Toby Tyler Or, Ten Weeks with a Circus

#Fiction #Action & Adventure
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Excerpt I. TOBY'S INTRODUCTION TO THE CIRCUS "Wouldn't you give more 'n six peanuts for a cent?" was a question asked by a very small boy, with big, staring eyes, of a candy vender at a circus booth. And as he spoke he looked wistfully at the quantity of nuts piled high up on the basket, and then at the six, each of which now looked so small as he held them in his hand. "Couldn't do it," was the reply of the proprietor of the booth, as he put the boy's penny carefully away in the drawer. The little fellow looked for another moment at his purchase, and then carefully cracked the largest one. A shade—and a very deep shade it was—of disappointment passed over his face, and then, looking up anxiously, he asked, "Don't you swap 'em when they're bad?" The man's face looked as if a smile had been a stranger to it for a long time; but one did pay it a visit just then, and he tossed the boy two nuts, and asked him a question at the same time. "What is your name?" The big brown eyes looked up for an instant, as if to learn whether the question was asked in good faith, and then their owner said, as he carefully picked apart another nut, "Toby Tyler." "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 Uncle Dan'l." "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 whole stock?" "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 performance....
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