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Danny's Own Story By Don Marquis Characters: 22796

Updated: 2017-11-28 00:07


Well, all the lammings Hank laid on never done me any good. It seemed like I was jest natcherally cut out to have no success in life, and no amount of whaling could change it, though Hank, he was faithful. Before I was twelve years old the hull town had seen it, and they wasn't nothing else expected of me except not to be any good.

That had its handy sides to it, too. They was lots of kids there that had to go to school, but Hank, he never would of let me done that if I had ast him, and I never asted. And they was lots of kids considerably bothered all the time with their parents and relations. They made 'em go to Sunday School, and wash up reg'lar all over on Saturday nights, and put on shoes and stockings part of the time, even in the summer, and some of 'em had to ast to go in swimming, and the hull thing was a continuous trouble and privation to 'em. But they wasn't nothing perdicted of me, and I done like it was perdicted. Everybody 'lowed from the start that Hank would of made trash out'n me, even if I hadn't showed all the signs of being trash anyhow. And if they was devilment anywhere about that town they all says, "Danny, he done it." And like as not I has. So I gets to be what you might call an outcast. All the kids whose folks ain't trash, their mothers tells 'em not to run with me no more. Which they done it all the more fur that reason, on the sly, and it makes me more important with them.

But when I gets a little bigger, all that makes me feel kind o' bad sometimes. It ain't so handy then. Fur folks gets to saying, when I would come around:

"Danny, what do YOU want?"

And if I says, "Nothing," they would say:

"Well, then, you get out o' here!"

Which they needn't of been suspicioning nothing like they pertended they did, fur I never stole nothing more'n worter millions and mush millions and such truck, and mebby now and then a chicken us kids use to roast in the woods on Sundays, and jest as like as not it was one of Hank's hens then, which I figgered I'd earnt it.

Fur Hank, he had streaks when he'd work me considerable hard. He never give me any money fur it. He loafed a lot too, and when he'd loaf I'd loaf. But I did pick up right smart of handiness with tools around that there shop of his'n, and if he'd ever of used me right I might of turned into a purty fair blacksmith. But it wasn't no use trying to work fur Hank. When I was about fifteen, times is right bad around the house fur a spell, and Elmira is working purty hard, and I thinks to myself:

"Well, these folks has kind o' brung you up, and you ain't never done more'n Hank made you do. Mebby you orter stick to work a little more when they's a job in the shop, even if Hank don't."

Which I tried it fur about two or three years, doing as much work around the shop as Hank done and mebby more. But it wasn't no use. One day when I'm about eighteen, I seen awful plain I'll have to light out from there. They was a circus come to town that day. I says to Hank:

"Hank, they is a circus this afternoon and agin to-night."

"So I has hearn," says Hank.

"Are you going to it?" says I.

"I mout," says Hank, "and then agin I moutn't. I don't see as it's no consarns of yourn, nohow." I knowed he was going, though. Hank, he never missed a circus.

"Well," I says, "they wasn't no harm to ast, was they?"

"Well, you've asted, ain't you?" says Hank.

"Well, then," says I, "I'd like to go to that there circus myself."

"They ain't no use in me saying fur you not to go," says Hank, "fur you would go anyhow. You always does go off when you is needed."

"But I ain't got no money," I says, "and I was going to ast you could you spare me half a dollar?"

"Great Jehosephat!" says Hank, "but ain't you getting stuck up! What's the matter of you crawling in under the tent like you always done? First thing I know you'll be wanting a pair of these here yaller shoes and a stove-pipe hat."

"No," says I, "I ain't no dude, Hank, and you know it. But they is always things about a circus to spend money on besides jest the circus herself. They is the side show, fur instance, and they is the grand concert afterward. I calkelated I'd take 'em all in this year-the hull dern thing, jest fur oncet."

Hank, he looks at me like I'd asted fur a house 'n' lot, or a million dollars, or something like that. But he don't say nothing. He jest snorts.

