When it was ended the boys clapped and stamped for an encore, and they sang it through again, and the face of the preacher beamed with joy, and I saw there was not going to be any fight and I crawled out from under the seats.
Pa came in the tent just then, with a new suit of clothes on, having been discharged from the hospital as cured of yellow fever, and I gave him my seat, and he held me in his lap.
The preacher then preached a sermon that did them all good. He dwelt upon the hard life of the showman, and gave them such good advice that when it was all over and he said he wanted to shake hands with every man in the bunch, Ike marshaled them all up to the ring and introduced them, and no minister ever was more cordially congratulated, and they wanted him to go along with the show, and preach every Sunday.
The preacher said he couldn't join the show, but he traveled around a good deal and he would probably be in the same town with the show several times during the summer and he would drop in on them occasionally and keep them straight.
Pa was watching the crowd for the sailor who prescribed cayenne pepper for yellow fever, and when he saw the sailor come up to the minister, with tears in his eyes, and say: "Parson, I has been a bad man and killed a man once, but he was a Portuguese sailor, and he had the drop on me, the same as you did on Big Ike at the opening of these proceedings, and I had to kill him. And I begs the pardon of this old gentleman for lying to him." And then pa shook hands with the sailor and the parson, and the parson put his blue gun down his trousers leg, and said: "By the way, the bulldog you were going to let take a lunch off me, is he all right?"
Then the parson and the girl went away, and the boys carried out the melodeon, and the quarantine was declared off. After dinner the boys took down the tents and put them on the train that Sunday afternoon, singing decent songs as they pulled up the stakes and rolled up the canvas, and on the train, late in the night, we could hear "Old Hundred" being sung as the cars ran through the pennyrial district of Indiana.
Pa Takes 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.
This has been an eventful week with the show. We have had heat prostrations in Kentucky, nearly the whole show got drunk on 16-year-old whisky, and if it hadn't been for the animals keeping sober this show would have been pulled for disorderly conduct.
Nobody knows how the row started, but pa says every man in Kentucky carries a blue gun and a bottle of red licker, and they wear white hats, so the red, white and blue business is all right, only it is a combination that is death on a circus. I think one of the ushers, at the afternoon performance, told an old colonel that he must move along quicker, when the colonel began to talk back, and say, "Who is you talkin' too, sah?" And the usher stood it as long as he could, when he took the colonel by the collar and sat him down so quick he didn't come to for a couple of minutes, and when the colonel got his senses, and found that the usher had ushered him into a seat between two gaily decorated colored women the trouble began. The colonel never forgot that he was a gentleman, for he rose up, took off his hat to the colored women, and said: "You must excuse me, ladies, but I shall have to go and kill the scoundrel who sat me down with niggers," and he got down off the seats and struck the usher with his cane, and the usher yelled: "Hey, Rube!" and all the circus people made a rush for the colonel. The colonel said, "Men of Kentucky, to the rescue," and before I could crawl under the seats the air was full of baggage, seats, tent pins and white hats, guns were fired, and blood flowed, and the police pulled everybody, and the evening performance was given up.
One of the proprietors of the show got a wen on his head as big as a football from being struck by a handle of a revolver, and the colonel who started the row was knocked silly by a tray of red lemonade which the butcher smashed him with, and the colonel cried because the lemonade was all water, and he was afraid it would soak into him and cause him to warp. When the lemonade butcher apologized, and the usher told him it was all a mistake his being seated with the niggers, the colonel wept on their necks and invited the whole crowd to go to his distillery and help themselves.
When we got to the next town every man in the show had a grouch and a Katzenjammer, and their hair was so sore it was murder and suicide combined to comb it.
The way pa escaped injury was 'cause he had to take the place of the fat woman on the platform with the freaks, as the fat woman was overcome with the heat and had to stay in the car.
The way they fixed pa up to resemble the fat woman was scandalous. They have some rubber things in the wardrobe tent that you can blow up and make a big arm, and a big leg, and a big stummick, so anybody couldn't tell the difference, and they fixed pa up with blowed up clothes of flesh colored rubber, and but for his chin whiskers you couldn't tell him from the fat woman. He said he wouldn't cut off his whiskers for anybody's circus, so they fixed a veil to cover part of his face and put the fat woman's dress on pa, and put him up beside the skeleton, the midget and the giant.
Pa said he didn't want to do it, 'cause it seemed too much like fraud, but they told him the fate of the show depended on our all being willing to take any part assigned to us, and so pa sat down and began to fan himself, and tried to look flirty like a woman.
The other freaks never noticed but what it was the fat woman until the show was half over. It was too much for me, and I just laffed at pa. I got up behind him and told him in a whisper that I wanted a dollar to play the slot machine, and he told me to go to thunder, and get out of there. I couldn't stand it to be insulted by my own father, so I took a hat pin out of the hat of the bearded lady and punched it into pa's blowed up rubber shirt, and pa began to sis, like a soda fountain, and the wind struck the living skeleton and blew him over like a cyclone, and by that time pa was blowing off wind in a dozen places that I had punctured, and he was scared for fear there wouldn't be anything left of him, and the giant saw the fat woman slowly fading away, and the coward had heart failure and lay down on the platform. Somebody shouted that the fat woman was all melting away, and a fellow who was watering a camel out of a bucket came to the rescue and threw the bucket of dirty water all over pa, and then I thought I better go away into the tent and see the fight, but pa was taken to the dressing room and rescued from the shrinking rubber balloons that were busted, and he said he would hunt the man that punctured his tire to his dying day, but he didn't know it was me.
Gee, it looks to me as though pa has been engaged to act as the easy mark in this show. Say, they got pa to practice on roaring like a lion, so he could stand behind the cage when the lion has a sore throat and roar, and scare folks, and pa has been going around behind the cages, every evening, when the menagerie is closed, and the crowd in the main tent, making noises that have made the animals look at each other as much as to say, "Well, what do you think of that?" The rhinoceros was so disgusted at Paducah that he reached out his nose and took pa on his horn and held him up to the scorn of the other animals until pa's pants gave way and he was a sight, and he was so scared that he got out of the tent and made a run for our train, chased by the police, who thought he was a burglar that had been eat by a house dog.
The worst thing we have had on pa was at Louisville, where we stayed over Sunday. Another fellow and I got a system on slot machines, and one day we beat the machines out of a shotbag full of nickels, and when we showed up at the tent all the fellows wanted to know how we did it, and pa said it was gambling, and we ought not to do it, but he also wanted to know how we managed to win, and when we told pa about it pa said it was no sin to beat a slot machine, 'cause it was an inanimate thing, just a machine, and anybody who could beat a nickel in the slot machine at his own game was equal to a Rockefeller.
So after everybody had got excited about our nickels I told them how to beat the machine. I told them I didn't get excited and go rushing in where angels fear to tread, and feed the slot machine on good hard earned nickels of my own, but waited until the countrymen and tenderfeet had fed it on nickels until it was too full for utterance. When the machine swelled out like it was blowed up, and it kind of wheezed, like it was ready to cough up, and was only waiting for an excuse, I put a cough lozenger about the size of a nickel in the slot and turned the diaphram. The machine shuddered a minute and then had a regular hemorrhage, and coughed up a tin cupful of nickels into my hand, and the machine seemed to rest easy, and take nourishment again from the silly fellows, who thought they could beat it.
Well, sir, the whole crowd was so excited they could hardly wait to find a slot machine, and finally they bought nearly all my cough lozengers, and went out into the night, and pa and I went along, 'cause pa said he understood all the slot machines were owned by Rockefeller, and he made more money on them than he did on Standard oil, and the money that he gave away to schools and churches was from his rake-off on his slot machines. Pa said it would be a good thing if someone could break up the reprehensible practice by beating the blasted machines to a finish.
So pa he got a bag to bring back the nickels in, and a bunch of us went to a store where one whole side of the place was filled with slot machines, and the way the people were playing the game was scandalous. Pa watched a machine until the players had fed it so it seemed as though it would die unless it got air, and he stepped up and put in a lozenger and turned the wheel, and held the bag under the spout for the coin, but it didn't come. Some more fellows put in nickels, and the machine gave little hacking coughs and coughed up three or four nickels, but nothing that seemed at all in the nature of a financial hemorrhage, when pa took another lozenger and put it in, and by ginger the machine began to heave up nickels like it was in the trough of the sea.
Pa was so excited he forgot to hold the bag, and nickels went all over the floor, and everybody made a grab for them, and pa was shoved aside, and he swore he would have the place pulled, and just then a law officer took pa in charge because he had put a cough lozenger in the slot machine, and he searched pa and found a lot more bronchial trochees, and pa was in for it on a charge of malpractice, for giving cough medicine for the stomach trouble of the slot machine, instead of pepsin tablets.
They took pa in a back room and searched him some more, and found his roll, and then a man who said he was a lawyer offered to help pa, and keep him out of the penitentiary. He told pa the law of Kentucky made the crime of trifling with a slot machine the same as breach of promise, or arson, and that he would be lucky if he got off with ten years in the pen, with 30 days' solitary confinement in a Turkish bath cell, with niggers for companions.
Pa turned blue and asked the lawyer if there was no way out of it, and the lawyer told him that for $120 in spot cash he would let him go, and fight the case after the show had got out of the state. A hundred and twenty-five dollars was the amount they found on pa, and he told them that inasmuch as they already had it, they better keep the money and let him go, and he would be always a living example of the terrors of gambling.
