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E-text prepared by Earle C. Beach
and revised by Joseph E. Loewenstein, M.D.

Editorial note:

This volume is the only work of O. Henry which approaches
being a novel. The stories are related and should be read
in the sequence in which they occur in the text.

Project Gutenberg also has an HTML version of this
file which includes the original illustration.
See 2777-h.htm or 2777-h.zip:




Author of "The Four Million," "The Voice of the City,"
"The Trimmed Lamp," "Strictly Business," "Whirligigs," Etc.

[ILLUSTRATION: "A little saint with a color more lightful
than orange" (frontispiece)]

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things;
Of shoes and ships and sealing-wax,
And cabbages and kings."






They will tell you in Anchuria, that President Miraflores, of that
volatile republic, died by his own hand in the coast town of Coralio;
that he had reached thus far in flight from the inconveniences of
an imminent revolution; and that one hundred thousand dollars,
government funds, which he carried with him in an American leather
valise as a souvenir of his tempestuous administration, was never
afterward recovered.

For a _real_, a boy will show you his grave. It is back of the town
near a little bridge that spans a mangrove swamp. A plain slab of
wood stands at its head. Some one has burned upon the headstone with
a hot iron this inscription:






It is characteristic of this buoyant people that they pursue no man
beyond the grave. "Let God be his judge!" - Even with the hundred
thousand unfound, though greatly coveted, the hue and cry went no
further than that.

To the stranger or the guest the people of Coralio will relate the
story of the tragic end of their former president; how he strove to
escape from the country with the public funds and also with Doña
Isabel Guilbert, the young American opera singer; and how, being
apprehended by members of the opposing political party in Coralio,
he shot himself through the head rather than give up the funds, and,
in consequence, the Señorita Guilbert. They will relate further
that Doña Isabel, her adventurous bark of fortune shoaled by the
simultaneous loss of her distinguished admirer and the souvenir
hundred thousand, dropped anchor on this stagnant coast, awaiting a
rising tide.

They say, in Coralio, that she found a prompt and prosperous tide
in the form of Frank Goodwin, an American resident of the town, an
investor who had grown wealthy by dealing in the products of the
country - a banana king, a rubber prince, a sarsaparilla, indigo, and
mahogany baron. The Señorita Guilbert, you will be told, married
Señor Goodwin one month after the president's death, thus, in the
very moment when Fortune had ceased to smile, wresting from her a
gift greater than the prize withdrawn.

Of the American, Don Frank Goodwin, and of his wife the natives have
nothing but good to say. Don Frank has lived among them for years,
and has compelled their respect. His lady is easily queen of what
social life the sober coast affords. The wife of the governor of the
district, herself, who was of the proud Castilian family of Monteleon
y Dolorosa de los Santos y Mendez, feels honoured to unfold her
napkin with olive-hued, ringed hands at the table of Señora Goodwin.
Were you to refer (with your northern prejudices) to the vivacious
past of Mrs. Goodwin when her audacious and gleeful abandon in light
opera captured the mature president's fancy, or to her share in that
statesman's downfall and malfeasance, the Latin shrug of the shoulder
would be your only answer and rebuttal. What prejudices there were
in Coralio concerning Señora Goodwin seemed now to be in her favour,
whatever they had been in the past.

It would seem that the story is ended, instead of begun; that the
close of tragedy and the climax of a romance have covered the ground
of interest; but, to the more curious reader it shall be some slight
instruction to trace the close threads that underlie the ingenuous
web of circumstances.

The headpiece bearing the name of President Miraflores is daily
scrubbed with soap-bark and sand. An old half-breed Indian tends the
grave with fidelity and the dawdling minuteness of inherited sloth.
He chops down the weeds and ever-springing grass with his machete, he
plucks ants and scorpions and beetles from it with his horny fingers,
and sprinkles its turf with water from the plaza fountain. There is
no grave anywhere so well kept and ordered.

Only by following out the underlying threads will it be made clear
why the old Indian, Galvez, is secretly paid to keep green the
grave of President Miraflores by one who never saw that unfortunate
statesman in life or in death, and why that one was wont to walk in
the twilight, casting from a distance looks of gentle sadness upon
that unhonoured mound.

