THE EVENING ENTERTAINMENT

The performance had not commenced—indeed, half an hour would elapse
before the hour fixed—and several of the performers were to be seen
among the spectators about the cages of the animals. One of these
Tarbox recognized.

“Look at that boy!” he said, clutching the constable’s arm.

He pointed to Robert Rudd and Charlie Davis, the two young riders, who
were walking together.

“What of him?” asked Spriggins.

“That’s the young villain that was with Enoch.”

Spriggins inwardly wished that the warrant was for Robert instead of
the giant.

“Why didn’t you arrest him instead of the giant?” he asked.

“Perhaps I will yet, for he trespassed on my grounds; but it was Enoch
that shook me up and killed Bruiser. Look here, young feller,” he
said, addressing Robert.

Robert turned and smiled as he recognized the farmer.

“Oh, it’s you,” he answered.

“Yes, it’s me,” answered Tarbox sternly. “Where is Enoch?”

“Who do you mean?”

“That overgrown brute that was with you this afternoon.”

Charlie Davis asked a question in a low voice of Robert, and then
turning to Tarbox before Robert had a chance to answer him asked: “Do
you want to buy a dog, mister?”

“You’re too small! I don’t want a puppy!” answered Tarbox, scowling.

“Oh, you’re too fresh!” answered Charlie, rather annoyed, particularly
as Robert laughed.

“Why don’t you answer me, boy?” demanded Tarbox angrily.

“I will conduct you to my friend, the Norwegian giant,” answered Robert
politely.

“Come along, Spriggins!” said Mr. Tarbox, pulling after him the
reluctant constable.

Spriggins would have enjoyed a leisurely examination of the Albino
sisters, the wild man from Borneo, the living skeleton, and the fat
lady, but none of them had attractions for Mr. Tarbox, whose soul was
fired by the desire for revenge. All too soon they reached the chair
where in massive dignity sat Anak, the Norwegian giant.

As Anak’s eyes rested on the approaching visitors, he looked amused.

“I’m glad to see you, my friend,” he called out, in the deep tones
natural to him, to Tarbox.

“And I’m glad to see you,” said Tarbox, spitefully. “I came here
expressly to see you.”

“You’re very kind,” said Anak. “Take a good look. There ain’t so much
of me as there is of my friend, Mme. Leonora,” with a wave of the hand
towards the fat lady; “but you can look at me as much as you want to.”

“I shall soon see you in a prison cell,” said Mr. Tarbox, sternly.
“Constable Spriggins, do your duty, sir.”

Poor Spriggins gazed at the immense man before him, with his heart
gradually sinking down into his boots. Never in all his life had he
been placed in such an embarrassing position. What utter nonsense it
was for him to think of leading out such a monster by the collar. Why,
he couldn’t begin to reach up to Anak’s collar.

“Can’t we compromise this thing?” he asked, faintly.

“No, we can’t, Spriggins; I insist upon your doin’ your duty.”

“What do you want?” asked Anak, in some curiosity.

“Produce your warrant, Spriggins,” said Tarbox.

The constable mechanically drew it out from his inside pocket.

Tarbox saw that he must take the initiative, and he was perfectly
willing to do so.

“Enoch,” he said, “this man is an officer of the law. He has a warrant
for your arrest.”

“For my arrest?” inquired Anak, opening his eyes in amazed surprise.

“Yes, for assault and battery on me, Nathan Tarbox, and the murder of
my dog, Bruiser. Such things can be done in Norway, p’r’aps, but they
ain’t allowed in the State of Massachusetts. Spriggins, do your duty.”

The constable looked at the giant uncomfortably, and edged away a
little.

“What!” said Anak, shaking his sides, “does he want to arrest me?”

“Yes,” said Tarbox, grimly. “Spriggins, read the warrant.”

“Read it yourself, Mr. Tarbox.”

Tarbox did so with evident enjoyment, but Anak’s enjoyment seemed no
less.