"Hank," I says, "I been doing right smart work around the shop fur two, three years now. If you wasn't loafing so much you'd a noticed it more. And I ain't never ast fur a cent of pay fur it, nor-"

"You ain't wuth no pay," says Hank. "You ain't wuth nothing but to eat vittles and wear out clothes."

"Well," I says, "I figger I earn my vittles and a good 'eal more. And as fur as clothes goes, I never had none but what Elmira made out'n yourn."

"Who brung you up?" asts Hank.

"You done it," says I, "and by your own say-so you done a dern poor job at it."

"You go to that there circus," says Hank, a-flaring up, "and I'll lambaste you up to a inch of your life. So fur as handing out money fur you to sling it to the dogs, I ain't no bank, and if I was I ain't no ijut. But you jest let me hear of you even going nigh that circus lot and all the lammings you has ever got, rolled into one, won't be a measly little sarcumstance to what you WILL get. They ain't no leather-faced young upstart with weepin'-willow hair going to throw up to me how I brung him up. That's gratitood fur you, that is!" says Hank. "If it hadn't of been fur me giving you a home when I found you first, where would you of been now?"

"Well," I says, "I might of been a good 'eal better off. If you hadn't of took me in the Alexanderses would of, and then I wouldn't of been kep' out of school and growed up a ignoramus like you is."

"I never had no trouble keeping you away from school, I notice," says Hank, with a snort. "This is the first I ever hearn of you wanting to go there."

Which was true in one way, and a lie in another. I hadn't never wanted to go till lately, but he'd of lammed me if I had of wanted to. He always said he would. And now I was too big and knowed it.

Well, Hank, he never give me no money, so I watches my chancet that afternoon and slips in under the tent the same as always. And I lays low under them green benches and wiggled through when I seen a good chancet. The first person I seen was Hank. Of course he seen me, and he shook his fist at me in a promising kind of way, and they wasn't no trouble figgering out what he meant. Fur a while I didn't enjoy that circus to no extent. Fur I was thinking that if Hank tries to lick me fur it I'll fight him back this time, which I hadn't never fit him back much yet fur fear he'd pick up something iron around the shop and jest natcherally lay me cold with it.

I got home before Hank did. It was nigh sundown, and I was waiting in the door of the shop fur Elmira to holler vittles is ready, and Hank come along. He didn't waste no time. He steps inside the shop and he takes down a strap and he says:

"You come here and take off your shirt."

But I jest moves away. Hank, he runs in on me, and he swings his strap. I throwed up my arm, and it cut me acrost the knuckles. I run in on him, and he dropped the strap and fetched me an openhanded smack plumb on the mouth that jarred my head back and like to of busted it loose. Then I got right mad, and I run in on him agin, and this time I got to him, and wrastled with him.

Well, sir, I never was so surprised in all my life before. Fur I hadn't had holt on him more'n a minute before I seen I'm stronger than Hank is. I throwed him, and he hit the ground with considerable of a jar, and then I put my knee in the pit of his stomach and churned it a couple. And I thinks to myself what a fool I must of been fur better'n a year, because I might of done this any time. I got him by the ears and I slammed his head into the gravel a few times, him a-reaching fur my throat, and a-pounding me with his fists, but me a-taking the licks and keeping holt. And I had a mighty contented time fur a few minutes there on top of Hank, chuckling to myself, and batting him one every now and then fur luck, and trying to make him holler it's enough. But Hank is stubborn and he won't holler. And purty soon I thinks, what am I going to do? Fur Hank will be so mad when I let him up he'll jest natcherally kill me, without I kill him. And I was scared, because I don't want neither one of them things to happen. Whilst I was thinking it over, and getting scareder and scareder, and banging Hank's head harder and harder, some one grabs me from behind.

They was two of them, and one gets my collar and one gets the seat of my pants, and they drug me off'n him. Hank, he gets up, and then he sets down sudden on a horse block and wipes his face on his sleeve, which they was considerable blood come onto the sleeve.

