"Well that's a queer name."
"Yes I s'pose so myself; but you see I don't expect that's the
name that belongs to me. But the fellers call me so an' so does
"Who is Uncle Daniel?" was the next question. In the absence of
other customers the man seemed disposed to get as much amusement
out of the boy as possible.
"He hain't my uncle at all; I only call him so because all the boys
do an' I live with him."
"Where's your father and mother?"
"I don't know" said Toby rather carelessly. "I don't know much
about 'em an' Uncle Dan'l says they don't know much about me.
Here's another bad nut; goin' to give me two more?"
The two nuts were given him and he said as he put them in his
pocket and turned over and over again those which he held in his
hand: "I shouldn't wonder if all of these was bad. S'posen you
give me two for each one of 'em before I crack 'em an' then they
won't be spoiled so you can't sell 'em again."
As this offer of barter was made the man looked amused and he
asked as he counted out the number which Toby desired "If I give
you these I suppose you'll want me to give you two more for each
one and you'll keep that kind of a trade going until you get my
"I won't open my head if every one of em's bad."
"All right; you can keep what you've got and I'll give you these
besides; but I don't want you to buy any more for I don't want to
do that kind of business."
Toby took the nuts offered not in the least abashed and seated
himself on a convenient stone to eat them and at the same time to
see all that was going on around him. The coming of a circus to the
little town of Guilford was an event and Toby had hardly thought
of anything else since the highly colored posters had first been
put up. It was yet quite early in the morning and the tents were
just being erected by the men. Toby had followed with eager eyes
everything that looked as if it belonged to the circus from the
time the first wagon had entered the town until the street parade
had been made and everything was being prepared for the afternoon's
The man who had made the losing trade in peanuts seemed disposed
to question the boy still further probably owing to the fact that
he had nothing better to do.
"Who is this Uncle Daniel you say you live with? Is he a farmer?"
"No; he's a deacon an' he raps me over the head with the hymn book
whenever I go to sleep in meetin' an' he says I eat four times as
much as I earn. I blame him for hittin' so hard when I go to sleep
but I s'pose he's right about my eatin'. You see" and here his
tone grew both confidential and mournful "I am an awful eater an'
I can't seem to help it. Somehow I'm hungry all the time. I don't
seem ever to get enough till carrot time comes an' then I can get
all I want without troublin' anybody."
"Didn't you ever have enough to eat?"
"I s'pose I did; but you see Uncle Dan'l he found me one mornin'
on his hay an' he says I was cryin' for something to eat then an'
I've kept it up ever since. I tried to get him to give me money
enough to go into the circus with; but he said a cent was all
he could spare these hard times an' I'd better take that an' buy
something to eat with it for the show wasn't very good anyway.
I wish peanuts wasn't but a cent a bushel."
"Then you would make yourself sick eating them."
"Yes I s'pose I should; Uncle Dan'l says I'd eat till I was sick
if I got the chance; but I'd like to try it once."
He was a very small boy with a round head covered with short red
hair a face as speckled as any turkey's egg but thoroughly good
natured looking; and as he sat there on the rather sharp point of
the rock swaying his body to and fro as he hugged his knees with
his hands and kept his eyes fastened on the tempting display of
good things before him it would have been a very hard hearted man
who would not have given him something.
But Mr. Job Lord the proprietor of the booth was a hard hearted
man and he did not make the slightest advance toward offering the
little fellow anything.
Toby rocked himself silently for a moment and then he said
hesitatingly "I don't suppose you'd like to sell me some things
an' let me pay you when I get older would you?"
Mr. Lord shook his head decidedly at this proposition.
"I didn't s'pose you would" said Toby quickly; "but you didn't
seem to be selling anything an' I thought I'd just see what you'd
say about it." And then he appeared suddenly to see something
wonderfully interesting behind him which served as an excuse to
turn his reddening face away.
"I suppose your uncle Daniel makes you work for your living don't
he?" asked Mr. Lord after he had rearranged his stock of candy and
had added a couple of slices of lemon peel to what was popularly
supposed to be lemonade.
