MoboReader> Literature > From Place to Place

   Chapter 9 THE BULL CALLED EMILY

From Place to Place By Irvin S. Cobb Characters: 36669

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


WE were sitting at a corner table in a certain small restaurant hard by where Sixth Avenue's L structure, like an overgrown straddlebug, wades through the restless currents of Broadway at a sharpened angle. The dish upon which we principally dined was called on the menu Chicken a la Marengo. We knew why. Marengo, by all accounts, was a mighty tough battle, and this particular chicken, we judged, had never had any refining influences in its ill-spent life. From its present defiant attitude in a cooked form we figured it had pipped the shell with a burglar's jimmy and joined the Dominecker Kid's gang before it shed its pin-feathers. There were two of us engaged in the fruitless attack upon its sinewy tissues-the present writer and his old un-law-abiding friend,-Scandalous Doolan.

For a period of minutes Scandalous wrestled with the thews of one of the embattled fowl's knee-joints. After a struggle in which the honours stood practically even, he laid down his knife and flirted a thumb toward a bottle of peppery sauce which stood on my side of the table.

"Hey, bo," he requested, "pass the liniment, will you? This sea gull's got the rheumatism."

The purport of the remark, taken in connection with the gesture which accompanied it, was plain enough to my understanding; but for the nonce I could not classify the idiom in which Scandalous couched his request. It could not be Underworld jargon; it was too direct and at the same time too picturesque. Moreover, the Underworld, as a rule, concerns itself only with altering such words and such expressions as strictly figure in the business affairs of its various crafts and pursuits. Nor to me did it sound like the language of the circus-lot, for in such case it probably would have been more complex. So by process of elimination I decided it was of the slang code of the burlesque and vaudeville stage, with which, as with the other two, Scandalous had a thorough acquaintance. I felt sure, then, that something had set his mind to working backward along the memory-grooves of some one or another of his earlier experiences in the act-producing line of endeavour, and that, with proper pumping, a story might be forthcoming. As it turned out, I was right.

"Where did you get that one, Scandalous?" I asked craftily. "Your own coinage, or did you borrow it from somebody else?"

He only grinned cryptically. After a bit he hailed the attendant waiter, who because he plainly suffered from fallen arches had already been rechristened by Scandalous as Battling Insteps.

"Say, Battling," he said, "take away the emu; he's still the undefeated champion of the ages. Tidy him up a little and serve him to the next guy that feels like he needs exercise more'n he does nourishment. The gravy may be mussed up a trifle, but the old ring-general ain't lost an ounce. I fought him three rounds and didn't put a bruise on him."

"Couldn't I bring you somethin' else?" said the waiter. "The Wiener Schnitzel with noodles is very--"

"Nix," said Scandalous; "if the cassowary licked us, what chance would we stand against the bison? That'll be all for the olio; I'll go right into the after-show now. Slip me a dipper of straight chicory and one of those Flor de Boiled Dinners, and then you can break the bad news to my pal here." By this I knew he meant that he craved a cup of black coffee and one of the domestic cigars to which he was addicted, and that I could pay the check.

He turned to me:

"How're you goin' to finish your turn?" he asked. "They've got mince pie here like Mother Emma Goldman used to make. Only you want to be careful it don't explode in your hand."

I shook my head. "I'll nibble at these," I said, "until you get through." And I reached for a little saucer of salted peanuts that lurked in the shadow of the bowl containing the olives and the celery. For this, you should know, was a table d'h?te establishment, and no such place is complete without its drowned olives and its wilted celery.

"Speaking of peanuts," he said, "I don't seem to care deeply for such. I lost my taste for them dainties quite some time back."

"What was the occasion?" I prompted, for I saw the light of reminiscence smouldering in his eye.

"It wasn't no occasion," he said; "it was a catastrophe. Did I ever happen to tell you about the time I furnished the financial backing for Windy Jordan and his educated bull, and what happened when the blow-off came?"

I shook my head and in silence hearkened.

