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hand-spring! That *s only a cart-wheel!
Anybody can turn a cart-wheel ! Aw, gee !
Lookee here ! Here *s the way you did."
He demonstrated. " Lookee ! " — and again
he demonstrated. —" That 's a reg'lar hand-
spring."

"Well— I can do it, only my back 's
lame," faltered the abashed Hen. "And
I can skin the cat, too. Can't I, John ? "
You nodded.

" But I 've skun it twice, an' John 's
seen me, have n't you,
John?" shrilly trum-
peted Snoopie.

You nodded confir-
mation to this, also.

" Yep," you said ;
" he did, Hen ; truly he
did."

"Without changin*
hands ? " insisted Hen.
" Of course, "asserted
Snoopie.

Snoopie was ac-
cepted.

Tom Kemp and Nixie
Kemp were organizing
a circus of their own,
but consented to be in
yours if you 'd be in
theirs.

Over Billy Lunt oc-
curred almost a fight,
because a rival com-
pany set up the claim
that he had promised
them ; but by bribe of a
jews'-harp he was won
to your side. Fat Day
was asked chiefly on account of his pair
of white rats, which would prove a valu-
able addition to the prospective menagerie.
" If you '11 lemme be clown, I '11 bring
*em," consented Fat.

" But John he 's clown," explained
Hen.

This was true. Before advertising for
talent. Hen had preempted ringmaster, and
you, clown, as the choice positions, which
was only the part of ordinary discretion.

" I tell you. Fat : you can be fat boy, and
wiggle your ears and make folks laugh,"
suggested Hen, eagerly.

" Uh-uh! If I can't be clown, I won't
be nothin'," declared Fat. " An' you can't
have my white rats, either."



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Hen looked at you dubiously.

" All right. I don't care. Let him/* you
assented moodily, kicking up the dirt with
your toe.

** You can be one clown, Fat, and John '11
be the other," proffered Hen, with fine
diplomacy. "And you and he can make
b'lieve fight, and things. We ought to
have two clowns, you know."

But the glowing picture of the two
clowns did not appeal to Fat's imagina-
tion.

" Naw," he whined. " If anybody else
is goin' to be clown, / don't want to."

Accordingly Fat was awarded the clown-
ship, and you said you 'd just as lief be
contortionist, which he could n't be.

Clowns were really a drug on the mar-
ket. Not a boy but aspired to the chair,
and it required no little tact to steer them
into other lines.

The organization, as finally effected,
v;as as follows :

Hen, ringmaster.

You, contortionist.

Billy, who could hang by his toes and
do other things on the trapeze, and who,
as a tumbler, could stand on his head
(sometimes) without touching his hands.

Tom, who could do things on the tra-
peze, and who was a juggler learning to
keep three balls going in the air.

Nixie, who also could do things on the
trapeze, and who was an aspiring (and



at times almost an ^jcpiring) clothes-line
walker.

Fat, who could wiggle his ears.

Snoopie, indefatigable, marvelous, a ge-
nius of one suspender, whom a special
providence seemed to have endowed.

Menagerie (in prospect) : Don, your
dog; Snap, the Kemps' dog; Lunt's cat;
Fat's white rats; Hen's "bantie" rooster.

A rehearsal was not only imnecessary,
but impracticable as well; that is, a re-
hearsal in company. However, individual
practice went on daily, and not a member
of the troupe but emulated the most daring
feats produced imder Bamum's tent, as
could be testified to by the most casual
observer, and by that emergency Band of
Mercy, the Sisterhood of Mothers, adepts
with court-plaster and needle.

" Oh, John ! " sighed your own mother.
" How do you manage to tear your pants
so ! This is the third time, and in the very
same place ! Can't you be careful ? "

" I 'm practisin' spHts," you offered.

" • Splits ' ? " repeated mother, densely
ignorant.

