University of Virginia Library


Page 122


Altogether, the events of the day had not tended
to soothe the humors nor satisfy the self-esteem of Mr.
Jones Barry. The first excitement over, by which
even the defeated may be temporarily sustained, he
began to reflect upon his losses. His favorite mare had
been discredited; and though “Glaucus” had retrieved in
the sweepstakes the honor which he might have been
supposed to have forfeited in the first races, yet this
could in no respect compensate for the defeat of the
“Fair Geraldine,” coupled as was this defeat with the
loss of several “cool hundreds.” It was in due degree
with the increasing soberness of Barry, that he began
thus moodily to meditate events. The conflict with the
gander, which had left him with a head and neck quite
as sore as his moral feelings, had somewhat subdued his
vanity; and he really began to think, as people had
long since begun to say, behind his back, that he had
been making a great fool of himself. Reflections such as
these, were they allowed to continue, would probably
almost always result in the improvement of the individual.
But, in the case of weak persons, who have been
accustomed to avoid and escape such reflections, and
whom fortune and circumstances enable to do so, it is
scarcely possible for such a mood of mind to continue long.
There are always some good-natured friends in every
fool's circle, to assist in keeping him a fool; and, by
interposing at moments when self-esteem is beginning
to be rightly humbled, they succeed in silencing the
officious monitor, either by well-sugared falsehoods and


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specious flatteries, or by doing what our excellent sportsman,
Tom Nettles, conceived it proper for him to do on
the present occasion. He saw, as the effects of the apple-toddy
subsided, that Jones Barry was about to sink into
sullenness, which he regarded as a sort of stupidity; and
he knew but one specific in all such cases, and that
was to repeat the dose which had been found already
so effectual; they stopped, accordingly, at a wagon on
which they saw conspicuous a pine sapling above a
barrel, and were soon gratified with the beverage they
sought. The spirits of Barry rose with the draught.
The effect was so pleasant that another was called for,
and, by the time that the two had reached the entrance
of the hippodrome, our brave gander-puller avowed
himself as expert a rider on double horses as any fellow
in the circus.

“It's true I've never seen 'em, Tom,” said he, “but
I've heard of them often enough. Joe Smith used to
tell me of what he'd seen in Savannah and Augusta.
Now, Joe used to say of my riding, I was fit to be in
the circus. For a cool hundred now, I'd ride against
the crack fellow of this company, who, I suppose, is no
great shakes, and by —, if they give me a chance
to-night, I'll challenge the whole kit and boiling of

“Oh, you be k—d, Barry,” said the other, irreverently:
“you are the greatest brag I ever heard. Let
yourself alone, and don't be trying to be everything.
You're quite enough as you are. You are a good-looking
little fellow.”

“Little!” exclaimed Barry: “By gracious, Nettles,
I'm as good a man as you are, any day.”

“So you are, but not as big!”

“Little! But I don't suppose you meant any insult,
Nettles, for you said `good-looking too.'”

“So I did! I say, you're a devilish good-looking
little fellow; you're rich, and have everything you
want. You can ride, though you're quite too heavy
for `Geraldine.'”


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“Yet you say I'm little.”

“Yes, little and not light. You see, you're a sort
of chunk of a fellow, with more girth than legs, and a
leetle too ambitious for your weight, Jones.”

“You're mighty plain spoken, Tom.”

“Why yes; friends have a privilege, you know.”

“O yes—to be sure; but look you, Tom, I feel monstrous
like licking the best friend in the world, when he
calls me little.”

“Well, you don't lick me, for two reasons; the first is,
that I won't let you, and the next is, that you won't let
yourself. But look you, Jones, this is dry talking, and
I see you're in bad spirits; let's look after some good ones.
There's a wagon there; I reckon we'll find something.
Let's take another drink, and we'll be fresh for the

“Agreed,” said the other; and, as they rolled over
to the opposite side of the road, amid a confused assemblage
of carts, carriages, and wagons, the unsteady
gait of Barry showed but too certainly that the apple-toddy
had been already too potent for his perpendicular.

“Ride!” said he. “By gracious, Tom, I could straddle
a barrel of peach, and make it streak away as fast
as them circus fellows make their horses.”

