In the Gate City of the South the Confederate Veterans were reuniting;
and I stood to see them march, beneath the tangled flags of the great
conflict, to the hall of their oratory and commemoration.
While the irregular and halting line was passing I made onslaught upon
it and dragged from the ranks my friend Barnard O'Keefe, who had no
right to be there. For he was a Northerner born and bred; and what
should he be doing halloing for the Stars and Bars among those gray
and moribund veterans? And why should he be trudging, with his
shining, martial, humorous, broad face, among those warriors of a
previous and alien generation?
I say I dragged him forth, and held him till the last hickory leg and
waving goatee had stumbled past. And then I hustled him out of the
crowd into a cool interior; for the Gate City was stirred that day,
and the hand-organs wisely eliminated "Marching Through Georgia" from
"Now, what deviltry are you up to?" I asked of O'Keefe when there were
a table and things in glasses between us.
O'Keefe wiped his heated face and instigated a commotion among the
floating ice in his glass before he chose to answer.
"I am assisting at the wake," said he, "of the only nation on earth
that ever did me a good turn. As one gentleman to another, I am
ratifying and celebrating the foreign policy of the late Jefferson
Davis, as fine a statesman as ever settled the financial question of a
country. Equal ratio--that was his platform--a barrel of money for a
barrel of flour--a pair of $20 bills for a pair of boots--a hatful of
currency for a new hat--say, ain't that simple compared with W. J. B's
little old oxidized plank?"
"What talk is this?" I asked. "Your financial digression is merely a
subterfuge. Why were you marching in the ranks of the Confederate
"Because, my lad," answered O'Keefe, "the Confederate Government in
its might and power interposed to protect and defend Barnard O'Keefe
against immediate and dangerous assassination at the hands of a blood-
thirsty foreign country after the Unites States of America had
overruled his appeal for protection, and had instructed Private
Secretary Cortelyou to reduce his estimate of the Republican majority
for 1905 by one vote."
"Come, Barney," said I, "the Confederate States of America has been
out of existence nearly forty years. You do not look older yourself.
When was it that the deceased government exerted its foreign policy in
"Four months ago," said O'Keefe, promptly. "The infamous foreign power
I alluded to is still staggering from the official blow dealt it by
Mr. Davis's contraband aggregation of states. That's why you see me
cake-walking with the ex-rebs to the illegitimate tune about 'simmon-
seeds and cotton. I vote for the Great Father in Washington, but I am
not going back on Mars' Jeff. You say the Confederacy has been dead
forty years? Well, if it hadn't been for it, I'd have been breathing
to-day with soul so dead I couldn't have whispered a single cuss-word
about my native land. The O'Keefes are not overburdened with
I must have looked bewildered. "The war was over," I said vacantly,
O'Keefe laughed loudly, scattering my thoughts.
"Ask old Doc Millikin if the war is over!" he shouted, hugely
diverted. "Oh, no! Doc hasn't surrendered yet. And the Confederate
States! Well, I just told you they bucked officially and solidly and
nationally against a foreign government four months ago and kept me
from being shot. Old Jeff's country stepped in and brought me off
under its wing while Roosevelt was having a gunboat repainted and
waiting for the National Campaign Committee to look up whether I had
ever scratched the ticket."
"Isn't there a story in this, Barney?" I asked.
"No," said O'Keefe; "but I'll give you the facts. You know I went down
to Panama when this irritation about a canal began. I thought I'd get
in on the ground floor. I did, and had to sleep on it, and drink water
with little zoos in it; so, of course, I got the Chagres fever. That
was in a little town called San Juan on the coast.
"After I got the fever hard enough to kill a Port-au-Prince nigger, I
had a relapse in the shape of Doc Millikin.
"There was a doctor to attend a sick man! If Doc Millikin had your
case, he made the terrors of death seem like an invitation to a
donkey-party. He had the bedside manners of a Piute medicine-man and
the soothing presence of a dray loaded with iron bridge-girders. When
he laid his hand on your fevered brow you felt like Cap John Smith
just before Pocahontas went his bail.
