Cabbages and Kings HTML version

XI. The Remnants of the Code
Breakfast in Coralio was at eleven. Therefore the people did not go to market early. The
little wooden market-house stood on a patch of short-trimmed grass, under the vivid
green foliage of a bread-fruit tree.
Thither one morning the venders leisurely convened, bringing their wares with them. A
porch or platform six feet wide encircled the building, shaded from the mid-morning sun
by the projecting, grass- thatched roof. Upon this platform the venders were wont to
display their goods--newly killed beef, fish, crabs, fruit of the country, cassava, eggs,
~dulces~ and high, tottering stacks of native tortillas as large around as the sombrero of a
Spanish grandee.
But on this morning they whose stations lay on the seaward side of the market-house,
instead of spreading their merchandise formed themselves into a softly jabbering and
gesticulating group. For there upon their space of the platform was sprawled, asleep, the
unbeautiful figure of "Beelzebub" Blythe. He lay upon a ragged strip of cocoa matting,
more than ever a fallen angel in appearance. His suit of coarse flax, soiled, bursting at the
seams, crumpled into a thousand diversified wrinkles and creases, inclosed him absurdly,
like the garb of some effigy that had been stuffed in sport and thrown there after indignity
had been wrought upon it. But firmly upon the high bridge of his nose reposed his gold-
rimmed glasses, the surviving badge of his ancient glory.
The sun's rays, reflecting quiveringly from the rippling sea upon his face, and the voices
of the market-men woke "Beelzebub" Blythe. He sat up, blinking, and leaned his back
against the wall of the market. Drawing a blighted silk handkerchief from his pocket, he
assiduously rubbed and burnished his glasses. And while doing this he became aware that
his bedroom had been invaded, and that polite brown and yellow men were beseeching
him to vacate in favor of their market stuff.
If the senor would have the goodness--a thousand pardons for bringing to him
molestation--but soon would come the ~compradores~ for the day's provisions--surely
they had ten thousand regrets at disturbing him!
In this manner they expanded to him the intimation that he must clear out and cease to
clog the wheels of trade.
Blythe stepped from the platform with the air of a prince leaving his canopied couch. He
never quite lost that air, even at the lowest point of his fall. It is clear that the college of
good breeding does not necessarily maintain a chair of morals within its walls.
Blythe shook out his wry clothing, and moved slowly up the Calle Grande through the
hot sand. He moved without a destination in his mind. The little town was languidly
stirring to its daily life. Golden-skinned babies tumbled over one another in the grass. The