Скачать 0.79 Mb.
monkeys, and coconuts, and parrots down here--is that right?"
"We have them all," said Geddie. "I'm quite sure that our fauna and
flora would take a prize over Central Park."
"Maybe they would," admitted Smith, cheerfully. "I haven't seen them
yet. But I guess you've got us skinned on the animal and vegetation
question. You don't have much travel here, do you?"
"Travel?" queried the consul. "I suppose you mean passengers on
steamers. No; very few people land in Coralio. An investor now and
then--tourists and sightseers generally go further down the coast to
one of the larger towns where there is a harbor."
"I see a ship out there loading up with bananas," said Smith. "Any
passengers come on her?"
"That's the ~Karlesfin~," said the consul. "She's a tramp fruiter--
made her last trip to New York, I believe. No; she brought no
passengers. I saw her boat come ashore, and there was no one. About
the only exciting recreation we have here is watching steamers when
they arrive; and a passenger on one of them generally causes the
whole town to turn out. If you are going to remain in Coralio
a while, Mr. Smith, I'll be glad to take you around to meet some
people. There are four or five American chaps that are good to know,
besides the native high-fliers."
"Thanks," said the yachtsman, "but I wouldn't put you the trouble.
I'd like to meet the guys you speak of, but I won't be here long
enough to do much knocking around. That cool gent on the beach spoke
of a doctor; can you tell me where to find him? The ~Rambler~ ain't
quite as steady on her feet as a Broadway hotel; and a fellow gets
a touch of seasickness now and then. Thought I'd strike the croaker
for a handful of the little sugar pills, in case I need 'em."
"You will be apt to find Doctor Gregg at the hotel," said the consul.
"You can see it from the door--it's that two-story building with the
balcony, where the orange-trees are."
The Hotel de los Extranjeros was a dreary hostelry, in great disuse
both by strangers and friends. It stood at a corner of the Street
of the Holy Sepulchre. A grove of small orange-trees crowded against
one side of it, enclosed by a low, rock wall over which a tall man
might easily step. The house was of plastered adobe, stained a
hundred shades of color by the salt breeze and the sun. Upon its
upper balcony opened a central door and two windows containing broad
jalousies instead of sashes.
The lower floor communicated by two doorways with the narrow,
rock-paved sidewalk. The ~pulperia~--or drinking shop--of the
proprietess, Madama Timotea Ortiz, occupied the ground floor. On
the bottles of brandy, ~anisada~, Scotch "smoke," and inexpensive
wines behind the little counter the dust lay thick save where the
fingers of infrequent customers had left irregular prints. The upper
story contained four or five guest-rooms which were rarely put to
their destined use. Sometimes a fruitgrower, riding in from his
plantation to confer with his agent, would pass a melancholy night
in the dismal upper story; sometimes a minor native official on some
trifling government quest would have his pomp and majesty awed by
Madama's sepulchral hospitality. But Madama sat behind her bar
content, not desiring to quarrel with Fate. If any one required
meat, drink or lodging at the Hotel de los Extranjeros they had but
to come, and be served. ~Esta bueno~. If they came not, why, then,
they came not. ~Esta bueno~.
As the exceptional yachtsman was making his way down the precarious
sidewalk of the Street of the Holy Sepulchre, the solitary permanent
guest of that decaying hotel sat at its door, enjoying the breeze
from the sea.
Doctor Gregg, the quarantine physician, was a man of fifty or sixty,
with a florid face and the longest beard between Topeka and Terra
del Fuego. He held his position by virtue of an appointment by
the Board of Health of a seaport city in one of the Southern states.
That city feared the ancient enemy of every Southern seaport--the
yellow fever--and it was the duty of Doctor Gregg to examine crew and
passengers of every vessel leaving Coralio for preliminary symptoms.
The duties were light, and the salary, for one who lived in Coralio,
ample. Surplus time there was in plenty; and the good doctor added
to his gains by a large private practice among the residents of the
coast. The fact that he did not know ten words of Spanish was no
obstacle; a pulse could be felt and a fee collected without one being
a linguist. Add to the description the facts that the doctor had
a story to tell concerning the operation of trepanning which no
listener had ever allowed him to conclude, and that he believed
in brandy as a prophylactic; and the special points of interest
possessed by Doctor Gregg will have become exhausted.
The doctor had dragged a chair to the sidewalk. He was coatless,
and he leaned back against the wall and smoked, while he stroked his
beard. Surprise came into his pale blue eyes when he caught sight
of Smith in his unusual and prismatic clothes.
