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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.
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 cnvelopes 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 cyes 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-morrow.”
“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
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
sojourns there; and society follows him. The pleasure-loving people make the season one long holiday of amusement and rejoicing. Fiestas, balls, games, sea bathing, processions and small theatres contribute to their enjoyment. The famous Swiss band from the capital plays in the little plaza every evening, while the fourteen carriages and vehicles in the town circle in funereal but complacent procession. Indians from the interior mountains, looking like prehistoric stone idols, come down to peddle their handiwork in the strects. The people throng the narrow ways, a chattering, happy, careless stream of buoyant humanity. Preposterous children rigged out with the shortest of ballet skirts and gilt wings, howl, underfoot, among the effervescent crowds. Especially is the arrival of the presidential party, at the opening of the season, attended with pomp, show and patriotic demonstrations of enthusiasm and delight.
When Keogh and White reached their destination, on the return trip of the Karlsefin, the gay winter season was well begun. As they stepped upon the beach they could hear the band playing in the plaza. The village maidens, with fireflies already fixed in their dark locks, were gliding, barefoot and coy-eyed, along the paths. Dandies in white linen, swinging their canes, were beginning their seductive strolls.
The air was full of human essence, of artificial enticement, of coquetry, indolence, pleasure — the manmade sense of existence.
The first two or three days after their arrival were spent in preliminaries. Keogh escorted the artist about town, introducing him to the little circle of English-speaking residents and pulling whatever wires he could to effect the spreading of White's fame as a painter. And then Keogh planned a more spectacular demonstration of the idea he wished to keep before the public.
He and White engaged rooms in the Hotel de los Estranjeros. The two were clad in new suits of immaculate duck, with American straw hats, and carried canes of remarkable uniqueness and inutility. Few caballeros in Coralio — even the gorgeously uniformed officers of the Anchurian army conspicuous for case and elegance of demeanour as Keogh and his friend, the great American painter, Señor White.
White set up his easel on the beach and made striking sketches of the mountain and sea views. The native population formed at his rear in a vast, chattering semicircle to watch his work. Keogh, with his care for details, had arranged for himself a pose which he carried out with fidelity. His rôle was that
of friend to the great artist, a man of affairs and leisure. The visible emblem of his position was pocket camera.
“For branding the man who owns it,” said he, “a genteel dilettante with a bank account and an easy conscience, a steam-yacht ain't in it with a camera. You see a man doing nothing but loafing around making snap-shots, and you know right away he reads up well in ‘Bradstreet.' You notice these old millionaire boys
soon as they get through taking everything else in sight they go to taking photographs. People are more impressed by a kodak than they are by a title or a four-carat scarf-pin.” So Keogh strolled blandly about Coralio, snapping the scenery and the shrinking señoritas, while White posed conspicuously in the higher regions of art.
Two weeks after their arrival, the scheme began to bear fruit. An aide-de-camp of the president drove to the hotel in a dashing victoria. The president desired that Señor White come to the Casa Morena for an informal interview.
Keogh gripped his pipe tightly between his teeth. “Not a cent less than ten thousand," he said to the artist —“remember the price. And in gold or its