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The Sequel to Toby Tyler
BY James Otis
An extract from
Vol. III - No. 127 through Vol. III – No. 146
Abela Publishing, London
Mr Stubb’s Brother
Typographical arrangement of this edition
© Abela Publishing 2018
This book may not be reproduced in its current format in any manner in any media, or transmitted by any means whatsoever, electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, or mechanical ( including photocopy, file or video recording, internet web sites, blogs, wikis, or any other information storage and retrieval system) except as permitted by law without the prior written permission of the publisher.
The misbehavior of Mr. Stubb’s brother
"Why, we could start a circus jest as easy as a wink, Toby, 'cause you know all about one; an' all you'd have to do would be to tell us fellers what to do, an' we'd 'tend to the rest."
"Yes; but you see we hain't got a tent, or hosses, or wagons, or nothin', an' I don't see how you could get a circus up that way;" and the speaker hugged his knees as he rocked himself to and fro in a musing way on the rather sharp point of a large rock, on which he had seated himself in order to hear what his companion had to say that was so important.
"Will you come down with me to Bob Atwood's, an' see what he says about it?"
"Yes, I'll do that if you'll come out afterward for a game of I-spy round the meetin'-house."
"All right; if we can find enough of the other fellers, I will."
Then the boys slipped down from the rocks, found the cows, and drove them home as the preface to their visit to Bob Atwood's.
The boy who was so anxious to start a circus was a little fellow with such a wonderful amount of remarkably red hair that he was seldom called anything but Reddy, although his name was known—by his parents, at least—to be Walter Grant. His companion was Toby Tyler, a boy who, a year before, had thought it would be a very pleasant thing to run away from his uncle Daniel and the town of Guilford in order to be with a circus, and who, in ten weeks, was only too glad to run back home as rapidly as possible.
During the first few months after his return many brilliant offers had been made Toby by his companions to induce him to aid them in starting an amateur circus; but he had refused to have anything to do with the schemes, and for several reasons. During the ten weeks he had been away he had seen quite as much of a circus life as he cared to see, without even such a mild dose as this amateur show would be; and again, whenever he thought of the matter, the remembrance of the death of his monkey, Mr. Stubbs, would come upon him so vividly, and cause him so much sorrow, that he resolutely put the matter from his mind.
Now, however, it had been a year since the monkey was killed; school had closed during the summer season; and he was rather more disposed to listen to the requests of his friends. On this particular night Reddy Grant had offered to go with him for the cows—an act of generosity which Toby accounted for only on the theory that Reddy wanted some of the strawberries which grew so plentifully in Uncle Daniel's pasture. But when they arrived there the strawberries were neglected for the circus question; and Toby then showed he was at least willing to talk about it.
There was no doubt that Bob Atwood knew Reddy was going to try to induce Toby to help start a circus, and Bob knew also that Reddy and Toby would visit him, although he appeared very much surprised when he saw them coming up the hill toward his house. He was at home, evidently waiting for something, at an hour when all the other boys were out playing; and that in itself would have made Toby suspicious if he had paid much attention to the matter.
Bob was perfectly willing to talk about a circus—so willing, that, almost before Toby was aware of it, he was laying plans with the others for such a show as could be given with the material at hand.
"You see, we'd have to get a tent the first thing," said Toby, as he seated himself on the saw-horse as a sort of place of honor, and proceeded to give his companions the benefit of his experience in the circus line. "I s'pose we could get along without a fat woman or a skeleton; but we'd have to have the tent anyway, so's folks couldn't look right in an' see the show for nothin'."
Reddy had decided some time before how that trifling matter could be arranged. In fact, he had spent several sleepless nights thinking it over, and as he went industriously to work making shavings out of a portion of a shingle he said:
"I've got all that settled, Toby; an' when you say you're willin' to go ahead an' fix up the show, I'll be on hand with a tent that'll make your eyes stick out over a foot."
Bob nodded his head to show he was convinced Reddy could do just as he had promised; but Toby was anxious for more particulars, and insisted on knowing where this very necessary portion of a circus was coming from.
"You see, a tent is a big thing," he said, seriously, "an' it would cost more money than the fellers in this town could raise if they should pick all the strawberries in Uncle Dan'l's pasture."
"Oh, I don't say as the tent Reddy's got his eye on is a reg'lar one like a real circus has," said Bob, slowly and candidly, as he began to draw on the side of the wood-shed a picture of what he probably intended should represent a horse; "but he knows how he can rig one up that'll be big enough, an' look stavin'."