So they let pa go, and all the way to the train he told us he hoped this experience would be a lesson to us not to covet the money of the rich, and as far as he was concerned, John D. Rockefeller could go plum to thunder with his money after this.
Then we got to the car, and found about a dozens of the circus men who had been out to beat the slot machines, broke flat, and I had to divide my shot bag of nickels with them, that I had won before I let them into the game, before they would let me go to bed.
Dad says this circus life is making me pretty tough.
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.
I am learning more about animals every day, and when the season is over I will be an expert animal man. Animals naturally have a language of their own, and lions understand each other, and bears can converse with bears, but in a show, all animals seem to have a common language, so they understand each other a little.
I found that out when I put a paper of cayenne pepper into a head of lettuce and gave it to the sacred cow. She chewed the lettuce as peacefully as could be, and swallowed the cayenne pepper, and then stopped to think. You could tell by the expression on her face that when the pepper began to heat her up inside she wanted to swear, although she was a sacred cow. She humped herself, and shivered, and then bellowed like a calf who has been left in the barn to be weaned, while its mother goes out to pasture, and the sacred bull, her husband, he came and put his nose up to her nose, as much as to say: "What is the matter, dearie?" and she talked sacred cattle talk to him for a minute, and then the bull turned to me and chased me out of the tent. Now, as sure as you live that cow told the bull that I had given her something hot. All the animals within hearing were onto me, and they would snarl, and make noises when I came along, and act as though they wanted to make me understand that they knew I gave that cow a hot box, and they all wanted to get a chance at me.
They don't like pa any better than they do me, and the big elephant seems to have been laying for pa ever since he run the sharp iron into him, the time he got on a tear and tried to run a town. When the elephants are performing in the ring, they all have an eye on pa, so everybody notices it. I knew something would happen to pa, so when the man who plays the sheik, and rides the elephant in the street parade, in a howdah, with a canopy over it, with some female houris in it, and they called for a volunteer to do the sheik act, at Steubenville, and pa offered to do the stunt, I went along as an Egyptian girl, 'cause I knew there would be something doing.
The elephant eyed pa when he got up into the bungalow on top of him with the Circassian woman and me, and winked at the other elephants, as much as to say: "Watch my smoke." As he went out from the lot, on the way downtown, ahead of the bunch, all the other animals acted peculiar, and seemed to say: "He will get his before we get through this parade."
The big elephant is one of the best ring performers, but he has always been steady in the street parade, with the light of Asia on his back. We got to the edge of town and stopped to let the rear wagons close up, and were in front of a saloon, where the bartender had been emptying stale beer out of the bottoms of kegs into a washtub, which was standing on the sidewalk, ready to be sold to people who buy it in pails.
Well, sir, that confounded elephant got his trunk in that tub of stale beer, and he never took it out till the beer was all gone. I looked down from the pagoda and told pa the elephant was drinking again, and had drank a washtub of beer, but pa couldn't say anything, 'cause he was doing the Arab sheik act, and had to look dignified, as though he was praying to Allah.
But just then the band struck up, and we started down the main street of Steubenville. The people began to cheer, 'cause our elephant began to hippity-hop, and waltz sideways across the street and back again, and I thought pa would die. In the parade one man on a horse attends to the elephants, so the sheiks don't have anything to say, and pa remained like a statue, and told me and the Circassian beauties to be calm, and trust in him and Allah. This Allah business was all right when the elephant waltzed, but when we got to the next block the beast began to stand on his hind feet, and pa and the houris rolled to the back end of the howdah, and were all piled in a heap, while I held on to the cloth of gold over the elephant's head.
Pa yelled to the people on horseback to kill the elephant, and the crowd cheered, thinking it was the best performance they ever saw in a free street parade, and the animals in the cages behind were yapping as though they knew what was going on. The elephant got down on all fours, and we straightened up in the pagoda, and for a block or so the beast only waltzed around. As we got to some sort of a public square, where there were thousands of people, the stale beer seemed to be getting in its work, for the elephant looked at the people, as much as to say: "Now I will show you something not down on the bills," and, by ginger, if he didn't raise up his hind quarters and stand on his front feet, right by the side of a big fountain, and he reached in his trunk for a drink, when all of us on the pagoda clung to pa, and we all slid right off into the big basin of water. The fountain played on us, and pa was under water, with the four Circassian beauties, and when we rolled or slid down over the elephant's head, he looked at us and seemed to chuckle: "What you getting off here for, the show ain't half out."
Well, the parade went on and left the elephant and the rest of us at the fountain, and to show that animals understand each other, and can appreciate a joke, every animal that passed us gave us the laugh, even the hippopotamus, which opened his mouth as big as a tunnel, and showed his teeth and acted as though he would like to exchange tanks with us.
The circus people that could be spared from the wagons came to help us, and the citizens helped out the Circassian beauties who were praying to Allah, and wringing out their clothes, and I crawled up on the neck of a cast-iron swan in the fountain. Pa yelled and talked profane, and told 'em to bring a cannon and kill the elephant, which kept ducking him with his trunk, and swabbing out the bottom of the fountain basin with pa. It seemed as though he never would get through using pa for a mop, but finally the people got a rope around pa, and a keeper got an iron hook in the elephant's ear, and they pulled pa out on one side, and got the elephant away on the other side, and just then the callipoe, that ends the parade, came by us and played the "Blue Danube," and the elephant got on his hind feet and waltzed on the pavement. They put pa and the Circassian beauties in a patrol wagon and took them to the show lot, and I sat by the driver, and he let me drive the team.
Pa had his sheik clothes rolled up around his waist, and was wringing them out, and talking awful sassy, and when we got to the lot it took a long time to convince the policemen that we were not guilty of disorderly conduct, and just then the elephant came tearing by us, with the keeper on horseback behind him, prodding him in the ham every jump with a sharp iron, and he went through the side of the tent as though he was mighty sorry he didn't kill us all.
They made him get down on his knees and bellow in token of surrender, and then we all went and changed our clothes for the afternoon performance. As we passed through the menagerie tent, dripping, every animal set up a yell, as much as to say: "There, maybe you will give cayenne pepper to a pious sacred cow again, confound you," and that convinces me that animals are human.
The last week has been the hardest on pa of any week since we have been out with the circus. The trouble with pa is that he wants to be "Johnny on the spot," as the boys say, and if anything breaks he volunteers to go to work and fix it, and if anybody is sick or disabled, he wants to take their place, as he says so he will learn everything about the circus, and be competent to run a show alone next year.
But it was a mean trick the principal owner of the show played on pa at Canton, O. You see John L. Sullivan used to do a boxing act with this show, years ago, and everybody likes John, and when he shows up where the show gives a performance he has the freedom of the whole place, and everybody about the show is ready to fall over themselves to do John L. a service.
Well, Sullivan showed up at Canton, and he went everywhere, all the forenoon, and met all the old timers, and at the afternoon performance he was awfully jolly.
John was standing beside the ring when the Japanese jugglers were juggling, and he leaned against a pole. Pa came in from the menagerie tent, and he didn't know Sullivan, and when he saw Sullivan holding the pole up, pa said to the boss proprietor that the fat man who was interfering with the show ought to be called down or put out.
The boss said to pa: "You go take him by the ear and put him out," and pa, who is as brave as lion, started for Sullivan, and the boss winked at the other circus men, and pa went up to Sullivan and took hold of John's neck with both hands, and said: "Come on out of here."
Well, sir, we ought to have moving pictures of what followed. Sullivan turned on pa, and growled just like a lion. Then he took pa around the waist and held him up under his arm, and picked up a piece of board and slatted pa just as though pa was a child, and the audience just yelled, and pa called to the circus men for help, but they just laughed.
Pa got a chance at the fat man and he hit him in the jaw, but it did not hurt Sullivan, only made him mad. He took pa up by the collar and whirled him around until pa was dizzy, and then he started with him for the menagerie tent, and called to the boss canvasman: "Bill, come on and tell me which is the hungriest lion, and I will feed him with this cold meat."
Pa yelled, 'cause he thought he was in the hands of an escaped lunatic, and the circus hands came and took him away. Then the owner told pa who Sullivan was, and pa almost fainted. But finally, after breathing hard for awhile, pa went up to Sullivan and shook his hand, and said: "Mr. Sullivan, you must excuse me. If I had known you were the great John L., I would not have licked you." Sullivan looked at pa and said: "Well, you are a wonder, old man, and you did do me up," and pa and Sullivan became great friends. Since then pa is pretty chesty, 'cause the circus men point him out to the jays as the man who whipped 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.
Ohio was a hoodoo for the circus business, and Kentucky got the whole bunch ready for a long stay at Dwight, Ill., but the agent routed us into Pennsylvania, and pa has had nothing but a series of disasters since striking the state.
Pa gave notice that when we got to his old home, at Scranton, where he lived when he was a boy, he wanted to sort of run things, so his old neighbors would see that he had got up in the world since he left the old town. So the manager gave pa about 400 free tickets to distribute among his friends, and arranged for pa to show off as the leading citizen in the show. He was offered a chance to take the place of the clown, the ring master or anybody whose duty he thought he could perform. Pa selected the place of driver of the Roman chariot with four horses abreast, in place of the Irish Roman who was accustomed to drive the chariot in the race with the female charioteer, a muscular girl who used to clerk in a livery stable at Chicago.
The chariot race is a fake, because it is arranged for the girl to win, so the audience will go wild and cheer her, so she has to come bowing all around the ring. The way the job is put up is for the two chariots to start, and go around twice. On the first turn the man driver is ahead, and takes the pole, and on the second turn the girl's ahead, and she takes the pole, and on the third turn the man is ahead, and they begin to whip the horses, who seem crazy, and on the last stretch the man holds his team back a little, and the girl passes him and comes out a trifle ahead, and the crowd goes wild.
