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 an audience.
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 Blanchard.
"Where′s Kamchatka?" asked Clancy, with seeming irrelevance.
"Why, off Siberia somewhere in the Arctic regions," somebody answered, doubtfully.
"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 forever.′
"′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 geographic disposition.
"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 spades.
"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′ away.
"′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 O′Dowd Clancy.′
"′′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 sleepy.′
"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 Missis Guatemala.
"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?′
" ′That steamer the ~Conchita~,′ said the brown man, affable and easy, rollin′ a cigarette. ′Him come from New Orleans for load banana. Him got load last night. I think him sail in one, two hour. Verree nice day we shall be goin′ have. You hear some talkee ′bout big battle, maybe so? You think catchee General De Vega, senor? Yes? No?′
"′How′s that, Sambo?′ says I. ′Big battle? What battle? Who wants catchee General De Vega? I′ve been up at my old gold mines in the interior for a couple of months, and haven′t heard any news.′
"′Oh,′ says the nigger-man, proud to speak the English, ′verree great revolution in Guatemala one week ago. General De Vega, him try be president. Him raise armee—one—five—ten thousand mans for fight at the government. Those one government send five—forty—hundred thousand soldier to suppress revolution. They fight big battle yesterday at Lomagrande—that about nineteen or fifty mile in the mountain. That government soldier wheep General De Vega—oh, most bad. Five hundred—nine hundred—two thousand of his mans is kill. That revolution is smash suppress—bust—very quick. General De Vega, him r-r-run away fast on one big mule. Yes, ~carrambos!~ The general, him r-r-run away, and his armee is kill. That government soldier, they try find General De Vega verree much. They want catchee him for shoot. You think they catchee that general, senor?′
"′Saints grant it!′ says I. ′′Twould be the judgment of Providence for settin′ the warlike talent of a Clancy to gradin′ the tropics with a pick and shovel. But ′tis not so much a question of insurrections now, me little man, as ′tis of the hired-man problem. ′Tis anxious I am to resign a situation of responsibility and trust with the white wings department of your great and degraded country. Row me in your little boat out to that steamer, and I′ll give ye five dollars—sinker pacers—sinker pacers,′ says I, reducing the offer to the language and denomination of the tropic dialects.
"′Cinco pesos,′ repeats the little man. Five dollee, you give?′
"′Twas not such a bad little man. He had hesitations at first, sayin′ that passengers leavin′ the country had to have papers and passports, but at last he took me out alongside the steamer.
"Day was just breakin′ as we struck her, and there wasn′t a soul to be seen on board. The water was very still, and the nigger-man gave me a lift from the boat, and I climbed onto the steamer where her side was sliced to the deck for loadin′ fruit. The hatches was open, and I looked down and saw the cargo of bananas that filled the hold to within six feet of the top. I thinks to myself, ′Clancy, you better go as a stowaway. It′s safer. The steamer men might hand you back to the employment bureau. The tropic′ll get you, Clancy, if you don′t watch out.′
"So I jumps down easy among the bananas, and digs out a hole to hide in among the bunches. In an hour or so I could hear the engines goin′, and feel the steamer rockin′, and I knew we were off to sea. They left the hatches open for ventilation, and pretty soon it was light enough in the hold to see fairly well. I got to feelin′ a bit hungry, and thought I′d have a light fruit lunch, by way of refreshment. I creeped out of the hole I′d made and stood up straight. Just then I saw another man crawl up about ten feet away and reach out and skin a banana and stuff it into his mouth. ′Twas a dirty man, black-faced and ragged and disgraceful of aspect. Yes, the man was a ringer for the pictures of the fat Weary Willie in the funny papers. I looked again, and saw it was my general man—De Vega, the great revolutionist, mule-rider and pickaxe importer. When he saw me the general hesitated with his mouth filled with banana and his eyes the size of coconuts.
"′Hist!′ I says. ′Not a word, or they′ll put us off and make us walk. "Veev la Liberty!"′ I adds, copperin′ the sentiment by shovin′ a banana into the source of it. I was certain the general wouldn′t recognize me. The nefarious work of the tropics had left me lookin′ different. There was half an inch of roan whiskers coverin′ me face, and me costume was a pair of blue overalls and a red shirt.