" Yes. You straddle, and you keep on
straddlin*, and see how near you can come
to sittin' ; and you 've got to get up again
without usin' your hands. There was a
man and woman and little girl and boy no
bigger 'n me in the circus that could go
clear down till they touched. I can 'most
do it."

"John!" exclaimed mother, in horror.



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HOW SNOOPIE BROKE UP THE CIRCUS



895



Then she noted something else. ''And
your waist, too ! *'

You condescended to explain farther.

"Yes; I tumbled off the trapeze when
I was swingin*. Look here ! '* Pulling up
your sleeve, you proudly exhibited an
elbow. It was an elbow that earned you
distinction among yourconurades, although
Nixie had a knee which he boasted was
" skinned " much worse.

The date of the circus was set for Wed-
nesday afternoon, and that morning a
show-bill, tacked upon the
Schmidt front gate-post,
anounced it to all the
world.

All the little girls of the
neighborhood were by turns
flippant and wheedling, and
boys, your rivals, were posi-
tively libelous in their de-
rision.

Schmidt's barn-loft had
long been empty of hay and
tenanted chiefly by spiders
and rats and mice. It was
a splendid place for the
circus, a commodious tent
being lacking.

Throughout the morning
you and Hen, assisted by
your associate performers,
labored like fury, a profound
secrecy enveloping your
operations. No one except
Billy's small brother (he. having sacredly
been sworn " not to tell," an investiture of
confidence that gave him a decided strut)
was admitted to gaze upon the advance
proceedings ; but the noise of hammering
and other preparations was carried afar,
together with a cloud of dust out of the
open loft door.

" Where was your parade ? " asked father
- at noon, when, hot and excited and some-
what grimy, you feverishly attacked your
well-heaped plate.

" Did n't have any," you mumbled.
" Fat would n't let us take his rats out on
the street, 'cause he said they 'd get away ;
and, besides, we did n't have wagons
enough for all the cages."

But to the timid inquiries of the little girls
during the morning you had replied boldly :

" There ain't goin' to be any parade. Of
course there ain't ! Do you s'pose we 're
goin' to let everybody see what we got ? "



At half-past one o'clock the public was
invited to ascend. The ticket-taker was
Billy's small brother aforesaid, and never
was receiving-teller of a national bank
more vigilant or particular.

" You did n't gimme only nine ! " he
would accuse shrilly. " You did n't, either !
You did n't, either ! You 've got to gimme
another pin or you sha'n't come in ! "

" I gave you ten ! I did! I did! Didn't
I, Susie ? You dropped one."

Peace would be restored by the number

being made up through the

■^^.^ prodigality of a friend, and

"^ the ruffled damsel would

pass in.

Your mother and Hen's
mother, and your hired girl
and the Schmidt hired girl,
arrived together, their ap-
pearance causing a flurry
and contributing to the cir-
cus the importance due it.
Mrs. Schmidt panted heavily
after the toilsome climb,—
she was a large, short-winded
woman, — and, choosing a
seat near the door, fanned
herself vigorously.

A few boys, after poking
their heads above the floor
and grinningly surveying the
scene, ended by trooping
in with apologetic and ban-
tering mien. But in the main
the spectators were feminine.

The amphitheater, constructed of boards
laid across boxes, in two lines, slowly filled.
As the etiquette of the profession required
that circus-performers not be seen until
the time for their act, you and Hen and
the other stars remained in close seclusion,
huddled in the dressing-room — the far
comer, veiled by a calico curtain (from the
Schmidt clothes-press) tacked to conve-
nient rafters. Meanwhile the public might
enjoy the collection arrayed at one side of
the loft, where was conspicuously exposed
the sign, in white chalk: "Managerie."

In a soap-box with slats across the front
wrathfully crouched Lunt's gaunt gray
Thomas-cat, who had been rudely awak-
ened from a matutinal slumber in the Lunt
cellar and ignominiously confined. At
regular intervals he uttered an appealing,
protesting " Yow ! " while he glared through
his bars.



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Next to him was Hen's red "bantie,"
also in a soap-box, but more composed.

