There is little consecutiveness along the Spanish Main. Things happen
there intermittently. Even Time seems hang his scythe daily on the
branch of an orange tree while he takes a siesta and a cigarette.
After the ineffectual revolt against the administration of President
Losada, the country settled again into quiet toleration of the abuses
with which he had been charged. In Coralio old political enemies went
arm-in-arm, lightly eschewing for the time all differences of opinion.
The failure of the art expedition did not stretch the cat-footed Keogh
upon his back. The ups and downs of Fortune made smooth travelling
for his nimble steps. His blue pencil stub was at work again before
the smoke of the steamer on which White sailed had cleared away from
the horizon. He had but to speak a word to Geddie to find his credit
negotiable for whatever goods he wanted from the store of Brannigan
& Company. On the same day on which White arrived in New York Keogh,
at the rear of a train of five pack mules loaded with hardware and
cutlery, set his face toward the grim, interior mountains. There
the Indian tribes wash gold dust from the auriferous streams; and
when a market is brought to them trading is brisk and ~muy bueno~
in the Cordilleras.
In Coralio Time folded his wings and paced wearily along his drowsy
path. They who had most cheered the torpid hours were gone. Clancy
had sailed on a Spanish barque for Colon, contemplating a cut across
the isthmus and then a further voyage to end at Callao, where the
fighting was said to be on. Geddie, whose quiet and genial nature had
once served to mitigate the frequent dull reaction of lotus eating,
was now a home-man, happy with his bright orchid, Paula, and never
even dreaming of or regretting the unsolved, sealed and monogramed
Bottle whose contents, now inconsiderable, were held safely in the
keeping of the sea.
Well may the Walrus, most discerning and eclectic of beasts, place
sealing-wax midway on his program of topics that fall pertinent and
diverting upon the ear.
Atwood was gone--he of the hospitable back porch and ingenuous
cunning. Doctor Gregg, with his trepanning story smoldering within
him, was a whiskered volcano, always showing signs of imminent
eruption, and was not to be considered in the ranks of those who
might contribute to the amelioration of ennui. The new consul's note
chimed with the sad sea waves and the violent tropical greens--he had
not a bar of Scheherezade or of the Round Table in his lute. Goodwin
was employed with large projects: what time he was loosed from them
found him at his home, where he loved to be. Therefore it will be
seen that there was a dearth of fellowship and entertainment among
the foreign contingent of Coralio.
And then Dicky Maloney dropped down from the clouds upon the town,
and amused it.
Nobody knew where Dicky Maloney hailed from or how he reached Coralio.
He appeared there one day; and that was all. He afterward said that
he came on the fruit steamer ~Thor~, but an inspection of the ~Thor's~
passenger list of that date was found to be Maloneyless. Curiosity,
however, soon perished; and Dicky took his place among the odd fish
cast up by the Caribbean.
He was an active, devil-may-care, rollicking fellow with an engaging
gray eye, the most irresistible grin, a rather dark or much sunburned
complexion, and a head of the fieriest red hair ever seen in that
country. Speaking the Spanish language as well as he spoke English,
and seeming always to have plenty of silver in his pockets, it was not
long before he was a welcome companion whithersoever he went. He had
an extreme fondness for ~vino blanco~, and gained the reputation of
being able to drink more of it than any three men in town. Everybody
called him "Dicky"; everybody cheered up at the sight of him--
especially the natives, to whom his marvellous red hair and his free-
and-easy style were a constant delight and envy. Wherever you went
in the town you would soon see Dicky or hear his genial laugh, and
find around him a group of admirers who appreciated him both for
his good nature and the white wine he was always so ready to buy.
A considerable amount of speculation was had concerning the object of
his sojourn there, until one day he silenced this by opening a small
shop for the sale of tobacco, ~dulces~ and the handiwork of the
interior Indians--fibre-and-silk-woven goods, deerskin ~zapatos~ and
basketwork of tule reeds. Even then he did not change his habits;
for he was drinking and playing cards half the day and night with
the ~comandante~, the collector of customs, the ~jefe politico~ and
other gay dogs among the native officials.
