PECK'S BAD BOY WITH THE CIRCUS
[Frontispiece: Pa Kept Mauling the Lion]
PECK'S BAD BOY WITH THE CIRCUS
BY HON. GEO. W. PECK
Author of Peck's Bad Boy and His Pa, Peck's Bad Boy Abroad, Peck's Uncle Ike and the Red Headed Boy, Etc., Etc.
Relating the experiences of the Bad Boy and his Dad during their travels with a Circus. The Bad Boy gets his Dad in hot water in every conceivable way, and plays jokes and pranks on everyone, from the Clown to the Manager, and from the Monkey to the Elephant. Rip-roaring, side-splitting fun from beginning to end.
ILLUSTRATED BY C. FRINK
Copyright 1905 by Joseph B. Bowles
Copyright 1906, by Thompson & Thomas
Made in U.S.A.
The Bad Boy Begins a Diary—Dad Has Become Manager for a Circus—The Bad Boy Expects to Curry the Hyena and Do Stunts on the Trapeze—Ma Says Pa Will Ogle the Circassian Beauty—Pa Buys Some Circus Clothes and Lets His Whiskers Grow.
The Bad Boy Visits the Circus in Winter Quarters—He Meets the Circus Performers—- Dad Rides a Horse and Gets Tossed in a Blanket—The Bad Boy Goes "Kangarooing"—Pa's Clothes Cause Excitement Among the Animals—A Monkey Steals His Watch.
Pa Reproves the Fat Woman for Losing Flesh—The Bearded Lady Faints in Pa's Arms—The Bad Boy Introduced Into Animal Society—They Pull the Boa Constrictor's Ulcerated Tooth.
Pa Finds the Fat Lady a Burden—The Bad Boy Makes His First Public Appearance—He Talks Politics with the Midget—Pa Meets with Numerous Accidents.
The Rogue Elephant Creates a Panic and Pa Proves Himself a Hero—The Bad Boy Gets Scolded for "Being Tough"—He Finds that Audiences Like Accidents.
The Bad Boy Puts Fly-Paper in the Bob Cat's Cage—The Bob Cat Causes a Panic in the Main Tent—The Midget Quarrels with the Giant—Pa is Almost Arrested for Kidnapping and the Ostrich Swallows His Diamond Stud.
The Circus Has A Yellow Fever Scare—The Bad Boy and His Dad Dress Up as Hottentots—Pa Takes a Mustard Bath and Attends a Revival Meeting.
Pa Tales the Place of the Fat Woman with Disastrous Results—A Kentucky Colonel Causes a Row—Pa Tries to Roar Like a Lion and the Rhinoceros Objects—Pa Plays the Slot-Machine and Gets the Worst of It.
The Bad Boy feeds Cayenne Pepper to the Sacred Cow—He and His Pa Ride in a Circus Parade With the Circassian Beauties—A Tipsy Elephant Lands Them in a Public Fountain—Pa Makes the Acquaintance of John L. Sullivan.
The Bad Boy and His Pa Drive a Roman Chariot—They Win the Race, but Meet With Difficulties—The Bearded Lady to the Rescue—A Farmer's Cart Breaks Up the Circus Procession.
The Bad Boy and His Pa in a Railroad Wreck—Pa Rescues the "Other Freaks"—- They Spend the Night on a Meadow—A Near-Sighted Claim Agent Settles for Damages—Pa Plays Deaf and Dumb and Gets Ten Thousand.
The Bad Boy Causes Trouble Between the Russian Cossacks and the Jap Jugglers—A Jap Tight-Rope Walker Jiu Jitsu's Pa—The Animals Go on a Strike—Pa Runs the Menagerie for a Day and Wins Their Gratitude.
The Circus Strikes the Quaker City—They Go on a Ginger Ale Jag—Pa Breaks Up an Indian War Dance and Comes Near Being Burned Alive—The World's Fair Cannibals Have a Roast Dog Feast.
A Newport Monk Is Added to the Show—The Bay Teaches Him Some "Manly Tricks"—The Tent Blows Down and a Panic Follows—Pa Manages the Animal Act Which Ends in a Novel Manner.
The Bad Boy Feeds the Menagerie Scotch Snuff—Pa Gets Mauled by the Sneezing Animals—Pa Takes a Midnight Ride on a Mule to Escape Punishment.
A Senator's Son Bets the Bad Boy That Elephants Are Cowards—They Let a Bag of Rats Loose at the Afternoon Performance—The Elephants Stampede, Pa Fractures a Rib and General Pandemonium Reigns.
The Bad Boy and the Senator's Son Go on an Elephant Chase—The Senator's Son Gets His Friend a Bid to Dinner at the White House—The Trained Seal Swallows an Alarm Clock.
The Show Strikes Virginia and the Educated Ourang Outang Has the Whooping Cough—The Bad Boy Plays the Part of a Monkey, but They Forget to Pin on a Tail.
The Circus People Visit a Southern Plantation—Pa, the Giant and the Fat Woman Are Chased by Bloodhounds—The Bad Boy "Runs the Gauntlet."
The Bad Boy Goes After a Mess of White Turnips for the Menagerie—He Feeds the Animals Horseradish, but Gets the Worst of the Deal.
The Bad Boy and His Pa Inject a Little Politics Into the Show—Rival Bands of Atlanta Citizens Meet in the Circus Tent—- A Bunch of Angry Hornets Causes Much Bitter Feeling.
The Show Does Poor Business in the South—Pa Side Tracks a Circus Car Filled with Creditors—A Performance Given "For the Poor," Fills the Treasury—A Wild West Man Buncoes the Show.
The Circus Has Bad Luck in Indian Territory—A Herd of Animals Turned Out to Graze Is Stampeded by Indians—They Go Dashing Over the Plains, and the Circus Tent Follows, Picked Up by a Cyclone.
Pa Is Sent to a Hospital to Recuperate—The Bad Boy Discourages Other Boys from Running Away with the Circus—He Makes Them Water the Camels, Curry the Hyenas and Put Insect Powder on the Buffaloes.
Pa Breaks in the Zebras and Drives a Six-in-Hand Team in the Parade—The Freaks Have a Narrow Escape from Drowning.
The Rings Are So Muddy the Performers Have to Wear Rubber Boots—The Freaks Present Pa with a Big Heart of Roses—The Show Closes and the Bad Boy Starts West with His Pa in Search of Attractions for the Coming Season.
Pa Kept Mauling the Lion.
And Pa Swatted Her on the Back.
The Sacred Cow Chased Ma Up the Church Stairs.
Was Suspended in the Air.
A Leopard Reached Out His Paw and Gathered in the Tail of Pa's Coat
I Will Hold You Responsible for This!
They Had to Turn the Hose on Pa.
They Threw Boiled Potatoes and Scrambled Eggs at Pa.
She Kicked Pa's Hat Off.
Bolivar Took Half a Watermelon and Put the Red Side on Top of Pa's Head.
Pa Turned the Cock of the Extinguisher and Pointed the Nozzle at Bolivar's Head.
The Bob Cat Struck Pa on the Back.
The Man Tackled Pa.
The Doctor Said It Was an Unmistakable Case of Yellow Fever.
After Scratching His Head a Minute, Ike Turned and Walked Toward the Preacher.
I Punctured Pa's Tires.
Chased by Police.
The Elephant kept Ducking Pa and Swabbing Out the Bottom of the Fountain.
John L. Slatted Pa Just as Though He Was a Child.
Her Cart, Team and All, Were Thrown Right Against the Band.
Pa Struck on His Head Against a Wagon Wheel.
Pa Got an Ax and Cut the Fat Woman Out.
What Hit Him? That's the Worst Case I Ever Saw!
Gee, but Didn't That Russian Talk Kopec and Damski.
O, but the Jap Didn't Do a Thing to Pa!
The Indians Tied Pa to a Tree and Began to Pile Sticks Around Him.
The Fat Woman Jabbed Pa with Her Parasol.
When She Saw the Baboon She Yelled Fire.
The Lion Sneezed and Blew Pa Clear Across the Tent.
Pa Rode Out of Town and Rode All Night.
Bolivar Swatted Pa Clear Across the Ring.
Pa, Do Not Fear.
We Met Some Farmers.
Old Gentleman, You Ought to Come Down Off Your Perch.
The Keeper Who Trained the Ourang Outang Took Me in Hand.
He Hit Me Right in the Eye.
Here, Mr. Confederate, I Am not a Union Prisoner.
I Yelled Murder and Ran Between the Giant's Legs.
The Camel Kicked an Arab Off a Rug.
Pa Tasted of It.
He Hit Pa Over the Head with His Chinese Lantern.
They Stampeded Like They Never Met a Hornet Before.
The Sacred Cow Chased Pa Up into the Rafters of the Car.
The Pony Was Off Like a Rabbit.
The Boss Canvasman Went into a Cactus.