Well, the master of ceremonies coached pa about the business, and told him what to do. They knew he could drive four horses, because he said he was an old stage driver, and when he got in the chariot with the Roman suit on gleaming with gold, and the brass helmet, and the cloth of gold gauntlets, and stood up like a senator, gee, I was proud of him, and when he and the female drove out of the dressing-room and halted by the door for the announcer to announce the great Ben Hur chariot race, I got into the chariot behind pa, and told him he must win the race, or the people of Scranton would mob him. For they knew these races were usually fixed beforehand, but since he was to drive one of the teams, all his friends were betting on him, and if he pulled the team and let that livery stable lady win the race, they would accuse him of giving free tickets to get them in the show and skin them out of their money.
Pa said to me: "This race is going to be on the square, and you watch my smoke. Do you think I would let that red-headed dish washer beat me? Not on your life."
The play is to have a little boy kiss the male driver good-by, and a little girl kiss the female driver good-by, as though they were taking their lives in their hands. I had climbed up to pa and put my arms around his neck, and kissed him, and a girl kissed the female, when the gong sounded, and both four-horse teams made a jump, before I could get out of the chariot, so I got right in front of pa and peeked over the dashboard of the chariot, and, gee, but didn't we fairly whizz by the poles, and the audience looked like a panorama.
Pa got the pole and kept it, and we went around three times, and found the female chariot ahead of us, cause pa had gone around twice to her once. She turned out a little right by the band-stand, and pa run his team right inside her chariot and caught her wheel, and when he yelled to his team, her cart, team, and all were thrown right into the band, which scattered over the backs of the seats. The horses were all mixed up with the instruments, and the female driver was thrown into the air and came down in a sitting position right into the bass drum. She went right through the sheepskin, so her head and hands and feet were all of her that remained outside the drum.
She yelled for help and the circus hands rolled the drum, with her in it, into the dressing-room, where they had to cut the sides of the drum with an ax, to get her out, while others caught her horses and pulled the chariot out of the band, and the music stopped; but pa went on forever.
He went around six times yelling like an Indian at a green corn dance, and when he thought it was time to let up, because he had missed the other chariot, he pulled so hard he broke the lines on the two inside horses and then it was a runaway for sure, and the audience stood up on the seats and yelled, and women fainted.
Finally the circus hands grabbed some hurdles, and threw them across the track, near the main entrance, and when we came around the last time, two of the horses jumped the hurdles all right, but two fumbled and fell down, and there was a crash, and I didn't know anything until I felt cold water on my face that tasted sour, and colored my shirt red, and I found the lemonade butcher was bringing me to by pouring a tray of lemonade over me.
When my eyes opened, I saw a sight that I shall never forget. It seems that when the horses fell down, the chariot and the other two horses and pa and I had landed all in a heap right on top of the lemonade and peanut concession, and carried it up onto a row of seats near the main entrance from the menagerie. The elephants that were to come on next were in the door waiting for their signal, and they were scared at the crash, and they came in bellowing, the keepers having lost all control of them. The audience was stampeding, and the circus men were trying to straighten things out.
Pa struck on his head against a wagon wheel and his brass helmet was driven down over his face, so when he yelled to be pulled out of the helmet his voice sounded like a coon song, coming from a phonograph. It was the closest call from death pa ever had, 'cause they had to cut the helmet with a can opener to let pa out, like you open a can of lobsters. When they got the helmet opened so pa could come out, he looked just like a boiled lobster, and when the chief owner of the circus came up on a run, and asked if pa was dead, pa said: "Not much, Mary Ann; did I win?" and the manager said it was a pity they ever opened that helmet and let pa out. The man told pa he won in a walk, but the chief of police of Scranton was going to arrest pa for exceeding the speed limit.
They took pa to the dressing-room on a piece of board, and when the woman driver saw him, she got an ax, and wanted to cleave him from head to foot, but the bearded woman stepped in front of her and said: "Not on your life," and she shielded pa from death with her manly form, which pa says he shall never forget. Pa's old friends in Scranton gave him a banquet that night, but pa couldn't eat anything, cause the rim of the brass helmet cut a gash in his Adam's apple.
After the chariot race the managers concluded they wouldn't let pa have any position of importance again very soon, and I made up my mind you wouldn't ever catch me in any game that pa was in; but in the circus business you can never tell what is going to happen from one day to another.
On the train on the way to Wilkes Barre there was a hot box on one of the sleepers, and the car was side-tracked all night.
When we arrived at the town about 40 wagon drivers that were in the car did not show up, and they had to press everybody that could drive a team into the service to haul the stuff to the lot, and pa drove four horses so well with a load of tent poles that the manager complimented pa, and that gave pa the big head. When the parade was all ready to start through town, and the drivers had not arrived, the manager asked pa if he thought he could drive the ten gray horses on the band wagon, to lead the procession, and pa said driving ten horses was his best hold, and he got up on the driver's seat, and called me to get up with him, and I hate a boy that will disobey a parent, so I climbed up and began to jolly the band about the chariot race, and I told them pa wouldn't do a thing to them this time.
The manager of the show always rides ahead of the parade, with the chief of police of the town, and the band horses follow him, so it is easy enough to drive ten horses, cause all you have to do it to hold on to the 20 lines, and look savage at the crowd on the sidewalks, and the horses go right along, and the people think the driver is a wonder. So when the manager started in his buggy pa pulled up on all the lines he could hold on to, which filled his lap, and made him look like a harness maker, and he yelled: "Ye-up," and the procession moved, and the ten teams pa was driving went along all right, and pa looked as though he owned the show and the town.
We got downtown, to a wide street, and there was a fire alarm ahead, or something, and the procession stopped, and the manager and chief of police disappeared, and there was a wagon load of green corn stalks right beside the lead team, which a farmer was taking to a silo, but he had stopped his team to see the parade. The three teams of pa's leaders, six horses, began to eat the corn stalks, and the camels, that were behind us, worked along up by the band wagon and began to eat, and the farmer got scared to see his corn stalks disappearing, so he drove off on a side street, and started for the silo, and by ginger, pa's team turned onto the side street and followed the wagon of corn stalks, and pa couldn't hold them, and the band played, "In the Good Old Summer Time, There Will Be a Hot Time in the Old Town."
The camels kept up with the farmer's wagon, too, and the whole parade followed the band. The farmer started his horses into a run, and the team of ten horses that was driving pa started to galloping, and I looked back, and the elephants were beginning to gallop, and all the cages were coming whooping, and it was a picnic. The band stopped playing, and the players were scared, and as we were crossing a little bridge over a small stream, on the edge of town, I turned around to the band and told them to jump for their lives, and they all made a jump for the stream, and the air was full of uniforms and instruments, and they landed in the stream all right.
We went on up a hill, and were in the country, and the farmer turned into a farmyard, and the band wagon followed, and the farmer jumped off the corn stalk wagon and rushed for the house, and pa's ten-horse team surrounded the wagon, and every horse was eating corn stalks, and the team was all mixed up. The camels and the elephants crowded in for the nice green lunch, and the farmer's wife came out with her apron waving, and said "Shoo," but none of the animals shooed worth a cent, and pa pulled on the lines, and yelled, while the rest of the parade came into the farm and lined up. The drivers yelled at pa to know where in thunder he was going, and pa said: "Damfino."
Just then the manager and chief of police came up, and the way they talked to pa was awful. Pa couldn't explain how it was that he took the parade out in the country, and you never saw such a time.
By this time the regular drivers had arrived on a special, from where we left them with a hot box, and they took possession of the teams, and we got back to the circus lot in time for the afternoon performance. I don't know what they are doing to pa, but they had him in the manager's tent all the afternoon with some doctors, who seem to be examining him for insanity.
Everybody about the show thinks pa has hoodooed the aggregation, but pa says such things are always happening, and it is wrong to blame him.
The farmer got paid for his corn stalks, and it is to be charged up to pa.
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.
It has come at last.
Everybody about the show expects that the show has got to have a railroad wreck every season, and all hands lay awake nights on the cars to brace themselves for the shock. Sometimes it comes early in the season, and again a show goes along until almost the end of the season without a shake-up, and fellows think maybe there is not going to be any wreck, but the engineers are only waiting till everybody has forgotten about it, and then, biff, bang, and they have run into another train, or been run into, and you have to be pulled out of a window by the heels, and laid out in a marsh until the claim agents can settle with you.
I always thought in reading of railroad accidents, that the railroad sent out a special trainload of doctors and nurses, to care for the injured, but the special train never has a doctor until the lawyers give first aid to the wounded in the way of financial poultices for the cripples. People in our business are on the railroads, and we work them for all there is in it; and the man that is hurt the least makes the biggest howl, and gets the biggest slice of indemnity. Some circus people spend all their salary as they go along, and live all winter on the damages they get from the railroads when the wreck comes.
The night of the wreck our train was whooping along at about 90 miles an hour, on a hippity-hop railroad in Pennsylvania, and the night was hot, and the mosquitoes from across the line in New Jersey were singing their solemn tunes, and pa, who attended a lodge meeting that night at the town we showed in, was asleep and talking in his sleep about passwords and grips, and the freaks and trapeze performers in our car had got through kicking about how the show was running into the ground, when suddenly there was a terrific smash-up ahead, an engine boiler exploded, a freight car of dynamite on a side track exploded and there was a grinding and bumping of cars. Then they rolled down a bank, over and over, so the upper berth was the lower berth half the time, and finally the whole business stopped in a hay marsh, and the bilge water in the marsh leaked into the hold of our car; people screamed, and some one yelled "fire!" and I pulled on pa till he woke up.