"It makes quite an earful," he continued. "Business for gents in my profession was very punk here on the Main Stem that season. By reason of the dishonest police it was mighty hard for an honest grafter to make a living. It certainly was depressing to trim an Ezra for his roll and then have to cut up the net proceeds with so many central-office guys that you had to go back and borrow car-fare from the sucker to get home on. Besides, I was somewhat lonely and low in my peace of mind on account of my regular side-kick the Sweet Caps Kid being in the hospital. He'd made the grievous mistake of trying to sell a half-interest in the Aquarium to a visiting Swede. Right in the middle of the negotiations something came up that made the Swede doubtful that all was not well, and he betrayed his increasing misgivings by hauling out a set of old-fashioned genuine antique brass knucks and nicking up Sweet Caps' scalp to such an extent my unfortunate companion had to spend three weeks on the flat of his back in the casualty ward, with a couple of doctors coming in every morning to replace the divots. Pending his recovery, I was sort of figuring on visiting Antioch, Gilead, Zion and other religious towns up State with a view of selling the haymakers some Bermuda oats for their fall planting, when along came Windy Jordan and broached a proposition.

"This here Windy Jordan was one of them human draughts; hence the name. At all hours there was a strong breeze blowing out of him in the form of words. If he wasn't conversing, it was a sign he had acute sore throat. But to counteract that fault he was the sole proprietor of the smartest and the largest bull on this side of the ocean, which said bull answered to the name of Emily."

"Did you say a bull?" I asked.

"Sure I said a bull. Why not? Ain't you wise to what a bull is?"

"Certainly I am, but a bull named Emily--"

"Listen, little one: To them that follow after the red wagon and the white top, all elephants is bulls, disregardless of genders, just the same as all regular bulls is he-cows to refined maiden ladies residin' in New England and points adjacent. Only, show-people ain't got any false modesty that way. In the show-business a bull is a bull, whether it's a lady-bull or a gentleman-bull. So very properly this here bull, being one of the most refined and cultured members of her sex, answers to the Christian name of Emily.

"Well, this Emily is not only the joy and the pride of Windy Jordan's life, but she's his entire available assets. Bull and bulline, she'd been with him from early childhood. In fact, Windy was the only parent Emily ever knew, she having been left a helpless orphan on account of a railroad wreck to the old Van Orten shows back yonder in eighteen-eighty-something. So Windy, he took her as a prattling infant in arms when she didn't weigh an ounce over a ton and a half, and he adopted her and educated her and pampered her and treated her as a member of his own family, only better, until she repaid him by becoming not only the largest bull in the business but the most highly cultivated.

"Emily knew nearly everything there was to know, and what she didn't know she suspected very strongly. Likewise, as I came to find out later, she was extremely grateful for small favours and most affectionate by nature. To be sure, being affectionate with a bull about the size and general specifications of a furniture-car had its drawbacks. She was liable to lean up against you in a playful, kittenish kind of a way, and cave in most of your ribs. It was like having a violent flirtation with a landslide to venture up clost to Emily when she was in one of her tomboy moods. I've know' her to nudge a friend with one of her front elbows and put both his shoulder-blades out of socket. But she never meant no harm by it, never. It was just a little way she had.

"It seems like Windy and Emily were aiming to join out that season with a tent-show, but the deal fell through some way, and for the past few weeks Windy had been infesting a lodging-house for members of the profession over here on East Eleventh Street, and Emily had been in a livery barn down in Greenwich Village, just naturally eating her old India-rubber head off. Windy, having run low as to coin, wasn't able to pay up Emily's back board, and the liveryman was holding her for the bill.

"So, hearing some way that I'm fairly well upholstered with currency, he comes to me and suggests that if I'll dig up what's necessary to get Emily out of hock, he can snare a line of bookings in vaudeville, and we'll all three go out on the two-a-day together, him as trainer and me as manager and Emily as the principal attraction. The proceeds is to be cut up fifty-fifty as between me and him.

"The notion don't sound like such a bad one. That was back in the days when refined vaudeville was running very strongly to trained-animal acts and leading ladies that had quit leading but hadn't found out about it yet. Nowadays them ex-queens of tragedy can go into the movies and draw down so much money that if they only get half as much as they say they're getting, they're getting almost twice as much as anybody would give 'em; but them times, vaudeville was their one best bet. And next to emotional actrines who could emosh twicet daily for twenty minutes on a stretch, without giving way anywhere, a good trained-animal turn had the call. It might be a troupe of educated Potomac shad or an educated ape or a city-broke Gila monster or a talking horse or what not. In our case 'twas Emily, the bull.