One day Dicky saw Pasa, the daughter of Madama Ortiz, sitting in the
side-door of the Hotel de los Extranjeros. He stopped in his tracks,
still, for the first time in Coralio; and then he sped, swift as
a deer, to find Vasquez, a gilded native youth, to present him.
The young men had named Pasa ~La Santita Naranjadita~." ~Naranjadita~
is a Spanish word for a certain color that you must go to more trouble
to describe in English. By saying "The little saint, tinted the most
beautiful-delicate-slightly-orange-golden," you will approximate
the description of Madama Ortiz's daughter.
La Madama Ortiz sold rum in addition to other liquors. Now, you must
know that the rum expiates whatever opprobrium attends upon the other
commodities. For rum-making, mind you, is a government monopoly;
and to keep a government dispensary assures respectability if not
preeminence. Moreover, the saddest of precisians could find no fault
with the conduct of the shop. Customers drank there in the lowest
of spirits and fearsomely, as in the shadow of the dead for Madama's
ancient and vaunted lineage counteracted even the rum's behest to be
merry. For, was she not of the ~Iglesias~, who landed with Pizarro?
And had not her deceased husband been ~comisionado de caminos y
puentes~ for the district?
In the evenings Pasa sat by the window in the room next to the one
where they drank, and strummed dreamily upon her guitar. And then,
by twos and threes, would come visiting young caballeros and occupy
the prim line of chairs set against the wall of this room. They were
there to besiege the heart of ~La Santita~." Their method (which
is not proof against intelligent competition) consisted of expanding
the chest, looking valorous, and consuming a gross or two of
cigarettes. Even saints delicately oranged prefer to be wooed
Dona Pasa would tide over the vast chasms of nicotinized silence with
music from her guitar, while she wondered if the romances she had read
about gallant and more--more contiguous cavaliers were all lies. At
somewhat regular intervals Madama would glide in from the dispensary
with a sort of drought-suggesting gleam in her eye, and there would be
a rustling of stiffly starched white trousers as one of the caballeros
would propose an adjournment to the bar.
That Dicky Maloney would, sooner or later, explore this field was
a thing to be foreseen. There were few doors in Coralio into which
his red head had not been poked.
In an incredibly short space of time after his first sight of her
he was there, seated close beside her rocking chair. There was no
back-against-the-wall poses in Dicky's theory of wooing. His plan
of subjection was an attack at close range. To carry the fortress
with one concentrated, ardent, eloquent, irresistible ~escalade~--
that was Dicky's way.
Pasa was descended from the proudest Spanish families in the country.
Moreover, she had had unusual advantages. Two years in a New Orleans
school had elevated her ambitions and fitted her for a fate above
the ordinary maidens of her native land. And yet here she succumbed
to the first red-haired scamp with a glib tongue and a charming smile
that came along and courted her properly.
Very soon Dicky took her to the little church on the corner of the
plaza, and "Mrs. Maloney" was added to her string of distinguished
And it was her fate to sit, with her patient, saintly eyes and figure
like a bisque Psyche, behind the sequestered counter of the little
shop, while Dicky drank and philandered with is frivolous
The women, with their naturally fine instinct, saw a chance for
vivisection, and delicately taunted her with his habits. She turned
upon them in a beautiful, steady blaze of sorrowful contempt.
"You meat-cows," she said, in her level, crystal-clear tones; "you
know nothing of a man. Your men are ~maromeros~. They are fit only
to roll cigarettes in the shade until the sun strikes and shrivels
them up. They drone in your hammocks and you comb their hair and feed
them with fresh fruit. My man is of no such blood. Let him drink
of the wine. When he has taken sufficient of it to drown one of your
~flaccitos~ he will come home to me more of a man than one thousand
of your ~pobrecitos~. My hair he smooths and braids; to me he sings;
he himself removes my zapatos, and there, there, upon each instep
leaves a kiss. He holds--Oh, you will never understand! Blind ones
who have never known a ~man~."
