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Danny's Own Story By Don Marquis Characters: 12396

Updated: 2017-11-28 00:07

I was down in the perfessor's labertory one day, and that was a queer place. They was every kind of scientifics that has ever been discovered in it. Some was pickled in bottles and some was stuffed and some was pinned to the walls with their wings spread out. If you took hold of anything, it was likely to be a skull and give you the shivers or some electric contraption and shock you; and if you tipped over a jar and it broke, enough germs might get loose to slaughter a hull town. I was helping the perfessor to unpack a lot of stuff some friends had sent him, and I noticed a bottle that had onto it, blowed in the glass:


"That's funny," says I, out loud.

"What is?" asts the perfessor.

I showed him the bottle and told him how I was named after the company that made 'em. He says to look around me. They is all kinds of glassware in that room-bottles and jars and queer-shaped things with crooked tails and noses-and nigh every piece of glass the perfessor owns is made by that company.

"Why," says the perfessor, "their factory is in this very town."

And nothing would do fur me but I must go and see that factory. I couldn't till the quarantine was pried loose from our house. But when it was, I went down town and hunted up the place and looked her over.

It was a big factory, and I was kind of proud of that. I was glad she wasn't no measly, little, old-fashioned, run-down concern. Of course, I wasn't really no relation to it and it wasn't none to me. But I was named fur it, too, and it come about as near to being a fambly as anything I had ever had or was likely to find. So I was proud it seemed to be doing so well.

I thinks as I looks at her of the thousands and thousands of bottles that has been coming out of there fur years and years, and will be fur years and years to come. And one bottle not so much different from another one. And all that was really knowed about me was jest the name on one out of all them millions and millions of bottles. It made me feel kind of queer, when I thought of that, as if I didn't have no separate place in the world any more than one of them millions of bottles. If any one will shut his eyes and say his own name over and over agin fur quite a spell, he will get kind of wonderized and mesmerized a-doing it-he will begin to wonder who the dickens he is, anyhow, and what he is, and what the difference between him and the next feller is. He will wonder why he happens to be himself and the next feller HIMSELF. He wonders where himself leaves off and the rest of the world begins. I been that way myself-all wonderized, so that I felt jest like I was a melting piece of the hull creation, and it was all shifting and drifting and changing and flowing, and not solid anywhere, and I could hardly keep myself from flowing into it. It makes a person feel awful queer, like seeing a ghost would. It makes him feel like HE wasn't no solider than a ghost himself. Well, if you ever done that and got that feeling, you KNOW what I mean. All of a sudden, when I am trying to take in all them millions and millions of bottles, it rushed onto me, that feeling, strong. Thinking of them bottles had somehow brung it on. The bigness of the hull creation, and the smallness of me, and the gait at which everything was racing and rushing ahead, made me want to grab hold of something solid and hang on.

I reached out my hand, and it hit something solid all right. It was a feller who was wheeling out a hand truck loaded with boxes from the shipping department. I had been standing by the shipping department door, and I reached right agin him.

He wants to know if I am drunk or a blanked fool. So after some talk of that kind I borrows a chew of tobacco of him and we gets right well acquainted.

I helped him finish loading his wagon and rode over to the freight depot with him and helped him unload her. Lifting one of them boxes down from the wagon I got such a shock I like to of dropped her.

Fur she was marked so many dozen, glass, handle with care, and she was addressed to Dr. Hartley L. Kirby, Atlanta, Ga.

I managed to get that box onto the platform without busting her, and then I sets down on top of her awful weak.

"What's the matter?" asts the feller I was with.

"Nothing," says I.

"You look sick," he says. And I WAS feeling that-a-way.

"Mebby I do," says I, "and it's enough to shake a feller up to find a dead man come to life sudden like this."

"Great snakes, no!" says he, looking all around, "where?"

But I didn't stop to chew the rag none. I left him right there, with his mouth wide open, staring after me like I was crazy. Half a block away I looked back and I seen him double over and slap his knee and laugh loud, like he had hearn a big joke, but what he was laughing at I never knew.

I was tickled. Tickled? Jest so tickled I was plumb foolish with it. The doctor was alive after all-I kept saying it over and over to myself-he hadn't drownded nor blowed away. And I was going to hunt him up.

I had a little money. The perfessor had paid it to me. He had give me a job helping take care of his hosses and things like that, and wanted me to stay, and I had been thinking mebby I would fur a while. But not now!

I calkelated I could grab a ride that very night that would put me into Evansville the next morning. I figgered if I ketched a through freight from there on the next night I might get where he was almost as quick as them bottles did.

I didn't think it was no use writing out my resignation fur the perfessor. But I got quite a bit of grub from Biddy Malone to make a start on, fur I didn't figger on spending no more money than I had to on grub. She asts me a lot of questions, and I had to lie to her a good deal, but I got the grub. And at ten that night I was in an empty bumping along south, along with a cross-eyed feller named Looney Hogan who happened to be travelling the same way.