Elsewhere than at Coralio one learns of the impetuous career
of Isabel Guilbert. New Orleans gave her birth and the mingled
French and Spanish creole nature that tinctured her life with such
turbulence and warmth. She had little education, but a knowledge of
men and motives that seemed to have come by instinct. Far beyond the
common woman was she endowed with intrepid rashness, with a love for
the pursuit of adventure to the brink of danger, and with desire for
the pleasures of life. Her spirit was one to chafe under any curb;
she was Eve after the fall, but before the bitterness of it was felt.
She wore life as a rose in her bosom.

Of the legion of men who had been at her feet it was said that but
one was so fortunate as to engage her fancy. To President Miraflores,
the brilliant but unstable ruler of Anchuria, she yielded the key to
her resolute heart. How, then, do we find her (as the Coralians would
have told you) the wife of Frank Goodwin, and happily living a life
of dull and dreamy inaction?

The underlying threads reach far, stretching across the sea.
Following them out it will be made plain why "Shorty" O'Day, of the
Columbia Detective Agency, resigned his position. And, for a lighter
pastime, it shall be a duty and a pleasing sport to wander with Momus
beneath the tropic stars where Melpomene once stalked austere. Now to
cause laughter to echo from those lavish jungles and frowning crags
where formerly rang the cries of pirates' victims; to lay aside pike
and cutlass and attack with quip and jollity; to draw one saving
titter of mirth from the rusty casque of Romance - this were pleasant
to do in the shade of the lemon-trees on that coast that is curved
like lips set for smiling.

For there are yet tales of the Spanish Main. That segment of
continent washed by the tempestuous Caribbean, and presenting to the
sea a formidable border of tropical jungle topped by the overweening
Cordilleras, is still begirt by mystery and romance. In past times
buccaneers and revolutionists roused the echoes of its cliffs, and
the condor wheeled perpetually above where, in the green groves,
they made food for him with their matchlocks and toledos. Taken and
retaken by sea rovers, by adverse powers and by sudden uprising of
rebellious factions, the historic 300 miles of adventurous coast has
scarcely known for hundreds of years whom rightly to call its master.
Pizarro, Balboa, Sir Francis Drake, and Bolivar did what they could
to make it a part of Christendom. Sir John Morgan, Lafitte and other
eminent swash-bucklers bombarded and pounded it in the name of

The game still goes on. The guns of the rovers are silenced; but the
tintype man, the enlarged photograph brigand, the kodaking tourist
and the scouts of the gentle brigade of fakirs have found it out, and
carry on the work. The hucksters of Germany, France, and Sicily now
bag its small change across their counters. Gentleman adventurers
throng the waiting-rooms of its rulers with proposals for railways
and concessions. The little _opéra-bouffe_ nations play at government
and intrigue until some day a big, silent gunboat glides into the
offing and warns them not to break their toys. And with these changes
comes also the small adventurer, with empty pockets to fill, light of
heart, busy-brained - the modern fairy prince, bearing an alarm clock
with which, more surely than by the sentimental kiss, to awaken the
beautiful tropics from their centuries' sleep. Generally he wears a
shamrock, which he matches pridefully against the extravagant palms;
and it is he who has driven Melpomene to the wings, and set Comedy to
dancing before the footlights of the Southern Cross.

So, there is a little tale to tell of many things. Perhaps to the
promiscuous ear of the Walrus it shall come with most avail; for in
it there are indeed shoes and ships and sealing-wax and cabbage-palms
and presidents instead of kings.

Add to these a little love and counterplotting, and scatter
everywhere throughout the maze a trail of tropical dollars - dollars
warmed no more by the torrid sun than by the hot palms of the scouts
of Fortune - and, after all, here seems to be Life, itself, with talk
enough to weary the most garrulous of Walruses.



Coralio reclined, in the mid-day heat, like some vacuous beauty
lounging in a guarded harem. The town lay at the sea's edge on a
strip of alluvial coast. It was set like a little pearl in an emerald
band. Behind it, and seeming almost to topple, imminent, above it,
rose the sea-following range of the Cordilleras. In front the sea
was spread, a smiling jailer, but even more incorruptible than the
frowning mountains. The waves swished along the smooth beach; the
parrots screamed in the orange and ceiba-trees; the palms waved their
limber fronds foolishly like an awkward chorus at the prima donna's
cue to enter.

