Part 2 out of 6
"Danny what?" asts he.
"Nothing," says I, "jest Danny."
"Well, then, Danny," says he, "how would you
like to be an Indian?"
"Medical?" asts I, "or real?"
"Like Looey," says he.
I tells him being a medical Injun and mixed up
with a show like his'n would suit me down to the
ground, and asts him what is the main duties of
one besides the blankets and the feathers.
"Well," he says, "this camping-out scheme of
mine will take a couple of Indians. Instead of pay-
ing hotel and feed bills we'll pitch our tent," he
says, "at the edge of town in each sweet Auburn of
the plains. We'll save money and we'll be near the
throbbing heart of nature. And an Indian camp
in each place will be a good advertisement for the
Sagraw. You can look after the horses and learn
to do the cooking and that kind o' thing. And
maybe after while," he says, kind o' working him-
self up to where he thought it was going to be real
nice, "maybe after while I will give you some in-
sight into the hidden mysteries of selling Siwash
"Well," says I, "I'd like to learn that."
"Would you?" says he, kind o' laughing at him-
self and me too, and yet kind o' enthusiastic, "well,
then, the first thing you have to do is learn how to
sell corn salve. Any one that can sell corn salve
can sell anything. There's a farmhouse right over
there, and I'll give you your first lesson right now.
Rummage around in that satchel there under the
seat and get me a tin box and some corn salve
I found a lot of labels, and some boxes too. The
labels was all different sizes, but barring that they
all looked about the same to me. Whilst I was
sizing them up he asts me agin was they any corn
salve ones in there.
"What colour label is it, Doctor Kirby?" I
asts him. Fur they was blue labels and white labels
and pink labels.
He looks at me right queer. "Can't you read
the labels?" he says, right sharp.
"Well," I says, "I never been much of a reader
when it comes to different kind of medicines."
"Corn salve is spelled only one way," says he.
"That's right," I says, "and you'd think I orter
be able to pick out a common, ordinary thing like
corn salve right off, wouldn't you?"
"Danny," he says, "you don't mean to tell me
you can't read anything at all?"
"I never told you nothing of the kind."
He picks out a label.
"If you can read so fast, what's that?" he asts.
She is a pink one. I thinks to myself; she either
is corn salve or else she ain't corn salve. And it
ain't natcheral he will pick corn salve, fur he would
think I would say that first off. So I'm betting it
ain't. I takes a chancet on it.
"That," says I, "is mighty easy reading. That is
Siwash Injun Sagraw." I lost.
"It's corn salve," he says. "And Great Scott!
They call this the twentieth century!"
"I never called it that," says I, sort o' mad-like.
Fur I was feeling bad Doctor Kirby had found out
I was such a ignoramus.
"Where ignorance is bliss," says he, "it is folly
to be wise. But all the same, I'm going to take
your education in hand and make you drink of
life's Peruvian springs." Or some spring like that it
And the doctor, he done it. Looey said it
wouldn't be no use learning to read. He'd done a
lot of reading, he said, and it never helped him none.
All he ever read showed him this feller Hamlet was
right, he said, when he wrote Shakespeare's works,
and they wasn't much use in anything, without you
had a lot o' money. And they wasn't no chancet
to get that with all these here trusts around gobbling
up everything and stomping the poor man into the
dirt, and they was lots of times he wisht he was a
Injun sure enough, and not jest a medical one, fur
then he'd be a free man and the bosses and the
trusts and the railroads and the robber tariff
couldn't touch him. And then he shut up, and
didn't say nothing fur a hull hour, except oncet he
Fur Doctor Kirby, he says, winking at me:
"Looey, here, is a nihilist."
"Is he," says I, what's that?" And the doctor
tells me about how they blow up dukes and czars
and them foreign high-mucky-mucks with dynamite.
Which is when Looey laughed.
Well, we jogged along at a pretty good gait fur
several hours, and we stayed that night at a Swede's
place, which the doctor paid him fur everything in
medicine, only it took a long time to make the bar-
gain, fur them Swedes is always careful not to
get cheated, and hasn't many diseases. And the
next night we showed in a little town, and done
right well, and took in considerable money. We
stayed there three days and bought a tent and a
sheet-iron stove and some skillets and things and
some provisions, and a suit of duds for me.
Well, we went on, and we kept going on, and they
was bully times. We'd ease up careful toward a
town, and pick us out a place on the edge, where
the hosses could graze along the side of the road;
and most ginerally by a piece of woods not fur from
that town, and nigh a crick, if we could. Then
we'd set up our tent. After we had everything
fixed, I'd put on my Injun clothes and Looey his'n,
and we'd drive through the main store street of
the town at a purty good lick, me a-holt of the
reins, and the doctor all togged out in his best clothes,
and Looey doing a Injun dance in the midst of the
wagon. I'd pull up the hosses sudden in front of
the post-office or the depot platform or the hotel,
and the people would come crowding around, and
the doctor he'd make a little talk from the wagon,
and tell everybody they would be a free show that
night on that corner, and fur everybody to come to
it. And then we'd drive back to camp, lickity-
Purty soon every boy in town would be out there,
kind o' hanging around, to see what a Injun camp
was like. And the farmers that went into and out
of town always stopped and passed the time of
day, and the Injun camp got the hull town all
worked up as a usual thing; and the doctor, he
done well, fur when night come every one would
be on hand. Looey and me, every time we went
into town, had on our Injun suits, and the doctor,
he wondered why he hadn't never thought up that
scheme before. Sometimes, when they was lots
of people ailing in a town, and they hadn't been
no show fur quite a while, we'd stay five or six
days, and make a good clean-up. The doctor,
he sent to Chicago several times fur alcohol in
barrels, 'cause he was selling it so fast he had to
make new Sagraw. And he had to get more and
more bottles, and a hull satchel full of new Sagraw
And all the time the doctor was learning me edu-
cation. And shucks! they wasn't nothing so hard
about it oncet you'd got started in to reading things.
I jest natcherally took to print like a duck to water,
and inside of a month I was reading nigh every-
thing that has ever been wrote. He had lots of
books with him and every time a new sockdologer
of a word come along and I learnt how to spell
her and where she orter fit in to make sense it kind
o' tickled me all over. And many's the time
afterward, when me and the doctor had lost track
of each other, and they was quite a spell people
got to thinking I was a tramp, I've went into these
here Andrew Carnegie libraries in different towns
jest as much to see if they had anything fitten to
read as fur to keep warm.
Well, we went easing over toward the Indiany
line, and we was having a purty good time. They
wasn't no work to do you could call really hard,
and they was plenty of vittles. Afternoons we'd
lazy around the camp and swap stories and make
medicine if we needed a batch, and josh back and
forth with the people that hung around, and loaf and
doze and smoke; or mebby do a little fishing if we
was nigh a crick.
And nights after the show was over it was fun,
too. We always had a fire, even if it was a hot
night, fur to cook by in the first place, and fur to
keep mosquitoes off, and to make things seem more
cheerful. They ain't nothing so good as hanging
round a campfire. And they ain't nothing any
better than sleeping outdoors, neither. You roll
up in your blanket with your feet to the fire and you
get to wondering things about things afore you go
to sleep. The silentness jest natcherally swamps
everything after a while, and then all them queer
little noises you never hear in the daytime comes
popping and poking through the silentness, or kind
o' scratching their way through it sometimes, and
makes it kind o' feel more silent than ever. And
if you are nigh a crick, purty soon it will sort of
get to talking to you, only you can't make out what
it's trying to say, and you get to wondering about
that, too. And if you are in a tent and it rains
and the tent don't leak, that rain is a kind of a
nice thing to listen to itself. But if you can see
the stars you get to wondering more'n ever. They
come out and they is so many of them and they
are so fur away, and yet they are so kind o' friendly-
like, too, if you happen to be feeling purty good.
But if you ain't feeling purty good, jest lay there and
look at them stars long enough; and then mebby
you'll see it don't make no difference whether
you're feeling good or not, fur they got a way o'
making your private troubles look mighty small.
And you get to wondering why that is, too, fur they
ain't human; and it don't stand to reason you orter
pay no attention to them, one way nor the other.
They is jest there, like trees and cricks and hills.