“Ho, ho, ho!” he shouted. “This is a joke!”

“You won’t find it much of a joke,” said Tarbox. “Come, Spriggins, do
your duty.”

“Mr. Enoch,” said the constable, in a trembling voice, “if you’ll come
with me without making any fuss, I’ll see that you are well treated.”

“Suppose I don’t?” said Anak.

Spriggins looked helplessly at Tarbox. That was a question he could not
answer.

“Then it’ll be the worse for you,” said Tarbox, who was always ready to
make up for his companion’s deficiencies.

“Can’t you wait till the performance is over?” asked the giant, smiling.

“To be sure,” said Spriggins, quickly. “Anything to oblige.”

“No,” said Tarbox, decidedly. “The warrant must be served now. You have
no discretion.”

“I’d like to oblige the gentleman,” said the constable, who wanted to
avoid trouble and see the performance.

“You can’t. It won’t be allowed.”

“What’s the use of losing the benefit of our money, Mr. Tarbox?”

“That’s my affair. I don’t want to see the circus. I consider it a
wicked snare to lure souls to Satan.”

“But I don’t; you can go, you know,” suggested Spriggins.

“No; I shall stay here to see that you do your duty.”

“You have no charge over me,” said the constable, with some spirit.

“All the same you need looking after. Enoch, if you defy the law you’ll
find it the worse for you. This ain’t Norway.”

“No; we’ve got no such fools as you in Norway,” retorted the giant.
“Tell me what you want.”

Tarbox whispered to Spriggins.

The latter in a tremulous voice said, “Enoch, I arrest you in the name
of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and I require you to come with me
at once.”

“Come and take me,” said Anak, his broad face relaxing with a smile.

“What do you mean?” asked Tarbox, quickly.

“I mean that I shan’t stir from this chair. My contract with this show
requires me to sit here. If the constable wants me, he must take me by
force. He needn’t be afraid. If he can take me he may.”

Even Tarbox looked rather nonplussed. Both he and Spriggins together
would have found it impossible to carry off a giant weighing over four
hundred pounds.

“You see, we’ll have to give it up,” said Spriggins, with evident
pleasure.

“You’re glad of it!” said Tarbox, suspiciously. “You don’t want to do
your duty.”

“I’ve tried to do it, and it’s no use,” said the constable, with a
little show of spirit. “If I had the strength of a yoke of oxen, I
might do something; as it is, I can’t.”

“You’d better come quietly, Enoch,” said Tarbox, his own courage
beginning to fail.

A crowd had collected about the two, and derisive smiles and remarks
greeted the lamentable failure of Tarbox’s scheme of revenge.

“Get a wheelbarrow, mister,” said a boy from a neighboring town.

“Hadn’t you better try a derrick?” suggested a man beside him.

“You must be a lunatic!” said another.

“We’d better go, Mr. Tarbox,” said Spriggins, uncomfortably.

“I won’t stir,” said Tarbox, looking around him with a scowl, “till I
see that warrant served. I wish I was a constable.”

“It wouldn’t be healthy for you, old man!” said Charlie Davis, who,
with Robert, had been drawn to the scene, and heard the colloquy.

“I’d make you healthy if I had you with me for a few minutes,” said
Tarbox, scowling.

“Thank you; you’re very kind, but my time is too valuable,” said
Charlie.

“What is all this?” asked a voice of authority.

It was the voice of the manager, who had been attracted by the crowd as
he was going his rounds.

“The matter is that we’ve got a warrant for this man’s arrest!” said
Tarbox, pointing to the giant.

“Show me your warrant!”

It was handed him.

He smiled as he read it, and handing it back, remarked, “Your warrant
is mere waste paper, gentlemen.”

“Why is it?” asked Tarbox, defiantly.

“Because there is no such man as Enoch in this show.”

“Isn’t that his name?” asked Tarbox.

“No, it isn’t. If you can find a man by that name you are welcome to
take him.”

“Crushed again,” remarked Charlie Davis, mockingly.

