mr. Barker's camp was very full this year as opposed to last year. This year, the camp consisted of Gerry and Maria, Jacob Yoste and Stephen McDougald, the Barker's neighbor from Kentuckee, Joe, and Gerry's daughter and son-in-law. With the girls and myself, the total came to eleven of us. And of course there were the oxen and horses. Our camp was in the woods just beyond Iron Monger's Row.
mr. Ruley and his wife from Red River brought breakfast into camp and fed all
Friday evening I had made arrangements to set up shop briefly on Saturday forenoon with the french surgeon at the corner of Medicinal Springs Road and Eden Street, just across from the Black Horse Tavern. He was kind enough to give me a small spot to place the blue box. We talked to passersby interested in his vast collection of instruments...
The French Surgeon's table.
Image by Bill Lackey of the Dayton Daily News
Image by Bill Lackey of the Dayton Daily News
Shortly after noon, mr. Barker brought Maria by the surgeon's tent and insisted she be bled. I inquired as to the nature of her dis-ease, and he claimed 'melancholy'. After a brief examination of the patient, I concurred, although Maria insisted that she was NOT melancholy, that she was merely 'sullen' from the generally poor treatment she received.
mr. Barker and I then haggled over the fee for the bleeding.
"I'll do it for two shillings." says I, as a great crowd of fair goers began to gather about us.
"Two shillings?" says he, "She's just a woman, I won't pay that much."
Maria made some general protestations.
"Well," considered I, "I would be able to perform the bleeding for a single shilling, but you and your men will have to hold her so that I do not have to employ surgeon's mates."
Barker agreed. He reached into his pocket and gave me thirteen pence for which I returned to him one. In retrospect, I believe I charged him far to little, a mistake I shall endeavour not to repeat.
Maria seemed much relieved when I was finished. Her demeanor upon arrival had been all flailing and excitement, and upon her departure she was quiet and relaxed.
After the bleeding, I parted company with the French surgeon and his mate, and took my pocket money down to Ward Lane and ye Publick House for a bit of dinner before I went back to work. I had a bit of beef on a roll and shared a cream puff with Lucy as well as some bread and butter.
Once finished, I made my way over to Stoughton Road and the wagon stop. mr. Barker and Maria offer'd the rides wherein the publick could see the fair from the comfort of the wagon. I would now be my task to walk before the wagon and keep the road ahead clear.
"Make way for the wagon if you please!" shouted I all the afternoon. I also had to scoop up several small children as we went, lest they be trodden under hoof. I also took the opportunity to tell the ladies along the route to mind their toes.
The largest road blockages seemed to form at the corner of Boston Road and Ward Lane at the shop called "Eggs and Legges". There was always a great crowd there due to the magnificent smells that emanated from their cooking, forcing me to shout in the most undignified manner.
Truth be known, I rather enjoyed shouting a great crowds of strangers and having them part like Moses being pursued by the Egyptians.
When the sun had dropped in the sky a bit, and the last wagon ride had been giv'n, I went with mr. Barker, his apprentice Jacob Yoste and the oxen to fetch the food for supper. I was amazed to see what a fine young man that Jacob is growing into, he is nearly as tall as I, and a fine, hard worker.
mr. Barker with the oxen. Image by Graphic Enterprises.
We piled the containers of food and drink into the back of the great wagon and Barker drove the oxen around with great precision back to Ye Publick House on Ward where the staff there might unload it and make ready for the great meal.
Once unloaded, I returned to camp to fetch the trenchers for the girls and myself then back to the line for supper, Jacob followed. The line had begun to form in my brief absence, all the way down Pye Lane, across the Commons past the Coffee House, and 'round the corner and down Dudery.
The meal was excellent, being of spiced foul, corn, potatoes, and a large hunk of bread. The girls were also very excited by the quantity and variety of cookies served.
After supper, we returned to camp for a bit of rest and to get ready for the dance to be held on the Commons at dark. I brushed my black wool coat, put on my boots and wig, and made every effort to look presentable between brief stints of brushing the hair of three little girls and tying up their hats proper.
The dance itself was fantastic. The great torches had been put out along the edges of the Commons and it was lit up as fine as the most grand ballroom. The musicians were set up under the cover of the Coffee House, they consisted of two fiddlers and a cello player, all in fine tune.
We missed only the first dance of the evening with our tardy arrival. I danced every one after without fail for the rest of the evening. The musicians were most lively and animated, one of the fiddlers skipped gaily about the lines of dancers as we went. I made it a point to dance with my favorite girls at the fair first, Molly, Lucy and Rose.
Afterward, I danced with miss Paula Reasoner, whom you may recall some weeks ago as cutting and restyling my wig at Blue Licks. miss Reasoner wore a fine white dress, and I hardly recognized her from our last meeting. My last dance was shared with young Fräulein Strassel, the printer's daughter. I had several conversations with Herr Strassel about the workings of his spectacular press over the course of the day and had, at that time, been introduced to his fine family.
By the time the final dance was called, the girls and I were quite exhausted. I took them back to camp and tucked them into their little straw beds. I kissed each on the forehead and then returned to the darkened fairgrounds where I encounter'd the figure of mr. Boone's Indian friend. By his slight stagger, I could tell he'd imbibed a bit, and we took up together and made our way down Ward Lane. We found a great deal of the evening activity centered around the Publick House.
mr. Boone's Indian friend. Image by Graphic Enterprises.
I fetched myself a fine dark ale and fell in with a table full of Shawnee Indians. I sat shoulder to shoulder with the still painted Shawnee warriors at the full table, the only white man there. They smoked and drank and told stories into the wee hours. Two tables over I could hear another group laughing and singing popular songs of the day as the candles in the chandeliers dripped low.
The full moon shone down on my return hike to the wagoneer's camp and cast long shadows on the ground as the sun itself might. I laid out on the straw bed with the girls, who were all sleeping soundly, and had magnificent dreams.
...to be continued