But I have often noticed that the things that is
jest there has got a way of seeming more friendly
than the things that has been built and put there.
You can look at a big iron bridge or a grain elevator
or a canal all day long, and if you're feeling blue it
don't help you none. It was jest put there. Or
a hay stack is the same way. But you go and lazy
around in the grass when you're down on your luck
and kind o' make remarks to a crick or a big, old
walnut tree, and before long it gets you to feeling
like it didn't make no difference how you felt,
anyhow; fur you don't amount to nothing by the
side of something that was always there. You
get to thinking how the hull world itself was always
here, and you sort o' see they ain't nothing im-
portant enough about yourself to worry about,
and presently you will go to sleep and forget
it. The doctor says to me one time them stars
ain't any different from this world, and this is
one of them. Which is a fool idea, as any one
can see. He had a lot of queer ideas like that,
Doctor Kirby had. But they ain't nothing like
sleeping out of doors nights to make you wonder
the kind of wonderings you never will get any
Well, I never cared so much fur houses after them
days. They was bully times, them was. And I
was kind of proud of being with a show, too.
Many's the time I have went down the street in
that there Injun suit, and seen how the young
fellers would of give all they owned to be me. And
every now and then you would hear one say when
you went past:
"Huh, I know him! That's one of them show
One afternoon we pitches our tent right on the
edge of a little town called Athens. We was nigh
the bank of a crick, and they was a grove there.
We was camped jest outside of a wood-lot fence,
and back in through the trees from us they was a
house with a hedge fence all around it. They was
apple trees and all kind of flower bushes and things
inside of the hedge. The second day we was there
I takes a walk back through the wood-lot, and
along past the house, and they was one of these
here early harvest apple trees spilling apples through
a gap in the fence. Them is a mighty sweet and
juicy kind of apple, and I picks one up and bites
"I think you might have asked for it," says
I looks up, and that was how I got ac-
quainted with Martha. She was eating
one herself, setting up in the tree like a boy.
In her lap was a book she had been reading. She
was leaning back into the fork two limbs made so
as not to tumble.
"Well," I says, "can I have one?"
"You've eaten it already," she says, "so there
isn't any use begging for it now."
I seen she was a tease, that girl, and I would of
give anything to of been able to tease her right
back agin. But I couldn't think of nothing to
say, so I jest stands there kind o' dumb like, thinking
what a dern purty girl she was, and thinking how
dumb I must look, and I felt my face getting red.
Doctor Kirby would of thought of something to say
right off. And after I got back to camp I would
think of something myself. But I couldn't think
of nothing bright, so I says:
"Well, then, you give me another one!"
She gives the core of the one she has been eating
a toss at me. But I ketched it, and made like I
was going to throw it back at her real hard. She
slung up her arm, and dodged back, and she dropped
I thinks to myself I'll learn that girl to get sassy
and make me feel like a dumb-head, even if she is
purty. So I don't say a word. I jest picks up
that book and sticks it under my arm and walks
away slow with it to where they was a stump a
little ways off, not fur from the crick, and sets down
with my back to her and opens it. And I was
trying all the time to think of something smart to
say to her. But I couldn't of done it if I was to
be shot. Still, I thinks to myself, no girl can sass me
and not get sassed back, neither.
I hearn a scramble behind me which I knowed
was her getting out of that tree. And in a minute
she was in front of me, mad.
"Give me my book," she says.
But I only reads the name of the book out loud,
fur to aggervate her. I had on purty good duds,
but I kind of wisht I had on my Injun rig then.
You take the girls that always comes down to see
the passenger train come into the depot in them
country towns and that Injun rig of mine and
Looey's always made 'em turn around and look at
us agin. I never wisht I had on them Injun duds
so hard before in my life. But I couldn't think of
nothing bright to say, so I jest reads the name of
that book over to myself agin, kind o' grinning
like I got a good joke I ain't going to tell any one.
"You give me my book," she says agin, red as
one of them harvest apples, "or I'll tell Miss Hamp-
ton you stole it and she'll have you and your show
I reads the name agin. It was "The Lost Heir."
I seen I had her good and teased now, so I says:
"It must be one of these here love stories by the
way you take on over it."
"It's not," she says, getting ready to cry. "And
what right have you got in our wood-lot, anyhow?"
"Well," I says, "I was jest about to move on and
climb out of it when you hollered to me from that
"I didn't!" she says. But she was mad because
she knowed she HAD spoke to me first, and she was
awful sorry she had.
"I thought I hearn you holler," I says, "but
I guess it must of been a squirrel." I said it kind
o' sarcastic like, fur I was still mad with myself
fur being so dumb when we first seen each other.
I hadn't no idea it would hurt her feelings as hard
as it did. But all of a sudden she begins to wink,
and her chin trembled, and she turned around short,
and started to walk off slow. She was mad with
herself fur being ketched in a lie, and she was
wondering what I would think of her fur being
so bold as to of spoke first to a feller she didn't
I got up and follered her a little piece. And it
come to me all to oncet I had teased her too hard,
and I was down on myself fur it.
"Say," I says, kind of tagging along beside of
her, "here's your old book."
But she didn't make no move to take it, and her
hands was over her face, and she wouldn't pull
'em down to even look at it.
So I tried agin.
"Well," I says, feeling real mean, "I wisht you
wouldn't cry. I didn't go to make you do that."
She drops her hands and whirls around on me,
mad as a wet hen right off.
"I'm not! I'm not!" she sings out, and stamps
her feet. "I'm not crying!" But jest then she
loses her holt on herself and busts out and jest
natcherally bellers. "I hate you!" she says, like
she could of killed me.
That made me kind of dumb agin. Fur it come
to me all to oncet I liked that girl awful well. And
here I'd up and made her hate me. I held the book
out to her agin and says:
"Well, I'm mighty sorry fur that, fur I don't feel
that-a-way about you a-tall. Here's your book."
Well, sir, she snatches that book and she gives
it a sling. I thought it was going kersplash into
the crick. But it didn't. It hit right into the fork
of a limb that hung down over the crick, and it all
spread out when it lit, and stuck in that crotch
somehow. She couldn't of slung it that way on
purpose in a million years. We both stands and
looks at it a minute.
"Oh, oh!" she says, "what have I done? It's
out of the town library and I'll have to pay for it."
"I'll get it fur you," I says. But it wasn't no
easy job. If I shook that limb it would tumble
into the crick. But I clumb the tree and eased out
on that limb as fur as I dast to. And, of course,
jest as I got holt of the book, that limb broke
and I fell into the crick. But I had the book.
It was some soaked, but I reckoned it could still
I clumb out and she was jest splitting herself
laughing at me. The wet on her face where she
had cried wasn't dried up yet, and she was laughing
right through it, kind o' like the sun does to one
of these here May rainstorms sometimes, and she
was the purtiest girl I ever seen. Gosh!--how I
was getting to like that girl! And she told me I
looked like a drowned rat.
Well, that was how Martha and me was inter-
duced. She wasn't more'n sixteen, and when she
found out I was a orphan she was glad, fur she was
one herself. Which Miss Hampton that lived in
that house had took her to raise. And when I
tells her how I been travelling around the country
all summer she claps her hands and she says:
"Oh, you are on a quest! How romantic!"
I asts her what is a quest. And she tells me.
She knowed all about them, fur Martha was con-
siderable of a reader. Some of them was longer
and some of them was shorter, them quests, but
mostly, Martha says, they was fur a twelvemonth
and a day. And then you are released from your
vow and one of these here queens gives you a whack
over the shoulder with a sword and says: "Arise,
Sir Marmeluke, I dub you a night." And then it
is legal fur you to go out and rescue people and
reform them and spear them if they don't see
things your way, and come between husband and
wife when they row, and do a heap of good in the
world. Well, they was other kind of quests too, but
mostly you married somebody, or was dubbed
a night, or found the party you was looking fur,
in the end. And Martha had it all fixed up in her
own mind I was in a quest to find my father. Fur,
says she, he is purty certain to be a powerful rich
man and more'n likely a earl.
The way I was found, Martha says, kind o'
pints to the idea they was a earl mixed up in it
somewhere. She had read a lot about earls, and
knew their ways. Mebby my mother was a earl's
daughter. Earl's daughters is the worst fur leaving
you out in baskets, going by what Martha said.