"That's what I think; but he says that all the work I do wouldn't
pay for the meal that one chicken would eat an' I s'pose it's so
for I don't like to work as well as a feller without any father and
mother ought to. I don't know why it is but I guess it's because
I take up so much time eatin' that it kinder tires me out. I s'pose
you go into the circus whenever you want to don't you?"
"Oh yes; I'm there at every performance for I keep the stand under
the big canvas as well as this one out here."
There was a great big sigh from out Toby's little round stomach
as he thought what bliss it must be to own all those good things
and to see the circus wherever it went.
"It must be nice" he said as he faced the booth and its hard
visaged proprietor once more.
"How would you like it?" asked Mr. Lord patronizingly as he
looked Toby over in a business way very much as if he contemplated
"Like it!" echoed Toby. "Why I'd grow fat on it!"
"I don't know as that would be any advantage" continued Mr. Lord
reflectively "for it strikes me that you're about as fat now as
a boy of your age ought to be. But I've a great mind to give you
"What!" cried Toby in amazement and his eyes opened to their
widest extent as this possible opportunity of leading a delightful
life presented itself.
"Yes I've a great mind to give you the chance. You see" and now
it was Mr. Lord's turn to grow confidential "I've had a boy with
me this season but he cleared out at the last town and I'm running
the business alone now."
Toby's face expressed all the contempt he felt for the boy who
would run away from such a glorious life as Mr. Lord's assistant
must lead; but he said not a word waiting in breathless expectation
for the offer which he now felt certain would be made him.
"Now I ain't hard on a boy" continued Mr. Lord still confidentially
"and yet that one seemed to think that he was treated worse and
made to work harder than any boy in the world."
"He ought to live with Uncle Dan'l a week" said Toby eagerly.
"Here I was just like a father to him" said Mr. Lord paying no
attention to the interruption "and I gave him his board and lodging
and a dollar a week besides."
"Could he do what he wanted to with the dollar?"
"Of course he could. I never checked him no matter how extravagant
he was an' yet I've seen him spend his whole week's wages at this
very stand in one afternoon. And even after his money had all gone
that way I've paid for peppermint and ginger out of my own pocket
just to cure his stomach ache."
Toby shook his head mournfully as if deploring that depravity which
could cause a boy to run away from such a tender hearted employer
and from such a desirable position. But even as he shook his head
so sadly he looked wistfully at the peanuts and Mr. Lord observed
It may have been that Mr. Job Lord was the tender hearted man he
prided himself upon being or it may have been that he wished to
purchase Toby's sympathy; but at all events he gave him a large
handful of nuts and Toby never bothered his little round head as
to what motive prompted the gift. Now he could listen to the story
of the boy's treachery and eat at the same time; therefore he was
an attentive listener.
"All in the world that boy had to do" continued Mr. Lord in the
same injured tone he had previously used "was to help me set things
to rights when we struck a town in the morning and then tend to
the counter till we left the town at night and all the rest of
the time he had to himself. Yet that boy was ungrateful enough to
Mr. Lord paused as if expecting some expression of sympathy from
his listener; but Toby was so busily engaged with his unexpected
feast and his mouth was so full that it did not seem even possible
for him to shake his head.
"Now what should you say if I told you that you looked to me like
a boy that was made especially to help run a candy counter at a
circus and if I offered the place to you?"
Toby made one frantic effort to swallow the very large mouthful
and in a choking voice he answered quickly "I should say I'd go
with you an' be mighty glad of the chance."
"Then it's a bargain my boy and you shall leave town with me
II: TOBY RUNS AWAY FROM HOME
Toby could scarcely restrain himself at the prospect of this golden
future that had so suddenly opened before him. He tried to express
his gratitude but could only do so by evincing his willingness to
commence work at once.
"No no that won't do" said Mr. Lord cautiously. "If your uncle
Daniel should see you working here he might mistrust something
and then you couldn't get away."