With this information Toby was obliged to be satisfied, and with the view of learning more of the details, in case his companions had arranged for them, he asked:
"Where you goin' to get the company—the folks that ride, an' turn hand-springs, an' all them things?"
"Ben Cushing can turn twice as many hand-springs as any feller you ever saw, an' he can walk on his hands twice round the engine-house. I guess you couldn't find many circuses that could beat him, an' he's been practicing in his barn all the chance he could get for more'n a week."
Without intending to do so, Bob had thus let the secret out that the scheme had already been talked up before Toby was consulted, and then there was no longer any reason for concealment.
"You see, we thought we'd kinder get things fixed," said Reddy, quickly, anxious to explain away the seeming deception he had been guilty of, "an' we wouldn't say anything to you till we knew whether we could get one up or not."
"An' we're goin' to ask three cents to come in, an' lots of the fellers have promised to buy tickets if we'll let 'em do some of the ridin', or else lead the hosses."
"But how are you goin' to get any hosses?" asked Toby, thoroughly surprised at the way in which the scheme had already been developed.
"Reddy can get Jack Douglass's blind one, an' we can train him so's he'll go 'round the ring all right, an' your uncle Dan'l will let you have his old white one that's lame, if you ask him. I ain't sure but I can get one of Chandler Merrill's ponies," continued Bob, now so excited by his subject that he left his picture while it was yet a three-legged horse, and stood in front of his friends; "an' if we could sell tickets enough, we could hire one of Rube Rowe's hosses for you to ride."
"An' Bob's goin' to be the clown, an' his mother's goin' to make him a suit of clothes out of one of his grandmother's curtains," added Reddy, as he snapped an imaginary whip with so many unnecessary flourishes that he tumbled over the saw-horse, thereby mixing a large quantity of sawdust in his brilliantly colored hair.
"An' Reddy's goin' to be ring-master," explained Bob, as he assisted his friend to rise, and acted the part of Good Samaritan by trying to get the sawdust from his hair with a curry-comb. "Joe Robinson says he'll sell tickets, an' 'tend the door, an' hold the hoops for you to jump through."
"Leander Leighton's goin' to be the band. He's got a pair of clappers; an' Mrs. Doak's goin' to show him how to play on the accordion with one finger, so's he'll know how to make an awful lot of noise," said Reddy, as he gave up the task of extracting the sawdust, and devoted his entire attention to the scheme.
"An' we can have some animals," said Bob, with the air of one who adds the crowning glory to some brilliant work.
Toby had been surprised at the resources of the town for a circus, of which he had not even dreamed; and at Bob's last remark he left his saw-horse seat, as if to enable him to hear more distinctly.
"Yes," continued Bob, "we can get a good many of some kinds. Old Mrs. Simpson has got a three-legged cat with four kittens, an' Ben Cushing has got a hen that crows; an' we can take my calf for a grizzly bear, an' Jack Havener's two lambs for white bears. I've caught six mice, an' I'll have more'n a dozen before the show comes off; an' Reddy's goin' to bring his cat that ain't got any tail. Leander Leighton's goin' to bring four of his rabbits, an' make believe they're wolves; an' Joe Robinson's goin' to catch all the squirrels he can—we'll have the largest for foxes, an' the smallest for hyenas; an' Joe'll keep howlin' while he's 'tendin' the door, so's to make 'em sound right."
"Bob's sister's goin' to show him how to sing a couple of songs, an' he's goin' to write 'em out on paper, so's to have a book to sell," added Reddy, delighted at the surprise expressed in Toby's face. "Nahum Baker says if we have any kind of a show, he'll bring up some lemonade an' some pies to sell, an' pass 'em round jest as they do in a reg'lar circus."
This last information was indeed surprising, for inasmuch as Nahum Baker was a man who had an apology for a fruit store near the wharves, it lent an air of realism to the plan, this having a grown man connected with them in the enterprise.
"But he mustn't get any of the boys to help him, an' then treat them as Job Lord did me," said Toby, earnestly, the scheme having grown so in the half-hour that he began to fear it might be too much like the circus with which he had spent ten of the longest and most dreary weeks he had ever known.
"I'll look out for that," said Bob, confidently. "If he tries any of them games, we'll make him leave, no matter how good a trade he's doin'."
"Now where we goin' to have the show?" and from the way Toby asked the question it was easily seen that he had decided to accept the position of manager which had been so delicately offered him.
