Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Chapter 22

Joey

Wise children always choose a mother who was a shocking flirt in
her maiden days, and so had several offers before she accepted
their fortunate papa. The reason they do this is because every
offer refused by their mother means another pantomime to them.
You see you can't trust to your father's taking you to the
pantomime, but you can trust to every one of the poor frenzied
gentlemen for whom that lady has wept a delicious little tear on
her lovely little cambric handkerchief. It is pretty (but
dreadfully affecting) to see them on Boxing Night gathering
together the babies of their old loves. Some knock at but one
door and bring a hansom, but others go from street to street in
private 'buses, and even wear false noses to conceal the
sufferings you inflict upon them as you grew more and more like
your sweet cruel mamma.

So I took David to the pantomime, and I hope you follow my
reasoning, for I don't. He went with the fairest anticipations,
pausing on the threshold to peer through the hole in the little
house called "Pay Here," which he thought was Red Riding Hood's
residence, and asked politely whether he might see her, but they
said she had gone to the wood, and it was quite true, for there
she was in the wood gathering a stick for her grandmother's fire.
She sang a beautiful song about the Boys and their dashing ways,
which flattered David considerably, but she forgot to take away
the stick after all. Other parts of the play were not so nice,
but David thought it all lovely, he really did.

Yet he left the place in tears. All the way home he sobbed in
the darkest corner of the growler, and if I tried to comfort him
he struck me.

The clown had done it, that man of whom he expected things so
fair. He had asked in a loud voice of the middling funny
gentleman (then in the middle of a song) whether he thought Joey
would be long in coming, and when at last Joey did come he
screamed out, "How do you do, Joey!" and went into convulsions of
mirth.

Joey and his father were shadowing a pork-butcher's shop,
pocketing the sausages for which their family has such a fatal
weakness, and so when the butcher engaged Joey as his assistant
there was soon not a sausage left. However, this did not matter,
for there was a box rather like an ice-cream machine, and you put
chunks of pork in at one end and turned a handle and they came
out as sausages at the other end. Joey quite enjoyed doing this,
and you could see that the sausages were excellent by the way he
licked his fingers after touching them, but soon there were no
more pieces of pork, and just then a dear little Irish
terrier-dog came trotting down the street, so what did Joey do
but pop it into the machine and it came out at the other end as
sausages.

It was this callous act that turned all David's mirth to woe, and
drove us weeping to our growler.

Heaven knows I have no wish to defend this cruel deed, but as
Joey told me afterward, it is very difficult to say what they
will think funny and what barbarous. I was forced to admit to
him that David had perceived only the joyous in the pokering of
the policeman's legs, and had called out heartily "Do it again!"
every time Joey knocked the pantaloon down with one kick and
helped him up with another.

"It hurts the poor chap," I was told by Joey, whom I was
agreeably surprised to find by no means wanting in the more
humane feelings, "and he wouldn't stand it if there wasn't the
laugh to encourage him."

He maintained that the dog got that laugh to encourage him also.

However, he had not got it from David, whose mother and father
and nurse combined could not comfort him, though they swore that
the dog was still alive and kicking, which might all have been
very well had not David seen the sausages. It was to inquire
whether anything could be done to atone that in considerable
trepidation I sent in my card to the clown, and the result of our
talk was that he invited me and David to have tea with him on
Thursday next at his lodgings.

"I sha'n't laugh," David said, nobly true to the memory of the
little dog, "I sha'n't laugh once," and he closed his jaws very
tightly as we drew near the house in Soho where Joey lodged. But
he also gripped my hand, like one who knew that it would be an
ordeal not to laugh.

The house was rather like the ordinary kind, but there was a
convenient sausage-shop exactly opposite (trust Joey for that)
and we saw a policeman in the street looking the other way, as
they always do look just before you rub them. A woman wearing
the same kind of clothes as people in other houses wear, told us
to go up to the second floor, and she grinned at David, as if she
had heard about him; so up we went, David muttering through his
clenched teeth, "I sha'n't laugh," and as soon as we knocked a
voice called out, "Here we are again!" at which a shudder passed
through David as if he feared that he had set himself an
impossible task. In we went, however, and though the voice had
certainly come from this room we found nobody there. I looked in
bewilderment at David, and he quickly put his hand over his
mouth.

