The Project Gutenberg EBook of Watch Yourself Go By, by Al. G. Field

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Title: Watch Yourself Go By

Author: Al. G. Field

Illustrator: Ben W. Warden

Release Date: January 15, 2007 [EBook #20375]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


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A Book by




Copyrighted by Al. G. Field, 1912

Illustrated by Ben W. Warden



Just stand aside and watch yourself go by;
Think of yourself as "he" instead of "I."
Note closely, as in other men you note,
The bag-kneed trousers and the seedy coat.
Pick the flaws; find fault; forget the man is you,
And strive to make your estimate ring true;
Confront yourself and look you in the eye—
Just stand aside and watch yourself go by.

Interpret all your motives just as though
You looked on one whose aims you did not know.
Let undisguised contempt surge through you when
You see you shirk, O commonest of men!
Despise your cowardice; condemn whate'er
You note of falseness in you anywhere.
Defend not one defect that shames your eye—
Just stand aside and watch yourself go by.

And then, with eyes unveiled to what you loathe—
To sins that with sweet charity you'd clothe—
Back to your self-walled tenements you'll go
With tolerance for all who dwell below.
The faults of others then will dwarf and shrink,
Love's chain grow stronger by one mighty link—
When you, with "he" as substitute for "I,"
Have stood aside and watched yourself go by.

S. W. Gilliland, in Penberthy Engineer.

"To whom will you dedicate your book?" inquired George Spahr.

Well, I hinted to my wife and Pearl that I desired to bestow that honor upon them. They did not exactly demur, but both intimated that I had best dedicate it to some friend in the far distance who would probably never read it, or to some dear friend who had passed away and had no relatives living.

Several others approached did not seem to crave the honor, therefore I herewith dedicate this book to Court; not that he is the best and truest friend I ever possessed, but for the reason that should the book not be received with favor he will respect me just the same. He will hunt for me, he will watch for me, he will love me all the more devotedly, serve me all the more faithfully, though the book were discredited. The more I see of dogs, the better I like dogs.

It is claimed there is a kind of physiognomy in the title of a book by which a skilful observer will know as well what to expect from its contents as one does reading the lines. I flatter myself this claim will be disproved in this book.

I am proud of the book, not that it contains much of literary merit, not that I ever hope it will be a "best seller," but for the reason it has afforded me days of enjoyment. In the writing of it I have communed with those whom I love.

If those who peruse this book extract half the pleasure from reading its pages that has come to me while writing them, I will be satisfied.


Maple Villa Farm,

July 4, 1912.


Chapter One 1
Chapter Two 8
Chapter Three 15
Chapter Four 26
Chapter Five 32
Chapter Six 48
Chapter Seven 70
Chapter Eight 103
Chapter Nine 123
Chapter Ten 152
Chapter Eleven 182
Chapter Twelve 205
Chapter Thirteen 237
Chapter Fourteen 261
Chapter Fifteen 277
Chapter Sixteen 316
Chapter Seventeen 344
Chapter Eighteen 366
Chapter Nineteen 389
Chapter Twenty 406
Chapter Twenty-One 422
Chapter Twenty-Two 439
Chapter Twenty-Three 451
Chapter Twenty-Four 474
Chapter Twenty-Five 501

Watch Yourself Go By




Trust no prayer or promise,
Words are grains of sand;
To keep your heart unbroken
Hold your child in hand.

"Al-f-u-r-d!" "Al-f-u-r-d!!" "Al-f-u-r-d!!!"

The last syllable, drawn out the length of an expiring breath, was the first sound recorded on the memory of the First Born. Indeed, constant repetition of the word, day to day, so filled his brain cells with "Al-f-u-r-d" that it was years after he realized his given patronymic was Alfred.

The Old Well

The Old Well

"Al-f-u-r-d!" "Al-f-u-r-d!"—A woman's voice, strong and penetrating, strengthened by years of voice culture in calling cows, sheep, pigs, chickens and other farm-yard companions. The voice came in swelling waves, growing in menace, from around the corner of as quaint an old farm-house as ever sheltered a happy family. In the wake of the voice followed a round, rosy woman of blood and brawn, with muscular arms and sturdy limbs that carried her over grass and gravel at a pace that soon[2] brought her within reach of the prey pursued—a boy of four years, in flapping pantalets and gingham frock.

The "boy" was headed for the family well as fast as his toddling legs could carry him. Forbidden, punished, guarded, the child lost no opportunity to climb to the top of the square enclosure and wonderingly peer down into the depths of the well. To prevent his falling headlong to his death—a calamity frequently predicted—was the principal concern of all the family.

As the women folks were more often in the big kitchen than elsewhere, it became, as a matter of convenience, the daily prison of the First Born. The board, across the open doorway, and the eternal vigilance of his guards, did not prevent his starting several times daily on a pilgrimage towards the old well. The turning of a head, the absence of the guards from the kitchen for a moment, were the looked-for opportunities—crawling under or over the wooden bar, and starting in childish glee for the old well.

Previous to the time of this narrative, the race invariably resulted in the capture of "young hopeful" ere the well was reached. The shrill cry: "Al-f-u-r-d!" "Al-f-u-r-d!" always closely followed by the young woman who did the scouting for the other guards, brought him to a halt. He was lifted bodily, thrown high into the air, caught in strong, loving arms as he came down, roughly hugged and good-naturedly spanked, and carried triumphantly back to his prison—the kitchen. Here, seated upon the floor, he was roundly lectured by three women, who in turn charged one another with his escape. It was never his fault. Someone had turned a head to look at the clock, or the browning bread in the oven, turning to look at the cause of the controversy, not infrequently he was found astride the prison bar, or scampering down the path.

That old well, or its counterpart, was surely the inspiration of "The Old Oaken Bucket." However, their author[3] was never imbued with fascination as alluring as that which influenced the First Born in his desire to solve the, to him, mystery of the old well.

The more his elders coaxed, bribed and threatened, the more vividly they depicted its dangers, the more determined he became to explore its darkened depths. The old well became a part of the child's life. He talked of it by day and dreamed of it by night. The big windlass, with its coil of seemingly never-ending chain, winding and unwinding, lowering and raising the old, oaken bucket green with age, full and flowing; the cooling water oozing between the age-warped staves, nurturing the green grasses growing about the box-like enclosure. How cooling the grass was to his feet as on tip-toes peeking over the top of the enclosure down into that which seemed to his childish imagination a fathomless abyss, so deep that ray of sun or glint of moon never penetrated to the surface of the water. The clanging of the chain, the grinding of the heavy bucket bumping against the walled circle as it descended, and the splash as it struck the water, were uncanny sounds to the boy's ears. The desire to look down, down into the old well's hidden secrets became to him almost a frenzy. The echoes coming up from its shadowy depths were as those of a haunted glen.

He reasoned that all men and women were created to guard the well and that it was his only duty in life to thwart them.

Balmy spring, with its song birds, buzzing bees and sweet-smelling blossoms, coaxed every living thing out of doors; everything, except the First Born and his guards.

Such was the situation when the bees swarmed. The guards "pricked up their ears," then, with eyes looking heavenward, and snatching up tin pans which they beat with spoons, sleigh-bells and other objects, they rushed from the kitchen to work the usual charm of the country folk in settling the swarming bees.

[4]Thus unguarded, the little prisoner, carrying a three-legged stool that aided him in surmounting the bar across the kitchen door, trekked for the old well. Planting the stool at one side of the square enclosure, he looked down into the cavernous depths; leaning far over, reached for the chain, with the intention of lowering the bucket, as he had often seen his elders do.

"Al-f-u-r-d!" "Al-f-u-r-d!"

And the sound of hurrying feet only urged the boy on. He had caught hold of the bucket and was leaning far over the dark opening when he felt a heavy hand upon his shoulders, and himself lifted from his high perch, only to be dropped sprawling on the ground with a shower of tin pans rattling about his devoted head. Then the women, half fainting from fright, fell upon him, each in a desperate effort to first embrace him in thankfulness over his rescue from falling into the well.

When the women recovered their "shock" the First Born was lustily yelling for papa. Mamma had him across her knee and was administering the first full-fledged, unalloyed spanking of his childish existence. He scarcely understood at first, then the full meaning of the threats the guards had used to cure him of his one absorbing mania began sifting into his brain through another part of his anatomy. He promised never, never again to peep into the old well. The guards believed him and for days thereafter he lived blissfully on their praises, while everyone, directly or indirectly interested, conceded that mamma's "spanks" had finally broken the charm of the old well for the boy.

However, the little prisoner was removed to another cell—the big, front room upstairs—the door securely locked. A large, open window looked out upon the front yard and below the window near the house was the old well.

[5]One evening the men, returning from the field, halted to slake their thirst at the well, the up-coming of the old oaken bucket brought from its depths a half-knit woolen sock and a ball of yarn. A strand of yarn reaching to the window above told the story.

Later, a turkey wing, used as a fan in summer and to furnish wind for an obdurate wood fire in winter, was found limply swimming in the bucket. Indeed, for days thereafter, divers articles, missed from the big, front room, accompanied the bucket on its return trips. When one of grandpap's well-worn Sunday boots was brought to the surface, it was believed that the last of the missing articles from the big room had been recovered. However, the disappearance of grandma's little mantelpiece clock was never explained.

Uncle Joe and Aunt Betsy stopped their old mare in front of the house and in chorus shouted "Hello!" as was the custom of neighbors passing on their way to or from town. The whole family, including "Al-f-u-r-d," betook themselves to the roadside to gossip. "Al-f-u-r-d," busy as usual, clambered up over the muddy wheels into the vehicle. He was praised by uncle and aunt for his obedience, and promised candy when they returned from town. Clambering down he missed his footing and narrowly escaped being trampled upon by the old mare who was vigorously stamping and swishing her tail to keep off the flies.

Dragged from under the buggy he was soon out of the minds of the gossiping group, curiosity drew him to the old well. Circling it at a respectful distance, he said:

"Naughty ole well, don't thry to coax me 'caus I won't play with you, nor look down in you never no more. There!"

Passing to the side farthest from the unsuspecting guards, the handle of the windlass was within his reach. Instinctively the desire seized him to lower the bucket, pulling out the ratchet that held it, the old oaken bucket began[6] its unimpeded descent. Slowly at first, gaining momentum with each revolution of the windlass, down it fell, bumping against the sides of the well, chain clanging and windlass whirring. It struck the bottom with a splash that re-echoed, followed by a woman's scream so piercing that the old mare started forward.

It flashed on the minds of all that at last their predictions were verified. It was all up with "Al-f-u-r-d." They pictured him falling, falling—down, down—his bruised, bleeding body sinking to the bottomless depths of the old well.

Uncle Joe and Aunt Betsy

Uncle Joe and Aunt Betsy

Uncle Joe's feet caught in the handle of a market basket as he leaped from the buggy and the greater number of his dozens of fresh eggs reached the roadside a scrambled mass. The women guards gave vent to a series of screams that brought the men hurrying from the fields.

"Al-f-r-u-d" was found, limp and apparently lifeless, his head tucked under his body, clothes over his head, exposing[7] the larger part of his anatomy—a pitiable lump, lying in the sandy path twenty feet from the well. The handle of the windlass had caught him across the shoulders, sending him flying through the air. For days thereafter "Al-f-u-r-d" was swathed in bandages and bathed with liniments; for a time, at least, the family was free from the cares of guarding the old well.

The old well has given way to a modern pump, the old house has been remodeled, but the impressions herein recorded are as clear to the memory of the man today as they were to the child of that long ago.



Trouble comes night and day,
In this world unheedin',
But there's light to find the way—
That is all we're needin'.

"Al-f-u-r-d-!" "Al-f-u-r-d!" Al-f-u-r-d!"

Town life had not diminished the volume of Malinda Linn's voice. It was far-reaching as ever. Malinda was familiarly called "Lin"—in print the name looks unnatural and Chinese-like. Lin Linn was about the whole works in the family. Her duties were calling, seeking and changing the apparel of "Al-f-u-r-d", duties she discharged with a mixture of scoldings and caresses.

When the family moved to town to live, Lin became impressed with the propriety of bestowing the full baptismal name upon the First Born, and to his open-eyed wonderment, he was addressed as "Alfred Griffith." But when Lin called him from afar—and she usually had to call him, and then go after him—it was always "Al-f-u-r-d!"

A bunch of misery, pale and limp, was lying in the family garden between two rows of tomato vines, the earth about him disturbed from his intermittent spasms. A big, greenish, yellowish worm was crawling over his head, his tow-like hair whiter by contrast; upon his forehead great drops of perspiration.

The First Cigar

The First Cigar

He heard Lin's calls but could not answer. He half opened his eyes as she approached him. Berating him roundly for hiding from her, bending over him, the pallor of[9] his face frightened her. Her screams would have abashed a Camanche Indian. Tenderly taking up the almost unconscious boy, she hastened toward the house, frightened members of the family and several nearby neighbors attracted by her screams.

Crowded around "Al-f-u-r-d" all busied themselves in assisting in placing him in bed. His hands were rubbed, his brow bathed, the air about agitated with a big palm-leaf fan while the doctor was summoned.

When the family doctor arrived "Al-f-u-r-d's" shirt-waist was opened in front and a big, greenish, yellowish worm fell to the floor. This, and that sickening smell of green tomato vines, assisted the good doctor in his diagnosis. To know the disease is the beginning of the cure. Hot water and mustard administered in copious draughts, the little rebellious stomach, made more so by this treatment, began sending up returns. Thus was relieved "the worst case of tomato poisoning that had, up to that time, come under the doctor's observation."

At that time the tomato had not long been an edible. Indeed many persons refused to consider them as such, growing them for merely ornamental purposes, displaying them on mantels and window sills. Tomatoes were commonly called "Jerusalem" or "Love Apples." On this occasion the doctor dilated at length on its past bad reputation and the lurking poison contained in vine and fruit.

The blinds were lowered and Alfred slept. The nurses tiptoed from the room, to return, tip-toeing to the bed to see how he was resting, then returning to the kitchen to advise the anxious ones there that he was resting easy.

Poor Lin was "near distracted" no sooner was it announced that "Al-f-u-r-d" was out of danger than she began gathering the "green tomattisus" lying in irregular rows on various window sills to ripen in the sun, giving vent to her pent-up "feelings" thus:

[10]"Huh! Tomattisus! Never was made to eat. They ain't no good, no-way. Pap's right. They're called Jerusalem apples 'caus they wuz first planted by the Jews, who knowed their enemies would eat 'em an' git pizened an' die of cancers, an' Lord knows what else."

She carried the offending fruit to the family swill barrel, where the leavings of the table were deposited. As she raised one big tomato to drop it into the barrel, her hand paused, as she soliloquized:

"No, If tomattisus will pizen pee-pul, they'll pizen hogs. They ain't fit for hogs nohow. They ain't fit fer nuthin' but heathens an' sich like, as oughter be pizened."

Turning to one of several neighbors, whose looks denoted disapproval of wilful waste, she benevolently emptied the tomatoes into the woman's upheld apron, remarking:

"Lordy. Yer welcome to 'em if yer folks like 'em an' ain't carin' much when they die. Take 'em. Ye kin have 'em an' welcome."

While the father was yanking the noxious tomato plants out by the roots and sprinkling the ground with lime, "Al-f-u-r-d" began showing symptoms of returning life. After the nurses had tiptoed from the room, supposedly leaving him in deep slumber, he threw back the linen sheets and slid from the bed on the side farthest from the open door leading to the kitchen. Cautiously creeping to where lay his trousers—inserting a hand in the deep pocket, which had been put in by Lin by special request—he drew out two long, dark, worm-like objects, holding them at arm's length gagging anew at even the sight of them. Staggering to the cupboard dropping them into a box half filled with similar worm-like objects, he staggered back to bed as quickly as his weakened condition would permit, suppressing another upheaval of his stomach with greatest effort.

Notwithstanding the objects mentioned were Ed. Hurd's best three-for-a-cent stogies, and "Al-f-u-r-d" had smoked[11] less than four of the six inches of one of the big, black cigars, the stub of which he had buried near the spot where Lin found him, it was several days before he took kindly to food, or, as was generally supposed, had wholly thrown off the baneful effects of the tomato poisoning.

While convalescing, afternoon walks were taken near home, circling the Episcopal Church, back through the old, green graveyard, or a little lower down the hill where the village boys could be seen and heard swimming and splashing in the river. To take part in this sport, to get to the river, to plunge into its cooling depths, "Al-f-u-r-d" had a soul-yearning, even more powerful than that of the old well. But he had been sworn, bribed, placed upon his honor and threatened with dire tortures, should he even venture nearer the river than the top of the hill.

The yearning would not down. It grew in intensity. He would stand on the front rail of his trundle bed, night and morning, with arms extended above him, palms together, to dive, to split the imaginary water, take a header into the soft, downy tick; then thresh his arms about in swimming fashion as he had seen the big boys cavort in the river.

Nearer and nearer to the river his newest allurement carried him, until one day he found himself on a strange path leading into a large yard in which stood a neat, white house, with green blinds. Purling at his feet, bubbling from an invisible source, was a brook of clear, cold water. Very cold it felt to his bare feet as he waded up and down over it's sandy, pebbly bed, the water reaching barely to his ankles. Wading nearer to the fountain head, the depth gradually increased. Here was young hopeful's long-sought-for opportunity to dive, swim and otherwise disport himself as did the big boys. Off came pantalets, waist and undercoverings, through the pure, cold water he waded. With teeth chattering and flesh quivering, holding his hands above his head, under he went.

[12]He was having the time of his life, and so busy was he at it that his attention was not attracted by the opening of a door in the nearby white house and the sudden appearance of an elderly, grim-looking woman behind a pair of gold-rimmed spectacles; brandishing a long, swinging buggy whip, with broad, bright bands here and there along its length. Rushing toward the boy, she angrily shouted:

"You little scamp, I'll skin ye alive!"

"Al-f-u-r-d," with a cry, bounded from the water, grabbed for his clothes, missed them, and started on a race at a pace that left no doubt as to the winner. A big dog and another elderly woman—the counterpart of her-behind-the-spectacles—joined in the chase, the dog's deep bays greatly accelerating the already beat-all-record-time of the terrified "Al-f-u-r-d."

As he neared the parental roof, he let out a series of yells with "Mother!" "Lin!" "Help!" "Murder!" sandwiched between. The nearer he drew, the louder the yelps, for he knew he would need sympathy, even though the gold-rimmed glasses and the other elderly pursuer had been distanced by many lengths.

Lin said when she first heard the screams, she "thought it was only the old crazy woman under the hill havin' another spell. But when they come gittin' nearer an' nearer, she knew it was "Al-f-u-r-d" an' somethin' turrible had happened." It was then Lin, mother and several neighboring females rushed to the front door as "Al-f-u-r-d" flew in at the gate, up the path and into his mother's outstretched arms, endeavoring to pull her apron about his nudity.

"Where's your clothes?" demanded the frightened mother. "Where are they?" "Who took them off you?"

"She did! She did!" howled "Al-f-u-r-d," jerking his head toward the gate, just as the elderly woman behind the spectacles entered. Trembling with fear she began to explain and apologize to Lin and the mother, frequently turning to[13] "Al-f-u-r-d" to entreat him to come to her, assuring him that he need not fear her. But the big buggy whip, with the silver bands, dangled above his head and the more she entreated the louder his yells and the further he forced himself into his mother's garments.

She Did! She Did!

She Did! She Did!

Lin grabbed his clothes from the spectacled lady berating both soundly, giving them but little opportunity to explain. Others joined in the wordy attack, much to the elderly woman's confusion and shame. The fact that they were old maids, living alone and associating with but few of their neighbors, lent bitterness to the invectives hurled at them, the climax was reached with a parting shot from Lin:

"Drat ye!" she exclaimed, "if ye had yungins of yer own—which is lucky for 'em that ye haven't—ye'd have some hearts in yer withered old frames."

The spectacled maiden, apparently more frightened than the other, began to feel what a monster she was, what an awful crime she had committed, following an embarrassing pause, the effect of Lin's final shot, mother again demanded the cause of "Al-f-u-r-d's" nudity.

[14]"I s'pose I ought to have pulled down the blinds," she began apologetically, "and let him have his swim out. Likely it wouldn't have hurt the spring much. Still a body doesn't like to drink water out of a spring that a boy's been swimmin' in, no matter if his folks are clean about their house-keeping."

She was certainly sorry and so anxious to caress "Al-f-u-r-d" that she and the mother made it up, then and there, and many an afternoon thereafter did the two spend together bemoaning the evil spirit that had prompted the boy to make a swimming hole of the family spring.

Kindly invitations nor the promise of sponge cake ever induced "Al-f-u-r-d" to again visit the grounds, or the white house with green blinds, a buggy whip with silver bands on it, a big dog and two old maids who, according to Lin, "didn't know nuthin' 'bout children."



In the heydey of youth
He was awfully green,
As verdant in truth
As you have ever seen;
But he soon learned to know beans
So it seems.

"There's shorely sumthin' 'bout water that bewitches that boy," often remarked Lin. "I never seen the like of it. I'll bet anything he'll be a Baptis' preacher some day, jes' like Billy Hickman."

There never was a boy reared in Brownsville whose heart does not beat a little faster, whose breath does not come a little quicker, whose cheeks do not turn a little redder when his mind goes back to the old swimming place near Johnson's saw-mill, where the big rafts of lumber were moored seemingly for the pleasure and convenience of every boy in town. The big boys had their spring-boards for diving on the outside where the current was swifter, the water deeper, the little ones their mud slides and boards to paddle about and float on in the shallow, still water between the rafts and the bank.

There may have been factions and social distinctions as between the inhabitants of the little town when garbed and groomed, but in the nudity of the old swimming place there was a common level, and all met on an equal footing.

James G. Blaine, Philander C. Knox, Professor John Brashear and many others, who have climbed the ladder of Fame, were boys among boys in this old swimming hole. It was here they were given their first lessons in courage and self-reliance.

[16]A balmy afternoon in late June the boys of the town were in swimming; "Al-f-u-r-d" could plainly hear their shouts of glee as he sat in the front yard at home. How he longed to participate in their sports. What wouldn't he give to be free like other boys? Was there ever a boy who did not feel that he was imposed upon, who did not imagine he was abused above all others? Such was the feeling of "Al-f-u-r-d".

He had been subjected to a scrubbing. Lin had unmercifully bored into his ears with a towel shaped like a gimlet at one corner, assuring his mother he was "dirtier 'an the dirtiest coal digger in town." He was arrayed in a clean gingham suit, topped with an emaculate white shirt, flowing collar and straw hat. Lin spent a long time in curling his hair despite protests. Those curls were "Al-f-u-r-d's" abomination. The more he abominated them the longer they grew. They reached down to the middle of his back. Arranged in a semi-circle, extending from temple to temple, they made his head appear so abnormally large his slender body seemed scarcely able to support it. He seemed top-heavy with his long curls.

Long Curls

"Al-f-u-r-d" was to go alone to grandfather's and escort him home to dinner. There was to be company, and Lin was determined that "Al-f-u-r-d" and his curls should appear at their best.

The road of life starts the same for all of God's children. The innocent babe, fresh fallen from heaven to blossom on earth, sees nothing but the beautiful at the beginning of the journey. The road is strewn with flowers and it is only when the prick of the thorn is felt that one realizes one is on the wrong road.

[17]For just one short block "Al-f-u-r-d," on the occasion referred to, traversed the right road. There the right road turned abruptly to the left. There was no road "straight ahead," but the river was there. The sound of boys' voices shouting in high glee came floating up from the old swimming place. School had let out and every boy in town was in swimming. "Al-f-u-r-d" blazed a new trail to the river. Climbing over the paling fence surrounding the burying ground, through back yards, descending the steep hill, he found himself standing on the bank of the river gazing at a spectacle that stirred his young blood—half a hundred nude boys diving, splashing, swimming and shouting were in the river below.

The New Boy in Town

The New Boy in Town

His appearance was greeted with yells and laughter. He was a "new boy" in town. "Al-f-u-r-d" was abashed by[18] the reception accorded him. Of all the howling horde in the water below there was but one familiar face, that of Cousin Charley.

"Take off your curls and come on in, Sissy," shouted one of the swimmers. A dozen of them assured "Al-f-u-r-d" the water was "jest bully." Entreaties of "Come on in," came from dozens of boys. Advice of all kinds came from others.

The reference to the curls made "Al-f-u-r-d" wince. He had long felt that those curls were the one great impediment in his life—the one something that made him the butt of the jokes and gibes of other boys. He hated those curls. His first swimming experience doubly intensified his hatred for curls.

Evening was drawing near. The big yellow sun had dropped behind Krepp's Knob, the shadows of the hills almost reached across the ruffled surface of the river. The river bottoms at the base of the hills, with their waving grasses and tassled corn, extending beyond the bend in the river opposite Albany, the old wooden bridge farther up the river, the high hills behind him, presented a scene of beauty all of which was lost upon "Al-f-u-r-d." The boys in the river held him entranced. He was absorbed in the scene, and, for the moment, he even forgot his curls.

Writers frequently refer to the Monongahela River as "murky"—but where's the boy who ever basked in its cooling waves who will not qualify the statement that its waters are the clearest, its depths the most delightful, its ripples the softest and its shores the smoothest?

Jimmy Edmiston intimated to the writer that the Monongahela was only clear during a "Cheat River Rise." (Cheat is the name of a small stream of Virginia emptying into the Monongahela above Brownsville. Its waters are never muddy, no matter how heavy or protracted the rains along its course. When the Cheat River pours its trans[19]parent flood into the Monongahela the latter rises without riling. Hence the expression: "Cheat River rise.")

Jimmy has so long lived away from Brownsville that his memory is defective. Associated with the muddy Missouri he labors under the delusion that all rivers are muddy—even the Monongahela.

The Old Swimming Hole

The Old Swimming Hole

"Al-f-u-r-d" was rudely caught from behind by several boys, undressed in less time than it took Lin to hang the hat on his curls. Nor had he barely been reduced to a state of nudity when some unregenerate in the river below let fly a lump of soft, mushy mud, large as a gourd. The mud landed squarely on the broader part of his slight anatomy. With a yelp he wiggled loose from his captors[20] and bounded up the hill. His slender legs and body, topped with the large crop of atmospherically agitated curls, made him a figure so ludicrous that the boys yelled in ecstacy at the sight.

"Al-f-u-r-d" was recaptured by two stout-armed boys, one on either side. They carried him to the top of the "mudslide." "Slick 'er up," came the cry from all sides. This had reference to the slide upon which fell a veritable cloudburst of water splashed up from the river by the hands of a dozen devilish youngsters.

"Al-f-u-r-d" was elevated to the height of the heads of his tormentors. In chorus from the mob at the words, "One, two, three," he was dropped to the slide, striking its soft, slick surface in an angular attitude, with feet and legs waving a strenuous protest above his head. The fall gave him a momentum that sent him over the slippery surface at a speed that rushed him into the river with eyes and mouth wide open. With a splash, under he went, forcing great gulps of water down his throat. Strangling and choking, he came to the surface, spouting like a whale calf.

The Slippery Slide

The Slippery Slide

[21]What a shout of merriment went up from his tormentors. Barely had he taken in a full breath than a bad boy—they were all bad, at least "Al-f-u-r-d" so informed Lin afterwards—again forced his head under water.

"Duck 'im agin!" someone shouted as his curls floated on the surface of the water above his hidden body.

For the third time "Al-f-u-r-d" ducked—or rather, was ducked, swallowing another quart or two of Monongahela. Coming up cork-like, he tried to make his escape. Up the bank he ran choking and crying. Unfortunately, he took the track of the slide. Half way up his feet flew from under him, landing him upon his stomach. Back he slid, feet first, his nose plowing up the soft mud, his mouth filling with the same substance. Terrified beyond expression, under the water he went, choking, strangling, struggling. He felt that his time had come.

Popping to the surface, one of the older boys stood him upon his feet, washed the mud from his mouth and nose and, by sundry "shakes," partially emptied him.

Fearing they had gone too far with their hazing, some of the larger boys led him further into the stream, handling him as tenderly as they had roughly, assuring him of perfect safety. He was caused to lie on his stomach and, with Cousin Charley holding his broad, calloused palm against his chest, "Al-f-u-r-d" was given his first lesson in swimming. One boy declared, even before "Al-f-u-r-d" had moved a muscle, that he had already learned to swim.

It was the consensus of opinion that the only thing that prevented his swimming was his curls. To overcome this handicap his hair was braided, tied and cross-tied and his top-heaviness reduced to a dozen scattered knobs and knots—knots pulled so tight they glaringly exposed the white scalp between, and the tying of which brought tears to his eyes.

Even this rearrangement did not prevent his sinking time and again as the lesson progressed and finally, the[22] mischievousness of his instructors appeased, he was led, half-dead, out of the water, up the steep bank to where he had been disrobed. As he stooped to gather up his rumpled garments a most welcome sound came to his ears:

"Al-f-u-r-d!" "Al-f-u-r-d!"

Contrary to his usual custom, the second syllable was not off the lips of Lin until, in his loudest tone, he shouted: "Yes,'m!"

When he called for Lin to "come and get me," all the boys took a header into the river, only their faces and hair-covered heads appearing above the surface; they treaded water, or swayed around on the bottom. As "Al-f-u-r-d" looked back on them they seemed like so many decapitated heads floating in space, a sight that dwelt in his memory long afterwards.

When "Al-f-u-r-d" gathered his garments into his arms, endeavoring to hide his nudity, and started toward the voice, a laugh went up that made the valley echo. Lin declared: "If the tarnel critters had been dressed, she'd have thrown every last devil of 'em off the raft into the river."

Owing to conditions she hid behind Mrs. Hubbard's house and not until "Al-f-u-r-d," in his unrecognizable appearance rounded it, did he come face to face with his rescuer. Crying and sobbing he fell into Lin's arms. Firing a volley of imprecations upon the horde that had wrought the wreck before her, Lin kept up a continuous tirade against the boys in the river; and addressing herself to "Al-f-u-r-d" between speeches, she said:

"Fur gracious, goodness sake, ef you don't look like Granny Gadd with yer hair braided over yer head like this; hyar ye air trapesin' through town agin, mos' naked like ye did las' week. The hull town'll be talkin' about ye. Ye'll give us all a bad name. Why didn't ye put on yer clothes?"

"Al-f-u-r-d" sobbingly informed Lin of the cruelties heaped upon him in which Cousin Charley had taken part.[23] Lin's anger increased as the boy talked. When he told of them throwing him down in the water times without number, Lin's indignation burst all bonds. Shaking "Al-f-u-r-d" violently she fairly yelled as she demanded to know what he was doing while they were throwing him down. "Al-f-u-r-d" between sobs, answered:

"I wasn't doin' nuthin'; I was gettin' up all the time."

Lin's answer was a jerk that lifted the boy off the earth. As she smacked her palms together, she defiantly hissed:

"Ef ye had my spunk, ye'd hev knocked hell's delight out of some of 'em."

The defiance of Lin, the thoughts of the cruelties practiced upon him, or some other force, changed the boy's manner instantly from sobbing and supplicating. He became screamingly aggressive. Flying to the roadbed, which had a plentiful supply of loose stone on it, he began a fusillade on the enemy below that drove the whole horde from the raft into the river.

"Al-f-u-r-d" had practiced stone throwing since he wore clothes and, like all boys of that period, his aim was most accurate, as several of those in the old swimming hole on that eventful day will testify. A rain of stones fell on the raft; one boy, more venturesome than the others, started up the hill but "Al-f-u-r-d's" fire repulsed him.

Lin, hidden behind the house, had changed her manner and was now pleading with "Al-f-u-r-d" to desist.

"Ye might crack some of their skulls and then they'd git out a warrant and Rease Lynch (referring to the town constable), would be after ye."

"Al-f-u-r-d" left the line of battle only when exhausted. That first swimming lesson and the fusillade of rocks that followed engendered animosities that involved "Al-f-u-r-d" in many rough and tumble encounters afterwards.

[24]Lin, catching up the clothes the boy had dropped upon the ground, soon discovered why he had not put them on. The sleeves of the waist were dripping wet and tied in knots as tight as two big, strong boys could pull them. The pantalets were first unraveled, reversed, pulled over the sand-covered limbs of the boy, the waist wrapped about his shoulders, (the knots in the sleeves could not be untied), his hat pushed down on his head owing to the arrangement of his hair until it rested on his ears.

The procession started homeward, up alleys, through back yards to prevent being seen by the neighbors, until Lin hoisted the boy over the fence at the lower end of the garden. The whole family had congregated in the back yard, all greatly disturbed over "Al-f-u-r-d's" absence. As he dropped into the garden from the top of the fence he began crying, as was his wont, to create sympathy.

Lin and Al-f-u-r-d

Lin and "Al-f-u-r-d"

As he wended his way up the garden walk, the mother shouted:

"Lin, where on earth has he been?"

"In the river over his head. It's a wonder he wern't drowned to death."

The mother breathed a silent prayer that he had been preserved to them. Father deftly slid his hand into his left side trouser's pocket and, pulling forth a keen-bladed knife, cut a slender, but tough, sprout from the black-heart cherry tree. Tenderly taking the boy by the arm, he slowly led him to the cellar and introduced another innovation into the fast unfolding life of the First Born.

[25]The pilgrimages of father and son to the recesses of that dark, damp cellar became frequent. The innovations of town life were so many, "Al-f-u-r-d's" unknowing feet fell into so many pitfalls, the father, affectionate, even indulgent, felt he was in duty bound to use the rod.

In fact, the old cellar, the rod, the boy and the father, were a cause of comment among those familiar with the family. Uncle Jake said:

"John never asked what 'Al-f-u-r-d' had done when he returned home, but simply asked, 'Where is he?' escorting him to the cellar and chastizing him on general principles."

Lin said: "Habits will grow on peepul, and even when 'Al-f-u-r-d' does nothin', he jes' goes to the cellar and waits to be whipped."



From the sweet-smelling Maryland meadows it crawled,
Through the forest primeval, o'er hills granite-walled;
On and up, up and on, till it conquered the crest
Of the mountains—and wound away into the West.
'Twas the Highway of Hope! And the pilgrims who trod
It were Lords of the Woodland and Sons of the Sod;
And the hope of their hearts was to win an abode
At the end—the far end of the National Road.


Do you not know where it is located? Do not ask any human being who ever lived in Brownsville as to its location on the map—that is, if you value his friendship. Your ignorance of geography will be exposed and you will be plainly informed: "We do not want anything to do with a person who does not know where Brownsville is located."

Market Street, Brownsville

Market Street, Brownsville

Strange as it may seem, though many excellent histories have been written, there is none extant that has given any full and adequate description of Brownsville's early days and people—quaint, curious, serious, humorous, wise and otherwise—good people all.

[27]Brownsville was the most important town on that "Modern Appian Way," the National Road, or pike, extending from Baltimore, Maryland, to the Ohio River, and lengthened beyond, in after years, to Cincinnati and Richmond, Indiana.

Brownsville was founded soon after this country gained its independence, although it had been an established frontier post long before known as Red Stone Old Fort. It was the center of the Whiskey Insurrection, during which George Washington gained his first military experience in the West, experience that would have saved Braddock's defeat and death, had he taken Washington's advice, and might have changed the entire history of this nation. But that England should control the American colonies is but repeating history.

England is the only country in the world that has successfully colonized her foreign possessions. Therefore, Brownsville was founded, and mostly settled, by the English, and to this day her foremost citizens are Englishmen. This statement of facts does not detract from the estimable qualities of the Low Dutch who have drifted in from Bedford and Somerset Counties.

Brownsville outputs—"Monongahela Rye Whiskey" and Chattland's crackers are world-famous food essentials.

Brownsville was at the head of navigation on the Monongahela River in the palmy days of the old "pike."

Unlike the Appian Way, of which there is no connected history but only glimpses of it in the Bible, the old "pike" is embalmed in history, in poem and prose. It commemorates an epoch in history as fascinating as any recorded. A highway so important, so largely instrumental in the country's early greatness and development that it strengthened the ties between the states and their peoples. Its legends so numerous, its incidents so exciting that their chronicles read like fiction.

[28]Brownsville grew and prospered while the old "pike" was at the height of its greatness. It was here the travellers from the East or the West either embarked or disembarked from the river steamers or the overland stage coach.

In the year 1868 the writer spent four days and parts of as many nights in a stage coach journey from Wheeling, West Virginia, to Baltimore, Maryland, over the National Road. In August, 1910, the same distance was covered in an automobile in a little over a day and a night, with many stops and visits to historical spots marked by recollections of the old days and nights of this King's Highway.

Brownsville, in the halcyon days of the National Pike, was of greater commercial importance than Pittsburg, her banks ranking higher and her manufactories more numerous. This supremacy was maintained from 1818 to 1852.

When the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was opened to the West, the glories of the old "pike" began to fade. The mechanical establishments, especially the boat-building and marine engine shops, among the biggest interests of Brownsville, kept in the lead until well into the days of the Civil War.

Now, reader, will you not be a bit abashed to ask: "Where is Brownsville?"

To Henry Clay belongs the credit of first urging Congress to appropriate funds to build the National Road, but to Albert Gallatin, who was from the Brownsville section and achieved great distinction while Treasurer of the United States, belongs the honor of its conception. He was the first to advocate the great benefits that would accrue to the country if such a road were constructed.

Washington, when a mere youth, sent to England a report urging the advisability of a military road from the coast to the Ohio River. He suggested the Indian trail across the Allegheny Mountains. This trail was afterwards named Braddock's Road. It should have been called Washington's Road, as he, at the head of a detachment of Virginia[29] troops, traversed it one year before Braddock's disastrous invasion of the West.

All roads led to Brownsville in those days.

Did you ever hear of Workman's Hotel in Brownsville? It stands today as it did one hundred years ago, at the head of Market Street. It has housed Jackson, Harrison, Clay, Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, James K. Polk, Shelly, Lafayette, Winfield Scott, Pickens, John C. Calhoun, and hundreds of others of less note.

James Workman, the landlord of this old house of entertainment, was noted for his hospitality and punctuality. When "Old Hickory" Jackson, on his way to Washington to be inaugurated President—for be it remembered the old "pike" was the only highway between the East and West—was Workman's guest, the citizens of Brownsville tendered the newly elected President a public reception. The Presbyterian Church was crowded, the exercises long drawn out. During their progress, Jimmy Workman stalked down the middle aisle. Facing about, after passing the pew in which General Jackson sat, he said, in a voice plainly heard all over the church:

"General Jackson, dinner is ready and if you do not come soon it won't be fit to eat."

So great was Workman's devotion to his guests that he imagined the dinner was more essential than speeches or prayers, and such was the respect for the famous landlord that the services were curtailed.

Brownsville and Bridgeport were boroughs separated by Dunlap's Creek, spanned by the first iron bridge built in America. It is standing today as solid as the reputation of the old burgs it joins together. Brownsville had the first bridge that spanned the Monongahela River. In fact Brownsville had a bridge long before Pittsburgh. While Bill Brown and his progenitors were ferrying Pittsburgh inhabitants across the river in a skiff, Brownsville folks were[30] crossing on a "kivered" bridge. And were it not for further humiliating Bill Brown, the discoverer of Pittsburgh, still greater glories could be recalled for Brownsville.

James G. Blaine was born on the west bank of the Monongahela River. The land on which the Blaine house stood was the property of an Indian, Peter by name. He sold the land to Blaine's grandfather, Neil Gellispie, the price agreed upon being forty shillings an acre, payable in installments of money, iron and one negro man, a slave. Ye gods! How did the "Plumed Knight's" detractors in the "Rum-Romanism-and-Rebellion" campaign overlook the fact that the Blaines once bought and sold slaves?

James G. Blaine's Home

James G. Blaine's Home

Philander C. Knox was born on the hill on the east side of the river. Professor John Brashear was born on the western edge of the town.

Elisha Gray, the original inventor of the telephone, was from Brownsville; as were John Herbertson, builder of the[31] first iron bridge in the United States; John Snowden, builder of two iron gunboats for the Civil War, and Bishop Arnett, of Ohio.

Brownsville first promulgated a word of slang that has greatly beautified the English language.

But let it be recorded to the old town's credit, the evil was propagated without malice aforethought. Brownsville's borough limits show its shape to be somewhat like that of a hot-air balloon—a big body with a neck; and the narrow strip of land between the river and Dunlap's Creek stretching toward Bridgeport from time out of mind has been designated by the inhabitants of either side of the creek as the "neck."

Brownsville had a temperance revival. Strict observance of the liquor laws was being enforced. Jack Beckley was haled to court on a dray, too oblivious of everything to answer any charge. The burgess, before committing him to the lock-up, questioned the watchman, Jim Bench, as to where Jack got his liquor.

"Did he get it on the hill?"

The officer truthfully answered:

"No, he got it in the neck."

The town took up the phrase and thereafter any person who met with any sort of mishap "got it in the neck."

A National Pike Freighter

A National Pike Freighter



No wonder Cain went to the bad
And left no cause to praise him;
No neighbors, who had ever had
Boys of their own, came telling Ad
And Eve how they should raise him.

"Al-f-u-r-d" learned with his first swimming lesson that kinship does not lend immunity; in fact, Lin asserted that Cousin Charley's kinship was only a cloak of deception. However, the more Cousin Charley teased the younger boy the greater "Al-f-u-r-d's" admiration and yearning for his companionship.

Lin cautioned "Al-f-u-r-d" to shun Cousin Charley as he would a "wiper." Lin could never pronounce her v's. When she went to the grocery and asked for "winegar," the young clerk laughed outright. The next visit Lin simply said:

"Smell the jug and gin me a quart."

When the mother admitted she feared Cousin Charley would ruin "Al-f-u-r-d's" disposition, Lin followed with the declaration that Cousin Charley "layed awake nights makin' up lies about "Al-f-u-r-d" to git his pap to whup him."

Lin said: "Why, he don't do a thing all the live-long day but git 'Al-f-u-r-d' in scrapes and muss his curls."

After the swimming hole experience "Al-f-u-r-d's" parent forbade Cousin Charley the house. Uncle Bill, who was responsible for Cousin Charley's being, also ordered Cousin Charley to seek a home elsewhere, enforcing the order by advising Cousin Charley that he had done all that he intended to do for him.

In forceful words Cousin Charley was told that he must "dig for himself," that "he could not stay anywhere no matter how good the job, that he always got into some kind of a scrape and his father was tired of it."

[33]"Go out in the world and dig for yourself like I did. Then you'll hold a job when you get one."

Cousin Charley took genuine delight in being thus exiled. He endeavored to work on the sympathies of all with whom he conversed, reporting that Uncle John and Aunt Mary had driven him from their house and that his father had driven him from home, advising him to dig for himself.

Charley dwelt so upon the phrase "dig for yourself" that it became a sort of cant saying.

Cousin Charley called at "Al-f-u-r-d's" home to gather his essential personal effects. His woe-begone looks so touched "Al-f-u-r-d" that tears more than once filled his eyes as the elder boy continued his preparations to leave. "Al-f-u-r-d's" sorrow so touched the mother that she began to relent.

But Cousin Charley, like many other persons who have injured their family when taken to task, felt a sort of pride in doing something he imagined would cause them further pain. Cousin Charley was obdurate to any overtures towards a reconciliation, or at least pretended to be. Go he would. He had poor "Al-f-u-r-d" entirely miserable as he listened to the recitation of the many wrongs he declared he had suffered.

"I've worked harder than any boy in Brownsville. I never knowed anything but work. Pap lets Jim and George do as they durn please. If I crook my fingers I ketch the devil. I kin go out and dig fer myself and they'll be sorry for the way they have treated me."

"Al-f-u-r-d" clung to the bigger boy, begging him not to leave. The sight affected both Lin and the mother, and the latter ventured the prediction that she might prevail upon Pap to allow Cousin Charley to remain if he would solemnly promise to be a better boy. Cousin Charley was not to be mollified. He thanked the mother for her kindly interest in him but added that he could not remain under Uncle Johns' roof after the cruel manner in which he had been[34] treated. (As a matter of fact his treatment had always been of the kindest). Cousin Charley knew this full well but he knew also that he had the sympathy of the two women excited and he chose to work it to his evil nature's content.

Continuing, he added insinuatingly:

"You'll see. Wait 'til 'Al-f-u-r-d's' a little older. Uncle will keep on whaling him in the cellar and some day you'll find him missing, curls and all."

This reference to curls touched Lin's sympathy. The reference to "Al-f-u-r-d" leaving home also touched the mother as the tantalizer intended it should, and she further argued with the boy to remain at home with his family.

"No I can't. I've made up my mind to dig fer myself. I'm goin' West. You've always treated me right and I'll write you often and let you know how I'm gettin' along and maybe if 'Al-f-u-r-d' is driven from home like I've been I'll have a place fer him."

The mother turned a trifle resentful as she said spiritedly:

"Charley, you have not been driven from home. Your father has become tired of your conduct and it would be better if you apologize for your behavior and promise to become a better boy."

Cousin Charley hinted at some deep and dark wrong that would ever prevent his approaching his father and he prepared to leave. Both women entreated him to linger yet another day. But Cousin Charley began bidding them good-bye, the crocodile tears coursing down his cheeks as he sobbed:

"I'll never fergit you two. You've always been good to me." (As a matter of fact, Lin threatened to scald him that morning.) "I know I may be half starved to death before I git work but I'll stand it. And durn them all, I'll show them I'm somebody afore they see me agin."

At the reference to starving, Lin rushed to the big kitchen cupboard. The larger part of a roasted chicken, a dozen[35] doughnuts, pickles, rusks, enough to feed an ordinary man several times, was done up in a neat package and handed to Charley by Lin as she pityingly remarked:

"Ef the bakin' was done I'd gin ye more fer I'll warrant it'll be a long time 'fore ye'll eat cooking like ye've hed here. Fer vagrants never know what they're eatin'."

Charley's leave-taking was most affecting. "Al-f-u-r-d" begged to be permitted to accompany him a little ways on his journey. Five minutes the boys walked hand in hand.

Into Sammy Steele's deserted tannery, through a long, dark room with dust and rubbish covering the floor, into a smaller room, more dismal if imaginable than the larger room but much cleaner.

The Exile

The Exile

Three boxes, the larger used as a table, the two smaller ones as seats, made up the furniture in the room. A small blaze of fire in the old-fashioned soft coal grate gave a faint light. Cousin Charley whistled a time or two, and Lint Dutton, the son of the leading dry goods merchant of the town; and Tod Livingston, the son of the dry goods man's head clerk, put in an appearance.

It was not long until "Al-f-u-r-d's" sympathetic heart was touched with the wrongs of the three exiles. It seemed the trio had all been driven from home and were going out into the world to dig for themselves. Charley explained there were many things to adjust ere the exiles departed and the room in the old tannery would be their retreat until they left the town for good.

To impress "Al-f-u-r-d" with the fact that provisions were the one thing necessary, Lin's contribution was spread out on the larger box and all proceeded to devour the viands. Even "Al-f-u-r-d" enjoyed the repast.

[36]"Al-f-u-r-d" was sworn to secrecy as to the retreat of the exiles and adjured to bring all the eatables he could secure. The sight of Cousin Charley consuming a dried apple pie such as were made in those days, plenty of lemon peel and cider to juice the apples; Charley holding the pie in his hands, the juice running down his cheeks as he expatiated on the wrongs that had been heaped upon him in general and by "Al-f-u-r-d's" and his own father in particular, so worked on "Al-f-u-r-d's" sympathy that nothing cooked or uncooked that was eatable, that he could smuggle to the exiles, was too good for them.

For the first time since Lin came into the family the mother suspected her of dishonest practices. A coldness sprang up between the women. This unpleasantness almost drove the boy to confession, but the fear of the exiles kept him from exposing them.

The Exile's Retreat

The Exile's Retreat

The father set a watch on "Al-f-u-r-d." He was seen to fill his pockets and a small basket, hide the basket in the coal shed until the shadows of dusk. The father followed the smuggler to the exiles' camp. Several other boys who[37] had learned of the pies, pickles, preserves, doughnuts, and other good things that "Al-f-u-r-d" carried to the old tannery, had gone into exile and were always conveniently near when "Al-f-u-r-d" appeared with his food contributions.

The father was close onto "Al-f-u-r-d" when he entered the larger room of the old tan house. "Al-f-u-r-d" set the basket with the coarser food in it on the box that served as a table while he began issuing the more dainty contributions from his pockets. Handing Cousin Charley a doughnut from one pocket he was in the act of pulling a handful of pickles from another when the irate parent rushed into the little room. The exiles' camp was broken up, and the exiles driven out into the cold world. "Al-f-u-r-d" was escorted home then to the cellar where the seance was a trifle more animated than usual, at least "Al-f-u-r-d's" cries so denoted.

Lin's denunciations of those who had devastated her pantry of the coarse as well as her daintiest cooking, was of the strongest. Lin was very proud of her skill as a cook. When the truth came out and she learned that "Al-f-u-r-d" was the culprit, she immediately began making excuses for the boy, and when his screams from the cellar penetrated the kitchen, Lin's sympathy was fully aroused. With the rolling pin in one hand, flour to her elbows on her bare, muscular arms, she rushed into the cellar, with flushed face and confronted the parent:



"Hold on yer, hold on! Ye've whipped that boy enough and you're whippin' him fer nothin'. Ef it hadn't bin fer them low, lazy skunks "Al-f-u-r-d" a-never teched a thing in[38] this house. They never had nothin' to eat at home. Their folks is too lazy to fry a doughnut or put up pickles. "Al-f-u-r-d" jes pitied 'em, that's why he took things to 'em to eat."

This reasoning mollified the parent, besides Lin had a gleam in her eyes that intimidated him. Lin had threatened to skedaddle, as she put it, several times of late, and one like her was not often found.

Therefore Lin's reasoning decided the father to wreak vengeance on those who, through "Al-f-r-u-d's" generosity, had depleted the pickle barrel. Grabbing his heaviest cane he stalked toward the door, vowing he would wear out every last one of the boys who had made him so far forget himself as to punish one whose age and inexperience made him their dupe.

Hold On! Hold On!

Hold On! Hold On!

The mother and Lin, thoroughly frightened at the anger displayed by the man, used their strength and arguments to prevent him doing something terrible. The mother pointed out the danger of the law and the disgrace attached to an arrest by the borough constable.

Lin reminded him that he might do something rash, that all the boys had papas and several men might jump on him if they caught him abusing their off-spring. The father swore he could lick the daddies of all the boys one at a time.

Meanwhile "Al-f-u-r-d" made his escape to the garret to ruminate upon the unreasonableness of parents in general and his father in particular.

Uncle Bill was even more obdurate than when he first declared Charley must "dig for himself." Cousin Charley was looking for work, fearing he would find it, and secretly hoping his father, under pressure of the mother, would soon open the door of home to him. But Cousin Charley was[39] compelled to look the world in the face in a serious manner for the first time in his life.

Captain Lew Abrams, a retired steamboat man, big of frame, kind of heart and fond of a joke, informed the exile that he would give him an opportunity to follow his father's advice literally, namely, to dig for himself.

"I have a big potato patch, the crop is a heavy one and it don't seem my boys will ever get the potatoes dug. I will give you a job digging potatoes by the bushel or on shares."

The Captain did not care to hire by the day. Cousin Charley figured mentally that digging potatoes on shares, a custom prevalent in those days, would bring quicker returns.

Charley began to "dig for himself" the very next day. After a long, hard day's work, he presented himself at the back door of "Al-f-u-r-d's" home, sunburnt and hands blistered, clothing torn, full of beggars-lice and Spanish needles. He explained that the offer of Captain Abrams was temptingly profitable and that he would remain in the neighborhood for a few weeks longer digging potatoes on the shares.

Lin at first looked upon him with suspicion. But when she noted his sunburnt face and blistered hands and when Charley carefully laid on the table a half dozen big brown-colored potatoes with that peculiar purple around the eyes, a color so highly prized by growers and consumers, Lin, glancing sympathetically at Charley through the kitchen door as he ate as only a hungry boy can, whispered to the mother:

"His pap's too hard on him. He's not so ornery as he's cracked up to be. It's the devilish clique he runs with that's spiled him," and, with this, carried another helping of food to the boy.

Half in earnest, half in fun, Lin said: "Durn ye, ye can be good ef ye want to, but it jes' seems like ye don't want to. Ef ye ever do another thing to 'Al-f-u-r-d' I'll scald all the hair off yer freckled head."

[40]Cousin Charley laughed and chided Lin into further good humor, confiding to her the interesting information that he was going to work from daylight to dark. This declaration captured Lin. She highly regarded anyone who labored.

Cousin Charley kept up a continual talk. Among other statements he said that after he dug Captain Abram's potatoes, if he could effect as advantageous arrangements with other farmers, he would soon be wealthy. He even insinuated that he had over-reached the Captain in his contract for digging potatoes but if the Captain showed any tendency to "back out" he would hold him to it.

"A bargain's a bargain," said Charley and Lin nodded approvingly. She never guessed that Cousin Charley possessed so much sense.

Charley picked up the largest of the potatoes he had deposited on the table and requested that Lin roast it in wood ashes for breakfast.

"It'll jes' bust open and is as dry as powder. Sech taters you never et, they melt in yer mouth."

It was then the mother was called in, Lin explaining it was a good chance to buy potatoes cheap. Cousin Charley explained that his share of the crop he was digging would be so big he would have to sell as he went along even if he didn't get full price for them. He assured the women that the samples were not culled: "Jes' took as they come."

Cousin Charley

Cousin Charley

The mother bought several bushels at much less than the retail price at Murphy's store. At the low price at which Cousin Charley sold potatoes he had taken several orders before reaching "Al-f-u-r-d's" home. When "Al-f-u-r-d's"[41] mother purchased he suddenly concluded he'd better begin delivering right away.

When the mother reminded him that it was almost night Cousin Charley met her with the argument "Ef a feller wants to git along in this world he's got to hump night and day. That's the way old Jeffries got rich." Jeffries was the business competitor of "Al-f-u-r-d's" father.

Cousin Charley finally prevailed on the mother to loan him the horse and wagon to deliver his potatoes. The father was out of town for the night, and the mother consented reluctantly. Lin wanted the potatoes badly after Charley's description. "Al-f-u-r-d," as usual, cried to go with Cousin Charley. Cousin Charley's seeming industriousness had reinstated him in Lin's good graces. After the boys had driven off, following Lin's caution to the older boy to "Be keerful of 'Al-f-u-r-d'," she remarked to the mother, referring to Charley:

"He'll fool old Bill yet. Some peepul may want Charley to dig fer 'em 'fore the winter's over. I'd thought more of old Bill ef he'd lathered Charley good an' plenty stid of turnun' him out to dig fer himself. I do hope he'll sell plenty pertaters."

Meanwhile, Cousin Charley, his delivery wagon, "Al-f-u-r-d" and all, arrived at Captain Abram's house. The family were visiting a neighbor.

Cousin Charley was evidently an adept at loading potatoes as well as digging. It was surprising the quantity he claimed for his share of the day's digging.

"Al-f-u-r-d," Cousin Charley, and a load of potatoes soon arrived at "Al-f-u-r-d's" home. Several large sacks were quickly carried into the cellar, Lin assisting the boy. Lin took this excuse to inspect the goods as her confidence in Cousin Charley was not entirely free from suspicion. As Lin watched the boy carrying the heavy potato sacks she[42] half hated herself for doubting him. This feeling prompted Lin to accept the potatoes.

"They're not zackly as big as the ones he fetched first but they're nice taters, better'n we git at the store an' besides a body feels better helpin' a poor devil that's workin' his head off to do right."

Jane McCune, Tommy Ryan and Jim Bench had bought potatoes while they were cheap. These deliveries were soon made and Cousin Charley had money to distribute. "Al-f-u-r-d" and Lin both came in for a nice piece of it. As Lin remarked:

"Cousin Charley was not close when he was doin' well."

The Boys Had a Full Load

The Boys Had a Full Load

The women invited Charley to remain all night but, showing the old exile spirit, he declined, adding:

"I like you and Lin, but I'll never stay under Uncle John's roof until he apologizes fer what he done to me. I'll dig fer myself. There's money in this potato business fer me, I'll show them who I am."

The boy jingled the big coppers and little dimes in his pocket until "Al-f-u-r-d's" eyes sparkled with admiration.

[43]The next morning Captain Abrams clanged the big, old fashioned iron knocker on the front door. The father started up stairs to answer the knock, and "Al-f-u-r-d" and the other children whooped up the path beside the house to peep at the early caller.

The door opened. "Howdys" and hand shakes. The Captain, puckering up his funny little mouth, not unlike that of a sucker fish, addressing himself to the father, inquired:

"John, where's Bill's Charley?"

The "I don't know" answer surprised the Captain.

Looking at "Al-f-u-r-d" in a quizzical manner, he said:

"I thought he was staying with you all."

The father replied spiritedly, and he seemed to be addressing himself to "Al-f-u-r-d" as much as to the Captain:

"No, he ain't here any more. I wouldn't permit him to enter my house; he's so infernal ornery that his father had to drive him out. Bill jes' told him to go out and dig fer himself. We've washed our hands of that boy. His end will be the House of Refuge."

"But John," and the Captain looked serious, "who sent Alfred and Charley out on a foraging expedition last night with your old mare and wagon?"

Both men looked hard at "Al-f-u-r-d."

With a consciousness born of innocence, "Al-f-u-r-d" pulled himself up to his full height, running his thumbs under his first pair of elastic suspenders, a present from Cousin Charley, who had remarked as he adjusted them: "None of my relations will run around here with one gallus when I've got money."

"Yes, sir," chirped "Al-f-u-r-d," "we was out to your house but you weren't at home. Cousin Charley went after his pertaters. He wanted to bring mother hers and Jane McCune and Tommy Ryan."

[44]The Captain was nodding his head approvingly at "Al-f-u-r-d," encouraging him to go on. The father was so confused he could not listen longer, and casting a look at "Al-f-u-r-d" that boded him no good, the mother and Lin were called into the room, and the Captain, in a half apologetic manner explained:

"Charley came to me with a long story about his father driving him from home and telling him he would have to go out and dig for himself. He used the phrase, 'dig for himself' so often that I, in a half joking way, arranged with Charley to dig potatoes on shares. He dug one day. I don't know how many potatoes he dug as me and my folks were visiting the Lenhearts. Afore we got home last night, Charley came out there with your horse and wagon and hauled away all the potatoes he dug during the day and all my boys had dug and sacked the past week. I don't know how many he took but old man Bedler at the toll gate said the boys had on a full load."

Then "Al-f-u-r-d" counting on his fingers, said: "Yes, mother got seven bushels, Tommy Ryan got eight bushels and he's to get two more bushels tomorrow night, and Jim Bench five bushels and will take all Cousin Charley kin bring him. And Jane McCune got five bushels and she didn't have the money. But Charley says if she don't pay him he'll steal her dog."

The Captain was laughing heartily but politely. The father and mother looked as if they had been convicted of larceny.

Lin jerked out: "Well, ef that don't beat the bugs. A-stealin' pertaters. I'd as soon be ketched stealin' sheep. I tell ye now, that Charley's headed fer the pinitentiary."

This speech seemed to crush the father and mother. They felt somehow as if they were implicated. But Captain Abrams apologized in every way for annoying them. They all seated themselves, the blinds pulled down and a solemn[45] compact entered into that the matter never be referred to again. The father paid for the potatoes, taking "Al-f-u-r-d's" figures. "Al-f-u-r-d" was warned if he ever mentioned the affair outside of home that he would be sent to the House of Refuge.

The family felt that they were everlastingly disgraced. The mother felt it most keenly. The father was half disposed to hold "Al-f-u-r-d" partly responsible and a trip to the cellar was strongly threatened. But Lin interfered by saying:

"Why, his mother and me is wus than 'Al-f-u-r-d'. Any grown body'd knowed Charley couldn't dig that many pertaters in a week, let alone a day."

Time wore on and the potato episode was seemingly forgotten. The family felt that the disgrace had been lived down and all were thankful the matter had not become the talk of the town.

Uncle Bill, Charley's father, was a good talker, fond of argument and usually the center of a group, particularly when political or religious subjects were under discussion. A long bench in front of Bill Isler's tin shop, ranged close up to the building. The town pump stood across the ten feet wide sidewalk opposite.

It was a pleasing sight to look upon this gathering of inequality of rank and property and equality of intellect discussing all questions, the affairs of their neighbors in particular.


Uncle Bill and the Boys

Uncle Bill and the Boys

There was a full bench: Joe Gibbons, Barney Barnhart, Jase Baker, Billy Graham, Birney Wilkins, and George Muckle Fee. Fee was a peculiar character, with an unusual deformity, since his neck was bent like a huge bow, not unlike a limb with the knee bent, his face looking to the ground. To look to either side he must turn his entire body. The only human being he ever thought kindly of was his wife, Susan. He always spoke of her respectfully. Some[47] people he hated more intensely than others. Uncle Bill was an especial mark of his vituperation. When they passed on the street George would turn his body half way around to mutter and curse him—however, not that Uncle Bill could hear.

George's usual position at the gathering in the evening was back against the old pump facing those seated on the bench, with lowered face and upturned eyes, looking from one speaker to another, scowling or smiling as the remarks met with his approval or otherwise.

The subject under discussion was "boys." A number of boys of the town, almost grown men, had been apprehended stealing scrap iron.

Uncle Bill, as usual, had the center of the stage. He had about concluded a lengthy discourse as to the management of boys, bad boys in particular, and as usual concluded by relating for the hundredth time, how he managed his boys.

"I just called 'em up and says: 'Boys, I've raised you up to what you are and I've done for you all a parent could do. You're strong and able to do for yourselves and don't depend on me longer. Go out in the world and dig for yourselves.'"

Fee, squirting a flood of tobacco juice with the words, said: "Yes, and ef they'd all dig like Charley did, you'd had purtaters to last you a life time."

The roars of laughter that went up were convincing proof that there are no secrets sacred in a small town.



Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy with cheek of tan;
"With thy turned-up pantaloons
And thy merry, whistled tunes;
With the sunshine on thy face
Through thy torn brim's jaunty grace;
Outward sunshine, inward joy,
Blessings on thee, barefoot boy.

Alfred's parents concluded it would be good for the boy to send him to the country for a time, freeing him from the influence of town boys. Therefore they sent him to Uncle Joe's, a prosperous farmer, a little inclined to take too much hard cider or rye at sheep-washing or hog-killing time, fond of fox chasing and hunting and shooting at a mark.

Uncle Joe went to town at least once a week when Aunt Betsy accompanied him. He observed the proprieties and respected his good wife's wishes. Long had she labored to get him to join the church of which she was an exemplary pillar. Thus far she had not succeeded.

A neighboring farmer, the leading member of the church, was the barrier. Uncle Joe and this neighbor, "Old Bill Colvin," as Uncle Joe designated him, had been at logger-heads for years over line fences and other trifles that farmers find excuses to quarrel over.

Alfred at Nine

Alfred at Nine

Uncle Joe's prejudice was so strong that when questioned as to whether he did not want to go to heaven, he defiantly informed the minister, "Not if Old Bill Colvin is there."

[49]If a cow strayed, hog died or turkey was lost, it was attributed to Old Bill Colvin. When the bees swarmed and Uncle Joe with the fiddle scraping out "Big John, Little John, Big John, Davy," Aunt Betsy beating a tin pan with a spoon, poor old granny, bent with age, following slowly jingling a string of sleigh bells, and in feeble, squeaky voice asked Uncle Joe if the bees were going off, although no swarm had ever left the place, Uncle Joe, vigorously scraping the fiddle, walking under the cloud of circling bees, not heeding granny's query, would say:

"Look at 'em, look at 'em, they're leaving; we can't get 'em to settle. There they go. Look at 'em, look at 'em. Dam 'em, headed for Old Bill Colvin's."

Uncle Joe was noted for his honey, watermelons, peaches, turkeys, maple-sugar and sweet potatoes and loud voice. He was the loudest voiced man in Red Stone township. Every living creature on the farm stood in fear of Uncle Joe's voice. If the stock jumped the fence into another field, Uncle Joe's voice awed them into jumping back again. Fence rails, hoes, rakes or anything that came handy had so often been wielded by his powerful arms on them that his voice was sufficient almost any time to frighten horse, cow or hog into seeking safety in flight when he shouted.

The day for Alfred's going to the country arrived. Aunt Betsy had the neuralgia and Uncle Joe came alone on horseback. Meeting former friends, he tarried long at the Tavern. When under the influence of stimulants he became even louder. John Rathmell, the town watchman, endeavored to quiet him. Finally, he ordered Uncle Joe to go home or he would arrest him.

Uncle Joe was riding Black Fan, his fox-hunting mare. She was seventeen hands high, mostly legs, a natural pacer. She could jump over anything under the moon. Her hind legs the longer,—they seemed to be the propelling power and appeared to move faster than her front legs. When at top[50] speed she traveled sort of sideways. This seemed a wise provision of nature as it prevented her running over herself, or like a stern-wheel boat, with too much power going by the head.

Uncle Joe obeyed the order of the officer of the law. Tardily, leisurely and tantalizingly mounting Black Fan, taking Alfred up behind him, he headed the mare in the opposite direction from home. Alfred feared he was going down the hill into the "Neck" to get more liquor and he almost decided to get off and go back home.

You Can All Go to H—ll

"You Can All Go to H—ll"

At a pace as respectable as ever a funeral cortege traveled, Uncle Joe rode until opposite the old market house, there turning the mare around heading her homeward. Straightening her out in the middle of the road, rising in his stirrups to emphasize his contempt for the law in the person of the[51] watchman, Uncle Joe gave vent to a yell that brought store-keepers to the doors, pedestrians to turn around and drivers to pull to the side of the street.

He gave the mare her head. At the sound of the voice nearer and consequently louder than ever before, she shot forward at a speed never equalled on that street. At every revolution of her hind legs her body under Alfred rose and fell like a toy boat on a ruffled bay. Uncle Joe rose and fell with the movement and at every rise he yelled even louder than before.

The End of the Ride

The End of the Ride

The minion of the law and several idlers, always seeking an opportunity to meddle, rushed to the middle of the street, but as well might they have attempted to arrest the wind. The shoes of Black Fan struck the flinty limestones on the pike, the sparks flew, and her trail was a veritable streak of[52] fire. As the mare rounded the turn at Workman's Hotel, Uncle Joe, as a parting shot, yelled:

"You can all go to h—ll."

How Alfred maintained his hold he never knew nor did the mare slacken pace greatly until home was reached. Alfred is of the opinion to this day that Uncle Joe forgot he carried a handicap.

The corn-cob stopper in a large bottle which Uncle Joe, (as was the custom of farmers in those days), carried in his right hand overcoat pocket, came out, the contents splashed in Alfred's face and saturated his clothing. Alfred was almost stupefied with the fumes of the liquor and had the distance been further he surely would have fallen from his seat.

As the mare halted, Uncle Joe vigorously threw his leg over her back to dismount, sweeping Alfred from his seat as though he had been a rag-doll. Down he fell head first and no doubt sustained bodily injury had not Providence, or a kindly cow deposited a cushion as soft as velvet for his reception, and curls. His yells and calls brought the family to the rescue. Alfred was not received as courteously as on former visits; however, after a bath in a tub of not overly warm water, the family were a trifle less distant.

The wife was very much provoked over the husband's actions.

Reinforced by Billy Hickman, the preacher, and several church members, renewed her efforts to have Uncle Joe ally himself with the church. Uncle Joe assured one good brother that if sheep-washing time was over—it was then September and sheep are washed in May or June—he would join the church. He explained that he felt he must have a little "licker" sheep-washing time or he would "ketch the rheumatiz."

The District Fair was on, Black Fan was entered in the free-for-all pace. She was considered a joke by horsemen[53] and the knowing ones. But Alfred would have bet all he had that Black Fan was the fastest goer in the world. Ike Bailey's Black Bess, John Krepps' Billy, John Patterson's Morgan Messenger, were the other entries, all under saddle except Morgan Messenger. Patterson drove him to a sulky, the only sulky in the county, the wheels higher than the head of the driver. It was the idea of the builder the larger the wheels the greater the speed.

Black Fan had much the worst of the get-away and it looked as if she would be left in the stretch. It was a half-mile track. Twice around completed the heats. The crowd laughed themselves hoarse at Uncle Joe's entry and rider.

Git Up, Fan!

"Git Up, Fan!"

The other riders leaning forward, holding their bridle reins close down to the bit, seemed to lift their horses as they sped away from Black Fan whose rider was leaning back holding the briddle reins at arm's length as if he feared she would go by the head.

There was no grandstand, the populace standing thick along the track, separated from it by a rough board fence.

[54]As the horses neared the starting point on the first turn, Black Fan far in the rear, Uncle Joe was seen pushing through the crowd, towering above the multitude. He made his way to the side of the track, climbing up on the fence-board next to the top, he stood erect.

The leaders flew by and, as Black Fan got opposite, he raised his arms as if to throw a stone or club at her, at the same time, in stentorian tones, yelling: "Git up! Git up! Git! Git out of that, you Black B—— h! Git up Fan. Gin her her head! Don't hold her, dam her! Let her go! Scat!"

Give Her Head! Don't Hold Her!

"Give Her Head! Don't Hold Her!"

As the last yell left his lips over he went onto the dusty track head-first. Black Fan surely imagined Uncle Joe was after her, she shot forward, her hind legs going so fast she looked in danger of running over herself, taking up nearly the width of the course. John Patterson and his high-wheeled sulky were swept off the track. Black Bess jumped the fence, ran off with her rider and was disqualified. Only John Krepps kept his little horse on the track, but Black Fan had the race in hand.

[55]Great confusion reigned. Several fights started, Uncle Joe being in the midst of all of them. Everybody surrounded the judges, and the other horse owners protested the race. As the judges were all farmers with the usual fairness pervading decisions as between town folks and country ones, Black Fan was given the race.

After the Race

After the Race

Uncle Joe led the mare all over the fair grounds with Alfred mounted on her, and notwithstanding the boy was surfeited with ginger bread, cider and other District Fair delicacies, he importuned the uncle for more. Finally the uncle impatiently handed him two cents, "So there go eat ginger bread till you bust." Uncle Joe celebrated his victory all afternoon. When he advised Alfred that they would soon start home and that he could ride behind him on Black Fan, Alfred slid down and requested a neighboring farmer to permit him to ride home in his dead axe wagon.

Uncle Joe did not get home until very late, claiming that he did not know that Alfred had gone before and that he was searching the fair grounds for him. Alfred's aunt gently chided him and advised that when he went anywhere with his uncle thereafter he must remain until his uncle came, but to urge his uncle to come early.

Uncle Joe was very sick the next day. Aunt Betsy said it served him right. She hoped he'd "puke his innards out." Alfred was busy carrying the afflicted man water by the gourdful from the spring. Uncle Joe would not permit him to bring it in a pail: he wanted it cold and fresh.

"Dip her deep, son," he would say as he emptied the gourd and sent the boy for more.

[56]The sufferer grew worse and finally Aunt Betsy's womanly sympathy impelled her to go to the sick man. She began by saying:

"I oughtn't to lift a hand to help you. Any man that will pour licker down his stomach until he throws it up is a hog and nothing else."

Catching a whiff of that which had come up, she turned up her nose and contemptuously continued:

"I don't see how any one can put that stuff down them."

She held her nose and turned her head in disgust. The sick man raised his head and feebly answered:

"Well, it don't taste that way going down. Go away and let me die in peace. I deserve to die alone; I don't want any of ye to pity me. Just bury me is all I ask."

She Asked Him If He Were Not Afraid to Die

She Asked Him If He Were Not Afraid to Die

The woman's sympathy entirely overcome her anger as the man well knew it would. She begged to be permitted to[57] do something for him. He was obdurate. He was "not worthy of being saved"; all he desired was to "die alone and be forgotten."

She asked him if he were not afraid to die.

"No, no" he answered, "I'm not afraid to die but I'm ashamed to."

Feeling his heart was softening, she begged to do something to relieve him, a cold towel for his head or hot tea for his stomach. No, nothing could do him any good, so he declared.

"If you don't have something done for you, you might die."

"Let me die, but if I ever get over this one, it's the last for Joe. I hope every still house in Fayette County will burn down afore night and all the whiskey ever made destroyed."

The wife exulted greatly at these words and renewed her entreaties to do something for him.

"Well, if you insist on doing something for me", and he hesitated, "but I know it will do no good—go down to the kitchen, fill a big coffee cup half full of bilin' hot water, dissolve a lump of loaf sugar in it, drop in a little lump of butter 'bout as big as a robin's egg. Then reach up in the old cupboard in the hall, top shelf and way back in the corner, you'll find a big, black bottle. Pour quite a lot out of this bottle into the cup, fill it up. Grate a little nutmeg into it and fetch it up yar."

Then holding his hands to his head as if suffering great pain, dropping his voice to a faint whisper as if he were about to collapse, he said:

"Bring it up here and if I don't want to take it you jes' make me."

Not long afterwards the whole neighborhood was talking of the conversion of Uncle Joe and the day of his baptism marked an epoch in that section. The lion and the lamb were roaming together. Old Bill Colvin and Uncle Joe were[58] making cider on the shares. Many were the strange tales told of how the conversion of Uncle Joe came about.

The day of baptism saw the largest gathering in the history of Red Stone meeting house. Alfred, Cousin Charley and all the country folks round about were there and many from town. Many were the conjectures made by the idle gossipers as to whether Joe would hold out. Tom Porter prophesied that the first time Joe got on a tear he would lick the preacher. Billy Hickman, the preacher, was a mite of a man, while Uncle Joe was a giant in comparison.

Alfred's Ride

Alfred's Ride

Uncle Joe had never been ducked or put under water but once, that the writer knows of. It was sheep-washing time. The sheep in a pen on the bank of the creek. Uncle Joe and another man in the creek up to their middles washing the sheep. Alfred and another boy in the pen catching the sheep dragging them to the bank as the workers called for another[59] sheep. There was one old bell-wether that was too strong for the boys. After futile attempts to drag him to the creek Alfred decided to ride him. Jumping astride of the animal it made frantic efforts to free itself from the burden. Round the pen, bleating and panting it ran. It started for the creek and from a height of several feet it plunged, hitting Uncle Joe square between the shoulders.

They All Follow

They All Follow

Its weight and Alfred's sent the powerful man under the water. Where one sheep leads another will follow. As he attempted to rise, sheep after sheep hit him on head or back. Under he went again as often as he arose until the whole herd were out of the pen.

This experience probably accounted for Uncle Joe's actions the day of the baptism. Grouped on the banks of the creek, in fence corners, some lying on the grass under the red haw trees, were the rabble—all there out of curiosity.

Standing near the creek, chanting a familiar hymn as only an earnest congregation of good people can sing, were the church members. Walking slowly from the church was the preacher and Uncle Joe, the disparity in their size all the more marked as they waded into the water.

[60]Uncle Joe seemed ill at ease and it appeared as though he was sort of holding back. By the time the minister was in up to his middle, the water only flowed about Uncle Joe's knees. The little preacher paused, folded Uncle Joe's hands across his breast. Uncle Joe looked behind him as much as to say:

"It's a long ways down to the water."

The minister began the solemn baptismal service. At the last word he attempted to lay Uncle Joe back, immersing him in the usual manner but Uncle Joe resisted. Alfred said afterwards he "knowed Uncle Joe was skeered, that Hickman couldn't rise him up after he got him under." Alfred explained that it was hard to keep from strangling when you went down backwards. "That's the way I nearly drowned. They ought to baptize 'em forward," was his conclusion.

The silence was oppressive. The minister sort of squirmed around and began the service over. At the last word he made another effort to immerse the sinner. Again his strength was insufficient, both men jostled around.

Sam Craft, who was watching the proceeding from a fence corner, at the failure of the second attempt to dip the penitent, drawled in a voice thick with hard cider:


Uncle Joe quickly took hold of his nose with thumb and finger; stooping, he put his face under water to his ears, left the preacher standing in the creek as he rushed out, not to the church members but to his old cronies, until led to his proper place among the congregation.

The conversion of Uncle Joe made Aunt Betsy happy. Alfred had liberties he never enjoyed previously. He rode Billy, the pony, when and where he chose. He ran rabbits, chased through the woods until the scant wardrobe he brought from home was in rags and tatters.

The great Civil War had just begun. All the country was marching mad—soldiers passing and repassing along[61] the pike. Aunt Betsy and Lacy Hare, the hired girl, decided that Alfred should have a soldier's suit that would surprise the natives. Neither had ever been blessed with children, neither had ever attempted to make a garment such as they fashioned in their minds for Alfred.

The original that Alfred's suit was patterned after was a military uniform worn by John Stevenson in the War of 1848 between Mexico and the United States.

As the faded garment was brought from the garret and Alfred, with wood-ashes and vinegar brightened up the ornaments and medals, he thought John had been a mighty general, judging from the medals he wore. When he learned John was only a fifer his admiration for him greatly increased and often he coaxed John to play the old tunes that cheered the warriors on to victory in the many battles John graphically described not recorded in history.

Lacy with a pair of sheep shears cut out the coat, while Aunt Betsy held the pattern down on the heavy grey cloth. The goods were of the home-made quality, known as "linsey-woolsey," a material worn by farmers almost universally in those days. The household scissors were too dull to cut it, hence the sheep shears were pressed into service by Lacy.

The coat cut, Alfred had to stand out in the entry while the women used his nether garments to pattern by. The door a little ajar, Alfred impatiently watched the two women cut out the pants. Lacy remarked, after he had asked for his pants twice:

"Land sakes! Have a little patience. You climb trees, run through thickets, till you're rags and tatters, and I hope when we get these clothes done you'll settle down and save them to wear when you go anywhar."

The women decided, or rather endeavored, to make the suit after the cut of the uniforms worn by the soldiers. Lacy insisted that a blouse would not look well on Alfred and it was decided to make him a jacket at the bottom "close fittin'" as Lacy expressed it.[62]

Nothing like this suit was ever seen before or after the war. Angles and folds were, where should have been smoothness; too short at the bottom, too high at the top, too tight where they should have been loose and vice versa. The jacket was short in the waist and high in the neck. Lacy remarked as they basted the thing that there seemed too much cloth in some parts but she thought it would take up in the sewing. The surplus cloth in the west side of the pants hung to the boy's calves, covering the limbs that far down. Therefore, it was difficult to decide at a distance where the jacket ended and the pants began. In fact, the boy, from a backside view at a little distance, seemed to be wearing a long-tailed coat.

Going from you, Alfred looked like a grown man; coming towards you he looked more natural. Wherever there appeared a bunch or angle that seemed out of place, Lacy endeavored to modify the over abundance by tacking on one of the ornaments taken from the old uniform of which a great number were used. The shoulders of the jacket seemed to fit to suit Lacy, therefore she used the epaulets from the shoulders of the old soldier's uniform elsewhere. The seat of the pants hanging so low, Lacy said looked too bare, whereupon she tacked the epaulets on that part of the pants, with the yellow and red fringe hanging down.

There was a very large lump resembling "Richard the Third's" hump; on this Lacy perched a brass eagle with wings spread as if about to fly off with the coat. Red and yellow stripes ran up and down the outside seam of the pants.

Lacy said they "looked so purty it was a shame the folds of the cloth kivered so much of the stripe"; she "allowed it was too bad that more of the folds had not found their way into the seat of the pants cos it wa'n't noticed there, the epaulets hid it."

Lacy had such a great quantity of this yellow and red material, she insisted on running a double row around the[63] cuffs of the coat and around the bottom of the pants. Aunt Betsy gently dissented but Lacy seemed the moving spirit in the project and the elder woman deferred to her. The aunt said the only fear she had was that folks might think the suit too gaudy. Aunt Betsy said she feared they had not sewed the braid on straight or the pants wouldn't pucker so at the knees.

All the ornaments, space could not be found for elsewhere, were tacked on the cap. The vizor or brim was the only disappointment to the women. No stiff leather procurable, they used cardboard and blackened it with shoe polish. This soon broke and crumpled. Lacy remarked:

"The blame rim spiles the whole outfit."

It dangled in Alfred's eyes all the time, hence he generally wore the vizor behind.

The soldier clothes were to Alfred a thing of beauty and joy until he went to town. Alfred collected all the country boys he could enlist and called them the "Red Stone Blues." He found an old, rusty sword, its scabbard a load, yet he carried it wherever he went. Others of his company had corn cutters, old scythes and muskets.

Alfred attempted to drill the boys as he had seen the home guards and Sam Graham's Zouaves do in town. Two old stove pipes were mounted on wheels for cannon.

It was Alfred's ambition to ride at the head of his command as did the commander of the Ringold Cavalry, but Lacy had attached the epaulets to the seat of Alfred's trousers as they came from the shoulders of the old coat, and the tin shape frames prevented Alfred assuming any attitude while in the uniform than that of standing. When Alfred spoke to Lacy as to the advisability of changing the location of the epaulets she explained that they had nothing suitable to replace them. When Alfred complained he could not sit down, Lacy said:

[64]"Law sakes, you shouldn't think of it. Them 'air things are too purty to kiver up."

The battle of Bull Run had been fought. The country was ablaze with excitement, war and rumors of war, war stories, war talk. Everybody was up in arms, soldiers moving everywhere, as the locality was not far from where battles were soon expected.

Uncle Joe and Aunt Betsy went to town to hear the news. Alfred, left alone, marshalled his hosts in battle array.

In the romance of Pierce Forrest, a young knight being dubbed by King Alexander, he was so elated he galloped into the woods, cut and slashed trees until he eased his effervescence and convinced the army he was a most courageous soldier.

Alfred at the head of his army, strode down the column as Jupiter is said to have strode down the spheres as he hurled his thunderbolts at the Titans.

Alfred and his army charged and recharged, Uncle Joe's hedge fence. On and on they charged, coming on the enemy standing ten deep in line, asking or giving no quarter; the enemy fell bruised and bleeding. Every stalk of Uncle Joe's broom corn patch lay on the ground, not one stalk standing to tell the tale.

How vain are the baubles of war. Alfred standing in the midst of the field of slaughter—he could not sit down—heard a roar that froze his hot blood and scattered his army to the winds of anywhere and to the thickets.

Uncle Joe, returning, had witnessed the slaughter of his broom corn from the top of the hill by the big shell-bark hickory nut trees. His yells not only struck terror to Alfred's heart but Black Fan and other stock broke from the fields into the big road where they stood trembling.


Alfred's Redstone Blues

Alfred's Redstone Blues

Lacy said she hadn't heard Uncle Joe chirp since he was baptized. When he hit his finger with a hammer she felt certain he would "break out," but he stuck to his religion.

[66]As he crossed the apex of the hill and saw the broom corn falling before Alfred and his minions, the roar that floated across the flat sounded very much like:


When Alfred saw Ajax drawing nearer, his sword fell from his hand and Alfred fell on the broom corn, an object of abject fear. Ajax grabbed him by the nape of the neck and seat of his uniform, nearly ruining one of the epaulets.

Never was warrior so ignobly driven or dragged from a field of victory. Aunt Betsy could find no excuse for Alfred. Broom corn was a necessity in the household work. Every farmer made his own brooms.

After a very short trial by court martial it was decided that the country was too quiet for Alfred and that he should be transferred to town at once.

Although tried and found guilty, Alfred, to his delight, was permitted to retain his side-arms and wear his uniform. The next day, standing between Aunt Betsy and Uncle Joe in the old buggy driving the old mare, he began the journey home. He was arrayed in full regimentals, the brim of the cap turned behind, his yellow hair hanging in strings, (it had never been curled since he went to the country).

Everyone they met cast admiring glances at Alfred's uniform. The aunt was proud of the attention attracted. Passing through Sandy Hollow, Sid Gaskill, the roughest girl in the neighborhood, motioned the buggy to stop. As Sid inspected Alfred she requested him to turn around. Looking him over she asked:

"Who made 'em?" referring to the uniform.

Alfred promptly replied:

"Lacy Hare helped Aunt Betsy make 'em."

The aunt's face showed her satisfaction. Not even when Sid inquired if the clothes were made to wear in a show did the aunt's pride in Alfred's suit diminish, although the[67] inference is that it was the military character of the clothes rather than the cloth or fit, she was proud of, as Aunt Betsy was very patriotic.

All the way to town she was picturing what a surprise the suit would be to Mary and John, and it was.

Alfred was driving the old mare as she had not been driven in years. Uncle Joe made him slow down. Uncle Joe sometimes exceeded the speed limit leaving town but usually went in at a respectable gait.

Alfred's desire to see the loved ones at home was so strong that he jumped out of the buggy as they entered the town. Running ahead of the buggy he passed Uncle Bill's: Waving a welcome to Martha and Hester, who stood in the front yard, he regarded their laughter as evidence of their pleasure at seeing him back home again.

When Martha shouted, "What devilment are you up to now?" he never imagined it was his appearance that so amused the girls.

Over the fence, across lots to the rear of the house he scampered. Lin was out mopping the floor of the back porch. Perched on the top of the fence he caught sight of her.

"Hello, Lin? How-dye?"

Lin heard the voice. She did not recognize the speaker at once.

"Hello, Lin?" he shouted again.

Lin shaded her eyes, gazed hard at the boy, dropped the mop, and Alfred heard her call:

"My Gawd, Mary! Come out here, quick!"

The mother appeared as Alfred neared the house. Looking curiously at him, she covered her face with her apron and began to laugh. Lin ran into the house screaming and laughing. The boy stood abashed. The mother motioned him to approach her, pushing him into the house. She obtained a view of the rear of the warrior's uniform and a fresh outburst of laughter prevented her even speaking[68] to him. Lin and the mother clasped each other in their arms as they swayed, weakened with laughter. Lin was the first to recover her speech. The boy's feelings were hurt.

"Where's your regular clothes?" Lin first asked, "you bin in a-swimmin' agin and lost 'em, I reckon."

The children came romping home from school, Sister Lizzie rolled on the floor as she caught sight of the boy and asked Lin, between screams: "Who dressed brother Al up like that?"

The mother ordered him to remain in the room until they got other clothes for him. They did not want the neighbors to see him dressed as he was.

The boy's spirit began to assert itself.

"Laugh, if you feel like it. Lacy Hare and Aunt Betsy made me these clothes, they're regular soldier clothes. I'll bet if you laugh at them when Aunt Betsy comes she will tell you something. I don't see nothin' to laugh at."

"Landsakes," spoke up Lin, "step in the parlor and look at yerself. Ef you don't laugh you're not the kind I took ye fer."

Alfred did laugh and he got out of the clothes mighty quickly. Lin was delegated to explain to Aunt Betsy why they changed Alfred's clothes so quickly.

Aunt Betsy informed them:

"The boy had jes' romped until he was most naked. They didn't want to send to town for clothes for him, so Lacy and her jes' banded together and made him the suit. They had plenty of time and they concluded to make him a suit different from any other boy's. And it warn't much trouble to trim it up and make it nice rather than to make it plain. It took two days more to trim it than it did to make it."

Lin told the good, honest soul they could not think of Alfred wearing the clothes every day in town. "We'll keep 'em off him 'til the next battle and when the peepul are all sad over their friends that's been killed, we'll dress him up and send him down the street."

[69]Many years afterwards, the writer, rummaging through the garret of the old home, the odd garments fashioned by Lacy Hare and Aunt Betsy were discovered. Recollections of the mirth they aroused when first brought to the notice of the family, prompted the carrying of the old musty outfit to the sitting room below.

But somehow the odd looking suit failed to excite any merriment. It was rather regarded with reverence. The sight of it sent the thoughts of all traveling back to other and happier days. The mother thought of those whose kindly hands had fashioned the fantastic garments; of an elder sister who had filled a mother's place in the family. She remembered a happy home, its like unknown in all the country about, where hospitality was liberally dispensed, visitors always welcome. She thought of the first wife's passing, the coming of another to the big house. The lowering of the family name by the second marriage. The shunning of the old home by friends and relatives; of the rapid decline of the master; evil associates whom he preferred to those who had honored and loved him; the estrangement of family and friends.

In her mind she could see in him a bent old man, prematurely old, leaving his home to seek shelter with strangers, lost to the sight of former friends, his whereabouts known only when the final summons came to him; his identity made known by his last request:

"I have left money with George Gallagher to bury me. Bury me beside Betsy."

And in her mind she saw two graves side by side, one with a marker reading "My Beloved Wife," the other unmarked.

The mother softly said as she folded the coat and nether garments:

"Put them away again."



Backward, turn backward, oh, time in your flight,
Make me a child again, just for tonight.

"Help is mighty skeerse an' ye got to take what ye kin git," was Lin's answer to the query of a neighbor as to why they had re-employed Cousin Charley after the confusion he had created in the family of Alfred.

Cousin Charley was sent to the country on an errand that was supposed to consume a couple of hours.

It was Circus day. The head of the family gave the boys sufficient money to pay their way from side-show to concert.

That they might not miss any of the sights of Circus day, Charley arranged with Lin to serve breakfast by 5 a. m., to give him an early start, enabling him to return by 8 o'clock and take Alfred to the circus grounds to remain all day, the custom of the country folk in those days.

Many families brought their lunch with them and picnicked on the show grounds. Among them was Abner Linn, a large man noted for his appetite and great strength. Abner was making his way through the crowd on Circus day, clearing a path, as it were, for his delicate little wife and more than half a dozen children. The frail little woman carried a large basket filled with eatables. The basket was more than a load and the little woman struggled to keep near her muscular husband. Glancing back and noticing the wife faltering, he relieved her of the basket and started forward at a faster walk than before.

Gentle Harry Mason admiringly complimented him by saying:

"Abner, that was very kind and thoughtful of you to carry that heavy basket for your wife."

Ab, with a leer, said: "Gosh, I was afeard she'd get lost."

[71]Alfred cried to go to the country with Charley. Lin said:

"Ye'll be so tired ye can't enjoy the show ef ye walk out thar an' back so early in the mornin'."

Go Alfred would. Up Town Hill, through Sandy Hollow, through the old toll gate to Thornton's Lane where the boys were to turn off the old pike. But they did not turn off. They lingered under the big locust trees throwing stones at birds and against the high fence surrounding the Fair Grounds where Black Fan had won her famous race. The circus was coming in on the old pike from Uniontown. All circus travel was overland in those days.

Cousin Charley argued if they did not see the show come in they'd miss one of the big sights of the day: they had plenty of time. The show would pass that way soon and Alfred was only too willing to linger.

The dew, sparkling like diamonds as it lay on grass and plant, had disappeared; a summer's sun was pouring its direct rays on the old pike. Cousin Charley prevailed on the younger boy to continue the journey further eastward on the pike until they met the wagons. Cousin Charley explained that he was familiar with a short cut to their destination, and as they crossed the creek they would have a swim.

This met with the hearty approval of Alfred. The boys walked out the old highway, passing Captain Abram's fine farm where Charley had dug potatoes on the shares, on beyond Uncle Jack's big stone house, nearly to Redstone School-house ere the circus wagons were met. As the wagons rolled by, the boys conjectured as to what each contained. There were no animal vans as the menagerie had not combined with the circus in those days. The big, gold-mounted band wagon, followed by a dozen passenger wagons, buggies and hacks, a half dozen led ring horses and ponies, passed, and the cavalcade was lost in the dust.

Striking across the fields the boys were soon on the banks of Dunlap's Creek. Instead of the gently flowing[72] stream in which they expected to bathe their heated bodies, they found a raging, muddy torrent, fast flowing, spreading over bottom lands, water half way up the stalks of the growing corn.

Cousin Charley declared the water too muddy for bathing purposes; but he would undress, construct a raft of the plentiful rails that had lodged along the banks of the creek, and seating Alfred on the raft, he would swim, pushing the raft across the creek.

Cousin Charley began constructing the raft near the creek bank proper, where the water was backed into the field. He dragged the rails through the water, sometimes lying down and swimming, at other times diving under the water. Alfred could not resist the temptation to undress and assist with the raft.

The Life Raft

The Life Raft

When completed, Cousin Charley seated Alfred on the top of the raft, the clothing of both boys being piled on his lap that they might not get wet. The raft was pushed off, Cousin Charley insisting that he was a stern wheel tow boat, kicking his feet out of the water to imitate the splash of the wheel. The boat did not make great headway but backed and went ahead as the raft floated down the creek. The banks were steeper on either side, therefore, the tow boat decided to go down the stream a little further ere landing. In fact, the towboat was having such a good time he did[73] not fully realize the current was carrying his tow rapidly towards the old mill dam. Neither did the passenger on the raft realize this until he noticed a changed expression on the face of the tow boat. He further realized that the tow boat was laboring powerfully.

In rounding a bend in the stream the tow actually swung around in the current, the tow boat not having power to prevent it. The younger boy for the first time noticed the roaring of the old dam, a fact the boy doing the towing had been aware of and terribly worried over for some time.

In his excitement, the younger boy stood up on the raft.

"Set down! Set down!" frantically yelled the boy in the water.

Another alarming fact presented itself at this juncture. Several of the under rails had worked out and were only connected to the raft by one end. This caused the raft to settle on the port side and the younger boy could no longer keep his seat, fearing he would tumble off backwards into the stream.

The boys became more and more excited, the roar of the old dam grew nearer and nearer. Louder and louder came the noise of the waters tumbling over it. Both boys pictured themselves being swept over the dam into the whirlpool below. No victim of Niagara's treacherous tides ever neared his doom with greater terror. Down, down, floated rails and cargo; Cousin Charley struggling as he never did before; Alfred screaming as he never did before or since.

When Cousin Charley began shouting for help, the younger boy became hysterical. The roar of the rushing water seemed to drown all other sounds and Cousin Charley's voice, though he shouted at the top of his lungs' strength, sounded to Alfred's ears like a voice in the distance.

"Set down! Set down! For God's sake, set down! You'll fall off. Set down!" yelled Cousin Charley.

[74]Instead of obeying, Alfred clambered higher and higher on the rails, waving his shirt frantically and shouting for help. The shirt served as a signal of distress.

Morg Gaskill was in the field above the Young House. He saw the shirt waving. The roar of the waters drowned the boys' voices. Gaskill, rushing to the saw-mill, grabbed a log hook and ran up the banks of the creek.

The boys could see the break of the water as it rushed over the crest of the dam and the white, foamy splashes as it bounded up from where it fell below. Cousin Charley was barely holding on to the tow; Alfred was sinking down on the almost disintegrated raft.

