Page images
PDF
EPUB

as he

straightway proceeds to let the barkeep in those days would take a remark like in on the secret that we have got coin in mine without resentment, and the words our jeans and a burning thirst. In two were no sooner out of my mouth than I minutes that barkeep had on a clean apron hears a click and sees a gleam of blued and had forgotten that there was any- steel pointed in my direction. But quick body in the house but me and Bill.

was,

Bill was quicker. He had "In about fifteen minutes we had seven been watching the proceedings in the adult potions of raw alcohol, glycerine glass behind the bar. Before Mr. Dealer's and burnt sugar stowed under our belts, finger could press the trigger there was a and, personally, I wasn't avoiding no ex- report and a puff of smoke from where citement. As usual, Bill was quiet. I Bill was standing. A pistol fell to the leaves him standin' at the bar, while I floor, and a right wrist was shattered. goes over and proceeds to advance some "Before I could realize what had hapsuperior and unasked for knowledge about pened Bill was tugging at my left sleeve a faro game running directly opposite the and whispering 'vamos' in my ear. We bar on the other side of the room. I

sneaks out muy pronto, and mounts our stands there fifteen or twenty minutes, cayuses. But we don't take the regular making casual remarks, when I am in- trail back to the outfit that night. No formed quietly but firmly by the dealer sir-ee. We takes a round-about way over that my opinions and presence are not exactly essential to the welfare and pleas- "He was sure quick with a gun, wasn't ure of the game. At which I laughs

I laughs he?” I said. “Whatever became of your sneeringly and remarks that he ain't deal- friend?” ing a square game. All this time Bill is "Bill's a quiet, white-haired old man standing at the bar with his back to us,

Remember the bartender in the talkin' with a friend, apparently with no hotel who waited on us just before supinterest in the doings. It was right here per?” that he shows his dexterity with his shoot

I nodded. ing iron. No self-respecting faro dealer “That's Bill."

the range.

now.

[graphic][subsumed]
[graphic][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small]

TINSEL PATRIOTISM

BY BARNETT FRANKLIN

E ARE a country-lov- is not modest about his ways and means,

ing people, we Ameri- either. It is a disease that is practically W cans, and the great incurable—not that we care so much about

majority of us is pos- that, but we do wish some of its manifes-
sessed of a goodly tations were.
quota of patriotism. To the tinsel patriot Old Glory is the
Which is a glorious star performer behind the footlights.

thing. I would be the Select any week's bill in any vaudeville last person in the length and breadth of theatre in the land, and a good many of the nation to find fault with such an ex- the musical comedies, and you will bear cellent condition of affairs. I believe in me out. All that is necessary for a hispatriotism as well as the next fellow, and trion to do in order to gain favor in the the fellow after him. There is no more eyes of the tinsel patriot is to wave an loyal admirer of his own United States, or American flag excitedly. The tinsel of its banner and what it stands for, than patriot will at once work himself into a my humble self.

patriotic frenzy. His palms come toWhich little explanatory paragraph is gether with resounding beats and his hat here above set forth in order to place my- is metaphorically in the air. He screeches self right as to what follows. The true and whistles and stamps and screams his patriot inspires my most sincere and un- delight. And-he is eminently convinced bounded admiration. I believe in him. that the performer is a great artist. The He is a big unit in that which goes to tinsel patriot is sure of it, in fact. It make

up

the bone and sinew of the does not matter that the man's act has nation. However, there is a form of been as bad as they make 'em—that he patriotism that jars my generally repose- has given a suffering audience, we will ful soul and sets it on edge—if such a say. twenty minutes of theatrical torture thing as the latter is possible. Patriotism in the shape of some readings from Joe that is born of the heart and the emotions Miller's historic jest store—the fact reis, to repeat, the finest sort of an asset mains that he has coyly introduced for a true citizen, but there is another flag into his act. Wherefore, instead of brand. I refer to what I have elected to leaving the stage at the conclusion of his term “tinsel patriotism," patriotism act with the audience in a state of icy that is not even skin-deep, that is super- indifference, he leaves them in a burst of ficial and ungenuine. Tinsel patriotism is applause and enthusiasm. An incapable, indulged in by certain kinds of people at incompetent thespian has saved his scalp all places and at all times. We find ex- through the use of the good old Stars and hibitions of it at political meetings, Stripes. That gentleman may not be an where it is generally brought out through entertainer, but circumstances prove that the power of some cheap demagogue, and he has something else under his hat bewe meet with it most everywhere.

