Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

then the government took it up. De Vegy is a big politician, and wants to be prisident. The people want the railroad completed, as they're taxed mighty on account of it. The De Vegy man is pushin' 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'

“6'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 harbourin' any sintiments 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, honours 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

[ocr errors]

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 cocoanut 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, señora, ma'am.' 'Laws, now!' says Missis Guatemala, 'you don't say so, ma'am! Now, mine never think of leavin' 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 harbour, 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.

one

Verree nice day we shall be goin' have. You hear some talkee 'bout big battle, maybe so? You think catchee General De Vega, señor? Yes?

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

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 hun. dred — 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, señor?'

“ 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, reducin' 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

« IndietroContinua »