"First thing, we goes down to the livery-stable where Emily is spending the Indian summer and consuming half her weight in dry provender every twenty-four hours. The proprietor of this here fodder-emporium is named McGuire, and when I tells him I'm there to settle Emily's account in full, he carries on as though entirely overcome by joyfulness-not that he's got any grudge against Emily, understand, but for other good and abundant sufficiencies. He states that so far as Emily's personal conduct is concerned, during her enforced sojourn in his midst, she's always deported herself like a perfect lady. But she takes up an awful lot of room, and one of the hands is now on the verge of nervous prostration from overexertions incurred in packing hay to her, and, it seems she's addicted to nightmares. She gets to dreaming that a mouse nearly an inch and a half long is after her,-all bulls is terrible afraid, you know, that some day a mouse is going to come along and eat 'em,-and when she has them kind of delusions, she cries out in her sleep and tosses around and maybe knocks down a couple of steel beams or busts in a row of box-stalls or something trivial like that. Then, right on top of them petty annoyances, McGuire some days previous has made the mistake of feeding Emily peanuts, which peanuts, as he then finds out, is her favourite tidbit.

"'Gents,' says McGuire to me and Windy Jordan, 'I shore did make the error of my life when I done that act of kindness. I merely meant them peanuts as a special treat, but Emily figures it out that they're the start of a fixed habit,' he says. 'Ever since then, if I forget to bring her in her one five-cent bag of peanuts per diem, per day, she calls personally to inquire into the oversight. She waits very patient and ladylike until about eleven o'clock in the morning, and if I ain't made good by then, she just pulls up her leg hobble by the roots and drops in on me to find out what's the meaning of the delay.

"'She ain't never rough nor overbearing, but it interferes with trade for me to be sitting here in my office at the front of the stable talking business with somebody, and all of a sudden the front half of the largest East Indian elephant in the world shoves three or four thousand pounds of herself in at that side door and begins waving her trunk around in the air, meanwhile uttering fretful, complaining sounds. I've lost two or three customers that way,' he says. 'They get right up and go away sudden,' he says, 'and they don't never come back no more, not even for their hats and umbrellas. They send for 'em.

"'That ain't the worst of it,' he says. Yesterday,' he says, 'I rented out my whole string of coaches and teams for a burial turnout over here on McDougal Street. Being as it's a big occasion, I'm driving the first carriage containing the sorrowing family of deceased. Naturally, with a job like that on my hands, I don't think about Emily at all; my mind's all occupied up with making the affair pass off in a tasty and pleasant fashion for all concerned. Well, the cortege is just leaving the late residence of the remainders, when around the corner comes bulging Emily, followed at a suitable distance by eight or nine thousand of the populace. She's missed me, and she wants her peanuts, and she's been trailing me; and now, by heck, she's found me.

"'Emily gives a loud, glad snort of recognition, wheels herself around and then falls in alongside the front hack and gets ready to accompany us, all the time poking her snout over at me and uttering plaintive remarks in East Indian to me. Gents,' he says, 'you can see for yourselves, a thing like that, occurring right at the beginning of a funeral procession, is calculated to distract popular attention away from the main attraction. Under the circumstances I wouldn't blame no corpse on earth for feeling jealous-let alone a popular and prominent corpse like this here one was, a party that had been a district leader at Tammany Hall in his day, and after that the owner of the most fashionable retail liquor store in the entire neighbourhood, and who's now riding along with solid silver handles up and down both sides, and style just wrote all over him. Here, with an utter disregard for expense, he's putting on all this dog for his last public appearance, and a strange elephant comes along and grabs the show right away from him.

"'The bereaved family don't care for it, neither. I gathers as much from the remarks they're making out of the windows of the coach. But Emily just won't take a hint. She sticks along until I stops the procession and goes in a guinea fruitstore on the next block and buys her a bag of peanuts. That's all she wants. She takes it, and she leaves us and goes on back to the stable.

"'But, as the feller says, it practically ruined the entire day for them berefts. I lost their patronage right there-and them a nice sickly family, too. A lot of the friends and relatives also resented it; they were telling me so all the way back from the cemet'ry. There ain't no real harm in Emily, and I've got powerfully attached to her, but taking one thing with another, I ain't regretting none that you've come down all organised financially to take her out of pawn. You have my best wishes, and so has she.'