Gaskill, muscular and active, rushed into the water up to his middle, shot the pole out. The hook caught over the rails, but they pulled out. Alfred fell on them as the raft drifted apart. Down went all of Charley's wearing apparel excepting his big straw hat and one shoe which Alfred clutched unconsciously in one hand. As Alfred fell forward on the rails he grabbed the hook or pole and held on for dear life as Gaskill pulled him ashore, more dead than alive.

The elder boy was floated off holding onto two rails. It was but a moment until the strong young man had both lads ashore. They dragged the hook along the bottom of the creek but not a vestige of the clothes of either could be found. Charley had one shoe and a large straw hat. Alfred had a shirt, rather long, and a hat.

Explanations were gone into. Gaskill went into the house, returning with an old rubber boot, a calico shirt and a pair of corduroy pants. Many patches made their original material a matter of doubt. He explained that was the best he could do for Charley and said:

"I don't know what we will do for the chap," scanning Alfred, "unless he wears one of Hannah's dresses," which Cousin Charley endeavored to persuade Alfred to do.

[75]Alfred declared he would sneak home as best he could with only the shirt. The boy realized that Cousin Charley would never cease teasing him if he wore the dress.

Alfred's body was covered with mud, Cousin Charley insisted that he go down to the water's brink and wash the mud from his body but Alfred could not be prevailed upon to go near the creek.

A large pail of very cold water was fetched from the well. With a mischievousness little short of cruelty, the water was poured on Alfred's head, streaming down over his body, his teeth chattered, his lips turned blue.

The women folks of the house were coming, so Alfred ran into the high grass to hide; while Cousin Charley and Gaskill renewed their search of the creek for the lost clothes. The house had been searched and nothing suitable to clothe Alfred could be found. There were no boys in the family.

There was a whispered consultation and one of the women hastened to the house. Returning, she handed Gaskill a white linen garment. He walked towards Alfred, his face distorted, endeavoring to suppress his laughter.

Gaskill, unrolling the something made of muslin, commanded Alfred to get into it. As he put one foot through the upheld opening, he caught sight of Cousin Charley's face and his attempted concealment of laughter. This so exasperated Alfred that he did not notice the garment he was being encased in. He upbraided Cousin Charley for his unseemly levity:

"Yes, laugh, you durn big fool! Laugh! You was skeered more than I was. Dog-gone ye, it was all your fault. If we had drowned you would have been to blame, then I reckon you'd laughed tuther side of your mouth. You big fool, you."

By this time Gaskill had the muslin garment fastened on Alfred. The waistband, which was too wide, Gaskill doubled over and pinned it. The legs were the same size all the way down, extending only a little below the knees. The seat[76] seemed to have a surplus similar to the uniform Lacy Hare had fashioned, although this part of the garment stood off from his person, not clinging like the heavy material of the military clothes.

Alfred, surveying himself as they walked towards the house where Mr. Young had invited them to have a bite of dinner, "after their skeer," began to realize that the linen garments he wore were similar to those that Lin washed last and never hung on the line in the front yard where the men came in. This discovery did not prevent him laughing at himself.

I Won't Go Through Town with Them Things On

"I Won't Go Through Town with Them Things On"

Alfred hesitatingly entered the house. Gaskill and Cousin Charley were tittering and laughing. Gaskill inquired: "Well, how are you going to git home?"

Charley replied: "I reckon I'll have to hide him out 'til after dark or send him on ahead for, by the eternal, I won't go through town with him with them things on."

Old Mrs. Young, gently leading the abashed boy to the table, spoke words of assurance, reproving the men for their levity.

[77]The Youngs were of the Dunkard faith, a religious sect numerous in the vicinity.

On their way home Alfred was the more hilarious of the two. In a spirit of bravado he declared he intended to walk right down the main street crowded as it would be on circus day. He further declared his intention to tell Pap and Mother the whole story—just how it happened.

Alfred seemed to have the better of the bigger and older boy. In fact, during the past year Alfred had been gradually gaining the mastery of Cousin Charley insofar as mind was concerned.

It has been said that each mind has its own method, no two reason and think alike. Alfred seemed to think quicker than Cousin Charley and often turned the tables on the older boy in a mental contest. On this occasion Cousin Charley finally gained the mastery by his threats not to take the younger boy to the circus.

It was agreed that Cousin Charley should tell the folks of the day's adventure. As they neared home their mirth diminished as their fears increased: how to run the gauntlet, as it were. So far they had avoided the highways, skulking through thicket and fields. As they neared the old Smouse place, now occupied by Mart Massie as a dairy farm, the milkman was hitching up preparatory to making his usual rounds.

Cousin Charley, perhaps feeling it would be a good rehearsal, recounted the story he had concocted to relate to Alfred's parents. The milkman was greatly interested in the thrilling narrative and consented to store the boys in the back end of the milk wagon, delivering them when he delivered the milk to their folks. The boys thought it a very long milk route. Alfred had Cousin Charley as nearly nervous as his nature would permit by more than once threatening to get out and walk home.

[78]When they neared home, passing through Church Street, Alfred made a move to leave the wagon, crawling over the end gate backwards, his limbs dangling outside, his head and body hid by the closely drawn curtains. Cousin Charley, after struggling, pulled him into the wagon under cover.

If Ye Ain't Lyin' About This and I'm Hopin' Ye Air

"If Ye Ain't Lyin' About This and I'm Hopin' Ye Air"

Several women had caught sight of the limbs and the unmentionable garments. While the driver was entirely ignorant of the cause, he was forever disgraced on this part of his route. An old Scotch lady declared to several of her neighbors the "shameless hussy was bare to the kilt."

Arriving in front of Alfred's home, Cousin Charley hustled him into the house the front way as Lin came up the path from the back part of the house in answer to the bell of the milkman, who was of the gossiping kind, and managed to give Lin the outlines of Cousin Charley's story as he drew the milk and cream from his large cans.

Lin could scarcely wait until he poured the milk into her pitcher. Giving the milk vendor a withering look, she slammed the gate and hissed:

"I'll bet a fippennybit that's another of Charley's durn lies."

[79]Hurrying into the kitchen she seized a rolling pin, her favorite weapon. Two stairs at a time she bounded, reaching the room where Cousin Charley had related about half of the harassing details of the rescue of Alfred. This was his story:

"He had stopped to rest. Alfred got out of his sight in some way. He heard screams from the creek. He saw Alfred floating down the stream on a log which he had been paddling around in the shallow water. It was but the work of a moment to disrobe. Plunging into the raging torrent he had to swim for dear life to overtake the fast floating boy on the log. He had just managed to land him before the dam was reached. A moment later and they would both have been carried over the dam to certain destruction."

The mother was faint with nervousness and sadly shook her head as she said:

"That boy will be the death of me yet. His disobedience is something I cannot understand. No wonder his father is out of patience with him."

Lin was watching Charley closely, occasionally casting side glances at Alfred. She had a gleam in her eyes that made Charley falter more than once in his narration.

Charley was still in the details when Lin interrupted him with:

"Durn yer pictur', ye nivir take this boy anywhar yer not back with a cock and bull story. Next ye'll be fightin' Injuns or gypsies to save Alfurd and it all amounts to Alfurd gittin' whupped an' somethin, fer ye to laff over."

Here she brandished the rolling pin over Charley, raising herself higher as the boy shrank from her threatening motions.

"Ef ye ain't lyin' 'bout this, an' I'm hopin' ye air, we ought to be mighty thankful to ye. But I'm boun' to hev the truth. Set down, or I'll knock ye down."

"'Al-f-u-r-d,' I want ye to stan' up like a little man. Ye nivir tol' me a lie 'cept when ye stol' us hungry carryin'[80] vittles to this houn'," as she pointed to the thoroughly frightened Charley, who whined:

"That's all the thanks I git for risking my life."

"Shet up," Lin almost yelled, "ye'll not tell one word of this to Mr. Hatfield."

"Stan' up 'Al-f-u-r-d' an' look this helgrimite in the face an' shame the devil. Didn't he push ye in the creek?"

"No, ma'am," falteringly. "I went in myself."

Charley began to look triumphant.

"Did he pull you out?"

"No, ma'am, Morg Gaskill pulled us both out."

Lin fairly hissed: "I knowed ye was lyin'."

Thus encouraged, Alfred graphically related the adventures of the day, not omitting any of the details save the dangling of his limbs out of the milk wagon.

Charley was taken aback and thereafter his credibility was destroyed in so far as the mother and Lin were concerned. He pouted and endeavored to deny portions of the younger boy's recital but was met with such positive assertions from Alfred that he retired entirely discomfited.

Lin's only comment was: "Durn ye; I'd be afeard to put my head in a circus, much less a church." Lin looked upon one with as much reverence as the other.

The boys missed the afternoon performance but were there early for the night show. At the opening note of the hand organ in the side-show Cousin Charley and Alfred were inside. The orator had eloquently described the curiosities pictured on the long line of banners in front of the side-show. But the most alluring object had not been mentioned, namely, a long show case filled with jewelry, symbolic numbers, bank notes of all denominations. A dice box on top of the glass-covered case was the means by which the yokels were assured they could extract the jewelry, bank notes, etc.

[81]The father had given Charley ample funds to cover admission fees to all shows and a liberal allowance for refreshments. Alfred was very much interested in the big snake and the lady whom the lecturer introduced as a snake charmer.

The lecturer announced that the performance was over, but another would be given in fifteen minutes. All those wishing to remain for the next performance were privileged to do so. Those congregated around the show case whereon the dice rattled were the only ones to remain.

Alfred heard the man behind the case saying: "Try your luck again, young man. You were within one number of the capital prize. You can't win it every time. Try again."

Charley did try again and again. He did not win the capital prize but in lieu of $4 he had two brass rings, a pair of brass cuff buttons and a lead pencil with a sharpener on the end of it.

The shades of night were falling. The lights in the big tent could be seen over the side wall. Hundreds of candles on a pyramid-shaped candelabra made of boards. Think of it, ye modern Ringlings, candles the only lights!

The band playing, Alfred imagined the show going on: the horses going around. All the glories and beauties he had been anticipating for weeks would be lost to him. He implored Cousin Charley to hurry up and purchase their tickets.

Hundreds were buying tickets. The big red wagon was open, the ticket seller handling the pasteboards with lightning-like rapidity. It was Ben Lusbie. He was the lightning ticket seller of the circus world. Such was his dexterity that Forepaugh afterwards lithographed him as an attraction.

Alfred's urgent appeals to "hurry and get our tickets" were lost upon Cousin Charley. He was seemingly dazed. The man at the big door shouted: "Everybody hold their own ticket; all must have tickets."

[82]The hustle and confusion made Alfred still more impatient. He gave the older boy's arm a rough jerk as he urged him to get their tickets. Cousin Charley seemed to wake up and the awful truth was revealed—Cousin Charley had been robbed. Alfred must stand right there until he took the jewelry back to the side show and recovered his money.

Alfred stood right there. Hundreds passed him, laughing and crowding into the big show. The longer Alfred waited the more miserable he became. Despair came over him. He waited, Cousin Charley did not come. The crowd thinned out; deeper and deeper Alfred's heart sank within him.

Anger began to take the place of disappointment. He would beat Cousin Charley black and blue with the first thing he could lay his hands on. He would expose all he had been concealing in a hundred mean things Charley had been guilty of.

The band played louder in the big tent. The feeling that he was missing all came back to him stronger than ever, bringing the hot tears to his eyes. They rolled down his cheeks until it seemed they would dampen the earth at his feet.

Alfred saw a large man pushing his way to the ticket wagon. It was Doctor Bob Playford, the biggest whole-souled friend any boy ever had. When the circus came, it was the custom of Bob Playford to wait until the crowd got in, then, collecting all the boys on the lot who could not command the price of admission, make a contract with the door-keeper and put them all in the show.

There are scores of men now, boys then, whose prayers have gone up that kind hearted Bob Playford found it as easy to enter the gates above as he made it for them to enter that heaven to a boy below—the circus.

Alfred knew full well that Doctor Playford would buy him a ticket but his pride would not permit him to ask this.

[83]Accompanying the Doctor were Willie Playford, his son, and Bob Kennedy, his nephew. The boys, recognizing Alfred, asked if he were going in the show. Endeavoring to swallow a big lump in his throat, his voice choked as he answered: "No."

"Were you there this afternoon?"

Again Alfred answered: "No."

No longer able to restrain himself he told of Charley's folly. The Doctor, approaching, Alfred's story was repeated, as it progressed, Alfred's sobbing and crying increased.

The Doctor, giving him a sympathetic look and a rough shake, said: "Now stop crying, stop crying, you dam little fool. When the circus comes to town you always come to me and I'll see that you get in."

The big Doctor, Alfred and the boys were seated long before the performance began, Alfred forgetting Cousin Charley, the raft, the garments he had dangled out of the milk wagon; in fact all the trials and tribulations of life were as fleeting dreams. Happiness lingered within his whole being. The sights and wonders, the clowns were all flitting before him. The evening was one of bewilderment and enchantment to the boy.

The old clown was his especial delight. He fairly shouted at his quips and antics. When the mules were brought in and $5 offered to the boy or man who could ride one of them, Alfred was tempted to make the trial. He felt certain he could do better than those who were being cast off like babies by the agile animals.

The show over, they started with the crowd toward the door. A whistle sounded, the walls of the tent fell as if by magic. The Doctor and the boys stood a long time watching the tents lowered.

As they passed up the narrow passage leading from the show lot to the street, Cousin Charley met them, his appearance evidencing his shame and disappointment. The Doctor began chiding him.

[84]Charley, in his illuminating way, explained that he went into the side show, and the man coaxed him to shake the dice. He shook and came within one every time he shook of winning the capital prize. He left the game, was induced to go back and shake again and the first dash out of the box he won the capital prize. They refused to give it to him, grabbed the money he had in his hand and put him out of the tent. He had been up on the hill to see Squire Wilkinson to swear out a warrant for their arrest but the Squire was at prayer-meeting. (They always have prayer meeting when the circus comes to town). He ran back to find the man who took his money.

"If I'd found him, I'd licked him or he'd licked me," concluded Charley.

The big Doctor playfully straightened out his powerful arm, pushing Charley backwards. Gazing at him in a humorously contemptuous manner as he said:

"Look here, my boy, you lie. You were gambling? No one but a country Jake would try to beat that game. I lost two dollars on that eight dice case myself. Now let me give you a little advice: 'Don't bet on another man's game unless you have money at home, for you are sure to lose all you have with you.'"

Alfred and Cousin Charley wended their way home Alfred endeavored to express his sympathy in detailing the wondrous sights he had witnessed in the circus. Alfred was sorry for Cousin Charley and while his intentions were commendable his descriptions of the circus only added to the disappointment and chagrin of the elder boy.

That night Alfred dreamed of heaven in his happiness. He dreamed that heaven was one big circus, with angels in pink tights and clowns capering on the golden streets. Peanuts and candy were heaped in piles invitingly, free to all. He dreamed of a big, blue-eyed man who stood at the Golden Gates and passed all the boys in free and when they[85] did not come of their own accord he beckoned to them. He seemed to enjoy the happiness of the boys more than the boys themselves.

Next morning at breakfast the wonders of the circus were gone over again. Alfred did not breathe a word as to Cousin Charley's loss of the money at the gaming table.

Since the night of the circus Alfred had busied himself preparing to give his first show. The costumes and a place to give the exhibition seemed to worry him more than the entertainment he was to offer.

Lin was his assistant. It might be more proper to state that Lin was the prime mover, and the director of the proposed exhibition, although Lin kept her activity concealed from the other members of the family. She explained her participation in the coming show thusly:

"Well, it's better fer a body to keep yer yungins to hum even ef it does clutter up the house to hev their fun. Alfurd's mos' crazy 'bout bein' a circus clown an' ye'd die laffin' to see the little cuss cuttin' didoes. I'd rather see him doin' it than hev him trapesin' the streets like Bill's Charley."

Lin never lost an opportunity to cast a reflection on Charley.

Alfred, Lin and the mother were seated at the breakfast table, discussing Alfred's show. Ways and means were the subjects. The mother was an interested listener, although a quiet dissenter. She could not understand how Alfred, even with Lin's aid, could offer anything in the way of a show to entertain even children.

The price of admission was to be two ten-penny nails. The boat building industry was thriving and the boys often went aboard a new boat picking up the nails the carpenters let fall in their work. The nail idea was Lin's and we must accord her some degree of originality.

[86]"Pins had always been the equivalent for cash for admission to amatoor shows." Lin said "our show." She always said "our show" when talking to the neighbors. When the show was referred to at home it was "Alfred's show."

Costumes were the perplexity of Alfred. He desired "purty" clothes: it made the acting look better.

Lin added: "Purty duds makes a lot in a show, or in meetin'," meanwhile looking mischievously at the mother. She said to Alfred: "Ye've got a tolerable good start fur as ye're concerned yerself, with the two suits ye fetched hum lately—the soldier suit Lacy Hare and Aunt Betsy made ye an' the one Mrs. Young lent ye."

Morg Gaskill had requested the return of the latter mentioned garments but Alfred's climbing of fences, running through briar patches and dangling out of milk wagons had pretty well used the garments up. The mother therefore in return sent similar garments.

Alfred insisted that the unmentionables Mrs. Young loaned him should be the basis of his clown suit. Although Alfred has worn many grotesque costumes since, none ever more strongly appealed to the risibilities of an audience than did those same garments. Lin said they were "the funniest fit she ever seed an' she wondered to gawd who they ever wuz made fer. Two meal sacks fastened together would fit jes' as well."

The show passed off as amateur shows generally do, with a great many hitches, accidents and quarrels. The night was a stormy one, without and within. The audience all came early and stood around the kitchen stove while Alfred and the other performers robed themselves, for there were no dressing rooms. Lin commanded the audience to turn their faces and look toward the stove while the actors were dressing.

The audience were compelled to go through the kitchen to gain entrance to the place of exhibition, the cellar. On[87] Lin would fall the labor of cleaning up next day; therefore, as each auditor appeared at the kitchen door, Lin shouted: "Wipe yer feet 'fore ye come in."

That the show might go on without hindrance, or for some other reason, the father and mother visited a neighbor that night. This was a great relief to Alfred and Lin.

Lin said: "Ef Mary ever sees this kitchen afore I git at it in the mornin' she'll hev a fit of the conniptions."

The show was very unsatisfactory to Alfred. He was dissatisfied with his company and declared they "couldn't do nuthin'." One or two weakened at the last moment. When looked for to take their place in the ring they were found seated or standing among the audience and no persuasion from the manager or the audience could induce them to go on with their part of the performance. This was exasperating to Alfred. He either enacted their roles or explained the part they were expected to perform.

Lin went wild over his impersonations of Daniel Boone, Santa Anna and Davy Crockett. Lin said: "I tell ye what, Lacy Hare's soldier suit come in jes' right."

Young Bill Colvin, a nephew of Uncle Joe's neighbor, was seated near the ringside. He plucked at one of the epaulets while Davy Crockett was supposed to be holding the cabin door against the wolves. This ruffled the temper of Davy to such an extent that he smote Bill. Bill smote back. Over and over they rolled on the cellar floor. Davy might have been a mighty man pitted against the wolves, but Bill Colvin was getting the better of him until Lin rushed to the rescue.

Parting the combatants, young Colvin was rushed to the door, flung half way across the street by Lin and the door slammed in his face. Lin was more loudly applauded than any other part of the show.

She made a speech:

"Ef there's any other freckled faced willun here thet's goin' to do anythin' to bust up this show, now's the time fer[88] 'em to wade in while I'm het up. Huh, Bill Colvin thinks caus' his daddy's rich he kin do anythin' he wants to, but he'll find he's up agin a stump when he starts a fuss in this shanty."

Lin's sunny disposition was rarely crossed by shadows, but she was terribly angry and the best of order was maintained for the remainder of the evening.

Although there was no visible evidence of the mud and dirt tracked into the kitchen by the audience, the next morning the mother forever put the ban on future shows in so far as the cellar or kitchen were concerned.

Lin had constructed a rude candelabra after the style of the one in the circus. It was left hanging in the cellar. Lin lit them up when Aunt Betsy came on Saturday to show her how "purty" they were. Afterwards, in the absence of Lin, the mother confidentially imparted the information to Aunt Betsy that "Lin was crazier over such things than Alfred, and it was pretty much all her doings."

Lin had been busy for weeks, in fact, ever since the show in the cellar, patching, sewing, and putting together old rag carpet, canvas, heavy with paint, that had been ripped from the hurricane deck of an old steamboat.

Alfred was to give another show, this time on Jeffries' Commons and under canvas, or rather, inside of canvas. Since the night the side wall fell as Dr. Playford and he were leaving the tent, the boy had been revolving this plan in his mind. He felt certain he could collect, with the aid of the boys, sufficient material to encircle the ring which had been long constructed and used to practice in. A center pole with side poles planted in the ground like fence posts. A top for the tent was out of the question but nearly sufficient material had been collected to encircle the poles, making a sidewall nearly ten feet high.

[89]Lin had announced the price of admission at one cent and had so extensively advertised the show by word of mouth that the children were already visiting Alfred's home to buy tickets of admission. This aggravated the mother more greatly than even the cellar show. The mother feared the neighbors would think that she was interested in the show, financially.

Lin said: "Let 'em think what they durn please. Some of 'em's in a mighty big hurry to pay fur their tickets. Ef they'd pay back the saleratus, salt, sugar, tea, coffee, an' sich they've borryed from us we'd be better off. But some peepul will spend money quicker fer fun than they will fer vittles or religion."

It was the night before the show. A consultation was held in the tent between Alfred and his aids. There was an opening of at least ten feet in length in the side of the tent and no canvas or other material to close it up. Turkey Evans had brought the last strip of an old rag carpet he had taken surreptitiously from an unused room of his home. The two old quilts Tom White had stolen from Betsy Smart were in place with half moons, hearts, diamonds, and sunflowers worked on them in raised figures. They gave the tent the appearance of an Indian tepee.

Win Scott had contributed all the coffee, grain or salt sacks he could secure by rummaging every building on Stable Street. Some of the boys had even appropriated the aprons worn by Nimrod Potts, the shoemaker. As Mr. Potts was of goodly size the two aprons from his shop went a long ways toward making a partition between the tent and the dressing room. Spliced to the bed tick Bindley Livingston had thrown out of the third story window of his father's house, the aprons closed up the opening completely.

But the big opening near the door was still a gaping void. After all had confessed to their inability to furnish another yard of material, Alfred advised that in the garret of his[90] grandfather's home there was a large cedar chest filled with whitest linen, three pieces of which would close up the opening but he knew grandpap would not let him take it "caus' he was a Baptis' and agin shows."

Win Scott argued that it would be no harm to take the linen. The fact that it had lain there unused was proof positive they would never miss it. Just as soon as the show was over they would take it back and no one would ever know it but themselves.

Alfred being entirely familiar with grandfather's house it was planned he should creep upstairs, open a window and throw sufficient of the linen out of the garret into old man Morehouse's back yard where the others would station themselves, carry the linen to the old school house and secrete it until the following morning.

Alfred's limbs trembled so he could scarcely stand as he opened the back door of the big stone house. Up the long flight of stairs he crept, the creaking of a loose board startling him so he nearly fainted. Although not a light burned in that part of the house, so familiar was he with its interior that he had no difficulty in finding his way.

As he reached the top of the stairs leading to the garret, still on hands and knees, the old furniture, odds and ends piled around indiscriminately, took on the grotesqueness of imps, demons and other fantastic figures. So wrought up was his imagination that nothing but the fear of ridicule from his confederates forced him on. Crawling along the dirty, sooty, begrimed floor, he soon located the old cedar chest.

Raising the lid, the aroma of camphor and rose leaves nearly overcame him. Even in the dark he could discern the folds of whitest linen. Counting out five pieces, he tiptoed to the window. With the signal—a soft whistle—down floated the first sheet, caught by one of the boys ere it touched the ground. The next sheet hit the brick pavement with a thud. Partly unfolding the next two Alfred followed their flutter[91]ing course to the earth with his gaze. He could see the white objects moving off like specters floating through space.

They appeared so ghost-like the sight almost paralyzed him. Shaking with nervousness, the last sheet left his hands accidently catching on the window fastening. It spread out like a great, white bird with flapping wings and slowly fluttered to the earth.

A door opened below. Alfred nearly collapsed. Tip-toeing across the room he stumbled over an object on the floor causing a great racket. Falling on the floor he crawled behind a number of old quilting frames and lay there ever so quiet expecting momentarily to hear some of the family ascending the stairs.

Crawling slowly to the stairs he softly descended, opened the door and shot out into the darkness of the night. The perspiration streaming down his face. Wiping it away with his soot begrimed hands, so blackened his countenance his companions scarcely recognized him when he reached the rendezvous, the old school-house on the commons.

When the last sheet fluttered down from the garret, Win Scott stepped under it. Tommy Morehouse's back door opened. With the sheet fluttering about him, Scott ran down the garden path and out through the barn into Stable Street.

Nearly opposite the stable from which he had just emerged was the big stable of the Marshall House, a tavern kept by Isaac Vance, the uncle of Ike Stribeg, the afterwards noted circus agent.

Baggy Allison and Hughey Boggs, characters of the town, were seated on a bench outside the door of the big stable. Scott, pulling the sheet more closely about him and waving his arms wildly, quickly crossed the street towards the two worthies, thinking to have some fun with them. Both caught sight of him at the same instant. One corner of the sheet, fluttering high in the air, it certainly was a skittish[92] looking object that floated down upon the two superstitious men. Over went the bench, a chair or two, Allison stepped in a tin pail as he arose, his foot entangled in it. The clattering of Baggy's foot in the pail added ten fold to the terror of Hughey. He swore afterwards he could feel the clutch of the long, bony fingers of the ghost on his neck.

He Could Feel the Clutch of Long, Bony Fingers on Him

He Could Feel the Clutch of Long, Bony Fingers on Him

The hostlers flew, both trying to enter the narrow door of the tavern. Wedged in the doorway, each thought the other holding him. Fighting, cussing, scratching, they were pulled into the big tap room filled with guests. All imagined the two hostlers were fighting and endeavored to separate them.

Baggy Allison was very slow of speech; Hughey Boggs stuttered painfully. After they were separated they kept up their clawing and waving.

Baggy, pointing toward the stable, blurted out: "Ghost! Ghost! Ghost after us! Ketch it! Ketch it!"

[93]Hughey stuttering more terribly, owing to his fright had, only got to "Gh—gh—gh—gh," when Baggy had finished explaining the cause of their fright.

Bud Beckley, old Johnny Holmes and Jim Hubbs, the town constable, were the first to run towards the stable, but nothing was to be seen in any direction. Baggy and Hughey were unmercifully scored for their cowardice, and were ridiculed for days afterward.

Win Scott was as badly frightened as the two hostlers. The flight of the men caused him to redouble his speed. On down Stable Street to Playford's Alley, out along the high stone wall enclosing Nelson Bowman's castle, on to Jeffries' Commons, formerly an old graveyard.

Here, according to report, the spook sank into a sunken grave. Albert Baker's mother saw the apparition as did Sammy Honesty, one of Bowman's servants.

Saturday morning, the day of the show, was one of those days that nature often bestows on Brownsville: not the fleck of a floating cloud in the firmament above. Even the winds slept that they might not ruffle the tranquility of the scene or Alfred's tent.

Lin was greatly disturbed over the opening in the tent. She declared: "Every dadratted, stingy critter in the neighborhood would jes' stan' outside and peek in fer nuthin'; and jes' to think, we got all the other places kivered only that plague-goned old hole right by the door."

When Win Scott arrived with the white linen sheets, Lin was greatly surprised. She feared they were not come by honestly. The boys assured her they had borrowed them, promising to return them as good as they came.

Lin was finally persuaded to tack and sew the sheets on the tent. When completed, she surveyed her work for a moment and said: "We're all hun-ki-dora now"—a slang phrase in those days signifying "all right."

[94]Jeffries Commons swarmed with children. So impatient was Alfred to open the circus that he refused to eat dinner. Lin fetched him a pie which he devoured as he worked.

Win Scott was the door-keeper and treasurer. Lin had a wordy war with the treasurer soon after the doors opened. Willie Shuman, who was lame, wanted to sit on the treasurer's seat, a soap box near the main entrance. Win objected solely on the grounds that real shows did not permit patrons to sit where they pleased but made them stand around. Lin secured another soap box and Willie was given the kind of seat he desired "up high," as Lin expressed it, "so nobody could stan' in front of him."

Lin insisted on counting the receipts several times while the audience was assembling and when they reached sixty-eight cents, she concluded it was too much money to entrust to any one connected with the show. Emptying the pennies in her pocket, she pinned it up, remarking: "Ef there's no trouble comes up about them there new linen sheets, we'll give another show tonight. I hev all the lights hangin' in the cellar ready."

The ghost seen the night before had been the talk of the town and that it disappeared on the old commons near the tent was whispered about among those in attendance at Alfred's show. Lin heard whispers of the reports and somehow she could not entirely dispossess her mind of the idea that the new linen sheets were connected in some way with the ghosts. However, so deeply interested was she in the manifold duties she had imposed upon herself that ghosts and linen sheets were, for the time, forgotten.

Sitting on a soap box holding two children on her lap, so they could see it all, Lin was calling on Alfred to come back into the ring and repeat a twisting about trick he had just performed. Lin said the children wanted to see him do it "agin."

[95]Encores were numerous from Lin, no matter whether the major portion of the audience desired them or not; if the children expressed a wish to see any feat repeated Lin simply commanded that it be done and if the performer hesitated to take a recall, Lin sat the children off her lap and marched the performer out and compelled him to comply with the children's wishes.

Although it was balmy spring, there was a tinge of chill in the air that touched one. Many of the boys were compelled to undress to don their costumes, and Joe Sandford's costume especially was not conducive to comfort and warmth.

Alfred had strongly impressed it upon all who participated in the performance that they must have real show clothes. Many and surprising were the costumes. Tom White's father had been a member of the Sons of Malta. Young White wore his father's regalia, a cross between the make-up of Captain Kidd and Rip Van Winkle.

Joe Sanford's costume made Alfred slightly jealous. Lin had trimmed the garments loaned Alfred by Mrs. Young. She had made him a body dress from an old patch quilt, the figures worked in yellow and red. Yet the colors were not as bright as those in the costume of Joe.

It was spring time, house-cleaning and wall-papering time. Mrs. Sanford, being of an inventive turn of mind, collected the wall paper scraps, particularly the red border paper. Fashioning a suit out of the paper, she pasted it together. The costume was after the style of Napoleon, as we have seen him in pictures. Joe was without clothing of any kind except the pasty wall paper suit, stripes on the trousers running up and down and on the jacket encircling. As Joe walked about the dressing room to keep warm the paper suit rustled and swished. He was the admiration of all the performers.

[96]Although Joe was not to appear until later he insisted that he be permitted to perform his feats at once, that he was almost frozen. Lin was advised of this fact and said: "Oh, well, let him do his showin'. Ef he ketched cold he would hev the tisic, (phthysic)." Joe was subject to this affliction.

Joe's part of the performance was hanging on a horizontal pole a little higher than his head, skinning the cat, then sitting upright on the bar, clasping his knees with his hands, revolve around the pole. Joe had performed this feat a thousand times. But he had never attempted it in a show costume constructed of wall paper.

Joe's Wall Paper Duds

Joe's Wall Paper Duds

The wall-paper suit began to give along the pasted seams even while Joe was skinning the cat. Lin said afterwards: "He was so durned skeered and a wheezin' with the tisic he didn't know whether he was a-foot or a-horseback. I seed the rips openin' every time he stirred."

[97]Joe was evidently uncertain as to the strength of his show clothes. Despite a parting of seams he squirmed upon the horizontal bar, gripped his knees with his hands. Thus doubled up the strain on the wall paper was greater than ever. Joe ducked his head forward. The first revolution, the greater part of the wall paper suit was scattered over the saw-dust ring. Joe started on the second revolution but when he got under the bar he hung there swinging backwards and forwards. Lin said: "He jus' clung thar doubled up like a toy monkey on a stick, jus' swinging like the pendulum of a stoppin' clock."

The red flowered belt and a sort of collar around the neck remained. Joe had on very white stockings; however, they only reached below the knee. As he had lost his hat at the beginning of his stunt he was almost devoid of clothes. The vast audience giggled and shouted "accordin' to their raisin'" as Lin expressed it afterwards.

Joe, through shame or stage fright, made no effort to release himself. The situation became embarrassing to the few grown ones present. Mothers took occasion to look down at their children, smoothing their hair or straightening their clothing. The big girls looked another way but the greater part of the audience yelled with delight.

Lin "jus' couldn't stan' it any longer." Dropping the children, she rushed to poor Joe's rescue. She was compelled to unclasp Joe's hands from the bar. In his fright and confusion he had a vise-like grasp on it. In the position in which he hung his face was hidden. Lin said that "his old wall-paper duds was all off him" and she reckoned "long as his face was kivered he'd hung thar 'til he fainted or fell."

When Lin stood the poor fellow on his feet after relieving him from his perch, he was confused. Instead of going into the dressing room where all the boys were yelling with laughter, poor Joe ran out of the tent across the commons and crawled into Jeffries' coal house.

[98]The door-keeper, Win Scott, hurried his regular clothes to him, but Joe left for home and never thereafter did he essay to become an actor. Every child carried home as a souvenir a remnant of Joe's wall-paper show suit.

Meanwhile, Alfred was changing the clown suit for Lacy Hare's military uniform in which he always appeared as Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone.

Someone called to him: "Alf, here comes all yer grandpap's family."

Alfred peered through a hole in Mrs. Evans' rag carpet and his blood froze in his veins. Heading the procession was grandpap, wide flowing, white collar, hat in hand. He appeared to Alfred an avenging nemesis. Following closely, came Uncle Ned, stern, and solemn Aunt Sarah. Cousin Charley and old Tommy Moorehouse brought up the rear of the advancing column.

Alfred felt the tent swaying as if in a gale. The tent swayed again. Lin sat the children down quickly, "thinkin' it was some of the tarnel brats that had pestered the show tent ever since Alfred started it." At the door she came face to face with the angry grandfather.

"You're more to blame than the boy" was all Alfred remained to hear. Half naked, half dazed—for Alfred feared his grandfather's wrath greatly—down the big hill the boy fairly flew, through the Jimson weeds, their prickly pods stinging his bare breast and arms until the blood flowed. Nor did he slacken his pace until the old coal road was reached. Then along the dusty road to Krepp's coal bank; into the dark tunnel penetrating the hill, nor did he stop until so far under ground that the opening to the coal mine, although large enough to admit a horse and cart, appeared to the sight as a ring of daylight no larger than an eye.

Realizing that the white and red clown paint Lin had smeared on his face would be difficult to explain to the miners should he encounter them, Alfred endeavored to[99] remove it by washing it with the yellow sulphur water standing in the cart tracks where it had dropped from the damp sides of the old mine. He only spread it with the yellow water; his face presented a sight similar to an Indian's in full war paint.

His fears subsiding, he retraced his steps towards the entrance. The opening darkened and he could discern a figure standing out against the sky beyond.

Hastening on he whistled shrilly. The answering whistle he recognized as that of his treasurer, Win Scott. When they met, Win gave Alfred the particulars of the wrecking of the tent by Uncle Ned and imparted the information that all Grandpap's family, with the linen sheets, had gone home excepting the grandmother, and he had a message requesting that Alfred come to her at once, with the assurance that he would not be punished.

The grandmother had frequently interceded in Alfred's behalf and he was greatly pleased to receive her message. He felt so good over the turn of affairs that he could scarcely walk up the long hill so weak was he with laughter over Joe's wall-paper circus clothes, nor did his good humor forsake him until they approached the spot where the tent, the work of many weeks, lay on the ground teetotally wrecked.

Win gave Alfred a graphic description of Uncle Ned's wrecking of the tent, the escape of the audience, of Lin's offering to pay for the sheets and her subsequent anger. Lin endeavored to appease Uncle Ned's wrath. "But the more she talked the wuss he raved."

When Alfred entered the kitchen, Lin's face was still red from anger and weeping. Looking angrily at Alfred, she began:

"Why did ye run? By golly, I'd stood my ground ef they'd all piled on me. Ef it hadn't been fur grandmother, I'd licked Ned myself."

[100]Alfred explained that if he'd been dressed he'd stayed, but being "mos' naked he jus' knowed Uncle Ned would pull the tent down caus' he always wants to tear things up by the roots. I didn't want to be ketched naked like Joe."

At the thought of Joe's mishap his laughter broke out again. Lin's good nature began to assert itself. Suppressing her smiles she placed her fingers on her lips which implied silence. Jerking her head toward the sitting room door she informed the boy his grandmother was "thar waitin' fer ye," adding: "Ye needn't be skeered, she's got more religion and more sense than the whole caboodle of 'em put together. Go on in."

Softly approaching the door leading to the room he heard voices, his father's among them. He was half inclined to flee again. Timidly rapping on the door he heard footsteps leaving the room. Lin took him by the arm and led the boy into the large room.

It was growing dark. His grandmother sat alone. They halted in front of the gentle lady, Lin addressing Alfred in an encouraging manner, said: "'Al-f-u-r-d,' tell grandmother the truth. Don't stan' up and lie like Cousin Charley does, caus' he allus gits ketched up in it."

The boy looking into the kindly face of the quiet old lady felt no fear; however, his shame was most intense. Drawing the abashed boy nearer to her, she put her arm about him, softly saying: "I greatly fear you have been led by those older than yourself to do things you would not have done had you had proper advisors. I fear you will get into serious trouble if you do not follow your father's and mother's advice. Now, Alfred, listen to every word grandmother says to you. You will not be punished for taking the sheets more than your conscience reproves you. You are a good boy and everyone loves you. It is only your father's love for you that influences him to be severe with you at times. Your playful spirit, your mischievousness leads you[101] into many actions that pain us all greatly but I am sure you do not intend to be bad. You are not vicious, only mischievous. Now tell me, Alfred, who prompted you to take the linen out of the chest?"

"No one. I was all to blame. Lin has sixty-eight cents and I have nearly three dollars Uncle Joe gave me and I'm going to give it all to Uncle Ned to pay for any tearing of the sheets and Lin will wash and starch them. They'll be as good as new."

With this speech the boy broke down completely. Kneeling, he buried his face in the old lady's lap. She stroked his head gently, and in a tone more soft and quiet than heretofore, she asked the contrite boy if he was aware of the reverence in which the family held the linen contained in the old chest.

The boy assured her that he supposed the old chest and its contents were cast off or unused articles the same as other goods stored away in the garret.

When the grandmother informed the boy the family held the contents of the old chest as almost sacred, that the linen was the last winding sheets of those of his family who had gone to the great beyond, his shame brought a flood of tears that nothing the grandmother could say would stop.

It was the custom that persons who died in those days were covered with whitest linen and this linen was ever afterwards preserved by the family as sacred.

The grandmother in gentle tones reminded the boy of loved ones whom he held in sweetest remembrance, and when he fully realized that the linen in the old chest had been their last covering the tears of the boy and the aged woman mingled as he solemnly promised to so conduct himself in the future that his behavior would never wound her feelings more. Thereafter the boy always found a loyal defender in the grandmother when troubles came to him.

[102]"I'll jes be durned ef ol' gran'muther ain't got more sense in a minute than her son Ned will have ef he lives twict es old es Jehu Adams," said Lin, referring to the oldest man in the neighborhood. "Why, jes' see what she hes dun fer that boy. He's a perfec' little angel since she hauled him over the coals. Bet he'd never teched them sheets ef he'd knowed they wus fer layin' out dead peepul in. He'd got others somehow, an' I'd been sort a lazy like 'bout sewin' 'em on the tent ef I'd knowed what they'd bin used fur. It's no wonder Baggy Allison and Hughey Boggs got skeered. Durned ef they warn't purty near ghosts, enny how."

"Ef it had been left to gran'muther she'd let the show go on es long es we had the sheets hung up. They warn't hurtin' nobody. No, by golly, it's jes' like Ned; he's jes' like his daddy an' the other Baptusses. They don't hev any fun and they hate to hear a body laugh. Huh, ef it had been a prayer meetin' or somethin' mournful for the Baptusses' meetin' house to git money fur, Ned ud never tore down the tent. Durn him! His heart ain't bigger'n a rat pellet and it's twict es hard. He don't know nuthin' but to eat an' pray. Let him kum yere fer another meal of vittles and I'll not cook it fur him; I'll jes' tell Mary and John so. Why, grandmother's talkin' to him done Alfurd more good than all the whippin's he ever got in his born life."

"It jes' worries Ned to deth to see a boy, a boy. He gets a heap of pleasure out of not havin' any fun in life."



Though the road be long and dreary,
And the end be out of sight,
Foot it bravely, strong or weary,
Trust in God and do the right.

The realities of life are continually changing. Persons can retain a hobby or an illusion for a time or for all time. An illusion may live in our minds, even become a part of our lives. Life is but thought. Pleasant illusions are, as a rule, weapons against meanness and littleness. Illusions, when based upon the sensible and material things of this life, are uplifting.

It is said genius and common sense never dwell in the same mortal. The lives of all of those of genius of whom the world has been informed have been governed to a very great extent by illusions not fanatical fads, not an illusion that impels one to endeavor to solve improbable problems.

The centralization of ideas on some particular project or profession that appeared impracticable at first, often leads to an inspiration, the enthusiasm created by the illusions leading to success. Illusions have side-tracked many life-failures.

You may endeavor to persuade yourself that you have no illusions. Search your mind. Is there not a recollection of something you have worked and hoped for? You may not have attained that which you aimed at, yet the illusion enriched your imagination. Is there not something that you dreamed of in youth, forgotten for years, that has come to you later on?

Hug your illusions if they are pleasant. Treasure them, they make you cheerful, they sun your soul.

[104]The father and mother of Alfred had different ideas of the boy's future. The father was wedded to his calling and fondly hoped the boy would follow in his footsteps in mechanical pursuits. It was the mother's hope that the son would become a medical practitioner. The grandfather prayed that the boy would embrace the ministry as had two of his sons.

Consequently, when Alfred seriously announced that he had determined to become a clown in the circus, the family were greatly shocked, but the boy's declaration was regarded as a harmless illusion. This idea had taken complete control of his boyish imagination. Urged on by illusory hopes he was constantly practicing tricks and antics that led him into many heartbreaking escapades that made the cellar sessions more frequent. But nothing could suppress his good nature and innate love of fun.

There was but one human being in the world thoroughly in sympathy with the boy's ambitions. She it was who bought the rouge and red that painted his face in his first attempts to become a clown. She it was who cut up one of her best red skirts to complete the costume of which Mrs. Young furnished the foundation in the garments Alfred was sent home in the day of the rescue from the raft. And it is a fact that to this day the costumes of clowns and near-clowns have been patterned after those self-same garments and they are as strikingly funny to spectators today as they were in the days Alfred first wore them, a tribute to Lin's ingenuity.

Lin often remarked: "Alfurd will come to town some day a real clown in a circus and the whole country will turn out to see him, and Litt Dawson (the Congressman) won't be so much when Alfurd gits a-goin'. Why, he kin sing eny song and do ent cut-up antik eny of 'em kin. He's the cutest boy I ever seed. They'll never whup his devilishness out of him."

[105]Lin was always an appreciative audience for Alfred. When he learned to do head-sets, hand-springs and the like she urged him on to greater acrobatic achievements. When he attempted to walk on his hands she followed his zig-zag course, steadying him when he threatened to topple over.

When Bent Wilgus, a Bridgeport boy, came up to Jeffries' Commons and entered the ring that was once enclosed by Alfred's tent, and performed a dozen feats that Alfred had never even witnessed, thereby winning the applause of the crowd of boys, both Lin and Alfred remained silent. When he did a round off a flip-flap and a high back somersault, a row of head-sets across the ring, finishing by doing heels in the mud, Alfred turned green with envy. He felt his reputation slipping away from him and realized he was deposed as the boys' and girls' idol, as an actor.

Lin felt like driving the usurper off the commons. Later, she consoled Alfred with the statement that Bent Wilgus had gum in his shoes that made him bounce so. "His daddy keeps a shoe store an' thet's where he gits bouncin' shoes from. I'll git ye a pair ef I hev to send to Filadelphy fur 'em."

The Quaker City was the metropolis of the world to the good people of the town in those days. New York City was never considered in the same breath with old Philly.

Brownsville had but one representative in the show profession so far as any one knew. He had left the town many years before and it was reported had become a great actor. Alfred had never heard the word actor save in connection with a circus performer. He had never witnessed or even heard of a dramatic actor. He had gotten his idea for his impersonation from a rider, who, standing on a broad pad on a horse's back in the circus ring, impersonated noted characters such as Richard III, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett and a shepherd boy.

The reputation of Tony Bailles, the only actor Brownsville ever produced, was folklore in his native place. Tony[106] had never appeared in his home town. And that which greatly enhanced the reputation of the great actor in the minds of the people in his home was the oft repeated stories of his prowess as a fighter.

In those days every man and boy was judged by his personal courage. Courage was the supreme test by which all males were gauged. The man or boy who did not have the bravery to uphold his dignity with his fists was not worthy.

In the tales told of Tony Bailles' great prowess with his fists and feet, it was asserted that he more often used his feet than his fists and that his adversary rarely got near him. As they advanced upon him Tony kicked them under the chin just once. One kick and all the fight was out of them.

Tony was one of Alfred's illusions. He desired to imitate him, travel all over the land and become a great actor, a greater actor than even his heroic model, as Alfred had never heard Tony's great feats described. The kick under the chin was Tony's only feat impressed strongly enough on Alfred's mind to have him imitate.

Tommy White, Lash Hyatt and Jim Campbell were either housed up or walking about with stiff necks and swollen jaws ere it was discovered that Alfred was imitating Tony Bailles. Lash Hyatt's folks, feeling sure the boy had the mumps, sent for the doctor. It was then revealed that Alfred did not fight fair but "kicked you under the chin before you could raise a hand," as the boys described it.

Alfred tried the Tony Bailles' high kick on big, husky George Herbertson. The kick started as it had with the other boys but instead of reaching the chin at which it was aimed, a big, husky blacksmith's helper checked it. Alfred sat down so suddenly he imagined the earth had "flew" up and hit him. While the blacksmith helper held his leg aloft Alfred, as he lay on his back, saw a big fist coming straight[107] for his face. He has no distinct recollection of when it reached its landing place.

Uncle Ned Snowden assisted Alfred home, where he remained in doors several days with two parti-hued eyes.

While housed up, Alfred promised Lin he would always thereafter fight fair. Consequently, he thereafter carried two big limestones, one in each coat pocket for George Herbertson. Somehow the blacksmith boy was always too quick for Alfred and the next time they met, which was on the Bridgeport wharf, the blacksmith boy trimmed Alfred again. And thus it was that the old iron bridge, the first of its kind constructed in the United States and built by John Herbertson, the father of George, became the dead line between the boys of the two towns.

If a boy from one town was found in the other he was compelled to fight or flee.

The First Iron Bridge Built in the U. S.

The First Iron Bridge Built in the U. S.

The word "actor" to the good people of those days always referred to a circus performer as mentioned previously. It is related of Joseph Jefferson, the dean of the dramatic[108] profession, that while visiting his plantation near New Iberia, Louisiana, he walked over the grounds accompanied by an old, colored field hand. He talked in his usual manner with the old negro telling him of the many cities in which his contracts compelled him to act ere he would again visit his beautiful southern home.

The old negro said he was sorry "kase all de folks, white uns an' black uns, was jes mos' crazy for to see massa Joe ak." As they walked and talked the old negro informed Mr. Jefferson that Dan Rice's circus was "dere a while back, jes on the aidge ob kane cuttin' time, an' dey had some mighty fine actuhs but nuthin' like de actin' ob Massah Joe."

The old fellow, growing more confidential at the pleased manner in which Mr. Jefferson received his compliments, added that he would gladly walk to New Orleans to see him act. When the great actor advised the old fellow that he would not appear in New Orleans that year, the old fellow said: "Now des look at dat. I'll nevah git to see you ak, Massa Joe."

The actor assured him that at some time in the future he would have that pleasure. The old negro said: "No, no, I'm an ole man. I ain't got much futhah to go, an' I des doan wan' to die fo' I see you ak."

Mr. Jefferson assured the earnest old negro that he would be glad to arrange some plan whereby not only he but all of his friends in the parish might witness him act.

The old negro began in an entreating tone: "Massa Joe, I knows you'd like to ak fer all ob us but Lor' only knows when it'll be. I'se mos' f'raid to ax ye but de grass out yar is so sof' an 'nice I jes' thought maybe ye'd ak out a little fer me. Jes' twist about an' turn a couple of summah-saults fer dis pooh ol' nigger."

This was the only idea Alfred had of acting. He longed to see Tony Bailles act, that he might catch an idea. He felt[109] it would be so much easier for him to learn to act by seeing Bailles than it would be to see others, that Bailles was more like himself, not a superior being, as other actors were regarded.

Cousin Charley was even more elated than Alfred when they read and re-read the joyous announcement, to them, that Van Amburg's Great Golden Menagerie and Zoological Institute was headed for Brownsville.

The startling news was spread that Tony Bailles was with the show. Alfred scanned the bills, no names appearing on them or descriptions of the great feats their owners performed, and his youthful mind could not comprehend this omission in advertising. Animals of all species were pictured but the graceful bare-back rider, high in the air above the horse's back, throwing a back somersault through a paper balloon, was not there. The lady rider on the back of a fast flying steed, one foot pointing to six o'clock, the other to high noon, was searched for in vain.

Alfred finally arrived at this explanation of the oversight in not advertising the circus actors—that the menagerie was so immense the circus was a secondary consideration. He argued that they never advertised the side-show but it was always there.

Circus day dawned, the crowds came, the old town was a scene of bustle and activity. The town people were all agog, all the older ones seemed to be seeking Tony Bailles. Alfred and Charley followed his brother Joe up through Bridgeport to the new show grounds. The advertisements gave it that the old bottom, the usual show grounds, was too small for the big show.

When the grounds were reached a large man with a very red nose announced from the top of a wagon the program of the day:

First, Mlle. Carlotta De Berg would ascend a slender wire from the ground to the apex of the grand pavilion.[110] After this thrilling free exhibition the Grand Annex containing one thousand animate and inanimate wonders would throw open its doors. As this was a new name for the side-show, Cousin Charley and Alfred began to get their money ready. (Alfred carried his own money this show day).

But when the front of the tent was reached and the same old gaudily painted pictures swayed in the breeze, both boys involuntarily halted as they realized the Grand Annex was that deadfall known as the side show. Cousin Charley swore he "seen the same feller standing in the door of the tent that swindled him and so many others at the last show." Cousin Charley said: "He dodged back when he seen me."

In the verdancy of his suckerdom, Charley imagined the fakir who had done him had preserved as keen a recollection of the transaction as himself. He learned afterwards that there is a sucker born every minute and the crop of fakirs is nearly as great.

A tall, black-haired man, with rather a heavy face, black velvet vest, stood at the door. A long gold watch chain was around his neck and running across the velvet vest it made the chain appear the most conspicuous thing about the man. Of course he wore other articles of clothing but the above description stands out in Alfred's mind to the exclusion of his other apparel unless it be the flat-top hat and the white bow tie. The hat and tie gave the wearer a sort of clerical appearance. He had the appearance of a respectable gambler, such as were on river steamers in those days.

And this was Tony Bailles, the actor-athlete of Alfred's dreams and talks. Alfred was simply bewildered. His hero stood aloft pacing to and fro on an elevated platform, describing the wonders of the great moral exhibition especially for ladies and children.

Alfred argued to Charley that this was Tony's home and his oratory would appeal more strongly to the people than a[111] stranger's and he was only of the side show for the day. He disliked to have the hero of his dreams discredited so prematurely and he still hoped to see his idol in spangled tights in the big show performing all kinds of wonderful feats.

But the big show was an animal show, pure and simple, not an actor, not a clown, not a rider, not a horse, not even a ring. Two ponies and a little cart introduced in the show could not dispel the gloom that had settled over the disappointed gathering in the big tent.

The only excitement of the day was when Bill Gaskill, Mart Claybaugh, Ab Linn, and two or three Washington County men engaged in a fight. When Tony Bailles rushed in to quell the disturbance and did not kick one or more of the combatants under the chin, the boy's admiration gradually turned to disgust and he was ready to leave the tent although all were admonished that the most astounding and greatest treat in natural history was about to be brought to their notice. The mammoth of mammoths, the behemoth of Holy Writ was about to be exhibited, the only one in captivity, something to tell your children and your children's children of. The hippopotamus was brought from his cage and waddled into the roped enclosure in the center of the tent. Bob Ellingham, the lecturer, talked long and learnedly on the habits and capture of the animal. The name hippopotamus was mentioned at least twenty times in the lecture as a dramatic climax. Ellingham rubbed a piece of white paper over the animal's back. Standing on a stool above the heads of the multitude he held the once spotless sheet of paper in his left hand, pointing his right forefinger at the paper, now discolored with the matter that oozed from the animal's body, he dramatically exclaimed: "He is truly the behemoth of Holy Writ. See, he sweateth blood!"

As he stood motionless, still holding the paper aloft, Old man Hare, Lacy's father, who had stood a most interested listener during the lecture, looked up into the lecturer's face[112] and, in a querulous tone asked: "What fer animal did ye say it was?"

"A guinea pig, you dam old fool," flashed back Ellingham, as he stepped off the stool, while the crowd yelled, "Bully for Hare."

The old fellow felt greatly grieved although the shouts of approval from the crowd partially appeased him. How he talked back to the show man made him quite a hero among the country folks for a long time afterwards.

It is safe to assert that a more disappointed audience never left an exhibition than filed out of the big tent. Even the ministers, and they were all admitted free, were not satisfied. Bob Playford did not gather up the boys on the lot and pay their way in.

As the audience filed out the man with the big red nose stood on top of the wagon and invited everybody into the tent where Christy's Original Minstrels were about to offer the good people of Brownsville the same choice and amusing performance they had won fame with in the principal theatres in New York City. Songs, glees, choruses, banjo solos, pathetic ballads, side-splitting farces, the whole concluding with a grand walk around by the entire company.

Bob Playford and Dan French made all manner of fun of the big man with the red nose. Playford laughingly shouted: "Pay no attention to him, he don't belong to the show, he lives out in the country. He's a neighbor of old man Hare's."

Cousin Charley and Alfred were won by the man's eloquence or the twanging of the stringed musical instruments that could be heard in the tent. They were soon inside. A platform on a wagon served as a stage, and a curtain with a cabin and woods as a background hung at the rear of the stage. The entire company of seven persons attired in shirts and trousers made of bed-ticking material, were seated in a semi-circle on the improvised stage.

[113]This was Alfred's first sight of a minstrel first part. "Gentlemen, be seated." The opening chorus was not half over before Alfred was laughing as heartily as ever boy laughed. The antics of the fellow with the tambourine who hit the singer sitting next to him on the head with it in time with the pattering of the sheepskin on his knees, hands and head, the assumed anger of the singer as he again hit him a resounding thwack, the finish, where the man with the bones and tambo worked all over the small stage and seemed in danger of upsetting it with their antics, had the crowd wild with their enthusiasm.

Christy's Original Minstrels

The songs, the jokes, the final farce, "Handy Andy," pleased Alfred so greatly that he remained for the next performance as did Lin and her beau, Cousin Charley and several of Alfred's friends. He bought a song book containing only the words. He caught several of the airs and sang them all the way home.

It was difficult to convince Alfred that the performers were white men blacked up. At supper Van Amberg's Great Moral Menagerie received a lambasting that boded no good for its future in Brownsville. Lin said:

"It was jes a show for Baptusts and sich and they was all thar. Huh, they let the preachers in free gratis, an' they ought to let everybody in fer nuthin' caus it warn't wuth[114] nuthin'. Durned ef I walk to the grounds to see seven shows like it. The niggers in the side show beat the big show all holler."

Alfred declared that outside of the animals his show was better than Van Amberg's. Lin added: "Yes, ef Joe Sanford's wall-paper suit wus out of it."

The supper was not over ere Lin and Alfred were in the parlor with the melodeon endeavoring to sing the songs of the minstrels. They had the book and hot were the arguments as to whether they had the tune right or not.

Lin, Cousin Charley, Alfred, Billy Woods, and Bill Hyatt decided to go back to the minstrels at night. Alfred sang the songs under his breath. He drank in every word of the jokes and the farce he committed to memory.

When they reached home the melodeon was started up again, and its strains swelled out on the night air until the father closed the rehearsal abruptly by ordering all to bed.

The seed had been sown; even the chaff had taken root. The clown illusion still clung to Alfred but the minstrel idea seemed nearer realization. Did ever a party of amateurs decide to assault the public that they did not use a minstrel performance as their weapon?

Despite the protests of the parents, the old melodeon, notwithstanding its age and other infirmities, was worked overtime. Alfred sang and resang the songs they had learned or deceived themselves into believing they had learned at the minstrels.

Billy Woods had a good ear for tunes. As Lin put it, Billy caught more of the tunes than any of the others. Billy became a nightly visitor. Billy's flute and the melodeon did not harmonize as the melodeon had only three notes left in it. Lin just waited when a note was missing until the next measure and then "ketched up" as she expressed it.

Amity Getty was another addition to the little band. He was really a good performer on the guitar. Alfred's[115] especial favorite in the minstrels was the fellow who handled the tambourine. The mother said there was not a pie pan in the house they could bake in, Alfred had them so battered and dented thumping them on his knees, head and elbows.

"I declare, I believe the boy is going crazy; I don't know what we will do with him," often said the mother.

Cousin Charley was of an inventive turn of mind. He had become greatly interested in the nightly singing and fashioned a tambourine out of an old cheese box by cutting it down. Dennis Isler put tin jingles in it and put on a sheepskin head.

The instrument in Alfred's hands became a terror to the household. He was banished to the commons where, surrounded by the children of the neighborhood, he did his practicing to the delight and danger of his audience as he persisted in finishing his antics by thumping one of the audience on the head with his instrument of torture, which generally sent the recipient of his thwack home, holding his head and crying. This usually brought a complaint from the victim's parents and Alfred's visits to the cellar accompanied by his father became so frequent that a boy with less ardor would surely have lost interest in his instrument.

Alfred repeatedly advised Lin that they never could be minstrels if they did not have bones. He selected Billy Storey to perform on these necessary adjuncts to the minstrels. When Lin brought home from John Allison's meat shop a rib roast, the mother, astonished at the size of it, said: "My goodness, Lin, that roast is big enough for any tavern in town."

The fact was Lin had not closely studied the bone player's instruments. She was of the opinion it required eight bones instead of four, hence the magnitude of the roast.

The little band made the big front room the mecca for pilgrims nightly. The mother was nearly frantic; after every concert of the embryotic minstrels she solemnly admonished Lin and Alfred that that would be the last.

[116]Lin in turn would accuse Alfred of being the cause of all the din and racket. "Ef it hadn't been fer Cousin Charley makin' Alfurd thet infernal head drum (Lin could never say tambourine), Mary would never sed a word as she jus loves music es well es eny body else."

Lin asserted that "the durn jingling contraption, jes spiled the hull thing and ye don't make good music with it nohow." Lin's deductions could not be controverted. Alfred did not make good music with his tambourine but it is a fact that he succeeded in drowning a great deal of bad.

It was a night never to be forgotten; one of those nights that will linger long in fondest remembrance by any who have enjoyed them. It was the night of one of those old time parties, one of those healthful, pleasure giving affairs, an old fashioned family party. Relatives, near and distant, uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces, cousins and friends, came by invitation to the old home.

Games and recitations, blind-man's buff, button, button, who's got the button, Uncle Joe, blindfolded, pursuing the prettiest girl at the frolic, brought roars of laughter from everyone but Aunt Betsy. Lin, sitting on a crock endeavoring to pass a linen thread through the eye of a cambric needle; Uncle Jack, blindfolded trying to pin the tail on the proper place on the paper donkey stuck against the wall. When he stuck the pin in the keyhole of the parlor door the laughter shook the sash in the windows.

The young folks formed in a circle holding hands, slowly revolving around a bashful young man standing in the center of the circle. As they circled they sang that old ditty so dear to the youth of those days:

"King William was King George's son,
And from a royal race he sprung;
And on his breast he wore a star,
That marked his bravery in the war.
Go choose your East, go choose your West,
Go choose the one that you love best."

[117]Here the young man tagged the girl of his choice. Of course, the girl broke from the circle and ran but was easily captured. She was led to the center of the circle which again revolved and the song continued:

"Down on this carpet you must kneel,
Just as the grass grows in the field;
Salute your bride and kiss her sweet,
And you may rise unto your feet."

When the bashful young man received a thumping thwack from the girl of his choice in return for the kiss he planted on her rosy cheek, the laughter was renewed tenfold.

All this may look cold in print to the young folks of today but it made the hot blood of the boys and girls of those good old days flow faster than the patter of their feet to the tune of the songs they sang.

Sis Minks sang "Barbara Allen" with such telling effect that the assembled multitude became "as subdued as a Quaker meetin'" as Lin described it.

Sis was an old maid and lived in the country; her dog had followed her to the party. The standing of every family in those parts was rated by the number of dogs they possessed. Sis's people had stood high for many years but their canine possessions had decreased. When questioned by a neighbor as to the number of dogs in his possession, the father of Sis ruefully replied: "Wall, I hev a house dog, a coon dog, a fox dog an' a 'feist'—it just seems like I can't git a start in dogs again." It was the house dog that had followed Sis.

Sis always sang "Barbara Allen" with her eyes shut. Lin said: "Becaus' she'd furgit it ef she looked."

Sis was in the midst of Barbara's woes when someone opened the door slightly. Her dog slipped in. Seeing his mistress before him and hearing her voice, the dog instinctively crept towards her. As her voice grew more tremulous describing Barbara's sad fate, the dog, encouraged by the kindly tones, crept nearer. Rising on his hind legs he drew[118] his long, red tongue across her face and mouth. Sis opened her eyes and sat down in confusion and no entreaties could induce her to continue. Lin said: "I'll bet a fippennybit she thought she'd bin kissed by some feller."

Alfred did not greatly enjoy the party. He whispered to Lin: "Let's practice."

Sis Opened Her Eyes and Sat Down

Sis Opened Her Eyes and Sat Down

Lin ran her fingers over the keys of the melodeon. The others wanted to be coaxed as amateurs always do. There is no backwardness that requires as much persuasion to appear before an audience as that of an amateur, but when once persuaded there is no cheerfulness that exceeds that of an amateur in responding to an encore.

It was not long before the little band began their concert. As they had been rehearsing for several weeks, the opening chorus, with musical accompaniment, was rendered with such vim that the assembled guests were carried off their feet. Alfred's antics with the tambourine, Storey's manipulation of the bones, the singing, the instrumentation, were a revelation to the good people.

Alfred's reputation as an actor was known to all the guests. Urgent requests were made that he should don his costumes and perform his feats. Alfred and Lin hastened to[119] his room, returning soon, Alfred in his clown make-up, Mrs. Young's lowers and Lin's body dress. Prolonged laughter and applause greeted his appearance.

First he essayed to sing a clown song entitled "The Song of All Songs" which runs thusly:

"The subject of my song you have seen I dare say,
As you've walked along the streets on a fine summer's day;
On fences and railings wherever you go,
You will see the penny ballads pasted up in a row.
I noted them down as I read them along,
And I've put them together to make up my song.
There was Abraham's daughter going out on a spree
With old Uncle Snow in the cottage by the sea.
Do they think of me at and I'll be easy still,
Give us back our old commander with the sword of Bunker Hill."

There was a great deal more of this jingle of words, ringing in the titles of all the songs of the day. Notwithstanding, Alfred had sung it without pause or hesitation night after night with only his associates as an audience, yet at "the sword of Bunker Hill" his voice faltered and a stage fright that could not be conquered overtook him. The words of the song had left his mouth, the tongue was paralyzed.

As many an older actor has done before and since, Alfred endeavored to conceal his confusion by stalling. It was really Alfred's first appearance before a heterogenous audience.

Alfred learned even at that early age that there is a difference in audiences. Notwithstanding his failure, with the density of perception that usually pervades an amateur's mind, Alfred changed his costume to Lacy Hare's military togs. He mistook the shouts of laughter aroused by this suit as approval of his acting. Lin relieved the situation by leading Alfred out of the room ere he had presented half of his famous impersonations.

Lin said afterwards: "I don't know what got inter thet boy. Why I allus said he had brass enuf in his face to act afore a protracted meetin' but be durned ef he warn't es bad[120] es Joe Sanford when he stuck on the pole. I never been more cut up in my life, fur I would a swore he was too spunkey to git skeered."

The remainder of the program was more than successful. Everyone acquitted themselves creditably excepting Alfred. Lin sang the pathetic ballad:

"Out in the cold world, out in the street,
Asking a penny of each one I meet;
Shoeless I wander about through the day,
Wearing my young life in sorrow away.
No one to help me, no one to love,
No one to pity me, none to caress,
Fatherless, motherless, sadly I roam;
A child of misfortune, I'm driven from home."

Lin had a deep, sweet voice, almost a baritone. She was full of sentiment and magnetism. Deeply in earnest she sang the song with telling effect. A tear, a heartfelt tear, came from the eyes of more than one of the sympathetic group.

Uncle Joe and Uncle Jack and one or two of the elder men had been led to the cellar several times during the evening, for a more pleasant purpose than Alfred generally went there for. The hard cider was kept in the cellar, the sweet cider upstairs. Uncle Joe was as mellow as a pippin. At the end of Lin's first chorus he threw her a handful of change. The other men threw coppers or small silver pieces. Lin, like a true artist, stood unmoved and continued her song. Alfred picked up the money and handed it to her. She disdained to receive it. How the fires of jealousy burned within Alfred's breast as he noted the triumph of Lin. How the men could become so affected as to throw her money he could not comprehend.

Before the next song, Lin lectured Alfred before the entire company, saying: "The fellur with the head drum (tambourine) in the circus minstrels never beat it in the sad[121] tunes, only in the comic ones. Es long as ye've bin showin', a body'd think ye knowed thet much."

This calling down further humiliated Alfred.

Bill Storey followed in a tuneful baritone, singing:

"Oh, the old home ain't what it used to be, de banjo and de fiddel am gone,

An' no more you'll hear the darkies singing among de sugar cane an' corn.

Great changes hab come to de poor colored man, but dis change makes him sad an' forlorn,

For no more we hear de darkies singing among de sugar cane an' corn."

Then all sang the chorus:

"No, the old home ain't what it used to be, (etc.)"

This number met with great approval. Professional jealousy surged through Alfred's breast. He hated everyone who had been successful. Thoughts of all kinds of revenge ran through his mind. He would tell mother that the ten pound rib roast was bought only to get eight bones for Bill Storey and four bones was all he could rattle on at one time. Alfred felt that the whole company had conspired against him, that they were the cause of his not being appreciated.

Supper was announced. Yes, supper, and they all sat down to a table; none of your society lunches, juggled on your knees, as served at the fashionable functions of today. When Uncle Wilse called down blessings upon all, even those sitting around the fire in the other room, who could not find places at the first table, bowed their heads reverently.

Cold roast chicken, pickles, sweet preserves, doughnuts, jellies, fine and red, cold claw, beets, hot mince pie, pound cake, layer cake, apples, tea, coffee and cider.

It took mother and Lin all day to prepare the repast. Fun and jokes were passed at and upon one another and everybody was happy, everybody but Alfred. With jealousy gnawing his vitals he sat between two big, grown-up men,[122] unnoticed save when he requested some edible passed to him. He almost made up his mind to forsake the amusement profession and take his mother's advice to study to become a doctor.

Supper over, good nights were said. Guest after guest departed. One garrulous gentleman remained; he was noted for his staying qualities. He would visit a family in the country near his home and keep them up until after midnight, which was a terrible breach of etiquette in those days when country folks went to bed with the chickens and town people who stayed up after eleven were looked upon with suspicion.

The mother had caught herself nodding several times, the father was yawning, Lin could scarcely keep her eyes open, and Alfred had taken two or three naps. The prolonged visit had become almost unbearable to all except the lone guest who kept up a commonplace conversation, just sufficiently animated to keep him awake. In the middle of one of his dryest sentences Lin jumped up and said:

"Come on folks, let's go to bed, I expect Uncle Wilse wants to go home."



Never mind the pain
For gladness will outlive it.
When your neighbor needs a smile
Don't hesitate to give it.

Then came sorrow into the life of Alfred. The father was ill for many months; war came with its blighting influences, bringing ruin to many, prosperity to a few.

The father's family were Virginians, the mother's Marylanders. True to their traditions they believed in the people of the South, not favoring secession, however. In the white heat of continued controversy relatives became enemies.

To add to their troubles Brownsville was visited by the most disastrous fire in its history. Alfred's folks lost everything, even to their wearing apparel. Alfred was the most fortunate member of the family. He entered and re-entered the burning home after he had been warned not to do so. At every return from the blazing house he carried some of his boyish belongings.

Lin, in recounting the thrilling scenes of the night of the fire, said: "Ef the men hed hed any sense all the things could hev been got out. Jim Lucas and Tom Brawley jes piled the bedsteads, bureaus, looking glasses and arm-cheers out of the third story winders an' durn ef I didn't see Tom Brawley kum out of the house with a arm load of pillurs wrapped up in a blanket. Hit takes a fire or a dog fight to show whuther peepul hev got eny judgment or not."

On his last trip out of the house Alfred carried his dog "Bobbie," two pet frizzly chickens, the uniform Lacy Hare and Aunt Betsy fashioned, Mrs. Young's part of his clown suit and the head-drum or tambourine.

Lin fairly snorted when she saw the boy approaching; "Now look at the dratted, fickle boy, leavin' his Sunday-go-[124]to-meetin' clothes to perish fur them ole show duds. Hit beats the bugs jes to think thet boy 'ud run into thet house blazin' like a lime kiln from top to bottom. A body'd thot he'd tried to save somethin' thet would a done us good. But no; all he thinks about is them ole show things. It's a wonder he didn't try to get the melodeon out eny way."

The condition of the family was changed in one night from prosperity to near-poverty. The mother resolutely refused all proffered aid from relatives with whom relations had been strained. To Uncle Joe's and Betsy's offer she returned the message: "If we were Southern sympathizers before the fire, we are not beggars now."

Lin was as defiant as the mother: "Huh, yes. Ef we'd let 'em help us now, the fust election kum up they'd throw it up to us. Uncle Billy is a candidate fer county jedge, I reckon he wants a few votes. The Lord will purvide a way." She added: "Jus tell Joe an' Betsy an' all the rest of 'em thet we'll hoe our own row yit a while. No siree-horse-fly-over-the-river-to-Green-County, we don't want no abolishunist to help us."

Alfred could not fully comprehend the feelings that influenced the members of the family in the stand they took, but anything his mother said or did always met with his loyal support.

The proud, strong-minded mother guided the destinies of the family through the troublesome times that followed. The strictest economy was practiced in all things. Brownsville has ever been noted for the hospitality of its people and the plenteous supplies found on the tables of all. Therefore, when the usual good things were missing from the table and the mother explained that it would not be for long but for the time being it was imperative to live sparingly, Alfred put all in a good humor by calling on Muz, (the children's favorite name for the mother), "Muz, cook it all up at once[125] and let's have one good, big meal like we used to have, then starve right."

Uncle Jake and Aunt Betty and all their family were steadfast friends during all the days of distress, as were Uncle William and grandfather and his family. Even Cousin Charley exerted himself to be of assistance.

Lin afterwards declared that the Biblical prophecy, "Meny shall be called an' only a few kum," had found verification in Charley's changed conduct. Since Lin "jined" church, she often attempted to quote scripture.

Among other offerings that Cousin Charley bestowed upon Alfred were two hounds with a colony of lively fleas. This gift was greatly appreciated by Alfred as the dogs were good coon hunters. It was not long ere the news came to Alfred's folks that Cousin Charley had stolen the hounds from Turner Simpson, a colored man who lived near the town, and noted for his superior hounds and numerous children. When the mother firmly commanded that the dogs be returned to their owner Alfred was greatly disappointed. Lin informed the boys that the dogs had to eat and that the mother had enough mouths to feed "without runnin' a dog's boardin' house. Why ye durned little fool ye, don't ye know Charley's jus put them dogs yar to git 'em kept. They'll jus keep 'em yar till they want to hunt coon an' then they'll take 'em. Ef it wur a hoss or hippotumas es was in thet sorry animile show, an' Charley 'ud gin it to ye, I'd feel ye could call it yer own. But a houn' dog, never. He'd never part with a houn'. Some fine mornin' the houn's'll turn up missin' an' ye'll find Dr. Playford hes bought 'em fur about five dollars."

Lin's reference to Dr. Playford gave Alfred an inspiration. He was on his way to Dr. Bob Playford's with the hounds chained together and nearly pulling him off his feet, so eager were they for exercise. The sporting doctor's eyes glistened as he looked the dogs over and noted their good[126] points. Alfred explained that they were a present from Cousin Charley, that he prized them greatly but his mother would not permit him to retain them.

The doctor purchased and paid for the dogs, handing the boy a crisp five dollar greenback bill. Although greenbacks were greatly depreciated in value at that time, no bill of like denomination has ever before or since had the purchasing power that that five dollars had for Alfred. He could scarcely contain himself until he arrived at home, that he might hand the money to his mother. The doctor informed Alfred that he would give him an additional dollar if he would deliver the dogs to Turner Simpson, adding: "Simpson keeps all my hounds; he has a pack of them there now and these two will be all I'll need for a while. Be careful of the dogs, almost anybody will steal a hound dog and brag about it afterwards."

When requested to deliver the dogs to Simpson, Alfred was dumbfounded. He was soon on his way with the dogs. They did not have to drag the boy as on the way to the doctor's house. When they struck the old road above the tannery, Alfred gave the hounds a run, until Turner Simpson's house came into view.

Their arrival brought hounds from under the old log house, the porch and the stable. Kinky, woolly-headed, barefooted pickanninnies peeked through broken window panes and out of half-opened doors. The baying of the hounds brought old Simpson out to the road.

Alfred advised him that Dr. Playford had paid him one dollar to deliver the hounds and sent instructions that they be properly cared for.

"Oh, shucks. You jes tell Bob I allus takes good keer ob his dawgs," spoke the old negro in a half joking way. "An' you say to de Doctor, dat when he wants to take a pair ob houns away from yar agin he better jes tell me. I done sarch four days fuh dem houns. I neber dream de Doctor hed 'em. I nearly hed a fite wid John McCune's boys kase I cused dem[127] ob kidnapin' de houns. Now I mus' go ober an' tell John de Doctor hed de dawgs all de time."

The six dollars were given to the mother. Lin declared Alfred the best boy in the world and one who, "ef he had the chance, could take keer of himself."

A few days later Cousin Charley brought Alfred a fine pair of white and blue pigeons in a nice little box. After talking on many subjects Charley came to the real object of his visit. He stated that he had bought the two hounds from a man whom he did not know. He paid the man the cash for the dogs. Now he had learned that the dogs had been stolen from Turner Simpson and he felt it his duty to restore them to their rightful owner.

Lin was washing dishes at the beginning of Charley's talk. She seated herself on the table—a favorite position of Lin's—and nodded approval at the end of every sentence Charley uttered. When he concluded, Lin began:

"I'll be tee-to-tall-y dog-goned ef this haint the mos' curious sarcumstance thet's ever kum up. Now a man—and Lin emphasized each word with the laying of the forefinger of her right hand into the palm of her chubby left—stole Turner Simpson's houns. Ye say ye bought 'em—nodding at Charley—ye didn't know they wus stole. Ye gin the houns to Alfurd. Now ye kum after the dogs; ye has to gin the houns back to Turner Simpson. Ye furgit who ye got the houns from an' can't git yer money back, ye're out jus thet much. Now s'posin' Alfurd sole them air houns to Doctor Bob Playford—Charley crimsoned—an' the Doctor says 'Yere Alfurd, yers a dollar, carry the houns to Turner Simpson's' an' Alfurd 'ud do hit, then yer conscience 'ud be easy, wouldn't hit?'"

"Yes um," meekly answered Charley, "but I don't think Bob Playford wants to buy any houns, he has a plenty, 'bout twenty I reckon."

[128]Lin smiled as she informed Cousin Charley that "he hed twenty-two by this time. An' let me tell ye sumthin' further: Ef ye're tradin' in birds or pigins or whatever ye call 'em, ye better fin' sum other feller to handle 'em kase Alfurd's got on a swappin' canter an' it'll be hard to head him." Lin laughed long and heartily. Cousin Charley mumbled something about the principle of the thing as he left the house.

It developed that Cousin Charley had been doing quite a business in hounds. The pair Alfred had, or a similar pair, had been sold to Doctor Playford, at least twice during the past six months. When Charley needed a little money, he just sold the Doctor a pair of his own hounds.

The Doctor took it all good naturedly as he remarked: "Charley has stolen more hounds for me than he has sold me, therefore, I still owe him."

The mother, when the facts came out, forthwith sent Alfred to the Doctor with the five dollars. The Doctor laughed and said: "Alfred, go home and tell Mary (his mother) that I gave you the five dollars for keeping the dogs. And say—If Charley steals them again you just grab them, come and tell me and I'll give you five dollars more."

Alfred played spy on Charley for some time but Charley seemed to have lost interest in the hound business.

After the old play-ground, Jeffries Commons was abandoned, Sammy Steele's tan-yard became the favorite practicing place of the athletically inclined boys of the town. The soft tan bark was even more suitable for tumbling, leaping and jumping than the old saw-dust ring on the commons.

The owner of the tan-yard, Sammy Steele—no one ever called him Samuel—was thought, by those who did not know him intimately, to be hard and severe. And so he was to those who fell under his displeasure. Only a few of the boys of the town were permitted to enjoy the practicing place. Alfred was one of them. To Alfred, the dignified, hard working, honest tanner, was always kindly.

[129]Alfred performed many errands and did many chores with quickness and willingness for the owner of the tan-yard. The willingness of the boy caught the fancy of the industrious man. One day he called Alfred up to his office.

The big, earnest man began by saying, (he always repeated his words)—: "Little Hatfield boy, little Hatfield boy, you are not big enough to do much work, much work, but you are willing, you are willing, to do all you can. You are here a greater part of your time, the greater part of your time. The bark is thrown down, thrown down, from the loft to the mill, to the mill, where they grind it; I say grind it, little bits of bark fly off, fly off on the ground bark. I want the ground bark kept clear of the unground, of the unground bark. You are spry, I say you are spry. It will take you but a little while morning and afternoon to clear the ground bark pile of the unground pieces, of the unground pieces. For this I will pay you twenty-five cents a day, twenty-five cents a day."

Alfred wended his way home in high glee. The prospect of earning money was pleasing to the boy. Long before the family arose in the morning he was up and waiting for his breakfast. Although it was but a few moment's walk to his place of employment, he insisted that he had best carry his noonday lunch. This the mother would not permit.

The Bark Mill

The Bark Mill

[130]Active as a squirrel the boy scampered over the bark pile picking up the bits of unground bark. The work was but play.

The noon hour found him on the tan bark pile practicing. As the bell rang calling the men to work he was at his place with the most industrious of them.

During the many years that have begun and ended since he worked in Sammy Steele's tannery, Alfred has received some pretty fair weeks' salaries, but no pay ever brought the happiness the one dollar and fifty cents he received for that week's work in the old bark mill when he presented it to his mother.

Not many days elapsed before his industry was rewarded by an increase of wages to three times the amount he had previously received. His work took wider range, upstairs to the big finishing room and the office where he came in constant contact with the owner of the tannery. He made himself more useful to the man higher up, and when his pay was increased to one dollar a day, it seemed a fortune was in sight.

The illusion still clung. The present was but the means to an end and beyond lay his hopes. To become a great clown in the circus was the goal. Nor were the little band of minstrels, whose rehearsals had been checked by the fire and the loss of the melodeon, lost sight of. The big finishing room found the little band of amateur minstrels rehearsing almost every night, strange to say, the straight laced old tanner did not object. When several of the nearby neighbors complained of the noise and din, he simply gave orders to limit the rehearsals to 10 p. m.

Lin said: "Huh! ef enybody but Alfurd was at the head of it, Sammy Steele would a histed every one on 'em long ago."

Lin was peeved. She could not imagine how the singing could be anything without her voice and the melodeon. A tan-yard hand who played the violin by ear had supplanted Lin. She declared he could only "fiddle fer dancin', he[131] couldn't foller singin'. Ye can't foller a fiddle an' sing, ye got to hev a melodeon or accordion. A fiddle wus never made to sing with, hit's all right fer dancin'. Lor', ye never hear any real music less ye got a lead. That's the reason ye never hear any good singin' in Baptus meetin'. They're agin manufactured music, they haven't got enythin' to go by."

Lin had joined the Campbellite Church for the reason that it was the furthest from the Baptist belief, so she claimed. Alfred always believed down deep in his heart that Lin had allied herself with that particular denomination for the reason that her vocal abilities were appreciated in the little congregation and for the further reason that the church had an organ.

Lin felt her exclusion from the minstrel rehearsals more than she cared to reveal. Alfred did all he could to comfort her. He assured her that Charley Wagner, the violin player, was not nearly so satisfactory as she.

"But s'pose I had saved the melodeon"—(Lin always attributed her rejection by the minstrel band to the loss of the melodeon)—"you couldn't a-used it in the tan-yard, it's too damp there and it would spoil the tune of it. Why, it's most ruined my tambourine. Beside," concluded Alfred, "regular minstrels are all men, they don't have any women folks in 'em."

His explanation was plausible but it did not satisfy Lin. "Huh! I wasn't good enuf fur yer ole tan-yard pack. I s'pose when ye got a lot of patchin' and sewin' to do, ye'll be callin' on me but ye won't fin' me in. Good bye, Mr. Clown, minstrel. Next time ye try to ak out afore folks I hope ye'll do better en ye did the nite uv the big party."

This was a home thrust, it pierced to the quick. Alfred was over sensitive. Often, when the remembrance of the failure alluded to by Lin troubled his mind, he had soothed himself with the hope that few had noticed his failure. But Lin's remark forced the awful feeling upon him that, like[132] Cousin Charley's potato deal, it was known and talked of by the whole town.

Unexpected happenings brought the rehearsals of the minstrels in the old tan-yard to an abrupt ending.

It was during the dark days of the reconstruction period, immediately following the war. Only those of the south can fully realize what those days meant to a people already impoverished by the most gigantic war of Christendom.

Colonel Charlotte, once wealthy, now reduced to almost want, (we will place his residence, oh anywhere, in Virginia, Georgia or Alabama); his once productive plantation neglected for want of tenants and help to cultivate it, stock and products confiscated. Many and earnest were the conferences held by the Colonel and his unfortunate neighbors, to devise ways and means to recuperate their lost fortunes. After each conference with his friends the Colonel would wend his way homeward to confer with his good wife, who was a most sensible and therefore a lovable woman.

When the Colonel was most despondent the wife was most buoyant, cheering him as best she could. After the Colonel had given vent to his feelings, recounting for the hundredth time his helplessness in the face of the oppressive laws rigidly enforced by the carpet-bag officers; after he had delivered himself of a tirade against those who were responsible for the condition of affairs, the good wife said: "Colonel, I know if the Christian people of the North were aware of the sufferings of our people, we would get relief. I pity you in your troubles and do hope we may see a way to help ourselves. We are out of corn, the meal is almost gone and we have very little bacon left. Our children should be in school but I cannot bear to send them with the toes out of their shoes and their shabby clothes."

The Colonel would compress his lips, cussing every Yankee on earth. He would find his way to the country store to while away another day in useless conference with his neigh[133]bors. The same persons met daily and dispersed nightly to carry their woes to their homes. Time and again Colonel Charlotte informed the patient little wife that he was without hope.

"Don't give up," encouraged the wife, "I know it looks dark but it is always darkest before dawn; let us look toward the east and pray for light. I know something will come to us, but for my part, I would not care. I can stand it, but the children, poor innocents, should not be made to suffer; no shoes or clothes fit to go to school or church in. The winter is coming on and our provisions are scant. I worry only on account of the children. Colonel, do the best you can; that is all mortal can do, the Lord will do the rest."

The Colonel left his fireside early the next morning resolved to find something to relieve the wants of his family. Returning home later than usual he was in a towering rage. The good wife was alarmed.

"Why, Colonel, what has disturbed you so?"

"Wife, I'm mad clar through and if Captain Barbour warn't an old friend of the family, I declar' to God I'd assaulted him today."

"Heaven forbid," pleaded the wife, "I know Captain Barbour surely would not wound your feelings intentionally."

The Colonel explained that they were talking over their troubles, bewailing their helplessness, when Captain Barbour said: "Why Colonel Charlotte, you're better off than any of us, you have the means at your command to not only make a living but to lay a little money by."

"And wife, when I asked him how, what do you think he said? That I had a carriage and horses and I could open a livery stable. Open a livery stable!" And the hot blood of the Charlottes' reddened his temples again as he clinched his fists and walked up and down in his anger. "Me, a Charlotte, engage in the livery business. Why, wife, I could scarcely keep my hands off him. Me, a Charlotte, in the[134] livery business. Pollute that old family carriage that bears on its panels the crest of the Charlotte family, whose blood runs back to the men of Cromwell."

The facts are the old family carriage was about the only relic of the Charlotte family's former greatness; imported from England years before, held as almost sacred by succeeding generations of the Charlotte family. To have one intimate that the sacred old vehicle should be used to convey the common herd was a heavy blow to the pride of the Colonel.

"Well, Colonel," soothingly spoke the wife, "I know your pride has been hurt, I know just how badly you feel. I know you are proud and I really fear that Captain Barbour in his zeal to assist you was indiscreet. He should not have spoken so abruptly but should have given you time to consider the motive that prompted him. I know—he—he—meant—well—and—and—perhaps—you—should—consider his advice. Can't we talk it over?" As she approached him, looking up into his face with a half smile and a half cry, she pleaded: "I would hate to say one word that would humble your pride, but—but those children—you know they ought to have schooling. And I declare, Colonel—I do not know—what we're going to do for something to—to—eat." And here the wife broke down.

The Colonel folded her in his arms as he soothed her, stroking her hair. He declared he would sacrifice all the pride of the Charlottes that she and his did not suffer.

The negroes were sent to the corn patch to fetch the old horses, pluck the burrs out of manes and tails, smooth them up by currying the long hair off their shaggy coats. The old family carriage was hauled out of the shed, washed, the brass mountings brightened, the coat of arms, the panels scoured until they shone again.

The sting was somewhat removed from the Colonel's feelings by the painter making the sign read "Liberty[135] Stable." The word "Livery" was not in the painter's vocabulary. When he assured the Colonel that the sign was proper the Colonel was more satisfied.

Four or five days wore away. The Colonel, from his seat in front of the store, like Enoch Arden patiently watching for a sail, grew more despondent each day.

One November evening, the rain gently falling from the weeping clouds seemingly in sympathy with the Colonel's dismal feelings, a young negro was seen coming towards him. Colonel Charlotte recognized Sam, a former slave, the son of an old house servant.

The Colonel returning the salutation in a manner none the less cheery said: "Why, Sam, how you all has growed up. I declare I wouldn't knowed you only your voice is so much like your father's. How's all? Whar you livin' and what you a-doin' for yourself? Come on boy, tell me about you eh?"

Sam explained to the Colonel that "he was working on de new railroad buildin' down Raleigh way an' wus doin' tolerable well. A dollar a day, not countin' Sundays an' I gits my fodder."

"Well, Sam, if you can stow vittles away like you all done when I fed you, you're gettin' well paid."

The Colonel laughed at his own joke, the first laugh he had indulged in for days. Sam was encouraged by the Colonel's good humor. Doffing his hat, he addressed the Colonel in a sort of patronizing manner:

"Cunnel, I dun heard you all gone into the liberty business."

This flattered the Colonel slightly and he straightened up, replying:

"Yes, Sam, I just got tired of seeing my horses and vehicles around doing nothing and I wanted something to occupy my time. I don't count much on what I'll make but it will keep me from rusting out."

[136]"Well, Cunnel, I'se jus come all de way down yar to see you. Dar's gwine to be a dance down to Townsley's tonight an' me an' my company an' my friend an' his gal wants to go, an' I kum to ask you all how much you gwine fur to ax us to carry us all to de dance an'——"

Like a flash the Colonel jumped to his feet, the old rickety, split-bottom chair was hurled after Sam with the words:

"You dam black scoundrel, I'll break every bone in your black body if I get hold of you."

This speech was hurled after the thoroughly frightened Sam as the Colonel pursued him. Giving up the chase the Colonel stalked home. His wife observed his anger as he entered.

"Wife, I've never in my life sustained a worse shock than today. To think of it after all these days of waitin', after I have been in the liberty business all these days, the first human being to come to me"—and the Colonel choked with rage—"the first human being to come to me to hire that old family carriage, was a dam nigger."

Then the Colonel in more moderate language described the scene between himself and Sam. The good wife listened to the Colonel until he concluded. Then in a conciliatory tone, she said: "Well, Colonel, it does seem as though fate is cruel to you. I do hope you will bear up bravely. I think it just awful that the first customer should have been a nigger. I do hope we will have others soon."

Then after a pause, she resumed, "Insofar as I am concerned I would willingly die before I'd ask you, a Charlotte, to sacrifice your pride further. But when I think of our children I don't know what to say. Colonel," and she trembled as she spoke, "do you—do—you think—Sam had money to pay for the hire of the carriage?"

"I done heard the money jingle in his pocket when he run."

[137]"Well, Colonel, I wouldn't even suggest that—that—you carry those niggers to the ball, but if—if we only had the money—it would do us so much good. Those children—."

The Colonel waited to hear no more. Out into the chilly autumn evening, more briskly than he had moved in weeks, stalked the Colonel. Reaching the Liberty Stable, he ordered one of the boys to locate Sam. "Make haste," was his parting order.

The boy soon returned escorting Sam who seemed somewhat afraid to get too near the livery stable proprietor. The Colonel assured Sam that he desired to talk with him. Leading the way he walked until well out of hearing of his stable boy.

He began inquiringly, "So there's a big ball at Townsley's tonight. It's the fust I've heard of it, an' you an' your company wants to go. Well Sam, you work hard fur your money an' you ought not to spend it too freely because winter's coming on and these reconstruction laws the Yankees have put on us will make it hard on all of us."

"About how much do you reckon it will cost you all to go to the ball in a first class livery turn out?"

"I dunno sah," meekly answered Sam.

"How much you got?" was the Colonel's next question.

"Five dollars," and Sam jingled the coin in his pocket, showing a set of ivories that would have been the envy of any society belle in the land.

"Give it to me," and the Colonel reached his long arm out towards Sam, the palm of his hand up. Sam placed the five dollars in it.

"Sam, I want to see you have your pleasure. Five dollars is less than I ever charged for a carriage to a ball before. Being's it's you I'll let it go fer that figure providin' you never mention to any person on earth that you hired a conveyance from Colonel Charlotte."

[138]"Yes, sah. I'll promise an' I'll neber tell airy livin' soul 'bout it," answered Sam, showing signs of fright.

The Colonel looked about to assure himself that there were no witnesses and commanded Sam to raise his right hand and kneel on the ground. Sam hesitated, the ground was wet and he had on his new store pants, but down he knelt.

"Now swear by all the laws of reconstruction that if you ever tell you rid in Colonel Charlotte's kerrige, you will be whipped by the Ku-Klux, haunted by ghosts and burned by witches until you are dead and buried in a grave as deep as hell."

The thoroughly frightened boy assented to the oath. The Colonel ordered him to arise, get his company together, "mosey" down to where the big road crossed the branch and wait until the carriage arrived.

The Colonel never entered the livery stable, content to leave the conducting of the same to his help. However, he was not content to trust the old family carriage to them. Ordering the horses hitched to the sacred vehicle, the Colonel hastened to the house, "to plant the tin, afore some dam Yankee carpet-bagger grabbed it," as he expressed it.

He returned to find the carriage ready for him. Two tallow dips burning dimly in the big, old-fashioned lamps on either side of the driver's seat were the admiration of the boys who lighted them. The Colonel ordered them to "blow them thar candles out," saying that they only blinded him. The real reason was that the Colonel did not desire any light shed on the transaction that would disclose his part in it.

Once down the hill he halted the team under the big oak tree where four dusky figures, two males and two females, stood. In a voice he intended to sound other than his own, the Colonel ordered the waiting group to "git in quick, pull down the curtains and don't airy dam niggers poke your heads out till we git to Townsley's."

[139]The horses moved off, the Colonel soliloquizing as they trotted along the sandy road: "S'pose I meet a white man an' he asks me where I'm goin', what will I tell him? Was there ever a white man, was there ever a Charlotte put to this test before. If ever a Charlotte knew that I engaged in this business what would I say to him? Did I ever think I'd come to this? Me, Colonel Charlotte, hauling niggers to a ball." And he again cussed the reconstruction laws.

Arriving at the country store the dance was already under full headway. The fiddles and scraping of feet could be plainly heard.

The voice of the caller, "Swing your partners; all hands around; first gent lead off to the right," floated out on the damp air.

"Git out," was the Colonel's orders to his fares. "Now, don't stay all night or you'll walk back," were his last words to Sam and his company as they ran upstairs to the ball room.

Tying the horses to the fence, the Colonel lighted his pipe, walking to and fro to warm his chilled blood, he gave way to his gloomy thoughts again. "What would Captain Barbour, Colonel Woodburn and Major Hinkle say if they found out that he, Colonel Charlotte, was engaged in carrying niggers to a ball. Ef I was to be ketched yar by a white man, what explanation could I make that would protect the honor of my family?"

For himself the Colonel felt that he was eternally disgraced and had reached the point where he was willing to be ostracized but hoped to protect the family name.

Sam returned to the carriage to find a wrap or other article the women had forgotten. The air was very chilly. "Sam, have you all got any fire upstairs," asked the Colonel.

"Yes, sah, dars a roarin' fire up yander Colonel. Jus walk up sah an' warm yoself."

