do you know?
See that red cross upon the blue and white ground! You never saw
it before? ~Seguramente no~. It is the naval flag of your country.
~Mire!~ This rotten tub we stand upon is its navy--that dead cockatoo
lying there was its commander--that stroke of cutlass and single
pistol shot a sea battle. All a piece of absurd foolery, I grant you
--but authentic. There has never been another flag like this, and
there never will be another. No. It is unique in the whole world.
Yes. Think of what that means to a collector of flags! Do you know,
~Coronel mio~, how many golden crowns Herr Grunitz would give for this
flag? Ten thousand, likely. Well, a hundred thousand would not buy
it. Beautiful flag! Only flag! Little devil of a most heaven-born
flag! ~O'he!~ old grumbler beyond the ocean. Wait till Don Sabas
comes again to the Konigin Strasse. He will let you kneel and touch
the folds of it with one finger. ~O-he!~ old spectacled ransacker
of the world!"
Forgotten was the impotent revolution, the danger, the loss, the gall
of defeat. Possessed solely by the inordinate and unparalleled
passion of the collector, he strode up and down the little deck,
clasping to his breast with one hand the paragon of a flag. He
snapped his fingers triumphantly toward the east. He shouted the
paean to his prize in trumpet tones, as though he would make old
Grunitz hear in his musty den beyond the sea.
They were waiting, on the ~Salvador~, to welcome them. The sloop came
close alongside the steamer where her sides were sliced almost to the
lower deck for the loading of fruit. The sailors of the ~Salvador~
grappled and held her there.
Captain McLeod leaned over the side.
"Well, ~senor~, the jig is up, I'm told."
"The jig is up?" Don Sabas looked perplexed for a moment. "That
revolution--ah, yes!" With a shrug of his shoulders he dismissed
The captain learned of the escape and the imprisoned crew.
"Caribs!" he said; "no harm in them." He slipped down into the sloop
and kicked loose the hasp of the hatch. The black fellows came
tumbling up, sweating but grinning.
"Hey! black boys!" said the captain, in a dialect of his own; "you
sabe, catchy boat and vamos back same place quick."
They saw him point to themselves, the sloop and Coralio. "Yas, yas!"
they cried, with broader grins and many nods.
The four--Don Sabas, the two officers and the captain--moved to quit
the sloop. Don Sabas lagged a little behind, looking at the still
form of the late admiral, sprawled in his paltry trappings.
"~Pobrecito loco~," he said softly.
He was a brilliant cosmopolite and a ~cognoscente~ of high rank;
but, after all, he was of the same race and blood and instinct as
this people. Even as the simple ~paisanos~ of Coralio had said it,
so said Don Sabas. Without a smile, he looked, and said, "The poor
little crazed one!"
Stooping he raised the limp shoulders, drew the priceless and
induplicable flag under them and over the breast, pinning it there
with the diamond star of the Order of San Carlos that he took from
the collar of his own coat.
He followed after the others, and stood with them upon the deck of
the ~Salvador~. The sailors that steadied ~El Nacional~ shoved her
off. The jabbering Caribs hauled away at the rigging; the sloop
headed for the shore.
And Herr Grunitz's collection of naval flags was still the finest
in the world.
The Shamrock and the Palm
One night when there was no breeze, and Coralio seemed closer than
ever to the gratings of Avernus, five men were grouped about the door
of the photograph establishment of Keogh and Clancy. Thus, in all
the scorched and exotic places of the earth, Caucasians meet when
the day's work is done to preserve the fulness of their heritage
by the aspersion of alien things.
Johnny Atwood lay stretched upon the grass in the undress uniform of
a Carib, and prated feebly of cool water to be had in the cucumber-
wood pumps of Dalesburg. Doctor Gregg, through the prestige of
his whiskers and as a bribe against the relation of his imminent
professional tales, was conceded the hammock that was swung between
the door jamb and a calabash-tree. Keogh had moved out upon the grass
a little table that held the instrument for burnishing completed
photographs. He was the only busy one of the group. Industriously
from between the cylinders of the burnisher rolled the finished
depictments of Coralio's citizens. Blanchard, the French mining
engineer, in his cool linen viewed the smoke of his cigarette through
his calm glasses, impervious to the heat. Clancy sat on the steps,
smoking his short pipe. His mood was the gossip's; the others were
reduced, by the humidity, to the state of disability desirable in
Clancy was an American with an Irish diathesis and cosmopolitan
proclivities. Many businesses had claimed him, but not for long.