It is a kind of a habit with them, fur they is awful
proud people. But it was a lucky way to start
life, from all she said, that basket way. There
was Moses was left out that way, and when he
growed up he was made a kind of a president of
the hull human race, the same as Ruzevelt, and
figgered out the twelve commandments. Martha
would of give anything if she could of only been
found in a basket like me, I could see that. But
she wasn't. She had jest been left a orphan when
her folks died. They wasn't even no hopes she
had been changed at birth fur another one. But
I seen down in under everything Martha kind o'
thought mebby one of them nights might come
a-prancing along and wed her in spite of herself,
or she would be carried off, or something. She was
a very romanceful kind of girl.
When I seen she had it figgered out I was in a
quest fur some high-mucky-muck fur a dad, I
didn't tell her no different. I didn't take much
stock in them earls and nights myself. So fur as
I could see they was all furriners of one kind or
another. But that thing of being into a quest
kind of interested me, too.
"How would I know him if I was to run acrost
him?" I asts her.
"You would feel an Intangible Something," she
says, "drawing you toward him."
I asts her what kind of a something. I make out
from what she says it is some like these fellers that
can find water with a piece of witch hazel switch.
You take a switch of it between your thumbs and
point it up. Then you shut your eyes and walk
backwards. When you get over where the water
is the witch hazel stick twists around and points
to the ground. You dig there and you get a good
well. Nobody knows jest why that stick is drawed
to the ground. It is like one of these little whirly-
gig compasses is drawed to the north. It is the
same, Martha says, if you is on a quest fur a
father or a mother, only you have got to be
worthy of that there quest, she says. The
first time you meet the right one you are
drawed jest like the witch hazel. That is the
Intangible Something working on you, she says.
Martha had learnt a lot about that. The book
that had fell in the crick was like that. She lent
it to me.
Well, that all sounded kind of reasonable to me.
I seen that witch hazel work myself. Old Blindy
Wolfe, whose eyes had been dead fur so many
years they had turned plumb white, had that gift,
and picked out all the places fur wells that was dug
in our neighbourhood at home. And I makes up
my mind I will watch out fur that feeling of being
drawed wherever I goes after this. You can't tell
what will come of them kind of things. So purty soon
Martha has to milk the cow, and I goes along back
to camp thinking about that quest and about what
a purty girl she is, which we had set there talking
so long it was nigh sundown and my clothes had
dried onto me.
When I got over to camp I seen they must be
something wrong. Looey was setting in the grass
under the wagon looking kind of sour and kind of
worried and watching the doctor. The doctor
was jest inside the tent, and he was looking queer
too, and not cheerful, which he was usually.
The doctor looks at me like he don't skeercly
know me. Which he don't. He has one of them
quiet kind of drunks on. Which Looey explains
is bound to come every so often. He don't do
nothing mean, but jest gets low-sperrited and
won't talk to no one. Then all of a sudden he will
go down town and walk up and down the main
streets, orderly, but looking hard into people's
faces, mostly women's faces. Oncet, Looey says,
they was big trouble over it. They was in a store
in a good-sized town, and he took hold of a woman's
chin, and tilted her face back, and looked at her
hard, and most scared her to death, and they was
nearly being a riot there. And he was jailed and
had to pay a big fine. Since then Looey always
follers him around when he is that-a-way.
Well, that night Doctor Kirby is too fur gone
fur us to have our show. He jest sets and stares
and stares at the fire, and his eyes looks like they
is another fire inside of his head, and he is hurting
outside and in. Looey and me watches him from
the shadders fur a long time before we turns in,
and the last thing I seen before I went to sleep was
him setting there with his face in his hands, staring,
and his lips moving now and then like he was talking
The next day he is asleep all morning. But that
day he don't drink any more, and Looey says mebby
it ain't going to be one of the reg'lar pifflicated
kind. I seen Martha agin that day, too--twicet
I has talks with her. I told her about the doctor.
"Is he into a quest, do you think?" I asts her.
She says she thinks it is remorse fur some crime
he has done. But I couldn't figger Doctor Kirby
would of done none. So that night after the show
I says to him, innocent-like:
"Doctor Kirby, what is a quest?" He looks at
me kind of queer.
"Wherefore," says he, "this sudden thirst for
"I jest run acrost the word accidental-like," I
He looks at me awful hard, his eyes jest natcherally
digging into me. I felt like he knowed I had set
out to pump him. I wisht I hadn't tried it. Then
he tells me a quest is a hunt. And I'm glad
that's over with. But it ain't. Fur purty soon
"Danny, did you ever hear of Lady Clara Vere
"No," I says, "who is she?"
"A lady friend of Lord Tennyson's," he says,
"whose manners were above reproach."
"Well," I says, "she sounds kind of like a medi-
cine to me."
"Lady Clara," he says, "and all the other Vere
de Veres, were people with manners we should
try to imitate. If Lady Clara had been here last
night when I was talking to myself, Danny, her
manners wouldn't have let her listen to what I
was talking about."
"I didn't listen!" I says. Fur I seen what he
was driving at now with them Vere de Veres. He
thought I had ast him what a quest was because he
was on one. I was certain of that, now. He
wasn't quite sure what he had been talking about,
and he wanted to see how much I had hearn. I
thinks to myself it must be a awful funny kind of
hunt he is on, if he only hunts when he is in that
fix. But I acted real innocent and like my feelings
was hurt, and he believed me. Purty soon he says,
"There was a girl talking to you to-day, Danny."
"Mebby they was," I says, "and mebby they
wasn't." But I felt my face getting red all the
same, and was mad because it did. He grinned
kind of aggervating at me and says some poetry
at me about in the spring a young man's frenzy
likely turns to thoughts of love.
"Well," I says, kind of sheepish-like, "this is
summer-time, and purty nigh autumn." Then I
seen I'd jest as good as owned up I liked Martha,
and was kind of mad at myself fur that. But I
told him some more about her, too. Somehow
I jest couldn't help it. He laughs at me and goes
on into the tent.
I laid there and looked at the fire fur quite a
spell, outside the tent. I was thinking, if all them
tales wasn't jest dern foolishness, how I wisht I
would really find a dad that was a high-mucky-
muck and could come back in an automobile and
take her away. I laid there fur a long, long time;
it must of been fur a couple of hours. I supposed
the doctor had went to sleep.
But all of a sudden I looks up, and he is in the
door of the tent staring at me. I seen he had been
in there at it hard agin, and thinking, quiet-like,
all this time. He stood there in the doorway of
the tent, with the firelight onto his face and his
red beard, and his arms stretched out, holding to
the canvas and looking at me strange and wild.
Then he moved his hand up and down at me, and
"If she's fool enough to love you, treat her well--
treat her well. For if you don't, you can never
run away from the hell you'll carry in your own
And he kind of doubled up and pitched forward
when he said that, and if I hadn't ketched him
he would of fell right acrost the fire. He was
Martha wouldn't of took anything fur
being around Miss Hampton, she said.
Miss Hampton was kind of quiet and
sweet and pale looking, and nobody ever thought
of talking loud or raising any fuss when she was
around. She had enough money of her own to
run herself on, and she kep' to herself a good deal.
She had come to that town from no one knowed
where, years ago, and bought that place. Fur all
of her being so gentle and easy and talking with
one of them soft, drawly kind of voices, Martha
says, no one had ever dared to ast her about herself,
though they was a lot of women in that town that
was wishful to.
But Martha said she knowed what Miss Hamp-
ton's secret was, and she hadn't told no one, neither.
Which she told me, and all the promising I done
about not telling would of made the cold chills
run up your back, it was so solemn. Miss Hampton
had been jilted years ago, Martha said, and the
name of the jilter was David Armstrong. Well,
he must of been a low down sort of man. Martha
said if things was only fixed in this country like they
ought to be, she would of sent a night to find that
David Armstrong. And that would of ended up in a
mortal combat, and the night would have cleaved him.
"Yes," says I, "and then you would of married
that there night, I suppose."
She says she would of.
"Well," says I, "mebby you would of and mebby
you wouldn't of. If he cleaved David Armstrong,
that night would likely be arrested fur it."