I looks around to see who has had holt of me, and it is two men. One of them looks about seven feet tall, on account of a big plug hat and a long white linen duster, and has a beautiful red beard. In the road they is a big stout road wagon, with a canopy top over it, pulled by two hosses, and on the wagon box they is a strip of canvas. Which I couldn't read then what was wrote on the canvas, but I learnt later it said, in big print:

SIWASH INDIAN SAGRAW. NATURE'S UNIVERSAL MEDICINAL SPECIFIC. DISCOVERED BY DR. HARTLEY L. KIRBY AMONG THE ABORIGINES OF OREGON.

On account of being so busy, neither Hank nor me had hearn the wagon come along the road and stop. The big man in the plug hat, he says, or they was words to that effect, jest as serious:

"Why are you mauling the aged gent?"

"Well," says I, "he needed it considerable."

"But," says he, still more solemn, "the good book says to honour thy father and thy mother."

"Well," I says, "mebby it does and mebby it don't. But HE ain't my father, nohow. And he ain't been getting no more'n his come-uppings."

"Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord," the big man remarks, very serious. Hank, he riz up then, and he says:

"Mister, be you a preacher? 'Cause if you be, the sooner you have druv on, the better fur ye. I got a grudge agin all preachers."

That feller, he jest looks Hank over ca'am and easy and slow before he answers, and he wrinkles up his face like he never seen anything like Hank before. Then he fetches a kind o' aggervating smile, and he says:

"Beneath a shady chestnut tree

The village blacksmith stands.

The smith, a pleasant soul is he

With warts upon his hands-"

He stares at Hank hard and solemn and serious while he is saying that poetry at him. Hank fidgets and turns his eyes away. But the feller touches him on the breast with his finger, and makes him look at him.

"My honest friend," says the feller, "I am NOT a preacher. Not right now, anyhow. No! My mission is spreading the glad tidings of good health. Look at me," and he swells his chest up, and keeps a-holt of Hank's eyes with his'n. "You behold before you the discoverer, manufacturer, and proprietor of Siwash Indian Sagraw, nature's own remedy for Bright's Disease, rheumatism, liver and kidney trouble, catarrh, consumption, bronchitis, ring-worm, erysipelas, lung fever, typhoid, croup, dandruff, stomach trouble, dyspepsia-" And they was a lot more of 'em.

"Well," says Hank, sort o' backing up as the big man come nearer and nearer to him, jest natcherally bully-ragging him with them eyes, "I got none of them there complaints."

The doctor he kind o' snarls, and he brings his hand down hard on Hank's shoulder, and he says:

"There are more things betwixt Dan and Beersheba than was ever dreamt of in thy sagacity, Romeo!" Or they was words to that effect, fur that doctor was jest plumb full of Scripter quotations. And he sings out sudden, giving Hank a shove that nearly pushes him over: "Man alive!" he yells, "you DON'T KNOW what disease you may have! Many's the strong man I've seen rejoicing in his strength at the dawn of day cut down like the grass in the field before sunset," he says.

Hank, he's trying to look the other way, but that doctor won't let his eyes wiggle away from his'n. He says very sharp:

"Stick out your tongue!"

Hank, he sticks her out.

The doctor, he takes some glasses out'n his pocket and puts 'em on, and he fetches a long look at her. Then he opens his mouth like he was going to say something, and shuts it agin like his feelings won't let him. He puts his arm across Hank's shoulder affectionate and sad, and then he turns his head away like they was some one dead in the fambly. Finally, he says:

"I thought so. I saw it. I saw it in your eyes when I first drove up. I hope," he says, very mournful, "I haven't come too late!"

Hank, he turns pale. I was getting sorry fur Hank myself. I seen now why I licked him so easy. Any one could of told from that doctor's actions Hank was as good as a dead man already. But Hank, he makes a big effort, and he says:

"Shucks! I'm sixty-eight years old, doctor, and I hain't never had a sick day in my life." But he was awful uneasy too.

The doctor, he says to the feller with him: "Looey, bring me one of the sample size."