Pulling his hat down over his eyes, turning his coat collar up to disguise himself, the Colonel climbed the narrow stairs.[140] Peeping through the door at the whisking dancers he skulked along the side of the room until he reached the big, open wood fireplace. The warmth was very grateful to his benumbed frame. He had not the assurance to look around at the dancers; while his front side was thoroughly warmed, the rear of his anatomy was still numb. About the time he had determined to about face, the dance ceased. He heard several remarks not intended for his ears:

"Who is dat ole white man 'trudin' yar? Whar did dat ole white man kum frum? Who fetched him up yar?"

The Colonel couldn't bear it longer. Stalking out, he descended the stairs, asking himself if he could sink lower. In the depths of degradation, what could happen that would sink him lower. A Charlotte ordered out of a nigger ballroom.

The cold air pierced him more quickly since leaving the ballroom. The big wood fire influenced him to return to its comforting warmth. By this time the fire had heated up the room. The heat from the over-heated revellers, the aroma permeating the atmosphere, was not unfamiliar to the Colonel's sense of smell yet none the less unpleasant.

It impelled the Colonel to seek fresh air more quickly than the side remarks had previously. Out in the chilly air he gave way to his thoughts as before, thoughts tinged with even more bitterness.

The fire had made him more and more susceptible to the cold and it was not long ere the Colonel started on his way to warm himself again. Sam met him at the foot of the stairs. Bowing and scraping, he began by apologizing profusely:

"Cunnel, I declars I hates to tell you all but the gemmen dat runs de frolik jus tol' me I has to. I'se been pinted a committee to tell you dey hes made a good hot fire in de back room down stairs fer you. You kin go in an' warm yerself. Dey all doan wants you to kum in de big room up stairs eny more. De fak is, de ladies up dar objecks to de oder ob de stable on yer clothes."

[141]The facts are that a tannery is not as pleasant to the olfactory senses as Pinaud's perfumes, but Alfred, unlike Col. Charlotte, had exposed himself to objectionable odors by working over the vats and leather by day, and thumping the tambourine by night in the big finishing room. But no complaints ever came to his ears of the unpleasant odor of the tannery he carried home with him until Lin was discarded by the minstrel band. Therefore, when the mother, backed by Lin, informed him that he would have to give up his tan-yard affiliations, the boy felt in his heart that as in the Colonel's case, it was not the odor but prejudice.

He almost wished he had arranged that Lin might have retained her place as leader of the singing. But there were other reasons why he was ordered to leave the tanning business.

The Workman Hotel was but a few steps from the old tannery. The new landlord was giving the place a cleaning up. Cal Wyatt, the son of the hotel man, came over to the tannery and requested Alfred, John Caldman, Vince Carpenter and several others to go over during the noon hour to the cellar and give them a hand in stacking up sundry barrels and kegs.

All complied. The barrels were quickly lifted on top of each other. A tin cup full of some sort of fluid was passed around several times. All sipped from the cup, much as folks do from a loving cup nowadays. As the barrels were piled higher, the tin cup went around again and again.

Alfred had sipped from a large spoon a little of the same sort of tasting stuff when Grandpap Irons made a little toddy before breakfast. But never had his lips sunk into a tin cup filled with the stuff previously. A feeling came over him such as he had never experienced, and it seemed as if all in the cellar were similarly affected. Those of the tan-yard hands who had never been known to raise their voices in[142] song, essayed to sing the minstrel songs. Those so awkward that they could not walk naturally endeavored to dance.

Ordinarily Alfred would have laughed himself weak at the hilarious attempts of the tan-yard hands, and their imitations. Under the influence of the tin cup's magic fluid he held them in that contempt that only the professional can feel for the jay who endeavors to imitate him.

The Tin Cup Went Round Again and Again

The Tin Cup Went Round Again and Again

Alfred stood motionless, or as near motionless as he possibly could. John Caldman, who was known and respected as the one quiet and unobtrusive person in the tannery, and from whose lips a loud word never escaped, stood erect and immovable as the singing, dancing tan-yard hands whirled about him. With compressed lips and haughty mien he seemed not to notice them.

Suddenly he spoke and in a voice so loud and unnatural that all were awed into silence. The quiet man had changed so completely he seemed another person. Alfred gazed at him in astonishment. He hurled epithets and denunciations at those whose names he had never before mentioned aloud. He recalled insults and abuse heaped upon him by all connected with the tannery; he invited, he insisted that[143] the biggest and strongest of those about him come out and fight. He dared the whole crowd to jump on him.

None accepting his dare he declared his intention to go to the tan-yard and clean out the old shebang, following his threat with a movement towards the tannery followed by the wobbling crowd.

Entering the big finishing room Alfred saw the infuriated John standing in the middle of the room, an iron hook in one hand, a lump of coal in the other, while the workmen were flying upstairs and down stairs. Alfred endeavored to follow those who went down stairs. He remembered starting from the first step at the top. Vince Carpenter afterwards informed him he never hit another step in his descent.

Sammy Steele's Mule Kicked the Boy

Sammy Steele's Mule Kicked the Boy

Gathering himself up in time to hear Vince shout: "Here comes Mr. Steele," as badly scared as his dazed senses would permit him to be, Alfred fumbled and scrambled about for a moment. He spied a large wheel-barrow overloaded with cows' ears and other by-products of green hides that go into the refuse and find their way to the glue factory. This slimy mess was just out of the lime vat.

Alfred grabbed the handles and started with the wheel-barrow he did not know where, his sole object being to stall[144] and make the boss believe he was at work. Along a narrow plank walk he pushed the gruesome load, weaving, wobbling at every step, threatening to go off one side or the other at any moment, headed for the dump where all the water-soaked, discarded tan bark was deposited.

Reaching the dumping ground, standing between the handles of the wheel-barrow, Alfred attempted to overturn it. The handles overturned Alfred. Down the steep incline, rolled Alfred, wheel-barrow and contents in one conglomerate mass, Alfred under the avalanche of cows' ears, tails, etc.

Mrs. Hampton witnessed from her back porch the race down the dump pile. Calling a couple of boys the lady led the way to where Alfred lay, digging him from under the slimy mess. The boys loaded the soaking figure into the wheel-barrow and carried him home.

Sammy Steele used as motive power in his bark mill a fine white mare and an iron grey mule. When Alfred could not get the use of the white mare he rode or drove the mule. Alfred's parents and others continually cautioned him to beware of the mule, that it was vicious and would surely kick him.

When the boys arrived at Alfred's home and Lin saw them assisting the almost senseless boy into the house, she began: "Well, fur the luv of all thet's holy, what's the rumpus now? I'll bet a fip Sammy Steele's mewel's kicked thet boy."

The boys did not reply, depositing their burden on the floor, hastily departed. To Lin's persistent inquiries, Alfred admitted that the mule had kicked him. In a maudlin way he stuttered: "L-o-o-k-o-u-t, Lin, she'll k-k-i-c-k you." Then he laughed a silly laugh.

Lin was convinced that the boy was out of his head, delirious from the mule's kick, sent for the doctor who came in haste. Lin explained that she was "skeered nearly to death. I wus yar all alone an' they kum draggin' him in. I tried to talk with him but he's plum out of his head. His[145] mother an' his pap an' me an' all of us hes warned him time an' 'gain that that mewel would be his death, but he jus kept a-devilin' aroun' hit; now ye see what kum of hit. He's jus like he had a stroke of palsy, hit's a wonder the mewel hedn't killed him stun dead. Ef hits palsied him he mought jus es well be dead."

Thus Lin ran on as the old doctor carefully looked the patient over. The doctor had long practiced in Brownsville. Tomato vine poisoning cases were rare. Alfred's ailment on this occasion was common. He made no mistake in diagnosing the case although he did not inform the family of his conclusions. However, he assured them that "the boy would be all right in a day or two. His appetite might not come to him at once but he would be all right in the morning. Just let him sleep, don't wake him, and when he gets out caution him to—keep away from the mule," added the doctor dryly.

Lin said: "Be durned ef hit ain't the queerest case I ever seed. Alfurd's jus es sick es he kin be an' the old doctur didn't gin him nothin'."

A few days later it was whispered among the neighbors that Alfred and a number of the tan-yard hands broke into Bill Wyatt's cellar and drank up all his liquor and Alfred, "little as he wus, drinked more'n eny of em." George Washington Antonio Frazier 'lowed that Alfred "drinked so much he wouldn't want another drink fer a month. I wouldn't ef I'd hed his cargo," he concluded.

Lin threw her head up in disgust as she denied this rumor: "Huh, all ole Frazier is peeved 'bout is bekase he didn't git his ole hog belly filled up fur nuthin'."

Alfred slept he knew not how long. It was night when he awoke. Half awake, he would doze and dream—now he was carrying gourds of water to Uncle Joe, hastening back to get a gourdful for his own parched lips. He would invariably[146] drop the gourd or have some other mishap—he never got the water to his lips.

He realized that there were others in the room, the lamp was too low to distinguish them. He listened endeavoring to hear what they were talking of. The old clock down-stairs struck two, then the little clock on the mantelpiece chimed twice.

A figure arose, softly crossing the room and a hand was laid softly on the boy's forehead. His eyes were closed but he knew it was his mother's hand.

"He is a little less feverish, Pap, you had best go to bed. I'll call Lin early and lie down. Now go on, you have to work and you won't feel like it, if you don't get your sleep. Go on now, if he gets worse, I'll call."

"Gets worse I'll call you." Alfred repeated the words over and over in his mind. He imagined at first that he had been sick a long time. He gathered his thoughts—the old tavern cellar came into his mind, the antics of the tan-yard hands after they had quaffed from the tin cup. Alfred got no further in his ramblings than the tin cup; only a ray of thought, yet it was of sufficient power to cause the boy to retch and strain as though he would heave his stomach up.

The mother was holding a vessel in one hand and supporting the very sick boy with the other arm.

"Muz, Muz, what's the matter with me—how long have I been sick—d-do you th-i-n-k I'm goin' to die?"

The mother soothed him and persuaded him to go to sleep. Alfred closed his eyes and pretended to sleep. He heard footsteps and, peering out of the corner of his eye, he perceived the form of his father bending over him.

Softly walking over to where the mother sat with bowed head, the father began: "I thought I heard him talking. Was he awake?"

"Yes," answered the mother.

"What did he say?" eagerly inquired the father.

[147]The mother informed him.

The father, looking toward the bed, remarked half to himself:

"I hope he will be sober enough to talk to me before I leave the house."

"Why, John," hastily began the mother, "you speak as if he were an old toper."

"Well, Mary. I did not mean it that way. But I have been worried ever since that minstrel crowd has been gathering at the tan-yard. Of course, I never knew Alfred to drink whiskey but they all drink more or less and Alfred is not the boy to pass anything by there's any fun in."

"But they had no business to give a boy whiskey," argued the wife, "and I would see about it and I would make an example of them if I were you."

"I will do all of that and more," warmly answered the father. After a pause, he resumed: "They tell me they were all in Wyatt's cellar and Cal Wyatt drew a tin cup of high proof whiskey. Alfred put the cup—"

Alfred was following the father's words. At the mention of the word "cup," his stomach rebelled again. His father was holding a vessel, his mother supporting the boy's head.

Turning his head, the father ejaculated: "Phew! If that isn't rot-gut I never smelt it."

Alfred pretended to go to sleep and the father and mother talked long and earnestly. Their solicitude for the erring boy, touched Alfred to the heart. He had not realized until this moment the meanness of his actions. When Alfred fully realized the misery and suffering he had caused his parents, he was impelled to crawl to them and kiss the hem of their garments, promising never to cause them pain from the same cause again.

Let it be recorded he did not realize immediately when he drank from the cup, that it was whiskey. After the first swallow or two he became oblivious to his danger. He felt[148] that he was forever disgraced. He thought of getting out of bed and fleeing, he cared not whither, only to get far away from the scene of his disgrace.

We do not know that the boy resolved that he would never touch, taste or handle whiskey again. We do not know what resolutions he made to himself, but we do know that whisky never passed his lips again until he was more than a man grown and then rarely and in very small quantities.

Alfred slept. When he awoke it was daylight. The sun was shining brightly. His first thought was that he would be late for work. Then he heard the voice of a neighbor woman, one whom the mother disliked, one who was noted for her tatling propensities. As an excuse to call she had brought fruit for Alfred. The boy overheard her inquiries as to his condition. She whispered long and earnestly with Lin. The latter, looking down at the pale face of Alfred began questioning him:

"Well, I see ye're alive yit, I gess ye'll kum out of hit. I s'pose the hull durn town'll be laffin' at me. I never dreamed ye wus jus corned. Ef I'd knowed, I'd brot ye out uf it quicker; I'd jus made a hull tin cup uf hot mustard—"

Alfred heard no further than "tin cup." Flopping over on his stomach, endeavoring to hold down the last remnants of his innards, he begged to be left alone. But Lin kept on:

"An' yere I sends fur the doctor es innercent es a baby an' up an' tole him Sammy Steele's mewel hed histed ye. An' when he was feelin' roun' ye I thot he was feelin' fur busted bones, an' durned ef I ever knowed even when ye begun throwin' up on the carpit thet ye wus jus drunk."

Lin continued: "Ef I hadn't sent fur the doctor it wouldn't be so blamed green lookin' in me. I'll never hear the las' uf hit. I'll bet Sammy Steele's mewel's ears will burn, the hull town'll be talkin' 'bout thet mewel. They'll say he's a powerful kicker," and Lin laughed despite herself.

[149]"Why, fur weeks after Joe Sandford got into thet fix with his wall-paper show clothes folks would laff when I went into meetin'. I could tell what they wus thinkin' uf the minnit they'd smile. Un the wust part uf hit is I went over to Mrs. Todd's an' we cried fur two hours. Mrs. Todd's brother got kicked in the spinel string (cord) with a mewel an' he died the same nite. He never moved after he wus kicked. He wus ossified from head to fut."

Alfred laughed. Lin corrected herself by saying: "Thet's what Mrs. Todd sed ailed him, but I knowed she meant 'palsified'."

Alfred again laughed. Lin knew she had made a mistake; she was sensitive and it nettled her to notice the smile on Alfred's face. In tones quite testy she advised him to "hold his laff 'til he could feel hit. Ye needn't git so peart, ye hain't out of danger yit, ye're liable to have anuther collapse or sumthin' else. Ye'll never look as white aroun' the gills when ye're laid out in them linen sheets ye stole fur yer show."

Lin "wondered what gran'muther would say when she heard of his 'sickness'." At the word "sickness" Lin winked with both eyes.

"I'll bet a fip Uncle Ned will say: 'Well, he's another notch nearer hell.'"

Alfred did not consider the reference to Uncle Ned, but grandmother came up in his mind and he determined to go to the old lady and tell her the whole truth. And this he did and, instead of condemnation, he received advice that strengthened him in avoiding many of the same sort of pitfalls thereafter.

The tin cup incident ended Alfred's connection with the tan-yard but Alfred never regretted his experience. The work was most health-giving and muscle developing. The examples of industry and integrity learned from Sammy Steele have been a guiding post in the life of the boy. Alfred[150] had not been in his employ long until he was permitted to conduct small trades with the customers who visited the tannery.

One day a highly respected farmer brought in a hide. Alfred weighed the hide and figured up the amount due the farmer when Mr. Steele entered the room, passing the compliments of the day with the farmer. The hide was spread out on the table. The tanner folded it over as if to ascertain if it had been damaged in the skinning process. At the first touch of the hide he looked into the farmer's face, and in a careless tone, asked:

"Been killing a beef?"

"Yes," drawled the farmer.

"Eh, huh, eh, huh," nodded the tanner, "what did you do with the carcass?"

"Oh, we found a market at home for it. We got a big family," replied the farmer.

"Eh, huh" assented the tanner. Reaching over, he took up the slate, rubbed out Alfred's figures, figured the hide at about two-thirds the amount Alfred was about to pay the farmer.

To Alfred's surprise the farmer accepted the cut in price and hastily took his leave. The tanner looked after him in a contemptuous manner, turned to Alfred and inquired if he knew the farmer.

Alfred answered: "Yes, he's a neighbor of my uncle. He belongs to the Baptus Church and I heard the preacher say if God ever made an upright man, he was one."

"Yes, yes," answered the tanner, "God made all men upright but a murn hide will warp most of them."

A murn hide is one taken from an animal that dies of a disease. The sensitive touch of the old tanner detected the diseased hide immediately.

Alfred has applied this incident to many deals in his life and a murn hide became one of his pet references to a crooked[151] transaction. The tie of friendship between Alfred and Sammy Steele lasted while the tanner lived.

Sammy Steele had not acquired a fortune in all the years of his hard labor. A skilled workman, he respected labor. No employe of his was ever tricked out of his wages. He was as fair to the poor as to the rich and both trusted him. In an uncouth world he was a gentleman; he bowed as courteously to a wash-woman as to an heiress.

An honest man, he was Alfred's boyhood friend, his friend in manhood. Alfred loved him while he lived and respected his memory after he was gone.

If there were more like Sammy Steele in this world there would be better boys and better men.



If every man's eternal care
Were written on his brow,
How many would our pity share
Who raise our envy now?

Lest those who read these pages through feelings of sympathy for the author, or influenced by curiosity, may gain the impression that the people of Brownsville were not as staid as the exacting proprieties of society demanded, it must be pointed out that there was not a bar-room in the town. The two bakeries, William Chatland and Josie Lawton, sold ale by the glass. Every tavern sold whisky by the drink from a demi-john, jug or bottle that was kept locked up. The landlord carried the key and served his customers from a glass or tin-cup. He poured out the drink, limiting the amount to the condition of the one served.

Alfred would never admit Pittsburg in advance of Brownsville except in one thing—the mirrored palaces where only cut glass was used in serving the thirsty.

Bill Brown

Bill Brown

It is peculiar how one's environments will influence his actions in after years. Bill Brown continues to send cut glass goblets to his friends. He boasts that his friends drink only out of cut glass. This boast does not arouse Alfred's envy as he has friends in Brownsville who can drink out of the bung hole of a barrel.

[153]With going to school five days in a week and hunting Saturday, Alfred was kept within bounds.

Kate Abrams—everybody who knew him addressed him as "Kate" (none ever called him Decatur)—Captain Kate Abrams was the beau ideal of a man in Alfred's estimation. Brave, gay and companionable, a man who loved boys and hated hypocrites, a riverman, one who had plyed the southern rivers from mouth to headwaters, as well known in St. Louis or Natchez as in his home town, high strung and generous, he was just the kind of man that boys love and respect.

To go hunting with Kate was a pleasure Alfred esteemed above all others. He was the first wing shot Alfred ever hunted with. It was the custom of the hunters of that section to kill all their game sitting.

When Alfred was permitted to handle and shoot the double-barreled gun Captain Abrams had purchased in St. Louis, he experienced thrills known only to an ardent hunter when a gun, the like of which he had never seen before, comes into his hands.

"You can't miss shootin' that gun", was Alfred's comment.

Captain Abrams generally killed all the game, furnished all the ammunition and divided even with the boys.

The Captain, Daniel Livingston and Alfred had been out one Saturday but bagged only two rabbits; the boys were figuring in their minds how two rabbits could be divided among three persons. When they arrived at the parting point, the Captain remarked, "I know you boys would rather have a half dollar each than a rabbit." With this he handed each a bright half dollar.

Alfred had gone but a few steps toward home when a stranger halted him, inquiring as to the location of the office of the Clipper, the weekly newspaper. Alfred obligingly directed the man to the office.

[154]The stranger had Alfred greatly interested. He was a journeyman printer. Harrison was his name. Harrison was only one of the many who roamed over the country in those days. They roamed from one spree to another, sometimes looking for work and never keeping it long if found.

Harrison was an editorial writer. There were many of them in those days; their enunciation of their political faith was abuse of all who dared dispute them. They wrote for many years and not one line of their output serves as a true mark of the times or people of the days in which they lived.

Harrison and Alfred

Harrison and Alfred

Harrison had walked from Uniontown. He had been working on the Genius of Liberty, had left the paper before it ceased publication, as he put it. He borrowed Alfred's half dollar. He promised he would meet Alfred at the Clipper office early next morning.

Alfred was there early but Harrison did not arrive until noon. Alfred learned afterwards that high noon was early for Harrison, he always did his work between twelve o'clock midnight and bed-time.

Alfred never liked the man from the time he failed to keep his appointment and repay the half dollar, although for the next year he was in closer touch with Harry Harrison than any human being on earth. But he soon discovered that Harrison had knowledge of many things that he wished to learn. Of course, he got a great deal of chaff with the grain, but it was all enlightening.

Harrison had no difficulty in arranging with Mr. Hurd as editor, foreman, pressman, reporter and general manager of the Clipper, issued every Thursday. He had come from[155] the Genius of Liberty published in Uniontown, a paper savagely opposed to the Clipper.

Alfred's father was a reader and an admirer of the Genius of Liberty, a Democratic paper, a hater of the principles of the Clipper and not very friendly toward the owner thereof. When Harrison called at Alfred's home to induce the parents to permit Alfred to ally himself with the office force of the newspaper of which Harrison was the head, the father bluntly told him that he did not have any faith in a Democrat who espoused the principles continuously enunciated by that Abolitionist sheet, the Brownsville Clipper, and he would not permit a child of his to work for the paper.

Harrison advised the family that although he was a Democrat he was above all a newspaper man, and newspaper men were compelled often times to sacrifice principles to exigencies. That it was not a matter of the present but of the future. Alfred should be fitted for a career that would bring him honor and renown. Harrison declared the boy was precocious beyond his years, all he required was training, and he, Harrison, was in a position to offer the boy opportunities that might never knock at his door again.

Notwithstanding the fact that the Brownsville Clipper had on many occasions praised the business competitor of Alfred's father and, while Uncle Billy was a candidate for county judge, not only assailed his loyalty but referred to all his family in uncomplimentary terms, Alfred became an attache of the paper.

According to Harrison's statement Alfred was to be one of the business staff, although there was no written agreement to that effect. However, Harrison made mention of this fact several times in conversation with the family. As Harrison was editor, reporter, foreman of the composing room, and also the compositor, pressman, etc., the only opening for Alfred was in the business department.

[156]Lin said that Harrison was the "most nicest man that ever kum from Uniontown, thet they was nearly all 'mountin hoosiers' but she would bet Harrison kum from a good family and she hoped Hurd's would feed him right." In those days it was the custom for the employer to board his hands.

The first three days Alfred was in the business department he carried two tons of coal in two big pails from the cellar to the third story—the press room. Harrison declared it was not possible to publish a clean sheet unless the room was kept at an even temperature. Harrison had reference to the mechanical part of the paper, not the literary.

On press day, Baggy Allison, the town drayman, helped out. He worked the lever of the hand-press. It required heft and strength to pull the lever as it was necessary to press the form heavily to give the type the proper impression on the paper.

Alfred was the roller. Two gluey, molassy, sticky rollers about four inches in diameter with handles on them, not unlike a small lawn mower without wheels, was first run over the ink smeared on a large flat stone, then over the form lying on the press after each impression.

Press day was a big day in the little printing office.

Harrison had inaugurated reforms and improvements in the paper. He had a catchy style in writing up the news. For instance: When Polly Rider and Jacob Rail were united in marriage, the groom requested a nice mention of the wedding, it was promised him. The following appeared in the Clipper's next issue:

"On Wednesday evening in the presence of a large and respectable gathering of the quality of Bull Skin Township, Jacob Rail and Polly Rider were married by a duly qualified squire. The affair was held at Tom Rush's Tavern. All following the bride and groom a-horseback made a crowd as long as any that ever attended an infair or any other public outpouring in this neighborhood. Rush sets the best table on the old pike twixt Brownsville and Cumberland. At this infair he outshone all others; many claimed it was the best meal they[157] ever sat down to. Mine host is not a candidate for any office we know of but he can get anything he wants in this county insofar as the support of this paper goes. And we know whereof we write. Two baskets filled with dainties and a demi-john came to this office. The whole office wishes the happy landlord 'bon vivant' until we can do better by him. The bride wore red roses and other posies; the groom wore a new black suit which he bought at Skinner's round corner clothing store. Everybody wishes them a pleasant voyage through life, as does the Clipper."

The two baskets of dainties had not been received when the article was written but a copy of the paper found its way into the hands of the landlord before the ink was dry and the baskets and demi-john were in the office soon thereafter. Folks were just as susceptible to favorable mention then as now.

In the same column of the Clipper appeared this voluntary tribute:

"T. B. Murphy, the handsome and polite ladies' man, the artistic grocer, has just gotten in a large supply of everything in his line. Murphy is just a little cheaper and a great deal better than other grocers. Among the toothsome goodies which the boys of the Clipper dote on are the fresh Scotch herring all ready for eating and the sugar crackers. They go together and make a snack fit for a king to gorge on."

Harrison never tired of sugar crackers and Scotch herring. The herring kept him continually thirsty, hence Jose Lawton came in for favorable mention:

"Jose Lawton, the oldest and best baker in the town this day received a dray load of Spencer & McKay's Cream Ale. Spicy and brown, it is a nectar fit for the gods and spurs on ye editor in his untiring labors for that great moral inspiration, the public."

All that day the business department of the paper was very busy with a large coffee pot carrying inspiration from Lawton's to the press room.

Harrison carried his reforms and innovations to the editorial pages of the paper. In his first editorial he attacked[158] those who held the offices and those who aspired to them, that is, those to whom the paper was opposed. Uncle Billy Hatfield was a candidate for county judge. The Clipper said:

"The office holding habit is so strongly imbedded in the family," (Uncle Billy had been a justice of the peace, another uncle a constable and Alfred's father burgess for one term), "that if the voters of this county defeat them, as they surely will do as the Clipper is in the fight to stay, and they were sent to the Island of Ceylon, where the natives have no clothes on, they wouldn't be there long before they would hold all the offices. And thus, like here, have their hands in the pockets of the naked voters."

Press day Harrison would fly fold and what not until a dozen copies had been run off that looked right to him. With these he left the office, the drayman and business department struggled along with the printing of the paper. The circulation was nine hundred and it generally took the day and far into the night to work off the edition.

Harrison carried the copies containing complimentary write-ups of various enterprises and persons in town to the persons themselves and frequently returned with articles contributed by the recipient of the write-up. He would bestow them on the office force, a pair of suspenders to Alfred, a pair of gloves to Baggy Allison, cigars, cheese, Scotch herring, sugar crackers and tobacco, were distributed and kept on hand at all times, that is all times near press day.

Harrison generally celebrated for three days. Press day was Thursday; he kept it up until Sunday when he was generally very sick.

On this, Alfred's first press day, Baggy Allison, the pressman, grew very tired when three hundred of the edition had been worked off. The pressman proceeded to take a nap. That the great preserver of public morals might not be delayed in delivery, Alfred essayed to work the press. The foot rest was too far away for him to reach the lever. The first time he pulled it towards him while on a tension, the[159] lever slipped from his slender grasp, and flying back, snapped one of the small springs in the press.

Harrison was sought and finally found but was too effulgent to realize the calamity. He recommended the press be shipped to Philadelphia and the office closed for two weeks. He was evidently feeling so good that he could not entertain the idea of getting back to the regular life in less time.

Mr. Hurd, the owner, insisted that Davy Chalfant, "the best blacksmith in the country," could repair the spring. Alfred was dispatched with the broken bits to Davy's shop. Davy was not only noted for his mechanical skill but for his likes and dislikes. He had a great admiration for mechanics who labored with heavy tools or machinery and greater contempt for all who were engaged in lighter labor. Davy could shoe horses, weld tires or axles as no other blacksmith in those parts.

What Does Hurd Take Me Fur, a Damned Jeweler?

"What Does Hurd Take Me Fur, a Damned Jeweler?"

Kaiser, the town jeweler, a German of delicate physique and features, a skilled workman, was held in special contempt by the big blacksmith who never passed the jeweler's[160] shop that he did not hurl, under his breath, contemptuous words at the delicate little jeweler sitting in his window with a magnifying glass on his eye, plying his trade.

When Alfred handed the blacksmith the broken bits of the spring he took them in the hollow of his big palm and said: "What's these?"

Alfred explained that the press was broken and it would be impossible to print the paper until the spring was repaired and Mr. Hurd said he knew that he, Mr. Chalfant, could fix it.

Davy turned the bits of broken steel over in his palm with the forefinger of his other hand as he musingly said: "So Hurd said I could fix this thing, did he?" And here he handed Alfred the broken bits. "Well, you take it back to Hurd an' ax him what he takes me fur, a damned jeweler?"

Someone suggested that Gus Lyons, the machinist and piano tuner, could repair the spring, which he did after several hours work.

Harrison celebrated longer, with the result that the remainder of the edition was not worked off until after the regular edition of the following week. The edition of the week before went out with the regular edition with an added note at the top of the page explaining the terrible accident to the press which caused the delay.

It was one of the onerous duties of the business department to deliver the paper in three towns, Brownsville, Bridgeport and West Brownsville. To the houses on the hill above Workman's Tavern he generally sent the paper by a boy; the subscribers along Water Street, down toward the coal tipple, were served by somebody Alfred met going that way.

Paper Boy

[161]When Alfred took charge of the business department he was furnished a list of the subscribers in the three towns. It was not long until he lost the list; in fact, he never was guided by the list. None of the Democrats of any prominence in the town took the paper, but every week, those holding office would be touched up in the paper. The business department always took pains to deliver a copy of the paper to one thus mentioned. If the article were pretty severe Alfred saw to it that all the family of the one roasted received a copy of the paper.

This kept things stirred up around the office and the town. Alfred generally distributed the papers to every family whether they subscribed to it or not. From the outlying districts there came many complaints of the non-delivery of the paper. The owner of the paper hired a horse and buggy to trace the business department in its work.

Bob and Mrs. Hubbard owned a malt house and made excellent ale, so it was said. They were subscribers to the paper. The owner of the paper visited the Hubbards. The Mrs. was the business end of the firm. After visiting a little while and sampling a goblet of the ale, the owner of the paper announced the object of his visit:

"We have a new boy, complaints have come to the office that our readers are not receiving their papers regularly. How about yours?"

Mrs. Hubbard looked at the owner rather surprised, as she informed him that she "'adn't noticed the paper around the 'ouse in several weeks." She said: "I thought you 'ad stopped printing it."

This nettled the owner, who was proud of his paper. "No ma'am! We have never stopped it but you won't lose nothing, we will run you five weeks over on the next year's subscription." And he took another glass of ale.

The owner expressed his disappointment that the paper had not been delivered regularly. He remarked as he sipped[162] at the fresh goblet of ale the lady had insisted on him taking, "You shall have your paper regularly hereafter, I shall bring it down myself every Thursday evening."

"Oh Lor', no, Mr. Urd," the good woman began, "Oh Lor', 'Urd, we wouldn't 'ave you trouble yourself for hennything. Never mind the paper, we never reads hit enyhow."

Alfred did not fancy Harrison but was constantly associated with him. There was a charm about the man for Alfred that was stronger than his dislike. Harrison knew, or pretended he did, all the showmen of the day, he would discuss them for hours while Alfred sat in open-mouthed wonder. There was one feature Alfred studied over greatly—Harrison's acquaintance with all noted showmen was brought about in nearly every instance by Harrison having assisted them financially at some time. Alfred had never thought of a clown or a minstrel except as one rolling in wealth. When Harrison related how he had assisted Dan Rice out of Louisville when in distress and Sam Sharpley out of Maysville when creditors oppressed him, Alfred's respect for the man was still more lessened. But it influenced him to look upon actors with a feeling less exalted than previously.

Newspaper in the cow stable

[163]Alfred learned in after years that the hallucinations of Harrison as to assisting actors financially were common in the minds of those who lived a roving life.

Harrison gave Alfred the first copy of the New York Clipper he ever read, probably the only amusement paper in the United States at that time. Alfred was all of one rainy Sunday reading that copy of the Clipper. He kept it hid in the cow stable fearing his father would object to the paper.

Alfred became an authority on sports and amusements. The town people marveled at his knowledge. Frank McKernan, the sporting shoemaker, referred every argument that came up in his shop as to actors or prize fighters to him.

Harrison presented Alfred a book on stage management. It contained just such information as he had been seeking. The band of minstrels were busily rehearsing in the back room of Frank McKernan's shoe-shop. Harrison elated Alfred with the information that after the troupe became perfectly rehearsed they could give performances every Saturday night in Jeffres Hall and money would roll in on them.

John and Charley Acklin, splendid singers from the Methodist church choir, joined the troupe when the minstrels serenaded Alfred's family. Lin acknowledged, "the singin' wus purty an' ye git along right good although hit mought be better."

Harrison pronounced the troupe perfectly rehearsed and ordered Alfred to secure Jeffres Hall for the following Saturday night. Then came trouble. Harrison assumed to be manager and treasurer. Win Scott, Alfred's dearest pal, had always been the door-keeper. Win was intensely jealous of Harrison. Alfred required Harrison's aid with the newspaper and to have a few handbills printed. He loved old Win and he was greatly disturbed as to how to appease Win and satisfy Harrison.

Harrison had become very much interested in Lin. The lady had not given him any encouragement. Lin had a beau[164] to whom she was loyal. Harrison continually quizzed Alfred as to Lin's attitude toward him. Alfred truthfully advised Harrison that Lin had never referred to him.

Harrison, in addition to his impecuniosity, had other peculiarities of which vanity was not the least. Alfred persuaded Lin to accompany Harrison to the proposed show. As Lin's "steady" was employed in a distant town and she was very anxious to witness the first minstrels performance, she sort of half way promised to permit the itinerant printer to escort her to the show. But she decidedly declared, "Ef he kums near me with the smell of licker on him I'll sack him quick."

Alfred felt that he was playing a desperate game but he had a great deal at stake. The fact is, in all his other shows he had never enjoyed the luxury of a treasurer. He did not fully comprehend the meaning of the term; a door-keeper was all he required and when Harrison continually talked of the treasurer as the one who held the destinies of the troupe in the hollow of his hand, it was displeasing to Alfred.

In fact, Alfred had inwardly resolved that Harrison should not handle the funds. Win Scott, his boyhood friend, should keep door and take in the money as heretofore. Alfred resolved, though Lin even refused to accept the invitation of Harrison, that he would declare himself at the last moment as to the treasurership.

Alfred called on Mr. Jeffres, the owner of the hall, the only one in town, stated his business, inquired as to the rental for a single night, intimating to the fidgety little Englishman that the hall would be rented many subsequent nights if the price was satisfactory.

Alfred has experienced many rebuffs but none so overwhelming as the refusal of Mr. Jeffres to consider his proposition. He was smothered with astonishment, chagrin and several other emotions that no appropriate names have been found for.

[165]The parting words of Mr. Jeffres kept ringing in his ears as he sorrowfully walked homewards, his heart so heavy he could scarcely lift his feet from the ground: "Hi do not care to rent my 'all to hirresponsible persons. Hi 'av no desire to 'ave you an' your scalawags ha-running about my 'all naked as some of you did the day you 'ad your grandfather's coolin' sheets tacked hon the hold rag tent hin front of my 'ouse." Jeffres bowed Alfred out of his house as he concluded his speech.

Lin was up in arms. "Huh! Let ole Tilty go to blazes with his ole 'all (mimicking Jeffres). I'll git ye the Campbellite meetin' house, see ef I don't."

The true inwardness of the refusal of the hall was that Jeffres was the business competitor of Alfred's father. Captain Decatur Abrams was building the steamboat "Talequah." Jeffres greatly desired the contract and felt sure that he would get it. Captain Abrams was the father's friend through all the vicissitudes of those troublesome days and the contract went to Alfred's father.

In after years, when the old gentleman, whose feelings had softened with age, invited Alfred to appear in his hall, Alfred met the astounded man with a courtesy and consideration that made the two men friends ever afterwards.

Spurred to greater activity in furthering his scheme to produce his first minstrel enterprise, Alfred, without consulting anyone, walked out the old pike to the Redstone School-house. He waited outside until the noon hour. With the sound of the children's voices in their happiness at play disturbing his interview he made his errand known to the teacher.

Miss Lenhart, the teacher, was the sweetheart of his cousin Will, although Alfred was not aware of it nor did he know of the influence this had in securing him the school-house until long after the couple were wedded.

[166]Washington Brashears, the president of the school directors, gave his permission and thus was the school-house secured. All the scholars, the teacher and the school directors were to receive free tickets for the performance.

The mother, remembering the boy's mishaps in similar attempts, was very earnest in her efforts to dissuade him from giving the exhibition, particularly when she was informed by the enthusiastic showman that the price of admission would be twenty-five cents for grown folks and a levy (twelve and a half cents) for children.

Harrison wrote up Jeffres in the Clipper as "one who would impede the progress of civilization. The discourager of genius and talent." Hurd toned down the article somewhat. However, it had the effect of advertising not only Alfred but his great moral exhibition.

Lin loaned Alfred the last cent she had in the world and accompanied him to the dry goods store that he might not be imposed upon in the purchase of red calico to be used as a curtain.

"I'll be thar from the time hit opens 'til it's over an' thar'll be no wall-paper show clo's in it nuther, ye see ef thur is. Mary, ye needn't be skeered, jes res' easy, I'll see hit's all es proper es eny meetin' or Sunday School an' ef they don't like it, be dog-goned ef I don't make Alfurd gin the money back."

This last declaration did more to allay the worry of the mother than anything that had been said before. The mother actually so forgot her fears that she assisted Lin in sewing the curtains.

Old man Risbeck, a neighboring farmer, not only loaned Alfred the lumber to build the platform, or stage, but assisted in building it.

Park McDonald, another farmer, a little the worse for hard cider, also assisted, with a great deal of advice which was not followed.

[167]The teacher dismissed school at noon Friday that all might be in readiness for the big show Saturday night. Alfred was not altogether pleased with the idea of Lin bossing the whole job, fearing that many members of his troupe would be disgruntled over her domineering manner. However, she was so enthusiastic and inventive he refrained from doing or saying anything that would impair her usefulness. Lin was very sensitive and somehow Alfred felt that the success of the great undertaking required Lin's help.

Alfred had worked all night setting type and working off a small, square bill, printed in black ink on pink paper. He would have used red, blue or any other highly colored ink if it had been in the office.

The bill read:

Hatfield and Storey's




Come One-Come All

Admission price


Alfred as a Bill Poster

Alfred as a Bill Poster

[168]Alfred not only set up and printed the bills announcing his first minstrel show but distributed them, tacking them up in conspicuous places.

The first bill was tacked on Mart Claybaugh's blacksmith shop near the old Brubaker Tavern. Alfred then continued out the pike to Searight's Tavern. At Uncle Billy Hatfield's a great display was made on barn, blacksmith and harness shop. When Uncle Billy returned home and read the bill headed "Hatfield and Storey's Alabama Minstrels," he first imagined that his political enemies were working something off on him. Cousin Will's explanation did not satisfy him and he ordered the bills removed, fearing they might jeopardize his political chances.

Alfred visited Plumsock, Cook's Mill, Joshua Wagner's cider press. Even at that early day Alfred had the advertising idea pretty well developed.

Press day the paper was worked off more promptly than usual and Alfred had the entire edition delivered by dark. Harrison had a longer list of complimentary mentions than usual, hence he celebrated more copiously than ever.

Lin learned of this through Alfred. She remarked: "Durn him an' his drinkin'. I'll jes fool him; I'll go out with you all."

This was another jolt for Alfred as Charley Wagner, the violinist of the company, was one of those obstinate Dutchmen who had to be treated "just so," otherwise he would "pack up his wiolin und scoot," as he expressed it. Wagner was fully informed as to the insinuations Lin had indulged in reflecting upon his ability and more than once he had advised Alfred, "If dor beeg Wirginia gal gets anyting to do mid dis troupe, yust count me out."

George Washington Antonio Frazier, the town teamster, had been engaged by Alfred to transport the troupe and properties to and from the little red school-house. A good sleighing snow covering the ground, the teamster had pro[169]vided a big bob-sled well filled with straw to keep the feet warm. The start was to be made at 1 o'clock.

Alfred finally prevailed upon Lin to walk to the top of Town Hill and get in the sled there. He argued to her that she being the only woman in the party it would not look well for her to ride through town. Lin finally agreed to do as Alfred desired.

Then came another embarrassment. Alfred's brother Joe insisted on going. He followed his elder brother up and down stairs crying all the while. Finally it was decided to take the little fellow along. Customs cling to a family the same as other entanglements. Alfred's little brother was handicapped with a crop of curls exact imitations of those that had so embittered the early days of Alfred's life.

When the sled was loaded and all the troupe comfortably seated therein, it was discovered that the driver was not in sight. Alfred knew where to find him and was at his side in a moment. The old fellow was in the act of raising a large glass of whiskey to his lips as Alfred touched him on the arm and politely announced that the sled was loaded and all were waiting for the driver.

Lowering his arm, with the liquor untouched in his hand, the driver began: "Look yer, young man. You agreed to give me four dollars to carry you out to Redstone School-house an' back. My team'll hev to be fed thur an' I'll hev to eat supper somewhar. Ye'll hev to pay up the money afore I move a dam foot."

With this he raised the liquor to his lips and swallowed it with one gulp. The bar-room was crowded, as it usually was at that hour of the day. For a moment Alfred was confused; he did not possess one cent of money and it flashed through his mind that no one in the troupe would be likely to have any. For just one moment his heart started downwards; the eyes of all were upon him. Pulling himself together and straightening himself up to his full height, he said: "Mr.[170] Frazier, I hired you to haul us to the school-house and return and insofar as your horse feed is concerned, that was not mentioned. I always intended you to eat supper with us at Eliza Eagle's. When you get back to town and complete your part of the bargain I will pay you, and not before."

This speech caught the crowd and took the old teamster somewhat by surprise.

"Wall, ef you'll put up the money with the landlord, I'll take ye out an' ef ye don't ye can hoof it," was the teamster's reply. Turning to the bar-tender, he said: "Give me a little more licker."

The last demand of the teamster was not an unreasonable one and it would not look well to refuse it. Alfred hotly replied: "You'll get your money when you do your work; I would not put up five cents for you while you are drinking whiskey."

This angered the old fellow. He sneeringly replied: "I pay fur my licker an' it's nun uf yer dam business how much I drink uf it."

Through the window Alfred discerned a team and sled driving by. Rushing out he discovered that it was his Uncle Jack Craft. The two families were not on speaking terms and had not been for a long time.

Alfred shouted: "Ho, Uncle! Ho, Uncle! Hold on; pull up, I want to see you."

The uncle seemed more than glad to have Alfred approach him. He did not even wait to hear the whole of the story Alfred had to tell of Frazier's meanness. Driving his much larger and more stylish conveyance alongside Frazier's rig, the passengers and baggage were transferred before Frazier realized what had transpired. As he emerged from the hotel he was met with jeers from the troupe as they started off up the old pike, not so rapidly as Alfred and Uncle Joe once traversed it on Black Fan, but at a pace that put all in good humor.

[171]Alfred sat on the front seat holding his little brother and Charley Wagner's violin. It was not solicitude for the safety of the instrument that prompted him to persuade Wagner to permit him to hold it. He figured that if Wagner balked when Lin got in the sled at the top of the hill he would be better entrenched to argue with the obstinate leader with the violin in his hands.

When Lin hailed them by shouting: "How-dye, how's the minstrels?" all greeted her cordially. Alfred had his eye on the leader. While he was not as cordial in his greetings as the others, he smiled and returned Lin's salutations.

Alfred explained jokingly that Lin came along to take care of little Joe and to help Lize Eagle out with the supper.

The party was a merry one and everyone they met was the butt of their mirth. Old man Bedler at the toll gate passed the party free and wished Alfred all kinds of good luck. The old German's voice trembled and a tear rolled down his bronzed cheek as he shook hands with Alfred and said: "Good luck! Ef my poor Billy was only here he'd be with you."

He referred to his only son who was drowned a few months previously. Alfred had assisted in recovering the body and the old toll-gate keeper had the kindliest feelings for him.

It did not require long to arrange the stage and place the few properties. Lin was everywhere busy at all times.

The widow Eagle's humble home was only a short distance from the school-house. Supper was called and Lin and Charley Wagner were seen coming from the school-house together joking and laughing. Lin had captivated the leader. Lin refused to sit at the first table, she declared she would wait and eat with Mrs. Eagle and Mary Emily, the daughter. Meanwhile, she busied herself waiting on the table. She was markedly attentive to the leader, filling his plate even when he protested that he had more than enough.

[172]The leader was an old bachelor. When he got the wishbone of the chicken all insisted that Lin and he pull it. When the leader got the short piece all laughed and joked him; all the party was jolly. No. There was one who was not, although he endeavored to conceal it by laughs and remarks. Lin knew that Alfred was nervous and worried. He was in doubt as to the receipts covering expenses; he was in doubt as to the show pleasing. In fact, he was suffering the tortures all have endured—who have a conscience—who ever produced a public entertainment.

The curtain went up, or rather was pulled aside, on Alfred's first minstrel show. Seated in the semi-circle were Billy Storey, bones and stump speech; Amity Getter, interlocutor or middleman, vocalist and guitar player; the Acklin Brothers, vocalists; Billy Woods, flute and piccolo, guitar and vocalist; Charles Wagner, violin; Billy Hyatt, clog and jig dancer; Tommy White, clog and jig dancer, and Alfred, singer, dancer, comedian, stage manager, property man and superintendent of wardrobe.

The little school-house was packed—sitting, standing and leaning room was all taken, even the window-sills were occupied.

Lin, seated near the stage, was lost in amazement at the improvement in the troupe. Her head nodded and foot patted in time with the tunes with which she was familiar. When Storey and Alfred concluded their double song and dance, (this was a new number to Lin), she led the applause and hustled Uncle Jack back of the scenes requesting the boys repeat the number. Alfred had profited by reading the book Harrison had presented him.

The song and music made a very great impression on Lin. Late and early you could hear her voice as she went about her work singing:


"I feel just as happy as a big sunflower,
that bows and bends in the breezes,
And my heart is as light as the winds that
blow the leaves from off the treeses"

There was but one mishap that marred the evening's performance. The front curtain was run on rings, on a small, tight wire stretched across the entire width of the school house. The curtain that formed a background of the stage, and behind which the performers dressed, was much too heavy for the small nails with which it was secured. Someone pulled on the curtain and down it came. Alfred and one or two others were changing their costumes. Alfred with surprising nimbleness jumped into a large trunk, concealing himself so quickly that the audience caught sight of only his feet as he plunged head first into the trunk. The other two members were completely confused and ran into a corner turning their backs to the audience.

Hatfield and Storey

Hatfield and Storey

Dr. John Davidson and Othey Brashears were seated in the front row, grabbed the curtain and held it head high until all were costumed. It was then replaced and the show went on.

Lin, in commenting on what Alfred considered the most unfortunate accident that ever befell his show, said: "Well, ye jus couldn't call hit a back-set to the show, kase peepul laffed more about hit then anythin' else in the hull thing."

When the last note of the walk around had died out, the audience remained seated, waiting for more, (printed programs were unknown in those days). Getty went before the curtain and announced that the show was over. The crowd[174] began to disperse; the boys from town and some of the country folks forced their way behind the scenes to congratulate Alfred, all declaring that it was the best entertainment they had ever witnessed.

One over-enthusiastic young fellow offered the leader two dollars to have fiddlers play for a dance; in fact many of the young folks desired to turn it into a dance. This seemed like desecration to Alfred and forever after he respected the dignified farmer, Washington Brashears, who, standing stately and tall, with the beard of a patriarch, in a voice mild but firm, said: "We have been entertained by our young friend and his companions in a way that it falls to the lot of but few to enjoy; only those in Filidelphy have the privilege of enjoying such exhibitions as we have enjoyed here tonight. As the chairman of the board of school directors, I can say that we permitted the use of this school-house for the entertainment. It is our only meeting house now, and there will be preaching here next Sunday evening, therefore we cannot permit dancing tonight."

The nearly ice cold, spring water influenced Alfred to go home with the black on his face. The little party and belongings were soon loaded into the roomy sled. Bidding goodnight to the few friends who remained to see them off, they headed homeward.

It was a happy party that sped along the old pike. Lin led in the singing of songs long since discarded by the minstrels. Even Uncle Jack entered into the jollity of the occasion. He was greatly elated over the success of the show.

The spirited team was traveling much faster than safety demanded. At a turn in the road there was a treacherous, slippery place, the sled swung around sideways—skidded would explain the motion—one runner slipped over the edge of the bank, the sleigh turned upside down throwing out the cargo of human freight.

[175]Lin's scream could be heard half a mile. Alfred's only solicitude was for his brother Joe. Uncle Jack held on to the team which was released from the sled by the breaking of the pole. After the occupants extricated themselves it was found that the only serious damage suffered was the breaking of Amity Getty's fine guitar.

The sleigh turned upside down

It required the combined strength of all to right the sled and get it up the steep bank to the roadway. The tongue or pole was made fast to the sled with rope and the journey resumed. Up hill, all could ride; down hill all were compelled to walk and hold the sled off the heels of the horses, as the broken pole would not permit the team to hold back.

It was two o'clock in the morning when the welcome lights of the town shone on the belated minstrels. Alfred was too tired and sleepy and the water too cold to wash the black off his face. He crept upstairs to the big room rarely occupied. Not answering the breakfast bell, Sister Lizzie was sent up to call him. One glance at the black face on the pillow sent her scampering down the stairs.

"I believe brother Alfred has brought a darkey home with him. There's one in the big bed any way."

[176]This sent the father upstairs by bounds. Alfred was unceremoniously yanked out of bed and shoved down stairs. When he appeared in the kitchen such laughter as greeted him would have pleased him greatly the night before. Alfred explaining all the while that it was too cold to wash the black off his face the night before and that he couldn't get it off with cold water "no how."

The father insisted that he go to the back yard and scrub his face with cold water as punishment for going to bed blacked up.

To Lin's question as to how much he had made the night before Alfred gave evasive replies. Hastily eating his breakfast he was quickly on his way to Win Scott's home.

Before he had proceeded far on his way he met his pal Scott on his way to Alfred's home. Alfred judged from the size of the audience that there was not only sufficient money in Win's hands to pay all obligations but also a handsome surplus. He was simply crushed to learn that the receipts amounted to just $16.75.

Alfred felt that he would be everlastingly disgraced when he announced that he was not able to pay the debts incurred. The boys conferred long and earnestly. Win proposed that they pay Lin and Uncle Jack and then run off; go to the newly discovered oil country and make their fortunes.

This proposition was rejected by Alfred. To go to the oil regions was a pet idea of the older boy and it was not long ere he left the old town to seek his fortune and Alfred never saw him afterwards.

Alfred took the money. When he reached home he settled with Lin in full. Uncle Jack was handed his four dollars by Alfred with the air of a millionaire. After paying Lin and Uncle Jack, Alfred had $6.75 left, with debts to the amount of $31.75 pressing him, or they would be the next day.

He retired to his room. He could plainly hear Lin describing and praising the performance. She dwelt at[177] length on the high quality of the gathering, saying that all the best people in Red Stone section were there. When Lin wondered what Alfred would do next, now that he had money, Alfred felt like rushing from the house to seek his pal and flee to the oil regions.

He opened the front door and walked out without any idea of where he was going. He walked aimlessly and found himself on Church Street where Sammy Steele overtook him on his way to church.

The Reverend Kerr was pastor, the father of E. M. Kerr, afterwards noted in the minstrel profession as E. M. Kayne.

When Mr. Steele asked Alfred if he were on his way to church, Alfred answered: "Yes." The two walked to the church together and home after the sermon was over. On the way the tanner described in detail the improvements he was making in his plant and invited Alfred to accompany him to the tannery to look over the work under way.

In those days everybody ate dinner at high noon. Alfred was impatient at the seeming delay of Lin in serving the meal. Lin remarked: "Ye're jus like every man thet gits to makin' money, figity."

Alfred arrived at the tannery long before the owner. The suction pumps and other labor saving devices were examined and explained to Alfred who pretended to be deeply interested. After all had been explained, they found themselves in the big finishing room where Alfred had passed so many pleasant days and evenings.

The boy wished that he was back in the tannery free from the cares hanging over him. Finally, he looked his former employer full in the face and, in a voice full of earnestness, asked the big, dignified man for the loan of thirty dollars, promising to work it out night and day until it was paid in full.

He dwelt at length on the shame that would come to him if he could not meet his obligations. "If you will help me[178] out of this I will never forget you and you will never regret it," concluded Alfred.

The straightforward man of business complimented Alfred for his anxiety to pay his debts, at the same time pointing out to him the danger of contracting debts he could not meet; that an honest man never had peace of mind when in debt; that a man was never as brave or useful to himself or family as when free of the haunting fear of losing his standing through debt.

He told Alfred to meet him at 7 o'clock the next morning and he would give him his answer. After a sleepless night Alfred was at the tannery on time. Mr. Steele was there when he arrived and greeted him kindly.

Noting Alfred's worried expression, he said: "There is no use worrying over affairs of this kind; the proper course is to steer clear of them, which I think you will do after this."

Alfred assured him that he would be sure to do so. The tanner handed Alfred a paper, requesting him to read it carefully. Alfred could scarcely believe his eyes as he read:

"In consideration of $30 to me in hand paid, the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, I hereby agree to bind myself to work for Samuel Steele for a period of two months, performing such duties as he may direct...."

Alfred studied a moment and said: "I do not mind any work you may put on me and I will work all day and part of the night, but if you would only let me have the money I can pay you back much sooner out of what I make at Hurd's. I want to get out of debt and you are the only person in the world I can go to. I don't want my folks to know of this."

"Then you will not sign the paper?" questioned the tanner.

"I don't like to and it don't seem hardly fair after the wages you paid me before. Give me a dollar a day and I'll sign it."

[179]Mr. Steele took the paper from Alfred's hand, tore it up and threw it into the open grate as he said: "My boy, I was only trying you. I wanted to show you how those in debt are in the power of anyone who is unscrupulous. If you had signed the paper I would not have had confidence in you. In fact, I did not intend to permit you to sign it if you had shown a willingness to do so. I will loan you the money and you can pay it back to me as you earn it, without interest. Settle with your creditors and keep out of debt. And furthermore, tell no one that I loaned you this money, and never borrow another dollar unless you see a way to pay it."

The advice given Alfred by the old tanner has saved him heart aches and much money.

All the outstanding bills were met. When the members of the troupe gathered at their room and the final statement laid before them there was deep silence for a moment. It was a commonwealth arrangement insofar as the profits were concerned, a one man concern as to the losses. However, none ever expected a deficiency, each expecting to get quite a little money for his share.

The members of the troupe sympathized with Alfred. Charley Wagner, who was the only salaried member, consoled him thusly: "Yah, und ef you ever go to dot Redstone School-house mit your troupe again you'll git him all back." How many times Alfred has heard like statements since!

Win Scott explained the small receipts and the large crowd. All the school directors and their families were to be admitted free. No tickets were used, the money was taken in at the door. When anyone appeared and said "school director" or "school director's family," Win passed them in. It was afterward learned that some of the directors had as many as thirty in their families the night of the show.

Harry Harrison came forward at this critical period of the minstrel enterprise and took upon himself the management. Although Alfred had his misgivings, he was glad to be[180] relieved of the responsibility and to have the concern continued.

Not a line appeared in the Clipper as to the first show but glowing accounts of what was to follow were printed weekly. Harrison prevailed upon the shoemaker to build a small stage in the room the troupe had rented for rehearsing purposes. Also to move a partition, giving the minstrels quite a large room which was provided with heat and light.

The announcement was sent forth that the Evening Star Minstrels would give entertainments every Saturday night at McKernan's Hall, at Barefoot Square.

Harrison gave no explanation as to why he changed the title of the company. Story was angry. Alfred was pleased, inwardly congratulating himself that future deficiencies would have to be made up by Harrison.

The next Saturday night and the following Saturday night saw the little hall packed. And thus another pang of jealousy will be added to the heart of Bill Brown, that Brownsville enjoyed the distinction of a permanent minstrel hall while Pittsburg never had such an institution, traveling minstrel shows appearing there for only one or two nights in Masonic Hall.

After several nights of big business several members of the troupe made inquiries as to the funds and their disposition. At first Harrison was very courteous and explained that the establishing and opening of the hall was expensive; that later on when well established, Jeffres Hall would be secured and nightly dividends would be paid.

Charley Wagner, true to the traditions of history handed down from the days of Babylon, namely, that musicians are the first to stir discord, laid down his fiddle and bow and declared: "No more music until we get our money." It then developed that nothing had been paid in the way of salaries or other expenses since Harrison had assumed the management.

[181]At this juncture Harrison became insolvent. The landlord locked up the hall with all the belongings of the troupe nor would he release the goods until the rent was paid in full. Harrison was appealed to. He sneered at the impecunious minstrels and taunted them by saying: "Now go get your stuff out. If you all hadn't been so peart I'd seen you through."

Each minstrel was compelled to pay his proportionate share of the amount due for rent and lights. His private property was then delivered to him by the sporting shoemaker.

When he had collected the rent due him he sent for Harrison, escorted him into the deserted hall and demanded that he (Harrison) have the partition replaced in its original location. When Harrison angrily refused, the shoemaker proceeded to give him a drubbing.

Harrison did not collect anything that week from those to whom he gave favorable mention in the paper as two black eyes compelled him to keep close to the office.



And I would learn to better show
My gratitude for favors had,
To see more of the good below
And less of what I think is bad.
To live not always in the day
To come, and count the joys to be,
But to remember, as I stray,
The past and what is brought to me.

Lured by that feeling which impels the criminal to visit the scene of his crime, Alfred began a pilgrimage to the little red school-house. Walking along the old pike the sound of a horse's hoofs beating a tattoo on the road reached his ears. He recognized in the rider, Joe Thornton.

The white pacing mare which Thornton bestrode had one of those peculiar high-lifting gaits, that, from the sound of the hoofs on the roadbed, caused one to imagine that she was going at a very rapid gait, while in fact she was not doing much more than pounding the road. Uncle Joe said of her: "She'd pace all day in the shade of a tree."

When opposite Alfred, Mr. Thornton slowed up and made numerous inquiries as to the minstrel show, expressing regret that he was not able to attend; he intended going, having received an invitation from one of the school directors. He requested Alfred to advise him of the next performance; he would be there sure.

Then, as if to make up for the few moments lost conversing with Alfred, he gave the mare the word and she pounded the pike more heavily than before. Alfred admired the big, handsome rider and the white mare; he longed to bestride her and kept his eyes on horse and rider as they traveled on before him.

[183]Alfred noticed a black looking object fall to the dusty pike. At the distance it seemed a large sized shoe. Alfred kept his eyes on the object as he neared the spot where it lay. Bending over he discovered a very large, black book. Picking it up he saw bills, money, more money than the boy had ever held in his hands before. He trembled as he turned over bill after bill.

He had dreamed that he would be rich—some day in the far future—day dreams. His riches were always to come. They had come suddenly, unexpectedly. Mother would have a new cooking stove; Lin declared daily that the old stove would not bake on the bottom. Brother Joe would have toys and a sled, Sister Lizzie anything she wanted, Brother Will anything he needed, a melodeon for Lin. Sammy Steele would be paid with the same flourish with which Uncle Jack was paid. Harrison would be deposed, the minstrel troupe would go out, travel to distant parts and make money, more money than Alfred wanted; he would divide it with all his best friends, he would make all happy.

With these thoughts flying through his mind he walked on in the direction the rider had gone. Suddenly realizing that the money was not his he cast a glance ahead, expecting every moment to see the rider returning post haste to claim the treasure.

When he reached the lane leading off the pike to the Thornton house, he hesitated, opened the book again and looked at the money, turning over the neat layers of bills, fives in one section, tens in another, twenties in a third, legal looking papers in a fourth, tied about with a thin, red ribbon.

He thought of concealing the book. No, he would hasten home and conceal the money in the cow stable. He was opposite the gate of the yard in which stood the big Thornton house. Should he enter?

Alfred looked long and anxiously for the man on horseback; instead he noticed a proud looking, elderly lady walking[184] about the flower beds. He nodded respectfully but the lady did not make a sign of recognition.

However, in quite a loud voice he inquired if Mr. Thornton were at home.

"Which Mr. Thornton? There are two Mr. Thorntons, Russell and Joseph."

"Joseph Thornton," answered Alfred, "is the gentleman I am looking for."

Alfred felt his importance. From down the lane toward the barn there came the sound of horse's hoofs clattering on the road. Alfred's ears told him that it was the white pacer.

As the rider caught sight of Alfred he dismounted. Running toward the boy, his long beard flowing on either side of his neck, he began: "Mr. Hatfield, did you see—." Here Alfred held up the book to his view.

As he fairly bounded forward, he grasped the book in one hand and threw an arm around Alfred. He exclaimed: "Where the h—ll did you find it? It's a good thing for me that you came out the pike; if almost anybody else had found it I'd never have gotten it back, that is the money; I never could have traced that. The papers could have been traced. No one who loses money ever gets it back."

As the man turned the book over in his hand he inquired: "Did you open it?" Then a little ashamed of the question continued: "Of course you had to open it, otherwise you wouldn't have known to whom it belonged. Now see here Alfred, I want to do the right thing by you. I will call at your house tonight. I want to meet your mother; your father I am well acquainted with. Your Uncle Will has told me that he is too hard on you and you're a dam nice boy and you ought to be treated right."

At this insinuation Alfred fired up. "My father always treats me right, but I've been a pretty bad boy. He has his notions and I've got mine. He never hits a lick amiss. He[185] never hurts me when he does whip me. It's always a big laugh to me. He's the kindest pap in Brownsville."

"Oh, you did not understand me. I did not mean to say that your father whipped you. I heard that he did not give you credit for your—your, that he—he—er hampered you in your—your—er—."

"Oh, I understand pap," interrupted Alfred, "he's all right, we get along all right."

Then Mr. Thornton made inquiries as to where Alfred was going. When the boy informed him, he said: "That's too far to walk; come on out to the stable, I'll loan you a horse. You can ride him home and I will get him tonight."

They walked toward the white mare. Alfred asked what kind of a saddler she was. "Good," answered the man, "would you like to try her?"

"Why, yes, if it's all the same to you."

By this time Alfred was shortening the stirrup straps to the length of his limbs as measured by his arms. Alfred's thinking gear was working faster than the white mare's hoofs ever pounded the earth. As he was about to mount he said: "Mr. Thornton, I'll bring this mare home. I don't want to trouble you to call at our house."

Joe Thornton and Alfred

Joe Thornton and Alfred

"Why? I want to see your parents and I want to reward you."

Alfred, sitting on the horse's back, leaned far over toward the man and detailed the sad results of his first venture in minstrelsy.

"Whatever you give me will be applied on the payment of my debts. If our folks know that you gave me money they'll want to know what I did with it."

[186]The man grasped the situation, but informed Alfred the money in the book belonged to his mother. He had withdrawn it from the bank to pay a note. He would help Alfred out but must go to town before he could do so.

"From whom did you borrow money," asked Mr. Thornton.

Alfred hesitated and said: "Well, there's where I made another promise not to tell, but I'm going to tell you, I borrowed it from Sammy Steele."

"Well, I'll be damned if you ain't a good one. Why, Sammy Steele is the tightest man in Brownsville. How did you come to go to him?"

Alfred explained all. Mr. Thornton insisted that he ride the white mare home, adding that he would get her that night. Alfred rode off, visiting not only the school-house but many old friends. He arrived home as it was growing dark.

Entering the house he found Mr. Thornton there; he had told the family all. He informed Alfred that he had left an order on Jake Walters, the town tailor, for a suit of clothes, the material to be selected by the bearer.

While the clothes were more than acceptable, Alfred was disappointed. He feared he would not be in a position to pay the Sammy Steele note, although he was bending every energy, even dunning Harrison for the fifty cents loaned him at their first meeting.

The next week's issue of the Brownsville Clipper contained a lengthy article, as follows:

"One of Fayette County's most prominent citizens lost a pocket-book containing a large amount of money and valuable papers. The book was lost on the old pike somewhere between the borough line and Thornton's lane. Fortunately for the loser, one of the Clipper's most trusted employes traveling on the pike, found the valuable book. The finder is one who has been trained under the vigilant eye of the editor of this valuable paper. Through the influence of the editor of this paper the money was returned to the owner in less than one hour after its loss was discovered. The finder was suitably rewarded and will soon be advanced to a more lucrative position on this paper."

[187]Harrison, in addition to his promised reforms in the editorial columns of the paper, introduced innovations in the advertising department. The Pittsburg Gazette was the only daily paper on the Clipper's exchange list—this fact compels the admission that Pittsburg was a little ahead of Brownsville in the newspaper field, boasting two papers at the time, the Gazette and Post. Both papers carried display advertisements of Hostetter's Stomach Bitters and Dr. Jayne's Liver Pills for grown people and vermifuge for children. Those were the only patent medicines that advertised at that time.

Harrison, in his illuminating way, wrote to the concerns soliciting advertising. Dr. Jayne's representative wrote, requesting the weekly circulation of the Clipper and the localities wherein it was circulated.

Harrison answered giving advertising rates, with unlimited reading notices and concluded his letter by advising that "the Brownsville Clipper goes to Greene, Washington, Westmoreland and Bedford Counties; it goes to Pittsburg, Cumberland and Washington, and before I took hold of it the owner had all he could do to keep it from going to h—ll."

Something in Harrison's letters appealed to the medicine men as advertisements were secured from both the concerns. In conformity with the custom of the times, part payment for advertising was to be taken in trade. Big boxes containing bottles of the stomach bitters, smaller boxes containing pills and vermifuge were received. Small quantities of both medicines were, with a great deal of persuasion, exchanged with country stores for farm products. After the first effort none of the bitters were offered for sale or trade insofar as the Clipper's supply was concerned.

Like the farmer who endeavored to sell the tanner the murn hide, Harrison had found a market for the bitters at home. They contained about 60% alcohol, therefore it was[188] a panacea for all ills that Harrison was afflicted with, and he had many. The bitters were a pill for every ill.

That was a hard winter. Sugar crackers, Scotch herring and cheese were Harrison's principal food and a few of the liver pills were used, but the vermifuge stood on the shelves in the press room covered with dust. Mr. Hurd ordered Alfred to get rid of it even if he had to give it away; not to destroy it; if he could not sell it to give it to the subscribers to the paper with the compliments of the editor. Alfred covered his route with renewed vigor, a bundle of papers under his arm and both coat pockets filled with pills.

Alfred was personally acquainted with nearly every family in the town; he was familiar with the habits and health of all the boys.

Red haws, green apples, may apples, green chestnuts, in fact, everything that grows which boys devour more greedily before than after maturity, were plentiful in the country around Brownsville.

Alfred did a fine business for a time. The paper was published only weekly and Alfred was ordered by Mr. Hurd to dispense the medicine only when the paper was delivered. Alfred was doing so well that he intimated to Harrison that the paper should be semi-weekly, at least. Alfred was receiving a commission on all pills he sold.

Alfred looked over the medicine stock; about the only thing in stock was liver pills. There were large quantities of liver pills lying on the shelves. Alfred figured that the pills would do Johnny's cow no harm and possibly might help her, as the cow was very sick.

Alfred did not wait until the paper was printed as the case was an urgent one. He made a special call, carrying nearly a pint of the liver pills in a paper collar box. (Harrison always wore paper collars and a dicky.)

Alfred assured Johnny that the pills were specially prepared for just such disorders as his cow was afflicted with.[189] There was some question as to the number of pills that constituted a dose for a cow. As the printed directions gave no information on the matter, Alfred thought a teacupful of the pellets would be about right.

It required a great deal of hard labor on the part of both Alfred and the owner to compel the cow to swallow the pills. However, a goodly part of the cupful of pills was administered to her.

At first the cow appeared a great deal worse and her owner feared she would die. Squire Rowley, the best cow doctor in the neighborhood, was sent for. He administered blackberry tea and other astringents and the cow recovered.

A Cow's Dose Is a Teacupful

"A Cow's Dose Is a Teacupful"

When Lin heard that the boys were addressing Alfred as "Doctor," usually prefixing the title with the word "Cow," she said: "They needn't try to plague Alfurd, caus' it wus a durn good joke an' besides it cured the cow and it wus about time Hurd's paper done somethin' good."

[190]Alfred had saved sufficient money to cancel the note of Sammy Steele. With a light step he ran up the stairs leading from the street into the large finishing room. Greeting all cheerily he inquired for the boss. Mr. Steele entered.

Looking curiously at Alfred, with a twinkle in his eye, the old tanner remarked dryly: "Hurd—Mr. Hurd—Mr. Hurd—must be gettin' mightily pushed when he starts his hands to peddling pills."

Mr. Steele's remark made the boy redden and he mumbled something about the pills being received in trade and had to be sold by somebody.

The tanner laughingly continued: "I expected to see Johnny McCan coming in with a murn hide. How many of Hurd's pills constitute a dose for a cow?"

Cooney Brashear added to the jollity by suggesting that Alfred "give Sammy's mewel a dose the next time he kicks you." This reference to the "mewel" was only a reverberation of the town talk as Lin had predicted. In fact, the reference to the "mewel" kicking Alfred became, and is still, a by-word in the old town.

Mr. Steele, to the surprise of Alfred, refused to count the dollars and dimes he poured from the old leather purse on the desk. Instead the man bid the boy "keep the money until the note was due, then bring it here, not a day before nor a day after. If you think you are going to die, leave directions to pay the debt. The man who pays beforehand shows himself a weakling, he is afraid of himself, he is afraid he cannot hold the money. He usually spends his money before he earns it."

It was a great day for Brownsville and the leading journal of the town, the Brownsville Clipper. Two circuses were headed for the town; Rosston, Springer & Henderson's and Thayer & Noyse Great American Circus.

The agent of the first named show was first in, Andy Springer, "Old Rough Head." The agent was aware of the[191] coming opposition although he never mentioned it. His contract for advertising space in the Clipper had a clause to the effect that no other circus advertising or reading matter should appear in the columns of the great family paper prior to the date of the exhibition of the R. S. & H. aggregation.

Harrison made this "slick contract" as he termed it. He charged the circus man double the usual advertising rates, working the agent for unlimited free tickets. The genteel word "complimentary" had not become associated with show tickets as yet.

In making up the free list Harrison was as liberal to the families of the force as the school directors had been on the occasion of Alfred's exhibition. The editor and owner's family received sixteen free tickets; there were five in his family all told. The managing-editor, Harrison, and his family received fifteen free tickets. He distributed all of his tickets within two hours after they were counted out to him. (In those days the agent distributed the tickets, not by an order on the show as now.)

Harrison sought the circus agent at the hotel explaining that since he received the tickets he had consulted his family and they desired to go to the show twice, afternoon and night. The agent, knowing that there was opposition in sight, stood for the hold-up and Harrison celebrated most gloriously the next few days, with free tickets to the circus.

The foreman of the composing room was to have ten tickets. He was a poor man, Harrison advised, and had a lot of children. The circus wouldn't lose anything as they would not pay to go nohow.

The pressman and his family were to receive ten free tickets. The devil, Alfred, was to receive six free tickets. He managed to get two that Harrison carelessly dropped while changing his clothes.

Scarcely had the first agent cleared the town before Charley Stowe, agent for Thayer & Noyse arrived, brisk,[192] bright and beaming. Entering the Clipper office he found Alfred the only person in. Mr. Stowe was very gracious. He won the boy to his side ere he had conversed with him five minutes.

The agent was in a great hurry, he desired to get to Pittsburgh at once—most agents are in a great hurry to get into a big city from a small town. Alfred informed the agent that he did not know where Harrison could be found. "Please sit down and look over our paper," said Alfred, and he left to seek Harrison, who was diligently distributing circus tickets and judging from his condition, getting value received.

Alfred was almost overcome with the thought of two circuses coming to town. He imparted the information to everyone whom he met who was interested enough to listen. Another circus coming, bigger and better than the first one, was Alfred's guarantee. He was prompted to this through the fact that the newly arrived agent had been courteous to him. Probably the twenty-five cents and two free tickets had something to do with Alfred's leaning towards the second show.

Harrison was finally located at Bill Wyatt's, a place he had not frequented in a long time as the slate bore figures that had been written on it about the date Harrison struck the town. Harrison had partially squared the score with circus tickets. Harrison was just able to walk with Alfred's assistance. As they wobbled down wide Market Street Alfred imagined the man in a mood to be approached. He reminded Harrison of the half dollar long over due, and obligingly offered to take it out in circus tickets.

Harrison scorned the proposition. Straightening himself up he endeavored to push Alfred aside as he proudly exclaimed: "I don't want you to take anything out in circus tickets. I'll pay cash after the circus."

[193]It required all of Alfred's powers to make Harrison understand that there was another circus agent in town, another circus coming. Harrison persisted in the belief that it was the same agent with whom he had done business.

Stowe meanwhile, as all intelligent agents do, had gone to headquarters. As Alfred, with his tow, entered the office, the owner of the paper turned on the managing editor, foreman of the composing room, etc., and let loose a tirade of abuse such as Alfred had never heard the like of before:

Put Up Your Things and Git!

"Put Up Your Things and Git!"

"You damned little shriveled up, whiskey soaked, tobacco smoked, copperhead. What in hell do you mean by making a contract like this for my paper? I'll cram it down your jaundiced jaws, you whelp of hell, you!" And the rage of Hurd, who was a very large, fat man, caused his face to turn purple. "Pack up your things and git, or I'll slap you into the bowels of the jail. I know enough about you and your record on that traitor sheet, (he referred to the[194] opposition paper, the Genius of Liberty), to have you and all connected with it sent to Johnson's Island. Git out of yere!" yelled Hurd.

Harrison pulled away from Alfred and in the effort fell partially over a settee as he sputtered out: "I'm a gemptman, what-smatter with Hanner." He intended to use the cant phrase, "That's what's the matter with Hannah."

Hurd shook a purplish looking bit of paper in Harrison's face: "What do you mean, you shrimp, by entering into a contract to the effect that no other circus can use my paper?"

Harrison attempted to look indignant but he was a bad actor, he could only look drunk. On this occasion he could not dissemble. His effort to do so only made him appear more drunken.

"I'm—a—man—of—h-honor—I'll stan'—by—anythin' I do." Here Harrison fell down, full length on the settee, muttering and shaking his fist at Hurd.

"Get him out of this house!" was Hurd's order to Alfred.

Alfred pulled and pushed Harrison to the bottom of the stairs leading up to his room. Harrison fell on all fours and began a slow ascent of the stairs, Alfred pushing him as he had seen deck hands shove refractory cattle when loading them on a boat.

He returned to the room. Hurd was very crusty. He hinted that Alfred should not have permitted the first circus agent to induce Harrison to sign the shut-out contract.

Stowe, the circus agent, further endeared himself to Alfred when he informed Mr. Hurd that Alfred should not be blamed.

Alfred, in the brief interview between the second agent and himself, had informed him as to the contract made by the first agent, the price charged for advertising, the free tickets extorted and other information that was valuable.

The agent was very diplomatic. He began by calming Hurd: "Now, Mr. Hurd, I know the value of your paper to[195] us, I know you to be a man of honor, and I would not offend you by even insinuating that you could find a way to carry our advertising and reading matter as I know you would not violate the contract made with the other concern, although it is evident that contract was obtained by fraud. There is only one way around this;" here the circus agent placed his hand on the shoulder of the big editor, "we will have to get out an extra edition, their advertising and reading matter to go in the regular edition, mine in the extra."

The editor beamed on the agent, the beam expressing more strongly than any words: "You're a daisy—but, but," stammered Hurd, "we haven't got matter enough for our regular edition. I've been working all morning; Harrison's been drunk all week an'—"

"Never mind," interrupted the agent, "don't you worry, let me do the work and the worrying also. Where can we get a little something to clear the cobwebs out of our tonsils?" And they left the office arm in arm, but not until the circus agent had asked Alfred if he knew where all the office force could be found. Alfred answered "No, sir." And he was truthful; as he was not certain whether he was on the stairs, on the landing, at the top of the stairs or had rolled back to the bottom.

When the agent ordered Alfred to get the office force together and inform them that they would have to work all night but would be paid double time, Alfred ran upstairs, as was his custom, four steps at each bound. Harrison was not on the stairs nor at the top landing. Running into the press room, Alfred found Harrison sitting in the coal box, sleeping soundly.

After vain efforts to arouse him, Alfred hastened to the residence of Bill Smith who had once worked on the paper. Cal Wyatt had also served some time setting type, and Baggy Allison was notified to repair to the office instanter.

[196]All were on hand when the circus man returned. Cal Wyatt, advised Alfred to fill Harrison's mouth with salt, that it was a never failing remedy. It did bring Harrison partly around, just enough to make him a pest, in the way of all with both person and talk. He slobbered over copy and case, hiccoughed, cursed Alfred for trying to doctor him; informing Alfred that he wanted no "dam cow doctor to fool with him."

Stowe, the circus agent, laughed until his sides ached. He was informed by the others that Alfred was a great minstrel and he volunteered to find him a place with some first class minstrel organization the coming winter. Stowe played the banjo and carried the instrument with him. All the local minstrel band were introduced to him. He played and sang with them and within twenty-four hours he owned the town, including the printing office.

The type-setters did not have to wait for copy; Stowe had quantities. The printers were not compelled to decipher the peculiarities of anyone's handwriting; Stowe's copy was printed and punctuated.

Such copy had never been worked from in the office before. Of course all the agent's copy treated of Thayer & Noyse Great Circus.

Harrison got to himself finally. He could make himself very agreeable when he so desired.

Hurd insisted that there should be other matter written up. In this Stowe acquiesced. He scribbled off political, local and other matter at a rapid rate, nor did he stop there. He gave the contract to Isaac Vance of the Marshall House to feed all people and stock with the circus. There were no stable tents in those days nor did anyone stop on the lot. Canvassmen, hostlers and actors—all in the hotels. Vance got a big contract; Stowe secured a half column advertisement for the paper, as he did from several others.

[197]The extra appeared, at first glance, as fat as the regular edition. When Baggy Allison tired, Stowe worked the press. He rolled, folded and fed until the extra edition was off the press and ready for distribution.

Among his printed matter was a quarter sheet, with the portraits of Thayer and Noyse, and a small amount of reading matter printed on one side only. He dug up a can of red ink from some unexplored recess where it had lain since the presidential campaign of 1860. He had three or four funny mule cuts. He wrote a funny line or two, made a rude cut resembling Hurd, informing the public that Hurd would ride the trick mule circus day. This bill was printed without the knowledge of Hurd. It was folded in the extra and thus distributed.

This fact makes valid Alfred's claim of another honor for Brownsville, namely: that the Brownsville Clipper was the first paper in this country to issue a colored supplement. Of course the word "supplement" was not in a newspaper's vocabulary at that time.

Another merit this supplement possessed, it was really humorous, and the humor was apparent, even to the people of that day, and that is more than the colored supplements of today can lay claim to.

Charley Stowe was not only the prime mover in all that pertained to the issuance of the extra but he hired a horse and buggy and a boy to assist Alfred in its distribution.

Brownsville was advertised as it had never been before. Charley Stowe following a precedent established by the first agent that ever traveled ahead of a show, promised many persons to return to Brownsville the day of the show. And, unlike the first agent and almost all agents in all times since, he kept his promise and came back.

It was a great day for Brownsville, it was a great day for Thayer and Noyse, it was a great day for Alfred. Charley Stowe had another faculty, shy in most agents, memory.[198] He remembered the editor and the office force, particularly the latter. He gave Alfred his first sight of the inner sanctorum of the show world, namely, the dressing rooms. He introduced him to big, good-natured Dr. Thayer, to natty little Charley Noyse, to the elder Stickney and his talented son Bob, to J. M. Kelly, the long distance single somersault leaper, to little Jimmy Reynolds, the clown, to Mrs. Thayer and her charming daughter. It was the unfolding of the scenes of another world to the lad. His recollection of that day is as of a night of enchantment.

The circus had a very sick horse, a beautifully marked mare, sorrel and snow white with glass eyes, as they are termed. The beautiful creature was housed in the stable of the Marshall House. The animal was evidently one of value to the circus folk as many of them visited the stable; all seemed anxious as to the mare's recovery. After the afternoon performance, Dr. Thayer, his wife and daughter were in the stable administering to the sick horse. The circus man was completing arrangements to have the tavern keeper care for the mare and send her on to the show, if she were able to travel by the time the company reached Uniontown.

Isaac Vance assured the circus people that everything possible would be done for the mare, and turning to Alfred, laying both hands on the boy's shoulders, facing him toward Mr. Thayer, said: "And here's the lad who will take your mare to Uniontown. He can ride any horse or mule you have. You should have this boy with your show, he is an actor right. Our people swear by him, he can beat anything you have in the nigger minstrel line."

Then Alfred, with a freshness born of ignorance, said: "Yes, Mr. Thayer, you have a fine circus but your minstrels ain't much, not as good as those with Van Amberg's Menagerie, and everybody says so."

[199]Mr. Thayer and his wife both seemed greatly amused at the frankness of the boy. The showman quizzed Alfred as to what he could do in the concert. Alfred, as all other "rube" amateurs have done and always will do, wanted to engage to give the entire concert. Thayer had more patience then than Alfred has now as he listened to the boastful assumptions of the boy.

Finally he said: "If you will get a letter from your father granting me permission to employ you, I will give you the opportunity of your life, but do not come to me without the permission of your parents, as our show does not employ minors. It's against the law."

It was further arranged that Alfred should take the Lilly mare to Uniontown the day the show exhibited there. Mrs. Thayer led Alfred to one side and, pressing two dollars into his hand, charged him to visit the sick horse several times daily, and no matter if those in charge asserted that they had given her sufficient water, Alfred was to offer the animal drink. She so charged the stable man, stuttering Hughey Boggs.

After the night show Alfred called at the stable. The mare seemed very sick. He offered her water which she refused; he felt of her ears, they were cold; he stroked her satin-like coat; she opened her eyes and appeared almost human to Alfred as he petted her.

Arriving at home he went to his mother's room and gave her a detailed account of the day's doings, not forgetting the sick horse or the arrangements made by Mr. Vance for him to deliver the mare to the show folk in Uniontown.

Alfred had been careful not to reveal any of that part of the conversation touching on the offer of the big showman to employ him providing he could obtain the father's written consent. Somehow the mother's fears were aroused, she felt that there was more behind the delivery of the mare than was revealed and she strongly objected to the arrangement.

[200]The mother communicated her fears to Lin and that worthy was quite ingenious in quizzing the boy. She questioned Alfred as to his intentions. "I tole yer mother ye wouldn't run off with thet ole show while yer pap wus away from hum. Mary sed 'They mout coax ye off.' Did they coax ye? Did they offer to gin ye a job?" And she looked at Alfred very hard and earnestly.

Alfred had been revolving in his mind a plan that included having Daniel Livingstone forge a letter signing Alfred's father's name to it, granting the boy permission to join the show. Alfred felt very guilty and hung his head when Lin's questions grew pointed.

Alfred was giving the sick show horse all the attention promised and even more. The second day following the mare died. Notwithstanding, all seemed to sympathize with Alfred, who had become greatly attached to the beautiful horse, it was apparent that all were greatly relieved that Alfred had been released from the agreement to deliver the mare to the circus folk.

Alfred wrote Mrs. Thayer a long letter, giving the particulars concerning the death of her pet, to which he received a prompt reply, ending with a standing invitation to visit them at any time, either while they were traveling or at their home.

The boy was very proud of this letter and read it to all his friends. Lin, in commenting on the death of the mare quoted Scripture, after her own interpretation: "The Lord gins us an' the Lord takes hosses es well es peepul. Uv cos ye kin buy hosses ef ye got money but ye can't buy peepul. Ef ye'd run off with a show an' dide, w—, ye—"

Here Lin stuck. She could not find words to complete the sentence; but after a moment's pause, she continued: "The'd not miss ye es much es the' will thet hoss. Bet we'd miss ye every—time—we sot—up to—a—meal."

[201]In the vernacular of the show profession of today, Rosston, Springer & Henderson took up the stand and did not appear in Brownsville. They were advertised to play in Pittsburg.

Mr. Hurd sent Alfred to Pittsburg to collect the newspaper advertising bill. Harrison was having his troubles with those to whom he had sold tickets. The holders of tickets held Harrison personally responsible for the non-appearance of the circus. Since the day Frank McKernan had pummelled Harrison, various and divers persons had been threatening him with similar treatment. Harrison staved off hostilities by promising to have the tickets redeemed when Alfred collected the paper's indebtedness from the circus.

The circus had no band wagon. The musicians were mounted on horses. This was all there was of the parade. Alfred has since learned that this feature was introduced into the circus as an expediency. G. G. Grady, an impecunious circus proprietor, found his colossal aggregation without a band wagon and no funds to purchase one. He hit upon the idea of mounting his band on horses. The innovation was heralded as a feature and to this day circuses advertise the mounted band as a novelty of the "highway, holiday parade."

John Robinson's circus boasted a steam calliope, which dispensed "biled music." Grady, not strong enough financially to annex a calliope, altered an old animal cage that resembled the exterior of a calliope. He installed a very large and loud hand organ inside the imitation calliope wagon, with a stovepipe poking out of the top, plenty of damp straw inside, a man to feed and burn it. In a stove inside, the volumes of smoke issuing from the stovepipe, a strong man turning the hand organ, the greatly improved steam calliope was calculated to astonish the public. If the music were not so vociferous as that his rival's instrument sent forth, it must be admitted that Grady's was more tuneful and therefore less objectionable.

[202]Grady's steam piano came to an untimely end almost before its career began. The man inside the calliope, the fireman, was too industrious. He filled the stove with damp straw, poured kerosene oil over it and applied a match. The parade was in the midst of the public square, in Canton, Ohio. Thousands had congregated to witness it. The whole interior of the calliope was ablaze, smoke issuing from every crack and crevice. The show people grasping the situation, broke open the back door. The damp straw, the old stove, the two men and the hand organ were dragged from the smoking wagon. Grady's attempt to rival John Robinson was the joke of the circus world.

Alfred had quite a little difficulty in collecting the printing bill, which was grudgingly paid him.

The circus people tore up Harrison's order for payment for the tickets given. The treasurer said something about the paper being a "wolf."

When Alfred returned Harrison endeavored to spread the impression by insinuations that he had collected for the tickets and not made returns to him as yet. He was cornered, it was his only way to square himself with those who were pressing him for a settlement. Although Alfred knew full well that Harrison did not intend to injure him, the reports became so annoying and the insinuations so galling that Alfred took Harrison to account.

Harrison flew into a rage and threw a small shovel at Alfred. Things got lively for Harrison in a moment. No telling where it would have ended had not the entire Hurd family rushed into the room and separated the combatants. Harrison was much the worse for the encounter. To drown his grief he started the rounds but Jim Bench, the town watchman, locked him up. When he sobered up he shook the dust of Brownsville from his feet forever more.

Years afterward Alfred met Harrison in a far western city, leading the same life.

[203]The mother entreated Alfred to forever give up the idea of becoming a newspaper man. She had cherished the hope that the boy would yet turn to the study of medicine. Old Doctor Playford, Bob's father, informed Alfred's uncle that if the boy were so inclined he would take him into his office and see what there was in him.

The Doctor had three good horses, his son Bob had a large pack of hounds. Alfred's duties did not keep him in the office very steadily. He was on horseback a greater part of the time, by day delivering medicine, by night fox or coon hunting.

It was a part of Alfred's work to compound medicines in the small laboratory in the doctor's residence. A copy of materia-medica and a Latin dictionary were the only guides to the beginner of a medical career in those days. There were no prescriptions sent to the drug store, every doctor filled his own prescriptions. Alfred became very quick at compounding prescriptions.

A dose of medicine was prepared for Mr. Hare. This particular dose of medicine did not have the effect the doctor desired, or rather, it had more effect than the doctor or Hare desired.

The old doctor was a very resolute man, fiery and game, nearly everyone feared him. Bob, his son, was one of the few who dared brave the old doctor's wrath. The young doctor espoused Alfred's cause when his father charged Alfred with carelessness. Bob swore that old Hare was a notorious liar and that it was not the medicine that made him so sick.

The old doctor was very practical, therefore a successful practitioner. Alfred protested that he had prepared the medicine for Hare as per the formula furnished him. Some time after the above argument Alfred was summoned to the doctor's room. Holding in one hand a glass of water, the doctor handed Alfred a lump of darkish color, ordering the boy[204] to swallow it. Alfred mechanically swallowed the lump, the doctor handing him the water to take the taste out of his mouth.

As Alfred drank, the doctor, with a humorous glance, ordered him to hang around until he could determine the effects of the medicine. "It's the same dose you fixed for Hare. I'll see whether Hare lied or not."

Alfred had a keen sense of the ridiculous. He had swallowed the pill ere he realized what he was doing and knew full well he would be dreadfully ill, yet he laughed immoderately.

"Ef Hare suffered more than Alfurd, he sure wus sick," was Lin's comment. "No, Alfurd wus not sacked by the ole doctur, he jus naturally did not like doctorin'."

Mr. Todd replied: "I dunno nuthin' 'bout it, only what I've heard. They do say thet since Alfred nearly pizened Mr. Hare, most of Doctor Playford's patients has gone to Doctor Jackson. Folks is jus naturally afeared to doctor with Playford since they found out Alfred mixes the medicine. John McCune's two children, ole Lige Custer an' Dave Phillips wus all took sick jus like ole Hare an' nobody but Alfred ever mixed the medicine they took. You know it takes a man thet's hed practus to mix medicines an' Alfred ain't hed no chance to learn."

Lin contended that Alfred hed plenty of practice. "He mixed paint in his Pap's shop an' he mixed ink in the printin' offis an' Lord, he could certinly mix a few squills an' a little castor ile an' sich, that's all Playford ever gives. Alfurd cud a kep on doctorin' ef he'd wanted to, but the ole doctor sed when he took him thet he would see what wus in him, an' I s'pose he did."



A man may be defeated
Half a score of times or more,
His prospects may be darkened
And his heart be bruised and sore;
But let him smile triumphantly—
And call Misfortune's bluff.
For no man's ever conquered
Till he says: "I've got enough?"

Hans Christian Andersen, the famous Danish poet, says: "The life of every man is a fairy tale written by God's finger." Carlyle says: "No life of a man faithfully recorded but is a heroic poem."

With all the advice and experience one can acquire or have thrust upon him it is passing strange how easy it is to go wrong in this world. It forces one almost to the belief of him who wrote: "The aim is the man's, the end is none of his own." Someone has said that the only guide a man requires in this world is to side-step wrong doing. But like many prize fighters, some of us are deficient in foot work.

If life is a mission and any other definition of it is false and misleading, fate has certainly picked out some men as the hammer and others as the anvil, some men for door-mats and others for those who walk thereon.

Alfred claimed to have an aim in life but his entire family and a township of relatives differed with him. Alfred's most ardent apologist was compelled to admit that even though he was exerting himself greatly to hold his course he was drifting.

The minstrels were back in the old quarters, Frank McKernan's shoe-shop, rehearsing nightly.

At this time there came a proposition from a man of the town who had recently failed in business. It is a peculiarity of human nature or the fore ordination of fate that when a[206] man fails in a commercial business he engages in show business or life insurance. If he be not mentally equipped to carry to success the business in which he failed, he generally engages in a business that requires ability of a higher order than that in which he was unsuccessful.

And so it was of the man who entered into an agreement to finance the minstrels. He possessed a little money and a mother who was well supplied with it. He spent money liberally in equipping the minstrels for their first road venture. All preparations were quietly consummated by order of Mr. Eli, as that gentleman had numerous creditors whose feelings would have been terribly lacerated had they known that he was soon to take himself away from them. Alfred soon had every arrangement completed. He was very happy he was to realize the ambitions of his life's dream. He had been relieved of all financial responsibility. There would be wood cuts, printed bills, an agent and all that goes to make for a real show.

The three-sheet bill depicting Alfred as a plantation negro dancing "The Essence of Ole Virginia," was his especial pride. Many times daily he unrolled this bill and secretly admired it. Alfred learned to dance "The Essence of Ole Virginia." Although Billy Hyatt or Tom White danced "The Essence" much more cleverly, Alfred argued that, owing to the bill bearing his name, consistency demanded he execute the dance.

The stock bill was from the Jordan Printing Company of Boston, wood cuts in two colors, red and yellow. The imprint "Boston" on the bills, it was argued, would give the company prestige, that is, after they reached Greene County and other far away points on their proposed itinerary. All were instructed to spread the impression that the troupe was from Boston.

It was rumored that the minstrels were to travel afar, visiting Baltimore, Washington and other cities. The[207] mother was very greatly disturbed, she questioned Alfred frequently as to the rumors.

Lin, in some way known only to herself, had fathomed Alfred's plans; she even knew the backer's name. Alfred begged her to keep it secret, that it would ruin everything to have it known. To Alfred's surprise she advised that he leave home surreptitiously if he must, with the consent of the mother if he could obtain it. Lin argued that he would never do any good at home with "them yar show notions flyin' through yer head. Durned ef I wouldn't go an' show 'em I cud be sumthin'."

This was the first time Lin had ever advised Alfred to disobey his mother and, while her advice was pleasing to him insofar as furthering his ambitions was concerned, it was displeasing in other ways, and lowered Lin in his estimation.

The mother objected strongly to the boy's connection with the minstrels, arguing that the father was absent; that Alfred should not leave home until the return of the father.

Alfred argued with the mother that he had accepted money from Eli and was in honor bound to work it out.

Uncle Thomas was called into conference. Uncle Ned came in without being called. Grandpap threatened legal proceedings to restrain the boy if he attempted to leave the town.

Consternation reigned in the minstrel camp. Eli was frantic. Without Alfred the show could not hope to succeed; so declared all. Alfred grew desperate, declaring, since his mother so strongly opposed his going, that he would remain until his father arrived, explain the matter; then, come weal or woe, he would join the show.

Thus matters stood. Eli endeavored to drown his disappointment; he was not visible for a day or two. Meanwhile Uncle Ned was a frequent visitor "to keep an eye on Mr. Alfred that he did not run away," as he expressed it. Alfred[208] boldly declared that Uncle Ned was interfering and further that they could not hold him; even if they did estop him from going with the minstrels, he would run off to the oil regions.