"So we settles up the account to date, which the same makes quite a nick in the bank-roll, and then we goes back to the rear of the stable where Emily is quartered, and she falls on Windy's neck, mighty nigh dislocating it, and he introduces me to Emily, and we shakes hands together,-I means trunks,-and then Windy unshackles her, and she follows us along just as gentle as a kitten to them freight-yards over on Tenth Avenue where her future travelling home is waiting for her. It's a box-car, with one end rigged up with bunks as a boudoir for me and Windy, and the rest of it fitted out as a private stateroom for Emily.

"From that time on, for quite a spell, we're just the same as one big happy family, as we goes a-jauntily touring from place to place.

"We're playin' the Big Time, which means week stands and no hard jumps. Emily's a hit, a knock-out and a riot wherever she appears. She knows it too, but success don't go to her head, and she don't never get no attacks of this here complaint which they calls temper'ment. I always figgered out that temper'ment, when a grand wopra singster has it, is just plain old temper when it afflicts a bricklayer. I don't know what form it would take if it should seize on a bull, but Emily appears to be absolutely immune. Give her a ton of hay and one sack of peanuts a day, and she's just as placid as a great gross of guinea pigs. Behind the scenes she never makes no trouble, but chums with the stage-hands and even sometimes with the actors, thus proving that she ain't stuck up.

"When the time comes for Emily to do her turn, she just goes ambling on behind Windy and cuts up more didoes than any trick-mule that ever lived. She smokes a pipe, and she toots on a brass horn, and waits on table while Windy pretends to eat, and stands on her head, and plays baseball with him and so forth and so on, for fifteen minutes, winding up by waving the Amurikin flag over her head. But all this time she's keeping one eye on me, where I'm standing in the wings with a sack of peanuts in my pocket waiting for her to come off. Every time she works over toward my side of the stage, she makes little hoydenish remarks to me in her native language. It ain't long until I can make out everything she says. I've been pedling the bull too long not to be able to understand it when spoke by a native.

"For upwards of two months things goes along just beautiful. Then we strikes a town out in Illinois where business ain't what it used to be, if indeed it ever was. Along about the middle of the week the young feller that's doing the press-work for the house comes to me and asks me if I ain't got an idea in my system that might make a good press-stunt.

"There's an inspiration comes to me and I suggests to him that maybe he might go ahead and make an announcement that following the Saturday matinêe, Emily the Pluperfect, Ponderous, Pachydermical Performer, direct from the co

urt of the reigning Roger of Simla County, India, will hold a reception on the stage to meet her little friends, each and every one of whom will be expected to bring her a bag of peanuts.

"'That listens all right,' says this lad, 'providing she likes peanuts.'

"'Providing she likes 'em?' I says. 'Son,' I says, 'if that bull ever has to take the cure for the drug-habit, it'll be on account of peanuts. If you don't think she likes peanuts, a dime will win you a trip to the Holy Lands,' I says. 'Why,' I says, 'Emily's middle name is Peanuts. Offhand,' I says, 'I don't know precisely how many peanuts there are,' I says, 'because if I ever heard the exact figures, I've forgot 'em, but I'd like to lay you a little eight to five that Emily can chamber all the peanuts in the world and then set down right where she happens to be, to wait for next year's crop to come onto the market. That's how much she cares for peanuts,' I says.

"Well, that convinces him, and he hurries off to write his little piece about Emily's peanut reception. The next day, which is Friday, the announcement is in both the papers. Saturday after lunch when I strolls round to the show-shop for the matinêe, one glance around the corner from the stage entrance proves to me that our little social function is certainly starting out to be a success. The street in front is lined on both sides with dagos with peanut-stands, selling peanuts to the population as fast as they can pass 'em out; and there's a long line, mainly kids, at the box-office. I goes on in and takes a flash at the front of the house through the peephole in the curtain, and the place is already jam full. If there's one kid out there, there's a thousand, and every tiny tot has got a sack of peanuts clutched in his or her chubby fist, as the case may be. And say, listen: there's a smell in the air like a prairie fire running through a Georgia goober-king's plantation.

"I goes back to where Emily is hitched, and she's weaving to and fro on her legs and watering at the mouth until she just naturally can't control her own riparian rights. She's done smelt that smell too.

"'Honey gal,' I says to her, 'it shore looks to me like you're due to get your fullupances of the succulential ground-pea of the Sunny Southland this day.'

