Title: At the Wild West

Periodical: Punch, or The London Charivari

Date: July 9, 1892

Author: J. B. P.

More metadata
 

AT THE WILD WEST.

(A Sketch at Earl's Court.)

The Orator's Opening Discourse (as heard in the back rows). Ladies and Gentlemen, I desire to draw your attention to an important fact. It will be my pleasure to introduce to you...("The real American popcorn, equally famous in Paris and London, tuppence each packet!" from Vendor in gangway)... history and life of the... ("'Buffalo Bill Puzzle,' one penny!" from another vendor behind)... impress one fact upon your minds; this is not... (roar and rattle of passing train)... in the ordinary or common acceptation of... ("Puff-puff-puff!" from engine shunting trucks)... Many unthinking persons have said... (Piercing and prolonged scream from the same engine.) This is not so. On the contrary... (Metallic bangs from trucks.) Men and animals are... ("Programmes! Opera-glasses on hire!")... purely creatures of...

[Remainder of remarks hopelessly lost amidst the clank of coupling chains, whistles, snorts and puffs from a shunting engine

An Old Lady in Audience. He has such a beautiful clear voice, we ought to hear every word. If I were BUFFALO BILL, I should positively insist on the trains keeping quiet while the Orator was speaking!

Orator (during the Grand

[]

"I am perfectly aware of that, Euphemia!"

J. B. P.

Processional Review). A Troop of Arapahoe Indians!

[Band strikes up; a party of painted Indians gallop into Arena, uttering little puppy-like barks.

An Artistic Lady (shuddering). Look at that creature with a raw pink body, and a pea-green face—it's too frightful, and such crude yellows! I wish they could be taught to paint themselves some decent colour!

Her Sister. Really, dear, as far as decency is concerned, I don't exactly see what difference the mere colour would make.

Her Husband. That isn't quite what EMILY meant. She'd like to enamel 'em all in Art shades and drape Liberty scarves round 'em, like terra-cotta drainpipes or wicker-chairs—eh, EMILY?

Emily (loftily). Oh, my dear HENRY, I wasn't speaking to you. I know what a contempt you have for all that makes a home beautiful!

Henry. Meaning Indians? My love, I respect them and admire them—at a distance; but, plain or coloured, I cannot admit that they would be decorative as furniture—even in your drawing-room!

[EMILY endures him is silence

Orator. A party of Women of the Ogallalla Tribe!

[Three mounted Indian ladies in blankets—walk their horses slowly round the Arena, crooning "Aye-eia-ha-ya-hee-hi-ya!" with every sign of enjoying their own performance.

A Poetical Lady. What strange wild singing it is, JOHN! There's something so creepy about it, somehow.

John (a prosaic but frivolous person). There is, indeed. It explains one thing I never quite understood before, though.

The Poetical Lady. I thought it would impress you—but what does it explain?

John. The reason why the buffalo in those parts has so entirely died out.

A Rigid Matron (during the Emigrant Train Scene). I don't care to see a girl ride in that bold way myself. I'm sure it must be so unsexing for them. And what isshe about now, with that man? They're actually having a duel with knives—on horseback too! not at all a nice thing for any young girl to do. There! she's pulled out a pistol and shot him—and galloped off as if nothing had happened! I have always heard that American girls were allowed a good deal of liberty—but I'd really no idea they went as far as this! I should be sorry indeed to see any girl of mine (here she glances instructively at three dumpy and dough-faced Daughters) acting in that forward and most unfeminine manner. (Reassuringly.) But I'm very sure there's no fear of that, is there, dears?

[The Daughters repudiate with gratifying unanimity any desire to shoot gentlemen on horseback.

A bloodthirsty Boy (as the hostile Indians attack the train). Will the Indians scalp anybody, Uncle?

His Uncle. No, my boy, they don't let 'em get near enough for that, you see [The Indians are ignominiously chased off by Cowboys.

The Boy (disappointed). They'd a splendid chance of scalping the Orator that time—and not one of them even saw it!

Orator. Captain JACK BURTZ, of the United States Army, will now give you an example of his phenomenal Lightning Drill.

[The Captain takes up his position with an air of fierce resolution, and proceeds to do wonderful things with a rifle and fixed bayonet, which he treats with a familiarity bordering on contempt.

