The Rabbit Revolution
EDITOR’S NOTE.—Arthur William Broun, the famous illustrator, is a Canadian. He has a younger brother living in Toronto, uho is establishing himself as a writer of clever short stories. They are herewith presented together, for the first time.
Adam Barnhart Brown
THE SUN fell, like a golden orange, into the maw of the white-toothed Cordilleras. A night-mist, flat and sinuous; as a snake, crept along the low and alluvial shore-line. The sea, churned by the screw of the coaster, showed phosphorescent in the steamer’s wake. Away to the smith-west a few lights glimmered at the water’s edge.
“Never thought they’d keep so close to these shores at night,” said the yellowfaced ciVil engineer.
“You never know how they’re going to do things, in the Banana Belt!” scoffed the fat inan in the steamer chair, as he lifted his feet to the railtop. “Look at their elections! Instead of having elections, they have pinwheel revolutions. Look at their présidents ! Instead of being statesmen, they’re play-actors! Look at Vinacosta ! I Look at Media himself!”
“Who’s Media?" languidly inquired thé engineer. I
“He’s the main squeeze of Vinacosta. I got to know him some when I was coffee-buying in that tinhorn republic of his. I also got to know the Canadian consul up there. And I’jre got to tell you about thkt.
** TJ IS name was Hoke I A Button. He hailed from the West and thought Winnipeg the very finest place on ; the map. He wasn’t far wrong; you realize that when you get down in the tropics.
“When Hoke left home for the torrid zone, his sister made him a farewell present of a chafing-dish.
She said you could never tell how things were cooked in those foreign places.
Wanted him to promise to cook all his food on it; but Hoke found it easier to mix cocktails. Besides, Felipe, his half-caste hombre, preferred a wood fire on a baked clay hearthstone.
Sometimes of an evening, however, Hoke’d bring out the chafing dish to make a Welsh rarebit. We’d sandwich it between a couple o’ cocktails, and it’d go very well.
“One day—Hoke told me himself—the President, riding back from inspecting a new fort or something, dropped in at the consulate to return the last official visit of Mr. Button. Hoke did the honors and mixed cocktails for him and his aides. The President was pleased as punch to see the inside of one of those queer fAmericano habitaciones. Hoke says he rubbered round like a rube from the corn
belt, watching the white lights for th« first
“Then, to give him an extra treat, Hoke trots out the nickel-plated chafing-dish, and lights the alcohol. He had a lot of ready-to-cook stuff lying handy, so he puts it over the flame. Soon he ladle# out to those surprised Vinacoetians a plateful each of first-class made-whileyou-wait Welsh rarebit.
“Say, were the President and his aides pleased? Were they? Well, they let out about twenty carambas of joy, and said it was the most beautiful thing they had ever tasted.
“All except one of the aides—Baron von Smerk—a fellow that’d been kicked out of the German army. He seemed quite satisfied with the consul’s whiskey.
“But the President fell on Hoke’s neck, and wanted to kiss him.
“ ‘What is it that you call it?’ he aaks, taking another forkful.
“ ‘Welsh rarebit,’ says Hoke. ‘D’ye like it, President?’
“‘Magnificent!’ gurgles the President. ‘It is a fine rabbit!’
“ ‘Rarebit,’ repeats Hoke. ‘Welsh-rarebit.’
“ ‘Rabbit, of course,’ says the President. ‘It is one of your funny Americanisms. You say Mock-duck, Mock-turtle, and now Mock-rabbit! Ha, ha! The’joke is good.’
“And Hoke couldn’t get him to think anything different.
“But, say, if the Welsh business pleased the President’s palate, the chafimç-dish fitted in on his want-list. He toolcyto it like a country cousin does a free ficket to a first-night performance.
“In fact, he got so tickled with it, that he ordered another on the spot—C.O.D. Though, when he found it’d take a couple of weeks to bring one from New York, his jaw felL Hoke said he felt real sorry for the old chap. So he puts on hia coat, makes a neat little speech, and presents the chief executive with his own chafingdish.
“Did the President refuse with dignity? Well, Hoke says he acted like a suburbanite at a bargain sale.
«•HP HAT was the way the game began
1 that early smashed up the noblehearted Government of a trustful republic. The President became so interested in his little omoe-killer that he let the official business slide. It was a regular figure-8 to him, He bought cook-books, subscribed to a Spanish household magazine, and laid in gallons of wood-alcohol.
