from the Collection «The Trimmed Lamp»
John Byrnes, a hose-cart driver of Engine Company No. 99, was an avid follower of the war between Russia and Japan. He had a war map in the engine-house and would constantly update it based on the news. He was a strong supporter of the Japanese and would often express his disdain for the Russians.
Go it, you blamed little, sawed-off, huckleberry-eyed, monkey-faced hot tamales! Eat ‘em up, you little sleight-o’-hand, bow-legged bull terriers — give ‘em another of them Yalu looloos.
One day, an immigrant named Demetre Svangvsk caused an accident involving John and his beloved horse, Erebus. The accident resulted in John being hospitalized and Erebus being put down. The firemen of Engine Company No. 99 were furious with Demetre and would often kick him out of the engine-house. However, John's son, Chris, took a liking to Demetre and the firemen begrudgingly allowed him to stay around.
During an inspection by the Deputy Fire Commissioner, Chris accidentally set off the Deputy's automobile, causing it to speed down the street with him inside. Demetre quickly jumped on the remaining horse, Joe, and managed to rescue Chris from the runaway automobile. The firemen were impressed with Demetre's riding skills and discovered that he was a Cossack, a Russian tribe known for their horsemanship.
Yas — yas — me Cossack.
This revelation caused John to reconsider his stance on the Russians, as he now had a personal connection to them through Demetre. He began to argue that the Russians might not be as bad as he had previously thought, showing that personal experiences can change one's perspective on larger issues.