"′How you come in the ship, senor?′ asked the general as soon as he could speak.
"′By the back door—whist!′ says I. ′′Twas a glorious blow for liberty we struck,′ I continues; ′but we was overpowered by numbers. Let us accept our defeat like brave men and eat another banana.′
"′Were you in the cause of liberty fightin′, senor?′ says the general, sheddin′ tears on the cargo.
"′To the last,′ says I. ′′Twas I led the last desperate charge against the minions of the tyrant. But it made them mad, and we was forced to retreat. ′Twas I, general, procured the mule upon which you escaped. Could you give that ripe bunch a little boost this way, general? It′s a bit out of my reach. Thanks.′
"′Say you so, brave patriot?′ said the general, again weepin′. ′Ah, ~Dios!~ And I have not the means to reward your devotion. Barely did I my life bring away. ~Carrambos!~ what a devil′s animal was that mule, senor! Like ships in one storm was I dashed about. The skin on myself was ripped away with the thorns and vines. Upon the bark of a hundred trees did that beast of the infernal bump, and cause outrage to the legs of mine. In the night to Port Barrios I came. I dispossess myself of that mountain of mule and hasten along the water shore. I find a little boat to be tied. I launch myself and row to the steamer. I cannot see any mans on board, so I climbed one rope which hang at the side. I then myself hide in the bananas. Surely, I say, if the ship captains view me, they shall throw me again to those Guatemala. Those things are not good. Guatemala will shoot General De Vega. Therefore, I am hide and remain silent. Life itself is glorious. Liberty, it is pretty good; but so good as life I do not think.′
"Three days, as I said, was the trip to New Orleans. The general man and me got to be cronies of the deepest dye. Bananas we ate until they were distasteful to the sight and an eyesore to the palate, but to bananas alone was the bill of fare reduced. At night I crawls out, careful, on the lower deck, and gets a bucketful of fresh water.
"That General De Vega was a man inhabited by an engorgement of words and sentences. He added to the monotony of the voyage by divestin′ himself of conversation. He believed I was a revolutionist of his own party, there bein′ as he told me, a good many Americans and other foreigners in its ranks. ′Twas a braggart and a conceited little gabbler it was, though he considered himself a hero. ′Twas on himself he wasted all his regrets at the failing of his plot. Not a word did the little balloon have to say about the other misbehaving idiots that had been shot, or run themselves to death in his revolution.
"The second day out he was feelin′ pretty braggy and uppish for a stowed-away conspirator that owed his existence to a mule and stolen bananas. He was tellin′ me about the great railroad he had been buildin′, and he relates what he calls a comic incident about a fool Irishman he inveigled from New Orleans to sling a pick on his little morgue of a narrow-gauge line. ′Twas sorrowful to hear the little, dirty general tell the opprobrious story of how he put salt upon the tail of that reckless and silly bird, Clancy. Laugh, he did, hearty and long. He shook with laughin′, the black-faced rebel and outcast, standing neck-deep in bananas, without friends or country.
"′Ah, senor,′ he snickers, ′to death you would have laughed at that drollest Irish. I say to him: "Strong, big mans is need very much in Guatemala." "I will blows strike for your down-pressed country," he say. "That shall you do," I tell him. Ah! it was an Irish so comic. He sees one box break upon the wharf that contain for the guard a few gun. He think there is gun in all the box. But that is all pickaxe. Yes. Ah! senor, could you the face of that Irish have seen when they set him to the work!′
"′Twas thus the ex-boss of the employment bureau contributed to the tedium of the trip with merry jests and anecdote. But now and then he would weep upon the bananas and make oration about the lost cause of liberty and the mule.
"′Twas a pleasant sound when the steamer bumped against the pier in New Orleans. Pretty soon we heard the pat-a-pat of hundreds of bare feet, and the Dago gang that unloads the fruit jumped on the deck and down into the hold. Me and the general worked a while at passing up the bunches, and they thought we were part of the gang. After about an hour we managed to slip off the steamer onto the wharf.