Dad Was Only Hitting the High Places.
The Bull Tossed the Boy Through the Tent.
Pa Jumped Like a Box Car.
There Never Was Such a Runaway Since the Days of Ben Hur.
The Zebras Turned Short and Tipped the Tally-ho Over into the Water.
I Will Search for the Wildest of Red Men.
They Tossed Pa Up in the Blanket.
* * * * *
Peck's Bad Boy With the Circus.
The Bad Boy Begins a Diary—Dad Has Become Manager for a Circus—The Bad Boy Expects to Curry the Hyena and Do Stunts on the Trapeze—Ma Says Pa Will Ogle the Circassian Beauty—- Pa Buys Some Circus Clothes and Lets His Whiskers Grow.
April 10, 19..—I never thought it would come to this, that I should keep a diary, because I am not a good little boy. Nobody ever keeps a diary except a boy that wants to be an angel, and with the angels stand, or a girl that is in love, or an old maid that can't catch a man unless she writes down her emotions and leaves them around so some man will read them, and swallow the bait and not feel the hook in his gills, or a truly good bank cashier who teaches Sunday school, and skips out for Canada some Saturday night, after the bank closes, and on Monday morning they find the combination of the lock on the safe changed, and when they hire a reformed burglar to open the lock the money is all gone with the cashier. Those are the only people that ever kept a successful diary.
But I had to promise ma that I would keep a diary, so she could read it, or I never could have got her consent for me to go with pa on the road with a circus. All ma asks of me is to tell the truth about everything that happens to me and to pa during the whole summer, and I have consented, and I can see my finish, and pa's finish and ma's finish, and the finish of the circus that is going to take us along.
Gee, but we have had a hot time at our house since pa and I got back from our trip abroad. I brought pa back in better health than he was when he went away, but he has got so accustomed to excitement that I knew something would be doing pretty soon, so I was not surprised when he told us at the breakfast table that he supposed he should have to go and travel with a circus this summer.
Ma looked at pa as though she wanted to call the police and am ambulance to take him to the emergency hospital. He looked at ma and at me, speared another waffle, and said: "I know you will think I am nutty, but for almost ten years I have had a block of stock in a circus and menagerie. I went into it to help some young circus fellows, and put up quite a bunch of money, because they were honest and poor, and for a few years things went wrong, and I thought my money was gone, but for the last six years the circus has paid dividends bigger than Standard Oil, and today it stands away up among the financial successes, and the dividends on my citrus stock is better than any bank stock I have got, and it comes just like finding money. The company decided at its annual meeting to invite me to take the position of one of the managers, and I shall soon go to the winter quarters of the show, to arrange to put it on the road about the 1st of May. Now any remarks may be made, pro or con, in regard to my sanity, see?"
Well, ma swallowed something crosswise down her Sunday throat, and choked, and pa swatted her on the back so she would cough it up, and when she could speak she said: "Pa, do you have to wear tights, and jump through hoops on the back of a horse, and cut up didoes, at your time of life? For if you do I can never live to witness any such performances."
Pa was calm, and did not fly off the handle, but he just said, kindly: "Mother, you have vague ideas of the duties of the owners of a circus. The owners hire performers to do stunts, and break their necks, while we manage them and take in the shekels from the Reubens who come into town on circus day. We proprietors touch the button, and the actors and animals do the rest. I shall be a director who directs, a man who sets a dignified and pious example to the men and women who adorn the profession, coming as they do from all climes, and your pa will be the guide, philosopher and friend of all who belong to the grandest aggregation of talent ever gathered under one canvas, at one price of admission, and do not fail to witness the concert which will be given under this canvas after the main performance is over."
Ma looked at pa pretty savage, and said: "O, I see, you are going to be ringmaster, but what is to become of Hennery and me while you are cracking your whip around the hind legs of the fat woman, and ogling the Circassian beauty?"
Pa put his hand on my head and said: "Mother, Hennery will go with me, to see that I do not get into any trouble as a circus financier and general manager of the menagerie and Wild West aggregation, and hippodrome, in the great three-ring circus, and you can stay home and give us absent treatment for what ails us, and pack the money I shall send you in bales with a hay press, and put it in cold storage till we come back in the fall. It is settled, we go to conquer, and the world will lay at our feet before the middle of August, and you will be a proud woman to own a husband who will be pointed at as the most successful amusement purveyor the world has ever witnessed, and a son who will start in at the bottom round of the circus ladder and rise, step by step, until he will stand beside the great Barnum."
Ma thought seriously for a few minutes, and then she said: "O, pa, if it was anything but the circus business you and Hennery went into, like selling soap or being a bank defaulter, or something respectable, I could look the neighbors in the face, but of course if there is money in it, and you feel that the good Lord has called you to the circus field, and you will see that Hennery does not stay out nights, and Hennery will promise to see that you put on a clean collar occasionally, and you will promise me that you will not let any of those circus women in spangles make eyes at you, I will consent to your going with the circus, just this once, as the doctor has advised that you lead an active life, and I guess you will get it traveling with a circus, for it nearly killed me that time I took Hennery to see the animals, and the tent blew down, and we got separated and the sacred cow chased ma up the church steps, and Hennery and a monkey were brought home by a policeman about daylight the next morning, that time you were off fishing, and I never told you about going to the circus when you were away. So we are circus proprietors, are we? Well, it ain't so bad," and ma went upstairs to cry at our success, and pa and I went out to walk off the effects of the breaking the news to ma.
I had a long talk with pa about our changed circumstances, and asked him what I would be expected to do in the show, and he says I will fit in anywhere. He says that a boy who knows as much about everything as I think I know, but don't know a blamed thing about, will be invaluable about a show, and that going into a new business is like going to college as a freshman, as all the old circus men will haze us, and we must not expect an easy life, but one full of excitement, sleepless nights, ginger, the glare of the torchlights, the races, the flying trapeze, the smell of the sawdust and tanbark, the howling of the wild beasts, and the plaudits of the multitude of jays and jayesses, and it will be like one grand circus day spread all over the summer and fall. He says he wants me to learn the circus business from the ground up, from the currying of the hyenas with a currycomb and brush, to going up into the roof of the tent on the trapeze and falling into the net, while the audience faints with excitement. I asked pa if he wanted me to keep on playing tricks on him while we were on the road, and he said he had got so used to my tricks that he couldn't live without them, and he didn't want me to let a chance escape to make him have a good time.
April 11.—Ma and pa have had several discussions about what kind of a position it is going to leave her in, among the neighbors, for pa and I to go off with a circus, and ma wanted to withdraw from the church, and board up the windows of the house, and make folks think we had gone to the seashore, but pa convinced her that we would have preaching in the main tent every Sunday and he says there is no more pious lot of people on earth than those who travel with a circus, and then ma wanted to go along. She said she could do the mending of the long socks that the women wear when they ride barebacked, but we had to shut down on ma's going with the show, cause we never could have any fun with a woman to look after. Pa says nowadays the men and women who ride on bareback horses in the ring dress in regular evening costume, the women with low-necked dresses and long trains, and the men with swallow-tail coats and patent leather shoes, and they are as polite as dancing masters.
We have compromised with ma, and she is to meet the show at Kalamazoo and go with us to Kankakee and Keokuk until she is overcome by nervous prostration, when we shall have her go home. Pa thinks ma would last about two days with the show, but I guess if she took a course of treatment with peanuts and red lemonade one afternoon and evening, she would want to throw up her job, and go back home in charge of a stomach specialist.
Well, pa showed up at the house in his circus clothes this afternoon, and he certainly is a peach. Pa has been letting his chin whiskers grow for about six weeks, and today he had them colored black, and he looks as though he had swallowed the blacking brush, and left the bunch of bristles outside, on his chin. He looks fierce. Then, he has got a new brand of silk hat, with a wide, curling brim, and he has had a vest made of black and blue check goods, the checks as big as the checks on a checker board, and a pair of pants that look like a diamond-back rattlesnake, and he has got an imitation diamond stud in his white shirt that looks like a paper weight.
Ma wanted to know if there was any law to compel pa to dress like that, 'cause he looked as though he was a gambler or a train robber. Pa says that a circus proprietor has got to look different from anybody else, in order to inspire fear and respect on the part of the hands around the show, as well as the audiences that flock to the arena, and he asked ma if she didn't remember old Dan Rice, and old John Robinson. Ma didn't remember them, but she remembered Barnum, because Barnum lectured on temperance, and she said she hoped pa would emulate Barnum's example, and pa said he would, and then he took a watch chain with links as big as a trace chain and spread it across his checkered vest, from one pocket to the other, with a life-size gold elk hanging down the middle, and ma almost had a convulsion.
