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From Warrior, the Untamed, The Story of an Imaginative Press Agent, by Will Irwin, Illustrations by F. R.Gruger, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1909; pp. 3-21.



Concerning planted stories, those you think best of never land at all, and those you never give a second thought bring you twenty columns and a raise. There are stories that you plant expecting you ’1 have to stand off the reporters like you shrunk from hated publicity, and all you draw is a stick in the news columns and an editorial — no names — about disgusting modern advertising methods. Again, you plant a foolish story when your head is packed with mush. Zip! You ’re in the magazines. So it was with this perambulating plant.

We could n’t seem to make Paradise Park go. You know Paradise? Down 4 on the South Shore of Massachusetts — all cheap shows — a dime where they ’d bring a quarter at Coney. It calls for big crowds, or nothing doing in the way of profits. I never drew the pipe so hard in my life as I did that summer, but every time I started anything it fell down. I planted a runaway elephant. The coon with the boathook lost him, and he ate up an apple orchard, and the newspapers did n’t bite, and the farmer sued us for damages. I planted a love affair, with a proposal in mid-air, between Naida, Queen of the Empyrean, and Altair, the Peerless. The Boston managing editors inspected it over their glasses and asked in a Harvard accent if I thought they ’d stoop to New York methods. I got plumb foolish with despair and left a veil, a pair of old gloves and a lace hat beside the Frog Pond 5 on Boston Common. With them I put a circular of the show on which I had written: “All the joy of life was in that sylvan spot, but, alas, it came to me too late!“ The copper who found my lay- out worked once with a circus, and he piped off the desk sergeant that it was a plant. The sergeant passed it over to the newspapers just like that, and next morning the papers said in a stick and a half that it was doubtless a sensational attempt to advertise a certain amusement park. Bo, I was in bad.

When in doubt, play the lions. I began to wonder whether I could n’t do something with old King of the Jungle. This Warrior he ’s dead now, rest his dear old hide! — was about as motheaten and decrepit as a lion ever gets. When our story opens he had recently dropped his last 6 tooth. At half -past four, when the public was invited to see the animals fed, we used to fire in his leg of mutton to Warrior. After he ’d sucked all the juice out of it, his keeper would sneak in at the back door of the cage and bring the Untamed a bucket of beef gruel just to keep his poor old soul and body together.

’T would bring the tears to your eyes, he was that affectionate and grateful over any such little attention. He ’d stop eating any time to have his ears scratched. As Professor Fuller, the world’s greatest character reader, used to say, Warrior was short on Destructiveness and Combativeness and long on Benevolence, Philopropogenitativeness and Amatativeness. The only reason we didn ’t let him wander as he listed between performances was because we ’d 7 have had to be kicking him out of our way all the time — he was just that demonstrative. When a lion rubs his head up against your leg, you ’re obliged to forget business detail and turn your attention to the softer emotions. The Untamed was born with the circus — heaven knows how many years ago he drew his six columns as the only lion cub ever born in captivity. Sometimes, when we were rubbing his chin and scratching his ears, we used to say that if we turned him loose in his ancestral jungles he ’d die of loneliness and fright — unless he crawled to the humble cot of some native, and snuggled up against the babies, and died of misunderstanding. It was speculating upon these traits of the Untamed that gave me my idea. A lion balloon ascension and parachute jump!


I did n’t intend to hoist old Warrior, you understand. What I had in my mind was a fake. Announce it; advertise it. When the balloon is full and Professor Altair comes out in his spangled tights, bring up Warrior, the Untamed, in his cage. Have Professor Altair display the net in which he is going to confine Warrior during their perilous leap for life. To prove that there is no intention to deceive, get the Untamed into the net.

Pad-a-pad-a-pad-a-pad! Whoa! Who is that who bursts through the crowd and cries, “Stop, I shall not let this wild beast out among the little children!” It is none other than Police Captain Donlin of our district, who is drawing his bit from us every month and is glad to do a little favour for his friends. Then the megaphone man announces that the lion ascension has to be postponed 9 because the police are prejudiced, but Professor Altair will make a double parachute jump, a feat never before attempted. The papers would have to print that story, I figured, because there would be a police report on it, and because the joke would seem to be on us.