“First he tried his hand on the Cabinet at a midnight council meeting. They daren’t refuse what he handed out, and next morning they looked like plaster busts dug out of Pompeii. The second time he invited them to supper, they resigned in a bunch. But he wouldn’t accept their resignations, so they had to resume office.
“The next time I mixed in with this funny business was when I strolled up to the palace to get some concession papers signed. The chocolate-colored sentry on guard woke up, and after I’d tipped him two centavos, passed me in. I found the President in the reception room fussing over a piled-up table. The doubledoors leading on to the front balcony were open and the noise from the plaza reminded me of Coney Island on a quiet July day.
“But the noise didn’t seem ,to worry the President any. Just then he was too busy to heçr it. He had a ladies’ pocketknife in his fist, and was digging it into an ochre-maroon cheese. I’m not sure if it was Roquefort; It might have been Dutch ; but I think it was Dago. I didn’t like to go to near.
“ ‘Umm!’ says the President. ‘This is pleasant cheese, but not just the flavor for a rabbit. Greetings, señor,’ he chirps to me. ‘You are opportunely come. Do you like cheese?* 1
“ ‘Why yes, President,’ I says; ‘I certainly do. But let that pass. I’m a vegetarian'to-day.’
•* RUT the old boy wasn’t listening. He digs a hole in the cheese and pours in a lot of white wine—to improve the flavor, I guess. Coal oil would have doné as well! I saw the chafing-dssh, set on one of those Louis-Quinze tapies, like a German-Ohio antique on a teak fruitstand.
“The reception room in the Palace at Vinaeosta couldn’t look the Waldorf-Astoria in the face, but it was all there with the Fifth Avenue fixings, so far as those g i m c r a c k places go. The high pillars at each corner used to be white, but at that time they were burntorange, and two of them had been cracked by careless revoluti o n i 9 t s. I thought the blue and green festoons over the windows and door looked quite artistk*. But I didn’t like to see a sliced melon dripping over an elegant purple plush sofa.
“Just as I got my business finished, the door swings open and in marches General An-* asta si o Casandra, the President’s chief adjutant.
“ ‘Your Excellency,’ ' says he, bowing, ‘as were your orders, the CfcaWatait-quack doctor has been arrested. He awaits below.’
“‘Eh, what!’ says the President, waking up.
‘Quack? What has he done?’
“‘Your Excellency will remember,’ goes on the General, *that the German consul requested his deportation.’
“‘Oh, yes,’ says the President, wearily,
‘I remember. I would like to
have his opinion on a little dish. But I suppose it can’t be.’
“ ‘What will we do with him, Excellency?’
“ "Oh—er—let me see,’ wiggles the Old Man. ‘Oh, send him to Porto Cruz and put him on board that ship in the harbor bound for New York. They like quacks. I read in Blanco y Negro that in the New York cafés alone they devour immense numbers of canvas-backed quacks. What cannibals Americanos are?’
“‘Your orders shall be carried out,’ says the.adjutant-bird. ‘But also I have sequestered the doctor’s medicine-chest. What do you wish done with it?’
“‘Do with it?’ repeats the President. ‘Can’t you1 see I am busy, General? Bring it in here, and I’ll look over it when I have time. By the way/ he calls, as Casandra backs out, -‘when the vegetableman comes with the onions, show him up.’ “Just then one of his aides hurried in.
He was only a colonel, but he made it up in hi» uniform.
“ 'Your Excellency/ says he, ‘I have to report that last, night the garrison of San Jupe mutinied and in the courtyard burnt Your Excellency in effigy.’
“ ‘Tut, tut/ says the President. ‘Where did you say they burnt me, Colonel?’
“ ‘Right in the centre of the courtyard, your Excellency!’
“ * I 'HEY were interrupted by Casandra bringing in a little black leather case, fixed up with rows of labeled bottles. You know the kind; about the 9ize of a kid’s dress-»uit case. He put it down by the table, and we went out, leaving the President to his carnivorous thoughts.
“In the hallway the General dropped a few tears on my shoulder.
‘“Ah, señor/ says he, ‘you have seen! Is it not sad? Our President gives so little time to affairs of state ; his mind is occupied with foolish vanities! And even now, Don Esteban, the Liberal leader, makes speeches against the Government, and no one arrests him! I believe it eats lettuce and blades of gTass.’
“‘What does?’ I asks, startled, ‘the Liberal leader?’
“ ‘No, señor, the rabbit,’ says the General, weeping some more.
“I felt so sorry for the poor old man that I took him over to the nearest bar, Amdric a n style, and gave him a dripk.
