Ma wanted to know if there was any law to compel pa to dress like that, ’cause he looked as though he was a gambler or a train robber. Pa says that a circus proprietor has got to look different from anybody else, in order to inspire fear and respect on the part of the hands around the show, as well as the audiences that flock to the arena, and he asked ma if she didn’t remember old Dan Rice, and old John Robinson. Ma didn’t remember them, but she remembered Barnum, because Barnum lectured on temperance, and she said she hoped pa would emulate Barnum’s example, and pa said he would, and then he took a watch chain with links as big as a trace chain and spread it across his checkered vest, from one pocket to the other, with a life-size gold elk hanging down the middle, and ma almost had a convulsion.
Gee, but if pa wears that rig in the menagerie tent the animals will paw and bellow like a drove of cattle that smell blood. Pa is going to wear a sack coat with his outfit, so as to look tough, and he wouldn’t hear to ma when she tried to get him to wear a frock coat. He said a frock coat was all right in society or among the crowned heads, but when you have to mingle with lions and elephants one minute that would snatch the tail off a coat and chew it and the next minute you are mixed up with a bunch of freaks or a lot of bareback riders or trapeze performers, you have got to compromise on a coat that will fit any climate, and not cause invidious remarks, whatever that is.
I will have to stand up beside the giant once in a while to show the difference in the size of men, and at other times I will have to stand beside the midgets and look like a giant myself. We are all packed up, and in two days we start for the winter quarters of the show, to pound it into shape for the road. By ginger, I can’t hardly wait to get there and see pa boss things.
The Bad Boy Visits the Circus
in Winter Quarters—He Meets the
Circus Performers—Dad Rides a Horse and Gets Tossed in a
Blanket—The Bad Boy Goes “Kangarooing”—Pa’s Clothes Cause
Excitement Among the Animals—A Monkey Steals His Watch.
April 15.—We are now at the winter quarters of the show, in a little town, on a farm just outside, where the tent is put up and the animals are being cared for in barns, and the performers are limbering up their joints, wearing overcoats to turn flip-flaps, and everybody has a cold, and looks blue, and all are anxious for warm weather.
Pa created a sensation when we arrived by his stunning clothes, his jet black chin whiskers and his watch chain over his checkered vest, and when the proprietors introduced pa to the performers and hands, as an old stockholder in the show, who would act as assistant manager during the season and pa smiled on them with a frown on his forehead, and said he hoped his relations with them would be pleasant, one of the old canvasmen remarked to a girl who rides two horses at once with the horses strapped together, so they can’t get too far apart and cause her to break in two, said that old goat with the silk hat would last just about four weeks, and that he reminded the canvasman of a big dog which barked at people as though he would eat them, and at the same time wagged his tail, so people would not think he was so confounded dangerous.