Another visit from Uncle Ned precipitated a war of words. As the meetings between Alfred and the uncle became more frequent Alfred "grew more tantalizing and impudent," so the uncle asserted. Finally, Alfred informed the uncle that he was meddling and that his meddling was not appreciated. A quarrel followed. Alfred's powers of vituperation were a surprise to the mother and uncle and a delight to Lin, who informed Mrs. Todd: "Lor! I expektid tu see Alfurd mount him enny minnit; he shook his fingur under Ned's nose an' mos' spit in his face. I hed the rollin' pin redy, I'd bin in h'it ef h'tit hed kum to a klinch. I tell ye Alfurd's lurned somethin' since they shaved his kurls off. He combed Ned es he'd nevur been combed afore, an' Mary jes stood an' luked 'til Ned got her riled up then twixt her an' Alfurd's bumburdment, he mighty nur forgot his religion an' his hat."

The uncle in reply to one of Alfred's keenest thrusts permitted his anger to get the better of his judgment. He reflected strongly upon Alfred's father and the manner in which he had reared Alfred and concluded by declaring that he, Alfred, had been a disgrace to the entire family and that if his parents were powerless to control him "we'll take a hand in it."

The entrance of the mother into the verbal battle at this juncture was so sudden, so earnest, so swift, that Uncle Ned left the house, almost forgetting his hat. The mother ended the scene by turning on Alfred: "You have almost broken my heart, you are a constant source of trouble and worry to me and as if that were not sufficient, your father's people must force themselves into our affairs as they always have done since I married into the family. Now if you have promised this man to go with him, if you have accepted money from him, you keep your word, you go and I will stand between[209] your father and you insofar as any of his family are concerned. You go with this man until the money you owe him is paid; then you come straight home. If you do not it will only be the worse for you, I will send Rease Lynch, the Constable, and have him bring you home."

Alfred's elation by the victory over the uncle was not lowered in the least by the fact that the mother's consent was given only to emphasize her displeasure at the interference of the father's folks.

Eli was positively informed that Alfred would be compelled to return home if the mother sent for him; that he was only permitted to leave home that he might discharge the debt.

Eli suddenly recalled the fact that he had advanced Alfred one dollar and seventy-five cents. He realized that it would not require many days of labor ere the debt would be cancelled. He therefore suddenly decided to make a further advance of money on behalf of Alfred's services and, to make it more binding, pay the money to the mother.

Cousin Charley interfered with this plan by calling Alfred aside and whispering: "If Eli goes over to your house and gives Aunt Mary any money, and she sees he's been drunk, she'll hist him higher then Gilroy's kite. You better let him gin it tu Lin." And so it was arranged.

Eli went to Lin, saying: "Mrs. Linn, I owe Alfred thirty dollars. He's a minor. I do not want to pay him the money as I know it is not legal, so I told him I'd give it to his mother, she can do as she likes about it. But if I wus her, I'd keep it; he will git enough to do him, he's a good boy, he don't drink, smoke or chew. I wouldn't have a drinkin' man in my troupe. I didn't know his mother was out. When will she be back? Well, Mrs. Linn, you jus sign this receipt, it will be all the same. Now there's thirty dollars and here's a dollar for you to buy yourself some sugar kisses. No, no, sign his mother's name, not yours. Now, good-bye, Mrs.[210] Linn. I forgot to ask, are you any relation to the Linns out on Redstone. Well, I thought not, you're too good lookin'. If I wern't married I'd be after you."

Lin opened the door, she jerked her head toward the opening, as she said: "Now, say, does yer muther know yere' out? Run along sonny. Don't git mushy."

Lin reckoned: "The reason Eli wouldn't tulerate drinkin' peepul in his trupe is bekus he is afeared the supply will run out."

Alfred calling on Mr. Steele to pay the note, produced a roll of bills. Mr. Steele smiled approvingly. Counting out three ten dollar greenbacks, the boy requested the tanner to figure up the interest on the note.

"There's no interest to pay and there's no note to pay; here is the cancelled note paid in full." As the man pushed the note toward the boy he was written in red ink across the face, "Paid", and also the date.

Alfred demurred. "No, Mr. Steele, I never paid the note, I won't have it that way."

"Well," replied the tanner, "I am not in the habit of taking that which is not coming to me. A friend of yours called sometime ago and informed me that he owed you money and that you was desirous of paying off the note."

"Joe Thornton!" guessed Alfred, without a moment's hesitation.

"Yes, he was the man. How did Mr. Thornton know that I held your note?"

"Well, that's where I broke my word with you, but I couldn't very well get around it. I did Mr. Thornton a favor, he told me he wanted to reward me. I told him I was in trouble, I owed money and I had no way to pay it and I would apply whatever he gave me on the note. He gave me an order for a suit of clothes but he never mentioned the note. I am as much surprised as you; I never dreamed he would pay the note for me."

[211]"Then you did not borrow the money from Thornton?"

"No sir, I did not."

"Well, I would not contract the borrowing habit. The borrower is always a servant to the lender."

The mother was troubled. "How did it come that Eli paid for services in advance? Others never paid their employes until they performed their labor."

Alfred airily informed her that it was the custom in the show business to pay in advance, that is, the good actors always drew their pay in advance. In fact, he assured the mother that it was the only way to keep good actors, keep them in debt to you; even then, sometimes, they'll run off with another troupe.

"Well, what do you purpose doing with this money Mr. Eli left here for you?" enquired the mother.

"Oh, I want you to keep it for me. I'm going to send you all my money; you use whatever you please, use it all if you want to."

"I will keep this money for you," she said, "something seems to tell me you will need it later on."

Lin allowed that Alfred would never need money thereafter. "Ef ye git a good start ye'll jes hev cords of greenbacks, an' I believe yere on the right road. I jes tol' yer muther, I ses, 'Mary,' ses I, 'Alfurd ain't fit fer nuthin' only minstrel showin', he's gittin' more un more like a nigger every day.'"

The mother did not relish the compliment. Lin advised that Alfred keep up his clownish pranks, "then ye kin nigger hit in winter an' clown hit in summer."

Alfred declared that if he attained his hopes and ambitions, inside of ten years he would be the possessor of a farm and live on it the remainder of his days. In his boyish buoyancy he grew enthusiastic; he pictured how Mother and Pap would enjoy country life.

[212]Alfred knew the mother had confidence in him, no matter how strongly she opposed his ways. He knew she had faith in him and it has been the saddest regret of his life that she was not permitted to remain on earth until his boyish dreams were fully realized.

A few days later Alfred was seated on all his earthly possessions, a hair trunk with big brass tack heads as ornaments, in a big heavy wagon, waving a last good-bye to mother, Lizzie, Joe, the baby and Lin.

Lin shouted as the wagon moved off: "Good luck! Good-bye! I know ye'll bring the koon skin hum."

It was twelve miles to Bealsville on the pike. The big wagon, the small trunks and big boys were too much of a load for the two ordinary horses. The minstrels walked up the hills to lighten the load.

"Handy Andy," Alfred's favorite farce, in which he impersonated the character of the awkward negro who breaks the dishes, was the closing number on the program. Alfred, always a stickler for natural effects, prevailed upon one of the boys to borrow his mother's china tea set. For safety these dishes were carried in a large carpet-sack.

And Ask Fer Licker

"And Ask Fer Licker," Added the Old Stage Driver

When the edge of town was reached the team was urged into a smart trot that the advent of the troupe might appear business-like. The minstrels were instructed as to the proper manner in which to conduct themselves that they might[213] appear experienced in traveling—jump out of the wagon, carry their belongings, entering the tavern briskly, "and ask fer licker," added the old stage driver who had been an attentive listener to the instructions.

At the edge of town the team was halted to freshen them up for the finish. The minstrels perched themselves picturesquely on the trunks, posing as if for a photograph. The old horses were urged into a trot by jerking and slapping the lines and wielding the whip. The pace was kept up until the tavern was reached.

Charley Guttery, the landlord, was there to greet the minstrels. Mrs. Guttery was a Davis before marriage, the sister of Uncle Bill's wife. Therefore, Alfred was welcomed by the entire family.

All jumped out of the wagon except Tom White; he began unloading the parcels, tossing them on the sidewalk. Out came the carpet-sack loaded with chinaware. It struck the ground with a crash.

"There goes mother's china teapot smashed all to h—ll," piteously whimpered the boy who furnished the dishes. He began to climb into the wagon, vowing he would throw Tom White out quicker than he threw his mother's teapot out. Tom was ready for fight and Eli had all he could do to keep the boys apart.

All this was great amusement for the natives. "Let 'em go," one shouted, "Let 'em fight; we'd ruther see the fight then yer show."

The large room of the tavern was filled with minstrels and town folks. "Purty long ride ye hed fur such a big load," remarked one towner. Ere Alfred could reply, a big gawk chimed in with: "By the dust on their britches laigs I callerate they didn't ride much." Then all the crowd laughed.

The pike was very dusty and the minstrels showed the effects of their contact with it. "Well, ef they haint got a[214] good show we'll gin 'em a ride they won't furgit. Yes, an' the rail'll be three cornered. How many monkeys has they?" yelled another. Then came quickly, "I dunno, I haint counted 'em yit." This sally brought the biggest laugh yet heard.

Alfred's blood was boiling; he could stand it no longer. His fist shot out and immediately there were legs and arms sprawling all over the floor; the crowd trampled each other as they stampeded, all endeavoring to exit through the one door at the same time. Once outside, several of them, more bold than the others, began making threats and movements to re-enter and bring Alfred out. At this juncture the old stage driver and Eli waded into them and soon there was not one of the rowdies to be seen.

Alfred was hustled upstairs and into a room and ordered to remain quiet until further developments. The constable was soon on the scene with warrants for Eli and the old driver. They were taken before a justice of the peace and, by the advice of Mr. Guttery, they requested a continuance of the case until the following morning. This was granted.

A few moments later, three or four of the minstrels were arrested. Not one of them had engaged in the disturbance; they demanded an immediate trial, feeling certain of acquittal. No evidence was offered as to their participation in the fight. Several residents of the town swore positively that none of the accused had engaged in the row in any way. One witness testified that they had just stood around doing nothing. This he emphasized by repeating at intervals in his testimony, "They just stood around doing nothing."

The evidence all in, the justice of the peace addressed them somewhat as follows: "You have been arrested charged with disturbing the peace. The evidence goes to show that you are not guilty of that crime; therefore, on that count I will discharge you, the borough to pay the costs. But it appears by the testimony of one of your own witnesses,[215] one of our most reliable citizens that you were standing around doing nothing. Therefore, I will fine you two dollars each and costs for loitering."

By the advice of the landlord the costs were paid by Mr. Eli and the fines were to be paid the next morning when the other cases were called.

The minstrels that night were slimly attended.

In the middle of the night Alfred was rudely disturbed by someone awakening him. "Git up, git up, quick! We've got to git out of this town or it'll take all the money I've got to square the fight you started yesterday. Git up quick!"

It was Eli's voice and he was very thick tongued; he had been up all night. The team was harnessed and hitched to the wagon. The landlord was there to see the sleepy minstrels off. The last good-byes were scarcely spoken ere the door of the big room was closed by the landlord and the lights put out. It was inky dark to Alfred as he sat on the high seat by the driver and heartily wished himself home.

It came out later that the landlord and one or two others advised Eli to get the minstrels into Greene County ere the eyes of the law opened the next morning. Hence the 3 a. m. exodus.

Arriving at Carmichael's Town after a long and tiresome ride, the minstrels found Tom Kerr, the jolly landlord of the tavern, with a dinner ready that changed their minds from gloom to gayety.

The minstrels were well advertised. Winn Kerr, Lias and Dee Flannigan had witnessed their entertainment previously, hence the town turned out to welcome them. Wealth flowed in upon Eli and all went merry as a dinner bell. But Eli had great difficulty in tearing himself away from old and new found friends.

The regular minstrel wagon was not large enough to carry Eli the next morning, consequently Jim Kerr carried Alfred and Eli to Waynesburg in a private rig. Again the crowd[216] was too large for the courthouse; again Eli made friends who detained him after the departure of the troupe. Alfred refused to remain behind with Eli but left with the minstrel boys.

Eli failed to arrive in the next town in time to open the doors. The crowd was more than ample to fill the hall. Alfred took the door and made settlement of bills. Eli arrived during the night. The next morning Alfred and two others advised Mr. Eli that they had received word from home that their engagement with the minstrels must end.

When Eli came to his senses he appealed to Alfred to explain why they had decided to quit. Alfred said: "Because you have been drunk ever since the show left Brownsville and the boys are afraid you will not pay them."

That night Eli invited all the company to meet him in his room at the tavern. By the time the boys arrived Eli was so saturated he forgot that which he desired to say to them. Instead he insisted on drinking with each one individually, he scorned to drink with the company as a whole.

"I want you all to know me. If you want money, I've got slathers of it."

All wanted money and they got it. And they spent it. Gaudy bows and ties, striped shirts, congress shoes and other dependables never possessed by the wearers previously, began to make their appearance. Eli was voted the best ever. Those who had threatened to leave because Eli imbibed too freely were termed Methodists and back-biters.

Fairmount reached, the old stage driver and his team left for home. From this point the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was to be the mode of travel, a change hailed with delight. Some began figuring on how many days it would be until the minstrels invaded Baltimore.

Two nights were played at Fairmount; the first night a large, well pleased audience attended. More invitations to Eli's room, more liquor ladled out and more money handed around to the company. On the second night there was a[217] very light attendance; a long hunt to find Eli ere bills could be paid and the company could move on to Grafton. Eli had decided to remain in Fairmount until the next train.

Morgan, the advance agent, accompanied the minstrels to Grafton. Morgan took the night's receipts. The next morning he could not be located nor did Eli make his appearance. The minstrels watched and waited; the day wore along. Finally, it was decided that the performance would be repeated that night.

A man walked over the town, ringing a bell as he went. Halting at short intervals he loudly announced the second exhibition of the minstrels at early candle light. The landlord of the tavern volunteered to look after the financial end of the enterprise. After the exhibition he called the boys together and advised that after his bill and other expenses were deducted, there would be enough left to pay their railroad fare to Fairmount and that they would probably find Eli there.

Arriving at Fairmount it was learned that Eli had left for Baltimore the night before. It came to light that Morgan had left on the same train, boarding it as it passed through Grafton. Some members of the company contended that Eli had gone on to Baltimore to arrange for their coming and that they would hear from him or see him soon. Others, that he had left for good.

The four musicians, men who had seen more of the world than the ambitious amateurs, boarded a train for Wheeling. Alfred decided that he and his followers would make their way to New Geneva and there board the boat for home. Loading their few belongings, including Alfred's hair trunk with the brass tack ornaments, into a farm wagon drawn by two big bay mules, the homeward journey was begun. Not in dejection, as one might imagine, the boys were too full of spirit to be cast down greatly. One or two began to fret but the jibes of the others soon had all in good humor.

[218]The roads through the hilly, muddy country were not as firm as those previously traversed, a contingency the boys had not taken into consideration. At times the mules were unable to move the wagon, even though all the minstrels were pushing or prying to the extent of their muscular power. Instead of dust, as on the first day out, the minstrels were covered with mud, from shoes to hats.

Arriving at New Geneva, mud bespattered, tired and hungry, they congregated on the old wharf boat until the steamer was heard coming below the bend. When the boat hove in sight, her prow cutting the water, it was the most welcome sight Alfred ever remembered witnessing. Safely aboard, it was found that not in the whole party was there enough money to pay the fares to Brownsville. Therefore deck passage had to be taken and without meals.

George Warner, the colored steward, knew every one of the boys. One by one they were smuggled into the pantry and a meal that was never excelled given each one.

It was two o'clock in the morning when the boat touched at Brownsville. Alfred determined to carry his trunk home with him. Hoisting it on his broad shoulders he began the walk up the hill homewards; every little ways lowering the burden to the ground, he would seat himself upon it pondering as to the tale to tell of the ignominious ending of his dream of prosperity. He thought of Lin's parting words: "I hope ye bring the koon skin hum," and he could not suppress his laughter.

He brought the big iron knocker down rather lightly, hoping only Lin would hear it. He did not care to face his father or mother until he got a little more courage. Again the knocker was raised and lowered, a little louder than before. The window sash above was raised and the father's voice, gruffer than Alfred had heard it in a long time, demanded, "Who's there?"

Alfred hesitated to give his name.

[219]"Who's there?" louder and more gruffly than before, impelled the boy to answer: "It's me."

"Who's me?" came from the window quickly.

"Oh, come on down, Pap, let me in. It's me, Pap, don't you know me?"

Alfred was so crestfallen and ashamed that he could not bear to speak his own name. "In a minute, Alfred," came in a more kindly tone as the father's head was withdrawn from the window. Then the father's voice was heard informing the mother, "The boy's back."

It flashed through the boy's mind that the conditions that brought him home so unexpectedly were known only to himself and he could stave off unpleasant explanations for a time at least.

The door opened, the father shook his hand heartily. "How are you? How have you been? We've been expecting you. How did you get out of the trouble in Bealsville? The Clipper says you were all jerked up and slid out between two days."

The mother and all the children were up. Lin insisted on setting out a pie and making a hot cup of coffee. Alfred was highly complimented that he had kept his promise to return. Alfred accepted the praises with a conscience stricken feeling that kept him miserable under his assumed gaiety.

The first time Lin and Alfred were alone in the kitchen, she turned full on him as she asked in a deeply interested way: "How much did ye make outen yere trip?"

The question was so direct and without warning that Alfred dropped his gaze and began stammering. Lin continued: "There's somethin' ded about yer; I smelled a mice the minnit I seen yer face. Jes let hit out, ye'll feel better. I'll help ye. Where's Eli? Where's the other boys?"

Alfred gave Lin the whole miserable story, neither adding to it nor concealing anything. Lin summed up the matter thus: "Ef ye're out enything ye kin sue Eli. His muther'll settle."

[220]They figured it up, Alfred was a little in Eli's debt. "Then what ye palaverin' 'bout, ye've done all right?"

"But it's the disappointment of the thing, the way it wound up and it looked so promising," whined Alfred.

"Well, ef ye never git hit harder then Eli hit ye, ye'll need no poultices," consoled Lin. "Why don't ye gin Redstone Skule-house another try? Charley Wagner an' everybody else sed ef ye'd go back that ye'd make all back ye wus shy afore."

Alfred was on his way in less time than it takes to record it, notifying the boys that they would go to Redstone School-house next Saturday night. The school-house secured, the music was the next important matter. Charley Wagner had a sore throat, so he informed Alfred. All others approached were affected in the same way. It looked very much as if the exhibition would have to be given up.

Cousin Charley suggested that Alfred go to Merrittstown and hire the blind Hostetler family. All were blind excepting John, who had one eye. There were three brothers and a sister—two violins, a double bass violin, the girl sang and in time with the music manipulated two large corn-cobs, much in the manner of a minstrel's cracking the bones. A contract was entered into with the family whereby they were to receive ten dollars for the night, and their suppers.

The school-house was packed, there was some thirty-seven dollars in all. When the performance was nearing the end, Cousin Charley made his way behind the curtain and in a whisper informed Alfred that the constable had seized all the money and properties of the minstrels and that he, Alfred, was to be arrested and put in jail. Alfred's acting was not so spirited as in the opening. Those who were aware of the load that oppressed him, sympathized and condoned with him until he was nearly unmanned.

The suit came up before a justice of the peace. Eli's creditors had an attorney, Alfred and the minstrels had none.[221] The plea that Eli was not interested in the venture, that it was Alfred's show, was offset by the fact that Alfred, in his dealings, informed every one that the show belonged to Eli. And there was the advertising matter. Did not all bear the words, "Eli, Owner and Manager." Alfred had designedly and against his pride ordered Eli's name placed on the bills to relieve himself of all responsibility and worry.

The evidence was conclusive. At least that's what the lawyer, Isaac Bailey, said. Lin said: "It was boun' to go agin Alfurd. Limpy Bailey cud make black white an' Squire Wilkinson's agin' evurythin' but the Methudis' Church."

There were numerous little bills unpaid, including five dollars to the blind family. Chapters of truths and unfounded rumors, were in the mouths of the gossips as to how the troupe stranded in West Virginia, compelled to walk home, traveling as deck passengers on the steamboat. It even went the rounds that they would have starved if George Warner had not fed them surreptitiously on their way home.

Alfred was crestfallen. He was ashamed to visit his old haunts in the town. He evolved plan after plan only to be persuaded by Lin to abandon them as soon as they were broached to her. The father rubbed salt into his wounded feelings at every reference he made to the minstrel business and the lowness of those connected with it, holding Eli up as a terrible example of what minstrel life would bring a man to.

Berated, brow-beaten, driven to the wall, Alfred answered his father in kind following one of his most bitter arraignments of show people: "Father, what are you talking about? Something you know nothing of. Eli was not a showman, not a minstrel man. He was only with an amateur minstrel show eight days. Nothing in his associations made him lower than he was before he left."

"Then why did you go with him?" sternly demanded the parent.

"I wanted to make money."

[222]"Yes, you wanted to make trouble and disgrace for your poor mother and myself," was the father's rejoinder.

"How sorry I am I did not do differently. How sorry I am that this ever happened and I planned it all so differently. I felt I was protecting myself and I'm into it deeper than before." Thus would Alfred reason with himself.

But the judgment of regret is a silent witness of the heart to the conviction that some things are inevitable. With Alfred it was a confession hard to make—another battle lost that seemed won. The words, "disgrace to the family, to your mother and myself," kept ringing in his ears and he resolved to leave the town, go to the oil regions, go west, go anywhere, get rich, come back and make his people retract all their cruel reflections.

Lin adjured him to "furgit the sore spot; es long es ye pick hit, it'll never heal. Why, ye cud go to Capt. Abrams, Sammy Steele ur Joe Thornton an' borry enuf to pay every durn cent ye owe; though ye don't owe nuthin', everybody ses so thet knows enythin' bout hit. Thet Eli's in fur hit all. He ought to pay hit. Thur's thet blin' family, he'll nefer hev no luck ef he don't pay 'em."

This allusion to the blind family was the last stone. Alfred felt that he and he alone was responsible for the amount due the blind family. This obligation brought him more regrets than all his troubles. He crept upstairs, he fell on his knees and prayed, yes, prayed fervently, earnestly. No penitent, no prisoner, no saint, no sinner ever beseeched guidance and assistance with a more contrite heart.

It was announced that Uncle Thomas was to preach to the young people of his congregation. Alfred went early. He was ill at ease. He imagined all the congregation gazing at him and when two or more bent their heads and whispered, he imagined that it was he who was under discussion.

The song services ended, the minister arose, opened the Bible and very slowly read the text selected—"Honor thy[223] father and thy mother." Raising his eyes from the book, looking over the congregation as if to select some one to whom to direct his words, he repeated, "Honor thy father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise. Honor thy father and mother, that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest live long on earth."

Then followed a lengthy discourse as to the duties of children to their parents.

As the sermon progressed, the preacher said: "Rebuke not an elder but entreat him as a father. Rebuke not an elder but treat all your elders with that respect you would others should exhibit toward your parents. Show me the young man who is disrespectful to his parents or elders, disregards their admonitions and I will show you a boy who is without the pale of content."

Uncle Tom seemed to look straight at Alfred as he let fall the words. Alfred felt sure that he referred to the quarrel between himself and Uncle Ned.

In the next quotation Alfred was slightly reassured: "An angry man stirreth up strife and aboundeth in transgressions, for he that is slow to anger is better than the mighty and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city."

Alfred said to himself, he is touching up Uncle Ned. He wanted to turn his head around to see how the Uncle took his medicine, but the preacher had his attention. Alfred was sitting erect, looking straight at the speaker. His attitude seemed to say: "If you are going to hit them all I can stand it but don't hold me up as a lone example of all that's sinful in this congregation."

Then the speaker waded into the popular frivolities of the times; cards, dice, gambling, drinking, dancing and other pastimes. As Alfred was immune from all of the above sins he sat up still more straight and even ventured to look around at some of the society young folks of the congregation. He began to feel that Uncle Tom was a very good preacher.

[224]After a moment's pause as if to pull himself together for the final onslaught upon all that was sinful, the preacher resumed: "I do not hesitate for a moment to condemn show life and all who are aware of its iniquity that engage in it. The circus, the theatre, the actors therein, the proprietors, those who, for sordid gain, place these terrible temptations before our young people." Alfred felt himself sinking in the pew. "I do not hesitate to condemn the theatre as one of the broadest roads that leads to destruction. Fascinating no doubt to the young of susceptible and impressionable feelings, on that account all the more dangerous. Show life is a delusion. It holds out hopes never realized; it poisons the mind and diseases the soul; it takes innocence and happiness and repays with suffering and misery. It separates families; it desolates homes; it makes wanderers on the face of the earth of those who are allured to it. Once let a young man acquire a taste for show life and yield himself up to its wicked gratifications; that young man is in great danger of losing his reputation. He is rushing headlong to certain ruin."

Alfred was sitting straight up. His cheeks burned like fire but there was no shame in his face, he even looked about him; he met the gaze of those who stared and held it until the eyes of the others dropped.

The preacher continued: "All the evils that can blight a young life, waste his property, corrupt his morals, blast his hopes, impair his health and wreck his soul, lurk in the purlieus of this abominated show life that is threatening some of the best beloved and most talented of our young people. Folly consists in drawing false conclusions from just principles; and that is what the theatre does. Men may live fools but fools they cannot die. The instruction of fools is folly; therefore, the actor cannot teach wisdom or morality. He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul; but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding."

[225]The parting admonition, delivered to the young people in general and, Alfred felt, to himself in particular, was: "Choose a good name; a good name is rather to be chosen than great riches and loving favor rather than silver and gold."

Alfred felt that the latter part of the sermon was directed at his ambitions to become a clown, get rich and buy a farm. He wondered who had informed the preacher of his ambitions.

When the congregation stood up and sang, Alfred's voice could be heard above those around him. When the plate was passed he placed his last dollar on the coppers and dimes on it.

When the minister requested that all the young people who desired the prayers of the congregation for their future guidance, stand up, Alfred remained seated. There was no contriteness in his heart; no impression had been made upon him. He forgot his surroundings; he felt no embarrassment that all stared at him, their looks seeming to say: "Well, how did you like it? Hit you pretty hard, did it not?"

Alfred forgot the sermon, forgot the surroundings; other thoughts swayed his mind. "I'll make Uncle Tom, I'll make this congregation, I'll make this whole town acknowledge my worth. I've not done anything I'm ashamed of." Then the five dollars he owed the blind family flashed upon his mind. "I'll pay them, I'll pay every cent I owe."

He passed out of the church unconscious of the gaze of a half hundred young men lined up on either side of the door waiting for the girls to run the gauntlet, each one offering an arm to the girl he fancied; if rejected he was termed "sacked" and the rejected one felt the ridicule of his fellows for many days thereafter. Lucy Fowler "sacked" John Albright that night. Lin was so full of this affair that she seemed to forget the sermon in her eagerness to recount the other incident. Alfred interrupted her by sneakingly inquiring as to how she liked the sermon.

[226]Lin forthwith straightened up: "Well, ef I wanted tu tell jes what I thot, I'd say he gin ye particular fits, but preachin' is preachin', nobody takes hit to tharselves, they jes think hit's fur everybody. Now I reckon ye think the hull blast wus fer ye. S'posen he'd preached on dram drinkin'. I reckon the fellur thet guzzles wud take hit all tu hisself. No, sonny, religun's fur everybody an' ye kan't thro preachin' bricks ye don't hit somebody. So don't take a foolish powder kase a preacher workin' at his trade handed ye a few. Hit done ye good, ye never looked so purty in yer life, yer cheeks wus red es cherries an' ye sung like a exorter."

Alfred asked: "Didn't you think he took a shot at Uncle Ned?"

"Well, ef he did he never teched him fur Ned never winced. Ye know them church members never take nuthin' to tharselves; no, they jes believe when the preacher ladles out spiritual feed hits fur sinners on the outside uf the church. They think they're above suspishun. Ye know the Pharisee thanked Gawd he wus not like other peepul, 'an he was jes awful. Of course a great many say thet the sermon fit yer kase. Hit's the best praise ye ever got, hit's better'n a piece in the newspapers. Thur's a heap uf peepul in this town never knowed ye amounted to enuf to be preached about. Es long es ye hain't stole nuthin' er caused anybody misery er shame, yer on the safe side. Yer troubles hain't nuthin', ye jes think they are. Uncle Tom's got more trouble on his min' now en ye ever had."

"I'll bet if I ever get out of this trouble, I'll steer clear of it hereafter," mused Alfred.

"Yes ye will. Let me tell ye, sonny, the minnet ye begin to feel yer troubles at a end ye'll begin to look fer more en ye wouldn't be wuth cracklins ef ye didn't. I wouldn't gin four cents fer a man thet didn't git into truble; hit trys 'em out an' ye ken tell what they're made uf. Look at all the[227] men ye know who don't know enuf to make truble. What do they amount to? Why they ain't got enuf grit in 'em to suck alum."

She continued:

"Onct thur wus a new preacher kum to a place to take charge of a church. A member uf the church called tu pay his respeks an' afore he left he said, confidential like: 'Parson, ye preach yer first sermon Sunday. Now I want to tell ye this fer yer own good: We hev a good many members thet plays ole sledge, ten cents a corner. Thar our best payin' members an' I wouldn't, ef I wus ye, say anythin' 'bout card playin' in my fust sermon, they mought think ye wus pussenal.' Another member called. After talkin' 'bout the weather an' crops a bit, he sed: 'Several uf our best payin' members sell whiskey wholesale, they're agin dram drinkin' but ef ye preach agin whiskey right away it mought make 'em mad, so I wouldn't say anythin' agin whiskey in yer fust sermun nex' Sunday.' The preacher began to git a little shaky but he thanked the man. A little later anuther member called. When 'bout tu leave he sed: 'Parson, ye preach yer fust sermon Sunday; I want ye to start right. We hed a good many dances through the winter, and our peepul is very fond uf dancin'. Thur's two ur three big dances to kum off soon. These members thet dance is all willun workers an' liberal givers; ef ye pitch into dancin' en frolikin' in yer fust sermon hit's sure to raise a click in the church thet'll be agin ye. Therefore I wouldn't mention anythin' 'bout dancin' in my fust sermon ef I wus ye.' Soon another called. After he'd talked a spell, he kum to the pint: 'Parson, we got some mighty fine hosses an' most uf 'em belongs to the leadin' members uf yer church an' we has hoss races an' we bets on 'em, an' ef ye preach 'bout anythin' uf thet kind in yer fust sermon it'll hurt the hoss bizness an' put some uf the best members uf the congregashun agin ye.' The preacher raised his hans in holy horror, as he said: 'I can't preach agin the[228] frivolities of fashun, dancin' an' sich; I can't preach agin drunkenness; I can't preach agin gamblin'. Fur heavin's sake, what kin I preach about?' 'I'll tell ye,' volunteered the caller quickly, 'preach about the Jews, jes gin 'em hell, thar's only one in town.'"

Lin concluded, "Maybe Uncle Tom figgered the same way on yer kase," and she roared with laughter as she gave Alfred a playful push.

After the boasting Alfred had indulged in previous to going on tour with Eli, he could not face his friends. He borrowed five dollars from Lin and in a careless way, informed the family that the next day he would go up to Uncle Jake's for a couple of weeks' visit. He packed up his belongings, bade the family an affectionate good-bye and ran away, like many another coward has done before and since. He was not in debt to any extent, it was simply his vanity, a false pride that would not permit him to face the little world in which he lived. Those who should have advised him censured; those who had influence for good held aloof. He went to a big city, to Pittsburg, to seek his fortune among strangers, return rich, reward all who were kind to him and humble all who had lost faith in him.

He went aboard the boat bound for Pittsburg. He slept soundly and was only awakened by the clanging of bells and the blowing of whistles. Peering out of the stateroom ventilator, his eyes met a sight such as he had never witnessed before. Fire in long-tongued flashes blazed up a hundred feet out of blackened chimneys, shadowy demons working over fiery furnaces, boiling, white hot lava flowed in streams, the air was filled with smoke and sparks.

Alfred imagined he had died in his sins and was now nearing the place of eternal torment. He could liken the scene before him to nothing on earth. It must be Hell, and he felt that the lid had been lifted for his especial benefit.

[229]There was a rap on his stateroom door and a voice called: "All out for Pittsburg." Alfred hustled into his clothes and walked out in the cabin, not desiring to leave the boat until after daylight. He inquired of the clerk as to how long the boat would remain there. "We leave at eight o'clock," replied the clerk.

"Eight o'clock what? Morning or night?" asked Alfred.

"Eight o'clock morning," replied the man.

"Why, when does it get daylight in Pittsburg?" inquired the bewildered boy.

The clerk laughed as he answered, "Tomorrow, if the sun shines."

Alfred hastened ashore. The old National Hotel, Water and Smithfield Streets, had sheltered him before. Therein he entered. Changing his clothing he wandered forth aimlessly. He entered the Red Lion Hotel, looked over the circus grounds and then to Ben Trimble's Theatre; from there to the old Drury Theater, Wood and Fifth Avenue. He took in all the sights of the big city.

Then he began to make plans as to the future. The hotel rate was one dollar and a half a day. When Alfred settled, which he did at the end of the first day, he had but thirty-five cents left. He left his baggage with the hotel people and began a search for work.

Were you ever in a strange city, broke and without a friend, without the price of a bed, without the price of a full meal? Did you ever feel the loneliness, the forsakedness of this condition? You may say, "Well, I'd get a job; I'd do anything; I'd dig ditches; I'd—" Well, they do not dig ditches in winter, and when they do dig them you must have a vote before you can get a job even at that labor and you cannot get a job at any kind of laboring work unless your physique and clothes look the part.

You say there's no excuse for any man being broke or out of a job these times? Well, there may be no excuse that will[230] satisfy you but there are men in this condition all over this land—and good honest, willing men, willing to do any kind of work to earn a living. When they apply to you encourage them even though you do not hire them.

Alfred applied to a large concern that employed many men. He was told there was nothing open. The wholesale drug stores were all supplied with help. Another place had a sign out—"No help wanted." Alfred failed to notice it as he entered. When he made his errand known the oily haired youngster in the place impudently asked him if he could read, and pointed to the sign.

At another place he felt sure he had landed when the boss told him they wanted a married man and that he was too young looking. At the headquarters of a great fraternal society, the principles and teachings of which are mercy and charity toward all mankind, the officer or secretary in charge was particularly unkind and actually spoke and behaved towards the boy as though he had been guilty of some offense, instead of seeking honest employment.

After walking more than four miles to a large factory, the head of which stood high in the councils of one of the great political parties of the day, one who had lately issued a statement to the country that the only difficulty his firm was having was to secure men to do their work, he met the great man coming from his office and appealed to him in person, and was informed that they required no more men at that time, but intimated that a factory in a city several hundred miles distant required help. He did not mention that it required several dollars to pay railroad fare to the town referred to.

His experience in seeking employment caused Alfred to resolve that no man or woman, no weary soul, no matter what the conditions, applying to him for employment or aid should be turned away without a word of encouragement and advice. Some philosopher has likened kindness as[231] lighting a neighbor's candle by our own by which we impart something and lose nothing. Try a little kindness upon the next applicant who calls upon you.

Walking down Fifth Avenue Alfred read a sign hung on a door: "Wanted. Two boys over fifteen years of age." It was the White House saloon. Alfred walked in and asked for the position. He learned it was setting up ten pins in a bowling alley. The proprietor, John O'Brien, was very kindly spoken and, looking curiously at Alfred, he inquired: "How did you come to ask for this job? You look too well groomed for such work?"

"Well, I'm broke and I've got to do something."

Alfred was given the job and started to work at once setting up the pins. It was pay day in Pittsburg; the big, husky iron workers hurled the balls down the alleys with such tremendous force that the pins were scattered in every direction. At times the bowlers, in their haste and excitement, would not wait for the pins to be set up before hurling the balls and it required quick action on the part of Alfred to keep out of harm's way.

Closing up time came and as the dollar and a half was passed to Alfred he noticed that the game keeper was a brother of Eli's. Pulling his hat over his eyes that he might not be recognized, the star of Eli's minstrels fled the place.

The barkeeper at the National Hotel, Dick Cannon, had befriended Alfred before. When he learned that Alfred was living on doughnuts and coffee at the little stand in the market house, Cannon took him in and fed him until he secured a position. It was through Cannon that Alfred finally secured the position of night clerk in the hotel.

That a saloonkeeper and a bar-tender, the very people whom Alfred had been so constantly warned against, should be the only ones who took an interest in him when in distress, was most surprising to the boy. Surely it was not from the[232] fact that he patronized their establishments, as he never entered the place of one and was in the house of the other for only a few hours.

John W. Pittock, the founder of the Pittsburg Leader, was also proprietor of a book store at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Smithfield Street. The Leader was the first paper, that the writer has knowledge of, to print a sporting page. Pittsburgh, then as now, was strong for athletic sports. Aquatic sports were the most popular; Jimmy Hamill, the champion single sculler of the world, was at the zenith of his career. The day following Alfred's experience in the ten pin alley the city was all excitement over a sporting event. Alfred was sent to the Leader office to procure a number of copies of the paper for numerous guests of the hotel. The following Sunday morning Alfred sold over two hundred copies of the paper.

The superintendent of the Smithfield Street bridge was a friend of Alfred's father. He permitted the boy to establish a news-stand at the end of the bridge. From 5 a. m. until noon hundreds of copies of the Leader were sold. With his wages from the hotel the minstrel was making and saving money.

Alfred was homesick often but determined in his mind not to return to Brownsville until he had a stated amount of money. The father wrote him to return at once. Alfred replied that he had a good position but would return by a certain date.

It was a holiday in the smokey city. Alfred cleaned up over forty dollars on papers alone. That night he visited Brimstone Corner, a Methodist Church. No man or boy who ever lived in Pittsburgh but remembers its location. It was a revival; the church was packed, the sermon eloquent and it made a deep impression upon Alfred.

The minister read the text as follows: "And he said, A certain man had two sons; and the younger of them said to the father: 'Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.' And he divided unto him his living. And not many[233] days after the younger son gathered all together and took his journey into a far country and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would feign have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat, and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said: 'How many hired servants of my father have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger.' I will arise and go to my father and will say unto him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee and am no more worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired servants.' And he arose and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off his father saw him and had compassion and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said unto him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight and am no more worthy to be called thy son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Bring forth the best robe and put it on him and put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet; and bring hither the fatted calf and kill it and let us eat and be merry. For this, my son, was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' And they began to be merry." The preacher continued:

"Who can say what the causes that led to the young man's leaving the luxurious home of his father to wander, an outcast, over the earth? The vagaries of the human mind are beyond our understanding. The prodigal son may have had illusions; he may have had ambitions. He may have been induced by illusions born of ambitions to make something of himself other than a plain farmer's boy. The dangers that lay along his pathway were not known to him. That he fell in with evil associates and did not have the will power to free himself from them is obvious.

[234]"We cannot all live in one city; we cannot all live in one country or on one farm. It is but natural that boys will stray away from the old fireside. Read the history of this country; it was settled by hardy yeomen, possessed of that desire for changed conditions. Look at the great and growing West, settled by the descendants of those first settlers of New England and Virginia.

"That boys leave home, as did the prodigal son; that boys fall from grace, as did he who ate husks with the swine, should not shake our faith in the future of a young man who has fallen by the wayside. He is to be reclaimed, not by the mighty hand of the law, not by the chastisement of the father, but by the love and pity that man should exhibit not only for the good but for the lowest of God's creatures. We should extend to them the helping hand; we should prove by our actions that they have our love and pity.

"Pity is a mode, or a particular development, of benevolence. It is sympathy for those who are weak and suffering. Hence, our compassion for the erring one. We have affections for men who are good and noble, men who are prosperous, strong and happy. But for those who have been beaten down by the storms of life, for such we should feel that pity the father displayed for the prodigal son.

"If those who have strayed and forgotten the father's advice and the mother's prayers come to us, we should not receive them with reproaches and rebuffs but with open arms; always remembering that the Father of all has gladness for those who are glad and pity for those who are sad.

"When the erring one returned, envy filled the heart of one of the family and he said to a brother of the prodigal: 'Thy brother is come and thy father hath killed the fatted calf because he hath received him safe and sound.' And the brother was angry and would not go in to the feast. Therefore came his father out and entreated him to enter. And he answering, said to his father: 'Lo, these many years do I[235] serve thee, neither transgressing at any time thy commandments and yet thou never gavest me at any time a fatted kid that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this, thy son, came, which has devoured thy living, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.' And the father answered, 'Wealth killeth the foolish man and envy slayeth the silly one. There is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and sinneth not. It is good for a man he beareth the yoke in youth.'

"It is sympathy in this world that must reclaim the fallen. It is sympathy in the return of the erring that must reunite families and heal the mother's sorrow for him who has wandered from the fireside and, like the prodigal, returns to be elevated to a life that might been have wasted had not the father's love prevailed to welcome his return.

"If this world is to be bettered, if the children of men are to be uplifted, it must be by a love that is as strong as that of the father for the son, the mother for her children.

"Young man, if you have wandered from home, if you have felt you were abused, return to your family, start life over, reconcile yourself to what you may have imagined were wrongs. If they have wronged you, their love, won by your obedience, will atone for all. If you have wronged anyone, make amends.

"Fathers, mothers, friends, stretch out your right hands for the salvation and preservation of our young men, for in their hands lies the greatness of the future."

The river was low, the boats were not running. The next morning a train bore Alfred to Layton Station on the Youghiogheny. A stage coach landed him at the door of his father's home in the middle of the afternoon. There never before was the happiness in Alfred's heart that filled it on his home coming. The father was proud of his boy, the mother overwhelmed with her emotions. The children clung to him as though they feared he would fly away from them. Lin baked and cooked as she never had before.

[236]When it became known that Alfred had laid one hundred dollars in his mother's hand and that he "hed plenty more," as Lin informed all, the boy could feel a difference in the atmosphere when he mingled with the people of the town.

Cousin Charley and Alfred hired a horse and buggy and drove out to Merrittstown, passing the Thornton home, the old mill, the dam and the home of the Youngs. The blind musicians were paid the five dollars yet due with five dollars added for interest.

There was only one incident that marred the happy home-coming. Alfred licked Morgan, Eli's agent. Eli was a very ill man; his excesses had brought him near death's door. Alfred forgot the past and no more attentive friend had Eli in his last illness.

The fight with Morgan was regrettable but, as Lin expressed it: "Hit let the kat outen the bag an' klarified matters in general an' some mighty big peepul tried to krawl into some mighty little holes, but they stuck out wuss then ef they hed stood up an' sed, 'Well, we tuk Alfred's money but we thought we wur right but we find we were wrong.'"

Of those who levied on the money at Redstone School-house, but one returned the amount he had illegally received. Fred Chalfant, the liveryman, was that man.



Forgot is the time when the clouds hid the sun.
And cold blasts the earth forced to shiver.
For such is the power of one warm spring day
From winter's whole spell to deliver.

Alfred was unconsciously broadening in his knowledge; life in its various phases was unfolding to him, and he was profiting by his experiences. His faults appeared very great to others, were only an incentive to him. He had learned thus early that it was not the being exempt from faults so much as to have the will power to overcome them.

In early life he had it very strongly impressed upon his mind that some men were perfect, others hopelessly vile. Experience and observation forced Alfred to the conclusion that none were so good but that some thought them bad, and none so vile but that some thought them good.

We generally judge others as to their attitude towards us, agreeable or otherwise. Our estimate of another depends greatly upon the manner in which that person affects our interests. It is difficult to think well or speak well of those by whom we are crossed or thwarted. But we are ever ready to find excuses for the vices of those who are useful and agreeable to us. Therefore, he is a mighty poor mortal who is not something on his own account.

Alfred had graduated in that dear old school of experience, wherein education costs more but lasts longer than that acquired in colleges, that it is with the follies of the mind as with the weeds of a field—those destroyed and consumed upon the place of their growth, enrich and improve that place more than if none had ever grown there.

The boy had been so continually advised against evil associates that he began taking a mental inventory of every stranger at first meeting.

[238]Harrison was his estimate of the bad; Mr. Steele of the good.

Alfred had arrived at that stage where he not only stood aside and watched himself go by, but he was also watching the other fellow go by.

He was out of newspaper business, out of the tannery, had abandoned the practice of medicine. Charley's father, who was very strict with his boys, advised the parent to "give Alfred more tether, not to stake him down too close. Give him a little more rope, there's something in that boy." All of which was communicated to Alfred by Cousin Charley, and Uncle Bill was thus greatly elevated in Alfred's estimation.

Alfred's father was little short of a genius in a mechanical way; he had a peculiar temperament, mild and easily influenced. He was a creditable artist; many meritorious paintings from his brush in both oil and water adorn the walls of the residences of his friends. He was greatly interested in mechanical pursuits, particularly if of an artistic character.

When Uncle Joe prepared to build a house, "Pap" made the plans; when Sells Brothers built a tableau car or an animal van of an elaborate character, "daddy" made the drawings; when Aunt Betsy desired patterns to make a quilt to take the premium at the fair, "pap" made the drawings or figures.

He became acquainted with an artist from Philadelphia and was completely taken with the man's talents. The artist informed him in confidence that he had expended the greater portion of his man life on a work of art that would astonish the world, the father became even more interested in him.

The father was the only person who had ever been permitted to look upon the wonderful creation of his genius; yard after yard of art was unwound for the admiration of the father. When he returned from his second visit to the art gallery of the Philadelphia artist, he interested the family greatly by his description of the wonderful scenes the painter had wrought on the canvas.

[239]The sufferings and privations endured by the man while creating his work seemed to make as profound an impression upon the father as the painting itself.

The father predicted that the talented painter would come into his own; the painting would be exhibited all over the world, admiring throngs would rush to see it to praise its incomparable beauties.

The father made weekly visits to the home of the great painter, he desired frequent conferences with the father as he required his advice, at least, he so stated.

After one of his frequent visits to the art studio the parent inadvertently let fall the remark that the great painting was about ready for exhibition but that the artist did not have money to complete it. He also hinted that if Alfred were a boy of proper ambitions he might become attached to the exhibition of the picture, but no, "Alfred's ambition did not rise above saw-dust and burnt-cork."

These few words aroused Alfred's curiosity. By adroit questioning he ascertained that the great work of art was a panorama illustrative of "The Pilgrim's Progress," to be exhibited in churches, schools and such places, at twenty-five cents for adults; children, half price.

The mother wondered that the artist did not exhibit his wonderful painting in the art centers, Philadelphia, Boston, New York City, instead of Butler, Pittsburg, Perryopolis and Muttontown. The father explained that after the professor got the rollers to working smoothly and the lecture down pat, he intended visiting Philadelphia, Boston and New York.

Alfred began to realize that the picture was some sort of a show and he marvelled that his father favored it. Lin said:

"So fur es I kin kalkerlate it es some sort of meetin' house show, nuthin' but picturs. Hit may be good, but durned ef I ever got much satisfaction out uf a cirkus lookin' at the picturs. But I s'pose peepul will want to look at the feller thet[240] made hit. They say thet he nurly starved to death to git hit done. Ye know, they'll run to see him. Mor en they will his pictur—I reckon he has long curley hair an black eyes, they all has, them sufferin' fellers that due wunderful things."

Lin glancing mischievously at the mother in a tone she pretended to be only for the mother's hearing but really delivered for Alfred's annoyance. "Well, I hope he kums to Red Stun' Skule-house. It's whur all the big shows gits thur start; they allus git a crowd, the skule direkturs sees to thet an' ef they don't make muny, Sammy Steele'll hulp 'em out."

How did she know about Sammy Steele and his loan? It was long afterwards that Alfred learned that Joe Thornton had confidentially imparted to Bill Wyatt, the tavern keeper, the part that he and Steele had played in Alfred's show life Wyatt, in turn, confidentially imparted the story, with a few additions, to Uncle Bill. The uncle confided the story to the family and Cousin Charley gave it to the town—but what's the use.

Professor Palmer, the artist, was to visit the family the following Sunday. When there appeared a smallish, Yankee looking individual, wrinkled face, a tuft of beard on his chin, similar to that bestowed upon the comic cartoons of the face of Uncle Sam, a beaked nose, very dirty hands and iron grey hair, sparsely sprinkled over his acorn-shaped head, Alfred thought a farmer or stock breeder had called on his father.

When introduced by the father as "My son, Alfred, Professor Palmer," Alfred was taken off his feet and his idea of art dropped away down. The only attraction of the professor was his eloquence, his ability to talk entertainingly. This he did continuously with a pronunciation so correct and studied that it sounded pedantic. The professor kept up his talk, as affected at times as the hand-cuff king's stage announcements or those of the middleman in a minstrel show.

After dinner the professor expressed a desire to take a walk with Alfred. They walked far, the professor talked long, and became annoyingly confidential. He said: "Your[241] father has told me a great deal about you and I must admit that you are a mighty smart young man. You don't belong in this one-horse town, you should get out in the world where there are opportunities waiting for all such as you. You could live in this town a thousand years and you'd be just what you are now. You have had some experience in the show line but in a line that is beneath you; your place in the show business is higher up. I want your advice," he continued insinuatingly. "Now, I offered John (he referred to Alfred's father), the best thing of his life. He has worked hard all of his days; he is deserving of something better. I have offered him a half interest in my show. ("Holy Mother of Moses!" thought Alfred). I have borrowed a little money from him but I need nine hundred dollars more to put me out right. Now Jack is considering the matter. I wish you, who know more about the show business than both of us put together, (Alfred knew he was being flattered), would talk to him, use your influence with him."

Notwithstanding Alfred's life's ambition to become a showman, the idea as presented by the professor filled him with disgust. His father going into the show business! He had pictured show life in his illusions as one long, summer day's dream, but now it seemed the meanest of careers. The idea of his father associating himself with such a calling was repugnant in the extreme. Alfred could scarcely restrain his thoughts from taking expression in wrathful words.

The man continued, not noticing Alfred's changed expression: "You could sing and dance in this entertainment, do just what you pleased, it would make it all the better. I'll deliver the lecture and your daddy, (he was becoming insultingly familiar), could sit at the door and rake in the money. Hasn't the old man talked to you about it? I've been talking to him for six months."

"Talking to my father about going into the show business and he did not knock you down. If he didn't he is a hypo[242]crite." This is only what Alfred thought; his reply was: "No, sir." He did not realize whether "No, sir" was the answer to the professor's question or the announcement of the decision he had come to in his mind as to the show business in so far as his father was concerned.

The professor rattled on: "Now, you get your old man away from the women folks and talk it over with him. It's the best thing ever offered him; he'll get his nine hundred dollars back before a month is out. I'm going to do business with churches and preachers wherever I can. I preached four years in Missouri and had to give it up on account of my health; I got stomach trouble from eating rich food. I know just how to work this thing, and if you and your daddy go in with me we will not only make money but have a hell of a good time."

They had arrived at the door of Alfred's home. The professor, as they passed in, admonished Alfred to "Think it over and let me hear from you."

The professor was soon in the midst of a description of a scene he intended introducing in his church entertainment wherein he used living figures. Alfred did not follow his conversation; he was trying to think, but could not think connectedly. He could not talk to the professor, he answered him by nods or shakes of his head. The more reticent Alfred became the more voluble the professor grew.

At leave-taking time, the professor admonished Alfred: "Do not forget what I told you." Alfred promised that he would not and he was sincere; he could not have forgotten had he tried.

The professor gone, Alfred hurried to his room. Was it possible that his father had even partially entertained an idea of joining the man Palmer in a show scheme, the father, who had berated, abused and condemned all and everything pertaining to shows, now favorably considering engaging in the show business himself.

[243]Alfred endeavored to find excuses for his father—"He was generous, sympathetic, he was listening to the professor only to encourage him." Alfred had never been subjected to the influence of a promoter; this was a leaf of life yet unturned by him.

Alfred felt certain that his father had entered into some sort of an arrangement with the professor. He felt certain the panorama man was endeavoring to induce his father to invest money in the panorama and he finally resolved that it should not be.

The more he thought the matter over, the more distasteful show life appeared to him.

Then the illusion came back to him. He had dreamed by night and prayed by day; he had lived for years with the wish, the hope that he might, after a few years of show life, earn enough to gratify his life's desires, to possess a farm, to own fine horses, to plant fields, to reap harvests, to live near nature.

He figured over several sheets of white paper. He would be compelled to labor forty years in the tannery to acquire sufficient money to buy a farm and nearly one hundred years in the newspaper office.

Jimmy Reynolds, the clown with Thayer & Noyse Circus, received one hundred dollars a week, board and lodging, so Alfred had been informed. Alfred felt in the innermost depths of his soul that he was a much better clown than Jimmy. He would secure the position now held by Reynolds—one hundred dollars each week for thirty weeks, three thousand dollars a year; ten years, thirty thousand dollars. Ten years a clown, then a farm. Show business was improper for the father but the means to attain the end for the son, as he reasoned.

When Lin found the figures and writing on the many sheets of scribbling paper in his room, she pondered long and confusedly over them.

[244]"What in the world hes thet consarned boy got intu his punkin' agin? Thirty years a clown, ninety-nine years in a nusepaper, furty years in the tan-yard, and a farmer all the rest uf my life." Then she laughed. "He must think he'll be as ole as Methusulus got." She carried the paper to the mother.

They confronted Alfred with the sheets on which were scribbled the hieroglyphics. Alfred laughingly said it was a new way to tell fortunes.

Alfred decided to talk to the father the first opportunity that offered. Father and son were seated in the front room. "Father"—Alfred rarely addressed the parent as "father;" "Pap" was the every-day appellation but the present matter was of greater importance—"Father, I would like to talk to you privately and want you to answer me truthfully."

The father had his feet on a stool reclining in the big, easy chair. At the words "answer me truthfully," the father's feet fell to the floor, his cigar dropped until it lay on his chinbeard; the man looked at the boy to convince himself he had heard aright.

"Why, what the h—ll tarnation do you mean?"

Alfred was frightened, his voice trembled and sounded unlike his own, but he was determined.

"Father, I want to talk to you, come upstairs to my room."

If Alfred had not been so earnest, the scene would have been a laughable one, as it was like burlesquing many similar scenes when the parent addressed the boy in the same words. Alfred walked up the steps very slowly, hoping thereby to cause the parent to follow. It was a long time (to Alfred) ere the father entered the room.

"What's the trouble now?" began the man, as he gazed inquiringly at the boy.

"Who is this man Palmer whom you are so greatly taken up with?" inquired Alfred.

[245]"Why, what's that to you? He's a friend of mine."

"Has he a show?" was the boy's next query.

"A show? Not a show like you know anything of. He has a painting, a work of art, that will be exhibited soon."

"Father, you have always berated, abused and condemned shows and show people. Did this man Palmer borrow money from you?"

The father was confused. He reddened as he stammered: "No—no—not much. You see he is a poor devil of an artist, he would rather paint than eat; he has spent years of his life on a painting. He has a fortune almost in his hands and I loaned him a little money to buy glue and colors to finish his painting. I tell you, he is a genius; why, the roller the pictures work on is one of the most ingenious contrivances you ever saw and it's simple, it can be applied to other uses. No man but a genius like Palmer would have thought of it."

This and much more information he gave Alfred. By his manner Alfred could readily see that the parent was greatly interested in Palmer and his scheme—for Alfred felt such it was.

"Well, then, father, you have changed your mind as to shows?"

"Who said I had? No, I have not changed my mind as to shows! Who told you I had? But your Uncle Will, who thinks more of you than you think he does, has persuaded me to give you your own way a little more and if you want to go with Palmer I will consent to it after I see Palmer and put you under his charge. He must control you just as I want you controlled. He is a man who knows how to manage boys; he is a man you can depend upon and I don't mind you going with him if it can be arranged to suit me and your mother. I am glad you asked my consent and did not run off, like you threatened to do with the nigger minstrels." And he emphasized "nigger minstrels" to strongly convince Alfred of his disgust with that branch of show business.

[246]The father was so completely wrapped up in Palmer, so totally captivated by the eloquence of the man that he had altogether mistaken the questions of the boy.

"Father, has Palmer tried to get nine hundred dollars out of you? Did he want you to buy a half interest in the show?"

"Well," hesitatingly he answered, "Palmer has got to raise some money and he asked me to help him out. I haven't said whether I would or not. If you go with him you could look after money matters for——."

Here Alfred interrupted the parent: "Have you said anything to mother about this? You know when you went into the patent wash-board concern with Niblo and grandpap, you never told mother and when you got took in with Uncle Thomas on the patent shoe blacking, you said you would never enter into anything outside your business without asking mother's advice. And now you're dickering with this man Palmer about a show, something you know nothing about. Now Pap—."

The wash-board and blacking were two of the father's investments that were losses, so he became very much irritated at mention of them and checked the son.

"Now you hold on, young man! If you tell your mother anything of this, you and I will have trouble. You're meddling with matters that don't concern you. I thought you called me in to ask my permission to go with Palmer. Now you set yourself up to pry into my business. I'm your father, I've always taken care of you and I am able to take care of myself. I don't want a green boy to look after me."

"Well, Pap; I'm not trying to nose into your business. You told Palmer that I knowed a heap about the show business, and you recommended me highly as a showman."

The father was sizzling. "Who told you so?"

"Why, Palmer himself. Now, I don't want to brag on myself," continued Alfred who had gained confidence as the interview progressed, "but I've seen a great deal of this[247] show business and you've got to know what you're doing when you get into it. Why, look how many men have lost all their money." And here Alfred mentioned the names of several men, the details of whose losses in show schemes he had read in the New York Clipper.

"Why," he continued, in an outburst of confidence, "I"—and he emphasized the "I"—"I lost money on my last show." He should have added, "my first and last show." But the boy felt that he had pap going. "I had to borrow money from Sammy Steele to pay my debts."

The father gasped. "So you've been borrowing money to get into the show business?"

"No, I had to borrow money to get out of it and that's why I don't want you to loan Palmer money without you ask mother."

Alfred knew full well that this reference to the mother would bring the father to terms.

"Now look here, my boy; I warned you once before not to blab my business to your mother to make trouble in the family—"

"Well, I'm going to tell her," broke in the boy.

"You're going to tell her what?" threateningly asked the father.

"I'm not going to tell her anything about you," replied Alfred somewhat subdued, "I'm just going to tell her that Palmer is trying to borrow money from you."

The mother was no different from other women. The father knew full well that her first remark would be: "So Palmer wants to borrow money! So that's what brought him here! He is a slick one, you could tell that by his talk. John, I hope you are not fool enough to loan that man money." "No, Mary, don't worry yourself, he'll get no money out of me, I could see through him the first time I met him."

This line of conversation had been heard so often in the family that it was stereotyped on the memory of all. The father therefore capitulated, and in a tone intended to pacify[248] the boy he said: "Now there's no use in stirring up anything over this matter. If you want to go with Palmer I will gain your mother's consent. I'll tell her you have asked my permission. I will permit you to remain there as long as you do right. You know more about this business than I do and I'll leave it all in your hands and I'll tell Palmer so," the father resignedly concluded.

His father had outgeneraled him; he was not the diplomat he imagined himself. He was left in deeper doubt than before the interview.

Letters came from Palmer. Alfred knew by the postmark that they were from him. He was tempted to open them. The father read the letters and placed them in the desk, never mentioning Palmer's name. This was very perplexing to Alfred.

It was reported that Palmer's great panorama was coming. It was also reported that Alfred's Uncle Thomas, the minister, Uncle Ned, Uncle Will, grandpap, and all of Alfred's relatives who had opposed his show ambitions previously, sanctioned his going with Professor Palmer's Panorama.

Uncle Thomas explained that Palmer was a retired minister, that the surroundings, instead of being degrading, would be uplifting; taking it all in all, John and Mary had acted wisely in giving their consent to Alfred's joining Professor Palmer's Panorama of Pilgrim's Progress.

Somehow it got out that Alfred was not anxious to go. Lin, in referring to the latter phase of the matter, said: "I jes can't understan' hit. Uncle Thomas ses hit will satusfy Alfurd's ambishun an' possibly settle his min'. But Alfurd don't seem to want to go. Maybe hit's his muther. Alfurd is a great muther's boy, ye wouldn't think hit either, he's sech a tarnel devil ketcher, but he is. I guess he don't like the idee uf this prayur meetin' show an' the show fellur thet painted hit he jes disspises. I bet ye a fip ef hit wus a show with hosses an' gals ur singin' niggurs he'd bust a biler to go.[249] Be durned if he ain't the queerest cuss I ever seed. Why, it tuk the hull kit uf us tu head him frum runnin' off with a show a while back. Now, be dog-goned ef ye kin chase him off with a pack of Bob Playford's houn's."

It was announced by the father that Palmer would be the guest of the family for a day.

Alfred determined to have a heart-to-heart talk with Palmer, pretend he was in full accord with his plans, engage to go with the panorama and thus protect the father in his dealings with the man.

Palmer arrived and with him an open faced, honest appearing Pennsylvania Dutchman, from Bedford County, whom Palmer introduced as Jake. Jake had a continuous smile. Sometimes it expanded but never contracted. The smile was a fixture and it became Jake greatly. He rarely spoke, the smile sort of atoned for his reticence as it assured those addressing him that Jake was not deaf, even though dumb.

It was not necessary to question Palmer; he was a willing subject, volunteering all the testimony necessary to set Alfred's mind at rest.

In answer to the query as to whether father had concluded to take an interest in the panorama now that he, Alfred, had decided to go with it, Palmer rolled off his reply so rapidly that Alfred could scarcely follow his words.

"I hope John will not be angry with me, I offered him first chance and held off until I almost lost the other fellow. John's all right but he's too conservative. He's afraid of his wife and he'll never make money as long as he continues in business in this town. This Dutchman, Jake, had the money, he is anxious to travel, he has never been outside of Bedford County. Jake has a team, a fine team. We can't stick anywhere. He'd sell the team if I said the word. He will haul the whole outfit. I am going to buy another team and a good one, then I can take my wife and you and go ahead[250] and have all the arrangements made before Jake arrives with the panorama. Of course if John talks his wife into it he will want to come in later. We can easily get rid of Jake, he's a "gilly." This is the very business for John. He is a painter, he could paint the panoramas; all he requires is a little experience with water colors. Why, look at those flags on the old fellow's barn out the pike; no one but an artist could shade and color like that.[A] Those flags are painted so naturally they appear to be fluttering in the wind. John and me could go in together, and paint panoramas of Bull Run and other battles and sell them or send out a half a dozen. This war will make the panorama business good. Your daddy is good on flags and eagles and sich; that's where I am weak. We could make all kinds of money."

The exhibitions would be confined to churches and educational institutions; therefore, it was most fortunate for Alfred that he should be privileged to become attached to an exhibition that possessed the elevating and refining influences of the great moral entertainment of Professor Palmer.

The father, instead of requesting the minister to ask the blessing, as was his custom, nodded to Palmer. All bowed their heads as Palmer, in a loud voice, called down a blessing upon the food, the father, the mother, and the boy about to go out into the world to seek his fortune; he also prayed for Lin. He called down a blessing upon the panorama and that it might attract thousands that the great moral lesson it was designed to teach might be carried to the furthermost corners of the earth.

[251]Alfred could not resist the impulse to raise his eyes. The very beard on Palmer's chin was quivering with the fervor of his beseechings. All were bowed in respectful reverence except Jake—he was gazing nowhere, the smile a little more expansive.

After the men had retired from the dining room, Lin, the mother and Alfred remained seated. Lin turned a cup in the tea-grounds. She read that Alfred would wander a long way off and "maybe kum back with a great bag of gold, at eny rate, he wus carryin' a heavy load."

Finally Lin, turning to the mother, inquired: "What did ye think uf the blessin'?"

"It was very fervent," absently answered the mother.

Lin sniffed. "Well, I'd swore afore a volcany uf fire thet I smelled licker on both uf 'em."

The mother communicated Lin's suspicions to the father. He admitted that Jake might be addicted to liquor. Palmer, as an artist, used a great deal of alcohol to dissolve the shellac used for sizing the canvas preparatory to painting and the fumes of alcohol would pervade a man's clothing a long time after being subjected to its permeating influences.

Lin, with a twinkle in her eye, declared in a loud whisper as the father left the room: "Well, durned ef I wus him ef I wouldn't change my clothes afore I asked a blessin' agin."

The mother was very much worried. She communicated her fears to Uncle Thomas and Aunt Sarah. Uncle William, the county judge, was called into conference. He advised that since Alfred seemed inclined to a roving life it would be better for him to be connected with a religious show than with a worldly one for he would be free from the vicious surroundings of a circus or minstrel show, and suggested that a binding contract be made with Palmer.

[252]Grandfather secured a copy of the contract under which his brother, the judge, had been apprenticed, and had a copy made to fit Alfred's engagement to Palmer.

The following is an exact copy of the indenture which bound Uncle William to learn the trade of a blacksmith. It is now on record in the county courthouse at Uniontown, Pennsylvania:

This Indenture Witnesseth: That William Hatfield, of the Township of Union, in the County of Fayette, State of Pennsylvania, hath put himself by the approbation of his guardian, John Withrow, and by these presents doth voluntarily put himself an apprentice to George Wintermute, of the township of Redstone, county and state aforesaid, blacksmith, to learn his art, trade or mystery he now occupieth or followeth, and after the manner of an apprentice to serve from the day of the date hereof, for and during the full end and term of five years, next ensuing, during all of which time he, the said apprentice, his said master shall faithfully serve, his secrets keep, his lawful commands everywhere gladly obey; he shall do no damage to his said master, nor suffer it to be done without giving notice to his said master; he shall not waste his master's goods, nor lend them unlawfully to others; he shall not absent himself day or night from his master's service without his leave; he shall not commit any unlawful deed whereby his said master shall sustain damage, nor contract matrimony within the said term; he shall not buy nor sell nor make any contract whatsoever, whereby his master receive damage, but in all things behave himself as a faithful apprentice ought to do during said term. And the said George Wintermute shall use the utmost of his endeavors to teach, or cause to be taught and instructed, the said apprentice the trade or mystery he now occupieth or followeth, and procure and provide for him, the said apprentice, sufficient meat, drink, common wearing apparel, washing, lodging, fitting for an apprentice during the said term; and further he, the said master, doth agree to give unto the said apprentice, ten months' schooling within the said term, and also the master doth agree to give unto the said apprentice two weeks in harvest in each and every year that he, the said apprentice, shall stay with his said master; also the said George Wintermute, doth agree to give unto the said apprentice one good freedom suit of clothes. And for the true performance of all and every the said covenants and agreements, either of the said parties binds themselves to each other by these presents.

[253]In witness whereof, they have interchangably put their hands and seals, the first day of April, one thousand, eight hundred and sixteen.

George Wintermute, (Seal)
William Hatfield,  (Seal)
John Withrow,      (Seal)

Witness present:

Benjamin Roberts.

Fayette County, ss.:

May the 29th, one thousand eight hundred and sixteen, before me the subscriber, one of the justices of the peace, in and for the said county, came the parties to the within indenture and severally acknowledged it as their act and deed. Given under my hand and seal the day and year above mentioned.

Benjamin Roberts,  (Seal)

A copy of the paper binding Alfred to George Washington Palmer is on record in the county courthouse at Leesburg, Loudoun County, Virginia. Grandfather argued that if his brother, the judge, could accumulate farms and town property and raise himself to the dignity of a judge, Alfred certainly should do equally as well.

It was not many days before Alfred's duties would take him away from home and he began a round of visits to bid all good-bye.

The Taffy Pulling

The Taffy Pulling

Cousin Mary Craft gave a cotillion party in the country. Cousins Hester and Martha gave a party in town. Frank Long gave a taffy pulling. The hot plates of taffy were placed outside the kitchen door on the brick walk to cool before the taffy was pulled. Archibald Long, Frank's father, not knowing of the taffy's location, walked out of the house in his stocking feet, as was his custom ere he retired. In the darkness he planted one foot, then the other, in a plate of the hot taffy. This caused him to jump several feet in the air. He started to run. At each step his[254] feet found another taffy plate. Gobs of the hot stuff sticking to his feet, pressing up between his toes, the old man introduced a dance—a high kicking dance that would have won him fame and fortune on the stage. The hot gobs of taffy clinging to his expansive, woolen sock-encased feet caused him such intense pain, the old man endeavored to introduce a new stunt, namely, to throw both feet in the air at the same time.

All the boys and girls ran from the dining room at the first sound of the yells of the old man. The lamps within enlightened the weird scene without.

When both feet were flung in the air simultaneously the old man sat down suddenly. He sat on the largest plate, with the hottest gob of taffy in the collection. His seat had barely touched the plate, the taffy had scarcely squashed through his jeans pants, until he made an effort to rise again. Failing in this he flopped on his stomach, clutching and tearing at his seat of latest misery, taffy stringing from his fingers.

Rearing his rear end high in the taffy laden air he planted his head in another plate of taffy which, was still tenderly clinging to the few straggling hairs on the old man's pate, as they carried him into the house, the taffy plate on his head like the crown of the old king. Gradually dangling, it descended to the floor, only to be trampled in the dust by the rabble.

The old man was put to bed. Poultices of apple butter, sweet-oil and a whitish-bluish clay dug from the bottom of the spring were applied to his blistered parts.

The taffy pulling party, the scene of gayety so suddenly transformed to one of suffering, lives in the memory of Alfred by the recollection of long threads of amber colored taffy shimmering in the soft moonlight as they clung to the plum tree branches where the old man's vigorous kicks had landed them.

[255]It was maple sugar making time. Uncle Jacob Irons, who lived near Masontown fifteen miles away, had a large sugar grove. A visit to Uncle Jake's was always one continued round of pleasure. The staid uncle, jolly Aunt Bettie, Kate and Tillie, Joe and George, John and Wilson, were always delighted to have Alfred visit them.

It was a day that marked the passing of winter and the coming of spring, after a night of light freezing with a white frost, the morning sun shining all the brighter that he had been hazed so long by winter's shadows. The earth, the trees, appeared even more brown and barren by contrast with the splendors of the sky. Here and there a patch of snow, left sheltered by tree or fence, seemingly endeavoring to hide from the sunbeams that came out of the south, to pour its flood of warmth on it until it melted and mouldered away.

It was springtime, the boyhood of the year, when half the world is rhyme and music is the other. It was springtime in the country, far from the city and the ways of men. The mountains in the distance, brown colored in spots, the peaks, like winter kings with beards of snow, seemed to say: "'Tis time for me to go northward o'er the icy rocks, northward o'er the sea. Come the spring with all its splendor, all its buds and all its blossoms, all its flowers and all its grasses."

It was a day that awakened feelings that seemed sacred. Have you ever lived in the country? Have you ever visited in the country in springtime? Have you ever asked yourself: "I wonder if the sap in the sugar trees is stirring yet? Is the sugar water dripping?" Have you ever worked in a sugar camp, such as there were in old Fayette County in those days?

Nearer the south than bleak New England, the trees more full of sap, the sap sweeter than it flows anywhere on earth. The trees in the camp tapped, the spiles driven, the sweet water dropping; the boys and girls, the men, yes, the women too, gathering the sap. The day is warm, the run a big one; to save it, all must hustle the big barrels loaded[256] on the sleds as the horses move from one tree to another, turning over the mosses and dried leaves, exposing the Johnny-jump-ups and violets as if they were just peeping up through the ground at the busy scene.

The redbird is singing in the tree, his plumage all the brighter for the winter's bleaching. The day is not long enough, the night is consumed. The boys from all the country about gather at the camp. The moon was a book and every star a word that read fun and frolic to the jolly crowd at the camp at Uncle Jake's that night.

Alfred sang songs, and told jokes.

They had sugared off, made a big kettle of sugar. Some dipped big spoonfuls of the thickened syrup from the kettle, and poured it slowly into tin cups filled with ice cold water. As it cooled the large lump of wax was pulled out of the water with the fingers. Some, with buttered hands, worked the wax until they had whitish taffy, others filled their mouths with the wax as it came from the water.

The writer will engage to cure any case of stomach trouble that ever worried man or woman with this maple wax.

The night wore on, the fun flagged. Ben Paul, a husky country boy, proposed that two or three go to Nick Yonse's still house and procure a little "licker." Cousin Wilson frowned upon this proposal but as the boys were his guests he did not further protest. It was impossible to awaken anyone to get the matured article from the distillery; therefore, with the aid of a clothesline fastened to a jug which Ben lowered into a vat filled with corn juice distilled the day previous, a supply was secured. Ben returned to the camp. He was truthful when he explained that the offering he brought was no old stale stuff such as they were accustomed to, but something new and fresh.

Its newness did not deter the boys from helping themselves to big swigs from the jug, smoothing out their wry faces with draughts of sugar water. Cousin Wilson refused to[257] participate as he busied himself with his work. The sight of a tin cup made Alfred fearful that he would spill his sugar. He also declined. After the custom that had prevailed in the tavern cellar, the tin cup went round and round, the result was the same or nearly so as at the tavern. Some sang, others danced, one or two slept, some wanted to fight. Alfred attempted to pour melody on the troubled revellers but the only effect of his song was to encourage Ben Paul to knock the bottom out of a new tin pail endeavoring to keep time to the song as he had seen Alfred do with the tambourine.

Cousin John, unnoticed by Cousin Wilson, was chief among those who passed the tin cup around. John was of a friendly disposition and, not to be rude to his guests, sent the cup around often. Several of the boys retired into the shadows of the trees just beyond the glare of the furnace fire to regret their mixing corn and sugar.

The Night at the Sugar Camp

The Night at the Sugar Camp

Wilson plainly informed John that this thing had gone far enough. It was John's idea of courtesy, or rather his confused notion, that a host's guests should be permitted to conduct themselves as best suited their pleasure. Several of them wanted to fight. John said, "All right, let them fight." Wilson interfered.

[258]John stepped out of the circle and invited any one or all present to come out. "Any of you excepting Alfred, he's all right. I can lick any of you with one hand tied behind my back," and John spat on both hands. "Come out yer," he pleadingly invited Wilson, "or anyone excepting Alfred."

John, when he invited any or all of the others out, had evidently forgotten his courtesy to his guests or probably he desired to further increase their pleasure. Perhaps that was the way he reasoned it, as several had declared they would rather fight than eat. John did not wish them to go home feeling they had missed anything.

As a last request, John just pleaded with Wilson to step out. He seemed more anxious to have Wilson tackle him than any other. As a last declaration of what he wouldn't sacrifice to have Wilson step out, he concluded as he slapped his hands together: "Step out, ole feller, just step out yer. Will you? I'll fight you anyway, I'll fight you now. Come on; I don't care a dam if I have my Sunday pants on, I'll fight you anyhow."

The shouts of the boys could be heard re-echoing up and down the hollows as they wended their ways homeward. The moon had gone down, the night was darkened; it was nearly dawn. The fire had gone down in the furnace, the steam ceased to rise from the kettles, the hoot of the old night owl, after the scenes of the night, made it seem even more quiet.

How to get John into the house that Uncle Jake and the family, might not be awakened, concerned both Alfred and Wilson. To Alfred was delegated the task of conducting John home. John led quietly until a shout of laughter from those bringing up the rear was heard which he chose to construe as derision directed at him, and then he balked. Alfred would get him quieted and thus they finally reached the house.

[259]Here John balked again. Alfred and Wilson were both over sensitive. If the folks discovered John's condition it would reflect upon them. Alfred greatly feared that Mrs. Young and Uncle Jake would blame him for John's downfall. They had about made up their minds to carry John to the barn and stow him away in the hay mow but it had turned uncomfortably cool and this plan was abandoned. Alfred opened the door leading to the stairs, partly pulling and pushing him upstairs. He landed John in the room, where he fell over on the bed.

John muttered and mumbled, flapping and flinging his arms wildly about his head—he arose to a sitting posture. Alfred endeavored to lay him down. His face and head were covered with cold perspiration. Alfred knew the symptoms of the distressing effects that follow the circulation of a tin cup. He hustled John out of bed. John floundered away from him in the darkness, and found his way into an unused room. Alfred could hear him but could not locate him. Groping his way in the darkness Alfred kept calling in a muffled voice: "John, John, John, where are you? Come to me."

Just then the house seemed to shake from roof to cellar as John and his two hundred pounds fell over Uncle Jake's home-made sausage stuffer. The stuffer was ten feet long. Stuffer and John carried a big rocking chair, a tin boiler and several other reverberating pieces of household junk with them.

Ere Alfred could rescue John from the mass of ruins under and on which he was piled, John began to realize how difficult it is to retain what you have no matter how strongly you desire to do so. Alfred had to get out of hearing of John's sufferings to suppress his feeling. He felt very deeply for John from the very bottom of his stomach; in fact, the bottom of his stomach seemed disposed to come up.[260] He endeavored to divert his thoughts but they went back to a tin cup, a wheel-barrow, cow's ears and other things.

Uncle Jake came out of his room. "What's the matter, what's up? You boys trying to tear down the house? What's the trouble anyway?"

"Oh, John's drunk too much syrup and it's made him deathly sick," Alfred began to explain. Uncle Jake interrupted him, saying, as he backed into the room and closed the door: "Oh, I thought Sammy Steele's mule had kicked some of you."

The wings of fame fly slowly, reputation travels faster. It is said that remorse is the echo of a lost virtue. Alfred felt that remorse of conscience that can come only to one who has fallen and lived on in the happy illusions that no one heard him drop.

Governor Tener, Doctor Van Voorhis, Mr. Daly and others of John's friends will no doubt be surprised at this leaf in his life. In all the years that John and Alfred have lived since, neither has ever forgotten his first experience with a tin cup that was loaded.


[A]The flags referred to were painted on the upper doors of James Fouts's barn, situated on the old pike three miles east of Brownsville. The flags were very brilliantly colored and naturally draped. They were the admiration of all travelers over the great thoroughfare. As the war progressed the Confederates raided near that section several times. The owner feared that the flags might imperil the safety of the barn and other buildings on his farm. He therefore sent an order to Alfred's father to paint the flags over, who desiring to cover their brilliant colors with one coat selected dark Prussian blue. Very soon after the flags were painted over, their colors began to appear through the blue. Not many hot summer days had gone by until the flags were almost as distinct as when first painted on the big doors of the barn. The reappearance of the flags was regarded as a phenomenon or a miracle by the country folk. The "Brownsville Clipper," in commenting upon the miracle, declared: "It is an omen of victory for the Federal armies; you cannot efface the Star Spangled Banner, it still waves on Fouts's barn." The paper criticized the owner for having the flags daubed over and intimated that Fouts was lacking in loyalty. (Fouts was a Democrat. Three weeks later the owner of the paper ordered Danny Stentz to pull in the big flag that hung out of the third story window of the "Clipper" building; the Confederates were reported as but fourteen miles away. The chemical properties of the coloring matter in the paints was the cause of the reappearance of the red bars of the flags through the blue paint that was spread over them.)



The man who borrows trouble
Is always on the rack,
For there's no way, by night or day,
That he can pay it back.

Mt. Pleasant, Pa.

Dear Muz:

We got here safe and sound. This is a pretty place. Palmer lives on the edge of the town; it's an old house; one end of it is all taken up with his "art studio," he calls it. He biles glue and the smell goes through the whole house. You and Lin thought I stunk when I worked in the tannery, you ought to smell Palmer and his art studio.

He has another preacher helping him. His wife is very quiet; she is making the clothes for the panorama; they have a pile of clothes to make. He asked me if I had read "Pilgrim's Progress." He knows the book backwards, so I have to read it and learn it too.

The way he talks this is a regular show, but he won't let you call it a show. The painting looks awful to me but Palmer says it looks all right under the lights. He is about done and wants Pap to come over to see it. If he comes don't let him bring any money.

Tell Lin to get my shotgun from under the feed trough in the cow stable. She'd better get it quick. Turkey Evans knows where it is and he'll steal it. Answer and let me know if he has stole it yet.

Tom White is too short. If Cousin Charley was a few inches taller I could get him this job. It takes tall people to be characters in Pilgrim's Progress, especially "Christian," "Help" and the "Evangelist." Jake's goin' to be somethin' in the panorama.

They don't live very well; maybe Mrs. Palmer didn't know we were coming and didn't fix for us. They have had no meat any meal yet, only flitch.[B] Palmer works all night and sleeps all day. He talks the rest of the time. His wife don't say nothin'; just wears a sun bonnet. Maybe she has the newralgy.

Give my love to all. Your affectionate son,

Alfred Griffith Hatfield.

P. N. B. Don't forgit the gun. Turner Simpson promised me when Queen had pups to give me one. If he brings it you'll keep it, won't you Muz?


Mt. Pleasant, Pa.

Dear Muz:

The livin's no better, it's flitch every meal; they haven't had pie or cake since we came. Palmer says when they get the thing going we'll live on the fat on the land. His wife don't say nothin', just sews and cooks and wears a sun-bonnet. They've got two children somewhere. I heard Palmer say they'd have to stay, that they'd be too much trouble on the road. This seemed to make Mrs. Palmer more quiet, I reckon you'd call it sad. She ought to say somethin', then a body would know what ails her. I don't think it's newralgy. I told her mustard plasters always helped Aunt Susan and she just looked at me.

I hope he gets her goin' soon, I'm hungry. If this show is good, as he says she is, he ought to make enough to buy something to eat besides flitch, corn meal and potatoes. He's got two more scenes to paint, then we're ready to show her up.

Tom tried to help Mrs. Palmer wash the dishes, he broke two plates. Palmer says he's all thumbs and mouth.

Your affectionate son,

Alfred Griffith Hatfield.

P. S. Was the gun gone? The pup's a hound but it's bound to be pretty, the children will like it. You keep it till I get home.

Mt. Pleasant, Pa.

Dear Muz:

Palmer's the awfulest worker I ever saw. He knows his business but he ain't got any money. We're waitin' on Jake to come. Palmer owes everybody in town, they won't let him have anything until he pays. The flitch gave out last night, and we had nothin' but corn pone, buttermilk and potatoes. Palmer said he ketched the gout once from high livin', and he did not want to see another human suffer like he did. I guess his wife's dietin' too, as she don't set down to eat with us.

Palmer is a wonderful man. He's got his lecture all wrote out and all the characters and all the costumes for them. He's going to begin the rehearsals tomorrow. Practicin' we called it. I looked in the dictionary, rehearsing is to recite, to recount, to relate, to repeat what has already been said, to recite in private for experiment and improvement before a public representation.

I have learned more from Palmer than anybody I was ever with. The old preacher, Reverend Gideon, writes letters all day; he has the names of all the churches and preachers and we know where we are to be weeks before hand.[263]

Jake came today and brought his two horses. They're nice horses but he won't let you drive them, he wants to drive himself. Palmer went to the stable while Jake was unhitchin' and I seen him get money from Jake. We had beefstake for supper, fried, but it was too dry. She did not make any sop.[C] We had hot biscuits and good butter, but no pie and cake.

I got acquainted with a boy, Will Peters. He invited me over to his house several times. I want to go but am ashamed to; they have pie and cake three times a day just like we all do at home.

Mrs. Palmer talks a little to me now. She still wears the sun-bonnet but I don't believe it's newralgy that ails her. She asked me if your name warn't Mary Irons before you married Pap.

I finished the Pilgrim's Progress last night. It's a great book, you ought to read it. The one we got at home is not complete, borrow Uncle Tom's.

He'll Not Put Faith's Clothes On Me

"He'll Not Put Faith's Clothes On Me"

I'm glad Turkey Evans did not get hold of my shotgun. Palmer's done all his "work of art," as he calls it. Tonight he reads the whole thing over to us and then we got to learn our parts. Jake is going to be "Christian;" that's what I wanted to be but "Christian" carries a heavy load on his back and Palmer says I'm not strong enough. Me and Tom must double a dozen different characters. Mrs. Palmer tried all the clothes for everybody on me. One of the suits I do not like; it's just like you had nothin' on but a shirt; it's for "Faith" to wear. I told Palmer it would not look right before women and children and he said the costume was patterned after the original plates. I don't know what he meant but he'll not put "Faith's" clothes on me, plates or no plates.

Is Pap coming over before we start? If he is, you have Lin bake a peck of doughnuts, put them in the big carpet-sack. I'm glad you got the gun. I wrote Turner Simpson to send you the pup when it was old enough to wean. Your affectionate son,

Alfred Griffith Hatfield.

P. S. Don't forget the doughnuts.


Somerset, Pa.

Dear Muz:

It will be my luck to have Pap come to Mt. Pleasant with the doughnuts and find us all gone. We left last night. I wrote you we was going but I didn't know it until Palmer woke me up in the middle of the night. Reverend Gideon left two days before. Someone pulled me out of bed. I hollered, "Here, here, hold on!" Then I knew it was Palmer. I jumped up. He ordered me to dress quickly.

I dressed and looked for Tom. I asked Palmer where he was. He said: "I've called him as often as I'm going to." I called Tom and had to wait so long for him to dress that when I got out doors there was Jake sitting up in the front seat of the wagon, and Mrs. Palmer beside him. She looked to me as if she was cryin'. Jake told us to "get in, she's going to go."

Palmer was locking the doors. I heard something splash down in the well. His wife asked for the keys. "They're down in the well; old Lane, the landlord, can look for them." Mrs. Palmer looked very much worried. They left all their things excepting a few bedclothes and the sewing machine.

Palmer spread the bedclothes on the panorama in the bottom of the wagon; Tom, me and him slept all the way here. Poor Mrs. Palmer set up all night beside Jake on the seat. If she ain't got the newralgy she'll katch it sure. Mrs. Palmer wouldn't get out of the wagon to eat breakfast when we stopped on the road at a country house, and Palmer spoke real cross to her and she cried. It's the only time I've seen Jake's face without a smile and he looks a different man when he ain't smiling. I like Jake and he likes me. He wants to see Pap.

Reverend Gideon met us here. Palmer forgot his clothes and I heard him tell Gideon they'd have to go, he had flung the keys in the well and if Gideon went back after his clothes they was liable to fling him in jail.

I believe Palmer's run off owing everybody. This thing's bound to make money. I'm sorry I came for twenty a month. If he does well he'll have to raise me.

Your affectionate son,

Alfred Griffith Hatfield.

P. S. The hound was to be a dog, not another kind.

[265]Palmer, the wife and Gideon, were a source of much speculation to Alfred; he could not fix their standing in his mind. The facts were that Palmer was one of those soldiers of fortune who had experimented with many things and failed in everything. He fitted Dryden's description of:

"A man so various, that he seemed to be
Not one, but all mankind's epitome;
Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong
Was everything by starts, and nothing long;
But, in the course of one revolving moon,
Was chemist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon."

The only aim Palmer seemed to have in life was to create the impression that he might have been worse. Store clerk, school teacher, politician, preacher, scene painter, amateur showman; such were the pursuits he had been engaged in, not successful in any of them. Abusive of all, save that one he was engaged in, blaming the world for his failures. He respected no man or woman. He approached no man save with a selfish motive; could he but injure those with whom he dealt he was happy, though he did not profit thereby. Yet he did not so speak, but all his actions conveyed this impression of the man to Alfred. And thus his character was impressed on the boy's intuitive mind as strongly as were the scenes on the canvas of the panorama.



The wife was only another of that type of woman who has blasted a life, one full of hope, by clinging to a man who was unworthy of one day of her life. It was a pathetic spectacle to see the faded wife standing helpless in the shadow of her husband's selfishness, having sacrificed youth,[266] beauty and everything that woman holds dear. It did not matter to Palmer that she was once a school teacher, more than a fair musician, courted by numbers who could have made her useful to society and happy in her life. It did not matter to Palmer that she had burned up much of her attractiveness over the cooking stove; that she lost more of it at the washtub; in caring for and rearing the children that had unfortunately come to them. The slaving she had gone through in all their married life to help her husband to get on in the world was all lost upon the selfish man who never gave a thought to her sufferings. He actually treated her if as she had been the cause of his failures, and seemed ashamed of her when younger and more attractive women were near.

Her two children, somewhere in Missouri in the keeping of her mother, seemed her only hope in life and the only time the poor crushed soul evidenced interest in anything was when tidings came from the children or she could prevail upon their thankless father to send them a little money. The mother's wardrobe was scanty that the darlings of her heart might be better clad.

Aunt Susan wore a sun-bonnet almost continuously that she might better keep in place mustard plasters and horse radish leaves to relieve the neuralgia pains. Alfred presumed that Mrs. Palmer was similarly affected since she always wore a sun-bonnet. That was before they left Palmer's house. Afterwards he became convinced that the woman wore the sun-bonnet to conceal the lines of sorrow in her once fine face.

Rev. Gideon was the last of the trio whom Alfred figured out. He had married Palmer's sister. They went to a foreign country as missionaries; Gideon's health gave way under the tropical climate. He returned to this country and had since made his home with the Palmers. But little was learned of the wife. She still lived, and if remittances were not forthcoming, Gideon was on the rack. In fact, each one of her complaining[267] letters made Gideon turn more yellow in color, sit up later and get up earlier than usual, no matter how poor Gideon suffered. If he was ailing and Palmer noticed it, he would sneer and jerk out: "Huh! Got a letter from Sis, did you? S'pose she wants you to go back to China. Say Gideon, that must have been a hell of a job to instill the gospel into heathen when you can't make an impression upon those who understand what you say. It must have been discouraging to waste your eloquence upon those copper-colored thieves. There's many a game to catch suckers in this world but that foreign mission play is the rawest ever sprung. Say, Gideon, how much did you get? So much for each sinner saved or did you lump the job?"

Under such cynicism Gideon would turn about and walk off as though nothing had been said to him. Palmer took an especial delight in teasing Gideon as to his mission labors. Gideon never deigned to notice the ridicule of Palmer, at least in words. Yet there was one thing that impressed Alfred. Palmer always deferred to Gideon in any business proposition under consideration; he would bluster and rave a little but always in the end gave in to Gideon's judgment.

In addition to the receipts that came to him from the exhibition of the panorama, Palmer had a large, framed, steel plate engraving of John Bunyan which he sold while soliciting subscriptions for several religious publications. He worked diligently. He never desisted when he once went after preacher, deacon or the entire congregation, and he generally sold what he offered or secured their names to one of his numerous subscription lists.

He worked so adroitly that he made many his aides. Not infrequently a minister would get up during an intermission in the Pilgrim's Progress exhibition and announce one or more of Palmer's offerings. These announcements invariably wound up with the statement that the proceeds[268] were for the benefit of a retired minister who had lost his health in an endeavor to carry the gospel to the heathen in foreign lands.

Alfred became curious as to what effect these announcements would have upon Gideon and he often peeped from behind the scenes to note it. But Gideon was never in sight. He would step out of the door as the speaker began. Alfred noticed that Mrs. Palmer always lowered her face over the keys of the piano or organ when the announcement of this character was being made. Palmer, behind the scenes, standing near the curtain his head bent to one side his hand up to his ear. If the speaker's efforts pleased him he would pull his tuft of beard with his free hand and ejaculate: "Good! Fine! Capital! Good boy, go it old Beeswax. I didn't think it was in you. Go it boots, you'll win in a walk. They're gittin' their pocket books out now; Gideon will do well tonight, ha, ha, ha." Did the speaker not measure up to his ideas, he would say: "Wade in! Wade in! Wade in! Dam you, the water's not cold. Warm up now or you'll freeze them to the pews. Oh, what you tryin' to git through you? Just listen to that crack; he'll make them think he's going to take up a collection for the foreign missions. You can't get seventeen cents. It's been worked to death. Come off, come off your perch, you poll parrot! Come off! Well you ought to be studying your primer instead of preaching; you don't know as much as Gideon."

Palmer, through the influence of the church members, procured a half dozen young girls, at each place visited, to represent the multitude passing through the gates in the final scene of Pilgrim's Progress. Although these girls were before the audience but a moment or two at the very end of the panorama, amateur like, instead of remaining in front witnessing the exhibition, they would repair to the rear of the curtain, don their robes and stand around during the[269] entire performance, to the annoyance of everybody working the panorama, and, more frequently than otherwise, be late for their cue.

One night, an old preacher was laboring with an announcement Palmer had written and rehearsed him in, Palmer was most vicious in his comments. The old speaker's daughter was one of the virgins, standing near she heard every word uttered and there was enough and there would have been more, had not Alfred, by a nudge and a whisper, checked him. Palmer grasped the situation at once. He stepped nearer the girls. Then with a start, he shaded his eyes, dramatically gazed at the girls and began: "Oh, woman, lovely woman, nature made thee to temper man; we had been brutes without you. Angels are painted fair to look like you. There is in you all we believe of heaven, amazing brightness, purity, truth, eternal joy and everlasting love."

He was never at a loss, his quick wit extricating him from embarrassment at all times.

Somerset, Pa.

Dear Muz:

We showed, or we exhibited, last night. It was the most crowded church I ever seen. I did well, better than anyone. Gideon, Mrs. Palmer and all said so. Gideon said I saved the day, but Palmer held me back, he wouldn't let me sing or dance. I heard him tell Gideon: "I'll have hell with that gilly kid, he thinks it a minstrel show; I got to hold him down or he'll queer the fake." I don't know what he meant, only he meant me.

Jake made some awful blunders but Gideon said it was like Palmer to put him in to play "Christian." Tomorrow's Sunday and I'll write you the full purceeding. I know the whole thing by heart and if Pap can paint a Pilgrim's Progress I can show it, exhibit it. Palmer will make a million. Lin could go along and play the organ like Mrs. Palmer. I tell you she can put in the music right, she fills out the thing just grand. Lin would have to learn to play with both hands and she must learn music. Mrs. Palmer won't play without the notes to lead her. I will take the whole Sunday to write you the full history of the first night. You better read "Pilgrim's Progress." Did you borrow Uncle Tom's?[270]

Does Uncle Ned feel hard towards me? If anything happens to me and I get ruined it's their doings because I could have been with a minstrel troupe. You have to lie more here in a day than I did all the time I was with a minstrel show.

Your very affectionate son,

Alfred Griffith Hatfield.

P. S. I looked at the dictionary. A "gilly" is a man attendant in the Scottish Highlands. A "kid" is a young goat. It don't tell what a "fake" is. Now I know Palmer will have to raise my wages. If Pap agrees to paint a panorama and take Lin along you can get Sis Minks to work for you.

Oh! My Dear Hearers!

"Oh! My Dear Hearers!"

Palmer began the exhibition with a lecture:

"Ladies and Gentlemen: John Bunyan, the author of that wonderful work, 'The Pilgrim's Progress,' was an English religious writer, soldier and Baptist preacher. He enlisted in the Parliamentary army very young. He was so strongly impressed with the glimpse he caught of war that all his writings, even things sacred, were strongly illustrative of fortresses, camps, marching men, guns and trumpets. Bunyan was but seventeen years old when he entered the[271] army, hence the lasting impressions his military life made upon his mind. He became famous as a Baptist preacher and was flung into Bedford jail under order of the Restoration. He was frequently offered his liberty on condition that he would desist from preaching. This he refused; therefore, for twelve years he suffered imprisonment for his conscience's sake.