Gee, but if pa wears that rig in the menagerie tent the animals will paw and bellow like a drove of cattle that smell blood. Pa is going to wear a sack coat with his outfit, so as to look tough, and he wouldn't hear to ma when she tried to get him to wear a frock coat. He said a frock coat was all right in society or among the crowned heads, but when you have to mingle with lions and elephants one minute that would snatch the tail off a coat and chew it and the next minute you are mixed up with a bunch of freaks or a lot of bareback riders or trapeze performers, you have got to compromise on a coat that will fit any climate, and not cause invidious remarks, whatever that is.
I will have to stand up beside the giant once in a while to show the difference in the size of men, and at other times I will have to stand beside the midgets and look like a giant myself. We are all packed up, and in two days we start for the winter quarters of the show, to pound it into shape for the road. By ginger, I can't hardly wait to get there and see pa boss things.
The Bad Boy Visits the Circus in Winter Quarters—He Meets the Circus Performers—Dad Rides a Horse and Gets Tossed in a Blanket—The Bad Boy Goes "Kangarooing"—Pa's Clothes Cause Excitement Among the Animals—A Monkey Steals His Watch.
April 15.—We are now at the winter quarters of the show, in a little town, on a farm just outside, where the tent is put up and the animals are being cared for in barns, and the performers are limbering up their joints, wearing overcoats to turn flip-flaps, and everybody has a cold, and looks blue, and all are anxious for warm weather.
Pa created a sensation when we arrived by his stunning clothes, his jet black chin whiskers and his watch chain over his checkered vest, and when the proprietors introduced pa to the performers and hands, as an old stockholder in the show, who would act as assistant manager during the season and pa smiled on them with a frown on his forehead, and said he hoped his relations with them would be pleasant, one of the old canvasmen remarked to a girl who rides two horses at once with the horses strapped together, so they can't get too far apart and cause her to break in two, said that old goat with the silk hat would last just about four weeks, and that he reminded the canvasman of a big dog which barked at people as though he would eat them, and at the same time wagged his tail, so people would not think he was so confounded dangerous.
The principal proprietor of the circus told pa to make himself at home around the tent, and not be offended at any pleasantry on the part of the attaches of the show, for they were full of fun, and he went off to attend to some business and left pa with the gang. They were practicing riding bare-backed horses around the ring, with a rope hitched in a belt around the waist of the rider and an arm swinging around from the center pole, so if they fell off the horse the rope would prevent the rider from falling to the ground, a practice that the best riders adopt early in the season, the same as new beginners, 'cause they are all stiffened up by being out of practice. One man rode around a few times, and pa got up close to the ring and was making some comments such as: "Why, any condemned fool could ride a horse that way," when the circus gang as quick as you could say scat, fastened a belt around pa's stomach, that had a ring in it, and before he knew it they had hitched a snap in the ring, and pa was hauled up as high as the horse, and his feet rested on the horse's back, and the horse started on a gallop.
Well, say, pa was never so surprised in his life, but he dug his heels into the horse's back, and tried to look pleasant, and the horse went half way around the ring, and just as pa was getting confidence some one hit the horse on the ham with a piece of board, and the horse went out from under pa and he began to fall over backwards, and I thought his circus career would end right there, when the man who had hold of the rope pulled up, and pa was suspended in the air by the ring in the belt, back up, and stomach hanging down like a pillow, his watch dangling about a foot down towards the ring, and the horse came around the ring again and as he went under pa, pa tried to get his feet on the horse's back, but he couldn't make it work, and pa said, as cross as could be: "Lookahere, you fellers, you let me down, or I will discharge every mother's son of you."
But they didn't seem to be scared, for one man caught the horse and let it out of the ring, and the man who handled the rope tied it to the center pole by a half hitch, and the fellows all went into the dressing room to play cinch on the trunks, leaving pa hanging there. Just then the boss canvasman came along and he said: "Hello, old man, what you doing up there?" And pa said some of the pirates in the show had kidnaped him, and seemed to be holding him up for a ransom, and he said he would give ten dollars if some one would let him down.
The boss canvasman said he could fix it for ten, all right, and he blew a whistle, and the gang came back, and the boss said: "Bring a blanket and help this gentleman down;" so they brought a big piece of canvas, with handles all around it, and about a dozen fellows held it, and the rope man let pa down on the canvas, and unhitched the ring, and when pa was in the canvas he laughed and said: "Thanks, gentlemen, I guess I am mot much of a horseback rider," and then the fellows pulled on the handles of the canvas, and by gosh, pa shot up into the air half-way to the top of the tent, and when he came down they caught him in the canvas and tossed him up a whole lot of times until pa said: "O, let up, and make it $20." Just then the proprietor who had introduced pa to the men came in and saw what was going on, and he said: "Here, you heathen, you quit this hazing right here," and they let pa down on the floor of the ring, and he got up and pulled his pants down, that had got up above his knees, and shook himself and took out his roll, and peeled off a $20 bill and gave it to the canvasman, and he shook hands with them all, and said he liked a joke as well as anybody, and for them to spend the money to have a good time, and they all laughed and patted pa on the back, and said he was a dead game sport, and would be an honor to the profession, and that now that he has taken the first degree as a circus man he could call on them for any sacrifice, or any work, and he would find that they would be Johnny on the spot.
Then he went out to the dining tent and took dinner with the crowd and had a jolly time. There was a woman trapeze performer on one side of pa at dinner, and she began to kick at once about the meals, and when the waiter brought a piece of meat to us all—a great big piece, that looked like corned beef, she said: "For heaven's sake, ain't that elephant that died all been eaten up yet?" and then she told pa that they had been fed on that deceased elephant, until they all felt like they had trunks growing out of their heads, and pa poked the meat with his fork, and thought it was elephant, and he lost his appetite, and everybody laughed. I eat some of it and if it was elephant it was all right.
Well, when dinner was about over, all filled their glasses to drink to the health of pa, the old stockholder and new manager, and pa got up and bowed, and made a little speech, and when he sat down one of the circus girls was in his chair, and he sat in her lap, and the crowd all yelled, except a Spanish bull-fighter who seemed to be the husband of the woman pa sat on, and he wanted pa's blood, but the old circus manager took him away to save pa from trouble, and he glared back at pa, and I think he will stab pa with a dirk knife.
We got out of the dining tent, and went to the barn, where the animals are kept all winter, and pa wanted me to become familiar with the habits of the beasts, 'cause they were to be in pa's charge, with the keepers of the different kinds of animals to report to pa. Nobody need tell me that animals have no human instincts, and do not know how to take a joke. We are apt to think that wild animals in captivity are worrying over being confined in cages, and gazed at and commented on by curious visitors, and that they dream of the free life they lived in the jungles, and sigh to go back where they were, captured, and prowl around for food, but you can't fool me. Animals that formerly had to go around in the woods, hungry half the time and occasionally gorging themselves on a dead animal and sleeping out in the rain in all kinds of weather, know when they have struck a good thing in a menagerie, with clean straw to sleep in, and when they are hungry all they have to do is to sound their bugle and they have pre-digested beefsteak and breakfast food brought to them on a silver platter, and if the food is not to their liking they set up a kick like a star boarder at a boarding house. Their condition in the show, in its changed condition from that of their native haunts, is like taking a hobo off the trucks of a freight train and taking him to the dining car of the limited, and letting him eat to a finish. People talk about animals escaping from captivity, and going back to the jungles and humane societies shed tears over the poor, sad-eyed captives, sighing for their homes, but you turn them loose at South Bend, and run your circus train to New Albany without them and they would follow the train and overtake it before the evening performance the next day, and you would find them trying to break into their cages again, and they would have to be fed.
When pa and I went into the barn where the cages were, to take an account of stock, and get acquainted with our animals, they acted just like the circus men did when they saw pa's clothes. The animals were about half asleep when we went in, but a big lion bent one eye on pa, and then he rose up and shook himself and gave a roar and a cough that sounded like he had the worst case of pneumonia, and he snorted a couple of times, as though he was saying to the other animals: "Here's something that will kill you dead, and I want you all to have a piece of it, raw," and he brayed some more, and all the animals joined in the chorus, the big tiger lying down on his stomach and waving his tail, and snarling and showing his teeth like a cat that has located a mouse hole, and the tiger seemed to say: "O, I saw it first, and it's mine."
The hyena set up a laugh like a man who is not tickled, but feels that it is up to him to laugh at a funny story that he can't see the point of at a banquet where Chauncey Depew tells one of his crippled jokes, and pa was getting nervous. A big grizzly bear was walking delegate in his cage, and he looked at pa as much as to say: "Hello, Teddy, I was not at home when you called in Colorado, but you get in this cage, and I will make you think the Spanish war was a Sunday school picnic beside what you will get from your uncle Ephraim," and a bob cat jumped up into the top of his cage and snarled and showed his teeth, and seemed to say: "Bring on your whole pack of dogs and I will eat them alive."