I thought pa's head was all caved in, because he talked nutty. The first thing he said was: "Say I, pronounce your name, and repeat after me," and then he said: "I promise and swear that I will never reveal the secrets of this degree," and then the conductor pulled pa's leg and said: "Crawl out of the window, old man, 'cause the train is in the ditch, the car is afire, and if you don't get out in about a minute with the other freaks, you will be a burnt offering."
Pa said you couldn't fool him, 'cause he knew he was being initiated into the 20-steenth degree of the Masons, and he guessed he could tell a degree from a train wreck, 'cause the degree was a darn sight worse than a wreck, but the conductor took one of those long glass fire extinguishers and sprinkled the medicated water on the freaks in the next berth, and then turned it on pa, and pa tasted it, and thought he was at a banquet, and he said "that sauterne is not fit to drink."
Then when the bearded woman yelled that the fire had almost reached her whiskers, and would nobody save her, pa began to get ready to move on, 'cause he concluded he hadn't been riding a goat after all, and he told me to hand him his pants. Pa is a man that will never go out among people, no matter how dark the night is, without his pants, and I admire him for it. Some of the circus men didn't care for dress that night, but got out just as they were, and the result was that when daylight came they had to tie hay around their legs.
Our car was bottom-side up, but I found pa's pants and he got his legs in, and I buttoned him in, but I felt all the time as though I had buttoned them in the back, so the seat was in front, but the fire was crackling and pa pushed me out of a transom, and then he crawled out, and we sat down in the mud.
The bearded woman came next, with her whiskers done up in curl papers, and then the fat woman got one foot through the transom, and she couldn't get it back in, and the train hands got an ax and were going to cut her leg off, and save one foot, at least, when pa got a move on him, and took the ax and broke out the side of the car, and got her out. Eight or nine men lifted her tenderly onto a stack of hay, and she wrapped it around her, 'cause she left her clothes in her berth.
Well, it was a sight when the people were got out of our car, and they let it burn, to light up the scene, and pa and I and the boss canvasman went along the ditched train, and helped people out. The giant was in two upper berths, and he got one leg out of the transom over one berth, and one leg out of the transom over the other berth, and we pulled his legs, but he couldn't make it, so pa took an ax and made both berths into one, and got him out.
The giant shook himself and started on a run across the marsh, but he mired up to his neck, and a farmer who heard the noise came to order us off his hay field for trespass, and yelled: "Here's a head of some of your performers cut off away over here," and he was going to bring it in, when the farmer found the head was alive, and he ran away from it.
In an hour we had everybody out, and made beds for them by spreading out hay cocks, and nobody seemed to be hurt so very much. We heard a locomotive whistle up the road, and some one said the relief train was coming with doctors and nurses, but the show owner who was with us said: "Relief doctors, nothing. That is a train-load of lawyers and claim agents to settle with us. The doctors will not come till to-morrow. Now, everybody pretend to be hurt awful bad, and strike the sharks for $10,000 apiece, and come down to $100, if you can't do any better."
It was getting daylight, and the relief train stopped, and the good Samaritans came wading into the hay marsh, bent on settling with us cheap. The first lawyer asked the principal owner how many were killed, 'cause they could figure exactly how much they have to pay for a dead one, but the live ones are the ones that make trouble for a railroad, 'cause they can kick and argue. The boss said nobody was dead, but the giant, who was mired in out of sight. The giant heard what was said, and he yelled that he was alive, and wouldn't settle for less than $20,000, but the claim agent said the giant would be dead in 15 minutes in that quicksand, so he would let him sink, and pay for him as a dead one.
The giant said if they would pull him out of the mud he would settle for $100, and they pulled him out, and the rest of the injured were going to mob him for settling so cheap.
One of the claim agents found the bearded woman sitting on a hay cock, combing out her whiskers, and asked what it would take to settle, and she said $10,000, and she got up and walked over to another hay cock where the Circassian beauty was drying her hair, and the claim agent looked at how spry the bearded woman walked, and he said to the boss: "I won't give that fellow with the curly whiskers a single kopeck," and the bearded woman came back and swatted the claim agent for calling her a fellow. So they compromised on $200, and she went behind the haystack and put it in her stocking, which convinced the claim agent that she wasn't a man.
A near-sighted claim agent came to the haystack where the fat woman was, and the boss told her now was her time to have a mess of hysterics, so she set up a cry that scared the agent, who thought there were at least six women on the haystack, and he said: "What will all of you people up there on the haystack settle for in a lump, for I am in a hurry?"
The fat woman caught on at once, and said: "We will all settle for $10,000." Then she yelled, and the agent thought her back was broke, and he offered $7,500, and she cried and said: "Make it $10,000," and the agent said: "I will go you," and he made out a check, and the fat woman had some more hysterics.
I had watched the settling all around, and I told pa to be deaf and dumb when they came to him, and just point to the seat of his pants in front and buttoned up behind, and look as though he was suffering the tortures of the inquisition, and let me do the talking, and I would make the old railroad go into a receiver's hands.
So pa said: "You are the boss," and he looked so pitiful that I almost cried.
When the near-sighted claim agent came to pa, I told him that pa's last words were to beg to be shot, and the man looked at pa's pants, and then at his face, and said: "What hit him? That's the worst case I ever saw in a railroad wreck."
I put my handkerchief to my eyes and said: "Well, when the shock came, pa was all right, as handsome a man as you would often see. I think there must have been a pile driver on the train that struck him, and changed sides with him, knocking his stomach around on the back side of him, and placing his spinal column around in front of him, where his stomach was, and causing him to lose the sense of speech. Think of a middle-aged man going through life mixed up in that manner, having to sit down on his stomach, and having his backbone staring him in the face. How does he know when he takes food in his mouth that it can corkscrew around under his arm and eventually find his stomach? How a man can be ground and twisted, and mauled, and stamped on by a reckless locomotive with a crazy engineer and a drunken fireman, rolled over by box cars, and walked on by elephants, and still live, is beyond me. As he told me before he lost the power of speech, not to be too hard on the railroad company, though some railroads would be glad to pay him $20,000, and no questions asked, he begged me, as heir to his estate, to let you off for a paltry $10,000."
Pa made up the darndest face, and groaned. The agent called another agent, and they whispered together, and finally the first one came to me and asked pa's full name, and then the two of them got out a fountain pen, and they made out a check, and he said: "This is the first case in the history of railroad wrecking that the agent has not had the heart to try to beat the injured party down. This is certainly the most pitiful case that has ever been known, and if your father ever comes to his senses you can tell him he is welcome to the money."
The agents shook hands with pa and I, and went away to their train, and pa winked at me, and a wrecking train came and we got on a special, and got to Pittsburg before breakfast, and pa is going to buy me a dog out of the money.
Gee, but there is all kinds of money in the circus business. Pa is going to wear his pants hind side before until we get out of Pittsburg.
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.
I did not mean any harm when I told the Japanese jugglers that they ought to kick against having those Russian cavalrymen in the show, the fellows who ride horses standing up, in the wild-west department, 'cause I had listened to their Russian talk, and it seemed to me they were spies who were looking for a chance to do injury to the "poor little Japs." I could see that I made the Japs mad the first thing, and then I told them that pa and all the managers of the show felt sorry for the little Japs, 'cause some day the big Russians would ride right over them, and kill them right in the ring. I said that everybody thought the Japs ought to resign from the show, for fear of a clash with the Russians, or else they ought to have some grown persons to act as chaperones.
You ought to have seen the look of scorn on the faces of the Jap jugglers when the interpreter told them that the circus people were afraid the Russians would hurt them. They jabbered awhile, and then the interpreter told me that the ten little Japs could whip the 20 Russians in four minutes. Probably it was none of my business, and I never ought to have repeated it, but in a circus everybody wants to know everything that is going on, so when the big leader of the Russians asked me what those brown monkeys were talking about, I told him: "Nothing particular, only they say the ten of them could lick you 20 Russians in four minutes."
Gee, didn't that Russian talk kopec and damski, and froth at the mouth. Then he called his Russians together, and the talk sounded as though a soda fountain had burst. Then they all yelled: "Killovitch the monkey-ouskis."
I went and told pa there was going to be a riot between the Jap jugglers and the Russian horsemen, and probably the fight would take place when the Japs came out of the ring at the afternoon performance, and the Russians went in, right near the dressing-room. I asked pa not to mix in it, but keep away in the animal tent. Pa said, not much, he wouldn't be away, and he told all the managers, and they all got around the dressing-room to stop the muss, if one started.
Well, to show how the Japs were organized, as soon as they felt there was going to be a row, they kept their eyes on the Russians all the time they were in the ring doing their pole balancing, and the little Jap up on the bamboo pole, with a fan, kept jabbering to the fellows down on the ground, and I could see that trouble was coming. When their act was over the Japs bowed to the audience, and started out where the Russians were lined up to come riding in. The big Russian said: "Look at the little monkeys," but he hadn't got the words out of his mouth before the Japs turned, and every man grabbed the tail of every other horse, and jumped up behind the Russians, and each of the ten Japs took a Russian by the neck with a jiu jitsu strangle hold, and reached out his leg and wound it around the Russian on the next horse, and in ten seconds they had unhorsed the 20 Russians. The whole 30 men were on the ground rolling in the sawdust, the Japs rolling over and under the Russians, twisting their legs and arms in an unknown manner, and making them yell for help like a mastiff that has trifled in an overbearing manner with a little bulldog, until the bulldog got mad and began the chewing act on the mastiff's fore leg.
