Cabbages and Kings HTML version

XIV. 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 ofAnchuria. These characteristics, and the situation out of which Keogh hoped
to wrest a golden tribute, deserve chronicling contributive to the clear order of events.
President 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 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 upon 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 armor 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 edifice, tablets
were fixed reciting his splendor 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
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.