Tales of Adventurers

Tales of Adventurers by Geoffrey Household

Book: Tales of Adventurers by Geoffrey Household Read Free Book Online
Authors: Geoffrey Household
country and I don’t want to be expelled for offending the national dignity. If
they like to say the general was murdered, it has nothing to do with us. The general was a cattleman, and he didn’t approve of the oil interests. And there’s the motive, and who am I to
contradict the voice of the people? When North, South or Central Americans decide that a myth is worth believing, you just have to let them believe it.
    Good Lord, no!
I
don’t believe it! I know most of the oil executives out here, and in fact they rather admired the general. As dictators go, he was a gentleman. A trifle ruthless,
of course. But most of his competitors turned up at his funeral and dropped tears. One of thankfulness to one of sorrow, and that’s as much as any of us can expect.
    The funeral was a wonderful show. There was the old boy laid out on ice in the cathedral – oldest Christian building on the American continent, they say – with eight tall lancers,
all plumes and pennons, round the bier, like weeping willows providing shade for a horticultural exhibit.
    I’m the resident correspondent for a group of British newspapers. It’s hard to get anything at all printed about this happy country, but just to please my friends here I have to try.
I was wandering round the cathedral after visiting hours, hoping to get a touch of atmosphere, when in came a newspaperman from New York insisting that he must take a few shots for the world.
    It was the word
world
that flattered them – though it may have been the name of his paper. We feel a bit out of the world down here and, instead of thanking God for it, we take it
as a reproach. So they propped Covadillas up for his photo and shoveled away some flowers and moved the candles. The dean told the lancers to look sorrowful, and preached them such an impromptu
sermon on the nation’s loss that they wept buckets. Then the reporter flashed his shots and strolled out – whipping off his hat again when he suddenly remembered where he was –
and the old boy was eased back to a more comfortable position on the ice. It takes an American to understand Americans.
    Well, I couldn’t compete with that. A quarter inch of space was the utmost my papers would give to Covadillas’ funeral. It wasn’t news. After all, nobody can plant a statesman
as magnificently as we can ourselves – as we’ll know very well if we are ever buried in Westminster Abbey and have any bit of us left that isn’t too bewildered to be
impressed.
    So I decided that my only chance of persuading the Republic that the London dailies knew it existed was to describe the quiet country ceremony. Editors would at least be interested. It’s a
queer thing about the English – like the general, they all want to be planted in two different places, and one of them is usually in the country.
    Covadillas, you’ll remember, had asked that, whatever the politicians did with his body, his heart should be buried on the
estancia
at Manzanares where he was born. He had no
illusions about all the pomposities of Church and State. That was why the people who loved him really did love him.
    Manzanares is eight hours from the capital on a line that goes wandering up over the savanna to nowhere in particular. It has one train a day; and that I took, the morning before the ceremony,
in order to avoid the crowd on the funeral special which was traveling up that night with a load of bigwigs and personal friends, and leaving again in the afternoon.
    Now that I’ve got as far as this, I’d better tell you the rest. After all, you’re sailing tomorrow. My dear fellow, the evidence for assassination was overwhelming! It’s
a revolting story. Ha! Ha! Ha! Just plain revolting!
    When I got to Manzanares, I found that there was no village at all. There was a patch of dust on the plain, where stood the station, two iron huts and the
fonda,
and no landmark but the
railway which cut the visible world into two exact semicircles. It was obvious

Similar Books

Tzili

Aharon Appelfeld

Fortunes Obsession

Jerome Reyer

The Dark Blood of Poppies

Freda Warrington

Forgotten Place

LS Sygnet

Proof of Guilt

Charles Todd

Loving Promises

Gail Gaymer Martin