Fox-in-the-Morning

Coralioreclined,inthemid-dayheat,likesomevacuousbeautylounginginaguardedharem.Thetownlayatthesea’sedgeonastripofalluvialcoast.Itwassetlikealittlepearlinanemeraldband.Behindit,andseemingalmosttotopple,imminent,aboveit,rosethesea-followingrangeoftheCordilleras.Infronttheseawasspread,asmilingjailer,butevenmoreincorruptiblethanthefrowningmountains.Thewavesswishedalongthesmoothbeach;theparrotsscreamedintheorangeandceiba-trees;thepalmswavedtheirlimberfrondsfoolishlylikeanawkwardchorusattheprimadonna’scuetoenter.

Suddenlythetownwasfullofexcitement.Anativeboydasheddownagrass-grownstreet,shrieking:“BuscaelSeñorGoodwin.Havenidountelégrafoporel!”

Thewordpassedquickly.TelegramsdonotoftencometoanyoneinCoralio.ThecryforSeñorGoodwinwastakenupbyadozenofficiousvoices.Themainstreetrunningparalleltothebeachbecamepopulatedwiththosewhodesiredtoexpeditethedeliveryofthedespatch.Knotsofwomenwithcomplexionsvaryingfrompalestolivetodeepestbrowngatheredatstreetcornersandplaintivelycarolled:“UntelégrafoporSeñorGoodwin!”Thecomandante,DonSeñorelCoronelEncarnaciónRios,whowasloyaltotheInsandsuspectedGoodwin’sdevotiontotheOuts,hissed:“Aha!”andwroteinhissecretmemorandumbooktheaccusivefactthatSeñorGoodwinhadonthatmomentousdatereceivedatelegram.

Inthemidstofthehullabalooamansteppedtothedoorofasmallwoodenbuildingandlookedout.Abovethedoorwasasignthatread“KeoghandClancy”anomenclaturethatseemednottobeindigenoustothattropicalsoil.

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