« IndietroContinua »
of the sycophants in his court painted him as St. John, with a halo and a train of attendants in full uniform. Losada saw nothing incongruous in this picture, and had it hung in a church in the capital. He ordered from a French sculptor a marble group including himself with Napoleon, Alexander the Great, and one or two others whom he deemed worthy of the honour.
He ransacked Europe for decorations, employing policy, money and intrigue to cajole the orders he coveted from kings and rulers. On state occasions his breast was covered from shoulder to shoulder with .crosses, stars, golden roses, medals and ribbons. It was said that the man who could contrive for him a new decoration, or invent some new method of extolling his greatness, might plunge a hand deep into the treasury.
This was the man upon whom Billy Keogh had his eye. The gentle buccaneer had observed the rain of favors that fell upon those who ministered to the president's vanities, and he did not deem it his duty to hoist his umbrella against the scattering drops of liquid fortune.
In a few weeks the new consul arrived, releasing Keogh from his temporary duties. He was a young man fresh from college, who lived for botany alone. The consulate at Coralio gave him the opportunity to study tropical flora. He wore smoked glasses, and carried a green umbrella. He filled the cool, back porch of the consulate with plants and specimens so that space for a bottle and chair was not to be found. Keogh gazed on him sadly, but without rancour, and began to pack his gripsack. For his new plot against stagnation along the Spanish Main required of him a voyage overseas.
Soon came the Karlsefin again — she of the trampish habits gleaning a cargo of cocoanuts for a speculative descent upon the New York market. Keogh was booked for a passage on the return trip.
“Yes, I'm going to New York,” he explained to the group of his countrymen that had gathered on the beach to see him off. “But I'll be back before you
I've undertaken the art education of this piebald country, and I'm not the man to desert it while it's in the early throes of tintypes."
With this mysterious declaration of his intentions Keogh boarded the Karlsefin.
Ten days later, shivering, with the collar of his thin coat turned high, he burst into the studio of Carolus White at the top of a tall building in Tenth Street, New York City.
Carolus White was smoking a cigarette and frying
sausages over an oil stove. He was only twentythree, and had noble theories about art.
“Billy Keogh!” exclaimed White, extending the hand that was not busy with the frying pan. "From what part of the uncivilized world, I wonder !"
“Hello, Carry," said Keogh, dragging forward a stool, and holding his fingers close to the stove. “I'm glad I found you so soon. I've been looking for you all day in the directories and art galleries. The free-lunch man on the corner told me where you were, quick. I was sure you'd be painting pictures
Keogh glanced about the studio with the shrewd
of a connoisseur in business. “Yes, you can do it,” he declared, with many gentle nods of his head.' “That big one in the corner with the angels and green clouds and band-wagon is just the sort of thing we want. What would you call that, Carry — scene from Coney Island, ain't it?"
“That,” said White, “I had intended to call "The Translation of Elijah,' but you may be nearer right than I am."
“Name doesn't matter," said Keogh, largely; "it's the frame and the varieties of paint that does the trick. Now, I can tell you in a minute what I want. I've come on a little voyage of two thousand miles to take you in with me on a scheme. I thought of you as soon as the scheme showed itself to me. How would you like to go back with me and paint a picture? Ninety days for the trip, and five thousand dollars for the job.”
"Cereal food or hair-tonic posters?” asked White. "It isn't an ad.” “What kind of a picture is it to be?” "It's a long story,” said Keogh.
“Go ahead with it. If you don't mind, while you talk I'll just keep my eye on these sausages.
Let 'em get one shade deeper than a Vandyke brown and you spoil 'em.”
Keogh explained his project. They were to return to Coralio, where White was to pose as a distinguished American portrait painter who was touring in the tropics as a relaxation from his arduous and remunerative professional labours. It was not an unreasonable hope, even to those who had trod in the beaten paths of business, that an artist with so much prestige might secure a commission to perpetuate upon canvas the lineaments of the president, and se cure a share of the pesos that were raining upon the caterers to his weaknesses.
Keogh had set his price at ten thousand dollars. Artists had been paid more for portraits. He and White were to share the expenses of the trip, and divide the possible profits. Thus he laid the scheme before White, whom he had known in the West before one declared for Art and the other became a Bedouin.
Before long the two machinators abandoned the rigour of the bare studio for a snug corner of a café. There they sat far into the night, with old envelopes and Keogh's stub of blue pencil between them.
At twelve o'clock White doubled up in his chair, with his chin on his fist, and shut his eyes at the unbeautiful wall-paper.
“I'll go you, Billy,” he said, in the quiet tones of decision. “I've got two or three hundred saved up for sausages and rent; and I'll take the chance with you. Five thousand! It will give me two years in Paris and one in Italy. I'll begin to pack to-mor
“You'll begin in ten minutes,” said Keogh. “It's to-morrow now. The Karlsefin starts back at four
Come on to your painting shop, and I'll help you.
For five months in the year Coralio is the Newport on Anchuria. Then only does the town possess life. From November to March it is practically the seat of government. The president with his official family