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The Fourth in Salvador
by [?]

“Old Man Billfinger, being charged with a kind of rhetoric, makes speeches every time we stop. We explained to such citizens as we happened to step on that we were celebrating the dawn of our own private brand of liberty, and to please enter such inhumanities as we might commit on the list of unavoidable casualties.

“About eleven o’clock our bulletins read: ‘A considerable rise in temperature, accompanied by thirst and other alarming symptoms.’ We hooked arms and stretched our line across the narrow streets, all of us armed with Winchesters and navys for purposes of noise and without malice. We stopped on a street corner and fired a dozen or so rounds, and began a serial assortment of United States whoops and yells, probably the first ever heard in that town.

“When we made that noise things began to liven up. We heard a pattering up a side street, and here came General Mary Esperanza Dingo on a white horse with a couple of hundred brown boys following him in red undershirts and bare feet, dragging guns ten feet long. Jones and me had forgot all about General Mary and his promise to help us celebrate. We fired another salute and gave another yell, while the General shook hands with us and waved his sword.

“‘Oh, General,’ shouts Jones, ‘this is great. This will be a real pleasure to the eagle. Get down and have a drink.’

“‘Drink?’ says the general. ‘No. There is no time to drink. /Vive la Libertad/!’

“‘Don’t forget /E Pluribus Unum/!’ says Henry Barnes.

“‘/Viva/ it good and strong,’ says I. ‘Likewise, /viva/ George Washington. God save the Union, and,’ I says, bowing to Sterrett, ‘don’t discard the Queen.’

“‘Thanks,’ says Sterrett. ‘The next round’s mine. All in to the bar. Army, too.’

“But we were deprived of Sterrett’s treat by a lot of gunshots several square sway, which General Dingo seemed to think he ought to look after. He spurred his old white plug up that way, and the soldiers scuttled along after him.

“‘Mary is a real tropical bird,’ says Jones. ‘He’s turned out the infantry to help us to honour to the Fourth. We’ll get that cannon he spoke of after a while and fire some window-breakers with it. But just now I want some of that barbecued beef. Let us on to the plaza.’

“There we found the meat gloriously done, and Jerry waiting, anxious. We sat around on the grass, and got hunks of it on our tin plates. Maximilian Jones, always made tender-hearted by drink, cried some because George Washington couldn’t be there to enjoy the day. ‘There was a man I love, Billy,’ he says, weeping on my shoulder. ‘Poor George! To think he’s gone, and missed the fireworks. A little more salt, please, Jerry.’

“From what we could hear, General Dingo seemed to be kindly contributing some noise while we feasted. There were guns going off around town, and pretty soon we heard that cannon go ‘BOOM!’ just as he said it would. And then men began to skin along the edge of the plaza, dodging in among the orange trees and houses. We certainly had things stirred up in Salvador. We felt proud of the occasion and grateful to General Dingo. Sterrett was about to take a bite off a juicy piece of rib when a bullet took it away from his mouth.

“‘Somebody’s celebrating with ball cartridges,’ says he, reaching for another piece. ‘Little over-zealous for a non-resident patriot, isn’t it?’

“‘Don’t mind it,’ I says to him. ”Twas an accident. They happen, you know, on the Fourth. After one reading of the Declaration of Independence in New York I’ve known the S.R.O. sign to be hung out at all the hospitals and police stations.’

“But then Jerry gives a howl and jumps up with one hand clapped to the back of his leg where another bullet has acted over-zealous. And then comes a quantity of yells, and round a corner and across the plaza gallops General Mary Esperanza Dingo embracing the neck of his horse, with his men running behind him, mostly dropping their guns by way of discharging ballast. And chasing ’em all is a company of feverish little warriors wearing blue trousers and caps.