Cabbages and Kings HTML version

XII. Shoes
John De Graffenreid Atwood ate of the lotus, root, stem, and flower. The tropics gobbled
him up. He plunged enthusiastically into his work, which was to try to forget Rosine.
Now, they who dine on the lotus rarely consume it plain. There is a sauce ~au diable~
that goes with it; and the distillers are the chefs who prepare it. And on Johnny's menu
card it read "brandy." With a bottle between them, he and Billy Keogh would sit on the
porch of the little consulate at night and roar out great, indecorous songs, until the
natives, slipping hastily past, would shrug a shoulder and mutter things to themselves
about the "~Americanos diablos~."
One day Johnny's ~mozo~ brought the mail and dumped it on the table. Johnny leaned
from his hammock, and fingered the four or five letters dejectedly. Keogh was sitting on
the edge of the table chopping lazily with a paper knife at the legs of a centipede that was
crawling among the stationery. Johnny was in that phase of lotus-eating when all the
world tastes bitter in one's mouth.
"Same old thing!" he complained. "Fool people writing for information about the country.
They want to know all about raising fruit, and how to make a fortune without work. Half
of 'em don't even send stamps for a reply. They think a consul hasn't anything to do but
write letters. Slit those envelopes for me, old man, and see what they want. I'm feeling
too rocky to move."
Keogh, acclimated beyond all possibility of ill-humor, drew his chair to the table with
smiling compliance on his rose-pink countenance, and began to slit open the letters. Four
of them were from citizens in various parts of the United States who seemed to regard the
consul at Coralio as a cyclopedia of information. They asked long lists of questions,
numerically arranged, about the climate, products, possibilities, laws, business chances,
and statistics of the country in which the consul had the honor of representing his own
"Write 'em, please, Billy," said that inert official, "just a line, referring them to the latest
consular report. Tell 'em the State Department will be delighted to furnish the literary
gems. Sign my name. Don't let your pen scratch, Billy; it'll keep me awake."
"Don't snore," said Keogh, amiably, "and I'll do your work for you. You need a corps of
assistants, anyhow. Don't see how you ever get out a report. Wake up a minute--here's
one more letter--it's from your own town, too--—Dalesburg."
"That so?" murmured Johnny showing a mild and obligatory interest. "What's it about?"
"Postmaster writes," explained Keogh. "Says a citizen of the town wants some facts and
advice from you. Says the citizen has an idea in his head of coming down where you are