“Your sister sent me to tell you that there is a house-boat up near the Island flying the American flag and we are all going up there to see it. Would you like to go?”
“Thanks so much for your invitation,” said Jimmie, “but I’ve got some guests coming in half an hour, so I can’t go.”
“I’ll go. Just wait until I get my hat.”
One boat contained Bee, Mrs. Jimmie, and two Princeton men, and the other Miss Wemyss, the German, Miss Wemyss’ fiance, Sir George, and me. Side by side the two skiffs pulled up the river to the Island, where on a very small house-boat named the Queen a large American flag was flying and beneath it were crossed a smaller American flag and the Union Jack.
Sir George, who is one of the nicest Englishmen we ever met, pulled off his cap and cried out:
“All hats off to the Stars and Stripes!”
In an instant every hat was whipped off, ours included, although there was some wrestling with hat-pins before we could get them off. All, did I say? All—all except the German! He folded his arms across his breast and kept his hat on.
“Didn’t you hear Sir George?” I said to him.
He had a nervous twitching of the eye at all times, and when he was excited the muscles of his face all jerked in unison like Saint Vitus’ dance. At my question every muscle in his face, as the Princeton man in Bee’s boat said, “began working over time.”
“Yes, I heard him. Of course I heard him,” he said.
“Then take your hat off!” said Miss Wemyss.
“Yes, take your hat off!” came in a roar from all the others, none being louder and more peremptory than the Englishman’s.
“I will not take my hat off to that dirty rag,” he said. “It means nothing to me. The flag of any country means nothing to me. I can go into a shop and buy that red, white, and blue! That is only a rag—that flag.”
Sir George leaned over with blazing eyes and took him by the collar.
“Don’t do that, George,” said Miss Wemyss, excitedly. “His linen is not fit to touch.”
“Let’s duck him,” said the Princeton man.
But Mrs. Jimmie interfered, saying in a quiet voice, although her hands were trembling:
“Don’t do anything to him until we take him back to the house-boat. Remember he is my guest.”
At this the German smiled with such insolence and pulled his hat further down on his brow with such a vicious look of satisfaction that I had all I could do to hold myself in. The boats flew back to the house-boat as if on wings.
“You see, miss,” he leaned forward and said to me in low tones. “You do not like me. You love your flag. Ah, ha, I revenge myself.”
“Just wait till I tell Jimmie,” I said.
“Ah, ha, he will do nothing! I play for his concert to-night.”
As the boats pulled up to the steps of the house-boat, Jimmie met us with his two friends, who had come during our absence. We had never seen them before.