The Aerial Performer By George Ade

The Aerial Performer, The Buzzing Blondine and the Daughter of Mr. Jackson

Once upon a time a Lad with Cinnamon Hair and wide blue Eyes lived in a half-portion Town.

He had received more than 2000 Tickets for answering “Here” at the M. E. Sunday School.

His kinfolk hoped that some day he would be President of the Town Board.

Shortly after he learned to roll a safe game of Pool, his Governor demised.

Robert, such being the full front name of the sole Heir, found that he could not spread his Pinions in the narrow Streets of the lichen-covered Hamlet.

So he blew. He went to find an Avenue that would accommodate seven Zeppelin Air-Ships moving abreast at one time.

He closed out the Dry Goods Emporium with the Shirt-Waists and the shameless Hosiery in the Windows.

An Apartment Building, with Packages delivered at the rear, soon began to flaunt itself on the site of the old Manse.

With all the currency corraled by the late Store-Keeper padded into his Norfolk Jacket, the gallus Offspring hurried to the Metrop to pick the Primroses.

In a short time he was out at the Track every day, barking at the Goats as they hove into the Stretch.

The pencil-borrowing Touts and the Wine Pushers began to call him Bob, which proved that he was a Man about Town.

When the final Kiflukus was put on the Ponies, he assembled the residue of his Bundle and began to work steady as a Guesser in a Broker’s Office.

His job was to show at 10 G.M. with a big Reina Victoria at one extreme corner of his Face and pretend to know what was coming off when the Boy put the funny marks on the Blackboard.

Ever and anon he would buy 1000 Shares of something, as if Negotiating for a Bread-Ticket.

As a rule, the tall-grass Plunger with a wad of new Kale has about the same percentage in his favor as that enjoyed by a Shoat out at the well-known Establishment of Armour & Co.

The Cleaners go forth to meet him, bearing as Gifts a Dream-Book and a new kind of Cocktail with a Kick like a Coast-Defense Gun.

A few weeks later they are casting lots for his Union Suit.

Bob came from Simpville, but he had acquired a couple of Wrinkles associating with the Wing Shots in the Paddock.

He could shift to either Foot and he kept his Maxillary covered.

Sometimes he picked up the wrong Walnut. It would begin to look like a quick change from Caviar to Crackers.

More than once his Heels were beating a tattoo on the grassy brink of a Precipice.

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Then he would smell around until he discovered Something Doing. A couple of lucky shots and he would be on Velvet again and whanging away like a Demon.

At last, with a Bull Market and a system of Pyramids, he began to sweep it in with his Fore-Arm.

Head Waiters paid him the most groveling Attentions and bright eyes grew brighter yet when he suggested pulling a little Supper, with a $400 Souvenir at each Plate.

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He was admitted to full membership in the Tango Tribe of the Tenderloin Night-Riders.

This select Coterie was organized for the purpose of closing all Cabarets by 6 A.M.

An early hour was named because many of them were not made up for the cold Daylight.

About the time he began to discover Vintages he discovered Elphye also.

She was an Actress who was too busy to perform on the Stage.

Elphye had a good Social Position back at her Home but, for some reason, she never sent for it.

Her Parents had arranged for her to be a Brunette, but when Bob met her, between the Guinea Hen and the Café Parfait, she was a Lemon Meringue.

Elphye wore Clothes that made a noise like a Piccolo.

She was there with the jeweled Heels and the hand-painted Ankles.

In trying to make her Gowns anywhere from six to nine months ahead of Paris, she sprung several Effects that caused the Chandeliers to tremble and the Ice to melt in the Buckets.

She had abolished her Shape entirely and abandoned the Perpendicular, preferring a Droop which indicated that possibly she had been fashioned over a Barrel.

She tried to model herself on the lines of a string Bean, slightly warped by the Sun.

The Ascending Star of the Financial World was stunned by the Apparition.

No one had tipped it off to him that the Queen of Sheba was to be reincarnated.

He found Elphye ever and ever so accomplished.

She knew all the Songs that now blister the Varnish off the Pianos in so many well-ordered Homes.

She was enough of a Contortionist to get away with several Dances named for the innocent Poultry.

Being a close student of the Bill-Boards she was in touch with Current Happenings.

Her Eye-Work was perfect, but she found it hard pumping to Blush at the right time.