Pa threw out his chest in front of a monkey cage, and a monkey snatched his watch, and then all the animals began to laugh at pa just like a lot of bad boys in school when visitors make a call. Pa went around to visit all the animals, officially, while I got interested in a female kangaroo, with a couple of babies, not more than three weeks old, and I noticed the mother kangaroo made the old man kangaroo, her husband, stand around and he acted just like some men I have seen who were afraid to say their souls were their own in the presence of their wives.
The female kangaroo is surely a wonder, and seems to be built on plans and specifications different from any other animal, cause she has got a fur-lined pouch on her stomach, just like a vest, that she carries her young in. When the babies are frightened they make a hurry-up move towards ma, the pouch opens, and they jump in out of sight, like a gopher going into its hole, and the mother looks around as innocent as can be, as much as to say: "You can search me. I don't know, honestly, where those kids have gone, but they were around here not more than a minute ago." And when the fright is over the two heads peep out of the top of the pouch, and the old man grunts, as much as to say: "O, come on out, there is no danger, and let your ma have a little rest, 'cause she is nervous," and then the babies come out and run around the cage, and sit up on their hind feet and look wise. That kangaroo pouch is a success, and I wonder why nature did not provide pouches for all animals to carry their young in. I think Pullman must have got his ideas for the upper and lower berths of a sleeping car by seeing a kangaroo pouch. I am going to study the kangaroo and make friends with the old man kangaroo, 'cause he looks as though he had troubles of his own.
Pa showed up without any coat, while I was kangarooing, and there was a rip in his pants, and I asked him what was the trouble, and he said he got too near the cage of a leopard that seemed to be asleep, and the traitor reached out his paw and gathered in the tail of pa's coat, and just snatched it off his back as though it was made of paper.
Pa is a little discouraged about his experience in the circus the first day, but he says it will be great when we get the run of the business. He says every day will have its excitement. Tomorrow they are going to extract a tooth from the boa-constrictor, and pa and I are going to help hold him, while the animal dentist pulls the tooth, and then we scrub the rhinoceros, and oil the hippopotamus, and get everything ready to start out on the road, and I can't write any more in my diary until after we fix the snake. Gee, but he is as long as a clothesline.
Pa Reproves the Fat Woman for Losing Flesh—The Bearded Lady Faints in Pa's Arms—The Bad Boy Introduced Into Animal Society—They Pull the Boa Constrictor's Ulcerated Tooth.
Winter Quarters of the Only Circus, April 20.—Pa has had a hard job today. The boss complained to pa that the fat woman had been taking anti-fat, or dieting, or something, 'cause she was losing flesh, and the living skeleton was beginning to fat up. He wanted pa to call them into the office and have a diplomatic talk with them about their condition, 'cause if this thing continued they would ruin the show.
So pa went to the office and sent for them, and I was there as a witness, in case of trouble. The fat woman came in first, and there was no chair big enough for her, so she sat down on a leather lounge, which broke and let her down on the floor, and pa tried to help her up, but it was like lifting a load of hay. So he leaned her against the wall and said:
"Madame, the management has detailed me to censure you for losing flesh, and I am instructed to say if you do not manage to take on about fifty pounds more flesh before the show starts on the road, you don't go along. What you want to do is to eat more starchy food and sleep more at night. They tell me you go out nights to dances and drink high balls, and this has got to stop. Drink beer and eat cheese sandwiches at night, or it is all off. This show can't afford to take along no 400-pound fairy for a fat woman when the contract calls for a 500-pound mountain of flesh, see?" and pa looked just as stern as could be.
The fat woman began to cry and sob, so it sounded like an engine blowing off steam, and she told pa that the cause of her losing flesh was that she was in love with the living skeleton, and that he had been paying attention to the bearded woman, and she would scratch her eyes out if she could catch her. Just then the living skeleton came in, and when he saw the fat woman sitting on the floor crying, and pa talking soothing to her and telling her he could appreciate her condition, 'cause he had been in love some hisself, the skeleton pushed pa away and tried to lift it, and said: "What is the matter with my itty tootsy-wootsy, and what has the bad old man with spinach on his chin been doing to you?"
Then he turned on pa and his legs began to shake and rattle like a pair of bones in a minstrel show, and he said: "I will hold you responsible for this." Pa said he was not going to interfere in the love affairs of any of the freaks, and just then the bearded woman came in, and when she saw the living skeleton holding the hand of the fat woman, who sat on the floor like a balloon blowed up, the bearded woman gave a kick at the living skeleton which sounded like clothes bars falling down in the laundry, and she grabbed the fat woman's blonde wig and pulled it off, and then the bearded woman began to cry and she threw herself into pa's arms and began to sob on his bosom and mingle her whiskers with his.
Pa yelled for help, and I thought it was time for me to be doing something, so I went outside the office to the fire alarm box and touched a button, and then I run like thunder for the police, and the firemen came with the extinguishers and began to throw chemically charged water into the room, and the police dragged out the fat woman, who had fainted, and the living skeleton, whom she had pulled down into her lap, and laid them out in the ring, and then they got hold of pa and pulled him out, and the bearded woman had fainted in pa's arms and the stove was tipped over and was setting fire to the furniture and they brought the bearded woman and the fat woman to their senses by pouring water on them from a hose. Finally they were sent to their quarters, and the other owner of the show came to pa and said he hoped this would be the last of that kind of business, as long as pa remained with the show, that one of the rules was that no man in an executive capacity must under any circumstances take any liberties with any of the females connected with the show.
Pa was hot, and said when women got crazy in love no man was safe, and the other owner of the show said that was all right this time, but not to let it occur again, and pa tried to explain how the bearded woman came to jump on to him and faint in his arms, but the owner said: "That is all right, but you can't hold 'em in your arms before folks," and then pa offered to whip any man who said he was in love with any bearded woman, and he pulled off his coat. Just then I came along and told the whole story, and then the crowd all had a good laugh, and pa took them all out and treated.
I guess it is all settled now, 'cause the living skeleton and the fat woman have got permission to get married, the bearded lady is sweet on pa, and a girl has just joined the show, who walks a wire, and she says I am about the sweetest thing that ever came down the pike, and I guess this show business is all right, all right.
April 21.—We are getting acquainted with the animals, and it is just like going into society.
There is the aristocracy, which consists of the high born animals, the middle class and the low down, common herd, and when you go among the animals as strangers you are received just as you would be in society. If you are properly introduced to the elephants by the elephant keeper, who vouches for your standing and honor, the elephants take to you all right and extend to you certain courtesies, same as society people would invite you to dinner, but if you wander around and sort of butt in, the elephants are on to you in a minute and roll their eyes at you and look upon you as a common "person," and if you attempt any familiarity they look at you as much as to say: "Sir, I am not allowed to associate with any except the 400." Then they turn their backs and act so much like shoddy aristocracy that you would swear they were human.
I remember when pa was first in the elephant corral, the keeper forgot to tell the big elephant who pa was, and when the keeper raised up one foot of the elephant and examined a corn, pa went up and pinched a bunch on the elephant's leg and said to the keeper: "That looks to me like a spavin," and he nebbed it hard. Well, the elephant groaned like a boy with a stone bruise on his heel, and before pa knew what was coming the elephant wound his trunk under pa and raised pa upon his tusks and was going to toss him in the air and catch him as he came down and walk on him, when pa yelled murder and the keeper took an iron hook and hooked it into the elephant's skin, and said: "Let that man down," and he let pa down easy, and the keeper some way showed the elephant that pa was one of the owners of the show, and that elephant acted just as human as could be, for he fairly toadied to pa, like a society leader that has given the cold shoulder to some one that is as good or better than they, or like an impudent employee who has insulted his employer and is afraid of losing his job. After that whenever pa and I go around the elephants they bow down to us, and I think I could take an iron hook and drive an elephant anywhere.
There are all classes among the animals in a menagerie the same as human society. The lions are like the leaders of society who are well born and proud but poor. They are always invited everywhere, but never entertain, though they kick and find fault and ogle everybody and look wise and distinguished.
The sacred cattle are too good to live and pose as the pious animals who do not want to associate with the bad animals and are constantly wearing an air of "I am holier than any of you," but they will reach through the bars of their cage and steal alfalfa from the Yak and the mule deer, and if they kick about it the sacred cattle look hurt and act like it was part of their duty to take up a collection, and they bellow a sort of hymn to drown the kicking.
The different kind of goats in a menagerie are the butters-in, or the new rich, who get in the way of the society leaders and try to outdo them in society stunts, but they smell so that the other animals are made sick and the goats are only tolerated because animal society is afraid to offend them, for fear the leaders may some time go into bankruptcy and the goats will take their places and never let them get a smell of the good things of life.
The bears are the working people of the show, and the big grizzlies are the walking delegates who control the amalgamated association of working bears, and the occupants of the other cages have got to cater to Uncle Ephraim, the walking delegate, or be placed on the unfair list and slugged.
