BLTC Press Titles


available for Kindle at Amazon.com


The Haunted Bookshop

Christopher Morely


Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman


Tao Te Ching

Lao Tzu, James Legge (trans.)


Paradoxes of the Highest Science

Eliphas Levi


Honk & Horace, or, Trimming the tropics

by Emmet Forrest Harte

Excerpt:

To Robert Mackay

In grateful acknowledgment of his unflagging

loyalty to Honk and Horace through

thick and thin, this volume is

inscribed by the Author

Honk and Horace

OR, TRIMMING THE TROPICS

CHAPTER I
WE GET STARTED

JUST a minute! Hancock Simpson — more familiarly 'known by the euphonious | sobriquet of Honk — is not the hero of this tale; jj neither do I arrogantly relegate to myself said enviable distinction; in fact, after due deliberation, we have decided that the yarn doesn't develop a hero anywhere in it. Heroism, and heroics, don't seem to flourish in our kind of common clay. There's too much hazard involved. Let Lionel van Antwerp clamber up the dizzy heights, clinging by his eyebrows and the skin of his teeth, to pluck at last the sprig of edelweiss for his dimpled Ethelberta, and good luck to him 1 But neither Honk nor I are seeking encomiums as exponents of personal risk.

This is hardly a love tale; it scarce qualifies as a ringing narrative of wild freebooter, or swashbuckling blade; nor is it much of a chronicle of wrongs righted, or rights wronged. Let us say rather it is a near-epic of the tropics; hot air, luxuriant vegetation, work, play, bananas, manana, burnt sienna, accompanied by the usual whimsies of fortune, and a sprinkling of vicissitudes, to give it spice. And — but, ah yes, beg pardon!

"Horace," said Honk to me, "in brief, the scheme is as follows, viz., and to wit: This old chanticleer I* ve been trying to tell you about — Jotham P. Stringfellow, by name — is worth, well, say forty-five million dollars. He made it in wheat, largely —"

"I beg pardon," I interrupted, "but was he a bovine or a bruin?"

"As to that, I 'm uninformed; but I "ll find out for you, some time, if you 'll quit interrupting me when I 'm talking. To continue, please: Jotham P. made all this money before he arrived at the age of fifty — forty-five millions, I believe I said. All right.

"What does he do, after having did it? Start up a corner in cotton, to make a try at doubling his holdings in one season? No 'm. Not Jotham P. He knows they 're laying for him. He, therefore, invests certain small change in an eighty-foot, sea-going yacht, big enough to climb up one side and down the other of all ordinary waves, and he takes a trip.

"Down around the West Indies and the Bahamas and the Mosquito Coast. Round those little snuff-colored corners of the world, he potters about, and noses into this, that and the other, for many, many, long summery months. However, it was winter up North at the time.

"Ever stop to think of that peculiar trait in people, Horace? No sooner do they get their talons on a few bushels of scads, than they immediately reverse the seasons. Instead of staying where they are, for a month or two longer, when the season would adjust itself to what they want, in January they split for Palm Beach where it's warm. Then, naturally, in August they're trying to get at least one foot inside the Arctic Circle, when, if they'd pause to consider, assuming of course that they 're blessed with one of those things you consider with — if, I say, they 'd stop to think, why, they could have summer at home, in August, and win ter in January, without stirring outside the front gate."

"Go on with your Caribbean Sea story," I interposed. "I've read all that about reversing the seasons, and turning night into day, and so forth. Chop it."

"Oh, very well! But Jotham P. was different, after all. He combined business with pleasure, thus throwing two stones at one avis. He stopped long enough in places to learn the names of streets, and to get acquainted with the clerk in the corner drugstore. It may have been that, deep down in Jotham's sight-seeing soul, he harbored an ambition to buy or annex and own all for himself, one of those little sweet do-nothing countries down there. At any rate, he procrastinated and investigated along, circumspectly, and, at last, in the course of time and tide, touched at the port of Santa Maria. Know where that is?


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