“Humph! If you go on at this rate, your swallow
will be as good as the clown's, who means to take in his
own head, you know.”

“And you, Tom, you a fellow of sense, to believe
that cock-and-a-bull story!”

“Believe what you please, but here's the liquor.
Ho! there, Gerdts—that you?”

Nettles knew the whole country.

“What's left of me, 'Squire. But what'll you have?
Here's mountain-peach, and here's apple.”

“The apple, then, with a bed of honey for it to dream
upon. I stick to the apple, Jones; I never mix my
liquors if I can help it.”

“What!” cried the other, with a grin; “afraid!


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Tom Nettles; afraid of two liquors! Halloo! there, old
Gerdts, you don't know me; never mind; give me both;
peach and apple; who's afraid? Equal parts, old still,
and no slow charcoal dropping. Ease my eye, quickly;
it's strained by the heavy sunshine.”

Barry was becoming pleasantly perverse, and was
in the very humor for all sorts of cross purposes.
When conducted with some difficulty by his friend,
they entered the amphitheatre where they had taken
their dinner that day. The scene was now changed as
if by magic. The place was thoroughly lighted, a perfect
blaze of splendor, which showed, conspicuously
clear, the remotest parts of the pavilion. The seats,
which encircled three-fourths of the area, were occupied
almost entirely. Our two friends were compelled to
take places on the lowest bench, and within a foot of
the small rim of earth which had been heaped up around
the ring, rather as a mark than a barrier. There was
no fence to keep the spectators from the track, and to
check the erring vaultings of a vicious horse and an
inferior rider. The seats were divided into two great
and equal sections, one assigned to the whites and the
other to the blacks. They were raised (a rude scaffolding
of plank) to the very eves of the tent, and the heads of
the visitors were in close neighborhood with the shaking
canvas. Hundreds of showy damsels, with ribbons
and feathers flying, might be seen, all impatience and
sunny smiles, their several gallants being eager in describing
what they knew, and what they anticipated.
Many of these had come a great distance to the sports
of Hillabee; as, in ancient times, they flocked to the
amusements of the tournament; and for the same reason,
the equal desire for recreation and novelty, and
the want of great cities, which afford these habitually.
The dress circle was eminently well filled. The girls
and boys had crowded in from all parts of the country.
Ancient ladies, who had heard vague tidings of the circus,
or had probably had glimpses of such a vision in
their youthful days, came hither to revive old memories,


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or to gratify long-cherished desires. The old gentlemen
necessarily accompanied their wives and kindred.
The farmer was curious to see the reality of those spectacles
of which great pictures had already been made
to adorn his hamlet, and jockeys naturally came wherever
the heroism of horseflesh could be made to tell.
The negroes were not less curious. Hundreds were in
attendance, from all quarters. They had trudged or
trotted on foot, on mule, in wagon, for ten or fifteen
miles the night before, to see sights and wonders. Each
was in his best. Bright calicoes flamed on every side,
to the very summit of their circumscribed domain;
and all was hope and expectation, as Jones Barry and
Tom Nettles made their appearance, and scrambled to
a seat.

They were not kept in waiting long. The spectacle
soon began. Horses, pied and spotted, and of all
colors, made their appearance. Children rode, women
rode, the clown rode, and it was all sorts of riding. Of
course, we shall not pretend to describe a spectacle with
which everybody is more or less familiar. Journeys to
Brentford, Gilpin's race, and several other pieces were
enacted. The equestrians had their share of applause;
but, after all, the glory of the spectacle was in that
comical fellow, the clown. Buried in a grotesque and
monstrous Egyptian mask, his face thoroughly concealed,
and so artfully that its location could not exactly be determined,
his voice seemed to come from some vaulted
and hollow apartment below the ground. His antics
were indescribable. His jugglery alone must demand
our attention, as it somewhat involved one of our acquaintance.
It happened that the scene required our clown
to take wine with an African magician. He was momently
expecting him, and he was proceeding to show
the audience how he should bamboozle the magician, and
finally “swallow his soul.”

