Roads of Destiny
In the Gate City of the South the Confederate Veterans were reuniting; and I stood to see
them march, beneath the tangled flags of the great conflict, to the hall of their oratory and
While the irregular and halting line was passing I made onslaught upon it and dragged
from the ranks my friend Barnard O'Keefe, who had no right to be there. For he was a
Northerner born and bred; and what should he be doing hallooing for the Stars and Bars
among those gray and moribund veterans? And why should he be trudging, with his
shining, martial, humorous, broad face, among those warriors of a previous and alien
I say I dragged him forth, and held him till the last hickory leg and waving goatee had
stumbled past. And then I hustled him out of the crowd into a cool interior; for the Gate
City was stirred that day, and the hand-organs wisely eliminated "Marching Through
Georgia" from their repertories.
"Now, what deviltry are you up to?" I asked of O'Keefe when there were a table and
things in glasses between us.
O'Keefe wiped his heated face and instigated a commotion among the floating ice in his
glass before he chose to answer.
"I am assisting at the wake," said he, "of the only nation on earth that ever did me a good
turn. As one gentleman to another, I am ratifying and celebrating the foreign policy of the
late Jefferson Davis, as fine a statesman as ever settled the financial question of a
country. Equal ratio—that was his platform—a barrel of money for a barrel of flour—a
pair of $20 bills for a pair of boots—a hatful of currency for a new hat—say, ain't that
simple compared with W. J. B.'s little old oxidized plank?"
"What talk is this?" I asked. "Your financial digression is merely a subterfuge. Why were
you marching in the ranks of the Confederate Veterans?"
"Because, my lad," answered O'Keefe, "the Confederate Government in its might and
power interposed to protect and defend Barnard O'Keefe against immediate and
dangerous assassination at the hands of a blood-thirsty foreign country after the Unites
States of America had overruled his appeal for protection, and had instructed Private
Secretary Cortelyou to reduce his estimate of the Republican majority for 1905 by one
"Come, Barney," said I, "the Confederate States of America has been out of existence
nearly forty years. You do not look older yourself. When was it that the deceased
government exerted its foreign policy in your behalf?"