When she tackled Polite Conversation she put a few Tooth-Marks in it. Still she made a very creditable Stab for a Girl brought up in Michigan and never east of Sheepshead Bay.

She looked very creamy to Bob, if the Music was loud enough.

He liked to tow something that would cause the Oyster Forks to pause in midair and the Catty Ones to reach for their Hardware.

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He liked to tow something that would cause the Oyster Forks to pause in midair and the Catty Ones to reach for their Hardware
He liked to tow something that would cause the Oyster Forks to pause in midair and the Catty Ones to reach for their Hardware

When Elphye did a little Barnum and Bailey down the main Chute of a Terrapin Bazaar, rest assured that every Eye in the Resort was aimed at her gleaming Vertebrae.

Bob showed her his monthly Statements and she confessed to being very fond of him. So it was planned that they would Marry some afternoon, if she could get away from the Masseuse early enough.

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The Troth was pledged in a few high-priced Trinkets which she had decided upon before he spoke to her.

Just when it seemed a mortal Pipe that the Bull Tactics would enable him to cop a Million, so that he could live at a Hotel and finance the Little Queen, the Unseen Superintendent in the Tower began to throw the Switches of Destiny.

If Bob had not speeded so far into the Country in the Smell-Wagon, there would have been no Flat Tire.

If there had been no Flat Tire, he would have been back in time for the usual round-up of the Irrigation Committee and never would have been a Great Financier.

Marooned among the Hay-Fields, he stopped at a Farm House and took a long chance on some Well-Water, dipped in a Gourd from the Moss-Covered Bucket.

Scotch Whiskey is never contaminated by Surface Drains, but each sparkling Drop of the Fluid that Bob quaffed, there beneath the Willows, contained more than 2,000,000 of the Germs made notorious by Dr. Woods Hutchinson.

A few days later a swarm of Bees settled in each ear. Every Sky-Scraper gave an imitation of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

He knew he was out of Kelter, but he had to watch the Board, for he had put every Bean in the World on an acrobatic Industrial known as Tin Bucket Preferred.

Already the Paper Profits were enormous. Bob figured confidently on another Whoop of 50 points and a double string of Pearls for Elphye.

But when the poor Loon had a Temperature of 5 above Par and had to cling to the Brass Rail to keep from taking the Count, he lost his Nerve entirely.

He couldn’t see anything on the Horizon except Tariff Revision, Hard Times, Weeping Women, Starving Kiddies, Closed Factories, Soup Kitchens, and Bread Lines.

While in this dotty State and quite irresponsible, he directed the Manager to close out the whole Smear and sell short.

Furthermore, he was so daffy and curdled in the Filbert that he sold three times as much as he had.

Then he did a couple of Spins and a Flop, and the White Ambulance bore him away to the big Hospital.

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If Mr. Hornung Jackson of Round Grove, Maryland, had not entered upon his Second Childhood at the age of 55, his Family would have remained on Easy Street.

Mr. Jackson thought he could sit in his Front Room and read the burglarious Meditations of the High-Binders in Wall Street.

Consequently, when the Tin Box was searched, the Day after the Masons had marched out to the Cemetery, it contained a little of everything except Assets.

Annie was the name of the Daughter.

On the Clean-up she received enough to put her through the School.

When Bob arrived at the Hospital, in a State of Conflagration, Annie was waiting in the starched Uniform to tackle her first real Case.

For days and nights he rambled through the ghostly labyrinths of Delirium, Annie holding him by the Hand and lifting the cool Draughts to his parched Lips.

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He mumbled and raved about the decisions of the Umpire in the game between the Academy and the Knitting Works.

He gave Annie his entire performance of Ralph Rackstraw in “Pinafore” for the benefit of the Library Fund, including Cues.

He scolded his Aunt Mary for doing her own Housework and told the Colored Men how to lay the Cement Walk down through the Grape Arbor.

He promised his Father not to play Poker any more and vowed to his Mother that she was a better Chef than the one up at Del’s.

But his sub-conscious Self was so considerate of Elphye that he never brought in her Name at all, at all.

Sometimes he would get back to the Ticker, but he was ready to leave it any time to go fishing in the Crick with the Lads from the other side of the Tracks.

Through the final Crisis he played tag with the Grim Reaper and just escaped being It.

The Sun was slanting into the little white Room when he crawled feebly back to Earth and tried to get his Bearings.