It was the worst mix-up ever was and the managers told pa to put a stop to it, and pa pulled off his coat and grabbed the first Jap he could dig out, and began to pull him, like you would take hold of the leg of a dog in a fight.
Pa said: "Here, quit this foolishness, 'cause there is an armistice, and the war is over, anyway."
O! O! but the Jap didn't do a thing to pa. He grabbed pa by the wrist, and he seemed to be having an epileptic fit, and pa's leg shot out so his feet hit a guy pole, and then the Jap pulled him back like he was a rubber ball on a string, and then he took pa by the elbow and held him out at arm's length, and then swung him around a few times and let go of him, and he fell down among the reserved seats which representatives of the press occupy. Pa stood on one ear on a crushed chair, with his legs over the railing, and when he came to, the newspaper men wanted to interview pa. Pa said all he remembered was that the air ship was sailing over the town, and they threw him out for ballast, and he struck a church spire and bounded onto a warehouse filled with dynamite, which exploded when he struck it, and the neighbors picked his remains up on a dustpan and emptied them in here, Then he asked if his head was on straight, and the circusmen took him away to the hospital tent.
The circus hands separated the Russians and Japs, or at least pulled off the Japs, and the Russians limped to the dressing-room, and their act was cut out. Unless the terms of peace between Japan and Russia include the belligerents in our show, there will be rows every day.
Pa came to the car on crutches that night just before the train pulled out for Philadelphia, and wanted to know where I was during the fight. He said he rushed right in and grabbed a Jap in one hand and a Russian in the other, and bumped their heads together, and threw one of them towards the ring, and the other up among the seats, and he wanted to know if I thought he killed either or both of them.
I hate a boy that will deceive his father, but I told him there was talk about two performers, one a Russian and the other a Jap, that were left at the morgue, but I didn't know anything sure about it, and pa said: "I was afraid I should hurt them, but they brought it on themselves by breaking the rules of the show against fighting during a performance," and pa rolled over and groaned in his berth, and went to sleep and snored so the freaks wanted to have a nose bag, such as horses eat out of, pulled over pa's face.
The queerest thing that ever happened in the circus business in this country took place at Germantown, Pa. The teamsters went on a strike at Pittsburg, for increase in wages and shorter hours, and for two days the management had a great time.
We had to get drays to haul the stuff from the train to the lot, and then our teamsters got the local draymen to join them, and when we got ready to haul the stuff back to the train nobody would do any work, and the walking delegates from the Teamsters' union just took possession of the show, and we were stuck, like an automobile when the gasoline gives out.
We had got to looking at the teamsters as of no particular account when they walked out, but when they wouldn't work, they became the most important part of the show, and after the show was over the managers who had told the striking teamsters to go plumb, found that they had gone plumb, and they had to rush all over Pittsburg and find them, and grant their demands, and get them to go to work.
Pa was sent out to find a bunch of them, and it cost pa over $30 to get them out of a beer garden, and back to the lot, and it was almost daylight before we got our train started for the next town.
Well, at the next town we could see there was something the matter with the animals. They acted as though they had lost all interest in the success of the show, and wouldn't do any of their stunts worth a cent. The elephants went through their act carelessly, and when they were scolded or prodded with the iron hook, they got mad and wanted to fight, and when they got back from the ring to the animal tent they wouldn't eat the baled hay but threw it all over the tent, and acted riotous.
The kangaroos would not do their boxing act, the horses kicked at their hay, and wouldn't eat their oats, the camels growled at their food, and scared the people who passed by where they were tied to stakes, the sacred cattle got their backs up and acted as though they, being pious, couldn't swear, but would like to hire the hyenas to swear for them; the giraffes laid down and curled their necks so they were no attraction to the show, 'cause a giraffe is no curiosity unless he stretches himself away up towards the top of the tent. The zebras rolled in the mud and spoiled their stripes, so people couldn't tell them from common mules; the grizzly bear walked his cage, and kept giving vent to bear language, and the big lion was howling all the time.
The show was a failure at that town, and when we loaded the train the managers held a meeting in our car to decide what in thunder was the matter with the animals. All kinds of theories were advanced, such as poison, malaria from Indiana, and pure cussedness. After they had discussed the matter awhile, pa came in, and they asked him what he thought about it, and that tickled pa, 'cause as foolish as he looks, he helps the show out of lots of bad holes. Pa lit a cigar and put it in one side of his mouth, put his hat up on one side of his head, like he was tough, and looked wise, and said:
"Fellow fakirs, I have been watching the animals all day, and while I do not say they understand enough of the ways of human beings to be posted on labor unions, and all that, I want to tell you they are on a strike, and that grizzly and that lion are the walking delegates that are stirring them up to mischief. They may not know anything about the teamsters' strike, but they know something has happened, and they are displeased at something, and they have lost respect for the employer. They are on a strike, and the very devil is going to pay to-morrow, unless the cause of the dissatisfaction is discovered, mutual concessions made, and arbitration resorted to.
"Gentlemen, you hear me," said pa, and he sat down on the edge of the arm of the car seat.
They gave pa the laugh, but finally told him to take charge of the strike and settle it quick, but they wanted to know what he thought animals would be dissatisfied about, as long as they got food enough to eat.
Pa said: "I'll tell you. You feed the horses and other hay-eating animals on musty baled hay, bought from contractors that may have had it on hand for five years. How would you like it if you were served with breakfast food that had been stored in a warehouse until it was mildewed? A horse or an elephant has feelings. Give them baled hay, and when they are trying to pick out a mouthful that is not spoiled, you drive along with a load of nice new-mown timothy or alfalfa, and see them make a rush for that load of hay, the way my ten-horse team did the other day for that load of cornstalks. Then the sacred cattle are hot under the collar because of the fellows who use profanity. Can you imagine a sacred cow trying to be good, and set a pious example to the heathen animals, being patient when they have to listen to swearing? You buy meat that is tainted for the lions, who like fresh meat, and the jackal, that only loves bad meat, gets the only sirloin in the lot. Let me run the menagerie to-morrow, and I will have Mr. Lion, the walking delegate, declare this strike off."
Well, they told pa to arbitrate the strike, and the next day he had a couple of loads of timothy hay, such as mother used to make, driven in and unloaded, and the horses, elephants, camels, and things almost set up a cheer for pa. The meat-eating animals were given a picnic of the freshest beef, with a little so decayed that it was only fit to be buried, for the hyenas and jackals, and every animal was happy. They did their turns better than ever, and the sacred cattle almost acted devilish.
Now the animals have declared the strike off, and they want to lick pa's hand. The owners of the show appreciate genius, and they have raised pa's salary and given him full charge of the menagerie.
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.
Ever since we knew the show was billed for Philadelphia for a Saturday and that we should have to stay over Sunday in that town, there has been symptoms of a revolt. Everybody connected with the show has a horror of being found dead in Philadelphia. They claim it is too dead for live people, and not very satisfactory to dead people.
A performer who was with the show last year says that nobody but the newspaper people who had free tickets attended the performances, and some of them wouldn't go in the tent unless the press agent promised to set up a free lunch, with devilish ginger ale to drink, and that the press people got riotous on ginger ale. A ginger ale jag is terrible. When a man is full of ginger ale his intestines loop the loop, and tie up in knots, and gripe like cholera infantum, and unless his friends hold him he goes out into the world and wants to kill the women and children, and non-combatants.
Last year our press agents filled up the members of the local press with ginger ale, and when we struck Philadelphia this time the newspapers had sworn out warrants for our show, on the charge of compounding a felony, which I suppose is the legal name for ginger ale. The way the Quakers patronize a show is to put on their gray clothes, and their big white hats and stand on the corners when the parade goes by, and never crack a smile, or act interested, and when the parade has passed they go to the circus lot and see the balloon ascension, and stand on wagon wheels and try to look over the side of the tent at the performance, and then they kick because the audience on the back seats cut off their view from the wagon wheels.
Last year our show killed a Quaker, and the community is down on us. The Quaker got in the show because he owned a half inch of ground that its tents were on, and he stood right by the ring, and when the champion female rider was suspended in the air between two bareback horses, he leaned over too far inside the ring, and she kicked his hat clear up to the roof of the tent, and a female trapeze performer up there caught it and sat down on it on the trapeze. The old Quaker had heart disease and fell dead. What the Quakers complained of was that after the Quaker's remains had been removed from the ring, that the show went right on. They claimed that we ought to have shown proper respect for the dead by closing the show for 30 days, and wearing crape on our arms, but a circus is not built that way.
Ordinarily it may be quiet enough in Philadelphia on Sunday, but pa found that he had more of a run for his money than at any place we have been so far. We have had a tribe of Indians with our wild west department all summer, and pa has not stood very well with the Indians since he was in charge of the show at Fort Wayne, and they all got drunk, and he had them tied up to the poles around the ring until they got sober. They have laid for pa ever since, and it was only a matter of time when they got him. Then at Pittsburg our manager picked up a company of cannibals that had got left over from the St. Louis fair, and who agreed to perform for their board and clothes, and as they don't wear any clothes to speak of, and only eat dog week days, and hope to get a human being to roast on Sunday, it seemed a pretty good bargain.