Suddenly the town was full of excitement. A native boy dashed down a
grass-grown street, shrieking: "_Busca el Señor Goodwin. Ha venido un
telégrafo por el!_"

The word passed quickly. Telegrams do not often come to anyone in
Coralio. The cry for Señor Goodwin was taken up by a dozen officious
voices. The main street running parallel to the beach became
populated with those who desired to expedite the delivery of the
despatch. Knots of women with complexions varying from palest olive
to deepest brown gathered at street corners and plaintively carolled:
"_Un telégrafo por Señor Goodwin!_" The _comandante_, Don Señor el
Coronel Encarnación Rios, who was loyal to the Ins and suspected
Goodwin's devotion to the Outs, hissed: "Aha!" and wrote in his
secret memorandum book the accusive fact that Señor Goodwin had on
that momentous date received a telegram.

In the midst of the hullabaloo a man stepped to the door of a small
wooden building and looked out. Above the door was a sign that read
"Keogh and Clancy" - a nomenclature that seemed not to be indigenous
to that tropical soil. The man in the door was Billy Keogh, scout
of fortune and progress and latter-day rover of the Spanish Main.
Tintypes and photographs were the weapons with which Keogh and Clancy
were at that time assailing the hopeless shores. Outside the shop
were set two large frames filled with specimens of their art and

Keogh leaned in the doorway, his bold and humorous countenance
wearing a look of interest at the unusual influx of life and sound
into the street. When the meaning of the disturbance became clear to
him he placed a hand beside his mouth and shouted: "Hey! Frank!" in
such a robustious voice that the feeble clamour of the natives was
drowned and silenced.

Fifty yards away, on the seaward side of the street, stood the abode
of the consul for the United States. Out from the door of this
building tumbled Goodwin at the call. He had been smoking with
Willard Geddie, the consul, on the back porch of the consulate, which
was conceded to be the coolest spot in Coralio.

"Hurry up," shouted Keogh. "There's a riot in town on account of a
telegram that's come for you. You want to be careful about these
things, my boy. It won't do to trifle with the feelings of the
public this way. You'll be getting a pink note some day with violet
scent on it; and then the country'll be steeped in the throes of a

Goodwin had strolled up the street and met the boy with the message.
The ox-eyed women gazed at him with shy admiration, for his type drew
them. He was big, blonde, and jauntily dressed in white linen, with
buckskin _zapatos_. His manner was courtly, with a sort of kindly
truculence in it, tempered by a merciful eye. When the telegram had
been delivered, and the bearer of it dismissed with a gratuity, the
relieved populace returned to the contiguities of shade from which
curiosity had drawn it - the women to their baking in the mud ovens
under the orange-trees, or to the interminable combing of their
long, straight hair; the men to their cigarettes and gossip in the

Goodwin sat on Keogh's doorstep, and read his telegram. It was from
Bob Englehart, an American, who lived in San Mateo, the capital city
of Anchuria, eighty miles in the interior. Englehart was a gold
miner, an ardent revolutionist and "good people." That he was a man
of resource and imagination was proven by the telegram he had sent.
It had been his task to send a confidential message to his friend in
Coralio. This could not have been accomplished in either Spanish or
English, for the eye politic in Anchuria was an active one. The Ins
and the Outs were perpetually on their guard. But Englehart was a
diplomatist. There existed but one code upon which he might make
requisition with promise of safety - the great and potent code of
Slang. So, here is the message that slipped, unconstrued, through
the fingers of curious officials, and came to the eye of Goodwin:

His Nibs skedaddled yesterday per jack-rabbit line with all
the coin in the kitty and the bundle of muslin he's spoony
about. The boodle is six figures short. Our crowd in good
shape, but we need the spondulicks. You collar it. The main
guy and the dry goods are headed for the briny. You know
what to do.