Martha says if he was she would wait outside
his dungeon keep fur years and years, till she was
a old woman with gray in her hair, and every day
they would give lingering looks at each other through
the window bars. And they would be happy that-
a-way. And she would get her a white dove and
train it so it would fly up to that window and take in
notes to him, and he would send notes back that-a-
way, and they would both be awful sad and ro-
manceful and contented doing that-a-way fur ever
Well, I never took no stock in them mournful
ways of being happy. I couldn't of riz up to being
a night fur Martha. She expected too much of one.
I thought it over fur a little spell without saying
anything, and I tried to make myself believe I would
of liked all that dove business. But it wasn't no
use pertending. I knowed I would get tired of it.
"Martha," I says, "mebby these here nights is
all right, and mebby they ain't. I never seen
one, and I don't know. And, mind you, I ain't
saying a word agin their way of acting. I can't
say how I would of been myself, if I had been brung
up like them. But it looks to me, from some of
the things you've said about 'em, they must have
a dern fool streak in 'em somewheres."
I was kind of jealous of them nights, I guess, or
I wouldn't of run 'em down that-a-way behind
their backs. But the way she was always taking
on over them was calkelated to make me see I
wasn't knee-high to a duck in Martha's mind
when one of them nights popped into her head.
When I run 'em down that-a-way, she says to the
blind all things is blind, and if I had any chivalry
into me myself I'd of seen they wasn't jest dern
fools, but noble, and seen it easy. And she sighed,
like she'd looked fur better things from me. When
I hearn her do that I felt sorry I hadn't come up
to her expectances. So I says:
"Martha, it's no use pertending I could stay in
one of them jails and keep happy at it. I got to
be outdoors. But I tell you what I can do, if it
will make you feel any better. If I ever happen to
run acrost this here David Armstrong, and he is
anywheres near my size, I'll lick him fur you.
And if he's too hefty fur me to lick him fair," I
says, "and I get a good chancet I will hit him with
a piece of railroad iron fur you."
Of course, I knowed I would never find him. But
what I said seemed to brighten her up a little.
"But," says I, "if I went too fur with it, and was
hung fur it, how would you feel then, Martha?"
Well, sir, that didn't jar Martha none. She
looked kind of dreamy and said mebby she would
go and jine a convent and be a nun. And when
she got to be the head nun she would build a chapel
over the tomb where I was buried in. And every
year, on the day of the month I was hung on, she
would lead all the other nuns into that chapel, and
the organ would play mournful, and each nun as
passed would lay down a bunch of white roses onto
my tomb. I reckon that orter made me feel good,
but somehow it didn't.
So I changed the subject, and asts her why I ain't
seen Miss Hampton around the place none. Martha
says she has a bad sick headache and ain't been
outside the house fur four or five days. I asts
her why she don't wait on her. But she don't
want her to, Martha says. She's been staying in
the house ever since we been in town, and jest
wants to be let alone. I thinks all that is kind of
funny. And then I seen from the way Martha is
answering my questions that she is holding back
something she would like to tell, but don't think
she orter tell. I leaves her alone and purty soon
"Do you believe in ghosts?"
I tell her sometimes I think I don't believe in 'em,
and sometimes I think I do, but anyhow I would
hate to see one. I asts her why does she ast.
"Because," she says, "because--but I hadn't
ought to tell you."
"It's daylight," I says; "it's no use being scared
to tell now."
"It ain't that," she says, "but it's a secret."
When she said it was a secret, I knowed she would
tell. Martha liked having her friends help her to
keep a secret.
"I think Miss Hampton has seen one," she says,
finally, "and that her staying indoors has something
to do with that."
Then she tells me. The night of the day after
we camped there, her and Miss Hampton was out
fur a walk. We didn't have any show that night.
They passed right by our camp, and they seen us
there by the fire, all three of us. But they was in
the road in the dark, and we was all in the light, so
none of the three of us seen them. Miss Hampton
was kind of scared of us, first glance, fur she gasped
and grabbed holt of Martha's arm all of a sudden
so tight she pinched it. Which it was very natcheral
that she would be startled, coming across three
strange men all of a sudden at night around a turn
in the road. They went along home, and Martha
went inside and lighted a lamp, but Miss Hampton
lingered on the porch fur a minute. Jest as she
lit the lamp Martha hearn another little gasp, or
kind of sigh, from Miss Hampton out there on the
porch. Then they was the sound of her falling
down. Martha ran out with the lamp, and she was
laying there. She had fainted and keeled over.
Martha said jest in the minute she had left her
alone on the porch was when Miss Hampton must
of seen the ghost. Martha brung her to, and she
was looking puzzled and wild-like both to oncet.
Martha asts her what is the matter.
"Nothing," she says, rubbing her fingers over her
forehead in a helpless kind of way, "nothing."
"You look like you had seen a ghost," Martha
Miss Hampton looks at Martha awful funny,
and then she says mebby she HAS seen a ghost, and
goes along upstairs to bed. And since then she
ain't been out of the house. She tells Martha it is
a sick headache, but Martha says she knows it
ain't. She thinks she is scared of something.
"Scared?" I says. "She wouldn't see no more
ghosts in the daytime."
Martha says how do I know she wouldn't? She
knows a lot about ghosts of all kinds, Martha does.
Horses and dogs can see them easier than humans,
even in the daytime, and it makes their hair stand
up when they do. But some humans that have
the gift can see them in the daytime like an animal.
And Martha asts me how can I tell but Miss Hamp-
ton is like that?
"Well, then," I says, "she must be a witch.
And if she is a witch why is she scared of them
But Martha says if you have second sight you
don't need to be a witch to see them in the day-
Well, you can never tell about them ghosts.
Some says one thing and some says another. Old
Mis' Primrose, in our town, she always believed in
'em firm till her husband died. When he was dying
they fixed it up he was to come back and visit her.
She told him he had to, and he promised. And she
left the front door open fur him night after night
fur nigh a year, in all kinds of weather; but Prim-
rose never come. Mis' Primrose says he never
lied to her, and he always done jest as she told
him, and if he could of come she knowed he would;
and when he didn't she quit believing in ghosts.
But they was others in our town said it didn't
prove nothing at all. They said Primrose had
really been lying to her all his life, because she
was so bossy he had to lie to keep peace in the
fambly, and she never ketched on. Well, if I was
a ghost and had of been Mis' Primrose's husband
when I was a human, I wouldn't of come back
neither, even if she had of bully-ragged me into one
of them death-bed promises. I guess Primrose
figgered he had earnt a rest.
If they is ghosts, what comfort they can get out
of coming back where they ain't wanted and scaring
folks is more'n I can see. It's kind of low down,
I think, and foolish too. Them kind of ghosts is
like these here overgrown smart alecs that scares
kids. They think they are mighty cute, but they
ain't. They are jest foolish. A human, or a ghost
either, that does things like that is jest simply
got no principle to him. I hearn a lot of talk
about 'em, first and last, and I ain't ready to say
they ain't no ghosts, nor yet ready to say they
is any. To say they is any is to say something
that is too plumb unlikely. And too many people
has saw them fur me to say they ain't any. But
if they is, or they ain't, so fur as I can see, it don't
make much difference. Fur they never do nothing,
besides scaring you, except to rap on tables and
tell fortunes, and such fool things. Which a human
can do it all better and save the expense of paying
money to one of these here sperrit mediums that
travels around and makes 'em perform. But all
the same they has been nights I has felt different
about 'em myself, and less hasty to run 'em down.
Well, it don't do no good to speak harsh of no one,
not even a ghost or a ordinary dead man, and if I
was to see a ghost, mebby I would be all the scareder
fur what I have jest wrote.
Well, with all the talking back and forth we done
about them ghosts we couldn't agree. That after-
noon it seemed like we couldn't agree about any-
thing. I knowed we would be going away from
there before long, and I says to myself before I
go I'm going to have that girl fur my girl, or else
know the reason why. No matter what I was
talking about, that idea was in the back of my
head, and somehow it kind of made me want to
pick fusses with her, too. We was setting on a
log, purty deep into the woods, and there come a
time when neither of us had said nothing fur quite
a spell. But after a while I says:
"Martha, we'll be going away from here in two,
three days now."
