Was Patagonia Neutral?
by Ellis Parker Butler
The reason I kem t' N' York (said Mike Dugan) was an afterthought that occurred t' me whin I was partly sober; for a camel can go sivin days widout dhrink, but thim three gintelmin -- Billings, Roscommon an' Rawson -- was fr'm th' dewy disthricts iv Chicago.
"Dugan," they says t' me, "this municipality iv Washin't'n, D. C., is that dhry th' Desert iv Sahara is a pond beside iv it, and th' chance is that if me an' Roscommon an' Billings don't get a dhrink soon we'll catch fire from internal combustion. Take this cash an' our suitcase an' fetch a dozen quarts iv old Scotch fr'm Baltimore, but be wary, for if they catch ye they'll give ye sivin hundred years at hard labor, so strenyus is th' law aginst th' importation iv joy wather."
"Trust Dugan!" I says t' thim. "I was born on th' Isle iv Sthrategy in th' midst iv th' Lake iv Wisdom, and no wan can put annything over on Dugan. Goodbye, lads! Tomorry I will enther th' door with a case full iv th' grandest whiskey ye ever touched tongue to, even though th' intire Saycrit Service iv th' United Sthates is on me tracks."
"Come back by th' trolly," says Billings. "They say th' embargo is not so strict upon it."
"Strict or not strict," I says t' him, fool th' embargo until it looks like thirty cints," and I wint upon my way.
Whin I arrived in Baltimore I had no throuble in obtainin' by purchase twilve quart bottles iv th' most glorious whiskey that iver wet a throat, but whin I sthepped upon th' trolley car I found th' embargo had tightened into a knot.
"What have ye in th' suitcase?" asks th' conductor.
"Twilve quart jars iv raspberry jam," I says, "from grandma," I says, "t' cousin Hattie.
Maybe you raymimber that cousin Hattie marrid Long Sam Hogan," I says, "that has but wan eye," I says, "him havin' lost the other in the ruckus wid Pathrick Casey that time whin --"
"Open th' suitcase," says th' conductor. "We'll have a look, an' no talk from ye!"
"It was a grand fight," I says. "'Twas th' night befoor Christmas an' Casey was pied whin up stheps proud Hogan an' shoves him aside --"
"Will ye open th' suitcase or do I open it for ye?" asks th' conductor.
"What street did ye say this was?" I says. "Thank ye, here's where I get off."
Whin I was in th' street I says t' mesilf, "Dugan, th' time has come whin nawthin' but sthrategy will win th' day. Th' plain an' simple suitcase is no longer persona grata upon th' electric car. Th' crool eye iv suspicion is cast upon it. We will inter yon barroom and cogitate upon th' situation." So I intered and cogitated, and whilst I was upon th' third dhrink, two fine lads intered also and soon we were all but in tears over th' croolty iv th' timperance laws iv th' Capital city iv America. Whin I come t' think iv it I opine that some iv us wept copiously.
"Copiously, but briefly, mind ye! for in no time at all th' sthrategic mind iv me had solved th' problim from th' ground up.
"Lads," I says, "there are more ways than one iv transpoortin' joy t' Washin't'n. What do I see across th' strate?"
"As swell a skirt as I iver set eyes on," says one lad.
"Forget th' feminine sex for a minute, if ye can," I says, "and look beyant her into th' shop windy. What see ye?"
"A tuba and a dhrum," says th' lad. "A triangle and a pair iv cymbals. A loud timbrel and wan iv them bazookuses ye push and pull whilst ye toot. A --"
"Come on over," I says.
Inta th' case that was built t' contain a Frinch hoorn I was able t' stow away foor quart bottles, and inta th' case that was built t' contain a fiddle I was able t' stow three more, and foor more wint nately inta th' impty shell iv a young drum, and wan I tucked inta me hip pocket, makin' twilve in all.
"Come, lads," I says t' me two frinds, "'twill do ye no harm t' journey t' Washin't'n with me, and for th' love iv Mike raymimber, come what may, ye are a portion iv th' Marine Band proceedin' t' th' Capital t' discoorse swate music. Attintion all! T' th' right obleek, march!"
All wint well. We enthered th' car for Washin't'n and sated oursilves demurely, as good bandsmin should, and th' battle wud have been won had th' conductor not spied th' bottle in me hip pocket, where me coat had climbed over it like a Rocky Mountain goat attimptin t' climb t' me neck.
"That's conthraband," he says. "No whiskey can inter Washin't'n. Ye'll have t' get rid iv it immejitly."
"And how?" I says.