"That's jest what we ain't fixed about," said Bob, as if he blamed himself severely for not having already attended to this portion of the business. "You see, if your uncle Dan'l would let us have it up by his barn, that would be jest the place, an' I almost know he'd say yes if you asked him."
"Do you s'pose it would be big enough? You know, when there's a circus in town everybody comes from all around to see it, an' it wouldn't do to have a place where they couldn't all get in;" and Toby spoke as if there could be no doubt as to the crowds that would collect to see this wonderful show of theirs.
"It'll have to be big enough, if we use the tent I'm goin' to get," said Reddy, decidedly; "for you see that won't be so awful large, an' it would make it look kinder small if we put it where the other circuses put theirs."
"Well, then, I s'pose we'll have to make that do, an' we can have two or three shows if there are too many to come in at one time," said Toby, in a satisfied way that matters could be arranged so easily; and then, with a big sigh, he added: "If only Mr. Stubbs hadn't got killed, what a show we could have! I never saw him ride, but I know he could have done better than anyone else that ever tried it, if he wanted to, an' if we had him we could have a reg'lar circus without anybody else."
Then the boys bewailed the untimely fate of Mr. Stubbs, until they saw that Toby was fast getting into a mood altogether too sad for the proper transaction of circus business, and Bob proposed that a visit be paid Ben Cushing, for the purpose of having him give them a private exhibition of his skill, in order that Toby might see some of the talent which was to help make their circus a glorious success.
Reddy had laid his plans so well that all the intending partners were where they could easily be found on this evening when Toby's consent was to be won, and Ben Cushing was no exception. On the hard, uneven floor of his father's barn, with all his clothes discarded save his trousers and shirt, he was making such heroic efforts in the way of practice, that while the boys were yet some distance from the building they could hear the thud of Ben's head or heels as he unexpectedly came in contact with the floor.
BEN PRACTICING IN HIS FATHER'S BARN.
When the three visitors stood at the door and looked in, Ben professed to be unaware of their presence, and began a series of hand-springs that might have been wonderful if he had not miscalculated the distance, and struck the side of the barn just as he was getting well into the work.
Then, having lost his opportunity of dazzling them by showing that even when he was alone he could turn any number of hand-springs simply in the way of exercise, he suddenly became aware of their presence, and greeted his friends with the anxiously asked question as to what Toby had decided to do about entering the circus business.
Bob and Reddy, instead of answering, waited for Toby to speak; it was a good opportunity to have the important matter settled definitely, and they listened anxiously for his decision.
"I'm goin' into it," said Toby, after a pause, during which it appeared as if he were trying to make up his mind, "'cause it seems as if you had it almost done now. You know, when I got home last summer, I didn't ever want to hear of a circus or see one, for I'd had about enough of them; an' then I'd think of poor Mr. Stubbs, an' that would make me feel awful bad. I didn't think, either, that we could get up such a good show; but now you fellers have got so much done toward it, I think we'd better go ahead—though I do wish Mr. Stubbs was alive, an' we had a skeleton an' a fat woman."
Reddy Grant cheered very loudly as a means of showing how delighted he was at thus having finally enlisted Toby in the scheme, and Bob, as proof of the high esteem in which all the projectors of the enterprise held this famous circus-rider, said:
"Now you know all about circuses, Toby, an' you shall be the chief boss of this one, an' we'll do just what you say."
Toby almost blushed as this great honor was actually thrust upon him, and he hardly knew what reply to make, when Ben ceased his acrobatic exercises, and with Bobby and Reddy stood waiting for him to give his orders.
"I s'pose the first thing to do," he said at length, "is to see if Jack Douglass is willin' for us to have his hoss, an' then find out what Uncle Dan'l says about it. If we don't get the hoss, it won't be any use to say anything to Uncle Dan'l."
Reddy was so anxious to have matters settled at once that he offered to go up to Mr. Douglass's house then, if the others would wait there for his return, which proposition was at once accepted.
Mr. Douglass was an old colored man who lived fully half a mile from the village; but Reddy's eagerness caused quick travelling, and in a surprisingly short time he was back, breathless and happy. The coveted horse was to be theirs for as long a time as they wanted him, provided they fed him well, and did not attempt to harness him into a wagon.
The owner of the sightless animal had expressed his doubts as to whether he would ever make much of a circus horse, owing to his lack of sight and his extreme age; but he argued that if, as was very probable, the animal fell while being ridden, he would hurt his rider quite as much as himself, and therefore the experiment would not be tried so often as seriously to injure the steed.