She never said nothing.
"Will you be sorry?" I asts her.
She says she will be sorry.
"Well," I says, "WHY will you be sorry?"
I thought she would say because _I_ was going.
And then I would be finding out whether she liked
me a lot. But she says the reason she will be sorry
is because there will be no one new to talk to about
things both has read. I was considerable took
down when she said that.
"Martha," I says, "it's more'n likely I won't
never see you agin after I go away."
She says that kind of parting comes between the
best of friends.
I seen I wasn't getting along very fast, nor
saying what I wanted to say. I reckon one of them
Sir Marmeluke fellers would of knowed what to
say. Or Doctor Kirby would. Or mebby even
Looey would of said it better than I could. So I
was kind of mad with myself, and I says, mean-like:
"If you don't care, of course, I don't care, neither."
She never answered that, so I gets up and makes
like I am starting off.
"I was going to give you some of them there Injun
feathers of mine to remember me by," I tells her,
"but if you don't want 'em, there's plenty of others
would be glad to take 'em."
But she says she would like to have them.
"Well," I says, "I will bring them to you to-
She says, "Thank you."
Finally I couldn't stand it no longer. I got
brave all of a sudden, and busted out: "Martha,
But I got to stuttering, and my braveness stut-
tered itself away. And I finishes up by saying:
"I like you a hull lot, Martha." Which wasn't
jest exactly what I had planned fur to say.
Martha, she says she kind of likes me, too.
"Martha," I says, "I like you more'n any girl
I ever run acrost before."
She says, "Thank you," agin. The way she
said it riled me up. She said it like she didn't
know what I meant, nor what I was trying to get
out of me. But she did know all the time. I
knowed she did. She knowed I knowed it, too.
Gosh-dern it, I says to myself, here I am wasting
all this time jest TALKING to her. The right thing
to do come to me all of a sudden, and like to took
my breath away. But I done it. I grabbed her
and I kissed her.
Twice. And then agin. Because the first was
on the chin on account of her jerking her head
back. And the second one she didn't help me none.
But the third time she helped me a little. And
the ones after that she helped me considerable.
Well, they ain't no use trying to talk about the
rest of that afternoon. I couldn't rightly describe
it if I wanted to. And I reckon it's none of any-
Well, it makes you feel kind of funny. You
want to go out and pick on somebody about four
sizes bigger'n you are and knock the socks off'n
him. It stands to reason others has felt that-a-way,
but you don't believe it. You want to tell people
about it one minute. The next minute you have
got chills and ague fur fear some one will guess it.
And you think the way you are about her is going
to last fur always.
That evening, when I was cooking supper, I
laughed every time I was spoke to. When Looey
and I was hitching up to drive down town to give
the show, one of the hosses stepped on his foot and
I laughed at that, and there was purty nigh a fight.
And I was handling some bottles and broke one
and cut my hand on a piece of glass. I held it
out fur a minute dumb-like, with the blood and
medicine dripping off of it, and all of a sudden I
busted out laughing agin. The doctor asts if I am
crazy. And Looey says he has thought I was from
the very first, and some night him and the doctor
will be killed whilst asleep. One of the things we
have every night in the show is an Injun dance,
and Looey and I sings what the doctor calls the
Siwash war chant, whirling round and round each
other, and making licks at each other with our
tommyhawks, and letting out sudden wild yips
in the midst of that chant. That night I like to
of killed Looey with that tommyhawk, I was feeling
so good. If it had been a real one, instead of painted-up
wood, I would of killed Looey, the lick I give him.
The worst part of that was that, after the show,
when we got back to camp and the hosses was
picketed out fur the night, I had to tell Looey all
about how I felt fur an explanation of why I hit
Which it made Looey right low in his sperrits,
and he shakes his head and says no good will come
"Did you ever hear of Romeo and Joliet?" he
"Mebby," I says, "but what it was I hearn I
can't remember. What about them?"
"Well," he says, "they carried on the same as
you. And now where are they?"
"Well," I says, "where are they?"
"In the tomb," says Looey, very sad, like they
was closte personal friends of his'n. And he told
me all about them and how Young Cobalt had done
fur them. But from what I could make out it all
happened away back in the early days. And
shucks!--I didn't care a dern, anyhow. I told
"Well," he says, "It's been the history of the
world that it brings trouble." And he says to
look at Damon and Pythias, and Othello and the
Merchant of Venus. And he named about a
hundred prominent couples like that out of Shake-
"But it ends happy sometimes," I says.
"Not when it is true love it don't," says Looey.
"Look at Anthony and Cleopatra."
"Yes," I says, sarcastic like, "I suppose they
are in the tomb, too?"
"They are," says Looey, awful solemn.
"Yes," I says, "and so is Adam and Eve and Dan
and Burrsheba and all the rest of them old-timers.
But I bet they had a good time while they lasted."
Looey shakes his head solemn and sighs and
goes to sleep very mournful, like he has to give me
up fur lost. But I can't sleep none myself. So
purty soon I gets up and puts on my shoes and
sneaks through the wood-lot and through the gap
in the fence by the apple tree and into Miss Hamp-
It was a beauty of a moonlight night, that white
and clear and clean you could almost see to read
by it, like all of everything had been scoured as
bright as the bottom of a tin pan. And the
shadders was soft and thick and velvety and laid
kind of brownish-greeney on the grass. I flopped
down in the shadder of some lilac bushes and won-
dered which was Martha's window. I knowed she
would be in bed long ago, but-- Well, I was jest
plumb foolish that night, and I couldn't of kept
away fur any money. That moonlight had got
into my head, it seemed like, and made me drunk.
But I would rather be looney that-a-way than to
have as much sense as King Solomon and all his
adverbs. I was that looney that if I had knowed
any poetry I would of said it out loud, right up
toward that window. I never knowed why poetry
was made up before that night. But the only
poetry I could think of was about there was a man
named Furgeson that lived on Market Street, and
he had a one-eyed Thomas cat that couldn't well
be beat. Which it didn't seem to fit the case, so
I didn't say her.
The porch of that house was part covered with
vines, but they was kind of gaped apart at one
corner. As I laid there in the shadder of the bushes
I hearn a fluttering movement, light and gentle,
on that porch. Then, all of a sudden, I seen some
one standing on the edge of the porch where the
vines was gaped apart, and the moonlight was
falling onto them. They must of come there awful
soft and still. Whoever it was couldn't see into
the shadder where I laid, that is, if it was a human
and not a ghost. Fur my first thought was it might
be one of them ghosts I had been running down so
that very day, and mebby the same one Miss Hamp-
ton seen on that very same porch. I thought I
was in fur it then, mebby, and I felt like some one
had whispered to the back of my neck it ought
to be scared. And I WAS scared clean up into my
hair. I stared hard, fur I couldn't take my eyes
away. Then purty soon I seen if it was a ghost it
must be a woman ghost. Fur it was dressed in
light-coloured clothes that moved jest a little in
the breeze, and the clothes was so near the colour
of the moonlight they seemed to kind of silver
into it. You would of said it had jest floated
there, and was waiting fur to float away agin when
the breeze blowed a little stronger, or the moon
It didn't move fur ever so long. Then it leaned
forward through the gap in the vines, and I seen
the face real plain. It wasn't no ghost, it was a
lady. Then I knowed it must be Miss Hampton
standing there. Away off through the trees our
camp fire sent up jest a dull kind of a glow. She
was standing there looking at that. I wondered
The next day we broke camp and was gone
from that place, and I took away with
me the half of a ring me and Martha had
chopped in two. We kept on going, and by the
time punkins and county fairs was getting ripe
we was into the upper left-hand corner of Ohio.
And there Looey left us.
