The Vagabond

VAG COMES OF AGE

Vag was not himself that day he took Billy, his younger brother, to see the circus at the Boston Garden. The place affected him strangely: the smells of sawdust and animal-flesh, grease paint and rope, all got under his skin. The pushing mob didn't satisfy his desire for companionship, and of course, neither did Billy. It was spring, and his fancies had turned to where they usually did at that time of year. As he handed the tickets to the scarlet-clad Cossack at the door, he was complaining to himself, "This is no job for a college man, and why can't the kid's nurse take him, anyway?" He had just decided that he was bored with it all, when he missed Billy.

Looking around anxiously, Vag spied his brother at the hot dog stand, and hurried over in time to hear him say, "Gimme a dog with all the trimmins, mister." Vag didn't remember Billy's ever cating a wienie before, but after all, if he wanted to go and get sick right in public, that was his own affair. Vag propelled the kid along through the crowd toward the sideshows. The nearest one was the fat lady.

"See the fat lady, she stamps, she shakes the ground, she wobbles, and she wiggles! Only ten cents, this way, please!"

Following Billy's tug, Vag pressed in to see Corpulent Carrie. As he feared, she was aggressive, and eyed Vag and Billy right away. "Say, young man, lemma borrow that kid there a minute for my act. I won't hurt him."

Billy didn't waste much time. Cramming his half eaten dog into Vag's hand, he scrambled onto the platform. At the game time Vag sniffed the wiener carelessly, trying to look as if he weren't with anybody. It smelled so good he took a size able bite, and hoped Billy wouldn't notice.

Meanwhile, Billy was finding himself on interesting terms of intimacy with Carrie. She bugged and kissed him, and then danced around holding him on top of her head. When Billy came back, Vag noticed be looked a little paler than before, and he munched his wiener more thoughtfully. But he seemed to want to go on, so Vag pushed over toward the elephants.

"Fifty ponderous pachyderms await you here, ladies and gentlemen! See them lift a man; they trumpet, they bellow and they bawl! Peanuts here, get you peanuts here!" Vag collected a few bags of peanuts, feeling a little better about things in general. At least the elephants couldn't pester him the way the fat lady did! Billy was not so excited about the elephants, thought. In fact, when Vag lifted him up so he could see better, he protested violently that he could see all right on his own feet. He wasn't that small!

The elephants amused Vag no end. Maybe it was their huge strength that attracted him, or their soft and sensitive cars. But whatever it was, he loved to watch them eat peanuts out of his hand, and do amazing tricks at the trainer's command. But as Billy seemed so restless, Vag moved on into the big arena, to see the real show. Just as the sound of music, cracking whips, pistol shots, and cannons came to his car, Billy plucked at his coat. "Gee, I don't feel so good. Let's sit down a while. I don't want to go in there yet." On the very threshold of the promised land, Vag found himself frustrated. Muttering grimly about "a pesky younger brother," he sat down on a bench. But Billy, instead of getting better, felt worse and worse; finally Vag thought discretion the better part of valor, and he took Billy down the corridor towards the exit. As he left the fragrant Garden he kept wishing that he had eaten all of Billy's hot dog while he was at it.