It was a funny room, of course, but not so funny as you might
expect; there were droll things in it, but they did nothing
funny, you could see that they were just waiting for Joey. There
were padded chairs with friendly looking rents down the middle of
them, and a table and a horse-hair sofa, and we sat down very
cautiously on the sofa but nothing happened to us.

The biggest piece of furniture was an enormous wicker trunk, with
a very lively coloured stocking dangling out at a hole in it, and
a notice on the top that Joey was the funniest man on earth.
David tried to pull the stocking out of the hole, but it was so
long that it never came to an end, and when it measured six times
the length of the room he had to cover his mouth again.

"I'm not laughing," he said to me, quite fiercely. He even
managed not to laugh (though he did gulp) when we discovered on
the mantelpiece a photograph of Joey in ordinary clothes, the
garments he wore before he became a clown. You can't think how
absurd he looked in them. But David didn't laugh.

Suddenly Joey was standing beside us, it could not have been more
sudden though he had come from beneath the table, and he was
wearing his pantomime clothes (which he told us afterward were
the only clothes he had) and his red and white face was so funny
that David made gurgling sounds, which were his laugh trying to
force a passage.

I introduced David, who offered his hand stiffly, but Joey,
instead of taking it, put out his tongue and waggled it, and this
was so droll that David had again to save himself by clapping his
hand over his mouth. Joey thought he had toothache, so I
explained what it really meant, and then Joey said, "Oh, I shall
soon make him laugh," whereupon the following conversation took
place between them:

"No, you sha'n't," said David doggedly.

"Yes, I shall."

"No, you sha'n't not."

"Yes, I shall so."

"Sha'n't, sha'n't, sha'n't."

"Shall, shall, shall."

"You shut up."

"You're another."

By this time Joey was in a frightful way (because he saw he was
getting the worst of it), and he boasted that he had David's
laugh in his pocket, and David challenged him to produce it, and
Joey searched his pockets and brought out the most unexpected
articles, including a duck and a bunch of carrots; and you could
see by his manner that the simple soul thought these were things
which all boys carried loose in their pockets.

I daresay David would have had to laugh in the end, had there not
been a half-gnawed sausage in one of the pockets, and the sight
of it reminded him so cruelly of the poor dog's fate that he
howled, and Joey's heart was touched at last, and he also wept,
but he wiped his eyes with the duck.

It was at this touching moment that the pantaloon hobbled in,
also dressed as we had seen him last, and carrying,
unfortunately, a trayful of sausages, which at once increased the
general gloom, for he announced, in his squeaky voice, that they
were the very sausages that had lately been the dog.

Then Joey seemed to have a great idea, and his excitement was so
impressive that we stood gazing at him. First, he counted the
sausages, and said that they were two short, and he found the
missing two up the pantaloon's sleeve. Then he ran out of the
room and came back with the sausage-machine; and what do you
think he did? He put all the sausages into the end of the
machine that they had issued from, and turned the handle
backward, and then out came the dog at the other end!

Can you picture the joy of David?

He clasped the dear little terrier in his arms; and then we
noticed that there was a sausage adhering to its tail. The
pantaloon said we must have put in a sausage too many, but Joey
said the machine had not worked quite smoothly and that he feared
this sausage was the dog's bark, which distressed David, for he
saw how awkward it must be to a dog to have its bark outside, and
we were considering what should be done when the dog closed the
discussion by swallowing the sausage.

After that, David had the most hilarious hour of his life,
entering into the childish pleasures of this family as heartily
as if he had been brought up on sausages, and knocking the
pantaloon down repeatedly. You must not think that he did this
viciously; he did it to please the old gentleman, who begged him
to do it, and always shook hands warmly and said "Thank you,"
when he had done it. They are quite a simple people.

Joey called David and me "Sonny," and asked David, who addressed
him as "Mr. Clown," to call him Joey. He also told us that the
pantaloon's name was old Joey, and the columbine's Josy, and the
harlequin's Joeykin.

