« IndietroContinua »
citizens of the republic. Hero of three wars and innumerable revolutions, he was an honoured guest at European courts and camps. An eloquent speaker and a friend to the people, he represented the highest type of the Anchurians.
Holding in his hand the gilt keys of Casa Morena, he began his address in a historical form, touching upon each administration and the advance of civilization and prosperity from the first dim striving after liberty down to present times. Arriving at the régime of President Losada, at which point, according to precedent, he should have delivered a eulogy upon its wise conduct and the happiness of the people, General Pilar paused. Then he silently held up the bunch of keys high above his head, with his eyes closely regarding it. The ribbon with which they were bound fluttered in the breeze.
“ It still blows,” cried the speaker, exultantly. “ Citizens of Anchuria, give thanks to the saints this night that our air is still free.”
Thus disposing of Losada's administration, he abruptly reverted to that of Olivarra, Anchuria's most popular ruler. Olivarra had been assassinated nine
years before while in the prime of life and useful
A faction of the Liberal party led by Losada himself had been accused of the deed. Whether
guilty or not, it was eight years before the ambitious and scheming Losada had gained his goal.
Upon this theme General Pilar's eloquence was loosed. He drew the picture of the beneficent Olivarra with a loving hand. He reminded the people of the peace, the security and the happiness they had enjoyed during that period. He recalled in vivid detail and with significant contrast the last winter sojourn of President Olivarra in Coralio, when his appearance at their fiestas was the signal for thundering vivas of love and approbation.
The first public expression of sentiment from the people that day followed. A low, sustained murmur went among them like the surf rolling along the shore.
Ten dollars to a dinner at the Saint Charles," remarked Mr. Vincenti, “ that rouge wins."
I never bet against my own interests,” said Captain Cronin, lighting a cigar. “Long-winded old boy, for his age. What's he talking about? ”
My Spanish,” replied Vincenti,“ runs about ten words to the minute; his is something around two hundred. Whatever he's saying, he's getting them warmed up."
“Friends and brothers,” General Pilar was saying, “could I reach out my hand this day across the lamentable silence of the grave to Olivarra 'the
Good,' to the ruler who was one of you, whose tears fell when you sorrowed, and whose smile followed your joy - I would bring him back to you, but — Olivarra is dead dead at the hands of a craven assassin!”
The speaker turned and gazed boldly into the carriage of the president. His arm remained extended aloft as if to sustain his peroration. The president was listening, aghast, at this remarkable address of welcome. He was sunk back upon his seat, trembling with rage and dumb surprise, his dark hands tightly gripping the carriage cushions.
Half rising, he extended one arm toward the speaker, and shouted a harsh command at Captain Cruz. The leader of the “Flying Hundred” sat his horse, immovable, with folded arms, giving no sign of having heard. Losada sank back again, his dark features distinctly paling.
Who says that Olivarra is dead?” suddenly cried the speaker, his voice, old as he was, sounding like a battle trumpet.
“ His body lies in the grave, but to the people he loved he has bequeathed his spirit yes, more — his learning, his courage, his kindness
- yes, more --- his youth, his image --- people of Anchuria, have you forgotten Ramon, the son of Olivarra ? "
Cronin and Vincenti, watching closely, saw Dicky Maloney suddenly raise his hat, tear off his shock of red hair, leap up the steps and stand at the side of General Pilar, The Minister of War laid his arm across the young man's shoulders. All who had known President Olivarra saw again his same lionlike pose, the same frank, undaunted expression, the same high forehead with the peculiar line of the clustering, crisp black hair.
General Pilar was an experienced orator. He seized the moment of breathless silence that preceded the storm.
66 Citizens of Anchuria,” he trumpeted, holding aloft the keys to Casa Morena, “I am here to deliver these keys
- the keys to your homes and liberty — to your chosen president. Shall I deliver them to Enrico Olivarra's assassin, or to his son?"
“ Olivarra! Olivarra ! ” the crowd shrieked and howled. All vociferated the magic name men, women, children and the parrots.
And the enthusiasm was not confined to the blood of the plebs. Colonel Rocas ascended the steps and laid his sword theatrically at young
Ramon Olivarra's feet. Four members of the cabinet embraced him. Captain Cruz gave a command, and twenty of El Ciento Huilando dismounted and arranged them
selves in a cordon about the steps of Casa Morena.
But Ramon Olivarra seized that moment to prove himself a born genius and politician. He waved those soldiers aside, and descended the steps to the street. There, without losing his dignity or the distinguished elegance that the loss of his red hair brought him, he took the proletariat to his bosom the barefooted, the dirty, Indians, Caribs, babies, beggars, old, young, saints, soldiers and sinners — he missed none of them.
While this act of the drama was being presented, the scene shifters had been busy at the duties that had been assigned to them. Two of Cruz's dragoons had seized the bridle reins of Losada's horses; others formed a close guard around the carriage; and they galloped off with the tyrant and his two unpopular Ministers. No doubt a place had been prepared for them. There are a number of well-barred stone apartments in Coralio.
* Rouge wins,” said Mr. Vincenti, calmly lighting another cigar.
Captain Cronin had been intently watching the vicinity of the stone steps for some time.
“ Good boy!” he exclaimed suddenly, as if relieved. “ I wondered if he was going to forget his Kathleen Mavourneen.”