"While in Bedford jail he began the book that has immortalized him. It is the best allegory ever written and is the only book, excepting the Bible, about which the educated majority have come over to the opinion of the common people. The peculiar glory of Bunyan is that those who hated his doctrines have acknowledged his genius by printing and using a Catholic version of his parable, The Pilgrim's Progress, with the Virgin's head in the title page.

"Oh, my dear hearers, how similar to the sufferings of the lowly genius in producing his masterpiece were those undergone in painting the work of art about to be unfolded for your inspection. For years he who transferred the thoughts of Bunyan into almost real life, for years he who wrought these fancies upon canvas, labored and suffered in secret. No living eye was ever permitted to gaze upon his work save his own. Night after night, by the dim light of lamp, the artist labored. Lack of food, lack of sleep, did not deter him. He was inspired to produce that which has been pronounced by men of highest learning as the greatest painting the world has ever known, the greatest educator of the masses, the greatest object lesson ever presented to the people of this country.

"The Pilgrim's Progress in living figures and realistic scenes, the hills, the mountains, the sunny pastures, the soft vales, the wilderness, the Shining River, the Beautiful Gates, the Celestial City.

"Like Bunyan, the painter had no idea that he was producing a masterpiece."

[272]Here Palmer would step to the front of the platform and, after a modest pause, in a lower tone, continue: "Ladies and Gentlemen: I was not aware the printed bills had announced to the world that I, Professor Palmer, D. D., was the author of this work of art, otherwise, I am sure I would not have mentioned it."

Alfred could never disassociate this announcement from that of the clown in the circus who, after singing his song, announcing the sale of the books, assuring the audience that the proceeds of the sale of the book were for the benefit of an orphan who was a long ways from home, without money or friends. Hoping the charitably disposed would assist the orphan by buying the song books. Bowing low, he would add: "I forgot to tell you that I am the orphan."

Dear Muz:

The first night is the most terrible thing one can go through. We had a hard time of it; Palmer became excited and cussed; Tom did well as long as I told him; Mrs. Palmer filled in all the stops with music and this helped but if it hadn't been for me it would have been a bad failure. It was all I could do to keep it going; I nearly worked myself sick. I'm going to ask Palmer to raise my wages. Palmer praised all of us, but I know he was lying because every time Jake or Tom made a mistake he cussed. Palmer does all the talking for all the characters; the way he can change his voice you'd swear there were several people talking. He is hid from the audience and of course they think it's the characters that talk. In spite of Gideon's advice, Palmer gave Jake the part of Christian. The first scene is a field. Jake, as Christian, is discovered standing in the middle of the field. Here is where the pilgrimage begins. Jake is supposed to be reading a book and asks: "What shall I do to be saved?" Jake held the book in his hand, not looking at it but at the audience, smiling. From behind the scenes Palmer hissed; "Look serious! Look worried! Read the book! Hold the book up! Oh you dam Dutch galoot look scared!" Jake only smiled louder. I know Jake didn't hear a word Palmer said. I could hear him breathing from where I stood. You know Christian is dressed in ragged clothes, he has a burden on his back. Palmer wrapped an old coffee sack about a big stone and this was fastened on Jake's back to represent Christian's burden.

[273]I was Evangelist. I had a long, white robe on and wore a wig with long curls; not yellow curls like you used to make me wear, but black curls, with a blue ribbon around my forehead. I walked solemn towards Jake; I looked at him a little while, then I raised my hand, pointing the roll of parchment and, in the most saddest way I could speak, I said: "Wherefore dost thou cry?" Jake said easy like, "Not by a tam sight." Palmer came right in with the proper speech: "If I be not fit to go to prison I am not fit to go to judgment and thence to execution. The thoughts of these things make me cry." Here Jake looked at me, then at Palmer; then he winked at me. I could scarcely go on with my speech: "If this be thy condition, why standest thou still?" "I don't vant to, I'd rather valk to Bedford dan stan' dis way still," was Jake's reply. A number of those nearest the platform overheard Jake but Palmer came in quickly with: "Because I knoweth not whither to go." I didn't give Jake any time, I just shouted at him: "Do you see yon wicket gate?" I pointed at the imaginary gate. Jake turned about, shook his head and answered: "No." I cut in before he could get further: "Do you see yon shining light? Keep that light in thy eye and go up directly thereto, so shalt thou see the gate at which, when thou knockest, it shall be told thee what thou shalt do."

Hold Her Down, Tom

"Hold Her Down, Tom"

Jake was lost. He walked he knew not whither, Palmer pleading and swearing to guide him. The gate and shining light to which I referred were imaginary. I pointed off stage. Jake, in his excitement was trying to get away from the audience. He walked up stage; he pressed against the canvas, trying to force his way further. Palmer and Bedford Tom had all their weight against the frame of the panorama. When Jake felt resistance he put his powerful muscles to work. "Hold on! Hold on! Stop! You can't go further," cried Palmer.[274] Jake kept on pushing. "Hold her down, Tom; hold her down." Then came a crash, the lights went out and over went Palmer, Tom and the panorama.

Jake's breathing and his efforts to release himself from the heavy canvas covering him could be heard above the din and confusion. Palmer was here, there, everywhere, assuring the audience that a slight accident had befallen the mechanical part of the panorama. "Just remain seated, we'll give you a good show." He forgot himself and called it a show after all his orders to us not to speak the word "show." The strong arms of Bedford Tom, and Jake soon righted the panorama. Mrs. Palmer played the organ, and right there is where one of my songs would come in right. I sung for Jake and Tom last night and Jake declared: "The people in Bedford would like one of dem nigger songs better dan Palmer's hull tarn pictur show. De hull tam ting is a fraudt; no such a man as Bunjun was ever in Bedford yail. I and Tom knows every man dot's been in dot yail and dey don't put 'em in yail fur what he sedt." Jake's mixed up; he imagines Palmer refers to Bedford, Pa.

The panorama worked along smoothly until Pliable and Christian, (I and Jake), fell into the Slough of Despond. You know, in the book, Pliable and Christian are traveling together; they fall in the Slough of Despond; Pliable struggles and gets out. Christian, owing to the burden he carries on his back, flounders about and is fast sinking when Help appears and asks: "What doest thou there?" Jake answered: "Noting." Palmer hissed: "Roll over! Roll over! Hold your head under the canvas; duck, you son of a gun, duck!" Palmer answered with the speech Jake was supposed to deliver, as Jake rolled over and over: "Sir, I was bid by a man named Evangelist, who directed me to yonder gate that I might escape the wrath to come and as I was going thither I fell in here." Then I come as Help; I say: "Why did you not look for the steps?" Jake is supposed to say: "Fear followed me so hard that I fled the next way and fell in." Then as Help, I lean far over, hold out my hand and say: "Give me thine hand that I may draw thee upon hard ground that thou might go thy way." Instead of Jake following the business as rehearsed, he arose, took the burden off his back, walked out the opposite side, back towards the City of Destruction.

The audience, or some of them, tittered, others laughed outright. Palmer was prompting Jake: "Get into the pond! Complete the scene!" The more Palmer prompted, the more confused Jake appeared. "Get your burden, it's not time to drop it; get your burden." Jake, smiling, walked over the miry, muddy slough he was supposed to have[275] struggled in a moment before, and took up the burden. Instead of putting it on his back he carried it under his arm, nodded at Palmer, as much as to say: "I'm ready for anything further, go on." Worldly Wise Man here appears before Christian and speaks to him: "How now good fellow; whither away after this burdened manner?" Christian answers: "A burdened manner indeed as ever, I think, poor creature had. And whereas you ask me whither away, I am going to yonder wicket gate, for there, as I am informed, I shall be put in a way to be rid of my heavy burden." Then Worldly Wise advises Christian: "Wilt thou hearken to me if I give thee counsel?" Christian answers: "If it be good I will, for I stand in need of good counsel." Worldly Wise then answers: "I would advise thee that thou, with all speed, get thyself rid of thy burden, for thou will never be settled in thy mind until then." Palmer answered with Christian's speech: "That is which I seek for, even to be rid of this heavy burden, but get it off myself I cannot, nor is there any man in our country who can take it off my shoulders."

Jake As Christian

Jake As Christian

Jake, smiling more pleasantly than ever, answered, "I kin." Suiting the action to the word, he flung his burden into the Slough of Despond. The pond was a thin piece of canvas painted to represent the quagmire. The burden made a sound as of the house falling down. Jake wiped the perspiration from his face and, spitting a mouthful of tobacco juice to one side, he gazed on the audience and smiled. It[276] was too much for even the staid old church members. The laughter was so great that Palmer pulled the curtain and announced an organ recital.

Christian's burden was replaced on Jake's back, he was admonished to pay closest attention to Palmer's promptings. Jake continued the pilgrimage. In the next scene Jake, representing Christian on his journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City, must pass through the Dark Valley of Shadows. When Jake, instead of keeping to the right and following the straight and narrow path, boldly walked into the mouth of the burning pit, out of which Palmer was sending sparks and smoke. Palmer again pulled the curtain on the scene. Jake sat on a stage stump. Smoke was still coming from the pot of damp straw. Tears filled Jake's eyes, tears caused by the smoke. Palmer rushed back and forth, declaring Jake had made a farce of the most beautiful and inspiring scene in the entire exhibition. I was substituted for Jake. I knew every speech; I had learned them all and it went good to the last.

The second book is even more impressive and instructive than the first. You should read it. As the young ladies walk in at the Beautiful Gate of the city, Pilgrim is seen through a gauze; one by one the sheets of gauze are pulled down until Christian fades away like a vision. It held the audience dumb; they never witnessed anything like it; neither did I. Palmer wouldn't let me speak the words; he said they must be delivered with great dramatic effect. The words are: "I see myself now at the end of my journey, my toilsome days are ended. I have formerly lived by hearsay and faith, but I now go where I shall live by sight." But glorious it was to see how the open regions were filled with horses and chariots, with trumpeters and pipers, with singers and players upon stringed instruments, to welcome the pilgrims as they went up and followed one another in at the gates of the Beautiful City. Here the young ladies, with lighted lamps, passed in. As Pilgrim disappeared, Palmer, with great effect, ended the scene with the eloquent words: "Now, while he was thus in discourse, his countenance changed; his strong man bowed under him and, after he had said: 'Take me, for I come unto thee,' he ceased to be seen of them."

Alfred Griffith Hatfield.


[B] Bacon.

[C] Gravy.



Do not believe all that you hear,
For hot air men are hawking;
And even keep a cautious ear
When you, yourself, are talking.

Brownsville, Pa.

My Dear Son:

I take my pen in hand to write you a few lines hoping that they may find you as well as we all are here. Mother reads your letters to us at dinner time. I hope you are living better. I never knew a genius that cared much about his eating, therefore, I do not suppose Palmer ever gave it a thought that you were suffering. He is a good fellow and I know he will make out well, except in the eating line.

You need not worry about your shotgun; I have it and will look after it until such time as I feel you should be permitted to handle dangerous weepuns. Turner Simpson says your Cousin Charley got that hound pup weeks ago; he claims Charley said you sent him after the pup.

All your friends inquire about you. Bill Johnston told me he was sorry he had to have you arrested for overturning his hay stack; that he did not believe you was to blame, the boys with you led you into oversetting the haystack to catch the rabbit.

Your Uncle Joe was in town Saturday, got tite and carried on high. He is getting worse as he gets older. Betsy is mortified to death. They were just at communion afore it happened.

How is Palmer doing? Is he making money? Did he get my letter? Hoping to hear from you very often and that you will remember that your father and mother and all the children think of you daily and all look forward to the time when we shall see you again,

Your affectionate father,

J. C. H..

Alfred was living in a little world all his own. Jake, Bedford Tom, Mrs. Palmer, Gideon, Tom White, were its inhabitants. Palmer was not of it. He was not of the agreeable circle. Alfred often read letters from home to Mrs. Palmer. She was greatly interested in the correspondence. Alfred knew she desired him to read the father's[278] letter to her. In a serious manner he advised the letter was a business one. This seemed to make the good woman even more anxious. She actually quizzed Alfred as to whether the letter was not one demanding payment of money borrowed by her husband. Alfred asked her if she knew the amount due his father. She did not, but said she would ascertain; further, she would exert herself to earn money to repay it. Alfred appreciated this and regretted he had ever mentioned the flitch in his letters to the folks at home. He felt that he had reflected upon Mrs. Palmer.

He re-read his father's letter that he might expunge the reference to the scant living. He read to where Bill Johnston had apologized for having him arrested; he did not care to have Mrs. Palmer know of this.

Palmer and the Wise Virgin

Palmer and the Wise Virgin

Palmer, with his panorama and side issues, was making money, and there was not a day, not an hour, that something coarse, selfish or mean, did not show itself in word or deed of the man. The half dozen young women, who took part in the final scene, were robed in long, pale blue gowns, worn over their street apparel. It was necessary to fit the costumes on the young ladies previous to the opening or first exhibition. In arranging with the fathers or mothers of the girls, Palmer[279] always emphasized the statement that: "My wife, Mrs. Palmer will take charge of the young ladies, show them their costumes." Mrs. Palmer was always ready to do so but Palmer was always there. He insisted, he forced his services in fitting the costumes. He would take an unusually long time to smooth out the wrinkles on the waist and bust lines. All this was done so unconcerned that none would ever suspect he was playing a part. His wife would flush up, walk away and occupy herself with other duties.

If there was a foolish virgin among the damsels—and there were some foolish ones in those days, though not so many as now—Palmer would begin a flirtation, kept up until he departed. This was only one of the many mean traits of the man that lessened Alfred's respect for him.

Palmer could not understand Alfred. Always full of fun and mischief, always ready to laugh, yet at times the boy was positively rude to the man nor would he permit any familiarity from Palmer.

One day in setting up the frame of the panorama, several members of the church in which it was to be exhibited, entered the auditorium unnoticed. Palmer, while driving a nail, miscalculated, the hammer came down on one of his fingers. Flinging the hammer on the floor with all the force he could command, he poured forth a torrent of profanity. Gideon, by signs, gave Palmer to understand that others were near. With a change as quick as a flash, Palmer grabbed Alfred by the coat collar, nearly lifting the boy off his feet. With a voice that sounded as if it were choking with indignation, he began: "You young scamp, I never heard you swear like this before, and I never want to hear you again. How dare you use such language in this house?" The onslaught was so sudden and unexpected that Alfred was taken off his feet. He had been in high good humor, laughing heartily at Palmer's mishap. Palmer led the intruders out in the auditorium ere the boy gathered his scattered senses.

[280]Jake exclaimed: "Huh! Balmur knocks his fingers und makes oudt Alfred does der tammen." Shaking his head, he continued: "Balmur beats der bugs."

Alfred was savage with anger. He started after Palmer but Gideon restrained him, standing in his pathway, holding him back, appealing to Jake to assist him in controlling the boy. Gideon persuaded Alfred to drop the matter for the time. Jake desired that the boy call Palmer to account. He answered Gideon's appeals in a sort of careless, I-don't-care way: "Vell, it's yust like Alfredt feels, if he vants to yump Balmur, I tink he kann handle him, I von't interfere. It iss none uf my biziness, yett."

Palmer Grabbed Alfred by the Collar

Palmer Grabbed Alfred by the Collar

It was late in the afternoon when Palmer again appeared in the church. He entered, as was his custom, all hurry and bustle. "Hello, Alfred! I thought you'd have the panorama all set. Waiting for the boss, hey?"

"Yes, I'm waiting for the boss and I want to tell the boss the next time he tries to make a scapegoat out of me before a lot of church people he'll hear something he won't like. I'm no clod-hopper to have you make me appear a rowdy. You daddy your own cussing."

[281]Palmer seemed greatly surprised at this and, as usual, in an argument with his people, became greatly excited. He endeavored to win with a bluff. "Here, my young man, you're always playing your jokes on Jake and all the others; I was only having a little fun with you, I didn't intend to hurt your feeling."

"Feelings! Feelings! What about my good name? What'll those men think of me? I'm ashamed to face them again while I'm here."

"Oh, you're too soft to travel; you ought to be at home with your gilt edge ideas."

"Well, I can go home," hotly retorted Alfred.

"I've got a written agreement with your father and I'll hold you to it," threatened Palmer.

"You'll hold me to nothing. You've got no writings that'll permit your making me out a rowdy."

"Now see here, Mr. Minstrel," and Palmer assumed mock politeness, "I've heard enough of your slack; dry up or I'll make you."

Alfred jumped to the middle of the platform and dared Palmer to lay his hand on him. Palmer got so excited he could not talk. Gideon, as usual, in his quiet, argumentative way, endeavored to smooth the matter over: "Come on, let's get ready for tonight. We're going to have the best business since we opened."

"I've quit," announced Alfred, "I'm going home."

Jake's smile fled; his under jaw hung down, giving his face an expression Alfred had never previously seen it wear. Gideon turned even more yellowish looking. Bedford Tom ejected a mouthful of tobacco juice as he blurted out: "I pity Pilgrim's Progress."

Gideon continued his plea: "Well, if this company isn't demoralized I don't know what I'm talking about. Now see here, boys, listen to me; we're together, let's reason like honest people should: To have you," and he looked at[282] Alfred, "quit thus abruptly would cause innocent ones to suffer. See what an embarrassment it would be to Mrs. Palmer. Why, it would kill her. She has sacrificed everything she holds dear in the world; she has two children." (Gideon had won his point, it was not necessary for him to say more). "She has not seen those children in two years; she hopes to have them with her soon. See what a disappointment it would be to her and the children. Alfred, as at present arranged, we could not spare you. I will get Palmer and we will fix this matter up satisfactorily to you."

Alfred was just a boy, not unlike any other boy. He did not desire to quit; and he knew he was indispensable to the successful production of the panorama. He also felt that he had won thus far. He did not yield, outwardly at least, but agreed that he would await Gideon's interview with Palmer. He had no preconceived ideas as to what to do or say further, but, like all who are disgruntled, he could not bring himself to say that he would.

While Gideon was seeking Palmer, Jake endeavored to console Alfred: "Ef you do go out of der paneramy it vill be too tam bad; I will not acdt out annudder time. I toldt Balmur delas' time. I'm no handt at paneramy buziness und it's no more fur Jake to do it."

Bedford Tom put another blotch on the white pine floor as he patted Jake on the back: "You're all yerself agin, ole man, your sensibilness is kerrect; don't try to act in a panerammer or enythin' else. Ef ye hed seen yerself with thet tume-stun, er whatever it wus, on yer back, an' wallerin' in thet painted pond, ye'd never went back to Bedford. Ye certainly made a muss of hit."

"Vell, I toldt heem I vus ashamed mit myself, end he sedt: 'Oh, hell yu kann standt und look myzerbul, kan't yu?'"

Bedford Tom laughed in the honest Dutchman's face as he assured him he looked "myzerbul enuff but his actin' was more myzerbul then his looks."

[283]"Vhy don'dt yu try it ef yu tink it ees so tam easy?" was Jake's answer.

Gideon walked in, beckoned to Alfred: "Come down to Palmer's room, he wants to talk this whole thing over."

Alfred did not care to meet Mrs. Palmer. "Tell Palmer to come up here," was the message Gideon carried back. Alfred was feeling just a little ashamed of the part he had played in the dispute; he felt that he had gone a bit further than he should. But his instinctive dislike to Palmer had grown day by day. The man's face, that index to character, had repulsed him when they first met. There are lines in the face chiseled by a sculptor who never makes a wrong stroke. The face is a truthful record of our vices and virtues. It is a map of life that outlines character so clearly that there is no getting away from the story it tells. The face is a signboard showing which way the man or woman is traveling, which of life's crossroads they are on. The face cannot betray the years one has traveled until the mind gives its consent. The mind is the master. If the mind holds youthful, innocent thoughts, the face will retain a youthful appearance. And the more permanent are the marks made by petulancy, hatred and selfishness thereon. The best letter of recommendation ever written is an open fearless face.

Palmer put in an appearance, his face showing plainly that he was not at ease. His manner was as flambuoyant as ever: "Where is this mainstay of the only panorama on earth? Come here, boy, I want to talk to you like a father:

"I was a boy not long ago, unthinking, idle, wild and young,
I laughed, and danced and talked and sung."

The antics Palmer cut while delivering this couplet were truly amusing. Palmer was an actor. Placing his hand on Alfred's shoulder, gazing into his face, he continued:

"Just at the age twixt boy and youth,
When thought is speech and speech is truth."

[284]Then quoting Christian in the Pilgrim's Progress: "I have given him my faith and sworn my allegiance to him. How then can I go back from this and not be hanged as a traitor?" Palmer pointed his long, bony finger at Alfred and awaited a reply. It came:

"I was indeed engaged in your dominions but your services were hard and your wages such as a man could not live on. For the wages of sin is death."

Palmer, a little discomforted, led the boy to one side, saying: "Now see here, young fellow, I'm as old as your father; I don't look it, but I am. Now you want to quit, eh? You wouldn't be at home four days before you would wish yourself back here. You are not rich, your father is not rich. You have to make a living. I'll give you an opportunity to make money. You are learning this business, you have good ideas. You remain with me, I'll make a man of you; I'll put you in a way to make more money than you've ever seen."

Alfred intimated that he could not see himself making a great deal of money at twenty dollars a month.

"Why, don't you count your board, as anything?"

"Well, I'm not satisfied. I'm worth more than twenty dollars a month to you," stubbornly contended Alfred.

"But you and your father are both bound up to me in a written agreement. Do you want to break it? Would that be right?"

"Well, you broke your written contract with the members of Rock Hill Church. You said Gideon made the contract without consulting you. Grandpap made this contract without consulting me."

Palmer laughed long and loud: "Egad, that's good! This kid finds me skinning a couple of old duffers and forthwith he sets about to skin me. The harvest truly is plenteous but the laborers are few; ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to[285] you." Pointing at Alfred, he continued: "But remember, the love of money is the root of all evil. Say, what are you going to do with all this money?"

"Buy a farm, some day," answered Alfred.

"How great a matter a little fire kindleth," quoted Palmer as he pleadingly asked: "Say, kid, how much are you going to hang me up for?"

"Well, if you give me fifty dollars a month, I'll stick to you."

"Holy mother of all that's evil; the devil and Tom Walker! Say, who do you take after? Not your daddy. He's easy. Fifty dollars a month? Say, I worked two years and had a wife and two children to take care of and I never cleared forty dollars a month. I've been a lifetime working myself up to what I am and you jump into the game, inexperienced, green as a cucumber, and want to hog the persimmons at the start. 'Taint fair, 'taint right; I'm an honest man; I want to treat everybody right. You're taking advantage of me. It's the principle of the thing I look at."

"Well, get another boy, you can find one any day. If I stay with this panorama I will get fifty dollars a month."

"Yes, and if I permit you to hold me up this time, the next move you'll want the panorama. Your Uncle William served his time like an honest boy, he has made a fortune. He has the best farm in Fayette County; he has money, he is the judge of the county court. He never got where he is by breaking written agreements."

"Yes, but that was different, Uncle William was learning a trade. He got all kinds of chances to make money on the outside of his work."

"Hold on right there—I'll give you any opportunity you want to make money on the side. You can sell the "Life of John Bunyan," "The Pilgrim's Progress," "Paradise Lost," the steel engraving of the twelve apostles or anything we sell and I'll allow you a good, big commission."[286]

The sale of the above mentioned articles was that which first turned Alfred against Palmer. The sneaking, wheedling methods he employed, the subterfuges, the lies in disposing of books and pictures, were the things which made the man most repulsive to Alfred. He therefore felt insulted when Palmer offered him the opportunity to make money from this source. Alfred plainly informed Palmer that he would not have anything to do with the sale of the books or pictures.

"Huh! I suppose you feel above selling books that are in the libraries of the best people in the world. You'd prefer, no doubt, to sell pills."

A little abashed, Alfred came back with: "Well, if I did sell pills, I sold them on the square and at a less price than they were worth and they were sold to folks that needed them and if they needed them and wern't able to pay for them they got them free and we didn't lie about what we did with the money. We didn't pretend to send it to the heathen."

Palmer interrupted the boy: "Wait and see how you get along when you strike your own gait, when you get your own show out. That's your idea; that's why you are so unreasonable. I'm going to give you the money you ask, not because it's right but because I want to do what's right. If I'd let you go, you'd go back to Brownsville and it would not be a week until you'd have some fool thing afloat that would bring all sorts of trouble on your folks. I'm doing this for your people, not for you."

Alfred had won. He was not entirely free from the feeling that he had not acted quite right but he stilled his conscience by arguing to himself that Grandpap had no authority to enter into a contract for him; besides hadn't his mother declared that no indenture was valid without her signature, that no child of hers should ever be bound to anybody? When she demanded to see the papers it was not convenient[287] for those interested to have them at hand. The mother had forcibly informed Palmer that there must be no restraint upon Alfred should he become homesick and that he must be permitted to return to his home at any time he desired to do so. All of which Palmer had unreservedly agreed to.

Bedford, Pa.

Dear Father:

Your welcome letter came to hand today; glad you are all well and hearty. I've had a big fuss with Palmer. I wanted to quit. He coaxed me to stay and promised me fifty dollars a month. Is that paper he holds on me binding? Could he hold my wages if he wanted to. He told Gideon he was going to record the indenture when we got to Leesburg and it would always stand in evidence against me. He is not the kind of man Grandpap and Uncle Thomas crack him up to be. If Palmer don't pay the fifty, I don't stay, papers or no papers. He is gouging everybody and it is no sin to gouge him. Say Pap, now don't get mad; how much did he set you back? Tell me. If I get the fifty I think I can get yours. If Cousin Charley has my hound he'll have to give it up when I get home. If I get the fifty I'll buy me a new shotgun like Capt. Abrams has.

My love to Muz and all the children and Lin.

Give my love to all. Your affectionate son,

Alfred Griffith Hatfield.

P. S. I am not afraid of Palmer; I could break him in two. But I don't like to break the law. Let me know about the paper he holds, he would do anything, law or no law.

Since Alfred's experience with the law in the Eli affair it could not be said that he had more respect for the law but undoubtedly he had more fear for it as evidenced by his letter to the father.

Things went on much the same with the panorama. Palmer was more polite and condescending toward Alfred in speech, but many little inconveniences were put upon him that he had not experienced previous to the unpleasantness.

[288]Jake seemed to have fallen under the displeasure of Palmer and many were the squabbles between them. At one place where the panorama exhibited the church was too small. An old carriage factory was used instead. At one end there was a large freight lift elevator. Palmer's inventive genius prompted him to use the platform of the elevator for a stage. It was about twenty by thirty feet in dimensions much larger than the stages usually constructed for the panorama. When the elevator was in place it formed a part of the floor of the room.

Palmer and Jake labored all day and into the night to elevate it about two feet above the floor. When elevated thus it was pronounced by the little company the best stage since the season began; just high enough to show the effects to best advantage.

Jake said he hoped "dey vould strike more blaces mit dings like dis." The building of a platform or a stage in the various churches had made strenuous work for Jake.

All was set for the unveiling of the wonderful work of art. The old factory was crowded. All went smoothly until the scene where "Faithful" is adjudged guilty and condemned to the terrible punishment supposed to be meted out to him. This scene is not visible to the audience but is described by the lecturer, as "Faithful" is supposed to be burned to ashes after being scourged and pricked with knives. Palmer had just concluded the speech: "Now I saw that there stood behind the multitude a chariot and a couple of horses waiting for 'Faithful', who, as soon as his adversaries had dispatched him, was taken up into it, and straightway, was carried up through the clouds with sound of trumpet." Palmer sounded the trumpet. Tom White, in a long, white flowing robe, with gauze veils over his face, is pulled up by a block and tackle, the rope concealed by the long, white robe. With appropriate music this scene was one of the most beautiful in the exhibition.

[289]The trumpet sounded signaling "Faithful's" ascension. How what followed happened no one will ever know. Palmer blamed Jake. Jake never admitted or denied that he was the cause. When there should have been an ascension there was a descension.

The elevator slipped a cog, or something; there was a slow, regular descent, not too hasty. Down went the whole panorama, descending in time with the music; down went the City of Vanity with its fair, its thieves and fakirs painted on canvas, while poor "Faithful" dangled in mid-air. As the elevator sank out of sight, as the characters, painting and frame disappeared below the floor, the audience applauded approvingly at first, then the absurdity of the scene struck them and approving applause changed to aggravating laughter.

Jake stood manfully by the rope he was holding; Palmer was wild; Alfred and Bedford Tom were doing all they could to suppress their laughter. Suddenly the thing stopped, struck the floor in the room below. Jake, grabbing the windlass, soon had the panorama slowly ascending. As it came into view the audience applauded lustily. Mrs. Palmer kept the ascension music going until the stage was back in its proper place when Palmer, who was always seeking an opportunity to make a speech, walked out in front of the curtain and explained that the panorama weighed several tons, the great weight had broken the lift.

At this juncture Jake appeared with two heavy pieces of scantling; unmindful of Palmer, he began spiking the props under the edge of the platform. The strokes of the hammer completely drowned Palmer's voice. When Jake sent the last nail home he arose from his knees with a "Dere, tam you, I ges you'll holdt now."

Palmer was in a greater rage than at any time since the tour began. His wife, Gideon and several others endeavored to pacify him. Everybody but Alfred came in for a share of[290] the abuse; even his poor wife, who was really deserving of all praise for saving the scene, was more than censured.

Alfred could not control his laughter; he fled fearing Palmer would turn on him.

Palmer swore so loudly that Gideon came from the front to quiet him. He swore at Gideon; he did not care if the whole town heard him curse. He had worn his life out to produce the Pilgrim's Progress, and now a darn clod-hopper, a Reuben, a gilly, a jay, had undone the work of a lifetime and made him (Palmer) ridiculous in the eyes of the world. What would people say? What would church people say? They would not pay him for such an exhibition. Would he (Jake) furnish the money to pay the expenses after ruining the business of the panorama?

Jake sat on a box, his eyes following Palmer as he walked from one side of the platform to the other, busying himself all the while with some part of the panorama, never looking toward Jake. Jake's smile was the same, that is around the mouth; but looking more closely you could see an expression in the deep-set blue eyes that betrayed feelings far removed from those which cause smiles.

Palmer concluded his tirade by flinging a hammer on the floor and declaring his belief that the mistakes were the result of a deliberate attempt upon the part of the perpetrator to ruin him. "But I will not be driven away from this work of my life by conspirators."

Jake had but a limited understanding of Palmer's language, yet sufficient of what had been said sifted through his mind to convince him that Palmer had made strong charges against him. Jake, in a tone of voice that would have convinced anyone more reasonable than Palmer, of his sorrow, inquired: "Vot I tid?"

"Vot I tid?" repeated Palmer, imitating Jake. "Vot I tid? Ha! Ha! What didn't you do? From the night we opened it's been one round of breaks and blunders upon your part."

[291]Jake, in open-eyed surprise, repeated: "Breaks? Breaks? Breaks? Vot I breaks?"

Palmer never ceased talking nor noticed Jake's questions. Pointing at Jake, he said: "First you assumed the part of Christian, the most important character to be impersonated. Every schoolboy or girl knows the Christian makes a pilgrimage beginning at the City of Destruction, from which he flees to the Celestial City. He carries a burden, of which he is relieved at the proper time. He is supposed to encounter all sorts of hardships and avoid pitfalls of danger, coming out triumphant at the end of his journey. I ordered you to read the book. Alfred read it and is familiar with every detail; you know nothing, positively nothing."

"Vot I tid?" again demanded Jake, a bit sternly.

"Vot you tid?" and Palmer pretended to tear his hair. "The first night, the first scene, by holding the book you were supposed to be reading, down by your knees, gaping at the audience like a baboon. You rolled over on the floor in the Slough of Despond like a hog wallowing; you throwed your burden in the Slough, then walked in the pond after it. The pond you was supposed to be sinking into, drowning, you walked over it as you would over a lawn or carpeted room, not sinking one inch in it. You gathered up Christian's burden. Instead of replacing it on your back you took it under your arm like a basket; instead of walking as you were directed, towards the Wicket Gate, the Shining Light, you steered straight into the bowels of Hell. Not being satisfied with going to Hell yourself, you so arrange this lift, this platform that, at the very climax of the most beautiful scene in the marvelous exhibition, you send the whole panorama down to the lower story of the building, thus conveying to the audience the idea that we are burlesquing Pilgrim's Progress. Instead of steering for Heaven, steering for Hell! Bah! Every last one in that audience will leave this building with the idea that the entire panorama went to Hell."

[292]Then in an injured, pleading tone, as if scared, Palmer continued: "If this goes ahead of us it will surely ruin our business. I will sell my interest in this show for one-half of what I'd taken yesterday." All this was acting.

Poor Jake was completely confused, dumfounded. Most conscientious, honest and sincere, without deceit, he scarcely knew what to say to explain that he was unfortunate and all that had happened was unavoidable.

He said: "Meester Balmur, I'm werry sorry dot I haf you so much troubles made. I haf neffer toldt you dot I cud do vork as Alfredt und Tom. I cannot speek me plain und I did yust so goot as I cud. I am sorry I kan't exbress my, my, my feelings mit dis ting, but I hope you must exkuse me."

Palmer interrupted: "Oh, well; it's gone beyond my patience to stand it longer. You are an incumbrance, you are a barnacle. I'll sell you my interest in this enterprise and you can go on and run it; this partnership business don't suit me." Palmer ended it by saying: "I'll see you in the morning."

The little party with the panorama were generally quartered with members of the congregation of the church in which the panorama exhibited. In making contracts with the various churches, Palmer, whenever possible, made it a part of the agreement that his people and horses were to be boarded. One family would take Palmer and his wife, another a couple of the others. When Palmer paid their board they were quartered in the meanest, cheapest taverns or boarding houses in the town. At times the company would lodge in a house the owners of which were very poor people who were sorely in need.

It seemed to Alfred the more needy a family appeared, the more insistent Palmer was in forcing pictures, books, etc., upon them. It was a trick of his to hang a picture in the best room, place books on the center table. If they insisted that conditions would not permit enjoying the luxury of the[293] books or pictures, Palmer would become insulting and complain of the quality or quantity of the food.

Alfred and Jake were both so thoroughly ashamed at times they would go elsewhere for their meals.

It happened that, when the trouble came up between Jake and Palmer, the entire party were quartered at a modest little tavern kept by a Pennsylvania Dutchman of large girth and little patience. Palmer had failed to induce him or his good wife, who did all the cooking, to buy pictures or books. "Ve vant no more picturs und ve don't reat der pooks," was the argument with which the old fellow met all of Palmer's solicitations.

After one of their arguments, Palmer, as usual, lost his patience: "What sort of humans are you? You belong to no church. Where are you bound for? Like Jake—hell, I suppose." Then he laughed sarcastically.

"Vell, ve haf got along always in Frostburgh und hell can't be much vorse und if you vant to sell picturs und pooks to pay fur your bordt, you besser stop mit Con Lynch (referring to a rival tavern). Ve don't keep travelers to kepp oudt of hell, ve keep bordters to keep oudt of der poor house."

Palmer answered the old fellow's argument with a reply that he thought humorous: "Well, if I'd thought there was a poorer house in town than yours I'd stopped there."

"Vell, it's not too late, gitt oudt, tam you, pack up your pooks und picturs und gitt oudt purty quick or I'll trow you oudt on der rote."

Palmer, his wife and Gideon, sought quarters at the other tavern; Jake and Alfred remained.

The next day was one of unpleasantness. Palmer never permitted an opportunity to pass that he did not cast slurs at all, Jake in particular. It was evident that Palmer was imbibing more freely than usual. He constantly drank whiskey; he was drinking to excess. Mrs. Palmer cried almost constantly. Gideon was more nervous than usual.[294] He was at Palmer's side constantly; everywhere Palmer went Gideon followed. Long and earnest talks were engaged in, Palmer always obstinate, Gideon pleading. When Palmer left the place where the panorama was on exhibition, Mrs. Palmer stood in or near the door gazing out wistfully until he reappeared; then seat herself in the furthermost part of the room from her husband seemingly desirous of keeping out of his sight.

Alfred finally inquired if he could do anything for her. In a few words she gave him to understand that her husband was of a very excitable nature at intervals, took to drink and continued it until he fell sick. She begged Alfred to have Jake apologize and not to quarrel or cross the man, no matter what provocation he gave them, all of which Alfred promised her. Jake readily agreed to do anything she suggested.

Alfred and Jake retired to their room where Jake took Alfred into his confidence, informing the boy of the circumstances that led to his connection with the panorama. Palmer had an advertisement in a newspaper offering flattering inducements to a man with six hundred dollars. Jake read the advertisement. Palmer visited Jake in answer to his letter. His smooth talk won the honest German. Palmer was very sorry that Jake had not written sooner as he had about concluded a deal with a man in Brownsville and before he could arrange with Jake he must go to Brownsville, see the man and make some sort of an honorable arrangement to relieve him of the promises made. He induced Jake to accompany him to Brownsville. Hence the visit of Palmer and Jake to Alfred's home.

Afterwards Palmer informed Jake that he was compelled to pay Alfred's father two hundred dollars to release him from their agreement. The honest German was thereby convinced that the panorama was a good investment. He persuaded his mother to borrow six hundred dollars, all of[295] which was turned over to Palmer. Jake's understanding was that he was to be paid thirty dollars a week for his team services. Jake was to have charge of all moneys received, the six hundred dollars was to be repaid from profits of the venture. Jake had received to that date forty-one dollars. Drawing a paper from an old fashioned leather purse, passing it to Alfred: "Here iss der writing vot vill tell you how it all iss."

Alfred read and re-read the paper which was in Palmer's handwriting. The legal phraseology was somewhat confusing, but his deductions, were that Jake was to receive thirty dollars a week for the use of the team and his and Bedford Tom's services; that Jake was to handle the money; that he, Jacob Wilson, was to retain six hundred dollars from the profits and that, when the said six hundred dollars had been paid, the terms of the contract had been complied with. Such was Alfred's understanding of the contract.

He became convinced that Palmer had in some way defrauded, or intended to defraud Jake. The fact that Palmer had repeatedly asserted that he could get rid of Jake—he so informed Alfred when urging the son to influence the father to take an interest in the panorama—caused Alfred to feel sure that Jake was being tricked.

Respecting Mrs. Palmer's request and owing to Palmer's condition, Alfred decided to keep the matter quiet for the present. Ending the interview with Jake, he returned the paper to the German with the advice that, when Palmer got off his spree, to take the matter up, have the contract examined by a lawyer.

Although Jake was quiet and undemonstrative, he was no easy man to control when aroused. His limited experience in business, his unsophisticated nature naturally made him suspicious and there was not an hour while he was awake that he did not seek Alfred to talk over the possibilities of Palmer absolutely dropping him without returning any of his money.

[296]The night following that of the scene between Jake and Palmer, after a day that saw Palmer in front of the bar of the tavern at least twenty times, the second exhibition of the panorama began. It was the first town wherein the exhibition failed to attract a larger audience the second night than that which witnessed the first exhibition. The facts were Palmer's condition was apparent to all with whom he came in contact. The talk went over the town that one of the preachers with the show was on a tear and the other one couldn't hold him down. The church people held consultations and it was determined to cancel the third night.

The second exhibition was even more ragged and uneven than the first night. The lift, or platform, did not give way and carry the painted pictures towards the lower regions; "Faithful" made the ascension as scheduled; and the climaxes and tableaux were all more beautifully presented than on the opening night. But the eloquent speeches were delivered by Palmer in a thick-tongued voice; his pronunciation was so imperfect that many of the most beautiful speeches were lost upon the audience. Palmer did not complete his lecture.

All were nervous, all were laboring under great strain. The members of the little party exerted themselves; not one made a mistake, not one forgot a line.

But Palmer, the manager, the proprietor, he who should have been the first in the work, Palmer was drunk, and the Pilgrim's Progress was ruined, insofar as that town was concerned. Palmer had become frenzied the night previous and cried over the excusable blunders of an honest meaning man. Yet tonight he had ruined the entertainment, disgusted all who heard him.

Palmer imagined the performance the most excellent yet given, he so informed all. None had the heart to correct his bewildered imaginings. When Gideon came back and informed him that the church officials would have nothing[297] further to do with the exhibition and that if it were put on the next night they would announce to the town that they were in no way responsible, he defied the church people, swore he would compel them to comply with their contract, that he would show, (he always used the word "show" when he was excited or drunk), the next night and several nights thereafter. He left the scene for the tavern.

Jake and Alfred repaired to their lodgings. A long time after they had retired, a timid rapping on the door aroused them. The door opened, and Gideon and Mrs. Palmer were standing in the hall. The woman's face was the picture of misery; Gideon was in a terrible state of mind.

Palmer had continued his debauch until he was frenzied. Both feared to remain in the house with him; he had attempted to injure both of them. Gideon implored Alfred and Jake to endeavor to calm him; at least, prevent him drinking any more. Jake was loath to go. He had no fear of Palmer but brooded over the abuse the man had heaped upon him—Bedford Tom had fully explained and exaggerated all that Palmer had said and that Jake did not comprehend at the time. Jake, after due deliberation, decided in his mind that if Palmer ever abused him again, and Mrs. Palmer was not near, Palmer would feel the weight of his hand. Therefore Jake thought he had best not trust himself in Palmer's presence.

Loud words could be heard. Alfred trying the door, found it locked. The landlord demanded to know who was there. Alfred informed him that he was a friend of Palmer's and had come to look after him. He was admitted.

Palmer was singing a popular song of the day at the top of his voice, the landlord endeavoring to quiet him. When Alfred caught a glimpse of Palmer he could not resist laughing outright. The man was minus coat, vest and outer shirt, his long, yellow neck, his sharp face with its tuft of beard, the hooked nose, made his head appear like Punch on a stick.

[298]Catching sight of Alfred, Palmer extended his hand and began singing a negro minstrel ditty, cake-walking around the boy several times, his hand extended as if he were inviting the boy to join in his dance.

"Mr. Palmer! Mr. Palmer! It's very late. The folks in the house desire to sleep. Come on with me; come on to your room," pleaded Alfred.

Palmer kept up his singing, keeping time with his feet. Jake appeared. Palmer rushed toward him, threw his arms about him, embraced him, calling him his only friend. "Stick to me, Jake, I'll do the right thing by you. I know you're all right; I am ashamed of myself for cussing you. But—never—mind. Come—on—Jake—come—on. Where's Gideon? I want to give you $600.00. Come on Jake."

Jake held Palmer like a baby, pleading with him to go to bed. Palmer swore he would not leave the room until the landlord gave him another drink. Then he wanted all to drink with him. All declined. Then he wanted to fight the whole crowd.

Alfred and Jake finally pushed and carried Palmer to his room. They deposited him upon the bed and held him there by force until his senses began to leave him. Sleep overcame him and, although he kept up a twitching of the fingers and mutterings, he slept. Alfred and Jake both fell asleep. When Alfred awoke, Palmer still slept. He tiptoed toward Palmer and was more than startled to see Mrs. Palmer seated at the head of the bed, where she had sat all night.

Gideon called the boy and Jake into a conference. It was Gideon's idea that the party leave the town immediately, keep Palmer on the road away from drink until he was completely sobered up. The panorama was dismounted and loaded in the big wagon in less time than ever before. Jake gave the word and they were on their way.

Palmer fretted and fumed the whole journey; Jake did not drive fast enough to please him; he would walk, then[299] ride a short distance; all the while complaining and censuring first one, then another. Jake had not traversed half the day's journey until he became convinced that Palmer's effusive exhibitions of friendship the night previous were prompted by the libations of which he had partaken.

Finally, donning hat and coat Palmer started at a pace so brisk that he was soon a considerable distance in advance of the slow moving wagon. Jake was thoroughly disgusted. At a little distance on he made excuse the harness was broken, and halted the team at least half an hour. Jake, like Alfred, concluded that Palmer would go a little ways and await them.

When Jake resumed the journey he drove the team somewhat faster, prompted to do so by the anxiety of the good woman, who sat by his side straining her eyes, gazing ahead along the white, dusty way. The object she looked for did not come into sight.

The shadows of night began to fall. Jake had the team going at a faster pace than the big wagon had ever sped previously. All eyes looked down the pike ahead of the team; all expected every minute to see Palmer on the road ahead of them.

Gideon broke the painful silence: "Whoa! Whoa! Jake, pull the horses up." Jake obeyed. All turned towards Gideon. "No man could keep ahead of the team the rate we have been going. He couldn't keep ahead of us even if he had run, let alone walked. If Palmer hasn't caught onto someone who is traveling in a buggy or other light vehicle, he has laid down by the roadside and fallen asleep and failed to hear us go by. I will go back and look for him; it's only two miles further to town, you all go on."

All hesitated. Jake then proposed that the wagon halt where it was and all go back seeking Palmer. Jake, Alfred and Bedford Tom retracing their steps, looking on each side[300] of the road as they walked. Every person they met was questioned, but none had noticed a man answering Palmer's description. Inquiry was made at every farm house.

Finally a traveler on horseback informed the searchers that a man answering the description of Palmer was seated on the driver's seat of the stage coach going west.

The three retraced their steps and gave Gideon and the wife the information gained. Driving into Hancock, Gideon, who was best informed as to the lines of travel, decided he would take the train for Cumberland and ascertain there as to whether Palmer had been a passenger on the stage coach. Later in the evening news came that a stranger had been discovered by the roadside dead. To attempt to describe the misery of the wife would be impossible, and to aggravate the situation, to still more deeply aggrieve the trouble laden woman, a letter came with the news that one of their children was very ill at home.

Jake and Alfred mounted the horses and rode to the point where the dead man was found. They arrived previous to the coroner; the body had not been removed. It was a lonely place on the pike. Two or three country folk stood near the fence, recounting for the tenth time the circumstances attending the discovery of the body. The darkness, the presence of death, were surroundings to which Alfred was not accustomed.

The body lay about twenty yards from the road under a big tree. As they climbed the fence and faced towards the spot, a stench met their nostrils. They looked at each other. Jake was the first to recover his speech: "Phew! If dot's Bolmur, he iss spiled werry queek."

Alfred reclimbed the fence. Jake looked over the dead man and remarked: "It don'dt look more like Bolmur as you do." Mounting their horses they were soon back at the tavern. The wife gazed appealingly at them as they entered, and, in a trembling voice, asked: "No news?"

[301]"No, it vasn't him, he iss been dedt a veek or two." Jake spoke as if disappointed that the dead man was not Palmer.

Later, Alfred was lying on the bed laughing, Jake, looking at him with a smile which spoke inquisitiveness more plainly than he could have articulated the word, inquired: "Vot you laffin at? You laff like a tam fool. It makes me feel like a tam fool, too; I kan't tell but vot you iss laffin at my back."

This only brought more laughter. Finally, Jake began laughing also. "I see, you iss laffin becos I toldt Mrs Bolmur dot de dedt man vos spildt."

"Why, Jake, the manner in which you gave the news to her sounded as if we were disappointed that the dead man was not Palmer."

Jake arose, walked over to Alfred, his face assuming a serious aspect: "It's a werry great bitty for der poor heart-broken-down woman dot it was not Bolmur."

Gideon telegraphed from Cumberland that Palmer was there; that he would arrive on the next train. Jake and Alfred had the panorama all set. Night came on and neither Gideon nor Palmer had arrived. No train was scheduled to arrive until midnight. Mrs. Palmer was too nervous, too ill to give any advice or to even offer a suggestion.

"Could she play the music as usual if they went on with the exhibition?" "Yes, she would get a cup of tea and be ready for her part of the work."

Alfred arranged with the son of one of the church members to take charge of the financial end. Jake said he could do the part of Christian and he was sure that he would not make any mistakes.

The church was crowded. Alfred had assured himself a thousand times that he could go through the whole dialogue. He was correct but there was quite a difference in the delivery of the impassioned speeches; the weak voice of an amateurish schoolboy could not impress the auditors as would that of an elocutionist with a deep musical voice.

[302]The panorama did not give its usual satisfaction although Jake, to his credit, went through his part without a mistake. But he did so in such an awkward, halting way, that it seemed like anything but a character to excite sympathy; in fact, his fall into the Slough of Despond was so clumsy that he injured one of his knees. All the while he was rolling about, supposed to be sinking, he was holding his knee in both hands and crying: "By yimminy crickitts, Uh! Uh!"

People sitting near the platform were tittering and laughing.

Gideon and Palmer arrived sometime during the night. Gideon was up and about early. He advised that Palmer would be all right by night.

Gideon appeared more ill at ease than Alfred had ever seen him. Back of the scenes was Palmer so drunk he could barely articulate. He looked at Jake and Alfred as they entered and said: "I—can't—work—tonight; go—on—with—the—performance. I'm going—to—bed." With this he stretched himself out on the floor. Jake and Alfred gathered him up and laid him none too gently to one side of the stage.

Confusion or some evil spirit awakened Palmer. He walked out into the auditorium. Sitting near his wife, he attracted the attention of many of the audience by giving orders, not only to his wife but in one or two instances he shouted at Alfred. This so completely unnerved the wife that she actually made mistakes in the music cues. This confused all and the exhibition was terribly marred.

The minister of the church was outraged. He ordered the panorama removed at once and Palmer ejected. The town marshal escorted Palmer out.

Alfred was so angry at the tantalizing remarks Palmer had cast at him from the audience that he did not dare trust himself near the man. He warned Jake: "If that Palmer speaks to me I will slap his face until it is as red as he made mine."

[303]The marshal, through Gideon's pleadings, did not lock Palmer up but carried him to the tavern. Gideon placed him in bed and returned to the church to escort the wife to the tavern.

When Alfred and Jake appeared, Gideon was pleading with Palmer to go to his room. Palmer was demanding drink, the landlord informed him that he sold no drink nor would he permit drink carried into his house.

Alfred, ashamed of the man, walked out on the sidewalk. Palmer forced his way out, Gideon feebly holding him. Palmer gave the feeble old man a push that would have sent him headlong into the gutter had Alfred not caught him. Alfred stood Gideon on his feet.

Palmer backed off a pace or two, bowing and feinting as if to fight. He cried mockingly: "Who, who art thou? What kind of meat does this, our Caesar feed upon that he should thus command us?" Putting up his hands prize-fighter fashion, he sparred towards Alfred. He made pass after pass as if to strike the boy who stood motionless, permitting Palmer's fists to fly by his face without moving or dodging.

Whether through Alfred's passiveness or by mistake, one of Palmer's fists landed square on the nose of Alfred. The red blood spurted over his shirt front. Before Jake or Gideon could interfere, Alfred had the man by the coat collar raining open handed slaps on his face, slaps that so resounded they could be heard above the confusion and bustle of the encounter.

Palmer had become as a madman. Seizing Alfred's arm in his teeth, sinking them into the flesh, he held on like a bulldog. The blows Alfred rained on the man's face had no effect on him and it was only when beaten into insensibility that the jaws relaxed.

The light was dim on the outside and those near by did not realize that Palmer was biting the boy. The severe[304] punishment he meted out to Palmer did not meet with the approval of many. However, after they were separated and Alfred exposed his lacerated arm the talk turned the other way: "He did not give him half enough."

The landlord sent for a doctor; the arm was treated. Mrs. Palmer assisted in binding up the wound. Alfred felt so humiliated he scarcely knew how to thank her. He requested the doctor to go up and see Palmer, but the good wife had attended to his injuries.

Palmer, his wife and Gideon, decided to travel to the next stop by train. All day on the road Jake and Alfred were debating as to the course they would pursue. Jake was inclined to demand a settlement at once. Alfred persuaded him to hold off until he heard from home, then he would endeavor to collect the amount due his father, and if Jake desired to travel, he, Alfred, would organize a minstrel show and they would go on the road right.

The panorama was set. Gideon was at the church but Mrs. Palmer and her husband had not put in an appearance. Alfred ran out to the door to inquire of Gideon as to whether Palmer would be on hand. Gideon assured him that the husband and wife had left their lodgings with him and should be at the church at the present time.

Alfred ran back to the panorama. As he passed behind the curtain he came face to face with Palmer. A badly bruised, black and blue face was that into which the boy gazed. He was strongly inclined to take the man by the hand and beg his forgiveness.

Jake, when advised of Alfred's feelings, said: "Vait, you kan't tell, he may make your forgiveness. It iss his place to do der beggin'; don't you make vrendts mit him till he askts you to."

Palmer worked as effectually as if nothing had occurred, although his voice was unsteady at times and slightly hoarse. Palmer kept out of view of the audience. Alfred never[305] worked so effectually, although his arm pained him constantly. Mrs. Palmer seemed in better spirits than for a long time.

Gideon reported Professor Palmer had met with a painful accident in the last town and could not be seen—this was Gideon's statement to all inquiries for Palmer. The next morning ladies called at the tavern with flowers. The minister called; he talked to Palmer until the panorama man was so nervous he coaxed Gideon to get him whiskey.

The next night Palmer was at the church early. He was particularly deferential to Jake and Alfred. Anything they said or did he acquiesced in. Mrs. Palmer seemed like a different woman. A letter bringing good news from the sick child was ascribed by Jake and Alfred as the cause of her cheerfulness.

Gideon lingered at the church after the performance. Jake asked for one hundred dollars to be paid on the morrow. Gideon advised that the order must come from Palmer ere he could pay out the money. Jake answered: "I vill see Mr. Bolmur aboudt it early tomorrow."

Gideon begged that Jake defer it: "Palmer is just getting back to himself; if he gets excited he may go to drinking again."

"If he does ve know how to kure him, jes give him a tam goot trashing; dot's vot vill kure him. Heh, Alfredt?"

Gideon carried the news to Palmer that Alfred and Jake had combined and at any time they saw him look toward liquor they intended to give him a thrashing. Whether Gideon understood this to be the attitude of Alfred and Jake toward Palmer or whether he used the threat to deter the drunkard, is not certain. Its effect was to so embitter Palmer that he set about getting rid of Jake at once.

Mrs. Palmer was assured by Alfred that no such threat had ever been indulged in by Jake or himself.

After he had exhausted all subterfuges, Palmer grudgingly gave Jake the one hundred dollars.

[306]Alfred was behind the scenes of the panorama dressing his sore arm. He had been thus occupied for some time when Palmer and Gideon entered and resumed a conversation they had evidently begun previously. Gideon seemed in doubt and fearful: "But how will you manage to get rid of him?" was the question he put to Palmer.

"You leave that to me and don't you give him any more money; stand pat the next time he approaches you."

"But he is a partner in the concern. If he went to law he could compel you to make an accounting from the time we began."

"What do you think I am?" and Palmer looked at Gideon in disgust. "Don't imagine for one moment of your innocent, unnecessary life that I would sell a Reuben like Jake or anyone else a third interest in this panorama for six hundred dollars. Jake has no interest excepting in the profits until he is paid six hundred dollars. After the six hundred dollars is paid he has no further claim upon me. I could pay him six hundred dollars and kick him out today, or if the panorama did not make six hundred dollars this tour he would get nothing."

"Well, it's best you pay Jake the six hundred dollars and get rid of him honestly," answered Gideon.

"I'll get rid of him. It's a hell of a nice business to carry two men with you that threaten if you don't carry yourself straight they will thrash you. I am justified in doing anything to free myself and the law will uphold me in it."

"Well, you will be compelled to get another man if you dispense with Alfred," urged Gideon.

"Oh, I can run into Baltimore and get a dozen people if I want to. However, I'd like to keep the boy; he's useful and you can trust him. But he's the damndest, greenest kid that I ever met to have had the experience he has."

"Well, he's a pretty good boy. He did all your work the night you were not here and your wife says he did it well; the boy has talent."

[307]"Talent, hell! That's not talent; that's nerve. That's why I say he's green. Did he ever say anything to you about his arm where I bit him?" inquired Palmer.

"No; only to say it was pretty sore."

"Why the dam little fool could shook me down for all I had in the world, mayhem is a penal offence in Maryland. That's why I say he's green. I skinned his daddy out of nearly two hundred dollars. He imagines he will get it when we go to Brownsville. I'll keep this trick so dam far away from that town a crow couldn't fly to me in a week."

Alfred had a mind to walk out on the man and declare himself, but he held his peace. He sought Jake and together they consulted an attorney. Alfred's father would be compelled to bring suit where the debt was contracted, get judgment, send the transcript on before the debt could be collected. Jake did not own any of the panorama proper; his agreement gave him one-third of the profits until he was paid the sum of six hundred dollars and thirty dollars a week as hire for his team.

Alfred did not believe Palmer would do anything at once; he concluded that the talk he had overheard was of the same character as that which Palmer had indulged in so often previously.

Alfred was in bed; Jake sat by the window buried in thought. Finally Jake muttered: "To hell mit dis bizness, I vish I vas back at my home in Bedfordt." After musing in silence for some time, he muttered: "To hell mit Palmer; to hell mit Gideon; to hell mit everything but der panorama." Jake mused a few minutes. Rising to undress, he said defiantly: "To hell mit der panorama."

The following day Jake asked for an accounting. Palmer endeavored to put him off. "How much uv dis panorama I own?" asked Jake.

"Oh, Jake, what's the matter with you? You know what our contract is. Come now, you're an intelligent man, let's[308] do business on business principles. I'll have Gideon balance the books by Sunday."

"I vant dem balanced today; my condract says dat I am der vun dots to handle der money; maybe I take holdt tonight."

Palmer became frightened. Gideon furnished Jake a statement showing the profits to be six hundred dollars and a few cents over. As Jake understood the contract he was to receive one-third of the profits, this would entitle him to $200, one hundred of which he had received.

Jake immediately demanded another hundred dollars. Palmer pleaded that he had sent his money away. Jake was obdurate. Palmer finally produced the amount.

Jake demanded that he have access to the books; both Palmer and Gideon demurred, but Jake was again triumphant. However, nothing that favored Jake was learned from them.

Hagerstown, Md.

Dear Muz:

Your letter to hand. Pap will never get his money from Palmer. He is never going to Brownsville or near there. I heard him tell Gideon, Pap was a Reuben and he had skinned him out of two hundred dollars. And Pap needn't deny it to you.

This man is awful; he will cheat anybody. I had to lick him, he nearly bit my arm off. I nearly beat his head off; it was the only way to get loose. I can't tell you all I know in one letter. Let Pap sue for his account, send the transcript on and I'll get it or I'll know why. He'll not get a chance to bite if I go at him again.

I went out to your old home yesterday; they're real nice people. I found the room where I cut my name on the walnut window frame, it's nearly rubbed out. The house looks natural but the garden and flowers are not like grandmother kept them. All the old people asked about Grandpap, Uncle John and Uncle Jake.

Stir Pap up. If I come home, I'll write you before I do.

Your affectionate son,

Alfred Griffith Hatfield.

P. S. Jake's written agreement is a fraud. If Pap has an agreement with Palmer, it's a fraud too, don't go by it. Do as I tell you, I know what's best. You'll learn law if you travel with a panorama.

[309]The next move, to Winchester, was a long journey. One of Jake's horses having been sick, Palmer advised a day or two previously that the panorama and people, excepting Bedford Tom and Jake, would travel by train, thus relieving the team. He also promised Jake a payment on the profits at the end of the week. As an evidence of good faith he advanced Jake a week's wages.

Jake wanted Alfred to make the journey with him in the wagon, but Palmer became offended: "What do you people want to do, get rid of the work of preparation? I should take Bedford Tom with me also but I will permit him to go with you for company, but not Alfred."

Palmer gave all directions as to the roads as he always did. In fact, he cautioned Jake more particularly than usual. He also left orders that a dinner be put up for Jake and Tom to carry with them. Palmer arose early to see Jake off and again cautioned him not to lose his way.

Gideon, Palmer, the wife and Alfred boarded the train. They were to change cars at Harper's Ferry. But Alfred took the train for Winchester, Gideon excitedly calling him to take the other train. "But that train goes to Washington, the man said so," pleaded Alfred.

"Get aboard, quick," shouted Gideon, as he jumped on the moving train.

Alfred ran into the train to Palmer. "Don't we go to Winchester?" he inquired. "Not until next month," answered Palmer.

"Where's Jake and the team going?" asked Alfred. "They told me they were going to Winchester."

Palmer gave a little forced laugh: "Jake was your friend, was he not? I thought so at least. Didn't you regard him as your friend?" inquired Palmer.

"Of course I did," answered Alfred.

Palmer looked at Gideon: "I told you there was something behind this. Didn't I tell you so, eh?"

[310]Gideon seemed undecided; he both nodded and shook his head. Palmer threw one limb over the other and rubbed his dirty hands together. "It was like this: Jake was a partner of mine. We've been having trouble for some time past. Yesterday he accepted a proposition of mine on condition that I was not to mention it to you. He stated you were friends but he did not desire to go into the minstrel business. He feared if you learned he had received his money from me you would be after him hot-foot to invest in a minstrel show."

Alfred's face flushed. He did not deny that he and Jake had conversed many times regarding a minstrel show; Jake seemed greatly interested in it. Alfred fell for Palmer's plausible story. Palmer exhibited that which he claimed was a clear receipt from Jake.

When the party arrived in Washington Alfred was so taken up with the thousand and one places of interest, he took note of nothing save sight-seeing.

Lodging at a little hotel on a side street, Palmer had not been seen for a day or two. To Alfred's inquiry, Gideon mumbled something about new people.

Mrs. Palmer became more anxious-looking every day. Alfred overheard Gideon mention Pharoah to the wife. Alfred connected the Biblical character of that name with the remark. Thinking the matter over he remembered hearing Palmer oftentimes refer to losses or gains at Pharoah. He finally connected it with some sort of a game and made bold to ask Gideon what Palmer had done about old Pharoah. Gideon, with a surprised look, asked how he knew Palmer was sitting in.

"Oh, I heard he was after old Pharoah."

"You've got the pronunciation wrong but the facts right. Palmer was one thousand ahead of the game. I begged him to cash in but that's the way with all who play faro. He didn't know enough to quit the game when he had velvet in front of him."

[311]Palmer had lost all his money but the little savings of his wife. Gideon had a few dollars, but that went also. Alfred had twenty-nine dollars which he refused to loan Palmer. The landlord finally yielded to the arguments of Palmer and Gideon and agreed to permit the baggage to be taken to the depot and, with the panorama, shipped to the next town; he, the landlord, to accompany them until his claims were paid.

The party were off their route. No previous arrangements had been made. None of the religious denominations in the town could be induced to take an interest in the panorama. Finally, the courthouse was secured by rental, but without the influence of the church people, the receipts were not fifty per cent of what they usually were, so Palmer repeatedly stated. The hotel man had to advance money to move the company to the next place of exhibition.

Here the receipts again fell short of the expenses. The hotel man sent home for money finally. Thoroughly disgusted, the hotel man left the party with Palmer's note endorsed by Gideon. He requested Alfred's endorsement also. That gentleman remembered Sammy Steele's advice and very politely declined to attach his signature to the paper. Palmer insisted that Alfred endorse the note, arguing: "It's only a matter of form; I'll take up this note within two weeks." But Alfred did not sign.

Later on, Alfred overheard Palmer cussing Gideon's lax business methods: "Since you have been a missionary you don't know enough to top broom-corn. I told you to hold out everything on that hotel guy and you made him put up only thirteen dollars."

It developed that there were no losses while the hotel man was with the panorama. Palmer made it appear there was in order to get rid of the man.

Alfred wrote Jake a sarcastic letter advising that he thought it would have been more gentlemanly to have[312] informed him of his dislike of the minstrel business instead of talking to Palmer. "I assisted you in every way and I thought you were my friend."

No reply came. "Jake was ashamed to answer," was the conclusion reached by Alfred.

Disgusted with Palmer, homesick, offended at his folks that they did not reply to his letter, he resolved to write no more but next pay day leave the panorama and go home. He so informed Palmer. Palmer's arguments had no effect upon him. Finally Mrs. Palmer persuaded him to remain until they could secure someone to take his place, promising to do so at the first opportunity.

"If it's not too long I'll hold out but I want to go home; I'm homesick."

Mrs. Palmer covered her face with her hands as she cried: "If there is a more distressing feeling than a longing for home I pray to God no one will ever suffer as I have. I've been homesick for years."

Palmer sneered and sarcastically granted her permission to go home at any time she wished. "You and Alfred better go home together." Alfred felt like slapping the man and would have done so had not his wife been present.

Palmer greatly interested the family with whom they were boarding. His long prayers at family worship and his eloquent talk completely captivated the entire family including two fine young men. Alfred the last day of their stay found Palmer rehearsing the elder of the two boys, the younger holding the prompter's book. Later Alfred overheard Palmer assure the old gentleman the panorama was the best money making and the most refined exhibition ever devised.

Two days later the old gentleman, his two boys and another gentleman arrived in the town where the panorama was on exhibition. The report became generally circulated that the panorama had been sold to the old man for his sons.[313] Gideon was to remain as long as they desired his services. Alfred was also a part of the sale. Palmer advised the buyers that Alfred knew as much about the panorama as himself. Alfred very promptly informed the old gentleman that he could not remain longer. This held up the sale. Palmer coaxed, begged and implored the boy to remain with the panorama. He assured the purchasers his only reason for disposing of the panorama was his wife's health. She had been separated from her children for two years, she was a nervous wreck. He had to make the sacrifice no matter what the consequences—his wife's happiness came first. The wife's appearance more than corroborated Palmer's statement.

Finally he offered Alfred one hundred dollars to remain until the new owners learned the way of running the exhibition. Alfred's answer was: "You owe my father two hundred dollars."

"I do not, I owe him only a hundred and ninety dollars," contradicted Palmer.

"Pay my father and I'll stay."

Palmer replied: "I always intended to pay your father; I'll pay him whether you stay or not."

"When will you pay him?" asked Alfred.

"As soon as I get my money from these people."

"Will you give it to me for him?"

"No, I will not. I will pay him as I promised. Your father is not worrying about his money. We're going to paint a panorama in partnership. I expect to be in Brownsville inside of a month, just as soon as I can settle my wife at home."

Alfred agreed to remain. The sale was made, and Alfred was paid one hundred dollars. He wrote the folks at home detailing all the changes, advising that Palmer would be in Brownsville soon to paint a panorama.

Alfred remained two weeks. The new people hired an actor to take his place. They did not do well with the panorama, Gideon remained but a short time after Alfred left.

[314]Palmer forgot to pay Alfred's father; he also forgot to visit Brownsville. Years afterwards Alfred met Palmer. He was painting, he was an artist, so he stated. He looked like a vagrant; there was not much change in his face, only a little more weather beaten, the lines and wrinkles deeper, the eyes more dull and his hands more dirty.

He advised Alfred that he had a contract and the work was partly done, but he could not draw any money until it was completed. "Now Alfred, you know me, you know how I have struggled, you know how the world has been against me. But I'll come back; I'll come into my own. I've got a scheme and I am working it out and it will be a winner. It will put me on Easy Street all the rest of my days."

Alfred knew all of this talk was leading up to a "touch." Alfred had mellowed in his feelings. He had sympathy for the outcast but felt he did not care to waste any charity on the man. He was figuring rapidly mentally: "I will buy him clothing and give him a small sum of money, that's all."

"Now you know my ability to earn money," continued Palmer, "and you know my family. I want you to do me a favor." ("The 'touch' is coming," thought Alfred, "I'll have to give him $20 at least.") "Now, don't refuse me. I will have money as soon as this job is done, and I'll send it to you; I don't want you to give me nothing. I want you to loan it to me. Now Alfred, don't go back on me."

"Well, business is none too good and I have heavy expenses and calls like yours every day. How much do you want?" cautiously inquired Alfred.

"Loan me a dollar," pleaded Palmer.

Alfred handed the man two dollars with a sigh of relief, crediting himself with eighteen. "Where are Mrs. Palmer and Gideon?" asked Alfred.

"Oh, Gideon died years ago. He hadn't nothing to live for; he just laid down and died. Mrs. Palmer is at home; I've got a fine home. The children—oh, one of them married a big[315] orange grove man in California and the other is with her mother."

Alfred afterwards learned that Gideon was dead; that the contract Palmer was working on was decorating mirrors in bar-rooms. Mrs. Palmer was living with relatives. Palmer had not contributed to her support in years. One of the girls was cashier in a store in Kansas City, the other a nurse in a sanatarium.

Palmer died of alcoholic dementia only a year or two ago.

Jake is living in Bedford; he began where he left off—on the farm. When Alfred met Jake he summed up his panorama experience thusly: "Balmur cheated us all; he cheated everybody und got no good oudt uv it. He stoled the letters I wrote you und made you badt frednts mit me. But it iss all gone now and so iss Balmur. I dond't know vich vay he iss gone. He sed I valked straight into hell mit der panorama; I hope he valks straight oudt of it. If he does get in I'll bet dey haff a hard yob to keep him dere; he neffer stays no place long; und I'll bet dey'll be gladt ven he leaves—dat iss if he makes es much troubles in hell as he didt mit der panorama."

It is not necessary to state that Palmer sent Jake to a place he never intended visiting with the panorama. Jake, confused and deceived, made his way home.



Something each day—a smile,
It is not much to give,
But the little gifts of life
Make sweet the days we live.

The world appears different to different persons; to one it is dull, to another bright. Contentment has much to do with it. The pleasant and interesting happenings crowded into the life of one being may arouse envy in another.

The man of genius, the man of imagination will note things in the every-day trend of human affairs that will enrich his memory, store it with wisdom. The man of dulled faculties will never see things in this world as does he who is of a higher intelligence. Two men may travel in a country strange to them, their impressions of the customs, habits of the people, conditions and appearances of the land, will be widely different.

After Alfred's return from the tour with the panorama he became the Sir Oracle of the town. The shoe-shops of Frank McKernan and Nimrod Potts were the gathering places of those who came to hear the stories that Alfred had collected in his travels. Previously the atmosphere of the two shoe-shops had been different. McKernan's shop was the gathering place of those who lived under the teachings of Thomas Jefferson, they were Democrats; the audiences at Pott's shop had formerly been composed of abolitionists.

Nimrod Potts had been an avowed abolitionist.

A change had come over him, politically at least. From a rabid abolitionist he had changed to a dignified Democrat, nor was it lust for office that wrought the change—that unholy feeling which influenced Horace Greeley, who was Potts' political god. Greeley, after twenty-five years of[317] vituperation and personal abuse, such as was never before applied to opponent by political writer, denouncing those who were opposed to his opinions, as representing all that was of vice and violence, crawled to those he had abused for years begging their votes, willing to pretend to espouse their principles to attain office. Horace Greeley's seeking and accepting a Presidential nomination did more to discredit partisan journalism in this country than all other causes combined since the establishment of the Republic.

Dr. Patton, a clean cut man, was the Democratic nominee for Burgess (mayor) of Brownsville. The Doctor was slightly aristocratic in his bearing, and a number of his own party were dissatisfied with his candidacy, although a nomination on the Democratic ticket was equivalent to election. Nimrod Potts was the nominee of the Republican, radical and abolition element; no one imagined Potts had a living chance of election.

The times were propitious for the elevation to office of those of humble origin. Andrew Johnson, a tailor, was then President (by accident). The argument was used, "Why not elevate Nimrod Potts, the cobbler, to the highest office within the gift of the electorate of Brownsville?"

Alfred had unconsciously boosted the candidacy of Potts by publicly announcing that he had visited the tailor shop of Andrew Johnson while in Greenville, Tenn., and that the shoe-shop of Nimrod Potts in Brownsville was much larger and more pretentious than the tailor shop of the man who was then President; and since the qualification for holding or seeking office in those days seemed to be graduation from some sort of a shop, Potts' claims should be considered.

Whether it was this statement or the vagaries that at times influence the minds of voters, Potts was elected.

It is a peculiarity of human nature that people neglect little bills—bar bills, cobbling bills, etc. Now every man in Brownsville did not run bar bills, but every man wore shoes[318] (except in summer). Nimrod Potts had a list of names in the debtor column of his book embracing some of the best known men and hardest men on shoes in town.

When Nimrod instituted what he considered needed reforms in the judiciary system, certain ones of the borough's citizenship—although they had never heard of the Recall—Brownsville had not advanced that far toward Socialism as yet—instituted proceedings in the county court, impeaching Potts. He was removed from office. Those who instituted the ouster proceedings were Republicans. Alfred's Uncle William, who was judge of the court, was a Democrat.

Potts evidently reasoned that it was but natural that a Democratic judge should decide to remove him, but to be assailed by his own party was too much for even his fealty. Hence he proclaimed himself a Democrat and was received with open arms by that party.

The causes that led up to the removal of Nimrod Potts as Burgess of Brownsville are recorded in history. However, the reader may have failed to note this famous "causus bellus" or forgotten it. In expounding the law two points were always kept in view by Burgess Potts—the Constitution of the United States and his cobbling accounts. If either the plaintiff or defendant were indebted to the cobbler, justice was meted out as the law required, with the addition of the amount due for cobbling. The cobbling bill was always added to the costs. If both parties to the case were indebted to the judge the law was bent to apply to the assessing of costs with the cobblers' bills added.

Potts felt the honor that Alfred had conferred upon him in likening him to Andrew Johnson. The gatherings at Potts' shop, of which Alfred was the center of attraction, became more conspicuous than the assemblages at McKernan's. As may be inferred there was bitter rivalry between the two shoe-makers.

[319]It was not long ere doubts were expressed as to the correctness of the word pictures Alfred painted of the country and its people through which he had journeyed while with the panorama. Some folks who had emigrated to Brownsville from Virginia and Maryland could not remember anything of the scenes that Alfred described. Others remembered just such things as he pictured.

Barney Barnhart, who was from Shepperdstown, not only verified Alfred's stories relative to the section where he formally resided but actually bettered some of them.

Alfred was in high repute. He had regained all the prestige lost through his unfortunate connection with Eli. Working for his father by day, relating his panorama exploits by night, he was leading an exemplary life. Some folks ascribed his changed ways to the great moral uplift of the panorama. Uncle Ned gave Palmer credit for the reformation of the boy. Consequently they held Palmer in highest estimation. Alfred had not uttered one word derogatory to Palmer to anyone as yet. He was secretly hoping Palmer would put in an appearance and paint another panorama, that he might get control of it. He felt riches awaited anyone who possessed a panorama.

Even when Alfred pushed a large pumpkin in the round hole of the chimney on Potts' shoe-shop, smoking out the largest gathering to which he had ever described "The Pilgrim's Progress" as shown in panorama—while the auditors stood on the outside of the shop fanning the smoke from their faces with their hats, Alfred, Phoenix-like, stood in the middle of the shoe-shop reciting Palmer's lecture. Alfred was never suspected of smoking his audience out. Instead Potts hiked across the street to Jake Sawyer's grocery and accused Jimmy Edminston of smoking out the temple of justice.

Alfred's talks and recitals aroused considerable interest in John Bunyan's work, "The Pilgrim's Progress." Many[320] were the arguments over the propriety of the work as presented by Palmer's panorama.

Lin said: "Fur the life of me I kan't figger out how Bunyan hed ever hoped thet Christian would turn out good after the load saddled on his shoulders an' the trubles he wus sent through. Why, the devil wouldn't try tu win anyone by abusin' 'em thet way. I do not blame Jake fur kickin' over the traces an' takin' the wrong path, kos I'd jes soon gone tu hell as some uv the places they sent Christian tu."

It was explained to Lin that the book was written as an allegory and the sufferings were to try Christian's faith.

"Allegery or Perregary, I don't kur which. It's jes es bad es burnin' peepul tu deth tu make 'em Christians. Besides, I don't think much uv Christian nohow, the book shows he run away, an' left his wife an' two childrun."

However, it was generally admitted that the panorama had greatly benefited Alfred. Sammy Johnson was no longer teased by him; Alfred even assured him that the Presbyterian Church would soon have a bell and he would be employed to ring it. Ringing a church bell was Sammy's hallucination. Alfred could even enter Johnny Tunstall's grocery, as he no longer shouted "Wrang hule" at the old gentleman. Alfred no longer associated with his former companions, but was more often seen with Teddy Darwin, John LeClair and other good boys.

The Civil War, the Presidential campaign, the fight between the rival steamboat lines, had kept old Brownsville pretty well stirred up for several years, but nothing equaling the excitement caused by the campaign between Potts and Patton had ever been experienced in the old town. Torch-light processions were the popular way of arousing enthusiasm. It was the general belief in those days that the fellow who carried the biggest blaze in the procession was the fellow of most importance. Nowadays it's the fellow who buys the oil and sits on the porch and watches the procession go by.

[321]Cousin Albert was an ardent adherent of the Potts faction. Alfred's father was just as strong for Patton. The father was well disposed toward Albert but he was very much disgusted with Albert's fondness for torch-light processions, particularly when Albert bore a transparency on which was painted, in crude letters, a motto most offensive to Patton men.

The father more than once intimated that Alfred was a very dull boy in some respects. "He can play practical jokes on people who should be exempt, and jokes in which no one but Alfred could see the humor. But there's Albert, who has laid himself liable to have any sort of a joke played upon him, goes Scott free."

Therefore Alfred fancied any joke perpetrated upon Cousin Albert must be pretty strong or the father would stamp it as inane and without humor.

Handbills advertised there would be a parade of the Potts club and the route was given. Alfred knew that Cousin Albert would be at the head of the marchers, bearing a very large transparency, with an offensive motto painted by his father's competitor, Jeffries.

Alfred procured a piece of duck canvas, water proof, about one yard square. Repairing to the Bowman's pasture lot where the cows spent the night near the gate, Alfred, with a scoop shovel, filled the canvas with a half bushel or more of fertilizer. He carried it to Sammy Steele's old tan house where he had once carried food to the exiles. An old finishing table stood under a window from which the sash had long since disappeared. One standing on the table at the opening was six or seven feet higher than the narrow street below.

Drums were beating, the procession was coming, the candle torches showed the parade turning Hogg's corner off Market Street; they were coming toward the old tan-yard. Alfred stood at the window with the canvas containing the mass of fertilizer. As the head of the parade came opposite[322] he could see Cousin Albert outlined against the white-washed fence on the opposite side of the street. Swinging the package a time or two to give it momentum, as one does a club, Alfred loosened his hold on three corners of the canvas. The mess slid out as he had planned it would. He aimed all of it at Cousin Albert.

Alfred was pretty sure aim generally, but he had not experimented with the sort of ammunition he was using on this occasion; he was not familiar with its scattering qualities. Alfred did not have time to either see or hear how his aim had affected Cousin Albert. There was an angry confusion of yells and curses extending down the line of march. Alfred felt sure that something awful had happened.

"Catch him! Hang him!" There was a shuffling of feet in the darkness. Those at the head of the procession had dropped their torches. Alfred's joke on Cousin Albert had spread to some twenty others; in fact, all in line opposite the window were included in the joke.

There was a rush for the old tan-house. Alfred flew. Down the stairs, over the fence, through the widow Cunningham's, across the street, through Captain Cox's yard and into his home, the thoroughly frightened boy fled.

Pete Keifer, who had been in the army, a ninety day man, one of the first to go to the front at the call of duty, one of the first to leave for home after Bull Run, was most vehement in his threats on the lives of those who had broken up the torch light procession. Keifer's hearing was undoubtedly affected by the two pound lump that struck him in the ear, and some scattering. Sammy Rowland's white shirt front caught a cluster as large as a saucer. His wife said she had a feeling something was going to happen when he put on a biled shirt on a week day.

Aaron Todd, who wore a set of whiskers that would have sent him to the Senate had he lived in Kansas, carried home concealed in his whiskers a pound or so of Alfred's joke.

[323]Alfred lay in bed trembling. Every sound, every footstep on the street startled him. When the father returned home he trembled until the bed shook, fearing it was the mob entering the house. He heard his father laughing, also the mother; then he heard footsteps on the stairs. Pretending to be sound asleep he snored loudly. As his father neared the bed he pretended to suddenly awake. The parent carelessly inquired: "How long you been in bed?"

"Oh, I don't know how long, I've been asleep. Why? Is there anything happened?" asked Alfred as he pulled the clothes up over his head to hide his laughter.

The father replied: "Yes there has and I feared you were mixed up in it. I am glad you came in early tonight." Then the father informed Alfred that some half a dozen rowdies had hidden in the old tannery and bombarded the Potts procession with all sorts of missiles and things. He told of the rage of Keifer, the plight of Todd, etc.

Alfred was sorry the joke on Cousin Albert had miscarried but it seemed to him the hand of fate guided his aim, as all those who suffered were unfriendly, all save Sammy Rowland. He was a good friend with whom Alfred had labored in the tan-yard.

Alfred went to sleep laughing and arose laughing. His mirth excited comment; it was so continued. The mother often asserted that Alfred, from the time he was a baby, always awoke laughing in the morning. But his mirth was so uproarious this morning that it caused the father to look worried.

Finally, he called Alfred into an adjoining room. Looking him full in the face he asked: "Did you have a hand in that affair last night?"

Had Alfred been threatened with death he could not have suppressed his laughter. The more he laughed the more serious the father became. He had become satisfied that[324] Alfred was connected with the reprehensible act. The father continued threateningly:

"Well, my boy, you keep on, there will be an end to this kind of work. I cannot protect you if it gets out on you; it will be the worst blow you ever inflicted upon this family." Thus the father talked until Alfred said: "Well, Pap, I hope you are not going to connect me with this thing just because I laughed."

"No, but I have a feeling that you know something of it. Those associated with you in this thing will be very apt to blame it all on you."

"Oh no, they won't. Now, just because I laugh you're going to swear this thing onto me."

"I am not," replied the father. "The whole town is laughing for that matter but it will go none the less hard with those engaged in it. I wouldn't go over in town if I were you," advised the father as he left the room.

Alfred made his way to Potts' shoe-shop, passing the old tan-house on the way. Broken transparency, bits of candles, and other odds and ends were scattered over the ground. The white-washed fence opposite the window in the old tan-house had the appearance of a field covered with snow, with here and there a bit of cedar shrubbery growing on it.

Dennis Isler, Jim Johnson and Piggy Mann were under suspicion. Alfred stood among the crowd and listened in silence to each description of the scene. No two had seen it alike; one man swore there were half a dozen shots fired, another declared a brick knocked the hat off his head without injuring him in the least.

Alfred returned home. The mother and Lin repeatedly inquired as to what he was laughing at. Lin finally, when the mother was not within hearing, with an air "you may fool everybody else but you can't fool me" half whispered: "I know ye done hit. Everybody wud know hit wus ye.[325] Why, look at yer pants laig, up thar in the room, the marks is on hit."

Alfred flew up stairs. The right leg of a fairly good pair of pants was amputated just above the knee. The mother wondered why Alfred gave those pants to Cal Pastor (who had but one leg).

The Clipper had become very friendly. There was scarcely an issue that there was not a complimentary reference to the rising young actor, "an ex-attachee of this paper." The Clipper carried a graphic write-up of the disrupting of the Potts procession. It was headed: "A Dastardly Attempt to Defeat Potts by Discouraging His Supporters." "A most unexpected and unprepared-for assault was perpetrated upon an orderly procession of Brownsville's honest toilers, who were assaulted in the darkness of night with murderous missiles and other things, in a heated campaign with momentous issues involved. The hurling of foul epithets is bad enough but when political opponents hurl such things as were hurled at the Potts adherents it is time to call a halt. Many who were injured by the fusillade declare the onslaught was so unexpected; they were so completely taken by surprise that, had they been killed and interred the assault would not have been more surprising to them. Among those who were in the worst of the affray was that gallant soldier and shingle maker, Peter Keifer. He has also seen service in assisting in arresting Sam Craft who was drafted. Mr. Keifer will devote his time to running down the hellish brigands who are a menace to the liberty of the ballot. Mr. Keifer says he will not be deterred in his purpose."

Among those employed by Alfred's father was one, Node Beckley—"Noah" was his proper name, but all, including his wife, called him Node. In personal appearance he was not unlike Palmer; spare and wiry, slim-faced, a large hooked nose, a tuft of beard on his chin. He had no particular[326] calling or trade; first a hotel keeper, then a house or boat painter, paper hanger or decorator, saloonkeeper, book-agent, banjo player and cheap gambler. He was good-natured. His wife was the head man of the family; what Node lacked in spirit she made up in talk. Node was kind in his way to his wife and children, who accepted his efforts in their behalf without any untoward semblance of gratitude and with many complaints that he did not do more for them. Consequently Node was always on the hustle, or as near so as his indolent disposition would permit him to be.

Isaac Jacquette, John Barnhart, Jim Mann, Cousin Charley and others were continually teasing Node over his many unsuccessful ventures. Node did not always take their joshings good naturedly but would remind them that his time was coming, that he would yet strike a lead that would bring him fortune. He had hinted so often in this manner that Alfred became convinced Node was working on something in secret and became interested in him. The other men ascribed Alfred's fondness for Beckley to the fact that he could perform on the banjo; they often suggested that Alfred and Beckley start a minstrel show.

"A boy's sense all runs to heart; A boy never sees the dark spots on the character of the man he fancies."

Node Beckley was not a man of bad character. Alfred's father dispensed with Beckley's services that he might disrupt the intimacy between the two.

Node opened a saloon, the Rialto, on the corner of Barefoot Square and Market Street. Alfred's father forbade him ever to enter the place. Alfred obeyed. The familiarity continued, the man and boy were often seen together on the street. Cousin Charley tracked them to the barn of the old James Beckley Tavern. Alfred's father feared he was gambling; all the gambling in those days was in haymows or unoccupied buildings in winter, under the trees in summer. The games were "Seven Up" and "Euchre".

[327]Node was of an inventive turn of mind. It is not known whence came the inspiration, nor is it certain that there was an inspiration. However, it can be recorded to the glory of Brownsville that the first flying machine or airship was the invention of a citizen of the old town.

The flying machine was the mysterious creation that Node had so often hinted at. Alfred was deeply interested in the aerial machine. It was planned that the invention should be kept secret from all. Harriet, his wife, knew he was working on an invention of some sort, as he had been engaged in this sort of experimenting a greater part of the time since they wedded. When his perpetual motion machine failed to work "Had" Beckley had lost interest in Node's inventions. Hence, the flying machine under process of construction was known only to Alfred and the inventor. It was their intention to completely surprise the world at large and that part of it in particular bounded by the Brownsville borough lines, by having Node flit over the town and perhaps over the river; then later on, to Uniontown, to Pittsburg and other cities. Then Alfred and Node would travel all over the world exhibiting the flying machine.

In those days steam was the only propelling power. Gasoline engines were unknown, electricity had not been harnessed except for telegraphing. The propelling power of Node's flying machine lay in the arms and legs of the one who soared in it.

The invention was a very simple contrivance, from which very fact Node argued it would be successful. There were two large wings, nine feet in length and of a proportionate breadth, constructed of very light material, and, at Alfred's suggestion, covered with feathers. Alfred felt it would be more apt to fly if it wore feathers. Every backyard, wherein a family killed chickens, ducks or turkeys, was ransacked for feathers. The variegated plumage of the machine would[328] have defied the most learned of ornithologists in defining the species of the bird family to which it belonged.

There was what Node termed a "rear extension." Alfred invariably alluded to it as "her tail." Why he applied the feminine gender to the machine was another of those vagaries of which inventors are always possessed.

Node termed the wings, "side-propellers." The arms of the aerialist were thrust through loops under the wings, hand-holds were at the proper length from the base of the wings. There was a light frame, to which the wings were attached; two light ropes, through pulleys worked by the feet, flopped the rear extension up and down. The rear extension could be also used as a steering apparatus. The entire thing depended upon the movements of the arms. After the machine was far and away up in the air, it would sail as do eagles and buzzards, so Node asserted.

The only doubt Node had was as to possessing strength to raise the thing to the proper height. When he once got in the air, he had no fears of staying there.

Alfred suggested that the first start be made from the steeple of the Episcopal Church. Node seemed pleased with the suggestion. Later, when they walked by the church and gazed up at the heights Node concluded the wings and rear extension would have sufficient air pressure to make the rise from a hill.

The work had progressed to the point where an experimental trial was in sight. Node had been strapped in the frame-work several times. The wings worked perfectly; that is, so long as Node's arms kept in motion. The rear extension did not work so well. Node explained that it would not work until the thing got up in the air where his feet would have free play. He would sit astraddle of a bench, Alfred would hold the frame off the floor, and Node would work his feet. Her "tail" would wobble and fly up and down at a great rate.[329] Its eccentric actions excited the admiration of Alfred. He assured Node that her tail would be the wonder of the world.

"Why, Black Fan's tail never flew around like that, even when she got in the bumble-bee's nest," asserted Alfred.

Node had made several attempts to raise himself from the barn floor, but there was not space to work the machine properly. They determined to arise early some morning, take the machine to Hogg's field, just below the pike and give it a trial. The apparatus was carefully carried to the little mound on the high hill overlooking Dunlap's Creek.

Alfred cautioned Node not to fly down the hill, because it would be a job to carry the machine up the hill.

Trying Out the Flying Machine

Trying Out the Flying Machine

Lin, gazing out of the kitchen window at the chickens picking around in the yard, said: "Lor' a-mighty! What's happened them chickens? They ain't one uf 'em got the shadder uf a tail."

Alfred had even stolen the big fly brush, made of peacock feathers, to birdify Node's flying machine. The extreme end of the rear extension held the long peacock feathers.

[330]That the bird man idea should be carried out Alfred had made a head dress of turkey feathers down the nape of the neck, and chicken feathers in front. When placed on Node's head, with his beaked nose and tuft of chin beard, he appeared very much as one would picture Uncle Joe Cannon robed in Maude Adams' "Chanticler" costume.

Node was strapped in the frame, his arms adjusted to the wings, and Alfred adjusted the head dress against Node's violent protest. He argued: "The dam thing will get over my eyes and I am liable to fly into a tree top. Take it off. I'll wear it after I get the hang of this thing, after I fly awhile."

Several attempts were made at a rise. The rear extension always got out of gear; the ropes and pulley tangled in the rigging. It was decided that Alfred hold the rear extension aloft. Node would run down the hill a few feet launching himself into the air.

Alfred assured Node that he could be of even greater assistance. While the machine was in course of construction Node had his own way in everything. Now he was strapped in the apparatus and any innovation Alfred insisted upon he was powerless to reject. Therefore Alfred hastened home. There was not a clothes prop in his father's garden long enough to suit his ideas, therefore, he ran to the next door neighbor's, Alex Smith's, selecting the longest prop he could find. Hastening to the scene of the ascension, he found Node in anything but an amiable mood.

"What the devil do you mean by strapping me in this thing and running all over town to find a pole to push me up in the air? Do you s'pose I want you to pole me like a raft? You hold up that end of the thing and I'll fly."

Node was mad enough to fly. Against his angry protests Alfred inserted the end of the pole between his legs, held up the tail part of the machine, encouraging Node to take a running start, when he got the proper momentum to shout[331] "Now," and he, Alfred, would give him a lift that was bound to shoot him into the air.

They backed up the hill. Node lowered his arms, the wings resting on the ground, resting himself a bit; turning his bird-like head toward Alfred he asked if there was anyone watching them. Node was evidently not sure in his mind that the flight would be successful. When assured by Alfred that there were no witnesses Node cautioned him not to lift too strongly on the pole which was still between his legs. Looking up in the air as if to gauge the height to which he intended to ascend, he said: "Now get ready and stand by if anything happens when I light."

"Ready?" asked Node, in an eager voice.

"Let her go," was Alfred's reply.

Down the hill ran the two. "Now!" shouted Node.

Alfred put all his power into the lift he gave the man-bird. Node seemed to arise. One of the ropes caught around Alfred's neck nearly severing one of his ears. Alfred fell headlong, rolling over two or three times.

When he arose he directed his gaze heavenward, expecting to see Node soaring through the air. Curses and struggles from a point twenty feet down the hill disclosed the whereabouts of the inventor. Node was lying there, the apparatus in a tangled heap. It was with considerable labor, made more difficult as he was weak from laughter, that Alfred released Node. Criminations and recriminations followed. Node swore he had started on a beautiful flight; he could feel himself going up as light as a soap bubble, just then Alfred's damn fool head-piece flopped down over his eyes, blinding him so he couldn't see what he was doing. He quit flapping his wings and fell like a log. If it hadn't been for the head dress there's no telling where he would have flown to.

Alfred contended that the tailpiece caught on one of his ears and pulled the bird-man back out of the air. As proof he exhibited the lacerated ear. Alfred had assured Node[332] that there were no witnesses. However, the aeronauts had an audience. Jake Beeca and Strap Gaines stood in the road below; Pete Williams, Billy Brubaker and a couple of strangers were looking down from the pike above; Johnny Johnson and Widdy Gould were gazing on the wreck from their back yards. Mary Hart, Jim Hart and Mrs. Smith were at the front gate, inquiring of Lin and Alfred's mother the cause of the strange procession then passing.

The End of the Flight

The End of the Flight

Node came first. He had forgotten his hat and shoes, laid aside to lighten him for his flight, his clothes were literally bespattered with soft, brown earth, his nose scratched, one of his hands bleeding; on his head the bedraggled feather cap. Following behind came Alfred, one ear bleeding, his clothing covered with dirt. In his arms he carried the wrecked flying machine, the rear extension dragging, the beautifully colored peacock feathers trailing the dirt.

Node, with bowed head and abashed manner, walked as though going to his execution. Alfred could scarcely walk at all, the ludicrous ending of the flight, appealed so to his mirth.

[333]Lin gazed curiously at the two as they passed. She scrutinized the flying machine closely, the feathers, the head-dress on Node. She entered the house: "Well, Mary," (addressing the mother), "I've seed a good many funny sights sence Alfurd's been ole enuf tu run aroun' but I'll be durned ef this one ain't the cap sheaf."

"What's happened now?" anxiously queried the mother.