Sometimes mysterious things happened at night about Dicky's shop.
While the front of it was dark, in the little room back of it Dicky
and a few of his friends would sit about a table carrying on some kind
of very quiet ~negocios~ until quite late. Finally he would let them
out the front door very carefully, and go upstairs to his little
saint. These visitors were generally conspirator-like men with dark
clothes and hats. Of course, these dark things were noticed after
a while, and talked about.
Dicky seemed to care nothing at all for the society of the alien
residents of the town. He avoided Goodwin, and his skilful escape
from the trepanning story of Doctor Gregg is still referred to,
in Coralio, as a masterpiece of lightning diplomacy.
Many letters arrived, addressed to "Mr. Dicky Maloney," or "Senor
Dickee Maloney," to the considerable pride of Pasa. That so many
people should desire to write to him only confirmed her own suspicion
that the light from his red head shone around the world. As to their
contents she never felt curiosity. There was a wife to you!
The one mistake Dicky made in Coralio was to run out of money at the
wrong time. Where his money came from was a puzzle, for the sales
of his shop were next to nothing, but that source failed, and at a
peculiarly unfortunate time. It was when the ~comandante~, Don Senor
el Coronel Encarnacion Rios, looked upon the little saint seated in
the shop and felt his heart go pitapat.
The ~comandante~, who was versed in all the intricate art of
gallantry, first delicately hinted at his sentiments by donning his
dress uniform and strutting up and down fiercely before her window.
Pasa, glancing demurely with her saintly eyes, instantly perceived
his resemblance to her parrot, Chichi, and was diverted to the extent
of smile. The ~comandante~ saw the smile, which was not intended
for him. Convinced of an impression made, he entered the shop,
confidently, and advanced to open compliment. Pasa froze; he pranced;
she flamed royally; he was charmed to injudicious persistence; she
commanded him to leave the shop; he tried to capture her hand and--
Dicky entered, smiling broadly, full of white wine and the devil.
He spent five minutes in punishing the comandante scientifically and
carefully, so that the pain might be prolonged as far as possible.
At the end of that time he pitched the rash wooer out the door upon
the stones of the street, senseless.
A barefooted policeman who had been watching the affair from across
the street blew a whistle. A squad of four soldiers came running
from the cuartel around the corner. When they saw that the offender
was Dicky, they stopped, and blew more whistles, which brought out
reinforcements of eight. Deeming the odds against them sufficiently
reduced, the military advanced upon the disturber.
Dicky, being thoroughly imbued with the martial spirit, stooped and
drew the ~comandante's~ sword, which was girded about him, and charged
his foe. He chased the standing army four squares, playfully prodding
its squealing rear and hacking at its ginger-colored heels.
But he was not so successful with the civic authorities. Six
muscular, nimble policemen overpowered him and conveyed him,
triumphantly but warily, to jail. "~El Diablo Colorado~" they
dubbed him, and derided the military for its defeat.
Dicky, with the rest of the prisoners, could look out through the
barred door at the grass of the little plaza, at a row of orange trees
and the red tile roofs and 'dobe walls of a line of insignificant
At sunset along a path across this plaza came a melancholy procession
of sad-faced women bearing plantains, cassava, bread and fruit--each
coming with food to some wretch behind those bars to whom she still
clung and furnished the means of life. Twice a day--morning and
evening--they were permitted to come. Water was furnished to her
compulsory guests by the republic, but no food.
That evening Dicky's name was called by the sentry, and he stepped
before the bars of the door. There stood his little saint, a black
mantilla draped about her head and shoulders, her face like glorified
melancholy, her clear eyes gazing longingly at him as if they might
draw him between the bars to her. She brought a chicken, some
oranges, dulces and a loaf of white bread. A soldier inspected
the food, and passed it in to Dicky. Pasa spoke calmly, as she always
did, briefly, in her thrilling, flute-like tones. "Angel of my life,"
she said, "let it not be long that thou art away from me. Thou
knowest that life is not a thing to be endured with thou not at
my side. Tell me if I can do aught in this matter. If not, I will
wait--a little while. I come again in the morning."