"Well, this old medical outrage floated down to my shack when I sent
for him. He was build like a shad, and his eyebrows was black, and his
white whiskers trickled down from his chin like milk coming out of a
sprinkling-pot. He had a nigger boy along carrying an old tomato-can
full of calomel, and a saw.
"Doc felt my pulse, and then he began to mess up some calomel with an
agricultural implement that belonged to the trowel class.
"'I don't want any death-mask made yet, Doc,' I says, 'nor my liver
put in a plaster-of-Paris cast. I'm sick; and it's medicine I need,
"'You're a blame Yankee, ain't you?' asked Doc, going on mixing up his
"'I'm from the North,' says I, 'but I'm a plain man, and don't care
for mural decorations. When you get the Isthmus all asphalted over
with that boll-weevil prescription, would you mind giving me a dose of
pain-killer, or a little strychnine on toast to ease up this feeling
of unhealthiness that I have got?"
"'They was all sassy, just like you,' says old Doc, 'but we lowered
their temperature considerable. Yes, sir, I reckon we sent a good many
of ye over to old /mortuis nisi bonum/. Look at Antietam and Bull Run
and Seven Pines and around Nashville! There never was a battle where
we didn't lick ye unless you was ten to our one. I knew you were a
blame Yankee the minute I laid eyes on you.'
"'Don't reopen the chasm, Doc,' I begs him. 'Any Yankeeness I may have
is geographical; and, as far as I am concerned, a Southerner is as
good as a Filipino any day. I'm feeling to bad too argue. Let's have
secession without misrepresentation, if you say so; but what I need is
more laudanum and less Lundy's Lane. If you're mixing that compound
gefloxide of gefloxicum for me, please fill my ears with it before you
get around to the battle of Gettysburg, for there is a subject full of
"By this time Doc Millikin had thrown up a line of fortifications on
square pieces of paper; and he says to me: 'Yank, take one of these
powders every two hours. They won't kill you. I'll be around again
about sundown to see if you're alive.'
"Old Doc's powders knocked the chagres. I stayed in San Juan, and got
to knowing him better. He was from Mississippi, and the red-hottest
Southerner that ever smelled mint. He made Stonewall Jackson and R. E.
Lee look like Abolitionists. He had a family somewhere down near Yazoo
City; but he stayed away from the States on account of an
uncontrollable liking he had for the absence of a Yankee government.
Him and me got as thick personally as the Emperor of Russia and the
dove of peace, but sectionally we didn't amalgamate.
"'Twas a beautiful system of medical practice introduced by old Doc
into that isthmus of land. He'd take that bracket-saw and the mild
chloride and his hypodermic, and treat anything from yellow fever to a
"Besides his other liabilities Doc could play a flute for a minute or
two. He was guilty of two tunes--'Dixie' and another one that was
mighty close to the 'Suwanee River'--you might say one of its
tributaries. He used to come down and sit with me while I was getting
well, and aggrieve his flute and say unreconstructed things about the
North. You'd have thought that the smoke from the first gun at Fort
Sumter was still floating around in the air.
"You know that was about the time they staged them property
revolutions down there, that wound up in the fifth act with the
thrilling canal scene where Uncle Sam has nine curtain-calls holding
Miss Panama by the hand, while the bloodhounds keep Senator Morgan
treed up in a cocoanut-palm.
"That's the way it wound up; but at first it seemed as if Colombia was
going to make Panama look like one of the $3.98 kind, with dents made
in it in the factory, like they wear at North Beach fish fries. For
mine, I played the straw-hat crowd to win; and they gave me a
colonel's commission over a brigade of twenty-seven men in the left
wing and second joint of the insurgent army.
"The Colombian troops were awfully rude to us. One day when I had my
brigade in a sandy spot, with its shoes off doing a battalion drill by
squads, the Government army rushed from behind a bush at us, acting as
noisy and disagreeable as they could.