Then came Don, for whom no cage
procurable was ample enough ; so he was
tied to a nail, which afforded him liberty
to fawn impartially upon old and young,
and occasionally to make frantic endeavors
to reach you in the dressing-room.

Next to him was Snap, the Kemps'
black-and-tan, miserable in close quarters ;
and at the end of the row, quaking in ab-
ject terror over the proximity of so many
enemies, were Fat's precious white rats.

" Is that all the m'nag'rie you kids got ?
Aw, gee I" sneered the invidious boys
among the spectators.



e



"It 's more 'n you got, anyhow ! " you
and Hen retorted from your covert.

"Don't you touch those rats!" com-
manded Fat, with a jealous eye out for
meddling fingers. " They 're my rats."

It was very hard restraining the mem-
bers of the troupe in their quarters until
time was ripe. Fat, his face streaked in
red and white water-colors, and wearing a
costume devised by his mother from large-
figured calico, was wild to exhibit himself ;
and Snoopie, bursting with prowess, de-
manded careful watching or he would
anticipate the program.

" Stay in here, dam you ! You 've all
got to wait till the ringmaster says to
come."

" Let go of me, will you ! "

"You sha'n't go out! 'T ain't your
circus ! "

"Who 'sgoin' out!"

Signs of revolt manifested themselves.

" Why don't you begin ? "

" Gee, I 'm hot ! "

" If you don't begin pretty soon I 'm
goin' home, and I '11 take my rats, too! "

So, urged from behind. Ringmaster Hen
stalked forth and announced :

" We 're ready to begin now."

He swaggered and magnificently
cracked his whip — a treasure consisting
of a double length of leather lash, cut by
the shoemaker from a square of oak calf,
with a twine snapper and a skilfully whit-
tled stock.

Fat Day, needing no second summons.



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HOW SNOOPIE BROKE UP THE CIRCUS



897



•^#"1/^"



immediately bolted out. He
gamboled and pranced and
grimaced and " wiggled " his
ears, to the applause of the
amphitheater and the tre-
mendous excitement of the
menagerie.

" Ltmfm / It 's my turn ! "
besought Snoopie.

"No, \em//if/" implored
Nixie.

"You said /could go first,
did n't you, John ? " reminded
Billy.

Privately, you thought that
the honor should be yours;
but you waived your rights
as proprietor and decreed:

"Yes, let Billy go first,
'cause I promised."

Out went Billy and distin-
guished himself by all the
feats in his repertoire, after
each one saluting with the expansive ges-
ture of the real professional. Having ex-
hausted the trapeze, and having poised
for a breathless instant on his head, he
finished by vaulting over three saw-horses,
in lieu of elephants, and plunging into the
dressing-room.

"Now I'm goin'," asserted Snoopie.

" Naw ; it 's my turn ! " opposed Tom
and Nixie together.

But Snoopie shoved between them and
past you, and was in the ring.

Snoopie Mitchell, ragged, wandering,
independent, but at times
despised Snoopie, was as
one inspired. Never be-
fore had he such a circle
of witnesses, and the wine
went to his brain.

He flip-flopped frontward clear across
the loft from the dressing-room comer into
Mrs. Schmidt's lap, and flip-flopped back-
ward to the dressing-room again, and
bowed. He walked about on his hands,
and bowed. He stood on his head (" That
ain't fair!" called Billy. "I did that!")
longer than Billy did, and while in that
position spit, besides, and bowed. He did
the " splits " farther than you could, and
kissed his hand, while the spectators mur-
mured various acknowledgments of his
posture.

He rubbed his palms and lightly sprang
to the trapeze dangling from the beam.



Iff skinned the cat, but he
skinned it twice, and half into
the third, and impishly hung
poised, while his shoulder-
joints cracked and the
Schmidt hired girl moaned:
" Howly saints! "
He hung by his toes and
threw wide his arms; but,
suddenly letting go, with pre-
conceived adroitness fell on
his back, amidst muflled
shrieks.