Tarbox made a grab for the boy’s collar, but failed to secure him.

“Come along out, Spriggins,” he said, in a tone of deep depression.

“You can go if you like,” said the constable, independently; “I’m going
to stay and see the show.”

Nathan Tarbox was not a liberal man. Indeed he had the reputation of
being very close-fisted and mean. Never had he been known to invite a
friend to a place of amusement, never had he been willing to incur the
expense of a dime for another. Yet here he had paid fifty cents for a
ticket of admission to the circus, and presented it to the constable.
We know, however, why he did this. He saw no other way of compassing
his revenge upon the giant who had so grievously offended him, and
revenge even outweighed money in his eyes.

Well, it had turned out a failure. In spite of the cowardice of
Spriggins something might have been accomplished, and at all events the
Norwegian might have been put in the attitude of a man defying the law,
which would have made the eventual penalty greater. But there had been
a ridiculous error in the warrant—an error for which he was compelled
to admit that he himself was responsible. Thus he was balked of his
vengeance, for the time being at least, and he was a dollar out of
pocket. That Spriggins should deliberately disobey him and stay to see
the show was aggravating. He would rather have thrown the money away.

“Goin’ to stay and see the show!” repeated Tarbox, angrily. “You can’t
do it, Spriggins.”

“Why can’t I?”

“I didn’t buy you the ticket for no such purpose.”

“Can’t help that, Mr. Tarbox. I should be a fool to leave the show, now
I’m in, and my ticket paid for.”

“Then, Mr. Spriggins, I shall expect you to repay me the fifty cents I
spent for your ticket.”

“You must excuse me, Mr. Tarbox; you paid me in. I didn’t ask you to,
but now I’m in I’m goin’ to stay. I wouldn’t have come to pay my own
ticket, for I’m a poor man, and I can’t afford it.”

“Do you think I can afford to throw away a dollar on two tickets?”
demanded the farmer, angrily.

“I should say you could if you wanted to. You’re pretty well off, and if
I was as rich as you I wouldn’t mind goin’ to anything that comes round.”

“You don’t know anything about my circumstances. Besides I guess
they’ll give me my money back, if I tell ’em how I was deceived into
buyin’ tickets.”

“Ask them, if you want to. If they’ll do it, I’ll go out.”

The two made their way to the portal, and Tarbox said to the
ticket-taker: “I only came in on business; I didn’t come to see the
show. I want to know if I can get my money back.”

“Of course not,” said that official.

“But I came in on business connected with the law.”

“Can’t help it! You’ve seen part of the show already; I saw you lookin’
at the curiosities.”

“I wanted to arrest one of the curiosities,” said Tarbox, indignantly.
“I wouldn’t give two cents to see ’em all.”

“Then if you’re an enemy of the show, you can’t expect any passes. Just
stand aside and let people pass.”

Tarbox was utterly disgusted. He was baffled at every turn. If he only
had been concerned he would not have minded so much, but that Spriggins
should pass an evening of enjoyment at his expense rankled in his
breast.

“We’ll go out anyhow,” said he to the constable.

“You can do as you please, Mr. Tarbox. I’m goin’ in to get a seat and
see the show.”

“Your conduct is disgraceful, constable. You ain’t fit for your
position.”

“I shall do as I please,” said Spriggins, independently. “If you choose
to let the show keep your money, and you get nothing for it, you may.
I ain’t such a fool. They’d be glad if all would do the same. All they
want is the money.”

This argument made an impression upon the farmer. As he couldn’t get
his money back, it did seem worth while to get some value for it.
Besides, if the truth must be told, he had some curiosity to see the
performance. Never in all his life had he been to a circus, and he
always spoke of them as sinful; still he wanted to know what they were
like.

“I don’t know but you’re right, constable,” he said. “I don’t hold to
enconragin’ such demoralizin’ sights, but on the other hand I don’t
want to do ’em a favor by makin’ ’em a present of a dollar for a free
gift. I feel obliged to stay, situated as I am.”