This screed, remarkable as it was, had no mystery for Goodwin. He
was the most successful of the small advance-guard of speculative
Americans that had invaded Anchuria, and he had not reached that
enviable pinnacle without having well exercised the arts of foresight
and deduction. He had taken up political intrigue as a matter of
business. He was acute enough to wield a certain influence among
the leading schemers, and he was prosperous enough to be able to
purchase the respect of the petty office-holders. There was always
a revolutionary party; and to it he had always allied himself; for
the adherents of a new administration received the rewards of their
labours. There was now a Liberal party seeking to overturn President
Miraflores. If the wheel successfully revolved, Goodwin stood to
win a concession to 30,000 manzanas of the finest coffee lands in
the interior. Certain incidents in the recent career of President
Miraflores had excited a shrewd suspicion in Goodwin's mind that the
government was near a dissolution from another cause than that of a
revolution, and now Englehart's telegram had come as a corroboration
of his wisdom.

The telegram, which had remained unintelligible to the Anchurian
linguists who had applied to it in vain their knowledge of Spanish
and elemental English, conveyed a stimulating piece of news to
Goodwin's understanding. It informed him that the president of the
republic had decamped from the capital city with the contents of the
treasury. Furthermore, that he was accompanied in his flight by that
winning adventuress Isabel Guilbert, the opera singer, whose troupe
of performers had been entertained by the president at San Mateo
during the past month on a scale less modest than that with which
royal visitors are often content. The reference to the "jack-rabbit
line" could mean nothing else than the mule-back system of transport
that prevailed between Coralio and the capital. The hint that the
"boodle" was "six figures short" made the condition of the national
treasury lamentably clear. Also it was convincingly true that the
ingoing party - its way now made a pacific one - would need the
"spondulicks." Unless its pledges should be fulfilled, and the spoils
held for the delectation of the victors, precarious indeed, would
be the position of the new government. Therefore it was exceeding
necessary to "collar the main guy," and recapture the sinews of war
and government.

Goodwin handed the message to Keogh.

"Read that, Billy," he said. "It's from Bob Englehart. Can you manage
the cipher?"

Keogh sat in the other half of the doorway, and carefully perused the

"'Tis not a cipher," he said, finally. "'Tis what they call
literature, and that's a system of language put in the mouths
of people that they've never been introduced to by writers of
imagination. The magazines invented it, but I never knew before that
President Norvin Green had stamped it with the seal of his approval.
'Tis now no longer literature, but language. The dictionaries tried,
but they couldn't make it go for anything but dialect. Sure, now that
the Western Union indorses it, it won't be long till a race of people
will spring up that speaks it."

"You're running too much to philology, Billy," said Goodwin. "Do you
make out the meaning of it?"

"Sure," replied the philosopher of Fortune. "All languages come easy
to the man who must know 'em. I've even failed to misunderstand an
order to evacuate in classical Chinese when it was backed up by the
muzzle of a breech-loader. This little literary essay I hold in my
hands means a game of Fox-in-the-Morning. Ever play that, Frank, when
you was a kid?"

"I think so," said Goodwin, laughing. "You join hands all 'round,
and - "

"You do not," interrupted Keogh. "You've got a fine sporting game
mixed up in your head with 'All Around the Rosebush.' The spirit of
'Fox-in-the-Morning' is opposed to the holding of hands. I'll tell
you how it's played. This president man and his companion in play,
they stand up over in San Mateo, ready for the run, and shout:
'Fox-in-the-Morning!' Me and you, standing here, we say: 'Goose and
the Gander!' They say: 'How many miles is it to London town?' We say:
'Only a few, if your legs are long enough. How many comes out?' They
say: 'More than you're able to catch.' And then the game commences."

"I catch the idea," said Goodwin. "It won't do to let the goose
and gander slip through our fingers, Billy; their feathers are too
valuable. Our crowd is prepared and able to step into the shoes of
the government at once; but with the treasury empty we'd stay in
power about as long as a tenderfoot would stick on an untamed bronco.
We must play the fox on every foot of the coast to prevent their
getting out of the country."

