Cabbages and Kings HTML version

XIII. Ships
Within a week a suitable building had been secured in the Calle Grande, and Mr.
Hemstetter's stock of shoes arranged upon their shelves. The rent of the store was
moderate; and the stock made a fine showing of neat white boxes, attractively displayed.
Johnny's friends stood by him loyally. On the first day Keogh strolled into the store in a
casual kind of way about once every hour, and bought shoes. After he had purchased a
pair each of extension soles, congress gaiters, button kids, low-quartered calfs, dancing
pumps, rubber boots, tans of various hues, tennis shoes and flowered slippers, he sought
out Johnny to be prompted as to the names of other kinds that he might inquire for. The
other English-speaking residents also played their parts nobly by buying often and
liberally. Keogh was grand marshal, and made them distribute their patronage, thus
keeping up a fair run of custom for several days.
Mr. Hemstetter was gratified by the amount of business done thus far; but expressed
surprise that the natives were so backward with their custom.
"Oh, they're awfully shy," explained Johnny, as he wiped his forehead nervously. "They'll
get the habit pretty soon. They'll come with a rush when they do come."
One afternoon Keogh dropped into the consul's office, chewing an unlighted cigar
"Got anything up your sleeve?" he inquired of Johnny. "If you have it's about time to
show it. If you can borrow some gent's hat in the audience, and make a lot of customers
for an idle stock of shoes come out of it you'd better spiel. The boys have all laid in
enough footwear to last 'em ten years; and there's nothing doing in the shoe store but
dolcy far nienty. I just came by there. Your venerable victim was standing in the door,
gazing through his specs at the bare toes passing by his emporium. The natives here have
got the true artistic temperament. Me and Clancy took eighteen tintypes this morning in
two hours. There's been but one pair of shoes sold all day. Blanchard went in and bought
a pair of furlined house-slippers because he thought he saw Miss Hemstetter go into the
store. I saw him throw the slippers into the lagoon afterwards."
"There's a Mobile fruit steamer coming in tomorrow or next day," said Johnny. We can't
do anything until then."
"What are you going to do--try to create a demand?"
"Political economy isn't your strong point," said the consul, impudently. "You can't create
a demand. But you can create a necessity for a demand. That's what I am going to do."