Riding on trains without paying fare ain't always the easy thing it sounds. It is like a trade that has got to be learned. They is different ways of doing it. I have done every way frequent, except one. That I give up after try

ing her two, three times. That is riding the rods down underneath the cars, with a piece of board put acrost 'em to lay yourself on.

I never want to go ANYWHERES agin bad enough to ride the rods.

Because sometimes you arrive where you are going to partly smeared over the trucks and in no condition fur to be made welcome to our city, as Doctor Kirby would say. Sometimes you don't arrive. Every oncet in a while you read a little piece in a newspaper about a man being found alongside the tracks, considerable cut up, or laying right acrost them, mebby. He is held in the morgue a while and no one knows who he is, and none of the train crew knows they has run over a man, and the engineer says they wasn't none on the track. More'n likely that feller has been riding the rods, along about the middle of the train. Mebby he let himself go to sleep and jest rolled off. Mebby his piece of board slipped and he fell when the train jolted. Or mebby he jest natcherally made up his mind he rather let loose and get squashed then get any more cinders into his eyes. Riding the blind baggage or the bumpers gives me all the excitement I wants, or all the gambling chancet either; others can have the rods fur all of me. And they IS some people ackshally says they likes 'em best.

A good place, if it is winter time, is the feed rack over a cattle car, fur the heat and steam from all them steers in there will keep you warm. But don't crawl in no lumber car that is only loaded about half full, and short lengths and bundles of laths and shingles in her; fur they is likely to get to shifting and bumping. Baled hay is purty good sometimes. Myself, not being like these bums that is too proud to work, I have often helped the fireman shovel coal and paid fur my ride that-a-way. But an empty, fur gineral purposes, will do about as well as anything.

This feller Looney Hogan that was with me was a kind of a harmless critter, and he didn't know jest where he was going, nor why. He was mostly scared of things, and if you spoke to him quick he shivered first and then grinned idiotic so you wouldn't kick him, and when he talked he had a silly little giggle. He had been made that-a-way in a reform school where they took him young and tried to work the cussedness out'n him by batting him around. They worked it out, and purty nigh everything else along with it, I guess. Looney had had a pardner whose name was Slim, he said; but a couple of years before Slim had fell overboard off'n a barge up to Duluth and never come up agin. Looney knowed Slim was drownded all right, but he was always travelling around looking at tanks and freight depots and switch shanties, fur Slim's mark to be fresh cut with a knife somewheres, so he would know where to foller and ketch up with him agin. He knowed he would never find Slim's mark, he said, but he kept a-looking, and he guessed that was the way he got the name of Looney.

Looney left me at Evansville. He said he was going east from there, he guessed. And I went along south. But I was hindered considerable, being put off of trains three or four times, and having to grab these here slow local freights between towns all the way down through Kentuckey. Anywheres south of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River trainmen is grouchier to them they thinks is bums than north of it, anyhow. And in some parts of it, if a real bum gets pinched, heaven help 'im, fur nothing else won't.

One night, between twelve and one o'clock, I was put off of a freight train fur the second time in a place in the northern part of Tennessee, right near the Kentuckey line. I set down in a lumber yard near the railroad track, and when she started up agin I grabbed onto the iron ladder and swung myself aboard. But the brakeman was watching fur me, and clumb down the ladder and stamped on my fingers. So I dropped off, with one finger considerable mashed, and set down in that lumber yard wondering what next.

It was a dark night, and so fur as I could see they wasn't much moving in that town. Only a few places was lit up. One was way acrost the town square from me, and it was the telephone exchange, with a man operator reading a book in there. The other was the telegraph room in the depot about a hundred yards from me, and they was only two fellers in it, both smoking. The main business part of the town was built up around the square, like lots of old-fashioned towns is, and they was jest enough brightness from four, five electric lights to show the shape of the square and be reflected from the windows of the closed-up stores.

I knowed they was likely a watchman somewheres about, too. I guessed I wouldn't wander around none and run no chances of getting took up by him. So I was getting ready to lay down on top of a level pile of boards and go to sleep when I hearn a curious kind of noise a way off, like it must be at the edge of town.

It sounded like quite a bunch of cattle might shuffling along a dusty road. The night was so quiet you could hear things plain from a long ways off. It growed a little louder and a little nearer. And then it struck a plank bridge somewheres, and come acrost it with a clatter. Then I knowed it wasn't cattle. Cows and steers don't make that cantering kind of noise as a rule; they trot. It was hosses crossing that bridge. And they was quite a lot of 'em.

As they struck the dirt road agin, I hearn a shot. And then another and another. Then a dozen all to oncet, and away off through the night a woman screamed.

I seen the man in the telephone place fling down his book and grab a pistol from I don't know where. He stepped out into the street and fired three shots into the air as fast as he could pull the trigger. And as he done so they was a light flashed out in a building way down the railroad track, and shots come answering from there. Men's voices began to yell out; they was the noise of people running along plank sidewalks, and windows opening in the dark. Then with a rush the galloping noise come nearer, come closet; raced by the place where I was hiding, and nigh a hundred men with guns swept right into the middle of that square and pulled their hosses up.

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