"Well, I ain't seed enuf tu jes zackly say what it is but hit looks like Alfurd hed turned his mind tu a Injun show. He's got Node Beckley into hit; they has things all trimmed with feathers. Now you know what has made our chickens look so bobbed; they ain't one uf 'em thet's got es much tail feathers es a blue bird in poke berry time. An' yer peafowl feather duster,"—here Lin raised her hands—"why they ain't enough left to shoo a pis-ant, let alone a fly. Lor' Mary, hit's orful, they must-a had a sham battul or a war, fer Node is kivered with blood an' Alfurd looked peeled in several places. Node had on a ole feather head dress, barefooted 'ceptin' socks, no hat or coat, kivered with dust and so was Alfurd. He was carryin' the Injun fixin's and laffin'; laffin', why you'd think hit wus the bigges' frolik in the world. Node looked jes es Joe Sandford looked when he shed his wall-paper show duds. I'll jes run over an' see what Had Beckley has tu say. I'll bet she'll rear an' charge when Node gets home."

"Good mornin' Mrs. Beckley, how's all?" was Lin's greeting.

"Won't you walk in, we're all upside down here; walk in ef you can git in fur the dirt and cluttered up house. Node's been up and gone for two hours; I'm waitin' fur him to kum so we kin eat breakfus an' clean up. I have no idee whar he is; your Alfred an' him's together nite an' day now."

Lin looked surprised as she repeated, "Nite an' day? An' what do ye s'pose they is up tu, Mrs. Beckley?"

[334]"Well, I dunno. Node's allus got some notion or other in his head. I never pay no tension to him; ef hit ain't one thing hit's anuther. I rekon hit's a patent rite concern. He's been putterin' on pattern things ever sence we wus married."

"Do they run out at nite much, Node an' Alfurd?" Lin asked.

"Why, every blessed nite and all day Sundays."

Lin suggested: "Maybe they go to Baptus meetin'. Thar havin' a revivul; maybe Node an' Alfurd's thinkin' of jinin' the Baptus Church."

"Huh! Node would be a hell of a Baptus; he's so feared of water he hain't washed his feet this blessed wintur," snapped Mrs. Beckley.

Lin decided in her mind that Mrs. Beckley was entirely ignorant of the scheme her husband and Alfred had under way and she changed tack: "Perhaps they're startin' a show. Has yer husband talked about Injuns tu yer lately?"

"No," answered the wife in open-mouthed wonder, "have you heard they were goun' off tu fight Injuns?"

"No, no," quickly assured Lin, "I didn't mean they wus goin' tu fight Injuns. Yow know Alfurd's full of show notions, an' you know we had a Injun show yer on Jeffres Commons; hit wusn't much uf a show, nuthin' to hit. I thought maybe Node an' Alfurd had got hit into theur noodles to act Injun. Did ye see them things with feathers on them they wus draggin' aroun'? Yes, an' they got pea fowl feathers on too; bet all they hev no luck, pea fowl feathers allus bring bad luck."

Here Node entered the room. His wife scanned him, noting his skinned nose: "Eh, huh, Mr. Injun, I hope ye ain't skulped?" lifting his hat and looking at his head.

Node was considerably taken aback; he muttered something about making it go yet, "but no damn fool could pole him into the air." Poor Node imagined that his secret was[335] out and that all knew of his dismal failure. When he learned that the feathers had deceived all and that the flying machine was looked upon as some sort of show paraphernalia, he humored the deception and admitted that he and Alfred were experimenting with Indian arms and things, thinking of giving an Indian show.

This satisfied Lin. With all her cunning she was easily deceived. Running home she advised the mother that she had guessed it the first guess.

"Lor', hit's no use fur Alfurd tu try tu fool me, I know thet thar boy better'n he knows hisself. I sed, sed I, es soon es I seed Node an' him comin' 'hit's Injun bizness this trip sure.' Why, anybody'd know thet what Alfurd was carryin' wus war hoops; war hoops is what Injuns has got more uf then most anythin' else. But I swear tu goodness I don't see how Node or Alfurd cud pass fur an Injun. Node looked like a skur-crow an' Alfred like a Tom-boy girl. Maybe Alfurd kud be Pokerhuntus an' Node Captin John Smith."

That first attempt at flying but increased the determination to make the thing a success.

The complicated gearing of the rear extension, was supported with one rope. It was double gear previously; now it was single gear. Before, it worked too rapidly and, like Black Fan when under full speed, was liable to go by the head.

Node declared again and again that it was the rear extension that caused him to shoot head-first into the earth. He had just started to rise, he felt himself going up; suddenly the rear extension flew forward, "hit me on the head, your ole Injun feathers pushed down over my eyes, and I had to head her for earth. Why I'd been a fool to gone on up in the air blinded. When a man's flying he's more anxious to see than when he's walking."

Alfred meekly suggested that the fellow with the circus walked the tight-rope blindfolded. Node admitted this fact;[336] "But he had a foothold. If I'd had a foothold all hell wouldn't held me, I'd been flyin' yet."

Often did they settle on a date for the next flight only to have something unforeseen interfere. Node desired a cloudy day with moderate wind. Furthermore, the next flight the course was to be laid out.

Node declared with decision: "I want to have the starting and the stopping points definitely in mind, I want to know just what I am doing. I know this machine will do the work; I've got more strength in my arms than I ever had afore," and here Node would bare his spare arms and fling them about for exercise. "Yes, sir, if my arms hold out I can fly anywhere. I'll start from Town Hill, light on Krepp's Knob an' pick about a bit, rest my wings and fly back agin." Then Node would look down on the river which flowed between—he couldn't swim—and with less enthusiasm add: "But I won't do that yet; I'll wait till I get more used to the machine and the air currents. A man to fly right must understand the air currents jes as a sailor understands the course of the winds. There are currents and cross currents; sometimes they git all tangled up, then I'll just quit flappin' my wings, sink below the disturbance, and fly about below until I git out of them. The main thing is to get the rise."

"Well, I'll give you a lift," suggested Alfred.

"I want no more of your lifts," quickly answered Node.

Finally it was decided that the next flight be made from the roof of the old barn in which the flying machine was housed.

In answer to Lin's query as to what he was doing on the roof of the barn so early in the morning, Alfred carelessly answered: "Oh, I'm making a pigeon box."

Lin said it looked as if they were going to build a mighty big pigeon house.

[337]Alfred declared it would be the proper thing to do to invite a half dozen or more friends to witness the ascension. Node dissented: "Wait until we get the rear extension to working as perfectly as the side propellers and we'll give an exhibition. If you invite anybody in this town to see me fly and anything goes the least bit wrong, they'll walk off and sneer and say: 'He'll never fly.' That's the way they did when I was working on the perpetual motion machine. I had it just about goin', and I invited two or three who I thought were my friends. They looked at it, praised me to my face and said: 'Node, by golly, you got it,' then they went right down street and told everybody that I was a dam fool and that's what disheartened me and I quit working on it. If I hadn't invited anybody to look at my work I'd had perpetual motion down to a nicety today. Why, I invented a magnet with which you could find gold or silver, no matter if it was buried ten feet deep." (It was the belief of many that there was gold buried in the hills around the old town; that eccentric, wealthy persons in the early days had buried.)

"I had this magnet," continued Node, "working to perfection. Well, I took four men with me, and we went around the Point to where a fortune teller told 'Had' there was money buried. We worked along the hill up to where the fortune teller had said the money was. The magnet swung right, then left; suddenly it stopped, then whirled around and around. We all turned pale. There was a smell in the air like the damp in a coal bank. One of the men marked the place and said: 'Node, it's too late to begin digging today; we'll dig tomorrow.' I waited all day, but none of the men came. 'Had' was all excited about it because the fortune teller had described the spot to her; she could tell it with her eyes shut. Well, we walked straight to the place, and what do you suppose?" Node waited for Alfred's reply.

"Well, I expect you found you was fooled," drawled Alfred.

[338]"Yes, that's what we did," asserted Node, "that's jest what we did find, we was fooled, robbed, tricked. There was a hole in the ground four or five feet deep. At the bottom, just the size of a dinner plate and round as a crock, you could tell there had been a crock full of money taken out of the hole. Not one of them fellers thet was with me has ever worked a day since." (Node had forgotten that they had never worked a day previously.)

Node put his hand on the flying machine as he declared: "No, sir, no one shall know a thing about this invention until your Uncle Noah has it so he can do anything a bird can."

The allusion to the hidden wealth impressed Alfred greatly. He became certain Node would make the flying machine a success. Therefore, he built the platform on the barn longer that Node might get a better start. Alfred was strong in the belief that he could greatly aid Node with the clothes prop as before. But at the mere suggestion Node became angry. He threatened to abandon the flight if he caught sight of a clothes prop in Alfred's hands. Node knew full well once he was strapped in the machine Alfred could do anything he chose. He therefore determined that no poles or props should be taken to the roof of the old barn. Alfred had the clothes prop hidden in the barn below. Node happened to discover it, and forthwith ordered Alfred to carry it back to Alex Smith's yard. He never took his eyes off the boy until the prop was leaned against the fence in the yard of the owner.

Node swore he would inform Alex Smith the next time he went by Jacob's store that Alfred was stealing his clothes props, "And you know what that red-headed son-of-a-gun will do to you," threatened Node, as he shook his finger at Alfred.

The morning was propitious; Node said so at least. There were to be no witnesses, but Cousins Charley and George were hidden in John Fear's coal house, Baggy Allison was in[339] Alfred's barn, Jim Hart and Mary were at the upstairs windows in Alex Smith's house—all by invitation of Alfred.

Node was very nervous. Alfred could do nothing to please him. In preparing for the first flight he had Alfred strap his arms in the wings first. He insisted all fastenings should be made ere his arms were strapped. Alfred had occasion to go below. Node watched him closely as he made his reappearance through the hole in the roof, evidently fearing he had brought a pole with him.

Finally, the side propellers were adjusted. Node flapped them a few times, stood on tip-toes, very much like a cock crowing, as Alfred encouragingly assured him that he saw him rising. "If you had only given two or three more flaps with your wings you'd been up in the air sure."

Then in a coaxing manner Alfred continued: "Now Node, if I was you I would not go too far for the first flight; just flit about, then settle and rest. Go at it moderate like."

Node seemed to gain confidence. He walked back and forth, or rather he walked forth and then back, as he could not turn about owing to the rear extension. Node declared it wouldn't bother him in the air.

Node walked to the edge of the barn some three or four times, bending his bird-like head to look down as if measuring the distance. As he backed up after looking down the last time, Alfred sort of taunted him by saying: "If you can't keep yourself from falling hard enough to hurt you, your flying apparatus ain't much account. S'pose you don't fly very high the first time, s'pose you don't fly far, with them wings and that tail you ought to settle so lightly you wouldn't break an egg shell."

This seemed to strengthen the bird-man; he drew in a few deep breaths, gazing heavenward, then across the river at Krepp's Knob, then below him at the river. Alfred was all a-tremble. He remembered that Node said: "You must mark your course, your starting point, your landing place."[340] Alfred wondered in his mind whether Node would cross to Krepp's or only cross Dunlap's Creek over Duck Leonard's mill.

Node flapped his wings again. This time, with each flap of the wings, Alfred gave the rear extension a gentle lift. Node would rise four or five inches with each lift. He did nor realize that Alfred was lending help to his efforts. After a more forcible lift of the tail than any Alfred had yet given it, Node, turning his head, with a triumphant look, shouted: "When I say 'Three,' I'm going, but don't you do anything, jest let me handle her. Let go the rear extension."

Node's Flight

Node's Flight

Pointing the wings heavenward, gazing up as if in prayer, raising himself on his tip-toes, straining every nerve, in a voice tremulous with excitement, he began: "One," stretching higher, he shouted: "Two," rising on his tip-toes, he reached the edge of the barn, as he fairly yelled: "Three."

[341]The wings came down beautifully, but they did not rise again. As Node stepped off the edge of the barn he descended instead of ascending, the rear extension got sort of tangled on the comb of the roof, Node and the machine dangled in the air momentarily.

As Alfred dropped through the opening in the roof, he heard Node claw a time or two at the weather-boarding; something seemed to let go, to rip, then, there was a dull sound as of a bag of sand falling from a height to the earth.

There was the sound of footsteps coming from several directions. Alfred heard all this while he was moving faster than he had ever moved before. Node did not beat him to the earth by a great margin. As Alfred flew out of the door of the barn, he saw Jack Rathmell doubled over the fence laughing as only Jack could laugh.

Ere Node was disentangled from the wrecked airship, ere they escorted him to "Had"—he declined to be carried—Alfred was safely hidden away in Alex Smith's hay mow. Buried under the hay he kept peering through a convenient crack which gave him a view of the territory between his home and Node's residence. Somehow he figured the whole thing would be blamed on him.

First, Lin was seen with her apron around her head going toward Node's house. It was not long until she returned, walking hurriedly. She reappeared in a moment, bearing in her hands something that appeared to be bandages. Then Alfred's father came. In a moment or two he was seen going toward Beckley's house. Then, a little later, the father and two or three others, including Cousin Charley, reappeared, walking toward the old barn. Cousin Charley was evidently describing the attempted flight as he pointed to the roof of the barn. All looked up, then as Charley marked a spot on the manure pile with his foot, all looked down.

The father gathered up a part of the flying machine and carried it home. Standing at the gate he gave a shrill whistle,[342] one that he had used to attract Alfred since he was a little boy. Alfred made no response.

Alfred did not know how badly Node was injured. He felt very sorry for him, he really liked the man. As miserable as he felt, as sorry as he was, the funny side of the affair crept into his mind and, as usual, he relieved himself with a good hearty laugh.

Alfred's laugh was cut short by a voice calling from below: "Who's that? Hey? Who's that?"

Alfred recognized Alex Smith's voice. He remained motionless for a moment.

The voice, part of the way up the ladder leading to the hay mow, called again, this time commandingly: "Who's up in the hay mow? Come down! Come down! Or I'll bring you down."

Alfred remained motionless.

"You won't come down, won't you? Well, you will when I come back." And the voice told Alfred it's owner was leaving the place.

Alfred, climbing down the ladder, left the stable just as the gate slammed announcing Mr. Smith's coming. He stood motionless as Mr. Smith approached. When the elder man recognized the boy he was somewhat surprised.

"Was that you in the haymow?"

"Yes, sir," answered Alfred.

"Why didn't you answer when I called to you?"

Alfred related the whole story. Alex Smith accompanied Alfred home. The story of Node Beckley's flying machine was gone over. The father was mollified.

Lin commented thusly: "One story is good till another's told. I jes kum from Beckley's; Node's not hurt much, jes jarred. He sed he went on the barn to test his apperatus; he wern't ready to fly. An' I don't reckun he wus an' what's more, he never will be. He wus jes straitnin' out the perpellers. He ses: 'Alfurd's been so alfired crazy to hev me fly he[343] jes couldn't wait till I got my apperatus finished. While I wus standin' near the aidge uf the roof, my perpellers hangin' down, Alfurd snook up ahind me an' gin me a push, and afore I could raise my perpellers I wus on the groun'. If I hed knowed hit I could've saved myself an' flew off an' lit in the field.'"

Alfred asked Lin who made this statement. She replied Mrs. Beckley had told it to her.

"If Node told that story I am going over to contradict it, if his back's broken."

"Nevur mind, nevur mind," consoled Lin, "I jes tole 'Had' thet Node wus a bird, an' like all birds, he knowed which way to fly, kase I heard he headed straight fur the manure pile."



Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone;
For this brave old earth must borrow its mirth,
It has trouble enough of its own.

The world does not require the same attainments from all; it is well it is so ordered. Some persons are well taught, some are ill taught, some are not taught at all. Some have naturally good dispositions and absorb learning readily. Some are deficient in mechanical ingenuity and yet can analyze difficult mental problems.

It is no crime to fail in any pursuit or vocation, if failure is not due to idleness or deliberate preference of evil to good. There comes a time in the life of every reasoning person that they must take themselves for better or for worse, that they must take themselves more seriously.

Captain Abrams had unintentionally contributed to Alfred's discontent. He had remarked that to putty up holes, paint a board or smear a hurricane deck was not much of a trade or calling, but to be an artist like Alfred's father was a profession that would bring success.

Alfred could not drive a nail straight; he could not saw a board straight; he was such an awkward writer, the school teacher made fun of his copy book. She advised Alfred that she did this hoping that by publicly reprimanding him he would learn to write a more legible hand. "You excel in spelling, reading, geography and other studies; you should be ashamed of your writing."

The grandfather, the father, the teacher, all liked Alfred. None intended to injure his feelings, yet the taunts, the censure, just and unjust, sunk into Alfred's soul, and, he advised Captain Abrams it was only the duty he owed his father that kept him there a day.

[345]Alfred was low in mind. He sought his father and endeavored to reason with him, but was dismissed with the argument: "You don't want to learn anything useful; if it was something connected with a show, you'd master it mighty quick."

"But father, I have no skill or sleight to work with tools."

The father interrupted with a peremptory: "Do as I did—learn."

"I can't learn," pleaded the boy, "try as I may, I'm not cut out for a mechanic. If I could work like you it would be a pleasure to me to keep at it. I'm out of all heart with my work."

The father evidently felt for the boy as he spoke in a more kindly tone: "You are not lazy; the things that you can do, you do well. Now you painted around that hull quicker than any man at work on the boat. Be a little more patient, take more pains and you'll make a good workman. I will pay you wages, try to make something useful out of yourself. You'll never amount to a hill of beans if you follow up your show notions," pleaded the father.

"Pap, I'm satisfied with what you give, it ain't that. I don't like the work. Of course, I painted the hull of the boat quickly but that's all I can do and Captain Abrams says there's nothing in puttying up nail holes and painting hulls; anybody can learn that in six months."

The father became cross again, and, in a threatening tone, said: "I am your father and it is my duty to do my best for you; I firmly believe I am fulfilling my duty as a parent in ordering you to give up all other notions as to the future and get down to business and learn this trade. Now make up your mind; go at your work with the feeling that you are determined to succeed. If you go at your work in a half-hearted way you are certain to fail."

[346]"Well, that's the way I feel about this work; I can't learn it, I don't want to. There's a dozen other things I'd rather do and I can make more money out of them."

This stubborn talk exasperated the father, and pointing his finger at the boy to emphasize his words, he said: "First, it was circus, then it was minstrels. You tried the newspaper business, you were not satisfied."

"Why, you made me quit newspaper work," interrupted Alfred.

"Don't interrupt me again," cautioned the father, "then it was that infernal panorama. That panorama was the worst of all, it gave you the habit of roving; you've never been satisfied a day since you went off with that panorama."

"But father, you and all your family were willing I should go. You wanted me to go; I didn't want to go, I only wanted to get back the money Palmer cheated you out of."

The father thundered: "Don't you try to saddle your roving onto me. You're not satisfied in any place and never will be. Don't you ever tell me to my face again that I even hinted that you go with the panorama and I don't want you to ever mention that anybody cheated me. I'd like to see the man who can cheat me. Now you go to your work, you're not your own man yet. I am going to send you to the Merrittstown Academy this winter and I want you to settle down. You've had it too easy. When I was a boy I had to get up at 4 o'clock in the morning, make all the fires, milk four cows and feed a pen full of hogs and I had to be done by daylight. You've had it too easy, your mother is the one that's spoiled you. From this day on it's hands off with her; I'll be your boss. Now, don't let me hear more of this roving talk."

"Why, Pap, I haven't said one word about roving. Can't I do other work right here at home if I quit this, I don't have to rove, do I?"

[347]"No, but that's the upshot of all this talk," persisted the father. "Now get down to your work; learn it."

"I can't," doggedly answered the boy. "Didn't you tell me yesterday my fingers were all thumbs? Didn't you tell me in front of all the hands that you were ashamed of me and that you didn't think it possible that a child of yours could be so ignorant and awkward."

The father stammered and colored. He was a most affectionate parent, he was truly sorry that he had humbled the pride of the boy. "Why, my son, the men all know I was only teasing you; they all know you are most intelligent. You can learn anything you set your hand to. Why, when you went to Dr. Playford to learn to be a doctor he informed me as did Bob, that they never knew anyone to learn Latin as quickly as you. You could tell us all the names for medicines. Why, Uncle Jake, Steve Gadd and Joe Gibbons told me the time they took you to Washington County to the turkey shoot, that they'd all been down sick if it hadn't been for you. They say it rained a cold rain and you all got wet. Uncle Jake is subject to the quinsy and he was on the verge of it. They tried the drug store and everywhere and they couldn't get nothing. Steve said you went to the drug store and got all they wanted, only you didn't ask for whiskey; you called it fermenting spirits. Steve said the druggist told him confidentially you ought to be a druggist, you told him things he didn't know before. Now, go at your work as you did at doctoring and you'll learn. It has been the regret of your mother's life that you did not learn to be a doctor. I've sometimes thought old Hare just pretended your medicine made him sick to get out of paying the bill. I don't think Dr. Playford cared one thing about it so far as you was concerned but the other doctors talked so about it he just had to let you go. I've always felt sorry about it because, if any of our family is taken down with a fever, Playford is the only fever doctor in town."

[348]Arguments of this character occurred almost daily. Alfred grew more and more dissatisfied, the father more insistent. Alfred kept up his minstrel work, appearing ever and anon in amateur exhibitions. Folks kept pouring it into his ears: "Well, if I had your talent this town wouldn't hold me fifteen minutes; I'd take the boat for Pittsburg tonight. What does your father mean by holding you down in this way? Does your mother favor it? Why, your folks are standing in their own light. If I had a boy like you I'd hire him out and travel with him," was Shuban Lee's comment.

All this was not calculated to cool the ardor of an ambitious amateur. Alfred read the New York Clipper weekly. He wrote many letters to many minstrel managers to which he did not receive replies.

Charles Duprez, of Duprez and Benedict, answered one of Alfred's letters thusly:

Dear Sir:

In answer to your letter—do you double in brass?

Charles Duprez.

Alfred read and re-read the letter and finally answered:

Mr. Charles Duprez:

Respected Sir: I do not double in brass or anything else. I'm a minstrel, not a contortionist.

Alfred Griffith Hatfield.

No reply ever came. Alfred concluded the minstrel field was overcrowded or managers would not have permitted him to remain idle, especially in view of the fact that he had offered to give their full performance, for as low as twenty dollars a month, washing and mending. To one manager he added a confidential P. S.: "If you are not doing very well I can put you on to a good thing, a panorama. I'm a panoramist."

Alfred turned his attention to acrobatics. Every spare hour was spent on the tan bark pile with Lint Dutton,[349] James Todd Livingston, Tom White and Lash Hyatt. Lint Dutton was determined to learn bare-back riding. Sneaking his father's horse from the barn, he would endeavor to stand alone on the back of the animal, Alfred playing clown and Bindley Livingston ringmaster. Mr. Dutton, after Lint had fallen and nearly broken his back, locked up the horse. Lint determined to give up bare-back riding and practice the Indian style of horsemanship. Many are the persons who had narrow escapes from being run over by Lint as his horse galloped up and down the back streets of the town, wearing the old feather head-dress that Node wore in his attempts to fly.

Alfred and Bindley Livingston constructed a trapeze. Completed, it was suspended to the roof of the cow stable; the boys spent many hours practicing. The climax of the act, Livingston, the stronger of the two, hung by his knees on the little horizontal bar above, holding Alfred by the ankles both hanging head downwards, swinging to and fro, as does the pendulum of a clock; the limitations of the stable would not permit the swinging part of the performance. A large locust tree in Bowman's pasture lot, near Alfred's home, was selected as the best possible place to try out the double trapeze act.

From a limb of the tree, Hen Ragor, the assistant in the performance, suspended the trapeze. The news spread that there would be some wonderful acting in the old pasture lot, Saturday afternoon, always a holiday to every boy and girl in old Brownsville to go fishing, swimming, nutting or berrying. On this particular Saturday all the boys and girls hied themselves to the old pasture lot; nor was the gathering confined to the younger set; a few of the adults were attracted. They stood at a distance, viewing the doings; however, not one of them but had a vantage position.

As the exercises went along, Danny Gummert, George Pee, Denbow Simpson and Alf McCormick, drew nearer.[350] Caroline Baldwin, seated on the fence, yelled: "Come in and look out, you can see better." This brought a laugh and a few of the elders outside of the pasture sauntered a little ways off only to come nearer as the applause and laughter grew louder.

Alfred had covered himself with all sorts of glory in the numerous numbers in which he had participated. Caroline Baldwin, who, with her brothers Clarke and Charley, occupied two entire private boxes, (two panels of fence), proclaimed during an intermission that Alfred was the greatest actor in the country; "it was just shameful he was held down when people all over the country were pantin' to see him do his showin'."

Lin declared: "Nobody in eny show thet's ben yere in years kin hol' a candul tu him; they can't tech him. He kin walk ontu his hans better en some peepul kin on thar feet." Here Lin cast a withering glance at Jack Beckley that would have sobered one less saturated.

Jack returned Lin's look with a vague grin, saying: "I'm drunk and glad of it."

Lin gave him a smart push as she ordered him to keep his distance: "I smell licker on yer close."

"Excuse me—I didn't—no—I hed—spilled eny—of hit." Jack seated himself on the grass, unheeding the jibes of the little boys and girls. He was a good natured tippler. In fact, he seemed pleased that his condition was furnishing fun for the crowd.

No blare of trumpet or beat of drum announced the coming of the death-defying gladiators; no eloquent orator was there to describe their deeds. Unheralded, unannounced, without applause or acclamation Alfred and Bindley emerged from their dressing room, Baldwin's barn. Crossing the narrow alley, climbing the fence they stood under the shade of the trapeze tree, the open-mouthed, craned neck cynosure of all eyes, excepting Jack Beckley's—he had gone to sleep.

[351]The silence that greeted the duo was broken only by sotto voce remarks of Lin, taking a mental inventory of Alfred, or rather, his costume. He was attired in a red waist trimmed with beads, white tights, long, bright green, silk stockings tied with broad yellow ribbon garters, a big, double bow knot on the outside of each limb; a bright red nubia or neck comforter wound about his middle; no pumps, shoes or other covering on his feet.

The Aerialist's Debut

The Aerialist's Debut

The silence that greeted the appearance of Alfred was broken. Jack Beckley lying on the ground too listless and drunk to raise his eyes higher than Alfred's green stockings, noticed the great expanse of feet in them, seemingly larger by the spread of the loose stockings. He remarked to those near him: "Thar's a heap uf thet one doubled down on the groun'."

Lin spoke as if to herself: "Well, I'll be tee-to-tully durned. Ef thet harum scarum devul hain't got my nit drawurs on fur tites, an' they fit him like sassage guts that's too big fur the fillin'. An', an'," Lin craned her neck towards Alfred, "an', an', by jiggurs, ef he ain't a wearin' Mary's (the mother's) green silk stockin's she used tu dance an' frolik in when she was a gal; an' Aunt Lib's worked, beaded Jenny Lind waist; an' Lizzie's new red nubby woun' roun' his shad belly. Ef he ain't stole the yaller ribbon offen Sal Whitmire's weddin' bonnit, I'm blind. Well, jus' wate, jus wate. Ef thar ain't a nuther circus to home tonite it'll be bekase his daddy ain't well."

[352]Alfred and Bindley bowed low, right and left, kissing their hands to the audience, then saluting the trapeze in turn. (This pantomime introduction they had copied from Mathews and Hunting, noted trapezists in those days.) However, the same salutes have been employed by all aerialists these many years, therefore Alfred and Bindley should not be charged with stealing the business of others.

Preparatory to ascending to the trapeze Alfred unwound the nubia from his waist, casting it on the ground. Lin grabbed it up with a look that seemed to say: "Thank Gawd, I'll get that anyhow."

Trapeze performers usually ascend to their rigging on a net webbing, hand over hand sailor fashion. Alfred and Bindley, after their bows and salutes, climbed up the trunk of the tree to the limb on which their trapeze was suspended. Coon like, they crawled out on the limb and lowered themselves to the trapeze.

They kissed their hands to the uplifted faces below. At an agreed signal they bent backward, beginning with the feats performed by all trapezists. After every trick the aerialists would come up smiling, seated on the lower bar, side by side. Turning themselves upside down—which is the clearest explanation that can be written—they hooked their feet over the short bar in the small swing above and hung motionless head downward with folded arms.

As they thus clung one of the yellow ribbons or garters on Alfred's limb became loosened. The long ribbon fluttered in the air, furling and unfurling it gracefully descended.

Lin reached up her hands to catch it, muttering through her set teeth: "I wonder ef he'll shed the rest uf his borryed plumes. I wish he wud. Stretchin' an' crawlin' about he'll bust 'em sure." And Lin looked at Alfred's limbs with an anxious expression: "Ef he does you kan't sew 'em an' I ain't got no yarn thet'll match tu darn 'em."

[353]The last feat was the hanging head downward by Bindley, clasping Alfred by the ankles. Hen Ragor, with the aid of a rope cast over the lower bar, pulled the performers, backwards and forwards. When the proper momentum was gained Alfred released his hand hold on the bar. Henry was to hold the bar away from the swing of the human pendulum until Alfred clapped his hands. He was then supposed to slacken the rope in his hands permitting the bar to swing within the grasp of Alfred.

This was the rehearsed procedure to carry the thrilling feat to the proper climax. Henry swung the trapeze too forcibly, one end of the rope slipped out of his hands and pulled loose from the trapeze bar. The lower bar fouled in the branches of the tree.

Alfred was clapping his hands violently for the trapeze. Henry was endeavoring to cast the rope over the bar, his efforts resulting in failure after failure. Finally in his excitement he endeavored to cast the rope up to Alfred. The pendulum had nearly stopped swinging, and Alfred was waving his arms, clapping his hands and begging piteously for the big trapeze swing.

Bindley above was holding on to the boy below. He implored Alfred to climb up to him. Effort after effort was made by Alfred to do so, but he hung limp and helpless. He could not command sufficient strength to pull his body up. He clutched at Lin's unmentionables as he hung head downward. The earth seemed a long way from him and things on it upside down.

The boys below were yelling in their excitement, the girls had covered their faces, the grown folks, who had stood afar, rushed to the scene.

Never will Alfred forget the few moments he was suspended thus, nor will he fail to remember to his dying day the first message he received from the man above. There was a splash, an incipient shower of warmish liquid falling[354] on Alfred's upturned chin. Alfred wiped it off with his hand; fearing it was blood he scanned it closely. He was greatly relieved when he discovered that it was tobacco juice. (Bindley always chewed when acting).

Following the juice came this message: "I can't hold you all day, come up here or I'll come down there."

Alfred made frantic grabs, clutches and wiggles to climb up, only to fall back, more helpless. Hen was making an effort to throw the rope to Alfred. Lin grabbed him. Snatching the rope from him, she shouted: "Clim' the tree, clim' the tree, loose the swing, ye dam fool." Hen had started up the tree. A flood of hot juice rained down on Alfred's upturned chin, flowing into his mouth.

Bindley, with clinched teeth, muttered: "If you get killed it's your own fault, I can't hold you any longer."

Alfred could see old Mrs. Wagner at an upstairs window waving a book at Kenney Shoup urging to the rescue. He could hear voices as if in the distance. He felt a lowering of his body. He felt himself rushing through space. He made an effort to look up, and then all was blank.

He had a numb feeling in his whole body. "Stan' back, stan' back, gin him air, wash thet tobakker juice off his face, hit luks like blud," were the first words he caught. His eyes were wide open.

"Pour water on his head; Lor' don't pour hit down his bosum, you'll ruin Lib's worked waist. Open the gate an' we'll carry him hum an' fetch a doctur, ef thar's no bones broke he may be hurt innerdly."

Alfred raised himself up. He looked up into the faces about him. "Where's Bindley?" were the first words he uttered.

"Oh, I'm all right," Alfred assured him, "we'll do it all right tomorrow, won't we Bindley?"

Bindley nodded his head, doubtfully. Alfred attempted to walk but would have fallen had not helping hands been[355] stretched out, easing him down until he rested on all fours. He commanded all to release him: "Let me alone, I'm all right. Come on home with me, Bindley." Painfully, slowly he started, crawling toward the opened gate, over the spot where he had collected the ammunition that disbanded the torch-light parade; nor did he turn aside for anything. Not unlike a four-footed animal he made his way to the middle of the street. He attempted to arise. Again weakness, or pain, bore him down. Hands that were willing to assist him before he crawled through the cow pasture, were now held aloof.

Lin, as she saw him fall in the dust, said: "Well, ef he ain't a sight on airth. Kum on James Todd, help him hum; an' you boys strip him while I heat a kittle uf water, till we git him so the doctur kin handle him."

Alfred staggered to his feet again, Bindley and Charley Brashear supporting him on either side. Thus, the limping procession slowly moved homeward, the young ones and a few grown-up ones bringing up the rear. These latter were re-telling the story of the accident for the twentieth time, usually concluding with: "Bindley is a fool; he had further to fall than Alfred; he didn't have to fall, he could have just flopped Alfred over and turned him so he would have lit on his feet and let him go. No, dam if he didn't hold on 'til he petered out and down they both come like two bags of salt. Alfred hit full length, it's a wonder it hadn't busted him. Bindley lit sort of half standing, but he got right up and limped a little and it was all over with him, but tother one was knocked colder than a wedge."

Alfred had been feverish, hot. The great amount of water poured over him to revive him had run down his body, and the many pads in the maiden Aunt's garment absorbed the water. Alfred complained of feeling cold.

[356]Someone whispered behind him: "That's a bad sign. When that Jones boy got throwed off a horse, nobody thought he wus hurt much but he turned cold just afore he died."

Aaron Todd stood at his gate with a cynical smile spreading over the small expanse of face not hidden by whiskers. He viewed the plight of the boy with evident pleasure. As Alfred, with the assistance of his companions, entered the gate leading to his home, Todd elevated his nose, and turning about as though to enter his house, sneeringly muttered: "Dad-burn him; he got a dose of his own medicine. Ho, ho, ho; chickens comes home to roost, don't they?"

Lin led the way, as she commanded. "Kum on in through the kitchen, it won't du fur ye tu track over the front room carpet."

With bowed head, leaning on his companions, Alfred limped to the kitchen door. Bindley and Charley disrobed him. Placing a big, tin vessel in the middle of the kitchen floor, they soused Alfred into it.

There was not a bath room, private or public, in Brownsville in those days. Wash tubs were used in winter, the creek and river in summer. Once there came an oldish, high-toned lady from Richmond. She lodged with Isaac Vance at the Marshall House. He bought a new carpet and other fine furnishings for her room. It was an unusually warm summer. One day Vance noticed the colored porter carrying a tub to the lady's room: "Yer, yer, where yer goin' with thet tub?" demanded the proprietor of the hotel. "I'se jes carryin' it up tu Mrs. So and So's room," answered the colored man. "What's she goin' to do with thet tub this hot weather" inquired the landlord. "I reckon she's gwine to wash herself; she sed she's gwine to take a bath, I ges dat's washin' herself." "Huh!" snorted Vance, "not in this house in this weather. Ef it wus winter I wouldn't mind it, but I won't have her floppin' aroun' up thar like a dam ole goose, splashin' water all over thet new carpet. Take thet tub back to the[357] cellar, an' you go up an' tell her ef she needs a wash to go to the crik like I do."

Alfred was put to bed. The doctor, after careful examination, declared no bones were broken, there were bad bruises and might be internal injuries. However, it would require several days to fully determine, meanwhile the patient must be kept very quiet.

Lin advised the doctor: "He lit mos' settin'; ef he'd hed a littul further tu fall he'd lit flat on his settin' down attitudes."

A bottle of liniment was ordered, and Alfred rubbed often with the preparation. John Barnhardt and Cousin Charley volunteered to sit up with Alfred the first night. Alfred regained his good humor, laughed and jested over the termination of the trapeze act until all agreed he was in no danger whatever. "Why, he's jes carryin' on same es he allus does; hit nevur fazed him," Lin assured the mother.

However, when the doctor called the following morning and Lin confidentially advised him that the boy was all right and he needn't lay abed another minute, the doctor dissented, insisting that the patient remain quiet, at least another twenty-four hours.

Jim Mann agreed to sit up the next night. The father requested Jim to get someone to sit up with him for company. It was getting late, Lin was dozing, Alfred urging her to go to bed. There was a knock on the door; both felt sure it was Jim. Lin opened the door; there stood Jack Beckley and in about the same condition as the day before.

Lin hesitated to admit him. Jack explained that Jim had invited him to sit up with Alfred. He said: "Jim and Dave Adams had a quarrel and Jim threw a pot of white paint on Adams, covering him from head to foot. Jim don't know whether he will be arrested or not; he does not want to be arrested and locked up at night when he can't give bail, so he sent me to look after Alfred."

[358]Lin, when Jack's attention was elsewhere, whispered to Alfred: "Don't close a eye tunite, sleep tumorrer; ye can't tell what a whusky drinkin' man'll du, thar's no dependence in 'em."

Jack was a most attentive nurse, in the early hours of the night at least. He hovered over the bed at the slightest move of the patient. He insisted on using the liniment almost constantly, declaring he would rub all the soreness out of Alfred's bruises before morning. Alfred, half asleep, remembered Jack saying something about looking for more liniment.

Jack left the house ere any of the family arose. Alfred was loud in his praise of Jack's kindness and declared him the best hand in the sick room he had ever seen. The mother was sorry he went off without breakfast. The father said he would hand him a piece of money when he met him.

Alfred insisted that he had entirely recovered; Jack had rubbed all the soreness out of his hurts and he would not lie longer in bed. The father and mother commanded he lie until the doctor assured them danger had passed. The doctor called, and Alfred assured him he was all well and wanted to get up and go to work that very day. The doctor said: "Well, you ought to know how you feel. Have you any soreness in your joints or muscles?"

"No, sir; Jack Beckley rubbed all the soreness out of me last night."

"Turn over, let me see if there is any evidence of bruises." The doctor seemed deeply interested. Alfred could not see his face but he seemed to be critically examining him. He would tap various places on the bruised part of Alfred's anatomy. "Does that hurt? Does that pain you?" would be the question after each tap, to which Alfred would invariably answer: "No, sir; no, sir."

After studying a few moments the doctor passed into another part of the house; he was evidently conferring with[359] the mother. Returning he again took Alfred's temperature, examining the tongue even more carefully than previously. The doctor remarked, as if to himself: "It's curious. Did you sleep; have you no pain?" Again he turned Alfred over and gazed long at the parts of the body supposed to be bruised.

Alfred began to get interested: "What's the matter, Doc; have you found any bones broken?"

"No, no, nothing of that kind. But the bruises; have you no soreness."

Alfred assured him that he had not.

"I will be back in an hour," was the conclusion of the doctor's instructions to Lin.

When Lin entered the room Alfred's first anxious query was: "What's the matter with the doctor, he wants to make you sick whether you are or not. I'm going to get out of this bed this day; I'll not lay here any longer."

Here the mother entered cautioning Alfred to remain entirely quiet. "I'm going over to see grandmother; she is not well. I will bring your father home with me; the doctor will return by that time and we will know what to do for you."

Later Mrs. Wagner came, a good-natured, motherly, old German woman, a near neighbor. Among her neighbors, she was esteemed as one whose knowledge was invaluable in the sick room. She insisted upon examining Alfred's condition. Although he insisted he was all right the old lady was permitted to examine his bruises. She left the room, returning soon with a large, hot poultice, applying it. Alfred grew rapidly worse.

The doctor soon returned. At every pressure of his fingers he found a new sore spot. "Does that hurt?" "Yes, sir," would be the answer from Alfred. Warm teas were administered, cold towels were placed on his head, and[360] hot poultices on other parts of his anatomy. Alfred feebly acknowledged he was feeling very badly.

The father and mother came and with them the grandmother. When alone, the father advised Alfred that his body was a solid mass of bruises, that the flesh had turned black and blue. Alfred heard Lin whisper something about "mortification hed set in an' the doctor feared blood pizen."

The family were at dinner—Alfred had been placed upon a diet of squab broth, none of the flesh, just the broth—Alfred quietly arose and, with the aid of the big looking glass, (mirrors had not been discovered as yet, in Brownsville), and a contortion feat such as he had never attempted previously, he scanned the bruised parts. Lin's worst fears seemed confirmed; all his person reflected in the looking glass was black as ink, as he expressed it.

Good Mrs. Wagner, with the doctor's permission, continued applying the hot poultices. Alfred's misery increased near night when the nurses advised him to calm himself as the bruised blood was rapidly disappearing. Alfred urged the good woman on by declaring the poultices were getting cold, although they had been applied but a moment or so.

Uncle Ned came to sit up. He greatly increased Alfred's nervousness by his attempts at consolation. He showed Alfred the error of his ways, assuring him he might have been killed outright and that his foolish ambitions to become an actor would probably lay him up for weeks, that it would cost his father a lot of money and possibly leave Alfred with his health impaired for a year to come.

Alfred, to get relief, implored the uncle to bring in more poultices. He kept the good uncle so busy his lecture was greatly interrupted.

In answer to the doctor's first question: "How do you feel this morning?" Alfred replied: "Very weak; I had no sleep last night."

[361]The doctor examined the patient carefully. "Does that hurt?" "No, sir," answered the sufferer. "Well, you're coming around all right; the blood is circulating and the bruises are much better, your flesh is assuming its natural color."

"Doctor, I think that liniment had something to do with my trouble, don't you? It nearly burned me up and the turpentine in it smelled so I could hardly stand it. I told Jack when he was rubbing me it felt like he was raising blisters."

The doctor interrupted the patient by hastily correcting him as to there being any turpentine in the liniment.

"I know there was, I've worked with turpentine too long not to know the smell of it," persisted Alfred.

Lin also declared the whole house smelled so of turpentine she was compelled to change the bed clothes. "Ye kan't tell what a man thet drinks licker like water mought take intu his hed to rub ontu a body. I wanted tu hist him when he fust kum, but no, Jim Mann sent him an' he mus' stay."

"Where's that bottle of liniment I sent here," demanded the doctor.

Lin opened the closet door and handed out two bottles. One of them contained a few drops of an amber colored fluid. "This is the lotion I prescribed," said the doctor, and he poured a few drops of the liquid in the hollow of his hand. Rubbing his hands briskly he held both palms over his nostrils. Sniffing it he drew his hands back, his eyes watering. "There's no turpentine in that mixture." He held his hands over Lin's nostrils and triumphantly asked if she could detect the odor of turpentine. Lin admitted that it had no scent of turpentine. The doctor held his hands over Alfred's face: "Where's your turpentine? You're a good judge of turpentine and you work in it every day and cannot detect the odor of it from alcohol, wintergreen and chloroform." The doctor laughed as he seldom laughed.

Calling the mother the doctor laughingly poked a great deal of fun at Lin: "I wouldn't want Alfred or Lin to buy[362] turpentine for me." He kept the fun going by reminding Alfred that Jeffries (the father's competitor) was probably correct when he spread the report that the father used benzine in his paint instead of turpentine. This was a center shot at Alfred. The report had been circulated that his father used benzine to mix his paint with. During the war the price of turpentine was almost prohibitive and benzine was used by many painters. It was not a good substitute and it was a common thing for one contractor to injure another by circulating the report that his competitor used benzine.

Raising himself up in bed Alfred stoutly reiterated that it was turpentine he smelled in the liniment.

Lin said: "Durned ef ye kin fool me in the smell uf enything; my snoot nevur lies. I not only smelt hit but ye kud taste hit."

The mother added her observations to Alfred's and Lin's insisting the room smelled as strongly of turpentine as though it had just been painted. "I was compelled to open the windows," she said.

The doctor could not combat the new evidence, it was too direct. "Well, if there was turpentine rubbed on this boy, Jack Beckley brought it here. Have you any turpentine in the house he could have gotten at?"

The mother and Lin both declared there was not a drop of turpentine in the house.

The doctor left with orders to continue the poultices.

Bindley called with his coat pockets full of green apples. Emptying the unmatured fruit on the bed, he cautioned Alfred to eat salt on them and they wouldn't hurt him. Bindley was insulted when the green apples were thrown out by Lin, with the remark: "Huh! He's got enough pizen in his sistum without loadin' him up with worms."

The turpentine story was detailed to the father with the benzine reflection, and he was hot under the collar. He sent[363] Bindley forthwith to locate Jack Beckley and bring him to the house: "But don't say one word to him about what we want him for."

The report had spread that Alfred was in a serious condition. Many were the callers and many the comments on the accident. Mrs. Todd said: "Well, I can't understand why it was that the Livingston boy, who was the higher up and fell the farthest, escaped injury, and Alfred was hurt so badly. They say Livingston could have saved himself the fall. They say he risked his life to save Alfred. I can't just understand how Alfred got hurt so badly; it seems like a visitation of Providence; you know Alfred has been so forward in his devilment with other folks."

Lin flared up as she answered: "An' I kan't fur the life uf me figger out how Bindley fell so much higher down then Alfurd an' didn't break his back. But judgin' by the terbakker juce he spilled on Alfurd afore he fell he mus' dropped his quid an' then fell on hit an' thet broke his fall."

There is no denying the fact that the accident made Bindley the hero and Alfred the goat. Peter Hunt said: "Bindley was prompted by that sense of duty one boy feels toward another. He held Alfred until he could hold no longer, and when strength gave out, he fell with Alfred. It was an act of heroism."

Peter said there were two bodies falling with equal velocity; if one had fallen on top of the other the concussion would not have been great.

Johnny Tunstall said of Alfred: "Huh! The munkey devil; ye kudn't kill him with a hax."

George Fee expressed his sorrow thusly: "It's a great pity they fell; I tole Susan so, for when they wus up in them swings they wus nearer Heavun un they'll ever git again."

Aaron Todd pushed his whiskers over the garden fence, inquiring of Lin as to Alfred's condition: "He's purty badly hurt I fear," he began, and, with a tone that betokened any[364]thing but sympathy: "Hurt internally I reckon. He'll hardly pull through ef he hes blood pizening; I never knowed anybody thet hed hit internally thet evur got up again."

"Oh, my!" and Lin pretended to be greatly surprised, "Oh, my, Alfurd's all right. Why he's up an' about. Ef you're goin' out on a torch-lite percession soon ye'll hear from him." Todd's face clouded, pulling his whiskers over the fence into his own yard, muttered: "The luck of sum peepul beats hell."

The doctor and Jack arrived. "What kind of liniment did you apply to Alfred's bruises?" sternly demanded the doctor.

"I dunno," quietly answered Jack, "your liniment I reckon."

And Thar's the Very Bottle

"And Thar's the Very Bottle"

"Was there turpentine in the liniment you used?" continued the doctor, not regarding Jack's reply.

"Well I should say; hit nearly burnt my han' off, hit tuk all the skin off twixt the fingers; my han' wus jus' like when I hed the itch. I've been greasin' hit with hog's lard an' elder bark ever since," and Jack pulled his hand out of his pocket and held it up to the doctor's view.

[365]The doctor bent over the hand; it was discolored with small blackish spots. "Where did you get the liniment; did you bring it with you?" more sternly demanded the doctor.

"No, sir, I didn't bring hit with me," somewhat impudently answered Jack, "I'm no hopathekary; I got the liniment right thar," pointing to the closet door, "an' thar's the very bottle," continued Jack as he opened the closet door.

Taking the large bottle off the shelf with both hands he passed it to the doctor who shook and uncorked it. As he was in the act of smelling it the father entered the room. Turning toward him the doctor, with his nose still at the neck of the bottle, inquired: "John, where did you get this stuff, this liniment?"

"Liniment?" the father repeated, as he reached for the bottle. "Liniment? Why, doc, that's not liniment. Who said it was? Why, I've been experimenting with that stuff nearly a year. That's not liniment, thet's walnut stain; I can stain anything to resemble walnut. We—"

The remainder of the father's recommendation was lost in the laugh. Alfred kicked the bedclothes over the headboard; the women-folks ran, the doctor did not remain to see Jack remove the mortification from Alfred's body.

When Jack had scrubbed, rinsed and dried the supposedly affected portion of Alfred's anatomy, he assured him the black and blue color had been supplanted by a redness of the skin that was remarkable. "Hit's es red es scarlet," was Jack's comparison.

"Well for Heavens' sake, Jack, keep it quiet or they'll be doctoring me for scarlet fever," cautioned Alfred.

As the doctor walked up the path toward the front gate Lin shouted after him: "Doctur, ye kin tell ole Jeffres thet John uses turpentine in his liniment ef he don't in his paints."



Thank God for the man who is cheerful,
In spite of life's troubles, I say;
Who sings of a brighter tomorrow
Because of the clouds today.

Then came a letter—whatever you may be, your parents were probably more so about the same age; but the world is wiser now than then, the boy world at least. The writer had heard of Alfred and his wonderful talents; he was organizing a minstrel show and would like to negotiate with him. The new organization would be one of the most complete in the country; it would be an honor to anyone to be connected with it. Benedict would head the company.

Duprez and Benedict's was one of the leading minstrel companies of the period. How was Alfred to know the Benedict who was to head the new show was not Lew Benedict?

Alfred engaged with the Great Benedict Minstrels. Rehearsals were called for 10 a. m. daily, but were generally called off until 3 p. m., by which time the principals were in such a jolly mood they did not require rehearsals; they felt funny enough to entertain royalty.

The manager, or more properly, the angel, for angel he was, seemed more desirous of making a reputation in bar rooms than with his show.

Alfred learned the minstrels were being organized to invade the oil regions where money grew on derricks. After subduing the oil territory the angel was supposed to become so favorably impressed with the possibilities of the enterprise, augmenting the company, he would treat the larger cities to a sight of the mighty monarch of the minstrel world.

[367]Doctor McClintock and wife lived near Rouseville, Pa. Childless, they adopted a boy, John W. Steele. Prior to the discovery of coal oil, the worn out fields of that locality were valueless. Now broad acres were as valuable as the diamond fields of South Africa. Never in the wildest days of the gold excitement in California was money more rapidly accumulated or squandered than in the oil regions of Pennsylvania.

Johnny Steele fell heir to all the lands of Dr. McClintock. Wealth rolled in upon him; he entered upon a career of extravagance. He spent thousands of dollars daily, he literally cast money to the winds. His notoriety spread to the furthermost limits of the country; the daily papers, the weeklies, the monthlies printed exaggerated accounts of his profligacy.

Skiff and Gaylord's Minstrels crossed the path of "Coal Oil Johnny," as Steele had been dubbed. Lew Gaylord made a great ado over the spendthrift. Steele accompanied the minstrels for a few days; their pathway was one wide streak of hilarity. When hotel men complained of the boisterous behavior of Steele the coal oil spendthrift bought the hotel for their stay.

"Coal Oil Johnny" was the sensation of the day. He bought the minstrel boys hats, coats, shoes, trunks and that most coveted minstrel decoration, a diamond.

The minstrels flourished for a few months. The public rebuked the unenviable notoriety of "Coal Oil Johnny." The minstrels steadily declined. "Coal Oil Johnny" went down with them. His money gone, he was made treasurer of the troupe his prodigality had ruined. When the ending came there was none so poor as he. Hotels where he had spent thousands, refused him even a night's lodging. He went back to the farm; the acres he had cultivated were covered with oil derricks; the friends he knew had departed; he was almost a stranger save for the notoriety he had[368] acquired. Unabashed he seemed to take a pride in the spendthrift race he had run. He drove a baggage wagon; afterwards he became the baggage master at the depot in Rouseville.

There never was a full rehearsal of the minstrels ere they embarked for Parker's Landing on the good boat "Jim Rees." There was no railroad to the oil regions from Pittsburgh in those days. The Allegheny River was navigable to Venango, opposite the present Oil City.

Two members of the minstrels, song and dance men, took a dislike to Alfred. Others soon became intimate with him, they enjoyed his humorous narratives, particularly his experiences with Node Beckley and the panorama. The two members mentioned exhausted the new boy's patience and he invited both to fistic combat. His challenges were laughed at; the jibes and jokes became more and more insulting.

Jealousy, that canker that eats and festers at the hearts of actors as it does at those of no other humans, was the motive for their actions.

Alfred had introduced a bit of acrobatic comedy in the closing farce that was the laughing hit of the minstrels. Owing to the lack of acts, the stage manager ordered Alfred to put on a single turn. This act preceded the turn of the song and dance men. The singing of Alfred took with the oil men greatly. The two who followed were not even fair singers, their efforts fell flat; they had the stage manager change them on the bill. The change put them just before Alfred. When advised of the change he reminded the stage manager that he went on only for accommodation in the olio and flatly refused to follow the song and dance men. The angel ordered the two song and dance men on in their usual position, following Alfred. Alfred rehearsed a dance secretly. He finished his singing turn with this dance, introducing all[369] his known acrobatic stunts. This rough dance simply set the oil men wild and the two worthies fell flatter at every performance.

No philanthropist of the "Coal Oil Johnny" sort had discovered the minstrels as yet, but the path of their travels was one of nightly carousals. The two dancers were assisting the manager-angel in scattering the money that came in. The people were hungry for amusements; hence the tour thus far had been one of profit.

The manager and his companions never went to bed when there was another place to go. It was one of the pass-times of the two dancers to enter Alfred's room noiselessly, pull him violently out of bed and steal out in the darkness. In one of their playful moods they carried Alfred's wearing apparel to another part of the hotel.

Alfred warned the stage manager that he intended to resent this treatment. However, there was no cessation to the indignities the two put upon the young minstrel.

But like all so-called ladders, they could not stand the gaff. After a particularly keen onslaught upon Alfred with their tongues, in which several of his weaknesses were commented upon, Alfred got back at them: "I don't have to cater to the manager to hold my job; I'm drawing my wages on my work, not on my cheek," was Alfred's retort.

At Titusville, a banquet was tendered the minstrels by the landlord of the hotel.

Many speeches were delivered, good, bad and very bad—all predicting the perpetual success of the minstrel enterprise. There was a lull in the gaiety. The toastmaster announced as there was no prepared program all would be expected to say something. He thereupon introduced one of Alfred's tormentors.

The fellow arose, cleared his throat and made a laborious attempt to speak a few intelligible words, concluding with[370] an indelicate story. The landlord tiptoed across the room closing the door that none might overhear. With a maudlin leer he followed the landlord with his eyes, as he shouted: "Thanks, Landy, this ain't a ladies' story." As he sat down there was neither laughter nor applause.

The toastmaster called upon Alfred. He was overcome with bashfulness and did not arise until several urged him to say something. "Get up, get up," urged the two men opposite. Alfred arose, so confused he could not articulate. A voice shouted: "Tell them about the panorama."

Alfred began Palmer's lecture. It had no application to the occasion, but few understood it, there was an oppressive silence. Alfred had no idea of when to cease talking, and would probably have given the whole lecture, had not Bill Young, a musician, one who took a very great interest in him, seized him by the arm, shaking him forcibly: "Here, here; you forgot the song, you promised to sing for us." Bill continued: "Gentlemen: Alfred will now give you a correct imitation of an old maid singing 'Barbara Allen.'"

He gave the imitation so cleverly that the guests applauded again and again. As he ended the song, his eyes closed, imitating the old maid, something soft and mushy struck him on the breast of his white shirt. The juice spattered into his face and over those near him.

A glance at the mushy mess, Alfred's eyes fell on the two men opposite him. One was looking apologetically at the gentleman next Alfred who was wiping his face with his napkin; the other laughing tantalizingly.

Retaliation was speedy. It was not two seconds after the decayed tomato landed on Alfred until a large platter of soft salad of some sort, a sugar bowl and several smaller dishes were landing just where aimed.

One of Alfred's tormentors lay upon the floor, his face and vest literally covered with salad and other cold lunch.[371] The other was making for the door, dodging plates and cups that flew perilously near his head.

Alfred, being the swifter, soon overtook the fleeing man. There was a short struggle, and Alfred's well directed blows took all the fight out of him; he begged for mercy.

The landlord led Alfred to the parlor, commanding him to keep quiet and not cause further disturbance.

Alfred remained in the parlor for what seemed to him a long time. Finally, the landlord returned to advise the man struck with the salad plate was pretty badly cut and they thought best to get a doctor. He further stated the other one had complained to the police.

"The coward," sneered the landlord, "I wish we had let you give it to him; he would have had something to complain of. However, the chief is a good friend of mine and I think I can fix it so you will not be locked up."

Alfred's first thought was, what will the folks at home say should he be thrown into jail?

The chief of police and members of the company and others crowded into the parlor. The chief, one of those officials who felt his importance greatly, assumed to try the case then and there.

"Have you had any fights before?"

"Yes, sir, thousands of them," answered Alfred. He was under the impression the question covered his entire life. Everybody in the room laughed.

"No, I had reference to a fight with the parties whom you assaulted here tonight," continued the officer.

Alfred was just a little ashamed of the admission and entered into an explanation: "I never tried to fight them before, though they have done everything they could to worry me. Ever since I joined the show it has been one insult after another. I could scarcely keep my hands off them only I was afeared they would double team on me. I'd had it out long ago but for that," and as Alfred talked he warmed up.

[372]"Hold on," the chief interrupted, "do not incriminate yourself. Did either of these men ever offer you violence?"

"No, they was afraid to, they're both cowards. I will fight it out with either of them right now." Alfred was angry; the old Brownsville way of settling such disputes was all he thought of.

The chief remarked to those near him: "I feel sorry for this boy, owing to the fact that they have tormented him;" he turned to Alfred, "I do not feel sorry for them nor wish to protect them, yet that is no legal excuse for your assault upon them."

Someone came forward with this proposition, that inasmuch as they all belonged to one family, that they shake hands all around, call everything square and go on about their business.

"Well, if the party will withdraw the charge of felonious assault it's all right with me. I don't get nothing out of it nohow," was the police officer's reply.

"Get them together," was the suggestion made by several. Alfred interfered by saying: "I'm willing to get together or do anything that's fair but I'm not going to travel with this gang of rowdies another day."

The chief nudged him to cease and whispered: "Then they'll put you in jail."

"Well, I'll put them in jail, too," retorted Alfred.

"What charges will you prefer against them; you stated you had never had trouble with them before?"

"But look what they have done to me," persisted Alfred. "They have plagued me until I couldn't have a minute's peace of mind, and then they hit me with a rotten tomattus as big as a gourd, why—?"

The chief here interrupted Alfred to inform him that in law a rotten tomato was not considered a dangerous weapon.

"Well, if anybody would hit you with a rotten tomattus, I know what you'd do; you'd shoot 'em, that's what you'd do."

[373]"Why, there was no tomattuses on the table; I can prove it by the landlord."

"Them fellers went to the slop barrel and fished it out; didn't I smell old sour swill on it. Why the smell of that tomattus would made a dog sick."

Whether it was Alfred's anger, emphasized by his smacking his hands together, his hurried speech, or the description of the condition of the tomato, the laughter that convulsed all seemed to make him more indignant.

With heightened voice and more forcible gestures he continued: "If I do live in a little town, I've been away from home before, and I won't let no son-of-a-gun ride over me even if he is as big as the side of a house. I've got a home; I've got good people; I can go to them and I won't travel another day with a pack of drunken rowdies. You can do with me as you please. You say there's no law agin heavin' rotten tomattuses at a person in a banquet. What kind of law have you got in Titusville? If anybody would hit another with a tomattus at the dinner table in Brownsville they'd beat hell out of him quicker'n you could say 'Jack Robinson.'"

The remainder of Alfred's forcible, if not eloquent, speech was drowned by laughter. Half a dozen present volunteered to go his bail.

Numerous attempts were made in the early Sunday morning to influence Alfred to continue his travels with the troupe. To all arguments he gave the same answer: "No; I'll not travel further with a lot of drunken rowdies."

With all sorts of promises, a raise of salary, promotion, and other alluring inducements, they failed to move Alfred. Finally as do all cajolers, the manager endeavored to threaten the boy into following his wishes. But with no better results.

"I would walk home before I would travel another day with you," was the parting shot as the manager left the room, swearing he would have Alfred in jail and keep him there.

[374]The injured man swore out a warrant for Alfred. Captain Ham came forward promptly and signed the bail bond.

The Captain was to open a summer garden or park a few days later. As Alfred had no previous acquaintance with the gentleman, he has often thought the deep interest evinced by the genial Captain was influenced by the two weeks' engagement offered and accepted by Alfred to appear in the park.

In so far as the writer's knowledge goes, this summer park in Titusville was the first of it's kind in this country. Titusville is renowned. Rockefeller's career began there. Titusville was the birthplace of the summer park and the Standard Oil Company.

The minstrels left Titusville with diminished forces; four remained behind. After a few nights more of feverish hilarity the company disbanded without money or friends.

Thus early in life the fact was impressed upon Alfred that the drunkard is an annoyance to sociability; without judgment, without civility, the drunkard is an object to be avoided in every walk of life. The drunkard is a detriment in business; a disgrace to his friends; the shame and sorrow of his wife and children. He is shunned by even those who profit by his excesses.

At a banquet in Chicago last year Alfred was confused by someone shouting: "Al, tell them about your panorama experience; there won't be any tomatoes thrown."

He could not get his mind off the interruption. As the guests were departing a gentleman passed his card; the name was not familiar. Alfred was passing on when the gentleman said: "Al, don't you remember me? We attended a banquet thirty-nine years ago. You were served with tomatoes; I got a dose of salad or some such stuff. I didn't mind the salad but the plate kind of jarred me."

Here he pushed back a lock of red hair streaked with gray, exhibiting a small scar high up on the temple. Alfred recognized him. To relieve the situation Alfred inquired as to the[375] whereabouts of Dick, the other song and dance man. "Oh, he is, or was, working in a saw-mill in Williamsport. I haven't seen him in thirty years. Al, I didn't throw that tomato. Come over to the store, I want to talk to you."

Fort Duquesne, afterward Pittsburgh, was builded at the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers where they form the Ohio, called by the villagers the "Point"—a natural site for a beautiful village such as Fort Duquesne was at the time we write of. It was indeed a sight on which the eye might gaze enraptured, with ever changing beauties to charm it. The high hills on every side cast their shades over the peaceful village for, notwithstanding the prefix "Fort", there was no semblance of soldiery, cannon or war, about the peaceful place.

The hills of smiling green rising abruptly in places, gently at others, towering above the rivers, seemed to look down upon the village and its peoples. The hills crowned with lofty trees and climbing vines, the trees swaying in the breezes seemed to be bowing approval at the tranquil scene below.

The locust, the sumac, the oak, the walnut, the dogwood, the haw, the red berries, glowing in the eyes of the boys of the village, and as impelling to them as the red lights that later glowed on the Anheuser Busch plants in the city that supplanted the village of Fort Duquesne.

Brownsville was one long symphony of content and happiness. The prosperity of its people excited the envy of those of Fort Duquesne. It was argued by the discontented of Fort Duquesne that the changing of the name of "Red Stone Old Fort" to Brownsville was that which brought Brownsville renown and riches.

Therefore, certain ones of Fort Duquesne called a public meeting to be held at the "Point" where the matter of changing the name of Fort Duquesne was discussed. Those who had emigrated from Washington County insisted the[376] name should be Brownstown, hoping thereby to profit from the confusion that would arise as between that name and Brownsville. They argued that when the traders from Shousetown, Sewickley and Smith's Ferry, came up the river to barter they would be confused by the similarity of the names and ascend the river no further, thus the trade of Brownsville would be diverted.

Others argued that the name be changed to "Three Rivers;" still others insisted if change there must be, it be to Fort Pitt. Others wanted a burg made out of the old Fort. There was a compromise and the name "Pittsburgh" adopted. Immediately there was an influx of settlers, particularly from Somerset and Butler Counties. The town profited greatly by the change of names; there were many who could neither spell nor pronounce "Duquesne;" but now that it was made easier to explain where you lived, the town thrived.

Pittsburgh, with an "h", became noted. In Fort Duquesne the people had been content to live as they began; but the interlopers from Braddocks Field, Greene County, and Holidaysburg changed conditions. The luxuriant cabbage gardens gave way to boiler yards; the little brick houses were supplanted by glass houses, still houses and other manufacturing establishments, the mark of that van of commercial greatness that has made Pittsburgh famous.

That part of the town formerly given over to agricultural pursuits, namely the river banks, was now paved with cobble stones and termed "wharves," thus providing a vantageous place for the citizens to congregate when they had a boat race over the lower course. Occasionally a raft from Salamanca would be moored on the Allegheny wharf and shingles unloaded in piles for the children to play ketch around in the twilight.

On the Monongahela side where the boats came from and departed for Brownsville, there was always more activity.

[377]Many of Fort Duquesne's best citizens seceded. The volunteer firemen remained faithful to the old Fort. They went into business on Smithfield Street and are known to this day as the Duquesne Fire Company. It was through those who seceded that the outlying boroughs of Birmingham, Brownstown, and Ormsby, were created on the south side, while those on the north-west side christened their settlement "Allegheny," thus destroying its future. As the river of that name that runs away from itself when it rains and drys up when it is clear, is so uncertain, the name Allegheny does not appeal to the masses. Had Allegheny taken the name of "Pittsburgh," the courthouse and all other public buildings would be located on the north side, a natural site for a populous city. As it is, Pittsburghers are compelled to live in Irwin, Latrobe, Cassopolis and Kittanning, to make room for their public buildings.

In the early days of the "Smoky City," for such had become its nickname, the residents were wont to sit for hours and gaze at the sun and sky; this pleasure is denied residents in modern Pittsburgh. The only knowledge they have that there are sun, moon and stars, is that which Professor John Brashears (from Brownsville) supplies with his astronomical instruments. Hurrah for Brownsville!

In those good old days there was no caste or class. On a Saturday afternoon the entire populace would gather at Scotch Hill Market and on Fifth Avenue at night.

Andy Carnegie knew every man who worked for him by his first name and could be seen daily at the Bull's Head Tavern where the men always stopped to open their pay envelopes.

The leaders of society were consistent. There were two balls each winter and one picnic in summer. City Hall and Glenwood Grove were the scenes of those gayeties.

Harry Alden, Mayor Blackmore, Chris Ihmsen, Tom Hughes, Major Maltby, N. P. Sawyer, John O'Brien, Jimmy[378] Hammill, Harry Williams, Major Bunnell, John W. Pittock, Bill Ramsey and Dan O'Neil were the social, political and business leaders of Pittsburgh in those days. No social function, no political scheme, no public celebration from a wedding to a boat race was successful without their active co-operation.

Ben Trimble, Harry Williams, Matt Canning and Major Bunnell controlled all the theatres. Jake Fedder was the toll-taker at the Smithfield Street bridge, a position second in importance only to that of mayor.

Those were happy days for Pittsburgh. Everybody had a skiff and fishing was good anywhere. The suckers were all salmon in the river and you did not have to go to lock number one to catch white or yellow perch. A twine line could be bought at any grocery store. Sporting goods emporiums had not taken over the fish hook industry.

Happy would Pittsburgh have been could it always have existed as in those golden days. But communities, like humans, grow out of their simplicity, encouraged or subdued by the successes or failures of life.

Alfred was in Pittsburgh again among friends whom he loved. Johnny Hart had graduated from second cook on the tow boat Red Fox to stock comedian at Trimble's Variety Theater. Harry Williams was the stage manager. There was a place made for Alfred on almost every bill.

The Levantine Brothers, Fred Proctor, of Keith & Proctor, Harrigan & Hart, Delehanty & Hengler, Joe Murphy, Johnson & Powers, and all the famous artists of that time appeared at this house.

Alfred impersonated a wide range of characters while in this theatre. Harry Williams, the stage manager, was an ideal "Mose" in the play of that name. (It was the Saturday night bill for weeks.) Alfred made a big hit as the newsboy, sharing honors with the star. He added new business to the[379] part weekly and was retained several weeks for the one performance on Saturday night.

Alfred was engaged by Matt Canning, the manager of the Pittsburgh Opera House. In those days all first class theatres employed a stock company; the stars traveled alone, or at least with only a stage manager. The manuscript of their plays, the scene and property plots were sent in advance. The company studied their parts until the arrival of the star when a grand rehearsal was gone through with. This was a strenuous day's work, particularly if the star was a stickler.

Booth, Barrett, McCullough, Edwin Adams, Joe Jefferson, Jane Coombs and many other noted stars appeared at the Pittsburgh Opera House and Alfred had the honor of supporting all of them, by assisting in moving bureaus, dressing cases, center tables, cooking stoves, bedsteads, bar fixtures and other properties required in the plays, up and down stairs. However, parts, and minor roles, were entrusted to Alfred. If the stock system had continued it would be greatly to the advantage of the dramatic stage of today. It made the actor, it proved the actor. He remained in the ranks alone on his ability, impersonating many characters in one season. His art broadened.

Actors do not compare with those of the olden days. This is true. We may have a few actors as able as any that ever lived but the dramatic profession in general has deteriorated since the combination system superceded the stock company.

The stage has advanced in the authorship of plays and their production, not in their rendition. The actors of today are not the students or workers as were those of the earlier days, neither have they the opportunities.

Alfred was entrusted with many roles not congenial to him; in those he generally failed. In a society drama, appearing in evening dress, a turn-down collar, a large red and white flowing tie, a huge minstrel watch chain attached to[380] his vest, he was reprimanded by Jane Coombs, the star, in the presence of the company.

Another time he led a Roman mob costumed as a Quaker. John McCullough laughed over this afterwards, but at the time, what he said cannot be printed. When Joseph Jefferson appeared as Rip Van Winkle, in addition to impersonating one of the villagers, Alfred was entrusted with the task of securing children to take part in the play. The stage manager advised the bashful children to make merry with Rip; that he was very fond of children and would enjoy their familiarity. Whether it was the shaggy beard or the assumed intoxication of Rip, a child refused to clamber up on Rip's back. The stage was waiting; that the scene should not be marred, seventeen year old Alfred attempted to perch himself on Rip's back. It was not the Jefferson of later days but the Jefferson of middle manhood. Alfred was dropped to the floor amid laughter that the scene never evoked previously. Instead of the great actor being peeved, he kindly inquired of Alfred if the fall had hurt him. As a matter of fact Alfred purposely made the fall awkward.

Dick Cannon had a number of young friends—Billy Conard, Clarke Winnett, Charley Smith, Billy Kane and Alfred. Dick had a large luxuriously furnished room in the hotel. One evening each week he set apart to entertain his young friends. To pass the time away Dick introduced a game he had played a few times while tending lock at Rice's Landing. It was a Greene County game, new to Fort Duquesne but universally popular in Pittsburgh since. The game was known as "Draw Poker" in Greene County.

After several lessons, in which Dick's courtesy and unusual interest in his young friends was evidenced at the end of every deal, as Dick raked in the pot with the air and manner of a learned professor of a college, he explained to each player who had lost—and his lecture always embraced the entire class, for when the pot justified it, they all lost[381]—just how they should have played their hand to win. "It's just as important to learn how to lay 'em down as it is to play 'em up," was his advice.

Alfred had failed, notwithstanding Dick's teachings, to learn even the rudiments of the game, so he sought the dictionary. He had become convinced that a person to be proficient should, as Dick advised in one of his lectures, not only study the game but human nature as well. Therefore, Alfred decided to start right. He found the word "draw" signified "to drag, to entice, to delineate, to take out, to inhale, to extend." The word "poker" signified any frightful object, a "spook."

The Old Greene County Game

The Old Greene County Game

The echoes of Gideon's words were daily percolating through Alfred's gray matter: "Don't know enough to quit the game when you got velvet in front of you."

When questioned as to the cause of his absence from the weekly seance, Alfred replied that, as he understood it, the object of Dick was to teach and enlighten each in the class, and that he had thoroughly mastered the mysteries of the game and he felt it was imposing on Dick to take up his[382] valuable time and devour his delicacies longer; Dick should get a new class. "I'm graduated," concluded Alfred.

Alfred's connection with the drama was both pleasant and profitable. The probabilities are that if a certain production had realized the hopes of its authors, he would have continued in the dramatic line. It was the beginning of that evolution of the stage that culminated in the ascendency, for a time, of the melodrama.

A serial story under the title of "From Ocean to Ocean," then running in Street & Smith's New York Weekly, was dramatized for J. Newton Gotthold and in so far as the writer is informed it was Bartley Campbell's first play. The play bore the title of "Through Fire." It was a stirring drama, and both actor and author had high hopes of its success.

J. K. Emmett, recruited from the minstrel ranks, had made himself immensely popular, and wealth was rolling in on him. His vehicle "Fritz" was a flimsy frame on which was hung Emmett's specialties.

Byron's phenomenal success in "Across the Continent" was achieved only through his artistic ability. It was argued that J. Newton Gotthold, a sterling actor, with a sterling play, was sure to attain success. Alfred was engaged for the spring trial of the play; also the following season.

The opening occurred in Youngstown, a western city, so looked upon by Pittsburghers in those days. After two nights in the west there would be a week or two weeks in Pittsburgh.

Alfred, in addition to doubling the character of a young snob, afterwards a quick gun-man, also led the Indians' attack on the wagon train.

A number of supes were employed in Youngstown, husky young rolling mill men of muscle and grit. Alfred, at the head of his Indian braves, attacked the wagon train of emigrants; instead of the supes falling back, as rehearsed,[383] then charging forward, led by the star, they pitched into Alfred and his Indians at the first rush. Alfred to save the scene, fought valiantly to stem the tide of strength and sturdy determination. But the supe pale-faces were too muscular for the copper tinted braves whom Alfred led. In fact, at the first onslaught of the whites the Indians, with the exception of one or two, fled and left Alfred to battle alone.

Alfred was overpowered, completely vanquished—a blow between the eyes laid him low. The Youngstown supes not only wiped up the stage with him but they wiped their feet on him. The gallery howled, the down-stairs applauded, the company laughed. The curtain fell amid loud applause.

Alfred was anxious to continue the conflict after the curtain dropped; the supes were agreeable. But the stage manager, the stars and others of the company interfered. The matter was amicably adjusted.

Alfred, although badly maimed, played his parts during the week's run in Pittsburgh, although the war club he carried was not the imitation one he wielded in Youngstown. However, there was no recurrence of the Youngstown scene.

The play did not meet with success. After the Pittsburgh engagement it was carefully laid away and thus Alfred was preserved to minstrelsy.

It is a curious fact that the only play Bartley Campbell ever wrote, a play with the theme of which he was not in sympathy, written for commercial purposes only, has lived longer and earned more money than his most meritorious creations. We refer to "The White Slave." Who is not familiar with those thrilling lines:

"Rags are royal raiment
When worn for virtue's sake."

Bartley Campbell was a self made man—from laboring in a brick-yard to journalism, then a dramatist. He was a noble boy, a manly man. He toiled patiently all the days of his only too brief life for those he loved.

[384]It was in the early days of the beginning of that race for wealth that has made Pittsburgh both famous and infamous. Jared M. Brush had been elected mayor; Hostetter Stomach Bitters had become famous in all dry sections of the country; Jimmy Hammill had won the single sculling championship of the world; the Red Lion Hotel had painted the lion out and painted St. Clair Hotel in gilt letters to attract trade from Sewickley, which community, so near the Economites, had imbibed a sort of religious fervor exhibited outwardly only. It was argued by the proprietor that when the residents of Sewickley drove by on their way to market to dispose of their garden truck, butter and eggs, they would be attracted by the word "Saint." The St. Nicholas Hotel on Grant Street always boarded the court jurors. The St. Charles on Wood Street had the patronage of the Democrats of Fayette County. Brownsville people always stopped at the Monongahela House.

The bleating sheep, the frolicking calves, the cackling hens, that had been heard on the verdant ridges of Pennsylvania Road, had been crowded to the rural district known later as East Liberty and Walls.

The log houses had given away to brick and frame dwellings owned by those who occupied them. Doctor Spencer had opened a dental emporium on Penn Street near the old ferry, then known as Hand Street, now Ninth.

Business was so good Joe Zimmerman had to paint his name upside down on his store front near the union depot. The fact that this cigar store was always crowded suggested the idea of another railroad for Pittsburgh. At first it was contemplated building the road along the south or west bank of the Monongahela, extending the road to, or beyond Brownsville.

Bill Brown then resided on Braddocks field, although he has repeatedly and earnestly protested to the writer that he was not at home when Braddock fell and did not hear of it for[385] some time afterwards. Therefore, it is hoped those who are not acquainted with Bill will not connect him in any way with anything that happened to Braddock—the general, not the village.

When Bill learned of the projected railroad he interested a number of capitalists who owned coal land and town lots in Braddock. Hence, the new road was built on Bill's side of the river. First, it was completed to McKeesport. The opposition steamboat lines plying the river, (the boats being much fleeter than the railroad), controlled the passenger traffic.

When the projectors of the new railroad had this fact forced upon them they abandoned the plan of building the road further up the Monongahela than McKeesport. Surveying a route along the Youghiogheny River and thence to Connellsville they announced that they would eventually build to Uniontown and down Redstone Creek to Brownsville thus entering Brownsville by the back door, as it were.

However, this change of route did not work as the railroad people hoped for. The railroad carried a few passengers for Layton's Station, West Newton and several settlements between McKeesport and Connellsville. All travelers to McKeesport still patronized the boats, even those for West Newton and Layton Station traveled on the boats to McKeesport, and awaited the train to continue their journey.

The railroad people, dispirited and almost bankrupt, appealed to Brown and his friends who had held out such glowing inducements to them to build the road on their side of the river. An investigation of conditions was ordered and Bill, with his usual good luck and influence, appointed chairman of the investigating committee, with powers to expend whatever amount was necessary to the investigation.

Bill made one trip on the railroad to Connellsville. Thereafter, he spent the greater part of the beautiful autumn traveling up and down the Monongahela, even as far up the[386] river as Geneva, although the scope of the investigation was to extend only as far as McKeesport.

The palatial side-wheel steamers were always crowded to the guards with travelers. Many slept on cots in the cabins but Bill had the bridal chamber. The mirrored bars employed a double shift of irrigators. They were never closed except when the boats were moored at Pittsburgh, and then Bill could always get in the back way. The food was bountiful; stewed chicken for breakfast, turkey for dinner, fried chicken for supper, and at night a poker game in the barber shop.

Again and again the railroad people requested a report from Bill but he was busy investigating as to why the steam cars were running with empty seats.

Finally notices were mailed to the railroad people, the superintendents who were also the section foremen, that the chairman of the committee was ready to report. They were requested to meet at Dimling's where Bill often assembled himself.

Bill's Report

Bill's Report

Brown arose to read his elaborate report. He began by making a short explanatory speech mostly devoted to the immense amount of labor entailed upon him in the investigation. He thanked the railroad people for the confidence they had placed in him. He deplored his lack of ability and knowledge. In fact, in his talk he expressed such a contemptuous opinion of himself that those present (country folks), from Hazelwood and Port Perry were wrothy that they had entrusted Bill with the mission and money to complete the investigation. They were ignorant of the fact that the speech[387] was one he had delivered to the members of another body yearly when elected to the office of treasurer.

Bill then read his report. It dealt with the crowned heads of Europe, the free traders of Pennsylvania, the populists of Kansas and Nebraska, the government of Ancient Greece and the wars of the Romans. Of course this had nothing to do with the subject under investigation but it served to rattle and confuse those to whom the report was read and impress them with the wide scope of the investigation.

The report referred in scathing terms to the unparalleled audacity of the officers of the rival lines of steamers, more particularly the new, or People's Line. That line had only two boats, the "Elector" and "Chieftain," while the mail line had the "Fayette," "Gallatin," "Franklin," "Jefferson," "Elisha Bennett," and other boats.

Bill, like everybody on the inside, felt that the mail line would soon absorb its rival and it was politic to be "in" with the stronger corporation.

The report demanded that the runners for the boats be restrained from soliciting passengers; that the steamboats be restrained from departing on the scheduled time of the railroads. Thus, if the West Newton and Layton Station passengers could not make connections at McKeesport, that is, if the trains arrived prior to the boats, travellers would be compelled to patronize the railroad.

He also compared the officers of the steamboat lines to the Gauls who devastated Rome, the vandals who had over-run the fairest plains of Europe. That part of the report ended with: "God forbid we live longer under these conditions."

Having thus artfully worked up the feelings of those present, Bill gazed over the assemblage with the air of a man who has gotten that which he went after, and continued to read:

[388]"After diligent research, entailing much traveling, including many trips up and down the river at great expense including shoe-shining, your committee has succeeded in evolving a plan whereby the Pittsburgh and Connellsville Railroad may be able to control the passenger traffic on its lines. And it is to be hoped that all concerned will take the proper view of the matter and concur in the recommendations of the committee: First, that all trains on the Pittsburgh and Connellsville Railroad (excepting when otherwise so ordered), be and are hereby ordered equipped with an extra car, divided into three compartments, namely, dining room, bar-room, and another room."

The chairman explained that the words "excepting when otherwise so ordered" were inserted as a precautionary measure. "It might happen at times that two cars, of the kind the committee recommended, might be required."

After concluding his report the chairman carefully folded the paper, placing it in his hat. Casting his eyes over the meeting he silently waited for some one to say something to Dimling.

After the meeting adjourned, one man ventured to remark that Bill had gone about the investigation like a colt approaching a brass band, prancing and dancing, wrong end foremost.

Many were the written protests sent Bill. All these he ignored. He not only refused to reply to them, but to emphasize his contempt, used them for an unseemly purpose.



Hang on! Cling on!
No matter what they say.
Push on! Work on!
Things will come your way.

"A person dunno till after they've fell intu a muddy ditch how meny roads they cud a took an' kept out uf hit. But after ye've fell in the mud a time ur tu an' then ye don't no enuf tu keep outen hit, ye ain't much; ye're only gettin' muddy an' not larnen eny sense, an' thar ain't much hope fur ye." This was Lin's answer to Alfred's declaration that he would never go out with another show unless it was first class.

If there ever lived a boy who has not experienced the feelings that must come to a rooster that has been in a hard battle and lost the greater part of his tail feathers, he is one who has never looked over his record and endeavored to rub out the punk spots. There are but few boys who have not an exaggerated ego, and it is well that they are so constituted, they will better battle with the rebuffs and the disappointments that youth always walks into.

If a boy is lacking in confidence—conceit is confidence increased in a boy; conceit is ignorance in a man. Conceit renders a man so cock-sure that he ignores advice.

The first thing for which a boy should be operated upon is an overdeveloped bump of self-conceit. The earlier in life this protuberance is punctured the more quickly he will become useful to himself and family. It often requires several operations to effect a cure.

Over-zealous friends are responsible to an extent for the failure of many promising young men. Many persons regard exaggerated praise necessary to the advancement of youth. A boy entering almost any profession or trade can be unfitted for his labors by fulsome flattering.

[390]Alfred's best friends filled him with the false idea that he was a great actor, that he was being abused and thwarted. Had his friends been sincere, he could have side stepped many stiff punches that he walked straight into. Most fortunate is the boy who gets knocked through the ropes early in the bout of life; his youth will enable him to come back the stronger.

The King Solomon of showmen, P. T. Barnum, the father of fakes, originated the "Gift Show"—the giving of presents to all who purchased tickets of admission. Everybody received a prize. Several hundred of the prizes were of little value. There was one that was valuable: a gold watch and chain, a diamond pin or other article of jewelry, was generally the capital prize as it was designated.

People flocked to Barnum's museum to win the capital prize; Barnum reaped a harvest. Of course the idea of the "Gift Show" was immediately taken up by ignorant imitators who are always quick to appropriate the ideas of others. Numerous magicians were soon touring the country with their alluring advertisements promising presents far exceeding in value the receipts of the theaters in which they appeared, even though the prices of admission were doubled.

The circus concert adopted the "Gift Show" scheme, and when a circus side-show, or concert, adopts an innovation of this character, it is safe to wager that the yokel will "get his" good and plenty.

The "Gift Show" idea was worked so successfully that the numerous jewelry concerns that had sprung up in Maiden Lane and on the Bowery could not fill the orders for the brass ornaments required to supply the enterprises distributing them.

Everybody got a prize; there were no blanks. Alfred and another boy, George, did the distributing act. Stationed on either side of the stage, they received the tickets. Pretending to look at the number, they handed the prize out.[391] Alfred had four packages of prizes; he was ordered to alternate. First a lady's breast pin, then a gent's collar button, then a stud, then a finger ring. The capital prize the boss awarded in person.

Since the days of Barnum's "Gift Show," no "sucker" has ever seen the capital prize except when the proprietor of the "Gift Show" was not looking.

The "Gift Show" man usually placed the capital prize in the show window of a prominent store. Everyone who bought a ticket hoped to capture the capital prize. The "Gift Show" always fixed the landlord of the hotel or some man about town to draw the capital prize, returning it to the "Gift Show" manager afterwards. It is amazing the many who were willing to play the part of capper in this game.

After a number of tickets were presented and not less than a peck of the cheap presents distributed, the capper would pass up his ticket, and the boss proclaim in a loud tone: "Four hundred and sixty-two wins the capital prize, a solid silver tea set." The plate was set out on a table covered with a black velvet cloth to brighten the appearance of the ware.

"If the gentleman prefers we will gladly pay him one hundred and seventy-five dollars in gold for his ticket." The money counted out to him in the presence of the gaping multitude whetted everybody's desire to win the capital prize. The following night the hall was crowded again.

"Gift Shows" always remained three nights in each place. The entertainment offered was a secondary consideration; hence Alfred was the star of the show. He had unlimited opportunities. The fact was, the only reason the manager gave an entertainment at all was to escape the lottery laws.

Alfred was on the stage half a dozen times and would have gone on again had he had anything more to offer. Alfred imagined the more often he appeared the more he was appreciated, until one night a sailor heaved an orange from[392] the gallery, landing it on Alfred's head. The seeds flew all over the stage. Alfred did not regain his composure even when assured by others of the company that the seeds were not his brains.

A gentleman whom he had met while with Eli during their tour of Greene County—he was only an acquaintance of a day—called on Alfred. Alfred introduced him as his friend. Agreeable, intelligent and well dressed, he made an impression on the show people and without consulting Alfred, the "Gift Show" man fixed Alfred's friend to cop the capital prize which he did very successfully.

When the boss called: "Ticket three hundred and nine wins the capital prize," the rehearsed scene was gone through with, although Alfred's friend made the play doubly strong by hesitating in accepting the cash in lieu of the tea set. "I would prefer the silverware; I wish to preserve it in our family." After a little further parleying, he was handed one hundred and seventy-five dollars. He received congratulations, answered questions and smiled on everybody.

The night Alfred's friend won the capital prize the audience was larger and more intelligent than usual. One gentleman remarked, as he passed back to Alfred the present tendered him: "Boy, keep this for me until I call for it. Write my name on it; I don't want to lose it, I want to get it melted, we need a pair of candle sticks and brass is mighty high."

An old lady opened her envelope containing a pair of ear-rings. Handing them to Alfred she remarked: "I hope there's no mistake here, the ticket reads ear-rings, these are chandeliers."

The stool pigeon, after receiving the money for the capital prize, wandered leisurely out of the hall. He was supposed to be met by the fixer of the "Gift Show", to whom he was to return the money the boss had given him.

[393]Alfred's friend played his part capitally. He sauntered out leisurely; he did not saunter out of the main door, or, if he did, the fixer failed to meet him. The hall was empty save for the two or three stragglers and the manager.

The fixer entered hurriedly, looking sharply around the almost vacant room, he whispered with the boss. They turned their glances toward Alfred. It was an illusion of the boss and his staff that others of the company were ignorant of the deception practiced in the awarding of the capital prize.

The boss called Alfred to his room and questioned him at length as to the gentleman he had introduced as his friend. Alfred stated when the Eli minstrels were touring Greene County the gentleman accompanied them several days. His companionship was so agreeable that Eli remained behind in Carmichaelstown a day or two.

The boss had learned the fellow was a short card player, and he swore he would not allow a cheap poker player to do him.

"Fix the olly! I gave him broads to the show! He's right as a guinea! Fix him! Have this cheap Greene County bilk pinched. I'll land him in the quay."

All of this, interpreted, meant that the boss wanted the winner of the capital prize arrested and thrown into jail. He did not dare proceed against him for holding out the money he had given him. To attempt to recover it by law would expose their nefarious practice.

There was hurrying to and fro and in hot haste but nothing as to the whereabouts of the gentleman could be learned. The constable searched all night, and the fixer remained with him as long as he could keep pace with the officer. Weary, blear-eyed, unsteady on his limbs, he finally lay down on a bench in the hotel sitting room and was awakened only by the breakfast bell.

Next morning he was very surly. He ordered Alfred in a very rude manner to remove two large boxes of jewelry from[394] the hotel to the theatre and to remove the boxes as soon as he got through his breakfast: "and don't eat all day either."

Alfred did not eat all day; in fact he ate but little. He was choking with wrath over the insult the man had put upon him. Taking himself from the table he awaited the coming of the man. As he emerged from the dining room, Alfred halted him with: "I say, you ordered me to move some baggage from the hotel to the theatre. I just called upon you to tell you that you ain't my boss; you didn't hire me, you don't pay me; furthermore, I did not hire out to this troupe to peddle brass jewelry or handle baggage. You move the boxes yourself."

"Well, we'll see if you don't move them boxes, and I'll give you a smack in the jaw, you jay, you!"

Alfred remembered Titusville, and a greatly subdued manner, said: "If you're the boss, just hand me my money and I'll skedaddle double quick."

Later in the day the boss sent for Alfred to come to his room. As he entered, the boss said: "Well, you want your money, do you, eh?"

Alfred replied: "I couldn't very well stay here after what's passed between your manager and myself."

"That's so," smilingly assented the boss. Turning his back on Alfred and pretending to look over his books, he continued: "Where do you expect to meet your friend?"

"What friend," inquired Alfred.

"The smart young fellow you rung in on us yesterday. I'd thought you'd skipped without waiting for the few bones I hold of yours. You're too fly to work for a salary. Talk about sure-thing men, there ain't a strong arm game in the country can beat it; garroting is laid in the shade by your play."

Alfred could not understand the man at all. He was completely confused: "What do you mean? Has that man[395] who tried to boss me this morning been telling you anything about me?"

The man wheeled around in his chair, facing Alfred. Pointing his finger at Alfred, in a voice choking with anger, he exclaimed: "You're not as slick as you imagine you are; you've been under cover ever since you came here. You made all my people think you were a straight guy; you played the role of a gilly kid to the queen's taste. But I'm on to you bigger than a house; after you've worked me for a hundred and seventy-five dollars, now you want to wolf me for twenty-five more. I won't shake down for one dime more. You think you'll get your bit of the touch but I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that guy will double cross you and it will serve you right for doing the man you were working for. You can leave; I can't hold you but you won't get a case from me. I'll stand pat on this proposition. Do you hear?"

Alfred understood the man, in some way, was endeavoring to connect him with the gentleman who won the capital prize.

"All I want is my money, the money you owe me and you'll pay me before I leave this town," was Alfred's declaration as he left the room.

A bluff always unsettles a scoundrel. Spaff Hyman, the magician of the troupe, was after Alfred in a moment. He explained that the boss and one or two others were under the impression that Alfred and the gentleman whom Alfred had introduced as his friend were in cahoots, that Alfred had brought the stranger there to do the gift showman out of the money and that Alfred stood in with the play.

Alfred was indignant. Spaff assured the boy that he had implicit confidence in his honesty. "I know that Greene County gang," continued Spaff, "Jim Kerr and Lias Flanagan had that old trotting horse sneak. This fellow that came on here was the brains of the gang; they skinned every sucker on the fair grounds where they entered this horse. He had this combination sized up; he came on here to trim the boss[396] and he got away with the play. I know you had nothing to do with it, but if you leave now, those who suspect you will make others believe you are crooked. Hold down the job until you prove yourself right, then skip if you want to."

Alfred began an explanation: "I never met this man but once. I heard several people say he was a young man with no bad habits: 'He does not drink a drop of liquor, he don't smoke, chew tobacco, nor cuss.' That's what I heard in Carmichaelstown."

"Huh! Yes, he's a saint," sarcastically mused the old sleight of hand man, "he's a saint and that's what makes him successful as a con. Sam Weller advised his son to 'bevare of vidders,' I advise you to beware of saints. Since the days of the Bible when saints were inspired, there have been but few of them roving the earth. Latter day saints are material, hence, susceptible to all the temptations and frailties of this world. When you get acquainted with a man who boasts that he has no bad habits, look out for him, he will spring something on you that will outweigh all the minor defects that scar the character of the ordinary man. I do not say there are no good men, there are; but the man who pretends to go through this world on a record of no bad habits accumulates a heap of inward secretiveness. It keeps growing. He gets swelled up, and some day he breaks out and the enormity of his break surprises all. 'He had no bad habits,' that's what they all said. No, he had no bad habits that were apparent; he was a sneak. In order to conceal his little sins, he deceived himself and his friends. If he had been honest he would have gone through life like the average man. Go back in your mind and figure up the fellows that have fallen and see if the fellow with no bad habits isn't in the majority. Mind, I'm not figuring on the poor devil without education or advantages, the fellow who robs hen-roosts or steals dimes. I'm talking about the fellow who walks off with one hundred and seventy-five dollars, robs the banks[397] or post-offices, the fellow who touches the widow and orphan."

"I can't understand you," ventured Alfred.

"Well, you can't understand the fellow who had no bad habits."

"But the boss is not playing fair with the public," protested Alfred.

"Well, who on earth ever did play fair with the public? I know you, with your ideas bounded by Fayette County's limitations, don't understand these things. There's men who would not take advantage of any man in a personal business transaction, who will get in on almost anything that will worst the public. The public is a cruel monster; the public condemned and crucified Christ; the public is behind every lynching. The public condemns and ostracizes a man, even though he has lived an upright life all his days, when some scalawag, for personal or financial reasons, assails him in a newspaper. When Commodore Vanderbilt gave utterance to the words, 'The public be damned,' he expressed the sentiment of four-fifths of those who have rubbed up against the public, as had the sturdy old man who acquired his estimate of human nature while rowing the public over the river. The public would ride across the river without paying him fare. The public will crowd into our show tonight without paying. The public will eat all the fruit that ripens, all the grain that grows, drink all the liquors malted and take anything they can get for nothing. I mean the public rabble, the mob, not the individual. The only time you can trust the public is when their sympathies are aroused over some great public calamity that brings death and desolation. Then the public is of one mind, the public then shows to best advantage."

"Well, you are the funniest man I ever heard talk. Now what are you going to do to make the public what you consider it should be?"

[398]"Educate it; educate it. Three-fourths of the public are suckers, one-fourth skinners. Now, I don't mean to assert that one-fourth are dishonest men, but most of them are men a bit too fly for the others. You know there's not one man in a thousand that considers it cheating to give himself a bit the best of it. Now you argue that the public is ignorant and that the only way to get it right is to educate it. Well, the fellow who walked off with the boss's one hundred and seventy-five dollars is educated."

"How do you account for his dishonesty" inquired Alfred.

"I don't account for it."