"How is nothin' t' me," he says, so I removed th' cork, and we got rid iv it immejitly, as ordered. We all felt betther whin th' weight was off our minds. Some iv us sang a few verses joicely. Others iv us played th' accompnimint on th' case iv th' drum.
"Th' Frinch hoorn for mine!" says wan iv th' lads. "I was raised on it. I can blow it like an angel iv Hivin."
"Lave be!" I says, "for I have a couple iv sonatas and a finale t' hum over."
"Lave nawthin' be!" he says, and grabs th' Frinch hoorn case from between me knees. "No wan can lick America! I c'n wallop th' man that will not sthand whin th' Star-Spangled Banner is played on th' Frinch hoorn."
Thereupon he opened th' Frinch hoorn case and wan iv th' bottles and played th' noble anthem iv our native land upon th' bottle, first removin' th' coork.
"Are ye a Boche," he says, "or are ye a pathriotic American, and if so why will ye lave me play th' grand old tune alone?"
"This wan tune on'y," I says, and th' full band played th' nashn'l anthem.
"And England!" says th' lad. "Brave England! He's a low hound who will not jine in th' honoring iv our brave ally, th' mistriss iv th' seas. We will play th' first ilivin verses iv God Save, the King, omittin' th' sivinth and third verses."
"And bonny France," says th' other lad, with tears. "We'll play a couple iv inches out iv a fresh bottle for th' land that niver yielded."
"Enough!" said th' conductor, whin we had played a quart or two iv th' most liquid measures iv th' Marseillaise. "Here's where ye get off the car."
"But poor Belgium?" I says. "Are ye a German spy in disguise that ye offer us indignity just whin we are about t' play th' Belgium nashn'l air, though what it may be I'll be danged if I know?"
"I'm th' boss iv this car," he says, "and off ye go, Belgium or no Belgium."
It was a lonely spot. Th' three iv us clung together by th' side iv th' thrack and wept for poor Belgium. Her sorrows were many and there was little we could do for her, but what little we could do we did. We played an approximation t' what might have been th' Belgium nashn'l air -- if it hadn't been Th' Wearin' Iv Th' Green -- upon th' Frinch hoorn, th' fiddle and th' drum. We wept for poor Belgium. Also for poor Italy.
We wept for poor Italy, our brave ally, and played ih' Italyan nashn'l anthem, but a good part iv it was spilled whin I dhropped me bottle. Full sivin verses. gurgled away whilst I was gettin' me hand on it.
"Serbia!" says wan iv th' lads. "Poor Serbia!"
"Cursed be he who will not play a verse for poor Serbia, our brave ally!" says th' other lad. "Come dhrink a verse t' poor Serbia."
"And poor Portugal!" says th' other lad. "Woe t' th' man who'll not anthem a verse iv dhrink t' brave Portugal --"
"And poor Siam! Who wud not verse a dhrink iv anthem t' brave ally Siam?
"And Japan? We'll all stand up and Japan a dhrink iv verse t' our brave ally Anthem."
Unforthnitly that was th' last we could honor standin' up, so we sat down and versed a few Cubas iv anthem t' our brave ally Dhrink. And then we allied a few anthems iv Greece to our brave dhrink iv Verse. We then Frinch hoorned a few honors t' our brave allies Russia and Montenegro, emptied th' dhrum case in ally iv our brave honors Monaco and Brazil. We then stharted upon th' contints iv th' fiddle case in wan iv th' grandest outbursts iv inthernational frindship th' world has yet seen, doin' honor t' our brave allies Alaska and Chili and Iceland and th' Straits iv Dover and Hoboken and Peru. Th' utmost unanimity iv amity prevailed regardin' th' honor due t' our brave allies iv Corea and Luxemburg and th' Issmiss iv Panama, but there was some doubt as t' th' loyalty iv th' Tropic iv Capricorn and some iv us dhrank for and some against th' Desert iv Saharah, but all might still have been well had we not run aginst th' question iv th' loyalty iv th' Republic iv Patagonia, which some iv us said was Bolsheviki t' th' core and others said was a blackhearted autocracy. I maintained t' th' last that Patagonia was noothral.
"Be calm," I says. "Frinds, Romans, citizens, be calm!" but they wud not be calm. Wan was for and wan was aginst. "We'll put it t' a vote," I says, "but as for me I'm for th' noothralily iv Patagonia t' th' last!"
They voted six impty bottles aginst wan side iv me head "for" and six impty bottles aginst th' other side iv me head "aginst," but th' felly that voted th' Frinch hoorn case and th' half brick carried th' eliction by an overwhelmin' majority, and whin I come t' me sinses (said Mike Dugan) I come t' New York, th' great city bein' farther from Patagonia than Washin't'n is."