"My troops enfiladed, left-faced, and left the spot. After enticing
the enemy for three miles or so we struck a brier-patch and had to sit
down. When we were ordered to throw up our toes and surrender we
obeyed. Five of my best staff-officers fell, suffering extremely with
"Then and there those Colombians took your friend Barney, sir,
stripped him of the insignia of his rank, consisting of a pair of
brass knuckles and a canteen of rum, and dragged him before a military
court. The presiding general went through the usual legal formalities
that sometimes cause a case to hang on the calendar of a South
American military court as long as ten minutes. He asked me my age,
and then sentenced me to be shot.
"They woke up the court interpreter, an American named Jenks, who was
in the rum business and vice versa, and told him to translate the
"Jenks stretched himself and took a morphine tablet.
"'You've got to back up against th' 'dobe, old man,' says he to me.
'Three weeks, I believe, you get. Haven't got a chew of fine-cut on
you, have you?'
"'Translate that again, with foot-notes and a glossary,' says I. 'I
don't know whether I'm discharged, condemned, or handed over to the
"'Oh,' says Jenks, 'don't you understand? You're to be stood up
against a 'dobe wall and shot in two or three weeks--three, I think,
"'Would you mind asking 'em which?' says I. 'A week don't amount to
much after you're dead, but it seems a real nice long spell while you
"'It's two weeks,' says the interpreter, after inquiring in Spanish of
the court. 'Shall I ask 'em again?'
"'Let be,' says I. 'Let's have a stationary verdict. If I keep on
appealing this way they'll have me shot about ten days before I was
captured. No, I haven't got any fine-cut.'
"They sends me over to the /calaboza/ with a detachment of coloured
postal-telegraph boys carrying Enfield rifles, and I am locked up in a
kind of brick bakery. The temperature in there was just about the kind
mentioned in the cooking recipes that call for a quick oven.
"Then I gives a silver dollar to one of the guards to send for the
United States consul. He comes around in pajamas, with a pair of
glasses on his nose and a dozen or two inside of him.
"'I'm to be shot in two weeks,' says I. 'And although I've made a
memorandum of it, I don't seem to get it off my mind. You want to call
up Uncle Sam on the cable as quick as you can and get him all worked
up about it. Have 'em send the /Kentucky/ and the /Kearsage/ and the
/Oregon/ down right away. That'll be about enough battleships; but it
wouldn't hurt to have a couple of cruisers and a torpedo-boat
destroyer, too. And--say, if Dewey isn't busy, better have him come
along on the fastest one of the fleet.'
"'Now, see here, O'Keefe,' says the consul, getting the best of a
hiccup, 'what do you want to bother the State Department about this
"'Didn't you hear me?' says I; 'I'm to be shot in two weeks. Did you
think I said I was going to a lawn-party? And it wouldn't hurt of
Roosevelt could get the Japs to send down the /Yellowyamtiskookum/ or
the /Ogotosingsing/ or some other first-class cruisers to help. It
would make me feel safer.'
"'Now, what you want,' says the consul, 'is not to get excited. I'll
send you over some chewing tobacco and some banana fritters when I go
back. The United States can't interfere in this. You know you were
caught insurging against the government, and you're subject to the
laws of this country. To tell the truth, I've had an intimation from
the State Department--unofficially, of course--that whenever a soldier
of fortune demands a fleet of gunboats in a case of revolutionary
/katzenjammer/, I should cut the cable, give him all the tobacco he
wants, and after he's shot take his clothes, if they fit me, for part
payment of my salary.'
"'Consul,' says I to him, 'this is a serious question. You are
representing Uncle Sam. This ain't any little international
tomfoolery, like a universal peace congress or the christening of the
/Shamrock IV/. I'm an American citizen and I demand protection. I
demand the Mosquito fleet, and Schley, and the Atlantic squadron, and
Bob Evans, and General E. Byrd Grubb, and two or three protocols. What
are you going to do about it?'
"'Nothing doing,' says the consul.
"'Be off with you, then,' says I, out of patience with him, 'and send
me Doc Millikin. Ask Doc to come and see me.'
"Doc comes and looks through the bars at me, surrounded by dirty
soldiers, with even my shoes and canteen confiscated, and he looks
"'Hello, Yank,' says he, 'getting a little taste of Johnson's Island,
now, ain't ye?'