It only remained to consult Uncle Daniel on the matter, and of course that was to be attended to by Toby. He would have waited until a fitting opportunity presented itself, but his companions were so impatient, that he went home at once to have the case decided.
Uncle Daniel was seated by the window as usual, looking out over the distant hills as if he were trying to peer in at the gates of that city where so many loved ones awaited him, and it was some moments before Toby could make him understand what it was he was trying to say.
"So ye didn't get circusin' enough last summer?" asked the old gentleman, when at last he realized what it was the boy was talking about.
"Oh yes, I did," replied Toby, quickly; "but you see that was a real one, an' this of ours is only a little make-believe for three cents. We want to get you to let us have the lot between the barn an' the road to put our tent on, an' then lend us old Whitey. We're goin' to have Jack Douglass's hoss that's blind, an' we've got a three-legged cat, an' one without any tail, an' lots of things."
"It's a kind of a cripples' circus, eh? Well, Toby boy, you can do as you want to, an' you shall have old Whitey; but it seems to me you'd better tie her lame leg on, or she'll shake it off when you get to makin' her cut up antics."
Then Uncle Daniel returned to his reverie, and the show was thus decided upon, the projectors going again to view the triangular piece of land so soon to be decorated with their tents and circus belongings.
Each hour that passed after Toby had decided, with Uncle Daniel's consent, to go into the circus business, made him more eager to carry out the brilliant plan that had been unfolded by Bob Atwood and Reddy Grant, until his brain was in a perfect whirl when he went to bed that night.
He was sure he could ride as well as when he was under Mr. Castle's rather severe training, and he thought over and over again how he would surprise everyone who knew him; but he did not stop to think that there might be a difference between the horse he had ridden in the circus and the lame one of Uncle Daniel's, or the blind one belonging to Mr. Douglass. He had an idea that it all depended upon himself, with very little reference to the animal, and he was sure he had his lesson perfectly.
Early as he got up the next morning, his partners in the enterprise were waiting for him just around the corner of the barn, where he found them as he went for the cows, and they walked to the pasture with him in order to discuss the matter.
Ben Cushing was in light marching and acrobatic costume, worn for the occasion, in order to give a full exhibition of his skill; and Reddy had been up so long that he had had time to procure Mr. Douglass's wonderful steed, which he had already led to the pasture, so that he could be experimented upon.
"I thought I'd get him up there," he said to Toby, "so's you could try him; 'cause if we don't get money enough to hire one of Rube Rowe, you'll have to ride the blind one or the lame one, an' you'd better find out which you want. If you try him in the pasture, the fellers won't see you; but if you did it down by your house, every one of 'em would huddle 'round."
It was a warm job Bob had undertaken, this leading the blind animal along the ill-defined line that marked the limits of the ring, for the sun shone brightly, and there were no friendly trees to lend a shelter; but he paid no attention to his discomfort, because of the fact that he was doing something toward the enterprise which was to bring them in both honor and money.
The poor old horse was the least interested of the party, and he stumbled around the circle in an abused sort of way, as if he considered it a piece of gross injustice to force him on the weary round when the grass was so plentiful and tender just under his feet.
Ben was busily engaged in lengthening Mr. Douglass's rather weak and aged bridle with a small piece of rope, and from time to time he encouraged the ambitious clown in his labor.
"Keep it up, if it is hot!" he shouted, "an' when we get him so's he can do it alone, he'll be jest as good a circus hoss as anybody would want, for we can stuff him with hay an' grass till he's fat," and Ben looked at the clearly defined ribs in a critical way, as if trying to decide how much food would be necessary to cover them with flesh.
"Oh, I can keep on as long as the hoss can," said Bob, as he wiped the perspiration from his face with one hand, and clung firmly to the forelock of the animal with the other; "but we've been round here as many as six times already, an' he don't seem to know the way any better than when we started!"
"Oh yes, he does," cried Reddy, who was practicing for his duties as ring-master, anxious that his education should advance as fast as the horse's did; "he's got so he knows enough to turn out for that second knoll, though he does stumble a little over the first one."
By this time Ben had the bridle adjusted to suit him, Toby was ready to make his first attempt at riding since he left the circus, and the more serious work was begun.
Ben bridled the horse after some difficulty, Reddy drew out from its hiding-place a whip made by tying a piece of cod line to an alder branch, and Toby was about to mount, when Joe Robinson came in sight.
He had been running at full speed, and was nearly breathless; but he managed to cry out so that he could be understood after considerable difficulty: