The Proem "Fox-in-the-Morning"


НазваниеThe Proem "Fox-in-the-Morning"
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and deduction. He had taken up political intrigue as a matter of

business. He was acute enough to wield a certain influence among

the leading schemers, and he was prosperous enough to be able to

purchase the respect of the petty-officeholders. There was always

a revolutionary party; and to it he had allied himself; for the

adherents of a new administration received the rewards of their

labors. There was now a Liberal party seeking to overturn President

Miraflores. If the wheel successfully revolved, Goodwin stood to win

a concession to 30,000 manzanas of the finest coffee lands in the

interior. Certain incidents in the recent career of President

Miraflores had excited a shrewd suspicion in Goodwin's mind that the

government was near a dissolution from another cause than that of a

revolution, and now Englehart's telegram had come as a corroboration

of his wisdom.
The telegram, which had remained unintelligible to the Anchurian

linguists who had applied to it in vain their knowledge of Spanish

and elemental English, conveyed a stimulating piece of news to

Goodwin's understanding. It informed him that the president of the

republic had decamped from the capital city with the contents of the

treasury. Furthermore, that he was accompanied in his flight by that

winning adventuress Isabel Guilbert, the opera singer, whose troupe

of performers had been entertained by the president at San Mateo

during the past month on a scale less modest than that with which

royal visitors are often content. The reference to the "jackrabbit

line" could mean nothing else than the mule-back system of transport

that prevailed between Coralio and the capital. The hint that the

"boodle" was "six figures short" made the condition of the national

treasury lamentably clear. Also it was convincingly true that the

ingoing party--its way now made a pacific one--would need the

"spondulicks." Unless its pledges should be fulfilled, and the

spoils held for the delectation of the victors, precarious indeed,

would be the position of the new government. Therefore it was

exceeding necessary to "collar the main guy," and recapture the

sinews of war and government.
Goodwin handed the message to Keogh.
"Read that, Billy," he said. "It's from Bob Englehart. Can you

manage the cipher?"
Keogh sat in the other half of the doorway, and carefully perused

the telegram.
"'Tis not a cipher," he said, finally. "'Tis what they call

literature, and that's a system of language put in the mouths

of people that they've never been introduced to by writers of

imagination. The magazines invented it, but I never knew before that

President Norvin Green had stamped it with the seal of his approval.

'Tis now no longer literature, but language. The dictionaries tried,

but they couldn't make it go for anything but dialect. Sure, now

that the Western Union indorses it, it won't be long till a race of

people will spring up that speaks it."
"You're running too much to philology, Billy," said Goodwin. "Do you

make out the meaning of it?"
"Sure," replied the philosopher of Fortune. "All languages come easy

to the man who must know 'em. I've even failed to misunderstand an

order to evacuate in classical Chinese when it was backed up by the

muzzle of a breech-loader. This little literary essay I hold in my

hands means a game of Fox-in-the-Morning. Ever play that, Frank,

when you was a kid?"
"I think so," said Goodwin, laughing. "You join hands all 'round,

and--"
"You do not," interrupted Keogh. "You've got a fine sporting game

mixed up in your head with 'All Around the Rosebush.' The spirit of

'Fox-in-the-Morning' is opposed to the holding of hands. I'll tell

you how it's played. This president man and his companion in play,

they stand up over in San Mateo, ready for the run, and shout:

"Fox-in-the-Morning!' Me and you, standing here, we say: 'Goose

and Gander!' They say: 'How many miles is it to London town?' We

say: 'Only a few, if your legs are long enough. How many comes out?'

They say: 'More than you're able to catch.' And then the game

commences."
"I catch the idea," said Goodwin. "It won't do to let the goose

and gander slip through your fingers, Billy; their feathers are too

valuable. Our crowd is prepared and able to step into the shoes

of the government at once; but with the treasury empty we'd stay

in power about as long as a tenderfoot would stick on an untamed

bronco. We must play the fox on every foot of the coast to prevent

their getting out of the country."
"By the mule-back schedule," said Keogh, "it's five days down from

San Mateo. We've got plenty of time to set our outposts. There's

only three places on the coast where they can hope to sail from--here

and Solitas and Alazan. They're the only points we'll have to guard.