"You're Doctor Gregg--is that right?" said Smith, feeling the dog's
head pin in his tie. "The constable--I mean the consul, told me
you hung out at this caravansary. My name's Smith; and I came in a
yacht. Taking a cruise around, looking at the monkeys and pineapple-
trees. Come inside and have a drink, Doc. This cafe looks on the
blink, but I guess it can set out something wet."
"I will join you, sir, in just a taste of brandy," said Doctor Gregg,
rising quickly. "I find that as a prophylactic a little brandy is
almost a necessity in this climate."
As they turned to enter the ~pulperia~ a native man, barefoot,
glided noiselessly up and addressed the doctor in Spanish. He was
yellowish-brown, like an over-ripe lemon; he wore a cotton shirt and
ragged linen trousers girded by a leather belt. His face was like
an animal's, live and wary, but without promise of much intelligence.
This man jabbered with animation and so much seriousness that it
seemed a pity that his words were to be wasted.
Doctor Gregg felt his pulse.
"You sick?" he inquired.
"~Mi mujer es enferma en la casa,~" said the man, thus endeavoring
to convey the news, in the only language open to him, that his wife
lay ill in her palm-thatched hut.
The doctor drew a handful of capsules filled with a white powder from
his trousers pocket. He counted out ten of them into the native's
hand, and held up his forefinger impressively.
"Take one," said the doctor, "every two hours." He then held up two
fingers, shaking them emphatically before the native's face. Next he
pulled out his watch and ran his finger round the dial twice. Again
the two fingers confronted the patient's nose. "Two--two--two
hours," repeated the doctor.
"~Si, Senor,~" said the native, sadly.
He pulled a cheap silver watch from his own pocket and laid it in
the doctor's hand. "Me bring," said he, struggling painfully with
his scant English, "other watchy tomorrow," then he departed
downheartedly with his capsules.
"A very ignorant race of people, sir," said the doctor, as he slipped
the watch into his pocket. "He seems to have mistaken my directions
for taking the physic for the fee. However, it is all right. He owes
me an account, anyway. The chances are that he won't bring the other
watch. You can't depend on anything they promise you. About that
drink, now? How did you come to Coralio, Mr. Smith? I was not aware
that any boats except the ~Karlesfin~ had arrived for some days."
The two leaned against the deserted bar; and Madama set out a bottle
without waiting for the doctor's order. There was no dust on it.
After they had drank twice Smith said:
"You say there were no passengers on the ~Karlesfin~, Doc? Are you
sure about that? It seems to me I heard somebody down on the beach
say that there was one or two aboard."
"They were mistaken, sir. I myself went out and put all hands
through a medical examination, as usual. The ~Karlesfin~ sails
as soon as she gets her bananas loaded, which will be about daylight
in the morning, and she got everything ready this afternoon. No,
sir, there was no passenger list. Like that Three-Star? A French
schooner landed two slooploads of it a month ago. If any customs
duties on it went to the distinguished republic of Anchuria you may
have my hat. If you won't have another, come out and let's sit
in the cool a while. It isn't often we exiles get a chance to talk
with somebody from the outside world."
The doctor brought out another chair to the sidewalk for his new
acquaintance. The two seated themselves.
"You are a man of the world," said Doctor Gregg; "a man of travel
and experience. Your decision in a matter of ethics and, no doubt,
on the points of equity, ability and professional probity should be
of value. I would be glad if you will listen to the history of a
case that I think stands unique in medical annals.
"About nine years ago, while I was engaged in the practice of
medicine in my native city, I was called to treat a case of contusion
of the skull. I made the diagnosis that a splinter of bone was
pressing upon the brain, and that the surgical operation known as
trepanning was required. However, as the patient was a gentleman
of wealth and position, I called in for consultation Doctor--"
Smith rose from his chair, and laid a hand, soft with apology,
upon the doctor's shirt sleeve.
"Say, Doc," he said, solemnly, "I want to hear that story. You've
got me interrested; and I don't want to miss the rest of it. I know
it's a loola by the way it begins; and I want to tell it at the next
meeting of the Barney O'Flynn Association, if you don't mind.
But I've got one or two matters to attend to first. If I get 'em
attended to in time I'll come right back and hear you spiel the rest
before bedtime--is that right?"
