Japhet, in Search of a Father eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 546 pages of information about Japhet, in Search of a Father.
a lady who was her mamma—­and a mulberry-tree, where she stained her frock; sometimes other things came to her memory, and then she forgot them again.  From this it was evident that she had been stolen, and was probably of good parentage; certainly, if elegance and symmetry of person and form, could prove blood, it never was more marked than in this interesting child.  Her abode with the gipsies, and their peculiar mode of life and manners, had rendered her astonishingly precocious in intellect; but of education she had none, except what was instilled into her by Melchior, whom she always accompanied when he assumed his character as a juggler.  She then danced on the slack wire, at the same time performing several feats in balancing, throwing of oranges, &c.  When Melchior was under other disguises, she remained in the camp with Nattee.

Of Num, or Philotas, as Melchior thought proper to call him, I have already spoken.  He was a half-witted idiot, picked up in one of Melchior’s excursions, and as he stated to me, so did it prove to be the fact, that when on the stage, and questioned as a fool, his natural folly, and idiotical vacancy of countenance, were applauded by the spectators as admirably assumed.  Even at the alehouses and taverns where we stopped, every one imagined that all his folly was pretence, and looked upon him as a very clever fellow.  There never was, perhaps, such a lachrymose countenance as this poor lad’s, and this added still more to the mirth of others, being also considered as put on for the occasion.  Stephen Kemble played Falstaff without stuffing—­Num played the fool without any effort or preparation.  Jumbo was also “picked up;” this was not done by Melchior, who stated, that any body might have him who claimed him; he tumbled with the fool upon the stage, and he also ate pudding to amuse the spectators—­the only part of the performance which was suited to Jumbo’s taste, for he was a terrible little glutton, and never lost any opportunity of eating, as well as of sleeping.

And now, having described all our new companions, I must narrate what passed between Melchior and me, the day after our joining the camp.  He first ran through his various professions, pointing out to me that as juggler he required a confederate, in which capacity I might be very useful, as he would soon instruct me in all his tricks.  As a quack doctor he wanted the services of both Tim and myself in mixing up, making pills, &c., and also in assisting him in persuading the public of his great skill.  As a fortune-teller, I should also be of great service, as he would explain to me hereafter.  In short, he wanted a person of good personal appearance and education, in whom he might confide in every way.  As to Tim, he might be made useful if he chose, in various ways; amongst others, he wished him to learn tumbling and playing the fool, when, at times, the fool was required to give a shrewd answer on any point on which he would wish the public to be made acquainted.  I agreed to my own part of the performance, and then had some conversation with Timothy, who immediately consented to do his best in what was allotted as his share.  Thus was the matter quickly arranged, Melchior observing, that he had said nothing about remuneration, as I should find that trusting to him was far preferable to stipulated wages.

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Japhet, in Search of a Father from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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