The hyenas and the jackals and the wolves represent the anarchists who are down on everybody in the show, who won't do a thing to help along and won't allow any other animal to do anything, and who seem to want to burn and slay, to carry a torch by night and poison by day, and want everything in the show to be chaos. Those animals are never so happy as when the wind and lightning strike the tent, and blow it down and kill people and create a panic, and then these anarchists sing and laugh and enjoy their peculiar kind of animal religion.
The zebras and giraffes are the dudes of the show, and you can imagine, if they were human, they would play tennis and golf, drive four in hands and pose to be admired, while the Royal Bengal tigers, if they were half human, would drive automobiles at the rate of a mile a minute on crowded streets, run over people and never stop to help the wounded, but skip away with a sneer, as much as to say: "What are you going to do about it?"
The hippopotamus is like the lazy fat man that groans from force of habit, sits down as though it was the last act of his life and only gets up when the bell rings for meals, and he sweats blood for fear he will lose his meal ticket and starve to death.
The seals are the clean-cut Baptists of the show, who believe in immersion, and they have more brain than any animals in the show, because they live on a fish diet, though they have a pneumonia cough that makes you feel like sending for a doctor.
Gee, but last night when we thought spring had come and we could start on the road pretty soon, the snow fell about a foot deep, and it was so cold that all the animals howled all night, and shivered, and went on a regular strike. We had to put blankets on them, and no one of them seemed to be comfortable except the polar bears, the arctic foxes and the fat woman. The other owners of the show thought it was a good time to take the boa constrictor and pull an ulcerated tooth, 'cause he was sort of dumpish, so pa and I helped hold the snake, which is about twenty feet long.
Pa was up near the snake's head, and when the man with the forceps got hold of the tooth and gave it a yank, the confounded snake come to and began to stand on his head and thrash around, and pa dropped his hold and started to climb the center pole, but he got caught in a gasoline torch, and they had to turn a hose on pa, and he was awful scared, 'cause he always did hate snakes, but they gave the snake chloroform and got him quiet, and pa came down, and they gave him a pair of baggy trousers belonging to the clown, to go to dinner in, and pa was a sight.
Pa Finds the Fat Lady a Burden—The Bad Boy Makes His First Public Appearance—He Talks Politics with the Midget—Pa Meets with Numerous Accidents.
May 1.—We had the darndest time getting packed up and started on the road. How in the name of heaven we ever got half the things on the cars is more than I know, but it seems as though the circus company had a man to look after everything, and he had men under him to look after his regular share of things, so when the cars were loaded, and the boss clapped his hands, and the engineer tooted his whistle, there wasn't a tent stake or a rope, or a board seat, or anything left behind. Every man knew exactly where the things were that he was responsible for, so he could lay his hands on them in the dark, and he knew just what wagon his stuff was to go in.
Gee, but you talk about system, there is no business in the world that has a system like a show on the road. Every performer was in his or her section in the sleeper, and pa and I got an end section with the freaks, the fat woman across the aisle from us. That fat woman is going to make life a burden for pa, I can see that plain enough. She is engaged to the living skeleton, and he sleeps in the upper berth, over her, and he is jealous of pa, while the fat woman has got to depending on pa to do little things for her.
Of course, the first night out is always the worst on a sleeper, and the poor woman is nervous, and when the animal train, in the second section, ran on a side track beside our train of sleepers, and Rajah, the boss lion, got woke up and exploded one of his roars, within six feet of the fat woman's berth, she just gave one yell, and reared up, and came down hard in the berth. Something broke, and she went right through the bottom of the berth to the floor, doubled up like a jackknife.
Pa got up and went to her berth, though I told him to keep away, 'cause he would get into trouble. First he stumbled over one of her shoes, and said he thought he had told everybody to keep their telescope valises in the baggage car, and that made her mad. Then he reached in the berth and got hold of one of her feet, and pa got the men to help and they got her out, but she seemed all squshed together. She sat up all night and wanted to lean on pa, but the skeleton kept his head over the rail of the upper berth and his snake-like eye never left pa all night.
The bearded woman got up out of her berth about daylight, to go to the toilet room for a shave, or a hair cut, or something, and when she saw pa trying to soothe the fat woman and hold her from breaking in two, she screamed and slapped pa's face, and had a mess of hysterics. The fat woman grabbed a couple of handfuls of female whiskers, and was going to pull them out by the roots, when the bearded woman begged her not to pull them out, as to lose her whiskers would destroy her means of livelihood.
Then the bugle blew for everybody to get up and go to the show lot, and put up the tents for the first show of the season. When we got out of the sleeper we asked where we were, and a man told pa we were at Peoria, Ill., and he wanted pa to give him a complimentary ticket for telling what town we were in, but pa looked fierce at the man and asked what kind of an easy mark he took him for, and the man slunk away. You wouldn't think they could unload those two trains of cars, about 80 in all, in a week, but when we got out the horses were hitched on the wagons, and in 15 minutes they were loaded and on the way to the lot, and pa and I got on the first wagon.
Talk about system. The surveyors were there ahead of us, and had measured off the lot and pushed wire stakes in the ground where the grub tent was to be, and when the first wagon of the grub outfit arrived, which contained a big range, big enough to cook for a thousand men, stove pipes were put on, which telescoped up into the air, and in two minutes a fire was built and bacon and potatoes and coffee were cooking, local bread wagons were unloading bread on the grass, 50 men put up poles and spread the tent on, and others set up tables in the tent, and in half an hour breakfast was served to the first 500 men. Pa and I drew up to the first table, but there was a yell to "put 'em out," and we found we had sat down to the table of the negro canvasmen, and they struck because they would not associate on an equality with white trash.
Gee, but pa was mad. He said he was as good as any nigger, and that made them mad and they threw boiled potatoes and scrambled eggs at pa, and we had to retire, but when pa complained to the boss canvasman, he told pa to go and eat with the freaks and try and keep in his place.
We got breakfast at another table, and then we went out on the lot to superintend the putting up of the big tents. The greatest thing was a wagon containing a miniature pile driver, run by steam, which was driven around outside of where the big tents were to be, and it drove down the big stakes so quick it would make your head swim, and the grounds were covered with Peoria people who wanted to see how it was done.
Pa imitated the boss canvasman by walking around the lot with his coat over his arm, and a dirty shirt on, trying to look tough, and he bossed the sightseers about, and acted cross, and told a man and woman with a baby wagon to get off the lot, but pa was called down by the principal owner of the show good and plenty.
Said the owner to pa: "Remember, the success of our show depends on the friendship and good will of the people who think enough of us to come out to see us set up keeping house, and that they are all our guests, and if they get in our way we should go around them, and look pleasant. We must not get the big head and show that our hair pulls, and that we are tired and cross. This is a place of amusement, and all connected with the show are expected to heal up sores, instead of causing bruises, and if you ever see an employee of this show treating a visitor unkindly, send him to the ticket wagon to get his wages, and tell him to go away quick, and stay away long."
You could have lit a match to pa's face, it was so red hot, but he learned a lesson, for I saw him holding a tired mother's baby up on his shoulders, so it could see the drove of camels come up to the lot from the train, soon after. It was great to see all the tents go up as if raised by machinery, and after all were erected, and the rings were graded, and the animals in the menagerie tent all fed and watered, and the performers in the dressing-room ready for the afternoon performance, pa was the proudest man ever was. He walked all around, inspecting everything, and kicking occasionally at something that got balled up, and when the crowd came to buy tickets, he stood around the grand entrance, looking wise, and he was so good natured that he bet ten dollars he could guess which walnut shell a bean was under, which a three-card monte man was losing money at, and pa lost his ten with a smile. He said he wanted to be kind to the patrons of the show.
This was my first appearance in the show business. I had to stand up beside the giant, to show how little I was, and then I had to stand up beside the midget to show how big I was compared with him. It went all right with the giant, because he was so big I was afraid of him, but I thought the midget was about my age, and needed protection, and when the crowd surged around us I said: "Don't be afraid, little fellow, I will see that no one harms you." The look he gave me was enough to freeze water.
When the crowd had gone into the big show tent, what do you think, that confounded midget began to ask me how I stood on the tariff question, and he argued for free trade, whatever that is, for half an hour, and made me think of Bryan during a campaign, and then he branched off on to the Monroe doctrine, which I suppose is something connected with a rival show, and I guess he would be talking yet, only a big husky fellow came along, a fellow about 25 years old, and he stooped over and put his hand on the midget's shoulder and said: "Hello, dad," and by gosh, the midget introduced me to the big galoot as his youngest son. Wouldn't that skin you.