Looey brung it, the doctor never taking his eyes off'n Hank. He handed it to Hank, and he says:

"A whiskey glass full three times a day, my friend, and there is a good chance for even you. I give it to you, without money and without price."

"But what have I got?" asts Hank.

"You have spinal meningitis," says the doctor, never batting an eye.

"Will this here cure me?" says Hank.

"It'll cure ANYTHING," says the doctor.

Hank he says, "Shucks," agin, but he took the bottle and pulled the cork out and smelt it, right thoughtful. And what them fellers had stopped at our place fur was to have the shoe of the nigh hoss's off hind foot nailed on, which it was most ready to drop off. Hank, he done it fur a regulation, dollar-size bottle and they druv on into the village.

Right after supper I goes down town. They was in front of Smith's Palace Hotel. They was jest starting up when I got there. Well, sir, that doctor was a sight. He didn't have his duster onto him, but his stove-pipe hat was, and one of them long Prince Alferd coats nearly to his knees, and shiny shoes, but his vest was cut out holler fur to show his biled shirt, and it was the pinkest shirt I ever see, and in the middle of that they was a diamond as big as Uncle Pat Hickey's wen, what was one of the town sights. No, sir; they never was a man with more genuine fashionableness sticking out all over him than Doctor Kirby. He jest fairly wallered in it.

I hadn't paid no pertic'ler attention to the other feller with him when they stopped at our place, excepting to notice he was kind of slim and blackhaired and funny complected. But I seen now I orter of looked closeter. Fur I'll be dad-binged if he weren't an Injun! There he set, under that there gasoline lamp the wagon was all lit up with, with moccasins on, and beads and shells all over him, and the gaudiest turkey tail of feathers rainbowing down from his head you ever see, and a blanket around him that was gaudier than the feathers. And he shined and rattled every time he moved.

That wagon was a hull opry house to itself. It was rolled out in front of Smith's Palace Hotel without the hosses. The front part was filled with bottles of medicine. The doctor, he begun business by taking out a long brass horn and tooting on it. They was about a dozen come, but they was mostly boys. Then him and the Injun picked up some banjoes and sung a comic song out loud and clear. And they was another dozen or so come. And they sung another song, and Pop Wilkins, he closed up the post-office and come over and the other two veterans of the Grand Army of the Republicans that always plays checkers in there nights come along with him. But it wasn't much of a crowd, and the doctor he looked sort o' worried. I had a good place, right near the hind wheel of the wagon where he rested his foot occasional, and I seen what he was thinking. So I says to him:

"Doctor Kirby, I guess the crowd is all gone to the circus agin to-night." And all them fellers there seen I knowed him.

"I guess so, Rube," he says to me. And they all laughed 'cause he called me Rube, and I felt kind of took down.

Then he lit in to tell about that Injun medicine. First off he told how he come to find out about it. It was the father of the Injun what was with him had showed him, he said. And it was in the days of his youthfulness, when he was wild, and a cowboy on the plains of Oregon. Well, one night he says, they was an awful fight on the plains of Oregon, wherever them is, and he got plugged full of bullet holes. And his hoss run away with him and he was carried off, and the hoss was going at a dead run, and the blood was running down onto the ground. And the wolves smelt the blood and took out after him, yipping and yowling something frightful to hear, and the hoss he kicked out behind and killed the head wolf and the others stopped to eat him up, and while they was eating him the hoss gained a quarter of a mile. But they et him up and they was gaining agin, fur the smell of human blood was on the plains of Oregon, he says, and the sight of his mother's face when she ast him never to be a cowboy come to him in the moonlight, and he knowed that somehow all would yet be well, and then he must of fainted and he knowed no more till he woke up in a tent on the plains of Oregon. And they was an old Injun bending over him and a beautiful Injun maiden was feeling of his pulse, and they says to him:

"Pale face, take hope, fur we will doctor you with Siwash Injun Sagraw, which is nature's own cure fur all diseases."