“Swallow his soul!” exclaimed Barry, in horror, to


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“He'll do it!” said the other, gravely. “You'll

“Here, now,” exclaimed the clown, “is a brandy-cocktail
in which I've buried Mumbo-Jumbo's soul.
It's the most beautiful drink in the world; perhaps you'd
like to try it?” said he, and he very courteously presented
it to our two friends. Barry saw, as he fancied,
some of the fine cognac of which he had partaken freely
in that very place, on that very day; and, being exceedingly
thirsty, he innocently and incontinently exclaimed—

“I don't care if I do—thank you!” Speaking thus,
he rose and put forth his hand; but, by an adroit movement,
throwing the long bunch of streamers from his
fool's cap full in the face of our hero, the clown gulped
down the beverage himself, exclaiming—

“Perhaps you'll wait till you can get it!”

The audience roared with delight. Furious at his
disappointment, and the ridiculous figure which he cut,
Barry at once mounted the clown; and, at the first
grasp, tore away what seemed to be the entire head and
neck of the unfortunate jester. With this terrible evidence
in his clutches, he looked around him aghast,
scarcely daring to guess the extent of his achievement.
The clown, meanwhile, had retreated at the first assault,
and before Barry could recover his wits and equilibrium,
for he could not well anticipate a renewal of the conflict
from one whose entire caput he carried in his hand, the
mountebank, squatting low, darted between the legs of
our hero; who had, in some measure, straddled the little
circuit of earth by which the ring was circumscribed.
The face of Barry was to the audience, and the assault
of the clown surprised him. He was lifted from his feet
before he apprehended danger; and his assailant, rising
under his burden, which he did not seem to feel, trotted
with him quite across the arena. Barry was thus carried
forward horizontally, his head addressing the white,
and his heels the negro portion, of the assembly.

“Tom Nettles—Tom!” was all that the poor fellow


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could articulate, but he screamed and kicked tremendously.
His efforts were wasted on the air. The clown
had only attained his great flexibility by exercises which
had imparted the most wonderful power to his muscles,
and Barry was but a child in his grasp. His struggle
only increased the fun. The audience shrieked and
howled with delight, in proportion to the futile efforts of
the captive; and when they beheld the captor hurry
with his prey to the negro side of the house, and saw
him pitch the unfortunate gentleman headlong into the
arms of a great fat negro wench, one of the most enormous
in the assembly, who sat trickling with oleaginous
sweat, on the third tier, one would have thought the
whole pavilion would have come down with the delirious
shouts of the multitude.

“Here's an abolitionist for you, mother Possum-fat!”
cried the clown, as he plumped poor Barry into her

“I no want 'em!” cried the woman, shuffling herself
free from the burden. Barry, rolling out of her lap, continued
to roll down the successive tiers, until he came
plump into the soft bed of sand and sawdust, which had
been prepared for a very different animal. Furious with
rage, he rose to his feet, and, seizing a pole with which
one of the equestrians had been balancing, he darted
headlong at the offending clown.

“Hurrah, red-jacket! Hurrah, clown!” were the
several cries of the audience. “Hurrah, Captain!”
was the more cordial shout of recognition and encouragement
from those who personally knew our hero:
“that's being into him with a long pole, indeed!”

But the clown had no idea of meeting such an enemy,
armed in such a fashion; and, eluding the tremendous
blow and thrust with which Barry addressed his ribs,
he vaulted clear over the shoulder of the latter and disappeared
behind the screen which sheltered the actor
from the audience. His enemy thus out of sight, the
furious champion proceeded to wreak his vengeance upon
the inanimate objects around him. The scene in which