The first day of the season was great, only all the performers had not got limbered up. One of the girls on the flying trapeze fell off into the net from the roof of the tent and broke her suspenders, so when they got her down in the ring it seemed as though everything she had on was going to shuck loose, and leave her with nothing but a string of beads, and pa went up to wrap his coat around her, and she kicked his hat off and ran into the dressing-room. The audience just yelled, and pa blushed scarlet, 'cause he saw it was a put-up job to make him ridiculous.
During the chariot races pa had to jump like a box car to keep from being run over by a four-horse chariot driven by a one-horse girl, and the attendants dragged pa out from under a bunch of horses being ridden barebacked, like fury. Then two horses hitched together with a strap were being ridden by a woman, the strap broke and the horses spread apart, and some one yelled that she had split clear in two. Pa rushed in to help carry one half of her into the dressing-room, but she wasn't hurt at all, 'cause the peanut boy told me she was a rubber woman, and you could stretch her half way across the ring, and she would come together all right, and eat a hearty meal. Gee, but a circus is a great place to study human nature.
In the evening performance at Peoria there came up a windstorm which blew down part of the menagerie tent, where the freaks were, and when the storm was over, and the tent top was pulled up again, they found pa all right. He started to crawl under the canvas, and skip out for fear of the animals, but the fat lady caught him and sat down on him.
WITH THE CIRCUS
The Rogue Elephant Creates a Panic and Pa Proves Himself a Hero—The Bad Boy Gets Scolded for "Being Tough"—He Finds That Audiences Like Accidents.
May 6.—We had the worst time at Akron last week and pa proved himself a hero, though he was swatted good by the rogue elephant before he got his second wind and went for the animal.
We have a male elephant that is almost human, 'cause he gets on a tear about once a month, like a regular ugly husband. You can't tell when his mind is in condition for running amuck, but suddenly he will whoop like a drunken man, strike his poor patient wife over the back with his trunk and grab her tail and try to pull it out by the roots, and jump up and crack his heels together like a drunken shoemaker, and bellow as though he was saying he was a bad man from Bitter Creek.
Well, at Akron, the keeper of this elephant, Bolivar, had to go and see a girl that he met when the show was here last year, and settle a case of breach of promise before a justice of the peace, and the boss told pa to look after the elephant for an hour or so. So pa took a pole with a hook in it and sat down on a bale of hay to watch Bolivar. It was one of those hot days, and Bolivar stood drooping and perspiring, and wishing the show was in Alaska, and pa was kind of sleepy, like everybody in the show, when suddenly that elephant whooped, and swatted Jeanette, his wife, a couple of times, and she cried pitiful, and pa put the hook in Bolivar's hide and gave a jerk, and told him to hush up that noise, but Bolivar just reared and pitched and walked right through the side of the menagerie tent, and seemed to say to the other animals: "Come on, boys; there is going to be something doing," and the animals all set up a howl in their own language, as though they were saying: "Whooper up, old man, and don't let them monkey with you."
Bolivar went out in the street and mowed a wide swath, with pa after him, hooking him all the time, but he paid no attention to pa. He put his head under the side of a street ear loaded with negroes that had come to see the show, dressed in their Sunday clothes, and tipped the car over on the side, and the negroes crawled through the windows and went uptown yelling murder, while Bolivar went in front of a grocery store where there was a pile of watermelons, and began to throw them at the people in the street, and the negroes thought an elephant was not so bad, so they came back and had a feast.
Pa tried to head off Bolivar at the grocery, but Bolivar took half a watermelon and put the red side on top of pa's head, and squashed it down so the seeds and juice and pulp ran down pa's shirt and neck, and he looked as though murder had been committed, but pa wiped his face on his shirt sleeve and showed game, because he kept mauling Bolivar with the hook. Bolivar broke up a millinery store by throwing tomatoes at the women in the windows, and he went into a yard where a woman was washing and squirted the bluing water all over the woman, and all over pa, and then he chewed the clothes on the line, and drove the family over the fence.
You'd a died to see those milliners climb over a high board fence head first, and Bolivar actually seemed to laugh. Bolivar run one of his tusks through a barrel of gasoline, and it run out on the street car track, and an electric spark set it on fire, and the fire department turned out, but the engines had to all go around Bolivar, 'cause he wouldn't budge an inch, but seemed to say: "Let 'er rip, boys; this is the Fourth of July."
The circus men began to come with ropes and clubs, to tie Bolivar and throw him, but he escaped into a side street and watched the engines put out the fire, and he swung around with his trunk and tusks and wouldn't let anyone come near him but pa with the hook, and he seemed to enjoy the prodding, but I guess that gave him courage to keep on doing things.
The principal proprietor of the show came along, and when he saw pa with watermelon and bluing water all over him, and perspiration rolling down his face, he said to pa: "Why don't you take your elephant back to the lot, 'cause the afternoon performance is about to begin," and that made pa mad, and he said: "You go on with your afternoon performance, and I will have Bolivar there all right," and then everybody laughed, but pa knew what he was about.
Pa dropped his hook and went to a hose cart and took a Babcock extinguisher and strapped it on his back and went up to Bolivar, who was tipping over some dummies in front of a clothing store, and pa said: "Bolivar, you lay down," but Bolivar threw a seven-dollar suit of clothes at pa, and bellowed, as much as to defy pa. Pa turned the cock of the extinguisher, and pointed the nozzle at Bolivar's head, and began to squirt the medicated water all over him. For a moment Bolivar acted as though he couldn't take a joke, and was going to start off again, but pa kept squirting, and when the chemical water began to eat into Bolivar's hide, the big animal weakened, and trumpeted in token of surrender, and kneeled down in front of pa, and finally got down so pa could get on his back, and pa took the hook and hooked it in the flap of Bolivar's ear, where is a tender spot, and he told Bolivar to get up and go back to the tent, and Bolivar was as meek as a lamb, and he got up, with pa on his back, and the fire extinguisher on pa's back, and marched back to the tent, through the hole he had made coming out. Thousands of people followed, and cheered pa, and when they got in the tent pa said to the principal owner of the show, who had made fun of him: "Here's your elephant, and whenever any of your old animals get on the warpath, and you want 'em rounded up, don't forget my number, 'cause I can knock the spots out of any animal except a giraffe." The crowd cheered pa again and he got down off the elephant, took off his fire extinguisher, and handed Bolivar a piece of rag carpet, and said: "Eat it, you old catamaran, or I'll kill you," and Bolivar was so scared of pa he eat the carpet, which shows the power of brain over avoirdupois, pa says.
The regular keeper of Bolivar heard he was on the rampage, and he came back on the run to conquer him, after pa had got him back in the tent, but Bolivar looked at him with a faraway look in his eyes, as much as to say: "Seems to me I have met you somewhere before, but a new king has been crowned," and he took his old keeper by the back of his coat and threw him toward the monkey cage. The monkeys gave the keeper the laugh, and Bolivar put his trunk lovingly on pa's shoulder, and seemed to say: "Old man, you are it, from this time out." Pa looked proud, and the old keeper looked sick. The people in the show are going to present pa with a loving cup, and I guess he can run the menagerie part of the show.
When the freaks heard of pa's bravery, the fat woman and the bearded lady wanted to hug pa, but pa waved them away, and said he liked the elephant business best.
May 7.—I used to think that if I could belong to a circus, and go away with it when it left the town I lived in, that it would be pretty near going to heaven. I used to hope for the time when I would get nerve enough to run away, and go with a circus, and wear a dirty shirt, and be around a tent and wash off the legs of a spotted horse with castile soap, and when people gathered about me to watch the proceedings, to look tough and tell them in a hoarse voice way down my throat, sort of husky from sleeping in the wet straw with the spotted horse, that they must go on about their business, and not disturb the horse.
I had thought if I should run away and go with a circus, some day, when I got far enough away from ma, that I would up and swear, and be tough, and when I came home in the fall, and the neighbor boys would come around me, I would chew tobacco and tell them of the joys of circus life. Well, maybe I will some day, but at present I am sleepy all the time.
We have showed six times the last week, and traveled a thousand miles, and it seems as though there is nothing doing but putting up and taking down tents, and going to and from the cars, and you can't be tough, 'cause there is always some boss around to tell you to look pleasant if you are cross, and to tell you to change your shirt or get out of the show, and if you swear at anything you are called down.
Pa and I put in a good deal of time during the afternoon and evening performances in the dressing-room, near the door leading to the main tent. That is the nearest to being in an insane asylum of any place I was ever in. The performers get ready for their several acts in bunches or families, all in one spot, and they act serious and jaw each other, and each bunch acts as though their act was all there was to the show, and if it was cut out for any reason, the show would have to lay up for the season, when in fact each one is only a cog in the great wheel, and if one cog should slip, the wheel would turn just the same. These people never smile before they go in the ring, but just act as though too much depended on them to crack a smile. When a bunch is called to go in the ring, they all look at each other as though it was the parting of the ways, and they clasp hands and go out of the dressing-room as though walking on eggs. When they get in the ring they look around to see if all eyes are upon them, and bow to people who are looking at something going on in another ring, and who don't see them, and then they go through their performance with everybody looking somewhere else.