The roadster's blood was in his veins. The voice of the tintype was
but one of the many callings that had wooed him upon so many roads.
Sometimes he could be persuaded to oral construction of his voyages
into the informal and egregious. Tonight there were symptoms of
divulgement in him.
"'Tis elegant weather for filibustering'," he volunteered. "It
reminds me of the time I struggled to liberate a nation from the
poisonous breath of a tyrant's clutch. 'Twas hard work. 'Tis
straining to the back and makes corns on the hands."
"I didn't know you had ever lent your sword to an oppressed people,"
murmured Atwood, from the grass.
"I did," said Clancy; "and they turned it into a plowshare."
"What country was so fortunate as to secure your aid?" airily inquired
"Where's Kamchatka?" asked Clancy, with seeming irrelevance.
"Why, off Siberia somewhere in the Arctic regions," somebody answered,
"I thought that was the cold one," said Clancy, with a satisfied nod.
"I'm always gettin' the two names mixed. 'Twas Guatemala, then--the
hot one--I've been filibusterin' with. Ye'll find that country on
the map. 'Tis in the district known as the tropics. By the foresight
of Providence, it lies on the coast so the geography men could run the
names of the towns off into the water. They're an inch long, small
type, composed of Spanish dialects, and, 'tis my opinion, of the same
system of syntax that blew up the ~Maine~. Yes, 'twas that country
I sailed against, single-handed, and endeavored to liberate it from
a tyrannical government with a single-barrelled pickaxe, unloaded
at that. Ye don't understand, of course. 'Tis a statement demandin'
elucidation and apologies.
"'Twas in New Orleans one morning about the first ofJune; I was
standing down on the wharf, looking about at the ships in the river.
There was a little steamer moored right opposite me that seemed about
ready to sail. The funnels of it were throwing out smoke, and a gang
of roustabouts were carrying aboard a pile of boxes that was stacked
up on the wharf. The boxes were about two feet square, and something
like four feet long, and they seemed to be pretty heavy.
"I walked over, careless, to the stack of boxes. I saw one of them
had been broken in handlin'. 'Twas curiosity made me pull up
the loose top and look inside. The box was packed full of Winchester
rifles. 'So, so,' says I to myself; 'somebody's gettin' a twist
on the neutrality laws. Somebody's aidin' with munitions of war.
I wonder where the popguns are goin'?'
"I heard somebody cough, and I turned around. There stood a little,
round, fat man with a brown face and white clothes, a first-class-
looking little man, with a four-karat diamond on his finger and
his eye full of interrogations and respects. I judged he was a kind
of foreigner--may be from Russia or Japan or the archipelagoes.
"'Hist!' says the round man, full of concealments and confidences.
'Will the senor respect the discoveryments he has made, that the mans
on the ship shall not be acquaint? The senor will be a gentleman
that shall not expose one thing that by accident occur.'
"'Monseer,' says I--for I judged him to be a kind of Frenchman--
'receive my most exasperated assurances that your secret is safe with
James Clancy. Furthermore, I will go so far as to remark, Veev la
Liberty--veev it good and strong. Whenever you hear of a Clancy
obstructin' the abolishment of existin' governments you may notify
me by return mail.'
"'The senor is good,' says the dark, fat man, smilin' under his black
mustache. 'Wish you to come aboard my ship and drink of wine a glass.'
"Bein' a Clancy, in two minutes me and the foreigner man were seated
at a table in the cabin of the steamer, with a bottle between us. I
could hear the heavy boxes bein' dumped into the hold. I judged that
cargo must consist of at least 2,000 Winchesters. Me and the brown
man drank the bottle of stuff, and he called the steward to bring
another. When you amalgamate a Clancy with the contents of a bottle
you practically instigate secession. I had heard a good deal about
these revolutions in them tropical localities, and I begun to want
a hand in it.
"'You goin' to stir things up in your country, ain't you, monseer?'
says I, with a wink to let him know I was on.
"'Yes, yes,' said the little man, pounding his fist on the table.
'A change of the greatest will occur. Too long have the people been
oppressed with the promises and the never-to-happen things to become.