"I don't believe he'd try to stop me" said Toby confidently; "for
he's told me lots of times that it was a sorry day for him when he
"We won't take any chances my son" was the reply in a very
benevolent tone as he patted Toby on the head and at the same
time handed him a piece of pasteboard. "There's a ticket for the
circus and you come around to see me about ten o'clock tonight.
I'll put you on one of the wagons and by' tomorrow morning your
uncle Daniel will have hard work to find you."
If Toby had followed his inclinations the chances are that he
would have fallen on his knees and kissed Mr. Lord's hands in the
excess of his gratitude. But not knowing exactly how such a show of
thankfulness might be received he contented himself by repeatedly
promising that he would be punctual to the time and place appointed.
He would have loitered in the vicinity of the candy stand in order
that he might gain some insight into the business; but Mr. Lord
advised him to remain away lest his uncle Daniel would see him
and suspect where he had gone when he was missed in the morning.
As Toby walked around the circus grounds whereon was so much to
attract his attention he could not prevent himself from assuming
an air of proprietorship. His interest in all that was going on
was redoubled and in his anxiety that everything should be done
correctly and in the proper order he actually and perhaps for the
first time in his life forgot that he was hungry. He was really to
travel with a circus to become a part as it were of the whole
and to be able to see its many wonderful and beautiful attractions
Even the very tent ropes had acquired a new interest for him and
the faces of the men at work seemed suddenly to have become those
of friends. How hard it was for him to walk around unconcernedly:
and how especially hard to prevent his feet from straying toward
that tempting display of dainties which he was to sell to those who
came to see and enjoy and who would look at him with wonder and
curiosity! It was very hard not to be allowed to tell his playmates
of his wonderfully good fortune; but silence meant success and he
locked his secret in his bosom not even daring to talk with anyone
he knew lest he should betray himself by some incautious word.
He did not go home to dinner that day and once or twice he felt
impelled to walk past the candy stand giving a mysterious shake of
the head at the proprietor as he did so. The afternoon performance
passed off as usual to all of the spectators save Toby. He imagined
that each one of the performers knew that he was about to join them;
and even as he passed the cage containing the monkeys he fancied
that one particularly old one knew all about his intention of
Of course it was necessary for him to go home at the close of the
afternoon's performance in order to get one or two valuable articles
of his own -- such as a boat a kite and a pair of skates -- and
in order that his actions might not seem suspicious. Before he left
the grounds however he stole slyly around to the candy stand and
informed Mr. Job Lord in a very hoarse whisper that he would be
on hand at the time appointed.
Mr. Lord patted him on the head gave him two large sticks of candy
and what was more kind and surprising considering the fact that
he wore glasses and was cross eyed he winked at Toby. A wink from
Mr. Lord must have been intended to convey a great deal because
owing to the defect in his eyes it required no little exertion
and even then could not be considered as a really first class wink.
That wink distorted as it was gladdened Toby's heart immensely
and took away nearly all the sting of the scolding with which Uncle
Daniel greeted him when he reached home.
That night -- despite the fact that he was going to travel with the
circus despite the fact that his home was not a happy or cheerful
one -- Toby was not in a pleasant frame of mind. He began to feel
for the first time that he was doing wrong; and as he gazed at
Uncle Daniel's stern forbidding looking face it seemed to have
changed somewhat from its severity and caused a great lump of
something to come up in his throat as he thought that perhaps he
should never see it again. Just then one or two kind words would
have prevented him from running away bright as the prospect of
circus life appeared.
It was almost impossible for him to eat anything and this very
surprising state of affairs attracted the attention of Uncle Daniel.
"Bless my heart! what ails the boy?" asked the old man as he peered
over his glasses at Toby's well filled plate which was usually
emptied so quickly. "Are ye sick Toby or what is the matter with
"No I hain't sick" said Toby with a sigh; "but I've been to the
circus an' I got a good deal to eat."
"Oho! You spent that cent I give ye eh an' got so much that it
made ye sick?"