Dicky, with his shoes removed so as not to disturb his fellow
prisoners, tramped the floor of the jail half the night condemning
his lack of money and the cause of it--whatever that might have been.
He knew very well that money would have brought his release at once.
For two days succeeding Pasa came at the appointed times and brought
him food. He eagerly inquired each time if a letter or package had
come for him, and she mournfully shook her head.
On the morning of the third day she brought only a small loaf of
bread. There were dark circles under her eyes. She seemed as calm
"By jingo," said Dicky, who seemed to speak in English or Spanish as
the whim seized him, "this is dry provender, ~muchachita~. Is this
the best you can dig up for a fellow?"
Pasa looked at him as a mother looks at a beloved but capricious babe.
"Think better of it," she said, in a low voice; "since for the next
meal there will be nothing. The last ~centavo~ is spent." She
pressed closer against the grating.
"Sell the goods in the shop--take anything for them."
"Have I not tried? Did I not offer them for one-tenth their cost?
Not even one ~peso~ would any one give. There is not one ~real~ in
this town to assist Dickee Malonee."
Dick clenched his teeth grimly. 'That's the ~comandante~," he growled.
"He's responsible for that sentiment. Wait, oh, wait till the cards
are all out."
Pasa lowered her voice to almost a whisper. "And, listen, heart of
my heart," she said, "I have endeavored to be brave, but I cannot
live without thee. Three days now--"
Dicky caught a faint gleam of steel from the folds of her mantilla.
For once she looked in his face and saw it without a smile, stern,
menacing and purposeful. Then he suddenly raised his hand and his
smile came back like a gleam of sunshine. The hoarse signal of an
incoming steamer's siren sounded in the harbor. Dicky called to
the sentry who was pacing before the door: "What steamer comes?"
"Of the Vesuvius line?"
"Without doubt, of that line."
"Go you, ~picarilla~, "said Dicky joyously to Pasa, "to the American
consul. Tell him I wish to speak with him. See that he comes
at once. And look you! let me see a different look in those eyes,
for I promise your head shall rest upon this arm tonight.
It was an hour before the consul came. He held his green umbrella
under his arm, and mopped his forehead impatiently.
"Now, see here, Maloney, "he began, captiously, "you fellows seem
to think you can cut up any kind of row, and expect me to pull you out
of it. I'm neither the War Department nor a gold mine. This country
has its laws, you know, and there's one against pounding the senses
out of the regular army. You Irish are forever getting into trouble.
I don't see what I can do. Anything like tobacco, now, to make you
"Son of Eli," interrupted Dicky, gravely, "you haven't changed
an iota. That is almost a duplicate of the speech you made when old
Koen's donkeys and geese got into the chapel loft, and the culprits
wanted to hide in your room."
"Oh, heavens!" exclaimed the consul, hurriedly adjusting his
spectacles. "Are you a Yale man, too? Were you in that crowd?
I don't seem to remember any one with red--any one named Maloney.
Such a lot of college men seem to have misused their advantages.
One of the best mathematicians of the class of '91 is selling
lottery tickets in Belize. A Cornell man dropped off here last
month. He was second steward on a guano boat. I'll write to
the department if you like, Maloney. Or if there's any tobacco,
'There's nothing," interrupted Dicky, shortly, "but this. You go
tell the captain of the ~Catarina~ that Dicky Maloney wants to see
him as soon as he can conveniently come. Tell him where I am.
Hurry. That's all."
The consul, glad to be let off so easily, hurried away. The captain
of the ~Catarina~, a stout man, Sicilian born, soon appeared,
shoving, with little ceremony, through the guards to the jail door.
The Vesuvius Fruit Company had a habit of doing things that way
"I am exceeding sorry--exceeding sorry," said the captain, "to see
this occur. I place myself at your service, Mr. Maloney. What you
need shall be furnished. Whatever you say shall be done."