The great work it shall be carry on. Yes. Our forces shall in the
capital city strike of the soonest. ~Carrambos!~'
"'~Carrambos~ is the word,' says I, beginning to invest myself with
enthusiasm and more wine, 'likewise veeva, as I said before. May the
shamrock of old--I mean the banana-vine or the pie-plant, or whatever
the imperial emblem may be of your down-trodden country, wave
"'A thousand thank-yous,' says the round man, 'for your emission of
amicable utterances. What our cause needs of the very most is mans
who will the work do, to lift it along. Oh, for one thousands strong,
good mans to aid the General De Vega that he shall to his country
bring those success and glory! It is hard--oh, so hard to find good
mans to help in the work.'
"'Monseer,' says I, leanin' over the table and graspin' his hand,
I don't know where your country is, but me heart bleeds for it. The
heart of a Clancy was never deaf to the sight of an oppressed people.
The family is filibusterers by birth, and foreigners by trade. If you
can use James Clancy's arms and his blood in denuding your shores of
the tyrant's yoke they're yours to command.'
"General De Vega was overcome with joy to confiscate my condolence
of his conspiracies and predicaments. He tried to embrace me across
the table, but his fatness, and the wine that had been in the bottles,
prevented. Thus was I welcomed into the ranks of filibustery. Then
the general man told me his country had the name of Guatemala, and was
the greatest nation laved by any ocean whatever anywhere. He looked
at me with tears in his eyes, and from time to time he would emit the
remark, 'Ah! big, strong, brave mans! That is what my country need.'
"General De Vega, as was the name by which he denounced himself,
brought out a document for me to sign, which I did, makin' a fine
flourish and curlycue with the tail of the 'y.'
"'Your passage-money,' says the general, business-like, 'shall from
your pay be deduct.'
"''Twill not,' says I, haughty. I'll pay my own passage.' A hundred
and eighty dollars I had in my inside pocket, and 'twas no common
filibuster I was goin' to be, filibusterin' for me board and clothes.
"The steamer was to sail in two hours, and I went ashore to get some
things together I'd need. When I came aboard I showed the general
with pride the outfit. 'Twas a fine Chinchilla overcoat, Arctic
overshoes, fur cap and earmuffs, with elegant fleece-lined gloves
and woollen muffler.
"~'Carrambos!~ says the little general. 'What clothes are these that
shall go to the tropic?' And then the little spalpeen laughs, and he
calls the captain, and the captain calls the purser, and they pipe up
the chief engineer, and the whole gang leans against the cabin and
laughs at Clancy's wardrobe for Guatemala.
"I reflects a bit, serious, and asks the general again to denominate
the terms by which his country is called. He tells me, and I see then
that 'twas the t'other one, Kamchatka, I had in mind. Since then I've
had difficulty in separatin' the two nations in name, climate and
"I paid my passage--twenty-four dollars, first cabin--and ate at
table with the officer crowd. Down on the lower deck was a gang
of second-class passengers, about forty of them, seemin' to be Dagoes
and the like. I wondered what so many of them were goin' along for.
"Well, then, in three days we sailed alongside that Guatemala. 'Twas
a blue country, and not yellow as 'tis miscolored on the map. We
landed at a town on the coast, where a train of cars was waitin' for
us on a dinky little railroad. The boxes on the steamer were brought
ashore and loaded on the cars. The gang of Dagoes got aboard, too,
the general and me in the front car. Yes, me and General De Vega
headed the revolution, as it pulled out of the seaport town. That
train travelled about as fast as a policeman goin' to a riot. It
penetrated the most conspicuous lot of fuzzy scenery ever seen outside
a geography. We run some forty miles in seven hours, and the train
stopped. There was no more railroad. 'Twas a sort of camp in a damp
gorge full of wildness and melancholies. They was grading and
choppin' out the forests ahead to continue the road. 'Here,' says
I to myself, 'is the romantic haunt of the revolutionists. Here will
Clancy, by the virtue that is in a superior race and the inculcation
of Fenian tactics, strike a tremendous blow for liberty.'
"They unloaded the boxes from the train and begun to knock the tops
off. From the first one that was open I saw General De Vega take the
Winchester rifles and pass them around to a squad of morbid soldiery.