It's as easy as a chess problem--fox to play, and mate in three

moves. Oh, goosey, goosey, gander, whither do you wander? By the

blessing of the literary telegraph the boodle of this benighted

fatherland shall be preserved to the honest political party that

is seeking to overthrow it."
The situation had been justly outlined by Keogh. The down trail

from the capital was at all times a weary road to travel. A jiggety-

joggety journey it was; ice-cold and hot, wet and dry. The trail

climbed appalling mountains, wound like a rotten string about the

brows of breathless precipices, plunged through chilling snow-fed

streams, and wriggled like a snake through sunless forests teeming

with menacing insect and animal life. After descending to the

foothills it turned to a trident, the central prong ending at Alazan.

Another branched off to Coralio; the third penetrated to Solitas.

Between the sea and the foothills stretched the five miles breadth

of alluvial coast. Here was the flora ofthe tropics in its rankest

and most prodigal growth. Spaces here and there had been wrested

from the jungle and planted with bananas and cane and orange groves.

The rest was a riot of wild vegetation, the home of monkeys, tapirs,

jaguars, alligators, and prodigious reptiles and insects. Where no

road was cut a serpent could scarcely make its way through the tangle

of vines and creepers. Across the treacherous mangrove swamps few

things without wings could safely pass. Therefore the fugitives

could hope to reach the coast only by one of the routes named.
"Keep the matter quiet, Billy," advised Goodwin. "We don't want

the Ins to know that the president is in flight. I suppose Bob's

information is something of a scoop in the capital as yet. Otherwise

he would not have tried to make his message a confidential one; and,

besides, everybody would have heard the news. I'm going around now

to see Dr. Zavalla, and start a man up the trail to cut the telegraph

wire."
As Goodwin rose, Keogh threw his hat upon the grass by the door and

expelled a tremendous sigh.
"What's the trouble, Billy?" asked Goodwin, pausing. "That's the

first time I heard you sigh."
"'Tis the last," said Keogh. "With that sorrowful puff of wind

I resign myself to a life of praiseworthy but harassing honesty.

What are tintypes, if you please, to the opportunities of the great

and hilarious class of ganders and geese? Not that I would be a

president, Frank--and the boodle he's got is too big for me to handle

--but in some ways I feel my conscience hurting me for addicting

myself to photographing a nation instead of running away with it.

Frank, did you ever see the 'bundle of muslin' that His Excellency

has wrapped up and carried off?"
"Isabel Guilbert?" said Goodwin, laughing. "No, I never did. From

what I've heard of her, though, I imagine that she wouldn't stick at

anything to carry her point. Don't get romantic, Billy. Sometimes

I begin to fear that there's Irish blood in your ancestry."
"I never saw her either," went on Keogh; "but they say she's got all

the ladies of mythology, sculpture, and fiction reduced to chromos.

They say she can look at a man once, and he'll turn monkey and climb

trees to pick coconuts for her. Think of that president man with

Lord know how many hundreds of thousands of dollars in one hand,

and this muslin siren in the other, galloping down the hill on a

sympathetic mule amid songbirds and flowers! And here is Billy

Keogh, because he is virtuous, condemned to the unprofitable swindle

of slandering the faces of missing links on tin for an honest living!

'Tis an injustice of nature."
"Cheer up," said Goodwin. "You are a pretty poor fox to be envying

a gander. Maybe the enchanting Guilbert will take a fancy to you and

your tintypes after we impoverish her royal escort."
"She could do worse," reflected Keogh; "but she won't. 'Tis not

a tintype gallery, but a gallery of the gods that she's fitted to

adorn. She's a very wicked lady, and the president man is in luck.

