BOOK THE FIRST - SOWING
3. Chapter Iii - a Loophole (continued)
He had reached the neutral ground upon the outskirts of the town,
which was neither town nor country, and yet was either spoiled,
when his ears were invaded by the sound of music. The clashing and
banging band attached to the horse-riding establishment, which had
there set up its rest in a wooden pavilion, was in full bray. A
flag, floating from the summit of the temple, proclaimed to mankind
that it was 'Sleary's Horse-riding' which claimed their suffrages.
Sleary himself, a stout modern statue with a money-box at its
elbow, in an ecclesiastical niche of early Gothic architecture,
took the money. Miss Josephine Sleary, as some very long and very
narrow strips of printed bill announced, was then inaugurating the
entertainments with her graceful equestrian Tyrolean flower-act.
Among the other pleasing but always strictly moral wonders which
must be seen to be believed, Signor Jupe was that afternoon to
'elucidate the diverting accomplishments of his highly trained
performing dog Merrylegs.' He was also to exhibit 'his astounding
feat of throwing seventy-five hundred-weight in rapid succession
backhanded over his head, thus forming a fountain of solid iron in
mid-air, a feat never before attempted in this or any other
country, and which having elicited such rapturous plaudits from
enthusiastic throngs it cannot be withdrawn.' The same Signor Jupe
was to 'enliven the varied performances at frequent intervals with
his chaste Shaksperean quips and retorts.' Lastly, he was to wind
them up by appearing in his favourite character of Mr. William
Button, of Tooley Street, in 'the highly novel and laughable hippo-
comedietta of The Tailor's Journey to Brentford.'
Thomas Gradgrind took no heed of these trivialities of course, but
passed on as a practical man ought to pass on, either brushing the
noisy insects from his thoughts, or consigning them to the House of
Correction. But, the turning of the road took him by the back of
the booth, and at the back of the booth a number of children were
congregated in a number of stealthy attitudes, striving to peep in
at the hidden glories of the place.
This brought him to a stop. 'Now, to think of these vagabonds,'
said he, 'attracting the young rabble from a model school.'