Cabbages and Kings HTML version

X. The Shamrock and the Palm
One night when there was no breeze, and Coralio seemed closer than ever to the gratings
of Avernus, five men were grouped about the door of the photograph establishment of
Keogh and Clancy. Thus, in all the scorched and exotic places of the earth, Caucasians
meet when the day's work is done to preserve the fulness of their heritage by the
aspersion of alien things.
Johnny Atwood lay stretched upon the grass in the undress uniform of a Carib, and prated
feebly of cool water to be had in the cucumber- wood pumps of Dalesburg. Doctor
Gregg, through the prestige of his whiskers and as a bribe against the relation of his
imminent professional tales, was conceded the hammock that was swung between the
door jamb and a calabash-tree. Keogh had moved out upon the grass a little table that
held the instrument for burnishing completed photographs. He was the only busy one of
the group. Industriously from between the cylinders of the burnisher rolled the finished
depictments of Coralio's citizens. Blanchard, the French mining engineer, in his cool
linen viewed the smoke of his cigarette through his calm glasses, impervious to the heat.
Clancy sat on the steps, smoking his short pipe. His mood was the gossip's; the others
were reduced, by the humidity, to the state of disability desirable in an audience.
Clancy was an American with an Irish diathesis and cosmopolitan proclivities. Many
businesses had claimed him, but not for long. The roadster's blood was in his veins. The
voice of the tintype was but one of the many callings that had wooed him upon so many
roads. Sometimes he could be persuaded to oral construction of his voyages into the
informal and egregious. Tonight there were symptoms of divulgement in him.
"'Tis elegant weather for filibustering'," he volunteered. "It reminds me of the time I
struggled to liberate a nation from the poisonous breath of a tyrant's clutch. 'Twas hard
work. 'Tis straining to the back and makes corns on the hands."
"I didn't know you had ever lent your sword to an oppressed people," murmured Atwood,
from the grass.
"I did," said Clancy; "and they turned it into a plowshare."
"What country was so fortunate as to secure your aid?" airily inquired Blanchard.
"Where's Kamchatka?" asked Clancy, with seeming irrelevance.
"Why, off Siberia somewhere in the Arctic regions," somebody answered, doubtfully.
"I thought that was the cold one," said Clancy, with a satisfied nod. "I'm always gettin'
the two names mixed. 'Twas Guatemala, then--the hot one--I've been filibusterin' with.
Ye'll find that country on the map. 'Tis in the district known as the tropics. By the
foresight of Providence, it lies on the coast so the geography men could run the names of