"'Doc,' says I, 'I've just had an interview with the U.S. consul. I
gather from his remarks that I might just as well have been caught
selling suspenders in Kishineff under the name of Rosenstein as to be
in my present condition. It seems that the only maritime aid I am to
receive from the United States is some navy-plug to chew. Doc,' says
I, 'can't you suspend hostility on the slavery question long enough to
do something for me?'
"'It ain't been my habit,' Doc Millikin answers, 'to do any painless
dentistry when I find a Yank cutting an eye-tooth. So the Stars and
Stripes ain't lending any marines to shell the huts of the Colombian
cannibals, hey? Oh, say, can you see by the dawn's early light the
star-spangled banner has fluked in the fight? What's the matter with
the War Department, hey? It's a great thing to be a citizen of a gold-
standard nation, ain't it?'
"'Rub it in, Doc, all you want,' says I. 'I guess we're weak on
"'For a Yank,' says Doc, putting on his specs and talking more mild,
'you ain't so bad. If you had come from below the line I reckon I
would have liked you right smart. Now since your country has gone back
on you, you have to come to the old doctor whose cotton you burned and
whose mules who stole and whose niggers you freed to help you. Ain't
that so, Yank?'
"'It is,' says I heartily, 'and let's have a diagnosis of the case
right away, for in two weeks' time all you can do is to hold an
autopsy and I don't want to be amputated if I can help it.'
"'Now,' says Doc, business-like, 'it's easy enough for you to get out
of this scrape. Money'll do it. You've got to pay a long string of 'em
from General Pomposo down to this anthropoid ape guarding your door.
About $10,000 will do the trick. Have you got the money?'
"'Me?' says I. 'I've got one Chili dollar, two /real/ pieces, and a
"'Then if you've any last words, utter 'em,' says that old reb. 'The
roster of your financial budget sounds quite much to be like the noise
of a requiem.'
"'Change the treatment,' says I. 'I admit that I'm short. Call a
consultation or use radium or smuggle me in some saws or something.'
"'Yank,' says Doc Millikin, 'I've a good notion to help you. There's
only one government in the world that can get you out of this
difficulty; and that's the Confederate States of America, the grandest
nation that ever existed.'
"Just as you said to me I says to Doc; 'Why, the Confederacy ain't a
nation. It's been absolved forty years ago.'
"'That's a campaign lie,' says Doc. 'She's running along as solid as
the Roman Empire. She's the only hope you've got. Now, you, being a
Yank, have got to go through with some preliminary obsequies before
you can get official aid. You've got to take the oath of allegiance to
the Confederate Government. Then I'll guarantee she does all she can
for you. What do you say, Yank?--it's your last chance.'
"'If you're fooling with me, Doc,' I answers, 'you're no better than
the United States. But as you say it's the last chance, hurry up and
swear me. I always did like the corn whisky and 'possum anyhow. I
believe I'm half Southerner by nature. I'm willing to try the Klu-klux
in place of the khaki. Get brisk.'
"Doc Millikin thinks awhile, and then he offers me this oath of
allegiance to take without any kind of a chaser:
"'I, Barnard O'Keefe, Yank, being of sound body but a Republican mind,
hereby swear to transfer my fealty, respect, and allegiance to the
Confederate States of America, and the government thereof in
consideration of said government, through its official acts and
powers, obtaining my freedom and release from confinement and sentence
of death brought about by the exuberance of my Irish proclivities and
my general pizenness as a Yank.'
"I repeated these words after Doc, but they seemed to me a kind of
hocus-pocus; and I don't believe any life-insurance company in the
world would have issued me a policy on the strength of 'em.
"Doc went away saying he would communicate with his government
"Say--you can imagine how I felt--me to be shot in two weeks and my
only hope for help being in a government that's been dead so long that
it isn't even remembered except on Decoration Day and when Joe Wheeler
signs the voucher for his pay-check. But it was all there was in
sight; and somehow I thought Doc Millikin had something up his old
alpaca sleeve that wasn't all foolishness.