He chinned himself, but
he did it ten times.

" Come in now ! That 's
enough ! " you ordered.

He obeyed you not. In-
stead, he hung by his knees ;
he hung by one elbow and
swayed and kicked ; he strad-
►w ' ^ . V^ died the bar and went around
it faster and faster ; and with
feet between hands, soles against it, he
went around that way, too.

In the dressing-room reigned despair
and lamentation.

" 'T ain't fair ! " wailed Tom, hotly. " I
was goin' to do some of those things
myself."

" So was I ! " declared Nixie.

Snoopie was now juggling balls while



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traversing the official tight rope stretched
between two of the saw-horses.

" Make him come in, Hen ! " you called.

Hen snapped his whip at Snoopie's bare
legs, and brought him to the boards.

"Quit, will you!" snarled Snoopie.
" Don't you go whippin' me^ or I '11 paste
you!"

"You darned old fool! " you scolded.

He wiggled his ears —wiggled them
much more than Fat could his— and
twitched his scalp, accommodatingly turn-
ing to right and to left so that all might
see.

Then, breathless, crimson, perspiring,
he walked on his hands into the dressing-
room.

"What did you do all that for?" de-
manded you, angrily.

" Do what ? " retorted Snoopie. " /
did n't do nothin'! What 's the matter
with you kids, anyhow ? "

" You did, too ! " berated Nixie. " You
showed off an' spoilt everything. / ain't
goin' out."

"Don't you — an' we won't, either!"
chorused Tom and Billy.

" Oh, Jock ! Fat 's got his rats and he 's
takin' 'em away with him ! " announced
Hen.

" You come back, there, Fat ! Darn you I
bring them back! "you cried, rushing to
the rescue.

Too late. Fat was stamping rebelliously
down the stairs. The disintegration of
Schmidt & Walker's United Shows,
through jealousy, had begun.



"Are n't you fellows comin' out?"
queried Hen.

"Uh-uh! 'T ain't any fun/' grunted
Billy, spokesman.

• " They say they won't play any more,"
you reported to Hen.

" I guess that 's all, then," stated Hen
to the spectators.

With high hoots from the boys, and a
rustling of dresses from the ladies, the am-
phitheater was emptied.

"/did n't do nothin*," insisted Snoopie,
grinning. " You needn'tgotoblamin* w^ / "

But nobody answered him ; and with a
derisive, "Ya-a-a! Your old show ain't
worth shucks!" he scampered below, to
join riotous, admiring spirits elsewhere.

" How was the circus ? '' asked father, po-
litely, at supper.

"Aw, Snoopie Mitchell spoilt it," you
accused.

" What was the matter with Snoopie ? "

" Why, he went and did everything
'fore the rest had any chance— did n't he,
mama ! " you asserted.

" Is that so ? "

Father glanced at mother, and they
exchanged a subtle smile.

" What 's become of the receipts ? " he
inquired.

You did not comprehend.

" Papa means the pins you took in,"
explained mother.

"Oh, I dunno," you responded, your
chief interest just now being in your dish
of strawberries.



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Drawn by Ocurge Wnglit. Halltone plate ciigraved by (<. M. l.cwiit

PASSING THE CAVALCADE WITH A FRIENDLY NOD



THE CONQUEROR OF BARNEY
THE BALKY

BY ELIZABETH HYER NEFF

wi I'M PRi ukKs BY (;kc)R(;k wrich r



\ YELLOW road wound through the
l\ pretty round saucer of valley that lay
in the hollow of the hills, cutting in twain
its richcom-fieldsand meandering leisurely
up the easy slope of Mount Hazy. At the
moment when the sun rested on the tip
of the opposite hill and shot vivid orange
darts through the opalescent mist that
filled the valley, a young man checked
his horse on the tip of Mount Hazy and
glanced down upon the landscape. Then
he gazed. It was not the splendor of the
sunrise that caught his eyes, nor yet the
promise of the stately corn, but a group
that had halted at the foot of the hill be-
fore him. Gazing at it, he collapsed upon
his pommel in silent laughter. When he
had looked again and laughed, he started
his horse and rode down the hill, passing



the rear vehicle with a friendly nod to one
of its occupants.

