First Page Project Gutenberg Header Page 165 of 193 Next Page Last Page CHAPTER XXXIII - Michael, Brother of Jerry


For two years Michael sang his way over the United States, to fame for himself and to fortune for Jacob Henderson. There was never any time off. So great was his success, that Henderson refused flattering offers to cross the Atlantic to show in Europe. But off-time did come to Michael when Henderson fell ill of typhoid in Chicago.

It was a three-months' vacation for Michael, who, well treated but still a prisoner, spent it in a caged kennel in Mulcachy's Animal Home. Mulcachy, one of Harris Collins's brightest graduates, had emulated his master by setting up in business in Chicago, where he ran everything with the same rigid cleanliness, sanitation, and scientific cruelty. Michael received nothing but the excellent food and the cleanliness; but, a solitary and brooding prisoner in his cage, he could not help but sense the atmosphere of pain and terror about him of the animals being broken for the delight of men.

Mulcachy had originated aphorisms of his own which he continually enunciated, among which were:

"Take it from me, when an animal won't give way to pain, it can't be broke. Pain is the only school-teacher."

"Just as you got to take the buck out of a broncho, you've got to take the bite out of a lion."

"You can't break animals with a feather duster. The thicker the skull the thicker the crowbar."

"They'll always beat you in argument. First thing is to club the argument out of them."

"Heart-bonds between trainers and animals! Son, that's dope for the newspaper interviewer. The only heart-bond I know is a stout stick with some iron on the end of it."

"Sure you can make 'm eat outa your hand. But the thing to watch out for is that they don't eat your hand. A blank cartridge in the nose just about that time is the best preventive I know."

There were days when all the air was vexed with roars and squalls of ferocity and agony from the arena, until the last animal in the cages was excited and ill at ease. In truth, since it was Mulcachy's boast that he could break the best animal living, no end of the hardest cases fell to his hand. He had built a reputation for succeeding where others failed, and, endowed with fearlessness, callousness, and cunning, he never let his reputation wane. There was nothing he dared not tackle, and, when he gave up an animal, the last word was said. For it, remained nothing but to be a cage-animal, in solitary confinement, pacing ever up and down, embittered with all the world of man and roaring its bitterness to the most delicious enthrillment of the pay-spectators.

During the three months spent by Michael in Mulcachy's Animal Home, occurred two especially hard cases. Of course, the daily chant of ordinary pain of training went on all the time through the working hours, such as of "good" bears and lions and tigers that were made amenable under stress, and of elephants derricked and gaffed into making the head- stand or into the beating of a bass drum. But the two cases that were exceptional, put a mood of depression and fear into all the listening animals, such as humans might experience in an ante-room of hell, listening to the flailing and the flaying of their fellows who had preceded them into the torture-chamber. Next Page

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"I like to do all the talking myself. It saves time, and prevents arguments."
Oscar Wilde