“As he got through, the negro produced some liquor, piping hot. To be good-natured, and keep cool, is one-half the battle; and to move those very desirable traits of our nature, we put a hot punch a-piece into the mentality of the inner man, smoked a couple of long nines, bowed compliments, and packed up our duds for the voyage. There was a great gathering where the balloon was blowing up; but Mr. John Littlejohn and me walked cordially down and took our seat, bundled in our traps, and sung out, ‘Cut away the strings, and let her go!’ I said I would steer for Uncle Sam, and John said he would steer for Mr. Bull; so, not feeling inclined to quarrel about the point, and knowing full well that the mother of constitutional governments (some facetiously called her the mother of constitutional incongruities) always liked to have the first trick at the wheel, we tossed coppers—after the fashion of good-natured diplomatists, when a large stake is at issue. ‘John!’ I enjoined, ’let us keep calm, and put the point to a test that never fails!’ Here I gave him one of those pats on the shoulder so impressive, and pulled out a double-headed cent, like unto those so much in use in General Jackson’s time, when shaving decapitated the deposits he found himself mounted on the back of a brass jackass. ‘Here!’ I continued—’Heads, I win; tails, you lose.’ To come the sharp over him in a more square sort of way, I gave him an unmoved look straight in the eye, as I twirled up the copper.
“‘I’ll take the chance,’ ejaculated John, and down came the other head. His countenance, you may be assured, wore a singular seriousness. The truth was, that John always had one strong idea in his head, and made a strong effort to keep that one straight, to the sacrifice of all the rest. Acting upon that axiom that so stimulated the wood-sawyer who expected to be President of the United States in a very few years, we cut away the fastenings, and having ascended high among the clouds, sailed from the mist heavenward to the blue arch above. Our position was not the most firm; but as Young America had the helm, and rather courted than feared danger, the result could not be doubted. Now and then Mr. John looked somewhat stern of countenance, and turned pale when I crowded the charcoal. ’Be careful, Smooth,’ he lisped now and then, grasping my arm as he took a look below—’Be careful; you know what a go-ahead sort of lot you are. Your party would think nothing of going to the d——l, if it were only with steam power.’ It was indeed a dangerous position for large men with small ideas; but as Young America was a small man with large ideas, the case became reversed. Well, we headed square for California, and proceeded at lightning speed, fast overtaking that old slow coach of refulgent light that has made sentimental the wild wisdom of the poet-world. Soon old Jacob’s face loomed out upon its broad disc, looking as good-natured as a Dutchman over a pot of lager beer. My friend