“Going back, as I passed the old Spanish Cathedral. I met Baron von Smerk.one of the President's aides. The baron was standing at one side, watching the women come frobi mass. Whenever he’d see a particularly pretty one he’d twirl his mustache and¡ puff out the new uniform that he’d stolen from a German band conductor.
“He wais glad to see me; quite affable, in fact. I heard later that the President had just given him ten per centof the customs .dues.
“After We’d passed a few cheerful remarks, I mentioned being up at the Palace. i
“‘Yes. it is unfortunate,’ 9ay9 the baron. tTjie President wastes his time on fool things. And he burns alcohol—actually sets it on fire—alcohol! Ach Himmel! Can men be so crazy? I hear the Liberals are Organizing an army in the north. There will be a revolution ! What will be the outcome? I do not know’.’
“'TpHE Inext day I dropped in at the cqnstilate to get a taste of home. Hoke meti me wearing a smile, wide as the lakefrpnt back in old Toronto.
“ ‘It’s awful funny,’ says he, beginning to mix the, cocktails. ‘The fact is, this dear old President has went and gone and invited the Cabinet Ministers and all his favorite Generals to a special midnight supper at) the Palace.’ Hoke burst out laughing, and nearly upset the olives. ‘He
won’t take any refusal, so the poor beggars have to go or be arrested! I’m to go too, he says. Sort o’ delicate compliment to the Dominion! And the whole show is simply for us to taste one of the President’s-.’
“‘Can it!’ I yells. ‘I see them in my dreams !’
“ ‘Well, anyway, that’s what it’s for,’ finishes Hoke, handing me a glass. ‘That’s better than the stuff we’ll get to-night!’
“The rest of the story I got partly from w’hat I picked up, but mostly from my friend, the consul.
“Hoke hustled into his party ducks and made the Palace in time to help the President with his nickel indigestion plant.
“After awhile the other guests straggled in by twos and threes. There were about ten little, greasy-faced, frock-coated men, and a dozen Generals. Talk about gorgeousness! Say, as far as decorations go, the military bugs of Vinacosta have the Russian Grand Dukes breaking stone at Sing Sing! Champagne and sandwiches were served out—to give ’em an appetite, Hoke said. It made them look more cheerful, anyway.
“Then the President rolled up his sleeves and began. First he poured a bottle of English beer into the saucepan and started it to simmering. Then he unwrapped the cheese.
“Just then General Casandra hurried in.
“ ‘Your Excellency,’ says he, ‘the tele-
graph operator reports the revolutionary army has captured the town of San Blanco, fifty miles away.’
“ ‘Well,’ says the President, sweetly, ‘ie not San Blanco still fifty miles away?’ “The General didn’t have the answer. ■But—but—’ he says.
“ ‘Another interruption,’ says the President. ‘I suppose I must do something! How many troops are at our disposal?’
“ ’There is the garrison of San Jupe,’ answers the General, ‘but they have a disloyalty; and there are 125 soldiers at the St. Patro barracks. The main part of the army, Excellency, is stationed at Porto Cruz.’
“ ‘In that case,’ says the President^ ‘we may be thankful that there is a brewery at San Blanco.’
“And after that he cut up an onion, while the guests nervously ate sandwiches.
T T WAS getting dark, * Hoke said, when sudly Baron von Smerk ms in with his clothes all _sty. “‘President!’ he shouts, ‘the garrison of San Jupe have arisen and are marching on the Palace! I only escaped by the skin of my teeth!’ “The President looked put out. “But one of the guests, General Esteban Castillo ^y Urbina, who always spoke of home as ‘th’ owld sod,’ stepped bef o r e the dictator. “ ‘President, dear,’ says he.
‘Sure an’ I’ll not stand by an’ see ye devoured like a timid gazelle by thim blackfaced, decayed sardines! Be jabbers, I will not! I think me regiment at the St. Patro barracks is loyal, so come wid me, President, dear, an’ we’ll swape the whitefaced hyenas into the sea entirely!’
“ ‘General mio,’ says the President, with a sad, sweet smile, ‘would you, who are a soldier and a man of honor,-axpect me to desert a half-cooked rabbit?’
' “Most of the Cabinet had slipped out the back way, and the Generals weren’t wasting any time, either. The baron stepped out on the balcony; in a minute he called back that the rebels were entering the square. Hoke went over to have a look. He didn’t feel particularly happy, and wondered if they’d remember he was the Canadian consul.