Well, the Indians got permission to hold a green corn dance in a piece of woods near the circus lot, and the management got them a wagon load of corn, and they had built a fire and were roasting the corn, and dancing, and pa didn't know about it, and just after dark the Quaker who owned the woods complained to pa, who was on watch Sunday night, that his Indians had got off the reservation and were preparing to go on the warpath, and he wanted them to get off his premises. Pa said he would go right over and drive them back to the tents.
I tried to get pa to let the police go and drive them off, but he said he hadn't no time to go and wake up the police, and they wouldn't get around anyway before the middle of the week. So pa took a tent stake and started for the green corn roast. The Indians were taking turns dancing and eating roasted corn, and they had a barrel of beer, and I knew enough about Indians to keep away from them when they mix beer with green corn, for it has about the same effect as committing suicide with carbolic acid.
Pa put his hat on one side of his head and went right into the midst of the Indians, and grabbed a chief called "One Ear at a Time," and hit him with the tent stake, and knocked him down, and said, "Now, you git." Well, sir, that Indian had no more than struck the fire in a sitting position, and filled the air with the odor of fried buckskin, before the whole tribe jumped on pa, and they kicked him with their moccasins, and were going to murder him, while the chief who acted as the burnt offering got out of the fire, and sat down in the cold mud to cool himself. He held up his hand as a signal of attention, and he called a council of war, while the squaws sat on pa to hold him down.
The council of war sentenced pa to be burned at the stake, and they tied him to a tree and began to pile sticks around him, and pa told me to go to the circus lot and give an alarm, and send the hands to rescue him. Gee, but didn't I run though, and yell an alarm big enough for a massacre. I told the hands, who were sleeping under the seats, or playing cards on the trunks that the Indians were burning pa at the stake, and some of the hands said that would serve him right, and the fellows that were playing cards said they didn't want to break up the game when they were losers, to rescue no baldheaded curmudgeon. I thought pa was a goner, sure, 'cause I could hear the Indians yell, and I thought I could smell flesh burning. Oh, but I was scared for fear they would burn pa alive.
Just then the man who had charge of our cannibals, who each had a dog that they were looking for a place to roast, came along and I told him about the Indians' corn roast, and he ordered the cannibals to go drive the Indians away from their fire and roast their dogs. Well, it worked like a charm, and the cannibals made a rush for the Indians and drove them away just as they had lighted the fire around pa, and we were not a minute too soon. After the Indians had skedaddled for the woods, and we cut the cords that bound pa, the cannibals went to work and skun the dogs, and began to cook them, and pa looked on, until it made him squirmish, but he was so tickled at being saved from the Indians, that he tried to be a good fellow with the cannibals. I guess it would have been all right, only the cannibals got to drinking the Philadelphia beer, and then it was all off, cause roast dog wasn't good enough for them, and they wanted to roast pa.
First they offered pa dog to eat, but he had swore off on dog, and passed on it, and that made the cannibals mad, and they got ready to roast pa, and I guess they would have eaten him half cooked, if it hadn't been for the performers and freaks who had missed their pet dogs, and the circus hands told them the cannibals had just gone to the woods with a mess of dogs to roast for a dog feast.
Well, they were just getting a fire around pa, and he was giving the grand hailing sign of distress, when the performers, headed by the fat woman, whose peeled Mexican dog was lost in the shuffle, came in amongst the cannibals, and pa and the other dogs were rescued, in the darnedest fight I ever saw. The performers just walked right over the cannibals, and mauled them with stakes, and all the dogs that had not been killed were pulled away from the heathen, and saved. The fat woman got her dog all right, and when pa came up from the stake where they were going to burn him, and congratulated her on recovering her dog, she turned on pa and accused him of being the leading cannibal, and that he was the one who put up the whole job to steal the dogs. She jabbed him with a parasol, but pa was innocent.
The Indians got back to the tent along towards morning, and the cannibals went back with us, and we had to feed them on wieners, which was the nearest to roast dog we could get for them at that time of night.
Pa seems to get it in the neck in this show, 'cause everything that goes wrong is laid to him, and if anything goes right, somebody else gets the credit, and I think he would resign if it was not for his pride. After the trouble about the Indians and the cannibals the manager called pa up and reprimanded him for indulging the tribes in their wild orgies, and said he couldn't maintain discipline as long as pa mixed up with them and encouraged them in such things.
Pa tried to explain that he was the victim instead of being the cause of the dog roast, but the manager dismissed pa by telling him not to let it occur again. Then to show the inconsistency of the manager, he ordered pa to go on ahead of the show to New York, and advertise that the cannibals in our show would give an exhibition of roasting and eating a human being, and to offer a reward for anybody that would consent to be roasted and eaten in public.
Pa has gone to New York to look for somebody who will take the position of meat for the cannibals, and he is instructed to spare no expense to find such a man. He thinks he may find somebody connected with the Life Insurance scandal, who has lost all desire to live any longer, and who will gladly go into this "mutual" scheme. I don't know.
This circus business is too much for me, 'cause I am losing friends all the time. Even the monkeys have got so they seem to be ashamed to be seen talking to me, and when I pass the monkey cage they turn their backs on me, as though I did not belong to their set. When a fellow gets so low that monkeys feel above him, and throw out sarcastic remarks when he goes by, it is time to change your luck some way.
A Newport Monk Is Added to the Show—The Boy Teaches Him Some "Manly Tricks"—The Tent Blows Down and a Panic Follows—Pa Manages the Animal Act Which Ends in a Novel Manner.
We have added to the show the most remarkable animal that ever was—a baboon that dresses like a man, and eats at a table, using a knife and fork, and a napkin. This baboon has been playing an engagement with the Four Hundred at Newport, dining with the crowned heads at that resort, but the confounded baboon got to be too human, and he fell in love with an heiress, and scared one of the Willie boys that was also in love with her. His friends were afraid that the baboon would cut Willie out entirely, or get jealous and injure Willie, so the manager of the Four Hundred show decided to banish the baboon, and our show sent pa to Newport to buy the baboon and bring him to our show at New York.
We had the darndest time getting him away from Newport. Pa couldn't do any with him, but he took to me, 'cause he thought I was his long-lost brother, and I could do anything with him. We got him in our stateroom on the boat, and took his clothes away from him, 'cause he only wears his clothes when he is being dined and wined, and we chained him in the upper berth. He just raised the very deuce on the way down to New York. After pa and I got to sleep that baboon got my clothes, and put them on, slipped the chain over his head, jumped through the transom, and went into every berth where the transom was open, and chatted with the people who occupied the berths. There was an old man and woman from New Hampshire in one berth, and when the monk got in their berth and began to talk the Newport language, the old man thought it was me, and he said: "Now, bub, you go away to your pa."
The monk went out, and got into another berth, and crawled under the bunk, and when the woman came in to go to bed, she looked under it to see if any man was there. When she saw our baboon she yelled "fire," and the officers of the boat pulled him out by the hind leg, and tore my pant leg off. Pa and I had to sit up the rest of the night with him, and when we landed him with the show at Madison Square Garden we felt relieved.
One woman on the boat has followed us ever since to collect damages from pa, 'cause his oldest son, the monk, proposed to her. Gee, it seems to me a woman ought to know the difference between a baboon and a man, but some women will marry anything that wears clothes.
The monk took to me so, Pa said I must teach him everything I could that men do, so I thought it would do no harm to teach him to chew tobacco, 'cause he could already smoke cigarettes, so I borrowed a chew from the boss canvasman, a great big chew of black plug tobacco, and the monk grabbed it, and chewed it awhile, just before the afternoon performance, and swallowed it. I knew that settled the monk, and when the audience came along by his cage, and pa was trying to get him to perform, as he did at Newport, eating dinner like a man, the monk turned pale, and his stomach ached, and he stood on his head, and held his stomach in both hands, and kicked the table over. Then he hit pa a swat with his foot, and wound his tail around pa's neck, and laid his head on pa's shirt bosom, and was seasick.
Pa said: "Well, this beats everything. What did you do to him?"
I told pa I had only been teaching the monk manly tricks, and pa said: "Well, you have overdone it." And then the Humane society had pa arrested for cruelty to animals. But the monk got over it, and now he tries to be a masher, and winks at women, and flirts with them just as the men do at Newport.
* * * * *
We thought we were smart when we held up the railroad for damages back in Pennsylvania, after the wreck, but we are getting a dose of our own medicine. At Poughkeepsie there came up a wind and rainstorm that blew the tent down right in the midst of the evening performance, and scared everybody half to death. Several people were hit by tent poles and hurt some, and it was the wildest scene I ever saw, and people who got out alive ran away in the dark, and somebody said the animals had all got loose, and some of the people never stopped running till daylight the next morning.
Some run into the river, and the ambulances carried the injured to hospitals. Pa stampeded with the elephants, and never showed up till noon the next day. By that time at least 1,000 people had filed claims for damages, and all the lawyers from Albany to New York were on our trail.
The managers appointed pa to settle with the injured, and the way he argued with those people was a caution. One old woman was killed, and pa tried to show her relatives that as she was old and helpless, and more or less a burden to the family, they ought to pay the show something for getting her off their hands. One tramp had his feet cut off, and pa tried to show him how much he would save in shoes the rest of his life, and that he was in big luck. We left pa at Poughkeepsie to settle the cases, and went on to New York, and we heard the people had lynched him, but he showed up in a couple of days with money left. Now all the lawyers in New York are after us with claims and they have attached most everything, and the show is up against it.