When the act is over the audience seems glad, and clap their hands because they are polite, and it don't cost anything to clap hands, and the performers turn some more flip flaps, and go running out to the dressing-room, and take a peek back into the big tent as though expecting an encore, but the audience has forgotten them and is looking for the next mess of performers, and the ones who have just been in go and lie down on straw and wonder if they can hit the treasurer for an advance on their salaries, so they can go to a beer garden and forget it all.
An average audience never gets its money's worth unless some one is hurt doing some daring act. Pa suggested that they have some one pretend to be hurt in every act, and have them picked up and carried out on stretchers with doctors wearing red crosses on their arms in attendance, giving medicine and restoratives. The show tried it at Bucyrus, O., and had seven men and two women injured so they had to be carried out, and the audience went wild, and almost mobbed the dressing-room, to see the doctor operate on the injured. It was such a great success that next week we are going to put in an automobile ambulance and have an operating table in the dressing-room with a gauze screen so the audiences can see us cut off legs like they do in a hospital. Maybe we shall put in a dissecting room if the people seem to demand it.
The Bad Boy Puts Fly-Paper in the Bob Cat's Cage—The Bob Cat Causes a Panic in the Main Tent—The Midget Quarrels with the Giant—Pa is Almost Arrested for Kidnaping and the Ostrich Swallows His Diamond Stud.
May 14.—This has been a week that would kill anybody, and pa and I talk of resigning, though pa feels as though he didn't want to break up the show by going away right in the middle of the harvesting of shekels from the country men, and I don't know what would happen if pa and I should both be taken sick at the same time.
The boss of the menagerie got a new animal by express from Colorado when we were leaving Akron, O., and we got it in one end of a cage occupied by a happy family of rabbits, coons, a spotted leopard and a hound dog and a house cat. The new animal was a bob cat, such as Roosevelt shoots when the man has the camera ready to catch him in the act. Say, but that bob cat is a terror, and crosser than any animal we got, except the hyenas. The bob cat just walked around and snarled and spit at the happy family through the bars, and kept them awake all night on the road, and the happy family held a sort of convention and I could see by the way they all looked at me that they were passing resolutions inviting me to break up the bob cat business. The manager of the menagerie told pa he wished the confounded bob cat would escape, 'cause he was a blooming nuisance, so I thought I would help get rid of the beast, and save the show from disgrace. So when we got to Oberlin I thought that was a pious community that could stand a wild bob cat, so I put several sheets of sticky tanglefoot fly paper in the bob cat's cage and opened the door of the cage, after the crowd had gone into the main tent to the big show, and the menagerie tent was empty except the keepers. They were all asleep under the wagons, and the animals had all curled down for a nap, and the freaks were on their platform lolling around, waiting for the main show to be out so they could do their stunts over again.
The bob cat got all his four feet in the tanglefoot fly paper, then he grabbed a sheet in his mouth and rolled over in a few more sheets, and when he was entirely harmless and you couldn't tell what he was, I opened the door of the cage and he went out like a rocket, and rolled over a few times in the sawdust, and then jumped on the platform with the freaks, run over the fat woman, who was laying back in a Morris chair, and left one of the sheets of fly paper on her low neck, and it stuck like a porous plaster. She yelled that she had been stabbed, and pa came along just as the bob cat jumped off the platform, and struck pa on the back, and the cat spit at pa, and pa fell over among the sacred cattle and rolled under a cow and got on his knees, when the animals all began to roar, and pa crawled behind a bale of hay, and a zebra stepped on pa's face, and pa yelled "Hey, Rube," which is a grand hailing sign of distress when circus men want to fight, and about a hundred of the canvasmen came running with tent stakes to hit people with.
Pa crawled out from the bale of hay, which he had pulled over him, and the hay stuck to the fly paper on pa, and a camel began to eat the hay, and he chewed pa's shirt until the hands pulled pa away.
The bob cat escaped into the main tent, just as the Japanese jugglers were juggling in No. 1 ring, and the elephants were standing on their heads in No. 2 ring, and the flying trapeze artists were jumping from one trapeze to another, and the bob cat rushed through the Japanese, and amongst the elephants, with the fly paper all over him, and the audience fairly yelled, 'cause they thought it was a clown dressed up to do some stunt, but the Japanese left the ring in a panic, while the elephants got down off their heads and stood on their hind feet and cried like children.
The audience saw that something had happened that was serious and they all rose to their feet and were going off into a panic when pa and a few brave men came and drove the bob cat up a centerpole, away up above the torches, and made speeches to the audience, and quieted them down, and the performance went on. But pa was a sight, and the head circus man told pa he would have to dress better, or forever after hold his peace, and pa said if any man could be more patient than he was, with a bob cat on his neck, a sacred cow walking on him, and a camel trying to eat his whiskers and shirt, they better hire that man.
But it was all fixed up and everybody apologized to everybody, and the bob cat went on up the center pole and out on top of the canvas and escaped into Ohio, where it will probably be holding office before next fall.
Gee, but the giant is a coward. When the bob cat began to run up the giant's leg, and then up his back, and then jumped from his shoulder onto the fat lady, the giant turned pale and cried, and the midget said to him: "O, you big stiff, why didn't you have sand enough to hold the kitty till the keeper came? I've a good mind to get on a stepladder and kick you," and the cowardly giant cried again, and said if the midget ever struck him he would report him to the management. Just then pa came along and asked what the row was about, and when pa found that the midget was trying to pick a quarrel with the giant, he took the midget across his knee and gave him a few spanks, and told him to quit bullying the freaks. The midget got up on a barrel and called his son, who is bigger than pa, when I stepped in between them and told the midget's son if he struck my father I would have his heart's blood, and he quailed, and then I bullied the giant, who is a coward, and now they are all afraid of me.
I don't see how a big fellow like a giant can be afraid of things smaller than he is, and shy when a dog barks, and be afraid some one is going to smash him in the jaw, but pa says the size of a man don't make any difference, 'cause it is the heart that does the business. A man may be big enough and strong enough to tip over a box car, loaded with pig iron, but if his heart is one of these little ones intended for a miser, with no pepper sauce running from the heart to the arteries and things, and a liver that is white, and nerves that are trembly, and no gall to speak of, why a big man is liable to be walked all over by a nervy little man who is spunky, and gets mad and froths at the mouth.
I have been having great times with the monkeys, and I guess the manager will make me superintendent of monkeys, 'cause they all seem to be stuck on me, and will do anything I tell them to. Pa says they think I am some new kind of a monkey, and they look up to me. I lead out the big monkeys that ride the goats and dogs, and have a horse race in the ring, and fasten them on the little animals, and when they ride around the ring on the dogs and goats and ponies, they keep looking at me as though they wanted my approval.
There is one little monkey that sleeps nearly all the time, and I played a trick on pa with it that like to got me arrested and licked by a man who was mad. A man and woman with a baby in a little wagon were going through the menagerie, and it was crowded, and they left the baby and wagon in pa's charge, near the monkey cage, while they went to see the hippopotamus. Pa is the most accommodating man about holding babies that ever was. The baby was asleep when its folks left it in the wagon with pa, but it woke up while they were gone, and pa took it out of the baby wagon and carried it around just as he would at home, and showed it the animals, and held it up on his shoulder, and I took the little monkey and put it in the baby wagon, and it went to sleep, and I put a veil over it, and was standing by the wagon talking with a peanut butcher, when the parents of the baby came back, and the woman raised up the veil to see if the child was asleep, when the monkey woke up and put its hairy hands up to rub it eyes. The monkey looked up at the woman with beady eyes and began to chatter, and she yelled and her husband took a look at the monk, and he was mad. They could both see it was a monkey instead of a baby, and they asked where the old man with the chin whiskers was that they left the baby with, and the peanut butcher said: "What, that old guy with the checkered vest? Why, he has gone with the baby over to the lion cage, where they are feeding the lions. Don't you see him holding the baby upon his shoulder?" By ginger, I never saw two people sprint the way they did, 'cause I guess they thought pa was sure crazy, and would give the baby to the lions. But I told them the old man was all right, and would bring the baby back, and if he didn't they could have the monkey, 'cause I didn't want them to think they were going to be losers while attending our show. Then I chucked the monkey under the chin and said: "Maybe this is your baby, 'cause they change wonderfully when they get into a show."
Well, I just had time to put the monkey back in the cage when I saw that couple surround pa, and the woman grabbed the baby out of his arms, and the man tackled pa around the legs below the knee, and threw pa down under the ostrich cage, and said: "You kidnaper! I am a good mind to choke the life out of you," and he squeezed pa's windpipe until pa's tongue run out, when a canvasman came along and hit the man in the ear, and he laid down near a zebra, and the zebra kicked at the man and hit pa, 'cause a zebra is crosseyed and kicks like a woman throws a stone, and no man knows where it listeth.
