Page:Sawdust & Spangles.djvu/57

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III

FREAKS AND FAKES

No saying attributed to P. T. Barnum has been more widely quoted than the remark that “the public likes to be humbugged.” Certainly this comment on the credulity of the masses opens up a most curious and entertaining field, and its mention in a company of old showmen is sure to provoke a flood of reminiscences on the subject of fakes, freaks and fakers. There is scarcely another line of experience concerning which veteran showmen more enjoy comparing notes—possibly because it touches on the secrets of the craft. Though it is true that Mr. Barnum was a master in the science of humbugging the public, and did not disclaim that distinction, it must be said in justice to him that in the course of his long professional career he gave the people more for their money than any other showman, living or dead.

A little inside information on this hidden side of the showman’s business may be entertaining to a public which has often experienced

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