"By all means," said the doctor, "get your business attended to,
and then return. I shall wait up for you. You see, one of the most
prominent physicians at the consultation diagnosed the trouble as
a blood clot; another said it was an abscess, but I--"
"Don't tell me now, Doc. Don't spoil the story. Wait till I come
back. I want to hear it as it runs off the reel--is that right?"
The mountains reached up their bulky shoulders to receive the level
gallop of Apollo's homing steeds, the day died in the lagoons and
in the shadowed banana groves and in the mangrove swamps, where the
great blue crabs were beginning to crawl to land for their nightly
ramble. And it died, at last, upon the highest peaks. Then the
brief twilight, ephemeral as the flight of a moth, came and went;
the Southern Cross peeped with its topmost eye above a row of palms,
and the fire-flies heralded with their torches and approach of
In the offing the ~Karlesfin~ swayed at anchor, her lights seeming
to penetrate the water to countless fathoms with their shimmering,
lanceolate reflections. The Caribs were busy loading her by means
of the great lighters heaped full from the piles of fruit ranged upon
On the sandy beach, with his back against a coconut-tree and the stubs
of many cigars lying around him, Smith sat waiting, never relaxing
his sharp gaze in the direction of the steamer.
The incongruous yachtsman had concentrated his interest upon the
innocent fruiter. Twice had he been assured that no passengers had
come to Coralio on board of her. And yet, with a persistence not to
be attributed to an idling voyager, he had appealed the case to the
higher court of his own eyesight. Surprisingly like some gay-coated
lizard, he crouched at the foot of the coconut palm, and with the
beady, shifting eyes of the selfsame reptile, sustained his espionage
on the ~Karlesfin~.
On the white sands a whiter gig belonging to the yacht was drawn up,
guarded by one of the white-ducked crew. Not far away in a ~pulperia~
on the shore-following Calle Grande three other sailors swaggerred
with their cues around Coralio's solitary billiard-table. The boat
lay there as if under orders to be ready for use at any moment.
There was in the atmosphere a hint of expectation, of waiting for
something to occur, which was foreign to the air of Coralio.
Like some passing bird of brilliant plumage, Smith alights on this
palmy shore but to preen his wings for an instant and then to fly
away upon silent pinions. When morning dawned there was no Smith,
no waiting gig, no yacht in the offing, Smith left no intimation of
his mission there, no footprints to show where he had followed the
trail of his mystery on the sands of Coralio that night. He came;
he spake his strange jargon of the asphalt and the cafes; he sat
under the coconut-tree, and vanished. The next morning Coralio,
Smithless, ate its fried plantain and said: "The man of pictured
clothing went himself away." With the ~siesta~ the incident passed,
yawning, into history.
So, for a time, must Smith pass behind the scenes of the play.
He comes no more to Coralio, nor to Doctor Gregg, who sits in vain,
wagging his redundant beard, waiting to enrich his derelict audience
with his moving tale of trepanning and jealousy.
But prosperously to the lucidity of these loose pages, Smith shall
flutter among them again. In the nick of time he shall come to tell
us why he strewed so many anxious cigar stumps around the coconut
palm that night. This he must do; for, when he sailed away before
the dawn in his yacht ~Rambler~, he carried with him the answer to
a riddle so big and preposterous that few in Anchuria had ventured
even to propound it.
The plans for the detention of the flying President Miraflores and
his companion at the coast line seemed hardly likely to fail. Doctor
Zavalla himself had gone to the port of Alazan to establish a guard
at that point. At Solitas the Liberal patriot Varras could be
depended upon to keep close watch. Goodwin held himself responsible
for the district about Coralio.
The news of the president's flight had been disclosed to no one in
the coast towns save trusted members of the ambitious political party
that was desirous of succeeding to power. The telegraph wire running
from San Mateo to the coast had been cut far up on the mountain trail
|Кто не знает. В слове fox зашифровано число 666. Несмотря на то что...|
Уильямом Фоксом в 1915 г, в ходе слияния с Twentieth Century Pictures основанной в 1933 г появилась компания 20th Century Fox (20...
|Morning News «Информатор»|
|Английский язык с Мэри Поппинс Mary Poppins (Мэри Поппинс)|
«по вашу правую /руку/»), second to your left потом: «вторым /пунктом/» — налево), sharp right again (направо снова; sharp — острый;...
|Отчет о мультигонке Red Fox Adventure Race 2012. Поселок Чупа, Республика Карелия, Белое море|
Кв 60 часов, 120 км – велосипед, 25 км – горная река (водного опыта нет совсем, этап сильно пугает), 50 км – трекинг, 50 км – морская...