Toby thought of the six peanuts which he had bought with the penny
Uncle Daniel had given him; and amid all his homesickness he
could not help wondering if Uncle Daniel ever made himself sick
with only six peanuts when he was a boy.
As no one paid any further attention to Toby he pushed back his
plate arose from the table and went with a heavy heart to attend
to his regular evening chores. The cow the hens and even the pigs
came in for a share of his unusually kind attention; and as he fed
them all the big tears rolled down his cheeks as he thought that
perhaps never again would he see any of them. These dumb animals
had all been Toby's confidants; he had poured out his griefs in
their ears and fancied when the world or Uncle Daniel had used
him unusually hard that they sympathized with him. Now he was
leaving them forever and as he locked the stable door he could
hear the sounds of music coming from the direction of the circus
grounds and he was angry at it because it represented that which
was taking him away from his home even though it was not as pleasant
as it might have been.
Still he had no thought of breaking the engagement which he had
made. He went to his room made a bundle of his worldly possessions
and crept out of the back door down the road to the circus.
Mr. Lord saw him as soon as he arrived on the grounds and as he
passed another ticket to Toby he took his bundle from him saying
as he did so: "I'll pack up your bundle with my things and then
you'll be sure not to lose it. Don't you want some candy?"
Toby shook his head; he had just discovered that there was possibly
some connection between his heart and his stomach for his grief
at leaving home had taken from him all desire for good things. It
is also more than possible that Mr. Lord had had experience enough
with boys to know that they might be homesick on the eve of starting
to travel with a circus; and in order to make sure that Toby would
keep to his engagement he was unusually kind.
That evening was the longest Toby ever knew. He wandered from one
cage of animals to another; then to see the performance in the
ring and back again to the animals in the vain hope of passing
the time pleasantly.
But it was of no use; that lump in his throat would remain there
and the thoughts of what he was about to do would trouble him
severely. The performance failed to interest him and the animals
did not attract until he had visited the monkey cage for the third
or fourth time. Then he fancied that the same venerable monkey
who had looked so knowing in the afternoon was gazing at him with
a sadness which could only have come from a thorough knowledge of
all the grief and doubt that was in his heart.
There was no one around the cages and Toby got just as near to
the iron bars as possible. No sooner had he flattened his little
pug nose against the iron than the aged monkey came down from the
ring in which he had been swinging and seating himself directly
in front of Toby's face looked at him most compassionately.
It would not have surprised the boy just then if the animal had
spoken; but as he did not Toby did the next best thing and spoke
"I s'pose you remember that you saw me this afternoon an' somebody
told you that I was goin' to join the circus didn't they?"
The monkey made no reply though Toby fancied that he winked an
affirmative answer; and he looked so sympathetic that he continued
"Well I'm the same feller an' I don't mind telling you that I'm
awfully sorry that I promised that candy man I'd go with him. Do
you know that I came near crying at the supper table tonight; an'
Uncle Dan'l looked real good an' nice though I never thought so
before. I wish I wasn't goin' after all 'cause it don't seem a
bit like a good time now; but I s'pose I must 'cause I promised
to an' 'cause the candy man has got all my things."
The big tears had begun to roll down Toby's cheeks and as he
ceased speaking the monkey reached out one little paw which Toby
took as earnestly as if it had been done purposely to console him.
"You're real good you are" continued Toby; "an' I hope I shall
see you real often for it seems to me now when there hain't any
folks around as if you was the only friend I've got in this great
big world. It's awful when a feller feels the way I do an' when
he don't seem to want anything to eat. Now if you'll stick to me
I'll stick to you an' then it won't be half so bad when we feel
During this speech Toby had still clung to the little brown paw
which the monkey now withdrew and continued to gaze into the boy's
"The fellers all say I don't amount to anything" sobbed Toby
"an' Uncle Dan'l says I don't an' I s'pose they know; but I tell
you I feel just as bad now that I'm goin' away from them all as
if I was as good as any of them."
At this moment Toby saw Mr. Lord enter the tent and he knew that
the summons to start was about to be given.