Page:Sawdust & Spangles.djvu/266

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228
SAWDUST AND SPANGLES

man who stuck to the train was saved, although nearly frightened to death.

Mr. Barnum, although never particularly nervous about accidents, usually refused to travel in the same train with me, giving as his reason that should we both be killed the show would be without a head. Really he regarded me as something of a "hoodoo." In the course of one trip from New Orleans to New York we were compelled to ride together, and on that occasion the sleeper caught fire and was very nearly destroyed. Fortunately this happened in the daytime.

Not only was Mr. Barnum quick to grasp a situation, but was also ready at repartee. Once, at the hotel at Block Island, the dining-room was crowded with people from all over America. One of the guests was a somewhat notorious Mayor of a well-known Western city. During a partial lull in the conversation, this politician had the temerity to bawl out: "Barnum, what is going to be your next humbug? Your last one, the White Elephant, was a failure!" Mr. Barnum, in a voice equally loud and without a moment's hesitation, replied:

"I think my next humbug will be the present Mayor of your city! I have been twice