But I hear Clancy swearing in the back room for having to do all the

work." And Keogh plunged for the rear of the "gallery," whistling

gaily in a spontaneous way that belied his recent sigh over the

questionable good luck of the flying president.
Goodwin turned from the main street into a much narrower one that

intersected it at a right angle.
These side streets were covered by a growth of thick, rank grass,

which was kept to a navigable shortness by the machetes of the

police. Stone sidewalks, little more than a ledge in width, ran

along the base of the mean and monotonous adobe houses. At the

outskirts of the village these streets dwindled to nothing; and here

were set the palm-thatched huts of the Caribs and the poorer natives,

and the shabby cabins of negroes from Jamaica and the West India

islands. A few structures raised their heads above the red-tiled

roofs of the one-story houses--the bell tower of the ~Calaboza~,

the Hotel de los Extranjeros, the residence of the Vesuvius Fruit

Company's agent, the store and residence of Bernard Brannigan,

a ruined cathedral in which Columbus had once set foot, and, most

imposing of all, the Casa Morena--the summer "White House" of

the President of Anchuria. On the principal street running along

the beach--the Broadway of Coralio--were the larger stores, the

government ~bodega~ and post-office, the ~cuartel~, the rum-shops

and the market place.
On his way Goodwin passed the house of Bernard Brannigan. It was a

modern wooden building, two stories in height. The ground floor was

occupied by Brannigan's store, the upper one contained the living

apartments. A wide cool porch ran around the house half way up its

outer walls. A handsome, vivacious girl neatly dressed in flowing

white leaned over the railing and smiled down upon Goodwin. She was

no darker than many an Andalusian of high descent; and she sparkled

and glowed like a tropical moonlight.
"Good evening, Miss Paula," said Goodwin, taking off his hat, with

his ready smile. There was little difference in his manner whether

he addressed women or men. Everybody in Coralio liked to receive

the salutation of the big American.
"Is there any news, Mr. Goodwin? Please don't say no. Isn't it

warm? I feel just like Mariana in her moated grange--or was it a

range?--it's hot enough."
"No, there's no news to tell, I believe," said Goodwin, with a

mischievous look in his eye, "except that old Geddie is getting

grumpier and crosser every day. If something doesn't happen to

relieve his mind I'll have to quit smoking on his back porch--and

there's no other place available that is cool enough."
"He isn't grumpy," said Paula Brannigan, impulsively, "when he--"
But she ceased suddenly, and drew back with a deepening color;

for her mother had been a ~mestizo~ lady, and the Spanish blood

had brought to Paula a certain shyness that was an adornment to

the other half of her demonstrative nature.


II
The Lotus And The Bottle
Willard Greddie, consul for the United States in Coralio, was working

leisurely on his yearly report. Goodwin, who had strolled in as he

did daily for a smoke on the much coveted porch, had found him so

absorbed in his work that he departed after roundly abusing the

consul for his lack of hospitality.
"I shall complain to the civil service department," said Goodwin;--

"or is it a department?--perhaps it's only a theory. One gets neither

civility nor service from you. You won't talk; and you won't set out

anything to drink. What kind of a way is that of representing your

government?"
Goodwin strolled out and across to the hotel to see if he could bully

the quarantine doctor into a game on Coralio's solitary billiard

table. His plans were completed for the interception of the

fugitives from the capital; and now it was but a waiting game that

he had to play.
The consul was interested in his report. He was only twenty-four;

and he had not been in Coralio long enough for his enthusiasm to cool

in the heat of the tropics--a paradox that may be allowed between

Cancer and Capricorn.
So many thousand bunches of bananas, so mnay thousand oranges and

coconuts, so many ounces of gold dust, pounds of rubber, coffee,

indigo and sarparilla--actually, exports were twenty per cent greater

than for the previous year!
A little thrill of satisfaction ran through the consul. Perhaps,

he thought, the State Department, upon reading his introduction,

would notice--and then he leaned back in his chair and laughed.

He was getting as bad as the others. For the moment he had forgotten

that Coralio was an insignificant republic lying along the by-ways

of a second-rate sea. He thought of Gregg, the quarantine doctor,

who subscribed for the London ~Lancet~, expecting to find it quoting

his reports to the home Board of Health concerning the yellow fever

germ. The consul knew that not one in fifty of his acquaintances in

the States had ever heard of Coralio. He knew that two men, at any

rate, would have to read his report--some underling in the State

Department and a compositor in the Public Printing Office. Perhaps

the typesticker would note the increase of commerce in Coralio, and

speak of it, over the cheese and beer, to a friend.
He had just written: "Most unaccountable is the supineness of the

large exporters in the United States in permitting the French and
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