That was the way I planned and programmed it; and after a brief description of some of my obstacles, I ’11 tell you just how it did n’t turn out.

First, I knew, I had to square it with Hattie Russell; and that was some job. Hattie was the wife of Pete Russell, the lion tamer — or, rather, Pete was the husband of Hattie. Pete was really a brave man. He tamed lions and he married Hattie. You ’ve heard the circus story about the lion tamer who came home drunk and looked at the bedroom door and shook his head and went down 10 to the cages and fell asleep among the lions and his wife found him there next morning and shook the bars and hissed, “Coward!” Well, in the business, they say that was Pete and Hattie. The order of Pete’s terrors were first Hattie, and afterward all the wild beasts that were ever whelped. Hattie used to be Zora Zuleika, Queen of the Sawdust Ring. She drove High School horses. Then she annexed Pete, and afterward she drove horses and Pete. At the time when our story opens she ’s a noticeable lady, built in terraces from her chin to her ankles. As for Pete, he ’s a mild- eyed and domestic cuss built on the plan of a sliver; and he looks beside her like her big boy doll.

Hattie had one prevailing bug just about this time; and that was Warrior, the Untamed. She and Warrior were 11 the oldest chums about our show; they ’d trouped together for fifteen years. The season before, she ’d saved all her pennies to get Warrior’s picture painted, and poor Pete had to eat opposite that three times a day. Now she was saving her pennies to buy a home in Virginia where Warrior, the Untamed, could pass his last days in peace. She never seemed to consider Pete’s last days, except to inform him now and then that his ’n would come prematurely if anything happened to that beast on account of his fancy stunts.

It was my first idea to approach Hattie through Pete. But Pete, the craven, turns his back on two vicious leopards that he ’s working when I pass the proposition to him, and says: “Say, Billie, would you kiss a buzz-saw just because a friend wanted to see a little sport?” 12 And he turns careless-like to flick his whip at the ear of a leopard who has just gathered himself for a spring at his neck.

But Hattie was easy. She fell for the first trick I pulled from my bag.

“Say, Hattie,” says I, “I wish I knew where we could get a good looking lion with a patient disposition. I want to pull off a stunt !”

“Good looking!” says Hattie; “well, I ’d like to know where you ’11 get a better looking lion than Warrior. And as for his disposition —— ” For the sake of what was coming, I listened to Warrior’s disposition.

“But Hattie!” said I, “’t was always my idea that you wanted to keep Warrior out of the public eye.”

“That ’s Pete!” snapped Hattie. “The man ’s got the notion that Warrior 13 ain’t more ’n half bright. The idea! Why the old beastie understands every word I say. I know what ’s the matter with Pete. It ’s jealousy, that ’s what it is! And let me tell you, he ’s got good cause to be jealous!”

And before I got through with Hattie you could n’t separate her with dynamite from the idea of a public appearance for Warrior, the Untamed. In the next week, she did everything but manicure him.

“But remember,” said Hattie whenever we got on the subject, “that lion don’t go up in that parachute!”

“Sure!” I said; “nothing like that.”

These words were recalled to me later with additions both searching and cruel.

The day came. We drew our crowd. We marched two bands through the concessions at five o’clock to herd the 14 populace into Balloon Park. We filled the balloon amid loud cheers, and we got old Warrior, the Man-eater — he moved like a clock in order, he ’d got so used to hiking from cage to cage when the show was on the road — into his net. Finding himself comfortable, and liking the balloon fire, which was warming up his old bones, Warrior, the Untamed, settled down for a nap.

We hitched the net to the parachute and waited for Captain Donlin. He was not there. The balloon filled and puffed up until the volunteers who were holding it had to hang on by their toes. The crowd began to howl for action. Professor Altair went around in his spangled tights testing the ropes and bluffing at making sure that all was well. Still no Captain Donlin. I hurried Pete into an auto, and sent him to 15 find what the blazes —— When he got back the crowd was rioting. They’ d had to rig lines on the balloon to save the arms of the volunteers.

“All off!” says Pete. “There’s a Black Hand murder on, and Captain Donlin has lit out with the reserves!”

“Couldn’t you get the sergeant?” says I.

“Swears he don’t know nothing about it and won’t take money,” says Pete.

“Well, this sure is Boston!” says I.