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the clown was to have tricked the African magician
out of his soul was a most exquisite garden of Bagdad.
There were stands of beautiful flowers, vases of great
magnitude, statues, and several rich things by way of
ornament and decoration, which, seen through the medium
of distance, or by the aid of flickering lights,
looked to be very precious. There was also a sort of
close bower, a framework draped with silk, in which
the cunning clown had placed a sleeping beauty. She
was not the smallest part of the temptations with which
the soul of the magician was to be entrapped. Barry,
with his pole, had already thrown down one or two of the
wooden flower-vases, with their precious contents, and
his pole now descended upon the bower, which a single
stroke served to precipitate to the ground. To the surprise
of the assailant, not less than the assembly, up
sprang from the ruins a most beautifully dressed damsel;
young, pretty, and habited like a Sultana. It was fortunate,
indeed, that the weight of the pole had not
fallen upon her. But it has grazed sufficiently close to
arouse all her fury; not waiting an instant, she darted
upon our hero, and, drawing the little stiletto which she
wore as a part of her Oriental costume, he might have
been made to pay seriously for his frolic; for the rage
of the woman was apparent in her closely set teeth and
her fire-gleaming eyes. But Barry seized her arm, as
she struck, and dropping his pole stood only on the defensive.
The farce began to look greatly like tragedy.
The enraged woman now shrieked and struggled. Her
husband rushed out from the interior, armed with an
axe. The clown again made his appearance, followed
by the whole troupe, each seizing whatever weapon offered
as he came. There were sailors, and Turks, and magicians,
and even little Cupid's urchins, two feet high,
whom papa and mamma were thus assiduously training
in the way they should not go. These all confronted
our unlucky jockey with the most uncompromising fury
in their looks. He had spoiled the proceedings, thrown
the assembly into the most admired disorder, and it was


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justice only that doomed him to a condign punishment.
But, if they were formidable, Barry now no longer
stood alone. Tom Nettles was by his side, and the
long pole which Barry had discarded was in his grasp.

“Hillabee boys,” he cried aloud, “bring out your

Twenty vigorous youngsters sprang out at the summons,
and ranged themselves on the side of the amateurs.
Great clubs of knotted hickories were already
flourishing high; and, forgetting his late danger, Jones
Barry already felt that he was a hero. He still maintained
his grasp upon the Sultana, and seemed disposed
to carry her off as the captive to his bow and spear,
when the cool voice of Nettles commanded him to let
her go. He did so; and the sleeping beauty, now wide
awake, darted into the arms of the magician, who was
her husband, upon whose bosom she sobbed convulsively,
as at a providential escape from a great danger. Thus
the parties stood, confronting each other; both looking
firm and fierce enough, and threatening trouble. Not
only did the whole troupe of equestrians range themselves
for battle under the leadership of the clown, but
one of the horses coolly marched in, covered with
panoply, and, thrusting his head over that worthy's
shoulder, seemed to promise him sufficient backing, and
in truth looked very formidable. It was a scene; the
clown, as a matter of course, opposed himself to Barry,
who, armed with a pole, looked aghast at the twofold
conflict before him, in the threatening aspect of both
horse and rider. But Nettles fortunately knew the head
men of the company. He said—

“My friends, this is altogether a mistake, which I
can easily explain, and, I trust, easily reconcile. There's
no fun in fighting, though we're by no means afraid, as
you may see, to meet any number of men or horses.
But there's no real cause of quarrel between us; and
if you're agreed, we'll separate our forces. The boys
of Hillabee will retire to their seats, keeping their
hickories warm, lest we should want them again; and


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the gentlemen of the circus will go on with their exercises
as before. In the mean time, Mr. Barry and myself
will retire with the manager here, and we'll adjust
the difficulty in private together.” A suggestion so
politic was acceptable to all parties, though, once on the
ground, the Hillabee boys did not relish the idea of returning
without having done something glorious by way
of showing how well their destructive faculties had been
developed. Barry was a little scrupulous about entering
the mysterious sanctum to which the clown and the Sultana
had retired, but, having great confidence in Nettles,
and being assured by the great coolness and confidence
of the latter, he followed him and the manager into the
place of retreat. Here he found himself amidst a motley
group. Horses were staring them in the face on all
hands. Some of the equestrians were already mounted.
Here in one corner was a trunk and box; there a table
and chair; and there a chest; and there a bundle; and
there the uniform of a giant; and there the dozen
masks and jackets of the clown. There, too, recovered
from the dust and danger of the arena, was
the unlucky colossal mask and headdress which our
hero had torn off from his enemy at the first encounter.
Nettles walked in with the air of a man perfectly at

“And now,” said he, “Diavolo,” addressing the
clown, “let us begin the work of peace, as you begun
the war. Prepare us one of those excellent brandy
cocktails with which you tempted my friend to desperation.
Had you known the diabolical thirst that's
been troubling both of us the last three hours, you'd
have known 'twas quite as much as your head was
worth to mock us with anything half so delightful.
Quick, now; and let there be peace between us!”