They done it. And he got well. It had been a secret among them there Injuns fur thousands and thousands of years. Any Injun that give away the secret was killed and rubbed off the rolls of the tribe and buried in disgrace upon the plains of Oregon. And the doctor was made a blood brother of the chief, and learnt the secret of that medicine. Finally he got the chief to see as it wasn't Christian to hold back that there medicine from the world no longer, and the chief, his heart was softened, and he says to go.

"Go, my brother," he says, "and give to the pale faces the medicine that has been kept secret fur thousands and thousands of years among the Siwash Injuns on the plains of Oregon."

And he went. It wasn't that he wanted to make no money out of that there medicine. He could of made all the money he wanted being a doctor in the reg'lar way. But what he wanted was to spread the glad tidings of good health all over this fair land of ourn, he says.

Well, sir, he was a talker, that there doctor was, and he knowed more religious sayings and poetry along with it, than any feller I ever hearn. He goes on and he tells how awful sick people can manage to get and never know it, and no one else never suspicion it, and live along fur years and years that-a-way, and all the time in danger of death. He says it makes him weep when he sees them poor diluted fools going around and thinking they is well men, talking and laughing and marrying and giving in to marriage right on the edge of the grave. He sees dozens of 'em in every town he comes to. But they can't fool him, he says. He can tell at a glance who's got Bright's Disease in their kidneys and who ain't. His own father, he says, was deathly sick fur years and years and never knowed it, and the knowledge come on him sudden like, and he died. That was before Siwash Injun Sagraw was ever found out about. Doctor Kirby broke down and cried right there in the wagon when he thought of how his father might of been saved if he was only alive now that that medicine was put up into bottle form, six fur a five-dollar bill so long as he was in town, and after that two dollars fur each bottle at the drug store.

He unrolled a big chart and the Injun helt it by that there gasoline lamp, so all could see, turning the pages now and then. It was a map of a man's inside organs and digestive ornaments and things. They was red and blue, like each organ's own disease had turned it, and some of 'em was yaller. And they was a long string of diseases printed in black hanging down from each organ's picture. I never knowed before they was so many diseases nor yet so many things to have 'em in.

Well, I was feeling purty good when that show started. But the doc, he kep' looking right at me every now and then when he talked, and I couldn't keep my eyes off'n him.

"Does your heart beat fast when you exercise?" he asts the crowd. "Is your tongue coated after meals? Do your eyes leak when your nose is stopped up? Do you perspire under your arm pits? Do you ever have a ringing in your ears? Does your stomach hurt you after meals? Does your back ever ache? Do you ever have pains in your legs? Do your eyes blur when you look at the sun? Are your teeth coated? Does your hair come out when you comb it? Is your breath short when you walk up stairs? Do your feet swell in warm weather? Are there white spots on your finger nails? Do you draw your breath part of the time through one nostril and part of the time through the other? Do you ever have nightmare? Did your nose bleed easily when you were growing up? Does your skin fester when scratched? Are your eyes gummy in the mornings? Then," he says, "if you have any or all of these symptoms, your blood is bad, and your liver is wasting away."

Well, sir, I seen I was in a bad way, fur at one time or another I had had most of them there signs and warnings, and hadn't heeded 'em, and I had some of 'em yet. I begun to feel kind o' sick, and looking at them organs and diseases didn't help me none, either. The doctor, he lit out on another string of symptoms, and I had them, too. Seems to me I had purty nigh everything but fits. Kidney complaint and consumption both had a holt on me. It was about a even bet which would get me first. I kind o' got to wondering which. I figgered from what he said that I'd had consumption the LONGEST while, but my kind of kidney trouble was an awful SLY kind, and it was lible to jump in without no warning a-tall and jest natcherally wipe me out QUICK. So I sort o' bet on the kidney trouble. But I seen I was a goner, and I forgive Hank all his orneriness, fur a feller don't want to die holding grudges.

Taking it the hull way through, that was about the best medicine show I ever seen. But they didn't sell much. All the people what had any money was to the circus agin that night. So they sung some more songs and closed early and went into the hotel.

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