“Having arrived over the spot, we found it an out-of-the-way island; upon which I suggested that it would be better to drop the stars and stripes, with a note to the chief (if one there existed) desiring he would put it up in the name of our great Republic. John, taking the initiative, began to draw from his pocket a bit of bunting; but so methodical was he, that before he had completed the process I took from my pocket a piece of red chalk, and on my white, Sunday nightcap figured the Stars and Stripes. This done, I rolled it round my jacknife, and let it slide downward ere John had his Union Jack ready. Down it went, like a thunderbolt chased by a streak of chain lightning. ‘Put that up, in the name of these United States’ thought I,—’we’ll take care of that little bit of territory.’
“‘Well,’ interrupted John, looking as serious as a May moon, ’it’s Yankee outright: I confess the Union Jack can’t keep up with the Stars and Stripes, nohow!’
“‘Give us your hand, John,’ said I, ’we’ll be good-natured anyhow, seeing the positive proof that we both belong to the same school. We are types of two very progressive and honorable gentlemen, who, in a very modest sort of way, do pirate territory now and then, merely for the sake of that inevitable result the extending good constitutional principles has. If our small faults creep above the surface now and then, the influence they have is more than counterbalanced by the good which may come. But, while we both affect a deal of modesty, and are ever criminating and recriminating each other’s acts, would it not be well to acknowledge the motive by which both are moved to the same greedy propensities? Think it over, John; and at the same time let us join—just to keep up the good-nature—in another glass of whiskey.’ He said he had no objection, so filling up, we drank to the very best sort of friendship, John winking and blinking, as a squall just springing up began to increase.
“’That place—we were both a little too fast, John—is inhabited, as I’m a Christian. I’ll bet a cotton-mill it is!’ I returned; and before the words were cold I saw a French sentinel pacing as straight as a handspike in uniform, and as mutely savage as a scare-crow in a corn-field. There he was, moustaches heavier nor a goat’s smellers, a la old guard. Not a great way behind his Saxon neighbors, he was watching No. I; just keeping an unoffending eye on Queen Tamerhamer’s little place. That tawny sovereign had insulted the French, but it was difficult for them to define the nature of the offence. However, they claimed the right to mount guard, if only to the end of getting a better foot-hold. Poor, hapless sovereign! she thought more of her tinsel than the French did of her rights: thus the small difficulty. Frenchmen are clever fellows in a small way, have very pliable ideas, which they can change with wondrous celerity; they aim to do good, if, through their eccentricities, they too often fail. They are pleased to consider themselves more refined than Americans, and yet they are more deficient in moral courage—that moral courage which is made to conserve the good of the State. An Englishman’s reserve, a Frenchman’s politeness, and a Yankee’s go-aheadativeness,—all contending for the palm of honesty, form the curious illustration of an eventful age.