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38. CHAPTER XXXVIII. (continued)
"We are a handful of private citizens of America, traveling simply for recreation,--and unostentatiously, as becomes our unofficial state--and therefore, we have no excuse to tender for presenting ourselves before your Majesty--"
The Emperor--"Then what the devil did you come for?"
-- "Save the desire of offering our grateful acknowledgments to the lord of a realm which--"
The Emperor--" Oh, d--n the Address!--read it to the police. Chamberlain, take these people over to my brother, the Grand Duke's, and give them a square meal. Adieu! I am happy--I am gratified--I am delighted--I am bored. Adieu, adieu--vamos the ranch! The First Groom of the Palace will proceed to count the portable articles of value belonging to the premises."
The farce then closed, to be repeated again with every change of the watches, and embellished with new and still more extravagant inventions of pomp and conversation.
At all times of the day and night the phraseology of that tiresome address fell upon our ears. Grimy sailors came down out of the foretop placidly announcing themselves as "a handful of private citizens of America, traveling simply for recreation and unostentatiously," etc.; the coal passers moved to their duties in the profound depths of the ship, explaining the blackness of their faces and their uncouthness of dress, with the reminder that they were "a handful of private citizens, traveling simply for recreation," etc., and when the cry rang through the vessel at midnight: "EIGHT BELLS!--LARBOARD WATCH, TURN OUT!" the larboard watch came gaping and stretching out of their den, with the everlasting formula: "Aye-aye, sir! We are a handful of private citizens of America, traveling simply for recreation, and unostentatiously, as becomes our unofficial state!"
As I was a member of the committee, and helped to frame the Address, these sarcasms came home to me. I never heard a sailor proclaiming himself as a handful of American citizens traveling for recreation, but I wished he might trip and fall overboard, and so reduce his handful by one individual, at least. I never was so tired of any one phrase as the sailors made me of the opening sentence of the Address to the Emperor of Russia.
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