"She's so grateful she tries to kiss me, but I ducks. All through her turn she dribbles from the chin like a defective fire-hydrant, and I can tell that she ain't got her mind on her business. She's too busy thinking about peanuts. When she's got through and taken her bows, the manager leaves the curtain up and Emily steps back behind a rope that a couple of the hands stretches acrosst the stage, with me standing on one side of her and Windy on the other; and then a couple more hands shoves a wooden runway acrosst the orchestra rail down into one of the side aisles; and then the house-manager invites Emily's young friends to march up the runway and crosst over from left to right, handing out their free-will offerings to her as they pass.

"During this pleasant scene, as the manager explains, Emily's dauntless owner, the world-famous Professor Zendavesta Jordan, meaning Windy, will lecture on the size, dimensions, habits and quaint peculiarities of this wondrous creature. That last part suits Windy right down to the ground, him being, as I told you before, the kind of party who's never so happy as when he's started his mouth and gone away and left it running.

"For maybe a half a minute after the house-manager finishes his little spiel, the kids sort of hang back. Then the rush starts; and take it from me, little one, it's some considerable rush. Here they come up that runway-tiny tots in blue, and tiny tots in red, and tiny tots in white; tiny tots with their parents, guardians or nurses, and tiny tots without none; tiny tots that are beginning to outgrow the tiny tottering stage, and other varieties of tiny tots too numerous to mention. And clutched in each and every tiny tot's chubby hand is a bag of peanuts, five-cent size or ten-cent size, but mostly five-cent size. As Emily sees 'em coming, she smiles until she looks in the face like one of these here old-fashioned red-brick Colonial fireplaces, with an overgrown black Christmas stocking hanging down from the centre of the mantel.

"Up comes the first and foremost of the tiny tots. The Santy Claus stocking reaches out and annexes the free-will offering. There's a faint crunching sound; that there sack of peanuts has went to the bourne from out which no peanut, up until that time, has ever been known to return; and Emily is smiling benevolently and reaching out for the next sack. And behind the second kid is the third kid, and behind the third kid still more kids, and as far as the human eye can reach, there ain't nothing on the horizon of that show-shop but just kids-kids and peanuts.

"It certainly was a beauteous spectacle to behold so many of the dear little ones advancing up that runway with peanuts. To myself I says: 'I guess I'm a bad little suggester, eh, what? Here's Emily getting all this free provender and Windy talking his fool head off and the house getting all this advertising and none of us out a cent for any part of it.'

"In about ten minutes, though, I'm struck by the fact that Emily's original outburst of enthusiasm appears slightly on the wane. It seems to me she ain't reaching out for the free-will offerings with quite so much eagersomeness as she was displaying a spell back. Also I takes notice that the wrinkles in her tum-tum are filling out so that she's beginning to lose some of that deflated or punctured look so common amongst bulls.

"Still, I don't have no apprehensions, but thinks to myself that any bull which can eat half a ton of hay for breakfast certainly is competent to take in a couple of wagon-loads of peanuts for five o'clock tea. Even at that I figgers that it won't do no harm to coach Emily along a little.

"'Go to it, baby mine,' I says to her. 'You ain't hardly started. Here's a chance,' I says, 'to establish a new world's record for peanuts.'

"That remark appears to spur her up for a minute or so, but something seems to keep on warning me that her heart ain't in the work to the extent it has been. Windy don't see nothing out of the way, he being congenially engaged in shooting off his face, but I'm more or less concerned by certain mighty significant facts. For one thing, Emily ain't eatin' sacks and all any more; she's emptying the peanuts out and throwing the paper bags aside. Likewise her work ain't clean and smooth like it was. Her underlip is swinging down, and she's beginning to drool loose goobers off the lower end of it, and her low but intelligent forehead is all furrowed up as if with deep thought.

"Observing all of which, I says to myself, I says: 'If ever Emily should start to cramp, the world's cramping record is also in a fair way to be busted this afternoon. I certainly do hope,' I says, 'that Emily don't go and get herself overextended.'

"You see, I'm trusting for the best, because I realises that it wouldn't do to call off the reception right in the middle of it on account of the disappointment amongst the tiny tots that ain't passed in review yet and the general ill-feeling that's sure to follow.

