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OUR county of Chambers has a very curiosity-loving population, and when the bills are stuck for a public execution of any sort, in any of our villages, no sort of weather can keep our people away. “Magicians” charm, and “Circuses” entrance them—but a Menagerie almost throws them into spasms of delight.

Some months ago, Raymond’s fine collection of animals was shown in La Fayette, with the unusual attraction of lion-tamers, male and female. On this feature of the exhibition, the public voice was loud, enthusiastic, and eloquent, for several days before the Menagerie arrived. When it came, we visited it, in company with our waggish old Irish friend, Tom Martin—the same who told the story of the “Double-Headed Snake.”

The elephant was the great point of attraction, as usual. Many were the remarks elicited by his immense size and docility.

“I want his hide and frame for a corn crib,” said a fellow from Pan-Handle Beat.

“Save me his years for skearts to my old wagin saddle,” remarked another.

“Good gracious!” ejaculated a sallow girl, with a

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dirty blue ribbon around a yellow neck, “was it borned with that ugly snake thing stuck to its nose?”

“Its got a’most the least har to as much hide, that I ever seed,” quoth Jerry Brumbelow.

“ Whar do they raise 'em?” asked some honest searcher after knowledge.

“ Not here—not here in this country,” replied Jim M’Gaffey, with a knowing look.

“ Whar, then?”

“ That animal,” said Jim, who was very drunk, “ that animal wasn’t raised in the island of Ameriky ; it come all the way from Ireland.”

“ Give us your hand, my friend,” exclaimed old Tom Martin, with an ironical air ; “give us your hand for the thrue word ye’re tellin’ the boys. Don’t ye see the creatur’s fut? Sure ‘twas made for the Bogs of the ould counthry! This thing, tho’, is but a heiffer, as ye may say. What would ye say if ye could see a giniwine Irish Bull? Tut!”

Satis! jam satis!” soliloquized a corpulent lawyer, as he walked up ; unconsciously latinizing the spirit of Tom Haines’ remark on a similar occasion.*

The group adjourned to the vicinity of the lion.

“ Why didn’t they shurr (shear) that critter’s fore parts, as well as his hind ones?” asked some one.

“ You see,” said his keeper, “ he’s got a breast complaint, and we were afraid of increasing his cold.”

“ Well, by granny, I did notice he was hoarse when he hollered a while ago.”

“ Whar did he come from, Jim?” asked one of the crowd.

*Vide “Georgia Scenes.”

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“From Ireland, too, be Jasus,” said old Tom, taking the word out of Jim’s mouth.

“ Didn’t he, M’Gaffey?”

“ I judge he did,” said Mac.

“ I’ll take my corp’ral of it,” returned Marin ; “the grooves ov Blarney is full ov ‘em!”

Presently the crowd was ordered back, and Mr. and Mrs. Shaffer entered the cage with the lion, tiger, and other animals.

“ That takes Billy’s horns smooth off to his skull—don’t it?” said Tom Hussey.

“ Is it a rail woman in thar?” asked a skeptical dirt-eater.

“ Why, you see,” said Jim M’Gaffey, “ it’s a rail woman, but she’s got great sperret. Some people, tho’, think these show people ain’t regular human.”

“ No more they ain’t,” said old Tom.

“ What ar they, then?”

Airish to be sure!”

“ Ain’t the Irish human!”

“ Divil the taste!” responded old Tom, “ they’re all subjects ov the Queen ov Great Britain!”

“ That’s a fact,” said Jim M’Gaffey ; and the point was settled.

Mrs. Shaffer shook her whip at the tiger, which dashed by her and crouched in a corner of the cage, growling furiously.

“ Take care, bare-legs ; the old boy’s rattlen’ his chain—as my old woman tells the children, when they cry,” said John Davis.

“ I say, John,” observed a half-worn man in a

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slouched hat—“I ain’t no objection to that woman showin’ her legs that way ; but if Betsey was to –––––"

“ Let Betsey’s name alone, you good-for-nothing,” interrupted a sharp-nosed female, with one child in her arms, and another at her knee, “ let Betsey’s name alone.” It was the blessed Elizabeth herself—“ and come and tote Jake. Here they’ve been scrougin’ and runnin’ over the poor child all day—and you a-jawin’ thar! It’s only the Lord’s mercy the elephant didn’t tromp on him, and squash him to death. Come along!”

The hen-pecked meekly obeyed ; took Jacob into his paternal arms ; and we—ceased to take notes.

Source: Hooper, Johnson Jones. Simon Suggs’ Adventures and Travels. 1858.

University of Virginia Alderman Library, Special Collections.

Erin Bartels prepared this typescript.

[1] A slightly altered version of this tale appeared as "The Hanimal Show" in Southern and Southwestern Sketches: Fun, Sentiment, and Adventure. Edited by a Gentleman of Richmond. Richmond: J.W. Randolph, n.d. 89-92.

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