Page:Sawdust & Spangles.djvu/112

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V

THE PRAIRIE FIRE

One of the most terrible and impressive experiences of my entire career came to me very shortly after I had become well settled in the circus harness. Sleep was the dragon which pursued me then with a relentless and irresistible power. There was scarcely a moment when I was not under its spell, at least to some degree. It was like a vampire that took the zest and vitality out of my very life sources and I went about almost as one walking in a dream. This condition arose from the fact that under the best of weather luck, a showman’s hours are very long. But when roads were bad and journeys long, the poor wretch attached to the old wagon show had practically no sleep at all. After a stretch of hard traveling I was for weeks like a person drugged. My mind seemed in a state of miserable torpor, while my body went about in a mechanical way and did its work. The change from a regular life, which saw me snugly in the same

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