"I should say about two hundred tiny tots have gone by, with maybe five hundred more still in line waiting their turn, when there halts in front of Emily a fancy-dressed tiny tot which he must've been the favourite tiny tot of the richest man in town, because he's holding in his hands a bag of peanuts fully a foot deep. It couldn't of cost a cent less'n half a dollar, that bag. Emily reaches for the contribution, fondles it for a second or two and starts to upend it down her throat; and then with a low, sad, hopeless cry she drops it on the stage and sort of shrugs her front legs forward and stands there with her head bent and her ears twitching same as if she's listening for something that's still a long ways off but coming closter fast. And at that precise instant I sees the first cramp start from behind her right-hand shoulder-blade and begin to work south. Say, it was just like being present at the birth of an earthquake.

"Moving slow and deliberate, Emily turns around in her tracks, shivering all over, and then I sees the cramp ripple along until it reaches her cargo-hold and strikes inward. It lifts all four of her feet clean off the floor, and when she comes down again, she comes down travelling. There's some scenery in her way, and some furniture and props and one thing and other, but she don't trouble to go round 'em. She goes through 'em, as being a more simple and direct way, and a minute later she steps out through the stage entrance into the crowded marts of trade with half of a centre door fancy hung around her neck. Me and Windy is trailing along, urging her to be ca'm but keeping at a reasonably safe distance while doing so. Behind us as we comes forth we can hear the voices of many tiny tots upraised in skeered cries.

"Being a Saturday afternoon, the business section is fairly well crowded with people, and I suppose it's only natural that the unexpected appearance upon the main street of the largest bull in captivity, wearing part of a cottage set for a collar and making sounds through her snout like a switch-engine in distress, should cause some surprised comment amongst the populace. In fact, I should say the surprised comment might of been heard for fully half a mile away.

"Emily hesitates as she reaches the sidewalk, as though she ain't decided yet in her own mind just where she'll go, and then her agonised eye falls on all them peanut-roasters standing in a double row alongside the curbings on both sides of the street. The Italian and Greek gents who owns 'em are already departing hence in a hurried manner, but they've left their outfits behind, and right away it's made plain to me by her actions that Emily regards the sight as a part of a general conspiracy to feed her some peanuts when she already has more peanuts than what she really required for personal use. She reaches out for the first peanut-machine in the row, curls her trunk around it and slams it against a brick wall so hard that it immediately begins to look something like a flivver car which has been in a severe collision and something like a tin accordion that's had hard treatment from a careless owner. With this for a beginning, Emily starts in to get real rough with them roasters. For about three minutes it's rainin' hot charcoal and hot peanuts and wooden wheels and metal cranks and sheet-iron drums all over that part of the fair city.

"Having put the enemy's batteries out of commission, Emily now swings around and heads back in the opposite direction with everybody giving her plenty of room. I heard afterward that some citizens went miles out of their way in order to give her room. Emily's snout is aimed straight up as though she's craving air, and her tail is standing straight out behind, stiff as a poker except that about every few seconds a painful quiver runs through it from the end that's nearest Emily to the end that's furtherest away from her. Windy is hoofing it along about fifty feet back of her, uttering soothing remarks and entreating her to listen to reason, and I'm trailing Windy; but for oncet Emily don't hearken none to her master's voice.

"Out of the tail of my eye I see a fat lady start to faint, and when she's right in the middle of the faint, change her mind about it and do a back flip into a plumber's shop, the purtiest you ever seen. I see a policeman dodge out from behind a lamp-post as Emily approaches, and reach for his gun. I yells to him not to shoot, but it's unnecessary advice, because he's only chucking his hardware away so's to lighten him up for a couple of hundred yards of straightaway sprinting. I see Emily make a side-swipe with her nozzle at a stout gent who's in the act of climbing a telegraph-pole hand over hand. She misses the seat of his pants by a fraction of an inch, and as he reaches the first cross-arm out of her reach, and drapes his form acrosst it, the reason for her sudden animosity towards him is explained. A glass jar falls out of one of his hip pockets and is dashed to fragments on the cruel bricks far below, and its contents is then seen to be peanut butter.

"I sees these things as if in a troubled dream, and then, all of a sudden, me and Emily are all alone in a deserted city. Exceptin' for us two, there ain't a soul in sight nowheres. Even Windy has mysteriously vanished. And now Emily, in passing along, happens to look inside a fruitstore, and through the window her unhappy glance rests upon a bin full of peanuts. So she just presses her face against the pane like Little Mary in the po'm, and at that the entire front end of that establishment seems to give away in a very simultaneous manner, and Emily reaches in through the orifices and plucks out the contents of that there store, including stock, fixtures and good will, and throws 'em backward over her shoulder in a petulant and hurried way. But I takes notice that she throws the bin of peanuts much farther than the grapefruit or the pineapples or the glass show-cases containing the stick candy. The proprietor must of been down in the cellar at the moment, else I judge she'd of fetched him forth too.