Pa got up to murder the man that choked him, when the ostrich reached its head out between the bars of the cage and picked pa's big diamond stud off his shirt, big as a piece of rock candy, and swallowed it, and pa said that's the limit, and he called the manager and asked him how he was going to get his diamond stud out of the ostrich. The manager told pa to go to the dressing-room and ask the woman who has charge of the wardrobe for the ostrich stomach pump, and when he got the stomach pump the manager said the ostrich would cough up the diamond stud. Pa went off to the dressing-room to get the ostrich stomach pump, and I knew there was going to be trouble, 'cause I thought the manager was just stringing pa.
Well, he went up to the woman in the dressing-room, and said he came after her stomach pump, ostrich size, and you'd a died to see the ruction. The woman looked at pa as though he had escaped from a sanitarium, and then she seemed to think he was trying to make game of her, and she said: "You old skate, do you know who you have the honor of addressing? I am the queen of this realm, and they all kow-tow to me; now you come and take your medicine," and before pa could say boo she had pulled a big clothes bag over his head and tied it around his feet, and said: "Come on, girls, we are going to have roasted missionary," and they were lighting a gasoline torch to roast pa, when the owner of the show came along and asked what was up. When the wardrobe woman told him pa had insulted her, the owner gave her $10 to buy champagne for the performers, and she released pa, and he went back to choke his diamond out of the ostrich.
Pa says this life is more exciting, if anything, than staying at home, and it will either kill him or cure him of a desire to be a Barnum in about a month more.
The Circus Has a Yellow Fever Scare—The Bad Boy and His Dad Dress Up as Hottentots—Pa Takes a Mustard Bath and Attends a Revival Meeting.
Well, we have had a row for your life, and all the excitement anybody can stand. We got into Indiana and have had a yellow fever scare, a quarantine that lasted one night, so nobody could sleep on our train, a riot at Evansville 'cause we took on a couple of female trapeze women that came from Honduras, via New Orleans, and a revival of religion, all in one bunch, and pa is beginning to get haggard, like a hag.
The female trapeze performers, who had been expected ever since we started on the road, had been quarantined at New Orleans, where the yellow fever is raging, and finally got through the quarantine guard somewhere in Mississippi, and got to us Saturday afternoon, and some official telegraphed to the mayor that two yellow fever refugees had struck his town to join the circus, and he ordered the chief of police to hunt them out, and put them in a pest house. The Honduras females were yellow as saffron, but it was caused by the climate of Honduras, but the whole show was scared to death for fear we would all have yellow fever, and the management detailed pa and I to hide the yellow girls from the police.
Pa fixed up one of the cages, with the girls blacked up as Hottentots and pa and I blacked up as an African king and prince of the blood, and we did stunts in the cage at afternoon and evening performances, and the crowd could not keep away from our cage, until pa got hot and unbuttoned his shirt and, before we knew it, everybody saw pa's white skin below where his face and neck were blacked, and while we were talking gibberish to each other a country jake got mad and he led a crowd to open the cage and make us remove our shirts to prove that we were Hottentots.
When they found we were white people blacked up they wanted their money back and were going to tip over the cage, when pa saved the day by making a speech, at the evening performance, to the effect that we were all yellow fever refugees from New Orleans and the mob lit out on the run for the main tent, where they announced that there were four cases of fever in the menagerie tent, and that settled it.
The mayor and police closed the show on account of yellow fever, and we couldn't get out of the tent. Pa had been quite close to the yellow girls and when he found out that yellow fever was a disease that catches you when not looking, and in 15 minutes you look like a corpse, and in four hours you are liable to be a sure enough corpse, he shook the yellow girls, and asked an old sailor what a man ought to do who has been exposed to yellow fever, and the old sailor, who has had yellow fever lots of times, told pa to strip off his clothes and take a bath of prepared mustard, and rub it in thoroughly, and then wipe it off, and take a vinegar rub, and after that sprinkle a little red pepper on himself, put on different clothes and drink about a gallon of red lemonade and he could defy yellow fever.
Pa is an easy mark and he believed the old sailor, who is tattooed and makes a show of himself with the freaks, and pa took a change of clothes and a bottle of mustard and a cruet of vinegar and a bottle of red pepper and went into a dressing room and got behind a wagon and began to take the cure the sailor had prescribed. I don't know as it was right to do it, but about the time pa had got to the red pepper course and was sprinkling it on his skin pretty thick, and he was beginning to get pretty hot, and was yelling a little, I told the chief of police, who was looking around with the health officer for suspicious cases, that there was a man acting sort of queer behind the wagon that had a piece of canvas over the wheels. They both rushed in on pa and grabbed him.
Gee! but pa looked and smelled like a plate of pigs' feet and the doctor said it was an unmistakable case of yellow fever, he could tell by the smell, and then pa turned pale and yellow from fright, and they wrapped him up in a piece of canvas and took him away in an emergency hospital ambulance, and the whole show at once knew that we were in for a quarantine.
They burned up the suit of clothes pa took off and the one he was going to put on, and the ambulance drove away, while pa shook one fist at the sailor and one at me, and his skin began to shrink and smart, and he yelled, and the audience stampeded, and the show was in the dumps.
We had to stay over Sunday in Evansville, and the show people were so scared the manager thought he better have religious services in the tent Sunday, so they got a revivalist preacher to preach to them, a fellow who used to preach to the cowboys out west. Sunday morning the tough fellows in the show said they wouldn't do a thing to the preacher when he came on to do his stunt. Their idea was to wait until he got well on his sermon and then begin to interrupt him and ask questions, and finally to get a blanket and toss him up a few times for luck, and then chase him out and have the circus bulldog, that chews the clown's pants, catch the minister's coat tail and just scare him plum to death.
The boys said it would be the biggest picnic that ever was—a regular barbecue. The boss canvasman said he was opposed to mixing religion with the circus business, because the fellows could get all the religion they needed in the winter, when the show was laid up and he would see the boys through in anything they proposed to do to the sky pilot that was going to play his game in ring No. 1 at 10:30 the next day.
Well, after I heard the circus men talk about what they would do to the preacher, I was afraid they would kill him, so when he and a helper brought a little melodeon into the ring, facing the reserved seats, I told him the boys were going to raise a rumpus and drive him out of the tent with the bulldog hanging to his coat tails. He put his hand on his pistol pocket and pulled a long, blue gun about half way out, and let it drop back down beside his leg, and he winked at me and said he guessed not, scarcely, as he had preached to crowds so tough that a circus gang was a Sunday school in comparison.
Then I got on a front seat to watch the fun. About 800 of the circus hands, performers, clowns and peanut butchers, came in, snickering, and sat down on the reserved seats in front of the little pulpit, improvised from the barrels the elephants stand on, and some of them laughed and said: "Hello, Bill!" and "Ah, there!" and "Get on to his collar," and a lot of other things.
The little husky preacher had a Salvation Army girl to play the melodeon, and he didn't take any notice of the remarks the boys made, except to set his jaws together and moisten his lips. Finally they were all seated, and he got up to open the services, when a big canvasman, a regular Smart Aleck, got up on a seat and said: "Pardner, how you going to open this jack pot?"
The crowd laughed and the preacher pulled his long blue gun up out of his pocket, and laid it on the barrel, and then picked it up and pointed it at the big canvasman and said: "This game is going to be opened with this hand, seven of a kind, all 45 caliber, dum-dum bullets, and unless you sit down quick I will send a mess of bullets into your carcass right where your heart ought to be. If you open your mouth again before I say 'amen!' real loud at the close of the services, I will shoot all your front teeth out. Do you comprehend? If so, be seated."
The big fellow dropped on to the blue seat, as though he had been hit with a piledriver, and the crowd was so tickled to have the bully's bluff called, that they cheered the preacher. Then he said, "We will now open this jack pot with singing and I shall keep one eye on the gentleman who was last up, but who is now seated pretty low down."
You could have heard a pin drop.
The preacher wiped his face calmly, and said: "We will now sing and I expect every man will sing, and to that end I will appoint Big Ike, who asked me how I was going to open this jack pot, to come down in front of the seats and lead in the singing, for I know by his voice, which I heard in debate, that he is a crackerjack," and the preacher took hold of the handle of the blue gun and Big Ike walked down through the rows of seats, and as the melodeon began to squawk, Ike got down in front of the audience, and some of the boys said: "Bully for you, Ike," and after scratching his head a minute Ike turned and walked towards the preacher, at the edge of the ring, and I thought there was going to be the worst fight ever was, and as the preacher reached for the gun I crawled under the seat, and peeked out between the legs of a fat man, but Ike walked up to the minister and said, as the melodeon began to cough: "Boys, this tune is on Ike." He started it and every man sang.