sides hair. Unless you happen to be a But it is chiefly in the playhouse that tinsel patriot yourself—and therefore I have seen the tinsel patriot at his worst. look upon this screed of mine as being The theatre-going patriot is the most zeal- conceived in a sense of real treason--you ous of the lot. He dearly loves the flag, too have noticed numerous instances of which is right and proper as should be, tinsel patriotism. There is no question but the tinsel patriot is afraid that you but what you have. are not aware of this love of his. Per- The other day at a vaudeville show a force he must enlighten you. And he couple of foreign acrobats did some stunts

a

in mid-air that were as remarkable as any Tinsel patriot, o tinsel patriot, have seen upon the stage in these days of you ever considered what a sublime idiot startling things. The men coquetted with the performer with the flag is making of grim death—or, at the very least, a dis- you? Did you ever stop to figure out located wish-bone—every second they were that it is far from being a matter of on the stage. They turned weird twisters patriotism with him? That when he and somersaults and did all sorts of seem- Yankee Doodles it is not because he is ingly impossible things in the ozone, and swelling to the larynx with pent-up enall the time they wore on their faces sam- thusiasm and must get it out of his system ples of the kind of blandishment alleged or expire, but because he is a business not to wear off. But the members of that man? That is the reason, my friend, that audience blinked nary an eyelash. They

is the reason. He is using you, brother, were blase souls who had seen exhibitions and he has a weather optic on the money of this kind weekly. It took something drawer in the box-office all the time you out of the running to wake them up, I are draining energy cells and making an can tell you. They required something inane spectacle of yourself. It is not a really dextrous, as it were. A number of case of spontaneity with him, no matter people visibly yawned and commenced how much so it may appear. It is part studying the almanac jokes in the theatre of the acting game, Mr. Tinsel Patriot, programme. And then something hap- and apparently you never have considered pened. The act drew to a close. The acro- that he does this at every matinee and bats balanced themselves on a slack wire evening performance in the week, with and drew two bright flags from their bos- just exactly the same show of simulated oms and waved them at the audience. The sincerity. applause was deafening. The blasé folk I have known of innumerable cases of went wild. The students of programme foreign performers giving notable acts humor woke up. Into that congealed at- who couldn't scare up tuppence worth of mosphere was interjected in the flash of an approbation for their efforts until they instant such a degree of warmth that one had shelved the incidental music they had instinctively reached for handker- brought froin across the Atlantic and inchief to wipe away the perspiration. The structed the orchestra leader to accompany acrobats had scored by the use of the un- them to the strains of "Marching Through failing device. They had hit the super- Georgia.” Also they lugged in our old ficial emotions of a number of people, and friend the flag. Then they "made good," received their reward. That happy little as they have it in theatrical parlance. But, stunt of theirs had lifted them from the Mr. Tinsel Patriot, have you ever considranks of mediocrity to the topmost class. ered for the fraction of an instant what

I have seen instance after instance these foreign artists think about the whole where an act was saved from flat failure proposition? I'm afraid it is not .comsimply by a use of the flag expedient. And plimentary—but whatever they think,

, some of these acts—a great many of them, alack, I fear me is perfectly right. The in fact—were of a very high standard least they do is to merrily, merrily laugh. and should have been successful because The Government has seen to it that the of their intrinsic merit. They needed the flag may not be used for advertising and flag, alas, to corral the proper proportion similar purposes. Here is another field of applause, and that is the way the worth · for legislation. Why should not the Govof most acts is measured in vaudeville by ernment take a look at the theatres, where the manager. And a good many of the acts Old Giory is put to quite as cheap a use. were bad, hopelessly bad, and it would A censor would find much to really conhave been merciful for both audience and demn in its use in costumery and otherperformer if the "hook” had been used at wise. But, at any rate, let

us be rid the start. But again the flag saved them. of the tinsel patriot. He jars and jars A single reference to the “Star Spangled considerably. And he is thoroughly as obBanner,” or a dance step executed to that noxious to the REAL American patriot as glorious air, was all that was necessary. to the man from a foreign land. Where. She tinsel patriot had another inning. oh, where is the Fool-Killer ?

а

[ocr errors]
[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed]
« PreviousContinue »