ELL, the troops marched into the plaza, while behind them romped a crowd of half-caste citizens and riff-raff of the outskirts. Hoke says the torches threw a lurid glare over the set faces of the sullen soldiery. I don’t quite believe this, but it sounds good. At one side stood a committee of three ‘Liberal’ members of Congress.
“The bare-footed army drew up in a line about 150 strong, with the officers in front, and a generalissimo to harangue them.
“ ‘My braxe men,’ Hoke heard the leader say. T havle led you here to redress your ¡ wrongs! You starve beneath the heels of the autocrat! But I will see you fed! In twenty minutes, I pledge you my word, the private stores of the despot will delight your palates, and the President’s kitchen will cater to your tastes! Viva Liber; fad!'
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Continued from page 19
“Hoke stepped back to the President. ‘You better make your getaway right now.’ he says. ‘The rabbit must run to its little hole.’
The President gulped.
“ ‘Too late,’ says von Sraerk. ‘Here they are now !’
“All the guests had slipped away except General Castillo, the baron, and Hoke. Probably the General hadn't much faith in his regiment; perhaps he liked the champagne. As for the baron—well, he had nowhere else to go.
“As Hoke turned to the President again, the door swung open, and in strode the revolutionary officers. And the GeneralI is simo!
“They were a beautiful and inspiring 'itrht. But the (generalissimo!
“He was rigged out like a Sioux chief! He had on gold brajd enough to start a mint; he had on epaulet«, brass buttons.
medals, and five hundred dollars’ worth of rooster feathers in his hat. His nearwhite gauntleted hand grabbed the hilt of a sword that looked twice too big for him.
T X THE doorway he came to a dead halt. He drew his sword a couple of inches, and glanced around, giving an exact imitation of a Russian prince looking for a bomb.
“Two coffee-colored drummers in the plaza began to beat kettle-drums, and a five-piece brass band struck up, ‘I’m Afraid to Go Home in the Dark!’ The committee of three Liberal Congressmen slipped in the door, rubbing their hands, all ready to make speeches.
‘“Welcome, Senores,’ smiles the President; ‘you are just in time for the feast, You see we are unarmed. So enter.’
“ ‘Haah,’ rumbled the Generalissimo, and drew his hip-razor another inch, “The President got wise to what he meant. He directed General Castillo and the baron to give up their swords. The General didn’t want to, but the President was firm. The swords were handed over to the Brigadier.
“ ‘Xow, Señores,’ says the President, T beg of you to enter.’
“The Ger.eraiissimo advanced, frowning. His shoes squeaked and his sword clanked and the drums marked time. He stopped, and off came the hat with the $500 worth of turkey feathers in a full arm sweep.
“‘Tu-rump! Tu-rump!—Blumb!’ went the drums.
“General Castillo opened a bottle of champagne.
“The Generalissimo looked at the President, sternly.
“ ‘As representing the army of our glorious republic,’ he cries, ‘I declare you are no longer fit to wield our manifold destinies. Under you the constitution has been frittered away, even as a rabbit nibbles cabbage!’
“That’s where the Generalissimo played into a bunker.
“ ‘One moment,’ says the Preside«, holding up his hand. ‘I have here a little dish of surpassing deliciousness. I beg, Generals and Senores, you will partake. And afterwards we will discuss business. Yes?’
“The Generalissimo was going to refuse, when his eye fell on the sweet champagne, and he paused.
‘“For a small space I will accept hospitality,’ says he. ‘But remember, if treachery is intended, like a bomb-shell I wili burst through your perfidy and make utter destruction!’
XX7 HEN he sat down. The rest of his * * gang sat down. So there they were —a round dozen of ’em—with one ear cocked to the plaza and both eyes on the champagne.
“Hoke poured out fizz for the General issimo, his officers, and the three Liberal Congressmen. By this time the cheese was melted to a nice, unwholesome looking fluid, about the consistency of oatmeal. The President seasoned it with mustard, dropped in some Worcester sauce, and smelled it. Then he walked over to the side-table where the medicinecase they’d lifted from the quack-doctor was. Out of the corner of his eye Hoke saw him pick one of the bottles. It was labelled ‘Strychnine.’
“ ‘No, no,’ sighs the President, ‘I will never stoop to that. It would give the rabbit a bad name.’ And he put it in the case again.
“In a second his eye caught another bottle marked ‘Morphine.’ He drew is out and wTent back. The Generalissimo, who was putting away his third glass of chan.pagne, didn’t notice much. The President smiling winningly, turned his back on the company, and emptied the morphine bottle into the cheese. After shaking in salt and pepper, he added a teaspoonful of oleo-margarine; then he ordered up hot toast from the kitchen, also a dozen heated plates.
