Cabbages and Kings
Coralio reclined, in the mid-day heat, like some vacuous beauty lounging in a guarded
harem. The town lay at the sea's edge on a strip of alluvial coast. It was set like a little
pearl in an emerald band. Behind it, and seeming almost to topple, imminent, above it,
rose the sea-following range of the Cordilleras. In front the sea was spread, a smiling
jailer, but even more incorruptible than the frowning mountains. The waves swished
along the smooth beach; the parrots screamed in the orange and ceiba-trees; the palms
waved their limber fronds foolishly like an awkward chorus at the prima donna's cue to
Suddenly the town was full of excitement. A native boy dashed down a grass-grown
street, shrieking: "~Busca el Senor~ Goodwin. ~Ha venido un telegrafo por el!~"
The word passed quickly. Telegrams do not come to any one in Coralio. The cry for
Senor Goodwin was taken up by a dozen officious voices. The main street running
parallel to the beach became populated with those who desired to expedite the delivery of
the dispatch. Knots of women with complexions varying from palest olive to deepest
brown gathered at street corners and plaintively carolled: "~Un telegrafo por Senor~
Goodwin!" The ~comandante~, Don Senor el Coronel Encarnacion Rios, who was loyal
to the Ins and suspected Goodwin's devotion to the Outs, hissed: "Aha!" and wrote in his
secret memorandum book the accusive fact that Senor Goodwin had on that momentous
date received a telegram.
In the midst of the hullabaloo a man stepped to the door of a small wooden building and
looked out. Above the door was a sign that read "Keogh and Clancy"--a nomenclature
that seemed not to be indigenous to that tropical soil. The man in the door was Billy
Keogh, scout of fortune and progress and latter-day rover of the Spanish Main. Tintypes
and photographs were the weapons with which Keogh and Clancy were at that time
assailing the hopeless shores. Outside the shop were set two large frames filled with
specimens fo their art and skill.
Keogh leaned in the doorway, his bold and humorous countenance wearing a look of
interest at the unusual influx of life and sound in the street. When the meaning of the
disturbance became clear to him he placed a hand beside his mouth and shouted: "Hey!
Frank!" in such a robustious voice that the feeble clamor of the natives was drowned and
Fifty yards away, on the seaward side of the street, stood the abode of the consul for the
United States. Out from the door of this building tumbled Goodwin at the call. He had
been smoking with Willard Geddie, the consul, on the back porch of the consulate, which
was conceded to be the coolest spot in Coralio.