Right here the crowd set up a howl that shook the luminous ether and woke the Untamed from his nap.

And I saw that we ’d have to hoist that lion or bust.

I took one sneaky look around for Hattie. She was standing on the steps of the Persian Village all gussied up in a purple dress and a new hat and white 16 gloves — she was out to see her Warrior’s public triumph. And oh, she seen it! I figured that she could n’t reach me through the crowd in time to stop proceedings; and I made for Professor Altair with my proposition. The fact that I dared propose it with Hattie’s eye on me shows how desperate I was.

Professor Altair was a reckless person. He said that the parachute was strong enough to hold them both, and he ’d rather take chances of being dropped or clawed by a lion than face the certainty of being lynched in his own balloon. And before the crowd or even Pete knew what we were doing, the Professor had yelled, “Cut off!” and the balloon had jumped up, and Warrior, the Untamed, was two hundred feet in the air and going some. And over the crowd came one of those feminine shrieks 17 you read about; and out of the tail of my eye I got a glimpse of a little man in red trousers and a frogged green jacket climbing the fence which divided Paradise Park from the wide, wide world. It was Pete — beating it.

I guess Warrior was about four hundred feet up before he got wide awake and realized that there was no precedent for a lion being in such a spot. The first sign we had of the injury to his finer feelings was when one of his poor old paws came poking through the net just stiff with terror. Then out came another paw and then another, until he ’s just a little bundle of yellow, trimmed with the four scaredest legs you ever saw. The crowd was in the breathless stage; and we could hear the Untamed begin to bellow. Of course, being a lion, he had only one note in his voice to express all 18 his emotions. These bellows of his were a man-eating, child-destroying roar. The megaphone man caught his cue quickly.

“Perceive, ladies and gentlemen,” said he, “the awful position of the daring aeronaut. Soul and body hanging between heaven and earth, the perils of the bright empyrean above and a man-eating lion, angered by this unaccustomed affront to his royal dignity, raging below. Yet have no fear; he is secure in the net, and we have made arrangements to secure the mad king of beasts immediately upon his arrival on terra firma. Observe the daring aeronaut. He is about to cut off ! ”

He was. The balloon had n’t been going well under the extra weight. It had started to dip. The Professor made his cut.

You know that first drop of the parachute before it fills — how it takes the 19 gimp from the oldest balloon man. The load was so heavy that this one made a long drop. My heart jumped as though I was a Rube seeing my first ascension. But the parachute opened at last. And then my heart did jump for fair and keep on jumping.

The Untamed had woke from his trance of terror. He was chewing his way out of the net!

I remember Hattie, who ’d clawed her way to me through the crowd, hanging around my neck, yelling, “Get back, Warrior!” as if he could hear her away up there. And all the while I was watching Warrior’s nose come out through the hole he had mumbled with his jaws, and his tail poke through the other hole he had clawed with his hindlegs. Then I saw his whiskers follow his nose, and afterward his mane. The parachute 20 struck a spot of light air, took a sudden dip, and brought up about twenty feet from the ground; and Warrior, scrambling like a cat in the fly-paper and roaring like an express train, came out of the net and spilled through the air and lit, spread out all on fours.

He did n’t exactly seem to light, either. He was away too quick. Just bing! and his feet struck the ground — zip — and he was a yellow streak going over the hill, his old, frazzled tail sticking up in the air and his feet kicking dust in the only run he ’d ever enjoyed in his life. I don’t suppose he had any idea where he was going. All he wanted was to put space between himself and a humanity that had betrayed his confidence. He sure was putting space between himself and the desperate little man in a green jacket and red trousers who went legging 21 it after him. They turned into the Zion road. I saw an automobile just rear up on its hind legs and pause there, spinning its front wheels and shooting gasolene. Then the yellow streak went over the summit. The red and green one was still busy behind. It was hard to say whether Warrior in front or Hattie behind had the more to do with Pete’s speed. Later we heard Pete’s troubles in fiery detail from Hattie; but for the rest of Warrior’s troubles that I ’m telling you about, I have to depend on general information and belief.

Black and white illustration by F. R. Gruger of an early model automobile reared up on its back tires and front almost pointed straight up, the driver is seen looking down at a lion running by him.

I saw an automobile just rear up on its hindlegs and pause there



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