What a difference it makes who wants damages. When we were working the railroad for damages, it was a cinch, and like getting money from home, but now that the people are working us for damages, for being smashed up under our tent, we look upon it as a crime, and tell them it is an act of Providence, and that the show is not to blame for a windstorm. But the lawyers can't be very pious, for they won't believe in the act of Providence racket, and we shall have to cough up all the profits of the season.
Since we got settled in New York for a two weeks' stand, in Madison Square Garden, we are having the tents repaired, and don't have to put up and take down tents, and ride all night on trains. We are all stopping at hotels and getting rested, and pa is having a chance to shine.
The managers think pa is trying to commit suicide, for he wants to take the place of anybody who is sick or drunk, and is the understudy of everybody. We got one act that just curdles your blood, a cage in the ring, with lions and tigers and leopards, who go through all kinds of stunts. One lion rides a horse and jumps through hoops, and lands on the back of the horse, and jumps on a staging and lets the horse go around the ring, and then jumps on again. The horse is blindfolded, so he don't know it is a lion that jumps on his back, but thinks it is a man.
The tigers ride bicycles, and the leopards jump about wherever the trainer tells them to; a monkey acts as clown, and a little elephant runs a make-believe automobile. That act alone is worth the price of admission.
Well, the regular trainer went to Coney Island, and got drunk, and we either had to cut out that performance, or give back the money, and the manager was wailing about it, 'cause nothing makes a circus man wail like giving back good money. Then pa said he would save the day by taking charge of the animal act. He said he had watched it every day, and knew how to do it, and he could dress up in the clothes of the regular trainer, and the animals wouldn't know the difference. Gee, but I was scared to have pa try to run that animal show, and I think everyone in the show believed it would be pa's finish. I felt like an orphan when pa came out of the dressing-room with the trainer's clothes on, though pa's stomach was so big you would think a blindfolded horse would know pa was no trainer.
Well, pa went in the round cage made of bar iron, and motioned to the attendants to send the animals into the cage through the chute from the animal quarters. The first to come were two tigers that were to ride velocipedes. I trembled for pa when they went in and waved their tails and looked at pa as much as to say: "O, we won't do a thing to you." They actually looked at each other and winked; but pa motioned to the velocipedes, and looked fierce, and when they hesitated about getting on, pa said: "You won't, won't you," and he took a club filled with lead and started for the biggest tiger. He hesitated a moment, and then he jumped on the machine, and the other followed, and they raced around, and then pa made them get off and jump hurdles. Finally he motioned to a shelf for them to jump up onto, and when they hesitated he kicked one in the slats, and hit the other with the club, and they went up on that shelf too quick, but they stayed there and snarled at pa, and I was afraid they would jump on him when his back was turned.
Then they brought in the blind horse and the lion, and the lion was onto pa, and he struck right off. He got up on the pedestal from which he was to jump onto the horse's back, but when the horse came around the lion wouldn't jump, and pa said: "I'll give you one more chance," and the horse went under the lion, and he wouldn't jump. So pa stopped the horse and took an iron bar and knocked the lion off onto the floor, and he growled at pa, but pa kept mauling him, and finally the lion jumped up on the pedestal and seemed to say: "Bring on your horse," and pa started the horse, and Mr. Lion made his jumps all right, and the audience cheered pa.
All the animals went through their stunts all right, but I thought I could see they were laying for pa, and I wished he was out of the cage. The wind-up came when the lions were seated on benches, and the elephant was between them, and the tigers and leopards made a pyramid, and the monkey was clawing around pa's legs. The signal was about to be given for the animals to return through the chute, when the monkey tackled pa's legs like a football player, the elephant pushed pa over, and the lions pawed him and snarled, and the tigers took a mouthful out of pa's pants, and the leopards snatched his red coat off, and the signal was given for them to get out of the cage, and they went out like boys at recess, leaving pa in the cage with the blind horse, with not clothes enough left on him to wad a gun. He was not even scratched, however, the animals having just combined to humiliate pa.
The audience cheered. Pa said "Well, wouldn't that skin you." They threw him an overcoat to put on, and he bowed like a hero, and quit the ring cage, and was met outside by the whole show management, and congratulated on having more nerve than any man alive.
Pa said: "If you will give me a shotgun loaded with bird shot, I will make those animals get on their knees at the next performance, and beg my pardon. You can discharge your trainer, and I will teach them a lot of new stunts."
Say, pa is a wonder, and he has already got old Barnum beat a block.
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.
Well, I s'pose I have done it now and it would not surprise me to be killed and fed to wild animals,' The manager of the show was talking to pa and me, before we left New York, about the condition of the show. Its finances were all balled up on account of settling with people who pretended to be injured when the tent blew down at Poughkeepsie, and the hands and performers are kicking because we are a month behind on salaries, and they get drunk whenever any jay will buy for them. Everybody gives passes to everybody that wants to get in the show, so the box office man has a sinecure, and people chase us from town to town for money for board, and hay and everything.
All through New Jersey we showed to claim agents and creditors, and didn't take in money enough to buy meat for the animals. He said the animals had all taken cold, and lay around dormant, and didn't take any interest in the business, and the manager told pa he must think of something to wake the animals up. Pa said he would leave it to me to wake 'em up, and get some ginger into them. I told pa if I had five dollars to spend I could make every animal jump like a box car. Pa gave me the money, and I went and bought five pounds of Scotchsnuff, and divided it up into ounce packages, and started during the afternoon performance at Wilmington, Del., to wake up the animals.
There is something peculiar about animals, if you try to give them anything that they think you want them to take, you can't drive it down them with a pile driver, but if you try to hide something where they can reach it, they watch you out of one eye, and when you go away they look at you as much as to say: "O, you think you are smart, don't you?" Then they will go and dig it up, and play with it, and eat it if they want to.
I took my first package of snuff to the lion's cage, and he was the sickest and most disgusted looking lion you ever saw, acting like a man who has taken a severe cold, and wants to kill anybody that looks at him. The lion lay on the straw, stretched out full length, paying no attention to the crowd that passed his cage, and acting as though he wanted a hot whisky and his feet soaked in mustard water. When he was not looking I hid the package of snuff under the straw, and rattled the straw a little, and he opened his eyes and looked at me as much as to say: "You can't fool old Shadrack, for I am onto you." I walked away behind the hyena cage, and Mr. Lion got up and stretched himself, and walked to the place where I put the paper of snuff, put his foot on it and broke the paper, and then he put his nose down and sniffed a sniff that drew the whole of the snuff up into his nose and lungs, and insides generally.
Gee, but you never saw such a change in a lion. The crowd of visitors were right near his cage, when he sniffed, and when he got the snuff into him, he began to heave his sides like a man who is preparing to sneeze, caught his breath a few times, and let out a sneeze that sounded like the explosion of an automobile tire. It threw cut feed all over the audience, and everybody ran away yelling that the lion busted.
He kept on sneezing, and looking so astounded, as though he couldn't make out what had got into him. Pa heard the commotion and came running up to the cage to find out what ailed the lion. After I had gone around to the other cages and put snuff in all of them, I came up to the lion's cage. The lion had stopped sneezing and was roaring and jumping up and down, with his mouth open, trying to catch his breath, like a man who has taken too big a dose of fresh horse-radish.
Pa said: "What have you been doing to Shadrack?"
I told pa I had woke Shadrack up, and that in about a minute he would find that the whole animal kingdom had got a bellyful, and would join in the chorus.
Pa tried to soothe the lion by going up to the cage and stroking his mane, but the lion looked cross-eyed and stopped prancing and gave a sneeze right at pa, which blew pa clear across the tent to where the sacred cow had just got hers. When the stuff began to work on that cow it was simply scandalous, 'cause she bellowed and cried and sneezed all at once, and pawed pa. He got up and told me I was overdoing this waking up act on the animals.
By that time the cage of hyenas began to sneeze a quartette, and fight each other, and the atmosphere about their cage was full of hair and language that would be much like cussing if it could be translated into English. Pa tried to quiet the crowd and silence the hyenas by taking an iron bar and mauling them, but the hyenas just backed up against the rear of the cage and howled and sneezed at pa, and dared him to come on.
One of them caught him by the shirt sleeve and tore pa's shirt off and eat it. Pa was a sight, with no shirt on, and he ought to have gone to the dressing room and slicked, but just then the camels and the giraffes, who had inhaled their snuff, began to sneeze and beg to be killed, and pa had to go over there and quiet them. A camel is the solemnist looking beast on earth when he tries to be good natured, but when he is sick and mad, and full of snuff, he is a fiend. One such camel is enough for a man to handle, but when 14 camels are all sneezing at once, and trying to locate the person that is responsible for their trouble, it is the safest to keep away, and when pa went in amongst them, with no shirt on, and the Arab keepers had run away in fright, it was a dangerous thing to do.
But pa is brave even to rashness. He went up to Mahomet, the double-humped leader of the herd, who was the leader of the sneezers, and kicked him in the slats and told him to hush up his noise. He clubbed him on the humps with a tent stake. Then there was a rebellion in Egypt, and Mahomet bit pa, and wouldn't let go, and the other camels sneezed all over pa, and had him down, walking on him with their padded feet. The circus hands had to pull pa out, and it wasn't so bad, because the crowd remained and they thought it was a part of the show, and that the animals were trained to sneeze that way.
The worst case was the hippopotamus. He was so big, and had such big nostrils, that I laid about half a pound of snuff on the side of his tank, and when he snuffed it up his nose he got it all. I heard a howl from the tank and the herd, who was the leader of the sneezers, and I told pa to come on, 'cause Vessuvious was going to erupt.
