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The Fourth in Salvador
by [?]

“‘Do you know,’ says Sterrett, setting his glasses on his nose, ‘I like your cheek in asking me if I’ll join you; blast me if I don’t. You might have known I would, without asking. Not as a traitor to my own country, but for the intrinsic joy of a blooming row.’

“On the morning of the Fourth I woke up in that old shanty of an ice factory feeling sore. I looked around at the wreck of all I possessed, and my heart was full of bile. From where I lay on my cot I could look through the window and see the consul’s old ragged Stars and Stripes hanging over his shack. ‘You’re all kinds of a fool, Billy Casparis,’ I said to myself; ‘and of all your crimes against sense it does look like this idea of celebrating the Fourth should receive the award of demerit. Your business is busted up, your thousand dollars is gone into the kitty of this corrupt country on that last bluff you made, you’ve got just fifteen Chili dollars left, worth forty-six cents each at bedtime last night and steadily going down. To-day you’ll blow in your last cent hurrahing for that flag, and to-morrow you’ll be living on bananas from the stalk and screwing your drinks out of your friends. What’s the flag done for you? While you were under it you worked for what you got. You wore your finger nails down skinning suckers, and salting mines, and driving bears and alligators off your town lot additions. How much does patriotism count for on deposit with the little man with the green eye-shade in the savings-bank adds up your book? Suppose you were to get pinched over here in this irreligious country for some little crime or other, and appealed to your country for protection–what would it do for you? Turn your appeal over to a committee of one railroad man, an army officer, a member of each labour union, and a coloured man to investigate whether any of your ancestors were ever related to a cousin of Mark Hanna, and then file the papers in the Smithsonian Institution until after the next election. That’s the kind of a sidetrack the Stars and Stripes would switch you onto.’

“You can see that I was feeling like an indigo plant; but after I washed my face in some cool water, and got out my navys and ammunition, and started up to the Saloon of the Immaculate Saints where we were to meet, I felt better. And when I saw those other American boys come swaggering into the trysting place–cool, easy, conspicuous fellows, ready to risk any kind of a one-card draw, or to fight grizzlies, fire, or extradition, I began to feel glad I was one of ’em. So, I says to myself again: ‘Billy, you’ve got fifteen dollars and a country left this morning–blow in the dollars and blow up the town as an American gentleman should on Independence Day.’

“It is my recollection that we began the day along conventional lines. The six of us–for Sterrett was along–made progress among the cantinas, divesting the bars as we went of all strong drink bearing American labels. We kept informing the atmosphere as to the glory and preeminence of the United States and its ability to subdue, outjump, and eradicate the other nations of the earth. And, as the findings of American labels grew more plentiful, we became more contaminated with patriotism. Maximilian Jones hopes that our late foe, Mr. Sterrett, will not take offense at our enthusiasm. He sets down his bottle and shakes Sterrett’s hand. ‘As white man to white man,’ says he, ‘denude our uproar of the slightest taint of personality. Excuse us for Bunker Hill, Patrick Henry, and Waldorf Astor, and such grievances as might lie between us as nations.’

“‘Fellow hoodlums,’ says Sterrett, ‘on behalf of the Queen I ask you to cheese it. It is an honour to be a guest at disturbing the peace under the American flag. Let us chant the passionate strains of “Yankee Doodle” while the senor behind the bar mitigates the occasion with another round of cochineal and aqua fortis.’