"Around to the jail comes old Doc again in about a week. I was flea-
bitten, a mite sarcastic, and fundamentally hungry.
"'Any Confederate ironclads in the offing?' I asks. 'Do you notice any
sounds resembling the approach of Jeb Stewart's cavalry overland or
Stonewall Jackson sneaking up in the rear? If you do, I wish you'd say
"'It's too soon yet for help to come,' says Doc.
"'The sooner the better,' says I. 'I don't care if it gets in fully
fifteen minutes before I am shot; and if you happen to lay eyes on
Beauregard or Albert Sidney Johnston or any of the relief corps, wig-
wag 'em to hike along.'
"'There's been no answer received yet,' says Doc.
"'Don't forget,' says I, 'that there's only four days more. I don't
know how you propose to work this thing, Doc,' I says to him; 'but it
seems to me I'd sleep better if you had got a government that was
alive and on the map--like Afghanistan or Great Britain, or old man
Kruger's kingdom, to take this matter up. I don't mean any disrespect
to your Confederate States, but I can't help feeling that my chances
of being pulled out of this scrape was decidedly weakened when General
"'It's your only chance,' said Doc; 'don't quarrel with it. What did
your own country do for you?'
"It was only two days before the morning I was to be shot, when Doc
Millikin came around again.
"'All right, Yank,' says he. 'Help's come. The Confederate States of
America is going to apply for your release. The representatives of the
government arrived on a fruit-steamer last night.'
"'Bully!' says I--'bully for you, Doc! I suppose it's marines with a
Gatling. I'm going to love your country all I can for this.'
"'Negotiations,' says old Doc, 'will be opened between the two
governments at once. You will know later to-day if they are
"About four in the afternoon a soldier in red trousers brings a paper
round to the jail, and they unlocks the door and I walks out. The
guard at the door bows and I bows, and I steps into the grass and
wades around to Doc Millikin's shack.
"Doc was sitting in his hammock playing 'Dixie,' soft and low and out
of tune, on his flute. I interrupted him at 'Look away! look away!'
and shook his hand for five minutes.
"'I never thought,' says Doc, taking a chew fretfully, 'that I'd ever
try to save any blame Yank's life. But, Mr. O'Keefe, I don't see but
what you are entitled to be considered part human, anyhow. I never
thought Yanks had any of the rudiments of decorum and laudability
about them. I reckon I might have been too aggregative in my
tabulation. But it ain't me you want to thank--it's the Confederate
States of America.'
"'And I'm much obliged to 'em,' says I. 'It's a poor man that wouldn't
be patriotic with a country that's saved his life. I'll drink to the
Stars and Bars whenever there's a flagstaff and a glass convenient.
But where,' says I, 'are the rescuing troops? If there was a gun fired
or a shell burst, I didn't hear it.'
"Doc Millikin raises up and points out the window with his flute at
the banana-steamer loading with fruit.
"'Yank,' says he, 'there's a steamer that's going to sail in the
morning. If I was you, I'd sail on it. The Confederate Government's
done all it can for you. There wasn't a gun fired. The negotiations
were carried on secretly between the two nations by the purser of that
steamer. I got him to do it because I didn't want to appear in it.
Twelve thousand dollars was paid to the officials in bribes to let you
"'Man!' says I, sitting down hard--'twelve thousand--how will I ever--
who could have--where did the money come from?'
"'Yazoo City,' says Doc Millikin: 'I've got a little saved up there.
Two barrels full. It looks good to these Colombians. 'Twas Confederate
money, every dollar of it. Now do you see why you'd better leave
before they try to pass some of it on an expert?'
"'I do,' says I.
"'Now let's hear you give the password,' says Doc Millikin.
"'Hurrah for Jeff Davis!' says I.
"'Correct,' says Doc. 'And let me tell you something: The next tune I
learn on my flute is going to be "Yankee Doodle." I reckon there's
some Yanks that are not so pizen. Or, if you was me, would you try
"The Red, White, and Blue"?'"