It was arranged that Spaff go to the boss, patch up matters between him and Alfred. Spaff requested Alfred remain in the hall that he might be near. The door closed on Spaff. Alfred remained near it; he wished afterwards he had not. The transom was open and every word uttered in the room floated through it.

Spaff began: "Say, boss, I've been talking to that fresh young nigger singer, and, while he don't know much, it's my opinion he knows nothing of the guy who done you for the capital prize. He's purty handy around here and I thought you better keep him. I've got him going; I told him if he left now everybody would conclude he was in on the capital prize trick. So I think he'll stick."

"What the hell do I care whether he sticks or not? He may be straight but I doubt it. The only reason I want him to stay is that he will have trouble in finding the other guy; I'm certain they were to meet somewhere and split up the touch."

Spaff was heard to say: "No, I think you're wrong. I am sure this kid is not in on it. I know that fellow; he's slick, he's always been a sure thing man and he has been planning this touch for sometime. He simply used Alfred to get an introduction."

[399]"Well, he's a good one. He did not want to draw the prize, he argued; all the best people in town knew him and it would be difficult to deceive them. Why, I thought he was a small town jay. He even cautioned me to have someone at the door to receive the money, he did not care to carry it about with him." After a pause he continued: "Well, about this boy; what shall I say to him? I don't think it's a good play to let him go; not now, at any rate. You say he's straight. Do you reckon he's on to the capital prize fake?"

"Well, I dunno," answered Spaff. "If he is, and he's dirty, he could queer us in all these towns; he's been through here with two or three Jim Crow minstrel shows; these rubes imagine he's some pumpkins. Why, I have to go out of the house every time he comes on. He's the rankest performer I ever saw; he can sing a little and that lets him out. Why don't you cut his act down one-half at least? Half of the audience, green as they are, wouldn't stay in the house if they were not waiting for their presents."

"He comes on ahead of you and hurts your act," the boss assured Spaff.

That gentleman said: "Well, we've got to give them something for their money and Alfred does pretty good; if he only had the stuff he would be all right."

The boss agreed to this. "Yes, if he had something new. Those gags he springs were told before the flood. Lord, if I had the gall of some people I'd be rich. When he came here into this room and wanted money for that stuff he's telling, I got up and opened the door and planted a kick on him and says: 'Now, leave, skip, git out of yere and don't let me see you around yere agin.'"

"Why, he never told me one word of this," and Spaff's voice evidenced his surprise. "What do you say about keeping him?" questioned Spaff.

"Oh, we've got to have someone, but watch him."

[400]When Spaff came out of the room he found Alfred some distance from the door. "Now, I've had a hard time squaring this matter with the boss. Someone has got to him and he is sore on you, or was. I just told him you were all right and that I would be responsible for you and he said: 'Well, I'll let him stay on your account.'"

Alfred could not restrain his anger longer. Whirling around, facing Spaff, he said in tones neither low or slow: "You go back and tell that damn sneak that I don't want to stay with him. You tell him he is a liar if he says he ever kicked me. You tell him if he says I had anything to do with the disappearance of his capital prize money, he's another liar. You tell him I'll meet him outside the hotel and he'll take back everything he said to you."

Spaff began to look scared. "Why, how do you know what he said to me," he queried in a voice that showed his fear.

"I heard every word; the transom was open; I couldn't help it. I'm glad I did hear. I know where you all stand. I'm only a boy, but I'll clean up this capital prize swindle and I'm going after it tonight. 'Watch me,' that's what the boss ordered you to do."

Poor old Spaff was thoroughly frightened. He coaxed and pleaded with Alfred to drop the matter, take his pay and he would endeavor to have his wages raised. At the first opportunity he slipped away from Alfred, ran around the back way and up to the boss's room.

Alfred was seated at the supper table. The boss entered and, with a pleasant "good evening," seated himself opposite Alfred, and familiarly inquired: "What they got for supper? They set a fairly good table here but the waiters are slow."

Alfred sulkily ate in silence, never deigning to look at or answer the questions of the boss. That gentleman rattled on, first on one subject, then another. Finally, he carelessly[401] asked Alfred the title of the new song he sang the night before. Never noticing the boy's rude behavior in not replying to him, he continued, dipping a half doughnut in his coffee: "I want you to tell that gag about Noah being the first man to run a boat show; I think it's the funniest thing I ever heard. Where did you get it? I always make it a point to be in the house when you tell that gag."

Alfred did not understand that all this was flattery; he imagined the boss was guying him. His face was hot, his voice trembled. Leaning over the table, he sneered: "So you come in every night to hear the jokes that came over in Noah's ark, do you? Well, you needn't come in tonight, you won't hear them. When you get through with your supper I want a settlement with you and if you think you can kick me, come out of this house and try it." He left the table and passed out.

Instead, Spaff came to him, handing him twenty-five dollars. "Now, see here, young fellow, you're too hot-headed, you'll never get along if you keep this up. This man appreciates your work; he told me so. Say, you didn't hear right. I was in the room, I didn't hear the things you did. Come on, now, I'll get you a raise of five dollars a week."

Alfred walked away from the man. His baggage had been conveyed to the hotel from the theatre and his preparations completed. He left the "Gift Show."

"I'll never take another chance with a fly-by-night troupe. If I can't get with the best I'll stay right here in this town. I'll paint hulls, houses or anything; I'll go back to the tan-yard; I'll go to the newspaper office; I'll do anything, I don't care what it is or how badly I hate to do it. I wouldn't be caught dead with another troupe like the last one I was with." So declared Alfred to Lin and Cousin Charley.

After Alfred was out of hearing, Cousin Charley, with a laugh, remarked he had "heard that story afore. It won't be[402] a month till he's off agin with some kind of a show. He can't git with a good one; they wouldn't have him with a good show. (Cousin Charley had assured Alfred that very morning that he considered him the best actor he had ever seen). He'll be out with a fly-by-night troupe afore the next month. Alfred's a gone goslin'. He's got no trade an' he'll hev to scratch to make a livin'. I sort of pity Uncle John an' Aunt Mary, kase they think so much of the boy, an' it's a great pity for them. Uncle John ought to beat the foolishness out of him long ago. He never touches him, no matter what he does. Does he?"

Lin looked at Cousin Charley in a sort of pitying way as she asked: "How is hit thet all are agin Alfurd? Ye all like him, I no ye do, but durned ef ye evur lose a shot at him. No, his pap don't whup him eny more, he nevur did beat him tu hurt; hit wus sort of a habit tu take him intu the celler to skur him but hit nevur done him a mite uf good, he jus laffed an' made fun uf hit. Ye kin do more with reasonin' with Alfurd."

Cousin Charley agreed with Lin and declared that he always took Alfred's part. "I told his father Alfred would go off some day and then they'd all be dog-goned sorry they hadn't handled him different."

"Well, Alfurd's not goin' off eny more till he goes rite; he's gettin' more sot in his ways every day, he's mos' like a man."

Alfred's family were greatly elated that he had settled down. Staid old Brownsville was stirred from center to sandy hollow. Peter Hunt, philosopher and photographer, leased Krepp's Bottom for the announced purpose of converting it into a skating park or rink. Alfred was one of Peter's right hand men. The creeks and rivers had furnished ample fields for the skaters of Brownsville heretofore, but Peter felt the time had come when the society people of the town, who did not care to skate with the common herd,[403] should have a more exclusive place in which to enjoy this wholesome recreation.

Therefore Krepp's Bottom was selected. The proposed park was the talk of the town. Dunlap's Creek flowed in a circle, skirting three sides of the bottom land. Levees three feet high were thrown up along the banks of the creek, a rope stretched along the west side. An opening in the levee admitted the water. Two feet of water covered the bottom. The weather turned cold, ice formed, the park was opened, and three-fourths of the public walked in free. Alfred felt that Spaff was about right in his estimate of the public.

The creek fell, the dry, clay land absorbed the water, the ice sunk and cracked in places. The waters of the creek flowed six feet below and the glory of the skating park was a memory of the past.

Later on a promoter endeavored to rent Jeffries Hall for a roller skating rink. George Washington Frazee, who learned of the man renting Jeffries' hall for a skating rink, said: "Huh! Another dam fool 'bout skeetin'. Jeffries Hall won't hold water, an' if it did hit wouldn't freeze hard enuff to bear."

For the winter the town went back to its time honored sport of sledding, "coasting" it is termed nowadays. Sleds of all kinds were seen on the hills and streets of the two towns. Even men engaged in the sport. The speed attained, especially on Scrabbletown Hill, was terrific. The big sleds, loaded with from four to eight persons, flew down the hills at the rate of a mile a minute. The sleds bore striking names, Alfred's the "West Wind." It was one of the speediest of the numerous fast ones.

Starting at the top of Town Hill, those on the Brownsville side would speed to the Iron Bridge, even across it into[404] Bridgeport. Those sliding Scrabbletown Hill would often be sent, by the speed attained on this steep incline, across the Iron Bridge into Brownsville. Thus the coasters of the rival towns would at times, pass each other going in opposite directions.

Brownsville's Winter Sport

Brownsville's Winter Sport

The older men would sit in the stores and watch the sliders. The shoe-shops of McKernan and Potts were the scenes of many heated arguments as to the fleetness of the different sleds.

An old gentleman who had recently moved to Brownsville from Uniontown, endeavored to impress the shoe-shop crowds with the superiority of the sleds of the Uniontown boys over those of Brownsville. He related that a Uniontown boy slid down Laurel Hill through Uniontown and would have slid on down the pike to Searight's only he was afraid he would 'skeer' somebody's horses.

Shuban Lee, ever loyal to Brownsville and her sleds, related how Alfred had loaned his sled to a show fellow he brought home with him from somewhere. "The show chap did not know much about sliding. Alfred's sled was a whirlwind when it got to goin'. The show feller hauled the sled to the top of Town Hill. He started down the hill. The sled run so fast it crossed the Iron Bridge up to the top of Scrabbletown Hill. Afore he cud git off she started back down the hill, across the Iron Bridge[405] agin, up to the top of Town Hill an' back she started. Half the men in town run out an' tried to stop thet sled but hit wus so cold they couldn't do hit. She just kept on a-goin' down one hill an' up tother."

Here the Uniontown man, with a contemptuous snort, said: "I s'pose he just kept on slidin' till he froze to death?"

"No," Shuban answered, "he didn't freeze, he just kept on slidin' till they shot him to keep him from starvin' to death. An' I kin prove hit by ole man Smith an' if you won't believe him I kin show you the feller's grave."



This world would be tiresome, we'd all get the blues,
If all the folks in it held just the same views;
So do your work to the best of your skill,
Some people won't like it, but other folks will.

Jean Jacques Rousseau, a French-Swiss philosopher, nearing the end of his days complained that in all his life he never knew rest or content for the reason he had never known a home. His mother died giving him birth, his father was a shiftless dancing master. Rousseau claimed his misfortunes began with his birth and clung to him all his life. Rousseau was one of the few persons who have attained distinction without the aid of a home in youth. No matter how humble the home, it is the beginning of that education that brings out all the better nature of a human being.

The home is the God-appointed educator of the young. We have educational institutions, colleges, schools, but the real school where the lessons of life are indelibly impressed upon the mind is the home. We write and talk of the higher education. There is no higher education than that taught in a well regulated home presided over by God-fearing, man-loving parents whose lives are a sacrifice to create a future for their children. The parents, rather than the children, should be given credit for the successes of this life.

Alfred had separated himself from his home several times but never decided to leave it for any lengthy period; but now the time had arrived when it seemed to him the parting of the ways in his ambitious life was at hand.

On the dead walls, fences and old buildings, were pasted highly colored show bills announcing the coming of Thayer & Noyes Great American Circus. Alfred decided he would go hence as a member of the troupe.

[407]The humdrum life of the old town had begun to wear on his energetic feelings. There were social pleasures sufficient to make the days and nights joyous, but Alfred was thinking beyond the days thereof.

The circus had come and gone. "I will take your address. If anything occurs that I can use you I will write. You can expect a letter from me soon." With these words Dr. Thayer crushed Alfred's hopes.

Alfred voted the show the best he had ever witnessed, but the concert, the after show that promised so much and gave so little, he condemned.

After writing several letters and destroying them, deciding they did not fulfill all requirements, the following letter was mailed:

Brownsville, Fayette Co., Pa.

Dr. James L. Thayer:

Respected Sir: I take my pen in hand to acquaint you with the effect your show had on our people. It is the opinion of all who take interest in actors and should know, that your show was better than George F. Bailey's and it was considered the best we ever had. Brownsville people are hard to please. They see so much it must be choice if it suits them. Your circus suited all. I have heard many actors declare Brownsville was the hardest town to please they ever tackled. An English sleight of hand man played Jeffries Hall three nights. He said they were a "bit thick." Alf Burnett, the humorist, compared Brownsville to slush ice. Bob Stickney was the best one in your show.

Now comes the news that I hate to tell (and this was the sole reason that prompted the letter). Your after-concert is a bad recommend for your real show. I reckon one thing that made it appear worse is we have a regular minstrel show on hand all the time. I'm at the head of it, and most of the people in town know our jokes and songs by heart and when your concert people told them they did not tell them right and our people noticed the mistakes, and of course you couldn't expect them to laugh at the jokes anyway.

Now you promised to write me. If you can do so, I can go to your show most any time providing you do not get too far away from Brownsville. Please send me where you're going to list. I am[408] sure I can make a heap of improvement in your concert and I know you do not want people anywhere to call you an old fraud as they have done here.

Your most obedient servant,

Alfred Griffith Hatfield.

P. S. Please let me know what you can afford to pay a prime concert actor. Between times I can help out in the circus ring if you have clothes fit to do it in.

In due time this reply was received:

Fairmont, Va.

Mr. Hatfield:

Your letter duly received. You will find our advance route for the next ten days enclosed. You can join at any time it suits your convenience. Your salary will be based upon the value and extent of services you can render this company. After a trial, if your ability is not what you represented it to be, your engagement will be ended without prejudice to you or expense to this firm.

Respectfully yours,

Thayer and Noyes,
Per B. L.

P. S. Send your professional name and billing.

Alfred read and re-read the letter and immediately began making preparations to tempt fate once more. The preparations mostly consisted in surreptitiously secreting his wearing apparel in the old barn where Node had labored so long on his great inventions. It was Alfred's intention to leave home clandestinely. As usual with boys in his frame of mind he did not dare to trust himself to advise with anyone; like boys in general, he did not desire advice. Approval was that which he most craved.

Uniontown was decided upon as the place to join the circus. Alfred felt the leaving of home and family meant more to him than ever before. At times he was buoyed up by hopes of success. He would argue with himself thusly: I have promised to join the show. They need me; they will be expecting me. This is the opportunity I have been looking for.

[409]Alfred spent all his spare time at home with his mother, sisters and brothers. His usual haunts in town were forgotten. Family and friends noted the change and wondered thereat. Lin was unstinted in her praise. Lin asserted from the wildest, he had become the tamest boy in Brownsville. "He'll eat out of your hand now," she assured Mrs. Todd.

Mr. Todd jerked out a "huh" as he advised them to keep their eyes on the "devil ketcher." "He's just sittin' the megs for another outbreak. He's compilin' some devilment, yer ken bet yer bottom dollar. He kan't fool me twice."

It was the day previous to Alfred's intended departure. He had been at home all day. He gave his sled to brother Joe. It was summer and the steel soles were greased to keep them from rusting. Lin would not permit Joe to haul it over the floor claiming it would grease everything it touched.

To brother Bill fell shinny clubs and bats, marbles and a kite. Sister Lizzie was the recipient of more than a quart of various colored beads taken from Aunt Lib's Jenny Lind waist. Ida Belle, the baby was remembered with a big Dutch doll that rolled its eyes, the mother with an ornamental sugar bowl and Lin with a pair of puff combs. A pair of skates and a bow and arrow were given to Cousin Charley.

The greater effort Alfred made to ease his mind, the more conscience stricken he became. Try as he would he could not force the gayety he feigned. He clung to the baby sister every moment he was in the house. Lin, in an adjoining room, heard him ask the child if she would miss her big "bruzzer" when he was gone. Entering the room she found Alfred in tears, the sympathetic child stroking his face. Alfred endeavored to swallow the lump in his throat but he only sobbed the more. It did him good as ashamed as he felt.

Lin looked him over suspiciously as she, in a voice as commanding as she would pitch it, said:

"Look here, ye can't bamboozle me another minnit. What's on yer mind? Spit it out afore it spills. Get it out[410] of yer sistum and yer'll feel a hull lot better. Thar hain't a durned dud of yers in this house. Air yu fixin' to fly the coop? If ye air, don't go off like a thief afore daylight. Go away so you won't be ashamed to kum back. Kum on now, let's hear from you! I'll durn soon tell you whar to head in."

Alfred made a full and complete confession.

"So yer fixin' to run off and break the hearts of all at home, an' put a dent in your own. For a week ye been jumpin' to make yerself more dear to 'em afore ye hurt 'em. Yer hain't learnin' much with all yer schoolin'. When do the retreat begin?" banteringly demanded Lin.

"Tomorrow," feebly answered Alfred.

That night, the family were in the big room, mother sewing, the children playing about her. Lin, seated behind the mother, repeatedly signaled Alfred to begin his talk to the mother as per his promise. The boy looked another direction but Lin never took her eyes off his face. Her gaze became painful. Finally he began:

"Muz, do you think Pap would be mad if I was to go away while he is in Pittsburgh?"

The mother, without taking her eyes off her work, said: "I hope you're not going to Uncle Jake's again. You'll wear your welcome out, won't you?"

"No, I'm going away on business. I'm tired and sick of the way things are going with me. I see nothing ahead for me and I'm going to strike out for myself."

The mother put down her sewing and looked very seriously. Lin, from behind her, nodded vigorously for him to go on.

"Look at Dan Livingstone," Alfred continued; "he never had anything until he went off with Capt. Abrams. Now see where he is and I don't know how many boys have gone away and all have done well. All I need is to get out of this town and I know I can do something for myself."

[411]"Does Capt. Abrams want to take you with him," anxiously inquired the mother.

"Oh, no, he never said a word to me about it, but I know I could go with him if I wanted to."

"Well, where do you think of going?" questioned the mother.

Alfred hesitated a second.

"Well, first I'm going to try it with a circus but I don't expect to stay long. I'm just going on trial."

Noting the look of worriment on the face of the mother he continued:

"I know I won't do. They almost tell me so in a letter and it's only to Uniontown, twelve miles away. I won't be gone long," and he caught the baby up, tossed it up, and pretended to be very jolly.

The matter was gone over and over with the mother who insisted that Alfred remain at home until the return of the father. If he could obtain his father's consent he could go.

Lin endeavored to assist the boy by remarking: "Well, if he's jes goin' for a trial, Uniontown is so close to hum, you could walk back if ye hain't fit fer the work." The mother protested to the last.

Alfred had been so very liberal in bestowing presents to ease his conscience that he had but forty-six cents in his purse when the leaving time came. He was acquainted with all the old stage drivers on the line. It was his intention to walk up Town Hill, rest under the big locust trees at the brow of the hill until the stage coach arrived, the horses walking slowly ascending the long hill, he would get up beside the driver or crawl in the boot on the rear of the stage coach.

He lolled on the grass as the stage approached. The driver was a stranger to him. He looked appealingly at the man but received no recognition. The heavy stage lumbered by. Alfred ran for the rear end of it. The boot was bulging out with trunks and valises; there was no room for Alfred. A[412] broad strap that held the huge leather cover in place over the trunks dangled down within reach. Grasping it as the four horses struck a trot, Alfred was helped along at a lively gait. Through Sandy Hollow by the old Brubaker house, then a slow walk up the hill by Mart Claybaugh's blacksmith shop, through the toll gate, then into a trot on by the old school-house where his first minstrel show was given, on by all the familiar places.

Leaving Home

Leaving Home

Heretofore when traveling the pike Alfred had a word and a smile for all as he knew every family along its sides. On this occasion he endeavored to conceal his identity. But once did the coach halt—at Searight's half way to Uniontown to water the horses and liquor the driver and passengers.

Old Logan, the hostler at Searight's crowed in imitation of a rooster, the passengers throwing him pennies. Alfred with cast down head walked on to the next hill. When the stage rolled by he again grasped the strap and kept pace with the coach until the outskirts of Uniontown were reached. A small colored boy directed him to the show grounds. Through the main street of the town Alfred trudged, carrying the[413] large carpet sack formerly used with the Eli troupe as a property receptacle for Mrs. Story's china tea set.

Arriving at the circus grounds, the afternoon performance was over. Drawing near the tent he anxiously expected to find the show folks looking for him. He imagined they would all be expecting him.

The huge form of Dr. Thayer loomed up. Alfred hastened toward him. The Doctor was engaged in an earnest argument with a mechanic of the town over the charges for repairs on a wagon. Alfred walked up to the circus man. The Doctor did not even notice him. He followed the two men around the wagon as they argued, Alfred stationing himself directly in the big showman's path. Their eyes met several times, still no recognition came from the circus manager.

Alfred finally accosted the big man with a "Howdy, Mr. Thayer. I've come to work for you."

The showman's surprised look showed plainly he did not recognize Alfred.

"I'm the new boy to work in your concert."

Motioning with his arm he ordered Alfred to go back and Charley would attend to him. Without any idea who Charley was or what he was, Alfred started in the direction indicated by the jerk of the doctor's hand. Approaching the connection between the main tent and the dressing room tent, a man lying on the grass warned Alfred back. Even after he explained that he was searching for Charley, the man, without heeding the appeal, motioned the boy back. Walking around to the other side of the tent, he stealthily approached the opening and darted in. He was barely inside the tent when a big, burly fellow seized him roughly and hustled him through the opening, demanding why he was sneaking into the ladies' dressing room.

"Mr. Thayer hired me. He sent me here. He told me Charley would attend to me. I'm looking for Charley."

The man asked: "What Charley are you looking for?"

[414]"I don't know. Mr. Thayer told me Charley would put me to work."

The man laughed and led the way into the tent as he cautioned the lad to use the name of Mr. Noyes instead of Charley.

Mr. Noyes was too busy to talk to him. Alfred's attention was divided between the performance and the novel scenes in the men's dressing tents; the latter were as interesting to him as the ring performance. The order and decorum pervading the organization was marked.

Charley Noyes, a most competent director of a circus performance, the deportment of his employes was nearly perfect. Even the property men were respectable and well behaved. The performance over, a heavy set man was packing a huge trunk with horse covers and other trappings. He had repeatedly requested the others to lend a hand. Alfred assisted the man with his work until completed. In the interim Alfred advised him why he was there. The man looked the boy over carefully saying: "Where are you going to pad?"

Alfred had no idea of the meaning of the word "pad." Afterwards, he learned that "pad" was slang for bed and sleep.

He answered correctly by chance, "I don't know."

"Well, you can get in with me. It's a two o'clock call. I'm going to spread a couple of blankets under the band chariot. I sleep better there than in a hotel."

The blankets spread, Alfred's carpet sack served as a pillow for him. They were about to crawl in when the other asked Alfred if he had been to "peck." "Not within the last week."

The man looked at him pityingly. There was a lunch stand nearby. The man, returning from it, handed Alfred a half of a fried chicken and an apple pie. Although Alfred[415] insisted, the man would not eat any of it. He ordered Alfred to eat it all, remarking "You need it."

Alfred found himself the object of considerable sympathy the following day and not until someone asked him how it was he had been without food for a week did he learn that "peck" in show slang signified meals—eating.

Boy-like, he had worn his new Sunday shoes. His feet were feverish and sore. Even had Alfred not been footsore, the snoring of the other would have made sleep impossible to him. How long he lay awake he had no reckoning of. It seemed to him he had only closed his eyes when he felt a yank at the blankets and a rough voice ordering him to get up. It was the lot watchman.

The big band chariot was slowly ascending the foothills of the mountains. The east was ahead over the mountain. The curtain of night was being lifted by the first streak of gray dawn spreading over the sky. All were asleep in the wagon excepting the driver. Halting his team he began winding the long reins about the big brakes. He was about to climb down when Alfred inquired as to the trouble. The driver advised that the off leader's inside trace was loose and the lead bars dragging. Alfred advised the driver to sit still.

"I'll hook it up. How many links do you drop?" he asked as he pushed the horse into place. He was on the wagon in a jiffy. The driver was greatly taken with the boy. Further up the mountain at the big watering trough, Alfred assisted in watering and washing the horses' shoulders. It was only a day or two until Alfred was permitted to handle the reins over the team, a favor this celebrated old horseman had never conferred upon anyone previously.

Never will Alfred forget that journey up the mountains. Every turn of the wheels of the big chariot, as they ground the limestone under their weight until the flinty pebbles shed sparks, made him feel more lonely. In the dim gray of the early day the distance seemed greater than when softened by[416] the light of the morning sun. He had often from afar viewed the mountains over which they were traveling. As they ascended, he gazed long and wistfully towards home, a home that lives in his memory today as clearly as on that morning in the long ago.

On the Band Wagon

On the Band Wagon

When the crest of the ridge was reached and the descent on the other side began, looking backwards, he imagined the world between him and home. Right glad was he of the friendly advances of the old driver—they were friends.

Soon the band men began to awaken, taking out their instruments, arranging their clothing, and making preparation for the entrance into town. The baggage wagons had preceded the band and performer's wagons. There was but one animal van, Charley White's trained lions, the feature of the show.

The teams halted. The driver placed plumes in the head gear of the horses. The band men pulled on red coats and caps. As the horns tooted and the cymbals clashed they entered the town.

Alfred assisted the driver to unhitch his team. Mr. Noyes arrived, meanwhile. Alfred volunteered to take charge of his team. He drove the handsome horses to the barn and saw that they were fed and watered.

Mr. Noyes remarked: "You seem to be fond of horses. Have you handled them before?"

"All my life," proudly answered Alfred.

[417]"Well, you ride with me tomorrow. It will be more pleasant than in the band wagon. I want you to go in the concert today."

He had no orchestrated music, but Phil Blumenschein, the bandmaster, was an old minstrel leader. The orchestra played over Alfred's stuff two or three times and played it better than it was ever played before. In those days an orchestra furnished the music for the entire circus performance.

There came a heavy rain. The attendance at the concert was very light insofar as the paid admissions were concerned but all connected with the circus were there to witness the debut of the new boy who had joined to strengthen the concert.

No opera house or theatre ever erected has the resonance, the perfect acoustics of a circus tent when the canvas is wet and the temperature within above 70 degrees. There was a chord from the orchestra. Alfred ran to the platform in the middle of the ring. (The gentleman who announced the concert assured the audience there would be a stage erected). This stage was a platform about ten feet square resting flat on the uneven earth. As Alfred stepped on it and began his song and dance, in which he did some very heavy falls, the platform rocked and reeled like a boat in a storm. Every slap of the big shoes on his well developed feet made a racket, the sound twofold increased by the acoustics of the damp tent. Alfred's voice sounded louder to himself than ever before, notwithstanding he worked his whole first number with his back to the audience. (In theatres the orchestra is always in a pit in front of the performers—in a circus concert the orchestra is behind the performer).

Alfred faced the orchestra; his back to the audience, his work made a hit, even more with the show folks than with the audience. Dick Durrant, the banjoist, taught Alfred the comedy of the familiar duet, "What's the matter Pom[418]pey?" This was in Alfred's line and the act became the comedy feature of the concert.

Salary day came on Sunday. The employes of the circus reported to the room of the manager, where their salary was counted out to them by the treasurer. When Alfred's turn came he was asked: "How much does your contract call for?"

"I have no contract. Here is the letter under which I joined," assured Alfred, passing the letter to the treasurer.

Glancing at it: "Yes, I wrote that letter but you'll have to see Mr. Thayer." As Alfred opened the door to depart he said, "You had best see Mr. Noyes."

"How much are you going to pay me, Mr. Thayer?"

"Well, let me see, ten dollars a week will be about right, won't it Charley?"

"Eh, no, pay him fifteen. He's worth it. He's the best boy I ever had around me," was Mr. Noyes' answer.

Charley Noyes paid Alfred the first salary he ever earned with a circus and it was so ordained that Alfred should pay the then famous circus manager the last salary he ever received, years after the day Charley Noyes declared Alfred the best boy he ever had around him. The once famous manager, broken in health and fortune, was seeking employment and it fell to Alfred's lot to secure him an engagement with a company of which Alfred was the manager. When the salary of the veteran was being discussed, Alfred's intervention secured him remuneration far in excess of that hoped for. Soon after this engagement ended, Mr. Noyes died very suddenly. The end came in a little city of Texas. It happened that the minstrel company, owned by the one time new boy of the circus, was in Waco. Letters on Mr. Noyes' person written by Alfred led the hotel people to telegraph the minstrel manager, who hastened to the city where his friend had died. Ere he arrived, the Masonic fraternity had performed the last sad rites. Mr. Noyes was the friend of Alfred when he needed friends and it was his intention to[419] send all that was mortal of him to his old home. Telegrams were not answered and Charles Noyes sleeps in the little cemetery at Lampasas, Texas.

As the Thayer & Noyes Circus was one of the best, Alfred has always considered his engagement with that concern as the beginning of his professional career. Dr. James L. Thayer and his family were highly connected. Mr. Noyes married the sister of his partner's wife. The families did not agree and this led to a separation of the partners, disastrous to both. Chas. Noyes' Crescent City Circus, and Dr. James Thayer's Great American Circus never appealed to the people as did the old title, nor was either of the concerns as meritorious as the Thayer & Noyes concern. In the prosperous days of the show the proprietors and their wives were welcome guests in the homes of the best families in the cities visited. The writer remembers that in the city of Baltimore, the mayor, the city council and other high dignitaries attended the opening performance in a body.

The company was the cream of the circus world: S. P. Stickney, one of the most respectable and talented of old time circus men; Sam and Robert Stickney, sons; Emma Stickney, his daughter; Tom King and wife, Millie Turnour, Jimmy Reynolds, the clown whose salary of one hundred dollars a week had so excited the cupidity of Alfred; Woody Cook, who came from Cookstown, Fayette County, only a few miles from Brownsville, and who, like Alfred had left home to seek his fortune; James Kelly, champion leaper of the world; James Cook and wife, of the Cook family, were of the company.

All circus people in those days were apprenticed, all learned their business. One of the latter day hall room performers would have received short shrift in a company of those days, when every performer was an all-round athlete; in fact, in individual superiority, the circus actor of that day[420] outclassed those of the present. The riders were very much superior as they had more competent instructors.

The only particular in which the circus performance has progressed is in the introduction of the thrillers—the big aerial acts, the mid-air feats. Combination acts are superior in the present circus and in this alone has there been improvement. The circus people of old bore the same relation to the public as does the legitimate actor today.

There was an aristocracy in the circus world of those days that could not be understood by the circus people of today. Some twelve families controlled the circus business in this country for years. They were people of wealth and affairs.

The Robinson family was one of the oldest and most famous of their times. The elder John Robinson left an estate valued in the millions. The numerous apprentices of this master of the circus were the most famous of all of their times. James Robinson who was the undisputed champion bare-back rider of the world, was an apprentice of "Old John" Robinson. Assuming the name of Robinson, he held a place in the circus field never attained by any other. He toured the world heralded as the champion, yet he would never permit himself to be announced as such. He earned two fortunes. Today at an age that leaves the greater number of men in their dotage, Mr. Robinson is healthy and active. He enjoys life as few old persons do. In the office of his friend, Dr. J. J. McClellan, he may be found almost any day, the center of a group of good fellows and none merrier than the once champion bare-back rider of the world.

The Stickneys were one of the greatest of the old time circus families. In the summer the family followed the red wagons and in the winter Mr. Stickney managed the American Theatre on Poydras Street, New Orleans. America's noted players all appeared in this theatre. Young Bob Stickney was born in this theatre. He made his first appear[421]ance on the stage as the child in Rolla, supporting Edwin Forrest. No more talented or graceful performer ever entered a circus ring than this same Robert Stickney. Only a few weeks ago the writer attended a performance of that improbable play, Polly at the Circus. The grace and dramatic actions of Mr. Stickney in the one brief moment in the scene where Polly rushes into the ring, were more effectively and dramatically portrayed than any climax in the play.

When Thayer & Noyes' Great American Circus exhibited in Baltimore a special quarter sheet bill was printed, the program of the performance. Al. G. Field was one of the names on the bill, in two colors. The agent mailed one of these bills to the show. It was not until the portly proprietor, Dr. Thayer, explained to Alfred that his name was entirely too long for a quarter sheet, and that if he, Alfred, desired to be billed, he must curtail the name. "I've just knocked your hat off," laughed the good natured showman. Alfred thought little of the matter. He only regarded the name as a nom-de-plume. Other bills were printed bearing the name of Al. G. Field; when nearing the end of the circus season the management of the Bidwell & McDonough's Black Crook Company applied to Thayer & Noyes for two or three lively young men to act as sprites, and goblins, Mr. Thayer recommended young Mr. Field as a capable person to impersonate the red gnome; this name went on the bills. Alfred never signed a letter or used the newly acquired name until years afterwards circumstances and conditions had fixed the show name upon him and it was absolutely imperative he adopt it. Therefore in 1881, by act of the legislature of Ohio and the Probate Court of Franklin County, Ohio, the name of Alfred Griffith Hatfield Field was legalized, abbreviated on all advertising matter to Al. G. Field. It is so copyrighted in the title of the Al. G. Field Greater Minstrels with the Librarian of Congress.



We all fall down at times,
Though we have nerve and grit;
You're worth a bet, but don't forget—
To lay down means to quit.

"Columbus, Ohio, is a long ways out west and I don't hope tu ever git tu see you all agin but I hope you won't fergit me, kase I'll never fergit you. I'd go with you all but I'm 'bliged tu keep my promise. I hope my married life will turn out all right but you kan't never guess whar you're goin' tu land when yu sail on the sea of matermony.

"They say the reason men don't practis what they preach is bekase they need the money. Well, if he practices what he preaches, he'll be a good pervider and that's all I'll ask of him.

"I hope John will do better when you git settled in Columbus an' I know he will. Alfred's mos' a man grown an' he'll be a big help to his pap if ye'll jes' take him right. I jes' told John day afore yisterday—I ses, ses I—'Alfurd's no child enny more and you ought not tu treat him like a boy.' I want you all to write me and tell me how yu like it. I s'pose when yu git out in Ohio you'll all git the ager. Uncle Wilse's folks did and they shook thar teeth loose. They moved to Tuscarrarus County. Newcomerstown was thar post office. They wrote us they wanted to kum back home afore they was there a month.

"It's bad fur ole peepul to change their hums. Hits all right fur young folks kase they're not settled an' they soon fergit the old love fur the new, but I hope you'll like hit. John says the railroads kum into Columbus from both ways an' the cars are comin' an' goin' all the time. If you live close tu the depot you won't sleep much kase you hain't used tu hit."

[423]Lin's fears were not realized. Alfred's home was far from the depot. It was in the South End, in fact, the South End was Columbus in those days.

Those who guided the destinies of railroads were as wise in those days as these of the present. The site of Coony Born's father's brewery was selected as the most desirable location for a passenger depot. The good people of Columbus (the South End) were more jealous of their rights than the people of today when a railroad is supposed to be encroaching upon them; therefore when it was proposed to locate a depot where the noise would disturb their slumbers and their setting hens, the opposition of not the few, but many, was aroused. To locate the depot in their midst was an invasion of their rights. Not only would it disturb the quietude of their homes but it would be a menace to their business inasmuch as it would attract undesirable strangers. The business men of the South End had their regular customers and did not care to take chances with strangers. They admitted a depot was a necessity—a sort of nuisance—to be tolerated, but not approved.

Railroad people of those days were as inconsistent as those of today. They were spiteful. They built a depot outside the city limits, as near the line of demarcation as possible.

North Public Lane, now Naghten Street, was the north city limits. The South End had won. They celebrated their victory over the railroads by a public demonstration. Hessenauer's Garden was crowded. The principal speaker, in eloquent Low Dutch, congratulated the citizens on the preservation of their rights—and slumbers. He highly complimented them over the fact that they had forced the railroads to locate their depot as far from the South End as the law and the city limits would permit.

The new depot was connected with the city by a cinder path, nor could the city compel the builders of the new depot to lay a sidewalk. The depot people claimed the land[424] thereunder would revert to the city. Therefore, in the rainy seasons incoming travelers carried such quantities of the cinder walk on their feet that the sidewalks of High Street appeared to strangers in mourning for the sad mistake of those who platted the town in confining the city forever to one street.

Every incoming locomotive deposited its ashes on the cinder path. The city could not remove the ashes as rapidly as they accumulated. The task was abandoned and to this day no continuous efforts are made to keep the streets of Columbus clean. Like the good fraus of the South End cleaning house, the streets are cleaned once a year—near election time.

There was no population north of Naghten Street until after the erection of the depot. It is true there were a few North of Ireland folks living in the old Todd Barracks, and many of their descendants to this day can be found on Neil Avenue; yet they had no political power at that time; in fact the South End people, with that supreme indifference which characterizes those who have possession by right of inheritance, did not even note the invasion of the city by the Yankees and Puritans from Worthington and Westerville. It was not until Pat Egan was elected coroner that the residents of the South End realized a candidate of theirs could be laid out by a foreigner.

It was in those days that Alfred was introduced to Columbus. They were the good old days, when all thrifty people made their kraut on All Hallowe'en and the celebration of Schiller's birthday was only overshadowed by that of Washington's; when the first woods were away out in the country and quail shooting good anywhere this side of Alum Creek. The State Fair grounds (Franklin Park) were in the city.

The State House, the Court House, Born's Brewery, the City Hall, and Hessenauer's Garden, all in the South End,[425] were all the public improvements the city could boast of. Others were not desired.

Those days only live in the memory of the good people who enjoyed them—the good old days when every lawn in the South End was a social center on Sundays; where every tree shaded a happy, contented gathering whose songs of the Fatherland were in harmony with the laws of the land, touching a responsive chord in the breasts of those who not only enjoyed the benefits and blessings of the best and most liberal government on earth, but appreciated them.

The statesmen of those days, the men who made laws and upheld them, chosen as rulers by a majority of their fellow citizens, were respected by all. It was not necessary for an official to stand guard between the rabble and the administration. Office holders stood upon the dignity of their offices. Demagogues had not instilled in the minds of the ignorant that to be governed was to be oppressed. Those unfitted by nature and education to administer public affairs did not aspire to do so nor to embarrass those who were competent.

In the good old days of Columbus, in the days of "Rise Up" William Allen, Allen W. Thurman, Sunset Cox and others, that fact that has been recognized in republic, kingdom and empire, namely: That that government is least popular that is most open to public access and interference.

The office holders of those days were strong and self-reliant. They formulated and promulgated their policies. They had faith in themselves. The voters had faith in them and faith is as necessary in politics as in religion.

The glories of the South End began to wane. South End people in the simplicity of their minds felt they were entitled to their customs, liberties and enjoyments.

Sober and law abiding, they only asked to be permitted to live in their own way as they had always lived. But the interlopers objected. The Yankees interfered in private[426] and public affairs, legislation was distorted, and still more aggravating, the descendants of the Puritans demanded that at all public celebrations pumpkin pie and sweet cider be substituted for lager beer, head and limburger cheese.

A German lends dignity to any business or calling he may engage in. Honest and industrious, he succeeds in his undertakings. In the old days all that was required to establish a paying business in the South End was a keg of beer, a picture of Prince Bismarck and a urinal. Patronized by his neighbors, his place was always quiet and orderly. But little whiskey was consumed, hence there was but little drunkenness.

When William Wall invited George Schoedinger into John Corrodi's, George called for beer. Wall, with a shrug of his shoulders to evidence his disgust, said: "Oh, shucks! Beer! Beer! Take whiskey, mon, beer's too damn bulky." As there was no prohibition territory in those days there was no bottled beer. Whether keg beer was too bulky or not relished, brewery wagons seldom invaded the sections wherein the interlopers dwelt. The grocery wagons of George Wheeler and Wm. Taylor were often in evidence. Both of these groceries in the North End did a thriving jug and bottle trade. The Germans bought and imbibed their beer openly. The grocery wagons were a cloak to the secretiveness of those whom they served, therefore those who patronized the grocery wagons were greatly grieved and rudely shocked at the sight of the beer wagons and the knowledge that their fellow citizens drank beer in their homes or on their lawns.

This became an issue in politics and religion. Many went to church seeking consolation and were forced to listen to political speeches. Preachers forgot their calling; instead of preaching love, they advocated hatred. The German saloon, being lowly and harmless, must go. In their stead came the mirrored bar with its greater influence for the spread of[427] intemperance but clothed with more respectability outwardly. Public officials were embarrassed, cajoled and threatened. The malcontent, the meddler, the demagogue, had injected their baneful innovations into the political life of Columbus.

It is related the Indians would not live as the Puritan fathers desired they should. They would not accept the dogmas and beliefs of the whites. At Thanksgiving time, a period of fasting and prayer, the Puritan fathers held a business meeting and these resolutions were adopted:

First, resolved, that the earth and the fullness thereof belong to God.

Second, that God gave the earth to his chosen people.

Third, that we are those.

They then adjourned, went out and slew every redskin in sight. Politically, the same fate was meted out to the peaceful citizens of the South End. The sceptre had passed from the hands of the sturdy old burghers of the South End. In their stead came a crop of office holders who, striving for personal popularity, catering to the meddler and busybody—a class who had no business of their own, but ever ready to attend to that of others. From a willing-to-be governed and peaceful city, discontent and confusion came. Every tinker, tailor or candle stick maker, every busybody in the city took it upon themselves, although without training, ability or experience, to advise how the city should be governed.

In the new order of things, representatives were elected noted only for their talking talents, the consequence of which was that every official considered that he was entitled to talk and talk on every subject whether he understood it or not.

There was a custom among the warriors of Rome that when one fell in battle, each soldier in his command cast a shovelful of earth on the corpse. Thus a mighty mound was formed.

[428]And so it was in the new order of things in Columbus. When a question of moment came, every official endeavored to shower his eloquence upon it until it was buried under a mass of words. The busybodies who so greatly interfered with public matters were from the grocery wagon sections and were addicted to chewing cloves. Those from the West Side chewed tobacco. All ate peanuts. Special appropriations were requested by John Ward, city hall janitor, to remove the peanut hulls after each talk fest. And thus it was that peanut politics and peanut politicians came to be known in Columbus. Peanut politics like all infections, spread until the whole political system became affected. If the depot had been located in the South End there would be no North End today.

Do you remember the North End before the depot was located there? Do you remember Wesley Chapel on the site of the present Wesley and Nicholas block. Worship was never disturbed by the hum of business. In the North End in those days there was Tom Marshall's Red Bird Saloon, Jack Moore's barber shop, and that old frame building, Hickory Alley and High Street, No. 180, a floor space of twenty-five by forty feet. They turned out one hundred and fifty buggies a year. Later, as the Columbus Buggy Company, a buggy every eight minutes was the output. That was the beginning of the largest concern of its kind in the world.

The Columbus Buggy Company and Doctor Hartman, the foremost citizen of Columbus, have done more to bring fame and business to Columbus than all other concerns combined. Their advertising matter, the most expensive ever used, is distributed to all parts of the world; hence, the man abroad hailing from Columbus is not compelled to carry a map to verify his statement that Columbus is on it.

The Columbus of that day had more street railways than the Columbus of today. In fact, every man that had a[429] pull had a street of his own. Columbus has more streets than any city in the world, comparatively. It is true some of them are not as long as the names they bear, yet they are on the town plat. Probably it was this ambition to own a street that influenced others to own street railways. We always spoke of "Old Man" Miller owning the two-horse High Street line. Luther Donaldson owned the one-horse line on State Street. Doctor Hawkes owned the one-horse line on West Broad Street. Doctor Hawkes owned several stage lines diverging from Columbus. He was the most serious of men. Alfred was in his employ. His duties called him to towns on the various stage routes. Hunting was good anywhere in those days. Alfred was provided with a rickety buggy and a spavined horse. He provided himself with a shot gun and a dog.

The First Home of The Columbus Buggy Co.

The First Home of The Columbus Buggy Co.

Returning from Mt. Sterling one raw autumn day, the game had been plentiful. The old Doctor met Alfred near where the Hawkes Hospital (now Mt. Carmel) stands. The Doctor driving a nettled horse, hurriedly advised Alfred that business of importance demanded he return to Washing[430]ton C. H. There was a fine bag of game under the seat in the buggy, also a double barreled shot gun and a hunting suit. How to explain their presence to the Doctor was perplexing, although he had not neglected the business entrusted to him; in fact, he was an hour ahead of the time. Alfred feared the Doctor would be displeased.

The Doctor, quickly alighting, ordered Alfred into his rig.

"Doctor, I have a bunch of quail under the seat. Just let me get my gun out and you can have the quail if you want them; if not, send them out to father's." The old Doctor knitted his brow but said nothing. However, the quail were sent to the father's house.

Another day, starting on a trip to the country, the Doctor standing on the steps of the office, looked at Alfred and asked if he had forgotten anything.

"No, sir, nothing. I have everything I usually take with me."

"Where's your gun?" asked the Doctor.

"Out home," replied Alfred. "Now Doctor, I have done a little hunting but I always start early and I never neglect your business."

The Doctor muttered something about hunting being a frivolous sport and it should not be engaged in on your employer's time.

He never permitted anyone to waste time. The Hawkes' farm, embracing all the land on the West Side near where the Mt. Carmel Hospital is now located, was covered with stones. It was a fad of the Doctor's to pass an afternoon on the farm, gathering stones.

Preparing to leave for Aetna one morning, Alfred called at the office to receive instructions. It was late when the old gentleman put in an appearance. He had had a bad night and desired Alfred to accompany him to the farm.

[431]Arriving at the farm, it was not long until he had Alfred picking up stones. The greater part of the day was thus spent. Alfred's back ached. He thought it the most peculiar fad a sane man ever indulged in. The Doctor was as deeply interested as though engaged in some great undertaking. A dozen boulders were placed in the buggy, as heavy a load as the old vehicle would stand up under. Driving to a point where the Doctor had quite a pile, the stones were unloaded and another load collected.

Rabbits were numerous. The next visit to the farm Alfred carried his gun. It was but a few moments until a cotton-tail jumped up in the path of the buggy. Alfred killed the rabbit. It was not long until four of the big-eared bunnies were dead on the buggy floor. The old Doctor began to show interest in the sport. When Alfred made a move to lay away his gun, the Doctor requested that he continue the hunt. Nor was it long until he advised Alfred that he would accompany him to Mt. Sterling and requested that the gun and dog be taken along. The Doctor without expressing himself as being at all interested, followed Alfred in the field. The only interest he seemed to take in the sport was when the hunter missed; then, knitting his brows, he would follow the birds with his eyes as they flew away.

Dr. Hawkes was the most unimpressionable of men. He had no conception of humor. He rarely smiled and never laughed outright. He assured Alfred that he would employ a man who had been in the penitentiary in preference to one who had traveled with a circus. The prejudiced old doctor was not aware that Alfred formerly followed the "red wagons."

A contract had been entered into to convey a number of young school girls to their homes in the country. The driver failed to report. An hour passed. The old doctor was greatly worried. The team was the best in the barn and more than anxious to answer to the driver's command.[432] Alfred climbed to the seat. Old Miles, the barn boss, was in doubt as to entrusting the horses to a driver who was not familiar with them.

"Hol' on, boy. Everybody kan't handle dis team."

"Turn them loose, Miles, I'm on my way," Alfred shouting "All-aboard."

The Doctor looked on in doubt. Gazing up at Alfred he began questioning him as to where he had learned to drive four horses.

"Oh, when I was with a circus," replied Alfred. "I reined six better ones than these."

"You have a precious load. I'm really afraid to trust them to you. It would be an awful thing if you should not be able to handle the team. I'll send old Joe with you."

"It's not necessary," Alfred replied.

The young ladies aboard, the whip cracked, they were off; around the State House square, up High Street on a lively trot. The old Doctor stood on the corner with as near a smile on his face as Alfred ever noticed.

In the evening he complimented Alfred meagerly on his proficiency as a whip. Alfred laughingly reminded him that they did not teach you stage driving over at the "pen". Uncle Henry, a blacksmith who shod the Doctor's stage horses, asserted the reason the Doctor preferred those from the "pen" was that he could hire them cheaper.

James Clahane was facetiously dubbed "The Duke of Middletown" by his friends, and that meant everybody who was intimate with the good-natured Irishman.

There must be something ennobling in the blacksmith calling. It not only strengthens the muscles but the nature of a man.

When Doctor Hawkes projected the horse car line on West Broad Street, he solicited Clahane to buy stock. The old blacksmith had his hard-earned savings invested in West Broad Street building lots. The Doctor argued the street car line would not only pay handsome dividends but[433] greatly enhance the value of abutting property. Clahane, very much against his judgment, invested considerable money in the street car line. The cars were not operated a month until Clahane questioned the Doctor as to when the road would strike a dividend. It was considered a good joke by all, save the Doctor.

Burglars cracked the street car safe, securing over four hundred dollars of the company's money. The news spread quickly. Clahane, minus coat, with plug hat in hand, (it was a hot morning), approached the office. Several gentlemen, including the Doctor, stood on the steps viewing the wreck within. Clahane, while yet the width of Broad Street away, shouted at the top of his voice: "Egad, Dhoctur, yese hev got yere divident." If the old Doctor realized the humor of this dig he never evidenced it.

The world declared the Doctor cold and uncharitable, but Alfred never enters Mt. Carmel Hospital that he does not lift his hat in reverence as he halts in front of the marble bust that so faithfully portrays the serious face of Doctor Hawkes.

In those days Heitman was Mayor, Sam Thompson Chief of Police, Lott Smith was the 'Squire of the town, and 'Squire Doney in the township. Chief Heinmiller ran the Fire Department and ran it right. Oliver Evans had the exclusive oyster trade of the city, handling it personally with a one horse wagon. The postoffice was near the Neil House. The canal boats unloaded at Broad Street, and Columbus had a Fourth of July celebration every year.

Alfred was one of a committee of young men laboring, to demonstrate to the world that the birth of this nation was an event, and incidently, to attract attention to a section of the city that had been overlooked in the way of street improvements. The large vacant field opposite the Blind Asylum was selected as the proper location for the Fourth of July celebration. The fact that the brass band, lately organized by the officers of the Blind Asylum, would be available for[434] the exercises, had great weight with the committee, in selecting the location. Parsons Avenue, then East Public Lane, was the muddiest street in the city. Those who drove their cows home via East Public Lane will verify this statement.

The city council had been appealed to personally and by petition. Finally, to partially appease public outcry, a very narrow sidewalk was constructed from Friend, now Main Street, to Mound, one short square. This very narrow sidewalk aroused those of the neighborhood as never before, excepting when the pound was established and citizens prevented pasturing their live stock on the public streets.

Among the attractions of the Fourth of July celebration were Lon Worthington, tight-rope walker; Billy Wyatt, in fire-eating exercises; a greased pig; Ed DeLany, who was to read the Declaration of Independence and Alfred a burlesque oration.

There was universal dissatisfaction over the narrow sidewalk and many independent citizens refused to walk upon it. They waded in mud to their knees, and proudly boasted of their independence as citizens. Even ladies refused to use the sidewalk, asserting it was so narrow two persons could not pass without embracing.

There was an old soldier who bore the scars of numerous battles and was looking for more. On the glorious Fourth, to more strongly emphasize his disdain for the narrow sidewalk, he rigged himself out in the uniform he had worn throughout the war. Although it was excessively hot he wore not only his fatigue uniform but his heavy blue double-caped overcoat. He paraded up and down along the side of the detested sidewalk, never stepping foot upon it. When his feet became too heavy with mud he scraped it off on the edge of the walk as he cursed the city council. He consigned them to——, where there are no Fourth of Julys or sidewalks.

Strains of music foretold the coming of the grand parade, headed by the Blind Band, marching in the middle of the street, their movement guided by a Drum Major blessed[435] with the sight of one eye. On they came, four abreast, taking up the narrow street from field fence line to narrow sidewalk line. From the opposite direction came the Son of Mars. He was large enough to be the father of that mythical warrior. The four slide trombone players leading the van were rapidly nearing the violent soldier who was taking up as much street as the four musicians; in fact, after his last visit to Ed Turner's saloon, the old soldier actually required the full width of the street. As the band and soldiers neared each other, it was evident there would be a collision. On the old "vet" marched, oblivious of everything on earth excepting the sidewalk. People yelled at him. One man who knew something of military tactics shouted "Halt!" The old veteran shouting back, to go to where he had consigned the city council and their sidewalk. "Get out of the way; let the band by!" Waving his mace as an emblem of authority, Jack Nagle, the policeman, ran towards the old soldier. "Get out of the way! Get out of the street! Get on the sidewalk! Can't you walk on the sidewalk?" "Walk on the sidewalk," shouted the old soldier, "Walk on the sidewalk? Huh, what in hell do you take me for, the tight-rope walker?"

The Fourth of July celebration was successful. In obtaining street improvements, East Public Lane was paved with brick twenty years afterwards, thus Alfred gained a reputation as a politician.

Years later, George J. Karb, a candidate for sheriff, requested Alfred and several of his friends to make a tour of the northern part of the county in his interest—a section noted for its piety and respectability. There were Mayor George Pagels and Bill Parks and Jewett of Worthington, Fred Butler of Dublin, Tom Hanson of Linworth, and numerous other deacons and elders to be seen. Karb requested that Alfred select the right people to accompany him. W. E. Joseph, Charley Wheeler and Gig Osborn, made up the committee that was to present the merits of the candidate for sheriff to[436] the voters of the Linwood and Plain City section. Karb was furious when he learned that Fred Atcherson had volunteered to carry the party in his big Packard machine. He swore they would lose him more votes than he could ever hope to regain; an automobile was the detestation of every farmer. To complete the campaign organization the committee decided to wear the largest goggles, caps and automobile coats procurable. The first farmer's team they met shied off the road, upsetting the wagon, breaking the tongue and crushing one wheel. The committee gave the farmer an order on Fred Immel to repair the wagon if possible, otherwise deliver a new wagon to the bearer, charging same to George J. Karb.

This experience cautioned the party to be more careful. Another farmer's team approaching, they halted by the roadside a hundred yards from the passing point. Do what he would the farmer could not urge his team by the automobile. Charley Wheeler became impatient and sarcastic. "What's the matter? You going to hold us here all day? Didn't your crow-baits ever see a gas wagon before?"

"Yes, my team has seed gas wagons and gas houses afore," sneered the farmer, "but they hain't used to a hull pack of skeer crows in one crowd. When we put a skeer crow in a corn field, one's all we make. Some damned fools make a dozen and put 'em all in one automobile. If you'll all get out and hide, my team will go by your ole benzine tank."

Hot and dusty, the party halted in front of a hotel. The village was larger and more prosperous than any yet visited.

A number of men were threshing grain a few hundred yards away, the steam threshing machine attracting farmers from all the country about. One a peculiar man, more refined appearing than the others, had once been a college professor; overstudy had partially unbalanced his reason. He was versed in the classics. He took an especial interest in Alfred.

[437]Bill Joseph is the luckiest man that ever tapped a slot machine. When traveling he often steps off the train while it halts at a depot and pulls his expenses out of a slot machine. On this day he was unusually lucky. The hotel had a varied assortment of drop-a-nickle-in-the-slot devices. Joe tapped them in a row. The hotel people looked upon him with suspicion. But when he carried the winnings into the bar, ordering the hotel man to slake the thirsts of the threshers, they were sort of reconciled. The old college professor, unlike the others, demanded something stronger than beer. His neighbors, who evidently had him in charge, endeavored to persuade him to go home.

On the Crowd Cheered

On the Crowd Cheered

"Wait! Hold a minute. I want to talk to this man Field. He is a scientific man. His father laid the Atlantic cable. His family is noted the world over. I want to talk to him. The Field family are noted scientists."

One of those who seemed most intimate with the professor was an old soldier, very deaf.

"What did you say his name was?" he inquired.

"Field," replied the professor. "F-i-e-l-d."

"Field," repeated the old soldier. "Field. Well, I want nuthin' to do with him. Field was my captain's name in the army, an' he was the damnedest beat I ever knowed."

[438]The old professor stuck to Alfred quoting Latin. He quoted a striking climax from one of Bryan's speeches, a quotation Bryan has been using in his Chautauqua lectures and political speeches for years. The old professor observed Claudius evolved this idea years ago. Alfred had no idea of who Claudius was, or how long ago he lived. However, when he located him four hundred years back, the old professor said "Huh, four hundred years ago? H-ll! Four thousand years." Alfred did not delve into the classics further.

Alfred presented the claims of Geo. Karb for the office of Sheriff and concluded his talk by inviting all to call on Karb when they happened in Columbus. "And when election day comes around, I hope you will all see your way clear to cast your votes for him, even though you are opposed to him politically. We must not adhere too strictly to our political prejudices in selecting officers to look after our personal affairs. And that's what a sheriff should do, and that's what Geo. Karb will do. Therefore, I ask you to cast your votes for Geo. J. Karb for sheriff of Franklin County."

The crowd cheered.

The old professor took it upon himself to reply. First, he thanked all for the honor they did his community by visiting them. "We have too few scientists visit us and I hope Mr. Field will come again when he can enlighten us on many scientific matters of which we are in doubt. As to his candidate for Sheriff of Franklin County, we know he is deserving or Mr. Field and the eminent gentlemen would not commend him. And I know that every voter here would be glad to vote for Mr. Karb if we lived in Franklin County."

The facts are, the committee in their zeal, were electioneering in Milford Center, Union County.

Joe was pryed off the slot machines and a solemn compact entered into that the part of the electioneering tour over the Franklin County line be forever held and guarded as a sealed book.



And far away—up yonder, in the window o' the blue,
The dreamed-of angels listen to an echo glad and new—
Thrilled to the Gates of Glory, and they say:
"Heaven's love to you,
Brother of the Light that makes the Morning!"

"If John kin do better in Columbus, hit's yo're duty to go." Thus Linn advised the mother.

Columbus was a big city but it was not home. The mother was discontented and longed for the old town back yonder. Alfred had promised to abandon his circus ambitions. He had just concluded a season in the south with the Simmons & Slocum Minstrels, a famous troupe of those days. E. N. Slocum was a Columbus man. Alfred had received an offer to cross the ocean with Haverly's Minstrels, a very large company. Haverly had invaded London previously and the success of that venture aroused great hopes for the success of the second company. The mother's strenuous opposition to Alfred's acceptance of the engagement was backed up by Uncle Henry Hunt, who was on a visit from Burlington, Iowa.

Uncle Henry was born in Elk County, Ky. His mother died when he was very young. His father married soon after the death of the first wife. The younger sister and himself did not appeal strongly to the step-mother. She was deeply interested in church work, and had little time to devote to the half orphaned children or her home. A plantation and a hundred and fifty slaves engaged all the father's time. The boy and girl ran wild on the place and it was little wonder they often came in for censure and even more severe punishment. The sister seemed more aggravating to the new mother than the boy. Reprimands became more[440] frequent, followed by bodily punishment. During the father's absence in Louisville, the step-mother's abuse of the sister became so aggravating to the brother that he assaulted the step-mother. The boy, fearing the wrath of the father, determined to run away. He had relatives, a brother in Newark, Ohio. Walking and working, he reached Newark, footsore, weary, lonesome and homesick. He felt he had reached a haven of rest.

The wife of the brother was the best man. She ran the husband, she ran the home. Ragged and miserable looking, his reception was anything but cordial. The recital of his wrongs, the abuse of his sister by the step-mother, instead of creating sympathy, brought censure. The brother's wife was a most devout church member and that a boy of fourteen had descended to the depths of degradation his condition denoted, was most abhorrent to her.

The boy realized that he was an unwelcome guest. It was not long ere the brother, influenced by the wife, informed him that he must go back to his home, to the old plantation in Kentucky, that he must submit to the authority of the step-mother, become a better boy, that his behavior, had disgraced the family, and that he, the brother, could not harbor him longer. The brother's wife assured him the prayers of herself and family would go up for him nightly. They gave him no food, they gave him no money. When the door of his brother's house closed upon him, all there was of love in his being for kith or kin went out of him, save for the memory of the dead mother and the living sister. He worked on a farm barefooted; he slept in an out-house without sufficient covering to keep him warm; he carried a clap-board to the field that he might protect his feet from the frost while he husked corn. He apprenticed himself to a blacksmith, learned the trade and came to Columbus. He established a shop at a crossroads in the country. It became known as Hunt's Corners. It is now the corner of Cleveland and Mt. Vernon Avenues.

[441]Uncle Henry, through influence, secured a contract from the penitentiary. He accumulated money, moved to Burlington, Iowa, became one of the prosperous, progressive business men of that beautiful city. That Uncle Henry's heart was hardened towards relatives did not change his generous disposition towards friends.

Alfred liked the rugged old blacksmith whose good nature and wholesome hospitality were the admiration of all who were fortunate enough to be his guests. He entertained as few men can entertain. The host of a home is a difficult social role to fill. There are no rules, no book-lessons that teach it. It is an inborn trait and comes only to a man who loves the companionship, the good-fellowship of human beings. Uncle Henry was noted for the good things to eat he so abundantly provided. However, had he served the plainest food to those whom he welcomed, his hearty hospitality would have made it a feast.

Uncle Henry

Uncle Henry

Uncle Henry soothingly addressed the mother: "Sis," (he always addressed her as "Sis,"), "Alfred's not going to England. He has walked many dusty roads, like myself, and he's all the better for it, but you can't walk back from England. I've told him so. Alfred's going to stay right here in this country. He's all right. He's going with a circus. He's a better circus manager than plenty of them that's making money. When he gets a little older, hard behind the ears, we're going to get up a company and start him out right. I've talked it all over with Grimes and two or three other friends. Now you and John just let that boy alone. He'll come out all right."

The mother said: "Alfred has promised me he will not go with another circus. It keeps us worried all the time. I'm afraid something will happen him."

[442]"Yes, something will happen him, and you take it from me, it will happen here or there, and it's more liable to happen here than there. Say, Sis, come on, be a sensible woman. Never drive your boys away. Never coax them to lie."

"Why, I haven't coaxed Alfred to lie," quickly answered the mother.

"Say, Sis, you've been coaxing that boy to lie since he was able to paddle his own canoe. Your coaxing him to do that, he will never do. That is, stay at home and paint wagons, houses or boats. Give him his way. He'll have it anyhow, you see if he don't. If he wants to start a grocery, I'll loan him the money. But, he'll never make a groceryman. Suppose they'd tried to make a preacher out me," (and all laughed), Uncle Henry said, "Yes, you laugh at the very idea of it. Let me tell you something, and I hope Alfred's high-falutin' preacher uncles and others won't get red in the face when they hear of it. If you all keep caterwauling Alfred around, he wouldn't amount to three hurrahs in Halifax."

"He may work for Doctor Hawkes forty years longer and he will be no better off than a living. There's no hope for a boy in working for a man like Doctor Hawkes. The Doctor's all right but he never assisted a human being to better himself. He's like all other rich men. He just uses men to pile it up for himself, and any man that can't pile it up for himself, or don't make a big try to do so, needs shingling. I never had any relatives to pull me back, and I never had any to put me forward."

"Where is your brother and his wife?" someone asked Uncle Henry.

"Wheeling cinders," came quick as a flash.

"Oh, Uncle Henry, I am surprised."

"Well, the reason I say that, is, they told me that people that did certain things would sure go there"—and he pointed downwards—"and they did those very things so what can I say when you ask me where they are?"

[443]Peter Sells and Alfred were close friends. The Sells Bros. Show had opened early—April 16, 17, 18. It rained or snowed every day during their engagement in Columbus. The show was to appear in Chillicothe a few days after leaving Columbus. Peter Sells came into the stage office and arranged to go to Chillicothe. He had returned from Kentucky to confer with his brothers. Alfred accepted his invitation to accompany him to Chillicothe. The after concert, with no performers to present it, had been omitted for three days. Alfred advised Ephraim Sells that could he find wardrobe a concert could be given that afternoon and night. The wardrobe was secured. The announcer made much of the "great minstrel comedian" who would positively appear in the concert for this day only. Nat Goodwin and his company, who were to appear in the opera house that night, were in the audience.

Ephraim, Allen and Peter Sells, and Alfred were seated on a bench in front of the hotel. Allen Sells was endeavoring to persuade Alfred to remain with the show.

While the dicker was pending, a young clerk from a store door, yelled to a passer-by on the opposite side of the street: "Were you at the circus?" The other yelled: "Yes." "How was it?" "Bum, but the concert's good. That Al. G. Field that was here last winter in the opera house, is with them. The concert's the best part of the whole thing. I guess the minstrels are busted, or Field wouldn't be with such a bum circus."

The Sells Brothers appreciated the joke.

The argument ended abruptly by the engagement of Alfred.

Ephraim Sells was exacting in all his dealings. Severe with the drunkard, he endeavored to assist all temperate and deserving employes, advising men to secure their own homes. "Own your home. You will never accumulate anything without a home. Establish a home, raise a family, be some[444]body." There are many men living in Columbus today who owe all their possessions to Ephraim Sells' advice.

The Sells Brothers Shows were larger than the Thayer & Noyes. In fact, the Sells Shows had the advantage of a menagerie. The circus performance was not so meritorious as the first circus Alfred was connected with. The Sells brothers, with the exception of Peter, were not good showmen; that is, they were not producers, although good business men. Had the Sells brothers possessed the talent for originating and producing displayed by James A. Bailey, or Alfred T. Ringling, their organization would have been second to none, as they had the opportunities but did not take advantage of them.

They were undoubtedly exhibiting the finest menagerie in the country, the collection of animals, with the exception of a giraffe, was most complete. Peter, the advance agent, returned to the show. He severely criticized the appearance of the show, particularly the lack of decorations. Nashville was a two days' stand. Ephraim gave Alfred orders to buy all the decorations, banners, flags, etc., necessary to convert the interior of the tents into a bower of beauty. Nashville stores were ransacked. Printed calico or other goods with the national colors emblazoned on them were the only decorations available. Wagon loads of these goods were purchased. Side poles were festooned with the gaudy colored calico, and lengths of it hung in front of the reserved seats, on the band stand, the entrance to the dressing tents. The decorations were the wonder and admiration of the circus folks. Drivers, razor-backs, car porters, cook tent, side show people came again to gaze upon the riot of color presented by the decorations. It rained as it only rains in Nashville. The surrounding country is fame's eternal camping ground. Here sleep men from all the States of the North and South. It is the bivouac of the dead. The hills have trembled with the tramp of armies. Blood has flowed as[445] freely as the rushing waters of the murky Cumberland. Hills now green with nature's garb were once stained with the blood of those who struggled for the mastery. But no battlefield near Nashville ever presented the sight that did the hill on which stood Sells Brothers tents in the soft haze of that October morning. Running rivulets of red percolated in a hundred gulleys from under the circus tents. The gaudy red calico was now white, but all the plains below were red. Thousands came to view the sight. One negro spread the news that "the varmints wus all loose and had et up all de circus folks case de blood was leakin' out de tents in buckets-full." Another surmised "De elephans had upset the lemonade tubs."

The decorations had faded white, the hills were red, Ephraim and Lewis made the air blue.

Lewis sarcastically suggested Alfred communicate with Peter advising we had decorations, but they ran away, and we didn't have time to go down in the hollow and dip them up.

One morning the startling news went around that the old man had fired the principal clown. In those days the old clown was best man with a circus. He was the entertainer—the leading man. He must be eloquent, nimble and a comedian. Every circus had it's popular clown. It was the days of Dan Rice, Ben McGinley, Pete Conklin, Johnny Patterson, Walcutt, Den Stone, John Lowlow, and others. Therefore, when Alfred was ordered—not requested—to prepare himself for the important role of principal clown, he was no little taken aback.

"I have no costumes, I have no gags, I have no make-up," were Alfred's excuses.

After all the boyhood day dreams, after all the preparations in his mind, after all the yearnings, all the ambitious hopes of a boy's lifetime, here was the coveted opportunity to become a clown in the circus. And, now when the oppor[446]tunity to immortalize himself, to earn a salary as great as Jimmy Reynolds, and eventually buy a farm, he shied.

A performer from Chiranni's Circus in South America dug from the bottom of his trunk as funny a clown costume as ever Joy donned. When made up, all pronounced Alfred as funny appearing as any clown. "He has a beak like Dan Rice and feet like Dr. Thayer," were a few of the side remarks.

Alfred determined he would not use the jokes of the clown who had just left. The clown in those days was given unlimited opportunities. The tents were smaller—his voice reached every auditor. Sam Rinehart, good old Sam, was the ringmaster. Those of Jimmy Reynold's jokes Alfred could not bring to memory, Sam remembered. Therefore, the new clown was a success, with the circus people at least. Jimmy Reynolds' gags were new around the show, and if Alfred was not receiving Jimmy's salary he was telling his jokes. Alfred introduced local talks, which pleased the audiences greatly.

Alfred as the Old Clown

Alfred as the Old Clown

All efforts to engage a clown were terminated by the manager making an agreement with Alfred, installing him as principal clown, a vocation he followed many summers. Lin's prophesy was literally fulfilled: "You kin clown h-it in summer and nigger it in winter."

On that first day Alfred, nervously awaiting his cue to enter the ring as a clown, cautiously peered through the red damask curtains at the dressing room entrance. A boy on a top seat nearby caught sight of the white-painted face. In an ecstacy of joy he clapped his hands, shouting: "Oh, there's the old clown, there's the old clown." Sam Rinehart,[447] sotto voice, standing near the band stand, remarked: "If that kid only knowed how dam new he is he wouldn't call him the old clown." Of all the roles enacted by Alfred, that of the circus clown was most enjoyed. With thousands around him, in sympathy with every mishap or quip, at liberty to introduce any business that would amuse, with constantly changing audiences, Alfred enjoyed his work as greatly as did his auditors.

"Alfred will come to town sum day a real clown in a circus, and the whole country will turn out to see him. Litt Dawson, the Congressman, won't be so much when Alfred gits to goin'." This was another of Lin's prophesies.

Alfred came back home a real clown in a circus. The whole country turned out. No circus ever attracted the multitudes in such numbers. Hundreds turned away at both performances. Alfred's only regret was that Lin was not present. Two children had come to her. One was named John, the girl Mary, in honor of Alfred's father and mother. Lin had trouble with the school-marm. The children, as children often did in those days, brought home a few insects in their hair. Lin pursued them vigorously with a fine-toothed comb. To more quickly exterminate them, Lin gave the head of each child an application of lard and sulphur. The teacher sent the children home with a note advising Lin the preparation on their heads was offensive to her, the smell could not be tolerated. Lin led the children back to the school, tartly informing the school-marm that her children were "sent to school to be larnt, not smellt."

When Alfred visited old Loudon County he fully expected to meet Lin and her family. When informed the big, hearty, wholesome woman had paid nature's debt and that nearly her last words were a message to his father and mother, the pleasure of his visit was greatly marred.

The Sells Brothers and the Barnum Show were having opposition in Indiana. The late James Anderson, of Columbus, who for years was the superintendent of Doctor Hawkes[448] Stage, Carriage & Transfer Company, was the manager of Sells Brothers Show. Ben Wallace was the liveryman who furnished the hay and oats for the circus. Anderson and Wallace became acquainted. A few days later Anderson informed Alfred that he and the tall young liveryman in Peru had formed a partnership to organize a circus. They offered Alfred a much greater salary than Sells Brothers were paying him, and also a winter's work organizing the show. A contract already signed with the Duprez and Benedict Minstrels was cancelled, an office opened in Comstock's Opera House, Columbus, Ohio. Every performer, every musician, etc., with the Wallace Show that first season was engaged by Alfred. Neither Wallace or Anderson knew what their show was to be until rehearsals began in Peru. Both were pleased.

A bit of heretofore unwritten history: After Alfred had refused several offers, after all the best shows had their people engaged, Mr. Anderson, returning from Cincinnati, called on Alfred. The first word he uttered chilled Alfred's blood. "Call everything off, cancel all contracts, the show don't go out."

Alfred had antagonized Sells Brothers and others by engaging people who had been with them for years. He had burned the bridges behind him, as it were. Mr. Anderson, in explanation, advised that he had been disappointed in money matters. Men that were to assist him had gone back on their promises, the printing firm demanded a deposit, he saw ruin staring him in the face. It was useless to argue the matter with Anderson. It was nearly morning when the men separated. At eight o'clock Alfred was at the office awaiting Mr. Anderson's arrival. Anderson was still more dejected than the night before.

"What amount of money do you require?" asked Alfred.

"Three thousand dollars."

"Will that see you through and put the show out?" was Alfred's next question.

[449]"With what I've got I can get through on that."

"Well, I'll let you have it."

Ben Wallace is a money-getter and would win success in any business. However, the President of the Wabash Valley Trust Company, the owner of the Hagenback-Wallace Shows, with the finest winter quarters of any show in the country, with hundreds of acres of the most productive farming land in Miami County, Ind., will never know until he reads these pages the narrow margin by which the show was saved, insofar as Anderson was concerned.

Lewis Sells was a peculiar man in many respects and one must thoroughly understand his composition to appreciate him. His educational advantages were limited. From a street car conductor to an auctioneer, showman and capitalist, were the gradations of his career. He was conservative and sagacious, a faithful friend, and, like Uncle Henry, and most men who have tasted of the bitter and prospered by their own exertions, a candid hater. The after years of his life were made unpleasant by a heartless robbery perpetrated by those near him. The loss of the money, some thirty thousand dollars, was as nothing compared to the chagrin over the fact that those who committed the theft were enabled to cover their work so completely the law could not reach them. He fretted that they robbed him at the end of his long and successful career.

For several months Alfred filled the position of General Agent for the Sells Brothers Combined Shows, to the complete satisfaction of all the Brothers and the disappointment of many subordinates.

It is not wealth nor ancestry, but honorable conduct and a noble disposition that makes men great. Peter Sells was a great man. He would have graced any profession or calling. In all his life he was affable and congenial. When he was prosperous he was not imperious or haughty. When he was oppressed he was not meek. Suffering as few men have suffered he refused to wreak that vengeance upon the[450] destroyers of his home, man is justified in—take a doubled-barreled shot gun and inform those who have wronged you that the world is not large enough for both. This was the advice of one who stood by Peter Sells in all his troubles. Another took him to the country, engaged in shooting at a mark with a forty-four Smith & Wesson, intimating that he could settle all his troubles by dealing out the punishment those who had broken up his home deserved.

Peter, with a calmness that was most impressive replied: "I'll commit no crime. There comes a time in the life of every human being that their life is lived over. It is in that hour when the coffin lid is shut down. Just before the funeral when earth has seen the last of you, your life is lived over in the conversation which recounts your deeds upon earth. I will do no forgiving, but I will do no killing."

In comparison with the loss of a wife, all other bereavements pale. She has filled so large a sphere in your life you think of the past when your lives were entwined, of the days when life was a beautiful pathway of flowers. The sun shone on the flowers, the stars hung overhead. You think of her now as you thought of her then in all the gentleness of her beauty. You think of her now as the mother of your child. No thorns are remembered. The heart whose beat measured an eternity of love to you lies under your feet but the love of her still lives in your being. You forget the injury, you forget the disgrace, you forget all of the present, only remembering the happiness of the past. You know she lives in a world where sunshine has been overshadowed by clouds, yet you love her all the more, although to you she is even further removed than by death.

Such were the last days of Peter Sells. It is well the old way of satisfying honor is giving way. Yet with all its brutality it had the merit of protecting the home. Only those who were close to Peter Sells knew of the burden he bore, the weight of sorrow that cut short a life that has left its impress of nobleness upon all who were privileged to share his confidence and friendship.



In the land of the sage and the cottonwood,
The cactus plant and the sand,
When you've just dropped in from the effete East
There's a greeting that's simply grand;
It's when some giant comes up to you,
With a hand that weighs a ton,
And cries as he smites you on the back;
"Why, you derned old son of a gun!"

Texas, quoting Col. Bailey of the Houston Post, "is a symphony, a vast hunk of mellifluence, an eternal melody of loveliness, a grand anthem of agglomerated and majestic beneficence. Texas is heaven on earth and sea and sky set to music."

With ample room to spare, Texas would accommodate either Austria-Hungary, Germany and France; and if it were populated as thickly as is Belgium it would have a population of over 265,000,000.

The State of Texas could accommodate comfortably the people of all the European nations.

Texas was wild and woolly when Alfred first toured it with a wagon show. Weatherford was away out west; Dallas was in its swaddling clothes and Houston was a village. Hunting was good just over the corporation line and there was no closed season on anything. Charley Gibbs and Henry Greenwall owned the State. Charley Highsmith was a schoolboy; he had never owned a dog or looked along the barrels of a double-barreled gun. Mike Conley was setting type in a printing office run by hand, and Bill Sterritt was the printer's devil, excepting when ducks were coming in. Ben McCullough was the only railroad man in north Texas, and George Green the only Republican in the State. Jake Zurn had not left Germany and Jim Hogg was a cowboy.

[452]A pair of Texas ponies, an open buggy, a doubled-barreled shotgun, two dogs and an invalid, were Alfred's constant companions on that tour of Texas. The invalid who was touring Texas for his health, was a relative of the managers, a German, refined and scholarly, a high class gentleman.

This was the introduction:

"Alfred, Mr. Smith is not well. The doctor advised that he live in the open. He is my guest and I want him to ride with you. I am sure you will like him. I want this trip to benefit his health. You have the best team with the company. You can make the route in half the time it requires the show to drive it. Sleep late in the morning."

Despite this advice, the invalid and Alfred were well on their way by daylight almost every morning, nor did they make the routes in half the time the show did. It was more frequently the reverse, particularly if the shooting was good. The invalid was the wellest sick-man companion ever toured with. His cheeks were sallow, low in flesh, but the spirit was there. It was a case of the invalid looking after the nurse. The vast plains were covered with cattle—Texas steers. The invalid marvelled at their numbers. While Alfred was scouring the prairie with dog and gun the invalid would stand erect in the buggy, on the road side, computing the number of Texas steers within sight. How the cattle men separated their droves, claiming their cattle, was a wonderment. Cowboys and Texas steers was a theme on which the invalid never tired talking. Texas steers were a hobby with him. He would talk with cowboys for hours, collecting information.

Many nights the circus people in making long drives between exhibiting points were compelled to sleep in their wagons, tents, or anywhere they could find shelter. This sort of life soon brought bronze to the invalid's cheeks and strength to his body.

[453]Pidcock's Ranch, embraced several thousand acres of land, a house with four rooms and porch or veranda. All the house was given over to the ladies. Alfred explained to the manager of the ranch that he had in charge an invalid and requested the ranchman to do the best he could for them in the way of sleeping quarters. The ranchman arranged a comfortable bed on the porch for the invalid and Alfred, advising they would be compelled to sit up until the ladies retired. All had long retired ere the invalid put in an appearance. The invalid invariably found congenial company—cowboys, cattlemen or rangers. Each night finding his way to bed he would awaken Alfred to explain something new as to Texas steers. The invalid had dispatched two cowboys thirty miles for refreshments. The invalid did not part from his guests until late. Alfred's wife had sent him a birthday present, a pair of night-shirts worked with red braid, and he was very proud of them. The invalid on retiring commented again on the beauty of Alfred's hand-painted night-shirts and the immensity of the droves of Texas steers.

Sleeping in the open on the porch, their slumbers were deep. Awaking late, Alfred's face felt drawn up. It was as though it was puckered out of all shape. Placing his hand on a substance as large as a hulled hickory nut, it was with some little difficulty peeled from his face. A dozen other lumps of similar size were scattered over his ample countenance. Glancing at the invalid whose face was adorned with a full set of whiskers, Alfred discovered they were liberally sprinkled with the whitish-grayish substance that adorned his own face and the front of his decorated night garments. Prying loose another lump, Alfred, holding the substance at arm's length, scrutinizing it closely, endeavoring to analyze it. A "cluck-cluck" caused him to look aloft and there, on a beam, sat ten or twelve contented "dominicker" hens. He could discern but half of their bodies—that part that goes over the fence last. Rudely awaking the invalid, Alfred[454] brushing, picking and pinching the white and greenish bumps from face and night-shirt, indulging in language not proper even on a Texas ranch, he slowly worked his way to the watering trough (the only bathing facility), followed by the invalid, who was parting his whiskers to free them from the hidden lumps, meanwhile endeavoring to console Alfred: "Never mindt, Alfred. Never mindt. Your shirt vill vash all right, und my viskers, too," parting his whiskers and dumping a few more deposits, he remarked: "It's purty badt I know, but, Alfred, it might a bin wusser. 'Ust s'posin' dem schickens roostin' over us hadt been Texas steers."

"The sooner a man goes into business, the sooner he will be able to retire; that is, if he is baked done. If he ain't, he better let somebody do business for him. My boy, it's better to go into business too young than too old. If you happen to spill the beans, you've got the vim to pick them up again."

"Well, Uncle Henry, if I have good luck this season, I'm going to make a break for myself."

"Good luck, huh? If you're lookin' for luck to help you, you'll be so near-sighted you can't see a business chance across a narrow alley. If luck got you anything you might. There ain't no luck coming to any man that waits on it. Every man that's got any get-up in him always has bad luck. He brings it on himself, then he just beats luck out. There ain't no good luck. It's grit and judgment agin dam-fool notions. And grit and judgment wins out nearly every time. I'd rather drive a bad bargain than drive a dray. You can drive a dozen bargains a day. You can drive only one dray. One of your bargains may buck, the other eleven win out. A minstrel show is alright, but, mind, it's a lifetime job, going into business. You ought to know what you're doing. But, I'd thought you'd go into the circus business."

[455]"Well, I would, Uncle Henry, but I haven't got the capital. It takes more money than I ever hope to possess. Besides, I want a business wherein I can make a reputation for myself."

"You better go into a business where you can make money. The reputation will make itself. If you can't make money, you can't make reputation."

"But it's my ambition to have the biggest minstrel show in the country."

"Well, you do that which you feel would be the most agreeable to you. When I went into the grocery business in Burlington, everybody behind my back predicted I would lose out. Everybody told me to my face I'd win out. Make up your mind to stand on your own judgment."

Sam Flickinger, editor of the Ohio State Journal, wrote the first mention of the Al. G. Field Minstrels. He gave Alfred desk room in the job office of the Journal, of which he was manager and editor. The first advertising for the Al. G. Field Minstrels was printed in the job office of the Ohio State Journal. The dates and small bills have been printed in that office, or the successors of it, ever since.

Almost every one of Alfred's friends advised him to abandon the idea of entering the minstrel business. His family were all opposed to it.

This was the manner in which Alfred's declaration as to going into business seemed to be received by his friends.

Col. Reppert of the B. & O. assured Alfred he would send him a ticket to any point he might require it from. Billy McDermott, probably fearing the Colonel might not get the ticket to him, presented Alfred with a pair of broad-soled low-heeled walking shoes.

There was one staunch friend whose words were always encouraging. "You're right, old boy. I wish you all the success you so richly deserve. Never mind the knockers. You're in right. You'll make it go." Thus did Bill Hunter[456] of the Penna. R. R. encourage Alfred. Alfred often declared Bill a level-headed man, one who would be heard from later.

Frank Field was the city passenger agent of the Penna. R. R. Frank and Bill were very kindly disposed towards show folks. They carried a troupe on their own account over the Penna. Lines. They were security for the fares to the amount of a couple of hundred dollars. The troupe stranded Bill held the musical instruments. The instruments were taken to the city ticket office, concealed under the counter. Bill and Frank were "stuck." They endeavored to dispose of the horns to Alfred. Alfred joked Bill frequently, advising him to organize a band, and learn to play one of the horns. This "guying" did not alter Bill's attitude towards Alfred's enterprise. He was even more optimistic as to its success. Bill would slap Alfred on the back, saying: "Never mind the salary you are leaving. You'll make more money with this minstrel show in a year than you would on salary in two."

Alfred from the first day he began his minstrel career sought to introduce new ideas; not to do things as they had been done. He was the first to uniform the parade. The costumes were long, light-colored, newmarket overcoats, black velvet collar, stylishly patterned. They were very attractive overcoats, contrasting effectively with the red broadcloth, gold-trimmed band uniforms.

The company rehearsed in Columbus and opened at Marion, Ohio, October 6, 1886. The opening day was a dismal, rainy, fall day, just verging on winter. Alfred's good friends gathered in the union depot at Columbus to bid the minstrels Godspeed, although they traveled on another line. Bill Hunter was at the depot to see them off. The genteel appearance of the troupe, especially the overcoats, were favorably commented upon. Bill shook hands with each member of the company as they entered the car. When the last man was aboard, when the last good-bye had been spoken, Barney McCabe remarked to those assembled: "I[457] don't know what kind of a show Alfred's got, but they have the finest overcoats that ever went out of this depot." Bill, winking at Barney, said: "I'll have 'em all before two weeks. If he makes money with this troupe, he can ketch bass with biscuits."

Another of Alfred's innovations was a large amount of scenery and properties. Each piece of baggage was marked with bright letters, "The Al. G. Field Minstrels."

The afterpiece, "The Lime Kiln Club," was quite a pretentious affair for a minstrel company in those days. The stage setting, representing the interior of a Lodge, required antiquated furniture such as could not be hired in the one night stands. Therefore, the minstrels carried all this furniture, a large sheet-iron wood stove with lengths of stovepipe. Not until the last trunk was loaded onto the baggage wagon, did Alfred leave the depot that first morning. Walking slowly along the street, keeping pace with the heavy wagon, proud of the new trunks with the plainly painted names on each, the furniture for "The Lime Kiln Club," with the stove and stovepipe atop of all, the wagon passed up the street.

While passing a building in course of erection, the workmen ceased their labors to gaze at the wagon. A plasterer with limey overalls gazed at the wagon intently until it passed by. Turning to his fellow workmen, pushing his hands in his pockets deeper, and shrugging his shoulders, he sympathetically remarked: "Hit's mighty cole weather fur flittin'. I allus feel sorry for pore folks as has tu move in cole weather." Looking down the street from where the wagon came he continued: "I wonder whar the folks is. Walkin' to keep warm, I reckon. I hope they hain't any children." Thereafter, Alfred ordered the odd furniture, stovepipe and stove loaded in the bottom of the wagon.

A heavy rain interfered with the attendance the opening night. In the excitement, Alfred did not realize that he had lost money. It was only after the second night—Upper[458] Sandusky—that he figured the first two nights were unprofitable. Chas. Alvin Davis, of Alvin Joslin fame, and his manager, were visitors the second night. The receipts at Bucyrus were very light, and to pile up troubles for the new minstrel manager, a boy connected with the theatre stole from Alfred's clothes in the dressing room all his private funds. The empty pocket-book was found in an ash-barrel at the rear of the boy's residence, yet the police did not feel it was sufficient evidence to warrant the arrest of the young scamp.

The fourth night, at Mansfield, rain, hail, sleet and snow, such as Ohio had never experienced at that season of the year, (October 10), made the streets impassable. The minstrels played to a very meager audience. After all bills were paid the company had thirty-seven dollars in the treasury.

Several friends in Columbus assured Alfred that if he ran short he could draw on them. Alfred had learned six weeks was the most lengthened period any of his friends gave him to keep the company afloat.

"He's ruined. All his savings gone, he will be worse off than when he began life." This was the comment of one of his dearest friends.

Leaving Mansfield at midnight, arriving at Ashland, Alfred, that he might not have the night lodging to pay, sat in the depot until daylight, then sauntered to the hotel. Thirty-seven dollars in the treasury, cold and snowing. Alfred debated in his mind as to whether he should telegraph his friends in Columbus for assistance. His decision was: "No, I will not humble myself. I'll pull through some way. Besides, I have invested my own money in this concern. If I lose it, it's gone. I can earn more. If I borrow money and lose, I'm in debt."

He didn't know he could do it. He wasn't sure he could pull the show through. He had heard and seen the sneers and smiles of incredulity. He remembered Uncle Henry's advice:

[459]"If you haven't got the stuff in you to stand alone and fight for yourself, you're wasting time trying to do business. Being smart is only half of it. Being game is the other half. The biggest persimmons are atop of the tree. You've got to climb to get them. There are times when you'll have to hold on by your finger tips. But if you're not game enough to take the risk, you don't deserve what's up at the top. The cowards are standing under the tree waiting for the persimmons to fall. There's so many of them they have to fight harder to get those that fall to the ground than the game fellow that climbs the tree. Men will pull you down, tramp on you, in their endeavors to climb over you. It's the selfish idea of many men they can build up more rapidly if they tear down. They'll block your game, they'll lie about you, they'll not only throw you down but they'll sit on you, and hold you down, until you gather force to squirm from under. You'll never suffer as much when you have the least as you do when the grit has leaked out of you. The man who climbs the tree from the bottom to the top is never licked. If they pull him down he will start from the bottom again. Poverty cannot ruin him. It's only a check. He has less fear than those who have had a ladder placed against the tree for them to climb up. Believe in yourself. Take everything that belongs to you. Take your licking but don't sell out to cowardice. When your grit's gone you're done for."

A thin, a very thin partition between the room he occupied and that of two of his principal people, Alfred was compelled to play the role of eavesdropper again.

"He won't pull through. I am sorry I joined the show, I throwed away a good engagement to accept this one. I'm stuck again. This thing won't last a week. I'm going to get away at the first opportunity." It was one of a talented team of musicians. They not only did a fine specialty but doubled in the band. The one talking was the manager of[460] the act. Alfred held a contract with the trio. He had fulfilled all the requirements of it and they owed him considerable money, advanced for hotel bills during rehearsals, railroad fares, etc. He lay on the bed debating with himself what to do, enter the room and throw the talker out of the window, or have him arrested.

"I heard Field tell his treasurer he had no money. I'm going to skip. Take my word for it, we're all up against it."

The other replied: "Well, I owe the company a lot of money. I'll stick until I see how it goes."

Alfred was on fire. He would die rather than fail. The following day was Sunday. This would entail extra expense. Basing his calculations upon receipts in other cities, he feared he would not have funds to carry the company to Akron, the next exhibition point.

He accidently met a Columbus man, a minister, Reverend Messie, the pastor of the church where Alfred's family worshipped. He had recently officiated at the wedding of Alfred's sister; he felt he had met a friend from home. He decided to lay his troubles before the good man but weakened at the beginning. Instead he inquired as to whether the minister was acquainted with a banker in the city. The minister accompanied Alfred to a bank and had Alfred requested him, to make a favorable talk for him, the good man could not have said more.

"This is Mr. Field, a friend and neighbor of mine. He has not acquainted me with the nature of his business with you, but he is responsible, owns property in Columbus and bears an excellent reputation."

The banker invited the minstrel into his private office. Alfred made a statement of his affairs, dwelling strongly on the robbery at Bucyrus, exhibiting newspaper clippings to substantiate his statements.

"Let us see what your liabilities are. Going over them, there were none. Nearly all of the company were indebted[461] for money advanced. I can't see where you are in any financial trouble. You have no debts following you, have you?"

"None," answered Alfred.

"Well, what is the trouble?"

"It's like this," the minstrel explained. "We've done no business since we opened. I have lost money at every stand. I have but thirty-seven dollars on hand. It's a big jump to Akron. I am sure, I'll require a little money, not much. If it hadn't been for that touch at Bucyrus I'd be all right."

"You'll do business here. It's the best minstrel town in Ohio. Primrose & West did fairly well, although our people didn't know them. Hi Henry packed the house."

"I fear people do not know us," sighed Alfred.

"Well, I'll introduce you—they will know you."

Alfred had ended every statement with the wail that if he had not been robbed in Bucyrus he would be all right.

"The bank closes at noon. Come around, take lunch with me, I'll see you to Akron. Don't worry. I fear you're a bit shaky. You are just starting in business, you require confidence."

"If it hadn't been for the touch at Bucyrus, I'd have been all right," ruefully remarked Alfred.

The President and Alfred made a round of the business houses of the town.

"This is Mr. Field, the minstrel man, one of our people. His home is in Columbus. I just bought four seats. The seats are going pretty fast. I want you to be there tonight. Have you got your tickets?"

No one seemed to have taken the precaution to buy seats in advance although all declared they were going. Rarely did the callers leave a place until those called upon had reserved their seats. It was not long until the seat sale assured Alfred it would not be necessary to negotiate a loan.

"I would have helped you out if you had needed the money," declared the banker, "but I knew we could hustle a bit and fill the house."

[462]The gentleman was a good story-teller. Alfred was in a rare good humor. He had a fund of stories new to the banker. The fact of the robbery in Bucyrus was detailed to every business man they called upon. All sympathized with Alfred. "Bucyrus is a tough town," several remarked. "You'll never get your money," another declared. "Be more careful if you ever go there again."

When about to separate, the banker in a kindly manner assured Alfred that he was only too glad to have been of service to him. He spoke encouragingly of the future. "If you have a good show, you are sure to pull through. I wouldn't carry a great amount of money on my person hereafter if I were you. Be careful. Do not have a repetition of the Bucyrus affair. How much did they get from you over there?"

"Sixty dollars." The words were scarcely uttered until the banker bursted into a fit of laughter. Alfred had never been accused of destiny, but he could not realize what there was in the admission to so excite the man's mirth. Had the gentleman known what sixty dollars meant to him at that time, it would not have seemed so funny. From the fact that Alfred had dwelt so strongly on the theft of his money, with the constantly repeated statement that "if it had not been for the robbery, he would have been all right," the moneyed man had gained the idea he had lost several hundred dollars; hence his mirth.

At Akron the minstrels did capacity business. Warren and Youngstown were equally satisfactory as were New Castle and Steubenville. Wheeling was the first city wherein opposition was encountered. Wilson & Rankin's Minstrels were billed at the Opera House, the Field Company at the Grand Opera House. When the Wilson & Rankin party started on their parade, the other company followed in their wake. Wilson shouted to the bystanders in front of the McClure House, "War! War!"

[463]This opposition embittered George Wilson and for years the two companies waged a relentless war, which never ceased until Mr. Wilson disbanded his company. Carl Rankin, who was a Columbus boy and an old friend of Alfred's called on Alfred. He advised that he was dissatisfied with his surroundings and a tentative partnership agreement was entered into for the next season. However, the arrangements went no further as Mr. Rankin's health failed him rapidly and it was not long until minstrelsy lost one of the most versatile performers that ever adorned it.