The other boxes was opened next, and, believe me or not, divil another
gun was to be seen. Every other box in the load was full of pickaxes
"And then--sorrow be upon them tropics--the proud Clancy and
the dishonored Dagoes, each one of them, had to shoulder a pick or
a spade, and march away to work on that dirty little railroad. Yes;
'twas that the Dagoes shipped for, and 'twas that the filibusterin'
Clancy signed for, though unbeknownst to himself at the time. In
after days I found out about it. It seems 'twas hard to get hands
to work on that road. The intelligent natives of the country was
too lazy to work. Indeed, the saints know, 'twas unnecessary. By
stretchin' out one hand, they could seize the most delicate and costly
fruits of the earth, and, by stretchin' out the other, they could
sleep for days at a time without hearin' a seven o'clock whistle
or the footsteps of the rent man upon the stairs. So, regular, the
steamers travelled to the United States to seduce labor. Usually the
imported spade-slingers died in two or three months from eatin' the
over-ripe water and breathing the violent tropical scenery. Wherefore
they made them sign contracts for a year, when they hired them, and
put an armed guard over the poor devils to keep them from runnin'
"'Twas thus I was double-crossed by the tropics through a family
failing of goin' out of the way to hunt disturbances.
"They gave me a pick, and I took it, meditating an insurrection on
the spot; but there was the guards handling the Winchesters careless,
and I come to the conclusion that discretion was the best part of
filibusterin'. There was about a hundred of us in the gang starting
out to work, and the word was given to move. I steps out of the ranks
and goes up to that General De Vega man, who was smokin' a cigar and
gazin' upon the scene with satisfactions and glory. He smiles at me
polite and devilish. 'Plenty work,' says he, 'for big, strong mans
in Guatemala. Yes. Thirty dollars in the month. Good pay. Ah, yes.
You strong, brave man. Bimeby we push those railroad in the capital
very quick. They want you go work now. ~Adios~, strong mans.'
"'Monseer,' says I, lingerin', 'will you tell a poor little Irishman
this: When I set foot on your cockroachy steamer, and breathed
liberal and revolutionary sentiments into your sour wine, did you
think I was conspirin' to sling a pick on your contemptuous little
railroad? And when you answered me with patriotic recitations,
humping up the star-spangled cause of liberty, did you have
meditations of reducin' me to the ranks of the stump-grubbin' Dagoes
in the chain-gangs of your vile and grovelin' country?'
'The general man expanded his rotundity and laughed considerable.
Yes, he laughed very long and loud, and I, Clancy, stood and waited.
"'Comical mans!' he shouts, at last. 'So you will kill me from the
laughing. Yes; it is hard to find the brave, strong mans to aid my
country. Revolutions? Did I speak of r-r-revolutions? Not one
word. I say, big, strong man is need in Guatemala. So. The mistake
is of you. You have looked in those one box containing those gun
for the guard. You think all boxes is contain gun? No.
"'There is not war in Guatemala. But work? Yes. Good. Thirty dollar
in the month. You shall shoulder one pickaxe, senor, and dig for
the liberty and prosperity of Guatemala. Off to your work. The guard
waits for you.'
"'Little, fat, poodle dog of a brown man,' says I, quiet, but full of
indignations and discomforts, 'things shall happen to you. Maybe not
right away, but as soon as J. Clancy can formulate somethin' in the
way of repartee.'
"The boss of the gang orders us to work. I tramps off with the
Dagoes, and I hears the distinguished patriot and kidnapper laughin'
hearty as we go.
"Tis a sorrowful fact, for eight weeks I built railroads for that
misbehavin' country. I filibustered twelve hours a day with a heavy
pick and a spade, choppin' away the luxurious landscape that grew
upon the right of way. We worked in swamps that smelled like there
was a leak in the gas mains, trampin' down a fine assortment of
the most expensive hothouse plants and vegetables. The scene was
tropical beyond the wildest imagination of the geography man. The
trees was all sky-scrapers; the underbrush was full of needles and
pins; there was monkeys jumpin' around and crocodiles and pink-tailed
mockin'-birds, and ye stood knee-deep in the rotten water and grabbled
roots for the liberation of Guatemala. Of nights we would build
smudges in camp to discourage the mosquitoes, and sit in the smoke,
with the guards pacin' all around us. There was two hundred men
working on the road--mostly Dagoes, nigger-men, Spanish-men and
Swedes. Three or four were Irish.