"′Twas a great honor on the hands of an obscure Clancy, havin′ the entertainment of the representative of a great foreign filibustering power. I first bought for the general and myself many long drinks and things to eat that were not bananas. The general man trotted along at my side, leaving all the arrangements to me. I led him up to Lafayette Square and set him on a bench in the little park. Cigarettes I had bought for him, and he humped himself down on the seat like a little, fat, contented hobo. I look him over as he sets there, and what I see pleases me. Brown by nature and instinct, he is now brindled with dirt and dust. Praise to the mule, his clothes is mostly strings and flaps. Yes, the looks of the general man is agreeable to Clancy.
"I asks him, delicate, if, by any chance, he brought away anybody′s money with him from Guatemala. He sighs and humps his shoulders against the bench. Not a cent. All right. Maybe, he tells me, some of his friends in the tropic outfit will send him funds later. The general was as clear a case of no visible means as I ever saw.
"I told him not to move from the bench, and then I went up to the corner of Poydras and Carondelet. Along there is O′Hara′s beat. In five minutes along comes O′Hara, a big, fine man, red-faced, with shinin′ buttons, swinging his club. ′Twould be a fine thing for Guatemala to move into O′Hara′s precinct. ′Twould be a fine bit of recreation for Danny to suppress revolutions and uprisins once or twice a week with his club.
"′Is 5046 workin′ yet, Danny?′ says I, walking up to him.
"′Overtime,′ says O′Hara, looking over me suspicious. ′Want some of it?′
"Fifty-forty-six is the celebrated city ordinance authorizing arrest, conviction and imprisonment of persons that succeed in concealing their crimes from the police.
"′Don′t ye know Jimmy Clancy?′ says I. ′Ye pink-gilled monster.′ So, when O′Hara recognized me beneath the scandalous exterior bestowed upon me by the tropics, I backed him into a doorway and told him what I wanted, and why I wanted it. ′All right, Jimmy,′ says O′Hara. ′Go back and hold the bench. I′ll be along in ten minutes.′
"In that time O′Hara strolled through Lafayette Square and spied two Weary Willies disgracin′ one of the benches. In ten minutes more J. Clancy and General De Vega, late candidate for the presidency of Guatemala, was in the station house. The general is badly frightened, and calls upon me to proclaim his distinguishments and rank.
"′The man,′ says I to the police, ′used to be a railroad man. He′s on the bum now. ′Tis a little bughouse he is, on account of losin′ his job.′
"′~Carrambos!~′ says the general, fizzin′ like a little soda-fountain, ′you fought, senor, with my forces in my native country. Why do you say the lies? You shall say I am the General De Vega, one soldier, one ~caballero~—′
"′Railroader,′ says I again. ′On the hog. No good. Been livin′ for three days on stolen bananas. Look at him. Ain′t that enough?′
"Twenty-five dollars or sixty days, was what the recorder gave the general. He didn′t have a cent, so he took the time. They let me go, as I knew they would, for I had money to show, and O′Hara spoke for me. Yes; sixty days he got. ′Twas just so long as I slung a pick for the great country of Kam—Guatemala."
Clancy paused. The bright starlight showed a reminiscent look of happy content on his seasoned features. Keogh leaned in his chair and gave his partner a slap on his thinly clad back that sounded like the crack of the surf on the sands.
"Tell ′em, ye divil," he chuckled, "how you got even with the tropical general in the way of agricultural maneuverings."
"′Having no money," concluded Clancy, with unction, "they set him to work his fine out with a gang from the parish prison clearing Ursulines Street. Around the corner was a saloon decorated genially with electric fans and cool merchandise. I made that me headquarters, and every fifteen minutes I′d walk around and take a look at the little man filibusterin′ with a rake and shovel. ′Twas just such a hot broth of a day as this has been. And I′d call at him ′Hey, monseer!′ and he′d look at me black, with the damp showin′ through his shirt in places.
"′Fat, strong mans,′ says I to General De Vega, ′is needed in New Orleans. Yes. To carry on the good work. Carrambos! Erin go bragh!"