Annie was looking right at him, relieved and smiling and happy. She had won her first game in the Big League.

He noticed that she was not slashed up the side or down the back, had no metallic Insteps, carried her own Hair, and was in no way concealed behind the usual pallid Veneering.

He remembered dimly that she had been with him on the Underground.

Then he recalled a previous Existence in which the Dripped Absinthe was a Breakfast and the Cigarette a Luncheon and Elphye was trotting in her Glads and he had a Swell Bet down on Tin Bucket Preferred. The whole Lay-Out seemed unreal and remote and entirely disconnected with Friend Nurse.

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He inquired the Day of the Week, and when he learned it was Next Month he started to get right up and put on his Things.

Annie quietly spread him back on the Pillow and laid down the Law regarding Rest and Quiet.

Then he begged her to ring up McCusick & Co. and get the latest Bucket Preferred.

He said he had plastered his last Samoleon and, not being there to watch the Board and concentrate his wonderful Trading Instinct on every jiggle of the Dial, there was no telling what the Bone-Heads had done to him.

You see, he had no recollection whatever of going Short, for he had been in a Walking Delirium at the time and crazy as a Cubist.

Annie said it was wrong to Gamble and he was not to read the Papers or fuss with Visitors until Doc gave the word.

Suddenly he remembered that he was engaged to Elphye and he wondered if she had forgotten.

So many things can happen in a Great City within two weeks.

He told Nurse about Elphye. Annie did not seem madly interested, but she wrote a Note to the Sazerack Apartment Building and notified the Seraphine that her prospective Producer was still extant and would be willing to renew acquaintance if she could spare an hour or two from her Dancing.

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Elphye came out two days later made up as a Princess in the Christmas Pantomime and diffusing pleasant Odors in all directions.

She sat down alongside of Annie and immediately she was shown up and went back to the Minors.

Her Second-Reader Conversation, complicated with the phoney Boston sound of “A” as in “Squash,” did not improve her General Average.

Bob suddenly realized that in getting rid of the Bronxes and the Nicotine and various other Toxins, he also had lost his appetite for Elphye.

But he was Game and willing to go through on his own Proposition.

He sent Nurse for a glass of Water and then begged his Fiancée to smuggle in a Newspaper so he could find out the name of his getting-off Station.

Next day she brought the Market Page in her wonderful jewel-crusted Bag.

Bob took one Look and crawled under the Covers.

The Market had gone Blooey.

Bucket Preferred was down in the Subway, bleeding from a dozen Wounds.

The Whole List was on the Blinkety Fritz.

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“Courage, Dearie,” said Bob, taking Elphye by the Rings. “Your little Playmate is erased from the map.”

Elphye upset two Rolling Chairs and one Interne getting from the Convalescent Department to the open Air.

Annie found the poor Bankrupt much improved as to Pulse and Temperature.

He told her the whole Story of how his Lady Fair had canned him because he was no longer a Live One.

She held his hand and pushed back his Locks and told him that any Girl with a Heart would stick closer than ever to her Selection when he was under the Rollers.

Just then a Messenger from McCusick came in and showed Bob that by going Short and standing pat he was $1,800,000 to the Desirable.

After that, Bob was known up and down the Street as The Wizard.

Annabelle, remembering how they had got to her Father, made him cut out the Margins and put the whole Chunk into listed Securities and Real Estate.

He wanted to stick around and parlee up to a Billion, but she raised a most emphatic Nixey.

He was so used to taking orders from her as a Trained Nurse that he cut out speculating and played Safe.

The whole game was punk for months after, so every one said he had been a Wise Mug for backing away.

The Missus allows him a light one (mostly Vermouth) before Dinner each evening and has taught him a private Signal which means that she is ready to duck and go Home.

At present they are in Paris, where she is working to get the same hilarious Tout Ensemble formerly exhibited by Elphye, the Ex-Empress of the White Light Reservation.

The latter went to see a Lawyer when she learned that she had been tricked out of her Happiness.

Unfortunately for her, she had nothing on Robert, thanks to his native shrewdness and Mr. Bell, who invented the Telephone.

She is now playing Utility Parts in a Stock Company in Pennsylvania. The Jewels pelted at her by Bob are much admired by the Gallery. Moral: The City holds no Peril for those who cherish Lucky Ideals.

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The Aerial Performer – Ade’s Fables

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