The arrangement promised to be satisfactory to all
parties. The cocktails were speedily prepared; prepared
in a nice-looking, brass-bound bucket, of dimensions
to guarantee a sufficient taste of the beverage for
all the troupe. The bowls were filled; hands were


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shaken; eyes glistened; and, with the consent of the
magician, his lovely Sultana freely bestowed the kiss of
peace upon our hero. The example was gratuitously
followed by the clown, whose embrace and salutation
were distinctly stamped upon the front of Barry, in
unequal decorations of vermilion and burnt cork. Their
embraces seemed to affect the dextrous Tom Nettles
with a serious delight.

“How beautiful,” said he, “is it to behold brethren
thus dwelling in amity together! What a spectacle!
It is necessary that the audience should see it; that
they should see that this is no mockery; but that the
foes have freely exchanged forgiveness. Another
draught from the bucket, gentlemen,” said he, addressing
Barry and the clown, “and then go forth that the
people may witness those beautiful embraces.”

Barry had no scruples about the dram, but he rather
hung back at the proposal for the embrace in public.
His reluctance disappeared with the draught. He
swore that Diavolo was the best fellow in the world,
and made the finest cocktails; and, with an arm about
each other's waist, each bearing a cocktail in hand, they
emerged from the canopy into the area, and drank to
each other, and the audience. If war exulted in the
previous scene, philanthropy was proportionally happy
now. The audience were ravished. The old ladies
wept. The old men thought it just as well; and the
negroes were perfectly well satisfied; wondering only a
little to behold a man drinking with such a capacious
swallow, who had so recently been deprived of his head.
All seemed perfectly well satisfied but young Hillabee,
from whom some discordant hisses were heard to rise,
while the unemployed hickories were made to clatter
against the sides of the benches.

“There's a drop yet in the bucket,” whispered the
clown to his new comrade. The hint was not lost upon
Barry. He returned to the sanctum, where he found
his friend Tom Nettles. There they remained till the
performances were over, and the crowd departed; when


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they were invited to a hot supper with the troupe, in
the great area of the pavilion. The invitation was not
to be disregarded. The equestrians lived well; and
Barry and his friend were both hungry. But, were it
not so, the wishes of the latter would scarcely have had
any weight upon our delighted hero. He had been the
hero of the night, though after a somewhat doubtful
fashion, it is true; but he had been conspicuous, and
had come out of the scene with applause. Of course,
he could not doubt that it was his appearance which
was so warmly welcomed when he had come forth in
the embraces of the clown. The clapping and shouting
seemed to him the most grateful sounds to which he
had ever listened; and the brandy cocktails were the
most delicious of mortal beverages. It was a night of glorification.
The supper-table was spread. His friend was
placed on one side of the manager; he occupied the
other. Beside him, sat the lovely wife of the magician,
whose graciousness never even provoked the frowns of
her mysterious lord. At first, Jones Barry felt a little
squeamish on this subject. When she gazed so tenderly
in his eyes, and suffered her finger to rest so impressively
on his wrist, he felt a dubiousness, and looked
his doubts at the husband. But he knew not the indifference
of professional magic to those mortal subjects.
The latter saw everything without discomposure; and,
after a little turn of hesitation and doubt, our hero delivered
himself up, soul and body, to all the intoxication
of a conviction that he had won the heart of this
most beautiful of all the creatures of Faery. They
drank together, and whispered together. The hours
waxed late. Barry sang a comic song, at the instance
of Nettles, and, at the conclusion, was more delighted
than astounded, as his Sultana, throwing her arms
about his neck, and seating herself in his lap, in the
face of all the assembly, called him the finest little fellow
in the world. He did not know how he should recompense
such devotion, but by forcing a great ring from
his upon her finger. She coyly suffered him, in a moment


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after, to transfer the diamond breastpin from his
to her bosom. He put it there himself; and all this
the magician saw without seeming to regard it as in any
wise improper. The next morning, Barry found himself
where he had supped, sleeping upon one of the
benches, with a bundle of straw under his head, and
one of the horse-cloths, green and scarlet, spread above
his body. Tom Nettles, as he opened his eyes, was to
be seen standing with the manager at a little distance,
and mixing a couple of rosy anti-fogmatics.