“That’s the way to look at it,” said the constable, gratified at the
change in his companion’s sentiments. “Come and let’s get seats, so we
can see what’s goin’ on.”

He led the way and Tarbox followed him. They succeeded in obtaining
favorable seats, notwithstanding it was within five minutes of the time
for beginning the varied list of performances.

It must be admitted that Mr. Tarbox was interested, in spite of
himself, in the successive features of the entertainment. I do not
propose to describe them in detail. I advance to one in which one of
our characters takes part.

“Gentlemen and ladies,” said the manager, “I will now introduce to
your notice Robert Rudd, the champion bareback rider of his age in the
world.”

A horse was led into the ring, and Robert, dressed in tights and a
showy costume, bounded into the ring also.

The horse was started. He ran along by the side of it; then, laying
his hand upon the animal, vaulted upon his back. After riding round
the ring once or twice he rose to his feet and maintained his position
with perfect ease while the horse, stimulated by the crack of the whip,
galloped round the course.

“I declare, that beats all!” said Spriggins, who had never attended a
circus before.

“That’s the boy that was with the giant,” said Tarbox.

“Well, he’s a smart rider. I never saw the beat of him.”

Mr. Spriggins was destined to be still more astonished. Hoops were
brought and placed at regular intervals, covered with paper, and the
boy rider jumped through each in succession, landing again on the
horse’s back.

“Did you ever see anything like it before, Mr. Tarbox?” asked the
constable.

“No, and I never want to again,” said Tarbox, with a growl, though he
regarded the boy’s performance with as eager curiosity as his companion.

“I think it’s beautiful,” said Spriggins; “I’m glad we come.”

“I dare say you do, as long as I pay the bills,” said Tarbox, in a
sarcastic voice.

“Don’t you like it yourself?”

“I don’t care anything for it. I only stayed because I didn’t want the
show people to get the advantage of us.”

Robert finished his act, and at his exit was greeted with a storm of
applause.

He was followed by the younger boy, Charlie Davis, who went through
a similar performance, and was received with similar favor. Young
performers generally win the favor of an audience, and their efforts to
please are received with considerable indulgence, though on the present
occasion this was not needed.

On two reserved seats sat an old gentleman whose seamed face and
bleached hair indicated advanced years. By his side sat a man of
thirty-five, with a dark face and keen, watchful black eyes, whose
expression was not likely to prepossess a stranger in his favor. The
lines about his mouth indicated a hard, selfish man, whose thoughts
were centred in himself.

This much by way of introduction. I need only add that the first
impressions likely to be formed of this man were the correct ones. To
the old man who sat at his side, and whom he regarded watchfully, he
bore the relation of nephew.

It was perhaps surprising to see at the circus a man as old as
Cornelius Richmond, for this was the name of the uncle, but he had
been persuaded by his nephew, Hugo, with whom he was travelling, to
attend, and, as the only alternative was an evening at a dull hotel,
he yielded. But during the first part of the performance he looked on
in a listless manner, not seeming interested. Hugo, who was younger,
appeared more attentive. But when Robert Rudd bounded into the ring,
the old man started, and leaning forward, said quickly, in a tone not
free from agitation, “Do you see that boy, Hugo?”

Hugo, too, seemed struck by the boy’s appearance, but he answered with
studied indifference, “Yes, uncle, I see him. What of him?”

“Is he not the image of my dead son? Never have I seen such a
resemblance to what Julian was at his age!”

“My dear uncle,” said Hugo, shrugging his shoulders, “I assure you that
it is all a fancy on your part. To me he looks very unlike my cousin.”

“You don’t remember him as I do, Hugo. If Julian’s son were living, he
would look like that boy.”

“Possibly, uncle,” said Hugo, carelessly; “but as he is dead that
cannot interest us!”

While Robert was in the ring the old man followed him with a glance
almost painful in its eagerness.

You may also like