A large-boned, speckled gray horse stood
motionless at the foot of the hill, with his
big fore feet planted with the fixedness of
a balky horse. He was hitched to a light
farm wagon filled with fruit and vegetables
for market, and tied to the rear of this was
a low, old-fashioned buggy in which sat
two women, with patient acceptance of
the situation. The older woman utilized
the time by knitting a rag rug, while her
pretty niece sat bareheaded, trimming the
hat that she intended to wear to town
when the horse elected to take her there.
She returned the young man's greeting
with a shy nod. Her aunt looked back
after him with keen eyes.

" Who was he. Delight ? " she asked.



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•DAVE TURNED A LOOK OF KEEN INQUIRY UPON HER"

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THE CONQUEROR OF BARNEY THE BALKY



901



"Him? Oh, why — why— he 's— he *s
a young fellow that goes to the Sunday-
school. He was at the picnic, too, and at
Em Barnes's party."

"Um-m'm! And you don't know his
name! Is n't your hat 'most done? By
the time I knit out this strip I reckon
Barney '11 be over his spell."

"My hat is done now," replied the girl,
quickly, glad of the change of subject.

Miss Claypoole's wooden needles rattled
vigorously as she ended the gay strip ; then
she got out of the buggy and climbed to
the high seat of the wagon in front, and
untying the reins, clucked to Barney.

But Barney's mood was not yet pro-
pitious, and he stood.

** Seems to me like he 's gettin' slower
this summer," Miss Cynthia called back
to Delight. " Time was when 1 could get
him started in half or three quarters of an
hour, but, I declare to goodness, he stands
a good hour every time this summer. We '11
have to allow fifteen minutes more for
him."

" If we humor him like that, he '11 get
us to startin' the night before and campin'
on the way," retorted the girl, putting on
her new hat by a tiny mirror from her
chatelaine.

'* Come on, Barney I (lit up, now!
Shame on you for keepin' us like this I ( lit
up ! Git up ! "

The tolerant impatience of her tone
miLst have appealed to Barney at last, for
he switched his tail, bobbed his head, blew
his nose, and— started. It was late after-
noon when they reached the same spot on
returning, Barney, with high head, trotting
solidly, a different horse, indeed, from the
one that had taken root there in the morn-
ing. At the foot of the slope they encoun-
tered the same young man who had met
'them in the morning. Again he exchanged
a bashful greeting with the girl ; again Miss
Cynthia's all-seeing eyes measured him.

" Seems like 1 ought to know that fellow.
Where does he come from, Delight ? "

" I think he lives round on the river road,
the other side of the hill."

" Oh, does he ? Then he must favor
somebody I know, for 1 never go that
way. But it does seem — you 're sure
you ain't never heard his name ? "

" I never said I did n't know his name,"
said Delight, unsteadily, as a white line
set about her lips. " 1 do know it."



There was a flash of intelligence in Miss
Cynthia's brown face.

" And what might it be ? " she asked.

"It 's— why, his name is— he is — John
Ransome."

Miss Cynthia turned her face quickly
toward the other side of the road.

" (iit up, Barney ! ( Jit up ! " she clucked,
slapping him with the reins, although Bar-
ney was devouring the road at a noble gait.
When he had plunked across the little
wooden bridge, she turned again to the girl.

" Well, I reckon he don't know that he
dassent speak to you-all, or he would n't
do it. The Ransomes and us ain't never
been on terms since my father and old
Jimmy Ransome, that 's dead and gone
these many years, had a fuss about the
boundary fence. I never told you about
it, because I don't beHeve in keepin' a con-
tinual rumpus about anything ; but 1 do
respect my father's memory enough not to
make up to them that insulted him in his
lifetime. The next time you meet that
young man you 'd just better not speak to
him at all."