One day Doctor Kirby and me was walking
along the main street of a little town and we seen
a bang-up funeral percession coming. It must
of been one of the Grand Army of the Republicans,
fur they was some of the old soldiers in buggies
riding along behind, and a big string of people
follering in more buggies and some on foot. Every-
body was looking mighty sollum. But they was
one man setting beside the undertaker on the seat
of the hearse that was looking sollumer than them
all. It was Looey, and I'll bet the corpse himself
would of felt proud and happy and contented if
he could of knowed the style Looey was giving
It wasn't nothing Looey done, fur he didn't
do nothing but jest set there with his arms folded
onto his bosom and look sad. But he done THAT
better than any one else. He done it so well that
you forgot the corpse was the chief party to that
funeral. Looey took all the glory from him. He
had jest natcherally stole that funeral away from
its rightful owner with his enjoyment of it. He
seen the doctor and me as the hearse went by our
corner, but he never let on. A couple of hours
later Looey comes into camp and says he is going
The doctor asts him if he has inherited money.
"No," says Looey, "but my aunt has given me
a chancet to go into business."
Looey says he was born nigh there, and was
prowling around town the day before and run
acrost an old aunt of his'n he had forgot all about.
She is awful respectable and religious and ashamed
of him being into a travelling show. And she has
offered to lend him enough to buy a half-share in a
"Well," says the doctor, "I hope it will be some-
thing you are fitted for and will enjoy. But I've
noticed that after a man gets the habit of roaming
around this terrestial ball it's mighty hard to settle
down and watch his vine and fig tree grow."
Looey smiles in a sad sort of a way, which he
seldom smiled fur anything, and says he guesses
he'll like the business. He says they ain't many
businesses he could take to. Most of them makes
you forget this world is but a fleeting show. But
he has found a business which keeps you reminded
all the time that dust is dust and ash to ashes shalt
return. When he first went into the medicine
business, he said, he was drawed to it by the diseases
and the sudden dyings-off it always kept him in
mind of. He thought they wasn't no other business
could lay over it fur that kind of comfort. But
he has found out his mistake.
"What kind of business are you going into?"
asts the doctor.
"I am going to be an undertaker," says Looey.
"My aunt says this town needs the right kind of
an undertaker bad."
Mr. Wilcox, the undertaker that town has, is
getting purty old and shaky, Looey says, and
young Mr. Wilcox, his son, is too light-minded and
goes at things too brisk and airy to give it the
right kind of a send-off. People don't want him
joking around their corpses and he is a fat young
man and can't help making puns even in the presence
of the departed. Old Mr. Wilcox's eyesight is
getting so poor he made a scandal in that town only
the week before. He was composing a departed's
face into a last smile, but he went too fur with it,
and give the departed one of them awful mean,
devilish kind of grins, like he had died with a bad
temper on. By the time the departed's fambly
had found it out, things had went too fur, and the
face had set that-a-way, so it wasn't safe to try
to change it any.
Old Mr. Wilcox had several brands of last looks.
One was called: Bear Up, for We Will Meet Again."
The one that had went wrong was his favourite
look, named: O Death, Where is Thy Victory?"
Looey's aunt says she will buy him a partnership
if she is satisfied he can fill the town's needs. They
have a talk with the Wilcoxes, and he rides on the
hearse that day fur a try-out. His aunt peeks out
behind her bedroom curtains as the percession goes
by her house, and when she sees the style Looey is
giving to that funeral, and how easy it comes to
him, that settles it with her on the spot. And it
seems the hull dern town liked it, too, including
the departed's fambly.
Looey says they is a lot of chancet fur improve-
ments in the undertaking game by one whose heart
is in his work, and he is going into that business
to make a success of it, and try and get all the funeral
trade fur miles around. He reads us an advertise-
ment of the new firm he has been figgering out fur
that town's weekly paper. I cut a copy out when
it was printed, and it is about the genteelest thing
like that I even seen, as follers:
WILCOX AND SIMMS
Invite Your Patronage
This earth is but a fleeting show, and the blank-winged angels
wait for all. It is always a satisfaction to remember that
all possible has been done for the deceased.
See Our New Line of Coffins
Lined Caskets a Specialty
Lodge Work Solicited
Time and tide wait for no man, and his days are few and full
of troubles. The paths of glory lead but to the grave, and
none can tell when mortal feet may stumble.
When in Town Drop in and Inspect
Our New Embalming Outfit. It
is a Pleasure to Show Goods
and Tools Even if Your
Family Needs no Work
Done Just Yet
Outfits for mourners who have been bereaved on short notice a
specialty. We take orders for tombstones. Look at our
line of shrouds, robes, and black suits for either sex and
any age. Give us just one call, and you will entrust future
embalmings and obsequies in your family to no other firm.
WILCOX AND SIMMS
Main Street, Near Depot
The doctor, he reads it over careful and says she
orter drum up trade, all right. Looey tells us that
mebby, if he can get that town educated up to it,
he will put in a creamatory, where he will burn
them, too, but will go slow, fur that there sollum
and beautiful way of returning ash to ashes might
make some prejudice in such a religious town.
The last we seen of Looey was a couple of days
later when we told him good-bye in his shop. Old
Mr. Wilcox was explaining to him the science of
them last looks he was so famous at when he was
a younger man. Young Mr. Wilcox was laying on
a table fur Looey to practise on, and Looey was
learning fast. But he nearly broke down when
he said good-bye, fur he liked the doctor.
"Doc," he says, "you've been a good friend,
and I won't never forget you. They ain't much I
can do, and in this deceitful world words is less than
actions. But if you ever was to die within a hun-
dred miles of me, I'd go," he says, "and no other
hands but mine should lay you out. And it wouldn't
cost you a cent, either. Nor you neither, Danny."
We thanked him kindly fur the offer, and
The next town we come to there was a county
fair, and the doctor run acrost an old pal of his'n
who had a show on the grounds and wanted to hire
him fur what he called a ballyhoo man. Which
was the first I ever hearn them called that, but I
got better acquainted with them since. They are
the fellers that stands out in front and gets you
all excited about the Siamese twins or the bearded
lady or the snake-charmer or the Circassian beauties
or whatever it is inside the tent, as represented
upon the canvas. The doctor says he will do it
fur a week, jest fur fun, and mebby pick up another
feller to take Looey's place out there.
This feller's name is Watty Sanders, and his
wife is a fat lady in his own show and very good-
natured when not intoxicated nor mad at Watty.
She was billed on the curtains outside fur five hun-
dred and fifty pounds, and Watty says she really
does weigh nigh on to four hundred. But being
a fat lady's husband ain't no bed of rosy
ease at that, Watty tells the doctor. It's like
every other trade--it has its own pertic'ler
responsibilities and troubles. She is a turrible
expense to Watty on account of eating so much.
The tales that feller told of how hard he has to
hustle showing her off in order to support her
appetite would of drawed tears from a pawn-
broker's sign, as Doctor Kirby says. Which he
found it cheaper fur his hull show to board and
sleep in the tent, and we done likewise.
Well, I got a job with that show myself. Watty
had a wild man canvas but no wild man, so he
made me an offer and I took him up. I was from
Borneo, where they're all supposed to be captured.
Jest as Doctor Kirby would get to his talk about
how the wild man had been ketched after great
struggle and expense, with four men killed and
another crippled, there would be an awful rumpus on
the inside of the tent, with wild howlings and the
sound of revolvers shot off and a woman screaming.
Then I would come busting out all blacked up from
head to heel with no more clothes on than the law
pervided fur, yipping loud and shaking a big spear
and rolling my eyes, and Watty would come rushing
after me firing his revolver. I would make fur
the doctor and draw my spear back to jab it clean
through him, and Watty would grab my arm.
And the doctor would whirl round and they would
wrastle me to the ground and I would be hand-
cuffed and dragged back into the tent, still howling
and struggling to break loose. On the inside my
part of the show was to be wild in a cage. I would
be chained to the floor, and every now and then
I would get wilder and rattle my chains and
shake the bars and make jumps at the crowd
and carry on, and make believe I was too mad
to eat the pieces of raw meat Watty throwed into
Watty had a snake-charmer woman, with an
awful long, bony kind of neck, working fur him,
and another feller that was her husband and eat
glass. The show opened up with them two doing
what they said was a comic turn. Then the fat
lady come on. Whilst everybody was admiring
her size, and looking at the number of pounds on
them big cheat scales Watty weighed her on, the
long-necked one would be changing to her snake
clothes. Which she only had one snake, and he
had been in the business so long, and was so kind
of worn out and tired with being charmed so much,
it always seemed like a pity to me the way she
would take and twist him around. I guess they
never was a snake was worked harder fur the little
bit he got to eat, nor got no sicker of a woman's
society than poor old Reginald did. After Regi-
nald had been charmed a while, it would be the
glass eater's turn. Which he really eat it, and the
doctor says that kind always dies before they is
fifty. I never knowed his right name, but what
he went by was The Human Ostrich.