We were sorry to hear that old Joey gave him a good deal of
trouble. This was because his memory is so bad that he often
forgets whether it is your head or your feet you should stand on,
and he usually begins the day by standing on the end that happens
to get out of bed first. Thus he requires constant watching, and
the worst of it is, you dare not draw attention to his mistake,
he is so shrinkingly sensitive about it. No sooner had Joey told
us this than the poor old fellow began to turn upside down and
stood on his head; but we pretended not to notice, and talked
about the weather until he came to.

Josy and Joeykin, all skirts and spangles, were with us by this
time, for they had been invited to tea. They came in dancing,
and danced off and on most of the time. Even in the middle of
what they were saying they would begin to flutter; it was not so
much that they meant to dance as that the slightest thing set
them going, such as sitting in a draught; and David found he
could blow them about the room like pieces of paper. You could
see by the shortness of Josy's dress that she was very young
indeed, and at first this made him shy, as he always is when
introduced formally to little girls, and he stood sucking his
thumb, and so did she, but soon the stiffness wore off and they
sat together on the sofa, holding each other's hands.

All this time the harlequin was rotating like a beautiful fish,
and David requested him to jump through the wall, at which he is
such an adept, and first he said he would, and then he said
better not, for the last time he did it the people in the next
house had made such a fuss. David had to admit that it must be
rather startling to the people on the other side of the wall, but
he was sorry.

By this time tea was ready, and Josy, who poured out, remembered
to ask if you took milk with just one drop of tea in it, exactly
as her mother would have asked. There was nothing to eat, of
course, except sausages, but what a number of them there were!
hundreds at least, strings of sausages, and every now and then
Joey jumped up and played skipping rope with them. David had
been taught not to look greedy, even though he felt greedy, and
he was shocked to see the way in which Joey and old Joey and even
Josy eyed the sausages they had given him. Soon Josy developed
nobler feelings, for she and Joeykin suddenly fell madly in love
with each other across the table, but unaffected by this pretty
picture, Joey continued to put whole sausages in his mouth at a
time, and then rubbed himself a little lower down, while old Joey
secreted them about his person; and when David wasn't looking
they both pounced on his sausages, and yet as they gobbled they
were constantly running to the top of the stair and screaming to
the servant to bring up more sausages.

You could see that Joey (if you caught him with his hand in your
plate) was a bit ashamed of himself, and he admitted to us that
sausages were a passion with him.

He said he had never once in his life had a sufficient number of
sausages. They had maddened him since he was the smallest boy.
He told us how, even in those days, his mother had feared for
him, though fond of a sausage herself; how he had bought a
sausage with his first penny, and hoped to buy one with his last
(if they could not be got in any other way), and that he always
slept with a string of them beneath his pillow.

While he was giving us these confidences, unfortunately, his eyes
came to rest, at first accidentally, then wistfully, then with a
horrid gleam in them, on the little dog, which was fooling about
on the top of the sausage-machine, and his hands went out toward
it convulsively, whereat David, in sudden fear, seized the dog in
one arm and gallantly clenched his other fist, and then Joey
begged his pardon and burst into tears, each one of which he
flung against the wall, where it exploded with a bang.

David refused to pardon him unless he promised on wood never to
look in that way at the dog again, but Joey said promises were
nothing to him when he was short of sausages, and so his wisest
course would be to present the dog to David. Oh, the joy of
David when he understood that the little dog he had saved was his
very own! I can tell you he was now in a hurry to be off before
Joey had time to change his mind.

"All I ask of you," Joey said with a break in his voice, "is to
call him after me, and always to give him a sausage, sonny, of a
Saturday night."

There was a quiet dignity about Joey at the end, which showed
that he might have risen to high distinction but for his fatal
passion.

The last we saw of him was from the street. He was waving his
tongue at us in his attractive, foolish way, and Josy was poised
on Joeykin's hand like a butterfly that had alighted on a flower.
We could not exactly see old Joey, but we saw his feet, and so
feared the worst. Of course they are not everything they should
be, but one can't help liking them.


James M. Barrie

Sorry, no summary available yet.