Dicky looked at him unsmilingly. His red hair could not detract
from his attitude of severe dignity as he stood, tall and calm, with
his now grim mouth forming a horizontal line.
"Captain De Lucco, I believe I still have funds in the hands of your
company--ample and personal funds. I ordered a remittance last week.
The money has not arrived. You know what is needed in this game.
Money and money and more money. Why has it not been sent?"
"By the ~Cristobal~," replied De Lucco, gesticulating, "it was
despatched. Where is the ~Cristobal~? Off Cape Antonio I spoke
her with a broken shaft. A tramp coaster was towing her back to New
Orleans. I brought money ashore thinking your need for it might not
withstand delay. In this envelope is one thousand dollars. There
is more if you need it, Mr. Maloney."
"For the present it will suffice," said Dicky, softening as he
crinkled the envelope and looked down at the half-inch thickness
of smooth, dingy bills.
"The long green!" he said, gently, with a new reverence in his gaze.
"Is there anything it will not buy, Captain?"
"I had three friends," replied De Lucco, who was a bit of
a philosopher, "who had money. One of them speculated in stocks
and made ten million; another is in heaven, and the third married
a poor girl whom he loved."
"The answer, then," said Dicky, "is held by the Almighty, Wall
Street, and Cupid. So, the question remains."
"This," queried the captain, including Dicky's surroundings in
a significant gesture of his hand, "is it--it is notiit is not
connected with the business of your little shop? There is no
failure in your plans?"
"No, no," said Dicky. "This is merely the result of a little private
affair of mine, a digression from the regular line of business.
They say for a complete life a man must know poverty, love, and war.
But they don't go well together, ~capitan mio~. No; there is no
failure in my business. The little shop is doing very well."
When the captain had departed Dicky called the sergeant of the jail
squad and asked:
"Am I ~preso~ by the military or by the civil authority?"
"Surely there is no martial law in effect now, senor."
"~Bueno~. Now go or send to the ~alcalde~, the ~Juez de la Paz~
and the ~Jefe de los Policios~. Tell them I am prepared at once to
satisfy the demands of justice." A folded bill of the "long green"
slid into the sergeant's hand.
Then Dicky's smile came back again, for he knew that the hours of
his captivity were numbered; and he hummed, in time with the sentry's
"They're hanging men and women now,
For lacking of the green."
So, that night Dicky sat by the window of the room over his shop an
his little saint sat close by, working at something silken and dainty.
Dicky was thoughtful and grave. His red hair was in an unusual
state of disorder. Pasa's fingers often ached to smooth and arrange
it, but Dicky would never allow it. He was poring, tonight, over
a great litter of maps and books and papers on his table until that
perpendicular line came between his brows that always distressed Pasa.
Presently she went and brought his hat, and stood with it until he
looked up, inquiringly.
"It is sad for you here," she explained. "Go out and drink ~vino
blanco~. Come back when you get that smile you used to wear.
That is what I wish to see."
Dicky laughed and threw down his papers. "The ~vino blanco~ stage
is past. It has served its turn. Perhaps, after all, there was less
entered my mouth and more my ears than people thought. But, there
will be no more maps or frowns tonight. I promise you that. Come."
They sat upon a reed ~silleta~ at the window and watched the quivering
gleams from the lights of the ~Catarina~ reflected in the harbor.
Presently Pasa rippled out one of her infrequent chirrups of audible
"I was thinking," she began, anticipating Dicky's question, "of
the foolish things girls have in their minds. Because I went to
school in the States I used to have ambitions. Nothing less than
to be the president's wife would satisfy me. And, look, thou red
picaroon, to what obscure fate thou hast stolen me!"
"Don't give up hope," said Dicky, smiling. "More than one Irishman
has been the ruler of a South American country. There was a dictator
of Chili named O'Higgins. Why not a President Maloney, of Anchuria?
Say the word, ~santita mia~, and we'll make the race."
"No, no, no, thou red-haired, reckless one!" sighed Pasa; "I am
content"--she laid her head against his arm--"here."