"By the mule-back schedule," said Keogh, "it's five days down from
San Mateo. We've got plenty of time to set our outposts. There's only
three places on the coast where they can hope to sail from - here and
Solitas and Alazan. They're the only points we'll have to guard. It's
as easy as a chess problem - fox to play, and mate in three moves. Oh,
goosey, goosey, gander, whither do you wander? By the blessing of the
literary telegraph the boodle of this benighted fatherland shall be
preserved to the honest political party that is seeking to overthrow

The situation had been justly outlined by Keogh. The down trail
from the capital was at all times a weary road to travel. A
jiggety-joggety journey it was; ice-cold and hot, wet and dry. The
trail climbed appalling mountains, wound like a rotten string about
the brows of breathless precipices, plunged through chilling snow-fed
streams, and wriggled like a snake through sunless forests teeming
with menacing insect and animal life. After descending to the
foothills it turned to a trident, the central prong ending at Alazan.
Another branched off to Coralio; the third penetrated to Solitas.
Between the sea and the foothills stretched the five miles breadth of
alluvial coast. Here was the flora of the tropics in its rankest and
most prodigal growth. Spaces here and there had been wrested from the
jungle and planted with bananas and cane and orange groves. The rest
was a riot of wild vegetation, the home of monkeys, tapirs, jaguars,
alligators and prodigious reptiles and insects. Where no road was cut
a serpent could scarcely make its way through the tangle of vines and
creepers. Across the treacherous mangrove swamps few things without
wings could safely pass. Therefore the fugitives could hope to reach
the coast only by one of the routes named.

"Keep the matter quiet, Billy," advised Goodwin. "We don't want
the Ins to know that the president is in flight. I suppose Bob's
information is something of a scoop in the capital as yet. Otherwise
he would not have tried to make his message a confidential one; and
besides, everybody would have heard the news. I'm going around now to
see Dr. Zavalla, and start a man up the trail to cut the telegraph

As Goodwin rose, Keogh threw his hat upon the grass by the door and
expelled a tremendous sigh.

"What's the trouble, Billy?" asked Goodwin, pausing. "That's the
first time I ever heard you sigh."

"'Tis the last," said Keogh. "With that sorrowful puff of wind I
resign myself to a life of praiseworthy but harassing honesty. What
are tintypes, if you please, to the opportunities of the great
and hilarious class of ganders and geese? Not that I would be a
president, Frank - and the boodle he's got is too big for me to
handle - but in some ways I feel my conscience hurting me for
addicting myself to photographing a nation instead of running away
with it. Frank, did you ever see the 'bundle of muslin' that His
Excellency has wrapped up and carried off?"

"Isabel Guilbert?" said Goodwin, laughing. "No, I never did. From
what I've heard of her, though, I imagine that she wouldn't stick at
anything to carry her point. Don't get romantic, Billy. Sometimes I
begin to fear that there's Irish blood in your ancestry."

"I never saw her either," went on Keogh; "but they say she's got all
the ladies of mythology, sculpture, and fiction reduced to chromos.
They say she can look at a man once, and he'll turn monkey and climb
trees to pick cocoanuts for her. Think of that president man with
Lord knows how many hundreds of thousands of dollars in one hand, and
this muslin siren in the other, galloping down hill on a sympathetic
mule amid songbirds and flowers! And here is Billy Keogh, because he
is virtuous, condemned to the unprofitable swindle of slandering the
faces of missing links on tin for an honest living! 'Tis an injustice
of nature."

"Cheer up," said Goodwin. "You are a pretty poor fox to be envying a
gander. Maybe the enchanting Guilbert will take a fancy to you and
your tintypes after we impoverish her royal escort."

"She could do worse," reflected Keogh; "but she won't. 'Tis not a
tintype gallery, but the gallery of the gods that she's fitted to
adorn. She's a very wicked lady, and the president man is in luck.
But I hear Clancy swearing in the back room for having to do all the
work." And Keogh plunged for the rear of the "gallery," whistling
gaily in a spontaneous way that belied his recent sigh over the
questionable good luck of the flying president.

Goodwin turned from the main street into a much narrower one that
intersected it at a right angle.

These side streets were covered by a growth of thick, rank grass,
which was kept to a navigable shortness by the machetes of the

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