Since the conversation overheard in Ashland, Alfred had not spoken to the manager of the musical act. The telegraph wires were carrying messages daily seeking an act to take the place of the dissatisfied one. At Zanesville, just before the matinee, (Zanesville was the first city wherein the Al. G. Field Minstrels appeared in a matinee), Alfred called the manager of the musical act to his dressing room.

"Mr. Turner, it has come to me that you intended leaving this company. Therefore, I have engaged an act to take your place; you can leave after tonight's performance, or as soon thereafter as it suits your convenience."

"Why, Mr. Field, I did not intend to leave your company. Who so advised you? I never told anyone I intended leaving."

"Now Bob, don't deny it. I heard you say you were going to leave the company, that you had no confidence in the stability of the enterprise. Your talk came at a time when I was feeling pretty blue and it hurt. Judging from your talk you are an undesirable man to have around and I certainly am glad to dispense with your services."

The man threatened legal proceedings. Alfred was obdurate. The man was tendered his salary. He refused to sign a receipt. Alfred ordered the treasurer to give him his money without his signature to a receipt. The other two members of the act protested vigorously. They presented their case in this manner: "We were working for Bob. He[464] owned the act. We like the show; we like you. It's the middle of the season. We are liable to be idle for months. We don't think we should be discharged for the threats of Bob. We can't control his mouth. Mr. Field, if you discharge every performer who indulges in idle talk, you won't have anybody around you."

"Boys, I do not propose to discharge anyone for idle talk but I won't keep a traitor in this camp. You remain with the company. I will pay you the same salary you have been receiving just to play in the band and sit in the first part."

With varying success the first season progressed. But never a salary day that the "white specter" did not perambulate. Every obligation met promptly, a few folks began to take notice of the new show, persons who had held their faces the other way. The manager was forced to practice the greatest economy. There was a few weeks around Christmas time when his shoes leaked. After Christmas he purchased two pair of shoes, preparing for future contingencies. Smallpox was raging through Minnesota and Wisconsin, many cities were quarantined. At LaCrosse, Winona, Rochester and Eau Claire, the people would not go to the theatre; hence, the show was a big loser. At Hudson, Wis., a big lumber camp in those days, the gross receipts were the least the company ever played to—just sixteen dollars—a few cents less than the receipts of Alfred's first show in Redstone School-house. Alfred requested the manager of the Opera House to dismiss the audience. The manager refused to listen to the proposition. He contended it was Saturday night, and that many would drop in. They failed to drop in or to be pushed in. However, Alfred has always felt grateful to that manager. No audience was ever dismissed by the Al. G. Field Greater Minstrels in all the years of their existence, although an engagement in Atlanta, Ga., was curtailed.

[465]The company opened to an over-flowing house. The advance sale for the remainder of the engagement was gratifying. Henry Grady, the famous journalist and orator, after delivering a speech that electrified not only the Boston audience that listened to it, but the nation, had died. Atlanta and the entire south was stricken with sorrow. The minstrel manager was intimately acquainted with Mr. Grady. Mr. Grady was one of the promoters of the Piedmont Exposition. Peter Sells was one of Mr. Grady's admirers, and as a courtesy to him had loaned the exposition a flock of ostriches; which was one of the attractive features of that most memorable exposition. Alfred was entrusted with the details pertaining to the transaction. Mr. Grady had been very courteous to Alfred. There never was a man who knew Henry Grady that did not admire his charming personality. Therefore, when Mr. De Give suggested the engagement of the minstrels end and the theatre be closed out of respect to the memory of Mr. Grady, Alfred promptly acquiesced.

The closing of this engagement was a sacrifice that Alfred felt greatly at the time. It meant pecuniary loss that was embarrassing to him, yet there never was a moment he regretted his action.

It was the beginning of friendships that have endured all the years since. Not only the success attending his annual visits to Atlanta, but the associations are of that pleasant character that make a stranger feel he is in the home of his friends.

Capt. Forrest Adair, one of Atlanta's foremost citizens, journeys each year to the annual banquets celebrating the birthday of the Al. G. Field Greater Minstrels. He is as well known and as greatly respected by every member of the organization as by Alfred.

The first season the profits were not great, although on the right side of the ledger. The opposition of family and friends continued. "Abandon the minstrels, go back to a salary."[466] Alfred was considered bull headed, contrary, without judgment, etc. However, nothing swerved him. He announced to all he would continue in the minstrel business.

George Knott, (Doc.) and Gov. Campbell were the agents of the Al. G. Field Minstrels the first season. Gov. Campbell's folks once resided in Woodville. The citizens united in their endeavors to have him bring his minstrels to the town. There had never been a minstrel entertainment presented in the town previously and none since. The hotel man had undertaken the building of a hall. All sorts of inducements were held out in the letter received by Alfred. Terms were satisfactorily arranged, a date scheduled and the minstrels billed to appear in Woodville.

A narrow-gauge railroad, a train with a disabled engine and a disgusted minstrel troupe arrived at 3 p. m., six hours late. Charles Sweeny, the stage manager, came swiftly into the dining room, leaning over Alfred, he whispered: "There's no stage, no scenery, no seats. Just a bare hall. No reserved sale. There's—" only thus far did Sweeny get in his enumeration of his troubles until Alfred was searching for the manager. He hurriedly inquired of the hotel man as he left the dining room, without his dinner, as to the place of business of the manager of the theater. The hotel man gazed at him in blank surprise. Alfred, in his impatience, did not await an answer. Rushing up the principal street of the village, he inquired of several persons as to where he could locate the manager of the theater. Finally the postmaster, in answer to his impatient questions, said: "You will not find any particular manager as he ain't got to that yet. He's just built a room and thar's nuthin' in it. He's at the hotel down yonder." It began to dawn upon Alfred that the landlord of the hotel was the man he was looking for.

"Lord, young man. If I'd known you was lookin' for me, I'd told you quicker, who I was. I'm no theater manager."

[467]"But you wrote me you had a theater. I am here with my company ready to give a performance and you have neither stage nor scenery in your hall. How do you expect me to put the show on?"

"Why! don't you carry your stage and scenery?" the man asked, in candid surprise.

"Certainly not. And you should know it. You haven't even got a seat sale on."

The hotel man began to get excited. "What the hell have I got to do with selling tickets? If you don't carry your own tickets you're a purty cheap concern. I don't propose to be brow-beaten by you. If you don't like the place the road runs both ways out of it." And he walked away from the minstrel man in high dudgeon.

Seats were borrowed from the Court House, the Methodist Church, the hotel, anywhere they could be secured. A half dozen carpenters were working on the improvised stage until the minute the curtain went up. The dining room of the hotel was converted into a dressing room. After supper was served the minstrel trunks were placed in the dining room. Pickles, crackers, ginger snaps, etc., were all in place on the table for an early morning breakfast. The minstrels ate the tables bare, ransacked cupboards and sideboards in kitchen and dining room, feasting and frolicking during the performance.

The bar adjoined the dining room. The minstrels blackened and in their stage attire, they said to the peg-legged barkeeper: "These are on me; I've got on my other clothes; I'll settle after the show."

The dressing, or dining room, was about twenty yards from the stage of the hall. As there was no stage door, (only a front door in the hall), the minstrel men were obliged to enter by a window. The sash taken out, leaned against the wall. In the piano chorus of a most pathetic ballad, both window sashes fell over. The crashing glass brought the entire audience to their feet. The hall owner stepped over[468] the low footlights onto the stage, brushing the semi-circle of surprised minstrels to one side. Disappearing behind the curtain, he reappeared in an instant, bearing in either hand a window sash with shattered bits of glass sticking here and there. Crossing the stage, at the instant the interlocutor announced the singing of the reigning song success, "There's a Light in the Window for You," placing the sash in front of the stage, he seated himself.

The stage, or platform, was very low. The sash stuck up several inches above the footlights. Harry Bulger, in one of his dances purposely kicked them over again. Down they fell among the musicians. Mr. Hall-owner was again to the rescue, this time triumphantly bearing the sash to the rear of the hall.

Alfred looked after the front of the house as well as his stage work. Remaining at the door until he had barely time to make up, he requested the hall owner to take tickets until he returned, and not to permit any to enter without tickets.

The hall man promised not to permit any to enter without tickets. Alfred sang a song, "Hello, Baby, Here's Your Daddy," the title of it. The dozen end men, during the chorus, drew from under their chairs large dolls with blackened faces. Each burlesqued a person handling a baby awkwardly. As Alfred took his seat his eyes went anxiously to the door. It was closed. No one entered all the while he was on the stage. At the end of the baby song, it was customary for Alfred to cast a big ugly doll, with the words "Here's Your Daddy," into the audience. One of the company dudishly attired was seated in the audience to catch the doll, leave the house, pretending to be greatly embarrassed. The audience usually howled. The baby was flung in the direction of the member of the company. Unfortunately, it had to pass over the head of the manager of the hall. Jumping up, reaching into the air much as an expert[469] baseball player does in pulling down a hot one, he pulled the baby down. Holding it upside down, he flung it towards Alfred. Anxious to save the scene, with all his force Alfred flung it towards the young man of the company, who stood waiting to play his part. But again the hall man jumped between and caught the baby. By one foot he swung it about his head a couple of times; the head and arms of the rag doll flew towards Alfred, striking the stage at his feet. The man holding the legs and all that part of the baby below the belt, waved it aloft. Meanwhile the audience was encouraging him with shouts of approval.

Concluding his stage work, hastening towards the door, not even delaying to change his costume or remove the black from his face, he vigorously beckoned the hall man to him. Walking towards the door, Alfred poured forth a torrent of peevish abuse:

"Why, you wrote me all sorts of letters that people were crazy mad for a minstrel show and there's not fifty dollars in the house."

The landlord doubted this statement. "Not fifty dollars in the house, huh? Why, there's men in thar," and he jerked his head towards the audience, "there's men in thar with three hundred dollars in thar pockets right now. Don't you think you're in a poverty-struck place. Our people have all got money." Thrusting his hands deep into his pockets, jingling keys and coins.

"I mean the tickets do not represent fifty dollars so far. I'm in good and deep and you are the cause of it."

"I find nothing to do business with. I ask you as a last request to watch the door for me. You leave the door and every jay will walk in."

"Oh no, they won't," interrupted Mr. Hall-man. "They won't get in this hall without paying."

He Waved the Key

He Waved the Key

"Why, what in thunder is to hinder them? The whole town could walk in without paying one cent."

[470]"I'll be durned if they could," ejaculated Mr. Hall-man, and he waved the key of the door triumphantly at Alfred. The man had actually locked the door. When opened, there were some dozen seeking admission. Many left in disgust.

There was a bill for lights of glass, and numerous drinks at the bar presented to Alfred. The glass he settled for, informing the hotel man he did not pay bar-bills. The barkeeper could not recognize any one of the performers in their street attire.

He assured Alfred "the hull pack of niggers with you jus' drank and drank and only a few paid. The bill don't amount to much, so far as enny one of the men is concerned; but one gal, one nigger gal, jus' treated right and left. If we could get what she owes, I'd let the rest go." The barkeeper referred to Harry Bulger.

Alfred's great desire was to present his minstrel show in his old home town, Brownsville. The stage in Jeffries' Hall was too small to accommodate the minstrels. Therefore, one of Alfred's boyhood friends, Levi Waggoner, arranged to play the minstrels in the skating rink. Levi was one of the boys who had stood by the old town through all its changes and become one of its substantial citizens. Awake to every business opportunity, he had not only seated the floor space of the rink but builded circus seats against the rear wall.

Alfred was not in the old town an hour until it became imperative that he should seek protection from his friends. He delegated one of the company, one who was noted for his staying qualities, to represent him. Every man met, no matter how old, claimed to be a schoolboy friend of Alfred's. "There goes another old friend of Alf's" became a by-word long before night.

[471]"Spider" Pomeroy, six feet six then, when a boy, (he has grown some since), celebrated Alfred's return more uproariously than any one person in the town. Alfred supplied him with a ticket early in the morning. By noon "Spider" had obtained six tickets, always claiming he had lost the other one. When the doors opened, "Spider" ran over the small boys in his way, brushed the ticket taker aside, entering without a ticket he perched himself on the top of Lee Wagoner's improvised circus seats, his legs doubled up until his knees stuck up on either side above his head like a grasshopper.

He sat through the first part. The minstrel with the staying qualities was laboring with a monologue. "Spider", after his strenuous day, was sleeping off his exuberance. At the dullest part in the monologist's offering, "Spider" let go all holds. The skating rink was built on piles, over the river's bank. One walking on the floor, their footsteps awakened echoes. When "Spider" hit that floor—and he hit it with all his frame—legs, arms, feet and head, all at one time, it sounded as if the building had collapsed. All were on their feet looking towards the back of the rink. As "Spider" lit, the monologist shouted: "There goes another old friend of Alf's." It came in pat. The audience grasped it and the monologist established a reputation for originality. "There goes another old friend of Alf's" is a common saying in Brownsville until this day.

The property man that first season was a German, new in the minstrel game. He is now a capitalist and probably would not relish the disclosing of his name.

Chas. Sweeny, the stage manager, was a stickler for realism. In the burlesque of "The Lime Kiln Club," one climax was the sound of a cat fight on the roof. The cats were supposed to fall through the skylight. Every member of the lodge was supposed to have his dog with him—colored people are fond of dogs. When the cats fall into the lodge room, every dog goes after them. Fake, or dummy cats[472] were prepared for the scene and used during rehearsals. The first night Sweeny ordered Gus, the property man, to procure two live cats. Gus, stationed on a very high step-ladder in the wings, at the cue was to throw the cats on the stage. Gus was heard to remark: "You all better hurry or send some von to manage one of dese cats." The cat fight was heard on the roof. The glass in the skylight was heard to break. The cats were, with great difficulty, flung by Gus. They clawed and held onto him. The long step-ladder was rocking like a slender tree in a gale. One cat left the hands of Gus, alighting with all four feet on Sweeny's neck, with a spring that sent it out over the heads of the orchestra to the fourth or fifth row in the parquet. The cat left its marks on Sweeny's neck and the scars are there today as plain as twenty-seven years ago. As Gus flung the second cat the exertion was too much for him. He followed on the step-ladder, overturning Brother Gardner and the stove. Three dogs pounced upon Gus as he rolled over and over on the floor. Three of the largest dogs had followed the first cat over the heads of the orchestra, and a stampede of the audience was in progress, the dogs and cats under the feet of men and women, who were jumping on chairs or rushing towards the exits. The curtain went down without the humorous dialogue that usually terminated the scene.

"Mr. President: I moves you, sir, dat no member ob dis club hyaraftuh be admitted wid more'n three dogs."

Alfred put his shoulder to the wheel wherever and whenever a push or a pull was required. Night after night, he assisted the stage hands in hustling effects from the theatre to the train. On one occasion the train was scheduled to leave in a very short time after the curtain fell. Alfred, without changing his stage clothes, busied himself assisting the stage hands. Gus, the property man, flung Alfred's clothing into his trunk, not observing they were his street apparel instead of stage costumes. The trunk was sent to the depot. When Alfred prepared to follow he was minus[473] everything except a large pair of shoes, thin pants, long stockings and undershirt. There was no time to be lost; grabbing up a large piece of carpet, Alfred wound it around himself and started for the depot on a run.

Doc Quigley, Arthur Rigby and several of the company stationed themselves along his route to the depot, hiding in the shadows of doorways. One after another shouted: "Good-bye, Al, good-bye old boy. You've got the best show ever. Come back again. Your show's great."

Good-bye Al, Old Boy

"Good-bye Al, Old Boy"

"All right boys, good-bye. I'll be with you next season," shouted the hustling minstrel as he sped for the train. Alfred was completely deceived. He imagined the compliments were coming from the towns-people.

The German property man, whose mistake was responsible for Alfred's grotesque appearance, was stationed by the jokers behind a fence near the depot. As Alfred hove in sight with the old rag carpet flapping around his form, Gus shouted: "Goot bye, Mr. Fieldt. Goot luck. Your show iz great. Kum unt see us agen. I hope your show will be here nexdt season."

"It will be, but you won't be with it, you dutch son of a gun." Alfred had recognized the voice.



Into the city during the day,
Back to the country at eventide,
Courting the charm of the simple way,
Casting the tumult of greed aside.

"He is the happiest man who best appreciates his happiness. Happiness comes to him who does not seek it."

"Well, you've got there. I was opposed to your goin' into the minstrel business. It's not good to argue agin anything a young man sets his mind on. I figured if you got knocked out, you'd be able to come back agin. I'd rather seed you in the circus business, but say, boy, if this show of yours ain't a Jim Dandy. Are you making any money?"

"Well, I have made money, Uncle Henry, but I'm investing it in my business as fast as I earn it. You see the minstrel business is changing. The basis of minstrelsy will always be that which it is and has been, but you can't hand them the same things they've been accepting the past forty years and expect them to enjoy and buy it. The farce comedy, the musical show are virtually minstrel shows. Based upon music and dancing, they produce about the same stuff the minstrels do."

"Well Alfred, we hear a great deal about the old black-face minstrels. Some people say they like them best."

"That's true, Uncle Henry. You can't gainsay it. Some people like the old-fashioned cooking the best. But the public, the majority demand something different. Even if they eat the same sort of food they ate when younger, they demand it be served differently. Let me call your attention to this fact: Every manager that has endeavored to present an old-time, black-face minstrel show in late years has failed. The old-time minstrel show, like the one-[475]ring circus, is pleasant to dream of, pleasant to talk of, but not profitable to present. Two friends were responsible for my decision to put on a simon-pure, old-time minstrel show. I engaged the best talent procurable, costumed the show in conformity with the ideas of my friends. It was the least profitable of any season since my first year; or it would have been had I continued. I changed my entire show in the middle of the season, going back to the black-face comedians, white-face singers.

"The minstrels in all climes have sung their songs of love and war. Even in the days of the ancients there were minstrels who sang the news of the times to the gaping multitudes in the streets and market places. In fact, David, with his harp of a thousand strings, whose voice charmed King Saul and his court, was the first minstrel. I can fully understand why a minstrel, an American minstrel, singing a plantation melody to his dusky dulcinea, should have a blackened face, but why a man blackened as a negro should sing of 'My Sister's Golden Hair,' or 'Mother's Eyes of Blue,' is too incongruous for even argument's sake."

David, the First Minstrel

David, the First Minstrel

"Well, Alfred, how is it the other managers do not adopt the style of your entertainment."

"Uncle Henry, I am not my brother's keeper. I had opposition with one of those so-called old time minstrel shows a short time ago. Our company was making money every night. They were barely paying expenses. And yet the greater part of their press work was devoted to informing the public that we were not genuine minstrels, our singers[476] wore white wigs, flesh colored stockings and satin suits. They were really advertising one of the attractions of our exhibition. We copied that notice and had it sent broadcast over the sections where the companies conflicted. I watched the press closely and but one paper that came under my observation endorsed their idea."

"Now, Alfred, let me tell you something. I've had all I wanted to eat and drink; I've worn good clothes; I've helped the poor; I've kept my family right; and I've seen enough of this world to convince me the only way to have money to burn is not to burn it. To have money to spend when you are old, is to save it while you're young. I was so poor when I was young, I had my lesson. Say, son, it's a sad thing to be poor when you're young, not wanted in your brother's home. But it's dreadful to be poor when you are old and not wanted anywhere. You can't make a living. You are dependent upon charity. Now don't fool yourself and say with your income you can't save. If you can live you can save. George M. Pullman, Marshall Field, John D. Rockefeller, and a thousand others began saving on less than your income. Now, Alfred, don't think because the fool in your business has spent money recklessly, don't think that's an excuse for you to spend. I know minstrel people. I know them backwards. Don't be like them. The only things to do in this world, day after day, are the things you ought to do. You can't do too much for others, but don't depend upon them to do for you. A poor, old man is the saddest sight on earth."

"It's true I felt mighty sore that my folks threw me on the world so young. But you bet I am proud of the fact that I can buy and sell the whole kit of them. I help them, I give them, I don't begrudge it to them; but, while I can't entirely forget the bitterness of those boyhood days, I can't help but feel a bit proud that I am independent of them in my old days. And to hear some of them talk, you'd think[477] they made me. Well, they did, but they didn't intend to. While they were sitting around praying for prosperity, I was sweating. Sweating, it's a good thing. It takes all the bad diseases out of you and a good deal of the cussedness. Say, Alfred, you never knowed a skin-flint that sweat. Stingy men never sweat. I admire all good people but I would rather see a man give another a meal, than talk over his victuals and eat them alone when he knows there's someone next door hungry. Did you ever notice when a man thinks he's a genius he lets his hair grow long and when a woman gets out of her place, to be something she oughtn't to be, she cuts her hair short. Every crank puts some kind of a brand on themselves. You don't have to talk to them to find out what they are.

"I sold whiskey when I was in the wholesale grocery business. Everybody in my line sold it. You remember the best stores in Columbus sold it. You couldn't hold a first-class trade if you didn't sell it. I never sold it to people who had no shoes. I never sold it to young men nor to old men in their dotage. There was never preacher came to me to talk religion or anything else while I was selling whiskey. But as soon as I sold out the whiskey business, they began runnin' after me. One of them kept a-comin' and a-comin'. He kept tellin' me how to live, how to spend the rest of my days. Get a library. A library was the greatest thing a man could have. It kept your mind at rest; you could seek refuge in your library at any time when in trouble. I promised him to get a library. I had one built expressly. I had two barrels of Old Crow whiskey that I kept when I sold the store. I filled a sufficient number of quart bottles to fill the shelves of the library, labeled the bottles, and waited for the next visit of the gentleman who induced me to invest in a library. He congratulated me on taking his advice. I told him I never had any learning to speak of; when I should have been at school I had to be at work; perhaps I should have[478] consulted him about stocking the library. He expressed a desire to examine it. When I threw the doors open and the rows of bottles of Old Crow came into his view, he never flinched. I told Jim if he fainted to be handy with a pail of water. But he never backed off. He put his glasses on his nose, read the labels and 'lowed while my library was large it was not greatly diversified. Thereafter the good man was more deeply interested in me than ever before. At first he called once a day. It was not long until he called three times a day regularly."

Uncle Henry's Library

Uncle Henry's Library

Jim describes the scene thusly: "Uncle Henry, lolling in the big, easy chair, sleepily. Enter the gentleman who recommended the library. 'Good morning, Brother Hunt, I hope you are feeling well'; Uncle Henry, with eyes half-closed, never waited to hear more. He languidly motioned towards the sideboard, closed his eyes, looked the other way. Uncle Henry's idea of a gentleman was one who turned his back while you were pouring out your liquor."

Uncle Henry was known to every showman in America. He maintained a field whereon the circuses pitched their[479] tents. He owned the billboards. No circus visited Burlington that did not find him an interested friend.

I have heard that Uncle Henry could drive a good bargain in a trade. I never knew him as a buyer or a seller. I only knew him as one who knew how to give. I only knew him as one who found it more blessed to give than receive.

His qualities of good more than overbalanced his imperfections. His was a character that left its impress on the community in which he was known. He was loved by those who were welcomed in his hospitable home. There have been men of more renown than the hardy old blacksmith, who, from a barefooted boy made his way without education or friends, and that he was influenced in his feelings by his early hardships was only the man that was in him, over-balancing the better nature of one who, when a friend was a friend, who, when against you, was always in the open. He was as honest in his dislikes as he was in his admirations.

When the sands of his life were ebbing fast on that Sunday afternoon in midsummer, the last of earth, the last sounds that fell upon the ears of Uncle Henry were the rumbling of the wheels of a circus moving over the paved streets from the train to the show grounds.

They have got a newspaper fixed and the worst roast ever read published today. Mailed copy. If you want a good lawyer, advise.

Joe Kaine.

Alfred read and re-read this telegram. He was having the most strenuous opposition of his business career, fighting one of the most unprincipled of men, the head of a company that had attained great popularity although on the decline at the time, and soon thereafter went the way of all such concerns—those of the minstrel kind at least. It was known to Alfred that the opposition had engaged a noted press agent and that this agent had been on the route of Alfred's company. Alfred answered the telegram, requesting a synopsis of the[480] article. It was at the time the notorious Hatfield gang of West Virginia, were the subjects of unusual newspaper exaggeration. The write-up that had stirred Kaine was in substance:




"It is reported though his company is advertised, it will not appear in any of the cities in this state. The depredations of the notorious Hatfield family has made the name feared wherever it is known. Officers have been on their track for years. The majority of the desperate family seem to be secure in the fastnesses of their mountain hiding places. So completely terrorized are the mountaineers by this family that no arrests have been made of any of the gang lately. However, should the member of the family now masquerading under an assumed name enter the state he will be arrested on sight and made to stand trial for past deeds of the family. However, it is not believed that the man will run the risk of entering the state. It is rumored he is on his way to Canada."

Kaine supplemented his first telegram with a second one advising Alfred that the evening paper would publish any statement he telegraphed, and to make the denial strong.

Alfred wired him:

Engage counsel who will answer for me. I am prepared to give bond in any amount.

Al. G. Field.

He further telegraphed "Devil Anse" Hatfield and several others of the family:

Will be there. Meet me on arrival.

Another telegram read:

Get this in newspapers, but not as coming from me.

Another telegram went forward later as a news item:

"It is reported here that a dozen armed men from Kentucky and West Virginia are secreted on the cars of the Al. G. Field Minstrels, to resist arrest of one of their number who is reported with the minstrels."

[481]Of course all this was false. When the minstrel troupe arrived, hundreds were at the depot. Alfred was one of the first to leave the train. The officers and many others were aware of the falsity of the published statement, but hundreds were deceived by the sensational reports.

The owner of the paper wherein the reports originated assured Alfred they had been imposed upon and the columns of the paper were open to anything he might dictate for publication. Introducing Alfred to his city editor, the owner of the paper remarked: "I have requested Mr. Field to prepare a statement for publication. We want to do what is right by him."

The matter was submitted to the editor. He reminded Alfred that it did not answer the article published by them but was a boost for his minstrels.

Alfred replied: "I realize the matter published was false, but the dear public has gained the idea that I am a desperado. They will only remember this a day or two. If I endeavor to contradict the published reports, it will keep it in their minds. This matter I submit will benefit me. A denial such as you have in mind will not do me any good."

While this advertising was not the sort Alfred desired, he was bound to make the most of it. The theatres were packed to their capacity during the three or four weeks the opposition worked the press with the silly matter; although many newspapers treated it as a joke. For a few weeks Alfred was a living curiosity, pointed out by some as a desperado to be shunned, sought by others to be idolized. Surely, human nature is past understanding.

It is dangerous to try to blacken the character of your opponent as it invariably places one's own under the spotlight and they'll find spots you were sure were never visible.

Ed Boggs, now Secretary to the Governor of the State, was at the time engaged in the drug business and managed the[482] Opera House in Charleston, W. Va. The gross receipts were the largest in the history of the opera house. Alfred carried his share of the money in a satchel after the show. Boggs accompanied him to the ferry. There was no bridge spanning the river in those days. Boggs' store was on the corner of Water Street near the ferry landing. The ferry boat was on the opposite side. Boggs suggested they step into the drug store and smoke a cigar until the boat returned. Alfred, arriving at his private car—the wife was a visitor—the first question propounded was: "Where have you been to this hour of the night? Where's your satchel?" Alfred nearly fainted. He rushed out on the platform of the car. The ferry boat had left on the last trip of the night. Alfred was not clear in his mind as to where he had left the satchel, whether in the drug store or on the boat. He floundered along the banks of the river, endeavoring to locate a skiff that he might recross the river. His fears were that he had left the satchel on the forecastle of the ferry boat where he stood smoking while crossing the river.

The Kanawha is a narrow stream as it flows by Charleston, yet it seemed an ocean that night. Alfred's slumbers were neither lengthy nor soothing. One hour previous to the scheduled time of the ferry boat's arrival on her first trip of the morning, he stood on the shore gazing across the river. When the boat was within four feet of her dock, Alfred leaped aboard, and began inquiries. The captain said: "I was at the wheel. If you left your money on the boat you might as well stay on this side. There was a rough crowd aboard after the show. That money's split up and partly drunk up by this time." Mr. Boggs had not arrived. The clerk searched the drug store. He urged the minstrel man to assist in exploring the mysterious recesses behind the counters. No satchel was found. Mr. Boggs was late coming to the store. "He always gets here before this," the clerk asserted. Alfred could not restrain himself longer. He fairly ran to[483] the residence of Mr. Boggs. The servant brought the message: "Mr. Boggs was not well this morning. He would probably not go to the store until afternoon."

"Jumping Jupiter, Holy Moses," and other expressions were suppressed by the highly wrought-up minstrel, as he stood on the doorstep. Say to Mr. Boggs: "Mr. Field must see him, if only for a moment. Must see him at once."

"Howdy, Al, I thought you were on your way to Huntington."

"No, our train does not leave until eight-thirty. I only have twenty-five minutes. Are you going to the store?" Alfred tried to look unconcerned as he asked the question: "Did I leave my satchel in your drug store last night? I feel sure I did."

Boggs gazed at him in blank amazement. "Your satchel with all that money in it? You don't mean to tell me you left that satchel somewhere and are not certain where?"

"Oh, I am pretty certain I left it in your store."

"Well, if you left the satchel in my drug store it is there yet."

"I am pretty sure I did."

"But you're not certain," persisted Boggs.

After every corner and nook of the store had been searched, Alfred went behind the counters. Again he looked under them. Boggs did not seem to be greatly interested in the search. He seated himself at a desk as Alfred rose from his knees, from exploring a dark corner, and inquired in an unconcerned tone, "Find it?" Alfred was irritated. He did not reply. The ferry boat whistle sounded. The bell was tapping. Alfred looked at Boggs. He was still at the desk.

"Good-bye, I'm going. I guess the Hatfields haven't exclusive privileges in West Virginia. I think I'll join them to get even. I either left that satchel in this drug store or on that boat. That's a cinch."

Boggs raised his eyes. "Well, if you only knew where you left your satchel you'd have a better chance to recover it."

[484]"Well, I'm going," replied Alfred, moving towards the door.

"Good-bye," Boggs shouted. Alfred was on the front steps. "Hold on," Boggs yelled, "I'll go over the river with you." Alfred was looking across the river. Boggs was by his side. They had walked several yards towards the ferry boat. Boggs inquired as to what excuse he would make to his wife. Alfred turned his head. Boggs was carrying the satchel in his hand farthest from Alfred. As the latter reached for the grip, Boggs laughed as he pulled away, saying, "I won't trust you with it."

Boggs discovered the satchel after Alfred left the drug store. He awaited the return of the ferry boat and endeavored to have the Captain make an extra trip to relieve Alfred's suspense. The Captain refused, saying: "If a man is that careless with money, he ought to worry."

In the early days of Alfred's minstrel career he became acquainted with Dan D. Emmett, the originator of American Minstrelsy (the First Part). Emmett was living in Chicago at that time.

Dan Emmett

Dan Emmett

Years afterward Alfred learned that Mr. Emmett was living in retirement in his old home, Mount Vernon, Ohio. He called on the aged minstrel. Mr. Emmett pleaded that he be permitted to accompany the minstrels on a farewell tour. His request was granted. At the time there was no intention of advertising Emmett. He was simply to accompany the troupe as a guest of Mr. Field.

About this time several persons were claiming the song "Dixie." Alfred furnished the New York Herald with irrefutable proof that to Emmett belonged the honor. That paper sent a man from New York City. He spent several days at the[485] home of Emmett. The feature story and the subsequent proofs published by Col. Cunningham, editor of the Confederate Veteran, forever settled the controversy as to the authorship of Dixie.

Emmett's memory, in his last years, as to dates was defective. The story of Dixie was often related to Alfred by Emmett and, from other information, Alfred is of the opinion that Dixie was sung in the south long before its New York production. Emmett was the musical director of Bryants' Minstrels. Dan Bryant desired a walk-around song and dance. Emmett, on Saturday night was commissioned to have this number ready for Monday night's performance. He labored all day Sunday. Dixie was produced on Monday night and made an instantaneous hit. This is the accepted story as to the production of "Dixie."

It is well known to all of Emmett's intimates that he was a slow study and a very indifferent reader but once he memorized music, he required no notes thereafter. It is not probable Emmett turned out Dixie in one day or the company learned and produced the song with only one rehearsal. All minstrel people admit this.

Dixie was produced in New York in 1859. Prof. Arnold, of Memphis, (of Montgomery, Ala., then), claims that Emmett visited Montgomery in January, 1859, and sang Dixie, the words, however, a little different from those used in New York later. In presence of Mr. Field, Prof. Arnold called Emmett's attention to this. Emmett's reply was that the air of Dixie—the melody—had been played by him for a year prior to his writing the words of the song.

It is Alfred's opinion that Emmett first sang the song in the south else how could it in those days become so suddenly popular. It is an authenticated fact that the troops from Alabama first sang Dixie as a war song of the South. There are gentlemen living in both Eufala and Montgomery who[486] assert that Dixie was sung in those cities early in 1859 and that it attained great popularity.

However, the memory of Emmett will be preserved to future generations as the author of a song the common people love to sing.

"I have bought a farm."

The wife looked incredulous. The past four years Alfred had optioned as many different farms, always dissuaded by the wife to give them up. In fact, the wife did not show the husband's enthusiasm as to the bucolic life.

"I've bought a farm: Bienville, a part of the old Goodrich tract ceded to that family by the government for services in the Revolutionary War, opposite 'high banks' on the Olentangy River, where the ruins of the old fort are. It is a place of historic interest. The river, the best bass stream in Ohio, skirts the east side of the farm. There's a lovely brook running through the farm, and the largest virgin forest in the county. Why, the timber in that woods will sell for more than I paid for the whole farm. But I will not cut a single tree down, only an occasional shell-bark hickory tree to smoke our meat. Uncle Jake always smoked his meat with hickory wood and he cured the finest meat in Fayette County, generally a little too salty; we must look out for that."

"The bottom land is a farm in itself. There are two orchards, an old one and a young one. The old one is about run out and I'll cut it down when the young one comes in. The wood will be fine to burn. Dry apple wood makes the hottest fire."

"Dried apples? What are you talking about—burning dried apples?"

But Alfred was not to be interrupted. "The hill land is not so good but I'll bring that up. I've bought a book on Liming Land. I won't have a great deal of stock to begin[487] with. It's my intention to begin with a few of each species and breed up, that's the way Doctor Hartman does.

"The hill land is not productive now and the bottom land will have to supply the farm until we get the hills tillable. There's only one thing that troubles me. The bottoms overflow every time the river rises. As you know, the Olentangy rises every time it rains."

"Well, for Heaven's sake, you haven't bought a farm like that, have you? Now, Al, you are just like your father. Your mother often told me he could make money but always had a plan to spend it and his investments always proved failures. Why don't you let this farm business go? You've got enough on your hands without a farm."

Alfred never noticed the interruption.

"Chickens are very profitable. Poultry raising is one of the most profitable things about a farm, and the average farmer does not give his chickens any attention. I expect you to look after the chicken end of the farm. All the profits will be yours."

Even this liberal offer did not interest the wife greatly.

"The first thing I am going to do is to build a dyke or levee along the river bank to protect the bottoms from overflows. This must be done this winter. Mr. Monsarrat is at work on one on his place. He went to the expense of hiring regular dyke-builders, civil engineers and all that sort of thing. I'll just hire farmers and their teams. I've got onto a man that built all the dykes down toward Chillicothe. He knows just how to construct them. I'll hire him to superintend the work. Of course, I'll be on the ground all the time to look after the details."

"When will you have time to attend to matters of that kind? Now, Al, you're just hatching up a lot of trouble for us. Why don't you rest? You have been working all these years to lay by a few dollars and now you are contriving to[488] spend them. We know nothing of farming. We will be worried to death."

"Now don't get excited, Tillie. Hold your horses. I've thought the whole matter out. Now listen to me. You can't farm in winter, can you?" and Alfred waited for his wife to answer. The wife deigned no reply; she either considered the question too deep or too silly. Alfred answered his own question: "No, you can't farm in winter. This is November. I've fixed it that by the time we are ready to farm we will be all prepared. I've subscribed for three farm journals, a poultry paper and a dairying book. The farm journals are published in New York, Los Angeles and Denver. This will educate us up to farming methods in all sections. What they don't know in one section, we will learn from another. You leave it all to me. Country life will make another woman out of you and Pearl will like it. It will be good for you all. It's the dream of my life realized and I do hope you will enter into my plans and be the help you have always been. I'm going to have a horse and phaeton for your exclusive use. I don't want you to do anything. Just sort of look over things. You need not read the farm journals unless you are interested. You read up on poultry and the dairy. They go together. All I'll ask you to do is to look after those two things, the poultry and the dairy. I'll take care of the farming."

Bob Brown, (no relation to Bill Brown), editor of the Louisville Times, one of Alfred's warmest friends, published a feature article, a brief history of Alfred's career, touching on his newspaper experiences, however, omitting the cow-doctor experience. The article concluded with a lengthy write-up of Alfred as a farmer. The paper was carried in triumph and read to Mrs. Field and Pearl. Bob predicted the success for Alfred in farming that he had attained in minstrelsy. Several illustrations in Bob's write-up exhibited Alfred in farmer's garb, feeding cattle, sheep and hogs out of his hand.

[489]The wife observed: "Why, you haven't got sheep, hogs or cows as yet; have you imposed upon Mr. Brown?"

"No, certainly not. Bob is an up-to-date newspaper man. Newspapers that wait to print things as they are, get left. Newspapers that print things as they are to be, are the live, up-to-date, always read journals. Bob knows I'll have things just as he represents them."

Bob Brown's write-up was greatly appreciated by Alfred even after Emmett Logan informed him that Bob had written him confidentially that he, Alfred, had turned farmer, but he did not know what for, as he felt certain Alfred could not plant his feet in the road and raise dust; in fact, he did not think Alfred could raise a parasol.

Alfred was advised that a club, of which he was an honorary member, would entertain him—that it would be a farmer's night. Alfred well knew there would be great fun at the expense of the farmer. He would be the butt of all the jokes the busy brains of a dozen or more keen wits could devise. Therefore, he studied for days that he might in a humorous way parry the jibes. Nothing humorous in connection with the farm could be evolved from his brain. He was too ambitious, too enthusiastic a farmer to ridicule any phase of his newly adopted calling.

Therefore, when the chairman concluded his introduction in these words: "And now, gentlemen, we have a farmer as our guest here tonight. It has been the plaint of the farmer from time out of mind that he had not representation; that he had not voice in affairs that had to do with his vocation. The newly made clod-hopper is respectfully informed that he can air his grievances to the fullest extent and that, unlike others, we will not pass resolutions of acquiescence in his views and then repudiate them. We will file them in our archives as a memento of the fact that another good man has gone wrong. Alfred, it is the fear of all your friends in this[490] club that the minstrel show will not make enough money to run the farm."

Alfred as a Farmer

Alfred as a Farmer

Alfred replied to the introduction:

"Gentlemen, the introduction honors me; to be a farmer has been the dream of my life. Beginning life on a farm, I ask no more pleasant ending than to live the last days of my earthly time on a farm.

"The facetious remarks of the toastmaster do not explain my reasons for engaging in farming. It is true, financial consideration did not govern me in this matter, although I do hope to make the farm self-supporting. If I do not, I shall not feel that I have made a bad investment.

"In seeking the quietude of the farm, I was actuated by that yearning that comes to all men who have led a busy life—to turn back the years and try to live the days of patches, freckles, stone bruises and laughter; to live those[491] days again when there was only one care in the world, not to be late for meals.

"I want to go way back yonder in my life to a house half hidden from view by the locusts and maples, where the bees hummed and swarmed. I want a scent of the honeysuckle as the maples and locusts budded forth in what seemed to me the morning of the world—springtime. I want to follow the path down by the big spring, through the hazel bushes, where the cotton tail jumped up just ahead of you and the redbird sang his sweetest song. I can follow the path in my mind as the hunting dog follows the scent, down to the old rock hole where the clear, cool waters of the creek formed an eddy, in which the chub and yellow perch lurked and jumped at the bait as they never did anywhere else.

"I want to feel that ecstacy that only comes to a boy when the bottle cork you used for a bobber goes under water, when something is pulling on the line like a scared mule, bending double the pole cut in the thicket on your way to the creek. I want to throw the pole away, roll up the tangled line, hide it away in the corn crib, and sneak back to the house the opposite direction from the creek, that the folks wouldn't suspect I had been fishing on Sunday.

"I want to go back yonder in my life where the hills meet the sky in a purple haze, where you feel yourself growing with the trees, where the smell of new earth calls you to the woods, where the dogwood is budding and the may-apple peeps up through last year's leaves at the new leaves budding out on the grand old maples above.

"I want to go so far back from the worries of city life that the crowing of the cock and the cackle of the hen will tell me it is morning, instead of the clanging of bells and blowing of whistles. I want to go back yonder where the setting sun, instead of the city lights, will tell me it is night. I want to hear the cricket and whip-poor-will as we heard them in the evenings long ago, as we listened with bated breath to the jack[492] o'-lantern legends that stirred our childish fancy until the croaking of the frogs sent us to bed to dream of uncanny things.

"I want to live in the happiness of an autumn when the frost was on the pumpkin and the fodder in the shock; when the hickory nuts falling on the ground called the squirrels; when the stars gleamed bright enough to afford you light to bring a 'possum out of a tree with the old flintlock musket—how you cherished that gun. And when the snow hid the roads and paths like the white coverlet on the big bed in the spare room and the big backlog crackled and burned on the hearth, and the red apples glistened in the firelight, and the popcorn imitation of a snowstorm was more realistic than any artificial one that you have since witnessed.

"How you shivered as you undressed in the room above going to bed, but how soundly you slept after you got warm. I want to go back to one of those hallowed Sunday mornings in summer when the hush of heaven seemed to fall on earth; when the quiet that spread over hill and vale seemed to announce the Spirit of God in some unusual sense; when the peace of heaven seemed so near you felt its happiness.

"While living the old days over—the days way back yonder—I want to live in the love of my friends of today. Whilst I cherish only a memory of the friends of the old days, I hold, after my family, the love and esteem of my friends of today above all things in this life.

"Gentlemen, come down to the farm. Visit with me and endeavor to live the life of a boy again, if only for a day."

Bill Brown as a Farmer

Bill Brown as a Farmer

Alfred's response was not what the assemblage expected. Congratulations were showered upon him. The speech was reproduced in newspapers all over the country. Printed copies of it were circulated. The sentiment expressed therein seemed to have struck a responsive chord in the hearts of all men who love to live close to Nature. It does not seem possible that any one would have the hardihood to endeavor to[493] controvert the sentiments set forth in Alfred's tribute to the "Back to the Farm" life, yet there appeared in all the papers that had given publicity to Alfred's speech, a diatribe from Bill Brown, headed "The Truth," as follows:

Pittsburgh, Pa.

I have read with much interest Al. G. Field's address on "The Farm." If you will pardon my profanity for a minute, I will say "Damn the Farm."

Our paths through the woods on the farm must have been different. Al. pursued the cotton tail through the level and green grassy meadows, getting pleasure in pursuit, and which left no traces of his going; I pursued the ever ready pole cat through hollows, over logs and stone piles, which left nothing but bruises, but I found more pleasure in pursuit than possession.

Al. had patches, freckles and laughter; I had rags, bruises and tears. Al. took the path down to the spring through the hazel bushes; I took the stony road to a mudhole through thorns and blackberry bushes.

Al. caught nice yellow perch with a cork bobber; I caught suckers with a paper bobber, for there were no corks used on our farm. Al.[494] fished on Sunday; I went to church at 10 o'clock, Sunday School at 11, church again at 1:30, and perchance prayer meeting in the evening.

Al. smelled the new earth from a two seated surrey or horseback; I smelled the new earth from the back of the harrow or plow.

Al. watched the dogwoods bud, and breathed their fragrance as they budded; I felt the dogwood switches drop on my poor back and bare limbs.

Al. had to be told when it was dark and when it was morning. I knew when I was told to quit work that it was dark and bed-time, and knew that it was daylight when I was yanked out of bed to walk two miles before breakfast to bring in a lot of cows.

Al. had a nice "coverlit" over his bed, and turned into a nice feather bed and rested in peace. I rolled myself up in a worn-out horse blanket, and turned into a tick filled with straw, shivering until I got to sleep and kept on shivering. Oh yes, I cherish the days on the farm and will never forget them.

But a more pleasant recollection to me is the day that I left the cackling of the hens, the braying of the donkey, the bellowing of the cows, and the old plow standing in the furrow, where I hope it still stands.

The new stack of hay might have brought fragrance to Al's sensitive nostrils, but to me it seemed as well suited as a reservoir for perfume as for a monument in a cemetery.

I want to live in the love and esteem of my friends of today; I cherish the memory of the old friends, and I value their love and esteem, but the memory of the old straw pile back of the barn still clings to me closer than all these, and e'er I get ready to go back to the darned old farm, I will make myself a pair of wooden bills and perch myself on the stake and rider fence, prepared to take my turn with the hennery.

"Visit me," he says, "and endeavor to live the life of a boy over again on the farm." Not for Bill, and I can but repeat what I said in my profane way, again and again.

Al. can have the farm, but as for me it's first "back to the mines, Bill." With sad memories of the milk pail, the fork and curry comb, I am,

Sadly and sorrowfully yours,

Bill Brown.

Insofar as Alfred's knowledge goes, Bill Brown's pessimistic views of farm life were not accepted by any save Alfred's immediate family. Alfred carried a copy of his address, "A Glimpse of Nature, or Back to the Farm" in[495] his pocket. Mrs. Field preserved Bill Brown's screed. As one prediction of Bill's after another came to pass, she would say to Alfred: "There, see there? Even Mr. Brown knew what would come of this farming business."

The dyke was constructed and would no doubt have answered the purpose intended had it not been constructed of clayey soil that disintegrated and floated away with the muddy current the first freshet.

Chickens were the first purchases. Rhode Island Reds, Alfred asserted, were superior as farm chickens. They were good layers, good setters and good mothers. One hundred hens and two roosters were the basis of the poultry plant. Alfred had read that one hundred hens properly catered to would produce on an average five dozens of eggs a day. Eggs were fifty cents a dozen. He figured that fifteen dollars a week would be pretty good. Of course, he had forgotten that farm hands eat eggs. Two dozen eggs were brought to the city and delivered to the home of Alfred, where the family rests up in the winter from the farm labors of the summer. "Of course, it's not what I expected," he consolingly admitted to his wife, "but you can't move chickens from one place to another and have them do well. Howard Park says so and he has had a heap of chicken experience. They will do better when you get out there. You will feed them properly and regularly. Their laying streak has been broken up. We must train them to lay while eggs are expensive and lay off when they are cheap."

Alfred insisted Pearl keep a "farm book," entering on one page the expenditures opposite the receipts. After two months Alfred declared the book a trouble and worry. "Just spend what you have to and let it go at that. Howard Park says everybody has the same experience when they first go into farming." There were two entries on the two pages of receipts, nineteen pages of expenditures:

February 14th—Credit by 2 dozen eggs $  .98
March 11th—One bull 35.00

[496]Alfred bought the bull from a neighboring farmer. "Registered Jersey, worth at least $100; I got him for $75," boasted Alfred. "The man needed the money." It was learned later that the bull had been accidently shot by trespassing hunters and permanently disabled. When Alfred was put wise to this, he sold the bull for beef.

I Want a Rooster for Every Hen

"I Want a Rooster for Every Hen"

In the grocery bill, (Alfred furnished everything), there was a charge of four dollars and thirty cents for eggs. Alfred argued to his wife it was for hatching eggs for the incubator; that he had instructed Mrs. Roost she must raise four hundred chickens at least. But Mrs. Roost, over the telephone, advised that farmers must have eggs to eat and she always cleared her coffee with eggs, and our hens were not laying and that most of them had the roup, and you can't expect eggs when you only got two roosters for a hundred hens. Alfred called up Mrs. Reed and advised that he must have more roosters. "How many do you wish?" she inquired.

AL. G. FIELD, 1886

AL. G. FIELD, 1886

[497]"Well, we are not getting any eggs. I want a rooster for every hen. I'm bound to have eggs."

The wife changed her mind as to Rhode Island Reds. She declared the only person she knew that had good luck with Rhode Island Reds was Mrs. Mott and she just lived with her chickens. "Now, Mrs. Goodrich has Barred Plymouth Rocks and they are the chickens." Alfred ordered a flock of Barred Plymouth Rocks. Someone recommended to Alfred Black Minorcas. Charley Schenck had a pen he wished to dispose of. Alfred figured that since they had experienced so much bad luck with one breed they would soon strike a winner by having several kinds. Therefore, when S. S. Jackson presented Alfred with a pen of India Games, you could look out upon the chicken lot at any time of day and see three or four cock-fights in progress at the same time. The hands were kept from their work, attracted by the gameness of the cocks.

A beautiful litter, (as Alfred termed them), of top-knots, Van Houden chickens, were the next addition to the poultry yard. When cautioned that he would soon have a polyglot lot of poultry, Alfred, for the first time, weakened on the chicken proposition; more for the reason that he was disgusted with their polygamous propensities. Although living in one herd, he imagined that each breed would live to itself. Alfred dubbed them "Mormons."

Pearl and Mrs. Field had become interested in the little chicks. As hen after hen came off, her brood was carried to the house and endeavors made to raise the chicks by hand. They had some forty or fifty, when rats, or a "varmint" penetrated the coop and twenty-four were killed in one night. The sorrow caused by this loss of their pets was partly compensated for by the closer ties formed with those spared. Each one was named. When either Pearl or Aunt Tillie passed out of the kitchen door, the chicks would fly[498] to meet them. Stooping down to feed them, they would fly on the shoulders of the two women.

One of the grocery bills rendered contained an item, "Four dollars for chickens." Mrs. Mott had also sold Mrs. Field quite a number of chickens. Alfred supposed these chickens were for breeding purposes. One Sunday the table was without chicken. Mrs. Field explained she had no one to go after them. "I'd have shot them for you if you had advised me you wanted chickens killed." "Chickens killed?" repeated both Pearl and Aunt Tillie, "Well, I'd like to see you or anyone else kill our chickens. Why, there's Betty, Biddy, Snooks, Dick and Kelly; they're just like humans. You don't imagine for a moment we will kill any of our chickens, do you?" And Alfred bought chickens for the table all summer.

Alfred promised his wife that he would look after the farming part. The chickens and dairy came under her charge. He therefore, sat down to his desk and wrote out minute instructions as to fields to be planted and designated the crops to sow in each field. He ordered a hill field, near the barn, sowed in buckwheat. The farmer meekly intimated that ten acres of buckwheat and five acres of oats seemed rather disproportional. "Never mind, follow my order," haughtily commanded Alfred. "None of us care for rolled oats and we all like buckwheat cakes." Alfred discharged his regular farmer; he claimed the man got up too early; he got up at four o'clock and threshed around making so much noise nobody could sleep.

The hills had not been plowed in years. The land was shaly, easily washed. It rained from the day the family moved onto the farm until late in June. Seeds of all kinds from the fields above washed down into the bottoms below. Beans, potatoes, egg plant, rye, peas, beets and cow peas grew in the bottom as only noxious weeds and wild crops grow. From this conglomeration sprang the noted bean[499] that Bill Brown and Alfred are forming a company to distribute.

The rain continued. The weather being cool, fires were necessary. Nothing but wood was used as fuel. The wife protested the heat for cooking was not sufficient. It just dried the juices in the meats. A heating plant was put in. Kerosene lamps did not produce sufficient light, so a lighting plant was installed. Springs and well were unhandy. Alfred installed a water plant. Alfred swore you might just as well live in the city if you had all city fixin's. The walks in the yard and across the lawn were inches thick with mud. Pearl and Mrs. Field, by the light of the wood fire, would read Bill Brown's life on the farm, while Alfred watched the barometer. The women began to talk about moving back to town. Alfred was as miserable as life could make him. Day after day the rain fell in torrents. The dam that formed the lake wherein Alfred intended raising fish in summer, and a skating pond in winter, and also to furnish ice, broke, flooding the cow stables, washing out the sweet corn patch and the garden floated.

Alfred was unmercifully berated that he had dragged his family to the country, destroying their happiness and spending all his money for—what, for what? Just to gratify a whim, a boyish illusion.

Alfred felt he must do something to turn the tide. The rain kept falling. He started to the city on his mysterious errand. Returning he proudly hung above the mantle piece this motto:

"It hain't no use to grumble and complain,
It's jest as cheap and easy to rejoice;
When God sorts out the weather and sends rain,
Why, rain's my choice."

The rain ceased. The sun shone, the grasses grew. Happiness came into the family. Ere the summer was over,[500] farm life had so ingratiated itself that they did not relish the idea of moving back to the city.

Bill Brown is ever kind. He sent a half dozen guineas, advising they were "chicken-house sentinels." They multiplied more rapidly than any fowls known; that the hen laid forty and fifty eggs in one nest. Mr. Field and all the hands followed those guineas all summer, nor did anyone find a guinea egg. After months of seeking guinea eggs, an old lady familiar with guineas advised Alfred that all of Bill's guineas were cocks. It was true; they were all Shriner guineas. Alfred procured a few Suffragettes and guineas are now the most prolific fowl production of the farm.

Home, Sweet Home

Home, Sweet Home



It's curious what fuss folks makes 'bout boys that went away
Years ago from home.
There's young Bill Piper that used to keep recitin',
Do you know what he's done?
He's gone to actin', there's some that actually pay
To go an' hear Bill talkin', public in a play.
Why, he couldn't chop a cord o' hickory wood in a year;
He may fool the folks out yonder, but he ain't no hero here.

I am glad to have Uncle Tom visit us. He is a good man. It is true his calling made him very narrow when a younger man, but he was always kind hearted, and under his austerity there's a lot of man. I am doubly glad he is to visit us. I want him to carry back to my old home, to those who predicted a much different career for me, a few things I would like them to know.

Uncle Tom

Uncle Tom

"What are you going to do with Polly?" inquired the wife. Polly was a bird purchased in New Orleans; warranted to be one of the best talkers ever imported; talks French, English and Spanish. The bird came up to the guarantee and even surpassed it. She can cuss in two or three languages not specified in the guarantee. The wife suggested we carry Polly to sister's. "But Uncle Tom will visit there and it would come out that the parrot belonged to us. Besides, it would be disreputable to have Polly's profanity charged to sister's family."

Janet Wolfe, a teacher of languages, was also a guest of the family. She and the uncle spent a great deal of their leisure talking to Polly. Janet was particularly interested[502] in Polly's Spanish and French. One morning the two were standing near Polly's perch. Polly was unusually talkative. In answer to a sentence of Janet's purest South End French, Polly rolled off sentence after sentence of New Orleans French Market French. Janet turned red, then pale. She hurriedly inquired as to whether Uncle Tom understood French. When assured he did not, she elevated her hands in thankfulness.

Uncle Tom adhered to the custom of family worship. One morning Uncle Tom's prayer was very long. Polly, evidently—like others of the family—was hungry, but, unlike them, did not have the politeness to conceal it. Stretching her wings to the fullest width, craning her neck, in a bored tone she squeaked: "O-h h-e-l-l. Give us a rest." There was no suppressing the laughter. Polly laughed too. Uncle Tom smiled faintly. Alfred pretended to chastise the bird, raising the feather duster over her. Polly began a tirade that all the family understood. It must have sounded to Uncle Tom something like this: "Go to hell-go-to-hell-all-of-you. Get-to-hell-out-of-yere-dam-you, dam-you-all. Polly's-sick-poor-Polly. Chippy-get-your-hair-cut-hair-cut. Oh-hell."

Many were the arguments and interchanges of opinions as between Alfred and Uncle Tom. The younger man never mentioned the old days at home, he was more anxious to have the uncle refer to them. Many years had elapsed and Alfred surmised the uncle had forgotten events that were ineffaceably impressed upon his own memory. The uncle and nephew, held many long conversations. One night while alone the uncle took Alfred aback a bit, when he very abruptly inquired as to whether he was satisfied with his profession—his life. "I can see you are well fixed and financial success has come to you. But, are you satisfied with your life? Would you live the same life over again?"

[503]"Uncle in the main, I am satisfied with my life. There are many things that I would prefer to forget and there are many things I hope to remember. As a boy, I was ambitious to become a circus clown." The uncle smiled. "This at first, was a boy's whim, an illusion. That ambition was based entirely upon a desire to acquire sufficient money to make me comfortable. It was a boyish fancy at the beginning but some of the happiest days of my life were when I wore the motley and endeavored to spread gladness as a circus clown.

"To see others enjoying themselves, to hear and see folks laugh, is one of the greatest pleasures to me in this life. But I am sorry I did not become something other than a showman." The old minister looked at Alfred in amazement. "I will always retain most pleasant recollections of the many friends that I have made in the show world, but, Uncle Thomas, I feel that I could have done something better for myself if I had only been as bent upon it as I was upon show life."

"Why, Alfred! You surprise me. What do you think you should have gone into? A mercantile business?"

"No, I never had any taste for that. Of late years I have often wished I had been enabled to enter the legal profession. I believe I would have made a success as a lawyer."

"Oh, as a politician?"

"No, no, Uncle, I abhor politics as I know them. I mean a lawyer. One who was respected by all the people in the community where he practiced. I have often thought I would like to be a sort of lawyer and farmer. I never was satisfied with myself until I became the owner of a farm."

"Well, if you are dissatisfied with your business, I cannot understand why you have been so successful."

"Now, Uncle Tom, you misunderstand me. I am not dissatisfied with my business. I had ambitions as a boy, I have ambitions as a man."

[504]"Are you ashamed of your calling?" This was a leading question. Alfred felt the inquisitor was digging pretty deep.

"No, Uncle, I am not. I shall always respect the calling of a public entertainer. I thank God, and pat myself on the back often, that not one dollar I possess was wrung from a human being that they were unwilling to part with. I respect myself all the more that not one penny of the little that I have saved is tainted, that is in the latter day application of the term. In my professional work I have carried gladness. I have endeavored to make two blades of grass grow where one grew before. I have injured no man by my profession, but have made many happy. Why should I be ashamed of it? Of course, I often wish that I had entered a field where I could have enjoyed more opportunities; where I could have extended myself as it were. I would like to live in a larger world."

"Why, Alfred, I am again surprised. You travel the world over."

"Yes, but Uncle, it's the narrowest world you ever dreamed of. A crowd's no company. The loneliest moments I pass are when in the largest gatherings. I was cut out for a showman, but I ought to be a stationary one. If you and father and all my other relatives had only headed me for the law, perhaps I'd be a different man."

"Alfred, what was to be could not be changed. You have everything to be thankful for and little to regret. You have a faithful helpmate in your wife. Your father is a great consolation to you. He tells me of the lovely traits of your character. If I had my children around me as he has, if I could live in their love as he does, I would sacrifice all else in this world."

"Why, Uncle Tom, aren't you satisfied with your calling?"

"If you refer to the ministry, I answer 'No.' The salaries of the ministers of this country do not average five hundred dollars a year. And yet, as a class, they are the best educated[505] the hardest working, poorest paid, underfed profession I know of. With less culture, less mental power, there are men in all walks of life that are paid three times the salary even our most eloquent and useful ministers receive. And yet, no matter how great the good a minister may have accomplished, if he makes the slightest allusion to the matter of money, it discredits him. That I have worn the livery of Christ all my days will buoy me up, and that I am proud of my service in the army of the Lord lends happiness. I have endeavored to maintain the character I have assumed in meekness and sincerity. But the character of a minister is the most assailable of that of any of the professions. The slightest slip, the one misstep, and he is lost. Like Samson, shorn of his hair, he is a poor, feeble, faltering creature, the pity of his friends, the derision of the public."

"Well, Uncle Tom, yours is not the only profession that's held back by popular prejudices. It's one of the peculiarities of the littleness of human nature. It's a sure sign of a dwarfed mind to have your actions criticized and misconstrued. There's not a great calamity, a pestilence, a plague, a drought or a famine, a Galveston disaster, a Johnstown flood, a poor family's poverty, that the theatrical profession are not appealed to first and are first to respond. But if a theatrical man interests himself in public affairs his motives are impugned."

"I am surprised at this, Alfred. It sounds so very much like the restrictions placed upon ministers. Does it hamper you in your affairs?"

"Not in the least. That is, not now. There was a time when I was younger that I felt the sting pretty keenly. Now it has a different effect. You remember Bill Jones in Brownsville? He had a boy named Bill. Young Bill was under discussion by the cracker barrel committee in Oliver Baldwin's grocery. Andy Smith had just remarked that 'Bill Jones's boy is a durned fool; he don't know nuthin'; he don't[506] know enough to gether greens; he don't know enough to slop hogs.' Just then he noticed the boy's father sitting behind the stove. Old Bill had overheard Andy's talk. Andy endeavored to square himself. In an apologetic tone he said: 'But, taint' your fault, Bill; tain't your fault; ye ain't to blame. You learnt him all you know.' You can't tell anything about human nature and the better plan is to make yourself as agreeable to those you respect and love and to keep others at arm's length. When you feel that folks have any objections to you, beat them to it. They soon come over."

"Do you remember a boy that was raised in Brownsville, worked in Snowden's Machine Shop? Do you remember he worked his way up? He entered the ministry. He became a very good preacher, quite eloquent. There was a movement inaugurated by some of his boyhood friends to have him brought to Brownsville to fill the pulpit of a church. The women of taste were sort of running things. The Brownsville boy who had become a preacher was turned down. Do you remember why? Well, his parents were very humble people. The taste of many of the members revolted at the idea of the pulpit of the church being filled by one whose father worked around the town in his shirt sleeves. Do you remember the trade of his father?"

"No, I have forgotten."

"Well, he was a carpenter." The uncle did not perceive the application at once. After a moment he nodded his head a half dozen times, very slowly as he framed the question: "What became of—?"

"He is living in retirement with his children in Houston, Texas. He became a noted man in the ministry of that state. He never visited his old home after the slight put upon him by the taste of a part of the congregation."

"Well, Alfred, your experience has been of great value to you. You have met all manner of people."

[507]"Yes, and in all walks of life. And my estimate of them is, that human nature is about the same in all men, although some of them possess the faculty to a greater degree than others of concealing it. The first President I ever met to talk to was General Grant. I had always read of him as the Silent Man of Destiny; but he did about all the talking for all those about him the few moments I was in his presence."

"I met Ben Harrison, but that was before he was President. It was during a political campaign in Indiana. He seemed to me to be about as cool and level-headed a man as I ever met. I stood beside him on a car platform. In Petersburg, Va., after he was elected President, he came out of his private car in response to the cheers of the crowd. I feel sure he intended to make a short speech, as the multitude seemed to demand it. The President was bowing his acknowledgments to the large gathering, when someone, with that bad taste that always crops out at the most inopportune moment, yelled 'Hurrah for Cleveland.' A great many others, with bad taste, laughed. Harrison flushed to his temples, bowed and backed into the car.

"I met Cleveland twice. Once in that old club in Buffalo, N. Y. Cleveland was sheriff at that time. He was in the prime of manhood, sociable and full of animation. He did not talk much but was a good listener and a hearty laugher at the stories George Bleinstein related. I met him again after he was out of the Presidential chair. His health was shattered. He was endeavoring to recuperate in that most sensible way, hunting and fishing. His limbs were in such condition he could not endure the exercise and did not get the benefit he anticipated from the outdoor life.

"I met Rutherford B. Hayes many times while he was Governor of the State of Ohio, and once after he became President. He was the most democratic of men, plain and approachable.

[508]"Of all the Presidents I have had the good fortune to meet McKinley was the most lovable to me, probably because I was better acquainted with him than the others. Mrs. McKinley and her sister owned the Opera House in Canton, Ohio. Mrs. McKinley's brother, Mr. Barber, was the manager for them. I met McKinley in Columbus, Canton and Washington. He was always the same. He never mentioned politics at any time I was in his presence; always talked upon commonplace subjects, inquiring after friends or conditions of business over the country. McKinley had the good taste to remember his friends.

"It was the custom of the President and his wife, while in Washington, to call up the home of Mr. Barber in Canton, on the long distance telephone daily. Alfred happened in Canton on New Year's day. He wished the President a Happy New Year over the phone. The President, in turn, invited him to call at the White House when visiting Washington. Alfred, after the phone was hung up, remarked to Barber: 'The President is too busy with politicians to bother with minstrels.' Barber afterwards repeated Alfred's remark to the President. Later, Alfred visited Washington. The President sent a messenger inviting him to call at the White House, nor did Alfred have long to wait when his card was sent in. After a hearty handshake the President invited him to have a cigar. The first question he asked was as to the health of an old Columbus liveryman—Brice Custer—a Democrat at that.

"The most interesting near-President I ever met was your old fellow-townsman, James G. Blaine."

"Oh, I knew Blaine well as a boy," Uncle Tom said. "I never met him after he left Brownsville. Where did you meet him?"

"I visited Augusta, Me., with my minstrels. I sent a messenger inviting him to attend the entertainment. In reply he invited me to call at his residence. To my surprise[509] he seemed to be familiar with my career. He inquired after many of the older men of Brownsville, particularly John Snowden, Bobby Rodgers and others. He could not remember my father but he remembered grandfather, Uncle William and Uncle Joe's father. His memory as to the older inhabitants of the town was most remarkable. He gave me much information as to the early history of Brownsville. He advised when he regained his health he intended visiting the valley again, renewing old friendships. The cheeks of the famous American were sallow and flabby. His general appearance was that of one who was desperately struggling to fight off the finish. Although he talked hopefully of the future and outlined his precautions for guarding his health, it was not long afterwards until he 'crossed the bar.'

"Blaine was a wonderful man. Do you remember the last speech he made at his old home? It was in the midst of a heated political campaign. Several noted orators accompanied him. The issues of the campaign were discussed by the speakers who preceded him. Blaine was introduced; the applause was long-continued. Speaking slowly at first, with distinct enunciation, he said:

"'Ladies and Gentlemen, Neighbors, Friends, All: I am here tonight in the interests of that great political party of which I have the honor to be a member. I came here to make a political speech. I came here to discuss the questions in which this section is so vitally interested. I see many familiar faces. I see many in front of me tonight who have always held views opposed to mine, politically; but our opinions on public questions have never marred our friendships and never will insofar as I am concerned. I always hope to retain the respect and good-will you bear me, evidenced by your presence here tonight.'

"'When I gaze around me, I note the silver tops of many men whose hair was as black as the raven's wing when we[510] trod these old hills together. I note cheeks even whiter now than the hair that shades them—cheeks then flushed with the bloom that only comes to youth. I know many of you here tonight expect me to discuss the issues of the day. I hope you will excuse me when I inform you I cannot bring myself to do it, that word of mine might cause pain to one friend—that would destroy all the pleasure that has come to me from this meeting of old friends here tonight—it is a pleasant feeling to the wanderer that he is again in the home of his fathers, in the home of his friends.'

"He continued relating incidents of his boyhood. I venture to say it was the most effective political speech ever delivered and not a word of politics in it."

"Alfred, your experiences are valuable, and I believe you are filling the mission God intended you for. I feel when I talk to you my little world growing smaller. I have lived in a little world all my life. The only information I get of the big world comes through well-meaning, but often prejudiced, persons. I do not know man as I should. I believe to know God you must know man. Alfred, I am told intemperance is the curse of the theatrical profession. Are many of your people drunkards?"

"Very few of them. We do not tolerate a drunkard one day. It would be an insult to permit a drunkard to go before an audience. Theatrical people with their peculiar temperaments and manner of life, are easily led astray but I do not believe, comparatively speaking, there is nearly so much intemperance among theatrical people as some other professions."

"How do you manage the members of your company?"

"We endeavor to dissuade them from all practices that will interfere with their duties. We take a great deal of pains with the younger ones; particularly as to the drink habit; do all we can with advice, and endeavor in every way to have them lead sober, moral lives. The general manager[511] of one of the largest railway systems in this country, after twenty-five years' experience, has arrived at this conclusion. 'Do all possible to rescue the man starting in on a drinking life. Bump the old soak and bump him hard; bump him quick. Never temporize with a man who has broken his promise as to the liquor habit. If he gets bumped hard, it will either cure him or cause him to drink himself to death. In either way society is the better off.'"

"What a load of sin the saloonkeeper carries, the man that sells the drunkard rum. If all the saloons could be closed—Uncle Tom, have you given the subject, or this sin, or whatever you may term it, serious study? The saloonkeeper may have it within his power to curtail, to lessen the evil effects of drunkenness, but it's high time the fellow on the other side of the bar came in for his share of the censure. Don't you know that if every saloon in the land was closed, under existing conditions, drunkenness and the increased consumption of whisky would go on. Statistics bear this out."

"Well, what is your remedy for the evil, Alfred?"

"I have no remedy. I have a safeguard—high license, the sale of whisky placed in the hands of reputable men."

"But, Alfred, there are no reputable men in the whisky business."

"Uncle Tom, you admitted a few moments ago you lived in a little world, you did not know men. I am not entering upon a defense of the saloonkeeper, but human nature, is human nature. Bad taste is bad taste. It's bad taste for a minister of the gospel to make statements that can be controverted so readily that his veracity is made questionable. If I were a minister, I would inform myself, visit the saloons. I would go into the Neil House, the Chittenden, the lowest dives in the city; not as a sneak or a spy, but in my duty, my profession, my calling as a preacher, as a man with the determination to do good unto my fellow[512] men. I would go as He, in whose footsteps preachers profess to follow, did. I would shake hands with the business man, the bum. I'd pass them my card or have someone introduce me. I'd invite them to visit my church. I'd make them feel I was a friend, not an enemy. I would endeavor to instill into their lives the truth. I'd preach that God is love. I would make myself a welcome visitor everywhere I went. The presence of a good man with a desire to do good has a beneficial effect upon men in every walk of life, in church or saloon.

"Uncle Thomas, if the clergy do not realize it, they should. They are widening a breach, a chasm between the people and the church, that will be difficult to bridge over. They are positively bringing their calling into disrepute. Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory but in lowliness of mind, is a divine injunction they seem to have forgotten."

"Alfred, I am surprised at your arguments. I want to ask you: Did you ever know an honest saloonkeeper, an honest man who made or sold whisky?"

"There are thousands of them. Thomas Daly, one of the largest distillers in this country, Belle Vernon, Fayette County, Penn., is a man who stands as high morally as any in his section.

"Martin Casey, who lately passed away in Ft. Worth, Texas, a wholesale dealer in liquors, was a friend of mine for thirty years. He was a friend of your nephews, Jim and Clarke. He was beloved in the community where he lived and died. No charity, no public or private work for the betterment of mankind, was without his support. The widow and orphan did not appeal to him without receiving. In fact, it was not necessary for the poor to appeal to Martin Casey. His friendship would have honored any man.

"You will say these men were too far away. Tom Swift, a saloonkeeper, stood as high among those who were intimate[513] with him as any man in this city. Joe Hirsch is another, and there are hundreds of others."

"Then, Alfred, you are against temperance?"

"No, sir. I'm for temperance. If there is anything I can do to ameliorate or decrease the evil effects of intemperance, I will willingly take my place in the ranks and add my strength to the fight. Ninety men of a hundred are in sympathy with those who are battling for the alleviation of the evils of intemperance. But there are not ten men in a hundred that have faith in the means employed. The only practical temperance work that has come under my observation was that of Father Matthews and Francis Murphy."

"Well, Alfred, what do you think of Sam Jones, and Billy Sunday?"

"Sam Jones is dead and nearly forgotten. As to Billy Sunday, I have made it a rule not to talk about a business competitor. Talk is advertising. Billy Sunday is running a show. It's bigger than mine, but it's not as good because it's not an honest show. It's run under the guise of religion. Religion, as I understand it, is your life work from day to day and not the inspiration or the evolution of a week, a month or a year. Billy Sunday has four or five advance agents, or promoters. I employ only two. Billy Sunday has promoters the slickest in the business: men who have had the experience of years in all sorts of schemes. His show is a sad reflection upon the ministers and church members of any city that falls for his methods. The preachers simply admit that they are not equal to the labor they are engaged in. They must have a buffoon, a mountebank, whose methods are repugnant to those who believe in the religion that is taught by the Bible. Billy Sunday creates excitement that carries some folks off their feet for the time being: no lasting results obtain. Those that will remember Billy Sunday longest are those people who give up their money to him. Billy Sunday's show has the Gift Show scheme distanced before the start."

[514]Uncle Tom enjoyed his visit to Columbus greatly. On his last Sunday he occupied the pulpit of the Evangelical Church on East Main Street. He advised Alfred the day previous that he would preach a special sermon—text, I Cor., Chapter 1, Verse 19: "I had rather speak five words with my understanding that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue."

After elaborating upon the text, he reached the pith of his sermon: "A man out of place is only half a man. His nature is perverted. He becomes restless and discontented and his life is made a failure, while the same person might have made a success of all his undertakings if he had been properly placed. As a rule, that which one likes best to do is his forte. No man can be wholly successful in this life until he finds his place. Some men glide into their proper sphere as naturally as the birds of the air fly, or fish in the deep swim. Others never ask the question of themselves: 'What is my place? What shall I do that I may be content to labor and succeed in the world?' Every man should ask himself: 'What is my place? How shall I decide it? How shall I fill it that my life shall not be a failure?' It may be difficult to answer this question. The answer may not always be from the heart, that is, influenced by sincerity. Ignorance or lack of ambition may prompt an answer and failure follow. Though difficult to answer, the question must be answered by all. 'What is my right place in the labor of this world? How shall I find it? How shall I succeed in it?' But few men can be really successful and discontented—contentment is success.

"Education and civilization will have found their highest value in this world when every man has chosen his proper work; work for which he is fitted by nature and inclination. How many boys have had their aspirations checked, their longings silenced, by loving but misguided parents and friends? How many boys, who might have attained eminence in a calling they were fitted for, have been forced to fill a[515] place that was repugnant to their natures? There is not a day we do not see natural ability checked by occupations that are not congenial to those engaged in them. We can hardly conceive of a man or boy forced to do work they loathe. Parents may feel they are fulfilling a highest duty when they choose a profession or a calling they believe the best for their children, but against which the whole nature of the boy revolts, and for which they have no natural ability. If instinct and heart ask for a blacksmithing trade, be a blacksmith; if for carpentry, be a carpenter; if for the medical profession, be a doctor; if for music, be a musician. There is nothing like filling your place in the labor of this world successfully. If you cannot fill a higher position acceptably and successfully, be content to choose a lower one. There's nothing more creditable in this world than filling a small place in a large way. It is better to be a first rate brick mason than a second rate lawyer. Choose your calling in this world. Prosecute it with all the vigor in your being. With a firm reliance in God and confidence in yourself failure is impossible."

Neither Uncle Tom nor Alfred, in their conversation referred to the sermon at dinner. Several complimented Uncle Tom on his sermon. As Alfred looked across the table at the Uncle, they both smiled. Alfred thought of another sermon he had sat under years previously, and it's his opinion the Uncle had the same thought.

Uncle Tom sleeps in a little church yard in Virginia near the people he loved so well, and that his views broadened in his last years only made him more beloved by those for whom he always faithfully labored, believing in the right as he saw it. He was an honest man, a consistent Christian.



Not hurrying to, not turning from the goal.
Not mourning for the things that disappear
In the dim past, nor holding back in fear
From what the future veils; but with a whole
And happy heart, that pays the toll
To you and age, and travels on with cheer.

Uncle Madison, stage driver, soldier, planter, historian, a gentleman of the old school; versed in the classics and current events, most positive in his deductions. He fought every day and year of the Civil War for the cause of the South. He had labored every day since Appomattox to better the conditions he had been active in unsettling. The soul of honor, as courtly as a king, as keen as a flint, as blunt as a sledge, as tender as a child.

Uncle Madison

Uncle Madison

It was telegraphed all over the country that A. P. Clayton, Mayor of St. Joe, Mo., and Alfred, were behind the bars in Pittsburgh, Pa. Bill Brown telegraphed W. E. Joseph, Masonic Temple, Columbus: "Clayton and Field in jail here, will you help to get them out?" The answer was: "If Clayton and Alfred are in jail, it's where they belong. W. E. Joseph."

Uncle Madison read of it in the newspapers. He reared and charged. "Bill Brown nor no other man could put him in jail without suffering for it." Alfred's explanation did not satisfy Uncle Madison. "It's only Bill's way of having fun with his friends. No one that goes to Pittsburgh but Bill plays some sort of a joke on him. We are glad to get off so easy. We expected him to steal our clothes or have us indicted for bootlegging. Why, there are a number of people in the west—good people—who will not go east via Pittsburgh, fearing Bill's practical jokes."

[517]Pet Clayton, Imperial Potentate of the Shrine, was compelled to visit Pittsburgh in connection with his official duties. Clayton carried Alfred with him as protection. Alfred, in his haste, forgot his dress suit. Arriving in Pittsburgh only a few moments before the ceremonial session, Bill insisted Alfred wear one of his (Bill's) dress suits; that it was the rule of the Temple that all must wear dress suits to gain admission. Bill is wider than Alfred, "thicker through," but not quite as tall. There was too much space everywhere excepting in the length of legs and arms of Bill's dress suit, as it encompassed Alfred. No coaxing or lengthening of the suspenders or pulling at the sleeves could make Alfred look other than ridiculous. After walking from the Ft. Pitt Hotel to the Temple, the suit began to "set" to its new conditions. The legs, seat and sleeves, were drawing up at every breath.

Bill, in introducing the visitors, kindly made apologies for the condition of Clayton, and the appearance of Alfred, explaining that Clayton had just come from Louisville, where he was booked for one night only, but there was more to inspect than he had ever tackled before. He also assured the Nobility that Alfred owned a dress suit but they would not permit him to take it out of Columbus; that the suit Alfred wore was one he had kindly loaned him and he hoped that if anything happened Alfred those assembled would respect the clothes. When Alfred arose the next morning to prepare for the automobile ride the local people had tendered the visitors, his clothes were missing from the room. Bill Brown and the committee were waiting. "Slip on your overcoat; that will hide Bill's old suit. You won't be out of the automobile until you return. This hotel will make that suit good. How much did it cost you?" "Sixty dollars; well, we'll make them buy you a hundred dollar suit."

Every out of town guest, (Shriners) had lost something from their rooms. Harrison Dingman was tugging at an[518] odd pair of shoes, a number eight and a ten, to get ready for the automobile tour. Bill Brown was everywhere consoling the losers, making notes of the losses pretending he wanted to bring suit against the hotel.

Alfred and Clayton were hustled into an automobile under Brown's tender care. As the auto sped on, Clayton remonstrated as to the high speed at which the machine was traveling. Brown was describing the Carnegie Technical School. Clayton, seemingly not interested, bluntly informed Bill he would not ride further at the speed we're going. "I'm too damn good a man to get killed by one of these machines," declared Clayton.

Brown pretended his feelings were injured. Halting the auto as he climbed out backwards, he remarked: "I don't want to annoy you, gentlemen. The educational institution we are now passing is one of the most noted in the world. I supposed you'd be interested in it. It is one of which Pittsburghers are justly proud. We take a young man from the home, pass him through this school and turn him out versed in any profession or trade."

Clayton said something about an institution in St. Joe that took a hog from the pen every minute, passed him through and turned him out every minute, ready for the table. Clayton referred to St. Joe's slaughter houses.

After Brown left the auto there was no slacking of its speed. Both Alfred and Clayton remonstrated with the chauffer. He claimed they were not traveling nearly so rapidly as the machines containing the other guests; that he did not know their destination and must keep in sight of them. As Clayton was insisting that the auto be halted, a policeman threw up his hands, commanding the chauffer to halt, advising all they were arrested for exceeding the speed limit. Clayton quickly informed the officers that we were guests, not the owners of the machine; that we had protested since we entered the park at the high speed; that we were not[519] to blame and should not be arrested. "I'm not here in Pittsburgh to break laws that I instruct my officers to enforce. I am the Mayor of St. Joe and I won't stand for this arrest."

"St. Joe, St. Joe," mused the Irish policeman, "well, uv course, I have no authority to turn yez loose. There may be a St. Joe but I haven't heered uf it. There's so meny new korporations springing up around yere, I exshpect Coryopolis will be havin' a Mayor next an' he'll come in the city an' want to have immunity fur any crime he may commit. No, you nabobs wid dese automobiles must be held in check. Ye kilt two shill-dren and a hog out uv wan family last week."

It's Done Every Day in St. Joe

"It's Done Every Day in St. Joe"

Clayton led the officer behind the machine. Alfred overheard him offer the cop two dollars and to set them up to turn the pair loose. "It's done every day in St. Joe," Clayton confided. The officer shook his head and remarked:

"I'll have tu take yez down. Get in!" and he pointed with his club to the open door of the machine. "Climb in! I'll let yez talk to the sargent." The Mayor of St. Joe and the meek minstrel re-embarked. The officer sat up beside the chauffer, Clayton slinging it into him every foot of the way to the station.

There was a crowd outside the door. "Phwat are they pinched fur?" inquired a ward politician who had a pull, and[520] consequently got a reply from the cops. "Exceedin' the spheed law in the park," replied the officer. "They're from out of town, are they?" "Yis," answered the cop. "The big one claims he's the Mayor of St. Joseph's Academy, er some other place. The other one has thryed to hide hisself in his overcoat."

They were in front of the Sergeant's desk. Alfred whispered to Clayton: "Give a fictitious name." Clayton was arguing the case with the Sergeant. "My name's Clayton. This is Mr. Field, Al. G. Field, of minstrel fame. He lives in Columbus, Ohio, right near you. He is the Potentate of Aladdin Temple, Columbus."

It Will Cost Us Fifty Dollars and Costs

"It Will Cost Us Fifty Dollars and Costs"

"Hold on, Pet, hold on," pleaded Alfred, "I—I—"

"Never mind, Alfred, never mind. Now, I'm the Mayor of a city. I know just how to handle these matters."

"Well, don't give them my name and pedigree. Handle it without that," requested Alfred.

"Put them both together in cell twenty-three and send for the Bertillon officers. I think you'll find their mugs in the Hall of Fame." Clayton advised Alfred the Hall of Fame had reference to the Rogue's Gallery.

[521]Clayton clamored for an opportunity to telephone the Chief of Police, the Director of Public Safety, or some other high mogul. "If I was in St. Joe, I'd be out of here in two minutes," he excitedly declared.

"Of course you would," assented Alfred, "but you're not in St. Joe. You're in jail in Pittsburgh, a shake-down town, and it will cost us fifty and costs, you see if it don't."

"Not on your life it won't. Let me get this fellow on the phone. What's his name? I met him last night. I'll tell him something," said Clayton.

"Do you know him?" meekly inquired Alfred.

"Know him? Hell? Why, I'm well acquainted with him. I had fifty drinks with him last night."

"Well, telephone him quick," urged Alfred.

"Hello, hello! This is Clayton, Clayton, C-l-a-y-t-o-n, Clayton. I met you last night. (Ha-ha-ha). How do you feel? (Oh, all right). Where am I at? No, no! Pet Clayton, Mayor of St. Joe, Imperial Potentate of the—hello—gurgle—gurgle," and Pet hung up the phone. "Well, don't that beat the bugs! Now this fellow knows me but he says he must see me. He only met me last night, he isn't familiar with my voice. I told him who I was but he said I might be all right, but he would come out and investigate."

"It seems to me Bill Brown would come back looking for us. You're the guest of honor."

This reminder riled Clayton up. "I'll attend to Mr. Brown's case. I put him where he is. I'll show him something next session of the Imperial Council."

Just then the jailer thrust a thin loaf of bread part ways between the bars. Alfred and Pet gazed at the bread as it stuck there. In a moment the man sat a thin can of water beside the bread. Clayton endeavored to bribe him to go to a restaurant and bring some real refreshments.

"Phwat wud yez like to eat?"

"Oh, Old Crow or Joe Finch's 'Golden Wedding.'"

[522]"Oh, yez'll git none of those things out here. They wudn't know how to cook them if they had 'em. Yez'd better have some corned beef and cabbage. No, this is Friday, yez can't get that. Salt mackerel is the bhest I can do for yez the day."

Clayton pinched off a crust, with the remark: "I'll eat your bread but damned if I drink your water."

Clayton swore he could buy the police, the police station, the police department or anything else in Pittsburgh, but he wouldn't be shook down. He had endeavored to bribe everyone he came in contact with, but all refused to accept, even the policeman. Pet confidentially informed Alfred, as they sat in the dark, dismal cell, that he knew there wasn't a straight man in Pittsburgh; that being Mayor of St. Joe he had got next to all the grafting cities in the country. "I will admit to you, and you are the first man I ever breathed it to, there is a little, very little, grafting going on in St. Joe." Pet had Pittsburgh people sized up right, but he applied St. Joe prices and they were rejected.

The old janitor seemed to be taken up greatly with the two prisoners. "Yez belongs to some kind of a sacret society, don't yez?" he inquired.

Clayton straightened up to his full height. "Yes, we belong to the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine of North America." Pet rolled off the lengthy title so rapidly the old fellow was astounded. Resting his hands on the cell bars, he gazed admiringly at Clayton fully a half minute, ere he asked: "Are yez Pope of it?" Later it developed the janitor was a captain of police, also a Shriner. He played his part well.

When Bill Brown and McCandless arrived they almost came to blows. Bill swore they were disgraced. Bill endeavored to borrow the fifty dollar fine from both Clayton and Alfred. Failing, he borrowed, or pretended to borrow the amount from McCandless. Clayton and Alfred were liber[523]ated, loaded into an auto, the chauffer ordered to drive slowly to the Work House. When Clayton and Alfred stepped on to the veranda, the doors were flung open. On each side of the long tables there was a row of red fezzes. Under each a Shriner. There was a welcome, and such a welcome as could only be extended by those who at one time or another have been the victims of Bill Brown's practical jokes.

To those who are not intimate with Bill Brown, his sense of humor may appear forced. But his pranks are only the over-flowing exuberance of a great, big, fun-loving man—a big body—but scarcely big enough to contain a heart so filled with love for his fellow man. Alvah P. Clayton thanked the committee, thanked Bill Brown, thanked the police for their kindly consideration in placing him in jail. He stated that visiting the city in his official capacity, he had concluded the duties that called him to Pittsburgh, that he carried on his person money and valuables representing thousands of dollars. He was compelled to remain in the city all day and he felt much safer in jail than loose on the streets of Pittsburgh.

We love men like Bill Brown and Pet Clayton because they are lovable men. Happy is the man who has that in his soul that acts upon the dejected mortal as April showers upon violet roots.

Bill Brown has a motto worked on brass, with steel fish-hooks. It hangs over the mantelpiece in his home, and reads:

"I am an old man; my troubles are many, but most of them never happened."

Alfred has added to this motto: "They mostly happened to others."

Uncle Madison never could understand why Alfred was indifferent as to his arrest. He never could appreciate the sense of humor that influenced Alfred to go to jail for a joke.

[524]Uncle Madison, while on a visit to Alfred, read in the Columbus papers of the different classes of people composing its citizenship. "You have the upper class, the middle class, the lower class." When Uncle Madison was asked if the people of Virginia were not designated by classes, he replied: "No sir! No sir! We only have one class of people in Virginia—the high class. All the others are Republicans."

Uncle Madison declares this is the age of shriek and frenzy, the over-zealous, ambitious politician who gets his ideas from history, going back a little further than most people read, puts them forward as his own.

"The majority of folks, in this the best of countries, believe that the founders of it, knew just about what they were doing when they made out the plans and specifications. If you will read the writings of Jefferson, you will find them as applicable to present conditions as they were the day they were written.

"Alfred I hope you won't be bamboozled by the ravings of demagogues, who constantly preach about the wrongs of the people. You'll find the wrongs that influence them are their own imaginary wrongs. The founders of this country provided for the righting of all wrongs. We can right any wrong at the ballot box. We do not require any new-fangled, or rather old-fangled, ideas warmed over. The man who advocates the so-called Referendum, the Initiative, and particularly, the Recall, is a traitor to the true principles of government as established by our forefathers. We have lived and thrived for more than a hundred years under the best form of government ever devised. If we want to preserve it, if we desire to perpetuate our institutions, the demagogue, the mountebanking politician must be squelched. They ruined every republic of the ancient world and if we don't throttle them they'll ruin ours.

"The self-seeking demagogue starts out with the captivating doctrine, the rule of the people, but his end will be the[525] dangerous despotism of one man rule—the rule of himself. Could you or any reasoning man who has followed the demagogues of this country, for a moment doubt that any one of them, on the slightest pretext or opportunity would make a despot that would shade those of the old world?

"The initiative, the referendum and the recall lend themselves to the demagogues' schemes, and they call it progressiveness. Nothing in government could be more reactionary. It was tried in Greece and it failed. It was tried in ancient Rome and it failed. The political party that's 'agin' the recall, the referendum and the initiative, will win and it deserves to win.

"Socialism, in theory, is a most beautiful dream, an illusion. Socialism, as it is practiced by the discontented and turbulent, is about as near anarchy as we can get. See what they have done wherever they have obtained a foothold. It's un-American; it's unpatriotic; it is against all that a patriotic American citizen holds most sacred. Despite the demagogues who have brought about these conditions, those who love this country, respect its laws and appreciate the advantages it offers to every man willing to work, will triumph. The evolution will never come to revolution.

"The Romans, two thousand years ago, experienced the same troubles we are having. There is a fable comparing the corporeal body to the body politic. Once upon a time the feet became discontented and struck. They refused to be walked upon longer. The legs noted the dissatisfaction of the feet. Although they never had cause for complaint before, they said: 'Well, we will quit also. We will refuse to carry the body around longer.' The stomach said: 'Well, I can't digest food if you refuse to work, so I'll just quit also; besides, I've been working all these years for that aristocrat, the brain. I am down under the table doing the work while the brain is enjoying the wit and gaiety. I want to be up where he is. The brain has been the master long enough.'[526] The brain became stubborn: 'All well and good for you. If that is the manner in which you look upon your duties; if you feel that you have been imposed upon, go your way. I refuse to think for you further.'

"The feet stubbed their toes; their course was irregular; they stepped on broken glass; they swelled up as large as watermelons. The legs, illy nourished, not clothed, became weak and rheumatic, gave way altogether. The stomach, not receiving food, began to ache and cramp. The brain was suffering from the ills that had befallen the stomach, the limbs and the feet. The misery became general. The entire body was suffering, and its sufferings had weakened it greatly.

"After a while they all concluded their only hope to live happily was that one should depend upon the other. It was decided the brain should run things; but the ills brought upon the body had caused so much suffering that it required a length of time until all recovered the condition they were in before the strike—as we will call it. All agreed the brain should have all the powers as before but must consider the other parts of the body as of greater importance than heretofore. This the brain had learned, and further that they were all necessary parts of one great body. And thus they all concluded to go to work together. After the brain put food into the stomach, clothes on the legs, healed the wounds of the feet, it found its sufferings had ceased. The brain learned it must take good care of all parts of the body or it would suffer. Neither one could long exist without the aid of the other.

"God needs all kinds of people in this world. Some represent the brain, others the stomach, more the feet and legs. As Abraham Lincoln said: 'God must love the common people: He made so many of them.'

"Along comes the demagogue. In his zeal to gratify vainglorious ambitions, he endeavors to convince the com[527]mon people that confusion and agitation will right their wrongs.

"They quote from Abraham Lincoln. Let me ask you to compare their speeches and appeals with those of Abraham Lincoln. Do you remember any speech of these modern demagogues in which they have told the common people that they were living in the best country in the world? That they, the common people, had it in their power to relieve themselves of their few wrongs? Do you ever remember one of them telling the dear common people that good government was essential to prosperity? That it was a higher honor to be governed in a republic like ours, than to live in any other country?

"Every human being begins life under control and there is not one in a thousand that ever should live, only under control. Three-fourths of the people in this world never knew they were counted until they get into a mob.

"The demagogues array their hearers against wealth. They leave the impression that all who are so fortunate as to possess a little more of this world's goods than the poorest, are dishonest; that it is dishonorable to be of the moneyed class. They never tell the people it is but natural and necessary that some should be richer than others. These conditions have always prevailed and could only be changed by a gross violation of rights, held inviolate since the beginning of civilization. Since the world began, industry and frugality have been rewarded by wealth.

"These demagogues never tell the people that the opportunities are ever open that have made others rich. They never tell the boys growing up that ten or twenty years hence, they the boys of today, will be the business men, the moneyed class of this country.

"To be prosperous is not to be superior. Wealth should form no barrier between men. The only distinction that should be recognized is as between integrity and corruption.

[528]"The present day fads are only the revival of the brain throbs of demagogues gone before. Read Jewett's translation of politics. Aristotle, who dealt wisely with many momentous questions, designated the initiative, referendum and recall, as the fifth form of democracy, in which not the law but the multitude, have the superior power and supersede the law by their decrees. Homer says that 'it is not good to have a rule of many.'

"As I said before, there will be no revolution. The patriotic people of this country will attend to this. But we will be compelled to do a little deporting and perhaps a little disciplining. The American people will attend to this sooner or later. The red flag has no place in this country. Curb the trusts, curtail combinations in restraint of trade, let all men get an even start in the race and the deserving will win. I am not a rich man; I'm a poor man. I've worked all my life. I am happy and contented. Insofar as riches are concerned, I would like to possess them, but damned if I want them if I've got to rob others who have labored more diligently and with more intelligence than I have."

"Now, Uncle Madison, what's your cure for the political and social upheavals?"

"Patriotism, loyalty to our country, to our flag, to our institutions, to the principles that have made us what we are."

"Uncle Madison, you were a Confederate soldier."

"Yes, and I'm proud of it. I fought for what I believed to be right. We of the south lived under conditions that had grown upon us, been forced upon us; I refer to slavery. I'm not defending slavery, I'm glad it's done, but we had lived under a government that guaranteed to protect our rights and property. No matter if slavery was wrong—was it right for one-half of the people of a country to insist the other half impoverish themselves—give up all their possessions?

[529]"Slavery was handed down to us and—well, there's nothing in threshing this matter over; slavery was the cause of the war, the negro was the issue. If the negro had been a commercial product in the north there would have been no war. The south lost because it was ordained they should lose. That does not lessen my pride in the fact that I fought for the cause I thought was right; we were right in the fact that we fought for the property this government promised to protect us in, and that's just what the north wo