A Lady (to a Military Friend—as the Captain twirls the rifle rapidly round his neck). Have you ever seen anyone drill like that before?

The Mil. F. Saw CINQUEVALLI do something very like it at the Empire. But he had a cannon-ball as well.

The Lady. Look at him now—he's making the gun revolve upside down with the bayonet on the palm of his hand! Could you do that?

The M. F. Not without drilling a hole in myself.

The Lady. It really is wonderful that he shouldn't feel the point, isn't it now?

The M. F. Well, I don't see much point in it myself—but so long as it amuses him, I daresay it's all right.

[The Captain discharges the gun in the air and retires at the double, feeling that his country's safety is secure for the present. JOHNNY BAKER, the young American Marksman, appears and exhibits his skill in shooting upside down.

The Rigid Matron. He missed one that time—he's not quite such a good shot as the girl was.

One of the Daughters. Oh, but, Mother, you forget! Miss ANNIE OAKLEY didn't stand on her—

The R. M. (in an awful voice). I am perfectly aware of that, EUPHEMIA; so pray don't make such unnecessary remarks!

[EUPHEMIA subsides in confusion.

An Unsophisticated Spectator (as Master BAKER, after rubbing his forehead, discovers a brickbat under the mat where his head had been). Now, how very odd! He found a brick in exactly the same place when I was here before! Someone must have a grudge against him, poor boy! But he ought to look before he stands on his head, next time!

Mr. Timmerman (carelessly, to his wife, as the Deadwood Coach is introduced). It would be rather fun to have a ride in the Coach—new experience and all that.

Mrs. T. (who doesn't intend him to go). Oh, do be careful then.

Mr. T. (feeling quite the Daredevil). Pooh, my dear, what is there to be careful about?

Mrs. T. It does look such a ramshackle old thing—it might break down. Accidents do happen so quickly.

Mr. T. (reflecting that they certainly do). Oh, if it wasn't perfectly safe, they wouldn't—

Mrs. T. Well, promise me if you go on the box to hold on tight round the corners, then!

Mr. T. (who doesn't see much to hold on by). I shan't go on the box—I shall go inside.

Mrs. T. There mayn't be room. There are several people waiting to go already. You'll have to make haste to get a seat at all. I shall be miserable till I see you back safe again!

Mr. T. (who is not sure he doesn't share her feelings). Oh well, if you feel like that about it, I won't—

Mrs. T. Oh, yes, do, I want you to go—it will be so exciting for you to see real Indians yelling and shooting all round.

Mr. T. (thinking that it may be more exciting than pleasant). Might bring on one of my headaches, and there'll be such a smell of gunpowder too. I hardly think, after all, it's worth while.

Mrs. T. If you feel in the least nervous about it. (Mr. T. denies this indignantly.) Then go at once—you may never have the chance again; only don't stay talking about it—go!

Mr. T. (pulling himself together). Very well, if you really wish it....Confound it! Most annoying, really! (Sits down relieved.) They've started! It's all your fault, if you hadn't kept me here talking!

Mrs. T. (humbly). I am so sorry—but there's another performance in the evening; we might dine here, and then you could easily go on the Coach afterwards if you're so anxious to!

Mr. T. And sit through the show twice in one day? No, good as it is, I really—and I've some letters I must write after dinner, too.

[Mrs. T. smiles to herself discreetly, satisfied with having gained her point.

Title: At the Wild West

Periodical: Punch, or The London Charivari

Source: McCracken Research Library, Buffalo Bill Center of the West, William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody Collection, MS6, MS6.3778.085.01 (1892 London)

Date: July 9, 1892

Author: J. B. P.

Keywords: American bison American Indians Arapaho Indians Cowboys Drawings and graphics Exhibitions Gunpowder Horses Indians of North America Knives Military exhibition drill Oglala Indians Orators Pistols Popcorn Rifles Scalping Scrapbooks Shooting Stagecoaches Traveling exhibitions United States. Army

People: Baker, Johnny, 1869-1931 Oakley, Annie, 1860-1926

Places: Earl's Court (London, England) London (England) Paris (France)

Sponsor: This project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Geraldine W. & Robert J. Dellenback Foundation.

Editorial Statement | Conditions of Use

TEI encoded XML: View wfc.nsp12566.xml

Back to top