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mine. It's a sight-draft on your president man for twenty thousand dollars — yes, sir -- twenty thousand this time, and no spoiling the picture. No ethics of art in the way. Art! You with your smelly little tubes! I've got you skinned to death with a kodak. Take a look at that.”
White took the picture in his hand, and gave a long whistle.
“Jove!” he exclaimed, “but wouldn't that stir up a row in town if you let it be seen. How in the world did you get it, Billy?"
“You know that high wall around the president man's back garden? I was up there trying to get a bird's-eye of the town. I happened to notice a chink in the wall where a stone and a lot of plaster had slid out. Thinks I, I'll take a peep through to see how Mr. President's cabbages are growing. The first thing I saw was him and this Sir Englishman sitting at a little table about twenty feet away. They had the table all spread over with documents, and they were hobnobbing over them as thick as two pirates. 'Twas a nice corner of the garden, all private and shady with palms and orange trees, and
they had a pail of champagne set by handy in the grass. I knew then was the time for me to make my big hit in Art. So I raised the machine up to the crack, and pressed the button. Just as I did so them old boys shook hands on the seal — you see they took that way in the picture.”
Keogh put on his coat and hat. “What are you going to do with it?" asked White.
“Me,” said Keogh in a hurt tone, “why, I'm going to tie a pink ribbon to it and hang it on the what-no of course. I'm surprised at you. But while I'm out you just try to figure out what ginger-cake potentate would be most likely to want to buy this work of art for his private collection - just to keep it out of circulation.”
The sunset was reddening the tops of the cocoanut palms when Billy Keogh came back from Casa Morena. He nodded to the artist's questioning gaze; and lay down on a cot with his hands under the back of his head.
“I saw him. He paid the money like a little man. They didn't want to let me in at first. I told 'em it was important. Yes, that president man is on the
plenty-able list. He's got a beautiful business system about the way he uses his brains. All I had to do was to hold up the photograph so he could see it, and name the price. He just smiled, and walked over to a safe and got the cash. Twenty one-thousand-dollar brand-new United States Treasury notes he laid on the table, like I'd pay out a dollar and a quarter. Fine notes, too — they crackled with a sound like burning the brush off a ten-acre lot.”
“Let's try the feel of one,” said White, curiously. “I never saw a thousand-dollar bill.” Keogh did not immediately respond.
“Carry,” he said, in an absent-minded way, "you think a heap of your art, don't you?”
“More," said White, frankly, “than has been for the financial good of myself and my friends."
"I thought you were a fool the other day,” went on Keogh, quietly, “and I'm not sure now that you wasn't. But if you was, so am I. I've been in some funny deals, Carry, but I've always managed to scramblefair, and match my brains and capital against the other fellow's. But when it comes to — well, when you've got the other fellow cinched, and the screws on him, and he's got to put up – why, it don't strike me as being a man's game. They've got a name for it, you know; it's --- confound you, don't you understand. A fellow feels — it's something like that blamed art of yours -- he well, I tore that photograph up and laid the pieces on that stack of money and shoved the whole business back across the table. ‘Excuse me, Mr. Losada,' I said, 'but I guess I've made a mistake in the price. You get the photo for nothing. Now, Carry, you get out the pencil, and we'll do some more figuring. I'd like to save enough out of our capital for you to have some fried sausages in your joint when you get back to New York.”
THERE is little consecutiveness along the Spanish Main. Things happen there intermittently. Even Time seems to hang his scythe daily on the branch of an orange tree while he takes a siesta and a cigarette.
After the ineffectual revolt against the administration of President Losada, the country settled again into quiet toleration of the abuses with which he had been charged. In Coralio old political enemies went arm-in-arm, lightly eschewing for the time all differences of opinion.
The failure of the art expedition did not stretch the cat-footed Keogh upon his back. The ups and downs of Fortune made smooth travelling for his nimble steps. His blue pencil stub was at work again be