"Thus we continues on our way, me and Emily, in the midst of a vast but boisterous solitude,-for while we can't see the inhabitants, we can hear 'em,-until we arrive at the foot of Main Street, and there we beholds the railroad freight-depot looming before us. I can tell that Emily is wishful to pass through this structure. There ain't no opening on the nigh side of it, but that don't hinder Emily none. She gives one heave with her shoulders and makes a door and passes on in and out again on the far side by the same methods. I arrives around the end of the shed just in time to see her slide down a steep grade through somebody's truck-garden and sink down upon her heaving flank in a little hollow. As I halts upon the brow of the hill, she looks up at me very reproachful, and I can see that her prevalent complexion is beginning to turn awful wan and pale. Son, take it from me, when a full-grown she-bull gets wan, she's probably the wannest thing there is in the world.

"'Stand back, Scandalous,' she moans to me in bull-language. 'I don't bear you no grudge,-it was a mistake in judgment on the part of all of us,-but stand back and give me room. Up till this time,' she says, 'I've been po'rly, but something seems to tell me that now I'm about to be what you might call real indisposed.'

"Which she certainly was.

"So, after a while, a part of the police force come along, stepping slow and cautious, and they halts themselves in the protecting shadows of the freight-shed or what's left of it, and they beckon me to come near 'em, and when I responds, they tell me I'm under arrest for inciting riots and disturbances and desecration of property and various other crimes and misdemeanours. I suggests to 'em that if they're really craving to arrest anybody, they should oughter begin with Emily, but they don't fall in with the idea. They marches me up to the police-station, looking over their shoulders at frequent intervals to be sure the anguished Emily ain't coming too, and when we get there, I find Windy in the act of being forcibly detained in the front office.

"Immediately after I arrived, the payoff started and continued unabated for quite a period of time. First we settled in full with the late proprietors of them defunct peanut-roasting machines; and then the owner of the wrecked fruitstore, and the man that owned the opera-house, and the stout lady who'd fainted from the waist up but was now entirely recovered, and the fleshy gent who'd climbed the telegraph-pole, and the railroad agent and some several hundred others who had claims for property damage or mental anguish or shockages to their nervous systems or shortage of breath or loss of trade or other injuries-all these were in line, waiting.

"We was reduced to a case ten-spot before the depot agent, who came last, lined up for his'n; but he took one good look and said he wouldn't be a hog about it-we could keep that ten-specker, and he'd be satisfied just to take over our private car in consideration of the loss inflicted by Emily to his freight-shed. I was trying to tell him how much we appreciated his kindness, but the chief of police wouldn't let me finish-said he couldn't permit that kind of language to be used in a police-station, said it might corrupt the morals of some of his young policemen.

"So everything passed off very pleasant and satisfactory at the police-station, but Emily spent the evening and the ensuing night right where she was, voicing her regrets at frequent intervals. Along toward morning she felt easier, although sadly depleted in general appearance, and about daylight her and Windy bid me good-by and went off acrosst-country afoot, aiming to catch up with Ringbold Brothers' circus, which was reported to be operating somewhere in that vicinity. As for me, I'd had enough for the time being of the refined amusement business. I took my half of that lone sawbuck which was all that was left to us from our frittered and dissipated fortunes, and I started east, travelling second class and living very frugally on the way. And that was about all that happened, worthy of note, with the exception of a violent personal dispute occurring between me and a train-butch coming out of Ashtabula."

"What was the cause?" I asked as Scandalous stood up and smoothed down his waistcoat.

"I had just one thin dime left," said Scandalous, "and I explained my predicament to the butch, saying as how I wanted what was the most filling thing he had for the price-and he offered me a sack of peanuts!"

* * *

Transcriber's Notes:

Obvious punctuation errors corrected.

Inconsistent hyphenation was retained where a majority consensus could not be ascertained.

The remaining corrections made are indicated by dotted lines under the corrections. Scroll the mouse over the word and the original text will appear.

* * *

Free to Download MoboReader
(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top

shares