"One old man named Halloran--a man of Hibernian entitlements and
discretions, explained it to me. He had been working on the road
a year. Most of them died in less than six months. He was dried up
to gristle and bone, and shook with chills every third night. "'When
you first come,' says he, 'ye think ye'll leave right away. But they
hold out your first month's pay for your passage over, and by that
time the tropics has its grip on ye. Ye're surrounded by a ragin'
forest full of disreputable beasts--lions and baboons and anacondas--
waiting to devour ye. The sun strikes ye hard, and melts the marrow
in your bones. Ye get similar to the lettuce--eaters the poetry-books
speaks about. Ye forget the elevated sintiments of life, such as
patriotism, revenge, disturbances of the peace and the dacint love of
a clane shirt. Ye do your work, and ye swallow the kerosene ile and
rubber pipestems dished up to ye by the Dago cook for food. Ye light
your pipeful, and say to yourself, "Nixt week I'll break away," and ye
go to sleep and call yersilf a liar, for ye know yell never do it.'
'Who is this general man,' asks I, 'that calls himself De Vega?'
"'Tis the man,' says Halloran, 'who is tryin' to complete the
finishin' of the railroad. 'Twas the project of a private
corporation, but it busted, and then the government took it up.
De Vegy is a big politician, and wants to be president. The people
want the railroad completed, as they're taxed mighty on account of it.
The De Vegy man is pushing it along as a campaign move.'
"''Tis not my way,' says I, 'to make threats against any man, but
there's an account to be settled between the railroad man and James
"''Twas that way I thought, mesilf, at first,' Halloran says, with
a big sigh, 'until I got to be a lettuce-eater. The fault's wid these
tropics. They rejuices a man's system. 'Tis a land, as the poet
says, "Where it always seems to be after dinner." I does me work
and smokes me pipe and sleeps. There's little else in life, anyway.
Ye'll get that way yersilf, mighty soon. Don't be harborin' any
sentiments at all, Clancy.'
"'I can't help it,' says I; I'm full of 'em. I enlisted in the
revolutionary army of this dark country in good faith to fight for
its liberty, honors, and silver candlesticks; instead of which I am
set to amputatin' its scenery and grubbin' its roots. 'Tis the
general man will have to pay for it.'
"Two months I worked on that railroad before I found a chance to get
away. One day a gang of us was sent back to the end of the completed
line to fetch some picks that had been sent down to Port Barrios to
be sharpened. They were brought on a hand-car, and I noticed, when
I started away, that the car was left there on the track.
"That night, about twelve, I woke up Halloran and told him my scheme.
"'Run away?' says Halloran. 'Good Lord, Clancy, do ye mean it? Why,
I ain't got the nerve. It's too chilly, and I ain't slept enough.
Run away? I told you, Clancy, I've eat the lettuce. I've lost my
grip. 'Tis the tropics that's done it. 'Tis like the poet says:
"Forgotten are our friends that we have left behind; in the hollow
lettuce-land we will live and lay reclined." You better go on,
Clancy. I'll stay, I guess. It's too early and cold, and I'm
"So I had to leave Halloran. I dressed quiet, and slipped out
of the tent we were in. When the guard came along I knocked him
over, like a ninepin, with a green coconut I had, and made for the
railroad. I got on that hand-car and made it fly. 'Twas yet a while
before daybreak when I saw the lights of Port Barrios about a mile
away. I stopped the hand-car there and walked to the town. I stepped
inside the corporations of that town with care and hesitations.
I was not afraid of the army of Guatemala, but me soul quaked at
the prospect of a hand-to-hand struggle with its employment bureau.
'Tis a country that hires its help easy and keeps 'em long. Sure I
can fancy Missis America and Missis Guatemala passin' a bit of gossip
some fine, still night across the mountains. 'Oh, dear,' says Missis
America, 'and it's a lot of trouble I'm havin' ag'in with the help,
senora, ma'am.' 'Laws, now!' says Missis Guatemala, 'you don't say
so, ma'am! now, mine never think ofleavin me--te-he! ma'am,' snickers
"I was wonderin' how I was goin' to move away from them tropics
without bein' hired again. Dark as it was, I could see a steamer
ridin' in the harbor, with smoke emergin' from her stacks. I turned
down a little grass street that run down to the water. On the beach
I found a little brown nigger-man just about to shove off in a skiff.
"'Hold on, Sambo,' says I, 'savve English?'
"'Heap plenty, yes,' says he, with a pleasant grin.
"'What steamer is that?' I asks him, 'and where is it going? And
what's the news, and the good word and the time of day?'