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MASTERS OF ARTS
A TWO-INCH stub of a blue pencil was the wand with which Keogh performed the preliminary acts of his magic. So, with this he covered paper with diagrams and figures while he waited for the United States of America to send down to Coralio a successor to Atwood, resigned.
The new scheme that his mind had conceived, his stout heart indorsed, and his blue pencil corroborated, was laid around the characteristics and human frailties of the new president of Anchuria. These characteristics, and the situation out of which Keogh hoped to wrest a golden tribute, deserve chronicling contributive to the clear order of events.
Président Losada many called him Dictator was a man whose genius would have made him conspicuous even among Anglo-Saxons, had not that genius been intermixed with other traits that were petty and subversive. He had some of the lofty patriotism of Washington (the man he most admired),
the force of Napoleon, and much of the wisdom of the sages. These characteristics might have justified him in the assumption of the title of “The Illustrious Liberator,” had they not been accompanied by a stupendous and amazing vanity that kept him in the less worthy ranks of the dictators. Yet he did his country great service.
With a mighty grasp he shook it nearly free from the shackles of ignorance and sloth and the vermin that fed upon it, and all but made it a power in the council of nations. He established schools and hospitals, built roads, bridges, railroads and palaces, and bestowed generous subsidies
the arts and sciences. He was the absolute despot and the idol of his people. The wealth of the country poured into his hands. Other presidents had been rapacious without reason. Losada amassed enormous wealth, but his people had their share of the benefits. The joint in his armour
was his insatiate passion for monuments and tokens commemorating his glory. In every town he caused to be erected statues of himself bearing legends in praise of his greatness. In the walls of every public cdifice, tablets were fixed reciting his splendour and the gratitude of his subjects. His statuettes and portraits were scattered throughout the land in every house and hut. One
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
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
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 miss me.
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 yet."
Keogh glanced about the studio with the shrewd eye 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.