The white line about Delight's mouth
widened, and the hot color went out of her
cheeks. She did not answer, and her aunt
looked at her sidewise again.

" Vou have n't been speakin' to him
very much, I reckon ? " she pursued, with
a little softening of her hard tones.

" Yes ; he used to go to school when I
did," was the answer, in a hopeless tone.
"I did n't know then that— that it was
v/icked to. The girls told me and the boys
told him. P^verybody knowed it but us."

"(lit up, Barney!" said Miss Cynthia,
crossly. *' Does seem like this horse is so
slow here lately that we 're 'most always
on the road, (lit up, sir I Now move your
lazy bones, or I actually will whip you with
the whip, so 1 will."

Yet Barney was really making his very
best time!

The same young man met them in the
same place the next week. Miss Cynthia
had finished her rug and was making but-
tonholes in a coarse blue shirt for the boy
she had taken to bring up, and Delight
was reading a novel. It was never Delight
who was doing the rough things.

When the young man had passed them
a little way he picked up something from
the road and brought it back. It was Miss
Cynthia's reticule.



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'A STRANGE STRUCTURE WAS RISING OVER BARNEY"



" I 'd like to know how it fell out in the
road when it was pinned to my skirt,"
grumbled Miss Cynthia, with a suspicious
glance.

" It 's going to be a fine day," ventured
the youth, and Delight agreed with him.

" You must lose a heap of time with
your horse. We had a horse that balked
once, and I cured him. I 'd like to try
yours; I believe I could get him over
it."

" No, you could n't," retorted Miss
Cynthia, with crushing grimness. " Bar-
ney 's too old, and I won't have no fire
built under him nor no salt shot into him."
And she looked at Barney with eyes fierce
enough to have stung him to flight as she
got out of the buggy and climbed up to
the high wagon-seat. But Barney was in
some happy day-dream and refused to
budge for twenty minutes or more, al-
though his mistress shook the reins over
his back and almost put her hand on the
whip. John Ransome was Hkewise im-
movable at the side of the buggy.

When this had happened some eight or
nine times in succession, and he always
seemed to find something in the road that
belonged to them and gave a chance for
conversation. Miss Cynthia began to have
a worried look. At last she was moved to
speech.

"If that young fellow don't stop bother-
in' the life out of a body, I '11— well, I '11
hev to try Barney at the plow and drive
General Grant to town. I did try Barney
oncet, and he balked half an hour at the



end of every furrow. Land ! can't a body
have a minute's peace on this earth ? "

" But, Aunt Cynthy, he don't hurt you
—and the road is free."

"That 's the trouble; the road is free.
It 's that Barney's doin'. I '11 hev to take
General Grant out of the wheat-field, and
we '11 see where the young man gets left.
I '11 send for Dave Johnson to come up
with his team and help out with the seed-
in', I 'm so late on account of the rains.
He 's a relation of mine, and I heard the
other day that he 'd been burnt out and
had no end of hard luck."

Delight looked up in surprise. She was
crocheting a bead purse.

"Why, Aunt Cynthy, I thought it was
the Johnsons that had the lawsuit against
you and beat you."

" So it was, and I never spoke to any of
them since. But Dave is a pretty likely
sort of man ; he hed the grit to run off
with my cousin Mary Selina and marry
her, and a man that '11 take the girl he
wants, whether or no, is right smart of a
man. Yes, I 'm goin' to send for Dave
Johnson to finish the seedin'."

Delight's head bent suddenly to conceal
the bright color that flamed in her face,
and her hands trembled so that she spilled
the beads hopelessly into the dust. Even
the willing fingers of John Ransome, whose
approach had occasioned the outburst,
could not find them.

" Miss Cynthy," said the brave young
voice, " I really would like to try a hand
on Barney. 1 promise not to hurt him the



Online LibraryA. B. (Alfred Barton) RendleThe Century → online text (page 111 of 120)