Watty's wife was awful jealous of Mrs. Ostrich,
fur she got the idea she was carrying on with Watty.
One night I hearn an argument from the fenced-
off part of the tent Watty and his wife slept in.
She was setting on Watty's chest and he was gasp-
ing fur mercy.
"You know it ain't true," says Watty, kind of
"It is," says she, "you own up it is!" And she
give him a jounce.
"No, darling," he gets out of him, "you know I
never could bear them thin, scrawny kind of women."
And he begins to call her pet names of all kinds and
beg her please, if she won't get off complete, to set
somewheres else a minute, fur his chest he can
feel giving way, and his ribs caving in. He called
her his plump little woman three or four times and
she must of softened up some, fur she moved and
his voice come stronger, but not less meek and
lowly. And he follers it up:
"Dolly, darling," he says, "I bet I know something
my little woman don't know."
"What is it?" the fat lady asts him.
"You don't know what a cruel, weak stomach
your hubby has got," Watty says, awful coaxing
like, "or you wouldn't bear down quite so hard
onto it--please, Dolly!"
She begins to blubber and say he is making fun
of her big size, and if he is mean to her any more
or ever looks at another woman agin she will take
anti-fat and fade away to nothing and ruin his show,
and it is awful hard to be made a joke of all her life
and not have no steady home nor nothing like
other women does.
"You know I worship every pound of you,"
little woman," says Watty, still coaxing. "Why
can't you trust me? You know, Dolly, darling,
I wouldn't take your weight in gold for you."
And he tells her they never was but once in all his
life he has so much as turned his head to look at
another woman, and that was by way of a plutonic
admiration, and no flirting intended, he says.
And even then it was before he had met his own
little woman. And that other woman, he says,
was plump too, fur he wouldn't never look at none
but a plump woman.
"What did she weigh?" asts Watty's wife. He
tells her a measly little three hundred pound.
"But she wasn't refined like my little woman,"
says Watty, "and when I seen that I passed her
up." And inch by inch Watty coaxed her clean
off of him.
But the next day she hearn him and Mrs. Ostrich
giggling about something, and she has a reg'lar
tantrum, and jest fur meanness goes out and falls
down on the race track, pertending she has fainted,
and they can't move her no ways, not even roll
her. But finally they rousted her out of that by
one of these here sprinkling carts backing up agin
her and turning loose.
But aside from them occasional mean streaks
Dolly was real nice, and I kind of got to liking her.
She tells me that because she is so fat no one won't
take her serious like a human being, and she wisht
she was like other women and had a fambly. That
woman wanted a baby, too, and I bet she would
of been good to it, fur she was awful good to animals.
She had been big from a little girl, and never got
no sympathy when sick, nor nothing, and even
whilst she played with dolls as a kid she knowed
she looked ridiculous, and was laughed at. And
by jings!--they was the funniest thing come to
light before we left that crowd. That poor, derned,
old, fat fool HAD a doll yet, all hid away, and when
she was alone she used to take it out and cuddle it.
Well, Dolly never had many friends, and you
couldn't blame her much if she did drink a little
too much now and then, or get mad at Watty fur
his goings-on and kneel down on him whilst he was
asleep. Them was her only faults and I liked the
old girl. Yet I could see Watty had his troubles
That show busted up before the fair closed. Fur
one day Watty's wife gets mad at Mrs. Ostrich
and tries to set on her. And then Mrs. Ostrich
gets mad too, and sicks Reginald onto her. Watty's
wife is awful scared of Reginald, who don't really
have ambition enough to bite no one, let alone a lady
built so round everywhere he couldn't of got a
grip on her. And as fur as wrapping himself
around her and squashing her to death, Reginald
never seen the day he could reach that fur. Regi-
nald's feelings is plumb friendly toward Dolly
when he is turned loose, but she don't know that,
and she has some hysterics and faints in earnest
this time. Well, they was an awful hullaballo
when she come to, and fur the sake of peace in the
fambly Watty has to fire Mr. and Mrs. Ostrich
and poor old Reginald out of their jobs, and the
show is busted. So Doctor Kirby and me lit out
fur other parts agin.
We was jogging along one afternoon not fur
from a good-sized town at the top of Ohio,
right on the lake, when we run acrost
some remainders of a busted circus riding in a stake
and chain wagon. They was two fellers--both
jugglers, acrobats, and tumblers--and a balloon.
The circus had busted without paying them nothing
but promises fur months and months, and they had
took the team and wagon and balloon by attach-
ment, they said. They was carting her from the
little burg the show busted in to that good-sized
town on the lake. They would sell the team and
wagon there and get money enough to put an
advertisement in the Billboard, which is like a Bible
to them showmen, that they had a balloon to sell
and was at liberty.
One of them was the slimmest, lightest-footed,
quickest feller you ever seen, with a big nose and
dark complected, and his name was Tobias. The
other was heavier and blonde complected. His
name was Dobbs, he said, and they was the Blanchet
Brothers. Doctor Kirby and them got real well
acquainted in about three minutes. We drove
on ahead and got into the town first.
The doctor says that balloon is jest wasted on them
fellers. They can't go up in her, not knowing that
trade, but still they ought to be some way fur them
to make a little stake out of it before it was sold.
The next evening we run acrost them fellers on the
street, and they was feeling purty blue. They
hadn't been able to sell that team and wagon,
which it was eating its meals reg'lar in a livery
stable, and they had been doing stunts in the street
that day and passing around the hat, but not
getting enough fur to pay expenses.
"Where's the balloon?" asts the doctor. And
I seen he was sicking his intellects onto the job of
making her pay.
"In the livery stable with the wagon," they tells
He says he is going to figger out a way to help
them boys. They is like all circus performers, he
says--they jest knows their own acts, and talks
about 'em all the time, and studies up ways to make
'em better, and has got no more idea of business
outside of that than a rabbit. We all went to the
livery stable and overhauled that balloon. It
was an awful job, too. But they wasn't a rip in
her, and the parachute was jest as good as new.
"There's no reason why we can't give a show of
our own," says Doctor Kirby, "with you boys and
Danny and me and that balloon. What we want is a
lot with a high board fence around it, like a baseball
grounds, and the chance to tap a gas main." He
says he'll be willing to take a chancet on it, even
paying the gas company real money to fill her up.
What the Doctor didn't know about starting
shows wasn't worth knowing. He had even went in
for the real drama in his younger days now and then.
"One of my theatrical productions came very near
succeeding, too," he says.
It was a play he says, in which the hero falls in
love with a pair of Siamese twins and commits suicide
because he can't make a choice between them.
"We played it as comedy in the big towns and
tragedy in the little ones," he says. "But like a fool
I booked it for two weeks of middle-sized towns and
it broke us."
The next day he finds a lot that will do jest fine.
It has been used fur a school playgrounds, but the
school has been moved and the old building is to
be tore down. He hired the place cheap. And
he goes and talks the gas company into giving him
credit to fill that balloon. Which I kept wondering
what was the use of filling her, fur none of the four
of us had ever went up in one. And when I seen
the handbills he had had printed I wondered all
the more. They read as follers:
Kirby's Komedy Kompany
and Open Air Circus
Presenting a Peerless Personnel
of Artistic Attractions
Greatest in the Galaxy of Gaiety, is
Hartley L. Kirby
Monologuist and minstrel, dancer and vaudevillian
in his terpsichorean travesties, buoyant burlesques,
inimitable imitations, screaming impersonations, refined
comedy sketches and popular song hits of the day.
The Blanchet Brothers
Daring, Dazzling, Danger-Loving, Death-Defying Demons
Joyous jugglers, acrobatic artists, constrictorial contortionists,
exquisite equilibrists, in their marvellous, mysterious,
The Patagonian Chieftain
The lowest type of human intellect
This formerly ferocious fiend has so far succumbed
to the softer wiles of civilization that he is no longer
a cannibal, and it is now safe to put him on exhibition.
