The Show Strikes Virginia
and the Educated Ourang Outang Has the
Whooping Cough—The Bad Boy Plays the Part of a Monkey, but They
Forget to Pin on a Tail.
Well, I have broke the show all to pieces, just by not being able to stand grief. Everything is all balled up, the managers are sore at me, and afraid of being sent to jail, and pa thinks I ought to be mauled.
It was this way: When we left Washington we cut loose from every home tie, and plunged into Virginia, and the trouble began at once. We met a lawyer on the train, on the way to Richmond, and fed him in our dining car, and got him acquainted with all the performers and freaks, and he told us that we would have to be careful in Virginia, ’cause all the white people were first families and aristocratic, and if any man about our show should fail to be polite to the white people they would be shot or lynched, but if we wanted to shoot niggers the game laws were not very strict about it, ’cause the open season on niggers run the year around, but you couldn’t shoot white people only two months in the year. He said another thing that scared pa and the managers. He said that if a traveling show did not perform all it advertised the owners were liable to go to state prison for 20 years, and that each town had men on the lookout to see that shows didn’t advertise what they didn’t carry out.
Pa and the managers held a consultation, and couldn’t find that we advertised anything that we didn’t have, except the ourang outang that we took on at New York, which eats and dresses like a man, ’cause that animal got whooping cough in Delaware and had to be sent to a hospital, but we heard he was well again and would join the show in a week. Pa asked the Richmond lawyer how it would be if one of the animals that was advertised was sick and couldn’t perform, and he told pa the people would mob the show if anything was left out.
When we got to Richmond the whole population, principally niggers, was at the lot when we put up the tents, and everybody wanted to catch a sight of Dennis, the ourang outang, and the posters all over town that pictured Dennis smoking cigarettes with a dress suit on, and eating with a knife and fork and a napkin tucked under his chin, were surrounded by crowds. It was plain that all the people cared for was to see the monk.
The managers held a council of war and decided the show would be ruined if we didn’t make a bluff at having an ourang outang, so it was decided that I was to be dressed up in Dennis’ clothes, and put on a monkey mask, and go through his stunt at the afternoon performance.
Gee, but I hated to do it, but pa said the fate of the show depended on it and if I didn’t take the part he would have to do it himself, and I knew pa wasn’t the build of man to play the monkey, and so I said I would do it, but I will never do it again for any show. The wardrobe woman fixed my up like Dennis, and I had seen him go through his stunt so often I thought I could imitate him, and of course there was no talking to do, but just to grunt once in awhile, the way Dennis did, and have an animal look.