Pa came on the run, just as he was, and then the worst happened. I think the hippo went under water when he found the sneeze was coming, for just as pa got to the tank the water flew into the air like a torpedo had exploded under a battle-ship, and the hippo had sneezed all right and pa and the audience which had followed him were drenched and deafened by the explosion. The hippo had blown the water all out of his tank, and he lay at the bottom, on his side, sneezing little sneezes not louder than the report of a six-pound cannon, and panting for breath. Then he raised his head, got up on his feet, and opened his mouth like a gash cut in a steer by a cow catcher of an engine, and he yawned, and I guess he got the lockjaw, 'cause he kept his mouth open all the afternoon to get the air, like a soprano singer in a choir, who has been fed a cayenne pepper lozenger by the tenor, just before she gets up to sing: "A Charge to Keep, I Have."
We went around and inspected the sneezing animals with the manager, and he complimented me by saying I had saved the show from becoming an aggregation of stuffed animals, only fit for a taxidermist studio, and made every animal show that he had ginger in him. He wanted me to try my snuff cure on the performers and freaks, 'cause they were getting to be dead ones.
Well, before the day was over at Wilmington, Del., pa was scared worse than he ever was in all his life before. The state of Delaware is the only state that punishes criminals by tying them up and whipping them on the bare back with a cat-o'-nine-tails, and all our men had been warned to be good while they were in Delaware, 'cause if they committed any crime there was no power on earth that could save them from being publicly horsewhipped. Pa himself impressed it on the men to look out that they didn't get into any trouble. Gee, but the fear of a public whipping makes men good.
Twenty years ago some hold-up men from New York robbed a bank in Delaware, and were caught, and given 50 lashes apiece on the bare back, by a big negro, and there has never been a burglary in Delaware since. We thought we would play a joke on pa, so the manager told pa that constables were looking for him to arrest him for cruelty to animals, for kicking a camel in the stomach, and hitting the camel with an iron bar, and that if pa didn't want to be publicly horsewhipped on the bare back he better skip out for Washington, D.C., where we would show in a couple of days, and wait for us.
Pa was so frightened he couldn't get supper, and everybody talked about cats of nine tails, and how prisoners were cut to pieces, and every time pa saw a jay with a slouch hat he thought it was a constable after him. After dark he put on an old suit of clothes and said he was going to Washington. They told him if he went to take a train he would surely be arrested at the depot, so pa put a saddle on one of the mules, and rode out of town and rode all night, and all the next day he bought oats of farmers to be delivered at Wilmington for the circus. Finally he got out of Delaware, and the next day the farmers came in with the oats, but the show was gone, and they won't do a thing to pa if he ever shows up in Delaware again.
Pa met us at the depot in Washington, but he was ever so changed from his long ride and anxiety over the possibility of being arrested and pilloried, and lambasted by a negro in Delaware. He said to me, with a trembling voice: "Hennery, this 'ere show business is too much for your pa. I would rather be a Mormon, in Utah, with 40 wives, and several hundred children, and long whiskers. I am a changed man, Hennery, and afraid of my shadow."
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.
Gee, but I must be an easy mark. I have got so I bet on a sure thing, and when a fellow bets on a sure thing he is bound to lose.
It was this way. The show arrived in Washington, D. C., on a Sunday morning, and, as usual, all the boys in town came to the lot to see us put up the tents. I was around with pa and the boss canvasman, and the town boys could see I belonged to the show, and they envied me and wanted to get acquainted with me so I would let them walk around with me, and go into the tents Sunday afternoon and see the animals.
There was one boy with a sort of rough rider hat on, and buckskin fringe on his pants, and everybody said he was a senator's son, but the other boys had rather be acquainted with me, because I belonged to the show, and I took pity on the senator's son and let him talk to me, without looking cross at him, or snubbing him, as I do most boys who try to butt in on me. I got to liking the senator's son and had him come in the tent, and we put in the afternoon looking at the animals.
The elephants were chewing hay and looking fierce, and the senator's boy said elephants were the greatest cowards on earth, and I said, "Not on your life; the giant in our show is the greatest coward, and the behemoth of holy writ is next." The senator's son said elephants were such cowards they were afraid of mice, and we could take a trap full of mice and turn them loose in the ring and the elephants would stampede, and he would bet five dollars on it. I excused myself for a moment and told pa what the senator's son offered to bet, and pa said: "Here's $50, and you can take all the bets you can get. Why, this herd of elephants would walk on mice, and rats, too. You bet with him and tell him to bring along all the rats and mice he can find in the white house, and you can turn them into the ring Monday afternoon when the elephants do their turn, and if an elephant bats an eye I will eat his ears for mushrooms."
I went back to young Mr. Senator and took his bet, and told him I had plenty more money to bet the same way, and he said the next afternoon he would come with his mice and rats, and a lot of money to bet that you couldn't hold that flock of elephants with log chains when he opened his bag of rats and mice.
Well, how it got into the papers I do not know, but the next morning they all said an interesting experiment would be made the next afternoon at the great and only circus, to determine once and for all whether elephants were afraid of mice, and that a senator's son and a son of one of the proprietors of the show would conduct the experiment by turning loose a lot of mice and rats in the rings at precisely 3:30 p.m.
Well, you never saw such a crowd in a circus as we had that afternoon. It seemed as though the whole population turned out, foreign ministers, negroes, society people and clerks. That senator's son and the whole family, and the neighbors, must have been up all night catching mice and rats, and it took nine boys and three servants to carry the baskets and traps and bags of mice and rats. I passed them all in and we lined up on a front seat to wait for the elephant stunt, and when the thing was ripe we were to empty the whole mess of vermin into the ring.
I felt as though something was wrong 'cause I saw the new moon over my left shoulder the night before, and now I wish I had died before this thing happened. When the Japanese jugglers went out of the ring I knew that was the cue for the elephants to come in, and when the dressing room curtain was pulled aside and old Bolivar came out at the head of the herd, and they marched around the outside of the ring, clear around the tent, my heart jumped up into my throat, and I felt sick.
The senator's son said: "When these rats and things begin to chase your old elephants, you won't be able to see their tails for the dust they will kick up."
Then I thought of the money pa had given me to bet, and I offered to bet it all, and a negro produced funds and took all my bets like a bookmaker.
Well, after doing a turn around the big ring, the trainer steered the elephants into the middle ring, and the great audience leaned forward to catch every trick the elephants did.
Us boys held on to the bags that the mice and things were in, waiting for our cue. The elephants stood on their heads and hind feet, and fore feet, laid down, fired pistols, and did everything just right, without making a mistake. Finally the trainer formed the whole herd into a grand pyramid, with old Bolivar in the center, each elephant holding an American flag with his trunk, and waving it, and the audience broke out into a cheer that fairly ripped the canvas.
Then I said to young Mr. Senator: "Come on with your rats, now, and I win $50." All hands picked up the baskets and bags and went to the side of the ring and emptied the whole bunch of more than 500 into the ring. The rats and mice rushed for the elephants, and then turned and made a rush for the reserved seats.
Oh, dear, what a time we had. The elephants got down off that pyramid so quick it would make your head swim, and old Bolivar trumpeted in abject fear, and tried to break away, but pa came along with a tent stake and hit Bolivar over the head, and told the trainer to put the elephants back into the pyramid and hold them there till the bell rung for them to cease their stunt. The trainer couldn't do anything with them, and they bellowed and dodged mice and shied at rats, and Bolivar took his trunk and swatted pa clear across the ring.
The elephants followed Bolivar to the main entrance, each elephant trying to walk on the heels of the one ahead of him, and all the circus hands trying to head off the elephants, but they wouldn't head off. They were simply scared to death, and they broke out the side of the tent near the lemonade stand and went whooping out into the open air and freedom, while the audience yelled with joy.
Young Mr. Senator said to me: "What do you think of elephants now?"
I told him to take his money and he darned.
The audience was getting nervous, so the band struck up "A Hot Time in the Old Town," and they were quieting down as the curtain raised and the horses for the chariot race came out. Just then a woman with red socks got up on her chair in the press seats and pulled her dress away up and yelled, "Rats!" and another woman screamed and jumped up on a seat with her clothes at half mast, and yelled that there were mice on the seats. In less than two minutes every woman in the audience, and the bearded woman, and the fat woman, were standing up on something, holding up their dresses and shaking their skirts and screaming, and when the fat woman fell into the arms of the bearded woman, in a faint, and the bearded woman dropped the fat woman, pa told the bearded woman he was ashamed of her screaming, 'cause she ought to be more of a man than that.
Well, every mouse and rat in the bunch seemed to be looking for women to scream at them, and there was no use trying to run a show with such an excited audience, so pa had the band play "Good Night, Ladies," and he announced that the performance might be considered over for the afternoon. Everybody made a rush for the exits. Each woman held up her skirts and fairly galloped to get away from the mice and rats.
They all got out of the tent finally, and then the managers had a meeting to find out who started the trouble, and what it was best to do about it. I was sitting alone on a front seat, thinking over the scenes of the afternoon, and wondering what the young senator's son would do with the money he had won of me, and whether he had depopulated the white house of rats and mice, so the president would notice it. I was thinking about elephants and wondering if they were cowards by nature, or had acquired cowardice by associating with mankind, when pa came along and sat down by me, a picture of despair, 'cause Bolivar had fractured one of his ribs, and the fat woman had paralyzed his knees sitting on his lap while they brought her to after she fainted when she thought a rat was climbing into her sock.