But to prevent accidents he is heavily manacled, and the public
is warned not to come too near.
Balloon! Balloon!! Balloon!!!
The management also presents the balloon of
Prof. Alonzo Ackerman
The Famous Aeronaut
in which he has made his
Wonderful Ascension and Parachute Drop
many times, reaching remarkable altitudes
Balloon! Balloon!! Balloon!!!
Saturday, 3 P. M.
Old Vandegrift School Lot
Admission 50 Cents
Well, fur a writer he certainly laid over Looey,
Doctor Kirby did--more cheerful-like, you might
say. I seen right off I was to be the Patagonian
Chieftain. I was getting more and more of an
actor right along--first an Injun, then a wild
Borneo, and now a Patagonian.
"But who is this Alonzo Ackerman?" I asts him.
"Celebrated balloonist," says he, "and the man
that invented parachutes. They eat out of his hand."
"Where is he?" asts I.
"How should I know?" he says.
"How is he going up, then?" I asts.
The doctor chuckles and says it is a good bill,
a better bill than he thought; that it is getting in
its work already. He says to me to read it careful
and see if it says Alonzo Ackerman is going up.
Well, it don't. But any one would of thought so
the first look. I reckon that bill was some of a
liar herself, not lying outright, but jest hinting a
lie. They is a lot of mean, stingy-souled kind of
people wouldn't never lie to help a friend, but
Doctor Kirby wasn't one of 'em.
"But," I says, "when that crowd finds out
Alonzo ain't going up they will be purty mad."
"Oh," says he, "I don't think so. The American
public are a good-natured set of chuckle-heads,
mostly. If they get sore I'll talk 'em out of it."
If he had any faults at all--and mind you, I
ain't saying Doctor Kirby had any--the one he
had hardest was the belief he could talk any crowd
into any notion, or out of it, either. And he loved
to do it jest fur the fun of it. He'd rather have
the feeling he was doing that than the money any
day. He was powerful vain about that gab of
his'n, Doctor Kirby was.
The four of us took around about five thousand
bills. The doctor says they is nothing like giving
yourself a chancet. And Saturday morning we
got the balloon filled up so she showed handsome,
tugging away there at her ropes. But we had a
dern mean time with that balloon, too.
The doctor says if we have good luck there may
be as many as three, four hundred people.
But Jerusalem! They was two, three times that
many. By the time the show started I reckon they
was nigh a thousand there. The doctor and the
Blanchet Brothers was tickled. When they quit
coming fast the doctor left the gate and made a
little speech, telling all about the wonderful show,
and the great expense it was to get it together, and
They was a rope stretched between the crowd
and us. Back of that was the Blanchet Brothers'
wagon and our wagon, and our little tent. I was
jest inside the tent with chains on. Back of every-
thing else was the balloon.
Well, the doctor he done a lot of songs and things
as advertised. Then the Blanchet Brothers done
some of their acts. They was really fine acts, too.
Then come some more of Doctor Kirby's refined
comedy, as advertised. Next, more Blanchet.
Then a lecture about me by the doctor. All in all
it takes up about an hour and a half. Then the
doctor makes a mighty nice little talk, and wishes
them all good afternoon, thanking them fur their
kind intentions and liberal patronage, one and all.
"But when will the balloon go up?" asts half
a dozen at oncet.
"The balloon?" asts Doctor Kirby, surprised.
"Balloon! Balloon!" yells a kid. And the hull
crowd took it up and yelled: "Balloon! Balloon!
Balloon!" And they crowded up closte to that
Doctor Kirby has been getting off the wagon,
but he gets back on her, and stretches his arms
wide, and motions of 'em all to come close.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he says, "please to
gather near--up here, good people--and listen!
Listen to what I have to say--harken to the utter-
ings of my voice! There has been a misunder-
standing here! There has been a misconstruction!
There has been, ladies and gentlemen, a woeful
lack of comprehension here!"
It looked to me like they was beginning to under-
stand more than he meant them to. I was wonder-
ing how it would all come out, but he never lost
"Listen," he says, very earnest, "listen to me.
Somehow the idea seems to have gone forth that
there would be a balloon ascension here this after-
noon. How, I do not know, for what we advertised,
ladies and gentlemen, was that the balloon used by
Prof. Alonzo Ackerman, the illustrious aeronaut,
would be UPON EXHIBITION. And there she is, ladies
and gentlemen, there she is, for every eye to see
and gladden with the sight of--right before you,
ladies and gentlemen--the balloon of Alonzo
Ackerman, the wonderful voyager of the air,
exactly as represented. During their long career
Kirby and Company have never deceived the pub-
lic. Others may, but Kirby and Company are
like Caesar's wife--Kirby and Company are above
suspicion. It is the province of Kirby's Komedy
Kompany, ladies and gentlemen, to spread the
glad tidings of innocent amusement throughout
the length and breadth of this fair land of ours.
And there she is before you, the balloon as adver-
tised, the gallant ship of the air in which the illus-
trious Ackerman made so many voyages before
he sailed at last into the Great Beyond! You can
see her, ladies and gentlemen, straining at her cords,
anxious to mount into the heavens and be gone!
It is an education in itself, ladies and gentlemen,
a moral education, and well worth coming miles
to see. Think of it--think of it--the Acker-
man balloon--and then think that the illustrious
Ackerman himself--he was my personal friend,
ladies and gentlemen, and a true friend sticketh
closer than a brother--the illustrious Ackerman
is dead. The balloon, ladies and gentlemen, is
there, but Ackerman is gone to his reward. Look
at that balloon, ladies and gentlemen, and tell me
if you can, why should the spirit of mortals be
proud? For the man that rode her like a master
and tamed her like she was a dove lies cold and
dead in a western graveyard, ladies and gentlemen,
and she is here, a useless and an idle vanity without
the mind that made her go!"
Well, he went on and he told a funny story about
Alonzo, which I don't believe they ever was no
Alonzo Ackerman, and a lot of 'em laughed; and
he told a pitiful story, and they got sollum agin,
and then another funny story. Well, he had 'em
listening, and purty soon most of the crowd is
feeling in a good humour toward him, and one
feller yells out:
"Go it--you're a hull show yourself!" And
some joshes him, but they don't seem to be no trouble
in the air. When they all look to be in a good
humour he holds up a bill and asts how many has
them. Many has. He says that is well, and then
he starts to telling another story. But in the
middle of the story that hull dern crowd is took
with a fit of laughing. They has looked at the
bill closet, and seen they is sold, and is taking it
good-natured. And still shouting and laughing
most of them begins to start along off. And I
thought all chancet of trouble was over with.
But it wasn't.
Fur they is always a natcheral born kicker
everywhere, and they was one here, too.
He was a lean feller with a sticking out jaw, and
one of his eyes was in a kind of a black pocket, and
he was jest natcherally laying it off to about a
dozen fellers that was in a little knot around him.
The doctor sees the main part of the crowd
going and climbs down off'n the wagon. As he
does so that hull bunch of about a dozen moves
in under the rope, and some more that was going
out seen it, and stopped and come back.
"Perfessor," says the man with the patch over
his eye to Doctor Kirby, "you say this man Acker-
man is dead?"
"Yes," says the doctor, eying him over, "he's
"How did he die?" asts the feller.
"He died hard, I understand," says the doctor,
"Fell out of his balloon?"
"This aeronaut trade is a dangerous trade,
I hear," says the feller with the patch on his
"They say so," says Doctor Kirby, easy-like.
"Was you ever an aeronaut yourself?" asts the
"No," says the doctor.
"Never been up in a balloon?"
"Well, you're going up in one this afternoon!"
"What do you mean?" asts Doctor Kirby.
"We've come out to see a balloon ascension--
and we're going to see it, too."
And with that the hull crowd made a rush at
Well, I been in fights before that, and I been in
fights since then. But I never been in no harder
one. The doctor and the two Blanchet brothers
and me managed to get backed up agin the fence
in a row when the rush come. I guess I done my
share, and I guess the Blanchet brothers done theirn,
too. But they was too many of 'em for us--too
dern many. It wouldn't of ended as quick as it