“Napoleon One come up and shake hands with me like I’d won the Medeye Militaire, and, before I could side-step, the widow had her arms round my neck and was kissin’ me on both cheeks. Napoleon sez it was a ‘Beau geste’ which I thought meant a fine joke, and I was afraid the bird was wise, but Rathbone sez no, that it meant a swell action; and the widow sez, over and over again, ’Ces braves Americains—ces braves Americains!’ The cordial entente was pretty cordial on the whole! I’ll say it was.”
At this point Steve Dempsey paused and glanced about as who should say, “Are there any comments or questions?” For a while there was none forthcoming, but finally Lieutenant Erskine ventured a remark.
“This occurred last Sunday?” he inquired, mildly.
“Yes, sir,” said Steve—“last Sunday.”
“Um,” said Erskine, and without further remarks left the office.
On his return he bore a copy of Le Matin in his hand. He sat down and leisurely and silently unfolded the sheet. Steve had resumed his work, but I noticed that he kept an eye on Erskine.
“I wonder,” said Erskine, smoothing out the newspaper on his knees— “I wonder, Steve, if you happened to see this very interesting article.”
“No, sir,” said Steve. “I don’t read French like I speak it.”
“Well,” said Erskine, “I’ll translate. This paper is dated last Monday, and on page two occurs the following announcement:”
“American soldiers, sailors,
and marines attend funeral of
notorious apache. Jean the Rat, convicted murderer and suicide
and denied the offices of the Catholic Church, is buried by
Department of Foreign Affairs reluctant to file protest at
Strange demonstration believed to be unofficial and without U.S.
government sanction, although U. S. Navy chaplain delivers
eloquent peroration in English.”
Erskine put aside the paper in silence, and we all turned to watch Steve. He was very red, even to his ears.
“Gawd!” he spluttered. “Does it really say that, sir? Honest?”
Erskine nodded. “Yes,” he said. “We’ll be lucky if we avoid international complications.”
“An apache murderer,” Steve groaned—“and me thinkin’ it was a frawg hero. Will I get a court martial for it, sir?”
“I doubt it,” said Erskine, “but I don’t think you’ll get the Congressional Medal or the Legion of Honour, either. Maybe, though, the President, in recognition of your services toward cementing the entente, will appoint you the next ambassador to France.”
“Well, anyway,” said Steve, still violently red about the face and ears—“well, anyway, I don’t care. Even if it weren’t a first-class corpse, it was a first-class funeral.”