“Hoke put the baronWise, and he only let the exact number come in.
“ 'At last,’ says the President, squinting at the flame. ‘My friends, have patience! In two or three minutes the dish will be cooked to a niceness.’
“The Generalissimo didn’t like to keep the army waiting, but he felt too sure of himself to make a kick.
44 A FTER the President had arranged the twelve pieces of toast on the twelve plates, he garnished them with cabbage and onion, real fancy.
“Hoke and the baron passed it out. But the Generalissimo didn’t seem a bit pleased.
“ ‘Eat and enjoy,’ says the President.
“ ‘It has a queer smell,’ says a Colonel, ‘but the taste is sweet-’
“ ‘Hasten, my dear General,’ smooths the President. “When you are satisfied we will do business.’
“ ‘Well, there are many things I wish to say,’ says the Generalissimo. So he gets busy. So did the rest of the bunch. They finished it up like little men.
“ ‘Now that it is over,’ chirps the President. ‘You were saying-’
“But the Generalissimo didn’t care what he was saying. He stood up and waved his hand. Then he sat down again.
“ ‘I have a feeling,’ he moans, ‘that I— that I—Ah!’ He tried to find his sword.
“ ‘Treachery,’ he began to mumble, with his head resting on an epaulet. ‘We are betrayed!’ he whispered indifferently. Then he sank dreamily back on the purple plush sofa. The other eleven feasters hadn’t a wold to say. They were busy themselves, getting tickets for Dreamland.
“Just then came a racket from outside. It was the alrmy getting impatient.
“ ‘Food, food!’ they were yelling. ‘Give us food! We starve at your door, tyrant!’ “ ‘Ah, my soldiers desire food,’ says the Piesident. ''They are hungry. So! I will address them.’
“The Generalissimo made a last effort. ‘Ruffian,’ he whispers, ‘I will call to my troops. I will-’
“Baron von Smerk drew his revolver, but it wasn’t needed.
44 A S THE President stepped out on the balcony thete wTas an awful outbreak from the crowd. Hoke says for afew jninutes the purple night was lemon-colored with howls, shrieks, and the Central American college yells.
‘“We denjand food!’ the army yells. ‘We famish beneath you, despot! Down with the oppressors of the poor!’
“So it was up to the President “ ‘Soldiers.’ he says, in a quiet voice.
‘listen ! Such a behavior is most unseemly. While the officers who have led you here are within, eating their fill and drinking the wine of Bordeaux, you should not interrupt them!’
“At that there was another fearful outburst. Hoke says he thought some of the little soldiers would do themselves an injury. They threw fits. They frothed at the mouth. They said things that made the atmosphere sizzle. The band broke into the ‘Merry Widow’ waltz, then suddenly remembering where they were, made a quick twist into the ‘Marseillaise.’ At last the President got a word in.
“‘My men,’ he cries, ‘hear! I speak! You have been foully cheated! The creatures who have stolen your confidence are self-seeking adventurers! They think only of filling their own stomachs. They come here intending to oust me from my sacred trust, using you noble patriots as their tools! They say **ou will be fed. But do they keep their promises? No! They do not! But I, Ramon St, Valentino Media, have a heart that beats for ray gallant troops! I, even I, will feed you! Hear, I will give the orders. Colonel von Smerk,’ he calls over his shoulder, ‘have my private stores thrown open to these brave lads, and command the Palace kitcheners to prepare the necessary supplies! Now, my friends,’ he fcays, turning to the plaza ¿gain, ‘in four minutes yo.u will be filled to a fullness. Also,’ he spouts a9 a finishing touch, ‘all your back pay shall be sent to you to-morrow!' “Say, that fixed it. When the boss spellbinder came to an end, the soldiers gave one gasp. Then they caught their breath and yelled:
‘“Via libertad! Via el army! LONG LIVE PRESIDENT MEDIA!’
“And the rabbit revolution was over.
“ * AND HOW’,’ asked the President of ** Hoke, when it was all over, ‘would you have handled a situation such as this up in Canada?’
“Hoke thought it over for a moment,
“ ‘When our politicians* get up against it,’ he said, ‘they generally hand the people out a line of soft stuff—though not rabbits—just talk and promises. On thawhole,’ he summed up, ‘I guess there isn’t much difference in our methods after all.’ ”